Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller

Welcome to Congress, Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE.

We’ve got questions for you.

But before we begin, the most important questions are for House Republicans.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why are you so upset about having Mr. Mueller here?

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE says the Mueller report cleared him, so why don’t you want to hear from its author?

Are you worried that once the former special counsel says to your face that Russia twisted the 2016 presidential campaign in Trump’s favor, you’ll be forced to join Democrats in sounding the alarm?

After all, Trump has done nothing to stop Russia from screwing with the 2020 election.

By the way, can you believe the president recently said he’d have no problem doing it all again — taking damaging “information” on a future political opponent from a foreign country?

And did you see the president sharing a dismissive laugh about continued interference with the man responsible for damaging our last election, Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinImpeachment sets up Ukrainian Americans for 2020 political role Chuck Todd challenges Cruz after senator pushes theory that Ukraine meddled in election GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties MORE?

But back to Mueller’s upcoming testimony.

Initially scheduled for this Wednesday but now postponed for a week, it’s coming sooner or later.

Once the former special counsel repeats that Justice Department policy kept him from laying out federal criminal charges against a sitting president, will you agree that it is now up to Congress to hold the president responsible?

After all, we know of more than two dozen meetings between Trump campaign figures and Russians. Mueller detailed how the president tried to fire the special counsel and made several other efforts to derail the investigation.

Based on his May press conference, Mueller is almost certain to say he believes “the constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

That “other” process is called impeachment.

And you all know that your fellow conservative, Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Amash says he will vote in favor of articles of impeachment MORE of Michigan, took the time to read the Mueller report. He concluded it was time to begin impeachment proceedings.

So, House Republicans: Are you willing to join a hard-right leader, a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, and put love of country above fear of being bullied by Trump?

Or is Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotSECURE it — for small businesses and their workers Bottom Line Consequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears MORE (R-Ohio) right when he practically told his party colleagues to close their eyes, predicting that “a few people could change their opinion, but overall I think it’s not likely.”

That same talking point is coming from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills Biden: 'No party should have too much power' Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill MORE (R-Ky.).

As far he is concerned, the whole Russia matter is “breathless conspiracy theorizing.” McConnell is in such a rush, he recently announced “case closed” because the special counsel did not indict Trump.

Former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea Duncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden MORE (R-Wis.) was quoted last week as saying he quit Congress to “escape” from Trump. He said only party loyalty stopped him from wanting to “scold [Trump] all the time” because Trump “didn’t know anything about government.”

Will Mueller’s testimony compel Republicans still in Congress to come out of the closet and confirm that they, too, are troubled by the president’s conduct?

The sound of the special counsel’s voice — four or more hours of testimony — is sure to reach people who found his 400-page plus report too much to read.

Back in the days when television held power over public opinion, former White House counsel John Dean’s incriminating testimony helped change the narrative arc of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.

So did then-Sen. Howard Baker’s (R-Tenn.) famous question: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”

ADVERTISEMENT

Oliver NorthOliver Laurence NorthFiling shows pay for top NRA officials surges as key program spending declined: report Five landmark moments of testimony to Congress New York sues NRA's former ad agency over subpoena MORE’s combative congressional testimony during the Iran-Contra scandal shaped public opinion in the 1980s, confirming suspicions that the Reagan administration was covering up its illicit and illegal arms-for-hostages scheme.

There has been no such moment in the Trump-Russia affair. That has allowed Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFive things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE’s mischaracterization of the Mueller report to become a chant for the president: “No collusion, No obstruction.”

That’s why Mueller’s testimony is a danger to the Trump White House.

It has the power to break apart Trump’s echo chamber of blindly loyal support.

A Monmouth University poll in May found 49 percent of adults saying Russia interference in the 2016 election caused “a lot” of damage to “American democracy.”

The same poll found 44 percent saying they “definitely” believe Russia interfered, while an additional 29 percent said Moscow “probably” did so.

Now, with a delay in Mueller’s testimony, there will be renewed pressure from the administration for Mueller to never testify. The Justice Department is already instructing some of Mueller’s top aides not to do so.

Of course, the decision on whether to testify is up to Mueller.

But does he want to defy a subpoena?

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE’s (D-Calif.) House of Representatives already voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress last month over his defiance of a subpoena over the unredacted version of the Mueller report.

Mueller, a 74-year-old career lawman, knows that his investigation of Trump and Russia will appear in the first sentence of his obituary.

His initial report was panned by liberals for being overly cautious.

Does Mueller really want to add defiance of a subpoena to his legacy? 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.