Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, who serves on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, will question Robert Mueller on Wednesday.
Mueller, the former special counsel, authored the report on how the Russian government worked to secretly influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller will testify before both the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee, in separate hearings.
“The report is really damning,” Welch said of the Mueller report.
That document tracked contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russians, but did not have the evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy.
President Trump, who said he will maybe watch a “little bit” of Wednesday’s testimony, repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
Despite the president’s claim that the report showed there was no collusion, the probe didn’t clear Mister Trump entirely. It found the president and campaign leaders tried to undermine the Russia investigation, through efforts such as lies told by campaign officials to Congress, or the president’s firing of FBI director Jim Comey.
“I’ll leave it to others to go through the definition of collusion or conspiracy,” Welch said in an interview with necn and NBC10 Boston Tuesday. “But as a citizen, I’m shocked that we would have a major presidential candidate willingly tolerating and actually gladly benefiting from interference from a hostile foreign power. It’s pretty shocking.”
Mueller previously indicated he doesn’t plan to be particularly forthcoming with new information on the Russia probe, saying the document speaks for itself.
“I would not provide information beyond what is already public in any appearance before Congress,” Mueller said in a May 29 press conference.
Still, Rep. Welch said he considers the testimony Wednesday to be important.
“There is, in my view, some benefit to having the author of the report speak about the report as opposed to having Attorney General Barr whitewash it or to have partisans on the Democratic or Republican side characterize it,” Welch told necn and NBC10 Boston. “Let Mueller speak and let the American people make up their mind.”
Welch, who recently announced he supports the impeachment of President Trump, said since most Americans haven’t read the Mueller report, Wednesday’s hearings can provide important understanding.
He added that he hopes his colleagues on both sides of the aisle resist grandstanding, so Mueller’s testimony, even if it turns out to be limited, remains the focus.
“And we’ll see how that affects the dialogue moving forward,” Welch said.