In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s firing of disgraced FBI Director James Comey in 2017, it was widely reported that former FBI Director Robert Mueller went to the White House to be interviewed for that position. He didn’t get it, however, and was instead named the special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation the next day by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
But during Mueller’s July 2019 testimony before Congress at the conclusion of that probe, he said under oath that he had not sought the FBI’s top job and had merely advised Trump in his search for the next director, a statement that has now been flatly contradicted by several officials in the Trump administration, and which has observers asking whether Mueller should face perjury charges.
White House officials confirm Mueller sought FBI director job
Fox News reported that “multiple administration officials” have confirmed that Mueller was most certainly seeking to reprise his role as FBI director when he met with Trump about the position on May 16, 2017.
On top of that, those same officials also confirmed that there is documentary evidence establishing the fact that Mueller put himself forward as a candidate for the job.
Those facts are pretty interesting in light of the recent revelation that Mueller had also been in contact with Rosenstein about possibly serving as the special counsel in the Russia probe several days prior to that White House meeting.
That revelation came via emails obtained by government watchdog group Judicial Watch by way of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. According to The Washington Times, the emails strongly implied that the White House had no knowledge of Mueller and Rosenstein’s private discussions and give credence to Trump’s oft-repeated claim that Mueller had a conflict of interest in accepting the special counsel job after failing to be named FBI head.
In July 2019, Mueller testified under oath about the final report issued at the conclusion of his lengthy investigation into alleged Russian collusion and obstruction of justice by President Trump.
Asked specifically about his meeting with Trump at the White House with regard to the FBI job, Mueller stated unequivocally that he had not been seeking the job and said under oath, “My understanding was I was not applying for the job… I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job.”
However, just hours earlier on that same day, the president tweeted, “It has been reported that Robert Mueller is saying that he did not apply and interview for the job of FBI Director (and get turned down) the day before he was wrongfully appointed Special Counsel.”
Trump added: “Hope he doesn’t say that under oath in that we have numerous witnesses to the…interview, including the Vice President of the United States!”
Potential perjury charge, or just damaged credibility?
Fox News noted that Mueller, who has since returned to private legal practice, did not respond to a request for comment on its report.
Whether anything comes of what appears to have been perjury by Mueller during his testimony before Congress remains to be seen, but at the very least this incriminating information will probably do serious harm to whatever credibility he may have had left in the eyes of the American people.