Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to testify in public before two congressional committees after a subpoena issued Tuesday evening, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said.
"Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia's attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign's acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates' obstruction of the investigation into that attack," Democrat Jerry Nadler said in a statement. "We look forward to hearing his testimony, as do all Americans."
Mueller agreed to testify before both the House Judiciary and the House Intelligence committees on July 17, Nadler said.
The surprise announcement comes months after Mueller concluded his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. On May 29, during his first and only public comments about the investigation, Mueller said he did not believe he could provide any more information to Congress or the public beyond what was already contained in his published report.
"So beyond what I've said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress," he said.
Mueller reiterated that his office did not clear President Trump of wrongdoing. The special counsel's office explored whether the president had committed obstruction during the investigation, but declined to reach a conclusion. He instead simply presented the evidence on both sides, earning himself criticism from Democrats and confusion from Attorney General Bill Barr, who said he had expected the special counsel to make a decision one way or another.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said, using similar language to that in his final report. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
In his 400-plus page report, Mueller found there was no evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the election, a conclusion Trump and his supporters have touted as a complete victory. However, Mueller stressed that his team did pursue charges that alleged “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election” by Russian nationals.
In explaining his decision Mueller cited a “long-standing” Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be criminally charged.
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mueller said. “And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.”
BuzzFeed News reporter Zoe Tillman contributed to this report.