House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler plans to have Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III testify publicly before Congress even if he doesn’t say anything beyond what is in his 448-page report on the Russia investigation.
“We will have Mr. Mueller’s testimony,” the New York Democrat said in response to a question Friday on WNYC radio.
Nadler’s push to bring Mueller before the panel for a televised hearing is the latest twist in what had been weeks of negotiations with the special counsel about his testimony. Mueller made a surprise on-camera announcement Wednesday at the Justice Department with a clear message that he did not want to testify.
“The report is my testimony,” Mueller said. “I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
But Nadler said most people are not going to read the report, and President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and others are “lying” about what’s in it.
It’s “very important that he, to a television audience and the American people, state it, that he answer questions about it, even if there’s no new information,” Nadler said.
“I think it’s important for the American people to see and to hear what the report found and hear questions about it,” he added. “Part of the function of Congress, just the same as Watergate hearings 40 years ago, to have a dialogue with the American people so people can make informed decisions and know what’s going on.”
On Wednesday, Nadler had declined to answer directly a question about whether he would subpoena Mueller to testify, saying instead that the special counsel “told us a lot of what we need to hear today.”
On the rest of the panel’s investigation, Nadler said he would talk to his colleagues when the House returns to session next week about the possibility of launching an impeachment inquiry, a move that would give the panel additional legal powers “to some extent.”
Nadler said the committee would be telling the story through hearings and investigations to see if the American people support impeachment proceedings against Trump.
“Impeachment is a political act and it has to have the support of the American people,” Nadler said.
Nadler also said that Mueller is “leaning over too far backwards” when he didn’t want to conclude Trump committed a crime if he couldn’t be charged and therefore couldn’t defend himself in court. “I think that he could have accused him anyway, period,” he said.