Despite what the president and his allies have claimed, this report is not the end of the story. It is a road map to guide Congress’s next steps.
The special counsel directs Congress’s attention to four areas of inquiry: obstruction of justice, coordination by the Trump campaign with the Russian government, 14 ongoing criminal investigations, and the president’s refusal to provide forthright answers to the special counsel’s questions.
Investigating each of these four areas demanded lengthy and thorough work by the Mueller team. But with Attorney General William Barr refusing to be transparent about the totality of that work, including the underlying evidence, Congress must recover and review this evidence in order to fulfill its constitutional duties and restore the American people’s faith in both the process and the results of that process.
David Frum: Even without Mueller’s report, Congress had all the facts it needed
The evidence this report presents, preserves, and alludes to, and the misleading way the attorney general delivered it to the public, leaves many questions unanswered. That is why the committees of jurisdiction must continue to conduct oversight. Congressional hearings are not just grandstanding; they allow for serious testing of evidence—an essential part of constitutional oversight. Congress, and through it the American people, must question witnesses and review evidence, not for partisan reasons or political theatre, but to examine the harm done to our democratic institutions by this administration’s lack of transparency and integrity, and determine the consequences.
Our approach must be methodical, fair, and transparent—taking no options off the table. Our democracy has been tested before, but the serious implications of the Mueller report demand an appropriate response from Congress.
Given the stakes, we should not rush to impeachment. Impeachment is a process that cannot be undertaken for the benefit of one political party, nor should it be taken off the table out of fear of political fallout. It is the last and worst—but sometimes necessary—option, when other paths have failed.
Mueller’s statement that he believed he was legally prohibited from recommending criminal charges against a sitting president is an invitation to other government institutions to take action.
David A. Graham: Mueller’s damning portrait of Trump
As Congress’s oversight continues, any attempts by the president to hinder investigations or run out the clock must be challenged. No one is above the law. While Mueller issued his report with the understanding that he could not charge a sitting president, that does not insulate the president from congressional inquiry or prosecution once his term is complete. Given the possibility of post-presidential indictments under this guidance, Congress or the courts may need to act to suspend or toll relevant statutes of limitations in the interests of justice. This moment in our history undoubtedly qualifies as an extreme circumstance.