July 24, 2019

Castro Questions Mueller During Highly Anticipated Testimony

– As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today had the following exchange with Robert Mueller during the highly anticipated Intelligence Committee hearing, where members and the American people heard testimony to the former Special Counsel:

CASTRO: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you Special Counsel Mueller for your testimony and for your service to our country. Donald Trump, over the years, has surrounded himself with some very shady people. People that lied for him, people that covered up for him, people that helped him enrich himself. I want to talk specifically about one of those instances that’s in your report. Specifically, let’s turn to the Trump Tower Moscow project which you described in your report as a “highly lucrative deal” for the Trump Organization. Is that right?

MUELLER: I would have to look at the quote from the report if you have it.

CASTRO: Sure. It’s in Volume 2 pg. 135 – it’s described as “highly lucrative.”

MUELLER: Ok. I have it. I have it. Thank you, Sir.

CASTRO: Yeah, no problem. Your office prosecuted Michael Cohen, and Michael Cohen was Donald Trump’s lawyer, for lying to this committee about several aspects of the Trump Organization’s pursuit of the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Is that right?

MUELLER: That’s correct.

CASTRO: According to your report, Cohen lied to “minimize links between the project and Trump” and to “stick to the party line” in order not to contradict Trump’s public message that no connection existed between Trump and Russia. Is that right?

MUELLER: Yes. That’s correct.

CASTRO: Now, when you’re talking about the party line here, the party line in this case…

MUELLER: If I can interject, the one thing I should’ve said at the outset, it was in the report and consequently, I do believe it to be true.

CASTRO: Thank you. The party line in this case was that the deal ended in January 2016. In other words, they were saying that the deal ended in January 2016, before the Republican primaries. In truth though, the deal extended to June 2016, when Donald Trump was already the presumptive Republican nominee. Is that correct?

MUELLER: That’s correct.

CASTRO: The party line was also that Cohen discussed the deal with Trump only three times. When in truth, they discussed it multiple times. Is that right?

MUELLER: Also true and the basis for--and part of the basis for--the plea that he entered for lying to this entity.

CASTRO: Thank you. And thank you for prosecuting that. The party line was also that Cohen and Trump never discussed traveling to Russia during the campaign, when in truth, they did discuss it. Is that right?

MUELLER: That’s accurate.

CASTRO: And the party line was that Cohen never received a response from the Kremlin to his inquiries about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. In fact, Cohen not only received a response from the Kremlin to his email, but also had a lengthy conversation with a Kremlin representative who had a detailed understanding of the project. Is that right?

MUELLER: If it’s in the report, that is an accurate recitation of that piece of the report.

CASTRO: So you have the candidate Trump at the time, saying he had no business dealings with Russia, his lawyer, who was lying about it, and then the Kremlin, who during that time, was talking to President Trump’s lawyer about the deal. Is that right?

MUELLER: I can’t adopt your characterization.

CASTRO: Not only was Cohen lying on Trump’s behalf, but so was the Kremlin. On August 30, 2017, 2 days after Cohen submitted his false statement to this committee, claiming that he never received a response to his email to the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary told reporters that the Kremlin left the email unanswered. That statement by Putin’s press secretary was false. Wasn’t it?

MUELLER: I can’t speak to that.

CASTRO: Although it was widely reported in the press.

MUELLER: Again I can’t speak to that, particularly if it was dependent upon media sources.

CASTRO: But it was consistent with the lie that Cohen had made to the committee, is that right?

MUELLER: I’m not certain I can go that far.

CASTRO: So Cohen, President Trump, and the Kremlin were all telling the same lie.

MUELLER: I defer to you on that, I can’t get into the details.

CASTRO: Special Counsel Mueller, I want to ask you something that’s very important to the nation: did your investigation evaluate whether President Trump could be vulnerable to black mail by the Russians because the Kremlin knew that Trump and his associates lied about connections to Russia related to the Trump Tower deal?

MUELLER: I can’t speak to that.

CASTRO: I yield back, Chairman.

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