Mueller Relied on Untested Intel to Justify Russia Allegations - Ex-FBI Counsel

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller based allegations of Russian election meddling on potentially faulty US intelligence assessments knowing the charges would never be tested in court, former FBI Counsel Colleen Rowley told Sputnik.

The Mueller report, released on Thursday, claimed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in "sweeping and systematic fashion." The report specifically said that the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency, hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and stole information.

"Mueller is relying without critical questioning or thought upon intelligence agencies' specious assessments similar to how he relied upon [then-Secretary of State] Colin Powell's presentation of false intelligence to the UN to help the Bush administration gin up their illegal and counterproductive war on Iraq [in 2003]," Rowley, who is a former FBI special agent and whistleblower, said.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. - Sputnik International
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Independent forensic researchers, Rowley added, have challenged some of the hacking evidence Mueller used to form his conclusions. Moreover, there could potentially be "gaping holes" in Mueller's indictment of the 12 Russians he claimed are GRU agents who hacked the DNC.

"Prosecutors like Mueller know they ‘can indict a ham sandwich’ and indeed Mueller's been wrong before on several big cases, including misidentifying the Anthrax killer," the former FBI lawyer said. "In this case Mueller could have been even more lax as he was virtually assured of the unlikelihood that his allegations would ever be tested in court."

Mueller and his investigators failed to validate the most important aspect of the entire probe, Rowley argued, which has nothing to do with collusion.

"The real issue that I and most other Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) care about is whether any real evidence exists proving Russia meaningfully interfered in the election — regardless of whether that interference was with Trump's collusion or not," she said.

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Trump himself should care about that underlying issue since it effectively insinuates that he would not have won except for Russian interference and thus weakens his presidency, Rowley explained.

US Attorney General William Barr ahead of the report’s release said the Mueller team concluded that there was no evidence President Donald Trump colluded with Russia.

Russia has repeatedly refuted claims of interference in the US political system, saying the allegations were made up to excuse the loss of Trump's opponent as well as deflect public attention from actual instances of election fraud and corruption.

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