Mueller declines to answer dozens of questions from lawmakers

Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE on Wednesday avoided answering dozens of questions over the course of two separate House hearings, declining repeatedly to engage with lawmakers on subjects beyond the scope of his public report.

Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee marked his first time answering questions about the findings of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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But the former special counsel evaded scores of questions, using a variety of phrases to parry away inquiries he deemed beyond his reach or inappropriate to discuss.

"I can't speak to that," Mueller said when asked by Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinEx-Trump aide on Russia testifies for 10 hours as part of impeachment inquiry Oversight panel to subpoena Trump officials next week over deportation deferrals Democrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort MORE (D-Md.) whether a "client" named in his report was the president.

"I don’t feel comfortable speculating on that," he responded when asked if Attorney General William Bar should have released the special counsel report's summaries to avoid public confusion.

"This is outside my purview," he said when asked repeatedly by Republicans about the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS.

"I direct you to the report," he told several questioners throughout the day.

The former special counsel's unwillingness to expound on his answers or address numerous questions stymied some lawmakers, but did not come entirely by surprise. Mueller said in a public statement in May that his report is his testimony, and that he would not go beyond that.

In his opening statements to both committees Wednesday, Mueller made clear to lawmakers there were swaths of topics he would not touch because of ongoing investigations and longstanding precedent against discussing internal Department of Justice deliberations.

"I am not making any judgments or offering opinions about the guilt or innocence in any pending case," Mueller told the House Intelligence Committee. "It is unusual for a prosecutor to testify about a criminal investigation, and given my role as a prosecutor, there are reasons why my testimony will necessarily be limited."

But that did not dissuade some lawmakers from trying to get Mueller to elaborate on his answers.

Multiple Democrats asked Mueller to read aloud from his report to add additional weight to its findings. But in each case, he declined.

"I would be happy to have you read it out loud," a smiling Mueller told Raskin when asked if he could read one passage.

Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Hispanic voters push campaigns to address gun violence MORE (D-Texas) noted that Mueller said in May that the Constitution requires a process other than the justice system to accuse a president of wrongdoing.

"That process … is that impeachment?" Escobar asked, seeking confirmation from Mueller.

"I’m not going to comment on that," Mueller replied.

Republicans had similar luck seeking responses from the former special counsel about the origins of the Russia investigation, which some in the GOP have suggested was nefarious and biased against Trump.

Asked by Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Judiciary approves new investigative powers with eyes on impeachment Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Ohio) about Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, Mueller replied it was outside his purview.

When Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public MORE (R-Fla.) sought to grill Mueller on Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier of salacious allegations about Trump's connections to Russia.

"As I said before and say again," Mueller said, "it’s not my purview."