In his only comments following the release of his investigative report into Russian collusion, special counsel Robert Mueller said, “So beyond what I’ve said here today and what is contained in our written work 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 and it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today as well.”
Well, perhaps not today but maybe tomorrow. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been forced by subpoena to testify twice in one day on July 17.
Democrats Jerold Nadler and Adam Schiff issued a subpoena to Mueller, forcing him to testify, publicly, in front of the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee, which Nadler and Schiff respectively chair. The congressmen announced the impending testimony on Tuesday night, June 25.
Mueller’s unequivocal pledge to remain silent was made on May 29 in what he thought to be his first and only public comments regarding his work as special counsel investigating President Trump and the Trump campaign for so-called Russian collusion.
In those apparent final comments, Mueller went further in stating he would say no more.
“Now I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this matter. I am making that decision myself no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made we chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself and the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress,” said Mueller.
Considering that Mueller has stated that he will say no more than he has said or what has been publicly released in his two-year report, including to Congress, it is unclear exactly what representative Nadler and Schiff are expecting to hear.
In his apparent final comments, Mueller stated his appreciation for Attorney General William Barr making the report public as far as allowed.
“We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public and I surely do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision.” said Mueller.
In his comments on the release of the Mueller report, Barr explained that he provided maximum transparency of the report according to what is allowed by law. Going beyond that would have been breaking the law.
“As I said during my Senate confirmation hearing and since; I’m committed to ensuring the greatest degree possible of transparency concerning the special counsel’s investigation consistent with the law. At eleven this morning I’m going to transmit copies of the public version of the special counsel’s report to the chairman and ranking members of the Senate and house judiciary committees. The Department of Justice will also make the report available to the American people by posting it on the department’s website after it has been delivered to Congress,” said the attorney general.
In an interview with CNN, Schiff acknowledged that Mueller indeed did not want to testify and did so only in response to the subpoena issued by the Democrats.
In the interview, Schiff said, “I don’t think the special counsel’s office considers it a friendly subpoena. He was and is deeply reluctant to come testify, but nevertheless he has agreed to respect the subpoena.”
In what he thought were his final public comments, Mueller stated that he was resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. He also stated that he had fulfilled his duties and had submitted the report to Barr as required.
“We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general as required by department regulations. The attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide a report to Congress and to the American people.” Mueller said.
After the submission of the report, Barr gave public comments on the report, clearly dismissing accusations of Russian collusion.
“Finally, the special counsel investigated a number of links or contacts between Trump campaign officials and individuals connected with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. After reviewing these contacts, the special counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russian linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign. So that’s the bottom line.” said Barr.
After the report unequivocally dismissed the accusations of collusion between Russia and President Trump or the Trump campaign, the Democrats focused on charges of obstruction, about which Mueller had refused to take a position.
Barr addressed this in his comments on the report, saying that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had examined the report and had both reached the same conclusion.
“After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report and in consultation with the office of legal counsel and other department lawyers, the deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense,” Barr said.
In his comments, Barr summed up the scope of the Mueller report and reiterated its conclusions.
“After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants, and witness interviews, the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election, but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.”
However, the search continues. Considering Mueller has said he won’t say more than he already has, including to Congress, the reasons behind this public questioning remain unanswered. However the Republicans will also have the opportunity to question Mueller on July 17 as well.