July 23, 2019

The Mueller Report Findings Demand Congressional Oversight and Investigation

CONTACT: William Lutz at media@acslaw.org 

Washington, DC -- Below is a statement from Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, in advance of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on July 24.

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller has promised only to do a non-dramatic reading of his own report when he appears before two House committees on Wednesday. Nonetheless, the public hearings present an opportunity to amplify the Mueller Report’s most disturbing conclusions and build the momentum for Congress to perform its constitutionally mandated oversight role and investigate the report’s findings and unanswered questions.

"The Mueller investigation found criminal activity and resulted in 37 indictments; seven guilty pleas or convictions; multiple instances of obstruction of justice; and uncovered and referred 14 other criminal matters to other components of the Department of Justice -- and there is clear and repeated evidence that top Trump associates lied to federal investigators.

"The Mueller Report details multiple episodes in which there is evidence to support obstruction of justice charges against President Trump. There are three legal elements to obstruction that Mueller indicates were likely satisfied by Donald Trump’s conduct. Among the striking examples, the president asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller -- then directed him to lie about it and create a false paper trail to document that lie. If he were not protected by the office of the presidency, Trump would have been charged with obstruction, according to the 1,000 prosecutors who signed a letter stating that if Trump were not the president he would have been indicted.

"Perhaps the worst part of Trump’s obstruction is that he sought to block an investigation into the efforts of a hostile foreign power to influence our elections.  Thankfully, he did not succeed, otherwise we never would have learned about how Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

"Mueller’s testimony will remind Americans that Russian interference was the core FBI concern when it launched this investigation and the Report’s troubling findings show that this concern was justified.

"The Mueller Report gets specific about Russia’s attempts to influence the outcome of the election: Russian efforts to help candidate Trump included organizing pro-Trump rallies and hiring an American to wear a Hillary-in-a-prison-jumpsuit costume for a rally in West Palm Beach. Russian interference went well beyond Facebook ads to creating bogus social media accounts that gained hundreds of thousands of followers and reached many millions of Americans.  The Report also documents multiple Trump campaign associate contacts with Russian nationals promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton – and we all watched then-candidate Trump urge the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. The silence of conservatives regarding these acts of betrayal by the Trump campaign and these Russian threats to our democracy is astonishing.

"I hope that Republicans and Democrats could agree that Russian interference in our elections is a direct threat to our democracy and constitutional values, and that they will work together to prevent interference in 2020 and beyond, no matter which party benefits.

"The Mueller Report findings call out for congressional review. Whether or not the House ever moves forward on impeachment against President Trump, several key unanswered questions demand scrutiny: Why did the president cover up his actions? Will the Trump administration act to stop Russia from interfering in the next election even if it benefits Republicans? Has the president been manipulated by Russian operatives? What legislative steps would best avert or limit the various types of misconduct documented by the Mueller Report?

"Congress and the American people also need to understand the complicated money trail of campaign contributions that financed the effort to undermine our democracy. Has Russian money corrupted American politics? Congress must make sure that it and the American people have the full picture of what happened in the 2016 elections.

"The House and Senate should thoroughly and thoughtfully pursue answers to these fundamental questions. Congress is fully capable of getting the facts on the table and holding the president and his people accountable while continuing to work on health care, the climate crisis, threats from abroad, and a host of other issues. That’s what we pay them to do."

Founded in 2001, the American Constitution Society (ACS) is a leading progressive legal organization and network of attorneys, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers, and other concerned individuals, dedicated to making the law a force to improve people’s lives. For more information, visit us at www.acslaw.org or on Twitter @acslaw. You can also follow Caroline Fredrickson on Twitter @crfredrickson.