How the report will shape 2020 election
Democrats hoping to unseat President Trump in the 2020 election began this week an effort to mold voters’ perception of the Mueller report, with plans to hold congressional hearings to exploit its most damaging revelations and explore questions it left unanswered. Rep. Adam Schiff said the report exposed the president as “unethical, immoral, and unpatriotic.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said he would hold “major hearings,” and summoned special counsel Robert Mueller to testify “no later than May 23.” Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify next week. Nadler said he wanted to find out “who did what,” and only then would he consider debating articles of impeachment. A handful of Democratic presidential candidates have voiced support for Trump’s impeachment, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg.
While Democrats portrayed the report’s findings as deeply damaging to Trump, Republicans insisted he’d been exonerated. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she was “ready to accept apologies” from the media, and Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said, “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” Meanwhile, Trump, in a barrage of tweets, alternately said the report proved he was innocent and that its accounts of attempted obstruction were “total bulls---.” If Democrats tried to impeach him, Trump wrote, “I would head first to the U.S. Supreme Court.” The court has no authority over impeachment proceedings.
What the columnists said
Advocating impeachment might make Democratic presidential candidates feel good, said Josh Voorhees in Slate.com, but it won’t help them win the nomination. “It’s not that Democratic voters don’t care about Trump’s wrongdoing,” they just care more about health care, climate change, and immigration. There is one key demographic among whom the report might prove consequential, said Ronald Brownstein in TheAtlantic.com. Many college-educated, suburban whites like Trump’s economic agenda but think he’s unfit “in terms of judgment, temperament, and morals.” They expressed that unease in 2018 by voting Democratic in record numbers. Mueller’s report will only exacerbate their anxieties.
Trump should ignore Democratic provocations and move on, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Post. The next election will be a dogfight, and he’ll “need every vote he can possibly get in every possible swing state.” Relitigating Mueller’s findings won’t win him those votes, but finalizing trade deals with China and Europe might. As tempting as it will be to “settle scores,” Trump would be wisest to have his revenge served cold in November 2020.
That’s not going to happen, said Kevin Liptak and Jamie Gangel in CNN.com. Trump has already revealed his strategy: use the report and House investigations “to galvanize conservative voters.” His us-versus-them approach was a winner in 2016, and he once again intends to portray himself as an outsider punching back at Washington elites. The fight for 2020 is going to get ugly.