Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated Congressional testimony appears to be postponed until later this month, according to three government sources familiar with the matter. But the situation appears to be fluid, and as of Friday morning, sources said the two sides were still in negotiations about how, when, and for how long Mueller will testify.
Mueller agreed last month to appear before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees about his report on July 17—a step he said he did not want to take. Reaching the date took weeks of negotiations, and the two sides agreed he would testify for two hours before each committee. But now, things appear to have changed.
A Democratic aide now says that date date has now been moved until June 24. Politico was the first to report about the delay. Another source familiar with the negotiations said Democrats have offered for Mueller to appear on July 24, and to testify for an additional hour before House Judiciary.
The issue of time has been a major bone of contention, according to the Democratic aide. Just two hours of testimony would mean junior members of the committee would not have time to ask questions—a dynamic that outraged some of those members, who felt they were missing out on participating in a historic hearing.
“In reality, the new arrangement favors Republicans because all of their members will get to ask questions while some Democrats will still not get any time.”
— Judiciary Committee staffer
In the past week, one lawmaker said members pressed leadership to negotiate with the Department of Justice, and Mueller’s personal team, for more questioning time.
“Nothing the report said will change between now and July 24th. The delay seems to be the product of junior democrats feeling it would not be fair to cut them out of the limelight of getting to ask Mueller questions,” said a staffer to a judiciary committee member. “In reality, the new arrangement favors Republicans because all of their members will get to ask questions while some Democrats will still not get any time.”
News of the delay perplexed some Judiciary Committee members, who seemed unsure exactly what had happened or where the negotiations between the committee and Mueller stood. The Daily Beast caught up with several members in the halls of Capitol Hill Friday morning, most of whom declined to comment. But Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) held a short press gaggle outside the judiciary hearing room.
“I think we have been arguing for as much time as we can get,” Cicilline said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a Judiciary member and the chair of the Democratic Caucus, declined to say if talks were ongoing and deferred to Nadler as to whether the hearing should be delayed. But he did allude to possible concerns among some members that they would not get a chance to question the special counsel due to time constraints.
“Whenever the hearing takes place, it’s important that every single member of the House Democratic caucus who serves on the Judiciary committee participates in the Mueller hearing,” Jeffries said.
Despite the word of the delay, Nadler spokesperson Daniel Schwarz said Friday morning there was nothing to report.
“At this moment we still plan to have our hearing on the 17th and we will let you know if that changes,” he said.
The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last month issued subpoenas to compel Mueller’s testimony.
Part of the congressional efforts, which took place over several months, consisted of suing for documents related to the president and subpoenaing former Trump officials to testify about their time working with the president. But the White House has stonewalled Congress throughout, exerting executive privilege and blocking former officials from testifying. For instance, administration lawyers who accompanied Hope Hicks to a closed-door interview with the Judiciary Committee interjected scores of times to advise her against asking virtually anything about her time in the White House.
Democratic aides have told The Daily Beast over the last several months that if all else failed, they would at least be able to get Mueller to testify publicly about the report.