House Democrats are facing a daunting challenge this week — goading Robert Mueller into offering testimony that could irreparably damage Donald Trump’s presidency.
In the three months since the conclusion of the former special counsel’s investigation, Democrats have struggled to use Mueller’s 448-page report to stoke a public outcry against the president’s conduct, despite evidence that Trump sought to thwart the probe.
And on Wednesday, they’ll be up against a witness who didn’t want to testify in the first place — he had to be subpoenaed — and one who, over more than a decade of regular Capitol Hill testimony, has mastered the art of the dodge. For those reasons, Democrats are already downplaying expectations for the blockbuster hearings.
Still, when Mueller testifies for three hours before the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee, Democrats are expected to press Mueller to state that he might have charged Trump with obstruction of justice were he not the occupant of the Oval Office.
For the Democrats who want to see Trump impeached, that’s the whole ballgame — and a moment that could see Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) re-think her opposition to launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
To achieve that, Democrats are aiming to bring the Mueller report off of the pages and onto Americans’ TV screens in an easily digestible format. It’s been their goal all along — but Wednesday will be their best chance to put it into practice.
“Many Americans, in their busy lives, have not had the opportunity to read the report. It’s a pretty dry, prosecutorial product,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. “We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life.”
Democrats have said for months that even if Mueller simply reads aloud the words he wrote in his report, he’ll debunk Trump’s “no collusion, no obstruction” mantra and help Americans begin to process a report most haven’t.