Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, faces questions later from two congressional committees about his report on the Donald Trump campaign and Russia, with several commentators predicting this could be the US president’s moment of reckoning.
The former special counsel is tipped to publicly outline the ties between Russia, Trump and his alleged efforts to obstruct justice. The Independent says Republican commentators are nervous, warning that Mueller’s appearance poses “a danger to the Trump White House”.
Tim Mak of NPR writes that the appearance “could be a critical inflection point” in the campaign for a Trump impeachment because “there’s evidence that Mueller’s words matter: Mueller’s single, brief statement about the report was shown to be persuasive to lawmakers on the fence”.
“We cannot emphasise enough that this will be the first opportunity for many, many Americans to actually hear what’s contained in the Mueller report.”
So is this the beginning of the end for Trump? Not so fast. Writing for Fox News, Andrew McCarthy argues that Mueller’s testimony “will not give Democrats what they crave” because he cannot ultimately condemn the president “without contradicting his report and his statements at a late May press conference”.
Vox says that we can expect Republicans “to hammer home the point that after a nearly two-year investigation, Mueller did not ultimately charge a conspiracy between any Trump official and any Russian to interfere with the 2016 election”.
Indeed, although approximately one-third of House Democrats have called for a formal impeachment inquiry, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has warned against such a move, arguing the ensuing fight would be “divisive” and play into Trump’s hands as he seeks re-election.
Nevertheless, the excitement surrounding Mueller’s appearance is palpable. USA Today says the stakes could hardly be higher, arguing that Mueller’s testimony is the “Democrats’ last chance to move public opinion on Trump impeachment”.
The paper adds:
“If public opinion is ever going to lurch to a call for impeachment, it will rest on Democrats’ success in extracting a compelling TV version of the Mueller report from its author. Everything is riding on Mueller’s testimony.”
With so many eyes and ears set to be trained on Mueller later, the most interested party may not be paying attention. The US president has told the media he does not plan to watch the back-to-back hearings but the Associated Press has noted that Trump’s light schedule tomorrow morning may allow him to watch much of the coverage.
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