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Mueller Agrees to Publicly Testify Before the House in Dual Sessions
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26 Jun 2019 01:02 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Robert Mueller (Image source: Medill DC via Wikimedia Commons)

 

After months of negotiations, the extremely tight-lipped former special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress. This is most assuredly not good news to Donald Trump, as this is someone he cannot control as far as refusing to allow him to testify or honor a subpoena, unlike an assortment of officials and aides, past and present, from his administration. 

Mueller was tapped to be special counsel by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to follow up on the FBI's Russia investigation after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. Mueller opened his investigation to research the possibilities of cooperation between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, as well as his alleged obstruction by firing Comey.

 

After assorted indictments, plea deals, convictions, and sentencing, Mueller closed his investigation and issued a report to the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr then issued a summary that many in Congress took issue with and wanted to see the full report.  

He eventually did release the full report but in a redacted state. The House subpoenaed the report and Barr himself to testify but have not seen either. They have voted to pursue legal actions for his failure to appear.

 

There has also been a push to have Mueller testify. He eventually issued a public statement on his findings and said even if he did testify he wouldn't say any more than what is in his report.  

In an announcement late Tuesday the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees said Mueller will appear before both panels on July 17 "pursuant to a subpoena."

 

"We are pleased that the American people will hear directly from Special Counsel Mueller. Our national security is being threatened, and the American people deserve answers," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

In most assuredly a long day for him, Mueller will appear in back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

 

Pelosi has refused to initiate impeachment proceedings despite a mounting effort by currently 80 House Democrats and one Republican. They are calling out the president for ignoring the Constitution and refusing to cooperate with congressional probes. 

It is their hope that after hearing Mueller's testimony, it will lead to more public support to begin impeachment proceedings.

 

"I don't want to set unrealistic expectations," said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). "We want to hear what he has to say, and I think it's very important for the American people to hear from him as well. But there are a great many other witnesses that the American people need to hear from in addition to Bob Mueller." 

What led many to push even more for impeaching Trump was Mueller's statement in May that he would not clear nor accuse Trump of obstruction and that he was leaving it up to Congress.

 

However, he also said if his office "had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." Additionally, he explained that the U.S. Constitution "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing." 

While he's made it clear that he won't speak about his investigation more in-depth than he already has, it could still be damaging to Trump to have him state once again that if they knew the president was 100 percent innocent of any crime, they would have said so.

 

Still, the GOP have questions as well. While Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said he "thinks it's more political theater," he also stated that "Mr. Mueller better be prepared. I mean, there's a lot more questions that Republicans have than Democrats." 

"This is the Democrats trying to resurrect a Russia collusion narrative that the American people are tired of," he continued. "And yet, Mr. Mueller has not been subject to cross examination. He will be now."

 

Trump's legal team is trying to destroy Mueller's credibility beforehand. "The first thing he needs to answer is his own conflicts of interest," said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. "The whole report is incoherent." 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a known Trump ally, believes "it'll blow up in their face."

 

Offering a contrary opinion, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) thanked both House committee chairmen via tweet "for securing Mueller's testimony." 

"To the naysayers who have doubted the effectiveness of our committee chairs, this shows measurable and real progress in our methodical and assertive approach in holding the president accountable," he added.

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