House Democrats can cripple Trump -- without Mueller's help
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) -- CNN screenshot

In a column for the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin complimented House Democrats for their plan to hold hearings on Robert Mueller's report on the campaign and administration of Donald Trump -- and suggested they can do additional damage to the president's reputation without the former special counsel..

Rubin interviewed former prosecutor Mimi Rocah, who said she saw the hearings as a good first step to educate the public about what the Mueller report actually says.

Rocah suggested that "having non-partisan former prosecutors explain how Trump’s conduct constitutes obstruction of justice in ways that Mueller felt he could not makes total sense,” while stating the scheduled appearance of Watergate figure John Dean added an interesting twist.

With Rubin pointing out that televised hearings are the only way to get the public -- and Trump -- to notice, she says inviting aides to the president who are unlikely to show up to defend their boss would have a dramatic impact.

"It wouldn’t hurt to have empty chairs with the name cards of those who won’t appear to explain their conduct, such as Attorney General William P. Barr," she wrote. "Second, the hearings minus Mueller could still be extremely consequential. The systematic reviews of the report’s findings should be sufficient to generate interest. However, the stature of the witnesses is important. I am at a loss to figure out why [ex-White House counsel Doug] McGahn has not been subpoenaed yet. (Perhaps he will be.) The prosecutors who will be called to explain all of this must not be perceived as partisans; ideally, prosecutors who have served in administrations of both parties should appear."

Speaking with Rubin, former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller made a finer point.

“The bottom line is that the committee needs witnesses — preferably witnesses from the Mueller report who can speak to the testimony they gave the special counsel,” Miller explained. "But while subpoenas for those witnesses are litigated, it’s smart to bring in other experts who can speak in televised hearings to the presidential crimes the report exposed.”

Rubin suggested that Democrats need to present their case to the public as if it a story in order to help them understand what Mueller uncovered.

"The hearing will be as much storytelling as fact-finding. The committee and the country actually have the facts in the Mueller report; now the House has to help Americans find those facts and appreciate their importance," she concluded.

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