According to Attorney General William Barr, he is not going to prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from testifying before Congress. Which sounds great. Except that it seems to be completely theoretical, as the Department of Justice won’t agree to a date.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Barr denied he is “standing in the way” of Mueller’s testimony, saying that “It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify.” Barr has insisted on using the informal address of a nickname when it comes to Mueller, acting as if they are friends, even when he’s admitted that he’s failed to consult with the special counsel, complained that he’s not a “real” prosecutor, or argued that Mueller has no say in the fate of the report he produced.
But while Barr claims he’s not standing in the way, he does seems to be putting red X’s everywhere on Mueller’s calendar. Earlier it seemed that Mueller would appear before the House on May 15. That appearance never happened. Attempts to schedule another date have gone nowhere. NBC News reports that House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler has been trying to find a day on which Mueller can testify, but, “While Barr is saying what he is saying, we can’t get them to firm up a date.”
Considering that Barr made his statements after the Judiciary Committee voted to hold him in contempt, and after the White House issued a letter informing Nadler not only that it was going to refuse any request for information, but that the Congress had no authority to even conduct an investigation, it would almost seem that Barr’s statement wasn’t all that serious. And he is quite the joker. On Wednesday, Barr laughed about the contempt citation, and, on meeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked if she had “brought any handcuffs.” Which he apparently found hilarious.
Saying that he’s not blocking Mueller’s testimony, but refusing to set a date for that testimony, is just another way of blocking Mueller’s testimony. Only this time, Barr is, once again, doing it in a way that allows him to feign innocence while winking at his Republican audience and giving Republicans in the House a new way to beat their chests should Democrats try to act. “Mueller’s free to testify someday” is certainly a joke. But not a very funny one.