During Robert Mueller’s daylong testimony before two House committees, curtailed as he was by a DOJ directive limiting his testimony, there still were moments where key issues with Donald Trump’s actions showed through; a prime example of this was Mueller’s affirmation that, yes, President Trump asked staffers to falsify records pertinent to the investigation. Further, Mueller agreed with Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA) saying, according to The Hill, that these actions by Trump “were related to President Trump’s concerns about your obstruction of justice inquiry.”
Mueller did appear to abide the DOJ directive that his testimony be confined to the contents of the Mueller report, and frequently indicated that he could not answer given questions. Yet there were moments such as those described above where Mueller did confirm things which, while present in his report, stood out by virtue of Mueller confirming them in person. Representative Richmond’s questions about Trump asking staffers to falsify records eventually got to the issue of Trump attempting to get then White House Counsel Don McGahn to deny in writing that Trump had asked him to get Mueller fired, which would have been an untrue statement. McGahn, perhaps unlike other staffers, refused to comply, saying he would resign if necessary to keep from writing the untrue statement.
According to The Hill:
Former special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that President Trump directed staffers to falsify records connected to Mueller’s investigation. Asked by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) whether it was “fair to say” Trump “tried to protect himself by asking staff to falsify records relevant to an ongoing investigation,” Mueller responded, “I would say that’s generally a summary.” …The Louisiana congressman went on to specifically ask Mueller about Trump’s attempts to get then-White House counsel Don McGahn to create a written record falsely asserting Trump had not directed him to fire Mueller, which McGahn refused. Richmond asked if the attempts “were related to President Trump’s concerns about your obstruction of justice inquiry,” to which Mueller responded, “I believe that to be true.” “So it’s accurate to say the president knew that he was asking [Don McGahn] to deny facts that McGahn ‘had repeatedly said were accurate.’ Isn’t that right?” Richmond asked Mueller, with the special counsel responding in the affirmative.
Later in the day, Mueller also characterized Trump’s written responses to questions from the investigation as both incomplete and contrary to facts in some cases. It is of course not a surprise to anyone, really, that Trump is a frequent liar, and that he would be happy to gain from others working toward his interests, no matter how they go about doing it, whether legal or not. The question is what to do about it. Even if there were sufficient support from the Democratic-majority House for impeachment, which there still is not, it is a virtual certainty that the Republican-majority Senate would not vote for impeachment, so there would be no real impact for Trump even if Democratic support for impeachment broadened, and an unsuccessful attempt could prove a political liability to Democrats.
A lot has been made of the battle between Democrats’ interests in Trump’s alleged wrongdoing versus Republicans’ apparently blind allegiance to Trump, if not on principle, then out of self-interest. It is important though that the key issue, Russia’s attempted interference in the 2016 election, and its continued efforts to interfere in U.S. elections, efforts which Mueller himself today asserted are ongoing currently, is not overlooked. Trump doesn’t say much about this threat, instead yammering on and on about the “Witch Hunt” against him. That threat against our democracy would likely again be a pro-Trump effort, which seems quite clearly to be part of why Trump doesn’t seem to be too concerned about it – Trump is concerned only about himself, not our democracy.