It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here.
Justice Department officials have communicated to Robert Mueller that the department expects him to limit his congressional testimony this week to the public findings of his 448-page report, according to one current and one former U.S. official familiar with the preparations.
In extensive discussions since the former special counsel was subpoenaed on June 25 to testify, department officials have emphasized that they consider any evidence he gathered throughout the course of his investigation to be “presumptively privileged” and shielded from public disclosure.
The Justice Department is “taking the position that anything outside the written pages of the report are things about which presidential privilege hasn’t been waived,” the former U.S. official said.
The White House and the Justice Department, however, have signaled they don’t intend to place lawyers in the room during Mueller’s highly anticipated testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday.
Without a presence at the hearing, administration officials would have little recourse to prevent Mueller from going off-script and revealing details of his investigation that the White House considers off-limits. They are poised instead to rely on Mueller to self-police his remarks, indicating that they are confident the former special counsel will stick to carefully planned comments that mirror the already disclosed findings of his investigation.
Not that Mr. Mueller has been a blabbermouth anyway, this ham-handed attempt by the White House to limit the testimony of a witness is rather telling in itself: what do they think he’s going to talk about other than what’s in the report?
There are two points to ponder here. First, as Josh Marshall notes, it’s outrageous that the DOJ is trying to limit the investigation by a co-equal branch of government.
Barr is saying, on no credible legal basis, that Congress has no right to know anything about an investigation of the President – one which concluded with a report that basically invited an impeachment inquiry – other than what was released in the public report.
Second, if as the Trump people and his thumbs claim there’s no there there, why are they making such a big stink about keeping Mr. Mueller from testifying? Let him talk and show the world that there’s nothing to all the hoopla and it’s all fake news. Trying to silence or limit him only makes it more likely that there’s something to hide.