The charade that is Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Donald Trump rolls onward into the abyss. Mr. Mueller was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on June 25, 2019. He agreed to appear on July 17th, a date which was pushed back to the 24th by Chairman Jerry Nadler after disputes over the length of time Mueller would sit for the committees.
Mr. Mueller, who didn't wish to testify and wanted his report to stand as his testimony, appeared to be tired, and often confused, taking direction from his lawyers, a detail that caught the eye of President Trump.
In what was both an embarrassing moment for Mueller and a rare bit of levity, Mueller, under friendly questioning by Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ), was unable to recall who appointed him to an important role in his career, first claiming that he was appointed by a senator, not a president, and after Stanton corrected him, incorrectly guessed that it was George H.W. Bush, not Ronald Reagan.
Mueller showed flashes of intensity, but was largely hesitant and even doddering.
Virtually all Democratic members of the House focused on the three elements of obstruction of justice that must be satisfied for a conviction:
Mueller was careful not to give them what they wanted.
In response to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who tried as clearly as possible to lay out the satisfaction of the three elements, Mueller stated, "I'm not saying it's out of the ballpark, but I'm not supportive of that analytical charge."
Likewise with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-HI), who also parsed the three elements of obstruction, Mueller stated, "...that I'm going through the elements with you...does not mean that I subscribe to the, uh, what you're trying to prove through those elements."
Those were refusals to Democrats of the red meat they so clearly craved.
The reason Mueller didn't want to appear in the first place, and why he was so careful in his replies is that he knows the case for obstruction of justice is flimsy at best, given the President's broad powers to dismiss the Special Counsel, the Attorney General, and many other people in many other governmental seats of power who serve at the pleasure of the president. In other words, even if Trump sought to fire Mueller--which is hotly disputed--he would have been squarely within his rightful powers.
When Republicans questioned Mueller, their queries tended to be about the origin of the investigation (the infamous Steele dossier), or the legal justification for the investigation, or the editing of the information within the report, or Mueller's application for the position of Director of the FBI just before being appointed as Special Counsel.
Jim Jordan (R-OH) brought a fusillade of questions about the basis of the investigation.
Greg Steube (R-FL) also forced Mueller's hand in the origins of, and the bias inherent to, the investigation. He grilled Mueller on a number of inconsistencies and shed light on the Mueller's inability to respond to a number of aspects of his own investigation.
The reason for Mueller's many refusals to clarify accusations against himself or his team members is the new investigation undertaken by Attorney General William Barr into the origin of the Mueller report. It is those findings that should interest the American people, not the warmed-over, made-for-TV version of the report.
It's not out of question that Mueller himself will face criminal charges over his handling of the investigation into President Trump.
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