May 29, 2019

Congress Still Has Questions for Mueller

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller went before reporters today and had important words to say about the report of his recently completed investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election and interference with that investigation by the White House. He had two apparent goals in making his unanticipated public statement. First, he intended to emphasize what the report of his team actually says. This includes asserting that his team did not exonerate Donald Trump of obstruction of justice and was prevented by Department of Justice policy from making such a charge even if it were logically appropriate. Second, Mueller wanted to say that his testifying before Congress would not lead him to disclose anything that was not said in his report or in his statement today.

What Mueller made clear, if not totally explicit, is that Russian interference in our election was a very serious matter that calls for a legislative response from Congress. Likewise, it was clear from his remarks that he believes that Congress needs to perform its constitutional duty and embark on serious consideration of impeaching the president.

Indeed, Mueller answered—virtually, if not actually—many questions he might be expected to be asked were he to testify before Congress. In particular, he skirted the most obvious question while suggesting that the answer is in the affirmative, namely, would you have indicted the president were it not for DoJ policy? Nonetheless, there are questions of interested that Mueller could answer that have not been answered either in his report or in his lone public statement:

  1. Did the Mueller team investigate possible financial crimes by the president or his family members? Was this matter considered beyond his remit?
  2. Why did he not insist on interviewing the president himself and members of his family?
  3. What happened to the counterintelligence investigation begun by the FBI? Has it concluded? Is it ongoing?
  4. Did the investigation end when Mueller felt he had accomplished what was asked of him, or was he pressed to end it by Attorney General Bob Barr?
No doubt, there are other questions that members of Congress would like to ask Robert Mueller. Will they get a chance? Perhaps not, although Congress could compel an appearance by the former special prosecutor. In the meantime, Mueller has given Congress two important tasks to pursue.

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