Mueller Testifies

Ken AshfordCongress, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Trump weighed in just before Mueller was sworn in —

It is an hour and a half into Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee and it is clear that Democrats are very organized, getting lots of information out by asking “Isn’t true [quote from report], is that correct” questions. Mueller simply replies “yes” and the next question goes on. It’s not the most exciting, as theatre goes, but it gets information out.

Republicans, on the other hand, are going off on tangents — talking about the Steele Dossier and Fusion GPS and Peter Strzok– and grandstanding. As I type this, Jim Jordan (R-OH) is complaining about Joseph Mifsud, who supposedly “started the whole investigation” by talking to Papadopoulos and saying that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos told the Australian Ambassador this, and that got the FBI involved.

Mueller’s response to these Republican questions is that the question is out of his purview, because Barr is holding an investigation into the genesis of L’Affaire Rusee. Which is the correct response, but not a dramatic one.

We knew that Mueller was most likely to stick to simple yeses and nos. That was the case back when he was FBI Director, when he had a lot more leeway to say whatever he wanted. What is more surprising to me is that he seems disinclined to defend his investigation in general terms or even his personal integrity. That strikes me as odd.

The restrictions set down by the DOJ have hurt both Democrats and Republicans. Several of the top GOP reps were intent on asking process questions, or questions about the origins of the investigation, that Mueller is simply not going to answer. That’s put Republicans in the position of either just repeating all their own material, yelling at Mueller, or both

But the headline might have already been written: Trump has not been exonerated. This all came at the beginning —

Other testimony of note:

Trump submitted a tweet now–

Not sure Chris Wallace is right on this. I will say that hearing Mueller on the radio is different from seeing him on television. On TV, he looks whipped and tired and defeated. He’s not DEFENDING his report as much as I would like.

And we have another Trump tweet. It’s worth noting, however, that Mueller testified a bit earlier that obstruction does not have to be successful to be considered a crime.

The essence of the Republican argument is that the President really should not have been investigated since he could not be indicted. And if he must be investigated the public shouldn’t learn anything about what was discovered unless there was an indictment, which of course can’t happen.

Back to the hearing…

This is interesting….

Democrats finally get their question about Trump Jr. Dem Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado asked whether the president’s eldest son or his lawyers ever communicated any intent to invoke the 5th amendment. 

“I’m not going to answer that,” he said.

Why did he refused to answer?


… but boy he comes close.

House Judiciary questioning is over. Break for lunch, and then comes the House Intelligence Committee, questioning about Russian election interference.

And now the House Intel Committee:

Mueller seems more animated with the Intel Committee. It is not focusing on obstruction but on the Trumpian involvement with Russia interference.

3:30 pm. And we’re done. But for the press coverage and spin.

Bottom line: No incriminating statements. No dramatic sound bites. No fodder for political ads urging public support for impeachment. Nothing to clear an embattled president. At the end of the day, when all was said and done, the politics of the Mueller investigation is as muddled as it was when the hearings started.

And this asshole…