Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, seemingly ignored special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement Wednesday ruling out any testimony before Congress, saying he and other congressional investigators nonetheless “look forward” to him testifying.
“We look forward to Mueller’s testimony before Congress,” Schiff began in a statement. “While I understand his reluctance to answer hypotheticals or deviate from the carefully worded conclusions he drew on his charging decisions, there are, nevertheless, a great many questions he can answer that go beyond the report, including any counterintelligence issues and classified matters that were not addressed in his findings.”
In his first public remarks about his two-year Russia investigation, Mueller said the probe has been closed and he is leaving his role and returning to civilian life. Speaking at the Justice Department, Mueller reiterated his report’s findings — that there was no evidence to indicate collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign before the 2016 election, and there were several “episodes” in which President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice with attempts to disrupt the investigation. The report did not clear him on that issue, though Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined the president did not commit. obstruction of justice. Mueller stated he does not plan on speaking further about the investigation, precluding any testimony in Congress.
“I hope and expect that this will be the only time I will speak to you about this matter,” Mueller said. “The report is my testimony.”
“I would not provide information beyond that which is already public,” he added.
According to Schiff, Mueller’s statement was a “direct rebuke” of Barr’s handling of the special counsel’s report and left open the possibility that President Trump may have committed a crime. “Finally, in a direct rebuke of Attorney General William Barr—who deliberately and repeatedly misled the American people—Mueller today confirmed that he was unable to consider criminal charges of obstruction of justice against the President specifically because of Department of Justice policy prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president,” the California Democrat said. “Mueller reiterated that ‘if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.’ Instead, he made clear that, because of the Department’s own policy, it is left it to Congress—not the Attorney General—to evaluate and further investigate the president’s misconduct.”
Though Schiff is still adamant about Mueller’s testifying, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) appears to have softened on the idea — even as he and the special counsel continue to negotiate about a possible testimony. When asked in a press conference Wednesday if he would issue a subpoena for Mueller to appear before his panel, Nadler replied: “Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we needed to hear today.”
Earlier this month, talks between Nadler and Mueller fell through for the special counsel to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15th.
The United Press International contributed to this report.