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Mueller to testify in public before House committees

Mueller to publicly testify
Mueller to publicly testify 01:02

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, of New York, announced Tuesday. He will appear in an open session July 17.

Mueller is responding to each committee's subpoena, and each will be holding separate hearings. All members will have five minutes to question the former special counsel.

Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Mueller was "very reluctant" to appear. 

In response to the news of Mueller's impending appearance before Congress, President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow told CBS News' Major Garrett, "The special counsel has said publicly the report is his testimony. I expect his testimony to be his report." 

Sekulow added, "I also expect the special counsel to face questions about the conduct of some parts of the investigation, as well as the origins of the investigation."

But the White House will not object or seek to block Mueller's testimony. On balance, the president's lawyers said this development is a chance to drive home the determination that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Mr. Trump with conspiracy -- often shorthanded by the president and his team as "no collusion."

Mueller's testimony also presents the opportunity to highlight potential conflicts or alleged bad behavior during the investigation, with the most prominent instance of this being the anti-Trump texts exchanged between former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who worked on the investigation into Mr. Trump in the summer of 2017, and Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair. When news of the text messages emerged, Strzok was removed from the investigation.

For the president's legal team, the testimony also provides a moment to highlight the origins of the Mueller report and the preceding FBI counterintelligence investigation, specifically, the FISA warrants and sources of information that first attracted FBI attention during Mr. Trump's presidential campaign. 

Mueller's highly anticipated testimony will take place four months after he submitted his report on Russian meddling into the 2016 election to Congress and three months after it was publicly released. Mueller indicated last month he would decline to testify.

"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," Mueller said on May 29. "The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress."

U.S. Special Counsel Mueller speaks about Russia investigation at the Justice Department in Washington
Robert Mueller seen May 29, 2019. Reuters

At more than 400 pages, Mueller's report described the special counsel's investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign's response. Mueller concluded there was "insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy." 

He also investigated potential obstruction of justice involving Mr. Trump and did not "make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime." But Mueller also did not clear the president. "If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said on May 29. The report documents several instances of potential obstruction.

Rebecca Kaplan contributed reporting.

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