Washington: Former US special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday testified that his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was “not a witch hunt,” pushing back on President Donald Trump’s claims in his first-ever congressional testimony.
The US President has repeatedly referred to the Russia investigation as a witch-hunt, including on Wednesday morning when he tweeted the hearings were part of the “Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history.”
According to The Hill, Mueller, before the House Judiciary Committee, said, “It is not a witch hunt,” after he was asked by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff if Trump’s repeated statements about the special counsel investigation were accurate.
“When the president said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was false wasn’t it?” Schiff continued.
“True,” Mueller concluded.
Mueller agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that the Trump campaign appeared to welcome that help. Trump, he agreed, had publicly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, The Washington Post reported.
The special counsel further stressed that Trump had also pursued a business deal in Moscow while running for presidency. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, had responded “I love it,” when asked if he was interested in dirt on Clinton provided as part of a Russian government effort to help his father.
The 448-page report did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government, and neither implicated nor exonerated the president on obstruction of justice charges.
Mueller never made public statements during the investigation, and has only made one public statement since it concluded. Wednesday marked his first time answering questions about his findings.