June 19 2019
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III recently wrapped up his investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and submitted a report to Congress. The investigation spanned just under two years, and was riddled with controversy at every step. Notably, Mueller’s inquiry resulted in the arrest of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Micheal Cohen, who pled guilty on several charges, including lying to Congress. Cohen is now serving a 6-year sentence in a New York federal prison. Now, the Mueller probe is the subject of a new round of hearings by the House Judiciary Committee.
What happened in these hearings, and what do they mean for the future of our government?
The Justice Department will provide further material from the report to House Democrats.
Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced June 10 that the Justice Department will begin to provide his committee with documents and information related to the Mueller report following a contention over a subpoena. In his statement, Nadler did not eliminate the possibility of later actions concerning contempt, but did indicate his committee’s willingness to cooperate with the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr. "If the department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps. If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies,” Nadler said.
The House of Representatives voted to hold two top officials in contempt of Congress.
The House Oversight Committee voted 24-15 in favor of holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on June 13. They are being held over failure to comply with a subpoena for documents relating to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan was the only Republican to vote against his party.
It’s unlikely that Mueller himself will appear before Congress.
In his first public statement since the release of the report, Mueller said that he “would not provide any information beyond what is already public” in a testimony before Congress, and stated “if we had had confidence that [Trump] did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Lawmakers are still divided over the issue.
The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing Wednesday, where both Democrats and Republicans sought to vocalize their takeaways from Mueller’s report. “It may not be a crime to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Or for Michael Cohen to seek the Kremlin's help to do so. It may not be a crime to try to enrich yourself with a foreign business deal even while running for president, or to lie about it to the American people. But it is deeply compromising,” said Democrat Adam Schiff of California. Devin Nunes, a Republican, also from California, used his opening statement to target the media for perpetuating what he described as the “collusion hoax,” saying, “Unfortunately for Democrats, the Mueller dossier, as I call it, either debunked many of their favorite conspiracy theories or did not even find them worth discussing.”
While Mueller’s investigation is now closed, one thing is certain: the shockwave it sent through the American political establishment is still being felt. With Mueller steering away from testimony, it appears that the defining conclusions are left for the public to decide. So will Mueller’s investigation become a point of interest in the 2020 presidential election, or will candidates on both sides of the aisle avoid the debate?
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