Washington It was not a normal day in the US Congress, even though you're used to some spectacles on Capitol Hill. The testimony of Robert Mueller, who until recently investigated the so-called Russia affair as a special investigator, attracted masses of visitors on Wednesday. Hundreds of yards of snakes slipped through the corridors of the Rayburn Building, a side wing on the convention grounds. Interns from government officials who wanted to attend the hearing camped outside the boardroom with pizza boxes the night before to keep their bosses free.
At the end Mueller was supposed to make a marathon appearance, and he was interviewed by two different committees for about seven hours. He had spent almost two years studying Russia's influence over the 2016 US election and the role of US President Donald Trump, and presented his final report in April. The White House called the event "a terrible embarrassment". And Trump again found himself completely relieved: "NO CONSPIRACY, NO JUSTICE PREVENTION!" He wrote on Twitter.
But Mueller contradicted Trump, at least in the second point explicitly, the suspicion of judicial disability. The 74-year-old left again open whether Trump acted as a criminal criminal. "Can the US President be completely relieved of the charge of disability?" Was one of the first questions in Congress. "No," Mueller replied. The cognition as such is not new, because the most important passage in its 448-page report is: "Although this report does not conclude that the President has committed a crime, he does not relieve him. The actions and intentions of the President prevent us from concluding that there was no criminal behavior ". Mueller's report abounds with examples showing how Trump wanted to steer the investigation out of the White House. Mueller's statement in front of the camera now reminded that the Russia affair could well have a legal sequel.
Charge for Trump's term?
Mueller had waived in April on the recommendation of an indictment against Trump or his family. The Special Investigator left it to other authorities or the US Congress to draw its own conclusions from the investigation. One reason for this was the US government's legal opinion that an incumbent president could not be tried by a federal or federal court, at least not without a prior political impeachment trial in Congress. However, Mueller did not exclude any later consequences. When asked if Trump could possibly be sued after the end of his term, Müller replied: "Correct".
Above all, the US Democrats had pressed for a survey, also because parts of the report are blacked out, and because they want to impel Trump in the approaching election campaign. Already in the course of the ongoing investigation, calls for impeachment proceedings had become loud. However, it does not become more probable that this will happen after Mueller's performance. Even before, there was no majority in Congress, and Mueller delivered on Wednesday no additional details that could have brought the mood to tilt. "Everything you need to know is in my report," he had emphasized before his testimony. Mueller does not like to be in the limelight, he often had questions repeated and made some mistakes, because he could not answer specific questions. Working in the background is more to him than what he proved to be a FBI boss under George W. Bush and Barack Obama for years.
"Russia will try again"
Only with the second central complex of the survey, the extent of Russian influence on the presidential elections in 2016, Mueller showed emotions. The attacks from Moscow are not over, he warned, but continue to cause concern. "The threat emanating from Russia was one of the biggest threats I have investigated in my professional life," said Mueller, who also led the FBI investigation after the 9/11 attacks. He assumes that "many other countries" develop skills to interfere in democratic processes. "This topic requires the attention of every US citizen".
US intelligence agencies believe that Russia wanted to influence US democracy through massively spread false news on the Internet and hacker attacks. Spies infiltrated local campaigns, programmers activated hundreds of thousands of social media accounts to spread disinformation and hate speech. According to Mueller witnesses, Russian President Vladimir Putin also targeted targeted businessmen from his country to contact the Trump team. The goal was to ease the US sanctions policy against Russia after the election. For the ex-special investigator, he made it clear in Congress, the danger from Russia is not banished. Russia remains a threat, even for the presidential elections of 2020. "They do it while we sit here," Mueller warned, "and they will try again in the next election campaign."
The Mueller report did not find any evidence that Trump or his background had knowingly coordinated with the Russian government. From the criminal charge of conspiracy with foreign forces, he relieved Trump so. In Congress, however, Mueller made clear that the Trump campaign before and after the election was susceptible to manipulative efforts from Moscow. For example, news reports between Trump's son Don Jr. and the Wikileaks disclosure platform are related to Hillary Clinton's stolen emails. His father even publicly called Wikileaks on Twitter to publish hacked material. "Problematic is still an understatement," commented Mueller on Wednesday in front of the deputies. Legally, the Trump family need fear no consequences, but the signal is still devastating, Mueller stressed. Political campaigns should never be open to foreign aid, he suggested. "I do not hope that will become normal, but I'm afraid that's it."
More: The US president is open to information from abroad that would help him in the election campaign. That was not interference, so Trump.
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