Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) sat down with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt last night and struggled with a question that should’ve been easy.
HUNT: Have you read the Mueller report in full?
WOODALL: I have not.
HUNT: Why not?
WOODALL: I said when we started this conversation that I trusted Mr. Mueller….
The back and forth continued, but the Republican congressman – who’ll retire next year following a difficult re-election bid in 2018 – struggled to say why he didn’t take the time to read the report.
His first reason was that he trusted Mueller to be responsible, which obviously didn’t answer the question. Woodall’s second answer was that the Justice Department sometimes tries to “achieve an agenda” and “drive a message,” which still didn’t explain why he didn’t read the document.
The GOP lawmaker went on to say that obstruction of justice “is not a political issue, it is a criminal issue,” which is true. But in the case of a sitting president who won’t be charged while in office, it’s supposed to be an issue of concern to Congress – and it might be if members read the Mueller report.
Woodall added, “The constituents I represent don’t want to see criminal activity at any place.” That may be true, but whether the folks in Georgia’s 7th want to see criminal activity or not isn’t directly relevant to whether criminal activity occurred.
The Georgia Republican ultimately said he didn’t read the Starr Report, either, which may be true, but Woodall wasn’t a member of Congress 21 years ago. He didn’t have a responsibility at the time to review the official findings of an investigation into a sitting president.
We’re left with the awkward realization that Woodall can’t credibly assess whether Donald Trump committed impeachable acts because Woodall hasn’t bothered to sit down with the report that documents Trump’s alleged impeachable acts.
What’s more, he’s not alone: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently conceded he hadn’t read it, either.
When Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first and only congressional Republican to endorse the president’s impeachment, he said he came to that conclusion after reading the Mueller report. Amash added that many of his colleagues hadn’t bothered to take that step. (The Michigan Republican now has a primary rival – who also hasn’t read the document.)
The dividing line is starting to emerge: those who’ve read the Mueller report end up supporting impeachment, while those who haven’t don’t.