Mueller says he will not testify before Congress

Mueller says he will not testify before Congress

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a ‘do-over’ Graham: Mueller investigation a ‘political rectal exam’ MORE said Wednesday that he would not testify before Congress on Russian interference.

“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner,” Mueller said in remarks from the Justice Department. “I am making that decision myself — no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.”

Mueller also said that any testimony he would give publicly would not go beyond what is already laid out in the public version of his 448-page report.

Wednesday’s comments marked Mueller’s first public statements on the investigation, which he concluded earlier this year. 

“There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report,” Mueller said. “It contains our findings, our analysis, and our reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself.”

“The report is my testimony.”

Mueller’s remarks are certain to disappoint lawmakers who have clamored for the special counsel to publicly testify on his investigation. Democrats, critical of Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrComey: Trump peddling ‘dumb lies’ Amash doubles down on accusing Barr of ‘deliberately’ misleading the public on Mueller report Barr’s probe could play right into the Kremlin’s hands MORE’s handling of Mueller’s conclusions, have pushed for the special counsel to answer questions about his investigation and Barr’s handling of his report. 

The House Judiciary Committee has been negotiating with the Justice Department behind the scenes for weeks about his potential appearance, but the special counsel’s remarks Wednesday made clear that he is not interested in answering questions from lawmakers about his investigation or its conclusions.

“I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress,” Mueller said in his remarks, which lasted roughly 10 minutes. He declined to take any questions from reporters as he exited the press room.

Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSeven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton’s ‘deleted and acid washed’ emails MORE (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats have raised the possibility they could subpoena Mueller for his public testimony if he resists an appearance before Congress.

Mueller concluded his investigation quietly in late March. He did not find sufficient evidence to charge members or associates of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Moscow. Mueller also did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.

His public remarks Wednesday were his first since being appointed special counsel two years ago. He reiterated details from his report and also explained why his office did not decide whether Trump obstructed the probe – something that has perplexed lawmakers and analysts. 

Mueller said that his office turned to current Justice Department guidance stating a sitting president cannot be indicted to mean that his team could not bring a charge against Trump as they investigated him for obstruction of justice.

“After that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so,” Mueller said.

Barr issued a four-page letter summarizing Mueller’s conclusions on March 24 and, nearly four weeks later, released a redacted version of the special counsel’s report.

The report lays out Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and numerous contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. It also examines nearly a dozen episodes in which Trump may have obstructed the probe. 

Barr and deputy attorney general Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE concluded that the evidence laid out in the report was insufficient to accuse Trump of obstruction.

Democrats are particularly interested in questioning Mueller on his obstruction inquiry. Calls for his public testimony grew louder after correspondence revealed last month showed that Mueller had objected to Barr’s March 24 memo as failing to capture the “context, nature, and substance” of his investigation and its conclusions.

Mueller delivered his remarks Wednesday as Barr was on a trip in Alaska. His statement also came as lawmakers in Congress are on weeklong recess for the Memorial Day holiday. 

–Updated Wednesday, 11: 39 a.m.

Read more from The Hill:

Mueller: Charging president with a crime was ‘not an option we could consider’

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