California Rep. Ted Lieu said Thursday he believes that “somebody got to” Robert Mueller to force the former special counsel to correct his testimony about his obstruction investigation of President Donald Trump.
Lieu, a Democrat, offered up the unfounded conspiracy theory in an interview on CNN when asked about an exchange he had Wednesday with Mueller during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
During their exchange, Mueller gave would-be bombshell testimony that the reason he did not indict Trump for obstructing the Russia probe was because of a Justice Department office of legal counsel opinion that prohibits indicting sitting presidents.
“The reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?” Lieu asked Mueller in the hearing.
“That is correct,” Mueller said.
But before Democrats could celebrate too much, Mueller corrected his testimony when he appeared hours later before the House Intelligence Committee for a second round of testimony about his Russia investigation.
“Now before we go to questions, I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning,” Mueller began in his opening remarks.
“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote, ‘you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.’”
“That is not the correct way to say it,” he said, adding, “as we say in the report, and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”
Though Lieu implied that Mueller was coerced into issuing a false correction, Mueller’s revised statement was in line with what his 448-page report said about the decision regarding the obstruction investigation.
Lieu suggested to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Mueller issued the correction because of outside pressure.
“[Y]ou say Mueller fully understood your question. Doesn’t Mueller’s correction, which he later provided, prove otherwise?” Blitzer asked.
“This is what’s so odd about that exchange. Special counsel Robert Mueller agreed that the OLC opinion prevented a sitting president from being indicted, and then the Republican member after me asked him a series of questions to try to get him to walk it back, and he did not do that.”
“And then it wasn’t until there was a recess with the Intel committee that he started to walk some of it back,” said Lieu.
“I don’t know who got to him. I don’t know who talked to him, but that was very odd, what he did.”
Blitzer asked Lieu, “What are you suggesting?”
“Are you saying he only did that because of pressure from someone?”
“I don’t know,” said Lieu, “but he clearly answered the way he answered to me, and then he had numerous times to walk that back by the next Republican member who asked him a series of questions on the exact same issue trying to get him to walk it back.”
Mueller was shaky throughout his six-plus-hours of testimony on Wednesday. He at times appeared unable to remember basic facts about his investigation, and also could not remember which president appointed him to his first U.S. attorney job.