What a way for it all to end. Throughout Mueller’s testimony, one could almost hear the sound of the air escaping from the Democrats’ impeachment balloon. By the afternoon, committee members had gotten the memo. Other than some variation of “I support what’s in the report, I’m not going to get into that, that is accurate, true, yes, or no,” Robert Mueller would not be answering their questions today.
The former Special Counsel, who will turn 75 in two weeks, appeared in both looks and demeanor to be closer to age 90. He asked for most questions to be repeated. Questions about Christopher Steele and the FBI’s role in spying on the Trump campaign were off limits. At a certain point, it became difficult to watch and I almost began to feel sorry for this man whom I’ve despised for two years.
In terms of kick-starting national enthusiasm for impeaching the President, it was a flop. After today’s hearings, it will be challenging, to say the least, to make the case for impeachment. Prior to Mueller’s testimony, the majority of Americans were opposed to the measure. That number will, if anything, increase.
Not even Chris Wallace thought the Democrats had a good day! He said, “This has been a disaster for the Democrats and I think it’s been a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”
There was, however, one point upon which Mueller made himself very clear. He wanted Americans to know that, but for the DOJ OLC guidelines, his team would have recommended charges against Trump. I will be posting on this topic separately.
Today was the day Robert Mueller was going to make it rain for the House Democrats. Many Republicans, including Rush Limbaugh and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), were fearful of what he might say. Both had expressed concern over the last week that Mueller had been rehearsing with Democratic committee members and would reveal some devastating new information with which they hoped to breath new life into their impeachment dreams. But Mueller failed to deliver. In a big way.
Rush put up a clip of a rather unhappy Chuck Todd, whom he refers to as F. Chuck Todd. Todd is speaking to NBC co-anchor Andrea Mitchell. Todd says:
The fact is we are living in this twenty-first century new type of asymmetrical media warfare that we’re in. You have a propaganda machine on the right — that’s what it is, is a full-fledged propaganda machine on the right — that the Democrats haven’t figured out how to combat very well yet.
Andrea Mitchell responds, “And they were warned —.”
Todd replies, “And I think they took the Trump bait, meaning they said, “Oh, yeah? You’re good at TV spectacles? We’re gonna make a TV spectacle!”
Rush translates this for us:
F. Chuck Todd thinks this has been a disaster today. He thinks it’s been an absolute disaster…They’re worried. They really are. This has been a debacle! Mueller was supposed to be fit, full of vigor. He was supposed to be cogent and coherent! He was supposed to be say, “I can’t get the guy, but you have to!” That’s what they were hoping! They’ve been trying to make something real that isn’t!
Apart from Mueller’s obvious fatigue, his unfamiliarity with much of the material in the report was remarkable. A Fox News panel this morning was calling it a “staff driven investigation.” Many of us guessed it had been run by Andrew Weissmann. Today confirmed it.
Rush sums it up:
The Democrat Party — led by Jerry Nadler and this committee — has been attempting to maneuver Mueller into saying, essentially, “I was hamstrung by Department of Justice guidelines. I couldn’t get the guy. You have to do it.” That’s what they wanted him to say. They wanted him to greenlight impeachment because the polling data on it is so opposed to it, and he won’t do it. I don’t think Mueller knows where he is today. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it is obvious Robert Mueller has never been more than a figurehead in this investigation.
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.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 24, 2019