Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony blotted out the sun on Wednesday, but the most explosive bombshell went largely ignored: the fact that Mueller’s testimony clearly implicated President Donald Trump in the crime of perjury.
While media figures focus on things like the “optics” of the hearings and Mueller’s demeanor during them, and a narrative that nothing to support impeachment was revealed becomes the prevailing wisdom, the implications of Mueller’s exchange with Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) have gone largely overlooked.
During Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Demings questioned Mueller about Trump’s written responses, which are included in the Mueller report.
While Mueller spent much of their exchange asking for citations, which caused Demings to repeatedly move on to the next question, three of his responses were key.
At the beginning of her questioning, Rep. Demings asked Mueller “Were the president’s answers submitted under oath?” to which Mueller replied “Yes. Yes.”
That’s one key element in establishing perjury.
Later in her exchange with Mueller, Demings asked, “And there were many answers that contradicted other evidence you had gathered during the investigation. Isn’t that correct, Director Mueller?”
“Yes,” Mueller replied, demonstrating that there is evidence to support the charge that Trump was untruthful in his responses under oath.
“Director Mueller, isn’t it fair to say that the president’s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete, because he didn’t answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers showed that he wasn’t always being truthful?” Demings asked at the conclusion of her questioning.
“I would say, generally,” Mueller replied, satisfying another key element of perjury, that Trump made false statements under oath.
“Generally?” Demings said. “Director Mueller, it’s one thing for the president to lie to the American people about your investigation, falsely claiming that you found no collusion and no obstruction, but it’s something else altogether for him to get away with not answering your questions and lying about them, and as a former law enforcement officer of almost 30 years, I find that a disgrace to our criminal justice system.”
Since Mueller made clear in his testimony and eponymous report that he could not indict Trump under Justice Department policy, it would be the responsibility of some other body to determine if Trump’s false statements under oath satisfied the other elements of perjury — specific intent and materiality — and as Mueller’s report also notes, that body would be Congress.
But Mueller’s testimony clearly confirms that according to Mueller, Trump made false statements, made them under oath, and there is evidence that those statements are false. That’s big news, or it should be.
Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN.
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