Last week, in his first public statement since the beginning of the government’s probe into Russian election interference, former special counsel Robert Mueller made it clear that he has little interest in testifying to Congress about his 448-page report. “I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner,” he told reporters. “The report is my testimony.”
But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from trying to get Mueller to appear before Congress. A week after Mueller’s statement, House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler is still working to get Mueller to publicly testify. “Let’s just say that I’m confident he’ll come in soon,” Nadler said Wednesday.
The holdup for now is Mueller’s preference to only answer questions in private. Politico reports that such a position is “a non-starter for most House Democrats.” Nadler commented on that issue Wednesday, saying, “We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that. I think, frankly, it’s his duty to the American people. And we’ll make that happen.”
If Mueller doesn’t agree to testify soon, Nadler is reportedly willing to subpoena him.
Previously, members of both parties called on Mueller to testify. Democrats are eager to ask Mueller about the decisions he made during his investigation and to get his thoughts on Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the report. They’re also eager to keep the discussion of Trump and obstruction of justice in the headlines. Even if Mueller tells them nothing new, a public hearing will create drama in Washington and clips for TV news.
Mueller’s statement last week and the subsequent reaction to it proved that many lawmakers hadn’t even read his report. It’s hard, then, to expect that the average American has. Mueller talking about the report publicly will likely help Democrats, as Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin told BuzzFeed News. “I wish everyone could read it,” he said. “I wish it were on everybody’s doorstep. But it’s not like that, so we might need him to come forward to restate the basic findings and conclusions.”
Even Trump allies in the GOP have called for Mueller to testify, but for a different reason. They think it will help the president. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told Politico, “There was no collusion, no obstruction, and that’s what Bob Mueller will tell everyone.”
But Trump himself has no interest in hearing from Mueller. “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!” he tweeted following Mueller’s statement last week.