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Mueller says his probe was not a 'witch hunt' in first-ever public refute of Trump claim

Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE on Wednesday testified that his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was "not a witch hunt," the first time he has publicly pushed back on President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE's derisive nickname for the probe. 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.) sought Mueller's confirmation of a number of damaging facts laid out in the special counsel's 448-page report, including that a number of former Trump associates were indicted on charges of lying to the FBI.

"And when Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt, that was also false was it not?” Schiff asked.

"Like to think so, yes," Mueller replied.

"Well your investigation is not a witch hunt is it?" Schiff asked. 

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"It is not a witch hunt," Mueller said.

"When the president said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was false wasn’t it?” Schiff continued.

"True," Mueller concluded.

 

Trump railed against Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election repeatedly over the course of the roughly two-year probe. He consistently described it as a "witch hunt" and a "hoax."

The 448-page report did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government, and neither implicated nor exonerated the president on obstruction of justice charges.

Mueller never made public statements during the investigation, and has only made one public statement since it concluded. Wednesday marked his first time answering questions about his findings.