While Democratic members of Congress are still debating whether to begin the impeachment process, people watching the questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller yesterday could easily have thought they were viewing an impeachment proceeding.

Rather than acting as investigators to develop new information that would build on what we already know, House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee members primarily assumed the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys. Democratic members tried to make the case for impeachment, while Republican members tried to discredit the idea of impeachment.

Not that this was surprising, given our highly polarized politics. But the hearings didn’t do much to serve the public interest. Nor could they have with a single witness who already had said he wouldn’t provide information beyond what was in his published report.

Of course, the Trump Administration and its congressional allies are doing whatever they can to prevent the House Committees from pursuing their investigations. Accordingly, it’s important not only that committee members take their investigatory role seriously but also that the courts intervene to ensure that Congress can do its oversight job properly.

Photo of David Orentlicher David Orentlicher

David Orentlicher is the Cobeaga Law Firm Professor of Law at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. Nationally recognized for his expertise in constitutional law and health law, Dr. O has testified before Congress, had his scholarship cited by the U.S. Supreme…

David Orentlicher is the Cobeaga Law Firm Professor of Law at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. Nationally recognized for his expertise in constitutional law and health law, Dr. O has testified before Congress, had his scholarship cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and has served on many national, state, and local commissions.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School, Dr. O is author of numerous books, articles, and essays on a wide range of topics, including presidential power, affirmative action, health care reform, physician aid in dying, and reproductive decisions. Dr. O’s work has appeared in leading professional journals, as well as in the New York TimesTimeUSA TodayCNN Opinion, the Chicago Tribune, and other major newspapers.

Between 2002 and 2008, Dr. O served in the Indiana House of Representatives, where he authored legislation to promote job creation, protect children from abuse and neglect, and make health care coverage more affordable. His most recent book, Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive, draws on his experience with partisan conflict as an elected official and his expertise in constitutional law to discuss reforms that would address the country’s high levels of political polarization.