Outgoing special counsel Robert Mueller made it clear in his surprise announcement Wednesday that he will does not intend to speak about his investigation beyond what was said in his 448-page report, a disappointment to Democrats in Congress who have called on him to testify.
“The report is my testimony,” Mueller said in a statement at the Justice Department. “I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
What remains to be seen, however, is how Congress will react to news that Mueller doesn’t want to testify — and whether they’ll subpoena Mueller to appear anyway. Mueller had been invited to testify before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, but had not agreed to appear publicly. Mueller’s announcement will come as a relief to Republicans, many of whom insisted there was no need for Mueller to testify.
But many Democrats weren’t satisfied with just hearing from Mueller’s report, saying they needed to hear directly from the man behind it. In a statement Wednesday morning, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler did not say whether he will subpoena Mueller to testify.
“Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump — and we will do so,” Nadler said in a statement after Mueller’s announcement. “No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at an event in Suffolk County, New York, Wednesday that the “report is a wakeup call. We must get right on the horse.”
Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat running for president, called for impeachment proceedings for the first time. “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately,” he tweeted.
One thing looks certain — if there is a subpoena, it won’t come from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Today’s statement by Mr. Mueller reinforces the findings of his report,” Graham tweeted. “And as for me, the case is over. Mr. Mueller has decided to move on and let the report speak for itself. Congress should follow his lead.”
Mueller alluded to the impeachment process in his statement Wednesday morning while explaining why his office declined to make a determination as to whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice. Citing a Justice Department opinion that a president cannot be indicted while in office, Mueller said “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Despite that, Mr. Trump took Mueller’s statement as an exoneration.
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report,” the president tweeted. “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
Republican Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican to say Mr. Trump, said Mueller’s comments made it clear that it is Congress’ responsibility to act.
“The ball is in our court, Congress,” Amash tweeted.