The Republican strategy during Robert Mueller’s House Judiciary Committee testimony has been to attempt to undermine the former special prosecutor, questioning everything from the path of his government career to his legal logic.
The GOP members’ moves were carefully pre-planned, Republican operatives said earlier, and coordinated with the White House to raise doubts about the Mueller report’s conclusions on Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election—and particularly about its negative portrayal of Donald Trump.
Perhaps inadvertently, Ken Buck, the Colorado Republican, seems to have raised more doubts about Trump and his future criminal prosecution instead:
In a tense exchange, Buck repeatedly hammered Mueller on why he had not concluded that the president obstructed justice. “You made the decision on Russian interference,” he said, but when it came to obstruction of justice, “you threw a bunch of stuff at a wall to see what would stick.”
“I would not agree with that characterization at all,” Mueller replied, adding he believed he could not charge Trump with obstruction, because of the Office of Legal Counsel’s determination that a sitting president could not be charged.
“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Buck asked.
“Yes,” Mueller said.
Buck appeared taken aback. “You believe you could charge the president of the United States with an obstruction of justice after he left office?”
“Yes,” Mueller said again.
The moment is already being characterized as a great soundbite—for the Democrats.