And after the questions and answers are complete, then what?
Former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress in a pair of public hearings on Wednesday as he answers questions from lawmakers in both major parties who are eager to hear him say out loud—and hopefully with additional context and substantive insights—the key findings of the report he submitted earlier this year after a nearly two-year investigation into alleged 2016 election interference and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.
In a second hearing, scheduled to start at 12:00 PM, Mueller will appear before the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), to answer additional questions. Watch it live:
Despite so much anticipation for Mueller's testimony and endless speculation about how much he will say—or the widely held expectation that he says very little—it should still be interesting viewing. As Brian Barrett wrote for Wired:
Robert Mueller has already told you everything he's going to say. It's all in his 448-page report, the culmination of years of work. It already outlines, with absolute clarity, manifold abuses of power, obstruction of justice, and unsavory relations with a hostile foreign power. It practically implores Congress to impeach Donald Trump. Here, see for yourself.
But Mueller's testimony will still have value, even if all he does is read directly from the report. (Or especially if.) The vast majority of Americans haven't read it. Many in Congress haven't even read it. And the loudest voices to weigh in on it so far—Barr and Trump—have flagrantly misrepresented its conclusions. Most people will be hearing about what Mueller actually found for the first time on Wednesday—including some of the people asking the questions.
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Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, Rep. Jamila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a member of House Judiciary Committee, said, "It's hard to know exactly what's going to come out of this hearing, but I do think that probably the most important thing that we can expect that we will get is that Mueller will tell us what was in the report."
For informed progressives, including journalist and activist John Nichols, who argue that what's contained in the Mueller report has already provided grounds for the initiation of impeachment proceedings against Trump, the biggest thing to watch for is not what Mueller says during the hearings, but what Democratic lawmakers do in the aftermath.
“I completely read the entire Mueller Report, and do you know what I concluded after reading both Volume 1 and Volume 2? There is grounds for impeachment there. GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT! We have a president who has completely violated the public trust and his oath of office.” https://t.co/AOKtim9V1l
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) July 23, 2019
"Memo to Judiciary Committee Democrats," Nichols tweeted Tuesday night: "The #MuellerTestimony matters less than what is done after Mueller testifies. If Ds simply head off for the August recess without acting upon what they have heard, they will destroy any momentum for accountability."
Ahead of the hearings, the progressive advocacy group Stand Up America said it was now time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to drop her opposition to impeachment, citing the evidence of obstruction of justice they argue is documented throughout the Mueller report.
"If this isn't impeachable conduct, what is? If any other American obstructed justice as blatantly as Donald Trump, they'd be heading to prison," Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America, said in a statement. "The Mueller report made it clear that it's up to Congress to hold a corrupt president accountable—and it's far past time for Speaker Pelosi to allow an impeachment inquiry to begin. Doing nothing would embolden Trump to continue breaking the law—and set a dangerous precedent for future presidents. Every member of Congress, regardless of party, must now go on the record and tell their constituents whether they think Trump's criminal conduct is acceptable, and what they're going to do about it."