Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to testify before a Congressional committee this week and the Trump DOJ has instructed him that he must stick to only the facts in the redacted report released to Congress because anything beyond that is considered privileged. Whether he will follow that instruction, which is really unenforceable, remains to be seen but I suspect he will.
Justice Department officials have communicated to Robert Mueller that the department expects him to limit his congressional testimony this week to the public findings of his 448-page report, according to one current and one former U.S. official familiar with the preparations.
In extensive discussions since the former special counsel was subpoenaed on June 25 to testify, department officials have emphasized that they consider any evidence he gathered throughout the course of his investigation to be “presumptively privileged” and shielded from public disclosure.The Justice Department is “taking the position that anything outside the written pages of the report are things about which presidential privilege hasn’t been waived,” the former U.S. official said.
Many fear that this will effectively neuters Mueller’s testimony and will prevent him from providing anything of value, but I disagree. Most voters won’t pay any attention to the details anyway, only the broad strokes, and the single biggest thing Mueller can say, and I’m sure he will, is that his report does not exonerate Trump as the current White House occupant has repeatedly said. That’s the kind of easily digestible sound byte that will be widely reported, as Trump’s claim was, and is likely to get through to those people who accepted that claim. And it’s clear from the report, which virtually no one outside of political junkies actually read, that this is true. But to hear Mueller come right out and say it is a whole different thing for those who pay attention only casually.