Washington: Former US special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday asserted that he found statements by Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign praising WikiLeaks, “problematic.”
On July 24, Mueller testified publicly before two separate congressional panels and for the first time addressed questions over his 448-page report of Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, The Washington Post reported.
The first hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Representative Jerrold Nadler, took place in the morning (local time), and the second, before the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Representative Adam B. Schiff began in the afternoon (local time).
Asked by Representative Mike Quigley if he agreed with a comment from then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo that WikiLeaks functions as a “hostile intelligence service,” Mueller said that he did.
Quigley then read aloud parts of comments that Trump had made during the 2016 election campaign after WikiLeaks had published documents stolen from Democrats.
Mueller’s prosecutors have alleged that the emails were hacked by Russian military intelligence officers and then published by the group. Trump at one point said, “I love WikiLeaks.”
“Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal behaviour,” Mueller said.
Mueller also described contacts with WikiLeaks by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, as “disturbing”.
Mueller was earlier scheduled to appear on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in back-to-back sessions where 22 members from each committee would get to question the special counsel.
Mueller had announced his resignation in May from the Justice Department after delivering his first public statement regarding the Russian collusion.
A redacted version of the Mueller report had concluded that there was no conspiracy between President Donald Trump campaign and Moscow. But Mueller declined to make a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, though the report outlined 10 instances in which Trump tried to impede the investigation.