Mueller’s Message to Congress

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller walked off the stage Wednesday, retiring from the Justice Department and returning, he said, to “private life.” How much privacy is actually in Mueller’s future remains perhaps a more open question than he would like. Some members of Congress say they still want him to testify.

Mueller has now warned them that if he is compelled do so, no further revelations can be expected. That stands to reason; Mueller included all his findings in the report already published. It also should suffice, because no further revelations are needed to establish that Russians illegally interfered in the 2016 election.

As Mueller said again at the end of his remarks yesterday, “There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

Mueller reiterated other key points from his report — that he had not exonerated President Donald Trump from charges of obstructing justice, and that if he had been sure the president did not commit a crime, he would have said so. He was bound by Justice Department policy not to charge a sitting president with a crime.

These assertions are troubling on their face. Further testimony from Mueller could hardly make them more so. It’s Congress’s duty to pay attention, because the Constitution leaves it to the legislative branch to address presidential misbehavior — and to ensure that any bad actions taken by one president are not repeated.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her House majority contemplate how they wish to proceed with further inquiries, perhaps Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump could find roles for themselves in the constitutional process, as well.

The House has passed legislation seeking to safeguard future elections from sabotage. So far the Senate has done little to advance the effort, and the president has shown not even perfunctory concern. This is irresponsible, at best. Given what Mueller and his team have reported, Americans should at the very least expect a bipartisan, government-wide effort to protect all future elections from foreign interference.

Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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