President Trump says Mueller should not testify to Congress

Posted at 6:57 PM, May 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-05 21:57:14-04

President Donald Trump said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller should not testify to Congress on his report on Trump and Russia, claiming Democrats only want him to appear because his probe didn’t reach the conclusions they wanted.

“Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion?” Trump tweeted. “There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”

The statement marks a change for Trump, who said as recently as Friday that it would be up to Attorney General William Barr whether Mueller testifies to Congress. Barr, meanwhile, said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he would have no objection to the special counsel testifying.

The president’s tweets on Sunday come as the House Judiciary Committee seeks to have Mueller testify before the panel by mid-month. Trump’s statement also comes as 60 percent of Americans say he has been dishonest in the Russia investigation, while only a third believe Mueller’s report clears the president of wrongdoing, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

House Judiciary Committee member David Cicilline said Sunday that the panel is shooting for Mueller to testify on May 15.

“We hope the special counsel will appear,” Cicilline, D-R.I., said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him.”

Although Cicilline initially told the program that the committee and Mueller had agreed to the “tentative date,” the congressman later backtracked on Twitter, saying that “nothing has been agreed to yet. That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it.”

Cicilline also said on the program that there was no “absolute guarantee” that Mueller would appear for testimony.

“The White House has so far indicated that they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller’s attempts to testify,” he said. “We hope that won’t change.”

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment to NBC News about a date for testimony.

Daniel Schwarz, director of strategic communications for the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News on Sunday, “We are still working on a date.”

Democratic calls for Mueller to testify publicly about his nearly two-year investigation have intensified since Barr released his initial summary of the special counsel’s report in late March and made a redacted version of the report public weeks later.

Democrats have accused Barr of misleading Congress about Mueller’s criticism in a letter to the attorney general that his initial four-page description of the special counsel’s conclusions had caused public confusion and did not fully capture his report’s “context, nature and substance.”

Responding to Trump’s tweets, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday that Mueller would testify before Congress, as would former White House counsel Don McGahn, whose testimony Trump also opposes.

“Barr’s testimony alone — designed to protect Trump — isn’t going to cut it,” Schiff tweeted. “They will testify. The American people deserve the truth.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also responded, saying the president is “trying to silence Mueller.”

“For a man who constantly proclaims his innocence, @realDonaldTrump is acting awfully guilty,” Schumer wrote. “Mueller must testify publicly before Congress.”

The Democratic chairs of several congressional oversight committees have ramped up their investigations into Trump’s businesses and his administration in the wake of Mueller’s report. Trump vowed last month that he would fight the committees’ subpoenas of administration officials.

Mueller investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian officials in that effort and whether Trump obstructed justice as the investigation proceeded.

Although Barr determined that Trump did not obstruct justice, Mueller wrote that his report did not exonerate the president on that issue. Mueller also wrote that the evidence his team collected was not sufficient to establish or sustain a finding of criminal conspiracy between Trump associates and Russia.