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Mueller Testifies in Front of the House Intelligence Committee

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 24, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 24, 2019 |


3:30: It’s over.

Hopefully, in the days to come, Mueller’s “performance” and the “optics” of a hearing will be forgotten, but the substance will remain: Trump can be indicted for obstruction after he leaves office; the only way to arrive at an official determination as to whether Trump obstructed justice now is through an impeachment hearing; and the Russians not only massively intervened in the 2016 election but will intervene in the 2020 election again to help Trump win.

3:14: On why Mueller did not interview Trump (this was pretty much what news reports suggested):

3:03: Meanwhile, Chuck Todd is rightfully getting beat up on Twitter for suggesting that the “optics” of this hearing do not look good for the Democrats, substance aside. This is the best tweet response to that:

2:59: Worth noting that reporters from the NYTimes (Maggie, Glenn) are currently getting beat up on Twitter for essentially joking among each other on Twitter that this hearing is boring and meaningless. I mean … it kind of is, and I give some leeway to colleagues joking about an event among each other. But also, you know: Start a text chain, you know? You don’t need to do that on Twitter in front of the world.

2:57: Mueller and/or Christopher Wray and/or a number of intelligence officials provide us with this reminder weekly. No one ever seems to care, unfortunately.

2:47: I really want to speak to all of these Joseph Mifsud conspiracies that the Republicans keep pushing, but I can’t really find anything from legit news sites that addresses them coherently. He was a shady character, who did get the ball rolling on the Russian investigation by suggesting to Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. The Republicans are trying to suggest that Mifsud lied to Papadopoulos — that he wasn’t an agent for Russians, as the FBI suggested, but a spy for the FBI who the FBI used in an effort to bring down Trump with made-up allegations. Basically, some sort of entrapment scheme. I don’t know whether Mifsud lied or not, but as to why Mueller hasn’t charged him, it could be for one of two reasons: 1) He didn’t lie under oath, and 2) he f**king disappeared. Some folks have suggested he is dead or was killed, but his lawyer insists that he’s still alive and in hiding.

2:35: Mueller has used the term “bailiwick,” which is sorely underused word that we should all use more frequently.

2:27: Former Director of White House Ethics:

2:20: The most entertaining part of this hearing is actually J.S.’s brief bios on the Congresspeople speaking in the comments (J.S., as always, is smarter than all of us). I did not know this, and I’m gonna keep an eye on him. Fascinating.

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2:11: This guy is from my home state of Arkansas, and I have nothing else to say about him except he’s got a strong beard game.

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2:04: For what it’s worth.

1:53: Sorry, I literally nodded off in front of my laptop during this guy’s questioning.

1:26: Rep. Himes reiterates some important points (that often get lost): The Russians generated 126 million pro-Trump impressions on social media; they held fake rallies in support of Trump; and they timed the release of Clinton emails to hurt Clinton and help Trump during the campaign.

1:19: Nunes is trying to get Mueller to talk about conspiracy theories that I don’t even know about. A Michael Flynn affair? Nunes also goes back to the Mifsud well. This Mifsud guy must be a big Fox News talking point.

1:18: Schiff did very well in getting Mueller to confirm a lot of misdeeds engaged in by the Trump campaign, largely surrounding their affirmative cooperation with the Russians to tilt the election in their favor.

1:15: Mueller basically backspaces on of those takeaways below.

1:03: Devin Nunes, as expected, continues to push conspiracy theories. FUSION GPS. PETER STROZK. HOAX. HILLARY. It’s also awfully rich of Nunes to complain the House is wasting time with one day of testimony with Mueller given how many days the Republicans devoted to Hillary’s EMAILS.

12:55: Adam Schiff is already being much more forceful for the Intelligence Committee than anyone in the Judiciary Committee:

12:15: Basically, there are five takeaways from Mueller’s testimony this morning:

1) Mueller did not exonerate Trump in his report, as Trump has repeatedly suggested.

2) Mueller did not charge Trump with obstruction only because a sitting President cannot be charged with a crime. Mueller did not make a determination about whether Trump committed a crime.

3) Trump can be charged with obstruction after he leaves office.

4) The “outright lies” of Trump officials did impede the investigation.

5) Mueller flat-out refused to speak to the question of impeachment.

This is basically the “big” moment during the morning’s testimony (and that is a Republican Rep. asking the question):

12:05: Yup (also, Trump retweeted this. Jesus.)

11:46: You’d like to think that this would shut down any suggestions of bias. I mean, it won’t, but you’d like to think it would.

11:33: Mueller says that he did not interview for the job of FBI Director. Rather, he basically consulted with Trump about what might make for a good FBI Director.

11:30: Mr. Cline is playing a very, very boring game of Whataboutism.

11:20: Ha!

11:17: Rep. Guy Lorin Reschenthaler is basically suggesting that he knows the law better than Mueller. Ahem.

11:06: Ms. Lesko is NOT getting the answers she had hoped from Mueller. Hilariously. Also, she’s like, “Mueller: You quoted from The Washington Post 75 times in the report, and Fox News only 25 times. BIAS.” It’s very tiring, but also, exactly what Fox News viewers will eat up. Also, damn: He cited Fox News 25 times? How many times did he cite BIAS!

10:55: All of these other Reps were basically laying the foundation for this:

10:43: I think we still have Ted Lieu and Eric Scalwell coming up on the Dem side. Also, a bunch of white dudes on the Republican side.

10:37: This guy, Mr. Buck, is a Republican, right? He’s totally shooting himself in the foot. He explicitly establishes again that Trump can be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office, basically confirming that there is charge-worthy evidence of obstruction of justice.

10:27: I said that it would be good for the Fox News crowd to watch this because they might actually see something different. I was wrong. Based on the GOP’s line of attack, Fox News/Breitbart conspiracy theories are alive and well in this hearing, and Mueller can’t or won’t do anything to rebut or neutralize them because they’re not “in his purview.” So, basically, the Republicans are using a House hearing to amplify conspiracy theories. Good times.

10:23: Reminder, this guy — Matt Gaetz — is under investigation by both the Florida Bar and the House Ethics Committee for witness tampering after he threatened Michael Cohen’s family in a tweet.

10:14: For those of you who are not watching it, this is basically the Mueller hearing right now:

10:09: This is a painfully accurate assessment.

10:01: Look! It’s Rep. Jordan, the man who helped cover up the molestations of wrestling students. That’s all I see when he speaks.

10:00: Here’s how Fox is characterizing the hearing, so far, which is not entirely inaccurate.

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09:54: Smartly, I think, each of the Democratic Reps are each detailing one of the 10 episodes of obstruction, ending each questioning session by saying something along the lines of, “It is clear to me that anyone else would have been charged with obstruction.” It’s not going to make the nightly news or anything, but at least all of those obstruction episodes are out there for those who are watching.

09:45: Representative Gohmert is the first Rep. to blow his stack today. I don’t think that attacking Mueller is going to reflect well on him. Also, interestingly, Mueller said that his meeting with the President was not about becoming the FBI director. I wish someone would follow up on that.

09:20: The GOP line of attack is pretty absurd: Basically, they’re saying, if the President can’t be indicted, then why would you investigate him? (Well, because he can be impeached.)

09:15: Representative Lee is also very good: She’s basically establishing that Mueller laid out a roadmap for charging Trump for obstruction of justice in an impeachment hearing.

09:10: The Republican, Ratcliffe, is a very good lawyer. I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s doing a damn good job of hiding the ball here: Mueller did not indict Trump because he is the President, and a sitting President cannot be indicted. Ratcliffe, who doesn’t allow Mueller to speak, doesn’t want Mueller to remind him that this is a “special circumstance,” because only in the case of a President can the special counsel not indict him.

08:56: Mueller says that Trump could be indicted after he is out of office.

08:55: Mueller reiterates that he did not exonerate the President.

08:50: In his opening statement, Mueller not only doesn’t say anything we didn’t already know — there was no “criminal conspiracy,” but they didn’t address “collusion”; and the special counsel left it up to Congress to decide if there was obstruction — but suggests that his testimony will be limited, and that we’re unlikely to learn anything we didn’t already know from the Mueller report. Politically speaking, it’s a wash. I think the important thing here is that the American public hears Mueller tell us what is in the Mueller report, and this is particularly important for Fox News viewers, who have no real idea what is in the Mueller Report. He does, again, stress the grave nature of the Russian threats to our democracy.

08:40: Nadler and the Republican, Representative Miller, have already set out the contours: Democrats are going to ask him whether Trump interfered in the investigation, and the Republicans are going to ask a lot of questions about why the investigation even began, why certain Democrats weren’t investigated, etc. etc.

08:30: Good morning. Robert Mueller is speaking to the House Judiciary Committee this morning. We’re not going to live blog it so much as I am going to check in every once in a while with the occasional thought. Mostly, it’s going to be a place for you all to talk and commiserate.

I will say this: Trump is going ballistic on Twitter this morning, and Rudy Guiliani is being a jackass on Fox News. That said, do not get your hopes up. I wouldn’t expect anything to come out of this hearing that will be game-changing.

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