East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, July 25, 2019, Page A6, Image 6

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East Oregonian
Trump declares Mueller
testimony a White House win
President and his
allies are seizing
on testimony as a
clear-cut victory
Associated Press
Believing a two-year shadow
over the White House at last
has been lifted, President
Donald Trump seized on Rob-
ert Mueller’s testimony before
Congress on Wednesday as a
clear-cut victory, mocking the
former special counsel’s find-
ings and performance.
After claiming in advance
that he might not watch the
day’s proceedings, Trump
blasted “the phony cloud”
created by the investiga-
tion and declared “there was
no defense to this ridiculous
hoax, this witch hunt.”
“This has been a very bad
thing for our country,” Trump
told reporters upon leaving
the White House shortly after
Mueller concluded his testi-
mony. He declared that it was
an “embarrassment and waste
of time.”
retweeted more than two
dozen times during Mueller’s
testimony about his investi-
gation into the president and
the Trump campaign’s ties to
Russia. As it ended, Trump
tweeted: “TRUTH IS A
And, like some of his most
visible surrogates including
his eldest son, Trump fixated
on Mueller’s performance,
noting his lack of familiar-
ity with some aspects of the
investigation and accusing
him of playing favorites.
“The performance was
obviously not very good. He
had a lot of problems,” Trump
said. “This was a devastating
day for Democrats.”
Even as the testimony was
still underway, Republicans
took a victory lap.
Rudy Giuliani, blasted
Mueller’s frequent stum-
bles and calls for questions
to be repeated, tweeting that
the former FBI director was
“being destroyed on credibil-
ity, knowledge, competence
and numerous ‘ahs,’ pauses
and excuses like ‘beyond my
Mueller’s nationally tele-
vised appearance on Capitol
Hill was long anticipated as
a potential inflection point for
the presidency, one that could
galvanize more House Demo-
crats toward impeachment or
help dispel the investigatory
cloud that has shadowed the
White House for more than
two years. Ever mindful of
the need to spin powerful tele-
vised images, Trump and his
fellow Republicans unleashed
a barrage of tweets and state-
ments that continued a pattern
of attacks in which Trump
has made baseless claims
about Mueller’s probe and its
Before Mueller even took
his seat to testify, the presi-
dent had tweeted nine times
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
President Donald Trump
speaks to members of the
media at the White House in
Washington on Wednesday
as he departs for a short trip
to Andrews Air Force Base,
Md., and onto Wheeling,
W.Va., for a fundraiser.
about the investigation, mak-
ing clear that he had his mind
focused squarely on the pro-
ceedings unfolding at the
other end of Pennsylvania
“So Democrats and others
can illegally fabricate a crime,
try pinning it on a very inno-
cent President, and when he
fights back against this illegal
and treasonous attack on our
Country, they call It Obstruc-
tion?” Trump wrote in one
early tweet. “Wrong! Why
didn’t Robert Mueller investi-
gate the investigators?”
In fact, the Mueller report
did not declare there was no
collusion between Russia and
the Trump campaign. Nor did
the special counsel’s report
exonerate Trump on the ques-
tion of whether he obstructed
Trump also revived a base-
less charge that Mueller was
“highly conflicted.” Mueller,
a longtime Republican, was
cleared by the Justice Depart-
ment’s ethics experts to lead
the Russia investigation.
Trump over the last week
had been speculating with
confidants about how the
hearings would go. And while
he expressed no worry that
Mueller would reveal any-
thing damaging, Trump was
irritated that the former spe-
cial counsel was being given
the national stage, according
to two Republicans close to
the White House. They spoke
on condition of anonymity
because they were not autho-
rized to speak publicly about
private conversations.
Wary of Americans being
captivated by finally hear-
ing Mueller speak at length,
Trump seethed to one adviser
that he was annoyed Demo-
crats would be given a tool to
ramp up their investigations
— and that cable networks
would have new footage of
Mueller to play on loop.
Though the probe did not
result in charges of criminal
conspiracy or obstruction,
there has been growing con-
cern among those close to
the president that Mueller’s
appearance could push unde-
cided or reluctant Democrats
toward impeachment.
The president had a light
schedule Wednesday morn-
ing and afternoon during
Mueller’s testimony. He
headed to West Virginia later
in the day for a closed eve-
ning fundraiser.
WASHINGTON — Robert Mueller refused to play the part. Not
for Republicans and not for Democrats.
In back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary Committee
and the House Intelligence Committee, the former special coun-
sel in the investigation of Russian interference into the 2016
presidential elections largely honored his pledge to stick to his
448-page report . He often answered questions in a single word.
Republicans tried to get Mueller to spell out the findings that
there wasn’t enough evidence to prove any criminal conspiracy
between the Trump campaign and Russia. Democrats pressed
him to expand on the conclusion in his report that he could
not exonerate President Donald Trump on possible charges of
obstruction of justice.
But Mueller left both sides wanting.
Some key takeaways from his testimony:
Mueller wouldn’t even read from his own report. That made it
challenging for Democrats who called him in hopes that the
sheer force of hearing him say the words on television would be
more powerful to many Americans than the written form.
But Mueller demurred, and Democrats had to read his words for
Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t answer specifically when Republi-
cans repeatedly tried to question him about the origins of the
Russia investigation, the use of secret surveillance warrants.
Mueller would only speak generally about Peter Strozk, a former
FBI agent on his team who helped lead the investigation and
exchanged anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 election
with ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Mueller left it to the partisans to do the parsing.
Mueller was, for him anyway, far more expansive when he
was asked about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. He also
condemned Trump’s praise of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group
that released material stolen from Democratic groups, including
Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Problematic is an understatement,” he said.
U.S. intelligence agencies and Mueller’s investigation deter-
mined Russian government entities were responsible for the
hack and furnished the embarrassing correspondence to
WikiLeaks in order to support Trump’s bid for the presidency.
Authorities also found Russia engaged in an organized social
media effort to sow discord among American voters.
Mueller warned that what Russia did in 2016 was not a “single
“They’re doing it as we sit here,” he told lawmakers.
During his testimony, Mueller made clear that his team never
considered charging the president with a crime because of
Justice Department guidelines.
Mueller, in his testimony Wednesday morning to the House Judi-
ciary Committee, seemed to agree that he would have charged
Trump with obstruction of justice had it not been for depart-
ment guidance that a president cannot be indicted. Democrats
seized on that answer, but Mueller then said, “That is not the
correct way to say it.”
Mueller later said his team “did not reach a determination as to
whether the president committed a crime.”
Mueller swung back at the characterization made hundreds of
times by Trump that the Russia investigation that shadowed his
presidency was a “rigged witch hunt.”
“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller testified.
Asked what he wanted the American public to take from his
report, Mueller said: “We spent substantial time ensuring the
integrity of the report.”
One of the only other times Mueller pushed back on lawmakers
during hours of questioning was to offer a spirited defense of
the investigation.
“I don’t think you all reviewed a report that is as thorough, as fair,
as consistent as the report that we have in front of us,” Mueller
Mueller said his nearly two-year investigation was conducted in
a “fair and independent manner.” He also repeatedly praised the
prosecutors, FBI agents and analysts who worked on his team,
saying they were “of the highest integrity” and were “absolutely
Mueller’s testimony likely did little to change many minds in
Congress on impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca-
lif., has made clear she will not pursue impeachment, for now.
Mueller wouldn’t take the bait as Democrats asked whether he
meant for his report to serve as a referral to Congress to consider
impeaching the president. He even seemed to make strides to
not even say the word.
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, asked Mueller about a mention
in Mueller’s report about “constitutional processes for address-
ing presidential misconduct.”
Mueller refused to answer when asked specifically whether one
of those was impeachment.
— Associated Press
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Border Patrol chief
says she told of being
in Facebook group
Associated Press
PHOENIX — The head
of the U.S. Border Patrol
said Wednesday that she
joined a Facebook group
whose members mocked
migrants and lawmakers
so she could read what her
personnel thought about
her, and said she knew little
about the group.
Chief Carla Provost
said during a congressio-
nal subcommittee hear-
ing in Washington that she
logged on to Facebook very
rarely and that she imme-
diately reported her mem-
bership in the group to an
oversight division of U.S.
Customs and Border Pro-
tection after she realized she
was a member.
Provost earlier this
month had issued a state-
ment condemning the posts
without saying that she was
a member.
Sixty-two current and
eight former Border Patrol
employees are being inves-
tigated for their role in
the “I’m 10-15” Facebook
group, where agents ques-
tioned the authenticity of
images of a migrant father
and child dead in a river.
They also posted crude and
doctored images of Rep.
tez purporting to perform a
sex act on President Donald
Reports later revealed
Provost was a member of
the group, although she did
not confirm those reports
until her congressional
She said during the hear-
ing that she handed over her
login and password to Cus-
toms and Border Protec-
tion’s Office of Professional
Responsibility, adding that
she very rarely used her
Facebook account and only
did so to stay in touch with
friends and colleagues who
live out of town.
Provost said she once
commented in the group on
a post about a question from
the TV show “Jeopardy”
because her agents were
talking about her in that
post, Provost said. She was
the subject of the “Jeopardy”
“I didn’t even know at the
time what group I was on,”
she said.
Provost said she joined
the secret group in 2017
at the invitation of a col-
league who told her agents
were discussing her perfor-
mance in her role at the time
of acting chief. She said she
would search her name in
Facebook and read posts
about herself without notic-
ing whether the posts were
in any specific group.
Wind shifts huge
wildfire away from
nuke facilities in Idaho
Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — The
largest wildfire at the
nation’s primary nuclear
research facility in recent
history had been burning
close to buildings contain-
ing nuclear fuel and other
radioactive material but a
change in wind direction
Wednesday was pushing the
flames into open range at the
sprawling site in Idaho, offi-
cials said.
The lightning-caused fire
at the Idaho National Lab-
oratory is one of several
across the U.S. West.
Before the wind shifted,
the Idaho blaze got close to
several lab facilities, includ-
ing one where high-level
radioactive materials are
studied and another holding
a nuclear reactor, spokes-
woman Kerry Martin said.
She said she didn’t know
how close the flames got to
those buildings.
The lab has several safety
measures for wildfires that
often ignite in southeastern
Idaho’s desert rangeland,
including clearing ground
around each building and
having several specially
trained fire crews stationed
around the site that’s nearly
the size of Rhode Island.
“It’s not our first rodeo,”
Martin said. “We have fire
stations, a lot of fire equip-
ment, we have trained fire-
fighters and equipment to
cut barriers.”
The wildfire that ignited
Monday is estimated to have
burned about 172 square
miles. Non-essential labo-
ratory employees have been
The nuclear research
site includes reactors and
research materials, as well
as facilities for processing
high-level nuclear waste and
other radioactive waste.
Meanwhile, rain in a for-
ested Arizona city helped
firefighters battle a wildfire
that has raged for days in a
scenic mountain pass but
was raising the risk of flood-
ing, officials said.
Up to 1 inch of rain
allowed crews to directly
attack the fire, extinguish
flames and build contain-
ment lines in an area where
nearly 3 square miles have
burned since Sunday, said
fire management team
spokesman Steve Kliest.
Forecasters warned of
possible flooding in Flag-
staff neighborhoods with
aging drainage systems
below the fire. Thunder-
storms Wednesday and
Thursday were expected to
drench fire-scarred areas of
the Coconino National For-
est surrounding the city, a
popular mountain getaway
in the largest ponderosa pine
forest in the U.S.
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