House Judiciary chair: Mueller 'wants to testify in private'

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 21, 2019.

Washington (CNN)House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to testify in private in order to avoid a political spectacle after more than a year of public silence.

The New York Democrat told MSNBC that Mueller is "willing to make an opening statement, but he wants to testify in private," but that he is urging the special counsel to testify before his committee publicly.
CNN first reported Mueller's team had expressed reluctance to him testifying publicly.
"We think it's important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report," Nadler said.
    If Mueller testified in private, Nadler said, the public would see a transcript of his testimony.
    As for why Mueller would want to testify in private, Nadler speculated that the special counsel "doesn't want to be public in what some people will regard as a political spectacle."
    "He envisions himself, correctly, as a man of great rectitude and apolitical and he doesn't want to participate in anything that he might regard as a political spectacle, especially if the Republicans on the committee start asking him questions about the beginning of the ... investigation," Nadler said.
    When asked if members of Mueller's team should testify, Nadler said, "I think we probably will hear from them and from a lot of other people."
      He said the committee's intention is to "open all of this up to the American people, to have everybody relevant testify so that people understand what was in the Mueller report, what wasn't in the Mueller report, so that they understand what was going on."
      Since the release of a redacted version of Mueller's report by the Department of Justice in April, Nadler has repeatedly said that the special counsel must appear before his committee, and that he would subpoena Mueller if necessary.