WASHINGTON – Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is slated to testify before Congress in less than 24 hours.
His Wednesday open-door testimony will be divided into two parts.
Mueller is scheduled to meet with the House Judiciary Committee 8:30-11:30 a.m. EDT. and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 12-3 p.m. EDT.
The hearing was supposed to take place on July 17 but was postponed amid concerns that the original time constraints would limit the number of members who would be able to ask questions.
Mueller’s appearance is compulsory. He was issued a subpoena last month.
In a letter signed by Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, the Justice Department told Mueller on Monday that he may not deviate from the contents of his 448-page report, which was released in April.
Mueller said in his report that he did not find evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Mueller did not make a determination as to whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice. However, at a news conference in May, Mueller suggested that Trump was not charged with obstruction because of a DoJ policy that prohibits the indictment of sitting presidents. “If we had had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said at the time.
Lawmakers are likely to press Mueller to elaborate on the report’s findings and the confluence of surrounding events.
Democrats may ask Mueller why he did not make a determination on obstruction.
They are likely to frame their questions around a 2017 New York Times report that said Trump ordered then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel. The report said McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. Trump has dismissed the report in its entirety.
The committee members might ask Mueller about a reported dispute between him and Attorney General William Barr over the contents of a memo Barr wrote prior to the report being released that summarized its findings. Barr told Congress in May that Mueller had informed him he was unhappy about the way the media reported on the memo and that he wanted executive summaries released along with it. Barr said that was the reason Mueller sent him a letter of objection several days after the memo was released.
Democrats might ask Mueller if he believes impeachment is warranted. But Mueller is unlikely to answer that question.
Some pundits have said Democrats planned the Mueller hearing for the purpose of building public support for impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has consistently eschewed talk of impeachment.
Republicans are likely to ask Mueller about the origins of his investigation.
That could include questions about a now-discredited dossier complied by former British spy Christopher Steele that alleged Trump colluded with Russian officials to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The dossier was put together with funding from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and was published by Buzzfeed in early 2017.
Republicans may ask about the extent of the role former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page played in the Russia investigation.
The agents were dismissed from Mueller’s investigative team in 2017 after it was discovered they had exchanged anti-Trump texts. Strzok was a lead investigator in the Clinton email probe. The agents were dating at the time even though both were married.
Trump and GOP lawmakers have long pointed to the controversy as proof that the investigation was biased from the start.