After Special Counsel Robert Mueller's underwhelming testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor declared during the lunch break that Mueller had raised the stakes in 2020. No longer is 2020 a contrast of visions between President Trump and whoever the Democratic nominee is, but, "it may also come down to [Trump] being a free man." Host Judy Woodruff agreed, "that's a good point,Yamiche."
One of the molehills that Democrats and the media, including Woodruff and Alcindor, are trying to turn into a mountain after Mueller's Wednesday morning testimony is that the president could be charged with a crime when he leaves office. Alcindor and Woodruff treated this as if it was some profound insight from Mueller, but it is actually just a truism. Nobody ever denied that Trump could be charged with a crime when he leaves office, because he wouldn't be president at that point, the question is whether he should and that gets back to the controversy of coming to the political standard of "not exonerated" in what was supposed to be a legal investigation.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It’s also important to note that Democrats were really making the case that this was something that if anyone else had acted as though President Trump had acted then they would be charged with crimes, that was really one of the biggest points, Democrats were trying to make. That of only for the fact that he wasn’t a sitting president, President Trump might be facing some sort of charges and that I think goes to 2020. President Trump has been making the case that Democrats will destroy the lives of Americans across the country if he's not reelected, but 2020 may not only be about him being re-elected, it may also come down to him being a free man. If he doesn’t the win the reelection he could, Robert Mueller, be charged with some sort of crime. Doesn't mean he’s going to be charged with a crime. But that changes the way the 2020 election should be viewed.
JUDY WOODRFUFF: No, that's a good point, Yamiche.
The media hyped Mueller's testimony as a potential game changer in any potential impeachment effort, but nothing new or terribly interesting came out of Democratic questioning, so they are left with trying to pass on yesterday's boring news as today's bombshell.
This is all the more interesting because as Mueller began his testimony to the Intel Committee, he clarified his earlier statement, which was the basis for this "bombshell" in the first place, to bring it more in line with the joint DOJ-Office of the Special Counsel statement from May that said the OLC opinion did not play a role in Mueller's decision not to recommend charges.