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Mueller to testify publicly over Russia probe

Washington: US Special Counsel Robert Mueller will publicly testify over his Russia probe before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on July 17 following a subpoena, the panels’ chairmen have announced in a joint statement.

Mueller will testify in front of both committees about his investigation against alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections. The statement was issued by Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Chairman of the Judiciary panel and Representative Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the Intelligence panel.

The move paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump, the US media reported.

“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,” said Nadler and Schiff.

Both panels had been negotiating for Mueller’s voluntary appearance for several weeks but hadn’t reached an agreement. Mueller signalled his unwillingness to testify publicly before Congress in his first public remarks in May on his investigation into Russia’s election interference.

Mueller had concluded his investigation in March by submitting a report to Attorney General William Barr which stated there was no evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 elections. But it didn’t conclude if the President had obstructed justice.

Instead, Mueller recounted 10 episodes involving Trump and discussed potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offence.

He also laid out dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Kremlin-linked figures. However, he said the investigation found insufficient evidence to charge members of the campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election.

The Department of Justice later concluded that Mueller did not have “sufficient” evidence to support a charge in the obstruction case, a move that has drawn scrutiny by Democrats.

Many Democrats are eager to question Mueller publicly about the various episodes he examined as potentially obstructive efforts by Trump. It, however, remains unlikely that the Special Counsel will say much more than what is laid out in his report. 

Trump has repeatedly dismissed Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt” or a politically motivated attack from Democrats.

IANS

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