Former special counsel Robert Mueller told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that President Trump’s written answers to his questions were not only incomplete — they were, he suggested in his testimony, “generally” untruthful.
Appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller was questioned about the president’s written answers, which he described in his report about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as “inadequate.”
Asked by Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., whether the president’s written answers “were not only inadequate and incomplete” but also “showed that he wasn’t always being truthful,” Mueller replied: “I would say, uh, generally.”
Moments earlier, Mueller said he had wanted to interview Trump in person, but negotiations for a sit-down interview stalled — and the former special counsel determined that a subpoena would trigger a long legal battle that would prevent him from completing his investigation.
“If we did subpoena the president, he would fight the subpoena and we would be in the midst of the investigation for a substantial period of time,” Mueller said.
During more than six hours of testimony, Mueller mostly stuck to what he included in his 448-page report, released in April, acknowledging that his report did not exonerate Trump, as the president and his allies have repeatedly claimed.
Mueller again walked up to the line of saying Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to impede the investigation — but he didn’t quite cross it.
Under questioning from Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., during the morning’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Mueller agreed that Trump’s conduct appeared to meet the three requirements for a charge of obstruction: an ongoing federal judicial proceeding, knowledge of that proceeding and a corrupt attempt to interfere with the proceeding. But he stopped short of saying that the president actually committed a felony.
“The reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?” Lieu asked Mueller.
“That is correct,” Mueller replied.
Later, during his appearance before the Intelligence Committee, Mueller clarified his response to Lieu, saying that his office did “not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”
Trump, who had been tweeting and retweeting throughout Mueller’s testimony, issued an all-caps missive shortly after the hearings concluded.
“TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE!” the president tweeted.
Later while speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, Trump was asked by a reporter to respond to Mueller's assertion that his written answers were "generally" untruthful.
"He didn’t say that at all," Trump said. "You are untruthful when you ask that question."