On Wednesday, July 24th, former special prosecutor Robert Mueller testified before two Congressional committees - the Judiciary in the morning, and the House Intelligence later in the afternoon. Democrats were salivating that Mueller was going to unload a heap of Trump’s impeachable crimes that had somehow been omitted from his special investigation. But basically Mueller just stuck to the script and repeated things that were already detailed in his 448 page report. So, it was really nothing new to anyone who, you know - actually read the report. (I should note that I’ve read half of it and skimmed half of it.) And Mueller pretty much testified exactly what he wrote:
- The Russians interfered in the 2016 Presidential election. Like - a lot. They committed multiple acts of cyber terroism, stole thousands of documents and had (something like) several thousand Russian employees creating multiple fake American social media profiles in order to spread Anti-Clinton propaganda, made up conspiracy theories and outright lies, all in favor of Donald Trump for President. The Russians did so because they felt a Trump presidency would be much more favorable to Russian interests.
- The Russians then contacted the Trump campaign and said, “We have a bunch of stolen materials that will help you win the presidency - do you want it?” The Trump campaign said “Yes!” and had multiple meetings with Russians to obtain stolen information but …
- Since there was no long term coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians there was legally no “conspiracy.” And then …
- President Trump tried to obstruct justice and interfere in the investigation a total of nine times but each and every time when Trump ordered a staffer or employee to obstruct justice … get this … the staffer refused to do so knowing that it was illegal.
- Finally, Mueller concluded that the report did not find conspiracy due to the fact there was no long term coordination but also that it does not exonerate the President because he did in fact try to obstruct justice, which is a crime but since he is the sitting President and can not be indicted (because a sitting President can not be indicted) then Mueller would leave it up to the Attorney General to charge him.
- The Attorney General declined to charge the President with obstruction of justice.
- President Trump, Fox News and conservatives everywhere claim, “No collusion. Total exoneration.”
Which is not even close to what the actual report said. Anyway, you know all this if you read the report. You do not know any of this if you watch Fox News. And remember as soon as the report came out and Barr delivered his four page memo to congress with the “No collusion. Total exoneration” tone a lot of Democrats were skeptical. And then Trump and Fox News said, “Mueller’s a stand up guy! He knows what he’s doing! He did his job! No collusion. Total exoneration.”
It sounds to me that the “No collusion, total exoneration” kind of stuck in Mueller’s craw and so he felt the need to clear up the general tone of his report for anyone who still thinks that it said any thing like, “No collusion. Total exoneration.”
And so Mueller said he would testify before congress. And suddenly Fox News and President Trump were like, “Mueller’s an incompetent hack! Don’t trust anything he says! He should have been fired!”
Funny how quickly folks change their mind, eh?
Anyway, Mueller went to Congress and testified. For several hours. But the additional smoking gun that Democrats were hoping for - never arrived. As mentioned he really just said the same exact things that were in his report. And Mueller refused to answer something like 200 questions - mainly about sitting A.G. Barr and the Steele dossier.
Okay. I’m not exactly sure why Mueller didn’t answer any of those questions but I guess he had his legal reasons. To be honest, the entire thing played out like Mueller was there to polish his reputation which he felt had been tarnished by Barr “mischaracterizing” his report. Mueller didn’t really give the committees anything new they couldn’t have just gotten from reading the report.
Honestly, I don’t really see what the point was. But hey, I guess it made for entertaining television for a few hours as Republicans tried to paint Mueller as a hack and Democrats fell all over themselves thanking him for being a veteran and we audience members kept hoping a smoking gun was just around the corner. Which - it wasn’t.
But still, the actual report is kind of interesting. You should read it. The only time it mentions “no collusion” is in the intro when Mueller discusses how collusion has no real legal meaning so he won’t be trying to prove “collusion.” Instead he was trying to prove coordination and conspiracy.
And it one hundred percent does not say “total exoneration.” It says the exact opposite, in fact. But I’m no longer sure that facts matter. And that’s a crying shame.