Welch, Stefanik among lawmakers who questioned Mueller

WASHINGTON (WCAX) A marathon day of questioning on Capitol Hill for Robert Mueller.

The former FBI director who oversaw the investigation into Russian election interference in 2016 sat before two House committees Wednesday-- the Judicial Committee in the morning and the Intelligence Committee in the afternoon.

True to his word, Mueller rarely went beyond the text of his report.

Two of our local lawmakers sit on the Intelligence Committee and got the chance to question Mueller for themselves.

Question after question Wednesday swatted away by the special counsel.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York: Did any member of the special counsel's staff travel overseas as part of the investigation?
Robert Mueller: Yes, but I can't go farther than that.
Rep. Elise Stefanik: I'm gonna ask-- to which countries?
Robert Mueller: I can't answer that.
Rep. Elise Stefanik: Did they meet with foreign government officials?
Robert Mueller: Again, it's out of our bailiwick.

North Country Congresswoman Stefanik was just one of the representatives who didn't get much out of Mueller, who kept pointing lawmakers to his report.

"If it's in the report, it's accurate," Mueller said.

In the most anticipated congressional hearing in recent memory, Republicans looked to cast doubt on the origins of the Russia probe and Democrats hoped the special counsel could put the hundreds of pages of the Mueller Report into words the American public could understand. Many focused on whether the president obstructed justice or worked with the Russians.

Rep. Peter Welch/D-Vermont: Did you find there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?
Robert Mueller: We don't use the word collusion.

Rep. Peter Welch: The term is conspiracy that you prefer to use?
Robert Mueller: Yes, sir. That's exactly right.

A week after announcing his support for impeaching President Trump, Vermont Rep. Peter Welch walked Mueller through some of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia before asking another question.

Rep. Peter Welch: I ask if you share my concern. My concern is, have we established a new normal from this past campaign that is going to apply to future campaigns?
Robert Mueller: I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.

Welch made the case that after Russia's election interference in 2016, there is every reason to believe they'll continue to meddle in the future.

"There would be no apprehensions from Russia about doing this again and as you stated earlier, as we sit here, they're doing it now," Welch said.

Republicans say the hearings changed nothing.

Democrats say they show evidence of potential crimes in the White House.

The president watched some of the hearing and tweeted sarcastically thanking the Democrats for holding it.