'No conceivable basis': Here’s what legal experts say about Trump's effort to block Mueller from testifying

'No conceivable basis': Here’s what legal experts say about Trump's effort to block Mueller from testifying
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the FBI Budget, on Capitol Hill on March 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (UPI/Kevin Dietsch via Creative Commons)

Although nothing has been confirmed, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are hoping to bring in special counsel Robert Mueller to testify on Wednesday, May 15 — and President Donald Trump is vehemently opposed to the idea, tweeting on Sunday, “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems.” But, according to legal experts, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee might have a chance to hear testimony from Mueller on his final report for the Russia investigation whether the president likes it or not.

Conservative Jennifer Rubin interviewed two legal experts for her May 6 column for the Washington Post, asking them to weigh in on Trump’s opposition to Mueller testifying before Congress. Constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe stressed to Rubin that Trump doesn’t have the authority to prevent Mueller from testifying.

“Of course, there is no way Trump can stop Bob Mueller from testifying,” Tribe told Rubin. “There is no executive privilege between them and obviously, no attorney/client privilege — and Mueller doesn’t even work for Trump.”

Tribe added that until Mueller leaves the U.S. Department of Justice, he works for Attorney General William Barr — who, according to Tribe, “has no conceivable basis to stop Mueller from testifying.”

Rubin also spoke to law professor and former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance, who asserted that Trump only makes himself look bad by trying to discourage Mueller from testifying before Congress. “If Trump has nothing to worry about,” Vance told Rubin, “he’d be scheduling Mueller’s testimony himself. His concern is a red flag.”

Law & Crime’s Alberto Luperon spoke to Frank O. Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri, about Trump urging Mueller not to testify. Bowman said that hypothetically, Trump could assert executive privilege if Mueller had been a confidential adviser who resigned, but Mueller was nothing of the kind.

However, Bowman told Luperon that Barr could ask Mueller not to testify; Mueller has been working for the U.S. Justice Department, and Barr, as attorney general, heads that department. And White House officials, according to Bowman, could try to edit what Mueller tells Congress by claiming that some things involve classified information. But Trump, as president, doesn’t have the authority to order Mueller not to testify at all, Bowman told Luperon.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.