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) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report 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 TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated 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 NadlerGOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death French officials call for investigation of Epstein 'links with France' 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 PelosiObjections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated Latest pro-democracy rally draws tens of thousands in Hong Kong Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' 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 ClintonLewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAttorney General Barr's license to kill Medical examiner confirms Epstein death by suicide Justice Dept. says Mueller report has been downloaded 800 million times MORE and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing Rosenstein: Trump should focus on preventing people from 'becoming violent white supremacists' 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.