WASHINGTON–The wait for former special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-anticipated public testimony got a little longer Friday.
Mueller’s planned July 17 appearances before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees has been postponed for one week to allow more time for both committees to question the former special counsel, officials said.
“We are pleased to announce that special counsel Mueller will provide additional public testimony when he appears before our committees,” the committee chairmen said in a joint statement. “At his request, we have agreed to postpone the hearing for one week, until July 24.”
Since Democratic committee leaders announced that they had secured Mueller’s appearance by subpoena last month, nothing has come easy. Chiefly, lawmakers have grappled over the time allotted for questioning and whether some members might be excluded because of tight time constraints
Initially, two hours had been set aside for each committee to grill the former special counsel about the contents of the 448-page report he delivered in April to Attorney General William Barr. Under the new format, Mueller will appear before the Judiciary Committee for three hours before the Intelligence Committee begins its session.
Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election documented a “sweeping and systematic” effort by Moscow aimed in part at helping Trump win the presidency and a Trump campaign that welcomed the assistance. Investigators found insufficient evidence of a conspiracy between the two, though investigators traced a series of steps Trump took after becoming the president to stymie the investigation that loomed over his administration.
When Mueller declined to say whether those acts were illegal, Barr intervened and concluded that Trump’s conduct was not criminal.
Lawmakers from both parties have said they are eager to question the former special counsel about both his conclusions and the handling of the Russia investigation, which Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.”
Mueller’s investigation led to criminal charges against three businesses and 34 individuals, including Russian intelligence officers and six of Trump’s onetime senior aides and advisers. The investigation found that several of Trump’s former aides had lied to investigators and Congress in ways meant to downplay links to Russia.
Mueller’s only public comments on the case came in late May when he reaffirmed the findings in his final report. Of Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation, Mueller said the report did not clear Trump of criminal wrongdoing, adding that investigators were effectively blocked from bringing charges because of long-standing Justice Department policy that prohibits the criminal prosecution of sitting presidents.
“A president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional,” Mueller said.
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