Robert Mueller’s reluctance to say anything ‘political’ has his House testimony deadlocked

PBS NewsHour / YouTube What Robert Mueller brings to the...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

Getting Robert Mueller to appear for testimony before House committees has proved to be difficult. Despite claims from both the White House and Department of Justice that they would allow Mueller to testify, reaching an agreement with Mueller has proved problematic as even at this point, the special counsel seems to be insisting that most of his testimony happen behind closed doors.

Ever since the special counsel’s report on the 2016 election appeared, Democrats in the House have been seeking to get Robert Mueller in to testify in person. As more information has come out revealing just how Attorney General William Barr distorted the contents of the report to protect Trump, that desire has only increased. And with what seems to be a daily drumbeat of new information about ways that Donald Trump obstructed both that investigation and congressional oversight, the need for Mueller’s testimony has grown.

Democrats have not subpoenaed Mueller. Negotiations about his testimony have apparently been delayed several times, but at this point his appearance is still voluntary. However, The Washington Post reports that Mueller is reluctant to say anything in public that isn’t already in the public sections of the report. That includes saying anything about the why he failed to bring charges of obstruction, or whether he thinks some of Trump’s actions constitute a crime. Mueller may be willing to address these questions behind closed doors, but Democrats would clearly like to have those statements on the public record so that Republicans can’t continue the “no collusion, no obstruction” mantra that’s already contradicted by the actual report.

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler insists to CNN that the House will hear from Mueller. But the special counsel is so insistent on not testifying to anything not already on the page, it’s unclear that any public testimony would result in any new information. If anyone wants to learn anything about the reasoning of the report, or interactions between Mueller and Barr, that may have to happen behind closed doors.

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