Some Democrats are watching old video of his previous testimony. Others are closely rereading his 448-page report.
However, Robert Mueller has said he won’t answer questions beyond what is in the report on Russia’s election meddling when he comes to Congress on July 17.
“We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” Mueller said on May 29. “I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
“The report is my testimony,” he added.
Mueller is expected to testify in front of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees for two hours each, with time split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.
“It will not be easy,” said Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee. He added, “We just have to be very smart about how we use the time and really give the special counsel the time to tell the story,” according to The Associated Press.
Cicilline said he’s reading the report a second time, thoroughly, with an eye toward what he wants to ask.
Separately, a Democratic aide said staff members have been watching old videos of Mueller testifying as FBI director during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They’re looking to see how he’ll act, the aide said, and they have noticed he gives minimal commentary when answering questions.
Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee gathered on Wednesday evening to discuss strategy for questioning Mueller, along with other topics.
New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a member of the committee, said before the meeting that he expects to discuss “what the team strategy is going to be as we begin an intensive phase of preparation.”
The Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on the second half of Mueller’s report, which details multiple episodes in which Trump attempted to influence the investigation. Mueller said he couldn’t exonerate the president on obstruction of justice.
The House’s intelligence panel, which will go second, will focus on the first half of the report, which details Russian interference in the presidential election. Mueller said there wasn’t enough evidence to establish a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Republicans seem to have given it less thought. Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, a senior GOP member of Judiciary, said he hasn’t started preparing and expects little news from the event. He said Democrats are just “chasing their tails” and are aiming to placate base voters who want to see the Democratic House majority take on the president.
“It’s possible a few people could change their opinion, but overall I think it’s not likely,” Chabot said.
Attorney General William Barr accused Democrats on Monday of attempting to create a “public spectacle” by summoning Robert Mueller to testify to the Russia investigation before Congress.
“I’m not sure what purpose is served by dragging him up there and trying to grill him,” Barr said. “I don’t think Mueller should be treated that way or subject himself to that, if he doesn’t want to.”
Mueller’s report detailed extensive Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election but he did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow. He did not recommend charging any Trump associates as agents of the Russian government or with campaign finance violations.
President Trump addressed the media outside the White House, on May 30, responding to questions regarding Robert Mueller’s public statement.
“Well I think it was the same as the report. There wasn’t much change. It was to me, the same as the report. And there’s no obstruction, you see what we’re saying. There’s no obstruction, there’s no collusion, there’s no nothing. It’s nothing but a witch hunt. A witch hunt by the media and the Democrats, they’re partners and it keeps going. I thought it was finished when the report was released but it goes on. And to me it was the same frankly as the report and he said basically it was the same as the report.”
The president then questioned why the other side was not investigated when considering the multiple red flags that had been ignored regarding the investigators and the investigation itself.
“Now one other thing I’ll say, why didn’t he investigate Strzok and Page and McCabe and Comey and all the lies and Brennan and the lies and Clapper and the lies to Congress and all of the things that happened to start this investigation. Why didn’t Comey come clean? Why didn’t Comey come clean and say the things that he knows are fact. Why didn’t Mueller investigate Comey, his best friend or his very good friend. And there’s so many other things,” the president said.
President Trump added, “No Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected, you know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, If anything I think helped the other side. What you ought to ask is this. Do you think the media helped Hillary Clinton get elected? She didn’t make it.”
Includes reporting from The Associated Press.
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