“Anyone else who did these things would have been prosecuted for them,” says the Washington Democrat.
Wednesday marked an important day for the investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. For the first time, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller testified publicly before two separate congressional panels on Wednesday and addressed questions about his investigation of President Donald Trump and Russian efforts to get him elected.
During the morning session, when Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary committee, Indian American Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked Mueller whether Trump discouraged his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort from cooperating with investigators and whether it can be deemed as witness tampering.
In a pointed question, Jayapal asked Mueller: “Your office found that after a grand jury indicted them, Manafort told Gates not to plead guilty to any charges, because ‘he had talked to the President’s personal counsel and they were ‘going to take care of us.’ Is that correct?
To which Mueller responded: “That’s accurate.”
In a follow up question, Jayapal asked Mueller: “What does it mean to flip?” She pointed out that after Manafort’s conviction, the president said that flipping was “not fair” and “almost ought to be outlawed.”
Mueller responded that flipping is to “have somebody cooperate in a criminal investigation.”
Jayapal went on to ask, “Two days after you told the court that Manafort broke his plea agreement by lying repeatedly, did President Trump tell the press that Mr. Manafort was ‘very brave’ because he did not ‘flip’”? Mueller had a short response: “If it’s in the report, then I support it as it is set forth.”
Jayapal then, “It is clear that the President both publicly and privately discouraged Mr. Manafort’s cooperation or flipping while also dangling the promise of a pardon if he stayed loyal and did not share what he knew about the President.”
In her fiery tone, Jayapal then said: “Anyone else who did these things would have been prosecuted for them. We must ensure that no one is above the law.”