House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) delivers his opening statement at the Robert Mueller hearing on Wednesday:
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Mueller, for being here. For two years leading up to the release of the Mueller report and in the three months since Americans were first told what to expect and then what to believe. Collusion, we were told, was in plain sight even if the Special Counsel's team didn't find it. When Mr. Mueller produces report and Attorney General Barr provided it to every American, we read no American conspired with Russia to attribute our elections but learn the depths of Russia's malice towards America.
We are here to ask serious questions about Mr. Mueller's work, and we will do that. After an extended unhampered investigation, today marks an end to Mr. Mueller's involvement in an investigation that closed in April. The burden of proof or accusations that remain unproven is extremely high and especially in light of Special Counsel's thoroughness.
We are told this investigation began as an inquiry into whether Russia meddled in our 2016 election. Mr. Mueller, you concluded they did. Russians accessed to democratic servers and disseminated sensitive information by tricking campaign insiders into revealing protected information. The investors also reviewed whether Donald Trump, the president, sought Russian assistance as a candidate to win the presidency. Mr. Mueller concluded he did not. His family or advisors do not. In fact there were work includes no one in the president's campaign goal is a collaborative or conspired with the Russians.
The president watched the public narratives surrounding this investigation assume--(INAUDIBLE) assumes his guilt while he knew the extent of his innocence. Volume 2 of Mr. Mueller's report details the president's reaction to frustrating investigation where his innocence was established early on. The president's attitude toward the investigation was understandably negative if the president did not use his authority to close the investigation. He asked where Mr. Mueller had conflicts that disqualify Mr. Mueller from the job but he did not shut down the investigation. The president knew he was innocent.
Those are the facts for the Mueller report. Russia meddled in Italy 16 election the president did not conspire with the Russians, and nothing we hear today will change those facts. But one element of this story remains, the beginnings of the FBI investigation into the president. I look forward to Mr. Mueller's testimony about what he found during his review of the origins of the investigation. In addition the inspector general continues to review how baseless gossip can be used to launch an FBI investigation against a private citizen and eventually a president.
Those results will be released and we wanted to learn from them to ensure government intelligence and law enforcement priorities are never again used and turned on a private citizen or a potential or political candidate as a result of the political leanings of a handful of FBI agents. The origins and conclusions of the Mueller investigation are the same things, what it means to be American. Every American has a voice in our democracy. We must protect the sanctity of their voice by combating election interference.
Every American enjoys the presumption of innocence and guarantee of due process. If we carry nothing--anything away today it must be that we increase our vigilance against foreign election interference while we ensure our government officials organize their power against the constitutional rights guaranteed to ever U.S. citizen.
Finally, we must agree that the opportunity cost here is too high. The months we have spent investigating from this dais failed to end the border crisis were contribute to the growing job market. Instead we have gotten stuck, and it has paralyzed this committee in this House. And as a side note, every week I leave my family and kids, the most important things to me, to come to this place because I believe this place is a place where we can actually do things that help people.
Six and a half years ago, I came here to work on behalf of the people of the Ninth District in this country and we accomplished a lot in those for six years on a bipartisan basis with many of my friends across the aisle sitting on this dais with me today. However, this year because the majority's dislike of this president and the endless hearing into a close investigation have caused us to accomplish nothing except talk about the problems of our country while our border is on fire in crisis and everything else is stopped. This hearing is long overdue we have had truth four months. No American conspired to throw our election. What we need today is to let the truth bring us confidence and I hope, Mr. Chairman, closure. With that I yield back.