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Reflections on Mueller's Testimony Before House Judiciary Committee, Yesterday Morning
Mueller is clearly not a very fluent speaker, and all too often responded to questions by deflecting to his report, or just flat-out declining to answer the questions. But there were several powerful responses from Mueller yesterday morning:
- He agreed with and even said, in response to one question, that there were a lot of "liars" amidst the President's cadres. He even characterized some of those people interviewed in his investigation as "outright liars."
- Although he refrained from specifically recommending impeachment, he acknowledged that impeachment was a next step, in view of his insistence that he as Special Prosecutor could not indict a sitting President.
- He repeatedly did not back down from his insistence that his report did not "exonerate" the President, as Trump and his supporters repeatedly claim.
- He strongly backed the people who worked for him in his office as "non-political," despite Republican claims to the contrary.
Most of the Republicans on the committee also came across as motor-mouths and nasty. Their conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, etc came across as unpersuasive. In contrast, the Democrats quoting from the Mueller report, and getting Mueller to agree with their quotes, was an effective way of getting more details of the report out to Americans.
So, all in all, the morning session was very much worthwhile. Mueller's testimony was valuable when he chose to answer the questions put to him. But he should have answered more of them.
Reflections on Mueller's Testimony Before House Intelligence Committee, Yesterday Afternoon
Mueller's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday afternoon was stronger than his testimony before House Judiciary Committee yesterday morning.
Schiff's opening and closing statements were both powerful, in contrast to Nader's, whose opening statement and questions were excellent, but whose closing statements were not memorable. In general, Mueller answered more questions, and gave fuller answers. He has a genuine passion about doing something to stop Russian interference in our electoral process.
Unlike in previous years, Republicans do not share this, certainly not with the same passion. This left the field open to the Democrats, who probed Trump's alliance as a candidate with Russians continuously and effectively. In contrast, Republicans resorted to their typical tactic of yammering about straw-men, this time characters named Joseph Misfit and Kathleen Cadillac (well, that's what they sounded like).
But Russian interference with our last election, and the certainty that they will at least try to do it again, is no laughing matter. If this afternoon's testimony wakes up more Americans to this problem, Mueller's appearance will have been worthwhile.
Whether this and the morning's testimony will empower the move towards impeachment, and/or the success of Democrats in the 2020 election for President and regaining the Senate, remains to be seen. My guess is it won't do much for the first, certainly won't in itself lead to impeachment in the House, but may well have strong underlying effect in the next election, leading to Democratic success at the polls.