Sen. Lindsey Graham has announced that he will grant Democrats’ request to have former special counsel Robert Mueller testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The surprising statement from one of the Senate’s leaders comes a day after Mueller broke a longstanding silence to defend his probe, and its consequential conviction of Roger Stone, in a public op-ed.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican and the Judiciary Committee’s chair, has attempted to discredit Mueller’s inquiry in the past. And ever since Mueller’s official report was released last spring, Graham has brushed off Democrats’ requests for Mueller to testify in the Senate, telling CNN in April 2019, “I’m all good, I’m done with the Mueller report.” Mueller later testified before the House. The only invitation Graham had previously offered Mueller was an opportunity to respond to Attorney General William Barr’s Senate judiciary Committee testimony.
On Saturday, Mueller wrote a blunt Washington Post opinion piece, defending his findings and the conviction of President Donald Trump ally Roger Stone for obstructing a congressional investigation. The former special counsel said he felt “compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office.”
The op-ed appears to have changed Graham’s mind.
“Apparently Mr. Mueller is willing – and also capable – of defending the Mueller investigation through an op-ed in the Washington Post,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have previously requested Mr. Mueller appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about his investigation. That request will be granted.”
Mueller has remained out of the spotlight since last July, when he appeared before Congress to testify about his investigation. However, interest in his investigation resurfaced this Friday, after President Trump commuted Stone’s prison sentence and a White House statement denounced the Mueller investigation, alleging that Stone was a “victim of the Russia Hoax.”
“These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice,” the official statement from the White House reads. “This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr. Stone.
In the opinion piece, Mueller emphasized that while Stone’s sentence was commuted, the conviction against him remains.
“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance,” Mueller wrote. “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”