Robert Mueller would have testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday if Democrats on the committee had gotten their way. But as the committee tries to set a hearing date with the special counsel, a poll has found they have public opinion on their side.
Fifty-six percent of all voters want Congress to hear from Mueller, while only 19 percent think he shouldn’t testify, according to a new Morning Consult and Politico poll that was conducted among 1,995 registered voters. There was a prominent partisan divide: 79 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents said that he should testify, while only 37 percent of Republicans agreed.
Voters were split more evenly on what they thought of Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the report. Barr first released a four-page summary, then a redacted version of the report; he also held a press conference discussing his conclusions of the report the morning of its release. Thirty-eight percent of those polled disapproved of the way Barr has handled the release of information, 32 percent said they were unsure or had no opinion, and 31 percent approved. Partisan divides existed in this category as well, with 61 percent of Democrats disapproving of Barr’s handling of the Mueller report and 54 percent of Republicans backing him.
Lawmakers are still trying nail down a date for Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. President Trump has sent mixed messages on whether Mueller should testify, saying earlier in May that it was up to the attorney general before changing course and saying the special counsel should not testify. Last week, he went back to saying that he’d let Barr decide. Barr has said he has no issue with Mueller testifying.
Gathering other evidence and witnesses to the Mueller report has turned out to be a harder issue. On May 8, Trump invoked executive privilege over the unredacted Mueller report in response to what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called “the unlawful and reckless demands” of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler.
Trump has also made it clear that he will fight all of Democrats’ subpoenas. This would make it impossible for Congress to access the evidence gathered during the Mueller investigation. Just hours after his decision, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide the committee with the unredacted report.
For now, House Democrats hope that they will be able to get Mueller to testify before the end of the month. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said he believes that since Mueller is technically still an employee of the Justice Department until the end of May, it will be easier to get him to speak once he is a private citizen.