In his opening statement before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning, special counsel Robert Mueller again stated that he would not comment on aspects of his investigation into Russian election interference that were not included in his final report, and noted that it is “unusual” to compel a prosecutor to testify about an investigation.
“I do not intend to summarize or describe the results of our work in a different way in the course of my testimony today. As I said on May 29: the report is my testimony. And I will stay within that text,” Mueller said in his opening statement. “And as I stated in May, I also will not comment on the actions of the Attorney General or of Congress. I was appointed as a prosecutor, and I intend to adhere to that role and to the Department’s standards that govern it.”
Mueller held a press conference in May to announce that he was stepping down as special counsel following a nearly two-year investigation. During the press conference, Mueller made clear that he would not provide any information related to the investigation that was not included in the report, prompting congressional Republicans and allies of the president to question the utility of his testifying before Congress.
However, House Democrats, led by Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, insisted that Mueller appear before the panel, and engaged in months of negotiations with Mueller’s team to secure his cooperation.
Mueller’s team reportedly resisted Nadler’s efforts to compel the special counsel to speak to a range of issues, including whether the president would have been charged with obstruction of justice absent Department of Justice guidelines that prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.
During his opening statement, Mueller hinted at his hesitance to testify about the investigation, calling Nadler’s request “unusual” and reiterating that his office was unable to reach a determination as to whether the president illegally obstructed his investigation.
“Finally, as described in Volume 2 of our report, we investigated a series of
actions by the President towards the investigation. Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the President committed a crime,” Mueller said. “That was our decision then and it remains our decision today. Let me say a further word about my appearance today. It is for a prosecutor to testify about a criminal investigation, and given my role as a prosecutor, there are reasons why my testimony will necessarily be limited.”