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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will make his much-hyped appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday, but neither party expects to learn anything new from Mueller's 5-plus hours of public testimony, according to conversations with more than a dozen members of Congress and staffers involved in the hearing preparations.

The bottom line: Each party sees the hearings as a political opportunity — whether it be Democrats trying to stoke support for impeachment or Republicans seeking to sow distrust in the Justice Department's Russia investigation.

What to expect: The House Intelligence Committee will focus on Volume 1: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, while the House Judiciary Committee will focus on Volume 2: possible instances of obstruction of justice by President Trump.

Democratic members on the committees, who have been thirsting for months to have Mueller testify publicly, told Axios they see the hearing as an opportunity for Mueller to educate the American public on the most damaging aspects of his report.

  • "The success will be in the TV ratings," Rep. Ro Khanna, who will not be questioning Mueller, said. "The more Americans that watch, the more successful it is."
  • "Most Americans haven't had a chance to read a 400-page report," House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff told Axios. "This will be the first time they hear from the man who did the investigation himself, not filtered through the misrepresentations of [Attorney General] Bill Barr or anybody else."
  • "My fantasy is when I get my five minutes, I'm just going to have him read certain excerpts from his report. And I think that will be very powerful," said Rep. Jackie Speier, a member of the Intel committee.

Why it matters: Roughly 90 Democrats publicly support impeaching Trump, and some lawmakers think that once Mueller opens his mouth, the percentage of Americans who support impeachment will spike.

The other side: GOP committee aides and key members —including Reps. Andy Biggs and Jim Jordan, both members of the Judiciary committee — told Axios that Republicans' biggest goal is pinpointing when Mueller knew there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and why he didn't let the public know sooner that the president wasn't a Manchurian candidate. (Mueller's report didn't establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.)

  • Republicans plan to question Mueller on the origins and integrity of his investigation. And they'll grill him about the anti-Trump sentiments of some FBI agents, specifically Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and why some texts on their work phones weren't preserved. (Note: The Justice Department's inspector general report found that their political biases did not compromise the FBI's work.)
  • One Republican committee aide said they'll also ask Mueller to identify who wrote the report, and how much of it was written by Andrew Weismann, a top prosecutor on Mueller's team who the aide called "a Clinton guy." (Weismann attended Hillary Clinton's election night party in 2016.)

"Republicans have been prepping for this hearing for weeks," said a GOP source familiar with the preparation, adding that some lawmakers have "spent more time on this than they have on anything else."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.