President Donald Trump said Democrats hurt their 2020 election chances with back-to-back hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday at which Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified.
“The Democrats lost so big today,” Trump told reporters at a combative news conference in Washington before departing for West Virginia. “Their party is in shambles.”
Trump also said that Democrats have “the squad leading the party” — a reference to four congresswoman elected in 2018, whom Trump previously told in a tweet to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
“This has been a disaster for the Democrats, and I think we’re going to win bigger than ever,” Trump told reporters during the exchange.
But Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the hearings were an important milestone.
“It is a crossing of the threshold in terms of the public awareness of what happened and how it conforms to the law — or not,” Pelosi told reporters in a news conference after Trump spoke.
Standing beside other House Democratic leaders, Pelosi also said that “the Mueller investigation was prohibited from looking into the president’s finances, and that is what our committees of jurisdiction have been doing.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that Mueller made it clear he had not exonerated the president at the hearings.
“The president’s chant of ‘no obstruction’ is nonsense,” Nadler said. “His chant that he’s been totally exonerated is a simple lie.”
The hearings come after Mueller said at a May press conference in Washington that the report his office released following the probe into Russian 2016 election meddling was tantamount to his testimony. His lengthy report found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to influence the election, but did list 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice by the president during the probe. Mueller also announced his office was closing up shop at the news conference.
But the Democrats who lead the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in U.S. House of Representatives decided to subpoena Mueller to testify, announcing on June 25 that the former FBI head would appear before lawmakers in open session July 17.
“We look forward to hearing his testimony, as do all Americans,” Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a June statement.
Nadler and Schiff acknowledged Mueller’s preference to let his “written work to speak for itself” in their June letter accompanying the subpoena, but the pair wrote that “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.”
Mueller’s May press conference sparked some Democrats to call for Trump’s impeachment, with some pointing to Mueller’s comment that “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
Those impeachment calls included a handful of Democratic presidential candidates.
“I believe a fair inference from what he heard from Bob Mueller is there would have been indictments returned against this president,” if not for the Justice Department guidance saying a president can’t be charged, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told reporters during a stop in South Carolina, McClatchy reported. On Twitter, Harris called Mueller’s news conference statements “an impeachment referral.”