Longtime Mueller aide may appear with him at hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former special counsel Robert Mueller has requested that his longtime associate, Aaron Zebley, appear alongside him as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Zebley, Mueller's former chief of staff and his top aide on the Russia investigation, would be an unexpected addition, the issue arising less than 24 hours before the hearing begins. The person requested anonymity to freely discuss the talks.

Democrats hadn't yet announced whether they would agree to the request, and Republicans are livid about it. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the Judiciary panel's top Republican, called the move an "apparent stunt" by Democrats. He said it "shows the lengths Democrats will go to protect a one-sided narrative from a thorough examination by committee Republicans."

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, another member of the committee, tweeted: "You don't get to change the rules right before kickoff."

It's unclear if Mueller has made a similar request to the House intelligence committee, which will ask questions of him in a second hearing on Wednesday. The sessions will review Mueller's 448-page report released in April.

The intelligence panel had hoped to question Zebley and another member of Mueller's Russia team, James Quarles, behind closed doors in a separate classified setting. Negotiations on that meeting are ongoing.

Zebley has not been authorized by the Justice Department to appear at the open hearing, a separate person familiar with the matter said. That person also requested anonymity to discuss the negotiations. Attorney General William Barr has made it clear he does not want Mueller's deputies to appear in a closed session, either.

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