National Security

Live coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress

Greg Nash

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify Wednesday in what is expected to be one of the more dramatic days on Capitol Hill in recent memory.

Democrats have been preparing for several days to grill Mueller on his findings about Russian interference, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia and President Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation.

Their questions are expected to focus heavily on the details of Mueller’s 448-page report, which says he did not find enough evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia and declines to exonerate the president on allegations of obstruction of justice.

Republicans, meanwhile, are expected to train their inquiries on the origins of the Russia investigation, casting it as a probe that was biased against Trump from the start.

Mueller is a reluctant witness and is testifying Wednesday under subpoena. He is unlikely to stray from the four corners of his report, even as lawmakers try to press him on his assessment of Trump’s conduct and his interactions with Attorney General William Barr. 

Mueller will appear for back-to-back hearings before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Follow our live coverage here.

Schiff gavels out

3:30 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) brought Mueller’s testimony to a close at 3:30 p.m., about seven hours after the former special counsel first entered the hearing room.

He thanked Mueller for his time and his service and allowed Mueller to exit before the rest of the room.

—Jacqueline Thomsen 

Schiff offers the final word

3:28 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) closed out the hearing by asserting that elected officials should be held to higher ethical standards than just a lack of criminal behavior, and Mueller agreed.

He also agreed that accepting foreign assistance in a presidential campaign is unethical, unpatriotic and wrong.

“And a crime,” Mueller said, offering his own words.

When pressed by Schiff, Mueller declined to say whether he thought Trump might still be seeking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

“I’m not going to speculate on that,” Mueller answered.

“The difficulty of this is we are all left to wonder whether the president is representing us or our financial interests,” Schiff said.

“You would not tell us whether the president should be impeached nor did we ask you, as it is our responsibility to determine the proper remedy for the conduct outlined in your report,” Schiff said later.

“Whether we decide to impeach the president in the House or we do not, we must take whatever action necessary to protect the country while he is in office,” he said. 

—Morgan Chalfant

Mueller explains decision not to subpoena Trump

3:06 p.m.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) pressed Mueller on why he did not subpoena Trump for an interview after he declined to sit for one voluntarily.

Mueller said his team weighed the evidence of Trump’s intent that they had without the in-person interview against the amount of time it would take to litigate a likely court challenge to such a subpoena. The special counsel’s office ultimately decided to rely on Trump’s written responses.

Mueller acknowledged that Trump’s written answers on Russian interference “were certainly not as useful as an interview would be” but he said the office ultimately decided against subpoenaing Trump because of the significant delay it would have caused to the investigation.

Maloney, who said Mueller didn’t strike him “as the kind of guy who flinches,” asked whether he believed he had sufficient evidence to prove Trump’s intent without an interview and if that was the reason he didn’t seek a presidential subpoena.

“We had to make a balanced decision in terms of how much evidence we had” and how much time they were willing to spend in court, Mueller answered.

Mueller said they decided against a subpoena “because of the length of time that it would have taken to resolve the issue.” 

—Morgan Chalfant

Mueller agrees investigation did not necessarily ‘fail to turn up evidence of conspiracy’

2:58 p.m.

Mueller agreed with Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that his office declining to bring charges of conspiracy against members of the Trump campaign “does not mean your investigation failed to turn up evidence of conspiracy.”

Welch ran down several findings of the investigation, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort giving private polling information to the Russians, the summer 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. and President Trump calling on Russia to hack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Welch also cited information from former deputy campaign chairman Richard Gates in Mueller’s report indicating the campaign devised messaging around WikiLeaks’ releases of hacked Democratic emails.

Asked if the 2016 election had established “a new normal … that is going to apply to future campaigns” in terms of accepting assistance from foreign individuals or governments, Mueller responded, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

Mueller also agreed with Welch that “there would be no repercussions for Russia if they did this again.”

Welch asked how the government could prevent similar occurrences.

“The first line of defense is the ability of the various agencies who have some piece of this to not only share information but share expertise, share targets and use the full resources that we have to address this problem,” Mueller responded.

—Zack Budryk

Mueller says Russians will try to interfere in 2020 election

2:45 p.m.

Mueller emphasized during questioning by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) that Russia not only interfered in the 2016 presidential election, but that they are laying the ground work to do the same in 2020 “as we sit here.”

Mueller said that interference in the last presidential election did not consist of a “single attempt” but large Russian social media disinformation and hacking operations.

“We are expecting them to do it against during the next campaign,” Mueller said.

When asked by Hurd if the Internet Research Agency, which spearheaded Russia’s social media disinformation efforts in 2016, and other groups similar to it are a threat, Mueller agreed, adding that “many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done.”

Mueller declined to comment on if an “overarching” federal agency should coordinate efforts to fight disinformation efforts by Russia and other countries, but noted that he would support any legislation that would “encourage us working together” to counter such threats.

—Maggie Miller 

Trump attorney: ‘The case is closed’ after Mueller testimony

2:35 p.m.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, said Wednesday that Mueller’s day-long testimony validated the claims of the president and his allies and revealed “troubling deficiencies” in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“This morning’s testimony exposed the troubling deficiencies of the Special Counsel’s investigation,” Sekulow said in a statement while Mueller’s testimony was ongoing.

“The testimony revealed that this probe was conducted by a small group of politically-biased prosecutors who, as hard as they tried, were unable to establish either obstruction, conspiracy, or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” he said. “It is also clear that the Special Counsel conducted his two-year investigation unimpeded.”

“The American people understand that this issue is over,” Sekulow concluded. “They also understand that the case is closed.”

The attorney echoed what many of Trump’s allies have said in response to Mueller’s testimony, declaring it a victory and vindication for the president. The statement also seized on lines of questioning laid out by Republican lawmakers.

—Brett Samuels

Mueller: ‘We believe’ some campaign officials deleted encrypted communications

2:33 p.m.

Asked by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) whether some members of the Trump campaign stymied the investigation through the use of encrypted communications, Mueller replied, “We believe that to be the case,” saying the same for the deletion of electronic messages.

Mueller declined to discuss whether Trump and his personal attorneys had attempted to dissuade witnesses from testifying or dangled pardons in exchange for refusal to cooperate. He also declined to say whether he subpoenaed or sought to interview or Donald Trump Jr. but confirmed he sought to interview Trump and that certain information had been protected by attorney-client privilege.

Asked if it was fair to say “lies, deletion of text messages and witness tampering” left his team unable to fully assess the extent of election interference, Mueller responded “I’m not certain I would adopt that characterization in total” but agreed with his report’s conclusion on potential gaps due to incomplete information, saying “we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Swalwell further asked why truthful statements were important to such investigations, to which Mueller responded, “Because the testimony of the witness goes to the heart of just about any criminal case you have.”

—Zack Budryk

Committee reconvenes

2:29 p.m.

The House Intelligence Committee reconvened just before 2:30 p.m.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) started off the panel’s second round of questions for Mueller.

—Morgan Chalfant

Intelligence panel takes a break

2:15 p.m.

The House Intelligence Committee took a brief recess just after 2 p.m.

Schiff said they would reconvene in about five to 10 minutes.

—Morgan Chalfant

Quigley presses Mueller over statute of limitations for Trump

2:12 p.m.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) pressed Mueller on the potential of a president being indicted after leaving office, noting that the statute of limitations for a federal crime like obstruction of justice would expire before the end of a second term for Trump.

Quigley pointed to Mueller’s previous statement that he believes a president can be indicted after leaving office, as Justice Department guidance blocks the indictment of a sitting president.

“What if a president serves beyond the statute of limitations?” the Democrat asked.

Mueller said he wasn’t sure what the answer is.

But Quigley continued to press him, asking — because the statute of limitations for crimes like obstruction of justice is five years — “that a president who serves a second term is therefore, under the policy, above the law.”

“I’m not certain I would agree with that conclusion,” Mueller replied.

The Illinois Democrat, citing the large audience watching the hearing, hinted at the potential of impeachment proceedings without mentioning the mechanism explicitly. 

“We need to consider that,” Quigley said, referring to the statute of limitations, “and that other alternatives are perhaps all that we have.” 

Quigley has come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings against Trump.

—Jacqueline Thomsen 

Mueller on Trump’s WikiLeaks embrace: ‘Problematic is an understatement’

2:10 p.m.

Trump’s repeated embrace of WikiLeaks and its distribution of Clinton campaign emails was “beyond problematic,” Mueller testified Wednesday.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) read Mueller several quotes from Trump in October 2016 after WikiLeaks released scores of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign in which the president spoke approvingly of the organization.

“Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays in terms of giving some, I don’t know, hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” Mueller said when asked for his reaction.

Trump mentioned WikiLeaks regularly during campaign rallies in October 2016 as damaging emails about his opponent trickled out.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Trump said in one instance.

“Boy I love reading those WikiLeaks,” he said in another.

—Brett Samuels

Mueller says he wants the public to know the ‘integrity’ of his report

2:09 p.m.

When Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) asked Mueller what he wants the public to “glean” from his report, the former special counsel emphasized the “integrity” of his 448-page document, which he says intends to serve as a record moving forward.

“We spent substantial time ensuring the integrity of the report, understanding that it would be our living message to those who come after us,” Mueller replied.

Mueller also appeared to give a nod to Congress about their responsibility to determine what to do with the information he laid out in his report, noting that it is also their responsibility not to drag out the matter that has dogged the White House for more than two years. 

“But it is also a signal — a flag — to those of use who have some responsibility in this area to exercise those responsibilities swiftly and don’t let this problem continue to linger as it has over so many years,” he concluded.

—Olivia Beavers

Mueller insists special counsel’s office didn’t leak

2:05 p.m.

Mueller defended his office under questioning from Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), saying he took steps to minimize any leaks and essentially asserting that there weren’t any.

“We did do a good job ensuring no leaks occurred,” Mueller said.

Stewart pressed him on whether he knew whether anyone made anonymous leaks regarding the March 27 letter Mueller wrote to Attorney General William Barr objecting to his four-page memo summarizing the special counsel’s findings.

Mueller said he didn’t. Stewart then claimed he must have known something and asserted the leaks had to have come from the special counsel’s office because that’s where the letter originated.

Mueller responded with silence.

Mueller said he took steps to minimize leaks, adding: “I think they were successful.”

“I wish you had been more successful, sir,” Stewart said.

—Morgan Chalfant

Mueller stresses that 2016 Russian social media campaign was not a ‘hoax’

1:55 p.m.

Mueller stressed during questioning by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 U.S. elections on social media was not a “hoax,” adding that this aspect of his investigation has been unfortunately “downplayed.”

“Absolutely that was not a hoax, indictments we returned against the Russians were substantial, and we have underplayed to a certain extent that aspect of the investigation that would have long term damage that we need to move quickly to address,” Mueller said.

Speier drilled down into the portion of the Mueller report that addressed efforts to interfere by the Russian Internet Research Agency, including creating fake Twitter accounts and posting thousands of times on Facebook. Speier described these efforts to influence the outcome of the election as “an invasion.”

The Mueller report found that the agency carried out a “social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States.” 

—Maggie Miller

Mueller can’t say if members of Trump campaign were involved in theft of Clinton emails

1:52 p.m.

Mueller said he did not know whether his report established that no members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign were involved in the theft or publication of emails from those associated with the campaign of then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Mueller made this claim in response to questioning by Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio). Wenstrup asked Mueller to verify a portion of the findings in the report that noted investigators were unable to identify “evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA,” or the Russian Internet Research Agency 

The report also found that the agency was funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

Mueller attempted to turn the question over to fellow witness Aaron Zebley, his deputy at the special counsel’s office, but was blocked from doing so by Wenstrup. 

—Maggie Miller

Mueller agrees Manafort exposed himself to possible Russian blackmail

1:50 p.m.

Mueller declined to agree with Rep. André Carson’s (D-Ind.) assertion that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “betrayed his country” during the 2016 presidential election.

“Greed corrupts,” Carson said, describing allegations that Manafort offered Russian oligarchs polling data relating to battleground states and asking whether Mueller agreed such conduct would create a national security risk or whether it was a betrayal of the U.S.

“I’m not going to opine on that, I don’t have the expertise in that arena,” Mueller told Carson.

Mueller agreed with Carson that it “generally … would be the case” that Manafort’s dealings left him vulnerable to blackmail by Russian officials, but demurred again on whether they “demonstrated a betrayal of the democratic values our country rests on.”

“I can’t agree with that, not that it’s not true, but I can’t agree with it,” Mueller responded.

Carson reiterated his own position, that Manafort’s conduct “shows an infuriating lack of patriotism from the very people seeking the highest office in the land.”

—Zack Budryk

Turner grills Mueller on ‘exoneration’

1:40 p.m.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) picked up on a thread raised earlier by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), taking issue with Mueller’s explicit decision not to “exonerate” the president of allegations of obstruction of justice.

Turner accused Mueller of using a “misleading” and “meaningless” term that has no basis in the law.

Turner blamed Mueller for headlines carried by news organizations, displaying a poster with a CNN headline from earlier Wednesday that read, “Mueller: Trump was not exonerated.”

Turner argued that Attorney General William Barr doesn’t have the power to exonerate and that Mueller, by extension, also does not.

Mueller largely declined to engage in the line of questioning. 

—Morgan Chalfant

Mueller says political campaigns should report offers of foreign assistance

1:35 p.m.

Mueller said that he believes political campaigns should inform the FBI if they receive information from foreign governments.

“Is it not the responsibility of political campaigns to inform the FBI if they receive information from a foreign government?” Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) asked.

“I would think that’s something they would and should do,” Mueller replied.

The exchange took place during a larger back-and-forth over a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.

A publicist had told Trump Jr. that the Russians had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, to which Trump Jr. replied, “if it’s what you say I love it, especially later in the summer.”

However, Trump Jr. and other campaign officials said nothing materialized from the meeting.

Sewell also pressed Mueller over whether it’s illegal for campaigns to accept anything of value from a foreign government.

“Generally yes….but the circumstances are unique,” Mueller said. 

—Jacqueline Thomsen


Mueller ‘not going to speculate’ on whether Russian interference swayed election outcome

1:25 p.m.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) asked Mueller how a campaign should respond to an offer of dirt on an opponent from foreign individuals or governments, with Mueller responding that it could be a crime in certain cases.

“It can be, depending on the circumstances, a crime,” Mueller said in response to Himes’s questioning on offers of information.

As he did before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller confirmed Russian interference in the election was intended to benefit the Trump campaign but demurred on whether it had a tangible effect on the electoral outcome, only saying he was “not going to speculate” when asked if he would rule out the possibility. He said that question is better suited to other government entities.

Mueller agreed with Himes, however, that the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks were “strategically timed to maximize impact” during the campaign, echoing the conclusions of his report.

—Zack Budryk

Mueller says his investigation was not a witch hunt

1:18 p.m.

Mueller on Wednesday testified that his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was “not a witch hunt,” the first time he has publicly pushed back on Trump’s derisive nickname for the probe.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sought Mueller’s confirmation of a number of damaging facts laid out in the special counsel’s 448-page report, including that a number of former Trump associates were indicted on charges of lying to the FBI.

“And when Donald Trump called your investigation a witch hunt, that was also false was it not?” Schiff asked.

“Like to think so, yes,” Mueller replied.

“Well your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?” Schiff asked.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller said.

“When the president said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was false, wasn’t it?” Schiff continued.

“True,” Mueller concluded.

—Brett Samuels

Mueller: The special counsel’s office briefed the FBI on counterintelligence matters related to Russia probe

1:15 p.m.

Mueller in his opening remarks before the House Intelligence Committee said that his investigative team shared counterintelligence information with the FBI. 

“We did not reach what you would call counterintelligence conclusions. We did, however, set up processes in the office to identify and pass counterintelligence information onto the FBI,” Mueller told lawmakers, reiterating information he previously laid out in his report. 

“Members of our office periodically briefed the FBI about counterintelligence information,” he added.

The former special counsel also noted that his office relied on FBI officials — who were not members of his investigative team — to identify counterintelligence information in their files and then share them with the FBI.

The remarks come as Mueller is expected to be pressed about counterintelligence matters, which falls within the jurisdiction of the House Intelligence Committee. 

—Olivia Beavers

Mueller clarifies earlier testimony on Office of Legal Counsel opinion

1:13 p.m.

Mueller sought to clarify earlier testimony he made in response to an inquiry from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) before the House Judiciary Committee.

Specifically, Mueller had answered affirmatively when asked by Lieu if he did not indict Trump because of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion stating a sitting president cannot be indicted — remarks he walked back Wednesday afternoon.

“That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said at the end of his opening remarks at the House Intelligence Committee hearing. “We did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.” 

—Morgan Chalfant

Schiff swears in Mueller, Zebley for testimony

1:10 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noted that Mueller and his deputy, Aaron Zebley, would both be available to answer questions before swearing in both of them Wednesday afternoon.

“Both Mr. Mueller an Mr. Zebley will be available to answer questions today,” Schiff said, noting it would be consistent with prior practice to have someone like Zebley available to answer questions.

Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), however, described the arrangement as “highly unusual” and said Republicans would not be asking him questions.

“He’s here as counsel,” Nunes said. “The other side is not going to be directing questions about Mr. Zebley.”

Schiff, referring to Trump, then acknowledged “there is an angry man down the street who is not happy about your appearance today.” Schiff noted, however, that it was up to Zebley — not Trump — as to whether he answers questions.

Zebley accompanied Mueller for the House Judiciary Committee hearing but did not answer questions.

—Morgan Chalfant

Nunes accuses Democratic Party of colluding with Russia in opening remarks.

1 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in his opening remarks accused the Democratic Party, instead of Trump, of colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, also calling for the “curtain to close” on Mueller investigation.

Nunes referenced Democrats’ claims that Mueller’s report found that there was collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia in saying that “they’re right, there is collusion in plain site, collusion between Russia and the Democratic Party.”

Nunes compared the overall hearing to “political theater,” describing it as a “Hail Mary attempt to convince the American people that collusion is real and concealed in the report.”

Nunes added that “it’s time for the curtain to close on the Russia hoax, the conspiracy theory is dead.”

—Maggie Miller 

Schiff says Mueller report documents Trump campaign’s ‘disloyalty to country’

12:55 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) gaveled in Mueller’s second hearing shortly before 1 p.m.

In his opening remarks, Schiff described Mueller’s 448-page report as a “methodical” and “devastating” account of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. He also said it showed the Trump campaign’s “disloyalty to country.”

“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign — including Trump himself — knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Schiff said.

“Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it and made full use of it?” he continued.

Schiff said that the campaign’s conduct, while not criminal, was possibly “something worse.”

“A crime is the violation of a law written by Congress. But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern us,” Schiff said. 

—Morgan Chalfant

White House: First half of Mueller hearing as ‘epic embarrassment’ for Democrats

12:54 p.m.

The White House on Wednesday ridiculed Mueller’s morning testimony as “an epic embarrassment for the Democrats.”

“Expect more of the same in the second half,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Trump also weighed in on Twitter, thanking Democrats for the hearings.

The statements came after Mueller completed roughly three hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. He is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee for another three hours in the afternoon. 

Trump and his allies have largely embraced Mueller’s performance during the first half of the day, noting that Democrats largely failed to advance the case for impeachment and that Mueller’s testimony was mostly reserved and at times uneven.

—Brett Samuels

Mueller returns

12:51 p.m. 

After a brief break, Mueller returned to begin his second hearing, this one before the House Intelligence Committee.

The second hearing is expected to focus more closely on Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and the contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow as detailed in Mueller’s report. 

— Morgan Chalfant

Judiciary Committee adjourns

12:12 p.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) adjourned the hearing at 12:11 p.m., shortly after allowing Mueller to first the room.

The chairman asked the committee to remain seated while Mueller left the committee spaces as the House Intelligence Committee gets in place for their session following Judiciary.

Mueller is expected to get a short break before starting the next round of grilling.

—Olivia Beavers

Nadler dismisses Republican point of order

12:06 p.m.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) asked for a point of inquiry as the hearing dragged past its original end time.

Johnson asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)  whether the point of the hearing was to have Mueller recommend impeachment.

“That is not a fair point of inquiry,” Nadler said.

“The gentlelady from Florida is recognized,” Nadler said as Johnson tried to raise the point of order again. 

—Morgan Chalfant

Nadler extends hearing to allow more members to question Mueller

12:03 p.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that with Mueller’s “indulgence,” he is going to extend the hearing by roughly 15 minutes to allow all Democrats on the committee to question Mueller.

The Judiciary chair said while he expected to wrap the hearing roughly at 11:45 a.m., he estimated that it would take an additional 15 more minutes if five additional members limited their time during questioning.

Ahead of the hearing, some of the newer members on the committee pressured Nadler to ensure they would have the opportunity to question Mueller despite the time-limited hearing that was initially set to be two hours long. 

Nadler then achieved a lengthier hearing by pushing the interview back a week from the 17th to the 24th. He also extended the time of the hearing by an hour, affording more time to less senior members — a move that was happily received by the newer members who felt the chair was fighting for them.

At the time the last Republican, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), wrapped his closing arguments, five members had not yet questioned Mueller.

—Olivia Beavers

Mueller declines to discuss impeachment


Mueller declined to broach the subject of impeachment when it was brought up by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), the last Republican questioner.

Johnson argued that Democrats had invited Mueller to testify because they wanted him to help a push to impeach Trump. When he asked whether Mueller’s report does not recommend starting impeachment, Mueller refused to answer.

“Your report does not recommend impeachment, does it?” Johnson asked rhetorically.

“I’m not going to talk about recommendations,” Mueller said.

“It does not conclude that impeachment would be appropriate here,” Johnson said.

“I’m not going to talk about that issue,” Mueller replied.

Some Democrats have interpreted Mueller’s report and his May 29 statement as offering a green light for impeachment proceedings.

Neither Mueller’s report nor his statement explicitly mentioned impeachment, but on May 29 the former special counsel said “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” 

—Morgan Chalfant

Mueller defends team’s objectivity

11:50 a.m.

In one of his most forceful responses, Mueller defended the integrity of his team under questioning from Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.)

Armstrong questioned Mueller on the presence of Peter Strzok, who was transferred from Mueller’s team after the revelation of anti-Trump texts, as well as the presence of other attorneys with connections to Hillary Clinton or who had donated to Democrats.

“We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job,” Mueller told Armstrong. “I’ve been in this business for almost 25 years and in those 25 years I have not had occasion once to ask anyone about their political affiliation. It is not done.

“What I care about is the ability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity.”

Armstrong countered that the issue was “knowing that the day you accepted this role, you had to be aware that no matter what this report concluded, half of the country was going to be skeptical of your team’s findings.”

“That’s why we have recusal laws that define bias and perceived bias for this very reason,” Armstrong added.

Mueller said that of 19 lawyers hired for the team, 14 were hired from elsewhere in the Justice Department.

Armstrong responded that if the details of the report were the same but the members of the team’s affiliations were reversed, the hearing would never have been called.

—Zack Budryk

Nadler asks committee Democrats to limit their questions as hearing runs over

11:30 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked Democrats who have not yet questioned Mueller to limit their questioning in order to cut down on time as the hearing threatens to run over.

The Judiciary Committee’s hearing was scheduled to end at 11:30 a.m., with a half-hour break prior to the House Intelligence Committee hearing that will also feature testimony from Mueller scheduled to begin at noon. The committee took a break earlier in the hearing that added to the time used. 

“Our intent was to conclude this hearing in three hours. Given the break, that would bring us to 11:40,” Nadler said. “With Director Mueller’s indulgence, we will be asking our remaining Democratic members to voluntarily limit their time below the five minutes so we can complete our work as close to that time frame as possible.”

At the time of Nadler’s comments, there were just under a dozen members of the committee, including a few Republicans, who had not yet questioned Mueller. 

—Maggie Miller

Mueller refuses multiple requests to read from his report

11:28 a.m.

Mueller’s team indicated to House Democrats ahead of his testimony that he would not read the text of his report if asked during his Wednesday appearance.

Two two congressional sources familiar with the matter indicate that this notice was the reason why many Democrats did not seek to do so during the time-limited interviews they have secured.

Still, some members sought to try and turned up unsuccessful.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) asked Mueller to read a section from his report, but the former special counsel declined by replying: “I am happy to have you read it.”

Such a refusal delivers a blow to Democrats, who are seeking to get Mueller to describe the president’s conduct in his own words.

Democrats feel if they can broadcast Mueller — a well-respected, no-nonsense prosecutor — to describe key episodes of obstruction of justice by Trump that his investigation examined, then they would be able to better educate the American public about what they see is concerning behavior by the president. Many Democrats note that capturing Mueller stating so on the national stage is important because a small margin of the public have not read the full 448-page report.

—Olivia Beavers

Jayapal questions Mueller on whether Trump statements on Manafort were witness tampering

11:23 a.m.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) questioned Mueller about statements in which she said Trump discouraged his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort from cooperating with investigators and whether it rose to the level of witness tampering.

Jayapal asked Mueller to define “flipping” as Trump used the term in several tweets, to which Mueller responded “[to] have somebody cooperate in a criminal investigation,” but declined to answer a broader question about how essential the practice was to law enforcement.

Trump had sharply criticized the practice, saying it should almost be illegal, while praising those who show “loyalty.”

Jayapal went on to cite passages in Mueller’s report describing how Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested a pardon for Manafort was a possibility, as well as statements from Trump to the press calling Manafort “very brave” for not cooperating with the investigation.

In the report, Jayapal told Mueller, “You make a very serious conclusion about the president’s involvement with the Manafort criminal proceedings,” projecting a quote from the report saying that evidence showed Trump’s conduct “indicates that the president intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government.”

“When someone tries to stop another person from cooperating with law enforcement and they do it because they are worried about what they might say, it seems clear that this is a classic definition of witness tampering,” Jayapal added.

—Zack Budryk

Mueller answers affirmatively when asked if he didn’t charge Trump because of the OLC opinion

11:15 a.m.

Towards the end of the exchange, Mueller also answered a question from Lieu in the affirmative when asked whether he did not charge Trump with a crime “because” of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion a sitting president cannot be indicted.

“The reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of the OLC opinion stating you cannot indict a sitting president,” Lieu asked.

“That is correct,” Mueller replied.

It was unclear whether Mueller meant to say so in such a definitive way. Mueller said in his report and his May 29 statement that he did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed the investigation because of the OLC opinion. He has not said that he would have charged Trump if it were not for the OLC opinion, or that he did not charge Trump because of the OLC opinion. 

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) pressed Mueller on it later, asserting his statement appeared to conflict with his report and a joint statement he issued with Attorney General William Barr that there was no conflict between their public statements about how the OLC opinion factored into his decisions.

Barr has said repeatedly that Mueller told him he was not saying he would have charged Trump if it weren’t for the OLC opinion.

“That is not what you said in the report, and it’s not what you told Attorney General William Barr,” Lesko said, asking Mueller if he stood by his joint statement.

“I would have to look at it more closely before I said I agree with it,” Mueller said.

“What you told Mr. Lieu really contradicts what you said in the report,” Lesko asserted.

In a later exchange, Mueller appeared to clarify his earlier statement, saying that he made a decision “not to decide” – not a decision not to charge.

“In this case, you made a decision not to prosecute,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.).

“No, we made a decision not to decide whether to prosecutor or not,” Mueller said.

—Morgan Chalfant

McClintock accuses Mueller of using report to make ‘political case’ against Trump

11 a.m.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) accused Mueller of using the report of his investigation as a way to “make a political case” against Trump after Mueller failed to make a legal one. 

McClintock declared that Mueller put the report “in a sack, lit it on fire, dropped it on our porch, rang the doorbell, and ran” in reference to the political case he claimed Mueller was building.

Specifically, McClintock accused Mueller of not pointing to enough evidence in the report to connect “Russian troll farms” to the Russian government. 

In the report, Mueller wrote that the Internet Research Agency carried out a social media campaign designed to “provoke and amplify the political discord” in the U.S., writing that the agency was believed to be funded by a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mueller pushed back against McClintock during the hearing, telling him that “I don’t believe you have reviewed a report that is as fair, as thorough, as consistent as the report we have before us.”

—Maggie Miller

Mueller mum on whether unfulfilled orders qualify as obstruction of justice

10:55 a.m.

Under questioning from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Mueller demurred on whether orders from Trump that were never carried out could rise to the level of obstruction of justice in the legal sense.

Like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Lieu ran through the necessary legal elements of obstruction and cited both Trump’s orders to former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller and “cover that up and create a false paper trail,” as well as an incident in which former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attempted to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the probe.

Lieu asked Mueller if he agreed that “the fact that the orders by the president were not carried out … that is not a defense against obstruction of justice.”

“I’m not going to get into that at this juncture,” Mueller responded.

Lieu also asked Mueller to read from his own report. Mueller declined, saying he was “happy to have you read it.”

Lieu concluded by saying he believed at least three crimes of obstruction had occurred, with the others involving alleged witness tampering in the cases of his former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Mueller responded that simply “going through the elements” of obstruction with Lieu did not mean he agreed that the definition had been met.

—Zack Budryk

Democrat shares time with colleague amid time-limited hearing

10:53 a.m.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) is the first Democrat to yield some of his time to one of his colleagues amid the time constraints of the hearing.

Swalwell is a member on both the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees, giving him the opportunity to twice question Mueller on Wednesday.

Before yielding time to his fellow Californian Rep. Ted Lieu (D), Swalwell questioned Mueller on whether he disagreed with a statement signed by a thousand former federal prosecutors that said Trump would have been charged with criminal wrongdoing if it weren’t for the Office of Legal Counsel opinion.

“In that letter, they said all of this conduct trying to control and impede the investigation into the president by leveraging his authority over others is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions. Are they wrong?” Swalwell asked.

“They have a different case,” Mueller answered.

“Do you want to sign that letter, Director Mueller?” Swalwell followed.

“They have a different case,” Mueller repeated

—Olivia Beavers and Morgan Chalfant

Trump presses claim of ‘no collusion’

10:51 a.m.

Trump quoted another Fox News personality to assert his claim that “there was NO OBSTRUCTION” in a tweet during Mueller’s first hearing.

The president referenced commentary from Katie Pavlich, a Fox News contributor and columnist for The Hill, who claimed that Mueller said the Russia investigation was not impeded.

It was the second tweet of the hearing from Trump, who insisted in recent days he would not watch much of the proceedings.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mueller found he did not obstruct justice. However, the former special counsel testified in the first line of questioning that was not the case

“Does that say there was no obstruction?” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, reading from the report where Mueller wrote he could not exonerate the president on the charge.

“No,” Mueller replied.

—Brett Samuels

Mueller: Trump could be charged with obstruction after leaving office

10:46 a.m.

Mueller says he believes Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office.

“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) asked Mueller during the former special counsel’s testimony.

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

Buck appeared to be taken aback, and asked the question again but added whether Mueller believed a president could be charged with obstruction of justice after leaving office. The former special counsel again said he believed that was the case.

Mueller has pointed to Justice Department guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted as preventing his office from even considering whether to charge Trump with a crime.

—Jacqueline Thomsen

Mueller: ‘Generally true’ that Trump viewed investigation as ‘adverse to his own interests’

10:42 a.m.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) read the necessary elements of obstruction of justice and questioned Mueller on whether Trump’s conduct met the standards, with Mueller responding that he did not “necessarily subscribe” to Jeffries’s interpretation.

Jeffries outlined three necessary factors: an obstructive act that could delay or interfere a proceeding, the presence of such an act in an official proceeding and corrupt intent.

Jeffries specifically cited Trump instructing then-White House counsel Don McGahn to deny having been ordered to fire Mueller. He also referred to a tweet by Trump claiming he was under investigation for firing former FBI Director James Comey by the person who recommended he fire him, referring to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Mueller said it was “generally correct” that the tweet was an acknowledgment by Trump that he was under investigation.

Jeffries also questioned Mueller about an incident in which, after his appointment, Trump reportedly said, “This is the end of my presidency … I’m f—ed.”

“Is it fair to say he viewed investigation as adverse to his own interests?” Jeffries asked.

“I think that generally is true,” Mueller responded.

Closing out his comments, Jeffries said, “This is the United States of America, no one is above the law [and] the president must be held accountable one way or the other.”

Mueller responded that while “I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark,” he did not “subscribe necessarily” to Jeffries’s analysis of whether the conduct met the definition of obstruction.

—Zack Budryk

Committee reconvenes, Richmond questions about McGahn

10:19 a.m.

The committee reconvened with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) questioning Mueller about Trump’s interactions with former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Richmond took Mueller through passages of his report analyzing Trump’s conduct towards McGahn, particularly the president’s instructions that McGahn lie about his efforts to have Mueller removed.

Mueller at times affirmed the details of his report but also declined to answer hypotheticals about whether McGahn could have been charged if he had carried out Trump’s instructions.

Richmond concluded his questioning by asserting, as have multiple other Democrats at the hearing, that any other American would have been charged with obstruction of they did what Trump did.  

“It is clear that any other person who engaged in such conduct would be charged with a crime,” Richmond said.

—Morgan Chalfant

Trump reacts with Chris Wallace quote

10:11 a.m.

Trump offered his first reaction since Mueller began testifying, tweeting out a quote from Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that was critical of Democrats’ performance during the hearing.

“This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller,” Trump tweeted in a quote attributed to Wallace.

The tweet came during a brief recess in Mueller’s testimony.

The first 90 minutes of the hearing was largely dominated by Republicans’ aggressive questioning of Mueller’s explanation for why he didn’t charge Trump.

Democrats garnered early headlines when Mueller testified in response to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that he did not exonerate the president.

—Brett Samuels

Committee takes a five-minute break

10:09 a.m.

The Judiciary Committee briefly recessed for five minutes on Wednesday morning, about an hour and a half into the Mueller hearing.

The Judiciary panel’s hearing is expected to last about three hours; however; the brief break could extend the time.

Nadler cautioned members of the pubic in the audience that they risked losing their seats if they exited the room during the recess.

—Morgan Chalfant

Jordan presses Mueller over Papadopoulos

10 a.m.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) repeatedly pressed Mueller about a professor who purportedly first told former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that Russians had dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, Mueller declined to answer the vast majority of Jordan’s questions.

Jordan asked why Mueller didn’t charge the professor, Joseph Mifsud, with making false statements. And he pointed to several other individuals who were charged through the course of Mueller’s probe, including Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.

“But the guy who puts the country through this whole saga, he lies, and you guys don’t charge him, and I’m curious as to why,” Jordan said.

Mueller said that he can’t “get into charging decisions” and said that he couldn’t answer several of Jordan’s questions, including whether Mifsud had any ties to Western intelligence.

But he pushed back on some of Jordan’s statements during the exchange.

“I’m not certain I agree with your characterizations,” Mueller said.

—Jacqueline Thomsen

Mueller says March letter to Barr ‘stands for itself’

9:50 a.m.

Mueller repeatedly dodged questions from Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) about the private letter he wrote to Attorney General William Barr in late March objecting to Barr’s four-page memo describing his investigation’s conclusions.

Mueller would not say who wrote the letter or whether it was leaked or provided to the media. His office issued the letter privately to Barr on March 27, but it became subject to public reporting in April, on the eve of Barr’s Senate testimony.

“I can’t get into who wrote it, the internal deliberations,” Mueller said. “What I will say is the letter stands for itself.”  

Mueller also would not say whether anything in Barr’s summary was inaccurate.

“I’m not going to get into that.”

Mueller’s March 27 letter to Barr asserted that the attorney general’s memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” 

—Morgan Chalfant

Gohmert hits Mueller on Comey, Strzok

9:40 a.m.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on Wednesday pressed Mueller over his relationship with former FBI Director James Comey and the behavior of former FBI agent Peter Strzok, two key areas Trump has seized on to question Mueller’s credibility.

Gohmert, who earlier this month described Muller as an “anal opening,” asked if it was accurate that the former special counsel and Comey had been “good friends for many years.”

Mueller responded that they were “business associates” who came up together in the Department of Justice before acknowledging they were friends.

Gohmert asked if Comey’s firing, which triggered the special counsel’s appointment, came up during Mueller’s meeting with Trump to discuss the FBI director position. Mueller said he could not remember.

The president has repeatedly claimed that Mueller was conflicted in his investigation because of his relationship with Comey and because he interviewed for the FBI director job before being named special counsel.

However, Mueller’s report states that he was there to advise Trump about the bureau as an institution, and he testified on Wednesday that he was not meeting with Trump as a candidate for the position.

Gohmert also zeroed in on the involvement of Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages have been a focal point for those seeking to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation.

Mueller testified that he learned of the texts in the summer of 2017 and did not know of his feelings toward the president before that.

“When I did find out I acted swiftly to have him reassigned elsewhere in the FBI,” Mueller testified.

Gohmert closed his line of questioning with a diatribe suggesting the special counsel’s investigation was unfair and that Trump was right to lash out repeatedly against the probe.

“If somebody knows they did not conspire with anybody from Russia to affect the election, and they see the big Justice Department with people that hate that person coming after them, and then a special counsel appointed who hires dozen or more people that hate that person, and he knows he’s innocent … what he’s doing is not obstructing justice, he’s pursuing justice.”

“I take your question,” Mueller replied, prompting light laughter among some in the hearing room.

— Brett Samuels

Mueller says ‘true’ when asked about Trump’s attempts to remove him

9:35 a.m.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) pressed Mueller on the obstruction of justice episode the investigation examined in which Trump twice directed then-White House counsel Don McGahn to remove the special counsel.

When asked about the episode, Mueller responded about the account with a one word answer: “True.”

When asked whether it is correct to say he did not have conflicts of interest, Mueller also concisely replied: “That is correct.”

Trump told McGahn to have Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein remove Mueller over allegations of conflicts of interest that top advisers deemed “silly” at the time. McGahn did not follow through with the order, and instead prepared to resign if pressured further. 

Mueller’s answers also match Democrats’ fears ahead of the hearing that Mueller would provide short answers to their questions, preventing them from securing the former special counsel from describing the president’s conduct in his own words.

—Olivia Beavers

Sensenbrenner accuses Mueller of ‘fishing’ on Trump

9:25 a.m.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) grilled Mueller on his office’s statement that it “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” in his investigation Wednesday morning.

“Since you decided under the OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion that you couldn’t prosecute a sitting president … why did we have all this investigation of President Trump that the other side is talking about, when you knew that you weren’t going to prosecute him?” Sensenbrenner asked.

In response, Mueller said that the OLC opinion allows for an investigation to continue even if indictment of a sitting president is not permitted.

Sensenbrenner characterized any investigation that precluded an indictment of a sitting president as “fishing” and further claimed the report’s raw evidentiary material did not comply with statutes requiring an explanation of the prosecution or declination decision.

“This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss and would direct you to the report itself,” Mueller responded.

—Zack Budryk

Jackson-Lee questions Mueller on incidents investigated for obstruction

9:18 a.m. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) pressed Mueller Wednesday on a series of incidents that were detailed in his report investigated for potential obstruction of justice from Trump.

Citing several quotes from the report’s second volume, including the table of contents, which she said “served as a very good guide,” Jackson-Lee ran down several of the incidents, including Trump directing then-White House counsel Don McGahn to lie about whether he had asked McGahn to dismiss Mueller midway through the investigation.

Jackson-Lee also questioned Mueller on the definition of “corrupt intent” under the law, with Mueller confirming that legally, obstruction of justice may be motivated by a desire to “protect non-criminal interests” or avert personal embarrassment. The special counsel also confirmed that obstruction can result in stiff jail sentences, in response to a question from Jackson-Lee.

—Zack Budryk

Dems project Mueller quotes during testimony

9:15 a.m.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee projected quotes from Mueller’s report during the former special counsel’s testimony.

On screens set up in the hearing room, quotes were displayed from Mueller and his report that pertained to Democrats’ specific line of questioning.

For example, Mueller’s line that if his office “had confidence no crime occurred, we would have said so” appeared during Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) questioning on whether Mueller’s team had exonerated Trump.

And as Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) pressed Mueller on the investigation relating to Paul Manafort, quotes from Mueller’s report about Manafort appeared on the screen. 

—Jacqueline Thomsen

Republicans break with seniority pattern, skip to skilled GOP cross-examiner 

9:12 a.m.

Republicans broke the pattern of having members question Mueller by seniority by having Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) follow after House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.). 

Ratcliffe, who jumped ahead of four more-senior members, questioned Mueller about his non-exoneration decision. 

The Texas Republican is a former U.S. attorney and federal terrorism prosecutor who is considered a star questioner among members of his conference.

—Olivia Beavers

Mueller addresses Russia’s 2016 influence operations

9:10 a.m.

Mueller emphasized that the Russian government was specifically involved in trying to interfere in and influence the 2016 presidential election during questioning by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) this morning. 

Lofgren asked Mueller what extent the Russian government interfered in 2016, with Mueller responding that “when it came to computer claims and the like, the Russian government was implicated.”

Mueller wrote in the report that Russians interfered in the 2016 elections in a “sweeping and systematic fashion.” The report specifically found that Russian actors hacked into the computer system of the Democratic National Committee, engineered a social media disinformation campaign that favored Trump and conducted “computer intrusion operations” against those working on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Lofgren used Mueller’s answers to call for the release of the un-redacted report in order to understand the full extent of Russian interference. 

Lofgren, who has pushed for the passage of election security legislation in her role as the chair of the House Administration Committee, noted that she believed Americans were able to learn “several things about” Russian interference, including that the Russian government “wanted Trump to win,” and that Russians conducted a “sweeping cyber influence campaign.”

“I think it’s important for the American people to understand the gravity of the underlying problem that your report uncovered,” Lofgren said. 

—Maggie Miller

Mueller says Russians sought to help Trump campaign 

9:08 a.m.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) pointedly asked Mueller which presidential campaign the Russians sought to help.

“Well, it would be Trump,” Mueller replied.

The Mueller report explicitly states that the Russians sought to hurt the Clinton campaign and help the Trump campaign. But her question allowed Democrats to capture the former special counsel stating for the cameras that the Russians favored one campaign over another.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the idea that Moscow sought to help him win in 2016.

—Olivia Beavers

Collins drills into Mueller on collusion aspects of report

9:04 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) drilled into Mueller with specific questions as to whether his report established that Trump did not collude with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, leaving Mueller tripping over words at times.

Collins referenced specific pages of the report, asking Mueller to verify that the report established that Trump was not involved in the underlying crime in relation to Russian interference. 

Mueller began to say that he found “insufficient evidence” to establish this, but Collins cut him off, saying he took Mueller’s response as a “yes.”

Collins promised Mueller that he would talk slowly, with Mueller later asking him to slow during questioning.

Laughter broke out in the room when Collins asked Mueller if he “did a lot of work,” with Mueller responding, “Yes, that I agree to.”

Collins specifically focused on a passage in the report that stated that the term “collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy.” Mueller at first hesitated to verify this portion of the report and glanced back at it before saying he would “leave it with the report.”

—Maggie Miller

Mueller confirms Trump refused in-person interview

9:02 a.m.

Mueller confirmed to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that Trump had refused an in-person interview for Mueller’s investigation in testimony to the panel Wednesday morning.

“Is it true that you tried for more than a year to secure an interview with the president?” Nadler asked Wednesday, with Mueller responding in the affirmative. Mueller also confirmed that his office had described an interview with Trump as “vital to our investigation.”

Nadler further questioned Mueller on whether the written answers Trump submitted failed to address any of the special counsel’s questions relating to several episodes investigated for possible obstruction of justice, saying he would “have to check on that.”

Mueller also referred to a specific page of his report during the back-and-forth, the first time that he did so during his testimony. The special counsel has said that his report speaks for him, whereas Democrats have hoped to get Mueller’s findings in his own words.

—Zack Budryk and Jacqueline Thomsen

Mueller: My report did not exonerate Trump

8:55 a.m.

During the first set of questions posed to Mueller, the former special counsel reiterated his report’s findings that his investigation did not exonerate Trump.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) noted that Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly stated that Mueller’s report completely cleared the president of any crimes, but Mueller — as his report notes — said that was not the case.

“The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller said.

The former special counsel also pointed to a Department of Justice guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted as helping to guide his office’s decisionmaking.

—Jacqueline Thomsen

Mueller is sworn in 

8:43 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) swore in Mueller to testify truthfully. The former special counsel agreed to the oath, raising his right hand. 

—Olivia Beavers

Collins says Trump’s suffered through Mueller investigation while knowing his ‘innocence’

8:39 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) declared that Trump knew the “extent of his innocence” while allowing the investigation by Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to run its course.

“The president watched the public narrative surrounding the investigation assume his guilt while he knew the extent of his innocence,” Collins said in his opening statement on Wednesday. 

Collins stressed that the results of the investigation have been known for months and added that he hoped the hearing would bring “closure” to the Mueller investigation and report process. 

Collins emphasized that he hoped takeaways for members would include “increasing our vigilance against foreign election interference while we ensure our government officials don’t weaponize their power against the constitutional rights guaranteed to every United States citizen.”

—Maggie Miller

Nadler praises Mueller in opening remarks, says he passed baton to Congress

8:35 a.m.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) strongly praised Mueller in his opening remarks, while pledging that Congress will continue his work to uncover the facts about the president’s conduct.

“Director Mueller, we have a responsibility to address the evidence you have uncovered. You recognized as much when you said ‘the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,’” Nadler told Mueller, noting that such works falls to the Judiciary Committee. “We will follow your example, Director Mueller. … We will make our recommendation to the House when our work concludes.”

In particular, Nadler said his committee must continue to examine whether the president obstructed justice by pointing to a Justice Department policy that argues a sitting president cannot be indicted, suggesting that the office of the presidency protected Trump from being charged.

Nadler also commended the former special counsel for remaining committed to his work and producing indictments in “astonishing” detail, despite “repeated and grossly unfair personal attacks.”

“You conducted that investigation with remarkable integrity,” Nadler told the former special counsel. “And, in your report, you offer the country accountability as well.”

The New York Democrat noted that Mueller secured criminal indictments against 37 people and entities, including paying for much of the cost of his 22-month investigation by recovering $42 million in his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

—Olivia Beavers

Mueller arrives

8:33 a.m. 

Mueller walked into the committee space at approximately 8:31 a.m., shaking hands with several Democratic lawmakers as he headed to his seat. 

Cameras swarmed the former special counsel, who silently sat down.

Shortly after he arrived, a protester shouted that Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort downloaded encrypted apps on the date of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. He was quickly removed by security.

—Olivia Beavers

Lawmakers begin to circulate

8:09 a.m.

Several lawmakers were seen filing into the Judiciary Committee room about a half hour before the start of the hearing.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and others were seen walking through the crowded hallway and making their way toward the room. Committee staffers were also seen bringing in posters — likely to serve as exhibits during the hearing.

Mueller also entered the building around 8 a.m. but hasn’t yet filed into the room.

—Morgan Chalfant 

Mueller hashtags trending on Twitter ahead of testimony

8:06 a.m.

Multiple hashtags and phrases relating to the Mueller testimony, including #MuellerHearings, #MuellerTime, #MuellerTestifies, “Robert Mueller” and #MuellerDay were all trending on Twitter in the hour leading up to the hearing.

More than 12,000 people and institutions tweeted with the #MuellerHearings hashtag, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), comedian Dean Obeidallah and CNN contributor Steve Cortes, a member of Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council.

Mueller’s testimony is poised to dominate both social media and cable news all day on Wednesday, with multiple Washington, D.C.-based restaurants and bars holding special watch parties

—Zack Budryk

Long lines, high energy ahead of first hearing

7:55 a.m.

The House Rayburn Office Building was buzzing with excitement hours before Mueller was set to arrive for his public testimony. 

Members of the public who hoped to secure a seat at the highly anticipated House Judiciary Committee hearing had already formed long lines outside the security entrances by 6:30 a.m., an hour before the doors opened.

Inside, however, dozens of congressional staffers had staked out a spot in line. The first person waiting to get inside said they had spent the night to hold that spot, starting at 6 p.m.

Cameras and television crews lined the hallways as members of the public rushed to get in line after the doors opened. 

—Olivia Beavers

Trump lashes out in final hours before testimony

7:28 a.m. 

Trump on Wednesday morning lashed out in frustration over Mueller’s testimony to Congress just hours before the former special counsel was set to appear on Capitol Hill.

The president tweeted multiple times about Mueller late Tuesday and early Wednesday, signaling his agitation with the highly anticipated public spectacle that could cast another cloud over his presidency.

“So Democrats and others can illegally fabricate a crime, try pinning it on a very innocent President, and when he fights back against this illegal and treasonous attack on our Country, they call It Obstruction?” Trump tweeted. “Wrong! Why didn’t Robert Mueller investigate the investigators?”

Leading up to the testimony, Trump has fixated on the late confirmation that one of Mueller’s top deputies will accompany him as an adviser during his testimony.

The president said late Tuesday that the move was “very unfair” and “should not be allowed” and on Wednesday asserted he would not have agreed to such terms. Trump’s approval is not needed for the committee’s hearing format. 

“It was NEVER agreed that Robert Mueller could use one of his many Democrat Never Trumper lawyers to sit next to him and help him with his answers,” the president tweeted. “This was specifically NOT agreed to, and I would NEVER have agreed to it. The Greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history, by far!”

—Brett Samuels

Tags Adam Schiff Andre Carson Brad Wenstrup Cedric Richmond Chris Stewart Chris Wallace Corey Lewandowski Devin Nunes Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Doug Collins Eric Swalwell George Papadopoulos Guy Reschenthaler Hakeem Jeffries Hank Johnson Hillary Clinton Jackie Speier James Comey Jared Kushner Jay Sekulow Jeff Sessions Jerrold Nadler Jim Himes Jim Jordan Jim Sensenbrenner John Ratcliffe kelly armstrong Ken Buck Louie Gohmert Martha Roby Matt Gaetz Michael Cohen Mike Johnson Mike Quigley Mike Turner Paul Manafort Peter Welch Pramila Jayapal Rick Gates Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Rudy Giuliani Ted Deutch Ted Lieu Terri Sewell Tom McClintock Vladimir Putin Will Hurd William Barr Zoe Lofgren

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