The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing Wednesday morning on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016 to steal the election from Hillary Clinton (they didn’t).
In his opening remarks, ranking Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) outlined key elements of the Mueller report that “debunked” many of the Democrats’ prominent claims regarding collusion. He also laid out ways the Mueller report attempted to still portray the Trump campaign as acting improperly by leaving out key facts about various elements of the investigation.
“The entire scheme has now imploded and the collusion accusation has been exposed as a hoax,” Nunes said of the report and Democrats’ claims over the past two years. “One would think the Democrats would simply apologize and get back to lawmaking and oversight. But it’s clear they couldn’t stop this grotesque spectacle even if they wanted to. After years of false accusations and McCarthyite smears, the collusion hoax now defines the Democratic Party. The hoax is what they have in place of a governing philosophy or a constructive vision for our country.”
Nunes pointed out five examples in the “Mueller dossier,” as he calls it, that contradicted some of the major claims made by Democrats in the media, including the dubious claim that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was in Prague to reward Russians for meddling in the election. Media outlets reported the story but were unable to corroborate it. The Washington Post even sent reporters to every hotel to see if Cohen had registered but came up empty (they predictably neglected to report this information).
Nunes also said in his opening statements that the Mueller report found “No evidence that [former Trump campaign aide] Carter Page conspired with Russians,” and didn’t even mention the claim that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort visited Wikileaks founder Julian Assange multiple times in London somehow without signing into the embassy.
Further, Nunes noted the Mueller report contained no mention of alleged “secret communications between a Trump Tower computer server” and a state-owned Russian bank (in reality, the server wasn’t in Trump Tower or controlled by the Trump Organization). Finally, Nunes included the claim that former NRA lawyer Cleta Mitchell raised concerns about the group’s “ties to Russia,” yet Mitchell was not an attorney for the organization at the time and the only evidence we have of this claim is from Glenn Simpson, the founder of the Democrat opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which paid for the infamous dossier used to make all these dubious claims against Trump.
Nunes next took aim at the ways the Mueller report, despite finding no collusion, still tried to disparage President Donald Trump by including:
- A long litany of ordinary contacts between Trump associates and Russians, as if a certain number of contacts indicate a conspiracy even if no conversations actually created or even discussed a conspiracy.
- Excerpts from a voicemail from Trump attorney John Dowd that the Mueller team selectively edited to make it seem threatening and nefarious.
- No comment on the close relationship between Democrat operatives at Fusion GPS and multiple Russians who participated in the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. In fact, no comment on Fusion GPS at all.
- No useful information on figures who played key roles in the investigation such as Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, or Christopher Steele.
- No useful information about the many irregularities that marred the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Nunes pointed out that the Mueller report also cited media outlets that received irresponsible information from leaks that were then used as evidence against Trump. “Thus Mueller produced a perfect feedback loop: intelligence leakers spin a false story to the media, the media publishes the story, Mueller cites the story, and the media and the Democrats then fake outrage at Mueller’s findings,” Nunes said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who now chairs the House Intelligence Committee and has claimed over the years to have “ample” evidence of collusion, said the Mueller report failed to answer many questions raised by Democrats.
"Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered — what happened to the counterintelligence investigation?" Schiff said in his own opening statements. "Were there other forms of compromise, like money laundering, left out, uninvestigated or referred to other offices? Were individuals granted security clearances that shouldn't have them? And are there individuals still operating in the administration that leave America vulnerable?"