House Democrat: Mueller testimony 'tiptoed outside four corners of report'

Rep. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D-Wash.) said Thursday that even though Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE said he would stick to his public findings, the former special counsel did speak on matters outside the report at times. 

“He indicated that he wouldn’t speak outside the four corners of his report,” Heck, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told Hill.TV during an interview on “Rising.”

“But in fact I thought you saw that on a number of occasions, he actually did at least tiptoe outside the four corners of the report,” he added.

Mueller spent almost seven hours testifying before lawmakers on Wednesday.

In his back-to-back testimonies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Mueller largely followed the Justice Department’s instructions to limit his testimony to the 448-page report, which did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and didn’t come to a conclusion over whether Trump obstructed justice, though he outlined nearly a dozen instances he investigated.

But Mueller did make a few critical comments about President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE, even though he didn't mention him by name. 

Mueller pushed back on one of Trump's favorite attacks on the Russia probe, insisting that his investigation was “not a witch hunt” as the president has repeatedly claimed. 

The special counsel also criticized Trump’s past praise for WikiLeaks, saying that calling it “problematic is an understatement.” He also said that Trump could still be indicted and charged with obstruction of justice upon leaving office.

Trump and his allies, meanwhile, have deemed Mueller's testimony a “good day” for the White House. The president also tweeted calling Mueller's testimony a "disaster."

Liberal and conservative pundits echoed some of Trump's sentiment, and criticized the performance of Mueller, who appeared shaky at times.

During the network's special coverage of the testimony, NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddChuck Todd on impeachment hearing: Part of GOP 'just not accepting facts that are facts' Intelligence Democrat: Stop using 'quid pro quo' to describe Trump allegations Brown confirms he won't enter 2020 race: 'I think it's a good field' MORE said "on optics, this was a disaster" for Democrats.

But Heck defended Mueller and called the hearings a "victory" for government transparency. He insisted that the Judiciary Committee did, in fact, establish a "clear and compelling case" that Trump actually obstructed justice. 

"The other victory yesterday was a victory on behalf, frankly of openness and transparency," Heck told Hill.TV. "The American public was entitled and deserved to hear this conversation.

⁠—Tess Bonn