Special Counsel Robert Mueller Might Testify Before House May 15, Committee Member Says

A member of the House Judiciary Committee first said Sunday morning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had reached a tentative agreement to testify in front of the panel on May 15, but then walked that statement back and clarified that the May 15 date had merely been proposed to Mueller.

House Judiciary Committee member and Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline appeared on Fox News Sunday where he told host Chris Wallace that a tentative date had been agreed to for Mueller to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

"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," said Cicilline.

"When you say a tentative date has been set, has the special counsel agreed to that date?" asked Wallace.

The congressman responded, "The representative for the special counsel has but obviously until the date comes we never have an absolute guarantee. The White House has so far indicated they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller's attempts to testify. We hope that won't change."

However, several hours after making that comment, Cicilline subsequently tweeted a statement where explaining that the date had not been agreed to, but had merely been proposed.

"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," read the tweet.

Earlier on Fox News Sunday, Cicilline discussed the 9 a.m. Monday deadline for Attorney General William Barr to comply with a subpoena from the committee to deliver the full unredacted version of Mueller's report, along with supporting documents.

"There has not been compliance yet," said the congressman. "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."

Barr declined to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee this past week citing concerns that committee staff attorneys would be allowed to ask questions. Cicilline ridiculed Barr's claim, arguing that "a witness has no right to dictate to congress" how they will be questioned.

When Wallace pointed out that the last time committee staff attorneys were allowed to question a sitting cabinet member was 1987 during the hearings into the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal, Cicilline contended that the current probe rose to that same level, saying it was "as bad as Iran Contra."

Barr has already testified in front of Congress about his handling and summary of Mueller's 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. In his initial appearances before lawmakers, Barr said he had no reason to believe that Mueller was concerned about the attorney general's handling of the report. However, it was subsequently reported that Mueller had already sent Barr a letter — and then discussed on the phone — his concerns about Barr's four-page summary of the investigation.

This has led some lawmakers to call for Barr to resign or for Congress to impeach him. Between those concerns and the possibility of a contempt citation, Wallace asked Cicilline about whether Barr could end up being arrested.

"It of course should never come to that," said the congressman. "We expect the attorney general to honor a subpoena when properly served and we will fully enforce that through the courts. But the reality is that we have to have access to that information. This is central to our oversight responsibilities and it is not up to the Executive Branch to decide what they want to give us."

Wallace pointed out to Cicilline that he and other Democratic members of Congress objected in 2012 when Republicans held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to meet a deadline to turn over documents related to the Fast & Furious gun-running scandal.

Cicilline said the difference between the two situations was that the Obama administration had already told Congress it was willing to provide all requested documents but Republicans moved forward with the contempt citation anyway.

"It was really a stunt," he said about the 2012 standoff. "In this case, the attorney general has continued to refuse to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena."

According to Cicilline, Barr could miss the deadline but not be held in contempt if he demonstrates his intention to comply.

"If Mr. Barr agrees to turn over what we've requested in a reasonable way, no one on the committee is interested in moving forward with a contempt [citation]," said the congressman. "We just want the information so we can do our work."

NOTE: This story has been edited to include Cicilline's statement on Twitter and to clarify that the congressman was no longer claiming that the May 15 had been tentatively agreed to.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Might Testify Before House May 15, Committee Member Says | U.S.