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Justice Department Tells Mueller to Not Answer a Wide Swath of Questions
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=44997"><span class="small">Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Tuesday, 23 July 2019 08:25

Excerpt: "The Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election."

Robert Mueller. (photo: NBC)
Robert Mueller. (photo: NBC)


Justice Department Tells Mueller to Not Answer a Wide Swath of Questions

By Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post

23 July 19

 

he Justice Department instructed former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in a letter Monday not to answer a wide variety of questions about his investigation of the president and Russian interference in the 2016 election — a fresh indication of how difficult it may be to extract any new information or insights about the high-profile investigation when he testifies to Congress on Wednesday.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer said in Monday’s letter that he was responding to a request earlier this month from Mueller for guidance on how to handle questions “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with” subpoenas for Mueller’s congressional testimony.

The letter also notes that Mueller had resisted testifying and that “the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances.”

Weinsheimer then went on to spell out the categories of information that should be off-limits in Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday before two House committees.

The Justice Department expects that Mueller will “not go beyond” the public version of his March report of his findings.

“Please note there should be no testimony concerning the redacted portions of the public version of your report,” the letter said, and reminded Mueller that the prosecution of Trump adviser Roger Stone and a separate case are still awaiting trial, “and local court rules and specific orders issued in those cases substantially restrict the Department’s ability to make public statements about those cases.”

“In addition, it is the Department’s longstanding policy not to discuss the conduct of uncharged third-parties,” the letter continued. “Established Department policy also precludes any comment on the facts developed and legal conclusions by the Special Counsel’s Office with respect to uncharged individuals, other than information contained within the portions of your report that already have been made public.”

The final portion of the letter makes a broader, vaguer admonition not to discuss matters that could be covered by executive privilege — a legally and factually complicated assertion that could, in theory, cover many topics, given that Mueller’s task was to investigate President Trump while working in the executive branch.

The letter defines potential executive privilege-covered matters to include “information protected by law enforcement, deliberative process, attorney work product, and presidential communication privileges. These privileges would include discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation not otherwise described in the public version of your report.”

The letter instructs Mueller to decline to discuss “potentially privileged matters” so that Justice Department lawyers can review the specific topics later and decide whether they are covered by executive privilege.

Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the former special counsel said Mueller does not intend to stray beyond what was detailed in his 448-page report.

Mueller, in fact, plans to submit the publicly available version of his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election as a statement for the record, the spokesman said.

“His official statement for the record will be the Mueller report itself,” said Jim Popkin of the Seven Oaks Media Group, who was recently tapped to help Mueller handle media inquiries in advance of his congressional testimony.

Asked whether Mueller intended to speak beyond his report, Popkin referred to a May news conference in which Mueller said he would not and added: “As he made pretty clear then, you can expect him to stick pretty close to the four walls of the report come Wednesday.”

Mueller will first appear before the House Judiciary Committee starting at 8:30 a.m.. Because of the committee’s size, that hearing is expected to last about three hours. He will then appear before the House Intelligence Committee at noon, in a hearing that is expected to last about two hours.

Popkin said Mueller will read an opening statement in addition to submitting his full report for the record. He said Mueller has been preparing for the testimony in unused office space at the WilmerHale law firm, where Mueller worked before leaving to lead the special counsel investigation.

Popkin declined to provide details of the preparation, except to say, “He’s going to be prepared on Wednesday.”

Mueller’s testimony will be must-see TV, though it is unclear whether lawmakers will be able to pry from him any revelations. Democrats have signaled that they intend to focus much of their questioning on the episodes Mueller outlined in his report in which Trump sought to impede the investigation. Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to focus on what they see as bias among some on Mueller’s team.

Though Mueller, a former FBI director, has vast experience at congressional hearings, his testimony Wednesday probably will be more contentious than his previous appearances on Capitol Hill. Those who know him say they expect him to stick to the script and probably leave lawmakers of both parties disappointed. Mueller said at the May news conference that he hoped that event would be his last time speaking publicly about his work and that, if pressed to testify, he would not speak beyond his report.

“We chose those words carefully,” he said, “and the work speaks for itself.”

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Comments  

 
-5 # chapdrum 2019-07-23 12:14
The fact that this information is being made public is not only an unbelievably brazen (and perhaps foolish) act, but obviously an indication of how little of substance we can expect - just like the report itself. My, how the country is being played.
 
 
-3 # MikeAF48 2019-07-23 17:56
Mr. Mueller this is your time to go fishing no cell phone leave all tech devices at home go to Yampa, Colorado for a two week vacation you won't miss us and we at home can just read a book or watch cartoons on the tube. Good Luck Fishing.
 
 
+4 # logical1 2019-07-23 21:28
How does presidential privilege allow a president to redact the facts of an investigation into his actions when the report is presented to the representatives of our country?
 
 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-24 06:33
Mueller no longer works for the DOJ. He quit. So he should be free to say whatever he wants. He could actually be whistleblower right there in front of congress and on national TV.

I'm sure there will be some very tough questions. He should answer them fully and truthfully. I don't like Mueller. I think he's a Deep State assassin and not a very smart person. He's just a marine, still doing the dirty work of empire. He does not question his orders.

But Mueller should not be restricted in what he says. He should be treated just as the witnesses he interviewed.