WASHINGTON — Former special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify in public about his two-year Russia investigation before the House Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee on July 17. The announcement came from the chairmen of the two panels, who issued a subpoena compelling his testimony.
In a news release issued late Tuesday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said that Mueller had agreed to testify next month.
“Pursuant to subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence tonight, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has agreed to testify before both Committees on July 17 in open session,” they said in a statement.
“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel," the statement said, "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.”
The chairmen suggested in a letter to Mueller on Tuesday accompanying the subpoena that they understand that he may limit what he plans to share with lawmakers, with Schiff and Nadler writing that they know “there are certain sensitivities associated with your open testimony.”
“In particular, the Special Counsel’s Office referred several criminal investigations to other offices at the Department of Justice, and certain matters are ongoing. Your office, moreover, admirably limited public comment while the Special Counsel’s Office’s work was ongoing. You have also explained that you prefer for the Special Counsel’s Office’s written work to speak for itself,” they wrote.
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Mueller did not want to testify, but will respect the subpoena to testify in open session, Schiff said on "The Rachel Maddow Show" Tuesday night on MSNBC. Mueller's staff will speak to the committees in a closed session after Mueller's public testimony.
"Clearly this is something, I think from his perspective as prosecutor, he is reluctant to come, as a prosecutor normally would be," Schiff said. "But as Bob Mueller was the first to point out in his own report, he did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment."
Congress did not feel it sufficient to rely only on a written report without the ability to ask follow-up questions, he said, and believed that it was appropriate for the House to flesh out questions.
"It seemed like such an obvious step, from my own point of view, if you're going accept the role as special counsel in one of the most significant investigations in modern history, you're going to have to expect that you're going to be asked to come to testify before Congress," Schiff said.
Earlier this month, Nadler said he was “confident” that Mueller would eventually testify before Congress. Ever since the 448-page redacted report was released in April, lawmakers had been in talks with Mueller so that he could testify before Congress publicly. When Mueller spoke publicly for the first time about the Russia investigation in late May, he indicated that he did not want to testify before Congress. “I hope and expect that this is the only time that I will speak to you in this manner,” he said then.
“There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office will not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made,” he added. “The work speaks for itself. The report is my testimony.”
During a live phone interview Wednesday morning on Fox Business Network, President Donald Trump reacted to Mueller testifying next month by saying "it never ends" and that the former special counsel was "not a Trump fan, not a Trump person."
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, said after the planned testimony was announced that he expects Mueller's testimony to be his report.
Rudy Giuliani, another Trump attorney, also seemed unconcerned, telling NBC News of the forthcoming testimony, "Who cares."
"I think his testimony is going to be just like his press conference, totally useless with him repeating ‘I can’t make up my mind,’” Giuliani said.
"Mueller said he put anything he was going to say in his report. So I have no idea why he’s testifying," he said.
He also said he was not worried that the testimony would add to calls for impeachment, saying "Mueller had his chance to make his case, and he didn't," and "Bob Mueller is old news."
The forthcoming testimony by Mueller comes as those backing the initiation of an impeachment inquiry of Trump continue to increase, with 76 Democrats in favor as well as one Republican.