This House Judiciary Hearing Proved Why Impeachment Is Necessary

Today's House Judiciary Committee hearing wasn't as effective in highlighting Mueller's findings as it could have been with the gravitas of impeachment.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and ranking Judiciary Member Rep. Doug Collins (D-GA) – (AP)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and ranking Judiciary Member Rep. Doug Collins (D-GA) – (AP)

The argument for the necessity of impeachment just grew stronger, and it had nothing to do with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been pushing back on calls for impeachment, but today it became even clearer that it’s the best method to expose President Trump’s unprecedented corruption.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee held the first in what will be a series of hearings entitled “Lessons From the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.” The hearing featured testimony from former White House Counsel John Dean, who famously testified against former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings. Also in attendance were former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor Professor Barbara McQuade, and John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation.

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After opening statements from Nadler and Collins, John Dean compared specific findings in the Mueller report to Watergate. Subsequently, just like they do on MSNBC, Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade did an excellent job outlining Trump’s obstruction and highlighting Mueller’s findings. John Malcolm, on the other hand, played the role of Trump defender and said of the President “…some laws apply differently to him and some don’t apply at all.” It appears Malcolm is a believer of the unitary executive theory, which Attorney General William Barr also espouses.

Throughout the hearing, House Republicans continued their sycophantic defenses of President Trump and showcased their lack of knowledge when it comes to Mueller’s report. The problem is, it’s unclear how many Americans actually saw this. Minutes before the hearing was set to begin at 2 pm ET, a helicopter crash-landed in Midtown Manhattan killing the pilot. This tragedy was rightfully covered by all networks for the full first hour, but after the coverage of the crash stopped, not many networks pivoted back to live footage of the hearing. CSPAN was the only channel who carried the hearing in full.

Impeachment hearings, however, command media attention in a way these hearings cannot – unless they manage to get Mueller to testify. Launching an impeachment inquiry is just as much about upholding the Constitution as it is about highlighting Trump’s corruption for the American people. The inquiry would not only give the House Judiciary Committee increased legal leverage by granting it grand jury powers, it would be broadcasted live on networks across the US.

A 448-page report is not the mechanism through which the American people will be able to process Mueller’s findings most effectively – if they even get around to reading it. A CNN poll in early May found that only 3% of Americans said they read the Mueller report in full. And as we’ve seen, not every lawmaker has read it either.

While Pelosi may point to recent court victories and the Justice Department’s recent agreement to surrender documents to the House Intelligence and House Judiciary Committees as a reflection of the success of her approach, it may be time for a shift in strategy. Slow-rolling impeachment made sense before Robert Mueller made his public statement, but the calculus now needs to change if the objective is to most effectively highlight Trump’s potential crimes ahead of 2020. Americans need to know why over 1,000 federal prosecutors believe President Trump would be indicted if it weren’t for the Office of Legal Counsel memos stating a President cannot be indicted.

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Opinion // House Judiciary / Impeachment / Robert Mueller / Russia Investigation