Robert Mueller testifies about possible Trump obstruction of justice

Posted on: July 24th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Former special counsel Robert Mueller arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday for historic testimony before lawmakers in back-to-back House hearings on his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Democrats on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee labored for months to bring Mueller before Congress to answer lingering questions about his 22-month investigation.

Mueller was reluctant to appear before Congress, and only agreed to appear under subpoena from both panels. “The report is my testimony,” he said in his only public statement on the report in May.

Here is how the day is developing:

8:42 a.m. Mueller is sworn in

“It is unusual for a prosecutor to testify on a criminal investigation. And given my role as a prosecutor there are reasons why my testimony will necessarily be limited,” Mueller said in his opening statement.

8:36 a.m. Judiciary Chairman Nadler gives opening statement

“Director Mueller, we have a responsibility to address the evidence that you have uncovered. You recognize as much when you said, ‘The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.’ That process begins with the work of this committee,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

“This hearing is long overdue. We’ve had the truth for months — no American conspired to throw our elections. What we need today is to let that truth bring us confidence and closure,” Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, said in his opening statement.

8:33 a.m. Mueller takes the witness chair

In a packed hearing room, Mueller takes a seat in the witness chair. A top aide, Aaron Zebley, takes a seat just behind him.

Shortly after Mueller sat down, a protester shouted: “Kushner and Manafort downloaded encrypted apps the day of the Trump Tower meeting” before getting pulled out of the room by Capitol Police.

7:53 a.m. Mueller arrives at Capitol Hill

Mueller arrived amid a crush of reporters and cameras for his congressional testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee but made no comment.

Mueller testifies first before the Judiciary Committee for three hours, before fielding questions from the House Intelligence Committee for two hours. The first hearing will focus on Volume II of the Mueller report, which detailed ten instances of possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. The second hearing will center on Volume I of the report, which focused on Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 White House race.

Lawmakers have spent weeks preparing for the hearings, and continued to prepare for the back-to-back rounds of questioning well into Tuesday evening, fielding a last-minute request from Mueller that Aaron Zebley, his longtime chief of staff, be sworn in to appear alongside him in front of the committees. A committee spokesman said Zebley would appear with Mueller on Wednesday as his counsel.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have each held mock hearings, with committee staffers playing the role of Mueller. The former special counsel has prepared with a cadre of longtime aides at the WilmerHale law firm, where he worked before accepting the special counsel appointment.

Trump has attacked Mueller ahead of the hearing, and said he may “see a little bit of it” on television.

On Monday, the Justice Department attempted to limit elements of Mueller’s testimony, saying in a letter to the former special counsel that he “must remain within the boundaries” of the public report on his investigation.

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