WASHINGTON (AP) – Some are watching an old video from their previous testimonial. Others read his 448-page report again. And almost everyone worries about how to make the most of the short time they have for interrogation.
The Democrats know that Robert Mueller will be hard to crack.
The stern, retiring former FBI director has said he will not answer questions that go beyond the report on Russia's interference and Trump's election campaign and the possible obstruction of justice when he attended Congress on July 17 comes.
Muller is expected to testify before the judiciary and in court of secret service committees for two hours each, with time evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, although that date is still under negotiation. That is, Democrats must efficiently and effectively seek to extract information from the former Special Envoy and pick out what he considers the most damaging results against President Donald Trump.
Robert Mueller  See gallery
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 28: Former FBI director Robert Mueller attends the solemn swearing in of FBI director James Comey at the FBI Headquarters on October 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey was officially sworn in as Director of the FBI on September 4, succeeding Mueller, who served as director for twelve years. (Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama greets the outgoing Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Robert Mueller (L), at the White House Rose Garden in Washington on June 21, 2013 when he's nominated Jim Come to be the next FBI director. Comey, a Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush, would replace Müller, who resigned his post since the week before the September 11 attacks. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Picture credits should be NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller Welcomes Key Employees During a Farewell Ceremony Held at the Ministry of Justice in Washington, August 1, 2013. At the Senate reaffirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey as successor to Mueller, who led the bureau since shortly before the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICAL CRIME HEADSHOT)
391489 03: US President George W. Bush speaks at a conference with Justice Department veteran Robert Mueller, who was named US Government Chairman FBI and Attorney General John Ashcroft on July 5, 2001 in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller stands for the national anthem during a farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington on August 1, 2013. On Monday, the US Senate confirmed former Deputy Prosecutor General James Comey replacing Mueller, who has headed the office since shortly before September 11, 2001, attacks the US. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICAL CRIMINAL LAW)
Outgoing FBI director Robert Müller (L) responds to a standing ovation from the audience, Deputy US Attorney General James Cole (C) and US Attorney General Eric Holder (R) during the farewell ceremony of Muller at the Department of Justice in Washington on August 1, 2013. On Monday, the US Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, the miller who led the office since shortly before September 11, 2001, by attacking to replace the United States. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – POLITICAL CRIMINAL LAW)
Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller gestures for him at his farewell ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington on August 1, 2013. On Monday, the US Senate affirmed former Deputy Prosecutor General James Comey succeeding Mueller, who led the office since just before the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)
FILE PHOTO – US Attorney General John Ashcroft (R) and FBI Director Robert Mueller speak in Washington on May 26 about possible terrorist threats against the United States. 2004. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque / File Photo
Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller responds to the audience's applause during his farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice in Washington on August 1, 2013. On Monday, the US Senate reaffirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Kommen She, to replace Mueller, who led the office since just before September 11, 2001, to replace attacks on the United States. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICAL CRIMINAL LAW)
UNITED STATES – JUNE 19: Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., Right, and FBI Director Robert Mueller embark on a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Dirksen Building on the supervision of the FBI. (Photo by Tom Williams / CQ Appeal)
Outgoing FBI director Robert Mueller (C) spoke at the Justice Department in Washington on August 1, 2013 about his farewell ceremony. On Monday, the US Senate confirmed former Deputy Attorney General James Comey replacing Mueller, who has headed the office since shortly before September 11, 2001, attacks the US. Deputy US Attorney General James Cole (FROM L), US Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director George Tenet, and TSA Administrator John Pistole are also on the stage with Mueller. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICAL CRIMINAL LAW)
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 15: (LR) Deputy Steny Hoyer (D-MD), US Attorney General Eric Holder, Minister of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller and the Director of Immigration and Customs Control, John Morton, attend the National Peace Officers Memorial Service on May 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder and other members of the Obama administration are being criticized for reporting the Conservative organization's review of Internal Revenue Services 'tax-exempt claims and the summoning of Associated Press journalists' phone records for two months. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
FBI Director Robert Mueller announces prior to hearing the Judicial Committee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 13, 2013. Mueller said Thursday the US government does everything Known people like Edward Snowden can be blamed for spreading surveillance secrets on the pages of newspapers around the world. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICAL CRIMINAL LAW)
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (L) welcomes FBI Director Robert Mueller during his meeting in Kiev on 5 June 2013. REUTERS / Efrem Lukatsky / Pool (UKRAINE – Tags: POLITICS)
FBI Director Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the inauguration of Obama on the Western Front of the US Capitol on January 21, 2013 in Washington. President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. The woman on the right is not identified. REUTERS / Win McNamee POOL (UNITED STATES)
WASHINGTON, FBI Director Robert Mueller answers questions before Congress on October 17, 2002, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller said before the last public hearing of the Select Intelligence Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, which investigated the events until September 11, 2001. AFP Photos / Stephen JAFFE (Image credits should be STEPHEN JAFFE / AFP / Getty Images)
(LR) Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, James Clapper, and Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, say at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 16, 2011. REUTERS / Jason Reed (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)
399994 02: Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, visits the American military site at Kandahar Airport on January 23, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images)
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller (L), stood during the national anthem alongside Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Deputy Attorney General James Cole (C) during a farewell ceremony to Mueller's honors on August 1, 2013 in the Ministry of Justice. Mueller retires after twelve years as a director from the FBI. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (image credits should read SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images)
399994 01: Robert Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), welcomes US forces to the US military site on January 23, 2002 at Kandahar Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan. Mueller had lunch with FBI officials and Haji Gulali, commander of Kandahar region. (Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images)
UNITED STATES – JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller (center) talking with Chairman Pat Leahy (right) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hearing the Justice Commission of the Senate in Dirksen on monitoring the FBI. (Photo by Tom Williams / CQ Appeal)
UNITED STATES – JUNE 6: OVERVIEW OF COUNTERCORRORISM – Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Senate Justice Judge Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. , FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, before the hearing. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly / Getty Images)
"It will not be easy," said Rhode Island MP David Cicilline, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee. He added, "We just have to be very smart on how we use the time, and really give the lawyer time to tell the story."
Cicilline says he reads the report a second time thoroughly and with a view to what he wants to ask.
A Democrat official reported watching old videos during the reign of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in which Müller testified as FBI director. They want to see how he behaves, said the adjutant, and they have noticed that he only gives minimal comments when answering questions. The adjutant was not authorized to discuss the internal arrangements for the hearing and asked for anonymity.
The Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday evening to discuss the strategy for questioning Müller and other topics. How exactly the hearing will be structured is still under negotiation, members said when they came out, but Democrats are expected to split the questions in a methodical way.
Among the topics for discussion when the hearing approaches: Should they work through the report step by step, or paint a general picture? Will each member be able to speak in the short amount of time it has? And what can they do to best crystallize the results of a report that they believe has not been read or picked up by the Americans?
New Yorker MEP Hakeem Jeffries, a panel member, said before the meeting that he expected to discuss it. What team strategy will be when we begin an intensive phase of preparation.
Republicans seem to have been less concerned about it, with Ohio MP Steve Chabot, a high-ranking GOP justice official, saying he has not yet started the preparation and expects little news from the event, he said, "Democrats" are just pursuing their tails "and aiming to appease basic voters who want to see the majority of the Democrat House take over the president.
" It's possible that some people might change their minds, but overall, I think that's it not so likely, "said Chabot.
The Justice Committee is expected to focus on the second half of Müller's report, which describes several episodes in which Trump attempted to influence the investigation, Mueller said can not exonerate the President for obstructing the judiciary.
The Secret Service Panel of the House, which is in second place, will be relegated f focus on the first half of the report, which describes Russia's interference in the presidential election. Mueller said there was not enough evidence to justify a plot between Russia and the Trump campaign, but he described several contacts between them and the willingness of the Trump campaign to accept Russian aid. It is expected that Müller's deputy – James Quarles and Aaron Zebley – to meet with the committees in separate closed sessions after Müller's public hearing. However, this could be in jeopardy as the Ministry of Justice has pushed back the agreement, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. They asked for anonymity to discuss the private conversations.
The Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Said on Tuesday he would not discuss the details of these negotiations, but the MPs would have agreed and "I have no reason to believe that this will be fruitless will be."
One issue that judicial officials are likely to focus on is whether Muller will specify whether Trump would have been charged with a crime if he were not president. Jeffries said the answer could "make it clear why a law enforcement or prosecution recommendation was not included in the report."
Mueller said at a press conference in May that a president's charge of a crime was "not an option." because of the long-standing policy of the Ministry of Justice. But the Democrats want to know more about how he made that decision and when.
It is unclear whether Müller will go beyond his previous comments. Mueller, who refused to testify, was determined to stick to what is already in the report.
Some lawmakers say that this is okay and they only want to reach a wider audience of Americans they fear are hiring them.
"This is not a question of creating a narrative," said Florida MP Ted Deutch, another Democrat in the Justice Committee. "The story is already out there, it just highlights what's already there."
Associate Press Writer Michael Balsamo has contributed to this report.
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