In a photo taken Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
I’m getting a sneaking suspicion the Democrats may not really want Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before Congress, despite their demands to the contrary.
Here’s why: Now that President Trump has exerted executive privilege on the full Mueller report, Nadler has publicly stated he is “worried” this may delay Mueller’s testimony because Mueller is still an employee of the Justice Department. Once Mueller resigns — and Nadler says he’s not sure when that might be but he believes it’s imminent — Mueller becomes a private citizen and no one can stop him from testifying.
“I think the president will try to stop Robert Mueller [from testifying] — whether he will succeed is another question,” Nadler said, adding he’s “less confident” than he was before that Mueller will testify.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that she was not aware of any requests to block Mueller from testifying or keep him at DOJ longer now that Trump has asserted executive privilege.
“The president’s made his feeling on that very clear and the way that we see that is that this is over and just because the Democrats didn’t like the results doesn’t mean they get to redo this process,” she told reporters.
The overt implication is, of course, that Trump asserted executive privilege to block Mueller because he’s worried Mueller might reveal some heretofore unrevealed collusion truth (yawn). And as many times as the White House explains that their claim of executive privilege is a result of Nadler’s own attempt to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt for not turning over the full, unredacted report — redactions, remember, that are required of him by law — it simply won’t sink in.
The Justice Department has argued that Nadler’s effort to compel production of the report would require Barr to break laws protecting the secrecy of grand jury evidence that Mueller gathered. The DOJ also said that Democrats have rushed to take punitive action against the Justice Department without good faith negotiations.
The escalation followed a day of negotiating between Nadler’s office and Justice Department officials. Democrats asked that all members of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees be granted access to a minimally redacted version of Mueller’s report, an increase from the 12 senior lawmakers currently allowed to view it.
But the Justice Department balked at the request, calling it “unreasonable” and suggesting such broad access for lawmakers could risk the disclosure of protected information.
But let’s face it, if the White House had quietly sat by and let Nadler hold Barr in contempt (which they’re working on as we speak), Nadler wouldn’t be able to use their reticence as an excuse for saying he’s worried Mueller may be blocked when, in fact, Mueller testifying is probably the last thing Nadler — or any Democrat — really wants.
Given that Mueller’s report found nothing indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — but did reveal quite a bit about potential spying on the Trump campaign by Democrat operatives which will likely lead to an investigation into the investigators — Nadler certainly knows any new easter eggs Mueller might reveal in testimony could damage his party before it ever damages team Trump.
And if he doesn’t know that, he should probably begin to really think about why Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has joined the cause of his colleague on the Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff in threatening “compulsory” action against the DOJ to force them to turn over all information related to the Mueller files.