Failing to Damage Mueller, GOP Now Claiming Mueller Not Sufficiently Vigorous to Oversee Trump Investigation

Robert Mueller just finished the first of two hearings today.

At times he appeared like those of us who have covered him for years expected, feisty and sharp. Between his responses to Jerry Nadler and Ted Lieu, he made it clear he would have indicted if not for the OLC opinion prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president, even while he refused to say the word impeachment. He repeatedly said that a failure to succeed at obstructing justice is still a crime. He stated that the decision not to reach a prosecutorial decision arose because this investigation is unlike any other, in that Trump couldn’t be prosecuted. He stated that Trump could be charged after he left office.

He defended the integrity of his team and the fairness of his report. He backed his March 27 letter that complained about Attorney General Bill Barr’s misrepresentation of the report.

In short, Mueller made it clear that he believes Trump obstructed justice and Bill Barr lied to obscure that fact.

But at times, he seemed lost. He forgot that Ronald Reagan appointed him US Attorney, often searched to see who was asking questions, and forgot key details. It didn’t help, either, that he refused to read from the report (though that was a pre-arranged refusal to create soundbites at the behest of Democrats).

Having not damaged Mueller, then, the Republicans are already out suggesting that the Robert Mueller that appeared out of it today could not have been fully in charge of the investigation into Donald Trump.

Mueller’s performance raised questions that reached far beyond one appearance before one committee. It called into doubt the degree to which Mueller was in charge of the entire special counsel investigation.

“You wonder how much of this was affecting the investigation,” one Republican member of the House said as he watched Mueller’s testimony. “It sheds a lot of light on what happened the last two years. He wasn’t in charge.”

If Mueller was not fully in charge, that would direct attention to the staff he assembled for the investigation — staff that President Trump has often derided as “17 angry Democrats.” Some of Mueller’s aides were Democratic donors, and a key aide, Andrew Weissmann, famously attended Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election night event that was planned as a victory party. It seems likely that Republicans will direct new attention to them in light of Mueller’s appearance.

Except that representation misstates something that was litigated, all the way to the Supreme Court, in this case. Robert Mueller wasn’t in charge of this investigation. His supervisor — whether it be Rod Rosenstein, Matt Big Dick Toilet Salesman Whitaker, or Bill Barr — was ultimately in charge of the investigation.

And if it is true that Robert Mueller wasn’t all there when he was leading this investigation, it was up to his supervisor to do something about it.

Indeed, if you look at some of the big questions about Mueller’s prosecutorial decisions — most notably, not to demand an interview with the President, but also the decision to stop the investigation before even getting the Andrew Miller testimony or Mystery Appellant evidence  — you might wonder whether someone feistier would have fought for that testimony.

Republicans are, minutes after the conclusion of that hearing, complaining that Robert Mueller wasn’t forceful enough in his testimony. If that’s the question they want to raise, then they should also worry about whether Bill Barr, especially, manipulated Mueller.

124 replies
  1. Desider says:

    Sorry, we’re decades past using logic for how the GOP should respond if X is true/not true.
    Their supporters expect partisanship in general, so even “but her emails” comes across to True Believers as a valid objection. The bigger hope is simply that some more sane fence sitters caught the action.

    • Americana says:

      Look at this worm Matt Whitaker trying to undermine and exploit the after effects of the Mueller hearings and the Mueller report. Doesn’t Whitaker know that over 1,000 former DOJ prosecutors et al have signed a letter in support of the Mueller report’s findings?

      Whitaker even had the arrogance to bring up Pres. Obama’s Catch-22 since he was the Chief Executive who was caught trying to smack down the 2016 Russian election interference in advance of that election. Whitaker had the temerity to pretend he was hired by Trump because he had the legal CV chops to be an effective Attorney General when the reality is Trump hired Whitaker to get a glimpse into the Mueller investigation. Cripes, Whitaker had the balls to suggest the Special Counsel’s team had to be composed of Republicans. Sheesh. I hope Inspector General Horowitz’s report smacks these sorts of folks into the next galaxy and that it’s a galaxy far, far away so we’ll never hear from him pretending to be honest.

  2. Jonf says:

    Actually I think his reticence or, if you like, staying with the report is effective. Imagine if he decided to take the bait about the dossier or Hillary. Then we would be in the Wild West. Here’s hoping this changes enough Dems mind about an Inquiry.

    • Americana says:

      Yes, I think Mueller has to show restraint when it comes to engaging on Clinton(s) or on the Trump Dossier. I wish Mueller were able to say something about Christopher Steele being found credible by IG Horowitz’s team and, as such, the IG’s investigation has now been extended.

      We will need to have a follow up hearing once the IG’s report has been completed and once Roger Stone’s trial is completed. Unfortunately, Stone’s trial is in early Nov. That is the biggest problem for the timing of this hearing — that some of the material is still in the midst of discovery and resolution.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Republican congresscritter: “I have here in my hand a binder with twenty-five instances of leaks from the Special Counsel’s office, starting shortly after your appointment….”

    I’m surprised he didn’t say that he holds in his hand the names of 57 commies in the State Department, or 105 commies in the State Department, both venerable claims made by past Republicans, fictional and real. As for the claim about “twenty-five leaks,” WTF knows what’s in that binder.

    The GOP have switched to attacking the man, in order to protect the King.

  4. MattyG says:

    I despair Dems won’t ask critical questions about the scope of the Vol I investigation beyond campaign dealings with *officials* of the RU. Ask Mueller to explain if his “did not establish…” language reflects perceived mandate limitations – 3rd parties off bounds etc., and to probe evidence of these activities in more detail.

    • Americana says:

      I think Mueller feels the balance of these events will best be explained by the implosion of Roger Stone’s highly suspect status. It’s clear there was a decision made about the compartmentalization of the exchanges between the Trump team and the Russians. Stone illustrates that defensive compartmentalization of exchanges among the parties following intelligence structures for cut-outs. Time to break Stone…

      • Mainmata says:

        Not in the session but I’ll bet those breaks were pretty brisk in coaching Mueller with Zebley and the three guys in back of Mueller (Quarles and two other guys). Mueller was notably calmer and more focused after the break in Judiciary Committee session.

        • Theresa N. says:

          Sitting behind Mueller were Quarles (the one with the mustache) & Goldstein who were lead prosecutors on the Mueller team. They were fun to watch during Rep Lesco’s (R) questioning. I wish they could have testified too!

          • bmaz says:

            Lesko is not my rep (she is on the other side of the Phoenix metro area from me), but I have known about her for years and years. She is seriously a blithering idiot.

    • Americana says:

      Zebley was rudely rejected by the Republicans on the panel each time Mueller put him (seldom) forward to respond.

      Just as an aside, the Republican National Committee just called me up (so would that include every citizen since I’ve never been a Republican?), spew a lot about Trump’s superb (sarc) running of the country and then ask for a donation. The first fella from the RNC said Trump’s doing a stellar job without telling me which aspects of the job Trump was handling so superbly. I repeatedly asked him to discuss specific issues that Trump was handling well. The farm aspect is the one that serves as my greatest smackdown of RNC lies. This sort of RNC aggressiveness and deception is why the RNC is making headway w/certain Americans. We’ve got to get the DNC to have the same sort of timely reaction and timely attempts to capitalize.

      The RNC is trying to minimize the effects of these hearings by papering them over w/phone calls like this one from the fundraising arm of the RNC. Watch for other such efforts, bring them to the attention of the DNC. We’ve got to effectively counter these sorts of propaganda efforts. We’ve got to recognize when the RNC is liable to mount such efforts and mount our own preemptive/simultaneous efforts.

    • Theresa N says:

      Zebley never spoke. I was so disappointed about that. There was a single instance when Mueller was being questioned by a GOPer and Mueller said he’d like Zebley to answer. The GOPer said no way, I want you to answer, so he did. it went by quickly. Zebley was out of camera range most of the time, but I did note the massive amount of binders in front of him with yellow stickies in them. I’d say he probably could have recounted anything just from memory. My feeling was that he was exceedingly well prepared. I would love to have heard him speak. Damn.

      • Eureka says:

        Thanks for the factual recap and impressions. Each of us pays more or less acute attention to different things, and with different expertise; I appreciate comments like this / incl. from others throughout the day.

  5. RWood says:

    Buck did the Dems a nice favor by asking “Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?”

    Mueller got his “yes” in immediately. And then the dumbass follows up!?!

    “You believe that he committed — you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?”

    Mueller again with a quick “Yes.”

    Buck came to his senses after that and moved on, but so far I have to say that was my favorite exchange.

    • Terrapin says:

      Before he made it into national politics, Ken Buck was a not-too-successful district attorney in Weld County, Colorado, north of Denver and just south of Wyoming border, east of the Front Range. He owes his rise to the lack of depth in the GOP bench in Colorado politics (he is also the state GOP chairman). He was an idiot as a D.A. and he’s still an idiot. The Dems should yield him time because in his quest to look clever, he will inevitably screw up.

      • Eureka says:

        Thanks for the background. I’d love to hear the spanking he got from his fellow-bumblers for that one. Probably something like ~ “I think HRC pays one person: YOU…” (yeah, I know– that constitutes overthinking their analogical reasoning capabilities. It was prob. something more like them wrapping him about the head with their rolled-up scripts)…

  6. dwfreeman says:

    Is it safe? Is it safe to go ahead with impeachment proceedings, did the Democrats do enough in their call and response questioning of Mueller to warrant going ahead with an impeachment inquiry. I say yes. This afternoon’s testimony led remarkably well by by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff hit all the high notes needed to make the case, at least in persuading other House Democrats to support an impeachment case.

  7. x174 says:

    to say that Mueller’s testimony was lackluster would be an understatement. He definitely came across as somewhat senile at times. it seemed however to be part of his strategy to limit the amount of questions being asked. “Could you repeat that?” on the other hand, he did seem quite wearied out by the end. it seemed that they should have carried him out. i’m glad that he testified and provided those interested in exposing our felonious president. all of our worst fears were reaffirmed regarding foreign tampering during the next election, which trump enthusiastically supports. the fact that it was made abundantly clear that the president can be indicted upon leaving office speaks volumes. next, we just have to see what the dems can do with Mueller’s few key admissions as to the import of his investigation. Nadler and Schiff really shined and clarified what the issues are and what is at stake and for that i commend them.

  8. Marinela says:

    The point about Mueller not being aggressive enough in his investigations, resonates with me.
    Starting to think that maybe Mueller hero image that the media painted is not accurate.
    If a different prosecutor, more aggressive, was in charge, would we be in the same place?
    Looks like dems were played.
    Now it makes sense why Rosenstein choose Mueller for the SCO investigation.

    Don’t understand why Congress cannot ask questions about deliberations, and what the report means. Mueller should not get to set the lines for what Congress asks.

  9. MattyG says:

    While Mueller was pained to offer detail of any kind his answers to the Dems were at least quick and decisive and often affirmative on subjects that cast DT in a bad light, if not arguably criminal one. With the Gopers he seemed reluctant to say anything, attest or agree to anything and looked more haggard, uncomfortable and at times confused. For obvious reason of course – Gopers were on the “attack” for god knows what reason. I couldn’t watch the whole session but Mueller’s quick almost spirited affirmatives to Buck’s questions about indicting after DT leaves office were among the high points.

  10. Zinsky says:

    Gym Jordan’s ridiculous line of questioning about this Mifsud guy showed how truly far down the fairy tale rabbit hole that the Republican Party has gone in creating narrative mountains out of trivial molehills. Pathetic and disturbing that these reptiles think they are actually pursuing real factual evidence… Sad.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Republicans don’t understand the timeline. The mifsud shit happened while REPUBLICANS were paying Fusion. The investigation started BEFORE Steele was even hired.

      • P J Evans says:

        They don’t want people to know that the Fusion stuff was started by a GOP candidate. It feeds right into the meme that they can only win by cheating.

        • Rayne says:

          Nor do they want to tackle the intermediary who hired Fusion in the first place for that candidate — though they’re shielded by the First Amendment.

  11. Willis Warren says:

    and Pelosi isn’t gonna do shit

    here, let me write my congresswoman who is one of those “new reps in a republican district we need to protect”

    She’ll definitely listen to my urgent letter over Nancy

  12. klynn says:

    My takeaway was that Mueller knew Trump would put up a perpetual fight on being questioned in person and that he determined there was enough evidence for Congress to act and that Congressional action is what could protect the nation.

  13. Frank Probst says:

    Right-wing hot take: Mueller = Grandpa Simpson

    Left-wing hot take: What we learned today–all of which we already knew–is enough open an impeachment inquiry.

    Every pundit on both sides will have a special edition of their show devoted to today’s hearings, and we’ll be none the wiser for it a week from now.

    • klynn says:

      Just play Schiff’s opening questions and Mueller’s answers over and over. That is sufficient testimony for determining next steps.

      • Democritus says:

        Agree x mobius.

        His five minute session, his opening statements, as well as clips thereof and a few different montages really should be getting made by people who know what they are doing.

        Then it needs to be all over, Schiff did *such* a fantastic job.

        • Eureka says:

          Mueller’s clarity and respect for Schiff were huge parts of the success there.

          I don’t know how much of it was inherent trust of/respect for Schiff or if perhaps it was partly due to a ~ debriefing spell between hearings where he and trusted staff could reflect with assurance that dems were not trying to lead him down trickster paths (certainly not in any same sense as the GOPers were).

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nancy, the “strongest possible case,” is what you build through an impeachment inquiry. It gives you the most tools, survivable in court challenges, to conduct a) an inquiry, and b) an inquiry by Congress into a specific individual.

    Embarrassing the Senate is irrelevant. Anyway, it would be embarrassing the GOP, not the Senate – and those Dems willing to vote with them. It is part of Pelosi’s war of distraction. Why she needs it is a good question. But if it is because it is essential to keep her rightwing cooperative, she doesn’t have a majority in the first place.

    The inquiry is what will build a factual basis for condemning a sitting president’s behavior. It forms a basis for all following action, be it post-office investigation and indictment or reform legislation – the need for which is overwhelming.

    Coincidentally, it would help the Dems campaign on the facts. And it would demonstrate to the public that the Dems stand for something more than partisan gain. The inquiry is not solely or principally for purposes of pursuing a trial in the Senate.

    • Democritus says:

      I fear she is pissing away free and fair elections.

      God, I fear I was wrong about Nancy when I was defending her and delighting in a bs overcoat. Also how many comment about her I have started and then deleted in interests of unity but this is literally our country and it’s freedoms. They detained a us citizens for three weeks though he was finally retoday, and are pushing for expedited removals without judicial review.

      As Rayne says, we should all call congress to lobby for impeachment, and bug people we know to do so as well. Maybe ask them why they don’t think Trump won’t just cheat bigger in 2020 if they don’t act to impeach.

      Congress operator and just ask for the office: (202) 224-3121

    • BobCon says:

      Another aggravating thing about blocking an inquiry is the unspoken assumption that Trump won’t be caught doing something else crooked, even if the House wasn’t looking very hard.

      Trump will be exposed doing something else. The argument for impeachment will get stronger. And there is a decent chance the presidential front runners will begin pushing for an inquiry, and face embarrassing questions why it hasn’t already started.

      But it takes time to ramp up an inquiry. House Judiciary will need to staff up. Basic organizational work will need to be done. What is the value in delaying more and constricting the remaining time available?

      Get the staff hired, plan the initial round of hearings, get the easy witnesses lined up, do the basic legal paperwork now, so if the pressure to act ramps up, there is no need to grind gears later.

      • bmaz says:

        Yes. And this is exactly why I have been talking about this for so long and so stridently. In less than 48 hours, Congress is gone on a month long break. Time is essential. Even if an impeachment inquiry was authorized tomorrow, there would be little to no work product realized into mid to late fall, if not later. Time matters.

      • fpo says:

        If the Dems want to change things up they should stay in DC.

        Continue to do the people’s business, hold some post-Mueller town halls, meet with advocacy groups and invite the press, group visits to the southern border with press briefings on site, hold a few public “issues and answers” sessions, and so on. Have their home offices arrange for constituents to meet with them in DC on local issues.

        Innovate, get creative. It’s time to think outside the box – the status quo isn’t cutting it. And time is short.

        • MissingGeorgeCarlin says:

          I couldn’t agree more. This is not the time for a vacation. This is the time for a staying in DC and doing some heavy lifting as history is watching. The next election may be the most important in the history of the country. I know it sounds like exaggeration to some but it’s time for the Democratic party to show some spine.

    • Tom says:

      Why wait for “the strongest possible case” when you already have a case that’s strong enough, in fact, more than strong enough!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It seems pretty clear it’s because Ms. Pelosi wants to wait for Godot. “Building the strongest possible case,” is a feeble attempt to appease the left while assuring the right it will never come to pass.

        Ms. Pelosi is not the first Democratic leader who wanted to look forward and not back, a formula that precludes both justice and fixin’ things that need fixin’.

        Among the many reasons there may be for her approach is that, like Mueller and generals, she is fighting the last war. Generals are famous for having studied preceding wars so thoroughly, they fight them rather than the one they’re in.

        Mueller is who he is. I think he also wanted to avoid the taint of doing anything that smacked of Ken Starr, who thoroughly abused his investigation of Clinton for partisan purposes.

        Ms. Pelosi, too, wants to avoid repeating the Gingrich/Starr fiasco. The logic escapes me. This GOP would not hesitate to repeat the Clinton impeachment scam, whether or not Pelosi validates the precedent.

        I think a bigger reason is that moneyed donors – to whom she, her peers, and their legions of consultants are beholden – and most politicians who’ve clawed their way to the top hate the idea of a being held to account for how they got there.

        • Tom says:

          I agree that Mueller was too reticent in coming to conclusions about Trump’s motives and actions and bent over backwards in his report to give the President, Don Jr., and Kushner every possible benefit of the doubt, although that stance didn’t seem to do him much good yesterday judging by the way the Republicans pounced on him. Interesting now to hear Trey Gowdy tell Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation back on February 4, 2018 that “I support Bob Mueller 100%” and state that there would have been a Russia probe even without the Steele dossier.

        • Americana says:

          After yesterday, seeing GOPers who still produce discredited material while attempting to shore up Trump, it’s shameful the GOP could have gone from Rep. McCarthy saying in June 2016, “There are two I see taking Russian money — Dana Rohrabacker and Trump,” to resorting to the ploys they did yesterday in those hearings. Pelosi knows just how close we are to ultimately breaking the Trump code. What I now see as Pelosi’s reluctance to pursue impeachment revolves around the double- and triple-agent status of the Russians involved and the role their status would play in any impeachment. What that reveals about our intelligence agencies could be exploited by the Repugs. Those Russians like Oleg Deripaska would be a pivotal part of any impeachment unless we are lucky enough to break Stone or otherwise discover the discussions about designing the cut-out structure used by Trump and his campaign where that cut-out structure could be the focus. Trump’s cut-out structure is the dead giveaway as to his intentions to use the Russian assistance in malicious and nefarious ways. It demonstrates his criminality regarding the political process. Since we should be successful w/getting our hands on his financial records, we should opt for impeachment regardless at this point for the sake of its additional investigative power.

          • bmaz says:

            Please learn how to use paragraph breaks.

            And, no, that has nothing do with Pelosi’s rationale. And Pelosi is still disgraceful and derelict in her duty.

        • Lara Kelley says:

          I am not saying that this in any way excuses her decision- I’ve been trying to figure out her possible political calculations (beyond the rhetoric about elections and losing seats, etc).

          It occurred to me that the House recently passed a $1T budget, which has yet to go through the Senate and ultimately to the White House. The bill must be passed by September 30 or there will be another government shutdown. A lot of other fiscal policy decisions need to be made by September 30 and Pelosi spent a lot of political capital with the last go-around. DT has always been an unpredictable factor when it comes to finances (because he has no idea what he’s doing) and if he feels, or actually is, being attacked, stonewalling the budget is an extremely powerful weapon in his arsenal. He could basically hold Congress hostage with an ultimatum – drop the proceedings or I won’t sign the bill. I have no doubt that he’d be 100% willing to do it. I think the optics would be political gold for Republicans- Pelosi refusing to back down paints a narrative of that so called “witch hunt” against the president at the “expense of the American people” (I can hear the rhetoric already).

          In that light, I wonder if something will happen (if the bill passes, fingers crossed) on October 1st. It’s not a pretty (hypothetical) calculation. But Congressional staffers, all the “non-essential” personnel put on furlough who would be doing the nitty gritty stuff of the House investigations, need the government to at least be up and running for impeachment proceedings to even take place. Republicans would have no reason to show up to work during a government shutdown in this context.

          That’s just my speculation. For all I know, her justification might actually just be about keeping/losing seats in the upcoming election.

  15. MattyG says:

    Ok, DT took a really hard shot today. Nunez/Jordan blather isn’t exactly a coherent message and Mueller didn’t offer them much to roll back the tapes on. Dems got a steady flow of Mueller affirmatives toa few quick laundry lists of easy to visualize bad/criminal behavior. Lieu and few others basically rattled off some pretty rough shyte and Mueller just say yes yes yes.

    If Pelosi/Schumer wasn’t a lost causes I’d say there the lines of battle at the end of this day favor a forceful advance at first light.

  16. Mainmata says:

    Not in the session but I’ll bet those breaks were pretty brisk in coaching Mueller with Zebley and the three guys in back of Mueller (Quarles and two other guys). Mueller was notably calmer and more focused after the break in Judiciary Committee session.

  17. fpo says:

    How about Jungle Gym’s tirade about Barr’s Dossier investigation? Let’s see how long Barr and Co. try to string that out. DOJ should be grilled daily on the status/ETA, interviews, preliminary findings…whatever. We’ll have crickets from them right on through the election, otherwise. In the meantime it’s a convenient ‘We don’t comment…’ out for questions they can’t lie about or just don’t want to answer.

    As for Nancy “There’s Alway a BUT” Pelosi – You CAN’T embarrass the Senate GOP! Where you been?

    • Eureka says:

      I enjoyed when Cynthia Alksne, who generally pulls no punches, referred to him as G-Y-M Jordan on air recently. It carries a proper snark heft when delivered in certain contexts.

  18. Nash says:

    It was not a good showing for the democrats today. Low-energy performance. Trump, again, won in the public court of his base.

    However, I am hoping that with these pseudo-wins for Trump, the democratic base keeps feeling the fire underneath, and comes out in huge numbers and vote the man out and restore the country’s dignity in 2020.

  19. K-spin says:

    I think one exchange is crucial in potentially altering the impeachment rationale and that was the question about the statute of limitations. If it is, indeed, five years, there is a real risk that DT will never be indicted on the obstruction of justice charges if he re-gains office in 2020. So for anyone who has said charging him after he leaves office is preferable to impeachment, the fact that this may not be possible is a strong argument – for those on the fence – that impeachment is the best (?only) avenue for him to face justice.

  20. bmaz says:

    The general federal SOL is indeed five years, and there is no tolling provision. Most crimes Trump could be charged with fall within that, so, yes, a second term would probably obviate prosecution. It is not totally impossible to frame it under some provision that has a ten year statute, but with the underlying offenses unchangeable, it would be hard.

    • P J Evans says:

      If they seriously believe that the president can’t be indicted while he’s in office, then they need to fix it so the SOL is on hold while he’s in. Otherwise, it ‘s a get-out-of-jail-free card for every crook who can buy his way into the WH.

    • Lara Kelley says:

      You never know. We could get lucky and DT might stand in the middle of 5th Ave and shoot someone. He certainly won’t lose voters.

      Or Putin could make the calculation that DT has outlived his usefulness and have evidence posted on wikileaks by Vuittonifer 6.0. The US would be deeply divided, disillusioned with the democratic experiment and leave DT’s zealous fanbase unmoored. Already proven to be a winning KGB strategy, with no need to reinvent the wheel.

  21. Democritus says:


    “I can tell you the lover boy I heard did not seem to represent ALEC, Koch; or Marathon. The Baker Hostetler dude definitely worked with Exxon and was touting his firm’s relationship with MLB.”

    Couple posts later:
    “And that is the end of my tail. DC lawyers and lobbyists think they’re so slick. They’re enjoying their oil money, king crab, steak, and lobster. They can do a lot better — not as lawyers, as lobbyists, and as people. Get it together my friends.”

    Weird thread on overheard conversation.

    Funniest line was something kinda like the guy talking opsec clearly doesn’t get it.

    ETA: impeachment themed too!
    Ohhh check out Rep Presley’s tweet: great gif!

  22. OldTulsaDude says:

    If this president cannot be impeached and removed then we might as well turn off the lights and slide the key under the doormat, There is nothing worth saving.

  23. CD54 says:

    To be honest, I saw Robert Mueller’s testimony as an attempt to preserve and protect the post-Presidency criminal obstruction prosecution. By striving to avoid and pre-empt any contamination of the “right-to-fair trial”/ prosecutorial prejudicial statements bias defenses, the SCO was struggling to shield any future Trump prosecution from defense attacks on the basis of prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct.

    I think that’s the major factor in Mueller’s halting, scattered responses during the first hearing.

    • bmaz says:

      “By striving to avoid and pre-empt any contamination of the “right-to-fair trial”/ prosecutorial prejudicial statements bias defenses, the SCO was struggling to shield any future Trump prosecution from defense attacks on the basis of prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct.”

      Uh, whut? This is bonkers.

  24. Robert Britton says:

    I made a comment the other day on this form that Wednesday would truly show how foolish I am, and I was right. But I was also wrong: I had no idea how addled, fatigued, and frankly, staunchly UNHELPFUL Mueller would be. His terse, repeated answers of “it’s in the report”, “that’s what’s written in the report” and the other variations of the same response was almost disrespectful to Congress and to the American people. And it was so hard to watch him struggle or to even try to understand what was being asked of him.

    I’m a 54 (about to be actually. My birthday is the 26th this month). I grew up VERY poor, went into the Navy b/c I couldn’t afford college. I worked over the course of my life and by the time I was 40 was able to put together a B.S. in Business Management from a Cracker-Jack College PRogram (SUNY FORUM Management). I’m not a stupid man, but am I not intellectual Rhode’s Scholar.

    I does not take a genius to understand that the Mueller Report contains content written at a level well-beyond the average reading level and education level of much of America. Wednesday, it was his DUTY in support of our Congress to help *PLAINLY* communicate his findings to the American people. I never expected him to speak of unredacted info. But he could have more clearly communicated both what was written as well as clarifying some of the underlying considerations and thoughts his team had in making their report.

    While some would say he was trying to avoid engaging in partisan politics, it was clear in the report with his legal-double speak that he was trying to be as careful to not offend the DOJ or his own sense of ethics.

    I was NOT one who believed he would be the WHITE KNIGHT coming to the rescue of America. That view was naive from the get go. I had, however, hoped that Mueller would step up and participate willingly in helping Congress and the American people understand his findings and to participate in clarifying those results.

    In stead, an at times addled man sat for six hours in front of Congress, taking lump after lump from the GOP who disparaged and dishonored our country with their torrents of bile they heaped upon not just Mueller, but Congress as an institution and our country. And Mueller refused to shine a light of clarity. Frankly, Michael Cohen seemed more helpful to Congress in his testimony than this medal award winning officer and “war hero” of America.

    Congress really blew this opportunity. They should NEVER have put him on stage. This did more harm to the cause of moving towards an impeachment inquiry.

    Watching TV last night what do I see? nothing but Trump quotes, tweets, and footage from his barfing and spewing and gaslighting of the facts that WERE presented and communicated during the day. The media just continuing to a platform for Trump to mass market his lies. Where were the featured video clips of Mueller commenting that Trump was untruthful? Where were the clips running on the headlines of Ted Lieu getting him to admit that he didn’t indict because of DOJ policy? (Frankly, WTF! How the Fuck does DOJ policy prevent an SCO from indicting a sitting president? Fuckin-a this is just insane! That is NOT in the Constitution!)

    Me, with my cracker jack B.S., understands from reading the report (at times struggling to understand the unclear, legal obfuscations and jargon) that Trump clearly committed crimes. Yesterday, Mueller (somewhat) openly stated that Trump LIED (was “untruthful”) in his correspondence and written responses to the SCO. Mueller said that due to the necessity to end the investigation quickly, they did not pursue a Subpoena to get testimony live from the president.

    Who the fuck told you to complete the investigation quickly? When was that a friggin property of the charge of the SCO in his appointment?

    Our country is just gross, despicable, filthy, and disgusting. I can’t stand how dirty I feel with all these shameless people who have no sense of honor, duty, and oath of office. I am so disgusted at Nunes’s opening bile-filled QANON conspiracy statements, OUTRIGHT LIES, and complete demonstration that he is a CLEAR DOMESTIC ENEMY.

    I’m done. I have been exhausted, I have so much anxiety. I can’t sleep. I am drinking to try to take the edge off. This is RUINING ME as well as my country.

    Somebody call me when a real LEADER steps up to fight for our country. I have my pitchfork ready.

    As I said in my other post comment here recently, I am just stunned that a Billionaire Archie Bunker, a buffoon and idiotic tool like Donald Trump was able to take down our nation.

    I think of all the other people who willing quit their posts in government, such as Foreign Diplomats, to members of Congress who couldn’t be bothered to stand up and fight for our country even before the Dump was elected.

    And yet here I am. While this blog is not FB, it is a social media. And i’m up here bitchin on social media just like all the other apathetic americans who can’t be bothered to get up off their asses and away from watching Love Island or Big Brother to fuckin fight for our Country.

    Sick. Sad. Disgusted.

    No I’m not sorry for the rant. I’m fuckin mad as hell at how the democratic party BLEW this, how Congress has failed in their duty.

    But more than that, I am disgusted at the lack of honor, ethics, and decency in what I thought was embedded in the people of our country.

    Shame on me. Shame on Congress. Shame on the president. Shame on our entire citizenry.

    Wow, it was so easy to topple our democracy. Blown over by a bile-breathed and bloviating narcissist.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Robert, don’t despair too much. I agree with much, and really most, of what you said. One thing I disagree with is that the Mueller hearings made things worse. While I don’t think they made things far better, think they made them a little better and certainly not worse. They were nowhere near the transformational moment many people were putting hopes and dreams on. But it was never going to be that. It was about what I expected; with moments of good, and moments of disappointing bad.

      As to the report, lawyers write for lawyers and occasionally lawmakers. When I write legal posts here, I try very hard to not write in the voice of my day job (you would not want to read that stuff!), but instead to make it digestible by non-lawyer readers. Even at that, I sometimes fail. But Mueller was writing a legal brief, even if an unusual one, and that is how he penned it.

      Lastly, there are things you can do and feel good about. Rayne has been fantastic in trying to get folks to involve themselves locally. The Constitution is a living breathing thing, and can survive this troubled time, but the “We the people” thing is critical. I live in Arizona, one of those famously red states. And it is slowly turning blue and better. Not at the rate I would wish, but it is shifting. My local district Dems are fantastic, and work their asses off. And while they absolutely care and discuss the larger national issues that we discuss here on this blog, and are worried about them, they really focus on the state and local. I find it really refreshing to get their weekly newsletters and go to their meetings and events as much as I can. Find your local one and start there. I will bet it will make you feel better.

      I occasionally remind folks here that the greatest amount of law happens at the state and local level, despite all the attention we pay here to the national diagnosis. People moan about the rule of law being dead, but I go to court every week and get a mostly fair shake. And see jurors really trying their level best to get things right, and they most always do. The public hears about the outlier cases where something stupid happened. They don’t hear about the other hundreds of cases that went quietly as they should. You may not can make a mark on Nancy Pelosi and Trump, but you can start where you live, and you will feel good about it. We can all do that, and should. End of my rant!

      • Sonso says:

        Amen, to both of you. Trump and the GOP are a true test of our creed as to whether compassion, expertise, hard work & commitment to ourselves and our fellow humans will create hope for a better tomorrow. There are loads of examples in literature, but I will just say, keep up the good fight.

      • Ruthie says:

        For what it’s worth, I also think it’s important that those of us with uncommitted or unwilling Representatives make calls – repeatedly – to try to drum up support for impeachment.

        • bmaz says:

          After tomorrow morning, they will all be back in their home districts for a month. Let them know.

          • Diviz says:

            Nancy Pelosi constituent here. I’ve been calling every day for months now. Today I asked the phone staffer (don’t envy her job TBH) if Nancy had any town halls or any events scheduled for the recess. Big fat nope. I feel like starting a petition to beg for one. But then again, I also feel like screaming into my pillow. They both seem about as effective.

      • Robert Britton says:

        Thanks, BMAZ.

        I guess I’m just at that point where I’m having a melt down. I will not stop fighting. But I’m beyond the point of hoping. Hope is dangerous and deadly.

        When do we who are fighting see a body blow or right hook to the chin of the corruption that is destroying our nation? It’s always that we seem to hope in something coming, then that thing comes and disappoints, and then we convince ourselves to hope in something else in the future.

        The GOP will never allow a serial adulterer criminal to get on the ballot. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        The Primaries will force Trump out. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        The voters will vote for Hillary, Trump doesn’t stand a chance. The polls say so. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        The electoral college will prevent a demagogue from getting the electoral votes to win, just as the Federalist papers and our forefathers designed. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        The good people in government will exercise the 25th amendment and protect our nation. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        Congress will impeach, protect and defend. Just watch and wait. Fail.

        The Courts will protect and defend, just watch and wait…

        Mueller, the White Knight and Vietnam Hero will protect and defend…

        Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail.

        When will we ever get a body blow against this son-of-a-bitch and his criminal subordinates who piss on everything that our Nation is supposed to be?

        Unfortunately, while I hate to admit it, after yesterday, I think Pelosi is a genius. She knew all along that it’s only 2020 that we have any hope. And even then, will Trump, should he lose, even leave office, or will that be a fail?

        Will the American people arrive with their pitchforks and force him out? I know I’ll be one of the people bangin’ on the door of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

        Or will the Russians, Saudies, and other foreign and domestic oligarchs and governments get the Dump re-elected, using the kkkoolaid drinking, ignorant, race-baited bigots and deplorables?

        I’ve lost any and all hope. I’ll start believing again when i see it.

        I need to unplug and heal.

      • Diviz says:

        Thanks for this comment, bmaz. You can be rough around the edges, but it keeps us all in line and makes the comments section (especially comments from you like this) all the more valuable.

      • Old Antarctic Explorer says:

        Yesterday I felt pretty much like everyone else on this site; some good, some bad. But today I had an idea that things aren’t as bleak as we think. If I were the DNC I would be putting together hard hitting ads of Mueller’s replies to all the incriminating questions that were answered affirmatively with “YES” and “CORRECT” and even “IT’S IN THE REPORT” at times and start running them now. After all the 2020 campaign has already started. If you run those ads constantly and especially before Trump’s rallies you might start moving the needle towards impeachment. Which is supposedly what Pelosi is waiting for. C’mon DNC get cracking!

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. I don’t think it is bleak, but don’t think there was any big movement moment yet.

          So be it. Still work to do.

  25. klynn says:

    If I were in the Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler group, I would have announced no dems are leaving Washington DC this month and that they are staying in order to work on protecting each citizens vote. Then I would have replayed the clip when Mueller was asked if he thought Russian electoral interference constituted a “single attempt,” and Mueller said, “They’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

  26. fpo says:

    Just saw PA Representative (R) Scott Perry’s response (via Facebook) to Mueller’s testimony:

    “The Mueller hearings today highlighted only one thing: The Majority Party is going into the August District Work Period without a single, tangible accomplishment – not on immigration, not on healthcare, not even on transportation. CAN WE PLEASE GET BACK TO WORK???”

    Now, I can’t tell if this was directed at McConnell and GOP Senators – not likely – but it’s clear evidence that even acknowledging the core subject of Mueller’s testimony, namely election interference & security, is off the table for discussion among the GOP herd. More likely, the strategy is to fall in line with Trump’s 2020 campaign rhetoric, including as concerns the MR. He conveniently ignores the bills that have been passed out of the HR, now gathering dust in the Senate, while implying it’s Democrats who are to blame.

    So yeah, calls to his office and an e-mail(s) will help him better understand the views of at least one of his constituents – but right now I’m shaking by head at the possibility that he might just really believe what he said on Facebook. Or worse, that he’s lying about it.

  27. Jonathan Barker says:

    Either Mueller’s mental acuity has changed dramatically since his appointment, or he’s been like this since his appointment as Special Counsel.

    If the latter, then Rod Rosenstein has presumably known all along that Mueller was not fit to be leading this investigation.

    Question: if Rosenstein knew about Mueller’s mental state, WHY DID HE APPOINT HIM AS SPECIAL COUNSEL IN THE FIRST PLACE??

    I fear the answer to this question may be that Rod never wanted an effective investigation into the ties between Trump and Russia. This is why Rod happily wrote the letter justifying Comey’s firing, this is why he met with Bill Barr in early 2018 and raised no alarm bells about Barr’s eagerness to shut down the investigation, this is why he promised Trump in late 2018 that he’d “land the plane”, and this is why he signed off on Barr’s ridiculous exoneration of Trump.

    • P J Evans says:

      Mueller was probably tired from months of being sniped at by the GOP-T, from the WH down to the local level, and it’s obvious to most of us that *they* have not interest in his report or anything else but maintaining their power. The media can’t sum up the report in a 20-second soundbite, so they’re not helping. And people who believe the media reports – or the GOP-T – aren’t helping, either.

      • Mooser says:

        “Mueller was probably tired from months of being sniped at by the GOP-T”

        I would think so. Does he think they are done with him, now that he has testified?

    • Tom says:

      If we’re going to talk about mental acuity, maybe we should include some of the Republicans asking questions yesterday who didn’t exactly come across as MENSA candidates.

      This is just speculation on my part, but I think Mueller is basically an introvert who is uncomfortable with public situations in general. I suspect he is a different person in his work setting when he is consulting with his trusted team members rather than facing a partly hostile audience of fellow GOPers. I also imagine he is much more comfortable and expresses himself better in writing than in extemporaneous speaking. I agree that his performance yesterday was not what most people were probably expecting, but I doubt whether those six to seven hours were representative of how Robert Mueller generally comports himself on an average day.

      In my former line of work, I was sometimes called upon to take the witness stand in court to testify and be cross-examined under oath, and I know how rattling the experience can be no matter how well prepared you are. So I’m not inclined to judge Mueller too harshly based on what I saw of him yesterday.

      • Jonathan Barker says:

        This explanation would be fine, except that we have hours and hours of footage of Mueller testifying before Congress in the 2000s. His demeanor yesterday was markedly different. Specifically, he often had difficulty finding the right words to express himself (ex., he forgot the word “conspiracy”), which is something that didn’t happen in any of his previous hearings. He also appeared unfamiliar with some basic details of the report.

        I’m not blaming Mueller for this. But his cognitive shortcomings were patently obvious yesterday, and I don’t think we’re doing him or anyone else any favors by pretending otherwise. I also think we can discuss that reality, and the implications it may or may not have had for the course of his investigation, while remaining respectful and grateful toward Mueller.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          I agree but the second game of the doubleheader was much better.
          No ‘fire in the belly” and giving the Prez the benefit pf the doubt certainly played a part.
          I wish he had said, In retrospect, we should have subpoena him, since he lied on his questionnaire and could not remember 32 times.
          What would have been hard to say that?

  28. harpie says:

    Mueller: 7/24/19 [asked if 2016 was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election] [VIDEO]:

    It wasn’t a single attempt.
    They’re doing it as we sit here.
    And they expect to do it during the next campaign.

    8:11 AM – 25 Jul 2019

    A few hours after Mueller said this, Senate Republicans again blocked election security bills from passing.

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