by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[U]nless committee Republicans botch the hearing—something entirely possible—the left’s strategy of placing Mueller center stage in their continued attempts to underdo the results of the 2016 presidential election will backfire bigly.
Why? For the simple reason that Mueller’s 400-plus page report presented the worst the special counsel could muster against Trump, so any new revelations will play to the president’s advantage.
So, what should Republicans do to make the most of Mueller’s appearance, both politically and from an oversight perspective? Two things: (1) Leave the political grandstanding to the Democrats and (2) Ask the right questions. …
… Foremost, Republicans should ensure Mueller repeats the conclusion of the special counsel report—that there was no collusion—and while stressing the nearly limitless resources available to his team. While the right may believe everyone already knows there was no collusion, the Democratic debate opener on Wednesday night had both the hosts and participants continuing to push the narrative, proving the populace needs to hear the truth from Mueller’s mouth. …
… After putting to bed the collusion case, Republicans must counter the Democrats’ likely focus—Part 2 of the special counsel’s report, which ruminates on possible obstruction of justice. Here, conservative committee members should not get bogged down in the details because the law is complex and the facts are complicated.
Rather, Republicans should use their limited time to focus on six points: (1) there was no underlying crime to obstruct; (2) Trump knew there was no underlying crime, yet the press, with the aid of leakers, pushed the collusion story, affecting Trump’s governance; (3) the theories of obstruction are easily refuted; (4) Mueller failed to follow the special counsel regulations that required him to make a charging or declination decision; (5) the special counsel’s theory of criminal liability is debatable; and (6) Mueller inverted the standard governing prosecutorial decisions from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilty.