When Donald Trump does scary things, it is usually a sign that he is running scared. This morning, we learned about some new scary things that Trump is plotting. According to White House sources, Trump will announce an executive action to flout the Supreme Court’s ruling on the census citizenship question, and, according to the New York Times, Trump ordered ICE to begin mass deportation roundups in at least 10 cities starting this Sunday.
One reason Trump is running scared right now is that Robert Mueller’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, scheduled for Wednesday, July 17, is quickly approaching. As it does, Trump is stepping up efforts to distract us with new horrors while lobbing attacks on Mueller. In a Twitter rant this morning, Trump called Mueller “highly conflicted and compromised” while again lying by calling his work the “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Report.”
Given Mueller’s statement in late May that “the report is my testimony” along with the fact that he will be appearing only thanks to a Democratic subpoena, it is easy to feel pessimistic. But, as we await Mueller’s testimony, there are a few reasons for optimism.
First, although Mueller’s statement implies that we should not expect to learn anything new when he testifies next week, we don’t know exactly what Mueller meant by this. It does not seem likely that Mueller intends to do nothing other than recite excerpts from the report, and so even his answers clarifying what he wrote in the report could offer helpful insight.
Second, Mueller’s televised testimony has the potential to sway public opinion toward impeachment more than the report did. As Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, put it recently, the testimony will be “an opportunity to amplify the message of the report,” which has been lost on the vast majority of Americans who did not read it, according to a CNN poll.
Third, the fact that Trump is clearly frightened about Mueller’s upcoming testimony is itself a reason to believe it may wind up bearing fruit. From the moment Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Adam Schiff, the two committee chairs, announced in late June that Mueller will testify, Trump tweeted “Presidential Harassment!” Trump then scheduled a rally in North Carolina for the same day, a move obviously meant to divert attention while reminding us that the sitting President of the United States cares nothing about the critical issue of national security that the report covers.
After Mueller spoke in May, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham quickly proclaimed “the case is over” and urged Congress to “move on.” Congress did move on, though not in the way that Graham meant, by issuing a subpoena. In their letter to Mueller accompanying the subpoena, Nadler and Schiff wrote that “the American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions.” On Wednesday, we will hopefully get what we deserve. With any luck, Trump will too.