Jeffries dismisses optics: We wanted testimony from Mueller, not Robert De Niro

Jeffries dismisses optics: We wanted testimony from Mueller, not Robert De Niro
© Greg Nash

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSenate rejects subpoenaing Mulvaney to testify in impeachment trial Jeffries: Even Nixon didn't block White House aides from testifying White House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team MORE (D-N.Y.) argued Thursday that former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's testimony this week was successful in advancing Democrats' goal of informing the public.

"We didn’t expect, we weren't trying to entertain the American people. We wanted to educate and inform the American people," Jeffries said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"We didn't invite Robert De Niro to testify," Jeffries said, referencing the actor's portrayal of the former special counsel on "Saturday Night Live." "We invited Robert Mueller to testify, and in that regard he delivered what we expected."

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Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees Wednesday for more than six hours regarding the 448-page report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE. The former special counsel gave a halting performance, often asking lawmakers to repeat their questions.

Jeffries, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, was among those questioning Mueller, leading him to confirm that the 22-month special counsel probe found "substantial evidence" that Trump obstructed justice.

Mueller, however, did not go so far as to confirm his own view one way or the other as to whether or not the president obstructed justice.

"It's our job now to present that information to the American people," Jeffries told MSNBC. 

Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership, stopped short of calling for impeachment inquiries to begin.

A growing number of House Democrats are pushing for impeachment inquiries; 92 have called for them to begin as of Thursday morning, according to The Hill's Whip List.

Jeffries said he supports Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE's (D-Calif.) approach to follow the facts and law "carefully but forcefully."