For now, the dust is continuing to settle from the just concluded midterm elections, in which a number of Democrats lost their seats in the U.S. Senate — and dozens and dozens of Democrats picked up seats in the U.S. House. Democrats now constitute the majority party in that lower Congressional chamber, and they’ve already been working on their plans — including protection for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller leads the infamous Russia investigation at present, seeking to understand the depth and breadth of President Donald Trump and his associates ties to Russia. To that end, he’s already scored criminal convictions against one former associate, Paul Manafort, and the cooperation of a number of others including Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn.
Through all of the twists and turns, Trump has maintained antagonism towards the whole idea of the Russia investigation, denouncing it as the greatest witch hunt in American history. House Democrats hope, with their newfound position of power, to keep Trump from acting on that egomania to shut the Russia investigation down or keep its findings from getting out.
Should a scenario that’s long been feared unfold and the president seek to leverage firings to shut the probe down, Democrats are prepared. Unnamed senior Democratic officials say that if Trump carried out a Richard Nixon-style “Saturday Night Massacre” and fired senior justice officials, Mueller “would likely get an immediate summons to Capitol Hill for nationally televised testimony about his findings.”
That would, of course, be huge.
Besides protecting the investigation itself, Democrats are also keen on protecting any and all of its findings. Current House Minority Leader and likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to ensure that Mueller’s “documentation is preserved” amid a looming specter of a possible Trump team effort to keep findings from getting out. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said he expects the administration to battle the Justice Department over the release of a final Mueller report — but now, Democrats can subpoena it.
In the case of any combination of these possible Republican obstruction efforts, an unnamed senior staffer “familiar with Pelosi’s planning” said:
‘I think you could expect Democrats to take pieces of what they shut down and expose it publicly. This is a report paid for with taxpayer dollars. So taxpayers would have a right to know what Mr. Mueller found.’
Besides protecting the already existing avenues of investigation, House Democrats like incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will likely open new ones. He and other Democrats on his committee already produced a list of some 70 interests they believe warrant greater scrutiny in the Russia probe, and they now have the power to act on that.
The question remains what they or Mueller will find. The special counsel himself hasn’t exactly broadcast his every move or his immediate plans, although there are a number of court dates they’re set for in coming weeks.
Still, there’s no way to know the next step of the Mueller investigation until we get there. For now — following the midterms — the whole deal becomes a waiting game.
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