WHAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED ON WEDNESDAY?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 25, 2019) — Shortly before 9:00 AM EDT on Thursday, the hashtag “MuellerHearingDisaster” began trending on Twitter in response to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Yesterday morning, Mueller testified to the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing lasting more than three hours. Following a lunch break, Mueller testified to the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in a session adjourning between 3:30 and 4:00 PM EDT.
As numerous news anchors, pundits and commentators have since noted, Mueller did not appear to have a grasp of the material in the 448-page report bearing his name which was turned in to the Justice Department in March. He often asked that questions be repeated and apparently required the assistance of Aaron Zebley, who served on the “Russia” probe team of prosecutors and as Mueller’s chief of staff when he led the FBI from 2001 to 2013.
Some observers said that Mueller appeared confused, and it was a fact that he contradicted both himself and the report on a number of occasions.
On Thursday’s “Fox & Friends,” former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker stated that he believes Mueller served as a “supervisor” of the team of 19 prosecutors who sought to discover whether or not anyone from the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
While Democrats focused on questions surrounding the Mueller report’s coverage of the “obstruction of justice” component of the probe, Republicans excoriated Mueller for contending in the report that after his 22-month investigation, he did not “exonerate” Trump on that point.
Former federal prosecutor and current Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe, in a heated and rapid-fire five minutes on Wednesday morning, decried what he said was Mueller’s failure to “follow the Special Counsel regulations.”
Ratcliffe called the Mueller report’s approach toward the “obstruction” allegation an “inversion of justice.” “You managed to violate every principle and the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged,” Ratcliffe said to a stone-faced Mueller.
While preparing to leave for West Virginia Wednesday afternoon, President Trump opined that Mueller’s “performance” was “horrrible” but that in Mueller’s defense, he “had nothing to work with.”
“Mueller, whose steely reputation has cast a long shadow over Trump’s tenure, proved — at least in the early offing — a less formidable witness in the flesh than Democrats had hoped, offering up clipped, monosyllabic responses and repeatedly asking lawmakers to repeat their questions,” Politico reported Wednesday. “Watching from the White House, at least one Trump aide said the former FBI director, who spent some 22 months investigating the president, simply seemed past his prime and incapable of doing Trump much harm.”
Although Trump has characterized the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” and a “Russia hoax” since its inception, Mueller on Wednesday disagreed.
For their part, House Democrat leaders held a press conference afterward in which they appeared unrelenting in their desire to pursue Articles of Impeachment, although Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did not display the same sentiment.
“After Mueller’s nearly seven hours of testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, Pelosi reaffirmed her long-held position that the House should not yet launch an impeachment inquiry and instead wait for more information that could bolster such an effort.,” USA Today reported, with an erroneous reference to the House Oversight Committee, which did not host Mueller on Wednesday.
As of 9:13 a.m. EDT, the hashtag had slipped to third place with close to 22,000 tweets.
However, by 9:21 a.m., Mueller was again the top trend.