DOJ working behind-the-scenes to hinder Mueller team testimony

The Department of Justice is working to ensure that two members of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team don’t testify before Congress, according to Reuters.

“The department said last week it opposed testimony by Aaron Zebley and James Quarles before the Democratic-led House of Representatives’ Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, a senior congressional official told the newspaper,” Reuters reported. “A Justice Department official confirmed the account and had instructed the men not to appear, the paper said.”

According to someone familiar with the matter, the team members in question are reportedly in negotiations to testify before the panels behind closed doors. This comes just days before Mueller himself is slated to testify before Congress on July 17.

Attorney General William Barr further infuriated congressional Democrats when he announced on Monday that he believed they were attempting to make a “public spectacle” out of their subpoena and ensuing testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to The Associated Press.

The attorney general said that the Department of Justice would support Mueller if he decided that he “doesn’t want to subject himself” to the congressional testimony, seeming to say that they would protect him he decided to dodge the summons to testify.

“Barr also said the Justice Department would seek to block any attempt by Congress to subpoena members of the special counsel’s team,” the AP reported.

“There’s no indication that Mueller does not wish to appear before Congress on July 17,” the AP went on. “But he put lawmakers on notice that any testimony he gives will not go beyond his 448-page report that was released in April. At a news conference in May, Mueller said the team chose the words in the report carefully and that the work speaks for itself.”

“I’m not sure what purpose is served by dragging him up there and trying to grill him,” Barr said. “I don’t think Mueller should be treated that way or subject himself to that, if he doesn’t want to.”

On frustrated Democrat is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who tweeted on Monday that Barr’s comments were “no surprise.”

“Barr misled the public about Mueller’s report, and wants his own deception to stand,” Schiff wrote. “The public has a right to hear the truth, from Mueller himself, about Trump’s misconduct and ongoing national security risks.”