Could it be that the special counsel investigation, led by Robert Mueller III, was yet another grand deception perpetrated on the American people? How else can we explain his appearance yesterday? It was a train wreck, just like the House of Representatives, the Democratic Party and the media have become.
Mueller testified for hours before the House Judiciary Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence on Wednesday. The spectacle was billed as the second Mueller-Trump rematch. It was an opportunity for Democrats to ‘breathe life’ into the Mueller Report. Republicans got to ask lingering questions surrounding the conduct of the investigation and the report itself.
When the curtains were drawn away it became clear the Democrats had pulled another one on us. They told Mueller what to say in the hearing, and the Russia investigation was just another hoax.
The probe was convened to investigate Russian meddling into the 2016 elections and whether President Donald Trump and his campaign were colluding with the Kremlin to win. Many of these accusations were found in a dossier written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. He handed over his ‘findings’ to the FBI. It appears the now debunked dossier was part of a Russian disinformation plot, payed for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The real winners of Wednesday’s stand-off were identified, not with narrative and spin, but in beaming faces and dour countenances. The media were rattled and distraught. Mueller looked like a doddering, bumbling old geezer. He declined or deflected answering questions over two hundred times, by CNN’s count.
He struggled to explain many of the findings in his own report that he seemed not to have read. This is the man they showered with accolades for close to three years, night after night. He was supposed to be their superman, stepping up to save our democracy from Trump and his hoard of coup plotters.
For the media and Democrats this was only about optics, not truth, and it was disastrous. Former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill told an MSNBC panel, hosted by Brian Williams, instead of Mueller bringing the report to life, it was in a “deep sleep.”
“The Democrats have to be disappointed that he didn’t more vigorously defend his process and the team,” she whined.
ABC News correspondent Terry Moran was red faced and a panel of pundits clearly shaken as they watched the day unfold. “Impeachment’s over,” Moran told host George Stephanopoulos. “I don’t think Nancy Pelosi is going to stand for her members bringing forth something that is going to obviously lose in the Senate, lose with the American public. And the problem with Mueller’s testimony on this issue is that he had to carry the ball for them in some way, whether he wanted to or not. At least by being a rigorous, strong, rock-solid prosecutor and he looked like someone who’d slowed a step or two.”
The dejected media was hoping his testimony would trigger an avalanche of calls for impeachment. Instead, they threw up their hands in disgust. It seemed like Groundhog Day again for the bleary-eyed country that was being forced to watch yet another media driven farce.
“I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing. Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff – an Embarrassment to our Country!” the president tweeted.
The former prosecutor, contrary to the view of many pundits, was extraordinarily well prepared to attack Trump. He could not remember which president appointed him, but he was crystal clear in his desire to hoist Trump by his own petard.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller and the Democrats in Congress wanted to prod the country into accepting his conclusion that Trump committed crimes and his report did not exonerate him, as he warned that Russia still posed a great threat to American democracy.
His answers appeared to have been written down, and he responded quickly and affirmatively to questions that made the president look bad or implicated him in wrongdoing. He deemed most of the probing, critical questions asked by Republicans about lies in the dossier and Steele himself to be “outside of his purview.”
When confronted about why Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud, who helped to trigger the Trump-Russia probe, was not charged for misleading the FBI three times, Mueller asserted.” I can’t get into it. I can’t get into charging decisions.”
The public hoped Mueller’s investigation would answer burning questions about the origins of the dossier and what role Democrats played. Even Steele himself was let off the hook. Now we have an explanation. This was a partisan witch hunt and only one party had the target on its back, the Republicans.
As a country this should be deeply offensive and sad. How could he possibly be investigating whether Trump colluded with Russians without examining the source of the dossier, Steele himself and the Clinton campaign? The answer could only be they already knew the whole thing was a hoax. They held all the cards and we were played.
Mueller went back and forth on the question of whether Trump would have been indicted for obstruction if the Justice Department did not bar him from charging a sitting president, as he has done for months:
“I want to add one correction to my testimony this morning,” Mueller said that afternoon, contradicting what he said earlier. “I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the President because of the OLC opinion. That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime.”
This was not a mistake, but deliberate obfuscation to confuse the public and prop up the Democratic narrative that Trump committed crimes and should be impeached. He may be a stuttering old man, but he is not a fool.
This is just another maneuver to make his hoax investigation look credible. Mueller knows any obstruction charges do not have a prayer in court. The report acknowledged that the incidents that could be considered obstructive pose “difficult questions of law and fact.” They would also have to contend with Trump’s powers under Article II of the Constitution which gives him wide latitude to hire, fire and govern.
While Republicans were dancing in celebration, believing they had lanced the Mueller boil and impeachment was dead, the hoax with many lives had already reconstituted by Prime Time.
On CNN, political analyst Gloria Borger anointed former White House Counsel Don McGahn as the next star witness. If Mueller did not run the investigation, as it now appeared, it was time to interview those who did, she asserted. Mueller cares about upholding the institutions of democracy and people with those concerns were pleased with his performance, the pundits claimed.
By 9:00 p.m. Rachel Maddow was running Russia’s greatest hits. “Mueller didn’t do the work, so let’s hear from the team,” she declared. The questions Republicans posed were glibly dismissed by left-leaning Vox writer Zack Beauchamp:
“Republicans embarrassed themselves by badgering Mueller with Fox News fever-swamp conspiracy theories. Pretty much none of this served the essential goal of enlightening the American public on the really important facts of the Mueller investigation, a look at one of the most serious political scandals in American political history.”
Any obstruction case against the president would be laughed out of court, but the trial in the court of public opinion forges on. Will the investigations being conducted by Attorney General William Barr, Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz finally give us the answers we are seeking and hold the guilty accountable?
Horowitz is examining the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. A report is expected to be released this summer. Durham is investigating the origins of the investigation. Should we hold our breaths?