Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-anticipated appearance before two House committees was moved back a week at his request. But with few members even taking the time to read his 448-page report, drafted at the conclusion of his 22-month investigation, it’s not likely to accomplish much of anything.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announced the change in a joint statement released Friday.
"The House Judiciary Committee will convene on July 24 at 8:30am with Special Counsel Mueller testifying in public for three hours,” the statement said. “After a brief break, the House Intelligence Committee will convene for additional public testimony beginning at 12:00pm. All members — Democrats and Republicans — of both committees will have a meaningful opportunity to question the Special Counsel in public, and the American people will finally have an opportunity to hear directly from Mr. Mueller about what his investigation uncovered."
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told Fox News Friday that Mueller should have given House Democrats two answers to their request for testimony.
“The short answer is no,” he said. “And the long answer is hell no.”
Kennedy ventured that there was no point to his appearance other than House Democrats’ attempts to resuscitate a dead issue.
"It's done as far as I'm concerned,” Kennedy told Fox News host Bill Hemmer. “The issue is as dead as fried chicken."
Although he makes a valid point, the fact that few lawmakers have taken the opportunity to even read the report that’s been available to them for three months provides an even better reason for Mueller to be a no-show.
Schiff insists that his committee will ask questions that will venture beyond the scope of the Mueller report. He should prepare to be disappointed. Mueller has repeatedly stated that his congressional testimony will not address anything not contained within the four corners of his report. He won’t veer from the document, and he won’t offer speculation.
A month after the slightly redacted version of the report was made available to members of Congress, five Republicans took the time to read it; not a single Democrat did the same. Democrats instead attempted to secure a full version of the document in violation of federal law. They also demanded the underlying evidence that supported the report’s findings.
The Justice Department offered a compromise that would have eased long-sanding restrictions and which should have placated Democrats. The proposal would have:
- Allowed an additional staff member to review the less-redacted version made available to lawmakers.
- Lawmakers would have been permitted to take any notes they made while reading the report out of the secure facility where it was maintained.
- Lawmakers would have been allowed to talk among those cleared to read the document.
Nadler rejected the offer and in reply his committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress. Nadler, like his Democratic colleagues, hadn’t bothered to read the report.
As of last week few lawmakers had done so. Nadler’s excuse was that members of Congress don’t have the time to read 448 pages.
“You can’t expect people to read lengthy documents in large numbers,” he said. “They have their own lives to lead.”
So his argument can be boiled down to:
- Members don’t have time to read a slightly redacted version of the report; but,
- They would have had the time to read the full report, plus the tens of thousands of pages of underlying evidence, including witness testimony and documentation.
When Politico asked Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., if he’d read the report, he answered, “What’s the point?” Indeed, what would have been the point? He’s not a House member, and none of his committee assignments have anything remotely connected to the Mueller investigation.
And if members of the two committees aren’t going to take the time to read what’s available to them, what’s the point in conducting any hearings at all?
When July 24 arrives, Democratic committee members will essentially question Mueller under direct examination; Republicans will cross examine him. But they’ll do so without having the benefit of the available evidence beforehand, which will amount to a snub to the witness and a waste of the committees’ time.
If they were lawyers trying a case it’d be called ineffective assistance of counsel. But as members of Congress, it’s just plain laziness.
Should Mueller testify? Given that the former special counsel will not testify beyond what’s contained in his report and few committee members will have read it, what’s the point?
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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