NOEL KING, HOST:
Robert Mueller is coming to Capitol Hill. Mueller has agreed to testify on July 17 after he was issued subpoenas by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Now, to this point, he has only talked once about his 448-page report, and he has said clearly that he's reluctant to talk more about it. Here he is after he announced that the special counsel's office had finished its work.
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ROBERT MUELLER: We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
KING: All right. NPR Justice reporter Ryan Lucas is with us in studio.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good morning.
KING: So Mueller has been clear that the report is his testimony. In these hearings, can we expect to learn anything new?
LUCAS: That's a good question, and the answer to that is it's not entirely clear right now. We'd - we're - it's up to Mueller what he's going to say, and he is really going to define the parameters of what he wants to talk about. Now, as you noted, he has made clear that he doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to be in the middle of a political fight. The negotiations to get him up onto the Hill to testify publicly took a very long time. Ultimately, as you noted, he's responding to subpoenas.
Now, the Democratic chairmen of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff, they say that the American public needs to hear from Mueller himself about what his office discovered about Russia's interference in the 2016 elections, about the president's possible obstruction of justice. Democrats in particular want to go beyond, though, what is just in Mueller's report.
They have questions about prosecutorial decisions that Mueller's team made. They have questions about Attorney General William Barr's handling and presentation of the report. And then there are a bunch of other questions, including counterintelligence questions, that Democrats want to get into.
KING: So there's going to be a lot of interest in these hearings, for sure. They're going to be carried out live on TV and radio almost certainly. What do Democrats want from that, from the attention?
LUCAS: Well, this is a big deal for them. They want the public to see Mueller testifying about what he and his investigators found. This is a big, headline-grabbing set of back-to-back hearings. There will be two hearings. The fact that this is going to be broadcast live on national radio and television is a big get for Democrats. Remember, there's a growing number of Democrats in the House that are pushing for impeachment. This hearing could help them build a public case against Trump. Now, important to note at the same point in time that House leaders do not support impeachment proceedings at this point.
And Democrats in the House have struggled to gain any sort of traction with their investigations into the president so far. The White House has blocked their efforts. So for House Democrats, getting Mueller even against his will in front of a national TV audience is a big deal. Even if Mueller just sticks to the words in his report, Democrats could be thinking here that his testimony will grab the American public's attention in a way that that dense report did not.
KING: Because most people did not read the report, if we're being frank. What do Republicans want to get out of this or want to avoid here?
LUCAS: Well, Republicans welcomed Mueller's coming up to the Hill to testify, as Democrats did. Some of the president's most ardent allies on the Hill are on these two committees. They will be eager to score their own points to defend the president. They will bring up their own views about how - what they call missteps by investigators during the probe, questions that they have about the makeup of Mueller's team, allegations that they've raised about surveillance abuse, alleged surveillance abuse by the FBI and others.
The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, said in a statement that he had encouraged Mueller to testify. And he said that he hopes that this hearing will give Democrats closure, as he said Americans have already reached.
KING: Very quickly, has the president responded?
LUCAS: The president tweeted overnight two words - presidential harassment. One of his private attorneys, Jay Sekulow, said on Fox News last night that he doesn't expect anything that Mueller says to be different than what is in the report itself.
KING: NPR Justice reporter Ryan Lucas.
Thanks so much, Ryan.
LUCAS: Thank you.
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