In an interview Thursday with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said special counsel Robert Mueller is willing to testify in Congress, but he would prefer to do so behind closed doors t o avoid a "political spectacle."
"We'd see a transcript," Nadler added.
RACHEL MADDOW: I want to get your -- first, your top line reaction to this news that we just got. The president is directing the intelligence community to cooperate with Attorney General Barr's investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election. He's also delegating to the attorney general full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation.
Do you have any idea what this is about?
REP. JERRY NADLER: Yes. It's part of the Trump and Republican plot to dirty up the intelligence community, to pretend that there's something wrong with the beginning of the Mueller investigation and to persecute and bring into line the intelligence agencies. This is the third investigation.
Remember, the inspector general of the Department of Justice launched an investigation of Strzok and Page and all these people, and concluded their political opinions did not interfere with their decisions in the probe and there was nothing wrong with being in the probe. The attorney general, the prior attorney general asked the U.S. attorney in Utah, Herd (ph) I think his name is, something like that.
NADLER: Huber, to do a second investigation. We're waiting for the result of that. We don't need a third investigation of the same material just designed to further the propaganda against the Mueller investigation and against an apolitical and properly functioning FBI and intelligence community.
MADDOW: To that point, I feel like we knew that -- we knew that Attorney General Barr was pursuing something along these lines because he talked about it in testimony before the Senate.
What's new tonight is this directive, this formal-looking directive in which he says that the intelligence community is essentially ordered to cooperate fully. That's the part I don't really understand.
NADLER: I don't know what that means.
NADLER: It may just be public relations, I don't know.
MADDOW: Yes, that's what I was wondering.
NADLER: I don't know.
The fact of the matter is this is all nonsense. There is no basis whatsoever to believe that anybody in the intelligence community did anything wrong in terms of starting the investigation or the Hillary email investigation. What they're really trying to do is to divert attention from the Mueller report and from the president's actions against the rule of law to an imaginary scandal.
MADDOW: It's been just over 60 days since Mueller's investigation was ended and since he submitted his report. We have seen hide nor hair of Robert Mueller in that time. I don't know where he is, I hope he's well.
You have talked repeatedly about hoping to get him in to testify about his own findings. Today, in fact, was one of the days that you had put on the calendar as a hopeful date that he might come in.
What's going on? What's wrong with -- what's wrong with our expectations? We had thought that it would be a big deal to get him in there.
NADLER: Well, we think it would be. We want him to come in and testify. We want others to come in and testify.
There are a lot of people who should come in and testify, who the administration is saying they will not permit to testify. They're blanket stonewalling of Congress and the American people. The president was silly enough -- was foolish enough to admit that he was engaged in blanket stonewalling, and that includes McGahn and that includes a lot of other people.
Mueller, he -- I think I can say at this point, that he wants to testify in private.
NADLER: I don't know why. It's -- he wants -- he's willing to make an opening statement but he wants to testify in private. We're saying he ought to -- we think it's important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report.
MADDOW: Does he want to testify in private and have it be a closed session where we, the people, would not even get to see a transcript of it?
NADLER: No, no, no. We'd see a transcript. But I -- we'd see a transcript.
MADDOW: Do you have any sense of -- I mean, why would witnesses usually say something like that or do you have any indication why he might want that?
NADLER: 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 Republicans on the committee start asking him questions -- about this stuff, the beginning of the investigation. I'm speculating really.
NADLER: But he doesn't want to be public in what some people will regard as a political spectacle, I think.