Mueller Under Oath
July 23, 2019 12:00 PM   Subscribe

On Wednesday, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress about his Report On the Investigation Into Russian Interference In the 2016 Presidential Election (EPUB) (PDF vol. I, vol. II). U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler believes there is “substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and he plans to ask Mueller to present those facts at the hearing. After Mueller requested guidance, Trump's DOJ instructed him not to answer a wide variety of questions in a letter sent Monday. The DOJ also signaled they don’t intend to place lawyers in the room during his testimony, instead relying on Mueller to self-police his remarks, confident that he still wishes to let "the office’s written work speak for itself".

Background and Breaking News Round-up:
Wired's Garrett Graff has writtenThe Definitive Congressional Guide to Robert Mueller’s Mind, and MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber reviews video clips of Mueller's previous public appearances to predict what Mueller will say.

One Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee told the Guardian that Mueller’s testimony will prove “damning and explosive,” while the NYT Editorial Board insists Ask Mueller Anything. The Facts Won’t Change, "but Americans could still learn a thing or two from the former special counsel’s testimony," and Reuters explains what Mueller can tell U.S. lawmakers that we do not already know.

Lawfare's Hadley Baker and Mikhaila Fogel have written a list that "includes everything Trump said or did, actions others recall him taking, and recollections of when Trump was informed of events and facts relevant to the investigation" in Mueller on Trump: Everything the Special Counsel’s Report Says the President Did, Said or Knew.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff opens up about the Mueller investigation to The Atlantic's Todd Purdum in Adam Schiff Is Back From the Wilderness. Meanwhile, Nadler calls DOJ 'incredibly arrogant' for trying to limit Mueller's testimony—“He doesn't work for them, and that letter asks things that are beyond the power of the agency to ask even if he still worked for them.” (Politico). Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said the letter was “not rooted in any law” and should be disregarded. “Mueller can pretty much say anything he wants, other than obviously disclosing classified information,” Himes told CNN on Tuesday. (Guardian)

Politico's Darren Samuelson and Natasha Bertrand report on Inside the preparations for Mueller’s history-making testimony, noting that the former special counsel has relied on Jonathan Yarowsky, a veteran Beltway attorney who's advised a president on impeachment and sparred with Bill Barr over independent prosecutors.

USA Today's Jill Lawrence asks, "What if Robert Mueller decided to tell Congress what he really thinks?", former FBI agent Josh Campbell predicts "Mueller is going to frustrate the hell out of Congress" (CNN), and MSNBC's Mark Miller muses that "while the country would've been better off with Mueller instead of Comey as FBI director in 2016, it might've been better with Comey rather than Mueller as special counsel."

In a breaking story, NBC News reports on Mueller last-minute request for aide to appear as witness during his testimony, a request for Aaron Zebley, Mueller's former chief of staff at the FBI and part of the Special Counsel's team, to also appear as a witness, as Republicans objected. According to the New York Times, "If the aide, Aaron Zebley, were to take an oath to testify, he could be questioned by lawmakers on the panel, taking pressure off Mr. Mueller to respond to questions he may not be able or want to answer. But his presence would upend carefully laid plans by Democrats and Republicans over how to use their scant time with Mr. Mueller, a reluctant witness known for his concision while under oath."
Questions for Mueller Round-up:
Former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration Neal Katyal writes in his NYT opinion article, With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes: "Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.” First, did your report find there was no collusion? Second, did your report find there was no obstruction? Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?"

Politico's Mueller investigation beat reporters have assembled 11 Questions We’d Ask Robert Mueller

Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes: If I Had Five Minutes to Question Robert Mueller (11 questions)

James Comey, writing in Lawfare: What I Would Ask Robert Mueller (15 questions)

Sharon LaFraniere writes for the New York Times 19 Questions We Have for Mueller Ahead of His Testimony Before Congress.

Just Security has 35 Questions for Congress to Ask Robert Mueller

Marcy Wheeler has posted Updated Questions for Robert Mueller since first posting questions in June. (40 questions)
Livestream Round-up:
C-SPAN: Watch Live July 24 8AM ET C-SPAN3. Robert Mueller Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee. Watch Live July 24 12PM ET C-SPAN3. Robert Mueller Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee.

House Judiciary Committee: The House Judiciary Committee hearing will stream live starting at 8:30 a.m. EST on Youtube. (via)

House Intelligence Committee: Tune in live on Wednesday, July 24 at 12:00 pm EST/ 9:00 AM PST as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, chairs an open hearing with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III on his Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. (Youtube)

PBS: WATCH LIVE: Robert Mueller testifies before Congress. On July 24, the PBS NewsHour will broadcast a Mueller hearing pre-show beginning at 7:45 a.m. EDT, with continuing coverage throughout the day. Watch live on the PBS Youtube Channel.

CBS News: How to watch special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony Wednesday: Watch CBSN for live coverage of Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill.

FOX News: Live: Robert Mueller testifies before Congress (Youtube). Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will have full coverage, updates, and analysis starting July 24th at 8am on the Fox News Channel.
The Mueller Report previously on the Blue: The █████████ Mueller Report (US Politics megathread) • Like a thriller, like a comedy, like a tragedy (Mark Bowden and Chad Hurd illustrated version) • The Report (Lawfare podcast) • OnceUponATime's 2016 "Active Measures" -- What the Public Knows

Many thanks to Box, Little Dawn, and zachlipton for their work on this FPP.
posted by Doktor Zed (505 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure why people still hold out hope that Mueller is going to drop some sort of truth bomb on the whole situation. He's still playing by the old rules of decorum, and doesn't seem to mind that he's been neutered by Barr. I think it's fairly clear that he believes that he's handed this process over to the legislative branch, and I don't expect he'll say anything different tomorrow.
posted by tclark at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2019 [39 favorites]


There's also the still-open Fanfare thread on the report.
posted by XMLicious at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm expecting he will reiterate again and again that the written report speaks for itself.
posted by all about eevee at 12:21 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


Democrats planning Mueller ‘war room,’ social media blitz (Politico)
House Democrats are preparing an all-out messaging blitz over the next three days to refocus Americans' attention on special counsel Robert Mueller's report, hoping to channel the intense focus on Mueller's congressional testimony Wednesday into a public outcry against President Donald Trump, as well as the prospect of future foreign interference in U.S. elections.

Democratic leadership aides say their entire caucus will be involved in the effort, blasting out messages on social media beginning Tuesday morning under the hashtag #RetweetTheReport, which they'll use to elevate excerpts from Mueller's findings that present vivid details of the Trump 2016 campaign's contacts with Russia, as well as Trump's efforts to derail Mueller's investigation. [...]

Democratic leaders, with input from the investigating committees, are distributing a five-page set of talking points to their colleagues in which they attempt to distill Mueller's findings into pithy, digestible talking points, drawn from Mueller's own language.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:22 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


i have no genuine hope that mueller, a republican cop, will ever say anything at all useful. i'm willing to be surprised, but...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:23 PM on July 23, 2019 [47 favorites]


I think there’s potentially some political value in Mueller explaining some of his findings verbally and on camera. For better or worse, a video where Mueller says “we did not exonerate the President” will probably hit people harder than pulling the equivalent sentence out of the full report would.

But yeah. Mueller seems very much the type to view himself as a dedicated public servant, fulfilling his duties exactly as defined. I have no idea how he feels about Trump personally — after such an investigation, I can imagine his opinion is probably pretty low — but he would likely view any kind of deviation from his narrowly-defined mandate as a breach of trust.

That said, I’d be amused to see Mueller tomorrow with a big binder on his desk, each answer starting with a phrase like, “Quoting from page 371 paragraph 2...”
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 12:31 PM on July 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


One of the (many, many) frustrating things about the lead-up to this has been all the think-pieces and blog posts that suggest “these are the questions to ask Mueller.” Invariably, they seem to be wishful thinking, imagining that, somehow, if only the questions were phrased in just the right way, then we’ll get the “aha” response.

But Mueller has asked the DOJ which topics are off-limits, and they told him. It is inconceivable that he will offer information that the DOJ has already prohibited.

So when Congresswoman Waters — and I think she’s great — says they’ve figured out some clever way to “force” Mueller to reveal more information, it does not give me confidence. I wish that weren’t the case, but I’m not inclined to keep getting my hopes up that the Mueller show is going to finally, at last, bring us closer to justice.

We’re probably not going to get him to admit all of the critical things we need to hear — that yes, Trump is Individual 1, or that yes, he would have indicted him were it not for DOJ policy. Nor will he come out and specifically say “this is an impeachment referral” either, because of the ground rules he’s abiding by.

What we will get (aside from a lot of Republican grandstanding and distraction) is videotape of Mueller actually speaking the parts of his Report that most of the country are ignorant about, and even a majority of Congress has not read. So you might get those damning sound bites on the 6 o'clock news, in front of a lot of otherwise exhausted and disengaged citizens.

Where, maybe, it helps bump a nudge of a couple of percent in our favor in 2020. Or, as a long shot, makes a few wavering Dems commit to impeachment, but doesn’t get anywhere near the number needed to actually impeach.

If it’s enough to get Nadler to initiate impeachment proceedings in the Judiciary Committee, maybe that will start to shake things loose. But I’m not holding my breath.


On preview: agreeing with the previous commenters.
posted by darkstar at 12:32 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't underestimate spectacle and visuals. No new actual information isn't the point, it's creating memorable, headline-worthy moments _around_ that existing information. Anchors throwing up a slide quoting text from a report doesn't play as well as someone with ancien regime gravitas and 20 microphones shoved in his face will, even if he did nothing but quote the report. Driving the media narrative is a meaningful activity that is practically valuable, even if we wish it weren't.
posted by heresiarch at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


Seymour Hersh paints a picture of Mueller as kinda being an out-of-it has-been in this Salon interview. Apologies if it's already been linked to elsewhere.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:54 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


More details emerge on Mueller’s deputy appearing tomorrow (Guardian)
Multiple outlets are now reporting that Aaron Zebley, who served as Robert Mueller’s chief of staff while he was FBI director and later took on a similar role in the special counsel’s office, will appear with him during his congressional testimony tomorrow.

Zebley will be sworn in for the hearings before the House judiciary and intelligence committees, but he will not answer any committee questions, according to CNN. That duty will be left up to Mueller.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:04 PM on July 23, 2019


I'm taking the Mueller will save us position. If there's one thing that influences American minds, it's a televised spectacle.
posted by diogenes at 1:45 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mueller's long game is that he gets to keep his pension.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:40 AM on July 24 [3 favorites +] [!]

For all of us here and in the Mueller thread - what is the risk he won't? Is he still employed, retired, what? Anybody got a link?
posted by saysthis at 5:46 AM on July 24 [+] [!] Need to fix a typo? Edit


Double from megathread - mods, delete as appropriate.
posted by saysthis at 1:47 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am legit concerned about 45's behavior tomorrow.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:49 PM on July 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


CNN’s Manu Raju: "New statement from Mueller spox: “Aaron Zebley was the Deputy Special Counsel and had day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by the Office.He will accompany Special Counsel Mueller to the Wednesday hearings, as was discussed with the committees more than a week ago”"
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:51 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Hasn't Mueller already stated that he won't say anything other than what was in the redacted report?
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:58 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


We’re probably not going to get him to admit all of the critical things we need to hear — ... that yes, he would have indicted him were it not for DOJ policy.

I'm going to be super pissed if he dissembles on this one. He should be willing to state the conclusion of his "I couldn't indict the president, and I'd tell you if I wouldn't have indicted him otherwise, and I'm not telling you that, so draw a conclusion" bullshit.
posted by diogenes at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


Robert Mueller’s Testimony Is Tomorrow. Here’s What You Need to Know. (NYT)
How to watch: The New York Times will stream Mr. Mueller’s testimony, and our reporters will provide live context and analysis. [...]

The Democrats want Mr. Mueller to bring to life the most serious acts of possible obstruction in the report. They believe that many Americans lack a full understanding of Mr. Trump’s efforts to impede the inquiry and that Mr. Mueller’s recounting of it will leave an impression on voters. They may also try to push the taciturn Mr. Mueller to more clearly state whether Mr. Trump could have been charged with obstruction if not for Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be prosecuted. [...]

More realistically, Democrats want average Americans watching at home to come away outraged by the president’s behavior. [...]

Until then [...]

A New York Times examination revealed the extent of a sustained, secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:00 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


i think it's incumbent upon everyone to talk expectations w/r/t the mueller hearings way down. mueller's a republican cop who doesn't want to say anything important, the democrats are shit at optics for this sort of thing, they'll just grandstand and not ask mueller anything useful, etc. etc.

i cannot expose myself directly to television news — my brain parses it as enemy propaganda and demands i not look at it — but i hope at least some of the news outlets are taking this line. the best-case scenario is that the average person's expectations for this are on the floor. or in the sub-basement.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:02 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I am legit concerned about 45's behavior tomorrow.

Apart from the racist attempts to divert attention, NO COLLUSION, and telling the world how awful a person Mueller is? Total silence.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:02 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the thread title, "Mueller Under Oath," scans perfectly to slot into the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." Any conclusions are the reader's.
posted by COBRA! at 2:02 PM on July 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Hasn't Mueller already stated that he won't say anything other than what was in the redacted report?

Even if he doesn't, the redacted report contains statements such as (paraphrased) "We are not exonerating Donald Trump of anything" and "I can't indict the president, but I'm not saying he shouldn't be indicted," and it will be nice to hear that directly from the man himself. We might not learn anything new, but someone else might.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


I predict a clusterfuck
posted by growabrain at 2:10 PM on July 23, 2019 [27 favorites]


I ventured into the December 12, 2000 comments re: the events leading to the declaration in favour of Bush (Florida) and this contribution sticks out: Folks, we have had incompetent Presidents before and the country did not self-destruct. We'll survive the next four years, count on it. We have a President without a popular mandate and we have a split legislature. Sounds like he won't be able to do too much damage. Same would be true regardless of Gore.
posted by kindall at 8:19 AM on December 13, 2000 [+] [!]

They're not wrong.. and 2000 does not mark the birth of what was unleashed in 2016.. but I don't think *anyone* would dispute that the faith in systems to withstand these kinds of stresses has largely evaporated.
posted by elkevelvet at 2:10 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Can they make him read those statements for the record?
posted by sio42 at 2:10 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Hasn't Mueller already stated that he won't say anything other than what was in the redacted report?

I guess the big question is how that works in practice. Is he going to literally only read words from the report? That seems unlikely. It doesn't seem feasible to refuse to explain portions of the report if Congress asks him to.

Even if he doesn't, the redacted report contains statements such as (paraphrased)

Agreed, but that leads to another open question. How will he handle it when someone paraphrases a statement or conclusion in a way that is clearer, but still valid?
posted by diogenes at 2:11 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


> They're not wrong.. and 2000 does not mark the birth of what was unleashed in 2016.. but I don't think *anyone* would dispute that the faith in systems to withstand these kinds of stresses has largely evaporated.

each time we go through a round of these monsters (nixon, reagan, gingrich, bush jr., mcconnell, trump) our social infrastructure is meaningfully damaged, giving us less ability to fight off the next wave.

basically it's less that our faith in the system has evaporated and more that the actual system itself is so badly damaged that mere faith won't ever bring it back.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:16 PM on July 23, 2019 [33 favorites]


The point isn't that Mueller is going to release any new evidence, the point is that about 3% of the American public has read the Mueller Report.

There are what, 85-90 Congresspersons who support impeachment? That means there are 85-90 Congresspersons who have read the Mueller Report...

All he has to do is answer some basic questions:

Did your report exonerate the POTUS?
Did you refer this to Congress because you couldn't, according to the BS rules of the DOJ, indict a sitting president?
Was there evidence of obstruction of justice?
Was there evidence of a connection between the campaign and agents of the Russian government?

Then, simply read the report, or cherry-pick the most relevant parts, out loud. Once this information comes out, and not in the "I am the personal counsel to the president, but my title is AG, and I'm exonerating the Orange Menace," format - we will be where we should've been back in April when this whole clown show around the report started.
posted by Chuffy at 2:16 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


I predict a clusterfuck

This is a safe bet. I'm sure the Republicans have some procedural skulduggery that nobody has anticipated yet. I'll feel better when Mueller is actually sitting there and answering questions. Until then, I'm going to worry that this gets derailed somehow.
posted by diogenes at 2:20 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


19 Questions We Have for Mueller Ahead of His Testimony Before Congress.

Just to prepare for what ought to be asked of Mueller, here are some of the less lawyerly questions for Mueller, which are hopefully close to what the Dems will ask :
—Why didn’t you subpoena the president?
—Do you believe President Trump cooperated with your investigation?
—Do you think the president was candid in his responses?
—If Mr. Trump were an ordinary citizen, would you have found that there was sufficient evidence to charge him with obstruction of justice?
—Did you intend for your report to serve as a referral for Congress for possible impeachment proceedings?
—At what point in your investigation did your team decide that you would not make a judgment about whether the president had obstructed justice?
—A number of witnesses had either encrypted or deleted electronic communications relevant to the investigation, including Steve Bannon and Erik Prince, who apparently deleted dozens of text messages they shared. Was it possible to recover these communications and if so, why didn’t the special counsel’s office make a greater effort to do so?
—How many witnesses refused to cooperate? Who among them was particularly important to the investigation? To what extent did this hamper your work?
—Did Donald Trump Jr. refuse to testify, citing his right not to incriminate himself?
Politico's Mueller investigation beat reporters have assembled 11 Questions We’d Ask Robert Mueller

And here are some of Politico's questions, which Mueller won't answer, of course, but which are important to keep in mind:
—Why did you decide to end the investigation when you did?
—Do you believe that your investigation, and the many criminal charges that resulted from it, will deter campaigns from accepting foreign “dirt” on their opponents in the future?
—In your report, you noted that Donald Trump satisfied all three elements required in a court of law to show that the president committed obstruction of justice. Yet you declined to recommend charges. Isn’t demonstrating that the president committed all the elements of a crime essentially the same as saying that he broke the law?
—In your only public comments about the probe, in May, you stated: “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” Isn’t impeachment the only formal process?
—Do you agree with how Attorney General William Barr characterized your 448-page report and your statements to him?
—Why didn't you push harder to interview Trump in person, and can you help us understand how significant it was that some witnesses lied to you, deleted or lost communications or pleaded the Fifth to deprive you of testimony?
—At what point did you decide not to take a position on obstruction by the president, and did you or your office give Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein any indication before March 2019 that an inconclusive finding on that issue was a possibility? And how was it decided that Rosenstein could supervise the investigation despite his key role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey?
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:01 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


If this really is the last chance to make some hay out of the Mueller investigation, it would be super cool if the committee Dems would coordinate their lines of questioning for maximum effectiveness instead of the usual disconnected grandstanding speeches and poorly-thought-out gotchas that go nowhere useful.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:04 PM on July 23, 2019 [39 favorites]


I’ve been saying all along that there are limits to what could be expected out of the Mueller Report. Yes Mueller is a decent enough guy, and a good legal mind, but he’s also a life-long Republican and been subjected to some brainwashing as a result. I can’t begin to tell you how many otherwise decent people I personally know who are Republicans have gone all in for more despicable aspects of the Trump agenda. Whether it’s relatives ( NOT blood!) or people I worked with on issues in my city in the past, or just a couple loudmouths I run into on the bus. Mueller probably is an old - school Republican, but a lot of those people have shown no backbone. I am kind of sick of people saying he’s been playing some kind of 3 - Dimensional Chess. He is not. From what I have read of the report, I don’t expect much.
I’m tired. My plans for old age did not include living in a fascist kakistocracy. We’ve avoided the shut-down but it still could take food out of my mouth.
I’d be really grateful if Mr. Mueller would please indicate clearly evidence in favor of impeachment.
Not just for Trump, for Pence as well.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:27 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Not only is he not going to say anything not made public in the redacted report, but the chance that the democratic members are going to work together is very low. Every single rep is going to go in acting like they can make a 'Few Good Men' moment happen.

This is going to be a restatement of what we already know and not much more. The only thing I can hope is that this clears the deck for a genuine argument about why we're not doing impeachment already.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:52 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


My insane delusion is that the DOJ warning letter yesterday serves to establish that the department can't be associated with consequences of his testimony, to be on one side or the other. This can cut both ways, if Mueller's testimony is the result of being tricked/forced/drugged to speak outside the four corners or offer his real conclusions. BUT, at the moment it's appears to be just Congress and Mueller without any connections to anybody else in the Trump Administration.

Like I said, delusional, but it allows me to stop screaming at everybody I encounter on a daily basis.
posted by rhizome at 3:59 PM on July 23, 2019


This whole thing makes me feel like the sentiment illustrated in this excellent Baffler article.

The House intends to hold endless “hearings” and point desperately to the Mueller Report like the losing coaches point to the rule book in Air Bud, gesticulating wildly as the dog dunks on them over and over, and the crowd loves the dog with all its heart and looks at the losing team with the contempt reserved for such demonstrations of learned helplessness, while the very voters to whom Democrats most desperately want to appeal don’t know or care about rules but sure do notice that one team managed to lose a basketball game to a fucking dog.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:22 PM on July 23, 2019 [50 favorites]


the DOJ warning letter yesterday

He's not an employee of DOJ anymore. Being a private citizen means he isn't as beholden to their directives as he was before.

Also, FFS, that letter in itself is obstructing justice. They can't fucking stop.
posted by adept256 at 4:22 PM on July 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


Enjoy the pre hype while it lasts. His testimony will most likely be very anti climactic and achieve nothing. Mueller is not the answer. (I"m not a negative or cynical person at all but this all seems pretty pointless by now).
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:53 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Metafilter - because Mueller is not the answer.
posted by Chuffy at 4:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Anyway, the thread title, "Mueller Under Oath," scans perfectly to slot into the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." Any conclusions are the reader's.

All of our brains will be squirming like a toad
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:21 PM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


None of this matters. Mueller can literally reel off one dozen incidents where Trump broke the law and here's the video proving it, and here's the recording of Trump saying he obstructed justice, and there can be pictures and 100 witnesses...

and Trump will say something horrible about Mueller, then mention Clinton, then say something racist about a woman of color and his supporters will cheer.

Seriously, I love you guys but you've gotta know it doesn't MATTER what Mueller says. And he's not going to say anything anyway.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:25 PM on July 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


Well, since this thread seems to be literally nothing but the endless “mueller won’t save us” that’s been rehashed in the main politics thread all year, I’m putting my money on “this testimony is going to be electrifying and completely game changing, and will kickstart impeachment proceedings in a way that no one expected.” Hit me up via memail for where to send my winnings.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:26 PM on July 23, 2019 [30 favorites]


Best thing Mueller can do to make an impact is to inhale helium before answering every question.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:46 PM on July 23, 2019 [18 favorites]


I’m putting my money on “this testimony is going to be electrifying and completely game changing, and will kickstart impeachment proceedings in a way that no one expected.”

I'm with you! C'mon everybody! Join us in the contrarian optimist pool. The waters fine. (Plus this might be your last chance to feel optimistic ever.)
posted by diogenes at 5:49 PM on July 23, 2019 [34 favorites]


Almost no one has read the report, and a lot of people sincerely believe it exonerates Trump. If Democrats get one good soundbite of the man himself saying, "no, our investigation did not exonerate the president," that's going to lead the news and it's going to sway some people.

Some of y'all keep acting like Trump is the new Teflon president, but he's incredibly unpopular. Almost any Democrat is leading him in the polls right now, and the 2018 wave election in the House is directly due to how many people are unhappy with him. The latest round of overt racist chanting didn't go over well either. Yes, there's going to be a certain percentage of the GOP base that'll stand up and cheer no matter what, but it's way too pessimistic to think that someone with the gravitas of Mueller answering some questions clearly--even if it's virtually verbatim from the report--won't make any difference. My politically ignorant cousins sincerely believe that the investigation exonerated Trump and implicated Clinton. A little good video could make them realize their error pretty quickly.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2019 [23 favorites]


Should I wake up at 5 AM PST to watch that hearing or wait til the 9 AM PST hearing?
posted by gucci mane at 6:50 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Excited for everything to be normal again on Thursday.
posted by Reyturner at 7:02 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I just want the Republicans to yield as much of their time as possible to Louie Gohmert.

Gohmert is not only a multiple-time Dumbest Man in Washington contender, he loathes Mueller. Why? Because he's convinced that Mueller sabotaged the FBI training processes deliberately, so that field agents "no longer knew the right questions to ask" to identify radical Islamic terrorists. He's on record saying that Mueller covered up for Hillary Clinton with respect to Uranium One while aiding a "coup attempt" against Trump, that Mueller covered up efforts to establish that the FBI had advance warning of 9/11 and did nothing, that Mueller deliberately purged the FBI of senior agents, that Mueller knowingly allowed innocents framed for crimes they didn't commit to remain behind bars, and many other violations of codes of conduct over his decades of service.

And he called Mueller an "anal opening."

Not that Jim Jordan or Matt Gaetz will be a picnic for Mueller, either, but Gohmert is a special boy. Keep an eye out for him.
posted by delfin at 7:04 PM on July 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


I think it's fairly clear that he believes that he's handed this process over to the legislative branch

I think everyone who has actually READ the Mueller Report knows that knows that Mueller did literally all the heavy lifting for Congress. Volume II part III goes through and lays out all the legal reasoning and applicable laws and previous cases that form precedent for everything he's laid out previously in Volume II. He examines possible Constitutional issues which arise, and again uses existing decisions and laws to underscore his conclusions. He says repeatedly that Congress can feel free to apply these laws to the President because here are the reasons why that's okay and isn't unconstitutional.

Mueller's hands were tied when it came to actually putting charges on Trump for obstruction of justice. He literally wrote a handbook telling Congress how to be successful if it decides to use its Constitutional power of oversight toward him, something which cannot be done through the legal system.

I wonder how much of Congress has actually bothered to read the thing. I've been listening to the audiobook during my delivery route at work (lots of driving) and then looking through my physical copy when I get home because the footnotes are a bit more complete in the print version.

He makes it very clear -- he can't do anything. But if he COULD do something, here's all the information he would want to have. And by the way, Congress, you have that information now, too.
posted by hippybear at 7:13 PM on July 23, 2019 [45 favorites]


Some of y'all keep acting like Trump is the new Teflon president, but he's incredibly unpopular. Almost any Democrat is leading him in the polls right now, and the 2018 wave election in the House is directly due to how many people are unhappy with him. The latest round of overt racist chanting didn't go over well either. Yes, there's going to be a certain percentage of the GOP base that'll stand up and cheer no matter what, but it's way too pessimistic to think that someone with the gravitas of Mueller answering some questions clearly--even if it's virtually verbatim from the report--won't make any difference.

The position you are rebuking here is a particular flavor of business-as-usual pessimism, and in most other timelines I'd be with you on it. But this point of view is no longer applicable. The 2018 wave election, the racist chanting not going over well, that a 2020 hypothetical Democratic party nominee is leading 45 in the polls - all of that is important in a frame that belongs to a non-emergency situation.

That's not the situation we are in now. Trump isn't teflon...and he doesn't need to be for infants to be dying in concentration camps / citizens being illegally detained / *insert the usual list of crimes against humanity here* being enacted by this administration. That I just considered the fact that I should have a .txt file with the list of egregious criminal activity on hand to copy paste says a lot.

The stuff that you outlined and implied as having some impact or repercussions on the day-to-day experience of real people is manifestly not doing shit to help us. I seriously doubt that Mueller sitting down in front of the House to answer questions in his typically taciturn Boy Scout fashion is going to do much more than the in-broad-daylight dozen or so credible rape accusations combined with national security dismantling etc etc etc that Trump is already guilty of.

Pushing back against that hope is not necessarily people "acting like Trump is the new Teflon president" - some of it may be, but I suspect a lot of that feeling is connected to the undeniable truth that political, social, and humanitarian norms have been utterly shattered and the crimes which may in any prior administration prove to be career-ending scandals are just...Wednesday, now.

I believe tomorrow could have a massive impact.

I think that only happens if the people asking questions are hard-asses with hard-ass questions, that the person answering them decides to be a human being and not a republican cop, and if the machinery of the minority state finds a non-Business-As-Usual spine to take those two things and convert them into radical action. I hope that happens. I don't think it will.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


So many Republicans are gonna have epiphanies in the morning, you guys.
posted by contraption at 9:34 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Republicans tune out Robert Mueller (Politico)
Senate Republicans are dismissing Mueller’s testimony to the House before it even happens. Most say they are too busy and won’t watch it, others say it’s a waste of time, and still more say it’s redundant after the special counsel already issued his springtime report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

[...] “Don’t you think if I thought there was some value I would have invited him in?” said Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.). “It’s a great media spectacle… he’s already said he’s going to talk about the report. That’s it!”

“I understand what my Democratic friends are trying to do, but they’re just grooming a corpse,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “They’re trying to keep this alive politically and they’re hoping that Mr. Mueller will say something to try to breathe new life in this. I don’t think it will succeed.”

[...] It also seems to be a bet that average Americans won’t be watching, just as most Americans didn’t read the Mueller report itself, according to polls. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the “American people have moved on” and that he, for one, won’t be watching it.

[...] “The report is public, we’ve all been able to review it, read it. What the heck? It’s done. There’s no collusion, there was no coordination. End of story,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), echoing Trump’s talking points. “This will not change anybody’s mind.”

Republicans seem to be outdoing themselves in trying to appear as disinterested as possible. The idea that their minds could possibly be changed by Mueller’s testimony is laughable, they say.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Remember, many Republicans do not know the Mueller report found any evidence of wrongdoing at all.

At a Grand Rapids town hall held by Michigan’s Justin Amash, the lone Republican Congressman who has come out for impeachment, an attendee was confused by Amash’s position until hearing him lay out the case for an inquiry. “I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before," she told NBC. "I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated."

It's hard to believe that many people are this in the dark, but if it's true, these hearings may be best way to reach them.
posted by xammerboy at 10:04 PM on July 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


I think that only happens if the people asking questions are hard-asses with hard-ass questions, that the person answering them decides to be a human being and not a republican cop

I'd love it if Mueller simply said "look, here's what Volume II part III says. *lengthy statement full of good soundbites* Now, in my report, you'll find all the incidents to which these laws apply. You decide what should happen."

That would be the most ultimately clear statement he could make under the current framework of how to proceed. He's not allowed to discuss matters pertaining to anyone who hasn't been charged with a crime. He's not allowed to charge the President because it would cripple their ability to fulfill their Article 2 duties under the Constitution.

But if he were to say "here are the laws I examined, and in this other place you'll find why I find these laws so noteworthy", and then after that "oh, and there might be issues of constitutionality for looking into this brought up, but I've thought of that too"....

He could dispatch with much of this if he decided not to be his usual self and just answer Yes and No to questions. He could.

I don't think he will, but fingers crossed, hoping against hope.
posted by hippybear at 10:07 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't see Mueller stepping up to become the Sudden Major Hero In The Struggle. He won't volunteer that.

He might say a thing that gains traction, though. That's really my true hope.
posted by hippybear at 10:14 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I just had a fantasy where Dems don't ask about the report at all, just where Mueller, as a now-private citizen, would recommend impeachment should start. "Just as a hypothetical, how many years in prison would all the stuff we're talking about indicate?"
posted by rhizome at 10:29 PM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Mueller is an executive branch appointee. He happens to have integrity but he's not the arbiter of whether things are impeachable and it wasn't his job to determine that, as he made quite clear.

The problem with the fantasy that Mueller will say something that will crystallize public opinion and make impeachment inevitable is I really think that most House Democrats share it.

I was at the town hall for my rep yesterday and she certainly made it clear she's willing to wait for the 2020 elections, unless the American public changes their mind. Magically. She's not going to push her colleagues to actually do what the Constitution gives them the "sole power" to do.

The corny-but-sincere comment I wrote in my e-mail to her following the event was that I understood the Senate Republicans would not do their Constitutional duty, but that hardly absolved the House Democrats from shirking theirs.
posted by mark k at 11:12 PM on July 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


He's not an employee of DOJ anymore. Being a private citizen means he isn't as beholden to their directives as he was before.

Also, FFS, that letter in itself is obstructing justice. They can't fucking stop.


He wrote to them asking for guidance. That letter wasn’t a warning, it was a reply to his own letter
posted by sio42 at 11:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Dems will be ineffective, Mueller will be taciturn. Best hope we have is Repub histrionics will be so over the top that they embarrass themselves to the "independent" voters.

But the Repugs are already covered in shit and wear it like sable, so how would people even be able to tell?
posted by Max Power at 12:14 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Get ready for the 🚫🍔. Which direction will Democrats go when their dreams are shattered? Again.
posted by @homer at 3:42 AM on July 24, 2019


House Democrats are preparing an all-out messaging blitz over the next three days to refocus Americans' attention

And I am planning an all-out messaging blitz to the House Democrats that says "We already know everything in your messaging blitz, impeach the toddler already". It's as if the Democrats are projecting their own inability to act strongly onto their constituents.
posted by sylvanshine at 4:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


> He happens to have integrity but he's not the arbiter of whether things are impeachable and it wasn't his job to determine that, as he made quite clear.

Well yeah, that was just a for-instance. I'm talking about treating him like a regular person. "Alright, seriously though: can you believe Donald Trump is the President of the United States? Can you think of anybody worse? Did you see the thing where he thinks his daughter is sexy?" "That Jared sure is a putz, isn't he?" "You were in the military, what kind of war do you think can be ended in 10 days at the cost of 10 million lives?" "Remember Russia in Afghanistan? Boy that was sure a shitshow wasn't it?" "Do ya think the nation is going to survive this administration?" I can go on.

But, you know: locker room talk.
posted by rhizome at 4:26 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


My Problem Solver rep flipped yesterday from "I support opening an impeachment inquiry at the appropriate time" to "start the inquiry immediately." Per CNN the number is now up to 91.
posted by contraption at 4:28 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


Did he just say he's not answering any questions?
edit sorry I thought that was live
posted by adept256 at 4:35 AM on July 24, 2019


Honestly, even if we just get these three questions answered in a nice 30 second clip for constant replaying it'll be worth it. But maybe my hopes have been worn down.

Jamil Smith (Rolling Stone):
"First, did your report find there was no collusion?

Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?

Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?"

@neal_katyal’s questions (NYT) for Bob Mueller should be asked, verbatim.
posted by chris24 at 4:44 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


The problem with that first question is that 'collusion' does not have a specific legal meaning in criminal law.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:58 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Which is when he explains he never investigated that or cleared Trump of it because it doesn't exist legally. People don't know that Trump is depending on pretending it's real and lying about it.
posted by chris24 at 5:01 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Eight crazed tweets already including threatening Mueller with perjury over the bullshit claim that Mueller came begging to him for the FBI job and was rejected.

I’m with Jon here.

Jon Favreau:
The rantings of a man who would definitely not lose his shit in a politically unproductive way during impeachment hearings.
posted by chris24 at 5:12 AM on July 24, 2019 [36 favorites]


Prediction: Mueller will say as little as possible and nothing to move the needle. At the end of the day, he's a company man who has super-human powers of compartmentalization. There will be several questions, specifically about obstruction, where he will just give non-answers, e.g. "I did not come to any conclusion." "That was not within the scope of my charge." When asked what he personally believes, he will decline to answer. See you tomorrow to see how I did.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 5:23 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


House Committee on the Judiciary Youtube has. not. turned. off. the. comments.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:29 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Since Trump has tweeted over half a dozen times about Mueller this morning, here's CNN's Daniel Dale with a quick fact-check: "Morning fact checks: Mueller investigation wasn’t illegal; Trump aides told him Mueller didn’t have real conflicts; “acid washed” isn’t a thing; no public evidence Aaron Zebley is a Democrat; Mueller is a Republican; majority of his lawyers donated to Democrats but not all..."

this thread seems to be literally nothing but the endless “mueller won’t save us” that’s been rehashed in the main politics thread all year

I am deeply regretting not waiting until tomorrow morning to post this FPP. (I wanted to give MeFites time to refamiliarize themselves with the Mueller Report's findings and read up on the proposed questions.)

In any case, here are some live-blogs for those who'd like to follow along:

Guardian: Mueller testimony: former special counsel arrives for hearing as Trump fumes – live

LAT: Mueller testimony live

NBC: Mueller testimony: Live updates from the congressional hearing

NYT: Live Analysis of Mueller’s Congressional Hearing

Politico: Mueller live analysis

WaPo: Robert Mueller to testify before Congress about his investigation of Trump and Russian interference in 2016 election

And as always, there's Metafilter Chat for the MeFi community's reactions.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:33 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Josh Gerstein, Politico Senior Legal Affairs Contributor 5:27 a.m.: There’s sure to be a gif-able, that’s-a-clown-question response or eye-roll from Mueller that goes viral, no? I suspect something like that will be recorded in web-era pop culture forever. Whether that manages to educate the vast masses about the contents of Mueller’s report is another question.

Maggie Haberman, NYT White House Correspondent 8:39 AM ET: Collins says, “The president knew he was innocent.”
posted by Little Dawn at 5:48 AM on July 24, 2019


Did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

NO
posted by Little Dawn at 5:54 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


How can Mueller say his investigation was never hindered just minutes after testifying that he didn't interview Trump and interviewing Trump would have been "vital" to the investigation?
posted by zachlipton at 5:59 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Vox's Aaron Rupar is curating an ongoing Twitter thread of Mueller hearing video clips, including this exchange:
NADLER: Is it correct that if you had concluded POTUS committed the crime of obstruction, you couldn't publicly state that?

MUELLER: The statement would be that you would not indict because of the OLC opinion.

N: But he could be prosecuted after he leaves office?

M: True
By the way, for those who'd like to join MeFi Chat for this event, the mods have set up a separate channel dedicated to politics.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:04 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


I did not expect Mueller to come across so frail and... old, with the quavery voice, etc.
posted by carmicha at 6:05 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


I should link here that people are discussing the hearings on the new politics channel on MeFi Chat and the Unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack, and you're all welcome.
posted by zachlipton at 6:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


The right are gonna have a field day, painting Mueller as a doddering old leftie fool. This hearing might as well be over now.
posted by Optamystic at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


He's 75. Life catches up with you.
posted by scalefree at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Few questions from this Republican (Guardian)
John Ratcliffe, a Republican on the House judiciary committee, is using his five minutes of questions to ... not ask many questions.

Ratcliffe is emphasizing the presumption of innocence in the US justice system, arguing that that presumption extends to sitting presidents. And he is accusing the special counsel of violating every principle set forth for prosecutors.

His rant left little to no opportunity for Mueller to respond.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:16 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rep. Ratcliffe is very skilled at what he does. If the Republicans were smart they would have him take all their questioning time and keep jokers like Doug Collins away from the mic.

I don’t think Mueller is coming off too badly. As this drags on and on he will seem consistent, calm, and low-key.
posted by sallybrown at 6:17 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ratcliffe said "democrats and socialists", dear lord...
posted by bitteschoen at 6:17 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Mueller confirms his report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice (Guardian)
Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, asked Mueller to confirm that his report did not exonerate the president, despite Trump’s repeated claims of “no collusion” and “no obstruction”.

“Did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Nadler asked. “No,” Mueller replied.

Mueller said, “It is correct that my report does not exonerate President Trump for obstruction of justice.”
posted by Little Dawn at 6:30 AM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


Excited for everything to be normal again on Thursday.

Normal was shot down during the Bowling Green Massacre. It spun in. There were no survivors.
posted by Flexagon at 6:38 AM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


@Rep. Val Demings
Trying to fire the investigators who are investigating you is textbook obstruction of justice.

@jimsciutto Rep. Johnson: President Donald Trump directed WH Counsel Don McGahn to fire you.
Mueller: Correct
6:40 AM - 24 Jul 2019
@Rep. Val Demings
Mueller confirms that the president ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire him and end the investigation. The president then ordered McGahn to lie about it. #MuellerHearings
posted by Little Dawn at 6:45 AM on July 24, 2019 [29 favorites]


I haven't been able to watch this, has it been worth anything?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2019


not really
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:51 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’m listening on npr, about to turn it off, it’s basically just Mueller quoting his report, and refusing to answer anything that can’t be cited from report. Mueller will not save us. This is just theatre.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


So far it’s been like watching a town meeting filled with members of a community theater trying to question the town police chief. A couple good points made but for the most part you can practically hear Mueller’s desire to roll his eyes.
posted by sallybrown at 6:54 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


It seems to be going quite poorly, in my opinion.

Mostly it seems to be, Republican House members reiterating their points that nothing bad ever happened, etc, etc; Muller seems like he is unable to contain the entire report that he supposedly wrote within his memory, and is constantly asking for specific citations within his own report, or alternately, refusing to answer questions. The Democratic House members are trying, unsuccessfully, to make a case for Obstruction of Justice, but Muller isn't helping in any way.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:55 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Democrats confirming most damning portions of report while Republicans criticize process (Guardian)
So far, most Democrats on the House judiciary committee have used their time to confirm some of the most damning portions of Mueller’s report.

For example, Democratic Representative Hank Johnson is walking through Trump directing former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.

But Republicans like John Ratcliffe have largely used their time to question the scope of Mueller’s investigation and whether his probe followed Justice Department regulations.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:57 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I worry that when hearing extracts on the news, the uninformed public will not distinguish between the Republican committee members' long soliloquies, which are usually editorial, and the Democrats,' which are typically quoting the report.
posted by carmicha at 6:59 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


not really

Disagree. For us and those on Twitter, maybe. But the lead story on most outlets is his statement that he did not exonerate the president. Most people are clueless and constantly hear total exoneration. That’s blown up.
posted by chris24 at 6:59 AM on July 24, 2019 [35 favorites]


The Republicans look ridiculous. A lot of their attempts to undermine Mueller are actually undermining Trump. ("Is it true that you CAN'T indict the president? Then why did you even WRITE this report?") Mueller looks unbiased, because his answer to everything from either side is "read the report" or if someone quotes directly from the report, "true". Democrats are handling this approach to the questioning better than Republicans because they can just read quotes and get a "true," and that's what they are doing. And those "true" statements acknowledge and confirm shocking and damaging facts.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:00 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


@neal_katyal

Ratcliffe dead wrong about the Special Counsel regs. I drafted them in 1999. They absolutely don't forbid the Mueller Report. And they recognize the need for a Report " both for historical purposes and to enhance accountability."

6:16 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 7:01 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


The "I refer you to the report" comments are coming off poorly for Mueller, in my opinion. They give the impression that Mueller was uninvolved in the report and cannot or will not testify to the veracity of his own report. It's a bad look.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:02 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ratcliffe said "democrats and socialists", dear lord...

Yeah it's sort of amazing any remaining R refers to them as different groups.

I really don't understand all the gloom and oh this is so pointless stuff. Trump just blew millions of bucks staging a Fourth of July festival for nothing other than ego spectacle and a whole bunch of flag-grabbing video to use in ads. Plenty of people here called it harmful to the cause of defeating Trump for that video to exist. Why would it be any less valid to create a lot of short punchy video clips from these hearings to do the opposite?

You wanna go on about how they're no silver bullet, well, maybe you'd be better spent saying there are no silver bullets of any kind. Social progress - including repeating past progress lost from backpedaling - is a process that will go on being a long hard slog, far past when every one of us is dead. Looking for single quick fixes is a short recipe for despair.

I worry that when hearing extracts on the news, the uninformed public will not distinguish between the Republican committee members' long soliloquies, which are editorial, and the Democrats' which are quoting the report.

They won't, except to the extent we make them. Worrying about what the Fox propaganda machine will play to their audience is a waste of time. Those people are lost. To the extent that they matter it is only if we can get enough blips through their blinders such that a few outliers stay home from the polls. Beyond that they were never going to care.

The point of anything at this time has to be to actually serve and support the actual D base; to get the message out to the apathetic that there's something going on; to help the impeded actually get to the polls and cast their vote; to put the feet of office-holders to the fire to actually do their fucking jobs.
posted by phearlez at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


@TheBlackCaucus
✴️Attempting to fire Mueller = cover-up.
✴️Tampering with witnesses = cover-up.

The #MuellerReport debunked @realDonaldTrump's lies. #RetweetTheReport
posted by Little Dawn at 7:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [20 favorites]


He's said repeatedly that he wouldn't go beyond the report, so it's no surprise that he's not. However, the comment that Trump could be inducted once out of office seems pretty big in terms of how it could be used by the Democrats.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


I’m listening on npr, about to turn it off, it’s basically just Mueller quoting his report, and refusing to answer anything that can’t be cited from report.

That may be the only way for some people to learn what's actually in the report. The majority of Americans don't really have an idea about its contents and findings, and Republican voters have been lied to repeatedly that it totally exonerates Trump. It's not exactly electrifying, but we'll see if it results in a tectonic shift.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:09 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


I worry that when hearing extracts on the news

Then I have good news for you: most people will only hear/read what others say or write about the hearing, not transcripts or clips of the hearing itself. (We don't exactly live in a primary-source culture, you know?)

The real question is, what will the headlines this afternoon and tomorrow be? If they're "Congressional Hearing Confirms Presidential Obstruction," then this is a productive meeting.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


He doesn't have to go beyond the report. He merely has to paraphrase the words in the report in his own informal language. "I refer you to the report" sounds a lot like "I don't know what the report says, so I can't answer your question the same way the report would, so I'd rather you just read the report and didn't ask me." I hate this hearing so much.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not to speak to the optics, but to the reasonability—of course Mueller keeps referring back to the report. He is under oath in a stressful situation and months removed from his investigative work. Every single word of the report has been carefully chosen, vetted, and double-checked. He doesn’t need to speculate or worry about forming testimony in the moment when he can point to the precise words of the report.
posted by sallybrown at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


He merely has to paraphrase the words in the report in his own informal language.

He is under oath, and a prosecutor to boot. He has been telling witnesses his whole career never to do things like this under oath, of course he won’t.
posted by sallybrown at 7:11 AM on July 24, 2019 [30 favorites]


However, the comment that Trump could be inducted once out of office seems pretty big in terms of how it could be used by the Democrats.

He also said that evidence in the report warranted further investigation into obstruction.

Dems? Hey, maybe now that he said it on camera in addition to the report you might do that?
posted by chris24 at 7:14 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Most of this hearing will never be see again. The majority of it doesn’t matter at all. Nadler got a sound bite that works and I’m sure there will be one more “moment” before this is over. But, yeah, watching it live , pretty dull.
posted by meech at 7:15 AM on July 24, 2019


Nadler, or one of the other Democrats, needs to sum this up by asking why Republicans are so angry at Mueller if they claim the report totally exonerates the President. They also need to shift this (perhaps in the second Intelligence Committee hearing) to Russian interference and use the opportunity of national airtime to discuss McConnell blocking every single effort to improve election security before the next election.

But I'm still on team Nothing Matters. Maybe this gets a few more reps ready to call for impeachment hearings, which would be something, but in a couple days, Congress fucks off for a recess that lasts through Labor Day, and nothing's going to happen.
posted by zachlipton at 7:15 AM on July 24, 2019


@RepValDemings

While the Russians were engaged in a “sweeping and systematic” attack on our country, they were armed with internal strategy documents willingly given to them by the Trump Campaign.

Every American should decide if they want their president to act this way. #MuellerHearings

6:09 AM - 24 Jul 2019

@RepValDemings

Mueller just confirmed that Trump said to his White House lawyer: “Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do it.”

The lawyer instead prepared to resign, because he knew it was an illegal order.

This is how mobsters act, not the President of the United States. #MuellerHearings

6:47 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2019 [34 favorites]


He has been telling witnesses his whole career never to do things like this under oath, of course he won’t.

Unfortunately, this is politics, and politics doesn't work like that anymore, if it ever really did. The only way impeachment gains traction is if this is a public spectacle full of delicious soundbites to play over and over again. Mueller is unable or unwilling to play along, and this is going nowhere with the public perception. I can't decide if this is a failure of the Democrats in the House to understand Mueller, or if it's a failure of the Democrats in that they DO understand Mueller and that his testimony is going to help the centrists kick the can down the road some more.

As someone else upthread said, "this hearing might as well be over now."
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Television-watcher-in-chief has logged on:
"This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller." Chris Wallce of @Foxnews
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2019


Unfortunately, this is politics, and politics doesn't work like that anymore, if it ever really did.

And Mueller is not a politician, he’s a prosecutor testifying under oath. Whether it’s bad optics is something the politicians should worry about—but it’s not somehow wrong for Mueller to testify in the way he has or to not “play along,” it’s completely understandable and frankly much more proper given his role. Should anyone in this thread end up a witness under oath, you would do well to take after his testimony and not worry about playing along.
posted by sallybrown at 7:21 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Mueller looks fine to me in the hearing so far, Democratic reps are not asking clear, lucid questions. The House is just not full of our best and brightest.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:23 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


You guys want Mueller to be a partisan actor. But if he appears as a partisan actor at all, then his credibility is shot. The findings of the report would be dismissed by anyone who is not already firmly in the anti-Trump camp. The only way Mueller can make an impact at all, is by seeming completely non-partisan, and thus reaching people who are not already aligned with the Democrats and the anti-Trump movement.

Mueller is doing his job. His job was to find the truth. It's OUR job to make it matter.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [46 favorites]


It's OUR job to make it matter.

Quoted for TRUTH. (Also, hence much frustration with the House currently, they are the literal versions of "us" who are supposed to be acting on our behalf.)
posted by LooseFilter at 7:29 AM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


@JYSexton: All you need to know about this moment is that cable news is spending their coverage talking about the performance. They're looking for A Few Good Men or Watergate moment. Mueller's not going to give them that, and so they're going to present it as a disappointment. They want this to follow the rules of narrative. The report was released, questioned, now he's here in person. They expect a ramp up in tension and drama. It's a restatement of a report that should have been enough.

There's not going to be a code red moment. Democrats need to use their time to make their case instead of fishing for one. And more importantly, the press's standard for this hearing needs to be focused on the substance of the report and Trump's conduct, not whether it follows the act structure of an Emmy-winning West Wing episode.
posted by zachlipton at 7:29 AM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


It's OUR job to make it matter.

We voted in a party majority in a wave election on their promises to hold him accountable. Does it matter yet?
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:30 AM on July 24, 2019 [23 favorites]


The only reason Mueller is being a droning robot who refuses to answer any significant questions and is choosing to never say anything that wasn't in the report is because he's a Republican and he's trying to protect a fellow Republican to the greatest extent that his own belief in his integrity will permit.

He wants to think of himself as an impartial prosecutor who is just sticking to the letter of the law, so he uses that as his excuse for doing his utmost to shield Trump.

There is no such thing as a good Republican, and Mueller is proving that today.

His job was to find **AND TELL** the truth. And he started out refusing to even consider any truth that might lead to the conclusion the President had committed crimes, and he's today refusing to tell any truth that might be harmful enough to the President it could result in him being forced from office.

Mueller is as much a Trump cultist as any MAGA hat wearing loon, he's just in denial.
posted by sotonohito at 7:30 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Jeffries is methodically going through the elements of an obstruction of justice charge, asking Mueller to confirm each step and each action taken by Trump demonstrating those prongs.

(this is good)
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:32 AM on July 24, 2019 [19 favorites]


We voted in a party majority in a wave election on their promises to hold him accountable. Does it matter yet?

No, it's not enough. Keep going.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:33 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


As was noted above, almost nobody read the report and almost nobody will actually watch this hearing. Fox News will spin it however it wants for its audience, who can't be swayed. All that matters is that there are stories in newspapers in, say, Concord New Hampshire that focus on Mueller confirming that the report did not exonerate Trump, that he instructed Mueller be fired, and that he's open to investigation after he leaves office. That's it. That's the story. It gives Democrats firm ground to hammer that point home yet again, now and during the campaign.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


because he's a Republican and he's trying to protect a fellow Republican to the greatest extent that his own belief in his integrity will permit.

I don't see that in this hearing at all. I see someone who conducted an extremely thorough investigation and submitted a very detailed report about it, being asked very specific questions about who said what to whom, when, in what order, and so on. These are all pretty detailed questions, and Mueller to me looks like someone who first is dealing with rambling, unclear questions; and second, who is checking specific quotes and references to be sure that he answers nothing inaccurately or unclearly, because THAT would blow things up more than anything else today.

If his job was to find and tell the truth, I think his report does that, to the extent that a pre-trial investigation could.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]



Mueller is as much a Trump cultist as any MAGA hat wearing loon, he's just in denial.


That is egregiously wrong. Read the report.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:35 AM on July 24, 2019 [41 favorites]


Jeffries is methodically going through the elements of an obstruction of justice charge, asking Mueller to confirm each step and each action taken by Trump demonstrating those prongs.

Yup, and then Mueller undermined it at the end. He let Republicans spew all kinds of bullshit, but he felt the need to say that he didn't support Jeffries' summary.
posted by diogenes at 7:36 AM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


If some of the less effective members would donate their time to Jeffries, we might be getting somewhere.

Mueller is as much a Trump cultist as any MAGA hat wearing loon, he's just in denial.

Oh, please.
posted by sallybrown at 7:37 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


and then Mueller undermined it at the end

Mueller also told Jeffries he wasn’t out of the ballpark.
posted by sallybrown at 7:38 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


No, it's not enough. Keep going.

OK, primarying 75% of elected Democrats in 2020 it is then. What else is there to do? Years of begging and calling and screaming for justice and for them to do their jobs has earned us increasingly chiding condescension, and one more feckless round of polite questions for the dust-farting republican cop is very, very, very clearly not gonna save us.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:41 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


He started his investigation from the standpoint that he would never, under any circumstances at all, either conclude that the President had committed crimes or investigate any evidence that the President had committed crimes. That's MAGA cultist. He's just better at hiding it, both from us and himself, behind an obfuscating wall of bullshit.

Like Comey he's not really going all out to protect Trump because that'd violate his own false belief in himself as a consummate professional. But he's going to the maximum defense of Trump that his sense of ethics will permit.

Compare Mueller to Starr and tell me he's not defending Trump.
posted by sotonohito at 7:43 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


Okay. He's not defending Trump.
posted by phearlez at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


(You know, we flipped my district last fall, and our new rep has been, frankly, terrific.)
posted by LooseFilter at 7:45 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Mueller also told Jeffries he wasn’t out of the ballpark.

It's just frustrating that he didn't opine on the "summaries" provided by Gohmert, Jordan, and Gaetz. Did he consider them in or out of the ballpark? We don't know.
posted by diogenes at 7:45 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump and the MAGA crowd have been saying all along that Mueller was basically like how we think of Ken Starr. And a few of the Republicans today have worked very hard to impute nefarious motives to Mueller. If that's the standard by which this is judged, Mueller is giving them nothing at all. He may seem clueless, but he doesn't seem at all to be an anti-Trump partisan. I don't think they're getting any traction on this at all, despite all the heat.

It is surprising that it's not visibly pissing Mueller off.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:46 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


@RepValDemings
Mueller’s investigation ended with 37 criminal indictments, evidence in 14 additional criminal cases, and 11 criminal referrals to other law enforcement offices. The evidence is massive.

Why not charge President Trump? Because Mueller wasn’t allowed to. #MuellerHearings

7:42 AM* - 24 Jul 2019 *PST
posted by Little Dawn at 7:47 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


> Mueller just confirmed that Trump said to his White House lawyer: “Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do it.”

Seems pretty straightforward to me, but then again neither my paycheque nor my worldview depend on believing or at least pretending to believe otherwise.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:48 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


He started his investigation from the standpoint that he would never, under any circumstances at all, either conclude that the President had committed crimes or investigate any evidence that the President had committed crimes. That's MAGA cultist.

For fucks sake, all of Volume 2 of the report is him investigating Trump’s crimes despite not being able to charge him. It’s the main issue Rs are attacking him for. “Why did you investigate this if you couldn’t charge him?” Why did you write 380 pages, etc etc.

This is ridiculous. He fucking wrote an obvious impeachment referral. He said it justifed charging afterwards and further investigation now.
posted by chris24 at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [36 favorites]


That's because he hasn't been asked about the Republicans grandstanding in front of him?

I wrote my congresswoman, asking if she'd read the Report. I got my usual line of obfusticating bullshit - he didn't charge him with any crimes, he didn't find evidence of collusion with Russia, we all need to move on - and my letter in response, which I used Resistbot to send (normally, I use Resistbot for the first letter, then respond directly), is scathing. I point out that there's 10 counts of obstruction, and ask "are those suddenly not crimes?" and explicitly state my understanding of the reasoning for the OLC memo that Mueller. I concluded my letter by stating that her district - R +13 - was within 9000 votes of being flipped last year, and that if she didn't come out in support of impeachment I would support her Democratic challenger.

To the line of "Mueller is in denial about his MAGA hat" that's a black-and-white fallacy. Don't fall prey to that - that's how the Republicans frame their entire worldview, and when we do it, we give them rhetorical ground. Mueller argues nuance, and his argument has already been put into the world in the form of his report. Of course he's going to refer back to it! Of course, he's not going to support any conclusion drawn from the evidence in the report! He's NOT a partisan hack like Starr was, he's a consumate non-partisan actor in a system that's now so partisan, we simply don't know what the lack of partisanship looks like anymore. (hint: it looks like this)
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [21 favorites]


He started his investigation from the standpoint that he would never, under any circumstances at all, either conclude that the President had committed crimes or investigate any evidence that the President had committed crimes. That's MAGA cultist.

If he’s a cultist, he’s a DOJ cultist, not a MAGA one. I’m not saying at all that this is not deserving of critique or that it doesn’t lead to unfair outcomes—look at the horrible things DOJ has done in the past. But there’s a sense among some people there, especially those who have spent a long time there, that following DOJ and OLC rules and regs will always lead to the best outcome, that they should hold these rules above any individual judgment in any individual case. That if you follow what has been determined as the proper path, it will always lead to the best possible end. It lets them think they are not letting personal bias color their judgment. Mueller is biased like any person is, but I bet he is more disgusted by Trump than most people, because Trump’s whole ethos is counter to this DOJ cultist ethos of always following proper procedure even when your mind is telling you not to.

That’s also why the focus on Mueller and Comey’s friendship is strange. I bet not only are they not friends, but Mueller thinks Comey’s behavior on the Clinton investigation was immature and foolish.
posted by sallybrown at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


I'm optimistic that this is leading to impeachment for obstruction of justice. It would be pretty weird to get all of this confirmation, end each round of confirmation with "no one is above the law," and then not do anything.

(Ugh, and Mueller just undermined Lieu's summary and conclusion too. Why is he so intent on throwing sand into the gears of the obstruction question?)
posted by diogenes at 7:56 AM on July 24, 2019


He’s not “undermining” anybody. They’re trying to get him to state conclusively, outside of the report, that the president committed crimes, and he’s not going to do that. The closest we get is that “the president could be indicted for these crimes after the presidency”, which is effectively saying “I found substantial evidence to bring Trump before a jury for these crimes”, something he apparently can’t do due to OLC guidelines or whatever.
posted by gucci mane at 8:00 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


There was just a quote a little bit better than I think Mueller meant to give. I have to paraphrase, but after going through each element of an obstruction charge regarding the attempts to fire Mueller and get Sessions to limit the investigation to future elections, the Democratic questioner said something like "So the reason you declined to prosecute was the Office of Legal Counsel opinion, right?" And Mueller said something to the effect of "Correct."

A few moments later he said "Just because I went through the elements of obstruction with you doesn't mean I'm agreeing with your conclusion."

But in the moment, he did agree.

Also, the open letter from over 1000 former federal prosecutors saying that anyone else would have been indicted for obstruction on the evidence of the report was entered into the record. Mueller testified that he knew many of those people and respected them.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:03 AM on July 24, 2019 [25 favorites]


Trump again claims "no obstruction," even as Mueller specifically says his report did not determine that (Guardian)
But Mueller has over and over again in his testimony emphasized that he did not consider it his team’s responsibility to determine whether Trump obstructed justice.

Instead, Mueller laid out several instances in his report that may constitute obstruction of justice and left the decision up to Congress. He has also repeatedly emphasized that, in accordance with Justice Department policy, he did not believe he had the ability to indict a sitting president.
Mueller cites inability to indict sitting president (Guardian)
Under questioning from Representative Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, Mueller cited his inability to indict a sitting president.

“One of the tools that a prosecutor would use is not there,” Mueller said of his team’s considerations of Trump’s potential obstruction of justice.
Mueller confirms Trump asked staff to falsify records (Guardian)
Mueller confirmed in response to a question from Representative Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, that Trump asked staff to falsify records connected to the special counsel’s investigation.

BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) Rep. Richmond: "So it's fair to say that the president tried to protect himself by asking staff to falsify records relevant to an ongoing investigation?"

Mueller: "I would say that's generally a summary." pic.twitter.com/GhZepIkn7y July 24, 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 8:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [19 favorites]


I am astonished that anyone would argue that the Internet Research Agency is not closely associated with Russian intelligence. I could just imagine the entire CIA, NSA, and others throwing up their hands in disgust at that nonsense. And probably the entire Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:10 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


He’s not “undermining” anybody. They’re trying to get him to state conclusively, outside of the report, that the president committed crimes, and he’s not going to do that.

He doesn't need to go outside of the report. They are establishing each of the elements of obstruction based on the report, he's agreeing, and then when they conclude "so, that's obstruction," he takes exception. I don't get it. Would accepting the summary constitute accusing Trump of a crime?

A few moments later he said "Just because I went through the elements of obstruction with you doesn't mean I'm agreeing with your conclusion."

But in the moment, he did agree.


Exactly, he agrees with all of the specifics along the way, but then inexplicably takes exception with the conclusion without explaining how that's possible.
posted by diogenes at 8:10 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


“Since nobody but lawyers reads footnotes...” from idiot Rep. Debbie Lesko. I almost saw a Mueller eye twitch at that one.
posted by sallybrown at 8:11 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I can understand, given the shit storm surrounding us, why it is people are wishing for fireworks, but it's actively counterproductive for us to act like Mueller's testimony is a nothingburger just because there aren't fireworks on a level sufficient to assuage our anxiety.
posted by wierdo at 8:12 AM on July 24, 2019 [37 favorites]


Between the explicit statement that he did not exonerate the president and that he could be prosecuted for obstruction after leaving office, he’s done about as much as I expected and gave Ds two great sound bite gifts. The theater is less important than the headlines and those clips.
posted by chris24 at 8:14 AM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]


Agreed, the hearing is shaping up to be Democrats clearly establishing (publicly, verbally) obstruction of justice by the President, and it looks like they think that's the non-partisan way to approach impeachment, i.e., 'hey, look, everybody has all kinds of opinions about Donald Trump, but no president can obstruct justice, that's just how it is, we must pursue impeachment.'
posted by LooseFilter at 8:16 AM on July 24, 2019 [16 favorites]


"Just because I went through the elements of obstruction with you doesn't mean I'm agreeing with your conclusion."

In other words, Mueller is taking the line that accepting that all of the elements of obstruction were met doesn't equate to concluding that obstruction occurred. That's logically impossible.
posted by diogenes at 8:17 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


They are establishing each of the elements of obstruction based on the report, he's agreeing, and then when they conclude "so, that's obstruction," he takes exception. I don't get it. Would accepting the summary constitute accusing Trump of a crime?

To a layperson, the answer is obvious because “obstruction” is an action, but to a prosecutor “obstruction” is a legal charge. The decision to charge someone with a crime relies on prosecutorial discretion, and the conviction of someone on that charge requires a trial. Mueller did not charge Trump with it, and he doesn’t want to speculate about whether some prosecutor in the future will, and whether some judge or jury in the future will convict on it, because it’s hypothetical.
posted by sallybrown at 8:20 AM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


Former federal prosecutor says Mueller came "very very close" to saying Trump otherwise would have been indicted (Guardian)
Preet Bharara, a former US prosecutor who was fired by Trump, argued that Mueller nearly acknowledged that the president would have been indicted if he were not in office.
Emphasis added. It's up to Congress to decide, not Mueller, and extreme care should be taken before Mueller's conclusions are oversold, no matter how much pundits like CNN analyst Josh Campbell might otherwise want to push an overblown and inaccurate narrative.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


To a layperson, the answer is obvious because “obstruction” is an action, but to a prosecutor “obstruction” is a legal charge. The decision to charge someone with a crime relies on prosecutorial discretion, and the conviction of someone on that charge requires a trial.

Yeah, I'm taking this as the equivalent of someone who's spelling something out for you, and then when you say "but then that means [blah]," they nod and say "you're the one who said that, for the record, not me."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


That was the whole thing about Mueller "undermining" Lieu on the clearly laid out roadmap to an obstruction charge - it doesnt matter if they see things differently since Lieu's on the side of the coin that gets to decide any of this since Mueller wouldnt get to vote on impeachment.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:28 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


To really oversimplify it, imagine a lawyer going over the steps of a crime with a witness on the stand:

“Did you see John do X?” “Yes.”

“Did you see John do Y?” “Yes.”

“Did you hear John say ‘I know what I’m doing, and I’m doing X and Y on purpose’?” “Yes.”

“So John is guilty of the crime?” “OBJECTION!” Because that part is up to the judge or jury.
posted by sallybrown at 8:31 AM on July 24, 2019 [39 favorites]


Regarding the idea that people "a lot of people sincerely believe [the Mueller report] exonerates Trump"...

I mean, from a certain perspective, this is true. If you've sealed yourself inside a conservative media bubble, this is the picture that you've been shown.

But you also made the choice to seal yourself inside a conservative media bubble in the first place. You looked at the smorgasbord of media available to you, and decided "well, the one spewing conspiracy theories, pro-fascist sentiment, and racist garbage is the only one I'm going to believe".

From that perspective, I...kind of don't agree that anyone sincerely believes that the Mueller report exonerates Trump. Perhaps they cynically believe it. Perhaps they've chosen to ignore what is true, and to believe in a fake-news reality which justifies their bigotries. But they don't sincerely believe it. They aren't innocent summer children who have been hoodwinked. They're assholes who have decided that defending their privilege at all costs is more important than truth.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:32 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Here's the exact wording of the exchange about why Trump was not charged...

LIEU: The reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?

MUELLER: That is correct.

Haven't found the exact words of his partial disclaimer a few moments later.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:40 AM on July 24, 2019 [21 favorites]


"They're assholes who have decided that defending their privilege at all costs is more important than truth." Well-said! All the arrogant young white frat boy republicans members of congress make me wanna puke.
posted by mareli at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


NYT: Charlie Savage Washington Correspondent 11:23 AM ET
For more on the ambiguous analysis of this episode in the Mueller report, see the subheading “Trump urged Comey to drop Flynn investigation” here:

Did Trump Obstruct Justice? Mueller Didn’t Say, but Left a Trail to the Answer April 23, 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 8:44 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


“So John is guilty of the crime?” “OBJECTION!” Because that part is up to the judge or jury.

I wish Mueller would make it clearer that he's objecting to the inevitable conclusion because it's up to the judge and jury, and in this case the only possible judge and jury is Congress. "I don't agree with your conclusion" doesn't exactly capture that.
posted by diogenes at 8:44 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Oh god, a coworker is listening to it right now and I walked past and I swear to god they're going on about Hillary's fucking emails right now. I'm sick of living in this edgelord joke universe.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2019 [19 favorites]


LIEU: The reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?

MUELLER: That is correct.


This is the crux of the argument for an impeachment investigation. There's a dumbass memo dreamed up during the Nixon Administration that says the president is above the law. Congress is the only body left that can do anything. And this hearing isn't not something.
posted by zachlipton at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2019 [26 favorites]


What's the actionable, er, action here? Would it be Judiciary recommending censure/impeachment/something to the full House?

Or is it just getting talking points and soundbites? (If so, fine, I just want to calibrate my expectations here.)
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Republicans seem to disagree among themselves about "the very basis of the investigation". One makes a big deal about Papadopoulos and Mifsud, and the other about the Steele Dossier. They're both making the same argument except about two different instigating events, only one of which could be the case (it was Papadopoulos). It's an example of how the Fox fever swamp isn't concerned about what's true, but only throwing up chaff, even by members of Congress in televised congressional hearings.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


sallybrown: Mueller is biased like any person is, but I bet he is more disgusted by Trump than most people, because Trump’s whole ethos is counter to this DOJ cultist ethos of always following proper procedure even when your mind is telling you not to.

That’s also why the focus on Mueller and Comey’s friendship is strange. I bet not only are they not friends, but Mueller thinks Comey’s behavior on the Clinton investigation was immature and foolish.


I agree with everything in this comment up to that last sentence. There's a vague continuum from "DOJ bias" to "generic Republican bias" that's not unlike the way mainstream news often skews rightward. I strongly suspect that Mueller sees Comey's behavior as regrettable but unavoidable and excusable, simply because of the degree to which Republicans have perfected their tantrums and ref-working. This is the way that he's neither a MAGAhead nor a crusader for all things good. He's "neutral" on the president's criminality because that where our waters have been churned.

His motto amounts to "Let justice be done, but not at the cost of any serious risk that the heavens fall."
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


> And this hearing isn't not something.

Democrats: We will never fail to not let you down!
posted by tonycpsu at 8:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


There's a dumbass memo dreamed up during the Nixon Administration that says the president is above the law.

This is one of those times where we are all just saying things we've said before in megathreads, but it's not a dumbass memo. If we attempted to put Trump on trial while in office, the prosecutors would all be people who worked for Trump, led by Barr. If Barr and Trump somehow secured a conviction against Trump (does anyone really believe this could happen?) then he would be taken into custody and judicial branch would take control over the president's actions and movements, violating the separation of powers.

The president cannot be inducted while in office. He is not above the law because he can be indicted after removal or after his term ends. However while he holds office, he is necessarily immune, and this is why is is so important not to elect a criminal as president.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:54 AM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]


Why did Mueller refuse to say whether Don Jr took the 5th? That seems relevant.
posted by zachlipton at 8:55 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


The Television-watcher-in-chief has logged on:
"This has been a disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller." Chris Wallce of @Foxnews


He's also tweeted a quote (all-caps "NO OBSTRUCTION") from Fast and Furious-monger Katie Pavlich on Fox.

For someone who said on Monday, "I'm not going to be watching — probably — maybe I'll see a little bit of it.", he certainly seems to be checking in.

Why did Mueller refuse to say whether Don Jr took the 5th? That seems relevant.

That exchange floored me:
Neguse: "Did Mr. Trump Junior or his counsel ever communicate to your office any intent to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination?"

Mueller: "I'm not going to answer that."
On what grounds??
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:57 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Prosecutors can't comment on someone invoking the 5th.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:58 AM on July 24, 2019 [20 favorites]


e.g. The Supreme Court has previously held, in Griffin v. California, that this provision prohibits the prosecution from using a defendant’s decision not to testify at trial as evidence of his guilt.[2] In Miranda v. Arizona, the Court held that the same rule applies to a defendant’s choice to remain silent during a pre-trial custodial setting.[3]
posted by Little Dawn at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


But surely he can say whether he did or not as a simple yes/no question? I understand he can't speculate about Don Jr.'s reasons for pleading the 5th, but isn't whether he did or not a matter of fact?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:00 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


He also likely considers himself barred from talking about uncharged parties, and it looks like he's taking a very conservative approach to the DOJ guidance on his testimony.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:03 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nadler: Did you actually totally exonerate the president?

Mueller: No

Nadler: Your report actually states that it does not exonerate the president?

Mueller: It does.
posted by box at 9:04 AM on July 24, 2019 [28 favorites]


Good Morning America @GMA
.@RepValDemings: "Lies by Trump campaign officials and administration officials impeded your investigation."

Mueller: "I would generally agree with that."

#MuellerHearings http://gma.abc/2M989SA

8:50 AM - 24 Jul 2019
John Nichols @NicholsUprising
US @RepValDemings gets Robert Mueller to confirm that his inquiry had to be conducted in the face of “outright lies” from individuals who were questioned. This is an important part of the broader obstruction of justice issue that has been so central to the #MuellerHearing.

8:24 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 9:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [23 favorites]


Mueller just confirmed again that he didn’t charge obstruction specifically because of the OLC memo.
posted by sallybrown at 9:08 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


A little bit of an intentional tease there from Mueller:

Escobar: What constitutional processes do you reference in the report?
Mueller: I heard you mention at least one.
Escobar: Impeachment, correct?
Mueller: I’m not going to comment.
posted by sallybrown at 9:11 AM on July 24, 2019 [28 favorites]


I don't think that conclusion by Rep. Escobar happens if this committee wasn't prepared to start impeachment proceedings.
posted by diogenes at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Missouri governer was indicted and taken into custody like, last year? Plus two congressman were indicted. Doesn’t make sense the president “can’t” be indicted.
posted by cricketcello at 9:12 AM on July 24, 2019


Here’s a list with some tweets I put together from various news sources/reporters/politicians or simply readers live-tweeting about the hearing (plus a couple of anonymous jokes) - many of them with video clips for those who couldn’t follow live. I may keep adding to it as I find more notable tweets...
posted by bitteschoen at 9:13 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Missouri governer was indicted and taken into custody like, last year? Plus two congressman were indicted. Doesn’t make sense the president “can’t” be indicted.

None of those people are the head of the executive branch with unrestricted pardoning power.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:15 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I guess they decided to attack the credibility of the person and not the report. It was a nice touch to point out he was appointed by Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, and reappointed unanimously by the senate.
posted by adept256 at 9:16 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


It appears that the Democrats don't realize they are in control of the rules and could easily have changed them temporarily for this hearing to shut down the grandstanding of the members and the smoke-blowing of the GOP. I wonder if they decided to go with business-as-usual because they don't believe politics is hardball. When the occupant of the White House is a corrupt, lying, ill-begotten racist hate-monger, hardball is the name of the day.

Will they ever learn?

That said, I hope Mueller's tight-lipped testimony is the nudge it takes to tumble this regime. I await with breath abated.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:18 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


The Missouri governer was indicted and taken into custody like, last year? Plus two congressman were indicted. Doesn’t make sense the president “can’t” be indicted.

The idea, so far as I understand it, is that a prosecutor can't indict their own superior, at least according to guidance put forward by the Office of Legal Counsel. Which makes some degree of sense although, as we're seeing, that creates a loophole big enough to drive a treason truck through.

Most states elect their attorneys-general so that issue wouldn't generally obtain at the state level, nor would it apply to legislative members at any level.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:21 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Rep. Cohen! Trump and AG Barr lied to the American people!
posted by Little Dawn at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


> Escobar: Impeachment, correct?
Mueller: I’m not going to comment.


I tuned into a Congressional hearing and an episode of Password broke out.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [24 favorites]


Doesn’t make sense the president “can’t” be indicted. It does in the case of trying to scare Agnew into resigning. By sticking to the idea that the president's functioning is needed, in order to move toward proving that the VP doesn't serve the same function, OLC made it's move to scare Agnew into thinking he was to be removed from office during the Nixon administration.
That's the historically contingent window that this vexing DOJ 'policy' about sitting presidents came from.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:26 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


The president cannot be inducted while in office. He is not above the law because he can be indicted after removal or after his term ends. However while he holds office, he is necessarily immune, and this is why is is so important not to elect a criminal as president.

There has to be a way to deal with the nearly guaranteed threat of the president taking advantage of the time until they're out of office to destroy evidence if we're going to do it this way. It's a massive flaw in the system.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:28 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


destroy evidence

Or to simply corrupt the courts and law enforcement to the point where evidence doesn't matter.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:30 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's a massive flaw in the system.

It's right up there with the fact that Congress can't actually enforce subpoenas. Like how did we not notice this before!
posted by diogenes at 9:30 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Doesn't matter, he ain't leaving office. Motherfucker knows he's gonna die of natural causes in the White House, or in federal prison. Guess which one he would prefer.
posted by Optamystic at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


It’s not up to him.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


1973 OLC memo, revisited & affirmed in 2000 memo.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:36 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


What's the deal with Mueller's polite refusal to actually read anything from his own report? He's been asked to do so or encouraged to do so strongly and each time he pulls a "I would be happy to have you [the questioning representative] read it."
posted by odinsdream at 9:45 AM on July 24, 2019


I assumed he didn't want something cherry-picked for him to read that could be made into an out-of-context soundbite.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


Presumably because he's there entirely to provide video clips and soundbites and in his view what really matters is the full context. He's telling them they can make their own Twitter videos and soundbites just fine without him.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:48 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


For anyone who thinks Mueller is just being neutral, have you ever seen prosecutors or other investigators in court or testifying when they actually want to get the guy? It looks nothing like this. If you've ever seen a prosecutor press brutality charges against a police officer (as a result, always, of public pressure), this is what it looks like: as gray, unappealing, and lawyerly as they can make it. This is how you behave when you have been forced by circumstances to pursue an obviously guilty party when you would dearly wish not to.
posted by chortly at 9:50 AM on July 24, 2019 [36 favorites]


What's the deal with Mueller's polite refusal to actually read anything from his own report? He's been asked to do so or encouraged to do so strongly and each time he pulls a "I would be happy to have you [the questioning representative] read it."
posted by odinsdream at 1:45 AM on July 25 [+] [!]

This bothered me too, along with a lot of other things he wouldn't comment on. I sure hope this isn't the last Mueller testimony, because I suspect he was muzzled to some degree in this one, not least by the Barr guidance, and I'd like to see what he'll say once he is given free rein, or even compelled to tell everything a la Cohen.
posted by saysthis at 9:50 AM on July 24, 2019


What's the deal with Mueller's polite refusal to actually read anything from his own report? He's been asked to do so or encouraged to do so strongly and each time he pulls a "I would be happy to have you [the questioning representative] read it."

Guardian: Democrats are carefully guiding the former special counsel through Donald Trump’s various attempts to obstruct justice, including his effort to fire Mueller himself. Members are reading chunks of the report to him because he apparently declined to read it aloud:
Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) One reason Dems are reading the report to Mueller, not the other way around: A congressional source involved in negotiations surrounding Mueller’s appearance says that Mueller’s team told the committees that he would decline to read from his report during the hearing July 24, 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 9:51 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Listening to Nadler's opening questions again, regarding Trump's refusal to be interviewed by Mueller, I'm reminded of the final words of Bob Woodward's book on this administration, Fear. The president was advised not to testify, and I quote, because:

You're a fucking liar.
posted by adept256 at 9:52 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Mueller has outlived his usefulness. He's blatently refusing to do his final duty to the country in order to maintain a sense of impartiality, in a day and age when "impartiality" implies assent for the status quo.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


I sure hope this isn't the last Mueller testimony, because I suspect he was muzzled to some degree in this one, not least by the Barr guidance, and I'd like to see what he'll say once he is given free rein, or even compelled to tell everything a la Cohen.

He was as unmuzzled as he'll ever be as long as the OLG opinion stands and the DOJ remains corrupted.

Muller has just begun his testimony in front of the Intelligence Committee right now, though.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:55 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


@kylegriffin1
Schiff: "Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it?"

9:55 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


> Pater Aletheias: "a lot of people sincerely believe it exonerates Trump."
Because Lyin' Cheatin' Corrupt President Trump says so. The more the Dems get Mueller on tv saying he's not exonerated exculpated, the better.
posted by theora55 at 10:06 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


NBC10 Philadelphia @NBCPhiladelphia
"Your report did not exonerate the president. Instead, it provided substantial evidence of obstruction of justice, leaving Congress to do its duty," @repdean said. "We shall not shrink from that duty."

9:53 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:08 AM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


That said, I hope Mueller's tight-lipped testimony is the nudge it takes to tumble this regime.

There will never be a thing that tumbles anything worth doing because those things don't happen on their own. We like to talk about tipping points as if a bunch of people and things shove on a big rock representing justice and at some point it just starts rolling down the hill into inevitability. But that has never been an apt metaphor because the status quo has more than enough friction to slow the rock back to a complete halt. The rock metaphor only works if you assume it is on a level - if not upwardly sloped - surface and every thing and activist works towards rolling it along. Those moments that might feel like a downward roll never are. They're the result of person after person continuing to put their shoulder to it and keep it moving. And when they stop, so does progress.

I'll be happy if the nudge rolls us along enough to get to impeachment and convince some more folks to sign on. But those hearings and votes won't be endpoints either.
posted by phearlez at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


For anyone who thinks Mueller is just being neutral, have you ever seen prosecutors or other investigators in court or testifying when they actually want to get the guy? It looks nothing like this.

Mueller was not there in the role of a prosecutor today. He was there testifying as a witness about his past work as a prosecutor.

Further, when prosecutors are in court “when they actually want to get the guy,” they are not acting in a neutral capacity—they’re in an adverse position to the defendant. The neutral party in a prosecution is the judge, not the prosecutor.

There’s a lot of ill-informed wishcasting going on in this thread.
posted by sallybrown at 10:14 AM on July 24, 2019 [32 favorites]


Adam Schiff just spent his 5 minutes doing what I think we all wanted to see done at these hearings. He rattled off everything the Trump campaign did and got a "Yes, that's exactly what happened" from Mueller. If you want to skim this pair of hearings for highlights later, that's one to look up.
posted by saysthis at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2019 [42 favorites]



Adam Schiff just spent his 5 minutes doing what I think we all wanted to see done at these hearings. He rattled off everything the Trump campaign did and got a "Yes, that's exactly what happened" from Mueller. If you want to skim this pair of hearings for highlights later, that's one to look up.

posted by saysthis at 10:22 AM on July 24 [+] [!]


If the Dems had their shit together, they would have worked out a strategy like this and devoted more than just Adam Schiff's time to it. But, you know, pols gotta pol, and face time on the teevee is paramount.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


@cspan
@RepTedLieu: What we established today in the hearing is we have a felon sitting in the White House.
🎥 http://cs.pn/2ya1y26

9:54 AM - 24 Jul 2019
@RepValDemings
President Trump told his lawyer to fire the special prosecutor investigating him.

Think of it this way: if a mayor was under investigation for criminal activity, and fired the police officers investigating him, we would demand that mayor’s immediate removal. #MuellerHearing

10:01 AM - 24 Jul 2019
@RepDMP
I asked #Mueller a very simple question about Trump’s attempts to obstruct: Simply attempting to obstruct justice can be a crime, correct?

Mueller: Yes.

#MuellerTestimony #MuellerHearing @HouseJudiciary

10:04 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]


the contrast b/w schiff's rapidfire back-&-forth with the witness, & nunes' exposition-heavy failure to ask a question the witness can answer is striking.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yes, sallybrown there is. Because we're kind of desperate here. What we needed was a rabid dog of a prosecutor, and what we got was, well, Robert Mueller. Mr. Boring himself and a lifelong Republican who is going as far out of his way to protect Trump as his own belief in his neutrality will let him.

Right now it seems like the USA has:

1) The Republican Party which is fully and unabashedly in favor of Trump.

2) Mueller who is maybe put off by Trump but hates Democrats even more.

3) A Democratic party terrified of its own shadow and unwilling to do anything except viciously and bitterly attack the four Democrats who are actually trying to get shit done.

So yes, we are desperate for any hint that maybe, possibly, there's a way forward and there's a lot of unwarranted hope that somehow Mueller can be shamed or coerced or somethinged into being the man we need instead of the Republican he is.
posted by sotonohito at 10:24 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


Just a note regarding Alexander Downer. He is not a progressive politician. He may have been in the Liberal Party, but in Australia that means he is very definitely a conservative. To suggest otherwise is as ridiculous as suppossing that life-long republican Mueller is involved in a liberal conspiracy.
posted by adept256 at 10:26 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Wow, thanks Devin Nunes for alerting me to this connection between Boris Johnson and the Russian operative who told the Trump campaign that Russia had hacked Clinton campaign emails!
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's a massive flaw in the system.

Is there a legal mechanism in place to force a president to relinquish power at the end of their elected term(s)? I know we have specific law that defines a term, and that prevents seeking a third term in office, but I'm not aware of a formal mechanism that compels a peaceful transfer of power (Article II, Section 1 says "He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years[...]", and Amendment XXII only limits the number of terms).

I don't see any language in the Constitution that specifically says 'the President must peacefully relinquish power at the end of his elected term(s),' and I'm reminded of the anecdote about Kurt Gödel's U.S. citizenship test, and it occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of loophole that nascent-dictator DJT would dive through: "The recent Presidential election results are Fake News!!!! The Fake News Media is lying and this Election was Stolen!! For the Good of the American People, I must remain President until the REAL Election Results are Known!!! Democrats are trying to steal Your Country!!!!!!" And then he would claim that there is no legal mandate that he must step down, and then we either have a dictator or some version of a coup.

Thus my paranoid imaginings lead me to assert that it is essential that DJT is impeached, convicted and removed from office before his term ends, before the election even happens, because I do not think we live in a universe where he will accept electoral defeat and voluntarily, peacefully leave office. Today's hearings--so far--are convincing me that Congressional Democrats (at least, in the House) agree, and that today marks the active, assault phase of a tactical plan. For good or ill, effective or no, House Democrats really seem to be showing their cards here.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:29 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Once again, Mueller gave us everything we need. The problem isn’t with Mueller and these attacks on him as some crypto-Trumpist make people look just as fucking crazy as the Rs on the committees.

The issue is D leadership’s will. Want Trump impeached? Call your rep and Pelosi every day. Make sure your friends do too. Organize daily protests at their offices. For fucks sake the only person who will save us is us and this desire for a silver bullet and the lashing out at people who were never that is ridiculous.
posted by chris24 at 10:31 AM on July 24, 2019 [31 favorites]


The fact that Mueller isn't giving you what you wish for doesn't validate #2. I'm not going to be writing any epic poems about the man but there's no indication he's tried to sandbag anything on partisan lines. #3 is the problem. He's handed over everything House leadership needs to go to war. The fact that he's not stepping up to wage the war himself as they are revealed to be ineffectual dopes doesn't make him someone in the bag for the Republicans. Mueller had a lot of latitude and a bunch of bosses who would have loved to see him say "no reason for me to be here!" bye!" and if he's wanted to produce that kind of report he could have. He did not, by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by phearlez at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


What we needed was a rabid dog of a prosecutor

Well, for some definitions of 'we'. Personally, I try to remember that life is not a story, it has no rehearsals, there is never really any kind of narrative or consensus except after the fact, because it's all just a bunch of individuals acting from a billion different cocktails of motivations and needs and etc. Just because we've all lived our whole lives in the age of mass media doesn't mean that life actually must be a story, that it requires narrative shape or vivid characters. Things rarely happen in emotionally satisfying ways, even if the outcomes may yet be what we desire.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


Mueller who is maybe put off by Trump but hates Democrats even more.

What is this based on? That he didn’t do what Democrats wanted? That wasn’t his job. And the idea that we’re entitled to some version of Robert Mueller who acts out our liberal wishes like a magic genie isn’t how a rule of law country functions.
posted by sallybrown at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [27 favorites]


I don't see any language in the Constitution that specifically says 'the President must peacefully relinquish power at the end of his elected term(s),'

20th Amendment, yo.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Jonathan Allen @jonallendc
I must be watching a different hearing than the rest of the punditry. What I've seen here is Mueller make very clear that he believes the president obstructed justice. That was true in the report, but his testimony went further. It may not be exciting to watch, but it's serious.

9:12 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2019 [41 favorites]


“Apropos of nothing in particular, recall that Trump folded immediately on the government shutdown when flight attendants and air traffic controllers threatened to halt air travel for a few days. There’s a blueprint for beating this guy, and it doesn’t require sending him to jail” @connorsouthard
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 AM on July 24, 2019 [36 favorites]


@froomkin: Essential context from… @charlie_savage: Mueller apparently dropped the ball on the counterintelligence investigation he was charged to pursue… and no one else picked it up.

Seems like something the intelligence committee could ask about...
posted by zachlipton at 10:38 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Heh. Given that the neoconservative era arguably began with Reagan smashing the air traffic controllers' union, it'd be pleasantly poetic if Trump resigned due to a flight shutdown.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:40 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


20th Amendment, yo.

Should have included, thanks. But that still only defines Article II, Section 1 more specifically, pinning it to the calendar. I've still not found any version of a sentence like "the President must peacefully relinquish power at the end of an elected term." It's assumed to be implied, but if one claims that an election is fraudulent (Trump's Mirror: Russia is trying to steal the election for the Democrats!), then one might suspend the end of of a term, pending resolution of the "fraudulent" election.

posted by LooseFilter at 10:41 AM on July 24, 2019


It doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t do. At noon he’s not the President anymore. There is no action required for his term to end, and it is expressly unconstitutional for it to end at any other time.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:42 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


@CBSNews
Rep. Adam Schiff: The Trump campaign officials built their messaging strategy around those stolen documents?

Mueller: Generally, that's true.

Schiff: And then they lied to cover it up?

Mueller: Generally, that's true. #MuellerHearings https://t.co/pjOwNhYtbJ

10:21 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:43 AM on July 24, 2019 [34 favorites]


What the fuck is Turner going on about
posted by gucci mane at 10:45 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


@froomkin: Essential context from… @charlie_savage: Mueller apparently dropped the ball on the counterintelligence investigation he was charged to pursue… and no one else picked it up.

Natasha Bertrand (Politico)
well Mueller said in the report that it was picked up by the FBI.
posted by chris24 at 10:47 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mueller was not there in the role of a prosecutor today. He was there testifying as a witness about his past work as a prosecutor. Further, when prosecutors are in court “when they actually want to get the guy,” they are not acting in a neutral capacity—they’re in an adverse position to the defendant. The neutral party in a prosecution is the judge, not the prosecutor.

One of the few times prosecutors appear as witnesses rather than prosecuting is during an investigation into things like police brutality where they refused to press charges and now politicians or the like are trying to figure out why. The other times prosecutors are in court in a non-prosecutorial function is when they've been called as part of some other trial, in which case they generally do everything they can to help the active prosecution. Yeah, they maintain a professional air, but there's a big difference between a professional air while trying your best to say the words that help the prosecution, and a professional air while trying your best to avoid ever saying any of the words the prosecution is asking you to say, including directly reading the results of your own previous investigation. That latter tendency by Mueller is what most resembles other instances of reluctant prosecution, such as when they are forced to prosecute "one of their own."
posted by chortly at 10:47 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Trump refusing to accept reality and stop making presidential orders only matters so far as anyone listens to the orders. I personally do not see this weak old man barricading himself in the Oval and continuing to run shit because I don't see enough people and divisions going along with it. Running a coup doesn't mean you just start doing the same shit as legit elected people like you're refusing to move aside at the salad bar. It has to be accompanied by an order of magnitude harder coordination of enough folks willing to violate the laws and stomp down the people who try to keep things working the way they're supposed to. These clowns don't have it in them.

The bigger problem is the one we see in Trump's Mirror, where the shit he and his claim about other people always turns out to reflect their belief. All this "deep state" horseshit about existing actors doing everything they can to ignore the will of the lawfully elected administration? That shit keeps me up nights. This bunch of corrupt assholes using those contacts they formed over 4/8 years to keep their grift working under the radar, using some well-placed cohorts who got a taste of the gravy train and willing to keep it rolling? That I believe possible.

But ya know, that's always been the problem even without a gangster as President. See: Epstein. The work of keeping shit honest is never ending and all we can do is keep fighting, forever. If we're lucky we get to elect allies and put transparency and accountability systems in place to make the job more doable and the system harder to game.
posted by phearlez at 10:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Adam Schiff just spent his 5 minutes doing what I think we all wanted to see done at these hearings. He rattled off everything the Trump campaign did and got a "Yes, that's exactly what happened" from Mueller.

@realDonaldTrump wasn't looking forward to this: "I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing. Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff - an Embarrassment to our Country!" (He's also retweeted video clips of Matt Gaetz and John Ratcliffe questioning Mueller.)

#ShiftSchiff is not trending on Twitter, however. Low energy!
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:54 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


@kylegriffin1
A moment that will be replayed:

Schiff: "Well, your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?"

Mueller: "It is not a witch hunt."

Schiff: "When the president said the Russian interference was a hoax, that was false wasn't it?"

Mueller: "True."
Via ABC

10:30 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 10:55 AM on July 24, 2019 [16 favorites]


[Please let's not dig further into predicting whether Trump will step down; let's stick to Mueller.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:56 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mueller just refused to say he found “no evidence” that Manafort met with Assage, and refuses to say that if he found such evidence, it would be in the report.
posted by sallybrown at 10:57 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Imagine this hearing happening 4 months ago, 2 days after the report hit.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2019 [60 favorites]


Sure, but an FBI counterintelligence investigation is something we'll maybe learn about in 75 years if the files aren't conveniently lost by then. FBI counterintelligence investigations are inherently secret. We need to know definitively what the people in the White House did. If someone from the campaign met with Assagne, or if they didn't, that's something we frankly deserve to know the answer to, now, and an FBI investigation isn't going to make that information public. Either members of the campaign were involved in the theft and publication of Clinton's emails or they weren't; refusing to answer is unacceptable in 2019: this is information that Congress needs to know and that voters need to know leading into the next election.

We somehow have a system where "there are emails on a laptop" is news that had to be immediately broadcast to the world on the eve of the election, but "was the President's campaign involved in hacking his opponent" is permanently a state secret.

I do think one thing that comes out of these hearings is that Mueller focused his time and attention much more on Volume I and what Russia did, and much less on Volume II and obstruction, which is why he seems more sharp and knowledgeable in this hearing. And I know we all reasonably jumped to Volume II because it implicates the administration in crimes, but the core of the issue is all found in Volume I, as Rep. Speier is demonstrating now, and Trump continues to insist it's all a hoax as McConnell blocks every effort to improve election security. And the most serious ongoing impeachable conduct in the report (setting racism and everything else to another category) is not obstruction, it's the repeated refusal to acknowledge an attack on our country and refusing to take steps to stop it from happening again. And Mueller seems more animated when the hearing focuses on that.
posted by zachlipton at 11:04 AM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Mueller corrects his comments to Lieu (Guardian)
Mueller opened his appearance before the House intelligence committee by correcting his earlier comments to Democratic representative Ted Lieu.

While testfiying before the House judiciary committee this morning, Mueller seemed to imply that he would have charged Trump if he were not a sitting president. A longstanding policy from the Office of Legal Counsel warns against indicting sitting presidents.

Lieu asked Mueller this morning, “The reason you did not indict Donald Trump... is because of the OLC decision. Is that correct?” Mueller replied, “That is correct.”

But Mueller corrected himself before the intelligence committee. He said that the OLC policy in fact prevented him from making a determination on whether Trump should be charged.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:07 AM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


@RepTedLieu
FACT: There’s substantial evidence that @POTUS obstructed justice. It’s clear that anyone else would be facing criminal prosecution. The #MuellerReport does NOT exonerate the president. #RetweetTheReport #MuellerHearings

10:58 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 11:11 AM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


Sure, but an FBI counterintelligence investigation is something we'll maybe learn about in 75 years if the files aren't conveniently lost by then. FBI counterintelligence investigations are inherently secret. We need to know definitively what the people in the White House did.

I can't speak to anything beyond the rightness of your point, and hopefully this isn't liveblogging, but Rep. Quigley (IL) just asked a lot of leading questions specifically about statutes of limitations if Trump gets a 2nd term. At least indirectly, this point was made, but you're right

If someone from the campaign met with Assagne, or if they didn't, that's something we frankly deserve to know the answer to, now,

I hope we get it.
posted by saysthis at 11:13 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nothing was accomplished. I went to the BBC to read their take on it, and most of the page is filled with the twitter updates from the expected right-wing commentators getting the message out to the faithful, "Shameful." "No news." "Witch hunt by democrats."

We're not working against rational humans. The logical mulligan you're hoping will appear to change their beliefs will never appear. You are fighting a religion. You can't fight that with logic. The Republic is doomed, because the Republic was based on Enlightenment ideals of rational thought. The majority of the population that counts (in the less populous states with voting clout due to the Electoral College) do not want their religious beliefs changed. They will not listen.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:20 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


The republican questions are qanon-level bullshit. That's all they have! They're really trying to paint him as some arch-conspirator. Meanwhile the dems are getting the facts out there and I love it.
posted by adept256 at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


The facts matter to us on Metafilter. They don't matter to the folks main-lining Fox News.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:22 AM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


OK this is definitely liveblogging, but this is real, just off the CBS News livestream on Youtube during the break (paraphrasing): "The Republicans did not attempt to refute any of the foundational truths the Democrats established (those being what was in the report). Their questions were all focused on the origins of the investigation."

That's been my impression so far. Republicans are going to try to smear Mueller as politically biased + say "individuals in the Trump campaign did try to get info, but there wasn't enough to establish criminal conspiracy". I think that's the tone we're going to get in the next few weeks.
posted by saysthis at 11:23 AM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Mueller testimony: key takeaways on the Trump-Russia investigation (Guardian) (for the morning hearing at least)
  • Trump was not exonerated.
  • Mueller and his team were never going to indict Trump.
  • Trump could be charged with a crime after leaving office.
  • Republicans focused on discrediting Mueller.
  • Mueller says he did not seek FBI director job.
  • Mueller confirms several episodes of possible obstruction.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:23 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


Lieu asked Mueller this morning, “The reason you did not indict Donald Trump... is because of the OLC decision. Is that correct?” Mueller replied, “That is correct.”

But Mueller corrected himself before the intelligence committee. He said that the OLC policy in fact prevented him from making a determination on whether Trump should be charged.


If this sounds like the same thing twice (it did to me at first), the difference is this: His answer to Leiu could be interpreted as "Were it not for the OLC, I would have indicted" in other words, admitting a private, positive belief in the president's guilt. His correction is a clarification of the stance he's always held, which is that he's simply prohibited from making any determination of guilt at all, though not prohibited from exoneration.

If that's still (very understandably) confusing, imagine that Mueller's perception of someone's guilt is encoded on a traffic light. Red means that it looks beyond a reasonable doubt, probably guilty as sin, definitely prosecute. Yellow means suspicious and maybe refer to prosecution. Green means that successful prosecution would be highly unlikely, for example because they have an airtight alibi or a sufficient technicality to hide in.

If he thinks the situaiton is green, he can say so, but he can't declare a distinction between yellow and red. When it came to the possibility of conspiracy-related crimes, he more or less said it was green, but when it came to obstruction, he said "redyellow".
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:28 AM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


The republican questions are qanon-level bullshit.

This would be a lot more heartening if not for the fact that qanon-level bullshit has been tremendously successful at keeping the republican base engaged and committed. The bullshit isn't meant to convince you to change sides, it's meant to convince them that they were right all along.
posted by tocts at 11:28 AM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


The republican questions are qanon-level bullshit.

This would be a lot more heartening if not for the fact that qanon-level bullshit has been tremendously successful at keeping the republican base engaged and committed.


There is no daylight between QAnon-level bullshit and modern mainstream conservative thought.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2019 [32 favorites]


> wierdo: "I can understand, given the shit storm surrounding us, why it is people are wishing for fireworks, but it's actively counterproductive for us to act like Mueller's testimony is a nothingburger just because there aren't fireworks on a level sufficient to assuage our anxiety."
The Right spread the narrative that unless there's a new huge revelation or 3, then the hearings are a waste. My biggest frustration is that the Dems suck at this game.
posted by theora55 at 11:43 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Castro is doing an excellent job.
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 AM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


There is no daylight between QAnon-level bullshit and modern mainstream conservative thought.

In fact it appears that Ilhan Omar's republican challenger (one of them?) is a hard core Qanoner.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:43 AM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


I mean, what’s the point of any of this if we can’t, years later, have definitive answers (or at least a "that was fully investigated to my satisfaction and we found no basis to conclude") from a neutral investigator on such basic questions as did Cohen go to Prague or was there something up with the Alfa Bank server?

I think a lot of us hoped that the Mueller investigation would be like a 9/11 Commission that would definitively, to the extent possible, resolve the question of what happened. Instead, we're still getting a lot of "can't get into that."

----

Russia's actions in a nutshell: "It wasn't a single event. They're doing it as we sit here, and they'll expect to do it the next campaign"
posted by zachlipton at 11:50 AM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


Mueller on Trump: Everything the Special Counsel’s Report Says the President Did, Said or KnewLawfare, July 22, 2019:
“Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday, and members will no doubt ask him repeatedly for his views and findings about President Trump. Mueller has made clear that he has no intention of going beyond what he said in the report itself, which he called “his testimony.” He will likely be firmest on this point with respect to the sensitive issue of presidential conduct.

So for those who want to figure out what Mueller has said about Trump, here is a list: all of Trump’s actions as detailed in the Mueller report.

This list includes everything Trump said or did, actions others recall him taking, and recollections of when Trump was informed of events and facts relevant to the investigation. In other words, it’s an account of everything the president did, said or knew, according to the Mueller report.

Each of the following section headers and excerpts is presented verbatim and sequentially as they appear in the report. We have included responses to or circumstances surrounding the president’s actions only to the extent that they provide necessary context.”
Bullet point by bullet point.
posted by cenoxo at 11:51 AM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Republican Will Hurt was a breath of fresh air, to my surprise. He asked questions inviting Mueller to talk about what Russia did (as opposed to what Trump did) and what Russia and other copy-cats might do in the future, and what we might do to stop them. Mueller was eager to talk about this subject and went beyond one word answers.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:53 AM on July 24, 2019 [21 favorites]


@atrupar
Rep @JoaquinCastrotx points out that Trump and Cohen lied about having business dealings in Russia during the campaign -- and Russia knew they were lying, which potentially made them vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail.

11:46 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


(Hurd, not Hurt, if you're googling for it.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:04 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


>> The president cannot be inducted while in office. He is not above the law because he can be indicted after removal or after his term ends. However while he holds office, he is necessarily immune, and this is why is is so important not to elect a criminal as president.

> There has to be a way to deal with the nearly guaranteed threat of the president taking advantage of the time until they're out of office to destroy evidence if we're going to do it this way. It's a massive flaw in the system.


and it's a flaw that monsters have been exploiting since at least andrew jackson.

although the u.s. constitution is generally understood as specifying the rules for a democratic republic, the power granted to the executive means that at any time the government can flip over to caesarism without skipping a beat.

(i'm not like a constitutional scholar but i've read that this damage can pretty much entirely be laid at the feet of yr obedient servant a dot ham, who initially wanted to make washington the monarch of america and who compromised by fighting for an executive strong enough to be a monarch in everything but name.)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:05 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


@RepValDemings
Special Counsel Mueller, in reference to President Trump’s campaign taking Russian assistance instead of calling the FBI: “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

It’s our job to hold people accountable and prevent that from happening. #MuellerHearings

12:04 PM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Nunes (R-CA): "What we're trying to work out, Mr Mueller, is whether Boris Johnson is compromised."

Representative Nunes proceeded to hurl a cloud of glitter into the air and disappeared, shouting "JASON DERULO"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Nunes really seems to be fishing for specific info.
posted by gucci mane at 12:18 PM on July 24, 2019


Mueller: "Much more needs to be done in order to protect against this intrusion, not just Russians but others as well."
posted by box at 12:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I love that we're supposed to be outraged that Joseph Mifsud was described as a Russian spy, because he was seen associating with Western government officials, something that Russian spies never do
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:21 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


@RepValDemings
Special Counsel Mueller just confirmed to me that the president in his written answers did not give sufficient answers, or simply avoided answering, or gave answers that contradicted other information. #MuellerHearings

12:14 PM - 24 Jul 2019
@RepValDemings
Special Counsel Mueller just told me that President Trump was generally not truthful in the statements he gave under oath to the investigation. #MuellerHearings

12:18 PM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by Little Dawn at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [24 favorites]


Hurd baaaaaarely won his election in a very purple district (103,285 to 102,359) and he knows his best shot at remaining in office is acting above the partisan divide. I mean, he might actually be super-conscientous--I hope he is--but this is also a really smart political play for him. Either defending or undermining Trump is tricky territory for him, best to focus on Russia.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:25 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Hurd may appear/act like a rational, reasonable human being, but he still votes with Trump 80% of the time. Hell, I went to high school with the guy, but I still won't vote for him.
posted by maddieD at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Schiff: Knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a presidential campaign is an unethical thing to do.

Mueller: And a crime.

Schiff: It's also unpatriotic.

Schiff: True.

Schiff: And wrong.

Mueller: True.

....

Schiff: We should hold our elected officials to a higher standard than mere avoidance of criminality?

Mueller: Absolutely.

....

Schiff: The need to act in an ethical manner is not just a moral one, but, when people act unethically, it exposes them to compromise.

Mueller: True.

....

Schiff: If you are exposed, you can be blackmailed.

Mueller: True.

....

Schiff, paraphrased: DOJ has to decide to prosecute for campaign finance and obstruction when the president is out of office. We must look into money laundering, people in the administration that shouldn't have security clearances, and money from Gulf countries. We must protect our elections, because accepting foreign help is disloyal, unethical, and wrong.
posted by box at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2019 [50 favorites]


Mikel Jollett:
SCHIFF: Trump and his campaign welcomed & encouraged Russian interference?

MUELLER: Yes.

SCHIFF: And then Trump and his campaign lied about it to cover it up?

MUELLER: Yes.

This alone is enough to impeach the President of the United States.
VIDEO


Tom Nichols:
Schiff’s five minutes and Mueller’s answers would have been enough for Republicans to impeach and convict any other president before sundown today.
posted by chris24 at 12:32 PM on July 24, 2019 [118 favorites]


Alex Moe: "We are told Speaker Pelosi will join House Intel Chair Schiff and House Judiciary Chair Nadler for a press conference at approximately 4:45pm following today’s two Mueller hearings per a committee spox."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:08 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


If that press conference isn't to announce the opening of an official impeachment investigation process, I'm going to set something on fire.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2019 [36 favorites]


If that press conference isn't to announce the opening of an official impeachment investigation process, I'm going to set something on fire.

It's gonna be. Optimists for the win!
posted by diogenes at 1:14 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


Maybe the MegaThread had to die for impeachment to live.
posted by diogenes at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [76 favorites]


> Maybe the MegaThread had to die for impeachment to live.

if the end of game of thrones had sucked less i'd be making jokes about azor ahai and lightbringer right now.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:19 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


The revolution will not be mega threaded
posted by The Whelk at 1:19 PM on July 24, 2019 [52 favorites]


Garry Kasparov @Kasparov63:
The Mueller hearing is a show and all of the Reps are grandstanding. But the Democrats are doing it to impress voters while all the Republicans are only trying to impress Trump. That’s a huge difference, democracy vs autocracy.
9:16 AM - 24 Jul 2019
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [39 favorites]


"Well things are winding down, I guess we don't need these megathreads anymore"

*Impeachment happens*
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [32 favorites]


if the end of game of thrones had sucked less i'd be making jokes about azor ahai and lightbringer right now.

Tyrion: “and who has a better story than Bran?”

Mueller: “I have nothing to say about that.”
posted by sallybrown at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


So it was our fault all along. All we needed to do was to sacrifice the megathreads!
posted by srboisvert at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Okay. Fine. You win. Put the megathreads in the wicker man.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 1:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [30 favorites]


Psst, guys, you're jinxing it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [31 favorites]


[extended Logan's Run metaphor that only five nerds will care about]
posted by mightygodking at 1:25 PM on July 24, 2019 [20 favorites]


Gonna assume they're announcing self-impeachment proceedings until proven otherwise.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Or an official end to the Russia Hoax.
posted by pjenks at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Nunes really seems to be fishing for specific info.

Directorate S is down an officer since Rohrbacher's cover got blown.
posted by mabelstreet at 1:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


> Psst, guys, you're jinxing it.

mueller is a republican cop and the democrats are useless and pelosi is going to say that the corruption dosimeter reads 3.6 roentgen (not great, not terrible) and nothing will happen.

there are you satisfied.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [27 favorites]


anyone have a link for the pelosi presser
posted by lazaruslong at 1:48 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


CSPAN may have it. Also it’s been pushed to 5:15 Eastern.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:50 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]




damn. really don't wanna stay at work till then.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:51 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


If you were reading a novel where the U.S. President kept praising Russia and claiming that he had no business dealings with Russia, but it turned out he was trying to build a huge fucking skyscraper, with his name on it, in Russia, said novel would probably have some events precipitate from said revelation. Let's see if reality acts in a similar way!

Chekhov's Skyscraper, I call it
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:52 PM on July 24, 2019 [26 favorites]


Reality has lost all conceptual form of narrative, it’s useless to use books or “the writers” or anything as some sort of metaphor or even as a joke. Our times are post-modern. Narratives are dead.
posted by gucci mane at 1:54 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Trump is currently trumping (NBC News).
posted by Little Dawn at 1:56 PM on July 24, 2019


CSPAN is too cute: President Trump White House Departure (current yelling at the press conference)
posted by Little Dawn at 2:03 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


i will say (contra the president right now) that mueller did well today: he was the kind of witness i would aspire to be.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:05 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


> sallybrown: "Mueller just refused to say he found “no evidence” that Manafort met with Assage, and refuses to say that if he found such evidence, it would be in the report."
Reminds me of the libraries who have a sign about the Patriot Act.
posted by theora55 at 2:18 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


C-SPAN, being C-SPAN, is currently running footage of people sitting around waiting for the Pelosi/Schiff/Nadler presser to start. One of the attendees just called out to the person standing at the front, 'Do a dramatic reading of the Mueller report!'
posted by box at 2:19 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


CSPAN is too cute: President Trump White House Departure (current yelling at the press conference)

Check out Trump claiming that Mueller "never had the right to exonerate", despite boasting "Total EXONERATION" when Barr announced his misleading summary of the Mueller report. Trump then began yelling about a "witch hunt" and repeatedly shouting at a reporter for being "fake news". He is going to be a mess tonight at his fundraiser.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Fox News' headline: "Nunes: 'There is collusion between Russia and the Democratic Party'"

Thanks guys. Please keep pushing that line. It's absolutely worth it if we get secure elections as a result. Only the crazy people will agree with your assessment of who benefited, but even they will demand we better protect our elections.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


You guys want Mueller to be a partisan actor. But if he appears as a partisan actor at all, then his credibility is shot. The findings of the report would be dismissed by anyone who is not already firmly in the anti-Trump camp. The only way Mueller can make an impact at all, is by seeming completely non-partisan, and thus reaching people who are not already aligned with the Democrats and the anti-Trump movement.

I go back and forth on whether I agree with this. Part of the counterpoint is that Republicans will paint him as a partisan actor no matter what. But mostly I think the counterpoint is this:

The big question for most people is not so much "did Trump do X or Y" as "does it really matter." The investigation about him is intricate, the details are dense, and most of us, living our lives, do not have the bandwidth to process everything. The day-to-day is really hard for most of us, we're super stressed just living; I care about this stuff more than many people I know, and still I don't have the bandwidth to follow it fully. Most people, including those not cocooned in the Fox world, still believe the report exonerated Trump simply because those were the headlines immediately following release, and they don't have the time or the interest to follow up in depth. For "people not already aligned with the Democrats and the anti-Trump movement" the sentiment seems to be "There was some stuff with the Russians, but he didn't do anything really wrong, and who cares, it's too complicated."

What changes people's minds on "who cares", regarding an issue that takes way too much time and bandwidth for them to actually follow in detail?

I'd argue the answer is that people calibrate their reactions based on other people's reactions. If you're somewhere in the middle, politically speaking, you probably expect Republicans to say the President is fine and Democrats to say he's the Devil. But here you have Mueller, the one person (obviously not, but he represents the rest of his team) who has the most information about what Trump did and didn't do. You know he's a Republican, highly respected, considered supremely professional. He's about as close to neutral as you're going to get. Whether consciously or unconsciously, you're going to look to him as a barometer indicating how you seriously you should take the accusations.

Is what Trump did serious enough to disturb this guy? If what the Democrats are saying is true -- that the Trump presidency is a horror, that Trump is a real and present danger to American democracy as we know it -- then you would expect Mueller to be horrified. You would expect it to be impossible for him not to be horrified by something truly bad. You would expect some of that horror to show through. You might expect the kind of true patriot he's depicted as being to show at least a little emotion or passion, or to take an adamant stand in the face of an actual threat to American democracy, and in the face of a president who is a danger to his country.

Mueller doesn't show that. The NY Times has a headline right now that reads "Mueller Sticks to Script but Shows Flashes of Indignation". Indignation is what you feel when someone cuts in front of you in line. Indignation is what you might feel towards or on behalf of Taylor Swift. If what Mueller found isn't enough to make him take a stand -- to speak up when Barr railroads him, to show independence in the face of DOJ restrictions, to burst the bounds of careful bloodless speech and do something that reflects a real depth of feeling -- then I think many people will reasonably draw the conclusion that maybe he doesn't really feel that bothered. Which means maybe all this isn't something we need to be all that bothered by.

Precisely because he's seen as independent, I wanted to see an "it breaks my heart but I must come to the following conclusions" type of reaction from Mueller. I wanted to see a refusal to let the DOJ have its way, because how can someone who believes the DOJ is controlled by a corrupt administration let its corruption play out. I wanted to see Mueller give all those non-aligned people some emotional cue to follow, because at the end of the day that is what makes something feel real and serious. And most of all because the absence of that emotional power makes things feel like business as usual.

Republicans are really good at playing to emotion. Trump is ridiculously good at it - it's basically his whole thing. And while the success of their manufactured outrage is depressing as hell, it does reflect a really important truth about how most humans evaluate the things we're not directly affected by. We take our cues from the people around us. We take others' lack of emotional excitement as a sign that there's nothing to get excited about.

I wish Mueller had provided an unambiguous cue.
posted by trig at 2:25 PM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Nunes (R-CA) is very angry that the U.S. government surveilled Erik Prince when he met with Russian agents in the Seychelles.

I mean, honestly I would be mildly angry if they hadn't surveilled Erik Prince when he met with Russian agents in the Seychelles, but that's just me
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [38 favorites]


Doktor Zed: Even more amusingly, the question Mueller was asked in the lame attempt to help push that narrative was whether or not the Attorney General (aka Bill Barr) has the power to exonerate someone. It seemed like a rather strange angle for a Republican to take, but now I get it and my brain is worse for it, given the complete inanity of the entire chain of "logic."
posted by wierdo at 2:28 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of us hoped that the Mueller investigation would be like a 9/11 Commission that would definitively, to the extent possible, resolve the question of what happened. Instead, we're still getting a lot of "can't get into that."

Josh Marshall has more on this idea: ‘We Must Find Out’ (paywalled, excerpted below)
Through countless debates over recent months we’ve had one core issue. We relied on a criminal investigation with the Trump/Russia scandal rather than an investigative commission or true congressional inquiry. That flawed decision is at the heart of most of what was discussed today.

Normally, prosecutors should investigate and indict or not indict and that is it. That was the repeated claim from Committee Republicans today and if it’s a conventional criminal probe they’re right. To them, there really shouldn’t have been a Report at all. Indeed, because the President couldn’t be indicted he shouldn’t even have been investigated at all. All of these claims make sense if you buy into the premise that this is a conventional criminal investigation – something the current Special Counsel guidelines leave ambiguous.

In practice it’s not true.

What the public has needed and to a great degree expected was not specific indictments or non-indictments but answers on what actually happened. Illumination rather than prosecution is what is really critical, especially since the most serious kinds of wrongdoing may not be crimes. That fact, by the enfolded logic of the probe, meant that the most critical information remained confidential, with the possibility of real disclosure in the hands of Bill Barr, the President’s fixer.

Because the only real investigation is a criminal one, we’re told that it’s really not ours to know. The only question we get an answer to is whether there was sufficient evidence to mount a criminal prosecution. That’s a legitimate legal standard. It’s all but meaningless as a civic, democratic standard. We got some information in the Report. But we didn’t get to see any of the key witnesses testimony. We can’t ask the chief investigators the most basic questions about what they found. Mueller and his team say we get some information, the Report. Republicans say we should get none. Both operate, however, on the basic premise that this is a criminal investigation and the public’s right to know is highly circumscribed by a thicket of DOJ guidelines and Bill Barr’s efforts to protect Donald Trump. To a significant degree, they’re right. That’s why a public investigation, a congressional investigation are absolutely critical.
The question now is whether that's going to be the investigation that Congress carries out, under the banner of an impeachment inquiry or not. But even if that happens——and given the fact there's apparently no consequences for disregarding subpoenas from Congress, I have little hope of that——, an inherently-partisian Congressional investigation is still not the same thing as the independent Mueller investigation, which was run by someone most of the country, at least those not entirely brain damaged by Fox News, could agree was broadly trustworthy. The Mueller investigation was our one shot to have one broadly accepted national source of truth of what happened, and we learned a lot from it, but because of Mueller's decisions and the strictures of a criminal investigation, there are still entirely too many questions left unanswered, answers that voters need to have as the President runs for re-election.
posted by zachlipton at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


A House leadership flack (?) just gave what sounded like an informal preview to the assembled reporters. Sounds like prep for a lot of cold water on impeachment talk. Needing more time for investigations, etc. Cited some of the Dem candidates who have called for same. Prepare for probable disappointment here, folks. Here's the livestream.

Although, per Manu Raju:
Pelosi just privately told her members that they need to stay focused - but also indicated that if they need to support an impeachment inquiry, she respects that and must do what’s best for their district, per sources. She said Dems need to move forward in courts

She also indicated that they must have strongest possible case before any impeachment inquiry - in line with what she has said in past. She’ll address media momentarily and we will get a sense on where she stands and if she’s shifted at all
Pressuring congressional Dems in the August recess will be critical.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter Life in 2019: Prepare for probable disappointment here, folks.

So we can bring back the megathreads, yes?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]




That was the deal. Megathreads for Impeachment Inquiry.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:41 PM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


Today's testimony has really separated the glass is 10% full people from the glass is 90% empty people.
posted by peeedro at 2:44 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


That was the deal. Megathreads for Impeachment Inquiry.

*Cortex, breathing noisily*: I have latered the Megathread. Pray I do not later it further.

yes, I misspelled it on purpose
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


I had assumed that Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff are late (even by congressional briefing room standards) because The Squad has locked them in a broom closet to try to change their minds, but apparently they had to run out to FedEx Kinko's to get a visual aid (one that I can't read on the low-res C-SPAN feed) printed up.

EDIT: OK they zommed in and it's legible now.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:48 PM on July 24, 2019


Why would you hold a press conference just to announce you're gonna do they same thing you were already doing? I guess politicians gonna politic?
posted by Justinian at 2:49 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Pelosi's starting now, described it as 'a crossing of a threshold in public awareness.'
posted by box at 2:49 PM on July 24, 2019


Starting off with the usual Democratic party smoothness of Pelosi calling her own visual aid a "contradictory chart".
posted by tonycpsu at 2:50 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


That was the deal. Megathreads for Impeachment Inquiry.

Ahh, I see we're up to the bargaining stage of grief. :D
posted by SpaceBass at 2:55 PM on July 24, 2019 [30 favorites]


From the D caucus meeting before the presser. Call your reps and keep calling. Pay them a visit.

Manu Raju (CNN):
Pelosi just privately told her members that they need to stay focused - but also indicated that if they need to support an impeachment inquiry, she respects that and must do what’s best for their district, per sources. She said Dems need to move forward in courts ...
* “She is open to it. She is open to it,” Jackie Speier said of Pelosi, adding that she believes she sounded more open to impeachment than she has previously, per @SunlenSerfaty
posted by chris24 at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


"we are begging the American people, please don't make us step up"

"Do it for us"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:00 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Elijah Cummings with a civics lesson, in which we learn that the American people are in charge of impeaching the President.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:01 PM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


Chart = weak start. Cummings = impassioned and needed here. But the message of "Please, you tell us, should we impeach? Leave a comment below" is not welcomed.

FWIW, I have been hounding my rep about this. Keeps pushing it off. "We'll wait. Not time yet." That's just not working well.
posted by hijinx at 3:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Pelosi (and her poster): "Ten instances of obstruction, no exoneration." She also talks about House committees investigating Trump financial stuff.

Nadler: "Russia's interference in the 2016 election and the president's cooperation with it and obstruction of justice.... The report said the president could be indicted for obstruction of justice after he leaves office." "President Trump went to great lenghts to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation... only the opinion that you cannot indict a sitting president is saving the president from indictment... the president's chant of 'no obstruction' is nonsense, his chant that he has been 'totally exonerated' is a simple lie."

Schiff: "Russia intervened massively, systematically... the Trump campaign welcomed foreign assistance... and then lied about it." "One of the most chilling moments was when [Mueller] expressed the fear that this will be the new normal." "The president still will not forswear accepting foreign help again." "We go into this next election more vulnerable [to Russian interference] than we should be."

Cummings: Refers to Amash getting a round of applause when he says the president should be impeached, and to a lady who said "I didn't know there was anything negative in the Mueller report about President Trump." Refers to Pelosi saying that we need to paint a picture for America, and that people in 3, 4, 500 years will ask "What did you do when we had a president who knew the rules and knew that our founding fathers had done a great job of creating a constitution... but never anticipated that we would have a president that would just throw away the guardrails?... It was a giant step in making sure that the American people got a look at everything that happened... and will hopefully say, in the future, 'we're not gonna have this.'"... "I'm begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on, because if you want to have a democracy intact... we have got to guard this moment."
posted by box at 3:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


What the FUCK is this SHITSHOW of a Press Conference??? NOTHING about impeachment. NOTHING.
posted by odinsdream at 3:04 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


"I'm begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on, because if you want to have a democracy intact... we have got to guard this moment."

Love to have the emergency room physician thrust a copy of Gray's Anatomy at me and beg me to read up fast because that artery's sure gushing out a lot of blood
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:05 PM on July 24, 2019 [40 favorites]


THIS IS PATHETIC
posted by odinsdream at 3:05 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


ONE of these damn reporters better ask the simple question, "What is it about ALL of these criminal actions that you STILL don't think rises to the level of impeachment?"

OH. my GOD. And the way she's flat-out denying that her own party's members have STRONGLY demanded immediate action, oh my God.
posted by odinsdream at 3:07 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Reporter: "What are you waiting... what do you need to know before impeachment?"

Pelosi: Live court cases to get information. "This isn't endless. Understand that." "Watergate was when they got the information, the tapes that built the case." "The WH is engaged in a massive cover-up and obstruction of justice." "If we focus on that path, we should go in the strongest possible way."
posted by box at 3:07 PM on July 24, 2019


Pelosi just now, paraphrased: Trump committed obstruction that would get anybody who's not the president indicted... and himself indicted after he leaves office.

Edit: Added "and himself indicted" for clarity.
posted by Rykey at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2019


"Speaker Pelosi, some people though this might mean something. What do you say to that?"

"I say 'lol'"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:09 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


That was a disaster. And now Pelosi is effectively saying that she won't impeach, which is even more of a disaster.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:09 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Cummings: "We have been stonewalled. All of us have." "We are gathering information, and we are met with significant force." "All of that information, piece by piece, is like a mosaic--it paints a picture."

Pelosi: "I've never said impeachment would die in the Senate. If we have a case, a strong case, that's where it needs to go." "The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for letting the president off the hook."
posted by box at 3:09 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Pelosi: "The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for letting the President off the hook."

So she's doing this for optics. As if anyone's going to care if the Senate vote is "47 Yes, 53 No" or "47 Yes, 53 Hell No".
posted by tonycpsu at 3:11 PM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


If I were Trump I'd burst into the middle of this thing and spike a football.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Reporter: What did these hearings change?

Pelosi: "We want to have the strongest possible case... but if it comes to a point where the cone of silence and the obstruction of justice and the cover-up... they will not prevent us from moving forward."

Cummings: Per MLK, "there comes a point where silence is betrayal. And we're not going to betray the American people."

Nadler: "Today was a watershed day in telling the facts to the American people... Richard Nixon said he thought the president was a dictator--if the president does it, it's not illegal." Trump said under Article 2, he can do whatever he wants. That's not democracy, it's dictatorship. "A president who engages in repeated crimes to cover up unpatriotic and dictatorial actions.. this cannot go on. It is up to Congress to protect the Constitution, and we will do it."

Schiff: Trump Tower demonstrated disloyalty to the country. It's a vivid example of the greed and lies of people on the campaign. That's the story of the 2016 election, and we need to make sure it's not the story of the 2020. "Maybe it's the former prosecutor in me, but, before I bought a case to indictment, I wanted to be sure I had the strongest evidence possible." "Before we embark on a course as significant as the impeachment of the president, I want to make sure we can make that case to the American people."

Pelosi: Quotes Lincoln, "Public sentiment is everything."
posted by box at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2019


Second only to voting for the Iraq War, perhaps the most shameful day in the history of the modern Democratic Party
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


Pelosi looks very uncomfortable up there, and seems rather unwilling to impeach, no matter the evidence, going forward. Strongest words were spoken by Cummings, Schiff and Nadler.

And Pelosi just now said that if "we" go down the path of impeachment, we want it to be unifying for the country.

Completely out of touch.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Paraphrasing Cummings: "People will be reading 400, 500 years in the future about what we did here today..."

Well, there was a chart.

I understand this approach and strategy. I question its effectiveness.
posted by hijinx at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Looks like I'm going to be passing this bottle of Impeachment Wine down to my grandchildren.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:18 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Everyone up there is ready to begin impeachment except Pelosi. The statements of Nadler, Cummings and Schiff are completely at odds with her statements. I don't know exactly what that means, but I don't think it's good.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:19 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


Wow, tough crowd. Never mind that there is literally work ongoing to enforce the subpoenas and that it is entirely sensible to have as much actual evidence, as opposed to media reports of whispers about evidence, before formally initiating an impeachment inquiry. Never mind that it's good politics to hammer on this when they are home over the break.

Please do call your Representatives and pressure them to do the right thing. Please do convince everyone you can that impeachment is necessary. Please stop giving people reasons to continue their electoral apathy by slagging on people who just said they are on your damn side. All you're doing is perpetuating the ridiculous narrative of Democrats being weak and ineffectual. They, like all of us who are not part of the group of fascists currently running the executive branch are literally victims of a treasonous and unlawful conspiracy.
posted by wierdo at 3:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [16 favorites]


"The stronger our case is, the worse the Senate will look for letting the president off the hook."

This is a good thing to say. Impeachment IS optics. That's all it is. It's an asterisk next to his name, and it's a means to control the narrative, the energy, and the attack. It's not an "action". It's not an arrest. (We do need arrests! Contempt of congress needs teeth!)

I still want us to impeach. But I have a twofold worry that this isn't the right House leadership to do the job, and that this isn't the right electorate to recognize what the job truly is. Even if impeachment happened, Pelosi and Schumer would say and do some pretty stupid things. They would score some own goals because they are not equipped to recognize the current reality. After that, certain segments of the left would treat those own-goals as an actual factor in the outcome of acquittal, as if that outcome were not pre-ordained (rather like how Republicans are acting like Mueller made an active, personal choice to not indict). You had one job, Schumer, we gave you instructions, Pelosi, and you screwed up and now he's going to serve out the rest of his term, because you zigged instead of zagging.

Any narrative that the outcome, in terms of the actual fate of Individual-1, is not pre-ordained... that narrative would twist the mainstream news takes, which are already primed for horse-race drama. They would happily define and re-define criminality itself just to stay "neutral". And it would twist the left into redefining the degree to which Republicans can be (could have been) strong-armed into decency.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


"...but the core of the issue is all found in Volume I, as Rep. Speier is demonstrating now, and Trump continues to insist it's all a hoax as McConnell blocks every effort to improve election security. And the most serious ongoing impeachable conduct in the report (setting racism and everything else to another category) is not obstruction, it's the repeated refusal to acknowledge an attack on our country and refusing to take steps to stop it from happening again. And Mueller seems more animated when the hearing focuses on that."

I'm not happy about it, but I think the key to making sense of this is that Mueller believes that, in the long run, the greater threat to the US is the normalization of this kind of foreign interference, especially candidates (Presidential candidates!) taking advantage of it or cooperating with it, and the lesser threat to the US is Donald Trump in particular. Also that the politics of impeaching Trump are unfavorable while the politics of getting people to take the problem of this kind of subversion of democracy are somewhat more favorable.

I mean, I think that political analysis is correct and while I am certain that I think Trump is a much bigger threat to the US than Mueller does, I fear Trump has already personally done about as much damage as he's going to. (Or, I fervently hope so because the alternative is too painful to contemplate.)

With that in mind, I'm not that disappointed with Mueller. I certainly wish I lived in the alternate universe where he is a zealot, but I don't. In this universe, I've been very worried right from the beginning that the horror-show of Trump was obscuring how serious the Russian interference campaign was; how much it was proof of concept and a genie that will be difficult to put back in the bottle. That it's not just Russia to worry about and when in the future it's the GOP's ox that's gored they'll deeply regret their complacence. That we all will.

Again, I very much believe that Trump is damaging the Presidency and the country in numerous respects that are terrible and will be difficult to repair -- I'm pretty sure I believe this much more strongly than Mueller does. But I've been appalled at how complacent people have been about this interference/hacking campaign from the very beginning. It's surprised me -- both with regard to the left and the right.

I guess what I'm saying is that Mueller's behavior makes more sense if you accept that what he believes is the bigger threat isn't what many of us believe. And it may well be the awful political reality that even if he's got his priorities reversed, there's never been any chance that Congress could be convinced of it. I hate that idea, but it's very plausible. In that scenario, then, a zealous Mueller might have undermined the case made about the interference -- that's been Trump's line all along, that it's a "hoax" created by Clinton partisans. The one thing he definitely didn't do today was validate that claim. And while that might not matter yet, it may well come to matter in the next few years. I don't want this episode to be thought of the way Whitewater is thought of, that it was 100% partisan. I hope that a consensus forms that, yes, this really happened and it was very bad and we need to ensure it doesn't happen again. This version of Mueller probably is aiming for that outcome and it may be the case that it's the least worst tack to take.

Make no mistake: I'm bitterly disappointed. What is right and just is that Trump would already have been impeached. I'm not making excuses for Pelosi's feet of clay because what's right is right. And her political calculus could be completely wrong. But I hope with all my heart that this particular course of events means that interference campaigns like this one are taken more seriously than they have been up to now.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:29 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Can the Speaker be replaced...I don't know the right terms...during the current 'congress'? Is that harder than primarying a strong incumbant?
posted by j_curiouser at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2019


One way or another, this will be the outcome for Trump.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:33 PM on July 24, 2019


Sorry, that came off much more shouty than I intended. I understand the sense of urgency. It would be warranted if only because kids are being stuffed into cages, but for many other reasons besides. People are being harmed. Our institutions are being harmed. I get it. It's messing with my mental health, too.

However, the more prepared Congress and the electorate are, the more likely we are to succeed. And even if we do succeed in ousting our treasonous rapist-in-chief, all that gets us is President Pence. It doesn't actually solve any of the underlying problems. It only solves the problem of having to see Trump's face and hear his voice on a daily basis.
posted by wierdo at 3:35 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Somewhere in rural Iowa, one semi-racist old white man thinks idly about voting D because Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to talk about impeachment. Success!!
posted by benzenedream at 3:39 PM on July 24, 2019 [26 favorites]


Pelosi's path is the right one because there's so much evidence that HASN'T been uncovered. We may find that Pence is neck deep in this dirt too, which would make sense to why Manafort urged candidate Trump to pick Pence instead of Christie (so that way Pence couldn't go to the authorities, and instead was coerced into silence through complicity. Common mobster/intelligence tactic). We could discover that President Trump had back-channel communications through secure encrypted apps all along? We could discover that the aliens in area 51 were the liason between Trump and Putin, through secret mind powers?

Okay, a couple of those are out there just for levity, but I mean it: Pence is just as dirty, and if we discover how dirty BEFORE impeachment proceedings begin, we can then just impeach the whole lot. It will be cast as a partisan impeachment, because R's will just project 1998 onto the current political climate, but at this point we cannot move the needle by pandering - we move the needle by being true to our convictions.
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 3:43 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Pelosi's path is the right one because there's so much evidence that HASN'T been uncovered. We may find that Pence is neck deep in this dirt too

If we don't do nothing about Trump now, we won't get the chance to do nothing about Pence later.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [39 favorites]


This speech, given by Otto Wels of the German Social Democratic Party (SDP) in opposition to the passage of the Enabling Act of 1933, has been characterized as the last free words spoken in the Reichstag from 1933 all the way to the fall of Hitler. It's worth reading. The key part, the phrase from it that people remember and quote, is this line: "Freedom and life can be taken from us, but not our honor."

Nancy Pelosi, I am sure, is a very honorable person.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:49 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


People will be reading 400, 500 years in the future about what we did here today.

I'm begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on, because if you want to have a democracy intact... we have got to guard this moment.


Cumming's comments and tone didn't match the moment at all. It was like he was pretending he was at a different press conference. That isn't what you say if you're on board with slowly continuing to build a case.

Nadler ran his entire hearing to build up towards concluding that impeachment was the remedy for the obstruction that occurred. Why do that if impeachment isn't your end goal? Why end every Democratic round with "because nobody is above the law" if you aren't going to do anything to ensure that is actually true?
posted by diogenes at 3:51 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that an impeachment inquiry in the House is the investigative process while the trial and conviction/acquittal are the responsibility of the Senate. Opening an impeachment inquiry in the House allows for a more robust investigation and - this is key - is not required to end in a referral to the Senate.

Given the amount of obstruction and delay of the current House investigations, and the fact that the WH arguments are basically "you have no authority to investigate the President short of an impeachment process," if Pelosi really wanted to determine as efficiently as possible whether or not there were "overwhelming evidence" that could result in an impeachment conviction in the Republican controlled Senate, she would allow an inquiry to begin in the House.

Unfortunately, she has been adamant since election day 2018 that she is not interested in this.
posted by SpaceBass at 3:52 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Pelosi's usual centrist handwringing serves to prove once again that almost as dangerous as the fascists trying to completely absorb the country is the phalanx of moderates telling people fighting for their literal lives to calm down and be patient.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:59 PM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


Where are all the "Promise Keepers" who swore to fight domestic enemies of the constitution? Oh...oh they only meant if the person was a liberal, or black, or a woman. Gotcha. Just making sure.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:00 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


at this point I assume that mister pelosi, who owns a real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm, is wrapped up with the russians too.
posted by entropicamericana at 4:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [17 favorites]


Why end every Democratic round with "because nobody is above the law" if you aren't going to do anything to ensure that is actually true?

Thinking back, when they said "nobody is above the law," it was always proceeded or followed by an assurance that they would do everything in their power to make sure that was true. I can't imagine that encouraging the American electorate to vote Trump out in 2020 is what they meant.
posted by diogenes at 4:03 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


To extend the excellent Baffler article on this topic that I posted earlier, Pelosi is sure once the Rules Subcommittee of the Competition Committee of the Little League Board examines this in the fall, they will find that it is, actually, in the rules that a Golden Retriever cannot play basketball, and they will consider a motion to discuss overturning all of Air Bud's sick dunks.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:04 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


I honestly think they live in an isolated bubble world in DC and that because corruption like this has become the norm, as has moving your convictions depending on which way the wind is blowing, that they are all coming to grips with just how awful the situation REALLY is. I wish for a different timeline too, but hey, this is what we got.

I emailed to volunteer for my Dem challenger to the dipshit Lesko. Her response to me is shameful, and I intend to do everything in my power to make sure that she isn't elected again. Please everyone, do something other than comment here. We need engagement in the political sphere, not just the MeFi one (and I say this knowing that civic engagement is a big thing here, just want to encourage and support it more than just commenting here)
posted by thebotanyofsouls at 4:07 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


If I were a skilled illustrator, I would draw a picture of Pelosi shouting "Surrender today, surrender tomorrow, surrender forever!" while blocking a building labeled Impeachment against the approach of the masses of voters who enabled the blue wave and those Dems in the House who do want to pursue impeachment .

(Note that Wallace did eventually move, allowing integration.)
posted by lord_wolf at 4:14 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


I still think Pelosi is willingly playing the punching bag for a larger caucus that is not yet ready to move on this. If there was strong sentiment in favor of impeachment, not even Pelosi could hold that from leaking. She is still a vote counter at heart.

But right now we are trapped between two poor options, even if you just think in terms of precedent setting. If Trump isn’t impeached for this behavior, it sets an expectation that future Presidents can do this without being impeached. If Trump is impeached for this behavior and the Senate votes against it, he’s explicitly gotten away with it. It also sets a precedent that future Presidents can do this without being impeached. It fucking sucks, but some Congresspeople won’t want to move until they think they have a chance in the Senate.
posted by sallybrown at 4:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [16 favorites]


If I were a skilled illustrator, I would draw a picture of Pelosi shouting "Surrender today, surrender tomorrow, surrender forever!" while blocking a building labeled Impeachment against the approach of the masses of voters who enabled the blue wave and those Dems in the House who do want to pursue impeachment .

Heck, I'm thinking of how to CGI her into the Neville Chamberlain "Peace In Our Time" speech.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


For anyone interested in the inner dynamics of impeachment, I found the parts of Jeffrey Toobin’s Clinton book (A Vast Conspiracy) about the Republican Congress to be fascinating. They were so excited and united and then they lost the plot, fractured, and limped away. It’s a gauntlet for the party seeking impeachment. (Fair warning, some of the rest of the book is straight up trash, especially the way it talks about the women involved.)
posted by sallybrown at 4:23 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Welp, for what it's worth, I've written my Congresswoman, who finally came out in support of impeachment a few weeks ago, sharing with her my thanks for her position and my intense frustration with the Democratic leadership, along with a plea that she do whatever she can to win some more of those good old hearts and minds amongst her colleagues.

It's only a tiny little pebble on the scales, but it's all I have to give. Now it's time to find a way to do something positive for someone else. It's the only thing that fights off the feelings of helplessness.
posted by jammer at 4:26 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


I honestly think they live in an isolated bubble world in DC and that because corruption like this has become the norm, as has moving your convictions depending on which way the wind is blowing, that they are all coming to grips with just how awful the situation REALLY is.

I feel a small twinge of I told you so or resentment that I was , in fact, not freaking out or crying wolf or having too pessimistic predictions about the Dems but was right about Every awful thing in the last 3 years but I’m willing to move past it to get work done.
posted by The Whelk at 4:34 PM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


If Trump is impeached for this behavior and the Senate votes against it, he’s explicitly gotten away with it.

Impeachment inquiries will uncover a great deal of information and testimony heretofore kept from the public that are relevant to many policy and extralegal business decisions made so far by the president. Beyond that, actual impeachment proceedings would add a permanent asterisk to the historical record of anyone so charged, regardless of the outcome. Trump might claim he was innocent after the fact, but he would do that, anyway. It is unclear why America should let an obvious criminal control the narrative.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:37 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


The usefulness of analogies to Nixon and Clinton impeachment dynamics is probably nonzero, but certainly less than the amount that those moments in history are cited in defense of someone's existing beliefs about what Democrats should do now. The danger posed by POTUS45 is quite different, the electorate is quite different, the media ecosystem is quite different... Best to make your case based on our current predicament, not how things went back in the 1970s or 1990s.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:37 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


does sf dsa have plans to run a candidate against pelosi? (dunno if there's any sf dsa people on the site but it can't hurt to ask).
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:48 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I still think Pelosi is willingly playing the punching bag for a larger caucus that is not yet ready to move on this. If there was strong sentiment in favor of impeachment, not even Pelosi could hold that from leaking.

I think this is probably where it's coming from, and that it's not that they're unwilling to move because they want Trump there, but because the political calculus is more than just "do I get to keep my job" if the electorate does punish impeachment, but "does America give Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell all three branches again if this backfires" which is terrifying just thinking about when you're not even the one who has to make a decision about it. It's a possible civilization ender of an outcome on the climate front. Even if that's got a very small chance of happening and every so-called expert out there is telling you to go for impeachment, that's a hell of a risk. So they're playing for time to hope for signs of electoral support.

I think what they fail to see is that we could be in the state of "impeachment inquiry" for as long as it takes and Pelosi could be out there every day stressing that "this is not a guaranteed impeachment and we will meticulously investigate before any votes are taken". At least being in that state would reassure people and open up stronger investigative powers.

I think there's also a liiittle bit of Pelosi trying too hard to cast herself as impartial like Mueller to make her finally giving in to impeachment have the weight of responsibility and careful consideration winning over initial skepticism, and she doesn't realize that nobody expects that, wants that or believes that of her on either side of the aisle.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:48 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Here’s A List Of Alleged Mueller Leaks A GOP Congressman Created. It’s Weak. (Matt Shuham, TPM)
Spoiler alert: It’s not what he claimed it was.

The list Stewart’s office provided includes leaks related to Mueller’s probe, but not leaks that were definitively sourced to Mueller’s office. In other words, plenty of people could have leaked these tidbits to the press, not only people on Mueller’s team.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:49 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mueller and Dems’ low-energy performance was an optics disaster! (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Questioner (Democrat): Counselor Mueller, I think I can say without fear of contradiction that you are the greatest, indeed the only, patriot in this room. You have a Purple Heart, do you not? And you have always acted with extreme probity, have you not?

Mueller: I try to.

Questioner (Democrat): Try? No! You succeed!

Mueller: Uh, thanks.

Questioner (Republican): Mr. Mueller, when Christopher Steele gave Joseph Mifsud the dossier full of vile secrets, was it eight or 35 lizard-men whom you immediately deputized to suppress the truth-tellers, seven of whom are presently in my home and refuse to leave, even when I tell them I will sue them?

Mueller: Uh, could you repeat the question?

Questioner (Republican): I think that’s an answer. We all know that upon his return from the exoplanet — which, conveniently, you omitted from your report entirely, as has NASA, although I have sent them a lot of irate faxes — your double agent released the mind serum that proved that Hillary Clinton’s emails were what allowed Steele’s dossier to offer well-drink to the feeble-minded and credulous media?

Mueller: I’m not sure I got the question.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


i will give so much money to anyone who runs against pelosi from the left. i will fly out to sf to knock doors for anyone who runs against pelosi from the left.

i do not believe that pelosi is compromised, but i do believe that she's functionally equivalent to compromised. what happened to her pal josh crowley needs to happen to her.

there'd be two benefits of running a hard primary campaign against pelosi:
  1. hey, we might beat her.
  2. pour encourager les autres.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:53 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


does sf dsa have plans to run a candidate against pelosi? (dunno if there's any sf dsa people on the site but it can't hurt to ask).

Shahid Buttar's a DSA member, he's running, and he's good
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:55 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Pelosi is compromised by the fact that a majority of House Democrats are not in favor of impeachment.
posted by notyou at 4:57 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


I guess my problem with the whole Mueller's "go and read the report" is that large chunks of it are redacted and mere mortals are not allowed to read it, since we're not allowed to read it he really should have been answering the questions directly.

Or was what we saw really a whole lot of "that bit's been redacted, you all are allowed to see the copy available to the House, but we can't tell the public"?
posted by mbo at 5:00 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


"The usefulness of analogies to Nixon and Clinton impeachment dynamics is probably nonzero, but certainly less than the amount that those moments in history are cited in defense of someone's existing beliefs about what Democrats should do now."

There weren't that many Republican committee members who voted for Nixon's impeachment and prevailing wisdom was that there wouldn't be enough votes in the Senate to convict. So people ought to keep in mind that the Republicans weren't models of moral rectitude then, either.

But perhaps more importantly, John Dean said today on CNN that had Mueller been in Cox's shoes, we'd never have learned of the tapes (vis a vis Mueller's subpoena decision). It was after the House committee voted to send it to the floor that the tapes surfaced, which greatly changed the political calculus. Some Republicans who defended Nixon had a change of heart -- enough so that Nixon decided to resign before the House could vote.

That history supports the "pursue impeachment" argument: things can dramatically change as an investigation continues.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:03 PM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


CSPAN is too cute: President Trump White House Departure (current yelling at the press conference)

That was a show purely for the base. I'm curious what the evening network news segments on the broadcast networks are going to play from the hearing. Will they focus on the bombast from the GOP or the quiet affirmations by Mueller's "trues" of crimes recited from the report by Democrats? How they report will have an enormous impact on the public's perception. I'm afraid that the "liberal" media isn't, and that we'll get bombast, not true crime.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2019


Some Republicans who defended Nixon had a change of heart -- enough so that Nixon decided to resign before the House could vote.

Neither of these things would happen now, though. They wouldn't have a change of heart without a massive change in Republican and independent voter sentiment, and Trump wouldn't see the writing on the wall and resign if that did happen. The Nixon case is instructive for sure but it doesn't map the current territory.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think the Democrats are unable to recognize/ admit just how successful the Right is, and they can't stop playing by old rules. The GOP is always on message, and that message is always fairly extreme, lots of accusations of how awful the Dems are. They have moved the country well to the Right. The Dems are sincere, well-intentioned, and unable to play hardball. Dems keep letting Trump control the news cycle, the narrative. The new Progressives in Congress don't know the old rules but I'm not sure they have an understanding of the new playing field. The DNC is curiously silent, and I have some real concerns there. We need a really strong, fierce message. I really want to see Speaker Pelosi shine a positive spotlight on the next generation of leadership and mentor her potential successors.
posted by theora55 at 5:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


does sf dsa have plans to run a candidate against pelosi? (dunno if there's any sf dsa people on the site but it can't hurt to ask).

I am not an SF DSA person, but can generally answer that Shahid Buttar is running (as is Agatha Bacelar), and here's agood new article by Joe Eskenazi, a great local journalist, (from a lefty non-profit newsroom) on his campaign. Buttar picked up some decent change from out-of-district donors in recent weeks that might help him form more of an actual campaign operation, but Pelosi's fundraising is unmatchable.

It's still early, but I see strikingly little chance at this point unless I see some kind of dramatic indications of movement soon. In 2018, Buttar came in third, behind a Republican, and didn't make the ballot. I've seen no signs of any local politicians even hinting toward endorsing him. Most of his 2018 endorsers don't even live in the state. If you can't get a bunch of former Board of Supervisors (City Council equivalent) members from the progressive wing on board with a challenge, I don't see it happening. And Joe explains why:
While the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over longtime Rep. Joe Crowley would seem, at first, to be an analog to what may happen here, it isn’t exactly that. Crowley had fallen asleep at the switch in a New York district that had undergone a demographic, ideological, and generational shift. His district changed, but he didn’t. It’s hard to say that’s happened here in San Francisco. It’s certainly hard to say San Francisco, which is growing richer...[error and correction omitted]...by the moment, has changed in a way that would favor an anti-establishment candidate.
Donate to whoever you want, but there are close House and Senate races where your dollars can go a lot farther than a quixotic quest to unseat Pelosi in San Francisco.
posted by zachlipton at 5:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


One of the points Toobin raised in his Clinton impeachment book was that just the act of impeaching the President can rejigger public sentiment in a way that then affects the impeachment process. In Clinton’s case, as much as the public fed on the spectacle of the stories, when he was actually impeached, the public seemed to have a pretty quick, strong change of heart (like “oh, that’s one too far”). I think the opposite would also be possible—for example, if large parts of the public were waiting to pay attention until they saw action, or were anxious about what the right next steps were and then decided to get on board as the impeachment train was leaving the station. So Dem leaders’ calls for continued public feedback on what to do here serves the dual purpose of engaging the public and trying to feel out how strongly the public favors impeachment.
posted by sallybrown at 5:31 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure why this idea that Congress' investigative powers are somehow enhanced by calling something an Official Impeachment Investigation is repeated as fact when it is in fact nakedly transparent bullshit dreamed up by the fascist-in-chief's enablers. Especially when the idea has been all but laughed out of court at least once already.

Is it really that hard to put personal feelings aside for a short while so we can all push together? It's not like Nancy Pelosi (or anyone else) declaring that the Impeachment process is underway will suddenly make Trump and his minions stop obstructing justice. They will continue to delay and outright obstruct the inquiry regardless of what name it is given.

Continuing to attack the Democrats even in the face of progress only contributes to the perception among low information voters that the Democrats are useless and there's no point bothering to vote because the Republicans will just win anyway.

Anyway, I've said more than enough on the topic, so I'll drop it until there is something new to talk about. No sense going round and round again, saying yet more variations on the same thing. I only thought it worthwhile at all because today was unquestionably a good day in terms of piercing the bubble Barr's lies about Mueller's report created in the minds of most of the public.
posted by wierdo at 5:41 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


Pelosi and Co were late to their press conference because they were on the phone talking strategy with Jeremy Corbyn.
posted by srboisvert at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


I think if/when we do get to the point of an impeachment inquiry it's worth making the goal not necessarily to lay down an ironclad case gift-wrapped for the Senate to do nothing with, but methodical, radical transparency bringing daylight to every aspect of the administration. An impeachment inquiry into Trump can't help but expand into more and more areas because there's just that much crime and corruption to root out, and airing all that dirty laundry for as long as it takes is the only thing that might turn public sentiment enough to force Mitch's hand so indulge in it. And, show the public you can walk and chew gum by continuing to pass bills alongside the impeachment inquiry.

And on top of that the Dem presidential candidates should be looking hard at the loopholes and weak spots that Trump exploits that are uncovered in the investigation and telling the public that if you give them the White House and Congress, they will pass and sign bills to limit themselves and all future presidents from abusing the system in the ways Trump did. I think that's very important to public sentiment, especially in the purple states, to walk the walk like that. There's very much an "anticorruption starts at home" narrative out there ripe for the Democrats to use, and I think it would work like gangbusters in the current climate where Dem voters and suburbanites want normalcy so much they fell in love with the rose-tinted idea of Biden of all people, and an impeachment inquiry would be a great signal booster for that.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:01 PM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Pelosi rebuffs Nadler on impeachment after Mueller flop
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler pushed to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump during a closed-door meeting Wednesday, only to be rebuffed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

At a caucus meeting following the hotly anticipated testimony of special counsel Robert Mueller, Nadler suggested that several House committee chairs could begin drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. Pelosi called the idea premature, said the sources. [...]

Pelosi convened the Democratic caucus following Mueller's appearance before the Judiciary and Intelligence panels. A lengthy, animated discussion about the impeachment process followed.

Sources said rank-and-file lawmakers asked about the technical aspects of an impeachment inquiry, including whether it would require a full vote of the House or could be initiated by the Judiciary Committee.

Nadler indicated that the committee could launch proceedings on its own. Articles filed by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) at the outset of this Congress have already been referred to the panel, giving Democrats a vehicle to begin the hugely controversial proceedings. The technical discussion also included a question about how an impeachment case is presented to the Senate.

In the course of the wide-ranging discussion, Nadler countered Pelosi's pushback by noting that polls showed limited support for removing President Richard Nixon from office when the House began impeachment hearings in 1973, but that public support for the effort grew as more evidence came out about Nixon's illegal behavior.

As she has for months, Pelosi argued to her colleagues that the "slow, methodical approach" employed by House Democrats was the right way to move forward, despite the fact that more than 90 of her members have called for an impeachment inquiry to begin now.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:08 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


Is it really that hard to put personal feelings aside for a short while so we can all push together? It's not like Nancy Pelosi (or anyone else) declaring that the Impeachment process is underway will suddenly make Trump and his minions stop obstructing justice. They will continue to delay and outright obstruct the inquiry regardless of what name it is given.

Perhaps this is a high bar, but I think we just want Pelosi, after calling an urgent-sounding press conference on the day of the most monumental testimony of the administration, to do more than ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING. AGAIN.
posted by odinsdream at 6:13 PM on July 24, 2019 [38 favorites]


Amazing that Politico would headline Mueller's testimony as a "flop" when he stated on the record that the things Barr and Trump have been trying to bullshit the country with about the content of the report, the scope of the inquiry, and the conclusions reached for the past several months are in fact false. That's a big fucking deal.

The only flop here is the sound of Politico proving that they are, in fact, carrying water for Trump despite their claims of being nonpartisan and flushing what little credibility they had down the toilet.

I somehow get the sense that the only way they wouldn't have called it a flop was if the House Sergeant-at-arms had marched up Pennsylvania Avenue and put Trump in handcuffs during the hearings.

odinsdream: Getting Mueller on the record before Congress is nothing. Got it.
posted by wierdo at 6:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [11 favorites]


As she has for months, Pelosi argued to her colleagues that the "slow, methodical approach" employed by House Democrats was the right way to move forward, despite the fact that more than 90 of her members have called for an impeachment inquiry to begin now.

This last line could also be written "because less than 100 of her 235 members have called for an impeachment inquiry to begin now" but Politico gonna Politico. Like I don't fully agree with the way Pelosi is doing this, I am more on board with doing the slow and methodical thing as part of an impeachment inquiry if only to not have to waste time jumping through stupid "but but but what about a legislative purpose!" litigation, but that line is bad faith opinion writing.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:24 PM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this right here.

How to Remove a Speaker of the House

posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:25 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


Pelosi rebuffs Nadler on impeachment after Mueller flop

It's important to always identify the sources of articles with the headlines. This comes from Politico, naturally, which likes to editorialize in order to grab attention.

On Preview: What wierdo said.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Pelosi isn't going to be removed. She has the support of the great majority of the caucus.
posted by Justinian at 6:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think what gets to me the most about the discussion of impeachment today is yes, we should 100% be discussing this and fighting it out with ideas for the sake of a better and more effective party but, also, I know that this is too juicy a topic for Russia to stay out of and they're out there poisoning the well on this discussion right now to drive a wedge in the party. And that absolutely isn't to imply that any side of this argument is being argued in bad faith or that anyone should hold back from expressing their opinions because omg Russian bots might be saying the same thing, but like... it definitely is happening right now on this very topic and it will be effective to some extent and I don't know what to do with that. We desperately need effective countermeasures, Mueller reiterated that just today, and fuck the GOP for making that impossible right now.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Pelosi isn't going to be removed. She has the support of the great majority of the caucus.

We know the vote, not the support. Currently there are 93 Democrats who support impeachment, only about 25 away from a majority of the caucus. It will be interesting to see what that number is up to by the end of the week, and what Pelosi does when it crosses 118.
posted by chortly at 6:55 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Half the caucus will not do anything. Pelosi is trying to keep the purple seats recently gained.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh god if that's all it is...damn you people, I appreciate the hope though. I've been wondering about Pelosi's motivation all this time but somehow that clicks.
posted by agregoli at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2019


I disagree with her strategy. I think a proper impeachment inquiry would help start another wave election.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:07 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


I don't like the strategy, but I at least want to understand it...and I haven't so far.
posted by agregoli at 7:10 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


guys, the people in our concentration camps (including, y'know, american citizens) are just going to have to be patient and let nancy's 12-dimensional chess game reach its natural conclusion
posted by entropicamericana at 7:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]


Pelosi is compromised by the fact that a majority of House Democrats are not in favor of impeachment.

I don’t think she’s so much compromised but more like she just doesn’t agree with hope being a strategy. So far nothing has knocked Trump out, not pussy grabbing, not insulting Purple Heart parents, not getting beaten in debates, not refusing to release his tax returns, not having his cabinet and close advisers mired in scandal, not praising white supremacists, not the Mueller report, not kids in cages, not Mueller's testimony. The initial dip he suffers at the beginning of the scandal always seems to peter out and then reverse itself as apathy sets in. In fact, he emerges stronger from every attack because each failed attempt makes his continued hold on power less wildly abnormal. And each egregious usurpation of normal political standards puts the Gingrichian wet dream of a permanent fascio-conservative state a step closer to reality. By now, if Trump murdered someone in cold blood on 5th Avenue, it would be more surprising if he were actually held accountable. And so I think people are deluding themselves if they believe an impeachment that ends with no conviction will be the magic spell that will bring him down when all else has failed.

So okay sure, impeach him to make a stand, but don’t be surprised if he successfully paints it as a witch hunt and ends up gaining sympathy, or at least more of a sense of impunity. Frankly at this point I think other than a sudden decline in his health, the only thing that will get him out of the Oval Office is a drubbing at the polls. And I think Pelosi believes that too, not out of weakness or centrism, but pure pragmatism and realpolitik. To the extent that she’ll be persuaded to go forward with impeachment, I imagine she’s hoping to time the hearings so that the “initial dip” happens right around October 2020.
posted by xigxag at 7:22 PM on July 24, 2019 [24 favorites]


In 2016, Trump won 228 congressional districts to Clinton's 207. The 43 seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 are two points more Republican than the country as a whole, and the median House seat is 5 points more Republican than the country as a whole. Democrats won 31 seats in 2018 in districts that voted for Trump. In short, it's impossible to win the House without winning a number of Trump districts.

That's the whole strategy, that's it: keep the House.

There are plenty of arguments that we don't need to debate for why that's a bad strategy, why impeachment is worth doing even if it's bad politics, why starting the process would help move public option, how an inquiry is a process that would expose new information and get people to care about it, and so on, and these are all things I've called up the Speaker's office to say as a constituent, but the strategy isn't a mystery even if we think it's awful.
posted by zachlipton at 7:33 PM on July 24, 2019 [15 favorites]


Those 43 seats aren't up for re-election until 2022, though. There must be others that are the actual concern.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2019


guys, the people in our concentration camps (including, y'know, american citizens) are just going to have to be patient and let nancy's 12-dimensional chess game reach its natural conclusion

This is a very bad faith reading of what others are saying and a shitty brush to paint people with, and I don't see Pence stopping these horrors if Trump gets tossed out, and no amount of Nancy Pelosi backing impeachment right now changes the numbers in vulnerable districts to make it happen, and if we miscalculate or fuck it up and it benefits Trump then you lock in four more years of this and worse, potentially without even holding the House because there are too many districts we have to hold that can be decided on insane shit like the whims of low information Obama > Trump voters.

Nobody has the answers here and we're all looking for something that makes at least a little sense to hold on to instead of giving in to despair and powerlessness but I guarantee nobody in this thread is on board with kids in cages.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


Okay, I think the thing I may be setting on fire is my Democratic party membership. They've frustrated me before, but never to this extent. We should have articles of impeachment 20 pages long by now. Obstruction of justice, sexual harassment, payoffs to mistresses, emoluments, racial bias, concentration camps on the border, separating kids from parents with no effort to keep track of who they belong to, constant lies, whatever crimes are in his tax returns, blatant nepotism....on and on and on. If the GOP discovered that Obama paid off an adult film star that he slept with when Malia was four months old, there would be hearing every day forever just about that. The Dems ran on holding Trump accountable, they won the House in a wave and they are just sitting on their thumbs. They are useless to me.

If someone wants to start a We'll Impeach Fascists party, I'm ready to jump ship. WIF forever.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:41 PM on July 24, 2019 [33 favorites]


ok, forget the impeachment proceedings for the moment. how many people have skipped out on congressional subpoenas? how many document requests have been ignored? what, exactly, is the thought process behind letting that shit slide?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:43 PM on July 24, 2019 [37 favorites]


Those 43 seats aren't up for re-election until 2022, though.

They're house seats, so they're up every 2 years.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [14 favorites]


> ok, forget the impeachment proceedings for the moment. how many people have skipped out on congressional subpoenas? how many document requests have been ignored? what, exactly, is the thought process behind letting that shit slide?

+1, and relatedly: Mueller at one point referred to spending a year trying to "negotiate" with Team Trump to get him to testify. How was any of this a negotiation? Anyone watching knew that they just wanted to run out the clock. If Mueller had no legal means to compel him to testify, then he should have said that instead of playing his part.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:48 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


ok, forget the impeachment proceedings for the moment. how many people have skipped out on congressional subpoenas? how many document requests have been ignored? what, exactly, is the thought process behind letting that shit slide?

That's a bigger source of frustration for me than the impeachment argument at the moment tbh, like I absolutely get the legal reasoning of being the methodical responsible accommodating party so a judge looks more favorably on you in litigation about it, and I get that you lend weight to their bullshit "legislative purpose" argument if you go around acting like it's not a made up thing, but I'm at the point of thinking maybe it's just time to go "ok, if you want to falsely claim we need a legislative purpose for this, fuck it here's the Rooting Out Slimy Bastards Act of 2019 that I just wrote on a napkin, the full text of the bill right now is 'nice try fucko' and I need your testimony to figure out the rest, now show up bright and early tomorrow or we'll have the Sergeant at Arms drag you in".
posted by jason_steakums at 7:57 PM on July 24, 2019 [25 favorites]


If someone wants to start a We'll Impeach Fascists party, I'm ready to jump ship. WIF forever.

https://www.dsausa.org/get-involved/
posted by contraption at 8:11 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


We've all come to agree that the Senate will probably not convict on an impeachment referral, but I shudder to think of the outcome if an impeachment vote fails in the House.
posted by Marticus at 8:12 PM on July 24, 2019 [9 favorites]


Btw, for what it's worth, in my "we know the vote, not the support" comment, I didn't mean that Pelosi was in any danger of being ousted. For all we know there may even be a majority who already would prefer someone else, but the someone else preferred by the right wing and the someone else preferred by the left wing are totally incompatible, and thus Pelosi remains the only viable preference of the caucus.

But leaders do respond somewhat to their caucus on a per-issue basis, and while those 43 blue dogs or whatever are never going to lead the way on impeachment, there are a lot of others and a lot does change once 118+ of the caucus support it, particularly if it is one of the most important issues in the mind of many reps. Her main calculus may be preserving the Democratic majority in Congress, but within that overarching goal there are a lot of subgoals that require cooperation from the caucus, and if/when a majority of them are on board with impeachment, imposing non-impeachment from a minority posititon definitely makes thing dicey for her.

So for those who most want to see action, one good approach might be to sit down with all the Dems rank-ordered by Nominate score, look at those in the left-most 120 or so who haven't yet declared themselves for impeachment, and call their offices, or better, find friends who live in their districts to call them. These are probably folks who live in districts which strongly support impeachment, and pushing them may eventually build up enough of a pile to push the leadership.
posted by chortly at 8:17 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


If Mueller had no legal means to compel him to testify, then he should have said that instead of playing his part.

Part of the conundrum for both Mueller and Congress is that their institutional roles have these supposed powers that are maybe enforceable, but have not been tested, so trying to actually use them would lead to a court battle that might end up eroding power for the future. They are not going to admit that because that’s as good as throwing this potential power in the trash. But they are really only used for threats (“well, maybe the special counsel will subpoena the President”).
posted by sallybrown at 8:18 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Okay, I think the thing I may be setting on fire is my Democratic party membership. They've frustrated me before, but never to this extent.

I would have confidently called myself a Democrat for the first couple decades I was engaged in electoral politics but, first gradually and then exponentially not-gradually, it's been made pretty clear that the party doesn't believe in things the way I once thought it did and doesn't care about life, death and human dignity as I understand them.

In my place, I hope the party enjoys gaining the loyalty of the hard-hatted Racism Factory worker in Calipers, Ohio who definitely exists.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:41 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Mueller gave up on getting Trump on the record both because Trump's testimony was unnecessary given the evidence already piled up and that he couldn't/wouldn't be charged for any perjury anyway and, more importantly, that he felt that it was more important to get the results of the counterintelligence investigation out there than spend yet more time on Trump's obstruction of justice.

It was pretty clear from his demeanor (and the content of some of his answers) during the hearings that he considers the Russian interference campaign that continues to this day to be a greater threat than Trump himself. Personally, I'm going to take the (possible) hint and focus more on election security issues for a bit. Or at least try, anyway.
posted by wierdo at 8:45 PM on July 24, 2019 [8 favorites]




> It was pretty clear from his demeanor (and the content of some of his answers) during the hearings that he considers the Russian interference campaign that continues to this day to be a greater threat than Trump himself. Personally, I'm going to take the (possible) hint and focus more on election security issues for a bit. Or at least try, anyway.

I mean, sure, the Russian interference thing is worse, if for no other reason than the fact that they could help elect five more Trumps if we manage to survive this one, but... uh... we *do* have to survive this one.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:48 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think a part of the problem is that Trump is almost certainly guilty of obstruction, but that truth did not come through in Mueller's report or testimony. Every institution that supposed to check Trump has so far proven to be more beholden to appearing politically neutral than presenting basic facts to the public. We have truly lost our way.

I think the hearings did get the message through to many Republicans that Mueller didn't exonerate Trump. The best spin I can put on today's hearings is that some Americans may be more supportive now of impeachment inquiries. It's something. I'll take it.
posted by xammerboy at 9:20 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


so glad you are all enjoying yourselves

There really is something late-empire-flagrant about going for cocktails at Maureen Dowd's house at this particular moment.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:22 PM on July 24, 2019 [22 favorites]


wierdo: Fox News' headline: "Nunes: 'There is collusion between Russia and the Democratic Party'"

Devin Nunes’s behavior during the Mueller hearing was bizarre — unless you watch Fox News (Aaron Rupar for Vox, July 24, 2019)
As bizarre as Nunes’s behavior during the hearing on Wednesday was to the uninitiated, it wasn’t a surprise to avid watchers of Fox News, where Nunes has been turning reality on its head for years.
...
And it’s not just Nunes — as Media Matters detailed, no fewer than 10 House Republicans asked Mueller questions on Wednesday that were steeped in conspiracy theories that have flourished on Fox News about how the Russia investigation was purportedly a product of anti-Trump bias among Obama-era FBI and intelligence community officials. Fox News even pushed conspiracy theories about the Russia investigation during its live coverage of Mueller’s testimony (Tweet with Fox News clip).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [13 favorites]


If any of their pasta sticks, let it be that one, for if it does and strong action is thereby taken, he may well have already self-impeached.
posted by wierdo at 9:37 PM on July 24, 2019


Part of the conundrum for both Mueller and Congress is that their institutional roles have these supposed powers that are maybe enforceable, but have not been tested, so trying to actually use them would lead to a court battle that might end up eroding power for the future.

I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying they can't use their power because someone might challenge it and then they won't have that power? That makes sense if they're considering using the power for some trivial purpose, but that doesn't seem to be the case. This seems to be a generational emergency.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:39 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


Court battles are taking place. It is easy to forget because they take a while to play out. But the House is exerting its powers in this way, engaging in lawsuits over the border wall, the Affordable Care Act, subpoena enforcement for Trump's financial records and tax returns, to list a few.
posted by ContinuousWave at 9:56 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


There are plenty of arguments that we don't need to debate for why that's a bad strategy, why impeachment is worth doing even if it's bad politics, why starting the process would help move public option, how an inquiry is a process that would expose new information and get people to care about it, and so on, and these are all things I've called up the Speaker's office to say as a constituent, but the strategy isn't a mystery even if we think it's awful.

The strategy isn't even necessarily wrong even though it's awful, that's the worst part! Like, keeping the investigations confined to the committees so vulnerable Dems don't have to commit to a public opinion until (hopefully) the courts step in on subpoenas and the administration blinks when confronted and then things move hard and fast with the public as the dirt comes out, I get it, I get why that's Plan A. But ugh I'm glad I don't have to make cold calculations like that to keep power when things like reducing emissions to even continue to have a civilization are on the line.

Especially with the unknowns like, how important is convincing the crowd that just wants everything back to normal with a warm blanket so they don't have to think about politics? The same folks who are enamored with the fictional idea of Biden as turning back the clock to Obama. Because a lot rides on the answer to that and I haaate it. I'm suspicious as hell about comfortable suburban voters in swingy districts but a lot rode on them in 2018. It's not even about managing an impeachment strategy to chase some maga dipshit's vote, it's almost more infuriating, having to hold on to the votes of people who are largely insulated from the effects of their dumb fickle voting choices every other election.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:57 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]



There really is something late-empire-flagrant about going for cocktails at Maureen Dowd's house at this particular moment.


I try not to rely on my inconsistent mutant power for willing things into being but man does this feel like the story about a party at the winter palace where someone just snapped and started screaming about how all of this is immoral and unsustainable and the whole thing was going to come crashing down and like the October Revolution happened a week later.
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 PM on July 24, 2019 [17 favorites]


Are you saying they can't use their power because someone might challenge it and then they won't have that power?

Yes. The courts would find for Trump that the DOJ can't question him, and that congress can't investigate him, and that would be precedent setting. The precedent would be difficult to overturn. Also, all of these court cases take time neither Mueller nor congress has.
posted by xammerboy at 9:58 PM on July 24, 2019 [5 favorites]


On the Nunes/Fox News connection, Trevor Noah did an awesome cross cut of Nunes and Hannity.
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:06 PM on July 24, 2019 [12 favorites]


I wish we had some even centrist main stream media in this country that devoted as much time to the part of Mueller's testimony where he was rapid fire confirming some pretty awful behavior on the part of the Trump campaign, how the lie compromise national security, and how the presidents failed to give satisfactory answers about any of it as they devoted to Republican conspiracy theory grandstanding.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:53 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


In fact it appears that Ilhan Omar's republican challenger (one of them?) is a hard core Qanoner.

I live in Ilhan Omar's district. First of all, it's a super solid blue, so Danielle Stella doesn't stand a chance. Second, on our big statewide political action Facebook page, some people have done some investigating and found out some pretty WTF stuff on her, including that she maybe doesn't even live in the 5th District and she has two upcoming court dates for theft, which she tried to hide by filing her campaign under a fake name? Just...WTF.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:58 PM on July 24, 2019 [17 favorites]


It was pretty clear from his demeanor (and the content of some of his answers) during the hearings that he considers the Russian interference campaign that continues to this day to be a greater threat than Trump himself.
-wierdo

I think a part of the problem is that Trump is almost certainly guilty of obstruction, but that truth did not come through in Mueller's report or testimony.
-xammerboy


Is it a surprise that George W. Bush's FBI Director might be less bothered by brazen displays of unchecked executive power than he is by the prospect of Trump being all tangled up with Eastern Bloc gangsters and whatever he thinks that might mean for his conception of the national interest?

Robert Mueller has different priorities than you or I do. Nancy Pelosi does too. If you remember that, I think that their behavior on a day like today is still dismaying but more comprehensible. My uncharitable interpretation is that Mueller wants to treat this whole thing like it's a part of the GWOT and, sure, Nancy Pelosi wants to beat Trump and the GOP but only without giving up any ground at all to grassroots progressive upstarts and the Left.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


Anyway, the thread title, "Mueller Under Oath," scans perfectly to slot into the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." Any conclusions are the reader's.

It also fits perfectly into "Burning Down the House"

Hold tight
Wait 'til the party's over
Hold tight
We're in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house Mueller under oath

posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:32 AM on July 25, 2019 [10 favorites]


Here's your ticket, pack your bags
Time for jumpin' overboard
Louie gohmert is here

posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:38 AM on July 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


Robert Mueller Said All He Needed to Say
NYTimes opinion by Noah Bookbinder
As devastating as Robert Mueller’s report was for the president, his testimony on Wednesday — coming after months of the president’s efforts to deny the report’s realities and shut down all attempts at oversight or accountability — is worse.

From the outset, Mr. Mueller, the former special counsel, was predictably cautious and restrained, and he said very little that went beyond what was in his report. But his plain-spoken answers illuminated for Congress — and millions of Americans watching at home — the case against the president.

Several episodes stand out, all of which Democrats highlighted in their questions to Mr. Mueller at the morning hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

First, there was President Trump’s June 2017 direction to the White House counsel, Don McGahn, to fire the special counsel in the wake of news reports that he was investigating the president for obstruction of justice — and Mr. Trump’s later insistence that Mr. McGahn create a false internal memorandum that would contradict reporting about this order.
I agree with this person that things are moving forward, albeit slowly. The knots the R's are tying on themselves are getting more and more ridiculous, and I think people are beginning to notice.
posted by mumimor at 12:46 AM on July 25, 2019 [11 favorites]


Republican Congressman Mike Turner explaining to Mueller that he has no power to exonerate anybody.

TURNER: Mr. Mueller, you can’t be exonerated. In fact, in our criminal justice system there is no power or authority to exonerate. This is my concern, Mr. Mueller. This is the headline on all of the news channels while you were testifying today: “Mueller: Trump Was Not Exonerated.” Now, Mr. Mueller, what you know is that this can’t say “Mueller Exonerated Trump,” ’cause you don’t have the power or authority to exonerate Trump. You have no more power to declare him exonerated than you have the power to declare him Anderson Cooper. So the problem that I have here is that since there’s no one in the criminal justice system that has that power… The president pardons, he doesn’t exonerate. Courts and juries don’t declare “innocent.” They declare “not guilty.” They don’t even declare exoneration!
posted by Homer42 at 12:53 AM on July 25, 2019


I keep thinking about Nunes, referred to Alexander Downer as a 'foreign agent' and one of the shadowy cabal, the first link in the oranges of the hoax. He's... not. I'm an Australian, I'm very familiar with this man, and this characterisation is truly comical. Spit out your beer and lose control laughing funny-as-shit. Flat-earth moon-hoax delusional to the point of feeling pity for someone that could hold such a concept in their mind.

Here's an interview on Australian radio with both George Popadopoulos and Alexander Downer. Judge for yourself.

If their defense to Mueller's testimony is to challenge his credibility, make them defend that. It's qanon stuff. Bring bigfoot into it. Make them defend the nonsensical. The more they have to justify and explain their incredible claims the more ridiculous they are going to appear. If this is a game of optics, make them display the depths of this paranoid conspiracy theory. And LAUGH! POINT AND LAUGH AT THE CRAZY WHACKJOBS!
posted by adept256 at 1:06 AM on July 25, 2019 [8 favorites]


Reviewing the podcast I linked above, we are given more information about his 25$ million donation to the Clinton Foundation. This was for delivering AIDS medication to our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea via that foundation which was providing the service. Downer signed the cheque as an official of AusAid, Australia's foreign aid program. This was not a personal donation, but on the behalf of the Australian government and subject to proper oversight and accountability to the Australian public.

For what it's worth, that's pretty good, us throwing in some money to beat the spread of AIDs in our region. If their assertion is that that isn't where the money went, I'd like to hear more, some of that was my money! Somehow, I don't think they caught something that AusAid missed in their scrutiny.
posted by adept256 at 1:37 AM on July 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


As the elections approach and the megathreads wind down I just want to emphasize that the Russians (and probably several other countries by this point) are still active on social media. Remember that #walkaway was a bullshit Russian camapign meant to drive down support for Democrats. Remember Russians pushed wedges between the Clinton and Sanders camps as hard as they could. Remember that whataboutism and scapegoating are classic propaganda techniques. Be forgiving of imperfect humans, especially those who are on your side. Remember that almost no politician has as much power as people think, especially in a democracy, and that frustration with that lack of power, the way things grind to a halt without consensus, is how autocrats take over.

And remember the lessons of "On Tyranny":

1. Do not obey in advance. 2. Defend institutions. 3. Beware the one-party state. 4. Take responsibility for the face of the world. 5. Remember professional ethics. 6. Be wary of paramilitaries. 7. Be reflective if you must be armed. 8. Stand out. 9. Be kind to our language. 10. Believe in truth. 11 . Investigate. 12. Make eye contact and small talk. 13. Practice corporeal politics. 14. Establish a private life. 15. Contribute to good causes. 16. Learn from peers in other countries. 17. Listen for dangerous words. 18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. 19. Be a patriot. 20. Be as courageous as you can.

Keep up the good fight, even when hope fails you. Work to create the possibility of a better world, even if you don't think you will live to see it become a reality.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:52 AM on July 25, 2019 [65 favorites]


Comey said the Russians were really "loud" about their hacking and propaganda. They did not try to keep what they were doing. They wanted to cast doubts on the legitimacy of the next president (even if it was Trump) and on the whole idea of democracy and elections. They even organized anti-Trump rallies after the elecrion. So anyway, don't think they wouldn't push anti-Trump propaganda too. Anything that's devisive and undermines democracy, they'll push. Their goal is to make you feel cynical and alienated from politics so that you will stop participating or will resort to violence. Please don't let them succeed.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:05 AM on July 25, 2019 [38 favorites]


In the course of the wide-ranging discussion, Nadler countered Pelosi's pushback by noting that polls showed limited support for removing President Richard Nixon from office when the House began impeachment hearings in 1973, but that public support for the effort grew as more evidence came out about Nixon's illegal behavior.

If he's building an argument to the effect that 1974 happens again and Trump stops being president... then impeachment needs some less-deluded, clearer-headed advocates to combat Pelosi's foot-dragging. I can't begin to blame her for not accepting an argument rooted in historical precedent. We are well beyond history now.

As for abandoning the party, don't. Jesus, don't. A while back I compared the argument that impeachment must be done even if it helps Trump win 2020 to an argument that people should vote third-party. I didn't think the connection could become literal.

If you really need a hill to die on, try that border-funding vote, which had tangible effects. (By all appearences it can be laid at the feet of Schumer, who pulled the rug out from under Pelosi.) Impeachment is a campaign decision, and rejecting the Democratic Party over it is like rejecting them for their choice of social media manager. The Republican Party must be destroyed, not merely shamed with a piece of paper (which could still be a vital step in that larger destruction process!).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:16 AM on July 25, 2019 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure why this idea that Congress' investigative powers are somehow enhanced by calling something an Official Impeachment Investigation is repeated as fact when it is in fact nakedly transparent bullshit dreamed up by the fascist-in-chief's enablers. Especially when the idea has been all but laughed out of court at least once already.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler whose committee is in charge of impeachment said this week on Chris Hayes that it would strengthen their case. Also, do you have a cite for the laughed out of court part? The only thing I’ve seen is Trump’s attorneys arguing that since the House *hasn’t* started an impeachment proceeding, they have no right to information. So even they’re basically admitting impeachment strengthens the case.
posted by chris24 at 5:19 AM on July 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler pushed to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump during a closed-door meeting Wednesday, only to be rebuffed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi

This was so clear from the way the day transpired. Nadler did a great job running his hearing to lead up to the launch. Schiff and Cummings were obviously running the same script. So Pelosi scrapped the plan that was implemented by the chairs of Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight.
posted by diogenes at 6:16 AM on July 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


Schiff downplays impeachment, says that at this point, Trump is only leaving ‘by being voted out’ (WaPo):
“We do need to be realistic, and that is, the only way he’s leaving office, at least at this point, is by being voted out, and I think our efforts need to be made in every respect to make sure we turn out our people,” Schiff said during an interview on CNN. “Should we put the country through an impeachment? I haven’t been convinced yet that we should. Going through that kind of momentous and disruptive experience for the country, I think, is not something we go into lightly.”
posted by peeedro at 6:56 AM on July 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


OK, maybe Schiff wasn't running the impeachment script. But Nadler definitely was. And when Cummings thundered that people would talk about yesterday 500 years from now, I don't think he meant that they would be talking about the day the Democrats maybe made incremental progress in building a case towards an undefined conclusion.
posted by diogenes at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2019 [6 favorites]


“Should we put the country through an impeachment? I haven’t been convinced yet that we should. Going through that kind of momentous and disruptive experience for the country, I think, is not something we go into lightly.”

Oh, for Christ's sake. "The country" won't go through an impeachment. TRUMP will go through an impeachment.

Trump, on the other hand, is what the country is "going through" right now. And it's far worse than enduring a constitutional process being carried out exactly as the founders intended.
posted by mmoncur at 7:21 AM on July 25, 2019 [51 favorites]


Impeachment can't stop any of that unless Republicans in the Senate get on board.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:27 AM on July 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


[Folks, a reminder - this is not a megathread, please stay reasonably on topic and don't spin too far off into general theorizing.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:29 AM on July 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


Impeachment can't stop any of that unless Republicans in the Senate get on board.

Can we at least agree that the "disruptive experience" argument is not a strong one?
posted by diogenes at 7:30 AM on July 25, 2019 [12 favorites]


Philippe Reines:
Today the media decided it’s ok to question someone’s mental acuity based on their demeanor on TV. So we can expect the same when donald trump speaks — right?

Because every time he opens his mouth he barfs up a myriad of symptoms of Neurosyphilis, NPD, dementia & chronic idiocy.



Tom Watson:
Trump currently screaming like a maniac at reporters who will all later say that Democrats have an optics problem.
posted by chris24 at 9:21 AM on July 25, 2019 [49 favorites]


Today's ten-minute adventure into Conservative Talk Radio:

1) "Robert Mueller must be charged with perjury today. Because yesterday, one of two things must be true: either he was putting on an act throughout that hearing, feigning ignorance of all things that would prove devastating to the Democrats' smear attempts, or he neither wrote nor read his own report."

2) "The sole basis for Mueller's content regarding potential obstruction was a New York Times article with no verifiable evidence, which is itself invalidated by the reporter, Maggie Haberman, being a staunch Clinton ally. This invalidates the entire report in and of itself, as it is definitive proof that the report is nothing but an attempted hit piece by the Clintons."

Your mileage, of course, may vary.
posted by delfin at 9:51 AM on July 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trump then began yelling about a "witch hunt" and repeatedly shouting at a reporter for being "fake news".

CNN's Daniel Dale fact-checks Trump's remarks: Trump Falsely Says Mueller Corrected Statement That He Could Be Indicted Once Out of Office
President Donald Trump falsely claimed Wednesday afternoon that Robert Mueller had not testified that Trump could be indicted once he is out of office.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump insisted repeatedly, and wrongly, that Mueller "didn't say that" and that Mueller had issued a "correction" of the claim.

Facts First: Mueller did say that, unequivocally, and did not correct it. His correction was about a different statement he had made earlier.[…]

Mueller explained later, at the outset of his afternoon testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, that he did not mean to suggest he would have charged Trump if not for the Department of Justice policy Lieu was referring to. Rather, he meant that, because of the policy, they did not even consider charging Trump.

"As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the President committed a crime," he said.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:58 AM on July 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


The frustrating thing about the "we can only vote him out" argument is that impeachment isn't only successful with removal. This is something the Repubs who spent all that time trying to drag Clinton down understood. The investigation should be the point.

I want it to start now, because we need all of this out in the light well ahead of the election. We need tax returns, a breakdown of inauguration finances, more lawyers subpoenaed, and all communications between the campaign and foreign agents made public.

That is the only way this will be a fair election. If we are fully informed as to the extent of this president's misdeeds.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:26 AM on July 25, 2019 [34 favorites]


What the Mueller Investigation Was Always About, by Dahlia Lithwick: "The whole point of this sad affair—lost entirely on a Law & Order nation intent on seeing the Mueller investigation end with Trump in handcuffs on the White House lawn—was that Russia hacked an election, that it is right now hacking the next election, and that this is a threat to national security and the long-standing American experiment in representative democracy." (She's not arguing against impeachment, just trying to zoom out and refocus on the context.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:43 AM on July 25, 2019 [28 favorites]


John Cassidy, Why The Mueller Hearings Were So Alarming:
The wanton disrespect that these elected Republicans showed Mueller was perhaps the most alarming testament yet to Trump’s total conquest of the Party. In today’s G.O.P., as in Stalin’s Russia, evidently, decades of loyal public service count for nothing when the leader and his henchmen decide someone represents a threat and the apparatchiks have been ordered to take that person down. All that matters is carrying out the order and staying in the leader’s good graces. That isn’t congressional oversight. It is scorched-earth politics of a kind that is entirely antithetical to the notion of checks and balances enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Susan B. Glassner, "Accountability"? The Mueller Hearing Is How Trump Escapes:
The concerns about Mueller’s halting performance were not mere theatre criticism. He was unable to defend his report and its findings beyond simply referring lawmakers to the text, over and over again. In his effort not to be trapped by Democrats into suggesting that Trump should be impeached, Mueller did a disservice to his own work. He did not need to make new assertions of law or fact but merely explain in clear terms the conclusions he reached and why. There was not one moment when he did so.
posted by theodolite at 11:27 AM on July 25, 2019 [20 favorites]


"The whole point of this sad affair—lost entirely on a Law & Order nation intent on seeing the Mueller investigation end with Trump in handcuffs on the White House lawn—was that Russia hacked an election, that it is right now hacking the next election, and that this is a threat to national security and the long-standing American experiment in representative democracy."

I get this, but Russia being aided and abetted by a U.S. president is a big part of that story any way you cut it. You don't have to have beyond a reasonable doubt level of proof for this to be true. The obstruction of the investigation, a charge Trump would almost certainly be found guilty of in a court of law, provides cover for the Russian attack on Democracy.

There are two parts to this story. One part is Russia subverting a U.S. election, and the other part is that that wouldn't have been possible without the help of Trump's campaign. You can even believe that all of Trump's campaign team's actions were legal and still find this to be true. Allowing Trump's campaign team's actions to go unpunished or become normal threatens Democracy just as much as ignoring Russia.
posted by xammerboy at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2019 [20 favorites]


MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin:
“The Senate Intel Committee has released its election security findings in the 1st volume of their Russia report, finding:
* Russian gov't directed extensive activity against US election infrastructure
* DHS & FBI warnings in 2016 didn't provide enough info
https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume1.pdf
(Crossposted from the megathread, because the timing of this release immediately following Mueller’s testimony hardly seems coincidental.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:35 PM on July 25, 2019 [15 favorites]


And yet, McConnell blocks two election security bills the day after Mueller testified that "They're doing it as we sit here, and they'll expect to do it the next campaign." The hearing was the perfect venue to highlight that the Republicans are complicit this attack and block any efforts to stop it, but that didn't happen.
posted by zachlipton at 12:39 PM on July 25, 2019 [41 favorites]


The frustrating thing about the "we can only vote him out" argument is that impeachment isn't only successful with removal. This is something the Repubs who spent all that time trying to drag Clinton down understood. The investigation should be the point.

The Republicans didn't set out to impeach Bill Clinton over lying about sex; they found out about his affair in the context of their investigations into Whitewater, even though Starr didn't bring charges about Whitewater itself.

The Republicans didn't set out to investigate Hillary Clinton's conformity to email administration best practices; they tried -- and failed! -- to pin something on her regarding Benghazi, and found out about her email server during that investigation.

What we know about Trump already -- the information in the public domain, from his hush money slush fund to lying about the Trump Tower Moscow project to his fraudulent foundation -- is already scandalous, and Trump's everyday actions indicate that he has oh, so much to hide. And Trump's existing scandals should cause the so-called "liberal media" to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt -- or at least, one would think so.

Trump isn't stonewalling because of outraged innocence. Just like Nixon, he's doing it because he's guilty, and it's obvious he's doing it because he's obviously guilty. Just imagine what a little Congressional digging will turn up!

Heck, we don't even have to. Trump's complaints that Democratic investigations are only to turn up embarrassing information are meant as a defense -- and the gullible media presents them as such -- but they're actually a tacit admission of guilt. Go dig, Congress. There isn't gold to be found, but a much smellier material, and plenty of it.
posted by Gelatin at 1:42 PM on July 25, 2019 [24 favorites]


So when Trump exits office (however, whenever), is it better for Congress to have compiled a list of all his crimes so it's easier for him to issues all the blanket pardons of himself and every Republican even peripherally involved, or to have waited 'till he doesn't have pardon power to compile that list so he could conceivably be charged (in some better timeline) with something he didn't think to pardon himself for? Or is the hope instead that state charges will somehow stick and not be ruled to fall under his blanket pardons by the Republican Supreme Court? (I may be feeling a bit pessimistic today.)
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 1:50 PM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


He can’t pardon himself.

Literally no idea if that’s true but really hope he can’t.
posted by sio42 at 2:28 PM on July 25, 2019


When you’re a star they let you do it...
posted by Burhanistan at 2:37 PM on July 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


He cannot pardon himself in advance of being convicted, which he hasn’t been. Just like he couldn’t say “everyone in the US gets a blanket pardon to commit any crime they want tomorrow.” At least yet!
posted by sallybrown at 3:05 PM on July 25, 2019


Didn't Ford pardon Nixon without a conviction?
posted by SpaceBass at 3:08 PM on July 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yes, I am totally wrong about that. From WaPo
But presidents can, and do, bypass that process. In Ex parte Garland , the Supreme Court settled the question of preemptive pardons. The justices in that 1866 case decided that while pardons could reach only past acts, the pardon “may be exercised at any time after [the act’s] commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency or after conviction and judgment.”

Even before Garland, President Abraham Lincoln (among others) pardoned dozens of people — including alleged traitors — preemptively. More recently, President Jimmy Carter pardoned hundreds of thousands of Vietnam draft evaders, including those who had not been charged or convicted. And, most famously, President Gerald Ford pardoned President Richard Nixon, who had not yet been charged with anything.
This is for Presidential pardons specifically and isn’t true for other types of pardons, FYI.

I wonder if you could push the limits of this by arguing that the Russia matter is an ongoing conspiracy and the commission of this crime hasn’t ended?
posted by sallybrown at 3:11 PM on July 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


I wonder if you could push the limits of this by arguing that the Russia matter is an ongoing conspiracy and the commission of this crime hasn’t ended?


I gotta think so. If someone's stealing from work everyday, and they get pardoned, and then steal tomorrow, I can't imagine a pardon would still apply.
posted by avalonian at 3:15 PM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


You might also argue that if the OLC memo is correct that the President cannot be charged because of his status as POTUS, the underlying acts that he could have been charged for otherwise are in some sort of ineligible neutral zone that also prevents the President from pardoning himself for them.
posted by sallybrown at 3:17 PM on July 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Democratic leadership aren't declining to launch impeachment investigations in the absence of more data: the present hearings would be part of impeachment investigations if impeachment were on the table. They've clearly ruled impeachment out, for whatever reason, and it's not because they're ill-informed.

In the absence of a miracle ("X will save us!") IMO there's not enough time to work around their resistance and actually impeach Trump before the 2020 election campaign. And once the campaign is going, politicians won't have the time or energy for hearings. Also, the public perception of impeachment will change; it's going to look even more like a politically-inspired process. I want Trump to be impeached, but I just can't see it happening.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:31 PM on July 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


“Katherine Clark comes out for impeachment. Clark is the sixth highest-ranking Dem in the House leadership, and the fourth House Dem to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry since yesterday morning.” @studentactivism
posted by The Whelk at 3:53 PM on July 25, 2019 [10 favorites]


“Katherine Clark comes out for impeachment. Clark is the sixth highest-ranking Dem in the House leadership, and the fourth House Dem to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry since yesterday morning.” @studentactivism

That makes 96. Need 22 more for a majority of the caucus.
posted by diogenes at 4:07 PM on July 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


I think I've seen the Presidential pardon discussed extensively and I think the the consensus is that the Presidential pardon power is vast, with the two restrictions that it's federal only and can only apply to crimes committed prior to the pardon. A blanket pardon for any and all federal crimes committed prior to the pardon, even if unknown at the time of the pardon, is allowed. This is what Ford did for Nixon. Pardons can't apply to future crimes at all. No President has pardoned themselves, but there's no Constitutional prohibition and I think scholars mostly agree it would be allowed. I totally can see Trump doing this, but if he thinks it's necessary I can see Pence doing it for him if Trump resigns just before he leaves office.

Probably the one bit of info about the law and being President that Trump actually paid attention to and remembers are the details of the Presidential pardon.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:08 PM on July 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


Actually, Robert Mueller Was Awesome

by Renato Marrioti for Politico
In the long view, the verdict of history depends most of all on Mueller being seen as nonpartisan, measured and above the fray—an operator whose work is unimpeachable and can be relied on (now, or after Trump’s term, or years from now) as a bulletproof statement of fact. So all the little details of the case that members were trying to ferret out pale in comparison to his ability to maintain that status and be seen as a reliable agent of impartiality. During the hearing, that was clearly his goal. In doing that, he succeeded, and history can thank him for it.
...
The hesitation you saw in Mueller before he answered questions was the face of a man who was choosing his words carefully. He played it safe, like a football team running out the clock. His constant desire to double-check his report and to refer members of Congress to the report itself was motivated by a desire to ensure that each word of his testimony was accurate. He had no incentive to hurry, knowing it would be hard for members to challenge him in a five-minute time span if he took his time.
...
Through his careful answers, Mueller was able to thread a needle, staking out very nuanced and careful legal positions without seriously being tested by the members who questioned him.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:47 PM on July 25, 2019 [25 favorites]


"In the long view, the verdict of history depends most of all on Mueller being seen as nonpartisan, measured and above the fray—an operator whose work is unimpeachable and can be relied on (now, or after Trump’s term, or years from now) as a bulletproof statement of fact."

Yeah, I've been saying that a silver-lining of this is that his being very unlike Ken Starr is that history will judge him much more credible and take this very seriously.

Though, as Keynes famously said, in the long-run we are all dead. This silver-lining is not greatly comfortimg to me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:50 PM on July 25, 2019 [7 favorites]


But isn't that also the argument for impeachment? That it will be an asterisk against Trump's name in the history books?

I think the report is the asterisk next to Trump's name in history. I know he did not change many minds in the present. But I think Mueller determined once and for all how history will see all this.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:56 PM on July 25, 2019 [3 favorites]


The opposition party and the House deciding that these are not offenses worthy of impeachment hearings or investigation will influence how history sees it, and how history sees them.

Seriously, the decision to treat all this as just another potential issue that maybe isn't polling well enough to put at the top of your 2020 strategy is horrible and amplifies the damage Trump is doing. I complain about the press endlessly but at this point I can't fault them for covering Trump as just another politician, if that's how the Democrats are determined to treat him.
posted by mark k at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2019 [16 favorites]


Trump went on Hannity's show earlier this evening to take an undeserved victory lap over the Mueller hearings. Describing it as "short and relatively calm by the standards of Trump-Hannity phone calls", Daniel Dale has some highlights:
—Hannity begins his first "question" to Trump: "I'm just going to open it up to you to go wherever you want with this."
—Trump says he wasn't going to watch the testimony at all but then thought about it and watched a little bit and then "watched more than I wanted to" and then watched in the afternoon.
—"This was treason," Trump falsely claims of the Mueller investigation. He also says it was "high crimes," using a phrase from the impeachment section of the Constitution.
—Asked what he'd say to the biased media, Trump says "the media has become totally unhinged, has "lost all credibility" and is "the enemy of the people."
—Trump says the notion of collusion with Russia was a terrible thing to say about someone who loves America as much as he does.
—Trump refers again to "Russian bloggers," "a lot of bloggers, bloggers in Russia," who were discussed in the Mueller report. It was hackers. Russian hackers. No bloggers.
—The president: "We have some very, very bad people in government that would be willing to do bad things and for bad reasons."
—Trump says he hasn't thought about possible pardons connected to the Mueller investigation.
—Trump calls the Russia investigation an "illegal takeover" and a "coup attempt." It was not illegal and was not a coup attempt.
I complain about the press endlessly but at this point I can't fault them for covering Trump as just another politician, if that's how the Democrats are determined to treat him.

Yesterday Trump was angrily shouting "fake news" at reporters. They know who he is and the threat he presents. In the meantime, though, he makes for good TV and column inches (certainly better than the boring Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Elijah Cummings, and Adam Schiff).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:32 PM on July 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


—"This was treason," Trump falsely claims of the Mueller investigation.

While fact-checking, Dale perhaps should point out that treason is defined, in the Constitution, as such:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

It's not a catch-all term for doing something improper or illegal to harm the President politically - if, for the sake of argument, one believed that that was what the investigation did.
posted by thelonius at 7:59 PM on July 25, 2019 [5 favorites]


I mean, I know I am preaching to the choir here, but take a minute and appreciate that the President of the United States is calling, on a nakedly partisan political TV program, a lawfully constituted investigation into a foreign power's interference in our election, and its entanglements with his campaign, "treason".
posted by thelonius at 8:08 PM on July 25, 2019 [50 favorites]


It's lickspittles all the way up.
posted by mammoth at 8:09 PM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


In the long view, the verdict of history depends most of all on Mueller being seen as nonpartisan, measured and above the fray—an operator whose work is unimpeachable and can be relied on (now, or after Trump’s term, or years from now) as a bulletproof statement of fact.

Mueller's poker face isn't a deciding factor in the long verdict of history. The evidence of Trump's guilt is overwhelming. I fear the verdict of history will be that sometimes the truth must be defended and stated zealously.
posted by xammerboy at 10:55 PM on July 25, 2019 [9 favorites]


The judgment of future historians does not interest me because at this rate there may not be any.
posted by M-x shell at 4:51 AM on July 26, 2019 [13 favorites]


John Stoehr: Fascist Press Begets Fascist Politics - If nothing matters but power, Trump can do no wrong
Jonathan Bernstein said this morning that the worst part of Robert Mueller’s testimony was hearing Republican conspiracy theories. That’s not the worst part.

The worst part is a political press that can’t or won’t say that House Republicans did little but repeat conspiracy theories they had heard from the right-wing media.

The worst part is a press corps that can’t or won’t recognize the amazing fact that a former FBI director said amazing things about the president...

But the worst thing of all was the reaction of many in the political press, and by this, I mean the highest-profile reporters from the most influential outlets and publications, so-called professional truth-tellers who listened to Robert Mueller not with concern or worry or even fear, but with indifference. Everything is as good or bad as everything else in Washington, so nothing truly matters. Welcome to moral relativist hell. [...]

Trump does not need a Soviet Politburo. He does not need a Nazi Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda. He does not need an army of Russian saboteurs. He doesn’t even need House Republicans repeating conspiracy theories. All this president needs to make war on the truth, break the law, profane the US Constitution and undermine the will of the people is a press corps as aggressively anti-moral as ours. [...]

Trump is wrong in calling the press the enemy of the people. But they aren’t his enemies either. Power is all that matters. Fascists have a way of finding each other.
posted by chris24 at 5:02 AM on July 26, 2019 [21 favorites]


This probably deserves it’s own FPP but N+1 is doing a deep read of the Mueller Report HOW THEY GOT AWAY WITH IT
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


While fact-checking, Dale perhaps should point out that treason is defined, in the Constitution, as such:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

It's not a catch-all term for doing something improper or illegal to harm the President politically


I've argued before that McConnell's telling Obama that he (McConnell) would label any attempt by Obama to reveal the Russian interference in the election that McConnell was just briefed about as itself an attempt to game the election is arguably treason -- and, if one believes Joe Biden, who related the tale, it was committed in front of two witnesses.
posted by Gelatin at 8:21 AM on July 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


The worst part is a political press that can’t or won’t say that House Republicans did little but repeat conspiracy theories they had heard from the right-wing media.

The worst part is that the political press won't admit that Fox News is part of the right-wing media and not a legitimate journalistic endeavor that demolishes the credibility of everyone they employ (I'm looking at you, Mara Liasson).
posted by Gelatin at 8:27 AM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is worth a read — The Press Has Adopted Trump’s Reality-Show Standards (The Atlantic)
In any other administration, in any other time, a special prosecutor, former FBI director, and decorated Marine testifying that the president of the United States was an unprosecuted felon who encouraged and then benefited from an attack on American democracy in pursuit of personal and political gain would bring the country grinding to a halt. But the American political press found Mueller insufficiently dazzling.

The New York Times declared, in language Trump could have written himself, “Mueller’s Performance Was a Departure From His Much-Fabled Stamina.” The Washington Post announced, “On Mueller’s Final Day on the National Stage, a Halting, Faltering Performance,” and, in a separate piece, dubbed Mueller a “weary old man.” Conservative outlets, fond of reciting the president’s grandiose self-assessments of his health and intelligence, openly speculated that Mueller was unwell.

Although other pieces from the same outlets covered the substance of Mueller’s testimony, the conclusion that he had failed to excite his audience framed the totality of coverage. NBC News’s Chuck Todd spoke for much of the political press when he declared, “On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the OLC guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things. But on optics, this was a disaster.” Mueller testified that the president was likely guilty of federal crimes, and the most important American media outlets reviewed his performance like a disappointing late-series episode of Game of Thrones. Mueller did not deliver The Payoff That Was Promised.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:29 AM on July 26, 2019 [21 favorites]


"The trouble with Trump is that he's a serious fame junkie. He's totally hooked ... and like any other junkie, he's a bummer to be around. Especially as President."

(borrowed from Hunter Thompson, and upgraded slightly with Nixon switched out for Trump and politics switched out for fame)

The bummer gets worse, of course, when the mainstream media can't help but buy in at least to some degree. So yeah, you get Mueller being reviewed for his performance as opposed to analyzed for his substance. None of this is new. None of this is due its own shock wave of revlation or whatever. The problem with having a junkie in the room is the vacuum they create just sucks everything their way.
posted by philip-random at 8:40 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


Jay Rosen @jayrosen_nyu
Thread by former @WSJ journalist who is fed up with what she saw this week during and after the Mueller testimony.

Heidi N. Moore @moorehn
This is a massive ongoing catastrophe in journalism, a slow-motion car crash of failed ethics and corrupt news judgment. It's been going on for four years, getting progressively worse, and it's hurting both media and the country.

read whole thing on Threadreader
posted by bitteschoen at 10:16 AM on July 26, 2019 [35 favorites]


Moore’s dismantling of Politico is especially welcome:
5. After/alongside the sourcing expansion, there needs to be a serious revisiting of journalism ethics around access and independence. The current press corps in DC is all infected with Politico's old culture: sharp elbows, bullying high-school dynamics, and gossip-as-news
5a. Politico works great ONLY for Politico readers. It is a trade publication for political insiders. Those methods and news judgment DO NOT TRANSLATE to national publications. What is news for lobbyists is useless for the electorate. This should be obvious...but somehow isn't?
5a. A lot of political editors think the key to "scoops" is hiring from Politico. It's not. Those Politico scoops are incremental and for experts; they do not stand up on a national level. Hire Politico people if you want to but you MUST retrain them in *national* news judgment.
5a contd This is a crucial point, because it goes to audience. The Politico audience cares about polls because THEY are the pollsters. A voter is not served by hot takes on optics. It's alienating and useless for voting decisions. The world is not the DC popularity contest.
5b. It is absolutely necessary for EICs to take your political teams aside and train them in the details of WHO YOUR READERS ARE. Their income, their jobs, their preferred methods of reading news. If you don't, your reporters will serve the DC bubble.
I’m as guilty as anyone on the megathreads for passing along Politco’s insider leaks, but in my defense, I’ve been complaining about Politico alumni’s influence in national newspapers, too (e.g. Maggie Haberman at the NYT).
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:31 AM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


Politics right now is the biggest story in American history since the Civil War. It's corruption, treason, cyberwar, racial hatreds, women and POC finding a voice and real power for the first time in decades.

And the DC press corps is completely fucking up the assignment.


Also from Moore's thread. It's the truest truth I've seen for a while. I hope someone will read this and take it to heart, but I am not an optimist any longer.
posted by mumimor at 10:44 AM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


Also from Moore's thread (emphasis added):
3b. Optics+theater are not politics, they're advertising. Do you have political reporters, able to do the hard work of policy and sourcing? Or do you have advertising reporters reviewing House bills like Super Bowl commercials? Real advertising reporters are more rigorous, FYI.
Ouch!
posted by Gelatin at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


That thread of Moore's is amazingly good, I feel a bit like a fish finally noticing the water. Like of course political stories are broken if the whole take is "here is the thing that happened, liberals love it, conservatives hate it, the end", just setting the narrative right out of the gate that the topic doesn't matter, what matters is that everyone fulfills their designated roles in the political machine and reacts how we expect them to react.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well neither Moore nor Rosen themselves are optimistic - here’s what they said in replies:
"- I talk about this with journalists (including this week with a former top editor of a major publication) and my strong sense is that the executives and producers of political coverage do not think there is anything off track or fundamentally broken about their methods and models."

"- 100% agree with this, there is absolutely no sense that anything isn't working. It's a very arrogant attitude."
posted by bitteschoen at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's a very arrogant attitude.

As proven repeatedly in how NYT reporters act and respond on Twitter to even the slightest critique or feedback.
posted by chris24 at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


It's a very arrogant attitude.

As proven repeatedly in how NYT reporters act and respond on Twitter to even the slightest critique or feedback.


Every time I see a new Haberman article on Twitter, I scroll down the comments until I see "No, it's the children who are wrong." It never takes very long.
posted by Etrigan at 11:24 AM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


A big takeaway I get from that thread is DC sources : modern political journalists :: corporate lobbyists : legislators, just handing them finished homework that advances an agenda but hey, easier than doing the work yourself. And that makes a lot of things about how we got here click for me. You don't even need some sinister corporate news owner involved at the editorial level to finely craft an agenda, not everyone has to be Fox News - even if you're not hiring ex-Politico journos where PR was the culture, if you just understaff and underpay your newsroom the rot happens naturally.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:37 AM on July 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


LA Times, Judiciary Democrats say they have effectively begun an impeachment inquiry already
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee told reporters Friday that they don’t need to launch a formal impeachment inquiry because they’re essentially conducting one already with their investigation into President Trump.

“In effect,” committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said when asked if the panel’s ongoing probe is effectively the same as an impeachment inquiry.

The only difference, the New York Democrat said, is with a formal impeachment inquiry the panel would only be considering impeachment.

“That’s not what we’re doing .… We’re not limited to that,” Nadler said.
...
“From my personal standpoint, I would say we’re in an impeachment investigation,” Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin said, noting there’s no statute or House rule governing what form an impeachment inquiry must take.
Politico, with the same source material but a different take, Dems move closer to impeachment in strategy shakeup
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s announcement on Friday that the House is formally seeking special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand-jury information complicates the far more cautious message on impeachment coming from Pelosi and her top deputies.

Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the action “in effect” is part of an impeachment inquiry — though one has not been formally launched.

“We are continuing an investigation of the president’s malfeasances,” Nadler said. “And we will consider what we have to consider, including whether we should recommend articles of impeachment to the House. That’s the job of our committee.”

But on the same day, Pelosi reiterated that she’s still not ready to endorse a push to launch impeachment proceedings, and dismissed the idea that she was feeling pressure from her caucus. “We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed. Not one day sooner,” the California Democrat said at her weekly press conference.
This seems more like trying to have it both ways than Democrats in Disarray, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing. If saying it's an impeachment investigation gives them one more argument to use in court when it comes to tax returns or grand jury information, then that's useful. If Pelsoi not shouting impeachment from the rooftops gives short-term cover to vulnerable Democrats in Trump-voting districts, that's fine too. The question is what can actually come out of the process that's not "lol nothing matters."
posted by zachlipton at 12:30 PM on July 26, 2019 [12 favorites]


And just in time, APPLICATION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FOR AN ORDER AUTHORIZING THE RELEASE OF CERTAIN GRAND JURY MATERIALS containing the argument "The Judiciary Committee Is Investigating Whether To Recommend Articles of Impeachment."
posted by zachlipton at 12:37 PM on July 26, 2019 [29 favorites]


This seems more like trying to have it both ways than Democrats in Disarray, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

One advantage of a real or formal inquiry is that it provides a committee with greatly expanded — and enforceable — powers to facilitate investigations into Trump's criminal activities. What Nadler is doing now, however noble in intent, does not. We're seeing that when subpoenas are not enforced, and when witnesses get away with refusing to answer direct questions placed to them by Congress.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:12 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Who is actually counting the available votes? My own representative (Jimmy Gomez, CA-34) has been voting in favor of impeachment since there were like 58 people in favor of it, yet NeedToImpeach has him listed as ??? And I've gotten emails from MoveOn as recently as last week suggesting that I visit Jimmy's local office and hand him a letter with my demand that he supports impeachment.
Also, unhelpfully, the NBC news article detailing which members are in favor has him listed as Jimmy Gomey (not Gomez) which.... doesn't surprise me given how no one seems to edit anything anymore. (Is my "old man shouting at clouds" showing?)
From his own twitter feed of July 18 (I don't know how to link that sh*t):
"Yesterday, I voted to allow debate on articles of impeachment. My third time.
The first time the House voted on a similar resolution there were only 58 of us.
The second time 66.
Yesterday, 95.
How many will join us after Mueller testifies before Congress?"

I'm going to attribute this "confusion" to our terrible-to-the-point-of-useless infotainment/news media.
posted by ButteryMales at 1:22 PM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


CNN keeps an up-to-date whip count here
posted by contraption at 4:01 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


That CNN link says: "List: The 100 House Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry into Trump"

But it seems that an impeachment inquiry is already under way.

The whip count for votes to impeach, if such a vote were to be held today, would be different, presumably.

But I am still interested in knowing the whip count in the Senate.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:59 PM on July 26, 2019


Judiciary Vice Chair Rep. Scanlon and co. are blunt about it: "Why We're Moving Forward With Impeachment"
posted by jason_steakums at 5:17 PM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


From the article above:

While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process... We will move forward with the impeachment process.

I'm confused. Why isn't this coming from Nadler, and why is it a letter in the Atlantic? Is this a revolt in the committee?
posted by diogenes at 5:47 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Right? It's nuts that this is released this way. Everybody else is reading the tea leaves of the petition for grand jury materials from earlier and this letter is just low key clearly stating "yes, we're doing this."
posted by jason_steakums at 5:51 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


And doesn't this put the the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee in direct opposition to the Speaker of the House and the Chair of the Intelligence Committee?

What is happening!?! How is Twitter not blowing up with this right now?
posted by diogenes at 5:53 PM on July 26, 2019


i have canceled my subscription to the washington post because of their wretched coverage of the mueller hearings. if democracy dies in darkness, the washington post is covered in vantablack.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


One of the other signers of the letter is Veronica Escobar. She's the Rep who closed the Judiciary hearing and got Mueller to say that she'd previously named the "congressional remedy" referenced in the report (i.e. impeachment).
posted by diogenes at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


There's no revolt. Nadler this morning said they are "in effect" engaging in an impeachment inquiry: "And we will consider what we have to consider, including whether we should recommend articles of impeachment to the House. That’s the job of our committee." Today's court filing requesting grand jury material says "The Judiciary Committee Is Investigating Whether To Recommend Articles of Impeachment." And underneath that section heading, it points out this isn't even a new position for the Committee: this is something they've said several times before. See The House has already opened an impeachment investigation against Trump, which OnceUponATime linked above.

An "impeachment investigation" doesn't have to take any particular form or be started in any particular way. The reason to explicitly say this now a little more loudly is because it's established law that the committee can access grand jury material for an impeachment inquiry, and the committee just asked for grand jury material.
posted by zachlipton at 6:10 PM on July 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


But why is the Vice Chair making an "announcement" without the Chair or the rest of the committee? And why did Schiff say just yesterday that the impeachment process would be bad for the country?
posted by diogenes at 6:13 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it has been frustrating to see the media by and large failing to explicitly debunk all the conspiracy crap that House Republicans just spewed out into public discourse. It would have been nice Mueller just do it himself, but I understand more or less why he was unwilling to engage with them. The media on the other hand should be fully capable of pointing out how none of their baseless conspiracies would even make sense.

If it was Democrats who were "actually" conspiring with Russia, then why would Russia hack into the DNC rather than the RNC? Why would DJT continue insisting, against publicly released intelligence data, that Russia might not even be behind the hacking/interference? Why would every member of his campaign continually lie to Congress, to the FBI, on legal forms, etc. about their interactions with Russia? Why would Russia be working with the party whose members are voting to increase Russian sanctions rather than the one who wants to remove them? etc, etc.

And all of that should be besides the point, because even if Fusion GPS somehow set up the Trump Tower meeting as they insinuated, the campaign team still attempted to conspire. DJT knew and helped hide it from the public. Not to mention any of the obstruction of justice stuff that continues to this day...
posted by p3t3 at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2019 [8 favorites]


what is rotten in the u.s. journalism industry has been rotten for a lot longer than four years.

finally looking toward executive management and directors of companies inhabiting the journalism sector is an encouraging step. we aren't great at turning our critical gaze there, and holding it, learning names & contact chaining to other boards of other organizations. not sure how to exert influence on such rarefied persons; much easier to revile beat reporters and talking heads.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:36 PM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


required viewing:

manufacturing consent
posted by philip-random at 10:03 PM on July 26, 2019 [5 favorites]


Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset
Dana Milbank Opinion in the Washington Post
Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.”
Not three hours after Mueller finished testifying, Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, went to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent to pass legislation requiring presidential campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of assistance from agents of foreign governments.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) was there to represent her leader’s interests. “I object,” she said.
posted by mumimor at 11:08 PM on July 26, 2019 [20 favorites]


AP Fact Check: Mueller’s Words Twisted By Trump and More
TRUMP to his critics, in a fundraising letter from his 2020 campaign: “How many times do I have to be exonerated before they stop?” — during Mueller’s testimony Wednesday

THE FACTS: Trump has not been exonerated by Mueller at all. “No,” Mueller said when asked during his Capitol Hill questioning whether he had cleared the president of criminal wrongdoing in the investigation that looked into the 2016 Trump campaign’s relations with Russians and Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

In his report, Mueller said his team declined to make a prosecutorial judgment on whether to charge Trump, partly because of a Justice Department legal opinion that said sitting presidents shouldn’t be indicted.

As a result, his detailed report factually laid out instances in which Trump might have obstructed justice, leaving it up to Congress to take up the matter.

As well, Mueller looked into a potential criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign and said the investigation did not collect sufficient evidence to establish criminal charges on that front.

Following Mueller’s testimony, Trump abruptly took a different stance on the special counsel’s report. After months of claiming exoneration, and only hours after stating as much in the fundraising letter while the hearing unfolded, Trump incongruously flipped, saying “He didn’t have the right to exonerate.”

----

TRUMP, on why Mueller did not recommend charges: “He made his decision based on the facts, not based on some rule.” — remarks to reporters Wednesday after the hearings.

THE FACTS: Mueller did not say that.

The special counsel said his team never reached a determination on charging Trump. At no point has he suggested that he made that decision because the facts themselves did not support charges.

The rule Trump refers to is the Justice Department legal opinion that says sitting presidents are immune from indictment — and that guidance did restrain the investigators, though it was not the only factor in play.
Just as with the rollout of the redacted Mueller report, Trump is making baseless claims that contradict not only Mueller's findings and testimony but also Trump's previous statements. It's a media strategy that ought to work only on Fox News and with the rightwing noise machine. Team Trump probably believes that's sufficient.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:22 AM on July 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


There's no revolt. Nadler this morning said they are "in effect" engaging in an impeachment inquiry

I can't take credit for this perspective, but I think it's an interesting one: There won't be impeachment proceedings during this term of Trump's presidency; the current proceedings are a) helpful for holding the House and trying to take the Senate, and b) slowly preparing a fail-safe in the event that Trump is reelected. If he's not reelected, there can be prosecutions. If he is reelected, then we'll see impeachment proceedings.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


If he is reelected, then we'll see impeachment proceedings

If he is reelected with all these facts public, then it will be viewed as a sign that the public is not going to hold him accountable for any crimes, Republicans will be even more invested in not removing him, and nothing will happen. The fact that the Democrats can't muster the confidence to start a vigorous investigation after winning an election makes claims they'll do so after losing one totally unpersuasive.

To be clear I defended the Democrats go slow approach for the first few months; I'm not some bomb thrower by temperament. But watching what they are doing and listening to their reasons why has flipped me around on this.
posted by mark k at 8:24 AM on July 27, 2019 [11 favorites]


[Just to let people know, we have a separate Impeachment investigation thread, probably better to take impeachment stuff over there.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2019 [4 favorites]




A roundup from the rumor mill by the WaPo, Mueller’s team is said to have told Congress his acuity was not an issue. Some lawmakers privately worry it was.

n.b. Matt Zapotosky's shares the byline on this story, and his sources from Team Trump go back to when Jeff Sessions was running the DoJ. (Zapotosky's reporting on the Mueller hearing bore the headline "Mueller, In Occasionally Halting Testimony, Points To Foreign Interference And Offers Some Sharp Criticism of Trump"—emphasis added, because this is following GOP/Fox News talking points.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:13 AM on July 28, 2019 [9 favorites]


Look at the Mueller Report as a Detective Story. It Will Blow Your Mind. (Quinta Jurecic, NYT Opinion)
The first half of the report — on efforts by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election — is a spy thriller, a high-stakes caper with greed, dirty deals and intrigue straight out of a Cold War potboiler. The second half — on President Trump’s efforts to obstruct Mr. Mueller’s investigation — is a Shakespearean drama about deception and power. But at its core, the 448-page volume is a detective story. [...]

In this, the Mueller report fits neatly into a subgenre known as the “metaphysical detective story” — stories that take Sherlock Holmes’s triumphant cracking of the case and turn it upside down, so the detective’s efforts end in the same disorder with which they began. These are mysteries about the impossibility of ever really solving a mystery, or perhaps of knowing anything at all.

The uncertainties that hover around the Mueller report evoke similar themes. How much can be known about what Donald Trump had in mind when he fired James Comey? Was Mr. Trump intent on stopping the Russia investigation, or was his goal to remove an F.B.I. director who irritated him for other reasons? Will the question of what Paul Manafort was up to remain forever unanswered, the information crucial to solving the puzzle lost? And if the full story of the Russia affair remains beyond the reach of explanation, to what extent does this cast doubt on the whole project of restoring order in the first place?

As in the metaphysical detective story, these factual gaps raise broader questions about the detective’s inability to reconstruct the story of the crime. Put crudely, this is the question of what it means that Robert Mueller can’t save the country. It’s how to understand the effect on the stability of American democracy of both the president’s relative impunity at the end of an investigation that strongly implied he may have committed serious crimes and the nation’s inability to come to grips with the fact of interference by a foreign power in an election.

Or to put it another way: Does anything matter?

Mr. Mueller clearly thinks it does. Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, he became most animated when he spoke about election interference: “I hope this is not the new normal,” he said, “but I fear it is.”

In this way, the Mueller report may turn out to be more of a film noir than anything else. The detective successfully uncovers the plot, only to discover that the society around him is too rotten to do anything about it. For all the missing pieces in this story, the issue is less whether it can be told and more whether anyone cares to listen.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:56 PM on August 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


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