The bottom line is this: The Russians helped Trump’s campaign. And Trump’s campaign, far from refusing that outside help, was happy to have it. The prose of Mueller’s report is so dryly bureaucratic that it’s almost easy to miss this damning detail. But if Mueller discussed these allegations in footage that would no doubt be replayed on CNN all day, and in soundbites that would be distributed on Twitter for maximum viral impact, they would be far less forgettable.
Trump can’t be bothered to read his briefing books, but the former reality TV star knows the power of the video image better than any president of modern times. He surely understands that Mueller’s biggest threat to him isn’t as the author of a 448-page report that Barr can spin, then toss on a dusty shelf. The real threat is if Mueller becomes an instant TV star by knocking down the central pillars of Trump’s “Russia hoax” narrative.
Remember: The singer R. Kelly faced accusations of mistreating young women and girls for years before authorities recently brought charges against him. What changed? Surviving R. Kelly, a documentary that put his accusers on camera, and let them tell their stories directly to viewers. Would Mueller’s live Congressional testimony have similar results, changing the public’s perception of Trump’s story? Trump’s media experience might lead him to think so.