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Trump reverses position, says Mueller ‘should not testify’

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WASHINGTON : US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller "should not testify" before Congress on his Russia election meddling inquiry, setting up a confrontation with Democrats already irate over what they view as increasingly brazen administration stonewalling.

Mr Trump's statement represented a reversal; he had said days earlier that he would leave the matter up to Attorney-General William Barr, who raised no objection to Mr Mueller testifying.

"There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify," Mr Trump tweeted.

The report actually cited 10 "episodes" of potential obstruction of justice by Mr Trump, but it offered no verdict on whether he should be charged.

Mr Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has invited Mr Mueller to appear before the panel "no later than May 23" to testify about the findings of his investigation.

Mr Trump's comment might have been prompted by a remark earlier on Sunday from a Democratic member of the committee, Mr David Cicilline, who said on Fox that Mr Mueller was tentatively set to testify on May 15.

Mr Cicilline later stepped back from that, tweeting "nothing has been agreed to yet".

Mr Trump's tweet represented a hardening of his own position and seemed certain to infuriate Democrats already angered by administration moves to impede a series of congressional inquiries.

Responding on April 24 to a congressional subpoena to a former aide, he said: "We are fighting all the subpoenas."

Mr Trump's reversal on Mr Mueller was sudden. When a reporter asked him on Friday last week whether Mr Mueller should testify, he said: "That is up to our Attorney-General."

Mr Barr told reporters on April 18 that "I have no objection to Bob Mueller testifying".

He reiterated that position in testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. - AFP