June 27, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump flailed out in all directions—at the Democrats, at former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, at two former FBI officials—on June 26, after he learned that Mueller had agreed to testify in public before Congress next month about his investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported.
Coming nearly three months after the release of what is commonly referred to as the Mueller Report, two back-to-back hearings on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees promise to be among the most closely watched spectacles of Trump’s presidency to date, the Times said.
For those who have not read the lengthy report—including, in all probability, the majority of Congress and the U.S. population—this will represent an opportunity for the lead investigator on the case to recount what his team found, up-close and personal.
Indeed, unlike the print presentation, the live video will zoom in on Mueller’s demeanor, providing a chance for viewers to evaluate the Special Counsel’s verbal emphasis and body language.
The testimony will have the power to change minds and, potentially, to reshape the political landscape around the president’s re-election campaign and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
In a statement released on the evening of June 25, Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee noted, “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.”
For his part, upon hearing that the former special counsel would respond to the Congressional subpoenas and testify before two committees publicly, President Trump lashed out at Mueller on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators.
The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation and, personally, were not fans of the president. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” the president said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”
According to the Times report, Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report—which revealed that 19,000 text messages had been lost because of technical problems; not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.
“It never ends,” Mr. Trump said about Democratic efforts to investigate his conduct. He repeated, as he has done many times, that Mueller’s report found “no collusion with the Russians, “and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice.
In a press conference at the end of May, Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes, remarking, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Research contact: @nytimes