It’s Imperative That Robert Mueller Testify — Publicly — Before Congress [Opinion]
Earlier this week, former Russia special counsel Robert Mueller spoke at a press conference in which he announced he was stepping down from the investigation he oversaw, due to it finally being completed.
In addition to this announcement, Mueller reiterated key points from the report he gave — including that it did NOT exonerate President Donald Trump from any charges of wrongdoing.
In fact, Mueller’s words seem to imply just the opposite. “If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said.
In that same press conference, Mueller said he was reluctant to testify on his findings. In saying that he had no desire to speak publicly about the matter any longer, the former special counsel simply stated, “The report is my testimony.”
It’d be a mistake for Congress to allow that to be the case.
Mueller’s statements on Wednesday opened the eyes of many who wrongly believed the president’s words over the past few months. As noted in an opinion piece written in the Washington Post by Eric Wemple, for example, one Fox News viewer said she was completely taken aback at Mueller’s findings, having previously believed that his eponymous report had indeed cleared Trump.
Speaking in a raspy baritone that hasn't been heard publicly in two years, Robert Mueller refused to clear the president and told Americans to guard against foreign election interference https://t.co/WBNeWQko0x
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) May 29, 2019
“I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before,” Cathy Garnaat, a Republican, said.
Why hadn’t Garnaat (or others like her, for that matter) known about Mueller’s findings? “I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated,” she explained.
She isn’t likely the only person who wrongly believes Mueller “exonerated” Trump in his report. And that’s why the special counsel must speak before Congress about what he uncovered, if only to put a sound byte behind his findings.
Even if he refuses to answer questions over his opinions on the matter, of whether he believes Congress should move to impeach the president or not, hearing Mueller say aloud, in his own words, what the report he oversaw actually has within it would provide the American people — not to mention lawmakers in Congress — insights into what his investigation uncovered that the Trump administration has so far (somewhat successfully) tried to undermine.
The testimony of the former special counsel could serve another purpose: many Republican lawmakers in Congress have pushed dubious claims against his investigation and his report, parroting lies about Mueller’s supposed biases, claims that have been rebutted multiple times since they were first pushed by this administration.
Mueller could put these lawmakers in their place, effectively producing a modern-day McCarthyesque “have you no shame” moment during his testimony if they attempt to challenge what his inquiry found.
Mueller’s reticence is understandable: he’s been a quiet investigator for the past two years, opting only to speak about his investigation at the same moment he stepped away from it. That’s an admirable quality — but his verbal explanations shouldn’t stop there.
Congress must ask him to speak on his report, including why he was unable to exonerate the president of obstruction of justice charges.