Republican lawmakers are readying to cross-examine former Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees next month on his completed investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice.
Mueller’s testimony on July 17 was compelled by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who are eager to tease out differences between what Mueller, Attorney General William Barr, and President Trump have said about the investigation.
However, Republicans say they are also eager for the chance to grill Mueller.
“Bob Mueller better be prepared, because I can tell you, he will be cross-examined for the first time and the American people will start to see the flaws in his report,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said during an interview on Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle on Tuesday.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted Wednesday that he had “a lot of questions” about how Mueller spent $35 million in taxpayer money to find there was no collusion.
I've got a lot of questions about how Bob Mueller spent $35 million in taxpayer money to find there was no collusion.
But today, Democrats are focused on smearing @KellyannePolls as the next step in their wild impeachment goose chase.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 26, 2019
Republicans are eager to ask Mueller how soon after he began his two-year-long investigation he realized that there was not enough evidence to show an illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Republicans will also likely ask Mueller whether he looked into the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s investigation into the Trump campaign, or looked into a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and why it was used to underpin a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said the “list is long” of questions he wants to ask.
“Where did he start? How did he assemble his team? Why did they assemble the team that they did? … When did he decide there was no collusion and there’s no conspiracy being done? When did they decide…to put part of the dossier and discuss it in the Mueller report and then not discuss other parts?” he told Fox News on Tuesday.
“There’s just a plethora of questions here that all go back to the timing, the integrity…of this report, and those are all questions now that he’s either going to have to answer, or he’s going to have to sit there and try to avoid,” he added. Collins said he has been asking for Mueller’s testimony since April 8.
Republicans may also get a chance to ask Mueller about a Department of Justice Inspector General investigation into whether the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by using the dossier to obtain a the warrant on Page, if the investigation is completed before he testifies.
Outside conservative groups such as Judicial Watch and Turning Point USA also have plenty of questions they want the answers to:
Some Democrats are hyping up Mueller’s planned appearence. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted Wednesday that Mueller’s testimony will show the American people that Trump and Barr “lied to them.”
Who are the two people most scared of Mueller testifying? @realDonaldTrump and Bill Barr of @TheJusticeDept. The American people will see that @POTUS and Barr lied to them. The Mueller Report shows there was some collusion, much Russian interference & lots of Obstruction. https://t.co/Rpblv7IScL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 26, 2019
But some Democrats — including Schiff — are downplaying what could come of Mueller’s testimony. Schiff told CNN on Wednesday that people should have “realistic expectations” about the testimony. Mueller has previously said he would not go beyond what is in his report.
Reps. Veronica Escobar and Jan Schakowsky – two supporters of an impeachment inquiry – told me Mueller testimony will strengthen push for impeachment inquiry.
But Adam Schiff tamped that down, told me people should have “realistic expectations” about the testimony
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 26, 2019
Collins said he also expects Mueller’s testimony not to present Democrats with anything new beyond the report.
“I think at the end of the day it’s going to reinforce what the report said — everybody has had a chance for two months to read this. It says what it says, it’s not going to say anything different. What we’re going to find out is the dark underbelly of the corrupt cabal that started it all,” he said.
Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz said he believes the hearing will backfire on Democrats, since Mueller will not go beyond the report per Justice Department regulations, but Republicans can ask him about anything not in the report.
“The irony is that all the questions Democrats want to ask him, he’s not entitled to answer,” he said on Fox News’s Hannity on Tuesday. “But the irony is the questions the Republicans want to ask about…are completely appropriate because they are not in the report.”
News of Mueller’s testimony gave Trump an opportunity to blast Democrats for continuing what he has called “presidential harassment.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019
“It never ends, we had no obstruction, we had no collusion,” he told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday, when asked for his reaction.
“We had a report that was — you know, considering it had 18 people that hated Donald Trump and you had Mueller that obviously was not a Trump fan…And yet the report is no collusion, no obstruction, which was ruled on by our great attorney general,” he said.
“Look, you had people spying on my campaign, that’s very simple, OK,” Trump added. “They got caught and they’re running around going wild trying to do everything they can. But they spied on my campaign, it’s as simple as that.”