Trump again shifts course, says Mueller testimony is up to Barr

The president told reporters Thursday that he would let the attorney general decide if the special counsel should appear before Congress, backing away from previous comments.
Image: U.S. President Trump responds to questions from reporters at the White House in Washington
“Bob Mueller is no friend of mine," Trump said Thursday, adding again that he would not make the decision on whether the special counsel could agree to testify before Congress or not.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

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By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that it was up to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether special counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress, an apparent shift from his weekend position that Mueller should not appear.

The president had said earlier that the attorney general would have final say over whether or not Mueller would offer congressional testimony.

“I am going to leave that up to our very great attorney general,” Trump said on Thursday, when asked by reporters in the Roosevelt Room if Mueller should comply with a congressional request to appear.

“Bob Mueller is no friend of mine. I had conflicts with him. We had business disputes,” Trump added, repeating earlier complaints that the special counsel was biased against him. Trump also said that Mueller wanted to be chosen as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and implied that he held a grudge when Trump did not pick him for the position.

These claims of conflict of interest have been debunked. The special counsel investigation found that Trump cited such conflicts when he was urging his staff members to fire Mueller and even one of his own aids at the time called the claims "ridiculous."

Last week, Trump told reporters that he would not stand in the way of a Mueller appearance before Congress, and would leave that decision up to the attorney general. Two days later, however, Trump tweeted "Bob Mueller should not testify,” adding: “No redos for the Dems!” He did not say whether he planned to take any action to prevent the special counsel from appearing.

Barr has said he has no objection to congressional testimony by Mueller. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have already made preparations for Mueller to testify later in May.