House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Intelligence, Judiciary, and Government Reform and Oversight Committee chairs Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Elijah Cummings, held a press conference this afternoon after the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to both committees.
Rep. Pelosi called it a “historic” day in which Mueller “affirmed in public” the findings of his report, a “crossing of the threshold” in public awareness of Trump’s actions. Rep. Nadler summarized the obstruction of justice charges Mueller laid out against Trump, and noted that even as Russia sought to attack our elections, the Trump campaign “welcomed that help.”
Schiff reiterated the point: Russia “made multiple approaches to the Trump campaign”, and the Trump campaign “welcomed it, made full use of it, put it in their messaging strategy, and then lied about it.” Further, Trump “will not foreswear” receiving similar Russian help again.
Rep. Elijah Cummings had harsh words. “This is a critical moment in our country’s history,” he emphasized, noting that future Americans will ask “what did you do, when you had a president who knew the rules” but “would throw away the guardrails” of Constitutional oversight.
Despite those strong statements, the emphasis from Pelosi was still not on impeachment, but on the ongoing efforts by the House to force White House compliance with attempted House oversight efforts via courtroom battles. Defending against calls to begin a formal impeachment inquiry, she stated that “My position has always been, whatever decision we make in that regard would have to be done with our strongest possible hand, and we still have some outstanding matters in the courts.”
“This isn’t endless, understand that” she said. “But we have five cases in the courts” and are “strengthening our hand.” Before any decision on impeachment is made, we “want to make sure we can make that case to the American people.”
Rep. Nadler especially noted efforts to oblige subpoenaed ex-White House counsel Doug McGahn to appear after the administration claimed an absolute immunity to such congressional inquiries. “If we break that we break the logjam,” Nadler (somewhat inexplicably) asserted.
That was the takeaway the Democrats emphasized, for the day: That an impeachment inquiry will still not be forthcoming regardless of Mueller’s affirmation of Trump’s seemingly criminal acts. Instead House Democrats will continue to pursue evidence via the far narrower confines of federal court battles, with a presumption that those courts will, at some point, force Trump’s allies to recognize and comply with the demands of Congress.