Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday was desired by Democrats and others who are wary of President Donald Trump to provide a reason to further pursue investigations — and possibly impeachment — against the chief executive.
Many were hoping for sound bytes that could encourage more Americans to support the cause. They didn’t get them.
In Mueller’s first testimony of the day, for example, many of his answers were one-worded yes’s and no’s. Those in favor of impeachment, who were hoping for a bombshell of a statement from him, were likely disappointed, although the special counsel did confirm what we’ve known all along: that the president acted inappropriately.
The biggest sound byte of the morning’s testimony likely came when Mueller suggested that the president could be charged by the Department of Justice after he leaves office.
This seems…big. Thanks to Republican Ken Buck for getting this on the record:
Buck: "Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?"
Robert Mueller: "Yes" pic.twitter.com/47SRauY7cz
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) July 24, 2019
That begs a very important question: if Trump did something egregious during the investigation, such as obstructing justice, why wait? Why not do something about it now?
Mueller has explicitly stated his hands, and the DOJ’s, are tied by a departmental memo that prevents them from filing charges against a sitting president. That memo is questionable by some who view it as advisory or outdated, not as constitutional rule to abide by. For Mueller, however, it is equivalent to a secular Bible he must follow.
So perhaps it was foolish for Democrats to think that Mueller’s testimony today would land them some amazing statement, something so spectacular and clear, that would render their investigations of the Trump administration justified.
The thing is, they already had that. The Mueller report itself details 10 incidents in which the president obstructed the investigation that the special counsel was trying to conduct.
Trump tweeted out later in the day a quote that stated Mueller had said his investigation wasn’t impeded in any way. “In other words, there was NO OBSTRUCTION,” Trump added.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
That’s incorrect, however — simply because Mueller’s investigation wasn’t impeded doesn’t mean that Trump didn’t attempt to do so. And an act of obstruction of justice needn’t require a person to be successful at it in order for them to be guilty.
The 10 incidents of obstruction of justice that Trump possibly committed need to be examined. If it’s determined that they are abhorrent enough to warrant the president’s expulsion, then Democrats in Congress ought to begin impeachment proceedings straight away.
Some wanted Mueller on Wednesday to give Democrats the permission slip needed to start those proceedings. But they don’t need Mueller’s permission or blessing — his report provided the evidence. What they do with it is up to them.