House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThe Hill’s Morning Report – Can Barr and House Dems avert contempt clash? CNN, Fox, MSNBC air split-screens of Nadler and empty chair for Barr Any infrastructure program will be swallowed by the swamp MORE (D-N.Y) said Friday that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE will not be testifying before his panel next week.
Nadler told reporters that the committee is still negotiating over his testimony with the Justice Department and Mueller but expects the special counsel to appear.
“It won’t be next week. We’re negotiating now,” Nadler said. “We’re talking with him and the Justice Department.”
Nadler did not give a specific reason for why Mueller would not testify next week, telling reporters it “just hasn’t developed.”
“He will come at some point. If it’s necessary, we will subpoena him and he will come,” Nadler said later.
The Judiciary Committee chairman declined to characterize negotiations over the special counsel’s testimony. Nadler said he hoped the committee would not need to resort to subpoenaing Mueller, but did not rule it out.
Democrats originally sought to have Mueller testify on May 15.
Nadler’s remarks came days after the committee voted along party lines to recommend Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGiuliani traveling to Ukraine to push for probes that could be ‘very helpful’ to Trump Comey: It ‘sure looks like’ evidence is there to prosecute Trump Fox’s Napolitano slams Barr memo: ‘It was dumb and insulting’ MORE be held in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena for the special counsel’s full report and underlying evidence.
Democrats, who have been critical of Barr’s handling of Mueller’s report, are eager to question the special counsel on his investigation and, particularly, on his inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Comey after CNN town hall: ‘He brought the FBI down’ White House says US, China trade talks to continue Friday Giuliani traveling to Ukraine to push for probes that could be ‘very helpful’ to Trump MORE.
Barr has repeatedly said he does not object to Mueller testifying, and Trump has left the decision up to the attorney general — though the president voiced objection to Mueller’s public appearance over the weekend when he wrote on Twitter that the special counsel “should not testify.”
Mueller is still an employee of the Justice Department, meaning that Barr could instruct him not to testify or otherwise delay his testimony. Congress could then subpoena him to appear. Mueller is expected to vacate his position in the coming days, though the exact date of his departure is not known.
Mueller’s testimony promises plenty of drama. Mueller has been silent throughout his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and his appearance would present lawmakers with the rare opportunity to question the special counsel on his findings.
Mueller ultimately did not establish that members of Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia, and did not make a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice in his actions related to the investigation. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein leaves Justice after eventful tenure Barr cracks joke about contempt vote: ‘This must be a record’ Top Dem on Mueller findings: ‘This is bigger than Watergate was’ MORE reviewed the evidence Mueller collected and deemed it insufficient to accuse Trump of obstruction.
The appetite for Mueller’s testimony has increased in recent weeks, after a letter surfaced from late March revealing he objected to Barr’s memo stating his bottom line conclusions, which was issued three weeks before the attorney general released Mueller’s redacted report.
Mueller wrote in the March 27 letter that Barr’s four-page memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the investigation’s conclusions and resulted in “public confusion” about its results.
Barr later told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the two spoke after he received the letter. He said Mueller told him the memo did not mischaracterize the findings but that he was unhappy with the media coverage of it and believed releasing more from the report would provide more context.
Barr was initially scheduled to appear before Nadler’s panel last week for testimony on Mueller’s investigation and report; however, he declined to show up after Democrats demanded committee counsels question him — something the Justice Department criticized as “unprecedented” and “inappropriate.”
–Updated at 1:20 p.m.