President Trump declared it part of the ‘rigged witch hunt’ that a last minute request by Robert Mueller to have a lawyer to answer questions for him at a congressional hearing Wednesday will likely be approved by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.
According to several reports, Mueller requested that Aaron Zebley, who served as deputy on the special counsel’s probe, be sworn in as a witness in order to address any questions that he is not able to answer.
The Justice Department announced on Monday that Mueller must stay “within the boundaries” of the public version of his report, after the former FBI head asked for guidance on what he could divulge.
Zebley is a close confident of Mueller’s, having also also served as chief of staff to Mueller during his time as FBI director. Zebley also represented former Clinton aide Justin Cooper during the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s dodgy email server.
President Trump tweeted his disgust at the development, calling Zelby a “never Trumper” and the lawyer who got off the “basement server guy”.
So Robert Mueller has now asked for his long time Never Trumper lawyer to sit beside him and help with answers. What’s this all about? His lawyer represented the “basement server guy” who got off free in the Crooked Hillary case. This should NOT be allowed. Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
The President also described the development as “a disgrace to our system.”
Just got back only to hear of a last minute change allowing a Never Trumper attorney to help Robert Mueller with his testimony before Congress tomorrow. What a disgrace to our system. Never heard of this before. VERY UNFAIR, SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. A rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2019
Republicans also demanded that Democrats leave Zebley off the witness stand.
“If Democrats believe it is the special counsel’s responsibility to testify to his report, they have no ground for outsourcing that duty at the expense of our committee’s integrity,” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, said in a statement.
A last-minute witness would jeopardize whether tomorrow's hearing complies with House Rules.
If Dems believe it's the special counsel’s responsibility to testify to his report, they have no ground for outsourcing that duty at the expense of our committee’s integrity.
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) July 23, 2019
“You don’t get to change the rules right before kickoff, especially after a 22 month, $30 million investigation,” added GOP Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who also sits on the Judiciary Committee.
Rumor is that Aaron Zebley (Mueller’s Chief of Staff) will be on the witness panel with Mueller.
You don’t get to change the rules right before kickoff, especially after a 22 month, $30 million investigation.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 23, 2019
In an interview with Lou Dobbs, Jordan declared that his questions will be directed to Mueller, not Zebley.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 24, 2019