1. SOUNDBITE (English) Robert Mueller, Special Counsel:
"Two years ago the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created the special counsel's office. The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. Now I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I'm speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel's office and as well, I'm resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. I'll make a few remarks about the results of our work, but beyond these few remarks it is important that the office's written work speak for itself. Let me begin where the appointment order begins and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election. As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers, who were part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate."
House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by US President Donald Trump in a potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him.
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on 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."
Collins said Republicans will be focused on making clear that the report represents a "final episode" in the Russia probe, which he described as flawed.
Days before back-to-back hearings Wednesday, both sides seemed to agree that Mueller's testimony could be pivotal in shifting public opinion on the question of "holding the president accountable."
"This is a president who has violated the law six ways from Sunday," said New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Nadler argued that Mueller's report lays out "very substantial evidence" that Trump is guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors," the constitutional standard for impeachment.
"We have to present – or let Mueller present – those facts to the American people...because the administration must be held accountable and no president can be above the law," Nadler said.
The House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will question Mueller in separate hearings on the report.
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.
But Mueller believed Trump couldn't be indicted in part because of a Justice Department opinion against prosecuting a sitting president.