Special prosecutor Robert Mueller's lengthy testimony before two U.S. House panels Wednesday revealed little the country didn't already know regarding his conclusions about Russian interference into the 2016 elections.
The Mueller team determined Russians had indeed tried to influence the outcome of the vote, and every intelligence agency in the U.S agrees. So does Oklahoma's Sen. James Lankford, a Republican. The evidence, investigators said, was irrefutable. But while the probe may not have specifically exonerated President Trump of obstruction, neither did it recommend action against him. Conventional wisdom is that a president cannot be charged with a crime while in office. Only through impeachment by the House can punishment be exacted - and then, the Senate must convict.
Democrats currently control the House, and they say the reason they wanted Mueller to testify was not so much to promote impeachment, but to ensure that most Americans know about Mueller's conclusions. Very few people have the time or wherewithal to read the unwieldy report, but more may have tuned in as Mueller sat through the questions. If informing the public was the goal, the hearing may not have been a waste of time. But if persuading Democratic foot-draggers in the House to pursue impeachment proceedings was an underlying motive, it's not such a good idea, because nothing has changed since the report was issued.
While Mueller's report and subsequent appearance before the House committees may have sown seeds of doubt in some minds, Trump's base will remain intact, because those voters have seen nothing to sway their opinion. Most Republicans and many independents believe that even if the Russians tampered with the process, Trump himself was not involved, and there's little to no evidence to the contrary. Senators know this, and even some who find his behavior distasteful are not going to convict the president of collusion, obstruction, or anything else. Those who entertain the idea must concede the impeachment process would be lengthy, complicated and costly, and it would likely last well into the 2020 election season and beyond. Can anyone honestly say this gambit would achieve anything but further dividing the American people?
The general public should now have all the information needed to decide whether Trump deserves another term of office. And polls indicate a majority of voters would rather make that decision themselves than have the House bulldoze ahead with an attempt at impeachment. The House has presented its case. Now, its members should let the chips fall where they may, and let voters determine the outcome.