This evening House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler made news when he appeared on MSNBC and suggested that Robert Mueller wants to merely make his opening statement in public, before testifying in private. The thing is, if you’ve been reading Palmer Report this week, you know that this is not news – it’s a two day old story – and suffice it to say that it’s suspect at best.
On Tuesday, CNN reported this on its website: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has expressed reluctance to him testifying publicly in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to sources familiar with the matter.” As we explained at the time, this sounded incredibly suspicious. If you parse this sentence, it’s not saying that Mueller is reluctant to testify in public; it says his team is reluctant for him to do so. It also makes clear that these team members who feel this way aren’t even the source; someone “familiar with” Mueller’s team members is the source. What kind of crap is that? We were left to wonder if this even came from Mueller’s team at all, and if perhaps some Trump-loyal elements in the DOJ were leaking something false in the hope of muddying the waters before Mueller testifies.
This brings us to tonight. Chairman Nadler didn’t specify if he was revealing something that he learned directly from Robert Mueller and his team, or if he was merely referencing the above CNN report. Either way, no one on MSNBC this evening seemed to be aware of the earlier CNN report – which is understandable given the chaotic nature of the news cycle this week – and so everyone on MSNBC interpreted Nadler’s words as official announcement, and thus treated it as breaking news.
Jerry Nadler is probably going to need to clarify if he was quoting Mueller and his team, or if he was quoting the earlier CNN report. The thing is, we can’t figure out why Mueller would want to testify in private. If his concern is that the Trump-loyal Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are going to try to falsely scandalize him with their questions, that would only get worse if it’s done behind closed doors – because then the Republicans would simply turn around and leak fake things about what Mueller said. Mueller has to be smarter than to walk into that kind of trap, right?
In any case, the House Democrats aren’t going to settle for Robert Mueller testifying in private. So if this is a real request on Mueller’s part, it’ll likely get quashed. The Democrats have been patiently waiting for Mueller to testify, ostensibly while he runs around and uses things like the Michael Flynn filing to force key redacted portions of his report into public view so he can testify about them. If Mueller does insist on testifying in private, look for Nadler to subpoena him to testify in public. Mueller is no Don McGahn; he’ll honor such a subpoena, even if he doesn’t want to.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report