Former special counsel Robert Mueller had to correct himself Wednesday after he bungled his testimony to Congress about whether President Trump would have been charged with a crime but for Justice Department guidelines.
Mr. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee during morning testimony that the guidelines from the Office of Legal Counsel prohibiting indictment of a sitting president were the reason he didn’t bring charges.
“That is correct,” he told Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat.
But as he started an afternoon appearance before another committee, he had to correct himself.
“That is not the correct way to say it,” Mr. Mueller said. He said his team didn’t reach a determination about Mr. Trump’s criminal culpability one way or the other.
That correction undercut a major takeaway for Democrats out of the morning session.
It was one of a series of hiccups for Mr. Mueller, who repeatedly seemed not to understand questions and was unfamiliar with parts of his own report, though he had said each word had been carefully weighed.
During the morning session, Mr. Mueller had been given a chance to correct himself, when Rep. Debbie Lesko, an Arizona Republican, said she was surprised by his testimony to Mr. Lieu.
She pointed out that he had contradicted a joint statement he had issued with Attorney General William Barr in the spring, where they had said the OLC opinion was not the sole reason Mr. Trump isn’t facing charges.
“There’s a conflict,” Ms. Lesko said.
Mr. Mueller at the time did not correct himself.
It was only after a break between the two hearings that he issued the correction.