Former US special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify in public on July 17 about his report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees said Tuesday.
“Robert Mueller has agreed to testify before Congress pursuant to subpoena,” intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff announced on Twitter.
Schiff told reporters shortly after the announcement that Mueller was reluctant to testify but agreed to honor the subpoenas. He said there will be two hearings “back to back,” one for each committee, and they will also meet with him in closed session afterward.
The committees have been in negotiations with Mueller for more than two months about his testimony. But he has been hesitant to testify and speak about the investigation beyond a public statement he issued last month.
In a letter to Mueller accompanying the subpoenas, the committee chairmen said “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.”
Judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler confirmed that Mueller would appear “in open session.”
The Mueller Report released in April outlined numerous contacts between Trump’s election campaign and government-linked Russians, as well as evidence that the president tried on several occasions to stymie the investigation.
The Democrats have been split on whether to launch impeachment proceedings against the Republican president but -- fearing that much of the country is unaware of the report’s contents -- have been asking major figures to testify in public on its findings.
Making his first public statement about the high-stakes probe on May 29, Mueller said longstanding Justice Department guidelines prevented him from charging Trump.
But not indicting Trump was not equivalent to clearing him, Mueller said, suggesting Congress has both the constitutional powers and the responsibility to pursue the case.
While many of the candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination are pro-impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has argued that it would be a risky move without an “ironclad” case and bipartisan support.
If the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives were to vote on formal impeachment charges, the Republican-held Senate would decide whether to convict, which requires an unlikely two-thirds majority.
“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.
Mueller spent nearly two years investigating Russian election interference and possible involvement by Trump and his inner circle.
He concluded that there wasn’t sufficient proof of a criminal conspiracy but found that Trump’s campaign welcomed and expected to benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.