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Robert Mueller to testify publicly before 2 House committees

Former special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify publicly before Congress on July 17 after Democrats issued subpoenas to compel him to appear, the chairmen of two House committees announced.

Mr. Mueller’s unusual back-to-back testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees is likely to be the most highly anticipated congressional hearing in years, particularly given Mr. Mueller’s resolute silence throughout his two-year investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump’s campaign. Mr. Mueller never responded to angry, public attacks from Mr. Trump, nor did he ever personally join his prosecutors in court or make announcements of criminal charges from the team.

“We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress,” Mr. Mueller said on May 29.

Those remarks did little to settle the demands for his testimony. The two committees continued negotiations that had already been going on for weeks, saying that they still wanted to hear from Mr. Mueller no matter how reluctant he was.

“When you accept the role of 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 and testify before Congress,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters shortly after the announcement.

Mr. Trump himself simply tweeted, “Presidential Harassment!”

In the report issued in April, Mr. Mueller concluded that there was not enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, which was the original question that started the investigation. But he also said he could not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice. The report examined several episodes in which Mr. Trump attempted to influence the investigation.

Democrats say it is now the job of Congress to assess the report’s findings. Lawmakers are likely to confront Mr. Mueller on why he did not come to a firm conclusion on obstruction of justice. They are also likely to seek his reaction to a drumbeat of incessant criticism from the president and ask for his personal opinion about whether the President would have been charged were he not the commander-in-chief.

Mr. Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said that they issued the subpoenas Tuesday, and Mueller agreed to testify pursuant to those subpoenas. In a letter to Mr. Mueller accompanying the subpoenas, the committee chairmen said “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.”

Schiff said there will be two hearings “back to back,” one for each committee, and they will also meet with Mr. Mueller’s staff in closed session afterward.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Republicans have criticized Democrats for their continuing investigations of the President. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., questioned why they would still want to hear from Mueller after the lengthy report was issued. “He said he didn’t want to talk to us anymore, didn’t he?”

Source: thehindu.com

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