One could almost feel sorry for Robert Mueller, whose reputation as a man of unimpeachable integrity and straight-shooting lawman burned to the ground in front of him during his testimony before Congress.
He appeared frail, uncertain, and feeble. He simply was not up to the challenge. He fumbled simple questions, paused awkwardly on numerous occasions, and repeatedly made it clear that he was almost completely unfamiliar with his own report.
The Washington Post noted his “shaky demeanor,” and observed that under questioning from House members, “his voice grew thinner, less certain. He sometimes searched for words... (his) halting manner seemed involuntary.” It was, in sum, a “haltering, faltering performance.”
I said on my program a number of weeks ago that I did not believe Mr. Mueller even knew what was in his report, and almost without any doubt did not write it. (Newt Gingrich is out there today calling for an investigation into who actually did in fact write the report.) Mueller had an aide at his elbow all day, there to prop him up and answer questions for him. But when the special counsel tried to pitch the ball to his wingman, Republican questioners wouldn’t let him. They reminded him that the questions were being directed to him, as the supposed author of “The Mueller Report,” and weren’t being directed to anyone else. The aide turned into the proverbial potted plant.
So Mueller was left to twist slowly in the wind. Even regressives were appalled at his performance, which was supposed to lead directly to impeachment proceedings. (Mueller studiously avoided using the “i” word at all.)
The Washington Post observed that “he clearly did not want to be on Capitol Hill” (he was only there because Nadler made him come), and that “even Democrats who favor impeachment acknowledge that Mueller’s performance did not provide the made-for-TV moment for which they had hoped.”
Mueller seemed confused a good bit of the time about basic facts. He asked lawmakers to repeat their questions no less than 48 times. According to NBC News, Mueller “deflected or declined to answer questions” at least 106 times.
He was unable to give detailed answers even to questions he had agreed to address.
He admitted to being unfamiliar with essential specifics of the investigation. He didn’t even know what Fusion GPS is even though Fusion GPS, hired by Hillary and the DNC, is the outfit responsible for the Steele dossier. The Steele dossier was the basis for all four FISA surveillance warrants the DOJ got to spy on Trump and members of his campaign. It kick-started the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax and gave rise to the very claims Mueller was supposed to investigate.
At one point Ohio Republican Steve Chabot said, “When you talk about the firm that produced the Steele reporting, the name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS, is that correct?” Stunningly Mueller replied, “I’m not familiar with that.”
Mueller claimed that “conspiracy” and “collusion” are not the same thing, even though his own report states flatly that they are. Rep. Doug Collins had to read the relevant section from Mueller’s own report to him.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries tried to pump some air into the obstruction of justice balloon by reciting elements that he thought fit the obstruction pattern. No luck. Said Mueller, ‘I don’t subscribe necessarily to your — the way you analyze that.”
When a friendly questioner, Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat from Arizona, asked Mueller which president had nominated him to be the top prosecutor in Massachusetts he couldn’t remember. Stanton had to remind him that it was Ronald Reagan.
Democrats and the Talking Snake Media pummeled Mueller mercilessly. Michael Moore called him, “A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions.”
David Axelrod said the whole thing was “very, very painful.” Laurence Tribe said, “Much as I hate to say it, this morning’s hearing was a disaster.” The “d” word was also invoked by Chuck Todd of NBC News and Chris Wallace of Fox.
One House Democrat aide admitted, “It was a very bad day for us,” while another called it “horrendous.” Dana Milbank admitted that Republicans “eviscerated him,” and ruefully added, “So this is why Mueller did not want to testify.”
One other important detail was surfaced by Rep. Debbie Lesko, who informed an apparently clueless Mueller that the investigation relied more on liberal media than on actual investigating. The report cites the Washington Post sixty times, and the New York Times 75 times, but Fox News a scant 25 times.
Said Lesko, “I’ve got to say, it looks like Vol. II is mostly regurgitated press stories. Honestly, there’s almost nothing in Vol. II that I couldn’t already hear or know simply by having a $50 cable news subscription. However, your investigation cost the American taxpayers $25 million.”
It’s almost impossible to overestimate the damage the hearings did to Democrat hopes of completing their coup d’etat against the president. All their hopes were riding on Mueller, and his efforts were an abysmal failure. He went from hero to goat in five hours.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler gamely kept pedaling. He sought to persuade Nancy Pelosi in an after-event bull session to pursue impeachment, but she continued to insist that such talk is “premature.” ABC’s Terry Moran said unambiguously that “impeachment’s over.”
Shannon Bream’s staff invited 70 Democrats to come on her program to talk about the hearings and didn’t find a single taker, not one.
Dan Balz of the Washington Post ruefully admitted, “Democrats are now left with one option to end Trump’s presidency: The 2020 election.” He added (emphasis mine), “It will be left to the eventual Democratic presidential nominee, with the help of the party, to develop a comprehensive case against the president, one that can win 270 electoral votes. To date, that hasn’t happened.”
So here’s a leading member of the regressive media conceding that things look really bad for the Democrats and really good for Trump. That’s gotta hurt.