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Mueller testimony delayed by one week

POLITICO logo POLITICO 7/13/2019 By Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney and John Bresnahan
a person standing in front of a curtain: The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees have been negotiating to give lawmakers more time to question former special counsel Robert Mueller. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The House Judiciary and Intelligence committees have been negotiating to give lawmakers more time to question former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated Capitol Hill testimony will be delayed one week under an arrangement he reached with House Democrats, the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees announced Friday evening.

The arrangement, first reported by POLITICO, extends to three hours Mueller's time facing questions from the Judiciary Committee. Junior members of that panel had grown increasingly frustrated that the initial two-hour time frame would have prevented many of them from having a chance to question Mueller. In fact, under the arrangement, half of the Judiciary Committee's 41 members would have been excluded.

It remains unclear whether the Intelligence Committee, too, will be granted an extra hour. Multiple lawmakers said a separate closed-door session with Mueller's deputies had been called off.

The July 24 hearing puts Mueller’s testimony on the calendar just one day before lawmakers are scheduled to depart for a month-long summer recess. Democrats who favor impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump have hoped that Mueller speaking directly to Americans about the findings in his report — including evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct his investigation — would reinvigorate their effort, but the timing leaves impeachment advocates little room to seize on any momentum before lawmakers scatter to their districts.

Both committees issued subpoenas last month to Mueller, who was resisting House Democrats’ efforts to get him in front of the cameras to answer questions about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller has said that his congressional testimony would not go beyond his 448-page report.

Republicans spent Thursday and Friday slamming Democrats for cutting a deal that did not allow all committee members to question Mueller. But the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee said the new format will allow all Judiciary Republicans to question Mueller after the new date was announced.

“I appreciate news the chairman has taken seriously the concerns Judiciary Republicans raised this week,” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins said Friday.

Democrats, too, had raised concerns about being denied the opportunity to question Mueller, and expressed hope that ongoing talks with him would yield an agreement for all of them to grill him for five minutes each.

“Sure, I want to be asking questions; sure, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t have that chance. But I’ll be much more disappointed for the American public if part of that time is cut off,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), a freshman member of the Judiciary panel.

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