Robert Mueller Can Show Donald Trump Is 'Contemptuous of the Law,' Watergate Journalist Says

Legendary Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein believes that former special counsel Robert Mueller has the power to shift Americans' "perception" of President Donald Trump through his Wednesday testimony and could show how the commander-in-chief is "contemptuous of the law."

Bernstein, who worked for The Washington Post and covered the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon in 1974, discussed the possible outcome of Mueller's televised testimony to the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees in an interview with CNN's New Day on Wednesday morning. He suggested that the former special counsel's answers to lawmakers may shed new light on his 22-month long investigation into Trump for many American viewers.

"What we do have, perhaps, is the one person who can convey to the American people, if he's willing, that we have a president who is contemptuous of the law [and] has not faithfully executed the laws as he's supposed to do under Article II of the Constitution," Bernstein said.

"Mueller has enormous power here to move the perception of Americans," the journalist argued, "whether he exercises it or not, that to me is the big question." A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted earlier this month showed that only 21 percent of Americans overall – and just 39 percent of Democrats – are in favor of impeachment hearings for the president.

Mueller concluded his 22-month long investigation into Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election back in March. He submitted the final report to Attorney General William Barr who then delayed releasing the document publicly until nearly one month later. Barr did, however, release a brief letter summarizing the reports findings according to his interpretation.

The former special counsel and members of his team took issue with Barr's characterization of their findings, and Mueller urged Barr to publicly release portions of the document at an earlier date to counter misinformation and confusion. Barr ignored that request, and released the full, but redacted, report on April 18. Some analysts have suggested that the attorney general mischaracterized the report and delayed the public release in an effort to benefit the president.

Although Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to prove that Trump's 2016 campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election, the investigation did show that Russian intelligence worked throughout the campaign to influence voters in favor of Trump. The special counsel report also documented multiple instances in which the president allegedly attempted to interfere with Mueller's investigation, which many legal experts have said is a textbook example of obstruction of justice.

"Special Counsel Mueller's report raises the possibility that the president of the United States may have criminally obstructed the investigation into Russian election interference. No elected office gives any American the right to break the law," Republicans for the Rule of Law's legal advisor and spokesman Chris Truax said in a statement emailed to Newsweek.

Robert Mueller
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is sworn in before testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on July 24 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

"If these charges are true, they are all the more serious because they involve not merely violating the laws for political gain, as occurred in Watergate," he explained. "Rather, they involve a sitting president sacrificing America's national security interests in favor of his personal interests."

A large number of Democratic lawmakers have called for Trump's impeachment over the findings of Mueller's probe. But Representative Justin Amash of Michigan was the lone Republican congressman joining the Democrats in that call. Earlier this month, he chose to officially leave the GOP, however, declaring himself an independent.

Trump and his supporters argue that the entire Mueller investigation has been a "witch hunt." They also inaccurately claim that the final report showed "no obstruction" and was a "total exoneration." That assessment goes against the very words that Mueller's team used in the document. "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," the report said.

Robert Mueller Can Show Donald Trump Is 'Contemptuous of the Law,' Watergate Journalist Says | U.S.