Pelosi’s Impeachment Hopes Crushed After Disastrous Mueller Testimony
Congressional hearing consider disaster for Democrats but a victory for Trump
Nancy Pelosi's hopes for the Democrats to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump have been crushed following former special counsel Robert Mueller's fumbling Wednesday testimony before Congress.
Described as "frail" and "confused" during his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller's testimony did not live up to the expectations of many Democrats who were seemingly expecting anti-Trump bombshells.
The congressional hearing was widely considered to be disastrous for the Democratic Party but a victory for President Trump.
Following the hearing Wednesday, Speaker Pelosi was left unconvinced about opening impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Pelosi didn't entirely rule out impeaching the president altogether, however, saying if that's where the Democrats end up, "that's the place we will have to go."
"My position has always been: whatever decision we make in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts," Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol.
After Mueller wrapped up nearly five hours of testimony on Capitol Hill, Pelosi met behind closed doors and huddled with her Democratic lawmakers.
"If we have a case for impeachment, that's the place we will have to go," she added.
According to the Daily Mail, Pelosi's declaration came after Democrats succeeded in getting special counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly before Congress - a move they spun as a success even though his performance was widely regarded a disaster for the party.
"But the stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for just letting the president off the hook," the speaker argued.
The House begins impeachment proceedings but the trial is held in the Senate.
The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to vote to convict the president.
Pelosi said the situation is not "endless" in terms of time.
"That is not endless in terms of time or endless in terms of the information that we want.
"But if it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the cover-up in the White House prevents us from getting that information, that will not prevent us from going forward.
"In fact, it's even more grounds to go forward," she added.
Rep. @MattGaetz (R-FL): “Can you state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of Russia’s disinformation campaign?”— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) July 24, 2019
Mueller: “That part of the building of the case predated me.”
Gaetz: “Manafort’s alleged crimes... predated you. You had no problem charging them.” pic.twitter.com/3XFwBxG0Eu
Democrats have plans in the works this week to move forward in their investigations of the president's taxes, his businesses, his administration, and his 2016 campaign.
On Thursday, the House Oversight panel will vote on whether or not to hold White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway in contempt after she defied the committee's subpoena to talk about accusations she violated the Hatch Act.
And Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, who favors beginning impeachment proceedings against the president and led the first round of questioning of Mueller, said he is going after former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was a key witness in Mueller's report.
McGahn, at the request of the White House, refused a congressional subpoena to appear before Nadler's panel.
"The very next step either tomorrow or Friday is we're going into court to ask for the grand jury material and to enforce the subpoena against Mr. McGahn," New York Democrat Nadler said Wednesday at the Capitol.
"And that's particularly important because the excuses — I won't call them reasons — the excuses the White House gives for McGahn not testifying and the nonsense about absolute immunity etc. are the same excuses for all the other fact witnesses, and if we break that, we break the law."
Nadler also said Trump was only saved from indictment by legal precedent.
"Only the legal counsel's office's opinion that you can't indict a sitting president is saving the president from indictment," he said.
"Because all the elements of these crimes were found with substantial evidence, and the people have now heard this, the president's chant of no obstruction is nonsense, his chant that he's been totally exonerated is a simple lie.
'Mueller made clear that the President is not exonerated," Nadler said.
The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has ruled a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Mueller, himself, said in Wednesday's hearing that Trump is vulnerable to indictment after leaving office.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the second round of questioning against Mueller, said he wanted to be sure Democrats could win an impeachment case in the court of public opinion given the low odds of the Republican-controlled Senate convicting the president.
"There are two juries in an impeachment," Schiff said at a press conference in the Capitol after Mueller wrapped his testimony.
"There is the jury which is the Senate which decides removal from office, and then there is the jury that is the American people.
"And I'm most concerned about the jury that is the American people.
"And before we embark on a course as significant to the country as the impeachment of a president, I want to make sure that we can make that case to the jury of the American people," he said.
Trump, meanwhile, trashed Mueller's performance during the high-stakes testimony in Congress, saying the former special counsel had done a "horrible job."
In addition to doubling down on his long-stated view that the Russia probe was a "hoax" and a "witch hunt," in spite of Mueller's most direct defense to date, Trump weighed in on how Mueller was able to handle hours worth of tough questioning from lawmakers.
Mueller, 74, at times turned Wednesday's hotly-anticipated congressional hearing into a lost opportunity and disappointment for Democrats, hemming, and hawing through questions and flipping through his own report to follow along with his inquisitors.
Mueller at one point couldn't remember that it was President Ronald Reagan who appointed him to his first federal prosecutor job, and said he wasn't at all "familiar" with Fusion GPS - one of the keys in the entire Russia Probe.
Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS, with a lucrative contract paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign through a law firm, paid a former spy to gather dirt on Donald Trump, resulting in a "dirty dossier" full of unproven and salacious rumors about the future president.
The dossier was later used to justify surveillance on a Trump foreign policy adviser, contributing to the extended-play Russia probe that Mueller helmed for 22 months.
Mueller answered a long list of questions with complaints that the subjects were "not in my purview," and dodged more than 100 times.
David Axelrod, a former Barack Obama strategist, tweeted that the hearing was "very, very painful" to watch.
Laurence Tribe, the famed liberal lawyer, wrote that Mueller wasn't up to the challenge of "breathing life into his damning report."