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House Dem clarifies comments on Mueller, Judiciary Committee reaching 'tentative date' for special counsel to testify

Posted: 10:39 AM, May 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-05 17:28:38Z
Mueller, Judiciary Committee reach deal for special counsel to testify on May 15, House Democrat says

House Judiciary member David Cicilline said Sunday that the committee has reached a "tentative date" of May 15 for Mueller to testify, though he later clarified that the date for Mueller's appearance had not yet been finalized.

Cicilline told "Fox News Sunday" that "a tentative date has been set of May 15 and we hope the Special Counsel will appear. We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him." He then walked back those comments.

"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," Cicilline tweeted later Sunday.

In his interview with "Fox News Sunday," Cicilline said the agreement was still tentative because "the representative for the Special Counsel has" signed off, "but obviously until the day comes, we never have an absolute guarantee."

He added, "The White House has so far indicated they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller's attempts to testify."

Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer picked up on the misstatement at a news conference Sunday saying, "I heard this morning that Mueller is testifying on the 15th. I think it's imperative for Mueller to testify. I think the only restraints on what he says is what he thinks he can't say, no one else should impose restraints. We ought to hear the full testimony from Mueller. Given the fact that Barr does not seem to be a neutral observer here, Mueller's testimony is all the more important. "

Schumer said that he hopes Barr will hand over the full Mueller report to Congress.

"I hope he does," he said. "I mean, it would be very good to avoid any kind of constitutional clash and have him turn over the report. That's the right thing to do."

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said last week that May 15 was the committee's target date for Mueller to testify, but it has not yet been finalized.

Democrats have been working to hear directly from Mueller after Attorney General William Barr came under fire for mischaracterizing parts of the Mueller report, and a letter from Mueller to the attorney general surfaced late last week suggesting Barr had misled Congress.

Mueller and Barr later spoke on the phone, Justice Department officials told CNN, with the special counsel asserting that while Barr's letter to Congress summarizing the report was not wrong, it did not characterize the issue of potential obstruction of justice as effectively as the report. The attorney general later called the letter from Mueller "a bit snitty" while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Barr also appeared to support Mueller testifying before Congress during his Senate questioning. He hinted at a Mueller appearance when asked by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar whether the special counsel reviewed the President's tax returns or Trump Organization financial statements, saying he didn't know but could find the answer.

"Or you could ask Bob Mueller when he comes here," Barr added.