Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to testify on Wednesday, July 24, before House committees for a total of five hours of open sessions. The instructions from the Department of Justice and Attorney General Barr, which can only be described as bizarre, might seem comical if not for the oddity of the whole situation.
We know that the Trump administration is nervous on all sorts of fronts about what might be disclosed here or in other venues. For example, Tuesday morning, President Trump asked his personal attorney to file a lawsuit to try to block New York from releasing Trump’s tax returns to Congress.
On July 22, 2019, in response to a request from Mueller to the DOJ, they notified Mueller and made it clear he must stick to the contents of the Mueller Report:
As the Attorney General has repeatedly stated, the decision to testify before Congress is yours to make in this case, but the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances. The Department generally does not permit prosecutors such as you to appear and testify before Congress regarding their investigative and prosecutorial activity. In addition, the Department already has taken extraordinary steps to make almost your entire report, as well as a substantial volume of your underlying investigative material, available to the committees. Should you testify, the Department understands that testimony regarding the work of the Special Counsel’s Office will be governed by the terms you outlined on May 29 – specifically, that the information you discuss during your testimony appears in, and does “not go beyond,” the public version of your March 22, 2019 report to the Attorney General or your May 29 public statement.
We will see what Mueller says and how he interprets this mandate or instruction. In a second odd twist, Mueller announced that his chief of staff will appear with him for his congressional testimony. It is not clear what Congress will do with this request. We should not see this testimony as anything new being learned but hopefully it gives some clarity to what the report is and what it is not, and why the decisions that were made were made. Stay tuned for it is literally Mueller Time.