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Mueller’s ‘Reluctant Witness’ Pose Is Another Impeachment Ploy

I&I Editorial

Twenty-eight days after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller declared that he had nothing more to say about the results of his 2-year investigation into President Trump, he unreservedly agreed to testify before Congress. It almost seems as though his playing coy was just part of some broader impeachment strategy.

In his statement at the conclusion of his investigation on May 29, Mueller said: “I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress. And it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today, as well.”

In case the meaning was lost on anybody, he stated that “the report is my testimony.”

That’s what he claimed, anyway. But in that very statement, he went beyond the report, adding new impeachment bait by stating that the only reason he didn’t pursue an obstruction charge was that he couldn’t prosecute Trump while he’s in office. 

Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy of National Review called it an explosive statement, that “runs against what we had heard up until now … that the Office of Legal Council guidance was the reason why they didn’t make a decision about obstruction.”

So let’s review. 

Mueller’s 400+ page report goes public on April 18, with half the report spent on the question of whether Trump tried to obstruct justice. Mueller says the investigation couldn’t decide whether what Trump did was a crime or not, but nevertheless detailed everything they could find that hinted at it — thereby adding a horrible new wrinkle to American jurisprudence: not innocent.

When that report came out, I&I’s Tom McArdle commented that:

“Robert Mueller has, in effect, left lawyering, and the rules prosecutors must follow, and made himself stealth director of a lavishly-funded team of political opposition researchers eager to help House Democrats impeach Trump — or defeat him at the polls in 2020.”

While the report sparks some impeachment talk, there is no momentum behind it. 

Then, as the impeachment train sputters to a standstill, Mueller makes his public statement, and Democrats start mashing down on the impeachment pedal. 

But even then it doesn’t go far before stalling out.

Now, conveniently enough, Mueller quickly, and apparently without any pushback, acquiesces to the Democrats’ demand that he testify. The circumstances are so suspicious, in fact, that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff feels compelled to swat down claims that it was a “friendly subpoena.” 

“I don’t think the special counsel’s office would characterize it as a friendly subpoena. He did not want to testify,” Schiff said. “He made that very clear.”

Based on what? Well, Mueller’s public statement. But wait a minute. When Mueller made that statement, he must have known a subpoena was coming. So why pretend to take a vow of silence? Why say anything at all?

Our guess is that his reluctant witness act is just another part of Mueller’s impeachment strategy. If he’d appeared too eager to talk, it would only undermine his credibility by making him look too vested in removing Trump from office. 

By pretending to be a reluctant witness, Mueller has a better chance, or at least another one, to try to gin up momentum for Trump’s impeachment. 

— Written by John Merline


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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

1 comment

  • Possible first question for Mueller: On May 16, 2016 you interviewed with Trump and others in his transition team to become the new director of the FBI and discussed why Comey might be replaced. Once you found out that a part of the special prosecutors job was to investigate possible obstruction associated with Comey’s dismissal why did you not immediately recuse yourself from the investigation as is required by law because a prosecutor cannot be a witness in their own investigation?

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