Former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify in public before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on July 17, both panels announced late Tuesday, in what is expected to be a high-stakes hearing centering on President Donald Trump’s efforts to interfere with Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) served Mueller with a subpoena late Tuesday night after the Democrat-led panels and the former special counsel failed to agree on terms for voluntary public testimony.
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“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” Nadler and Schiff said in a joint statement.
Schiff told reporters that Mueller was “very reluctant to come in” for public testimony, adding: “He has agreed to honor the subpoena. And the testimony before the Intel Committee will give each of the members the opportunity to ask their questions.” Schiff also said Mueller’s testimony will be divided into two separate hearings, one with each committee.
In rare public remarks last month, Mueller said his 448-page report “is my testimony” and that any appearance before Congress would be limited to the report itself. But in a brief letter to Mueller that accompanied the subpoena, Nadler and Schiff said it became “necessary” to issue a subpoena.
“Nevertheless, the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions,” Nadler and Schiff wrote to Mueller.
Democrats have been eagerly awaiting Mueller’s testimony ever since he completed his nearly two-year investigation in March. They believe that Americans haven’t fully digested the Mueller report, and that a public airing of the evidence contained within it could damage Trump politically ahead of his re-election in 2020, and potentially convince the public that impeachment is necessary.
“It’s going to be challenging for Bob Mueller and it’s going to be challenging for everybody because I believe he’s not going to say anything beyond what he wrote in the report,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), an Intelligence Committee member, said in an interview. “But, that said, most people haven’t read the report so I think there’s real value in that.”
Schiff said members of Mueller’s team would also participate in a closed-door executive session with lawmakers. It’s unclear which of Mueller’s deputies will be questioned.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It is unclear if Mueller kept the department apprised of his negotiations with the committees, or whether a government lawyer will be present for Mueller’s testimony.
Heather Caygle and Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.