Jul 24, 2019.WASHINGTON – Robert S. Mueller III warned lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia was again trying to sabotage American democracy before next year’s presidential election, defended his investigation’s conclusions about Moscow’s sweeping interference campaign in 2016 and publicly rejected President Trump’s criticism that he had conducted a “Witch hunt.”
Mr. Trump has spent months characterizing the special counsel’s report as a “Total exoneration,” though Mr. Mueller was careful to state that he and his team had drawn no such conclusion.
The report, released in April, laid bare that Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power, and on Wednesday, Mr. Mueller was most impassioned when describing the contours of the Russian sabotage playbook.
Throughout the day, the Democrats hit the high points from Mr. Mueller’s report: the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the efforts by Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Mueller, the talks between Michael T. Flynn and a Russian ambassador about Obama-era sanctions, the strategy by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to sow chaos before the election.
The Mueller report cataloged numerous meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and Russians seeking to influence the campaign and the presidential transition team – encounters set up in pursuit of business deals, policy initiatives and political dirt about Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s 2016 Democratic opponent.
Mr. Mueller concluded that there was “Insufficient evidence” to determine that the president or his aides had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with the Russians, even though the Trump campaign welcomed the Kremlin sabotage effort and “Expected it would benefit electorally” from the hackings and leaks of Democratic emails.
On Wednesday, Mr. Mueller was asked about the Trump Tower meeting, WikiLeaks and the decision by Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, to share campaign information with a Russian oligarch, and whether such episodes were becoming typical for political campaigns.