WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins said the facts of the Russia investigation were settled and he hoped there would be “confidence and closure” after Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony on Wednesday.
Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee – which is holding the first of two hearings with Mueller in the morning – gave the minority party’s opening remarks.
“We’ve had the truth for months,” he said. “No American conspired to throw our elections.”
Collins asserted that the final report on Mueller’s sprawling two-year investigation showed that there was no collusion or conspiracy involving the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.
“Russia meddled in the 2016 election. The president did not conspire with Russians,” Collins, who represents Georgia’s 9th District, said. “Nothing we hear today will change those facts.”
Collins characterized the president’s consistent hostility to the investigation as understandable, as he “watched the public narrative surrounding the investigation assume his guilt while he knew the extent of his innocence.”
Mueller later said that “the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed” and that his investigation did not totally exonerate him.
The special counsel did say that "the investigation did not establish members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in the election interference activities.”
Collins emphasized that he was focused on the origins of the FBI investigation into then-candidate Trump that ultimately led the way to the Mueller investigation. The representative said he wanted to learn “how baseless gossip can be used to launch an FBI investigation against a private American citizen and, eventually, a president.”
He also said that focus on Mueller and the Russia question had gotten in the way of the Congress doing its fundamental work.
“The months we’ve spent investigating from this dais have failed to end the border crisis or contribute to the growing job market,” he said. “Instead, we’ve gotten stuck, and it’s paralyzed this committee and this House.”
Collins said that “if we carry anything away today” he hoped it would be “that we increase our vigilance against foreign election interference while we ensure our government officials don’t weaponize their power against the constitutional rights guaranteed to every United States citizen.”
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