Okay, well now what?
Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s report has arrived, it was more damaging than Attorney General William Barr‘s letter led the public to believe, and it detailed a number of highly questionable actions by President Donald Trump. Now politics is set to take the stage.
In the immediate aftermath, House Democrats are still working to get their hands on the full Mueller report, even though it could be argued that the redactions weren’t as problematic as feared. Requests for Mueller to testify are sure to follow. The question immediately following all of this fallout is whether it will result in a sincere impeachment effort.
Impeachment expert, attorney and CNN legal analyst Ross Garber told Law&Crime, however, that no president has ever been removed from office due to impeachment and Trump won’t be the first.
“No president in the history of the country has been removed from office by Congress for committing an impeachable offense. I don’t think the Mueller Report will justify Donald Trump becoming the first,” he said.
Garber emphasized that finding high crimes and misdemeanors is an “incredibly high standard.”
“The standard is incredibly high and the process is onerous and disruptive. What meets the constitutional bar of ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ is left to the sound discretion of Congress,” Garber continued. “Congress will not find that the facts outlined in the Mueller Report justify the undoing of an election. Moreover, Democrats will want to avoid even beginning an impeachment process.”
For Garber, one of the major risks for Democrats is starting a fight that will only energize Trump’s base.
“They know that doing so would further mobilize Trump’s base, draw scrutiny on the performance of Congressional Democrats, disrupt their substantive legislative and political agendas, and set high expectations given that the Democrats firmly control the House,” he said.
While Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) previously pushed back on the idea of impeachment, others are reading into the idea that Mueller intentionally punted on the obstruction issue to let Congress decide Trump’s fate, given lines like this one:
The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.
It’s long been noted that Mueller would likely following the Department of Justice’s long-standing policy of not indicting a sitting president. Mueller acknowledged that he did not want to “preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” All of this is to say that it’s up to the Democrats to decide if they are going to initiate something Mueller chose not do.
[Image via Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images]