Pa. representatives stick to party line in Mueller hearing

Former special counsel Robert Mueller, checks pages in the report as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Former special counsel Robert Mueller, checks pages in the report as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Three Pennsylvania members of Congress had a chance to question former Special Counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Like most of their colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, they appeared to have wildly different reactions to his report based on their party affiliation.

Democrats focused on Mueller’s conclusion that his investigation had not cleared President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. Republicans, meanwhile, repeatedly disparaged the fact that Mueller detailed potential misconduct on Trump’s part, while still choosing not to indict him.

That’s the tack Pennsylvania Republican Guy Reschenthaler took — and with which Mueller took issue.

“You compiled nearly 450 pages of the very worst information you gathered against the target of your investigation, who happens to be the president of the United States, and you did this knowing that you were not going to recommend charges, and that the report would be made public,” Reschenthaler said, going on to call Mueller’s process “un-American.”

“Not true,” Mueller responded.

He maintains his scrutiny of Trump was warranted, and said during questioning that he did not take action against Trump for obstruction because of a Justice Department opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

The approaches by the two Democrats from Pennsylvania, Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean, were less contentious.

Scanlon noted Mueller’s finding that Trump asked about, and seemed to know about Wikileaks releases that might be harmful to the Clinton campaign.

In the report, Trump denied asking about Wikileaks.

Dean’s questions revolved around whether Mueller cleared Trump of wrongdoing.

As in most of the questioning, Mueller declined to elaborate on his findings. So, Dean summed them up herself.

“Let us be clear,” she said. “Your report did not exonerate the president. Instead, it provided substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, leaving Congress to do its duty. We shall not shrink from that duty.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.