Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona on Wednesday chastised former special counsel Robert Mueller for the second volume of his investigation report, describing it as little more than “regurgitated press stories.”
The Republican further suggested during Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that the nearly 200 news stories cited in the report were predominantly produced by left-leaning outlets.
“Mr. Mueller, rather than purely relying on the evidence provided by witnesses and documents, I think you relied a lot on media,” Lesko said. “I’d like to know how many times you cited The Washington Post in your report.”
The former FBI director said he did not know.
Lesko told him it was about 60 times.
Mueller also did not know how many times his report cited The New York Times, so Lesko told him it was about 75 times.
The lawmaker then informed Mueller that Fox News — which has done extensive original reporting on the Russia probe, particularly concerning its origins — is cited only about 25 times.
The clear implication of Lesko’s line of questioning is that the report had a decided bias in favor of left-leaning news outlets overwhelmingly critical of the president.
Lesko derided Volume II of Mueller’s report, which addressed the issue of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
“I’ve got to say, it looks like Volume II is mostly regurgitated press stories,” Lesko said.
“Honestly, there’s almost nothing in Volume II that I couldn’t already hear or know simply by having a $50 cable news subscription. However, your investigation cost the American taxpayers $25 million.”
Lesko stressed that, overall, Mueller cited the media nearly 200 times in his report, but quoted a small caveat that most likely did not see.
“Then in a footnote, a small footnote, number 7, page 15, of Volume II of your report, you wrote, I quote — ‘This section summarizes and cites various news stories not for the truth of the information contained in the stories but rather to place candidate Trump’s response to those stories and context,'” Lesko said.
“Since nobody but lawyers reads footnotes,” she continued, “are you concerned that the American public took the embedded news stories —”
At this point, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler intervened, saying Lesko’s questioning time had expired.
Lesko appeared to be about to ask if Mueller was concerned that the American public would take the news stories as factual, since the special counsel’s office decided to incorporate them in its report.
Many stories throughout the course of the Russia investigation — including by The Washington Post and The New York Times — cited unnamed sources.
The statements, by their very nature, often lack the ability to be tested and validated.
“We learned nothing new from today’s hearing, and it certainly did not help the Democrats at all,” Lesko said in a statement to The Western Journal after the hearing. “It did nothing to change the public sentiment towards impeachment.”
“Democrats should use today’s show hearing to finally accept the fact that this investigation is over.”
Lesko’s questioning was one of a string of harsh interactions between Mueller and committee Republicans.
Veteran news anchor Chris Wallace stated on Wednesday morning that Mueller’s testimony “has been a disaster for Democrats and the reputation for Robert Mueller.”
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) July 24, 2019
“He has seemed very uncertain with his brief,” said Wallace. “He doesn’t seem to know what things are in the report.
“I think it does raise questions about the degree to which he actually was in charge, in control of this report because he doesn’s seem very much in control or charge of what the final report was.”
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