A top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee Sunday walked back comments he made earlier in the day about an agreement to have special counsel Robert Mueller testify before the panel.
Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, told Fox News Sunday the committee had a “tentative” agreement with Mr. Mueller to appear on May 15.
“A tentative date has been set for May 15 and we hope the special counsel will appear,” Mr. Cicilline said in the Sunday interview. “We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him.”
After several media outlets, including The Washington Times, breathlessly reported the deal, which Mr. Cicilline said had been “signed off” by the special counsel, the Congressman backtracked his comments.
“Just to clarify: we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed yet. That’s the date the Committee has proposed, and we hope the Special Counsel will agree to it. Sorry for the confusion,” Mr. Cicilline wrote about an hour later on Twitter.
Even President Trump jumped on Mr. Cicilline’s remarks, saying in a pair of tweets that the special counsel should not testify.
“Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” the president wrote shorty after Mr. Cicilline’s remarks.
During the interview, Mr. Cicilline cautioned the deal could still fall through despite the preliminary pact.
“Until the day comes, we never have an absolute guarantee,” he said.
The White House has indicated they will not attempt to block Mr. Mueller from testifying, Mr. Cicilline said prior to the president’s tweet. Attorney General William P. Barr said during his senate testimony last week he would allow the special counsel to testify.
May 15 had been widely speculated as the likely date of Mr. Mueller’s testimony but Mr. Cicilline was the first committee member to say an agreement was in place.
Democrats have been demanding to hear from Mr. Mueller since a letter surfaced last week suggesting the special counsel thought Mr. Barr had misrepresented his findings.
The attorney general dismissed the letter as “a little bit snitty.” He also said that during a private phone call, Mr. Mueller told him he was upset about the press coverage of his findings, not Mr. Barr’s summary.