Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is hesitant about the former FBI director testifying publicly before Congress, CNN reports.
The special counsel’s office is apparently concerned that Mueller — who has spent the better part of the past two years in the shadows, investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, finding none — could “appear political” by giving a public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
Citing individuals briefed on the matter, CNN reports that the special counsel “has expressed the notion that Mueller does not want to appear political after staying behind the scenes for two years and not speaking as he conducted his investigation into President Donald Trump.”
Top Democrats, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, have vowed to do all in their power to make Mueller testify, pledging to subpoena the prosecutor if necessary. According to individuals familiar with the matter, Mueller would be willing to testify behind closed doors, which would likely not satisfy House Democrats, many of whom have pinned their hopes on the special counsel.
As The New York Times recently reported, House Democrats are not only “frustrated” with what they perceive to be Trump’s attempts to stonewall their investigations, they are also dissatisfied with the lack of impact that Mueller’s investigation has had on Trump’s presidency. Mueller failed to prove a Trump-Russia conspiracy, and refused to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.
The Democrats’ plan to “dramatize the special counsel’s damning but dense report on national television in their committees” appears to have fizzled out, according to The New York Times, which noted that the White House has been mostly successful in outwitting the opposition party in terms of spinning Mueller’s report.
Rep. Steve Cohen said he has drafted articles of impeachment and they're "ready to go." But he said he won't file them until the House hears from special counsel Robert Mueller. https://t.co/OQxWBx7fzt pic.twitter.com/NfqY5pTuI4
— POLITICO (@politico) May 21, 2019
Moreover, the Democrats are reportedly also worried about the fact that the American public appears to be losing interest in the Mueller report, which has — it seems — failed to meet expectations. Following the publication of Mueller’s report, the Democrats shifted their attention from conspiracy and collusion to obstruction, and now to getting Mueller to testify. However, the latter effort may prove fruitless.
President Trump’s allies have, meanwhile, signaled indifference about Mueller testifying before Congress. “It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify,” Attorney General William Barr said.
CNN has also revealed that Mueller’s reluctance to testify is “part of the hold up securing testimony” which, one could infer, makes it more difficult for House Democrats to allege that Trump allies are orchestrating a cover-up.
Can we still declare "COVER-UP/CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS" if it's coming from the "Special Counsel's team"? https://t.co/YBSrG6UlHe
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 21, 2019
It remains to be seen how these reported developments will influence the general sentiment in the party when it comes to beginning impeachment proceedings, but — as NPR reports — tensions are growing. Whether Mueller agrees to testify or not, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely remain under pressure.