A Republican congresswoman on Wednesday challenged former special counsel Robert Mueller for relying heavily on press reports for his 448-page Russia report instead of facts.
“Mr. Mueller, rather than purely relying on the evidence provided by witnesses and documents, I think you relied a lot on media,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Mr. Mueller’s Russia report.
Ms. Lesko cited numbers for The Washington Post and New York Times, two newspapers that pushed the Trump-Russia collusion theory for months.
“I’d like to know how many times you cited The Washington Post in your report,” she said.
“I do not have knowledge of that,” Mr. Mueller responded.
Ms. Lesko said his report cited The Post 60 times and The New York Times 75.
A Washington Times review published May 5 found the report quoted and footnoted scores of news stories from liberal journals that promoted a Trump-Russia conspiracy that Mr. Mueller did not find. Some of the articles referred to Russian contacts that did not happen.
These included supposed communication intercepts. Also cited was an alleged meeting between former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Russian ambassador at the Mayflower Hotel in 2016. The meeting never happened, the report concluded.
Ms. Lesko zeroed in on Volume 2, the section of the report devoted to Mr. Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.
“I’ve got to say it looks like Volume 2 is mostly regurgitated press stories,” she said. “Honestly, there’s almost nothing in Volume 2 that I couldn’t already [know] simply by having a $50 cable news subscription. However, your investigation cost the American taxpayers $25 million.”
She added: “Mr. Mueller, you cited media reports nearly 200 times in your report. Then in a footnote, a small footnote, number seven, page 15 of Volume 2 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 in context.’ Since nobody but lawyers reads footnotes, are you concerned that the American public took the embedded news stories at face value?”
At that point, committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said Ms. Lesko’s five minutes had expired. When she asked if Mr. Mueller could answer, Mr. Nadler said, “No.”