House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement that Mueller’s public appearance had been pushed back at the former special counsel’s request, and that Mueller had agreed to appear for an extended period.
“The House Judiciary Committee will convene on July 24 at 8:30am with Special Counsel Mueller testifying in public for three hours. After a brief break, the House Intelligence Committee will convene for additional public testimony beginning at 12:00pm,” the chairmen said in a statement. “All members — Democrats and Republicans — of both committees will have a meaningful opportunity to question the Special Counsel in public, and the American people will finally have an opportunity to hear directly from Mr. Mueller about what his investigation uncovered.”
But the committees are no longer expected to hear from two Mueller deputies — Aaron Zebley and James Quarles — on the same day, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Democrats had sought to question the deputies behind closed doors about the special counsel investigation.
Attorney General William Barr had expressed a desire this week that the deputies not testify, and the Justice Department was resisting their appearances.
The closed-door testimony of the deputies was a significant hang-up as negotiations dragged on Friday to delay Mueller’s testimony, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The House Intelligence Committee in particular wanted to speak to the deputies in closed session so they could dive into classified, counterintelligence details of the investigation.
Mueller had been scheduled to appear on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees in back-to-back sessions where 22 members from each committee would get to question the special counsel.
On Friday morning, the Judiciary Committee took an abnormal, brief recess from a hearing about lessons from the Mueller report, where members were told that the hearing could be delayed while the committees were negotiating with Mueller for more time.
Lawmakers said Friday they were hopeful that a resolution would emerge to allow more members to question Mueller.
“I think that would be the ideal situation, for sure,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a senior member of the panel, said the frustration among the junior members of the committee wasn’t about bruised egos.
“I don’t think anyone has said they want their time in the spotlight, I think at the end of the day the American people will be better served if we spend as much time as possible communicating the importance of the stakes of this hearing as it relates to an incredible attack on our democracy, unprecedented in our nation’s history,” Jeffries said.
Mueller’s testimony is seen as essential among Democrats who are advocating for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry into the President, especially because the Trump officials who are cited in the Mueller report have so far either refused to testify or answer most questions posed by the Judiciary Committee, under direction from the White House.
But many Democrats were also concerned that the limited time period of roughly two hours before each committee wouldn’t be enough time for Mueller’s testimony to have an impact. And those on the Judiciary Committee who weren’t in line to get questions were up in arms they might not get their shot to question Mueller with millions tuning in.
Rank-and-file Judiciary members were publicly and privately pressing the committee to seek a longer hearing with Mueller.
“Absolutely,” California Rep. Ted Lieu said Thursday when asked if he would be concerned if he’s not allowed to ask questions.
“I’ll be disappointed, but I’m hopeful,” Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Judiciary Committee member, said Thursday. “I feel it’s part of my duty to be part of this oversight.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.
CNN’s Sam Fossum and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.