With most Congressional Democrats still stunned from the anticlimatic publication of Mueller’s “Russiagate” report, which found that Trump did not collude with Russia, many have been desperate to hear Mueller’s side of the story perhaps in hopes that he will unveil some smoking gun in public (something he failed to do in his report) while the others have quietly turned on Mueller, asking why after a two year probe, he failed to put Trump behind bars.
And now, after the latest development in the never-ending Russia “witch hunt” to paraphrase the president, it won’t be long before virtually all Democrats are convinced that Mueller himself must also a Putin plant.
According to Bloomberg, which cites three people familiar with the special counsel’s position, Robert Mueller has balked at testifying publicly before Congress, pushing instead for a closed-door appearance in negotiations with House Democrats.
Why? Because Mueller, who was the center of a media and political circus for no less than two years has told the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee that – get this – he doesn’t want to be dragged into a political fight and that he’s hesitant to publicly discuss his final report. Among the options Mueller has raised is making a public statement before the committee questions him in private, the people said.
But why if he has nothing to hide, and if all the results of his multi-million probe were disclosed in his report?
As a reminder, the NYT and WaPo recently sparked more Russiagate drama, when they reported that Mueller had written AG William Barr to complain that he’s given summaries of the report’s findings that “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of his team’s work. A more detailed read of the report also revealed that Mueller did not actually have complaints about Barr’s representation of his lengthy report but was instead bashing the media – such as the NYT and WaPo.
As the WaPo reported earlier, Mueller III and House Democrats “have been unable to reach an agreement on how much of the special counsel’s expected congressional testimony would be public, and how much would take place in private, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The special counsel’s office, along with senior Justice Department officials, has been quietly negotiating with the House Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), has been eager to have Mueller testify as soon as possible.
Who is driving the dispute is a source of debate. Two people familiar with the matter said the Justice Department is deferring to Mueller, who would like for any discussions beyond the public contents of his report to be conducted in private. But another person said it is primarily the department, rather than Mueller himself, resisting a nationally televised hearing.
Needless to say, House Democrats – and Russiagate obsessed conspiracy theorists everywhere – want to press Mueller publicly about a host of issues, including whether he thought President Trump could or should be charged with obstruction if he were not the president, and whether Mueller agreed with Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the investigation’s findings.
With hundreds of former prosecutors – mostly Democrats – recently opining that Trump would have been charged with obstruction, based on the case Mueller detailed, Democrats are hoping that Mueller might say as much himself if pressed to testify. That, however, is proving problematic: one possibility, per the WaPo is that if Mueller felt a private allegation was unfair, “it seems unlikely he would be willing to publicly accuse the president of a crime at a congressional hearing.” That would only make Democrats even more livid with rage.
So far House Democrats have been unable to get any current government officials to publicly testify about Mueller’s findings, and the White House asserted executive privilege to fight a subpoena for the unredacted report and the underlying evidence.
And yet, the DOJ has repeatedly said that the assertion of executive privilege doesn’t prevent Mueller from testifying. While Trump has offered differing opinions on whether Mueller should testify, Barr has said he had no objections.
In other words, it is now Mueller himself that will now be blamed for his suspicious lack of willingness to cooperate and testify before the American public. Surely he must be hiding something, surely he must be a Russian agent, etc.