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Here's what to expect from Robert Mueller on Wednesday

Image: Senate Judiciary Committee
Then FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2013. Copyright Tom Williams CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file
Copyright Tom Williams CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — It was three months and seemingly hundreds of new cycles ago when the full 448-page Mueller report was released to the American public.

So with Mueller testifying before Congress on Wednesday, here's a refresher of what's in the report and what the former special counsel might say about it — and might not.

  1. The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election, with the Russians believing they would benefit from a Trump presidency, and with the Trump campaign expecting it would benefit electorally from the Russian efforts.
  2. The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign "conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
  3. The investigation did establish that several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to Mueller and Congress, harming the investigation.
  4. Trump took numerous actions - asking his White House counsel to remove Mueller, firing FBI Director James Comey, not telling the truth about that 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer - that were meant to impede the investigation into Russia's interference.
  5. Mueller's investigation did NOT conclude that Trump committed a crime of obstruction of justice. But it also didn't exonerate him.
  6. And it seemed to leave the question of obstruction of justice to Congress: "The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our conyepstitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."

Democrats don't believe that Mueller's testimony before Congress — three hours before the House Judiciary Committee and two more hours in front of the House Intelligence Committee — will reveal new dramatic information, NBC's Alex Moe reports.

But they hope it helps tell a story that still hasn't penetrated to a good chunk of the public.

As a Democratic aide told Moe, the Dem-led committees are anticipating that "not everybody is reading the book" — referring to Mueller's report — "but people will watch the movie."

And Trump will be watching, of course

"The White House and President Donald Trump's re-election campaign plan to tune in Wednesday to watch former special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony without a coordinated plan to counter the appearance ahead of time, according to multiple officials involved in those discussions," NBC's Monica Alba and Kristen Welker report.

And there's plenty of "executive time" set aside for Wednesday.

"The president himself is expected to monitor the hearings from the White House as Mueller answers questions about the Russia investigation, according to campaign aides, much like he has done with similar events in the past," Alba and Welker add.

"His schedule for that day only includes a routine lunch with the vice president, and aides point to his morning 'executive time' as a natural window for Trump to take in snippets of the coverage."

Deal or no deal?

The Washington Post says the Trump administration and congressional Democrats are trying to "hammer out the final details of a sweeping budget and debt deal that are unlikely to include many — if any — actual spending cuts, even as the debt limit is lifted for two years, people familiar with the talks said."

"The agreement appeared likely to mark a retreat for White House officials who had demanded major spending cuts in exchange for a new budget deal."

But the question is whether a deal can be 100 percent reached.

"[T]he process remained in limbo while negotiators awaited final approval late Sunday from President Trump.

2020 Vision: Can Beto bounce back?

After a poorly received debate performance and a woeful fundraising quarter, Beto O'Rourke tells NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald not to count him out.

"If you remember in Texas, it didn't happen overnight," O'Rourke said. "It was a really long process that was against the odds, very often counted down and out."


More: "I think it's a really small minority of Americans who have made up their mind and maybe a relatively small minority of Americans who are paying close attention."

And: "O'Rourke is still drawing relatively large crowds in Iowa — some 125 at Sioux City and another 100-plus in Sioux Center this weekend — and his campaign just opened 11 new field offices in the state, where he's well on his way to visiting all 99 counties."

On the campaign trail today: Kirsten Gillibrand holds a digital town hall from New York… John Hickenlooper launches a "Winnebago Tour" in Iowa… Beto O'Rourke holds a "Bands with Beto" event in New York City… And Jay Inslee does a town hall with SoCal Democrats in Los Angeles.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 65 percent

Sixty-five percent.


That's the share of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who say they have either an excellent (23 percent) or good (42 percent) impression of the party's candidates for president, per a new Pew Research Center study.

That's improved from 2016 — when 51 percent of Democrats said the same - but very similar to this time during the 2008 Democratic primary.

The Lid: Stage whispers

Don't miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at what to expect in the second set of Democratic primary debates next week.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

The one Democrat who could get Trump's state tax recordsdoesn't want to do it.(And, p.s. he's getting a primary challenge.)


An Illinois GOP group has deleted a Facebook post depicting four Democratic congresswomen as the "Jihad Squad."

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says he won't resign but that he won't run for reelection. (And more and more news outlets in Puerto Rico are speaking up about it.)

And three 2020 Democratshave added pronouns to their bios.

Trump agenda: Back to the Middle East

Jared Kushneris headed backto the Middle East.


2020: Bernie vs. Warren

The Washington Post looks at the similarities — and differences — between Warren and Sanders.

Cory Booker saysTrump is "worse than a racist."

The AP looks atBernie Sanders' upbringing in Brooklyn.

Democrats in key downballot races are trying to buck the party's leftward trend.

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