As America gears up to watch Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony this coming Wednesday, former FBI director James Comey shared a list of questions he would ask the special prosecutor in a blog for Lawfare posted on Friday evening.
The former FBI chief, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017, listed fifteen questions he said he would ask Mueller if he were a member of Congress. Mueller will testify before two committees—the Judiciary Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, with each lawmaker getting five minutes to question Mueller.
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Comey’s questions fall under two categories: Russia and obstruction of justice and they vary in scope from the broad to the specific. The questions stem from the executive summary that accompanied Mueller’s report, official titled, “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.”
Beginning with Russia, Comey would ask whether Mueller found “there were a series of contacts between the Trump campaign and individuals with ties to the Russian government” and if “a Trump foreign policy adviser learned that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails?” Comey then suggests asking about certain actions taken by members of Trump’s campaign, including the alleged Trump Tower meeting with Russian representatives and whether George Papadopoulos “said the Trump campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton.” He would next ask if the Trump campaign reported any of the above activity to the FBI.
Moving to obstruction, Comey would open by asking if Mueller reached a judgment or found substantial evidence that “the president had committed obstruction of justice crimes.” Getting to specifics, he would inquire about Trump directing White House Counsel Don McGahn “to call the acting attorney general [Rod Rosenstein] and tell him the special counsel must be removed” and whether McGahn threatened to resign over it and if Trump later told McGahn to lie and “write a false memo” denying Trump’s instructions. Finally, Comey said he would pointedly ask Mueller: “Did you find that the president repeatedly asked a private citizen—his former campaign manager [Cory Lewandowski]—to deliver a message to the attorney general to restrict the special counsel to investigating only future campaign interference?”
Mueller has shied away from the spotlight and been reluctant to testify, saying that the report should speak for itself and that his testimony will not go beyond the scope of the report. But, Attorney General William Barr spun the report to Trump’s advantage by releasing an inaccurate summary before the American public or members of Congress had a chance to view the redacted original. Plus, the vast majority Americans and likely even many members of Congress have not taken the time to read the 448-page report in full—and many Americans believe the report exonerated Trump—so watching Mueller testify on America’s preferred mode of communication, the television, may have a significant impact on shifting the narrative.
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