Part I is here.
Random Observations on the Mueller testimony and aftermath:
- Observing the desperate spin offered by frustrated “resistance” members, desperate Democrats and social media Trump-Haters has been almost as revealing as Mueller’s performance. The most positive takeaway they could muster is that Mueller clearly said that his investigation didn’t exonerate the President. That’s meaningless. It is not a prosecutor’s job to exonerate anybody, ever. An investigation’s goal is to determine whether there is probable cause to determine that a crime or crimes have been committed, not to prove anyone’s innocence. The hearts of the impeachment mob leaped for joy briefly during the morning hearing of the Judiciary Committee when Mueller answered “yes” to Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D–Calif.) question whether he had declined to indict Trump because of an existing Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion stating that a sitting president couldn’t be charged with a crime. Ah-HA! Mueller had found evidence of illegal activity committed by the President and was only prevented from indicting him by Justice Department policy! Start those impeachment hearings!
Never mind. In the afternoon hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, reversed himself, saying that that OLC opinion prevented him from making any determination, period, of Trump’s culpability in obstructing justice. “As we say in the report, and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller told the Committee after specifically referencing the Lieu exchange.
“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote, ‘you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.’ That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said.
This did not prevent journalists, pundits and my Facebook friends from ignoring the second statement so they could falsely promote the first. “They got him to confirm that he didn’t make a charge because of the Justice Department memo,” said “Meet the Press’s” Chuck Todd in an NBC panel. No, they didn’t. That’s a direct lie, as well as fake news.
- The contention that Mueller was only a convenient figurehead for what was designed as a partisan hit job was made more credible by Mueller’s confusion. Mueller’s chief deputy, the infamously over-zealous, partisan and controversial prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, headed a group of mostly left-leaning investigators. Complaints about the apparent rigged nature of the investigation were met by reminders of Mueller’s party affiliation and reputation for fairness and rectitude. That defense was left in the dust.
Now the anti-Trump tenor of the report no longer suggests the objective conclusions of a political neutral, but the partisan bias of prosecutors with an agenda.
- Mueller’s weakness also suggests an answer to the persistent question of why the investigation appeared to be so incompetently managed, as with, for example, the involvement of Peter Strzok.
It didn’t appear that Mueller was capable of competent oversight, or even paying attention.
- The most damaging and disturbing Mueller answer by far was when he was asked about Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile the infamous Russian-sourced ‘dossier’ against Trump. Mueller said that he was ‘not familiar‘ with it. KABOOM! How is this even possible, unless Weissman and the other anti-Trump Jauberts on his team kept the old man locked in a closet somewhere? The involvement of the Steele dossier undercut the legitimacy of his investigation, and the investigation’s leader was that uninformed about its origins? Was this wilful ignorance? Blatant incompetence?
Finally, how could the investigators and Mueller justify following bread crumbs that led to indictments of various Trump administration and campaign figures for crimes unrelated to the subject of the investigation, but be oblivious to the strong indications of wrongdoing—the FBI’s FISA fraud, the conflicts of interest, the surveillance of Carter Page—related to the investigation itself?
- In another ridiculous addition to the Ethics Alarms, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” files—at this point, I cannot maintain any respect for the intelligence and/or integrity of anyone who denies the obvious partisan bias of CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks—I watched CNN for over 30 minutes this morning to see how they would cover the hearings. Over at Fox News, of course, Mueller’s disturbing demeanor was being dissected in detail. The “Fox and Friends” blonde of the day said, sympathetically, that she would be “praying for him and his family,” since something is definitely seriously wrong.
At CNN, however, there was just a crawl representing Mueller’s testimony as straightforward, sticking to the report, and, of course, emphasizing the “no exoneration” statement and his answer to Lieu, retracted though it was. CNN showed no video of Mueller from either hearing, and its panels all focused exclusively on “where the Democrats go from here.”
Incredible. (Can something be simultaneously incredible and unsurprising?)The big news from the hearings, what those who didn’t have the time or stamina to watch them needed to know, was unquestionably Mueller’s frightening lack of preparation, clarity, or knowledge of the report he had signed and the investigation he had supposedly overseen, and how this undermined the report’s legitimacy, especially as an anti-Trump document. Not only did he fail to give Democrats more ammunition for their coup as they clearly hoped it would, he undermined the credibility of the entire report.
Spin is one thing; intentionally hiding what occurred to make spin easier is something very different, and a major breach of journalism honesty and integrity.
- Mueller’s repeated concern during his testimony regarding Russian interference in our elections, past and future, is being largely ignored by CNN and the rest because it directly points the finger of accountability to Barack Obama. The Mueller report states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014, with the operation becoming full-blown during the 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on, and took no discernible action. In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”
Yet I continue to read attacks on Trump because he didn’t take adequate steps to foil the Russians,
- Where is the accountability? House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had said over the weekend that Mueller’s report showed “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense. “We have to … let Mueller present those facts to the American people, and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable,” Nadler, said on “Fox News Sunday.” Yet Mueller’s testimony, orchestrated by Nadler, confirmed none of this. Nadler was intentionally misleading the American public.