Mueller agrees to tes­tify on Trump, Rus­sia

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

For­mer spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller will tes­tify to Congress af­ter be­ing sub­poe­naed by two com­mit­tees set­ting up a ma­jor show­down that could set the tone for the rest of Pres­i­dent Trump’s term.

“The Amer­i­can pub­lic de­serves to hear di­rectly from you about your in­ves­ti­ga­tion and con­clu­sions,” Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler, New York Demo­crat, and Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and chair­man of the Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, said in a joint let­ter alert­ing Mr. Mueller that he has been sub­poe­naed.

The two Democrats said they wanted to get Mr. Mueller to tes­tify vol­un­tar­ily but were pre­pared to is­sue sub­poe­nas, “and we now un­der­stand it is nec­es­sary to do so.”

They said Mr. Mueller has agreed to com­ply and will tes­tify in open ses­sion — though Mr. Schiff, speak­ing to CNN, said the for­mer spe­cial coun­sel is a re­luc­tant wit­ness.

It’s un­clear what he will add to his 448page re­port, most of which has been pub­lic for two months.

Mr. Mueller, in a farewell state­ment to the press in May, said the re­port spoke for it­self and warned that he would have noth­ing to add if called to tes­tify.

“The re­port is my tes­ti­mony. I would not pro­vide in­for­ma­tion be­yond that which is al­ready pub­lic in any ap­pear­ance be­fore Congress,” he said at the time.

But Democrats, fu­ri­ous that his re­port isn’t gain­ing more trac­tion in the pub­lic’s mind, have been ea­ger to cre­ate a made­for-tele­vi­sion fo­rum to air Mr. Mueller’s find­ings.

“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,” the chair­men said in their joint state­ment.

Mr. Mueller spent nearly two years lead­ing a team that in­ves­ti­gated the 2016 elec­tion, Rus­sian at­tempts to in­ter­fere in it, and Pres­i­dent Trump’s be­hav­ior dur­ing the cam­paign and af­ter­ward as pres­i­dent.

The spe­cial coun­sel did not find a con­spir­acy be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia to sub­vert the elec­tion, but he did iden­tify a num­ber of in­stances of be­hav­ior while Mr. Trump was in of­fice that could be seen as at­tempts to ob­struct the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion it­self.

In the end, Mr. Mueller de­clined to make any rec­om­men­da­tions about charges, at least in part be­cause Jus­tice Depart­ment pol­icy pro­hibits charg­ing a sit­ting pres­i­dent.

Still, he said: “If we had had con­fi­dence that the pres­i­dent clearly did not com­mit a crime, we would have said so.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr and then-Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, to whom Mr. Mueller re­ported dur­ing his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, looked at the re­port and con­cluded there wasn’t a pros­e­cutable case to be made.

Democrats ve­he­mently dis­agree with that read­ing and hope to en­tice Mr. Mueller to say so in his ap­pear­ance.

Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, the rank­ing Repub­li­can on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said he is ea­ger to hear Mr. Mueller tes­tify and hopes it will put to rest some of the ac­ri­mony that still sur­rounds the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I hope the spe­cial coun­sel’s tes­ti­mony marks an end to the po­lit­i­cal games­man­ship that Ju­di­ciary Democrats have pur­sued at great cost to tax­pay­ers,” he said. “May this tes­ti­mony bring to House Democrats the clo­sure that the rest of Amer­ica has en­joyed for months.”

Mr. Schiff said the com­mit­tees won’t be bound by the Mueller re­port in their ques­tion­ing and can go into other ar­eas.

Mr. Nadler, mean­while, told CNN on that he won’t al­low the White House and Jus­tice Depart­ment to re­strict Mr. Mueller’s tes­ti­mony as they have with such wit­nesses as for­mer White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Hope Hicks.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment has warned that some of the ma­te­rial Mr. Mueller dealt with in his work and his re­port are se­cret be­cause they were gleaned from grand jury pro­ceed­ings, while other in­for­ma­tion could tread on on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The two com­mit­tee chair­men said they un­der­stand those re­stric­tions but that his tes­ti­mony is too im­por­tant.

The move should give Demo­cratic lead­ers some breath­ing space as they try to con­tain a grow­ing pro-im­peach­ment move­ment within their ranks. Led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, most of those lead­ers have urged a slower ap­proach, say­ing com­mit­tees must be given a chance to do their fact-find­ing first.

Rep. Ro Khanna, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and a prom­i­nent lib­eral law­maker who has backed Mrs. Pelosi, said the Mueller subpoena was a sign that she has the right ap­proach.

“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 said on Twit­ter.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, sub­mit­ting to sub­poe­nas, will tes­tify pub­licly be­fore two House com­mit­tees on July 17.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.