How important is it for Robert Mueller to testify before Congress next month?
Two ideas abound over what the former Russia investigation special counsel’s pending testimony could bring forth, one from Democrats and one from Trump-supporting Republicans.
Let’s examine what Republicans are probably hoping will happen. Leadership within the GOP is optimistic that Mueller’s testimony will be the absolute final end of the long saga of Trump-inspired investigations. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) believes the plan to hear from Mueller will backfire on Democrats.
“All they want to do is try to impeach the president,” he recently said, per a report from Politico. “I think there’s a lot of information that Republicans can actually get out of it.”
Some Democrats may be worried about the same thing happening. Will Mueller’s words be the final chapter on the matter, resulting in the possible criminal actions by the president being un-checked?
I am pleased to announce that @HouseJudiciary and House Intel will have Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify in open session on July 17, pursuant to a subpoena issued this evening. https://t.co/wR0CEVqpJC
We look forward to having Mr. Mueller testify, as do all Americans. pic.twitter.com/UEKihMEYXI
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) June 26, 2019
But most Democrats are probably hopeful that optics from a Mueller testimony will sway public opinion about their continued efforts to investigate the president.
A document provided by Mueller is one thing — the special counsel had hoped to avoid testimony by stating in May that the document he produced “speaks for itself,” per the National Law Journal — but hearing him say the words, and having him explain why he provided no less than 10 instances of the president possibly behaving in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice, would provide an incredible service to the American people.
Mueller likely won’t say much in terms of his opinion over his report. It’s simply not his style: with regards to the investigation he led, it’s clear that he’d much rather provide the information, and allow others to make a decision on what course of action is needed.
That’s precisely why he didn’t charge the president with an indictment — he didn’t believe he could. It’s also why he was adamant in stating that the president wasn’t exonerated when he first spoke about the report in May.
“If we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller quipped last month.
That’s a clear indication to many that the president acted in an illegal manner. Congress, specifically Democrats in the House, can act on Mueller’s findings, but they won’t unless public opinion supports them doing so. They’re banking on Mueller’s testimony in July helping them gain the public’s trust.