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Mueller testifies before the House Select Committee on Intelligence on July 24, 2019. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In his testimony Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller disputed 5 of President Trump's frequent claims about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the president's potential efforts to obstruct justice.

The big picture: Many of the claims Mueller knocked down were already refuted in his 450-page report, but Democrats were seeking to animate the special counsel's findings through Wednesday's high-stakes testimony. That was clear from the moment that Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) opened the hearing with his line of questioning.

"No collusion"

Mueller said in his opening statement that the counsel's investigation did not address "collusion," since it is not a legal concept.

"No obstruction"

Mueller denied that the report concluded that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice. Mueller reiterated that he did not reach a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" as to whether Trump obstructed justice because the Justice Department's Office of Legal Opinion bars him from indicting a sitting president.

"Total exoneration”

In the first question of the hearing, Nadler asked Mueller whether his investigation "totally exonerated" Trump, as the president has so often claimed. Mueller responded, "No."

"The 3 year Witch Hunt" and the "Russia Collusion Hoax"

Mueller told the House Intelligence Committee that his investigation was "absolutely" not a "witch hunt," and that Russian interference in the 2016 election is not a "hoax." Trump tweeted both phrases in the hours leading up to Mueller's appearance.

Mueller's FBI job interview

Mueller said that DOJ ethics officials concluded that he had no conflicts of interest that prevented him from serving as special counsel. He also denied Trump's claim that his application for FBI director was rejected and said he discussed the FBI job with Trump, but "not as a candidate."

Go deeper:

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
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  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
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6 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.