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Adam Schiff: Special counsel ‘making a mistake’ by not compelling Trump testimony
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The Democrats’ cult-like obsession with Robert Mueller may have reached the end of the honeymoon phase.
The knives are out for the special counsel, but the ones carrying the cutlery aren’t Republicans — it’s Democrats like House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) who are growing impatient that Mueller has yet to deliver indictments related to collusion.
Mueller is “making a mistake” by not compelling President Trump to testify with a subpoena, Schiff told MSNBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
Democrats souring on Mueller?
After months of ceaseless impeachment drumbeats in the media and frenzied calls to protect Mueller’s probe from interruption, there are signs that Democrats are starting to have doubts about their long-awaited impeachment kill shot. Indeed, Democrats are starting to sound frustrated that Mueller’s investigation of alleged collusion, expected to finish soon, has still not yielded any evidence of collusion.
The Senate concluded a separate investigation in February and determined that there was no collusion.
Now, collusion delusion is yielding to anxiety as some Democrats have decided to take matters into their own hands, with Schiff and House Judiciary Committee chief Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) launching congressional investigations of Trump’s finances, family, and alleged ties with Russia regardless of what Mueller’s report says. With the goalposts shifting, Democrats have even begun to lightly rebuke Mueller — the once unquestionable source of authority on impeachment, Trump’s business ties and an enormously impactful, but nevertheless elusive “pee tape” — for failing to live up to their partisan standards of justice.
Speaking with Schiff on MSNBC, Chuck Todd asked the Democrat whether Mueller will have erred if he does not subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury before wrapping up his probe. “Yes, I think it is a mistake, and I’ve said all along that I don’t think Bob Mueller should rely on written answers. When you get written answers from a witness it’s really the lawyer’s answers as much as the client’s answer,” Schiff said.
Trump did provide written answers to inquiries from Mueller in November, but that’s not enough for Schiff, who said that Trump has made “over a thousand” false statements about Russia. Schiff also said that he believes Mueller is “under time pressure” to finish his probe, adding, “the best way to get the truth would be to put the president under oath,” and speculated that Attorney General William Barr could block a subpoena.
This is not the first time Schiff has taken jabs at Mueller. Schiff has threatened to subpoena Mueller if his report is not made public, a concern among Democrats who see Barr as having been selected by Trump to curtail the investigation. And in Feburary, Schiff dinged the special counsel for not subpoenaing Deutsche Bank, a German bank with which Trump has dealt.
Mueller has indicted numerous Russian trolls on mostly symbolic charges of conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election, and several Trump associates for charges unrelated to collusion, many of them process crimes, like lying to Congress. With evidence of collusion proving elusive, increasingly impatient Democrats are turning up the bare-knuckled tribal warfare, inviting Trump’s former “fixer” turned #Resistance evangelist Michael Cohen to testify about Trump’s business recently and pursuing other avenues of investigation into Trump, focusing on his business and alleged obstruction of justice.
It’s quite a reversal from only months ago, when Democrats were furiously pushing for “protect Mueller” legislation after he canned former AG Jeff Sessions. While Democrats are still pushing to make as much of Mueller’s report public as possible, they have begun to question Mueller’s authority and hedge their bets instead on vague allegations of Russian “connections.”
While rebuking Mueller, Schiff pointedly avoided mentioning collusion, instead focusing on the canceled Trump tower Moscow project about which Cohen lied to Congress, and which he said was a “central” concern of his committee’s investigation. That project “explains the president’s bizarre affinity for Vladimir Putin,” but he qualified that Trump’s alleged sympathy for the Kremlin, while not “criminal,” is “corrupt.”
After two years of talking about smoke, Democrats are angry that there’s still no fire — and all indications show that they’re going to have to settle with smoke. With fears of a nothing-burger growing, a new strategy is coming into focus: Mueller’s report was never about collusion, which isn’t a crime anyway and is impossible to prove.
Alternatively, there is Schiff’s equivocation that there actually is “compelling evidence” of collusion which, nevertheless, does not rise to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. In other words, collusion hasn’t been proven, but there’s still collusion, he says.
But there is compelling evidence that the Democrats hate Donald Trump, and would invent a pretext for impeachment if necessary. What will Democrats do when Mueller fails to deliver?
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