CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza said Wednesday that he believed former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee would be disappointing to both Democrats and Republicans.
From the onset, Cillizza wrote that Mueller's testimony was a disappointment to Republicans. Mueller said he would not answer questions about the Steele dossier, a document put together in 2016 by former British spy Christopher Steele. The document contained unsubstantiated stories about the president that Steele said he received from Russian sources, per The New York Post.
As Cillizza notes for CNN, the president has long said he believes the investigation to be illegal because the initial probe of the investigation, in addition to the formation of the special counsel, was based on information from the dossier, which was funded in part by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Mueller generally declined to answer any Republican questions on the Steele dossier or the beginning of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, stating that he would not answer these questions when he delivered his opening statement, Cillizza noted.
In that same opening statement, Cillizza said Mueller offered a similar blow to Democrats in refusing to address Attorney General William Barr or actions of Congress. There has been discussion among Democrat members of Congress over whether Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr mischaracterized the findings of the Mueller report when he delivered a summary upon receiving it in April.The Washington Post reported in April that Mueller wrote a letter to Barr complaining that his four-page memo to Congress summarizing his findings "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance" of his report.
Cillizza also said that Mueller's demeanor, which he described as "shaky," wasn't playing too well for Democrats, who had hoped his testimony would convince the American people of the president's actions and inactions. Cillizza noted that Mueller contradicted himself and his report in telling a Republican member of congress that collusion and conspiracy were two separate things.
As USA Today notes, the Mueller report said "collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy," though Mueller had disagreed when Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia asked him if he believed the terms to be synonymous. Mueller would eventually defer to his April report.
The CNN commentator noted that during an otherwise dull testimony from Mueller, the former special counsel sprung to action to defend himself against accusations of political affiliations in office. Mueller claimed he never once in his 25 years inquired about a political affiliation of someone in his office, per CNN.