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By; Bill Miston of AP

WASHINGTON -- Longtime Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, known for his role in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and passing the anti-terrorism Patriot Act after 9/11, said Wednesday, Sept. 4 he will not seek re-election.

Sensenbrenner, 76, said he will retire from Congress in January 2021, at the end of his current term.

Sensenbrenner has served in Congress for 40 years, representing southeastern Wisconsin. Before that, he served 10 years in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Sensenbrenner said that when he began public service in 1968, he said he would know when it was time to step back. He says he's determined that after he completes this term — his 21st in Congress — "it will be that time."

"I think I am leaving this district, our Republican Party, and most important, our country, in a better place than when I began my service," Sensenbrenner said in a statement.

Sensenbrenner announced his retirement Wednesday on The Mark Belling Show on WISN-AM.

The veteran GOP lawmaker said he is not retiring because he is worried about a re-election challenge and that his decision is unrelated to his serving in the minority. He said he plans to serve out his current term and that he will back "the Republican ticket from top to bottom" in 2020.

"There is nobody running against me. Nobody can say they've pushed me out. I am doing this on my terms," Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner served six years as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where he led passage of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks, but helped scale back the Nation Security Agency's powers when it was revealed that the agency was secretly collecting Americans' phone and online records.

During President Bill Clinton's impeachment case, Sensenbrenner gave the opening statement for the team of House members that unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Senate to convict Clinton and drive him from office.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsin Republican who retired after 2018, called Sensenbrenner "a statesman, a person of remarkable character, and his presence and wisdom will be sorely missed in Congress."

"He has provided an amazing example for generations of Wisconsin Republican legislators to follow and showed us how to be effective advocates and representatives," Ryan said in a statement.

While known for his sometimes biting conservative rhetoric, Sensenbrenner also worked with liberal Democrats on some issues, including civil liberties.

Sensenbrenner's announcement follows the recent decision by Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy to resign from Congress. Duffy announced that he plans to resign on Sept. 23 to spend more time with his family after learning his ninth child, due in October, has a heart condition.

Sensenbrenner was among the wealthiest members of Congress thanks to family inheritance. He also won a $250,000 lottery jackpot in 1997.

Sensenbrenner issued the following statement:

“When I began my public service in 1968, I said I would know when it was time to step back. After careful consideration, I have determined at the completion of this term, my 21st term in Congress, it will be that time.

“For 40 years I have held over 100 town hall meetings each year; I have helped countless individuals when they have encountered difficulties with the federal government; I've taken 23,882 votes on the House Floor; been the lead sponsor or co-sponsor of 4299 pieces of legislation; ushered 768 of them through the House for passage, and watched as 217 of them have been signed into law by six different presidents.

"I think I am leaving this district, our Republican Party, and most important, our country, in a better place than when I began my service.

“It has been my privilege to serve the people of Southeast Wisconsin and I have found true fulfillment in all the challenges and many accomplishments that have peppered my long career. It is rare when life presents the perfect opportunity to make an impact in a way that has been so meaningful. I am forever grateful.

“I will have many more things to say as I serve out my final term, but I will start here by sincerely thanking, first, my family, along with my supporters, my colleagues, and my staff. The many people who have supported my career have mostly gone uncelebrated, but I will purposefully set out in the next year to say my thanks and let them know I could not have done it alone. I look forward to finishing strong and beginning my next chapter.”

Reaction to Sensenbrenner announcement

Sen. Ron Johnson

“Jim Sensenbrenner has faithfully served his constituents, Wisconsin, and America for 40 years. His list of accomplishments is long and impressive. As the dean of our congressional delegation, his legislative acumen and leadership will be missed. I wish him and his family all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Rep. Glenn Grothman

“Congressman Sensenbrenner has been a staple of Wisconsin politics for decades. From the time I first entered public service, Jim has been a role model for me. He is well-known throughout the state for the number of town hall meetings he holds. When I was a state legislator, I must have attended over 400. I have always admired his unwavering commitment to Wisconsin values and conservative ideas and appreciate his passion to fight for civil liberties. I look forward to spending another 15 months with him.”

Rep. Bryan Steil

“Jim Sensenbrenner is a legend of Wisconsin politics and will be missed. His relentless commitment to both listen to and serve Southeast Wisconsin is what has made him an outstanding legislator for 50 years. From leading efforts to keep America safe after 9/11 to serving as a fiscal watchdog constantly looking out for taxpayers, Jim has been a stalwart public servant. While his presence will be deeply missed in Congress, his reputation for doing the right things for the right reasons will long outlast his tenure. I will miss serving with Jim in the House."

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt

“It’s hard to overstate the legacy of Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. For the past forty years, he has been a larger than life figure in Wisconsin’s conservative movement. His service has been virtually unmatched, and his commitment to his constituents and the people of Wisconsin has been tireless. While there is no doubt that Congressman Sensenbrenner’s retirement will leave a void in our party for years to come, we are so incredibly grateful for everything he has given to us, and we hope he will continue to provide guidance to our party for years to come. I, along with everyone at the Republican Party of Wisconsin, wish Rep. Sensenbrenner the absolute best in his retirement.”

Mike Gallagher

“Over his four decades in Congress, Jim Sensenbrenner has demonstrated how to represent the people of Wisconsin with honor and distinction. He has been an instrumental voice in the key policy debates of our time, and his passion, expertise, and wisdom will be greatly missed in the House of Representatives. I am proud to call Jim a friend and am grateful for all that I have learned from serving with him in Congress.”

Kurt Bauer, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

“Congressman Sensenbrenner has been a strong advocate for his district and Wisconsin for more than 40 years. Wisconsin’s business community has enjoyed a productive relationship with him during his time in office, and he has been both a true statesman and protector of free enterprise in Washington. His leadership and knowledge will be missed. WMC thanks him for his years of public service and wishes him all the best in the future.”

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow

“Jim Sensenbrenner is a stalwart conservative and the most dedicated representative of his constituents that our state has ever seen. His passion to serve the people of his district has not waned in his 40 years in Congress. Having had bills signed by six presidents, both Republican and Democrat, that have served during his tenure says so much about his ability to get things done in the best interest of our country.

“Jim is a model public servant that we can all hope to emulate. I continue to value our friendship and wish him the best of luck for a healthy and rewarding retirement.”

State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald

"Jim Sensenbrenner is a conservative icon in Wisconsin. From Reagan to Trump, Jim helped build Southeast Wisconsin into the Republican stronghold that it is today. He advocated passionately on behalf of the unborn and the disabled. He stood up for taxpayers and was always accessible to his constituents."

"The people of the Fifth Congressional District have benefited from Jim’s strong conservative voice for years, and now more than ever they deserve another strong conservative voice fighting on their behalf in Washington."

Brookfield, WI—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), the Dean of the Wisconsin Delegation, offered the following statement after Congressman Sean Duffy (WI-07) announced that he will step down from the House of Representatives:

“Sean and Rachel Duffy are dear friends and proud patriots. It has been an honor to mentor them and watch them excel, and I thank them for their service and leadership. They and their children are family to me. While it comes as a great loss to the people of Wisconsin, I understand the challenging times ahead for the Duffy family and respect their decision. Sean, Rachel, their unborn child, and the rest of the family are in my prayers. As I have seen them overcome many challenges before, I am confident that they will undertake this one with prayerful and humble hearts.”

By: the Waukesha Freeman

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has signed the Farmer Family Relief Act into law, a bill on which Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was the lead Republican co-sponsor.

According to a press release from his office, Sensenbrenner said the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 brings needed help to a critical link in America’s economy and a vital part of American community life.

The law stems from Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code, which Congress permanently enacted in 2005. Chapter 12 is used to help family

farmers reorganize their debts in times of need and keep farms going, the release states.

However, in the years after Chapter 12’s enaction, Sensenbrenner said family farms have become more expensive to operate and the ceiling on how much debt a family can reorganize lagged behind.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 fixes this problem,” he said. “It raises the ceiling from the old, roughly four-and-one-half million dollar limit to a more reasonable $10 million.”

“This means that more family farmers will be

able successfully to reorganize when they need to — to the benefit of the economy and local communities across this land.”

By: KHGI

A University of Nebraska at Kearney student is working to give a voice to those who need it, starting in Washington D.C.

UNK officials said Ellery Butterfield, a psychology major with a public law minor, is working as an intern for third-district Congressman Adrian Smith through the University of Nebraska’s D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy.

They said the academy is open to any NU student interning in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good way for Nebraskans to stay connected to other Nebraskans and start climbing the ladder once you’re here,” said Butterfield, who spent eight weeks in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a great experience.”

“If I was going to be in D.C., I wanted to see the politics and I wanted to see government at work,” Butterfield said. “Adrian Smith’s office does a fantastic job integrating interns into the inner-workings of the office.”

Butterfield said she is interested in the challenges facing people with mental disabilities and victims of abuse, as well as the lack of services available to address these issues.

“It’s important that we recognize these people deserve a voice,” said Butterfield, who has assisted at the Royal Family KIDS Camp for abused or neglected foster children and worked at Integrated Life Choices, which serves people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

UNK said through her internship, she was able to present a piece of legislation she believes the congressman should co-sponsor. Butterfield chose HR 1738, a resolution introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin aimed at reducing child marriages, sex trafficking and sexual abuse by eliminating visa loopholes that allow minors to be brought to the country as spouses or fiancées of U.S. citizens.

“I marketed it as a bill that would create bipartisan discussion about immigration reform,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield said she believes other UNK students should strongly consider participating in the D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy, which offers academic credit and financial assistance.

“I think every college student should be looking for opportunities to improve themselves and grow professionally and personally, and this is an excellent opportunity for that,” she said. “Specifically, I think Nebraska college students need to realize their potential and their ability to impact the world around them, not just Nebraska. The Nebraska spirit is something D.C. could use a lot of and the country could use a lot of right now.”

By: Jacqui Fatka of Feedstuffs

The House passed bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act -- introduced by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D., N.Y.), along with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) and Reps. TJ Cox (D., Cal.), Kelly Armstrong (R., N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) -- which would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules.

According to the National Farm Bureau, last year, just 498 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By comparison: 766,000 consumers filed under Chapters 7 and 13. Over the last 10 years, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have seen 10 million total filings, compared to just 5,000 Chapter 12 filings.

Delgado said 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year of rising bankruptcy rates as a proportion of the farm population. “This farm economy is exacerbated by an outdated bankruptcy filing cap that leaves farmers without options to restructure or repay their debt,” he said on the House floor.

Delgado added that Chapter 12 was created specifically to provide repayment flexibility and reorganizational advantages for family farms during poor economic times. “Unfortunately, this outdated debt cap has rendered Chapter 12 an inaccessible tool to thousands of farm families,” he said.

“We must do more,” Delgado stated in his speech on the floor.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act’s solution is simple. My one-sentence bill would adjust the debt cap to align with today’s land values and the cost of doing business for today’s farmers. Our legislation modifies Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules to raise the debt cap for eligibility to $10 million. This adjustment will provide farmers additional options to manage the current farm economy and allow farmers to retain assets and remain operational. Allowing farmers increased flexibility is critical to the health and wellness of our family farmers and the upstate [New York] economy at large,” Delgado said.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall welcomed the bill’s passage. “After several consecutive years of a trying farm economy, updating Chapter 12 bankruptcy eligibility to the current scale and credit needs of U.S. agriculture is a necessity,” Duvall said, adding that the action will “ultimately help family farmers and ranchers avoid extremely difficult bankruptcy proceedings, giving them a better chance to get back on their feet and keep farming.”

By: Feedstuffs

The House passed bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act -- introduced by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D., N.Y.), along with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) and Reps. TJ Cox (D., Cal.), Kelly Armstrong (R., N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) -- which would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules.

According to the National Farm Bureau, last year, just 498 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By comparison: 766,000 consumers filed under Chapters 7 and 13. Over the last 10 years, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have seen 10 million total filings, compared to just 5,000 Chapter 12 filings.

Delgado said 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year of rising bankruptcy rates as a proportion of the farm population. “This farm economy is exacerbated by an outdated bankruptcy filing cap that leaves farmers without options to restructure or repay their debt,” he said on the House floor.

Delgado added that Chapter 12 was created specifically to provide repayment flexibility and reorganizational advantages for family farms during poor economic times. “Unfortunately, this outdated debt cap has rendered Chapter 12 an inaccessible tool to thousands of farm families,” he said.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act’s solution is simple. My one-sentence bill would adjust the debt cap to align with today’s land values and the cost of doing business for today’s farmers. Our legislation modifies Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules to raise the debt cap for eligibility to $10 million. This adjustment will provide farmers additional options to manage the current farm economy and allow farmers to retain assets and remain operational. Allowing farmers increased flexibility is critical to the health and wellness of our family farmers and the upstate [New York] economy at large,” Delgado said.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall welcomed the bill’s passage. “After several consecutive years of a trying farm economy, updating Chapter 12 bankruptcy eligibility to the current scale and credit needs of U.S. agriculture is a necessity,” Duvall said, adding that the action will “ultimately help family farmers and ranchers avoid extremely difficult bankruptcy proceedings, giving them a better chance to get back on their feet and keep farming.”

By: Margot Cleveland of the Federalist

When Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week, the biggest take-away was that the former special counsel did not know the name Fusion GPS—the firm the Clinton campaign hired to produce the Steele dossier. The breadth of Mueller’s ignorance, hedging, and silence in response to questions posed to him, however, was truly expansive.

While much of the criticism leveled at Mueller following his testimony focused on his ignorance of key facts and his confusion over the details contained in the special counsel’s report, the following seven lines of inquiry show Mueller knew exactly what he was doing.

1. I Don’t Know What the Regulations Say, Except When I Do

With Democrats hammering on Part 2 of the special counsel report, which addressed obstruction of justice, Republicans attempted to show that Mueller violated governing regulations by failing make a “charging or declination decision,” as required by the special counsel regulations.

“Let me begin by reading the special counsel regulations by which you were appointed,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. started: “It reads, quote, ‘At the conclusion of the special counsel’s work he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.’ Is that correct?”

Mueller replied, “Yes,” allowing Sensenbrenner to hammer the point: “When a regulation uses the word ‘shall provide’ does it mean that the individual is, in fact, obligated to provide what’s being demanded by the regulation or statute, meaning you don’t have any wiggle room, right?”

But Mueller, knowing full well that he had slimed President Trump in violation of the special counsel regulations, feigned ignorance, claiming he “would have to look more closely at the statute.” “I just read it to you,” an exasperated Sensenbrenner countered, before noting that special counsel report did not render a prosecutorial decision.

However, later Mueller had no problems answering a question about the special counsel regulations when they weren’t even quoted to him. “And pursuant to the special counsel regulations,” Rep. Martha Roby began, “who is the only party that must receive the charging decision resulting from the special counsel’s investigation?” The “attorney general,” Mueller easily and correctly replied, showing that on the terms of the special counsel regulations, he was no fool.

2. I’m Not Getting Into Any Details That Make Me Look Bad

Roby also questioned Mueller about Attorney General William Barr’s request that, when turning in the final special counsel report, Mueller highlight any grand jury materials included. Barr had explained in his earlier congressional testimony that he had requested Mueller submit the final report with the grand jury materials identified to allow for a quick redaction and release.

But, as Barr testified earlier this year, “Unfortunately it did not come in that form…so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly.” Barr explained that delay prompted him to release the report’s bottom-line findings, which in turn triggered Mueller’s “snitty letter” to the attorney general. More on that later.

Roby wanted to know why Mueller had ignored his boss’ directive. “On March 24, Attorney General Barr informed the committee that he had received the special counsel’s report and it was not until April 18 that the attorney general released the report to Congress and the public,” Roby started. “When you submitted your report to the attorney general, did you deliver a redacted version of the report so that he would be able to release it to Congress and the public without delay?” Roby asked.

“I’m not going to engage in discussion about what happened after the production of our report,” Mueller replied. Roby persisted: “Had the attorney general asked you to provide a redacted version of the report?” Now Mueller answered, but with a dodge: “We worked on redacted versions together.”

So apparently Mueller was willing to discuss what happened after he produced the report. Well, only if the answer wouldn’t subject him to criticism, that is, since when Roby asked whether Barr requested “a version where the grand jury material was separated,” Mueller said, “I’m not going to get into details.”

There was no legitimate basis for Mueller to refuse to answer that question. Barr had already testified before Congress that he had asked the special counsel to identify the grand jury materials in the report and that Mueller had failed to do so.

3. Lawyer-Like Answers When He Wanted

Mueller also displayed his legal agility when asked, “Did you personally review all of the underlying evidence gathered in your investigation?” “To the extent that it came through the special counsel’s office, yes,” Mueller told the committee.

Why that qualification? Because Mueller knew the special counsel’s office had not received all of the underlying evidence related to the investigation. So much for a thorough investigation!

Other times, Mueller displayed his dexterity by allowing Democrats to characterize the special counsel report and then agree that their portrayal was “generally correct.” For instance, when asked whether “the president is asking his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to create a record that McGahn believed to be untrue while you were in the midst of investigating the president for obstruction of justice,” the special counsel did the lawyerly squish of “generally correct.”

4. Who Was the Puppeteer?

Mueller also refused to answer any factual questions that made his team look bad. When quizzed on who wrote the “snitty letter” to the attorney general “essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report,” Mueller replied, “I can’t get into who wrote it.” Mueller also refused to explain why he wrote a formal letter to Barr instead of calling the attorney general to express the same concerns, as Barr wonderedin a CBS News interview.

But his congressional inquisitor knew the answer—it was to change the narrative about the special counsel report, because that March 27 letter was soon leaked to the press. We at least know that Mueller didn’t authorize the letter’s release, because when asked if he had, he said, “I have no knowledge” of that. When pushed, though, Mueller quickly reverted to non-answer answers, and when asked why, after nearly two years without a leak, “this letter leaked,” the special counsel countered, “I can’t get into it.”

While we don’t know the author of the “snitty” letter or the individual responsible for leaking it, we do know that Mueller wasn’t about to let his top “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann be dissed. Rather, when quizzed on Weissmann’s questionable history, Mueller defended his top prosecutor. Weissmann is “one of the most talented attorneys we’ve had over a period of time,” Mueller responded, when the committee pointed out that Weissmann led the prosecution of Arthur Anderson in a criminal case so bogus the Supreme Court reversed it 9-0.

5. Sergeant Schultz Goes to Washington

While Mueller hedged or sat in silence to avoid giving damaging testimony, when confronted with the mistakes or omissions contained in the special counsel report—or misconduct by team members—Mueller heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing. As just noted, he had no knowledge of the leak of “his” March 27 letter to Barr. Mueller also knew nothing about the special counsel report’s misrepresentations concerning conversations between Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and Giorgi Rtskhiladze.

The Mueller report had branded Rtskhiladze “a Russian businessman,” but the letter Rtskhiladze’s lawyer sent to Barr to complain about the special counsel’s misrepresentations of his client explained that Rtskhiladze was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and has been a permanent U.S. resident for 23 years and a citizen since 2017.

Rtskhiladze’s attorney also complained about the special counsel’s selective editing of text messages sent to Cohen. Mueller was “not familiar with that particular episode you’re talking about,” though.

6. It’s My Testimony and I’ll Talk If I Want To

For all his show about sticking within the four corners of the report, Mueller had no problem pontificating when he wanted to. For instance, when asked whether the lesson from the 2016 election would be that in future campaigns, presidential candidates would see no duty to report to authorities that a hostile foreign power is trying to influence the election, Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.” That testimony served no basis but to smear Trump.

Another time, when asked what Jeff Sessions could have done to restrict Mueller’s investigation had the former attorney general “unrecused” himself from the probe, Mueller said he “wasn’t going to speculate,” but then added that “obviously, if he took over as attorney general he would have greater latitude in his actions that would enable him to do things that otherwise he could not.”

Then there was Mueller’s testimony-non-testimony related to the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. Mueller was fine telling the committee that he was not in the approval chain, but didn’t want to discuss anything else.

Mueller was also completely okay with telling the committee that he only participated in a few of the approximately 500 interviews his team conducted. Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t say how many members of the special counsel team he had fired, but when asked whether he terminated Peter Strzok over an appearance of a major conflict of interest, Mueller answered: “No, he was transferred as a result of instances involving texts.”

Conversely, when asked whether special counsel lawyer Weissmann disclosed the email he had sent to former deputy attorney general Sally Yates expressing his pride and awe at her disobeying a direct order from President Trump, Mueller said “I’m not going to talk about that.”

“Is that not a conflict of interest?” Rep. Kelly Armstrong pushed. Again, “I’m not going to talk about that,” was Mueller’s response. But then Mueller told the committee that he was aware that special counsel team member Jeanne Ree had represented Hillary Clinton during the investigation into Hillary’s email scandal.

Then there was Mueller’s response to Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s legal analysis for obstruction of justice and concluding tirade that “this is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The president must be held accountable one way or the other.” Mueller was comfortable noting that while, “I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that, I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark.”

Other times, though, Mueller refused even a dribble of information, hiding behind his buzz phrases: “That is out of my purview”; “This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss”; “I can’t get into that”; and “It’s outside my jurisdiction.”

Selective Lack of Discussion Continues

Here are some other areas Mueller selectively didn’t want to discuss.

Mueller wouldn’t touch anything related to Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier—not even to tell the committee when he learned Steele’s allegations were unverified or if his team interviewed Steele. Nor would Mueller talk about Steele’s October 2016 meeting with the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec. And he wanted nothing to do with any questions about Glenn Simpson, the front man for Fusion GPS.

Of course, Mueller also claimed to know nothing about Fusion GPS even though they had hired Steele to get dirt on Trump, and the Steele dossier contained loads of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller also didn’t want to discuss the Russia lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the center of the Trump Tower meeting, or Veselnitskaya’s dinner with Simpson the night before and the night after she met with Donald Trump Jr. and others under the auspices of sharing dirt on Hillary.

The special counsel also refused to discuss Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who informed George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary—the tip that supposedly prompted the investigation into Trump campaign. The special counsel report said Mifsud lied to investigators three times, but Mueller wouldn’t explain why his team didn’t indict Mifsud for making false statements, as they had with Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Mueller also refused to “get into” whether Mifsud had lied to the special counsel, whether Mueller had personally interviewed Mifsud, and whether Mifsud was a “Western Intelligence of Russian intelligence” asset. In fact, Mueller got on such a roll in refusing to answer questions about Mifsud that the special counsel forgot what he had included in his report. Who told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary? Rep. Jim Jordan asked. “I can’t get into that,” Mueller began, before Jordan interrupted:

Yes, you can. You wrote about it. You gave us the answer on page 192 of the report. You tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud is the guy who told Papadopoulos. He lives in London and teaches at two universities. This is the guy who told Papadopoulos… [Mifsud] who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it off, for three years we’ve lived this now. He lies, and you guys don’t charge him. I’m curious as to why?

“Well, I can’t get into that,” Mueller claimed, shutting down the discussion.

Mueller also was not “going to go further in terms of discussing” the editing in the special counsel’s report that presented a telephone message from Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, to Flynn’s attorney in the worst possible light about Trump. The report made it appear that Dowd had improperly asked for confidential information, but the portion edited out of the transcript made clear that Trump’s attorney had done nothing of the sort.

Mueller was also “loathed” to answer Rep. Devin Nunes’s questions about why his report suggested that Ukrainian businessman and Paul Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian spy, while ignoring “hundreds of pages of government documents—which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018—describing Kilimnik as a ‘sensitive’ intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.”

While Nunes noted, “It was important for the committee to know if Kilimnik has ties to our own State Department,” Mueller stayed mum, allowing the report’s portrayal of Kilimnik as a Russian agent connected to the one-time Trump campaign chair Manafort to go unanswered.

Nor would Mueller get into whether, when appointed special counsel, he anticipated investigating Trump’s firing of James Comey. He wouldn’t discuss when he realized there was no “there, there” in the Russia collusion investigation. He wouldn’t discuss whether there were “significant changes in tone or substance of the report made after the announcement that the report would be made available to Congress and the public.” I wonder why!

Then there was Mueller’s legal theory for obstruction of justice. “Not everyone in the justice department agreed with your legal opinion,” a committee member pointed out. “I’m not going to be involved in a discussion on that at this juncture,” Mueller countered.

“In fact, the attorney general himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law, correct?” Again, Mueller demurred, saying he’d leave that up to Barr to say. Mueller did admit, though, that “prosecutors sometimes improperly adhere to the law.”

7. Equal Justice Under the Law For Everyone But Trump

Mueller also hedged when Republican committee members questioned him on the inverted “guilty until proven innocent standard” applied in Part 2 of the special counsel’s report. That portion of the report summarized the possibility of charging Trump for obstruction of justice and presented an unheard of perspective of the prosecutorial role—one that would require Mueller to “conclusively determine[] that no criminal conduct [had] occurred” and set up the special counsel as the judge and jury charged with deciding whether to exonerate the president.

Of course, that was not Mueller’s job, as Attorney General Barr explained during his congressional testimony earlier this year. “The report says that they could not be sure they could clearly say that [Trump] did not violate the law,” Barr explained. But “as you know, that’s not the standard, we use in the criminal justice system,” the attorney general stressed. Rather, “it’s presumed that someone is innocent, and the government has to prove that they clearly violated the law. We’re not in the business of exoneration, not in the business of proving they didn’t violate the law—I found that whole passage very bizarre,” Barr concluded.

Rep. John Ratcliffe attempted to question Mueller on this “bizarre” passage in the report by first reminding Mueller that he had just testified that the special counsel team operated under and followed Department of Justice guidelines. Then Ratcliffe pounced: “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?”

“I cannot,” Mueller admitted, before attempting to justify his nonsense: “But this is a unique situation.” Mueller made that point a second time when confronted with the statute again: “Isn’t it true that on page one of volume two, you state when you’re quoting the statute, the obligation is to either prosecute or not prosecute?” “Generally, that is the case,” Mueller acknowledged, “although most cases are not done in the context of the president.”

Mueller’s right. Most cases are not done in the context of the president. That’s because never before in our country’s history has the losing side in a presidential election attempted a soft coup executed by a resistance burrowed in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, DIA, and, as is now clear, the special counsel’s office.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and current adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

By: Margot Cleveland of the Federalist

When Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week, the biggest take-away was that the former special counsel did not know the name Fusion GPS—the firm the Clinton campaign hired to produce the Steele dossier. The breadth of Mueller’s ignorance, hedging, and silence in response to questions posed to him, however, was truly expansive.

While much of the criticism leveled at Mueller following his testimony focused on his ignorance of key facts and his confusion over the details contained in the special counsel’s report, the following seven lines of inquiry show Mueller knew exactly what he was doing.

1. I Don’t Know What the Regulations Say, Except When I Do

With Democrats hammering on Part 2 of the special counsel report, which addressed obstruction of justice, Republicans attempted to show that Mueller violated governing regulations by failing make a “charging or declination decision,” as required by the special counsel regulations.

“Let me begin by reading the special counsel regulations by which you were appointed,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. started: “It reads, quote, ‘At the conclusion of the special counsel’s work he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.’ Is that correct?”

Mueller replied, “Yes,” allowing Sensenbrenner to hammer the point: “When a regulation uses the word ‘shall provide’ does it mean that the individual is, in fact, obligated to provide what’s being demanded by the regulation or statute, meaning you don’t have any wiggle room, right?”

But Mueller, knowing full well that he had slimed President Trump in violation of the special counsel regulations, feigned ignorance, claiming he “would have to look more closely at the statute.” “I just read it to you,” an exasperated Sensenbrenner countered, before noting that special counsel report did not render a prosecutorial decision.

However, later Mueller had no problems answering a question about the special counsel regulations when they weren’t even quoted to him. “And pursuant to the special counsel regulations,” Rep. Martha Roby began, “who is the only party that must receive the charging decision resulting from the special counsel’s investigation?” The “attorney general,” Mueller easily and correctly replied, showing that on the terms of the special counsel regulations, he was no fool.

2. I’m Not Getting Into Any Details That Make Me Look Bad

Roby also questioned Mueller about Attorney General William Barr’s request that, when turning in the final special counsel report, Mueller highlight any grand jury materials included. Barr had explained in his earlier congressional testimony that he had requested Mueller submit the final report with the grand jury materials identified to allow for a quick redaction and release.

But, as Barr testified earlier this year, “Unfortunately it did not come in that form…so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly.” Barr explained that delay prompted him to release the report’s bottom-line findings, which in turn triggered Mueller’s “snitty letter” to the attorney general. More on that later.

Roby wanted to know why Mueller had ignored his boss’ directive. “On March 24, Attorney General Barr informed the committee that he had received the special counsel’s report and it was not until April 18 that the attorney general released the report to Congress and the public,” Roby started. “When you submitted your report to the attorney general, did you deliver a redacted version of the report so that he would be able to release it to Congress and the public without delay?” Roby asked.

“I’m not going to engage in discussion about what happened after the production of our report,” Mueller replied. Roby persisted: “Had the attorney general asked you to provide a redacted version of the report?” Now Mueller answered, but with a dodge: “We worked on redacted versions together.”

So apparently Mueller was willing to discuss what happened after he produced the report. Well, only if the answer wouldn’t subject him to criticism, that is, since when Roby asked whether Barr requested “a version where the grand jury material was separated,” Mueller said, “I’m not going to get into details.”

There was no legitimate basis for Mueller to refuse to answer that question. Barr had already testified before Congress that he had asked the special counsel to identify the grand jury materials in the report and that Mueller had failed to do so.

3. Lawyer-Like Answers When He Wanted

Mueller also displayed his legal agility when asked, “Did you personally review all of the underlying evidence gathered in your investigation?” “To the extent that it came through the special counsel’s office, yes,” Mueller told the committee.

Why that qualification? Because Mueller knew the special counsel’s office had not received all of the underlying evidence related to the investigation. So much for a thorough investigation!

Other times, Mueller displayed his dexterity by allowing Democrats to characterize the special counsel report and then agree that their portrayal was “generally correct.” For instance, when asked whether “the president is asking his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to create a record that McGahn believed to be untrue while you were in the midst of investigating the president for obstruction of justice,” the special counsel did the lawyerly squish of “generally correct.”

4. Who Was the Puppeteer?

Mueller also refused to answer any factual questions that made his team look bad. When quizzed on who wrote the “snitty letter” to the attorney general “essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report,” Mueller replied, “I can’t get into who wrote it.” Mueller also refused to explain why he wrote a formal letter to Barr instead of calling the attorney general to express the same concerns, as Barr wondered in a CBS News interview.

But his congressional inquisitor knew the answer—it was to change the narrative about the special counsel report, because that March 27 letter was soon leaked to the press. We at least know that Mueller didn’t authorize the letter’s release, because when asked if he had, he said, “I have no knowledge” of that. When pushed, though, Mueller quickly reverted to non-answer answers, and when asked why, after nearly two years without a leak, “this letter leaked,” the special counsel countered, “I can’t get into it.”

While we don’t know the author of the “snitty” letter or the individual responsible for leaking it, we do know that Mueller wasn’t about to let his top “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann be dissed. Rather, when quizzed on Weissmann’s questionable history, Mueller defended his top prosecutor. Weissmann is “one of the most talented attorneys we’ve had over a period of time,” Mueller responded, when the committee pointed out that Weissmann led the prosecution of Arthur Anderson in a criminal case so bogus the Supreme Court reversed it 9-0.

5. Sergeant Schultz Goes to Washington

While Mueller hedged or sat in silence to avoid giving damaging testimony, when confronted with the mistakes or omissions contained in the special counsel report—or misconduct by team members—Mueller heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing. As just noted, he had no knowledge of the leak of “his” March 27 letter to Barr. Mueller also knew nothing about the special counsel report’s misrepresentations concerning conversations between Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and Giorgi Rtskhiladze.

The Mueller report had branded Rtskhiladze “a Russian businessman,” but the letter Rtskhiladze’s lawyer sent to Barr to complain about the special counsel’s misrepresentations of his client explained that Rtskhiladze was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and has been a permanent U.S. resident for 23 years and a citizen since 2017.

Rtskhiladze’s attorney also complained about the special counsel’s selective editing of text messages sent to Cohen. Mueller was “not familiar with that particular episode you’re talking about,” though.

6. It’s My Testimony and I’ll Talk If I Want To

For all his show about sticking within the four corners of the report, Mueller had no problem pontificating when he wanted to. For instance, when asked whether the lesson from the 2016 election would be that in future campaigns, presidential candidates would see no duty to report to authorities that a hostile foreign power is trying to influence the election, Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.” That testimony served no basis but to smear Trump.

Another time, when asked what Jeff Sessions could have done to restrict Mueller’s investigation had the former attorney general “unrecused” himself from the probe, Mueller said he “wasn’t going to speculate,” but then added that “obviously, if he took over as attorney general he would have greater latitude in his actions that would enable him to do things that otherwise he could not.”

Then there was Mueller’s testimony-non-testimony related to the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. Mueller was fine telling the committee that he was not in the approval chain, but didn’t want to discuss anything else.

Mueller was also completely okay with telling the committee that he only participated in a few of the approximately 500 interviews his team conducted. Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t say how many members of the special counsel team he had fired, but when asked whether he terminated Peter Strzok over an appearance of a major conflict of interest, Mueller answered: “No, he was transferred as a result of instances involving texts.”

Conversely, when asked whether special counsel lawyer Weissmann disclosed the email he had sent to former deputy attorney general Sally Yates expressing his pride and awe at her disobeying a direct order from President Trump, Mueller said “I’m not going to talk about that.”

“Is that not a conflict of interest?” Rep. Kelly Armstrong pushed. Again, “I’m not going to talk about that,” was Mueller’s response. But then Mueller told the committee that he was aware that special counsel team member Jeanne Ree had represented Hillary Clinton during the investigation into Hillary’s email scandal.

Then there was Mueller’s response to Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s legal analysis for obstruction of justice and concluding tirade that “this is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The president must be held accountable one way or the other.” Mueller was comfortable noting that while, “I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that, I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark.”

Other times, though, Mueller refused even a dribble of information, hiding behind his buzz phrases: “That is out of my purview”; “This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss”; “I can’t get into that”; and “It’s outside my jurisdiction.”

Selective Lack of Discussion Continues

Here are some other areas Mueller selectively didn’t want to discuss.

Mueller wouldn’t touch anything related to Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier—not even to tell the committee when he learned Steele’s allegations were unverified or if his team interviewed Steele. Nor would Mueller talk about Steele’s October 2016 meeting with the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec. And he wanted nothing to do with any questions about Glenn Simpson, the front man for Fusion GPS.

Of course, Mueller also claimed to know nothing about Fusion GPS even though they had hired Steele to get dirt on Trump, and the Steele dossier contained loads of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller also didn’t want to discuss the Russia lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the center of the Trump Tower meeting, or Veselnitskaya’s dinner with Simpson the night before and the night after she met with Donald Trump Jr. and others under the auspices of sharing dirt on Hillary.

The special counsel also refused to discuss Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who informed George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary—the tip that supposedly prompted the investigation into Trump campaign. The special counsel report said Mifsud lied to investigators three times, but Mueller wouldn’t explain why his team didn’t indict Mifsud for making false statements, as they had with Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Mueller also refused to “get into” whether Mifsud had lied to the special counsel, whether Mueller had personally interviewed Mifsud, and whether Mifsud was a “Western Intelligence of Russian intelligence” asset. In fact, Mueller got on such a roll in refusing to answer questions about Mifsud that the special counsel forgot what he had included in his report. Who told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary? Rep. Jim Jordan asked. “I can’t get into that,” Mueller began, before Jordan interrupted:

Yes, you can. You wrote about it. You gave us the answer on page 192 of the report. You tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud is the guy who told Papadopoulos. He lives in London and teaches at two universities. This is the guy who told Papadopoulos… [Mifsud] who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it off, for three years we’ve lived this now. He lies, and you guys don’t charge him. I’m curious as to why?

“Well, I can’t get into that,” Mueller claimed, shutting down the discussion.

Mueller also was not “going to go further in terms of discussing” the editing in the special counsel’s report that presented a telephone message from Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, to Flynn’s attorney in the worst possible light about Trump. The report made it appear that Dowd had improperly asked for confidential information, but the portion edited out of the transcript made clear that Trump’s attorney had done nothing of the sort.

Mueller was also “loathed” to answer Rep. Devin Nunes’s questions about why his report suggested that Ukrainian businessman and Paul Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian spy, while ignoring “hundreds of pages of government documents—which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018—describing Kilimnik as a ‘sensitive’ intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.”

While Nunes noted, “It was important for the committee to know if Kilimnik has ties to our own State Department,” Mueller stayed mum, allowing the report’s portrayal of Kilimnik as a Russian agent connected to the one-time Trump campaign chair Manafort to go unanswered.

Nor would Mueller get into whether, when appointed special counsel, he anticipated investigating Trump’s firing of James Comey. He wouldn’t discuss when he realized there was no “there, there” in the Russia collusion investigation. He wouldn’t discuss whether there were “significant changes in tone or substance of the report made after the announcement that the report would be made available to Congress and the public.” I wonder why!

Then there was Mueller’s legal theory for obstruction of justice. “Not everyone in the justice department agreed with your legal opinion,” a committee member pointed out. “I’m not going to be involved in a discussion on that at this juncture,” Mueller countered.

“In fact, the attorney general himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law, correct?” Again, Mueller demurred, saying he’d leave that up to Barr to say. Mueller did admit, though, that “prosecutors sometimes improperly adhere to the law.”

7. Equal Justice Under the Law For Everyone But Trump

Mueller also hedged when Republican committee members questioned him on the inverted “guilty until proven innocent standard” applied in Part 2 of the special counsel’s report. That portion of the report summarized the possibility of charging Trump for obstruction of justice and presented an unheard of perspective of the prosecutorial role—one that would require Mueller to “conclusively determine[] that no criminal conduct [had] occurred” and set up the special counsel as the judge and jury charged with deciding whether to exonerate the president.

Of course, that was not Mueller’s job, as Attorney General Barr explained during his congressional testimony earlier this year. “The report says that they could not be sure they could clearly say that [Trump] did not violate the law,” Barr explained. But “as you know, that’s not the standard, we use in the criminal justice system,” the attorney general stressed. Rather, “it’s presumed that someone is innocent, and the government has to prove that they clearly violated the law. We’re not in the business of exoneration, not in the business of proving they didn’t violate the law—I found that whole passage very bizarre,” Barr concluded.

Rep. John Ratcliffe attempted to question Mueller on this “bizarre” passage in the report by first reminding Mueller that he had just testified that the special counsel team operated under and followed Department of Justice guidelines. Then Ratcliffe pounced: “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?”

“I cannot,” Mueller admitted, before attempting to justify his nonsense: “But this is a unique situation.” Mueller made that point a second time when confronted with the statute again: “Isn’t it true that on page one of volume two, you state when you’re quoting the statute, the obligation is to either prosecute or not prosecute?” “Generally, that is the case,” Mueller acknowledged, “although most cases are not done in the context of the president.”

Mueller’s right. Most cases are not done in the context of the president. That’s because never before in our country’s history has the losing side in a presidential election attempted a soft coup executed by a resistance burrowed in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, DIA, and, as is now clear, the special counsel’s office.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), Doug Collins (GA-09), and Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL) introduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). This legislation would require that Congress has the opportunity to take an up or down vote on any executive branch agency rule that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.

“It is time for Congress to reclaim its Article I authority by restoring the constitutional balance of power. The American people deserve a more direct say in regulations that could impact their everyday lives. The REINS Act would place a desperately needed check on unelected bureaucrats, saving taxpayers money,” said Sensenbrenner. “We’ve made great strides in growing the economy and increasing people’s take-home pay through historic tax cuts and regulatory reform. Now, Congress must take action to rein in the growth of bureaucratic red tape permanently. I’m proud to sponsor this important bill and thank Congressmen Collins and Armstrong for lending their support to this effort.”

“Article I of the Constitution, in its very first words, gives Congress the federal government’s legislative power, yet federal agencies routinely try to impose burdensome financial consequences without congressional input. That’s not right,” said Collins. “The REINS Act targets substantial regulatory abuses by the executive branch, and it would prevent agencies from enacting rules that have a major economic impact without congressional and presidential approval. I appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Armstrong in introducing this critical legislation, and I encourage Chairman Nadler to take up this commonsense bill.” 

“This bill reasserts Congress’s role in writing laws and increases accountability to the American people by requiring congressional approval of regulations that would cost the economy over $100 million, drastically increase costs for consumers, or otherwise harm the economy,” said Armstrong. “Reining in the unelected bureaucracy will save taxpayer dollars and keep the economy growing.”

You can read a copy of the bill here.

By: Day After Magazine

US President Donald Trump has said that Republicans have had “a very good day” with the appearance of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before Congress to testify on the Russia probe, adding that the hearings proved to be a “disaster” for Democrats.

“We had a very good day today,” Efe news quoted Trump as saying to reporters at the White House, lambasting yet again Mueller’s independent two-year investigation into Russian election meddling and calling it a “witch hunt.”

“There was no defence to this ridiculous hoax,” Trump said, adding “So this was a very big day for our country. This was a very big day for the Republican Party. And you could say it was a great day for me.”

He called Mueller’s performance before two House committees “horrible,” although the former special counsel – who before that was head of the FBI – in his seven hours of nationally-televised congressional testimony strongly denied the president’s repeated claim that the in-depth investigation was a “witch hunt” pushed by anti-Trump Democrats.

“He had a lot of problems,” Trump said of Mueller’s testimony. “But what he showed more than anything else is that this whole thing has been three years of embarrassment and waste of time for our country.”

“This has been a disaster for the Democrats,” he stated.

The former special counsel who investigated alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign reiterated during his testimony before lawmakers on Wednesday that he did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice.

Mueller also said Trump could face charges after leaving office.

In much-anticipated televised hearings under oath before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees of the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives, Mueller responded with a brief “no” when asked by the chairman of the Judiciary panel, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, whether his investigation had exonerated Trump of any crime.

“The president was not exculpated for the acts he allegedly committed,” Mueller said. He also responded “yes” when asked by a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee if Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving the White House.

Those remarks contradict Trump’s repeated contention in recent months that Mueller and his team had completely cleared him of both collusion and obstruction.

The 74-year-old Mueller, who began his investigation in May 2017 after being appointed special counsel by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, delivered a final report on his findings to the US Justice Department in March of this year. The Justice Department subsequently released a redacted version to the public a month later and prior to his testimony on Wednesday advised Mueller not to divulge redacted portions of the report.

Mueller concluded that the Kremlin had meddled in the election to help Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton but found insufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the election process.

Mueller also stated in the report that he did not make a determination on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice, noting that US Justice Department policy prevents a sitting president from being charged with a federal crime.

The report, however, stated that if Mueller and his team had conclusively concluded that Trump had not committed obstruction of justice they would have said so.

Wednesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee marked the first time Mueller had taken questions from lawmakers about the Russia investigation.

In his remarks, however, he refused to stray from the contents of his report; in fact, a tally by US television network CNN found that he declined to answer questions from lawmakers on 110 occasions and referred them to his report 39 times.

“It is unusual for a prosecutor to testify about a criminal investigation and given my role as a prosecutor there are reasons why my testimony will be limited,” Mueller said in his opening remarks to the House Judiciary panel.

In that regard, the former FBI director refused to answer questions about the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into alleged Trump-Russia collusion, an investigation it opened in July 2016.

Mueller, who inherited that investigation, in particular told the committee that he could not answer questions about matters relating to the controversial “Steele dossier.”

That report was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who had been hired by Trump’s political enemies to look into the then-Republican presidential candidate’s ties to Russia and help derail his bid for the White House.

Mueller’s report described as “unverified” the allegations contained in the dossier, which said the Trump campaign may have conspired with Moscow and that Russian intelligence had footage of Trump taking part in lewd acts in a Moscow hotel room and could blackmail him.

Republicans in Congress published a memo early last year alleging that the FBI and the Justice Department engaged in improper surveillance in the Russia-Trump investigation, including using the Steele dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) probable cause order authorizing electronic surveillance of Carter Page, a US citizen who served as a volunteer adviser to the Trump campaign.

Steele’s research was partially funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, the memo noted.

Yet the memo said that neither the initial application for the FISA warrant in October 2016 (shortly before the US presidential election) nor any of its subsequent renewals “disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.”

The memo also said that Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

Democrats later released a counter-memo that said the Republican memo was filled with incomplete information and misleading.

During one of the most tense moments of Mueller’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, he was asked by Republican lawmaker Jim Sensenbrenner why he did not refer any of his findings to the House for possible impeachment.

Mueller responded that a determination on whether Trump should be impeached was not part of his mandate and that that decision would have to be made by House lawmakers.

While Republicans unsuccessfully sought answers to questions about the origins of the Russia probe, Democrats fulfilled their objective of having Mueller reiterate the conclusions of his report to a national audience.

Their hope is that Mueller’s testimony can influence public opinion ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

While Mueller was testifying, Trump took to Twitter and cited the commentary of journalists from conservative television network Fox News.

In one tweet, Trump cited Fox News’ Chris Wallace as saying, “This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”

Hours before the hearings began, Trump questioned Mueller’s objectivity on Twitter and said that a day before being named special counsel he had been interviewed for the position of FBI director and been turned down.

During his testimony, Mueller said he had attended a meeting at the White House about the FBI in May 2017 in the wake of the firing of that agency’s director, James Comey. But he said did not attend the meeting as a candidate.

Mueller’s investigation led to 34 indictments (including of 26 Russian nationals), among them Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen; and his first White House national security adviser, Michael Flynn.