GOP Group Will Run Ad on 'Fox & Friends' Highlighting Trump's 'Exoneration' Lie After Mueller Testimony

Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL), a conservative group whose stated purpose is "defending the institutions of our republic," will air an advertisement on Fox & Friends next week to highlight President Donald Trump's lies following former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress.

Mueller on Wednesday testified for roughly six hours before the House Judicial and Intelligence committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the 448-page report, released in April, detailing the key findings of the probe. Despite Trump's near-constant claims of innocence and "total exoneration," Mueller reiterated that his investigation did not exonerate the president and denied that his probe was "a witch hunt," a term Trump has repeatedly used for months to attack its credibility.

In response, RRL will air a clip next week on Fox News' Fox & Friends, the president's preferred network, that will disprove Trump's "total exoneration" claims. The video, shared with Newsweek, opens on a tweet posted by Trump after Mueller's testimony, which reads: "TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE!," before cutting to the former special counsel answering questions from House Judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and House Intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff.

"The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was 'no obstruction' and that it was a 'complete and total exoneration,' that is not what your report said, is it?" Nadler asked, to which Mueller responded: "Correct, that is not what the report said."

"When Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt. Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt is it?" Schiff asked. "It is not a witch hunt," the former special counsel flatly responded.

In a statement to Newsweek, an RRL spokesperson noted that Mueller's 448-page redacted report contains numerous "episodes of obstruction of justice that are unbecoming of a president and an affront to the rule of law."

Mueller's probe resulted in 199 criminal charges, indicting 34 individuals, including three companies and six former Trump associates. Although the former special counsel's report did not accuse the president of a crime, it did detail at least 11 possible instances of obstruction committed by the president and members of his inner circle, dating from his 2016 campaign to current day.

"The report highlights instances in which members of President Trump's administration and the president himself intended to impede the investigation," RRL said. "It is important to remember that even an attempt to obstruct constitutes obstruction of justice. A failure to succeed in that attempt is no defense."

Mueller "made crystal clear" during his testimony, the GOP group continued, "that the central reason those episodes did not lead to criminal charges was because his team considered themselves bound by an OLC policy which states that a sitting president cannot be indicted for a crime."

"He also reaffirmed that it was up to Congress to pick up where he left off, fully consider the evidence he presented, and take what action Congress deems appropriate," RRL added.

When Newsweek spoke to RRL in June, the group had already aired 45 advertisements during Fox News programs to "encourage speaking up from Republicans" on the issue. The group has aired at least two more advertisements on the network since then.

Fox News is our preferred network, the group said, because of its wide-ranging viewer demographics and reach. According to 2018 Nielsen Media Research figures, Fox News attracts more than double the adult viewers, aged 35 and up, that CNN draws. Of those, 26 percent are Democrats, 44 percent Republican and 30 percent undecided.

When Mueller's report was first released in April, Sarah Longwell, RRL's executive director, told Newsweek that the document proves that "a lot of political interference [was] attempted by [Trump]. Republicans "need to grapple with what's in [the Mueller report], which is incredibly disturbing," she said. "We're not urging impeachment or any kind of action other than Congress, specifically Republicans, should join the Democrats, to investigate the matter fully and come to some conclusion about accountability."

Despite Mueller's testimony, Trump has continued to claim that the investigation totally exonerated him from all wrongdoing. "NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, TOTAL EXONERATION. DEMOCRAT WITCH HUNT!," the president tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

Watch the new RRL advertisement below:

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he departs the White House July 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. Republicans for the Rule of Law, a conservative group, plans on running an advertisement on Fox & Friends next week that will highlight Trump's "exoneration" lie. Chip Somodevilla/Getty