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Robert Mueller agrees to publicly testify before House committees on Trump Russia probe on July 17

Key Points
  • Robert Mueller, the special counsel who led the Justice Department's Russia investigation, will testify publicly before two House committees on July 17. 
  • Reps. Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff said they compelled Mueller to testify by issuing subpoenas. 
  • Mueller will face questions about the report summarizing his investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and instances where President Donald Trump tried to derail the probe.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes a statement on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., May 29, 2019.
Jim Bourg | Reuters

Robert Mueller will publicly testify before two House committees next month about his probe into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announced the July 17 testimony on Tuesday night. They said they issued subpoenas to bring Mueller, the special counsel who oversaw the Justice Department's investigation, before the House.

"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," the two lawmakers said in a joint statement. "We look forward to hearing his testimony, as do all Americans."

Mueller's public appearance will bring a spectacle rarely seen during the nearly two-year investigation that ended in March. The special counsel avoided public comment on the probe until the release of a redacted, more than 400-page report detailing Russia's efforts to influence the election and instances of President Donald Trump potentially trying to derail the investigation. Mueller then gave remarks to reporters last month, reinforcing the report's findings and saying he would not speak any more about it publicly.

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Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to charge the president with obstruction of justice earlier this year. Still, some lawmakers and legal experts saw Mueller's report as laying out a case for Congress to pursue obstruction charges.

In a statement to NBC News, Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow stressed that Mueller previously noted he did not want to testify beyond his written summary of the investigation.

"Bob Mueller said his testimony was his report. We expect that his testimony will be his report," he said.

In a statement Tuesday night, Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said he hoped the testimony would bring an end to "political gamesmanship."

"May this testimony bring to House Democrats the closure that the rest of America has enjoyed for months, and may it enable them to return to the business of legislating," he said.

Spokespeople for the White House and Mueller did not immediately respond to requests to comment.

Democrats have pushed for Mueller's public testimony for months. They have described it as an important step to understand the breadth of Trump's potential misconduct both during the election and since he took office.

Crucially, the testimony could force some Democrats to decide whether they want to start impeachment proceedings against the president. At least 77 House members — 76 Democrats and one Republican — support an impeachment inquiry, according to NBC News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has opposed impeachment, calling it "divisive." Democrats have worried about political backlash as they try to defeat Trump and keep control of the House in the 2020 election.

— CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report