Robert De Niro Urges Mueller to Testify in Open Letter: "The Country Needs Your Voice"

Robert De Niro at Carousel of Hope Ball - H Getty 2018
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The actor, who frequently plays the former Special Counsel on NBC's 'Saturday Night Live,' wrote to Mueller in The New York Times that he must give his 400-page report "authority and clarity."

Robert De Niro is pushing back against Robert Mueller's statement that his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is his "testimony" to Congress in an open letter in The New York Times.

On Wednesday, the outspoken actor, who frequently plays Mueller on NBC's Saturday Night Live, wrote to the former Special Counsel to tell him "the country needs your voice. Your actual voice." The actor urged him to testify before Congress in order to counter his 400-page so-called Mueller report from being misinterpreted and spun by President Donald Trump in idiosyncratic tweets. "This is the report your country asked you to do, and now you must give it authority and clarity without, if I may use the term, obstruction," he wrote.

De Niro began the letter by explaining that in his preparation to play Mueller, he learned a lot about the lawyer's background and character and came to admire his persistence and silence in the face of immense public pressure. Still, he asserted, "[w]hile I and so many Americans have admired your quiet, confident, dignified response in ignoring that assault, it allowed the administration to use its own voice to control the narrative." De Niro later added, "Say what you will about the president — and I have — when it comes to that lying, exaggerating, bullying thing, no one can touch him."

The actor then contended that Mueller needs to answer questions about his report in part due to the fact that Trump has changed the one of public rhetoric. "In your news conference, you said that your investigation’s work 'speaks for itself.' It doesn’t," De Niro wrote. "It may speak for itself to lawyers and lawmakers who have the patience and obligation to read through the more than 400 pages of carefully chosen words and nuanced conclusions (with all due respect, as good a read as it is, you’re no Stephen King)."

Plainspoken answers to simple questions bring more clarity than a government report does, De Niro said — something he argued Mueller should know, given how many interviews he conducted for the report. "We’ve learned our lesson about what can happen to the perception of your work when interpreted in rabid tweets by the president, dissected by pundits all over the map, trumpeted in bizarre terms by the president’s absurd personal lawyer and distorted by the attorney general," the actor wrote. "Your life has been a shining example of bravely and selflessly doing things for the good of our country. I urge you to leave your comfort zone and do that again."

Early Wednesday, in his first public appearance about his report, the former special counsel said that he was legally unable to indict a sitting president but fell short of clearing Trump of any wrongdoing. If Mueller could have dismissed allegations about obstruction of justice on Trump's part, "we would have said so," he said. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime."

Mueller then proceeded to say that the report was "my testimony" and that he would not be commenting beyond the purview of the report, and suggested that Congress decide on its own what to do about the president without calling him in to answer questions.

Aside from his satirical work on SNL, De Niro has criticized Trump regularly in public appearances, calling for the president to serve jail time and dubbing him "our lowlife-in-chief" and "a total loser." Trump has, in turn, tweeted that De Niro is "a very low IQ individual," among other negative remarks.