Rep. Doug Collins put the screws to former Special Council head Robert Mueller during his hearing, demanding to clarify the use of the terms “conspiracy” and “collusion,” to put to rest the Democrat talking point that the president “colluded” with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.
“Is that any true that your investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russian government in the election interference activity?” Collins asked. Mueller answered affirmatively. Collins then went further to question whether “conspiracy” and “collusion” are used interchangeably “in the colloquial context.”
Mueller appeared to become flustered when asked if he contradicted himself over the definitions and use of the terms. When asked to answer whether “‘collusion’ and ‘conspiracy’ are synonymous terms,” in “the colloquial context,” Mueller initially answered “no,” but when Collins read his report back to him, Mueller then decided to defer to the content in his report, which made it clear that yes, the words are used interchangeably. This also determines that the Trump campaign was not guilty of conspiring with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, a major Democrat talking point for the last 2 years.
At the end of his questioning, Collins asked if Mueller had “ever look[ed] into other countries investigated in the Russia interference into our election,” but the Director declined to answer, saying that he will not be “discussing other matters.” In his opening statement, Mueller noted that he will not be answering questions about things like the Steele dossier and the origins of the Trump investigation – all things that Republicans had been desperate to seek closure and clarification on going into this hearing. Whether that is coincidence or intentional, is not entirely clear.
We do know that Collins had intended to question Mueller on the specific issues that Mueller immediately declined to comment on, and that this list had been released prior to the hearing today. Perhaps Bobby is afraid to paint Trump in too good a light? Or reveal something that would vindicate the president’s “witch hunt” claims, given that the beginning of this whole investigation is extremely suspicious?
That will have to be determined later.
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