Investigating Trump and Holding Him Accountable

UPDATE: The Mueller investigation is over. The Special Counsel has delivered his findings to Attorney General Barr, and now Barr must disclose those findings to Congress. We demand that these findings be made public, and will support the congressional investigations that are still pending.​

Reviewing the red lines

For more than a year now, we’ve been ready to mobilize when Trump crosses a red line. If you aren’t signed up to host or attend a rapid-response protest, you can do so here. As a reminder, here are the red lines that could trigger these protests while the Mueller investigation is still proceeding:

  • Trump firing Mueller

  • Trump pardoning key witnesses (like Paul Manafort)

  • Trump preventing the investigation from being conducted freely, such as by firing Mueller’s boss Rod Rosenstein (he crossed this one already when he forced Sessions to resign and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker!)

But note: there’s a fourth red line for when the investigation ends:

  • The Mueller investigation releases findings showing significant wrongdoing by Donald Trump. Or Congress or the administration blocks the public from seeing Mueller's findings.

Now that the investigation is complete, it’s worth digging into what crossing that fourth red line could look like in practice.

What could crossing the fourth red line look like?

There are a few different ways Trump (or members of his administration) could cross the fourth red line. Mueller is required to submit to Attorney General Bill Barr a confidential report of the people he is prosecuting and the people he’s chosen not to prosecute. Barr is subsequently required to submit an “explanation” (summary) of the Mueller investigation’s findings to the Chair and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees (Reps. Jerry Nadler and Doug Collins in the House; Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein in the Senate).

There are a few ways Trump or Barr could cross the fourth red line once we reach this point:

  • Barr could refuse to send an explanation to Congress. This would trigger the fourth red line.
  • Barr could send an explanation to Congress, but the explanation is inadequate OR it isn’t made available to the full Congress OR Congress could refuse to make it public. This would trigger the fourth red line, and Democrats should use the full scope of their authority to make the explanation public.
  • The Mueller report could show massive wrongdoing linked directly to Trump himself. This would trigger the fourth red line, and Democrats should use the full scope of their power to hold him accountable.
  • The Mueller findings could be made fully public and show nothing directly linking Trump or his associates to significant wrongdoing. This would not trigger a red line, but Democrats should proceed by expanding the scope of their own investigations since the Mueller investigation was limited in its scope.​

The new Congress on offense

No matter what happens when the investigation ends, we’re in a totally different reality now than we were when we set these red lines. Now, after the Blue Wave, we have a Democratic-controlled House with powerful committees that can use subpoenas, oversight and investigatory powers to expose Trump and hold him accountable.

There’s no need to rely solely on Mueller. Congress can take information like this and open investigations to get to the truth and to hold Trump accountable. We talk more about congressional investigatory powers in our new guide Indivisible on Offense. Particularly if you have a Member of Congress on a relevant committee (such as Judiciary or Intelligence), you can ask them to launch or support such investigations into Trump’s corruption and crimes. Note: both House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have already launched wide-ranging investigations into Trump, his business ties, corruption and more. These are exactly the types of actions that constituents can and should support.

Additionally, the House voted 420-0 (that's right, 0 "no" votes) on March 14 to support making the Mueller report available to both the public and Congress once it is ready. This kind of pro-transparency vote is the right tactic for House Democrats to be using while they wait for the Special Counsel to finish his investigation.

The Mueller investigation

The Mueller investigation has already yielded a string of high-profile indictments and plea deals. General Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to Trump, has reached a plea deal with the Special Counsel in which Flynn agreed to cooperate with the investigation after admitting to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort also agreed to cooperate with Mueller pleaded guilty to several charges, including conspiracy against the United States. (Let that sink in: the person who managed Trump’s presidential campaign has now been sentenced to prison for conspiracy against the United States.) Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction. Manafort’s associate Rick Gates has pleaded guilty on two counts, and Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia. Special Counsel Mueller has also indicted thirteen Russians on allegations of interfering in the U.S. elections.

It’s clear that Mueller is thoroughly and methodically building his case, and that Trump becomes more agitated the closer he gets to the truth. But there’s no way of knowing when the investigation will end or what it will produce. This is why it’s so important for the new Democratic House to use the powers that they have, too.

What can you do now?

Tell your member of Congress that they must use the full extent of their oversight and investigative powers to ensure that the results of Mueller’s investigation are made public and they must continue their own investigations — that are even wider in scope than Mueller’s — in order to get to the truth and hold Trump accountable.​

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