Mueller Report Forces Dems To Wrestle With Political Risks Of Impeaching Trump

President Donald Trump declared “Game Over” after special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election was released Thursday, but Democrats have signaled the “game” could last months longer, eyeing hearings and possible impeachment proceedings that could test the public’s appetite for investigations of the Trump White House.

While Mueller’s team recounted numerous instances of contacts and attempted contacts between Trump associates and Russians, they did not find any evidence of a conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government to influence the election. Their 448-page report offered a more complicated finding on whether President Trump obstructed justice, concluding in part that only Congress can judge some of his actions.

The report catalogs numerous examples of bad behavior by Trump, but Republican strategist Ford O’Connell predicted Democrats will face “an uphill battle” convincing voters any of it was illegal or impeachable in light of Mueller’s underlying conclusion that there was no criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“It’s very hard to argue publicly about obstruction of justice when Trump was proven innocent on the crime of collusion,” he said.

Some Democrats have sidestepped the impeachment issue in the wake of the report’s release, while others are rushing headfirst into it.

“I say roll the dice on Capitol Hill, because the joke will be on them and Trump will win re-election,” O’Connell said. “No one can say Mueller didn’t already hunt down just about every potential crime. I find it hard to believe the chaos on Capitol Hill is going to turn up anything Mueller didn’t.”

Experts and members of both parties often cite the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice as a cautionary tale for Democrats. The GOP-led House approved impeachment, but the Senate acquitted Clinton after a trial and his popularity rose in the months that followed.

“It cost the Republicans a bunch of House seats and it boosted Bill Clinton,” O’Connell said. “If they look at history, pursuing this is nothing more than a turd in a Tiffany box.”

“Republicans learned the lesson of the 1990s,” O’Connell said. “The only question is whether the Democrats learned the lesson of the 1990s.”

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at ABC 6

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Analysis & Political Strategy