Former special counsel Robert Mueller has been compelled to testify publicly before Congress on July 17 after Democrats issued subpoenas, the chairmen of two House committees announced.
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 Mueller’s resolute silence throughout his two-year investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump’s campaign .
His sole public statement came from the Justice Department podium last month as he announced his departure, when he sought to explain his decision to not indict Trump or to accuse him of criminal conduct. He also put lawmakers on notice that he did not ever intend to say more than what he put in the 448-page report.
“We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said May 29. “I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
Those remarks did little to settle the demands for his testimony. The two Democrat-controlled committees demanded more from 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.
Trump himself simply tweeted, “Presidential Harassment!” He followed up on Wednesday morning in an interview with Fox Business Network, saying, “It never ends,” then adding his usual list of grievances against the way the probe was conducted.
Democrats say they want more than the report’s findings. Lawmakers are likely to confront Mueller on why he did not come to a firm conclusion on obstruction of justice. They are also likely to seek his reaction to criticism of his investigation from the president and ask for his personal opinion about whether Trump would have been charged were he not the commander-in-chief.
Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said they issued the subpoenas Tuesday, and Mueller agreed to testify pursuant to those subpoenas. 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.”
Schiff said there will be two hearings “back to back,” one for each committee, and they will also meet with 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?”
But Rep. Doug Collins, R-G.A., the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, has said he has no objections to Mueller’s testimony.
“May this testimony bring to House Democrats the closure that the rest of America has enjoyed for months, and may it enable them to return to the business of legislating,” Collins said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article