There appears to be a bit of disagreement between two top House Democrats on the effectiveness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last week. Both Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff are glad Mueller spent time before Congress – as Democrats are crying victory over the ex-FBI Director’s statements – but have different feelings on how he delivered the information.
Nadler praised Mueller’s testimony during an appearance today on This Week With George Stephanopoulos after being asked if it was a mistake to have him under oath.
NADLER: No, I think it was very important that he testify because he established very clearly that the — that the — he broke the lie that the president, the attorney general have been saying to the American people for the last, I don’t know, seven, eight weeks.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that was already in his report, wasn’t it?
NADLER: Yes, but since his report was issued, the attorney general and the president have misrepresented that report, lied to the American people about it, said that the report said — found no collusion, no obstruction and totally exonerated the president. Now, all those three statements are lies. It was very important for Mueller to get up there and say just that and to say the report found that the Russians — remember the heart of this — the Russians attacked our election and tried to influence our election to help elect Trump.
The report found and Mueller stated that — just that. He also stated that the Trump campaign welcomed that help and — and planned its messaging strategy around the — the — around the Russian information that was brought out, that the president lied about it, that the president committed — presented substantial evidence that the president committed obstruction of justice on at least five occasions, that he lied to the American people, lied to investigators in an attempt to cover up what he had done.
Schiff had the same narrative when on NBC’s Meet The Press, however, he was not happy with Mueller’s tone and answers.
CHUCK TODD: Was there any part of Director Mueller’s testimony you found unsatisfying?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: You know, look, I, I wish that he had testified in more narrative fashion, that the words didn’t need to be coaxed from him as much as they did. But I think —
CHUCK TODD: You were talking, you were hoping it would bring it alive, is what you said I think last week, right?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And I think that it did. But it, it, it came alive, I think, more through very short questions and very short answers rather than a great deal of description from the witness. But Chuck, I think we knew that going into the hearing. And, as you might recall, what I was saying before, we shouldn’t have too many expectations because we know the sum and substance of his testimony. But nonetheless, most people have had that filtered by the misleading characterization by people like Bill Barr. So it was very important to bring him in.
It appears some Democrats were hoping Mueller would give some sort of soliloquy akin to what is seen in the movies where the witness delivers blow after blow after blow destroying the narrative of the opposite side (all while dramatic music from Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore plays in the background) and people all sitting glued to their TVs immediately run to the city square to start protesting. The reality is the opposite typically happens and the soundtrack is more of the horns of failure from The Price is Right.
No one should be surprised by Mueller’s reticence to discuss the Mueller Report (or is it the Zebley Report?) before Congress. He made it quite clear in his public statement he did not want to testify before Congress and believed the report could stand on its own. Even The Washington Post admitted Mueller did not believe Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the report was “inaccurate.” He was apparently annoyed with the media coverage of said summary – and it’s not exactly Barr’s fault the media went heads on fire and decided to grab their Team Red or Team Blue jerseys.
Scott Shackford at Reason thinks it’s because Mueller wasn’t interested in playing political games – and he may have a good point. Mueller presented his evidence – concluded the Trump Administration didn’t coordinate with Russia and may have laid out a path for Congress to impeach Trump for obstruction. “May” is the keyword because it’s possible Trump’s annoyance with the entire probe was the furor of someone who believed the investigation was being unfair to himself and his friends. The fact none of the underlings decided to go with Trump’s orders to fire Mueller because they recognized it was emotional ranting could save the President from a conviction.
The fact Democrats were so reliant on Mueller’s testimony to change the minds of the public – which it obviously didn’t and probably won’t be able to be used in any real campaign ads next year- shows it’s going to be up to them to decide whether they want to go on with impeachment. Which doesn’t seem at all likely if you believe the polls.