Special Counsel says Russians could be meddling in the upcoming election
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in back to back hearings that revealed little new information about Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election but did offer new insights into potential election interference ahead of the 2020 elections. Throughout his seven hour testimony two weeks ago, Mueller remained characteristically tight-lipped, declining to speak on matters outside those specifically addressed in his 448 page report that summarized his office’s investigation, published last April.
Despite Mueller’s generally mute approach in responding to questions from Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike, the former FBI director became somewhat animated toward the end of the hearing. Following questions about systematic Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections, Mueller showed a flash of indignation on the subject of WikiLeaks. “It’s problematic—is an understatement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” he stated on the stand.
Mueller did not offer his opinion on questions when pressed by representatives, and even refused to read directly from his own report.
He did however describe the President’s written answers as generally untruthful when asked by Rep. Val Demmings (D-Fl). This came after his explanation to the panel that he chose to not subpoena the President for an in-person interview in order to “expedite” the process. Mueller also agreed with House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, in that the President’s claims that the report had completely exonerated him and that the investigation had found no obstruction. “Correct, that is not what the report said.”
Mueller was also given the chance to elaborate on potential future election interference conducted by the Russians. The former special counsel does not believe that the general public has completely understood the elaborate and targeted nature of Russia’s 2016 attacks. Mueller has also stated that the government has not taken appropriate steps in order to prevent potential future attacks. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif) asked Mueller for what he thought was the most important aspect of his findings, “We spent substantial time ensuring the integrity of the report, understanding it would be a living message to those who came after us. It is a signal, a flag to those of us who have responsibility to exercise that responsibility, not to let this kind of thing happen again.”
Mueller also stated that the attack on the 2016 election “Wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here.”
Two bills were brought before the Senate focusing on election security and asked to be passed with unanimous consent. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) brought forth a House bill that would require the use of paper ballots and included funding for the Election Assistance program. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D Conn.) presented a bill that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign Governments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected to both bills. Per Senate rules, any one senator can ask for a bill to be passed, and any one senator can object and have the bill be dropped.
Schumer called Muller’s testimony “A clarion call for election security. Mueller’s testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative that the integrity of our elections is at stake. This is all about the future of this country.”
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Mueller did not talk about topics outside of his report, but did warn about future interference in U.S. elections.
By Jack Dunn | Campus News Editor