Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress left some believing his appearance did nothing to further the Democrats’ search for ammunition against President Donald Trump.
However, Mueller once again reaffirmed that he in no way exonerated Trump of obstruction of justice, which kept the impeachment fires burning for those who want the president reproved or even removed from office.
“[Mueller] was successful,” said popular political analyst Laura Coates. “He was neither a pawn or a piñata.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has held out against impeachment proceedings in her chamber because she said the Senate ultimately would shoot down such an attempt, was forced to tell journalists that she wasn’t trying to “run out the clock on impeachment.”
She said a decision on whether the House will move forward with impeachment proceedings “will be made in a timely fashion.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said his committee “has already been conducting an impeachment inquiry” of Trump.
“Articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the Committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made,” Nadler wrote in a court filing in July.
Despite many one-word answers that he gave to lawmakers during his testimony, Mueller unequivocally shut down Trump’s claim that he was totally exonerated in the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller said Russia still presented a threat to American democracy.
“They are doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign,” Mueller told the House panel.
His 448-page report to the Department of Justice in April noted that while he couldn’t prove Trump colluded with Russia to help defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, he did with reasonable certainty that the president obstructed justice.
Mueller said he couldn’t charge Trump because of long-standing rules that say a sitting president cannot be indicted.
“We spent substantial time assuring the integrity of the report,” Mueller said.
The idea that Trump was not exonerated “was clear in reading this report the day the report came out,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 presidential hopeful, said at a convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Detroit, ABC News reported.
Fellow Sen. and presidential contender Cory Booker (D-N.J.) echoed Warren, saying Mueller’s report was “enough of an indication that the House of Representatives should begin impeachment proceedings against this president.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told reporters after the hearing that the questioning of “our Democratic members have been highly effective and efficient.”
“The one thing that we always try to do is try to draw out the information that we think would be helpful to American public in forming their own opinions. And I think that here, we have done something already and that is to bring life to the Mueller report,” Cummings said.
Still, Trump found a way to claim victory after Mueller’s testimony.
“NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION!” he declared in one tweet. In another, he said, “I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearings … a disaster for Robert Mueller & the Democrats.”