In the coming days, advocates and lawmakers will fight to ensure that the findings of Mueller’s team are made public so that the American people may assess for themselves the results of the Special Counsel’s two-year investigation. Even as this important work unfolds, however, we must also acknowledge the limitations of the Special Counsel’s investigation. That’s why we renew our call from early January for Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) to perform his constitutional obligations and request Trump’s tax returns without any delay.
As everyone from the progressive Netroots to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) had long noted, Mueller never seemed to view his prosecutorial ambit as including assessing Trump’s finances for either crimes or signs of foreign entanglement. Instead, Mueller seems to have respected Trump’s “redlines,” which undercuts the President’s claim to have been exonerated on any charge but for being provably guilty of an international criminal conspiracy.
From what we know, it appears that Mueller’s final report was solely prosecutorial and did not focus on counter-intelligence. While the Special Counsel was equipped to investigate and potentially resolve a handful of questions, and he conducted his responsibilities honorably and professionally, his responsibility never encompassed more than a narrow fraction of serious concerns with Trump’s legitimacy and fitness. House Democrats’ decision to treat Mueller’s investigation as an excuse to largely put their constitutional oversight responsibilities on hold while awaiting its conclusions was always a mistake.
Many lawmakers seem to have realized their error and are now springing into action. Committees from Judiciary to Intelligence are rightly considering expedited subpoenasin order to make up for lost time. These rapid responses, however, make Neal’s slothfulness over the past months ever more conspicuously inappropriate. Now more than ever, Neal is the American people’s only hope for understanding their President’s complicated and potentially illegal financial ties.
This column originally ran on CEPR.