After remaining silent for nearly two years – with the exception of a brief statement expressing his reluctance to speak before Congress – former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before two U.S. House committees about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and President Donald Trump’s actions around that investigation.
Mueller, who was subpoenaed to testify following the release of a more than 400-page report addressing Russian interference into the campaign and the possible obstruction of justice by Trump, frequently referred to the report as he testified before members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence.
Mueller told representatives that his investigation did not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice charges and he explained why he did not subpoena Trump even though the president refused to sit down with Mueller's prosecutors.
Schiff adjourns the hearing
3:29 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: The hearing has ended.
Why not subpoena Trump?
3:10 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mueller tells Rep. Sean Maloney, D-New York, he could have served a subpoena on Trump but chose not to.
Mueller said he "negotiated" with the president and his lawyers for more than a year, trying to get an interview. He ended those negotiations, he said, "because of the necessity of expediting the investigation."
He reasoned that Trump would initiate a court fight over the subpoena, dragging out the investigation.
The Russians haven't stopped
2:58 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: In response to questions from Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, Mueller says the Russians are, at this moment, trying to interfere with U.S. elections.
Trump's attorney tweets
2:50 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney, tweets about today's hearing:
He can’t answer those questions
2:38 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Elise Stefanik, R-New York, asks a series of questions about the Steele dossier and Carter Page. Mueller says he can answer none of those questions. Stefanik says she realizes that she's asking them for the record.
Did he want to talk to Trump Jr
2:33 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, asks if Mueller wanted to talk to Donald Trump Jr. He says he does not want to get into that. He asks if he wanted to talk to Trump. He said yes.
Back to the hearing
2:28 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: After a short break, the hearing has resumed.
Stewart asks about leaks
2:03 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Chris Stewart, R-Utah, is asking about the presumption of innocence. He says some have had their lives "destroyed" but such accusations.
He has a binder with 25 examples of leaks from the investigation, he says, and all of those leaks were aimed at hurting the president.
He asks if the plan for the raid on Roger Stone’s home was leaked to CNN. Mueller says he “will not speak to that.” He says “we were not responsible for the leaks.”
Can Mueller exonerate anyone?
1:44 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mike Turner, R-Ohio, argues with Mueller about the word "exonerate. Turner says Mueller can exonerate no one, he doesn't have the power, he said, and when Mueller uses that word he is misleading the public.
Who did the Russians try to help?
1:32 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, asks Mueller which presidential candidate was Russia's operation designed to help. Mueller says Trump, then adds: "but there were instances where Hillary Clinton was subject to the same behavior."
Trump tweets again
1:29 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: The president is tweeting about the second hearing:
Mueller corrects this morning's testimony
1:14 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mueller says in his opening statement to the Intelligence Committee that he wants to correct something Rep. Ted Lieu said in the morning hearing.
Mueller said he did not mean to imply he agreed with Lieu's statement that the only reason he didn’t charge Trump was because of a policy outlined by the Office of the Legal Counsel. He said the policy prevented him from making a determination on whether Trump should be charged with any crime.
Republicans won't question Zebley, Nunes says
1:10 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mueller and his former deputy Aaron Zebley, are sworn in. Nunes says the Republicans will direct no questions to Zebley.
Opening statements from Schiff and Nunes
1:02 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: Schiff says Trump has been "disloyal" to the country and colluded with Russia for financial gain. He says Trump viewed the campaign as the "greatest infomercial in history."
Schiff, D-California, speaks for about 10 minutes.
Ranking member Devon Nunes, R-California, opened with, “Welcome everyone to the last gasp of the Russian collusion theory.”
The Intelligence Committee hearing is beginning
12:52 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: The second hearing of the day for Mueller is beginning now. Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the committee, is speaking.
Judiciary hearing is over
12:10 p.m. ET July 24, 2019: The hearing was adjourned. The next hearing, in front of the Intelligence Committee, will begin in a few minutes.
Would he have indicted Trump?
11:55 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Here is an exchange between Rep. Ted Lieu, California, and Mueller. He asked if Trump was not prosecuted because he was the president.
Political bias in the investigation?
11:50 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: An exchange between Rep. Tom McClintock, R-California, and Mueller:
Well, it is Congress?
11:45 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: A light moment:
Did Mueller want the FBI job?
11:20 a.m. July 24, 2019: Rep. Greg Steube, R-Florida, asks Mueller if he applied for the job of FBI director and was turned down. Mueller said he did not. He said he was asked about the job in general and who would be a good choice for the job.
Trump has said that Mueller resented him because he interviewed for the job and didn’t get it.
The president tweeted about that.
Why did he use news reports?
11:05 a.m. July 24, 2019: Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona, asks Mueller how many times he cited news articles in the second volume of the report. She said that part of the report cited The Washington Post around 60 times, The New York Times 75 times and Fox News 25 times.
"It looks like Volume II is mostly regurgitated press stories," Lesko said. She said it seemed like he relied on unsubstantiated press reports to help compile Volume II. Volume II is the part of the report that deals with alleged obstruction of justice charges.
Mueller doesn't agree with ex-prosecutors' letter on obstruction
10:50 a.m. July 24, 2019: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, referenced a letter signed by 1,000 former federal prosecutors. The letter said they believed that Trump would be charged with obstruction if he weren't president.
Swalwell asked whether Mueller agreed with the prosecutors.
"They have a different case," Mueller said.
Swalwell asked if he wanted to sign the letter.
"They have a different case," Mueller repeated.
Mueller cites inability to indict a sitting president
10:40 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: During questioning by Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado, Mueller is asked why he didn't indict Trump for obstruction.
“One of the tools that a prosecutor would use is not there,” Mueller said of a DOJ policy that says it is unconstitutional to indict a sitting president.
He added that a sitting president can be charged with crimes after he or she leaves office.
What if McGahn lied?
10:35 a.m ET July 24, 2019: An exchange between Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, and Mueller:
Did Trump want him fired?
10:30 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: An exchange between Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, and Mueller:
How is it going?
10:10 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: From Paul Kane of The Washington Post
The origins of the investigation, again
10 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asks Mueller about the origins of the investigation. Mueller says he would not talk about that, as he said in his opening statement.
Jordan says a number of Trump associates were charged with false statements, but Joseph Mifsud was not charged with making false statements. Mifsud allegedly told former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Mueller says he won't comment on internal deliberations.
As Jordan pushes harder on the Steele dossier and suggests Mueller was selectively charging people, Muller says, “I’m not sure I agree with your characterizations.”
9:53 a.m. July 24, 2019: Mueller says he cannot discuss internal Justice Department deliberations when he is asked by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, about his discussions with Attorney General William Barr concerning the investigation.
The Steele dossier
9:49 a.m. July 24, 2019: Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, asks about the origins of the Steele dossier. Mueller answers by saying that information was "outside of my purview."
He said the DOJ was already investigating the dossier when his investigation began.
Strzok and Page
9:43 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asks Mueller if he knew if FBI agent Peter Strzok hated Trump before he hired him for the investigation team. He said he did not, but said he "acted swiftly" when he did find out about it. Gohmert asks if he knew Strzok was having an affair with Lisa Page. Mueller said he became aware of it eventually.
Strzok and Page exchanged negative emails about Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 election season.
Sessions and un-recusal
9:30 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, asked Mueller about former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the investigation.
Cohen: "Your investigation found at some point after your appointment the President, quote, called Sessions at his home and asked if he would un-recuse himself. Is it not true?"
Mueller: "It's true."
Cohen: "It wasn't the first time the president asked sessions to un-recuse himself, was it?"
Mueller: "I know of two occasions."
Cohen went on to ask Mueller if the attorney general is supposed to act as "the attorney general of the United States of America or a consigliere for the President?"
"The United States of America," Mueller responded.
Jason Chaffetz is tweeting
Presumption of innocence ignored
9:10 a.m. July 24, 2019: John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, says the presumption of innocence was ignored in the investigation when it comes to Trump. He says that right is extended to everyone, including sitting presidents.
Who did the Russians want to win
9 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, asked Mueller if the Russians wanted a specific person to win the presidential election if so, she said, which one. "It would be Trump," Mueller said.
8:56 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Doug Collins, R-Georgia, the ranking member of the committee, asks for the difference between the terms collusion and conspiracy. He notes that the report uses the term collusion and that it suggested conspiracy.
Muller's opening statement
8:45 a.m ET July 24, 2019: Mueller offers his opening statement and repeats that he told his staff that their work would be done "quietly and with integrity."
Mueller says he told staffers they must work “fairly and with absolute integrity.”
He says he did not find any evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians.
He said he would not suggest that Trump be charged with obstruction of justice because of DOJ guidelines and because of "fairness."
He explains why his testimony will be limited – ongoing investigations and DOJ procedures.
He says he is unable to discuss the Steele dossier and the origins of the investigation – questions Republicans were expected to ask.
"We did not address 'collusion,' which is not a legal term," Mueller said. "Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy. It was not."
The hearing begins
8:30 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Judiciary Committee hearing begins with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, committee chairman, praising Mueller and his work. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, begins with saying "the president knew he was innocent" throughout the investigation. He says he wants to know the origins of the investigation and suggests that FBI agents sparked the investigation as a weapon against Trump.
People are getting into place
8:27 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: The hearing is set to begin in a few minutes. Representatives are getting into the room and people are taking their seats. Mueller is not in the room yet.
The president tweets again
8:07 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Trump has tweeted again this morning.
Testimony is only minutes away
8:03 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: The hearing is now about 30 minutes away. The Judicial Committee hearing is expected to last around three hours. The Intelligence Committee testimony should take about two hours.
7:53 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mueller has arrived on Capitol Hill for his testimony.
What will Mueller do first
7:45 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: According to sources who helped Mueller prepare for his testimony, he will read an opening statement in addition to submitting the full special counsel report for the record.
Letter from DOJ
7:33 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: A letter from the Justice Department to Mueller instructs the former special counsel to not answer a wide variety of questions about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The letter was in response to a letter Mueller sent to the DOJ requesting guidance "concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with" subpoenas for Mueller's congressional testimony, according to Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer.
7:25 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: President Trump has tweeted about today’s hearing.
Former deputy to testify
7:15 a.m. ET July 24, 2019: Mueller's former deputy Aaron Zebley is expected to appear next to him as his counsel at today's hearings. Zebley was Mueller's chief of staff when Mueller was FBI director and worked with Mueller during his 23 months as special counsel.
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