On Wednesday, House Democrats will have a chance to breathe life into the Mueller report. Relatively few Americans have read the 448-page document in which special counsel Robert Mueller concluded the evidence did not establish that the Trump campaign and Russia engaged in a conspiracy or coordination to fix the 2016 election, and also declined to conclude whether or not President Trump obstructed justice. Democrats know the report has failed to capture the public imagination, and they hope bringing Mueller to Capitol Hill for questioning will catch the nation’s attention.
“Not everybody is reading the book, but people will watch the movie,” a House Judiciary Committee official told Politico’s Playbook.
Mueller’s testimony will be divided between the Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. Judiciary will focus on Volume II of the report, which covered allegations of obstruction, and Intelligence will pursue Volume I, on conspiracy and coordination.
Democrats on the Intel committee will have the harder job, given the failure to establish conspiracy or coordination. So it’s likely most eyes will be focused on Judiciary. Many Democrats, and many in the press, believe the Mueller report proved the president obstructed justice. The report listed a number of episodes of possible obstruction, and according to press reports, Democratic aides recently told reporters the Judiciary Committee will focus on the top five.
“Democrats…intend to dwell heavily on five of the most glaring episodes of possible obstruction of justice that Mr. Mueller documented,” the New York Times reportedSaturday. “They include Mr. Trump’s direction to the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to fire Mr. Mueller and then publicly lie about it; his request that Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign chief, ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassert control of the investigation and limit its scope; and possible witness tampering to discourage two aides, Paul Manafort and Michael D. Cohen, from cooperating with investigators.”
It’s unclear whether there are actually five topics, or just three big topics with additional subheadings, but whatever the case, many Democrats believe they can make an overwhelming case against Trump. One committee Democrat promised to NBC that the Mueller hearing will highlight “truly shocking evidence of criminal misconduct by the president — not once, but again and again and again.”
But will it? It could be that the Mueller hearing, rather than showcasing a slam-dunk case against the president on obstruction of justice, will highlight how tenuous, subject to interpretation, and difficult to prove Mueller’s allegations really are.
What’s not there
The first thing to notice about the Democrats’ choice of evidence is what is not included. more here