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What Rep. Doug Collins said during the Mueller hearing on Russia investigation
Doug Collins
Doug Collins

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, defended Donald Trump as the committee conducted a hearing Wednesday with former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee and the House intelligence committee about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s investigation shadowed Donald Trump’s presidency for nearly two years and officially concluded in March, when he submitted his 448-page report.

The nation had heard the former special counsel speak only once, for nine minutes in May, since his 2017 appointment.

Mueller has expressed his reluctance to testify and said he won't go beyond what's in his report.

Trump has called Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt."

The following is a transcript of Collins’ full statement during the hearing by Rev, a transcription service:

“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 produced his report and Attorney General Barr provided it to every American, we read no American conspired with Russia to interfere in our elections, but learned the depths of Russia’s malice toward 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 for accusations that remain unproven is extremely high, and especially in light of the 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 Democrat servers and disseminated sensitive information by tricking campaign insiders into revealing protected information. The investigation 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 did not.

“In fact, the report concludes no one in the President’s campaign colluded, collaborated, or conspired with the Russians. The President watched the public narrative surrounding this investigation assume his guilt while he knew the extent of his innocence. Volume two 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. Yet the President did not use his authority to close the investigation.

“He asked his lawyer if Mr. Mueller had conflicts that disqualified Mr. Mueller From the job, but he did not shut down the investigation. The President knew he was innocent. Those are the facts of the Mueller report. Russia meddled in the 2016 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 will need to learn from them to ensure government intelligence and law enforcement powers are never again used and turned on a private citizen or a potential or a political candidate as a result of the political leanings of a handful of FBI agents.

“The origins and conclusion 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 anything away today, it must be that we increase our vigilance against foreign election interference while we ensure our government officials don’t weaponize their power against the constitutional rights guaranteed to every 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 or contribute to the growing job market. Instead we have gotten stuck and it’s paralyzed this committee and 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 and 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 first 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 and a closed 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’ve had truth for months. No American conspired to throw our election. What we need today is to let that truth bring us confidence and I hope, Mr. Chairman, closure. With that, I yield back.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.