Hoyer calls for Mueller to testify

Hoyer calls for Mueller to testify
© Stefani Reynolds

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse passes stopgap as spending talks stall This week: Round 2 of House impeachment inquiry hearings Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE (D-Md.) is calling on Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE to testify before Congress, putting pressure on the special counsel to appear on Capitol Hill after he said he did not want to testify.

Hoyer weighed in hours after Mueller said during a press conference Wednesday morning that he could not consider charges of obstruction of justice against Trump based on current Justice Department guidelines.

The special counsel reiterated that while his team could not recommend charges against the president, his report also did not exonerate Trump. He also said that any testimony he would give would be limited to the contents of the report.

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“In his remarks, Special Counsel Mueller made it clear that charges were not brought against President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE because of a Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime,” Hoyer said in a statement.

“Given that the President has not been cleared of wrongdoing, and given the seriousness of Russia’s interference in our democracy, I believe that the American people deserve to hear testimony from the Special Counsel about his report and the report's conclusions.”

Hoyer also called for Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE to release an unredacted version of the special counsel's report to Congress, something Democrats have demanded for weeks. Barr released a partially redacted version of the 448-page report last month.

The Democratic leader said the House would continue its oversight probes in order to “fulfill our constitutional obligation to hold the Administration accountable.” His statement did not include a direct mention of pursuing impeachment proceedings.

Democrats in both chambers of Congress have been clamoring for Mueller’s testimony since he filed his report in late March, though the special counsel indicated Wednesday he would like to avoid any further public appearances. 

“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter,” he said at his press briefing. “The report is my testimony.”

Hoyer called last month for Mueller to appear before lawmakers to talk about his probe's findings, but the Democratic leader's statement Wednesday carries new weight as Democrats mull whether to seek a subpoena to compel the special counsel's testimony.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMaloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman House to hold markup Wednesday on marijuana decriminalization bill House to vote on bill to ensure citizenship for children of overseas service members MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sidestepped a question Wednesday over whether he would subpoena Mueller for testimony, telling reporters “Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we need to hear today.”

Mueller reported in April that there was insufficient evidence that Trump conspired with Russia to meddle in the 2016 election but declined to make a prosecutorial judgement over whether he obstructed subsequent probes. He outlined 10 “episodes” of possibly obstructive behavior, but declined to bring any charges, pointing to the Justice Department regulations. 

“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” the special counsel said Wednesday.