Remember a man named Robert S. Mueller III?
For almost two years, the news revolved around him. There were Mueller T-shirts and a cultish kind of Muellermania on cable television. There were even Mueller votive candles.
More recently, though, the House of Representatives has proceeded with the president’s impeachment as though the man who investigated Russian electoral interference didn’t exist at all. Now it’s all Ukraine, all the time. The Russia investigation remains as a kind of background scrim, hovering over all the interviews and witness testimony. But when the House began its impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was tasked not with investigating Russia but with looking into the fresh scandal alone. Ukraine, after all, was exciting public opinion, moving support toward impeachment in the polls, and uniting the Democratic caucus in favor of impeachment—something the Mueller probe had never done.
But this week, the locus of impeachment moves from Schiff to the House Judiciary Committee. And that committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler, cannot simply ignore the material Mueller dug up. Schiff could do so because he had a specific mandate to develop a record on the president’s behavior with respect to the Ukraine affair. But once Nadler receives Schiff’s report on the Intelligence Committee’s investigation, he will have a different task: to decide what aspects of the president’s conduct across all domains warrant impeachment. That means he has to face a question that Schiff has been able to avoid: How much of the Mueller material does the House want to incorporate into the articles of impeachment against the president?