Democrat on Judiciary Committee: Concise Questions for Mueller, 'No Legalese or Multisyllabic Words'

By Susan Jones | July 24, 2019 | 5:35am EDT
Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

( - This morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing, starring former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is "not to showcase us, it's to showcase the facts, the evidence, the lawlessness," committee member Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) told CNN on Tuesday.

Unlike many congressional hearings, where members use their questions to grandstand and show off, Democrats want the focus today to be on Mueller. The goal is to inflame enough Americans to make President Trump's impeachment feasible.

And with that goal in mind, Dean said Democrats have been rehearsing to keep their questions simple and understandable for ordinary people who have not read the Mueller report:

"Well, I won't speak to our preparation other than to say it's very thorough," Dean said of Tuesday's mock hearings:

"I've had the opportunity to work with my team in my own office, with the team of the Judiciary Committee, with attorneys, so that we craft very careful questions. What I've shared with my committee is what I believe. My words are less important tomorrow. It is Director Mueller's words that matter.

"So that I hope that what I do is actually craft very concise questions, simple, understandable questions so that Mr. Mueller has the chance--" she started to say.

Host Brianna Keilar interrupted, noting that lawmakers often use most of their allotted time asking the question, rather than hearing the answer:

"Well, Brianna, I too have been guilty of that," Dean replied. "So I'm just schooling myself, that I want to make sure my questions are as tightly crafted and understandable for the American people as possible, not laced with legalese or multisyllabic words. I can't tell you exactly about the preparation of everybody else."

Keilar asked, "How are you all coordinating to make sure that one member builds on the answers received by the last member's questions?"

"Well, the team inside the Judiciary Committee has been extraordinarily able in identifying and scaffolding the arguments to put the narrative before the American people," Dean said.

"So we are absolutely coordinating. The members have been working very, very well together because we have one goal in mind. It's not to showcase us, it's to showcase the facts, the evidence, the lawlessness. The American people deserve that information. And I'm proud to be a part of a committee that will bring that to light."

(Two months ago, House Democrats spent more than 13 hours reading the full, redacted Mueller report aloud, but that effort to sway the American people went nowhere. Today, Democrats are trying again giving Mueller the opportunity to recite his own words.)

Dean refused to say who played Robert Mueller in Tuesday's dress rehearsal.

"Oh, I'm not going to tell you the behind the scenes, but we have a couple of very able folks," she said.

Dean said Democrats are not seeking a bombshell from Mueller. They just want him to say out loud what is in the Mueller report for people who haven't read it.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on obstruction of justice -- Volume II of the Mueller report, particularly the Trump Tower meeting and President Trump's later interaction with former White House Counsel Don McGahn:

"What we're really here to do is to shine a light on the facts of the report," Dean said. "A hundred contacts by the Trump campaign with Russia -- with Russians. Not one call to law enforcement to say maybe there's something wrong here. The welcoming and wallowing in the interference, the sweeping and systematic interference, and then a president who once he realizes he's under investigation goes to great lengths to ask people to lie for him, to document things that did not happen, to destroy documents of things that did happen."

Dean said the American people "can be proud" that Democrats are holding today's two hearings: "So while it's all very, very troubling, I do think the American people can be proud. We can uphold our democracy. We can say that we prize the rule of law and no one is above the law."

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