DoJ to Mueller: You're correct about being limited to the report

Get ready for accusations of interference from House Democrats, but this letter from the Department of Justice to Robert Mueller looks more like a shield. Mueller had sent a written request to the DoJ to establish the limits of his testimony tomorrow before two House committees, and Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer gladly provided those instructions. And not by coincidence do they describe precisely those declared by Mueller himself at a presser in May:

A Justice Department official told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller that his upcoming testimony to House lawmakers “must remain within the boundaries” of the public, redacted version of his report, in a letter obtained by Fox News on Monday evening.

The letter, obtained by Fox News, signed by Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, states: “Dear Mr. Mueller: I write in response to your July 10, 2019 letter concerning the testimonial subpoenas you received from the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

“Your letter requests that the Department provide you with guidance concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with those subpoenas.”

After stating the decision to testify is Mueller’s to make, the letter continues: “But the Department agrees with your stated position that your testimony should be unnecessary under the circumstances. The Department generally does not permit prosecutors such as you to appear and testify before Congress regarding their investigative and prosecutorial activity.

In other words, Weinsheimer is saying that the DoJ aggressively agrees with Mueller’s May 29th statement to the media. He agrees with it so much that he leads off the letter with it:

As a longtime leader at the Department of Justice in various roles, Mueller knows full well what its policies are on discussing investigations and going beyond established conclusions. He didn’t need a letter from Weinsheimer to lay out the same position he had taken two months ago in his public announcement. So why write the letter? Mueller wants to have this to present to members of both committees when they demand he go beyond the report or present nonsensical hypotheticals as a firm backup to the position Mueller has already taken. It’s not a limit imposed on Mueller — it’s backup for Mueller’s own position.

Just to make things clear, Mueller’s spokesman told the press for prepare for disappointment tomorrow:

“His official statement for the record will be the Mueller report itself,” said Jim Popkin of the Seven Oaks Media Group, who was recently tapped to help Mueller handle media inquiries in advance of his congressional testimony.

Asked whether Mueller intended to speak beyond his report, Popkin referred to a May news conference in which Mueller said he would not and added: “As he made pretty clear then, you can expect him to stick pretty close to the four walls of the report come Wednesday.” …

Popkin said Mueller will read an opening statement in addition to submitting his full report for the record. He said Mueller has been preparing for the testimony in unused office space at the WilmerHale law firm, where Mueller worked before leaving to lead the special counsel investigation.

House Democrats may howl, but they can’t say they weren’t warned, and they can’t blame the DoJ either. Mueller’s been promising a bust for two months, and Weinsheimer’s letter is just his backup.