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Mueller doubles down, says his report doesn't exonerate Trump

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 doubled down on his assertion that his report did not exonerate President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE, conflicting with the president’s repeated statements that he was “totally” cleared by Mueller’s investigation.

“The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller told lawmakers, after being pressed on the matter by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month A historic moment to truly honor mothers Britney Spears to discuss conservatorship in court MORE (D-N.Y.).

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“The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction, and that it completely and totally exonerated him,” Nadler said to Mueller. “But that is not what your report said, is it?”

“Correct,” Mueller replied.

Trump and his allies have pointed to the special counsel’s findings as evidence that the president had been cleared of any wrongdoing. But Mueller's report states that is not the case, and he reiterated that point during public remarks in May.

Mueller on Wednesday again referenced Justice Department guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that says a sitting president cannot be indicted as helping to guide his office’s work.

“At the outset, we determined that when it came to the president’s culpability we needed to go forward only after taking into account the OLC opinion that indicated a sitting president cannot be indicted,” the former special counsel said.

Trump has also argued that Mueller's report determined there was “no collusion” between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

Mueller told lawmakers Wednesday that “collusion” is not a legal term and that his team instead looked at whether there was any conspiracy between Trump campaign members and Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. He said there was not sufficient evidence to bring forward such charges.

The remarks from the special counsel took place during the first line of questioning at Wednesday's hearing, setting the stage for further queries on specific instances laid out in Mueller’s report.