U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot 20 years ago led the charge to impeach then-President Bill Clinton. On Wednesday morning, the Republican from Ohio who sits on the House Judiciary Committee questioned special counsel Robert Mueller on his investigation into whether the Trump obstructed justice and colluded with Russia. Chabot mostly talked about the "Steele Dossier," which sparked the Mueller investigation.
One odd exchange came when Rep. Chabot tried to bring up Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on Trump, and ended up hiring British spy Christopher Steele to compile salacious and unverified information on Trump's ties to Russia. It was expected that Mueller would deflect any questions that get into the early origins of the investigation. But when Chabot asked him about Fusion GPS, Mueller at first suggested he was not even familiar with the group.
Guy Benson got reaction from Rep. Chabot just one day after this exchange.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:00:00] **SOUND BITE** When you talk about the the firm that produced the steel reporting the name of the firm that produced that was fusion G.P.S.. Is that correct?
Robert Mueller [00:00:09] **SOUND BITE** Well I'm not familiar with that.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:00:15] **SOUND BITE** It's not it's not a trick question. It was a fusion G.P.S..
Guy Benson [00:00:20] It is happy hour 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time back home. I'm on the West Coast today and tomorrow broadcasting from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University absolutely picture perfect day here in Palo Alto California. Welcome to the final hour of the show. Thank you for listening. That was a clip that we played a few times yesterday on the show in the wake of the Mueller hearings, which I don't think went the way the Democrats were hoping. And joining me now on the line was one of the men that you just heard from one of the representatives asking the questions of Robert Mueller yesterday. It's Congressman Steve Chabot a Republican of Ohio. Congressman great to have you back on the show.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:01:01] Hey Guy it's great to be with you too and your listeners.
Guy Benson [00:01:04] So let's just start big picture. You were obviously there, you participated in the hearing. What were your overall impressions at least of the morning session that you were involved in?
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:01:15] Well I don't think the Democrats got what they wanted here. I think they had been really disparaging the American people-- saying that even though the Mueller Report and their attempt to impeach the president was so important, that the American people hadn't taken the time to read the report. So in essence, they were going to put on this dog and pony show yesterday that it was going to educate the American people on why they ought to agree with the hardcore Democrat left that we need to impeach this president. I think that failed miserably. The groundswell that they were hoping for, people wanting to throw the president out of office didn't happen because the report essentially indicated that the president had not colluded or conspired with Russia nor his campaign had done so and of course the attorney general came out shortly thereafter and indicated that there was no evidence of obstruction of justice either. So I think the the Democrats who now run the committee of course, because they're in the majority-- we had a change of management the last election, so they're in charge. I think they were sorely disappointed yesterday.
Guy Benson [00:02:24] Congressman a lot of people are talking about and we have on this show the performance of Mueller himself. And I have no interest in demeaning him, I think he's been an extraordinary American and lead a good life and he's a patriot and he's served the country for a very long time. I had heard maybe some whispers that he was not at the very top of his game anymore. I wasn't sure if that was just sort of slanderous or snide from people who wanted to take him down a notch watching him live. Were you surprised by the frequency with which he seemed befuddled or needed questions repeated.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:03:01] I was and I really do think that the Democrats did a disservice to Mr. Mueller who as you indicated has served this country with great distinction in Vietnam as a Marine officer there as head of the FBI after September 11th. Probably the one of the most significant trauma that this country has ever suffered.He served our country well but I think they just were wrong to put him out there. I don't think he was really up to testifying there. And I do think what it shows-- at least what it would've told me-- was the report, the Mueller Report, which has obviously his name on it. It's hard to know how much input he had in that report. But when you look who was hired, who the investigators were, the lawyers were, significant number of those lawyers had contributed to either the Obama campaign or the Clinton campaign or both. None of them had given to Trump. So you had a mindset there from Peter Struck on down that they were out to get this president and it shows you how little evidence there was of high crimes and misdemeanors if even a group like that couldn't come up with any grounds for impeachment which they didn't. So it's time for us to move on, rather than spend more taxpayer money investigating ad nauseum. This president and this administration we ought to focus on real issues where Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to come together like our border. You know immigration the asylum laws in this country are terrible. And that's an area. We 144,000 people cross our southern border last month alone. It's like a sieve, and the American taxpayer ends up paying for these people many of the services. We've got a drug problem. We had about 70,000 people who died of overdoses last year alone. We've got an infrastructure our roads and bridges highways they're crumbling. Those are issues that we ought to be able to focus attention on and put the politics aside. But right now the hardcore left wants to impeach this president cause they hate him so much and so it may go on. But it's time. It's time to end it.
Guy Benson [00:05:19] While the media has also been driving this bus as well because they've been obsessed with the Mueller stuff in the Russia stuff for a long time. You know I was very much in favor of the investigation. I defended Mueller multiple times. Once the report actually came out itself and we read through it and talked about it... To me I felt like OK we've all had our arguments, we know what is alleged, we know what is not alleged, make a decision Democrats. Do you want to impeach the guy or not? If not we can move on and voters can make their decisions in 2020. That's been my attitude now for months and I think yesterday was just a complete-- in some ways waste of time. I felt like Mueller must have been embarrassed on some level and I really hated to see that. I'm curious though, just to come back to this point that you made in your previous answer, are you coming around Congressman to this idea that perhaps Mueller was a nominally Republican figurehead of a of a probe that was really done in the the stuff in the trenches was performed by more partisan lawyers who were actually investigating?
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:06:24] That's what it certainly appears to me-- that it has his name on there, but in essence it was the partisan Democrats who were driving the train on this. And as you mentioned Guy, you were willing to wait until the report came out. I said many times with media that ask me that I was reserving my judgment, especially as a member of the Judiciary Committee, till the report came in. And then I would read the report, and it took me two days to do it and I read every word in it, but then it was pretty clear no obstruction and then the attorney general indicated excuse me no no collusion. And the attorney general said no obstruction of justice. So it's it's clearly time to move on.
Guy Benson [00:07:06] Were you surprised when it seemed like Mueller didn't quite remember that his report said that colloquially it was a synonym between collusion and conspiracy? Because he tried to draw a distinction at one point say no no we didn't say no collusion we only said no conspiracy we never said that's anonymous, and then one of your colleagues, the ranking member, read back to him the actual verbatim from his own the passage from his own report saying actually you called it synonymous. He seemed kind of surprised and baffled by that.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:07:38] Well he was confused in many instances yesterday and again, I don't think it's necessarily his fault. I mean things happen. My mother has has Alzheimer's and I'm not suggesting that he does he's 95 years old. But clearly he had some challenges there and you know most of us tried to be effective. You know without you know being bullies with him because I don't think that would have been fair either. You know I happened to ask him the question about fusion G.P.S.
Guy Benson [00:08:10] Right.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:08:11] Who really was they. They were the ones that started this whole thing. You know they were basically paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid to drum up dirt on this president, and then use that dirt to get a a FISA warrant and they were off to the races from there. And even then couldn't really couldn't really get the dirt on the president they needed because it's not there yet they never got the headlines traditional.
Guy Benson [00:08:40] You mentioned that exchange and we played that exchange and I was actually in a in an Uber watching on my phone on C-SPAN and I listened to that and I immediately I tweet I said Wait did Did Muller just say he was unfamiliar with Fusion G.P.S. because they were mentioned in the report. They didn't really go into it very far and I think Congressman and my guess is Steve Chabot Republican of Ohio who is on the Judiciary Committee he was asking some of the questions including that one yesterday. There are many I think Trump supporters listening to us right now who completely agree with what you said. It's time to move on. We've beaten a dead horse here. Let's just turn to issues that really matter. I think the one caveat or asterisk that a lot of Trump supporters would have here are saying well we need to get to the bottom of some questions that Mueller apparently didn't perhaps even try to when it comes to how this whole investigation got started. What was the role of fusion G.P.S.? Were there abuses with FISA? And I know that there's two concurrent investigations into those questions at the moment. What was your reaction in real time when you said it's not a trick question which you know I was I remember wincing at that like oh man how does he not know Mueller. How does he not. How can he say that--that he's not familiar with Fusion G.P.S.? What was going through your mind when he responded the way that he did.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:10:00] Well I was surprised that it really was because I had I kind of had I thought a strong opening and a strong closing and then he had a fusion G.P.S. question and some other questions kind of in the in the middle I do want to say for filler but I wasn't really expecting to make any news on those things. So he did surprise me because I I thought for sure he would know what fusion G.P.S. was I think most of America knows if you're following this stuff at all. And this is the guy who wrote the report or his name's on it. So I was surprised and I felt kind of bad for him because it really showed a lot of other a lot of other things that you know it was other people that had probably written this report not him.
Guy Benson [00:10:39] What are your biggest questions as we await now the Horowitz report from the inspector general and the Durham report that was spearheaded by the attorney general. What are the biggest question marks that you have left in your mind about the origins of all of this.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:10:54] Well. One of them is what Jim Jordan was talking about yesterday about you know this. Why didn't they charged this guy with lying to the FBI? He did it three times.
Guy Benson [00:11:07] Reminded people who that is. .
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:11:09] Yeah he was basically the guy that started the whole thing by by entrapping you know one of the one of the members an outside member of the of the Trump campaign and then trap him and went into thinking they kind of went on down the line from that and got to fusion G.P.S. and got the the FISA warrant. And you know and they were off to the races as I say. So I think there's a number of things. Basically to boil it all down is how did this whole thing get started and was it Russia that started it from the beginning or was it really the Clinton campaign that did it. Because that was you know Trump was charged with colluding with a foreign entity in this case the Russians. But the Clinton campaign actually did it, and pretty much got away with it. Now she didn't win the election, but she certainly didn't have to go through what what the president's gone through and all this. So it's just a shame that we've spent so much time and energy on something where there's no there there. And yet we have huge issues facing our country. And I guess one final thing I'd say Guy is we should never forget that the Russians actually did interfere or attempt to interfere with our election. That's right. And they undermine our kind. They try to do it all the time and they're the big winners in this because the Democrats pretty much took the bait and that our country has been divided for two years and they've made the president less effective probably than he otherwise would be. He would have been so. So the Russians won at least in this instance and the Democrats let him do it. And that's a shame.
Guy Benson [00:12:55] You know it's been frustrating I think to watch and you know I agree I think the report show that there was no collusion. I think the report evidence some very bad behavior and instincts from the president that I'm not going to whitewash myself I also don't think it rises to the level of obstruction of justice that would then be impeachable. And again as I've said over and over again it the Democrats in the House disagree and they feel strongly about it they are more than welcome to keep pursuing impeachment. I just think they know that the momentum and the public sentiment just isn't there and I think after yesterday there's even less momentum... Very last question. Only about a minute left Congressman. You were one of the managers of the Senate impeachment trial one of the House guys back during the Clinton impeachment process. People might listen to you saying oh we need to move on. Stop the endless investigations they might say well aren't you being a hypocrite because you were part of the team that kept going after Bill Clinton. I'm just wondering how you would respond to that type of critique.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:13:52] Well I have been asked that question by the press particularly on the left for some time now and there are a couple of big differences. One difference is back in the day we had the independent counsel was Kenneth Starr then now we have the special counsel Robert Mueller and they came back with a report. Both of them came back with a report Ken Starr had various grounds and recommended impeachment. He said yes there was grounds for articles of impeachment and here's why. Mueller said no grounds for impeachment. So there was a there was entirely different one they said go ahead with it the other they said not to. And then another big difference was Bill Clinton had put his hand on the Bible swore to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth and then lied.
Guy Benson [00:14:37] Yeah. He was. I mean I think that's the key point and you're right about the different frameworks between what Kenneth Starr was working with versus what Robert Mueller was working with and I think that you've you've dealt with that question many times I just want to give you an opportunity for people who might have it in the back of their minds to give an explanation.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:14:53] There was perjury and no perjury here.
Guy Benson [00:14:55] Congressman Steve Chabot a Republican of Ohio he was in action yesterday in the Judiciary Committee. Congressman thank you very much for taking some time with us.
Rep. Steve Chabot [00:15:04] Thank you very much Guy.
Guy Benson [00:15:05] We'll be right back.