Could The Mueller Investigation Be Affected By The 2018 Midterm Elections?
Despite some earlier reports to the contrary, Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn't wrap up his Russia investigation before the midterm elections. This brings up an important question: Could the Mueller investigation be affected by the midterms? And if so, how?
The answer is yes, most definitely. The midterms will determine which party controls each branch of Congress, and right now, it's projected that Democrats will win control of the House. There are several ways a Democratic-controlled House could affect Mueller's probe.
First and foremost, winning the House would put Democrats in control of every House committee, which would in turn give them the power to launch congressional investigations into both Trump's Russia connections and the Mueller probe itself. Democrats would have this option as long as they control either the House or the Senate, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who sits on the powerful House Intelligence Committee, has made it clear that the committee will do exactly that if Democrats win the House.
If House Democrats used the committee's power and resources to investigate the same issues Mueller is looking at, they could learn things that, up until now, are known only to Mueller and his infamously leak-free team. Because congressional investigations are intended to be transparent, this could have the effect of making things public that Mueller has discovered but not disclosed publicly.
Similarly, winning the House would give Democrats the power to subpoena the report that Mueller ultimately issues at the end of his investigation. Under special counsel rules, he's required to file such a report to Congress, and if Democrats control even one branch of Congress, they'll have the power to subpoena and release it.
A Democratic-controlled House could offer a degree of protection to Mueller's probe. If Democrats launch their own investigations into Trump's Russia ties, they could easily make a big show out of it — subpoenaing Trump's associates to testify publicly before Congress, trumpeting the investigations findings at weekly press conferences, and so on.
Although such theatrics wouldn't have any material effect on Mueller's probe, they could make it much more difficult, from a political standpoint, for Trump to quash Mueller's investigation. Of course, the flipside is also true. If Trump perceives that congressional investigators are digging deeper than he he wants them to, one could imagine him feeling more emboldened to pull the plug on Mueller's probe.
Lastly, a Democratic-controlled House could attempt to pass legislation protecting Mueller from a hypothetical firing by Trump. However, it's unlikely that a GOP-controlled Senate would also pass such legislation, and even more unlikely that Trump would sign it into law if they did.
Ultimately, it's too soon to say exactly how the midterms will affect Mueller's investigation — and it's entirely possible that this will depend, in part, on what comes out of the Mueller probe after the election. But if Democrats win control of the House, they'll have a number of ways to bolster Mueller's investigation and make its findings more transparent.