House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Thursday evening that special counsel Robert Mueller would like to testify before the committee, but he wants to do so behind closed doors.

 

"I think I can say at this point that he wants to testify in private," Nadler told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on her show Thursday.  He said that the special counsel is "willing to make an opening statement, but he wants to testify in private." Asked why he doesn't want to testify publicly, Nadler responded, "I don't know why."

However, he also offered a reason Mueller might prefer private testimony. "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," Nadler said.

Nadler also clarified that while the special counsel did not want to appear in an open hearing, there would be a transcript of the proceedings, should Mueller appear. But Mueller's appearance still remains an open question.

President Trump has said he doesn't want Mueller to testify before Congress, and the administration has already taken steps to prevent others, including Mueller's star witness, former White House counsel Don McGahn, from appearing before Congress. 

Still, it's not clear that the administration could stop Mueller if he wishes to testify, particularly once Mueller is a private citizen. 

CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.