WASHINGTON — House Democrats, grasping for ways to bring the special counsel’s report to life, said on Monday that they would convene a series of hearings focused on Robert S. Mueller III’s findings, even if the special counsel himself would not be on the witness stand for now.
The first star witness, in fact, will come from another era and another presidential scandal: John W. Dean, President Richard M. Nixon’s White House counsel who told the Senate in June 1973 that the president had been directly involved in the Watergate cover-up.
The hearing, scheduled for June 10 with the House Judiciary Committee, is not exactly the showcase Democrats had hoped for, but it will allow lawmakers on the panel traditionally charged with carrying out impeachment proceedings to fully air Mr. Mueller’s findings for the first time.
So far, Democrats’ requests for testimony from key witnesses in the Mueller investigation have been blocked by the Trump administration, and Mr. Mueller himself has yet to agree to appear on Capitol Hill despite delivering a rare public statement last week.
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, said the session, “Lessons From the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes,” would zero in on “the most overt acts of obstruction” documented by Mr. Mueller. The special counsel’s 448-page report detailed at least 10 cases of possible obstruction by President Trump as he sought to thwart investigators studying his campaign’s ties to Russia and its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“While the White House continues to cover up and stonewall, and to prevent the American people from knowing the truth, we will continue to move forward with our investigation,” Mr. Nadler said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to Mr. Dean — who has frequently appeared on cable television to warn that Mr. Trump’s behavior is worse than Nixon’s — witnesses will include former United States attorneys and other legal experts. Mr. Nadler said hearings on related topics would follow in the coming weeks, but he did not offer dates.
[Read more about Mr. Dean in our 2018 profile.]
The committee already has outstanding subpoenas for testimony from two more key witnesses this month. But neither witness — Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director, or Annie Donaldson, the chief of staff to the former White House counsel — is likely to show. Ms. Donaldson’s boss, Donald F. McGahn II, whose extensive testimony to Mr. Mueller about Mr. Trump’s behavior drew comparisons to Mr. Dean, has already defied a subpoena and refused to speak.
The new hearings come as Democrats are struggling to bring Mr. Mueller’s dense report to life for American voters. In the weeks since the redacted report was first released publicly, the House has been bogged down in a series of bitter fights with the White House and the Justice Department over documents and witnesses that have overshadowed the conclusions themselves.
Talks with Mr. Mueller’s team have not been more fruitful, with the two sides unable to reach agreeable terms for testimony. Mr. Mueller made clear during his public appearance last week at the Justice Department that his preference was not to testify. Democrats, so far, have been reluctant to issue a subpoena demanding that he appear.
Nearly all Democratic lawmakers agree that has to change, but they are at odds over how to bring Mr. Mueller before the television cameras. A growing number of party officials, including more than 50 House members, have endorsed opening an impeachment inquiry to raise the stakes of continuing obstruction of justice and abuse of power inquiries. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team remain staunchly opposed to the idea unless Democrats can make a persuasive case to the broader American public.