Hillary Clinton Says Mueller Report Is an Impeachment 'Road Map' As She Recalls Her Watergate Experience

Hillary Clinton called special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election a "road map" for Congress to continue investigating Donald Trump but cautioned Democrats against rushing to file impeachment proceedings.

In a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday, the former Democratic nominee for president who was defeated by Trump in 2016 said the "definitive conclusion" of Mueller's report is that "our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated." However, Clinton goes on to caution House Democrats against "immediate impeachment" and urged them to "hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law" by other means.

Though she notes that "some may say that I'm not the right messenger," given her history with Trump, Clinton argues that her experience as a "young staff attorney on the House Judiciary Committee's Watergate impeachment inquiry in 1974, as well as first lady during the impeachment process that began in 1998," has armed her with important lessons that can be applied to the current day.

"Mueller's report leaves many unanswered questions—in part because of Attorney General William P. Barr's redactions and obfuscations. But it is a road map. It's up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads—to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not," Clinton wrote. "Either way, the nation's interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless."

Clinton then urged Congress to follow the example set by the Watergate inquiry in 1974, which, she suggested, parallels key parts of Mueller's investigation. "Then, as now, there was an investigation that found evidence of corruption and a coverup. It was complemented by public hearings conducted by a Senate select committee, which insisted that executive privilege could not be used to shield criminal conduct and compelled White House aides to testify," she said.

The former first lady also called on Congress to "hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps," rather than "jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment."

"In 1998, the Republican-led House rushed to judgment. That was a mistake then and would be a mistake now," Clinton warned, adding that "Watergate offers a better precedent."

Despite her cautions, Clinton stressed that the matter is "urgent" and warned that "the Russians will interfere again in 2020" if America doesn't "get this right."

"Unless [Trump is] held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office," she added. "He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin's agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union."

The comments were not the first time Clinton has voiced similar opinions on the matter in recent weeks, amid tensions within the Democratic Party on whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump based on the Mueller report's findings. On Tuesday, Clinton supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's calls for her party to show restraint in pursuing impeachment.

"I think Nancy is right to be cautious about making sure whatever is done in this Congress is more in accord with the very careful approach of 1973 and '74," Clinton said during a speaking appearance at Time magazine's Time 100 Summit.

"The other piece of this is that the Congress has to keep working. I know she is very focused on putting some accomplishments on the table, even if they die in the do-nothing Senate, which they will, because that has become a hotbed of cynicism unlike anything I have ever seen," Clinton said.

Mueller's highly anticipated 448-page report, with redactions, was released by Attorney General William Barr earlier this month. It details a nearly two-year investigation, which ended with 100 criminal charges and 34 individuals and organizations facing indictments or pleading guilty, including six former Trump associates and three Russian companies.

Mueller's conclusions did not establish that his campaign had criminally conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. It also did not charge Trump with obstruction of justice, but it did it exonerate the president either. However, the report revealed ample evidence of wrongdoing by Trump and his inner circle during his 2016 presidential campaign and through his tenure in the White House.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the TIME 100 Summit on April 23, 2019 in New York City. Clinton on Wednesday penned an op-ed for The Washington Post where she said special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is an impeachment "road map." Spencer Platt/Getty Images