(WASHINGTON) — For months, House Democrats have hoped Robert Mueller and any number of former White House officials would testify publicly on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the special counsel’s findings, serving as a “new John Dean” to capture the attention of the American people as President Richard Nixon’s former lawyer did during the Watergate scandal.Instead, they’re planning a series of hearings on the Mueller report — without Mueller but with John Dean. The House Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing, titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” on Monday, featuring Dean and other legal experts and former U.S. attorneys.”These hearings will allow us to examine the findings laid out in Mueller’s report so that we can work to protect the rule of law and protect future elections through consideration of legislative and other remedies,” Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement.At the same time, House Democrats are facing another potential standoff with former Trump White House officials over subpoenas for documents and testimony.
“We have a number of different witnesses that we are still fighting with the White House about getting, and they are still obstructing justice,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a member of the committee, told ABC News. “In the meantime, we have an incredible knowledge base of former prosecutors, people who have lived through impeachment.”Former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, the former chief-of-staff to Don McGahn, President Donald Trump’s first White House counsel, are expected not to comply with a Tuesday deadline for documents under a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee last month. They are also slated to testify before the committee later this month.The situation mirrors a standoff between the committee and McGahn, the former White House counsel, last month, when Trump directed McGahn not to testify before Congress under subpoena, denying Democrats a witness at the heart of several episodes of obstruction detailed in Mueller’s report. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing with an empty chair and quickly advanced a motion to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress.Faced with resistance from the administration across their investigations — from following up on the Mueller report to probes of the president’s finances, tax returns and family-separation policy — and denied access to any potential star witnesses against the president, Democrats have increasingly taken a tougher stance against the White House.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Monday that the House will vote next week to hold McGahn and Attorney General William Barr, who did not comply with a committee subpoena for the full Mueller report and underlying materials, in contempt of Congress, paving the way for Democrats to seek compliance with their subpoenas in civil court. The House Oversight Committee also could vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress next week if the Justice and Commerce Departments ignore a subpoena for records related to an investigation into the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”That’s why we’re relying on subpoenas, because we sadly concluded that there are no heroic figures in this administration who are willing to put country ahead of service to the president,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News.Republicans have criticized Democrats’ efforts to follow up on Mueller’s findings and have been quick to charge the majority with wanting to impeach Trump and damage him politically ahead of the 2020 election.In the wake of the Mueller report’s release, and the special counsel’s surprise public statement last week highlighting his key findings, at least 56 House Democrats — roughly 1 in 4 caucus members — have called for the chamber to open an impeachment inquiry, according to an ABC News analysis.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her deputies have largely resisted calls for impeachment, sensitive to the potential risks of launching the effort without Republican buy-in. They instead have called for Democrats to focus on the investigations, advance their policy agenda and work to resolve ongoing disputes with the administration in court.The House Judiciary Committee continues to hold out hope that Mueller could be compelled to testify on Capitol Hill, and discussions with his representatives have continued, even though he made clear last week that he doesn’t wish to do so.They are also brainstorming other ways to reanimate Mueller’s conclusions for the broader public and build support for their investigative efforts. Already, they have scheduled public readings of the entire 448-page report on Capitol Hill. Some members have suggested a national campaign with advocacy groups to educate the public about obstruction of justice and impeachment.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.