The Justice Department on Monday instructed former special counsel Robert Mueller to limit his Wednesday testimony before Congress to his 448-page public report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, warning that “department witnesses should decline to address potentially privileged matters.”
“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 wrote in a letter to Mueller that was obtained by The Hill.
“These privileges would include discussion about investigative steps or decisions made during your investigation not otherwise described in the public version of your report,” Weinsheimer wrote.
“Consistent with standard practice, Department witnesses should decline to address potentially privileged matters, thus affording the Department the full opportunity at a later date to consider particular questions and possible accommodations that may fulfill the committees’ legitimate need for information while protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests,” he added.
Weinsheimer noted in his letter that he was responding to a July 10 letter from Mueller that requested guidance from the department “concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection” with the subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees for his appearance.
The Hill notes: “Weinsheimer reiterated statements made by Attorney General William Barr that it is ultimately Mueller’s decision to testify. He emphasized that Mueller should not reveal anything related to the redacted portions of the report — which conceal grand jury material, details on ongoing investigations, classified material and information on third parties.”