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Schiff calls on Mueller to testify before Congress in May

Schiff calls on Mueller to testify before Congress in May
© Greg Nash

The head of the House Intelligence Committee is inviting special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE to testify before his panel sometime in May, claiming that the public must learn about the Russia probe's findings outside of what he sees as Attorney General William BarrBill BarrEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Garland sparks anger with willingness to side with Trump Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says MORE's partisan takes.

Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Nixon's former White House counsel: Trump DOJ was 'Nixon on stilts and steroids' Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter on Thursday to Mueller stating that he will work with the special counsel "to secure a mutually agreeable date in May.”

The committee argued that it must be briefed about all the details of the counterintelligence probe — classified or not — as part of its duty to conduct oversight on matters of intelligence and counterintelligence. 

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“To discharge its distinct constitutional and statutory responsibility, the Committee must be kept ‘fully and currently informed’ of the intelligence and counterintelligence findings, evidence, and implications for your investigation," Schiff wrote to Mueller.

"This requires that the Committee receive the comprehensive testimony from you about the investigation’s full scope and areas of inquiry, its findings and underlying evidence, all of the intelligence and counterintelligence information gathered in the course of the investigation, and the status of any ongoing counterintelligence investigation," he continued.

His letter comes shortly after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerIowa man sentenced for threatening Rep. Jerry Nadler Supreme Court confounding its partisan critics Garland sparks anger with willingness to side with Trump MORE also called on Mueller to testify before his committee "as soon as possible," following the conclusion of Barr's press conference Thursday morning in which he laid out Mueller's findings and why certain redactions were made.

“As I have already communicated to the Department of Justice, I request your testimony before the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible — but, in any event, no later than May 23, 2019,” Nadler wrote to Mueller.

The two committees both claim to have a stake in examining the investigative findings, and thereby having Mueller testify. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Justice Department and it would also be the committee to handle impeachment proceedings were those to get underway, while the Intelligence Committee has investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election and has jurisdiction over counterintelligence matters.

The jockeying for Mueller's congressional appearance comes on the same day Barr released a redacted version of Mueller's report to Congress and the public. During his press conference, Barr said he has no objections to Mueller testifying before Congress.

Mueller's report says the investigative team "did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government" in its election interference efforts. But the special counsel also wrote that their evidence prevents "conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred" in terms of the obstruction of justice case.

While Mueller did not make a determination on the matter either way, Barr, along with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Protect the police or the First Amendment? MORE and other DOJ counsels, determined that the evidence did not reach a threshold to charge President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE of obstruction.

Barr's involvement is a flashpoint for Democrats who say the attorney general has revealed he is a Trump loyalist who is seeking to protect the president, while also seeking to shape the narrative in favor of Trump.