WASHINGTON — The American people will hear directly from Special Counsel Robert Mueller about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The question is when.
So says Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) anyway. On Sunday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee went on ABC’s This Week and told host George Stephanopoulos that Mueller will eventually testify before Congress about his 22-month probe and the 448-page final report he and his team produced. According to Schiff and other congressional Democrats, the need to hear from Mueller himself about his findings on potential obstruction of justice by President Trump has only grown after Attorney General William Barr’s repeated attempts to spin and mislead about the Mueller report’s contents.
“The American people have a right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say, and we now know we certainly can’t rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions,” Schiff said. “So he is going to testify.”
At one point, Congress had set a tentative date of May 15th for Mueller to testify. But that timing has since changed, and it’s unclear when Mueller will appear before one or several House committees. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Friday that Mueller wouldn’t testify this week. Nadler said his committee would use subpoena power to compel Mueller to appear before Congress if necessary.
If and when Mueller does testify, members of Congress could press him on a number of lingering questions that emerged from his voluminous report. Why did he decline to recommend indicting Trump for committing obstruction of justice? Was it because he didn’t think the president had potentially committed a crime, or was he adhering to the Justice Department’s legal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted? Why did the many contacts between Russian individuals and organizations and the Trump campaign not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy? Why did Paul Manafort allegedly giving campaign polling data to his business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, a man with ties to Russian intelligence, not constitute conspiracy? Why did one of his attorneys say the Manafort-Kilimnik episode went “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating”? The administration has said Trump fully cooperated with the investigation. Is that accurate?
Trump initially said he would defer to Attorney General Barr about whether to allow Mueller to testify, then reversed himself and insisted that Mueller “should not testify.”
….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
During his appearance on This Week, Schiff went on to say that House Democrats are looking at whether to fine Trump officials who were refusing to cooperate in any way with the ongoing investigations into the administration.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says House Democrats are considering fines on Trump administration officials in order to enforce contempt actions: "I think if you fine someone $25,000 a day … until they comply, it gets their attention" https://t.co/s5XgPCmrVq pic.twitter.com/9WJXVBzoCU
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 12, 2019
Though Schiff sounds confident about Mueller testifying, it’s far from guaranteed to happen. The Trump administration has stonewalled Democrats’ requests for documents and testimony on practically every matter since control of the House changed parties in January. The Trump Justice Department will almost surely fight Schiff and Nadler on their demand to have Mueller testify, teeing up yet another battle between the executive and legislative branches that could be headed for court.