By Katie Reilly
July 24, 2019

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared before Congress on Wednesday for a highly anticipated pair of hearings where he will answer questions about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious,” Mueller said in his opening statement before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. “This deserves the attention of every American.”

Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees marks the first time Mueller has taken questions about his report and only the second time the former special counsel has spoken publicly about the investigation.

Mueller had been reluctant to say anything further, telling reporters in May that “the report is my testimony.” While his testimony Wednesday is not expected to produce major revelations, the stakes are high for Democrats, who are expected to use the opportunity to combat President Donald Trump’s false claims of “total exoneration” and question Mueller about evidence in the report of several instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

Read more: Mueller’s Testimony Isn’t Expected to Deliver Bombshells. Here’s Why It Still Matters

Mueller declined to charge Trump, citing constitutional limitations on his power, but he wrote that the report “does not exonerate him.” “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” he wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mueller will appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday afternoon, following his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Read Mueller’s full opening statement here:

Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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