President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked why former special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t “investigate the investigators,” shortly before members of Congress convened to press Mueller on his Russia investigation and its conclusions.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
The president earlier complained that Mueller’s aide, Aaron Zebley, was being allowed to appear alongside Mueller at Wednesday’s hearing.
There is no evidence that Zebley is a “Never Trumper,” according to The Washington Post. He has no political donation history.
Mueller is set to face questions Wednesday from the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), and the House Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Democratic members of the committees are expected to grill Mueller on whether the president could or should be charged with attempting to obstruct justice.
Mueller and his team produced a 448-page report on their findings that was partially redacted and released to the public in April, about a month after it was completed.
Although Mueller’s conclusions were intensely anticipated, most Americans, “in their busy lives, haven’t had the opportunity to read the report,” Schiff said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”
“We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what’s in that report,” he said of the hearings, adding that the report contained a “pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power.”
On May 29, Mueller read a statement on the completed Russia investigation and said he intended it to be his first and last public comment.
“I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter,” he said outside the Justice Department at the time.
“The report is my testimony,” he added. “I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”
Weeks later, Mueller agreed to appear for questioning.
The special counsel’s two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump administration’s potential involvement wrapped up in March. His report pointedly stated that Trump had not been exonerated but was also not being charged with any crime due to his status as president.
“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said in May. He also emphasized that charging a sitting president is considered unconstitutional.
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” he stated.
Mueller alluded to impeachment by saying the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” But he was firm in his stance against commenting on “any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president” beyond what is contained in the lengthy report.
Trump took Mueller’s statement to falsely suggest he had been exonerated, despite the special counsel’s repeated insistence to the contrary.
While the investigation did not conclude that anyone in the Trump campaign criminally conspired with Russian operatives to tip the election in Trump’s favor, Mueller outlined 10 instances in which Trump may have tried to obstruct justice as president.
This story has been updated with more of Trump’s comments.