Congressional Republicans say former special counsel Robert Mueller may have lied during his testimony before the House Intel and Judiciary Committees last month, and a new report shows there is evidence to back up the claim.
What are the details?
The allegations were detailed in a report — including documentary evidence —published by RealClearInvestigations on Wednesday.
Reporter Paul Sperry provided newly-released court documents indicating that Mueller might have made his brief news conference in May "as damage control after a federal judge privately threatened to hold his team in criminal contempt of court over what she called misleading language in his final report about Russian government interference in the 2016 election."
Indeed, the day before Mueller made his public appearance on May 29, Judge Dabney Friedrich scolded the special counsel for implying that accused "trolling" firms run by Russian citizens were linked to the Russian government without providing evidence for such a link.
Friedrich ordered the prosecution (under threat of contempt) to clarify that its allegations "remain unproven."
During Mueller's press conference he emphasized that the indicted Russians were "private" entities. According to RealClear Investigations, that apparently satisfied Friedrich. The judge wrote in a July 1 opinion "that Mueller had 'demonstrated' the government had complied with her order with his statements to the media."
But when Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) questioned Mueller during the former special counsel's testimony, the congressman asked, "Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms, when in court you've been unable to produce any evidence to support it?"
Mueller refused "to get into that any further."
McClintock noted, "In fact, the judge...considered holding prosecutors in criminal contempt. She backed off, only after your hastily called press conference the next day in which you retroactively made the distinction between the Russian government and Russian troll farms. Did your press conference on May 29th have anything to do with the threat to hold your prosecutors in contempt the previous day for publicly misrepresenting evidence?"
"No," Mueller responded.
McClintock told RealClearInvestigations of Mueller's answer, "It certainly doesn't pass the smell test," adding "If he lied, he's guilty of perjury and lying to Congress. I think this would be of interest to the U.S. attorney investigating misconduct in this matter and the inspector general's office."
It's unlikely that that Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee would turn the matter over to the Department of Justice, McClintock said. "The committee is run by Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and the Democrats, so I suspect the answer is 'No.'"