Robert Mueller could be a killer witness — if he chooses to be
Special counsel Robert Mueller will likely have a chance to make a big a difference in the course of American history, if he chooses to take it. The House Judiciary Committee is currently in discussions to set a hearing date for him, and even Senate Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham has queried Mueller on whether he wishes to refute the testimony of Attorney General William Barr.
At issue is nothing short of how America perceives the Trump administration's handling of Mueller’s report, whether it can be trusted moving forward, and ultimately whether momentum builds toward impeachment proceedings. At the moment, about two-thirds of Americans are disinclined to impeach Trump, even though 57 percent believe he committed crimes before he was elected and 46 percent think he's committed crimes in office, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
But the country has also spent nearly a month listening to Barr downplay Trump's collusion with Russia, his clear criminal obstruction of justice, and his flagrant unfitness for office. Barr painted that picture of supposed innocence by manipulating Mueller's findings and starving the public of the report's abundant documentation of Trump's malfeasance while public opinion hardened in Trump's favor. But like Trump, Barr has now trashed whatever credibility he had. But Mueller, the other major player in this drama, has serious political capital to spend.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller conducted a fair investigation, voters say 72 - 18 percent, including 65 - 25 percent among Republicans.
Most Americans also seem to get that Mueller's report didn't exonerate Trump, with 51 percent saying it didn't clear him of wrongdoing while Trump’s reliable 38 percent say it did and 11 percent weren't sure.
But hearing from Mueller, in person, about the evidence he found and the way in which Barr bastardized it could be a definitive moment for the public. While much of Trump's behavior is clearly detailed in the redacted report, what's new in many ways is the fact that Trump's attorney general deliberately lied to skew the results of the two year-long investigation. People don't like to be lied to, and Mueller could use the opportunity to make it perfectly clear how badly Barr corrupted the roll-out process in order to cover for Trump.
Mueller, who's generally viewed as an Eagle Scout caught in asymmetrical warfare with a partisan hatchet man, isn't likely to be flashy. On the report, he'll probably stick to the findings without much elaboration. Nonetheless, hearing that evidence articulated by the man who reviewed it exhaustively could be useful.
But where Mueller has the chance to really stoke the public's passion is by casting doubt on Barr's actions. Mueller could deal a major blow to the Barr’s integrity. While the attorney general has become Trump's most prominent spokesperson, Mueller could expose Barr's disingenuousness and malicious intent. Undermining Barr’s ability to serve as a credible representative for Trump moving forward would not only deprive Trump of Barr’s cover, but it could perhaps reignite public passion about the way Trump is abusing the power of the office that has been entrusted to him.