GOP lawmaker uses CNN graphic to blast Mueller's conclusion that probe did not 'exonerate' Trump

GOP Rep. Michael Turner (Ohio) on Wednesday used a cardboard cutout of a CNN graphic to voice his criticism of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's conclusion that his investigation did not "exonerate" President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE, arguing the term has no legal meaning.

Turner launched into a critique of Mueller's conclusion as the former special counsel testified before the House Intelligence Committee about his nearly two-year probe into Russia's election meddling and whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice by interfering with the probe.

While Mueller's report said his investigation did not find sufficient evidence to establish that Trump's campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election, his report also said that the probe did not "exonerate" the president of wrongdoing and instead detailed 10 "episodes" of potentially obstructive behavior.


Mueller doubled-down in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee earlier Wednesday, emphasizing his report did not exonerate the president – contradicting Trump's repeated statements that he was "totally" cleared by Mueller's investigation.

Turner began his questioning of Mueller on Wednesday afternoon by asserting that "no one can be exonerated," saying, "In our criminal justice system, there is no power or authority to exonerate."

The GOP congressman proceeded to point to an enlarged screenshot of a CNN broadcast that included a lower-third graphic reading: "Mueller: Trump was not exonerated."

"Now Mr. Mueller, what you know is that this can’t say, 'Mueller exonerated Trump.' Because you don’t have the power or authority to exonerate Trump. You have no more power to declare him exonerated than you have to declare him Anderson Cooper," he said, asserting that the term "exoneration" is "misleading" and "meaningless."

"And it colors this investigation," Turner concluded. "It’s a meaningless word that has no legal meaning and it has colored your entire report."

Mueller defended the language of his report amid Turner’s questioning.

“If the attorney general doesn’t have power to exonerate, and he knows that you don’t have that power, you don’t have to tell him that you’re not exonerating the president, he knows this already,” Turner remarked.

“No, we included in the report for exactly that reason. He may not know it, and he should know it,” Mueller responded.

The former special counsel testified for more than six hours before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees about his 448-page report. Mueller repeatedly declined to answer specific questions and instead directed lawmakers to details included in his report, something he told lawmakers ahead of his testimony that he planned to do.