- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

They’re not yet ready to call it impeachment, but Democrats will take a large step on their journey to that point this week, with a series of hearings on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Report and a major vote to hold top Trump officials in contempt of Congress.

Mueller Week kicks off Monday with a Judiciary Committee hearing where Democrats will draw parallels to President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican president who resigned in 1974 as a Democrat-led House was moving to impeach him.

On Tuesday, the House has planned a vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, and to authorize going to court to ask judges to play referee in the battles over access to information the White House has resisted turning over.

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On Wednesday, the House intelligence committee has scheduled a public hearing to begin reviewing the results of Mr. Mueller’s work as it relates to counterintelligence and Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. election.

The intelligence panel usually does its work behind closed doors, but Chairman Adam B. Schiff said the public needs to see the Mueller findings brought home to them.

“Our committee’s goal will be to explain to the American people the serious counterintelligence concerns raised by the Mueller Report, examine the depth and breadth of the unethical and unpatriotic conduct it describes, and produce prescriptive remedies to ensure that this never happens again,” Mr. Schiff said.

A number of Democrats believe that Mr. Mueller’s 448-page report, which has dominated Washington for two-and-a-half months since it was submitted to Mr. Barr, still isn’t getting enough attention with average Americans.

The goal, rank-and-file Democrats say, is to create a television-friendly way of repackaging the report.

Mr. Schiff’s committee will hear from former FBI national security officials, while the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, will hear on Monday from John Dean, who was White House counsel to Nixon and has gained new fame in recent years with his argument that what Mr. Trump has done is worse than the behavior that forced Nixon out.

Though Democrats are increasingly agitating for impeachment against Mr. Trump, and the hearings are a precursor, they are not explicitly about impeachment.

If Democrats follow the rules, that should limit the nastiness, said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

In a letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Mr. Collins said House rules generally prohibit impugning a president’s ethics, motives, integrity, patriotism or loyalty.

Those rules are relaxed if the House is pursuing impeachment of a president, because that necessarily involves accusations of wrongdoing and lawbreaking.

But Mr. Collins said until Democrats begin impeachment, their anti-Trump sentiments aren’t allowed.

Even the title of Monday’s hearing, “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” treads the line, Mr. Collins said.

The Georgia Republican said he’s let things slide in recent weeks, but made clear that’s over.

During a debate on immigration in the House chamber earlier this week Mr. Collins asked the chair to admonish lawmakers who accused Mr. Trump of racist behavior or xenophobic threats.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, the Democrat presiding in the speaker’s chair for the debate, warned members to “refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president,” but would not deem their remarks out of bounds.

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