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Mueller probably won’t be giving new information — here’s why that can still sink Trump

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- Commentary

Former special counsel Robert Mueller will appear in Congress this week to testify for two hours about the report he authored on the case of Russian collusion.

The hearing is set for Wednesday, though Mueller has said that he won’t have any additional information other than what is in his report. A Washington Post report used examples of past Mueller testimony to outline what can be anticipated. The reality, however, is that regardless of whether Mueller sticks to the report or not, he’ll deliver enough to put the president in a difficult situation.

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“For anybody hoping he’s going to provide new information or evidence against the president, I think many people will be very disappointed,” The Post quoted John Pistole, who served as Mueller’s former deputy. “And then on the other side of the aisle, some may be disappointed to find out that he’s not a demagogue of the left.”

But that’s not what Mueller needs to do to make Trump’s life difficult. Trump has gone above and beyond keeping his staff and former staff from testifying in a public hearing. The president knows that once Americans see and hear what his aides did, he’s in trouble. Clips of those hearings will be spread across social media and appear on every website. They’ll be used in super PAC ads and fill the news cycle until he can distract with another racist rant.

It’s for that reason that if Mueller only sticks to the words of his report, he’ll still do more than enough damage to Trump. The overwhelming majority of Americans haven’t read the Mueller report. If they’re viewers of Fox News, they likely believe that Trump was fully exonerated, because that’s the lie the overwhelming number of shows on network reported. The hosts who did tell the truth, were either ignored or attacked.

Pistole told The Post that he expects Mueller will be “as unresponsive as possible, while telling the truth. I think his first approach will be, ‘Read the report and form your own conclusions.’ He’s no longer a government employee, and he can tell them to pound sand, not that he would use those words.”

All members must do is ask Mueller to explain a passage in lay-terms so Americans that are not lawyers can understand it. Another way officials can get answers from Mueller is to ask “yes or no” if he exonerated Trump and if he would have recommended an indicted Trump if not for the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a president can’t be indicted.

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They could also ask if Mueller included the ten examples of obstruction of justice in his report to encourage Congress to act. They could even ask if there were more than ten examples and he simply kept the list at ten. Further, they could approach why Mueller didn’t push for Trump to be interviewed in person.

The Mueller testimony won’t result in the president being marched out of the White House in handcuffs, but that doesn’t mean it is a waste of time. If Mueller can reveal his report to the American people outside of the legal-speak in which it’s written, it might change political opinion on the issue of impeachment. If Congress has more cover from the public, they could likely vote to begin impeachment proceedings.

Read the full backstory on Mueller’s previous testimony at The Washington Post.

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‘Zero doubt we’re getting witnesses’: Trump’s legal team bracing for GOP defections

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If at least four Senate Republicans vote to subpoena additional witnesses and documents -- that could trigger a domino effect.

Sources close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will likely try to reach an agreement with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer if it appears likely that 51 senators will vote for new testimony, with demands for GOP witnesses, rather than going to a vote, reported Axios.

The most likely GOP defectors remain Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Mitt Romney (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Lamar Alexander (TN), but that could put new pressure vulnerable senators up for re-election such as Cory Gardner (CO), Thom Tills (NC), Martha McSally (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), Joni Ernst (IA) and Pat Toomey (PA).

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‘Blow up the phones’: Demands that #BoltonMustTestify surge after new Trump’s Ukrainian aid freeze

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A day after Democratic lawmakers demanded that former National Security Adviser John Bolton testify in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, grassroots political action groups urged the American public to call their representatives and add their voices to the call for a fair trial.

"Hearing from first-hand witnesses in the Senate trial is now a necessity," tweeted the progressive group Stand Up America. "Call your senators now and demand a fair trial."

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World of slime: Here’s why Trump likes to hang out with bottom-feeders and crooked lawyers

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Donald Trump has been a real estate developer, a TV show host, a casino owner, a politician and more. But through it all, there has been one constant: Trump has surrounded himself with sleazy characters. Oddly enough, those are exactly the people who helped propel him to becoming the 45th president of the United States.That's the thesis of the new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo, titled aptly enough, "The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President." I spoke with Rothfeld during a recent edition of Salon Talks about the book, a veritable encyclopedia of the unsavory characters that have made Trump who he is, alongside some new reporting.
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