Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday asserted that instructions from the Justice Department to Robert Mueller regarding the scope of his upcoming congressional testimony came at the former special counsel’s request.
“They asked us for guidance in writing to explain or to tell them what our position was, so we responded in writing,” Barr told reporters in New York. “The department sent the guidance they had requested.”
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Mueller is scheduled to appear Wednesday on Capitol Hill for a pair of highly anticipated hearings before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
But DOJ officials communicated to Mueller on Monday that the department expects his public testimony to stay within the parameters of his 448-page report detailing the findings of his 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential obstruction of justice by Trump.
The Justice Department considers any evidence gathered throughout the course of Mueller’s probe to be “presumptively privileged,” POLITICO reported.
Mueller previously indicated during a May news conference that he did not intend to testify about materials the special counsel’s office had not already made public in the report, telling members of the media: “We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. The report is my testimony.”
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) earlier Tuesday predicted the DOJ directive would have no great consequence on Mueller’s testimony before the panels, as Democratic lawmakers have “been operating under the assumption that he’ll do essentially what he said — he’ll stay more or less within the bounds of the report.”
But Nadler still slammed Barr’s Justice Department as “incredibly arrogant” for issuing the guidance to Mueller, characterizing the move to CNN as “a part of the ongoing cover-up by the administration to keep information away from the American people.”
Asked about Nadler’s remarks Tuesday, Barr retorted: “He was misinformed as to the facts.”