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Robert Mueller Speaks to Congress

Washington, DC —(Map)

Robert Mueller spoke to Congress yesterday. Many people expected excitement from the man who looked into whether US President Donald Trump and people working for him broke the law, but the meeting seems to have changed little.

After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, many people questioned whether there were connections between Mr. Trump’s campaign (the people working to elect him) and the Russian government.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller used to lead the FBI. Then he became the “special counsel”. He spent almost two years trying to figure out if Mr. Trump had broken the law.
(Source: Medill DC, via Flickr.com.)

Robert Mueller, who used to lead the FBI, was chosen as a “special counsel”. His job was to investigate – to try and find out what really happened.

Mr. Mueller looked into two main crimes:

  • Coordination (“collusion”) – whether Mr. Trump’s campaign worked with Russia to help Mr. Trump win the election.
  • Obstruction of justice – whether Mr. Trump tried to stop Mr. Mueller or others from finding out if he broke the law.

Mr. Mueller finished a 448-page report, which was finally released in April. But much of the report was kept secret.

Thumbnails of pages of the Mueller report with redactions.
Mr. Mueller finished a 448-page report, which was finally released in April. But much of the report was kept secret.
(Source: NewsForKids.net [CC BY-SA 4.0].)

The report said that though there were many contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and people working for Russia, Mr. Mueller didn’t find proof that the two groups worked together in a way that was against the law.

The Mueller report didn’t make a decision about obstruction of justice. Mr. Mueller said that he couldn’t say Mr. Trump was innocent, but that he also couldn’t charge Mr. Trump with that crime while he was still president. But the report did point out that Congress could charge Mr. Trump with a crime, if they decide to. This is called “impeaching” the president.

Many Republicans  believe the Mueller report shows that the president did nothing wrong. Most Democrats  believe that the report suggests that Mr. Trump might have broken the law.

President Trump at podium
Many Republicans believe the Mueller report shows that the president did nothing wrong. Most Democrats believe that the report suggests that Mr. Trump might have broken the law.
(Source: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.com.)

Democrats were eager to have Mr. Mueller answer questions in front of Congress.  But in yesterday’s meeting, Mr. Mueller worked very hard not to give away any information that wasn’t already in his report. In many cases he refused to answer questions. Much of the time he answered questions with simple, one-word answers, such as “Correct.”

Democrats who had been hoping to entertain and inform ordinary Americans were probably disappointed. But Democrats did get Mr. Mueller to repeat that he was unable to clear the president of a crime. They also got him to agree that Mr. Trump could be charged with a crime once he is no longer president.

But Mr. Mueller was not lively and exciting. If anything, he was a little boring.

Official portrait of U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York, was one of the Democrats who questioned Mr. Mueller.
(Source: U.S. House Office of Photography [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Republicans had a different goal: They wanted to make Mr. Mueller look bad. Mr. Mueller came prepared to answer questions about his report, but he didn’t seem ready to defend himself.

Mr. Trump and the Republicans say Mr. Mueller’s visit to Congress was a win for them. For Democrats who were hoping Mr. Mueller’s comments would encourage Congress to impeach Mr. Trump, it is unclear if they got what they wanted.

Did You Know…?

One thing Mr. Mueller did make clear is that the Russians worked to change the results of the 2016 election. He says they are working hard to change the results of future elections, too.

Washington, DC


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