Mueller Testifies Before Congress

Posted by on Aug 1, 2019 in Top Stories, United States

On July 24, Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his investigation into the Trump campaign’s role in the Russian tampering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Across the nation, Democrats and Republicans alike tuned into the televised testimony from Capitol Hill to learn what new information might come to light. Republicans hoped that Mueller’s testimony would finally close the book on the investigation, while Democrats wondered if it might lead to impeachment proceedings. Here, btw takes a closer look.

The Report

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Credit: Kev Draws/Shutterstock

Mueller’s official report, released to Congress and the public earlier this year, had two key takeaways. The first was that Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election was real, but that the Trump campaign didn’t actively conspire in it. The second major finding had to do with whether or not Trump obstructed justice while trying to put a stop to Mueller’s investigation itself. Mueller found that while there wasn’t enough evidence to indict the president on this charge, there wasn’t enough evidence to exonerate him, either. A key point to remember here is that a Justice Department provision states that it’s illegal to indict a sitting president–meaning that Trump can’t be indicted, even if he is found to be guilty of obstruction of justice. Democrats point out that this is not the same thing as saying that the president is innocent.

The Testimony

Mueller testified before both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. When asking their questions, Democrats mostly focused on thanking Mueller for his service and asking Mueller to draw conclusions from his report to prove that Trump clearly obstructed justice–which Mueller refused to do. Republicans, on the other hand, generally criticized Mueller for his role in the investigation and then asked him to draw conclusions from his report to prove that Trump was clearly innocent–which Mueller refused to do as well. Overall, the testimony was not the big win that either side was hoping for.

One important revelation that gave Democrats a slight boost, however, was when Mueller stated that the reason he didn’t indict Trump on obstruction of justice charges was because of the Justice Department provision that a sitting president can’t be indicted–not because he believed the president was innocent.

So What Happens Next?

Though the testimony wasn’t the landslide victory that Congressional Democrats were hoping for, it still presented them with enough information to make some urge for a stronger move toward impeachment. In fact, just a few days after the testimony, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee stated that they had already begun an inquiry into impeachment proceedings. So far, at least 109 House Democrats have gone on record as saying that they are in favor of moving toward impeachment.

Many Republicans and President Trump, however, continue to dismiss the entire Mueller investigation as a political maneuver by the Democrats. And they also dismiss any discussion of the efforts to try to impeach President Trump.

Perhaps even more importantly, the most unsettling moment in the testimony was when Special Counsel Mueller announced that the Russians are continuing to interfere with U.S. elections, and with other free elections around the world as well. FBI Director Christopher Wray said the same thing during his own testimony on the same day. This raises serious concerns about the validity of the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are a member of the House of Representatives. Based on the Mueller testimony, would you add your name to the growing list of Representatives who support beginning impeachment proceedings against the president? Why or why not?