President Donald Trump’s Justice Department wrote to former special counsel Robert Mueller this week, instructing him to limit his congressional testimony to what was in his report. On Wednesday, House Republicans openly attacked him for doing just that.
“Any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege, including information protected by law enforcement, deliberative process, attorney work product, and presidential communications privileges,” Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer instructed Mueller in his letter. “These privileges would include discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation not otherwise described in the public version of your report.”
In his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, Mueller answered questions cautiously, frequently declining to respond to queries that strayed from those boundaries and referring committee members to the written report.
But Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) tweeted out an attack on Mueller during the hearing, calling it “remarkable” that “Mueller can’t answer key questions, seems unaware of basic information.”
This is remarkable. Mueller can’t answer key questions, seems unaware of basic information, and admitted he denied exoneration of Trump over a standard that doesn’t exist.
No one needs to discredit this process. Team Mueller and House Democrats are discrediting it by themselves.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) July 24, 2019
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) tweeted Meadows’ smear.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) also joined in, accusing him of “having trouble answering basic questions.”
Mueller seems to be having trouble answering basic questions.
— Debbie Lesko (@DebbieLesko) July 24, 2019
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) accused Mueller of being “intellectually disheveled.”
“He seemed to not have a strong command of the facts and he seemed unwilling to answer basic questions the American people want to know,” he told the Miami Herald.
Mueller was intellectually disheveled in today's hearing.https://t.co/Z3dQe5Fgis
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 24, 2019
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) complained in a tweet that “Mueller said he won’t answer any questions about what started the false accusation that the President conspired with Russia.”
It does not appear any of these lawmakers has publicly objected to the Justice Department’s letter restricting Mueller’s answers.
This story has been updated to include additional examples.