Issues & Insights

Mueller’s Muttering Misfire For Democrats

How big a nothingburger was Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday? Within 30 minutes of the end of his sad, near-senile performance lasting more than six hours, MSNBC’s out-for-Trump’s-blood commentators had turned to asking defeated Missouri Democrat ex-Sen. Claire McCaskill to describe to viewers how the Russians are promoting the anti-vaccine movement.

Americans wouldn’t read the book, i.e,. Mueller’s report, but they’ll watch the movie. That was the Democrats’ bet in forcing Mueller to appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. But they lost big, and Mueller’s appearance on screen is a shoe-in for the Golden Raspberry Award, right down there with the very worst investments Hollywood has ever made, such as “Heaven’s Gate,” “Ishtar,” and “Leonard Part 6.”

Mueller was “exactly the right kind of individual for this job,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said when he was appointed special counsel in 2017. We’ve been told for over two years now that the former FBI director is a lion, a dogged crusader for the truth, a national treasure within the law enforcement establishment. But on Wednesday he was a shell of a man; he stammered, sat open-mouthed, gawking, endlessly asked for questions to be repeated and rephrased, and failed to remember what was contained in his own 448-page report — strongly indicating that it was not Mueller, but his team of left-leaning, Democrat-contributing prosecutors, such as Andrew Weissman, that actually penned the document bearing his name.

Asked by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to explain what he found “in plain terms,” Mueller answered: “Well, the finding indicates that the president, uh, was not, uh, the president was not exculping, uh, exculpated, uh, for the acts that he allegedly committed.”

Watching the split screen, Nadler’s crestfallen frustration was visible even in the first answer from Mueller to a committee question.

Asked if any senior White House official refused to be interviewed by himself or special counsel attorneys, Mueller first said, “I don’t believe so,” then added, “let me take that back. I would have to look at it, but I’m not certain that that is the case.” A simple, fundamental question, and yet Mueller didn’t know the answer — an extraordinary level of unpreparedness.

Also, vitally important was House Judiciary ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia calling Mueller out on the matter of collusion. His report stated that “collusion” (a non-offense and not a legal term) and “conspiracy” were synonymous, but when asked by Collins, Mueller claimed the terms were not synonymous. Mueller was stumblingly forced to correct himself when Collins presented the words of his own report to him — an extreme embarrassment at the outset of the hearing.

Snookered By Their Own Faith In Trump’s Guilt

It was the 89th time Mueller testified to Congress since 1990, making it all-the-more glaring how sleepy and vaporous the soon-to-be-75-year-old’s responses were, his hands often quivering and his hearing clearly impaired.

Because so many prominent Democrats had built him up for so very long, they could not use the hearings on Wednesday to critique Mueller, or suggest that his probe was not as aggressive as it could have been. They found themselves snookered by their own faith that there must be criminal evidence against Trump.

Even House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), perhaps the Democrat most intent on finding wrongdoing against Trump, focused in his surprisingly brief statement after the testimony on what Moscow might do in the 2020 election rather than on some smoking gun Mueller produced — because there was none.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who recently withdrew from the presidential race, was asked on Fox after the hearings if he thought Democrats were now closer to impeaching Trump. “I don’t think we’re farther away,” he replied, opining that he didn’t know of anyone now saying Trump is “a great guy” so “let’s give him a Nobel Peace Prize.” Swalwell’s other observations included “I think you saw a patriot, a Marine” appear before Congress, and it was noteworthy that Mueller said of Russia interfering in U.S. elections, “this can’t be the new normal.”

The grand poobah of the left’s legal scholars, Laurence Tribe, often said to be on Democratic presidents’ list for the Supreme Court, tweeted at lunchtime: “Much as I hate to say it, this morning’s hearing was a disaster. Far from breathing life into his damning report, the tired Robert Mueller sucked the life out of it. The effort to save democracy and the rule of law from this lawless president has been set back, not advanced.”

And Trump himself gleefully retweeted left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore’s reaction: “A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions.” Shortly thereafter, Moore complained about “the failure that is Robert Mueller.”

The long-anticipated, hyped-to-the-heavens Mueller movie gets a half-star at best. The question now is whether Democrats in Congress will walk out of the theater and stay out, abandoning talk of impeachment, or begin to produce a sequel to one of the biggest cinematic flops of all time.

— Written by Thomas McArdle

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