The problem with Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony was not his piss-poor performance skills. It was that he did not tell the American people everything he knows about the incorrigible gangster and dangerous lunatic in the White House.
What did he have to lose? He’s about to turn 75, a private citizen, reportedly has millions of dollars socked away, and has – had? – a reputation as straight-shooting paragon of American patriotism.
Yet, in compiling a 448-page report and delivering seven hours of testimony in the House, the decorated ex-Marine did not consider it his duty to tell us whether the president of the United States is a Russian agent and/or running a criminal enterprise out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The least Mueller could have done is open with what most Americans with half a brain already know or suspect:
This president, this administration, is the most corrupt in the history of the United States and the greatest threat to national security since Jefferson Davis, the Rosenbergs, Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, Ted Kaczynski, killer bees, Osama bin Laden, Julian Assange or Tucker Carlson, take your pick.
Instead, we saw a timid witness kowtow to an edict handed down by his former boss, the president’s consigliere, Bill Barr: Do not go beyond the content of the special counsel’s report.
There are some juicy bits in the document, which describes Trump and his crew as thick as thieves with Russians bent on destroying American democracy for fun and profit. But, since there is no time-stamped HD video of the Dirty Don, Putin and their henchmen hatching a plot to rig the 2016 election, Mueller gave the Don and his capos a pass on conspiracy.
Then there was the part in the report about the president doing everything but hire a hitman to whack Mueller. For this, the Don got a stay-out-of-jail-free card as long as he’s in the White House.
Under questioning by Democrats – the Republicans had scant interest in the report – Mueller’s replies sounded more like they were coming from a well-coached defendant than a prosecutor.
“That is correct” … “No” … “True” … “I don’t believe so” … “I can’t answer that question” … “This is out of my purview” …
Since he was still following orders, the lifelong Republican appeared to be nothing more than a loyal lieutenant.
The guy who could have all the answers, all the clues, mostly clammed up.
Is it because his investigation was as lame as his testimony?
Is that why he didn’t make a case on Trump’s sketchy finances, the only thing the president cares about?
Late in the proceedings last Wednesday, Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi asked Mueller: “Your office did not obtain the president’s tax returns which could otherwise show foreign financial services, correct?”
“I’m not going to speak to that,” Mueller replied.
“In July 2017, the president said his personal finances were off limits or outside the purview of your investigation. And he drew a red line around his personal finances. Were the president’s personal finances outside the purview of your investigation?” Krishnamoorthi pressed.
“I’m not going to get into that,” Mueller responded.
“Were you instructed by anyone not to investigate the president’s personal finances?”
“No,” Mueller said.
The order appointing Mueller special counsel in May 2017 stated that he was charged with probing “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump – and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Seems the first thing he should have done was meet Hal Holbrook in an underground garage. Follow the money!
Mueller had 20 prosecutors and 40 FBI agents working for him for nearly two years. Too bad, it seems, they did not wade through all the gold-plated toilets of Trumpland.
There is nothing in the report about the Dirty Don’s dirty deals, connections to shady characters and bagmen from Russia or anywhere else.
Did Mueller deliberately restrict his investigation in the same way he restricted his testimony?
Did he hand off evidence of money laundering or other financial crimes to U.S. attorneys in other districts, like he did Michael Cohen to prosecutors in Manhattan?
And what happened to the counterintelligence investigation into whether Agent Orange is a Russian asset?
Has Barr buried it all? Will we ever find out what they’re hiding? Will it be too late?
I watched every excruciating minute of the hearings before the two House committees. The Republicans were the most entertaining for fans of wacko conspiracy theories and lowbrow comedy, tossing red herrings like vendors at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.
The Democrats did their best, considering they haven’t had much practice. Except for Cohen, they have yet to hold a public hearing with a Trump insider. Congressional subpoenas are treated like junk mail.
Has everyone who ever worked for this guy signed a non-disclosure agreement? Sworn an oath of omerta?
So, it fell to Mueller to address a real national emergency. But, like all the others, he failed to step up.
Why? Because he already did his job, he said.
Or, maybe he’s just another Washington suit with a sterling pedigree who turns out to be a self-centered schmuck.
My book, The Expat Files: My Life in Journalism, is available from Amazon.com and Amazon Canada.