(Bloomberg) -- A top House Democrat on Tuesday night accused Attorney General William Barr of trying to “discourage” former Special Counsel Robert Mueller from testifying to Congress next week, or otherwise cooperating.
“He is nothing if not transparent. And he is transparently the president’s agent and doing the president’s bidding -- which is trying to discourage Mueller from cooperating,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters.
Schiff was reacting to Barr’s comments in South Carolina on Monday, when he said he was “disappointed” that House Democrats had subpoenaed Mueller to testify on July 17, suggesting the hearings had been arranged “to create some kind of public spectacle.”
Mueller is scheduled to appear at two separate public sessions that day before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. He has made clear he has no intention of going beyond the report he issued in April on his 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The hearings present perhaps the House Democrats’ best opportunity to rekindle their stymied inquiries into President Donald Trump, who continues to denounce all the investigations against him as politically motivated.
Barr told reporters Monday that “I don’t think that serves an important purpose, dragging Bob Mueller up if he in fact is going to stick to the report.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, the attorney general said the Justice Department would support Mueller if he decides he “doesn’t want to subject himself” to congressional testimony.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
Schiff said on Tuesday night that he remains “confident” that Mueller would testify. “That is what we’re planning, and I have no reason to believe we will be unsuccessful. That is our expectation.”
“I think it’s been clear from the very beginning Barr had no interest in seeing Mueller testify,” Schiff said. “After all, Barr is only to happy to have his misleading representation of the Mueller report stand without contradiction.”
Schiff also said that some members of Mueller’s former team have agreed to meet with the Intelligence Committee in closed session. He would not discuss what they have agreed to discuss with is panel -- or whether those same former Mueller lieutenants are also going to meet with the Judiciary Committee.
But Barr told the AP that the Justice Department would seek to block any attempt by Congress to subpoena members of the special counsel’s team.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler declined to comment on Tuesday.
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