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Hillary Clinton says Congress should begin Watergate-style hearings after Mueller findings

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 4/25/2019 Margaret Talev
a close up of Hillary Clinton wearing a white shirt and red hair: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the TIME 100 Summit on April 23, 2019 in New York City. The day-long TIME 100 Summit showcases the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) © Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the TIME 100 Summit on April 23, 2019 in New York City. The day-long TIME 100 Summit showcases the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Congress should begin a Watergate-style investigation into President Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election that she lost.

Clinton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that lawmakers should undertake “substantive hearings” on the special counsel’s report from his investigation and shouldn’t “jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment.”

“Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say on that I’m not the right messenger,” she acknowledged. But the decision between Trump’s immediate impeachment and doing nothing, she wrote, is a “false choice.”

It was a “mistake” for Republicans to pursue impeachment in 1998 against her husband, President Bill Clinton, “and would be a mistake now.”

Democrats have found themselves divided over how to address Mueller’s revelations. The special counsel found no evidence that Trump or his associates conspired with the Russian effort to manipulate the election. But he didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, instead documenting at least 10 episodes where the president attempted to halt or curtail the investigation. He also reported that Trump repeatedly deceived the public about his actions.

Democrats have sought to keep Mueller’s findings in the public spotlight, in part by inviting Mueller and Attorney General William Barr to testify to House committees. But while many liberal activists and lawmakers and some of the party’s presidential candidates have demanded Trump be held accountable, Democratic leaders in Congress fear impeachment proceedings may backfire, as they did for Republicans during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“This is bigger than politics,” Hillary Clinton wrote. “What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship.”

Clinton wrote that Mueller’s report, even in the redacted form released by the Justice Department last week, is a “road map” for lawmakers in both parties to follow. If impeachment is pursued, she said, it should be led by a respected independent figure, pointing to the example of John Doar, the former Justice Department official the House Judiciary Committee hired as its special counsel for the Watergate investigation.

Clinton herself was a staff attorney for the Judiciary Committee during Watergate.

Responding to Mueller’s conclusion regarding Russian meddling, Clinton recommended Congress establish a bipartisan commission, similar to the panel convened after the 9/11 attacks, to protect U.S. elections against future foreign interference.

“This is necessary because the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger,” she said.

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