WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) questioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his findings regarding President Trump directing his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the Special Counsel’s investigation to elections after 2016.
The video of Cicilline’s questions and Mueller’s testimony can be viewed by clicking the image below. A full transcript is embedded at the end of this email.
Cicilline Questioning Special Counsel Mueller
House Judiciary Committee
July 24, 2019
Cicilline: Director, as you know, we are specifically focusing on five separate obstruction episodes here today I would like to ask you about the third episode. It is in the section of your report entitled “The President’s Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation” beginning at page 90. And by “curtail” you mean limit, correct?
Cicilline: My colleagues have walked through how the President tried to have you fired through the White House Counsel. And, because Mr. McGahn refused the order, the President asked others to help limit your investigation, is that correct?
Cicilline: And was Corey Lewandowski one such individual? Corey Lewandowski is the President’s former campaign manager, correct?
Cicilline: Did he have any official position in the Trump administration?
Mueller: I don’t believe so.
Cicilline: Your report describes an incident in the Oval Office involving Mr. Lewandowski on June 19, 2017 at Vol. 2 Page 91, is that correct?
Mueller: I’m sorry, what’s the citation sir.
DC: Page 91
Mueller: Of the second volume?
DC: Yes, a meeting in the Oval Office between Mr. Lewandowski and the President. And that was just two days after the President called Don McGahn at home and ordered him to fire you, is that correct?
Mueller: Apparently so
Cicilline: So right after his White House Counsel, Mr. McGahn, refused to follow the President’s order to fire you, the President came up with a new plan – and that was to go around all of his senior advisors and government aides to have a private citizen try to limit your investigation. What did the President tell Mr. Lewandowski to do? Do you recall he dictated a message to Mr. Lewandowski for Attorney General Sessions and asked him to write it down, is that correct? (91, Vol. II)
Cicilline: Did you and your team see this hand-written message?
Mueller: I’m not going to get into what we may or may not have included in our investigation.
Cicilline: The message directed Sessions to give and I’m quoting from your report to give a public speech saying that he planned to, “meet with the Special Prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.” That’s at page 91. Is that correct?
Mueller: Yes I see that, thank you. Yes it is.
Cicilline: In other words, Mr. Lewandowski, a private citizen, was instructed by the President to deliver a message from the President to the Attorney General that directed him to limit your investigation, correct?
Cicilline: And at this time, Sessions was still recused from oversight of your investigation, correct?
Mueller: I’m sorry could you restate?
DC: The Attorney General was recused from oversight?
Cicilline: So the Attorney General would have needed to violate his own Department’s rules in order to comply with the President’s order, correct?
Mueller: I’m not going to get into the subsidiary details. I refer you again to page 91, 92 of the report.
Cicilline: If the Attorney General had followed through with the President’s request, Mr. Mueller it would have effectively ended your investigation into the President and his campaign as you know it on page 97, correct?
At page 97, Volume II of your report, you wrote: “Taken together, the President’s directives indicate that Sessions was being instructed to tell the Special Counsel to end the existing investigation into the President and his campaign, with the Special Counsel being permitted to ‘move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.’” Is that correct?
Mueller: Generally true, yes sir.
Cicilline: And an unsuccessful attempt to obstruct justice is still a crime?
Mueller: That is correct.
Cicilline: And Mr. Lewandowski tried to meet with the Attorney General, is that right?
Cicilline: And he tried to meet with him in his office so he would be certain there wasn’t a public log of the visit? (92, Vol. II)
Mueller: According to what we gathered for the report.
Cicilline: And the meeting never happened, but the President raised the issue again with Mr. Lewandowski, and this time he said “if Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired,” correct? (p. 93, Vol. II)
Cicilline: So, “immediately following the meeting with the President, Lewandowski” then asked Mr. Dearborn to deliver the message, who’s the former Chief of Staff to Mr. Sessions. (93, Vol. II) Mr. Dearborn refused to deliver it because he doesn’t feel comfortable. Isn’t that correct? (93, Vol. II)
Mueller: Generally correct, yes.
Cicilline: Just so we’re clear, Mr. Mueller, two days after White House Counsel McGahn refused to carry out the President’s order to fire you, the President directed a private citizen to tell the Attorney General of the United States, who was recused at the time, to limit your investigation to future elections, effectively ending your investigation into the 2016 Trump Campaign. Is that correct?
Mueller: I’m not going to adopt your characterization, but the facts as laid out in the report are accurate.
Cicilline: Well, Mr. Mueller, in your report, you in fact write at page 97, “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President and his campaign’s conduct.” Is that correct?
Cicilline: So, Mr. Mueller, you have seen the letter where a thousand former Republican and Democratic federal prosecutors have read your report and said anyone but the President who committed those acts would be charged with Obstruction of Justice. Do you agree with those former colleagues, a thousand prosecutors who came to that conclusion.