Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, walked back his statement from earlier Sunday claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller had agreed to the “tentative date” of May 15 to testify before the panel.
Cicilline, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” said representatives for Mueller had agreed to the committee’s proposed date, but warned there’s no “absolute guarantee” that the former FBI chief would show up to testify.
“Just to clarify,” Cicilline tweeted hours after his Fox News interview, “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.”
Democrats have been angling for Mueller to testify before congressional committees in the wake of his expansive investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice as the probe proceeded.
Attorney General William Barr’s finding that Trump did not obstruct justice coupled with his decision to release a redacted version of Mueller’s nearly 450-page report stoked concerns among Democrats who fear the Trump-appointed Justice Department head is playing defense for the president.
“We hope the special counsel will appear,” Cicilline told Fox News. “We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him. ... The White House has so far indicated that they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller’s attempts to testify. We hope that won’t change.”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Senate Democrats grilled Barr during a hearing Wednesday over his handling of the Mueller report. Last week, news broke that Mueller had written Barr a letter on March 27 appearing to complain that the attorney general had mischaracterized his report’s findings.
But Barr claimed Mueller was actually upset over media coverage of his report ― not the attorney general’s description of its findings. The discrepancy would almost certainly be discussed during a House Judiciary Committee hearing with Mueller.
Barr snubbed a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Thursday over objections to the questioning format. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the committee, had wanted the traditional round of questioning by committee members to be followed by questions from committee counsels on both sides.
Nadler also wanted the option of a closed-door session with Barr to discuss redacted portions of the report. The attorney general objected to both additions.
On Friday, Nadler wrote a letter to Barr urging him to comply by 9 a.m. Monday with a subpoena for the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence or else face contempt of Congress proceedings.
“There has not been a compliance yet,” Cicilline said Sunday. “We obviously have to wait until the morning to see if the attorney general will comply. I think if the attorney general does not, the chairman will ask the committee to move forward with a contempt citation.”
Watch Cicilline’s full interview with “Fox News Sunday” below.