The Slatest

Trump Changes His Mind, Doesn’t Think Mueller Should Testify

Trump seated in the Oval Office.
President Donald Trump talks to reporters at the White House on May 3.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee member David Cicilline said on Fox News Sunday that the committee had decided on May 15 as a “tentative date” for special counsel Robert Mueller to testify about his investigation. Cicilline claimed on the program that a representative for Mueller had preliminarily agreed to the date, adding, “We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him.”

The congressman sent out a tweet later in the day reading, “Just to clarify: we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed to yet. That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it. Sorry for the confusion.” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler also said last week that the committee was aiming to hold the hearing on May 15.

Amid the confusion, Trump sent out a string of condemnatory tweets about the investigation and Congress on Sunday that included the lines, “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” This was an abrupt reversal for the president who, when asked by reporters on Friday whether Mueller should testify, said, “I don’t know. That’s up to our attorney general, who I think has done a fantastic job.” Attorney General William Barr previously told Congress that he has no problem with Mueller testifying.

Cicilline also said on Fox News Sunday that the White House “has so far indicated they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller’s attempts to testify.”

Testimony from Mueller could provide clarifying information about the report’s findings and its handling by the Justice Department. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the investigation concluded there was “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” even though Mueller outlined 10 episodes of potential obstruction in the report. Many have also accused Barr of misrepresenting the contents of the report in the four-page summary he wrote prior to its release, and House Judiciary Democrats surfaced a letter last week that Mueller sent to the attorney general, which read, in part: “The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”

Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mueller said in a subsequent phone call that he did not think the summary was inaccurate, but was rather objecting to the media’s coverage of it. Sen. Lindsey Graham sent a letter to Mueller on Friday ostensibly inviting him to testify before the Senate as well; it read, in part, “Please inform the Committee if you would like to provide testimony regarding any misrepresentation by the Attorney General of the substance of the phone call.”