Robert Mueller testifies

By Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 11:29 a.m. ET, July 25, 2019
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9:43 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller says he knows of two times Trump asked Sessions to un-recuse himself

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen asked former Special Counsel Robert Mueller about former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Mueller said it is true that his investigation found that Trump asked Sessions to un-recuse himself at least twice.

Here's the exchange:

Cohen: "Your investigation found at some point after your appointment the President, quote, called Sessions at his home and asked if he would un-recuse himself. Is not not true?"

Mueller: "It's true."

Cohen: "It wasn't the first time the president asked sessions to un-recuse himself, was it?"

Mueller: "I know of two occasions."

Cohen went on to ask Mueller if the attorney general is supposed to act as "the attorney general of the United States of America or a consigliere for the President?"

"The United States of America," Mueller responded.

Here's how Cohen concluded his questioning:

"Regardless of all that, I want to thank you, Director Mueller, for a life of rectitude and service to our country. It's clear from your report and the evidence that the President wanted former Attorney General Sessions to violate the Justice Department ethics rules by taking over your investigation and improperly interfering with it to protect himself and his campaign. Your findings are so important because in America nobody is above the law."

9:37 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller is operating under different rules than Ken Starr

From CNN's Pamela Brown and Marshall Cohen

Rep. John Ratcliffe referred to this section in his remarks at today's hearing:

"At the conclusion of the Special Counsel's work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel."

There’s a lot of debate about what the regulations allow and there are different interpretations.

Critics believe former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal was trying to rewrite history with the regulations to allow for more to be released.

Only two people have served as special counsel under these regulations. And both of their reports were publicly released, even though public release of the report is not mentioned or required in the regulations.

The rules are different than those that former independent counsel Ken Starr was working under in the mid-1990s when he prosecuted the Clinton White House over Whitewater and then the Monica Lewinsky scandal and delivered a report directly to Congress.

The first was Jack Danforth, appointed in 1999 to investigate the deadly Waco standoff and allegations of a government coverup. His team didn't wait around for Justice Department higher-ups to examine their final product. They posted their full report directly onto the burgeoning Internet, along with hundreds of pages of detailed exhibits and timelines.

Mueller’s report was also released but he submitted it to the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr for redactions. Barr ultimately released a report that only had some light redactions.

10:20 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Rep. Ratcliffe echoed an argument from Emmet Flood in his remarks today

From CNN's Pamela Brown

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Rep. John Ratcliffe echoed an argument that former White House Special counsel Emmet Flood made to Attorney General William Barr after the release of the Mueller report.

The criticism that the justice system’s standard of proof is not to prove innocence, but rather guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report says it cannot exonerate the President in the obstruction of justice investigation, which aligns with idea he cannot prove his innocence.

9:28 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

GOP congressman who defended Trump in questioning is up for a White House job, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rep. John Ratcliffe, who just used his five minutes to argue that President Trump was held to a different standard than anyone else would be, has been under consideration for a job in the administration, sources say, including an intelligence or national security role.

Ratcliffe speaks with the President often, and Trump is a big fan of his.

He argued Wednesday morning that Trump "shouldn’t be below the law.”

Watch Ratcliffe's full questioning:

9:22 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller: Trump can be prosecuted after he leaves office

From CNN's Dan Berman

After citing Justice Department rules that he could not prosecute a sitting president, Mueller suggested that it's possible Trump can be charged after leaving the White House.

Here's the exchange between committee chairman Jerry Nadler and Mueller:

Nadler: "Is it correct that if you had concluded that the President committed the crime of obstruction, you could not publicly state that in your report or here today?"

Mueller: "The statement would be that you would not indict, and you would not indict because under the OLC opinion, excuse me, a sitting president cannot be indicted, it would be unconstitutional."

Nadler: "Under Department of Justice policy, the President could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice crimes after he leaves office, correct?"

Mueller: "True"

Note: Mueller did not, however, say if Trump should be prosecuted

9:18 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller answers who Russia wanted to win: "Trump"

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

The Russian government wanted President Trump to win the 2016 presidential election, former special counsel Robert Mueller testified today.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, asked Mueller if his investigation found that "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning."

Mueller said they did.

She continued: "And which candidate would that be?"

Mueller responded: "Well, it would be Trump."

9:47 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

How Republican Doug Collins tried to throw Mueller off base

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Rep. Doug Collins tried to get Mueller to contradict his report by asking him whether "collusion" and "conspiracy" are the same thing. Mueller testified that they weren’t the same, but Collins cited a part of the report that he thought was contradictory.

On page 180 of volume one, the Mueller report said: "Collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the U.S. Code; nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. To the contrary, even as defined in legal dictionaries, collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy as that crime is set forth in the general federal conspiracy statute."

This part of the report was talking about collusion in the sense of corporate collusion, which is when companies conspire in an illegal fashion to help each other and hurt consumers.

That is completely unrelated to “collusion with Russia,” which has been the colloquial term used over the past few years to discuss potential cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

9:12 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller says his team tried for more than a year to interview Trump

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler just asked Robert Mueller a series of questions about the special counsel's attempts to get an interview with President Trump.

Mueller said it was "true" that Trump refused to sit for an interview, despite his team's multiple attempts to secure the interview.

Here's the full exchange:

Nadler: Did the President refuse a request to be interviewed by you and your team? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Nadler: And Is it true you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the President? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Nadler: And is it true that you and your team advised the President's lawyer that, quote, an interview with the President is vital to our investigation, closed quote? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Nadler: And is it true you also, quote, stated that it is the interest of the Presidency and public for an interview to take place, closed quote? 

Mueller: Yes. 

Nadler: But the President still refused to sit for on interview by you and your team? 

Mueller: True. 

9:05 a.m. ET, July 24, 2019

Mueller confirms his report did not exonerate Trump

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Former special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed today that he did not exonerate President Trump in his investigation.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler questioned Mueller on whether he had cleared Trump.

Here's the exchange:

Nadler: Director Mueller, the President has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said, is it?

Mueller: Correct, that is not what the report said. 

Nadler: And from reading from page 2 of volume 2 of your report that's on the screen you wrote, 'If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.' Now, does that say there was no obstruction? 

Mueller: No. 

Nadler: In fact, you are actually unable to conclude the President did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct? 

Mueller: Well, we at the outset determined that we -- when it came to the President's culpability we needed to -- we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC opinion that indicated that a president -- a sitting president cannot be indicted. 

Nadler: So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice? Is that correct? 

Mueller: That is correct. 

Nadler: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the President? 

Mueller: No. 

Nadler: Now, in fact your report expressly states it does not exonerate the President? 

Mueller: It does.