Rep. Elijah Cummings: Why Has Oversight Chairman Launched "Aggressive Attack" On Special Counsel Mueller?

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REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. When Chairman Goodlatte and Chairman Gowdy launched their joint investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, they promised not to interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Mueller.

They were crystal clear. Let me read some of their statements. On December the sixth, Chairman Gowdy said, and I quote, "I specifically communicated to Special Counsel Robert Mueller I would not willingly or unwillingly interfere with an ongoing criminal probe" end of quote.

On March 18, Chairman Gowdy said, and I quote, "I've been really very clear, leave him alone, let him do his job," end of quote. Chairman Gowdy went on to offer advice directly to the president. And this is what he said, and I quote, "My advice to the president is the same thing I just told his lawyer, give Bob Mueller the time, the independence, and the resources to do the job."



It went on to say that, "When you are innocent, if the allegations of collusion with the Russians -- and -- and there's no evidence of that, and you are innocent of that, act like it," end of quote. This was the advice that Chairman Gowdy gave to the President of the United States of America.

And let me very -- be very clear, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the chairman of the Oversight Committee. Chairman Goodlatte echoed those comments declaring that he and Chairman Gowdy had, and I quote, "no intentions of interfering with the substantive investigation of Mr. Mueller," end of quote.

But now they're doing the opposite. Behind closed doors, they're asking individuals involved in the Russia investigation hundreds of questions about confidential human sources, FISA applications, and potential witnesses in the special counsel's criminal probe.

In public, they're holding emergency hearings, issuing unilateral subpoenas, and threatening contempt and impeachment. They even demanded that the top Justice Department Law Enforcement Officer in charge of this investigation, and I quote, "finish it the hell up," end of quote.

So what has changed? What has changed? Why did our chairman promise not to interfere wittingly or unwittingly, but then suddenly launched this aggressive attack against our special counsel? There has been one obvious development. The special counsel has now obtained five guilty pleas and indicted 18 others, including some of President Trump's closest advisors.

Here are the individuals who are -- already admitted their guilt. Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security advisor, he pleaded guilty to lying about his secret communications with the Russians, making false statements to the FBI, and impeding the investigation while he worked at the White House last year.

Let me underscore: These are not allegations, these are admissions. President Trump's National Security Advisor admitted that he committed these crimes, and he is now cooperating with the special counsel.

Rick Gates, President Trump's Deputy Campaign Chairman. He pleaded...

GOODLATTE: The chair would instruct the individual from holding signs up. That is an inappropriate thing to do.

CUMMINGS: Is there a rule for that, Mr. Chairman?

(OFF-MIKE)

Mr. Chairman.

(OFF-MIKE)

(UNKNOWN): These people pleaded guilty.

(UNKNOWN): Are there any rules against what they are doing? Cite the rule. Cite the rule if there's a rule against what they're doing. Cite the rule.

(OFF-MIKE)

GOODLATTE: The gentleman may proceed.

CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me underscore, these are not allegations, these are admissions. President's top -- Trump's top national security advisor admitted and he committed these crimes and he is now cooperating with the special counsel.

Rick Gates, President Trump's deputy campaign chairman, he pleaded guilty to, quote, "conspiracy against the United States of America," end of quote. To intentionally engaging in a variety of criminal schemes and to lying to the special counsel and the FBI last year and even this year. He admitted to committing those crimes. He is also cooperating with the special counsel.

George Papadopoulos, President Trump's Foreign Policy Advisor. He pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in 2017 about when he first learned that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Also now cooperating with the special counsel.

Richard Pinedo, Digital Marketing Strategist. Pleaded guilty to identity fraud and trafficking in hundreds of stolen bank account numbers over the internet, which were bought by Russians to interfere with the 2016 election.

And Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel and the FBI in November about his work with President Trump's Campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for foreign nationals aligned with Russia.

Of course this does not include Mr. Manafort himself, who is scheduled to begin his criminal trial later this summer. He is sitting in solitary confinement after allegedly engaging in witness tampering.

This also does not include Michael Cohen, the president's longtime lawyer. At this moment, he may be considering whether to cooperate with special counsel.

At the last Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Gowdy said that if the special counsel has evidence of a crime, he submit it -- he should submit it to the grand jury.

As Chairman Gowdy himself said, if you are innocent, act like it. Today I urge our chairmen to change course and to keep their promises to protect the integrity of the special counsel's ongoing investigation and instead of asking hundreds of questions that undermine it, to work with him.

And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

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