Just Don’t Call Them Impeachment Hearings

The debate among Democrats about whether to begin impeachment proceedings continues. In the meantime, this is happening:

The Intelligence Committee is exploring potential hearings on parts of Mueller’s report that chronicled a complex Russian plot to help elect Trump. The committee may soon revisit testimony from one Mueller witness — longtime Trump associate Felix Sater — who had been slated to appear in March. Sater was the chief negotiator of the Trump Tower Moscow project, which the committee is investigating.

The Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, anticipates a renewed focus on the dozen examples of potential obstruction of justice that Mueller described in his report. While the battles to access witnesses and more of Mueller’s evidence will continue, members say, they also plan to enter a new phase of their investigations.

That phase would involve hearings in June and July featuring former prosecutors who can walk Americans through the allegations of obstruction of justice, witness intimidation and the dangling of pardons. The committee may also focus on Trump’s business entanglements and whether he’s received any unauthorized payments from foreign governments — known as emoluments…

It’s all part of a strategy, Democrats say, to bring the allegations off the pages of the 448-page Mueller report — which they worry few Americans will actually read — and onto Americans’ television screens.

So the Intelligence Committee is planning to revisit Feliz Sater’s testimony about Trump Tower Moscow, which ultimately addresses questions about whether the president is compromised by a foreign adversary.

A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.

The associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin. He predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

At the same time, the Judiciary Committee will be reviewing the evidence in the Mueller report about the president’s obstruction of justice, as well as possible violations of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution.

But whatever you do, don’t call these impeachment hearings. They are simply an effort to educate the American public about the content of Mueller’s report.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.