Donald Trump and the Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll, April 22, 2019 (Kevin Dietsch/UPI)
Under pressure from the findings of the Mueller Report, Donald Trump has issued his latest revision of reality: his staff who spoke with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team did not really speak with the investigators about Trump-Russia links.
Trump’s triumphant mood, just before the release of the Mueller Report on Thursday, quickly gave way to anger and frustration as media began to catch up with the findings of collusion and obstruction of justice. He tweeted on Monday:
Isn’t it amazing that the people who were closest to me, by far, and knew the Campaign better than anyone, were never even called to testify before Mueller. The reason is that the 18 Angry Democrats knew they would all say ‘NO COLLUSION’ and only very good things!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
In fact, Mueller’s team spoke with most of Trump’s inner circle, including White House Counsel Donald McGahn; Communications Director Hope Hicks; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders; former campaign manager Paul Manafort; deputy campaign manager Rick Gates; Trump’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen; and his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
The only Trump confidante who did not meet Mueller — in addition to Trump’s months-long refusal of a face-to-face interview — was his son Donald Jr.
Trump spent the rest of the day in a Twitter barrage, issuing false assertions such as “How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats?” and retweeting dozens of posts from pro-Trump media outlets and activists.
He tried to push back a rising tide for Congressional hearings, wrongly saying that only criminal convictions can lead to impeachment and repeating his false mantra of “No Collusion, No Obstruction”.
Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
Trump briefly spoke at the White House Easter Egg Roll. He showed his anger over summaries in the Mueller Report that staff ignored his directives: against his directives: “Nobody disobeys my orders.”
He brushed off a question about impeachment, maintaining that he is “not even a little bit” worried.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 23, 2019
House Committee Subpoenas McGahn
The House Judiciary Committee issued its first post-report subpoena on Monday, seeking the testimony of former White House Counsel McGahn.
The lawyer had a central role in some of the eight cases of Trump’s obstruction or attempted obstruction of justice, as set out by Mueller. In June 2017, Trump ordered the Counsel to instruct Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, but McGahn refused. In early 2018, Trump commanded McGahn to deny that the episode had occurred, but the lawyer did not comply.
Judiciary committee chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler said McGahn — who spent 30 hours with Mueller’s team — must provide records by May 7 and testify by May 21:
Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the president’s attacks on the rule of law and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same.
The Trump team showed its concern this weekend, with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani attacking McGahn as “wrong”, “confused, [and] cannot be relied upon”.
Effectively dismissing Trump’s proclamation on Thursday of “total exoneration”, Giuliani admitted the need to tear down McGahn: “We have no choice but to attack because the Democrats say there is impeachable material here.”
McGahn’s lawyer William A. Burck responded, “The report speaks for itself, and no amount of obfuscation by Mr. Giuliani is going to fool anyone. Don told the truth to Mueller.”
Pelosi Edges Towards Impeachment Process
House Democrats edged towards a process of impeachment on Monday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding an 87-minute conference call with 172 legislators.
Pelosi held back an immediate move: “I know it’s going to take courage on the part of all of our members to stick with a program that might not be as fast as they want”
However, she continued to step away from her reaction last Thursday that impeachment was no longer an option. Supporting “major hearings”, she told fellow representatives about accountability for Trump’s “highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior”:
We have to save our democracy….If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution — if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go.
Given the extent of Mueller’s findings, especially over obstruction, some Democrats are ready to move more quickly. Representative Val Demings of Florida, a former police chief who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said: “While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now.”