No mention of Mueller, impeachment during second Democratic debate

No mention of Mueller, impeachment during second Democratic debate
© Aaron Schwartz

Candidates onstage during the first night of the second Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night made no mention of either former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s report or impeachment.

The 10 candidates onstage in Detroit were asked questions on a variety of issues such as health care, race, immigration, climate change and the economy, but they did not mention Mueller or the possible impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE over roughly 2 ½ hours of debate, nor were they asked about either topic. There also was no talk of foreign interference in U.S. elections.

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Mueller appeared on Capitol Hill last Wednesday to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees about his 22-month investigation into Russia's election interference. 

Mueller didn’t reveal much new information but confirmed key passages from his report, including the fact that he did not exonerate Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice. 

A number of House Democrats have come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump since last week, citing Mueller’s testimony.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday went to court to petition for the release of grand jury material underlying Mueller’s report, with Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) saying it was necessary to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump to the full House.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE (D-Calif.), however, has remained against opening a formal impeachment inquiry, saying instead Democrats need to see their investigations into Trump and his administration and related court fights play out.

Mueller’s report documents a systematic effort by Russia to meddle in the 2016 election in favor of Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election Appeals court blocks Hillary Clinton deposition on private email server What Biden must do to keep his lead and win MORE.

The special counsel did not find sufficient evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election, though his report documents numerous contacts between campaign associates and Russia-linked figures and states that the campaign welcomed WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked Democratic emails.

Mueller’s report also lays out 10 episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, including the president’s efforts to have his former White House counsel remove Mueller.

The special counsel did not ultimately reach a conclusion one way or another on obstruction of justice, saying the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted precluded him from doing so. His report also pointedly states that the investigation does not “exonerate” Trump.

Democrats argue the report puts forth clear evidence of obstruction and that any other American would have been charged if he or she engaged in the same conduct as Trump. Attorney General William BarrBill BarrEx-FBI lawyer Clinesmith to plead guilty in Durham probe Barr says some results on probe into Russia investigation could be released before election Hillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations MORE and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinFBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Sally Yates to testify as part of GOP probe into Russia investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe MORE, meanwhile, judged the evidence to be insufficient to accuse Trump of criminal wrongdoing.

Trump has attacked Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt" and claimed the report and the former special counsel's testimony vindicated him after two years of investigation. 

Mueller’s investigation received plenty of media coverage over more than two years, and his long-awaited testimony on Capitol Hill last week was carried live on air by major networks. But Tuesday’s debate is an early sign that neither the investigation nor its results will be a major issue during the 2020 campaign.

Mueller’s investigation was also only fleetingly mentioned during the first set of debates last month, before Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony.