Robert Mueller will testify before the House judiciary committee and House intelligence committee in an open session, marking the first time the special counsel will publicly answer questions about his report on the Trump-Russia investigation.
Mueller is set to appear before both committees in separate but back-to-back hearings on 17 July, according to Representatives Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, who chair the judiciary and intelligence committees, respectively.
“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” Nadler and Schiff said in a joint statement. “We look forward to hearing his testimony, as do all Americans.”
The agreement came the same day the committees issued a subpoena to bring Mueller in to testify about his report detailing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and potential incidents in which Trump obstructed justice.
“We further understand that there are certain sensitivities associated with your open testimony,” Nadler and Schiff wrote to Mueller on Tuesday, alluding to criminal investigations the special counsel has referred to other Justice Department offices. “Nevertheless, the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.”
Schiff confirmed to CNN that the judiciary and intelligence committees will each have their own separate hearing to question Mueller on 17 July. The intelligence committee will reportedly have an open session but later go into a closed session with Mueller’s staff, according to the network.
The agreement is a victory for Nadler, who has long sought public testimony from Mueller. The special counsel has previously expressed not wanting to publicly testify, but said that if he did, he would not go beyond the parameters of what’s in his lengthy report, which he said speaks for itself.
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told NBC that Mueller “said his testimony was his report. We expect that his testimony will be his report.”
In May, Mueller made a rare appearance before the cameras to encourage Americans to read the report, reiterating that while Trump could not be charged with a crime while in office, that does not mean he is exonerated.
Although nothing Mueller said during that appearance was new information, his statements before the cameras resulted in a wave of Democrats confidently calling for an impeachment inquiry into the president.
House Democrats are hoping Mueller’s public, televised testimony on 17 July will provide similar clarity about the special counsel’s findings to the American public.
Democrats also argued that Mueller’s testimony is important because the White House continues to prevent witnesses from testifying before Congress about incidents Mueller detailed in his report.
“We are pleased that the American people will hear directly from special counsel Mueller,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Our national security is being threatened and the American people deserve answers.”