Former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before the House on Wednesday about his multi-year investigation into the Russian collusion hoax. Democrats, unhappy with the fact that there was no collusion, have been trying to find new ways to preserve this investigation as a dark cloud to hang over Trump’s head.
First, they accused Attorney General Bill Barr of misleading America about the findings of the Mueller Report in his infamous summary memo. Then there was a big stink made about the redactions in the report. Democrats clearly felt the report as it was released wasn’t damaging enough and suggested that something in the redactions was the coup de grâce that would justify impeachment. Yet when the less-redacted version of the report was released to Congress, only two members of Congress bothered to even look at it.
When Mueller gave his infamous press conference, Democrats once again acted as if the sky had fallen, but ultimately it wasn’t enough (again) and Democrats have since been pushing for Mueller to testify before Congress. Personally, I’ve thought Mueller testifying before Congress was necessary for some time, and Republicans should be relishing the opportunity to ask Mueller a whole bunch of important questions—of which there are many.
Now, there’s certainly a lot to unbox regarding the Mueller report, and I suspect Democrats have prepared a whole bunch of questions they think will reveal something that the Mueller report neglected to shed light on. I doubt we’ll get much on that score, but I do think there are four key areas Republicans need to question Robert Mueller about during his testimony that could finally put this whole witch hunt behind us:
1. The contradiction about obstruction and indicting a sitting president.
The media promoted Mueller’s claim that he didn’t recommend indictment due to Office of Legal Counsel guidance about the DOJ’s inability to indict a sitting president. “The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mueller said during his press conference in May.
However, Attorney General Barr testified in April (and repeated numerous times since) that Robert Mueller “reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.” This is an undeniable contradiction that Congress needs to get to the bottom of. Did Mueller lie to the people of the United States, or to Attorney General Barr? My money is on the former.
2. Why were transcripts selectively edited to look worse than they really were?
Since the release of the Mueller Report, it was discovered that transcripts of phone conversations and text messages presented as evidence of obstruction were selectively edited to appear more damaging than they really were. What exactly is the excuse for such editing?
This is a particularly interesting question especially since Mueller essentially punted on the determination of obstruction. If the Mueller report was to stand as the definitive source for Congress to essentially decide whether “high crimes and misdemeanors” took place, then these selectively-edited transcripts are a huge deal. Mueller knew he was setting up Congress to take on the issue of obstruction and gave them misleading transcripts to serve as evidence.
3. When did the investigation determine there was no collusion?
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has wanted to know the answer to this question for some time. Back in June, Jordan said on ABC’s This Week, “I think the one question most Americans want to know, when did you first learn there was no […] no collusion?” Jordan continued:
Say — OK — so when did you know there was no conspiracy, no coordination, no — call it what you want, those — those have been interchangeable for the last two years. So when did you know there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia? We knew when we deposed Jim Comey — when we deposed Jim Comey, he said all the way up until the day he was fired, May 9, 2017, he told us they had no evidence of any type of conspiracy, collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. And that was after 10 months of FBI investigating him. That was after — that was after putting Azra Turk next to George Papadopoulos, that was after using the dossier to spy on the Trump campaign via Carter Page.
So after 10 months if they couldn’t establish collusion, how long did it take Bob Mueller. And if you learned this early on, why did you wait almost two years before you told the country there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election? After all, that was your central focus, your central task of this entire special counsel investigation.
As Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk noted, “Given the length of the investigation — more than two years — and the length of the written report […] it wasn’t just in early March of this year that Mueller concluded that there was no ‘collusion’ or ‘coordination’ between the campaign and the Russians.” According to to Kirk, once that was determined, the investigation should have ended because “nothing else should have mattered.” But, he has some other questions relevant to this point:
So, I return to my question, asking this time in another, abbreviated form: Why did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for more than two years?
Did Mueller know there was no crime committed before he had former national security adviser Michael Flynn indicted for lying about a meeting that wasn’t an illegal meeting in the first place?
Did Mueller know there was no crime committed before he directed his investigation toward former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates for unrelated activities?
Here’s one: Did Mueller know there was no crime committed before the 2018 midterm elections?
The foundation of the report was Russian collusion, yet the American people were strung along much, much longer than necessary. Republicans in Congress better ask about this.
4. Why couldn’t the Mueller Team determine if they’d been obstructed?
If there was any group of people that could make a definitive assessment on whether there was obstruction it would be Robert Mueller and his team. Mueller was able to say definitively there was no collusion, but wouldn’t say one way or the other about obstruction of justice, instead, presenting one-sided evidence and leaving it to Congress, a heavily politicized body, to address.
Mueller could have easily stated in the report that there was obstruction and recommended an indictment. The problem here is that by any standard, the Trump administration fully cooperated with the investigation, provided all the documents requested, allowed administration officials to testify. Attorney General Barr also said that Mueller could have reached a decision on obstruction if he wanted to. So why not?
According to famed liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz, “I cannot imagine a plausible reason why Mueller went beyond his report and gratuitously suggested that President Trump might be guilty, except to help Democrats in Congress and to encourage impeachment talk and action. Shame on Mueller for abusing his position of trust and for allowing himself to be used for such partisan advantage.”
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis