The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

21 questions for Robert Mueller

Getty Images

If special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler should explain that the inquiries will not be limited to chargeable crimes but will draw on his unparalleled knowledge and expertise to assist Congress in its constitutional duty to exercise legislative oversight over the executive branch of government. The following are 21 questions that our lawmakers should ask Mueller.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr found “substantial and credible information that President Clinton obstructed justice.” Leaving aside the question of a criminal charge, would you agree that your investigation uncovered substantial and credible information that President Trump obstructed justice? Your report concluded that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president had clearly not committed obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Does that mean you intended to leave the determination on obstruction to Congress?

{mosads}President Clinton was not criminally charged with obstruction of justice even after leaving office, but the House of Representatives still voted for articles of impeachment on obstruction and half the Senate voted to convict him. Would you agree that the standards for criminal violations are not the same as the standards for impeachment?

Can a person commit obstruction of justice by attempting to impede an investigation even if that attempt proved unsuccessful? Can a person commit obstruction of justice even if not charged with an underlying crime? Trump has disputed your findings that he asked White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel and then asked McGhan to lie about this instruction. How confident are you about your findings?

You found that the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Would you declare that conclusion indicates as some have argued that there was “no collusion” between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government or its operatives?

Would you agree that the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and Russians for the purpose of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton constituted collusion, even if it fell short of a chargeable crime? Your report said that the cover up of this meeting began more than a year later and involved persons not in attendance. But is it not true that Donald Trump Jr. himself began the cover up much earlier when he said in March 2017 that he did have any meetings with Russians that “were set up” or in which he had been “representing the campaign in any way”?

You found that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates provided inside information to Konstantin Kilimnik, including polling data and targeting. What did the FBI say about the connection of Kilimnik to Russian intelligence? Would you agree that this information would have been of some value to the Russian interference operation?

Although you could not establish what happened with this information, would you agree that it is more likely than not that it was passed on to Russian intelligence or other operatives? Your charging document for the Internet Research Agency showed a close parallel between the Russian interference operation and the Trump campaign on matters such as issues, attacks on Hillary Clinton, and attempts to suppress the African American vote. Does this parallelism indicate that the information from Manafort could have been used by Russian government operatives?

Would the communications between Manafort and Kilimnik constitute collusion with Russians? You found that the Trump campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian assistance in the election, including the use of hacked and stolen emails. In your view, is it acceptable for a campaign to welcome and encourage such assistance from a hostile foreign power?

Before his victory, Trump criticized candidate Clinton for answering “I don’t recall” to questions during the email investigation. He also claimed to possess one of the best memories in the world. But he answered your written questions more than 30 times by saying “I don’t recall” or an equivalent. What inferences can you draw from these nonanswers?

The president and his backers have claimed that they fully cooperated with your investigation. Do you agree with that characterization? You documented numerous contacts between Russians and senior members of the Trump campaign, which they had failed to report to the FBI and typically covered up with lies. What big picture inferences can you draw from this pattern of behavior? Did anyone in the Justice Department or the administration in any way attempt to limit or influence your investigation?

You deferred a number of matters to other prosecutors. What can you tell us about these matters without jeopardizing ongoing investigations? Without disclosing sources and methods, did you uncover any evidence that Trump was compromised by Russians financially or in other ways?

Allan Lichtman is an election forecaster and distinguished professor of history at American University. Follow him on Twitter @AllanLichtman.

Tags Congress Constitution Donald Trump Donald Trump Impeachment Donald Trump Jr. Government Hillary Clinton Investigation Jerry Nadler Mueller investigation Paul Manafort President Robert Mueller Russia

More Judiciary News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video