On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes”. Witnesses included John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Malcolm, Director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, and former U.S. Attorneys Barbara McQuade and Joyce White Vance. The scope of the hearing sought witness testimony regarding Volume II of the Mueller Report, but the hearing quickly devolved into a partisan attack on President Trump.
In opening statements, Democrats on the Committee immediately praised witness John Dean’s appearance at the hearing, pushing false narratives ripe with overtones of Watergate. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler referred to Dean as “a critical witness for [Watergate] prosecutors and congressional investigators.” Ranking Member Doug Collins was quick to identify this posturing, stating “Today, this committee is hearing from the seventies and they want their star witness back”, adding on Twitter, “Why can’t Democrats finally focus on the real threat—Russian interference in American elections?”
In testimony, Witness John Malcolm urged that “By [Mueller] deciding “not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” with respect to the allegations of obstruction of justice, Special Counsel Mueller failed to fulfill that duty [to “provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.]” Malcolm did not have the opportunity to provide an in-depth analysis due to being the sole Republican-side witness during the partisan grandstanding at the hearing.
Explaining the President’s actions described in the report, Malcolm stated that the “corrupt intent” required to establish obstruction could not be shown. In his testimony, Malcolm concluded: “It was therefore quite reasonable for Attorney General Barr to conclude that in the absence of clear proof of a corrupt intent on the part of the President, a prosecutable case of obstruction of justice, based solely on the facts, simply did not exist.”
Judiciary Member Rep. Greg Steube engaged Malcolm on the line of obstruction, where Steube asked if firing an FBI Director would constitute obstruction. Both agreed it did not, and Malcolm went further by stating “I would point out that the report indicates that others within the intelligence community and [then] Attorney General Sessions himself had suggested that the President ought to do that before the President decided to do it.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona summarized the findings of the Mueller Report by stating "There was no underlying crime. It would be almost impossible to prove corrupt intent which is required in the obstruction statutes. And Mueller himself said 'Unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime."