Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Special counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify before Congress Wednesday, testimony that was nearly demanded by Democrats (they want to know once and for all if Mueller believes Trump obstructed justice) but ultimately welcomed by Republicans (because they can finally ask Mueller why he left so much information related to the Fusion GPS affair out of of his Russia collusion report).
No one should have expected the testimony to come without theatrics (DC is, after all, the Hollywood of the Eastern seaboard), and they have already begun, two days before Mueller sits down before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday.
The source of the drama is that Mueller has already indicated he will not go beyond the scope of his report in his testimony. This is apparently upsetting to Democrats so they got the word out via the always-friendly beltway media.
Politico reported Monday (in a piece that characterizes the situation like this: “The president has accused Democrats of trying to conduct a ‘do-over’ of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — a probe that he has falsely claimed ‘exonerates’ him.”) that negotiations for Mueller’s testimony have been shrouded in secrecy and there are concerns Democrats won’t get the answers they seek.
This led some left-leaning pundits to outright express worry the DOJ and AG Barr were attempting to “gag” Mueller, as Neal Katyal told MSNBC Monday afternoon.
But, as usual, all one has to do is read the actual letter Barr’s office sent to Mueller instructing him not to discuss redacted information or go outside the four walls of his report because to do so would violate executive privilege. The letter clearly states they are responding to Mueller, who requested information from the DOJ, presumably because they have the last word on the legality of his testimony relevant to the investigation, about what he could and could not discuss.
I write in response to your July 10, 2019 letter concerning the testimonial subpoenas you received from the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Your letter requests that the Department provide you with guidance concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with those subpoenas.
Democrats have an unnerving knack of turning their disappointment into conspiracy.