By now (midday Wednesday), Democrats should rue the day they demanded that special counsel Robert Mueller testify before Congress in an effort to discredit (the discreditable) President Donald Trump.
Politically, it was a disaster for Democrats who thought the hearing would set the stage for an impeachment of Trump for obstruction of justice.
Mueller’s appearance largely backfired as he stumbled through the hours-long hearing. It revealed a Mueller who was at times confused, conflicted and puzzled. It seemed at times that Mueller didn’t know what was in his own report. As someone who has lost three-fourths of his hearing, I could tell that he was suffering a serious hearing impairment, which did not help.
Democrats mistakenly appeared to believe that just throwing a spotlight on what already was disclosed in the Mueller report would muddy the president. They read from the report, asking if this or that was true. Mueller answered “yes and “yes” and “correct” and “correct.” Boring.
When Republicans asked questions–all them appropriate and legitimate–Mueller repeatedly refused to answer because he “would not go there.” Democrats should have remembered that Mueller was prevented by law from publicly discussing certain parts of his investigation.
Just so. Republicans successfully used his multiple refusals to answer to attack his credibility. But beyond that Mueller appeared evasive, confused, contradictory and, at least according to his critics, dishonest.
He kept saying a GOP question could not be answered because the subject matter was “outside my purview.” But why? Who set his purview? More importantly: If he can’t go into matters that are outside his purview, how does he explain Book 2 of his report in which he figuratively accused Trump. That clearly was outside his purview. It appears, quite convincingly, that it was a politically inspired document designed to get Congress to act on matters that he wasn’t empowered to investigate.
That’s not all. How can he suggest that Trump committed obstruction of justice when according to own words his investigation was not impeded. Why didn’t he indict certain witnesses who, according to his report, lied to the FBI.
At this moment, another the Democrat-controlled committee is getting the second bite of the apple. Democrats can only hope that Mueller does better this time.
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