Watch Live: Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Testimony Before Congress

WASHINGTON -- Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill for at least five hours Wednesday, a nationally televised event that for many Americans will be their first detailed exposure to the former special counsel's findings on Russia's 2016 election interference.Watch the NBC News live feed of testimony here:The nation has heard the special counsel speak only once -- for nine minutes -- since his appointment in May 2017.This time, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will question Mueller in separate hearings on the report.The Justice Department on Monday told Mueller his testimony should not go beyond information that has already been released publicly.Mueller has said he doesn't intend to speak beyond the findings of the report in congressional hearings.Still, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to focus on a narrow set of episodes laid out in the report to direct Americans' attention to what they see as the most egregious examples of Trump's conduct, which point to obstruction of justice.The examples include Trump's directions to then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to have Mueller removed and, later, orders from Trump to McGahn to deny that happened. Democrats also will focus questioning on a series of meetings Trump had with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in which the Republican president directed Lewandowski to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit Mueller's investigation.Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the American public is growing weary of the Russia investigation three months after the release of the special counsel's 448-page report and that "any thought of impeachment is waning." He said Republicans will be focused on making clear that the report represents a "final episode" in the Russia probe, which he described as flawed.Collins said Republicans will focus in part on the origins of the Russia investigation, which Trump has long derided as a political "witch hunt" as well as evidence they see of potential bias in the FBI's handling of the probe."There's going to be a lot of questions for what he did say, what he didn't say, and how this thing started," he said, referring to Mueller. "This is the time that the Democrats have got to show on their end how much time they have been wasting of our committee and how we have not been getting things done because they simply don't like this president, who was elected by the people in 2016, and they're just trying to derail him for 2020."Mueller's appearance comes more than two years since the start of the Russia investigation, an extraordinary moment in Trump's presidency when, after Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, his Justice Department appointed Mueller to take over the inquiry into election interference and the potential role that Trump and his winning 2016 campaign may have played.While Mueller's testimony was once envisioned as a crystalizing event, a Watergate-style moment to uncover truths, public attention has drifted in the months since the report was released."We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what's in that report," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "It's a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into foreign interference again to try to cover up."Intelligence committee aides have said they believe the public has received a slanted view of what Mueller found on the question of criminal conspiracy because of Trump's repeated claims of "no collusion," and because the details of Russia's interference in the election -- and the outreach to the Trump campaign -- haven't gotten enough attention."Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself?" Schiff asked.Though the probe did not establish charges of criminal conspiracy or obstruction, there has been growing concern among those close to the president that Mueller's appearance could push undecided or reluctant Democrats toward impeachment. Even so, there appears to be little evidence of an organized White House response plan to the hearings.Mueller plans to begin with an opening statement that a spokesman said would be similar in substance to his May 29 statement from the Justice Department podium. In that statement, he cautioned Congress that he would not go beyond the text of the report if called upon to testify and explained his team's decision to neither seek an indictment of the president nor exonerate him on obstruction of justice allegations. Responding to a request from Mueller about limitations or potential privilege issues, a senior Justice Department official, Bradley Weinsheimer, told Mueller in a letter that the department expects that he will not stray beyond his report when he testifies. Weinsheimer also told Mueller that he should not discuss the redacted portions of his report or the actions of people who were not charged. While the report did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the election, it said Trump could not be cleared of trying to obstruct the investigation. Because the report was dense and, at times, lawyerly, Trump allies have long fretted that while few lawmakers and Americans read the report, they might be swayed by Mueller's in-person testimony. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Monday about his Wednesday plans: "I'm not going to be watching -- probably -- maybe I'll see a little bit of it. I'm not going to be watching Mueller because you can't take all those bites out of the apple."The president has a light schedule Wednesday morning, when Mueller begins speaking, before heading to West Virginia for evening fundraisers.  Continue reading...

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