House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly gotten the word out to Democrats ahead of next week’s scheduled testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller: No showboating or grandstanding during the hearings.
“As we go into next week, I’d like to have a level of calmness, no drama, regarding the Mueller presentation,” Pelosi told party members at a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to the Washington Examiner. “The very fact that he is presenting is what we want, so many more people will be aware of the charges that are in the Mueller report.”
Mueller is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House judiciary and intelligence committees regarding the findings of his two-year-long Russia investigation into possible collusion between Moscow and members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Democrats had been calling for Mueller to testify ever since his report was submitted to Attorney General William Barr. The party has argued that Barr’s initial disclosure of a summary of Mueller’s findings may have distorted the public’s perception of what the Mueller report actually says.
In his March letter to Congress, Barr released the "principal conclusions" reached in Mueller’s investigation, stating definitively that Mueller did not establish evidence that President Trump's team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election -- "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."
Then in April, after Barr released the more than 400-page Mueller report – with some portions redacted – some Democrats complained that the report was too long and that few Americans, or even many lawmakers themselves, were likely to read the full text.
Having Mueller appear in public – answering lawmakers’ questions about the report – was probably the best way for the findings to be communicated to the American people, some argued.
But the Examiner noted that Democrats have sometimes used Capitol Hill hearings as opportunities for publicity stunts – such as when Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., ate from a bucket of fried chicken to suggest that Barr was afraid to face committee members when the attorney general skipped a hearing earlier this year.
In another example, Democrats invited Watergate figure John Dean to testify at a recent hearing, in what critics said was a bid to associate the Trump administration to the Nixon-era scandal in the public’s mind, the Examiner reported.
According to the newspaper, Pelosi argued Thursday that Mueller’s mere presence, unaccompanied by theatrics, will be enough.
“It is valuable,” Pelosi reportedly said, “because 3 percent of the public say they’ve read it, which means it’s polling like point-3-percent of the public. It is devastating, it is pointing out how the president has obstructed justice really so many times.”
Trump and many Republicans have countered that with the Russia investigation over and the Mueller report submitted and released to the public – without charges filed against the president -- the matter should be considered over and America should move on.