Trump Trouble: At Last, Mueller to Testify before US Congress

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Robert Mueller’s testimony next month will give Democrats their best and perhaps last chance to seize on the Russia scandal to try to inflict a decisive political wound on President Donald Trump.

The former special counsel’s appearance on Capitol Hill on July 17, announced late Tuesday, represents a serious blow to a President who has spent weeks misrepresenting Mueller’s final report.

Democrats hope the spectacle of the respected former FBI director testifying on television will move Americans against Trump in a way Mueller’s dense, 448-page report did not.

The appearance also has the potential to significantly reshape the debate among Democrats over whether to open impeachment hearings, a step so far opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who fears a political backlash.

“Our interest is for the American people to hear it from him,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, said on “Cuomo Prime Time.”

“There has been a campaign of misrepresentation by Attorney General Barr … by the President, who keeps saying the report found no collusion, no obstruction. That’s not true either way.”

Trump quickly responded to news of Mueller’s looming appearance with a two-word tweet: “Presidential Harassment!”

The twin hearings, in the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, have the potential to become one of the most riveting days of political television and congressional dramas in years.

“He commands such credibility in a town where sometimes it feels like the truth doesn’t matter anymore,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who’s a member of the Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s Don Lemon.

“This is Mueller unplugged. I think there is going to be a Super Bowl-sized audience for it.”

Should the appearance not live up to expectations of political pyrotechnics, however, it could further help Trump’s aggressive bid to shift the political narrative away from the Russia storm as he campaigns for reelection.

Democratic struggles

The breakthrough, after Mueller reluctantly signaled that he will not resist a subpoena, comes with House Democrats struggling to effectively build a public case against Trump.

Days of private hearings, transcripts of interviews of the President’s associates and Democratic outrage have failed to manifestly alter baked-in public perceptions of Trump and the Russia probe — which broadly follow partisan lines. Most polls show a majority of Americans still oppose what would be the traumatic national experience of impeachment.

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