Speed Reads

mueller hearing

GOP Rep. Ken Buck just delivered Democrats the Mueller soundbite they wanted

Democrats may have finally turned the Mueller hearing in their favor.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with Democrats publicly hoping his hearing would "give life" to his report on Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Yet analysts largely considered Mueller's stuttering, audio-compromised hearing a dud — at least until Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) did Democrats' work for them.

While Mueller investigated Trump for obstruction of justice, he was beholden to an Office of Legal Counsel policy that states a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime. Buck acknowledged that policy on Wednesday, and then went on to ask Mueller a critical question: "Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?" "Yes," Mueller responded. "You could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?" Buck then asked, and Mueller responded "yes" again.

As national security lawyer and commentator Bradley Moss put it in a tweet, Buck's questioning "gave the Democrats the clip they want." Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) then took that line of questioning a step further, asking Mueller if the reason "that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?" "That is correct," Mueller answered again. Kathryn Krawczyk