Earlier today, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline announced that special counsel Robert Mueller would testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15. (Note, there has been some walk back from this firm date, see below:)
Just to clarify: we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed to yet. That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it. Sorry for the confusion. https://t.co/FfR8ReLmkp
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) May 5, 2019
This, as surely as night follows day, caught the attention of President Trump.
….to testify. Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2019
And it drew the predictable reaction
Today, Trump announced he is opposed to Mueller testifying before Congress. Before the American people.
He also opposes letting McGahn appear.
Barr’s testimony alone — designed to protect Trump — isn’t going to cut it.
They will testify. The American people deserve the truth.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 5, 2019
Trump just said on Friday that it's up to A.G. Barr whether or not Mueller should testify. Now, in his new tweet, he makes it clear that he actually doesn't want Mueller to testify.
If the report shows what Trump claims it shows, then why would he not want Mueller to testify? pic.twitter.com/0YJhRWi9ZK
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 5, 2019
(It’s always amusing when people try to use something Trump has said in the past as evidence of something other than Trump said it in the past.)
Trump has no legal basis to block Mueller’s testimony.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 5, 2019
Only a dictator would have power to stop someone in Mueller’s position from testifying to a duly authorized legislative or parliamentary inquiry into the leader’s wrongdoing. And only a dictator with a lot to hide would try to invoke such power. https://t.co/3QDa2C1eJT
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) May 5, 2019
This is how the New York Times sees it:
That puts the president at odds with the Democrats, and with his own attorney general, William P. Barr.
Actually, Barr’s comment doesn’t “put him a odds” with Trump. Barr never says Mueller will testify, only that he has no objections to it. That does not imply that he feels so strongly on the subject that he cares enough to fight about it.
Whether or not the House has the legal authority to subpoena a temp employee and have them testify on the deliberative process in a particular situation, such as the Mueller report, rather than as part of an impeachment hearing is far from settled. If the administration decided to litigate the issue, it would be some number of months, if not years, before the process played itself out and the House would always run the risk of damaging its authority if the Supreme Court decided that this was a political squabble and not a legal issue or that the House had overreached in demanding testimony on a deliberative and pre-decisional process.
In reality, if Mueller wants to testify on May 15, it is unlikely that anyone is going to care. Trump’s tweet seems like more of his trademark trolling designed to stir the pot and provoke a spittle-flinging rage. And it looks like it will work.