Robert Mueller testimony: All the latest updates
All the latest updates as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears before Congress about the Russia probe.
US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is testifying on Wednesday before two congressional committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.
Mueller’s appearance before two House panels promises to be the TV event of the year in the US House, where politicians will question him for roughly five hours about the book-length report he released in April.
Democrats hope that by putting Mueller on television and highlighting the parts of the report that they believe describe Trump’s most egregious behaviour, they will be able to ignite new outrage and renew public interest in their investigations into the president.
But Republicans are there too, and expected to defend Trump, who has condemned the probe as a “witch-hunt.”
Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee began at 8:30am (12:30 GMT) and will last for three hours. After a short break, he will appear before the House Intelligence Committee at 12:00pm (16:00 GMT).
Here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, July 24:
House Judiciary panel takes short break
The House Judiciary hearing is on a short break. Mueller’s testimony will resume soon.
Mueller on Trump’s desire to fire him
Citing his office’s report, Mueller said that Trump wanted to fire him because he was investigating obstruction of justice.
Asked at a US House hearing whether Trump wanted Mueller fired for investigating possible obstruction of justice by Trump or his associates, Mueller referred to his report on the investigation and replied, “That’s what it says in the report, yes. I stand by the report.”
As expected, Democrats have so far focused on instances laid out in the Mueller report that highlighted potential way Trump obstructed justice. They’ve repeatedly said they believe Mueller intended for Congress to continue probing those instances.
Republicans on the other hand have so far focused on Trump’s presumption of innocence. It also appears Republicans are attempting to discredit the probe, and at times Mueller himself.
Who is sitting next to Mueller?
Who is sitting next to Mueller, seen pointing to specific passages in what appears to be the 448-page report?
That’s Mueller’s top aide, Aaron Zebley. The aide was not sworn in before the House Judiciary Committee, and therefore won’t offer testimony. But according to US media, Zebley will likely be sworn in and asked questions during the House Intelligence hearing later on Wednesday. Trump called the Democrats’ decision to allow Zebley to appear “a disgrace”.
Mueller so far offers limited answers
As expected – and promised – Mueller has so far offered limited responses to committee members’ questions.
He has responded to many questions with one word answers, and referred committee members to the his 448-page report.
Remember, in his opening remarks, he said he would limit his testimony to the scope of the report. “As I said on May 29, the report is my testimony,” he said.
Mueller says Russia hoped to benefit from Trump
Mueller said the Russians believed they would benefit from Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election.
The former special counsel was asked Wednesday if his investigation found the Russian government perceived a benefit if one of the candidates won.
“Yes,” he said.
“And which candidate would that be?” asked Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat.
“It would be Trump,” Mueller said.
Mueller dismisses Trump’s claims of ‘total exoneration’
In answering questions from House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Mueller said his report did not conclude Trump did not commit obstruction of justice.
Mueller’s report said the investigation did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. But it said investigators did not clear Trump of trying to obstruct the probe.
Mueller: Russian interference ‘among most serious’ challenges
As he wrapped up his opening statement, Mueller said that Russian interference in the 2016 election is “among the most serious” challenges to American democracy.
“This deserves the attention of every American,” he added.
Mueller: Won’t comment on actions taken by Barr
In his opening statement, Mueller said he would not comment on any actions taken by Attorney General William Barr or Congress.
He stayed in line with what his office laid out in its report. “As I said on May 29, the report is my testimony,” he said.
Mueller sworn in
Mueller has been sworn in. The former special counsel will now give his opening statement.
Nadler: We have a responsibility
In his opening remarks, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, said that Congress has a “responsibility to address the evidence” that Mueller uncovered.
“We will follow your example, Director Mueller,” Nadler said. “We will act with integrity. We will follow the facts where they lead. We will consider all appropriate remedies. We will make our recommendation to the House when our work concludes.”
House Judiciary Committee hearing begins
The first of two back-to-back hearings has started. The hearing will start with committee chairman Jerrold Nadler giving his opening statement.
Mueller testimony: What to expect
As Mueller gets ready for his day of testimony, here are six things to know before the highly-anticipated hearings.
Also get a refresher on some of the key findings of the Mueller report.
And a reminder of all the key players.
Tuesday, July 23
McConnell won’t watch Mueller testimony
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t intend to watch former Special Counsel Robert Mueller give evidence before Congress on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The Republican told reporters on Tuesday the public already has a “pretty full picture” of Mueller’s report.
McConnell said he doesn’t know “how many times we want to see this movie again.” He said the public has “moved on past” it.
Mueller wants aide with him
Mueller has requested that a longtime associate appear alongside him when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.
Mueller has asked that Aaron Zebley, his former chief of staff and his top aide on the Russia investigation, accompany him at the witness table during Wednesday’s hearing. That’s according to a person familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.
Republicans are opposed to the request.
Representative Doug Collins, the Judiciary panel’s top Republican, called the move an “apparent stunt” by Democrats. He said it “shows the lengths Democrats will go to protect a one-sided narrative from a thorough examination by committee Republicans.” Trump also criticised the move.
DOJ tells Mueller keep to report
The Justice Department has told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller not to stray beyond his report on Russian election interference when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.
The department said in a letter that Mueller should not speak about redacted material from his report – including material pertaining to pending criminal prosecutions, “uncharged third-parties” and “executive privilege,” such as “presidential communications privileges.”
The letter is entirely in line with what Mueller has already said – which is that he doesn’t intend to speak beyond his report’s findings during Wednesday’s congressional hearings. But Democrats are preparing questions to highlight the report’s most damning details.
The department provided the letter on Monday in response to what it said was a request from Mueller about limitations or potential privilege issues affecting his testimony.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES