Former FBI Director Robert Mueller will testify before the House Committee on the Judiciary Wednesday, speaking about his time as special counsel for the Department of Justice (DOJ), investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller has come to this point over a long and twisted road. After the release of the special counsel’s report on its findings — which concluded that no American citizens, on the Trump campaign or otherwise, conspired with Russian nationals to affect the campaign — lawmakers such as Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-NY) demanded more information, hoping to find bread crumbs indicating President Donald Trump “obstructed” the investigation, though there was no underlying crime to cover up. U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein both concluded that there was no compelling evidence on obstruction of justice.
Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, demanded access to the “underlying materials” used to compose the report. Weeks later, a letter from Mueller to Barr leaked to the media revealing a minor tiff between the two men over Barr’s initial public summary of the report before its redactions were completed. Barr described the tone as “a bit snitty,” though he laid the blame on a staff member.
Mueller held a brief press conference in late May stating that he did not intend to testify before Congress, affirming Barr’s professionality during the report’s release, and taking the extraordinary step of announcing that he, as a prosecutor, had not exonerated President Trump. “The report is my testimony,” he said.
However, Nadler and Schiff announced the following month that they had subpoenaed Mueller to testify in an open hearing about his investigation. While Republican lawmakers have criticized the investigation’s use of government time and money, several congressmen have expressed their desire to cross-examine Mueller over deceptive edits and omissions of exculpatory facts within the report — plus the role of the discredited “pee tape” dossier, drafted by foreign national Christopher Steele to interfere in the U.S. election.
Over the past several weeks, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been jockeying to arrange the parameters of the hearing for a favorable outcome. The DOJ instructed Mueller not to speak about subjects outside the scope of his report, and news broke late Tuesday night that Mueller would have his own lawyer coaching him — his former chief of staff Aaron Zebley. President Trump objected to the last-minute change on Twitter Wednesday morning. “This was specifically NOT agreed to, and I would NEVER have agreed to it,” he wrote.
It was NEVER agreed that Robert Mueller could use one of his many Democrat Never Trumper lawyers to sit next to him and help him with his answers. This was specifically NOT agreed to, and I would NEVER have agreed to it. The Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history, by far!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
Trump had originally planned to react to the hearing with a live audience, scheduling a campaign rally in Greenville, NC, last Wednesday, when Mueller was originally scheduled to testify. However, the House pushed back the hearing one week, allowing Trump to focus his energy on a feud with the “Squad,” a group of far-left freshmen Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).