Several members of the Texas delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives took the opportunity to ask questions during special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony Wednesday. Mueller was answering questions in two hearings – one with the House Judiciary Committee and another with the House Intelligence Committee – about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.
Abby Livingston is Washington bureau chief for The Texas Tribune, and says the first Texan who questioned Mueller yesterday was Rep. John Ratcliffe from Heath, Texas. She says he used the opportunity to try to undermine Mueller’s credibility as a prosecutor.
“If you’re a prosecutor, you’re supposed to say either ‘We’re going to charge this person’ or ‘We’re not,’” Livingston says of Ratcliffe’s argument to Mueller. “You typically don’t get to say, ‘Well, we’re not charging this person, but here’s all the reasons he could be guilty,’ and so that was sort of the point [Ratcliffe] was making.”
But Neal Katyal, the acting solicitor general under President Obama, refuted Ratcliffe’s rationale on Twitter shortly after. Livingston says the former solicitor general cited his own drafting of special counsel regulations in 1999 as justification for Mueller’s investigation.
“[Katyal] countered him, and said, ‘This is a different situation. … Robert Mueller can do this for history’s sake,’” Livingston says.
Additional questions came from Rep. Sheila Jackson of Houston, whom Livingston says echoed questions of other Democratic members of Congress.
“Their whole point in this was to get Mueller to say out loud the things in the report so the Americans who have not read this 500-page document could have a window into it,” Livingston says. “But Mueller didn’t want to.”
And Will Hurd, who represents the 23rd Congressional District in Texas, also questioned Mueller. Livingston says Hurd attracted attention by asking about the ongoing Russian interference in American politics.
“This is probably the most disturbing thing about this entire Mueller-Russia investigation,” Livingston says. “There is absolutely no appetite in Congress to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Written by Hayden Baggett.