By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/25/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Yesterday former special counsel Robert Mueller was on Capitol Hill. My mother gets the credit for best question asking, “After all that, are they going to impeach him?” To which I answered, “probably not”.
I did not get to see the entire hearings because today was for doctor’s appointments. We spent a good part of the day at the Miami VA Hospital; my mother is very proud that she is a veteran going back to her days as a student and nurse in a Navy hospital. The TV in the Blue Team waiting area was tuned to CNN so I saw more of the House Intelligence hearings than House Judiciary.
Today is a day Trump feels good about and if he was that kind of person he’d credit his personal attorney and attorney general Bill Barr, but of course he has not nor will he; he’s not that kind of guy. Most people expected the hearings to go as they did but Trump should credit Barr for setting up the moment as best possible through delays and lies about Mueller’s conclusions.
Trump is controlling the message and defining Dems right now. His reelection strategy is clear.
House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler gets top billing for Dems as he started out by patiently working with Mueller to clarify that Trump was not exonerated. Generally the afternoon (Intelligence) hearings were better for Dems, but credit to Rep. Swalwell (D-CA), Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Cicilline (D-RI) in the morning. Credit to some Republicans who used their time to question the right issues. Rep. Hurd (R-TX) focused on ongoing election risk. In one of Mueller’s clearer pronouncements he spoke about the Russian attack on the 2016 election and the likelihood (certainty?) that it is happening again now.
What Says Trump?
Trump announced, “We had a very good day”. Not just him but Republicans and even Americans. Sadly I saw his interview on CNN. He walked back and forth in front of the media and pointed out people and networks that he accused of trafficking in ‘fake news’. He refused to answer some questions (the questions could not be heard), but he aggressively stated that Mueller had reversed himself from an earlier comment stating “no exoneration”. Trump’s one word summary of Mueller and the Dem led hearings, “horrible”.
By comparison, Mueller offered, “not a witch hunt”, ‘no exoneration’, ongoing Russian election interference, incomplete and possible lying with Trump written responses and more. All assurances based on the report.
But there’s a fundamental difference. Trump performs in front of the media, lies, insults, even threatens. Mueller is the exact opposite.
Trump is made for TV. He was made by TV and he’s effective at getting his message across – better than anyone.
Months after the release of the Mueller report we finally had a first hearing. It was both compromised in advance by timing and other Barr biases and maybe met with impossible expectations of how Mueller would or should perform. No matter those points, the hearing is unlikely to move the public support in favor of impeachment.
Dems were apparently at 92 House Reps supporting impeachment in advance. Predictions are that the number will go up but we are still shy of 50% of House Dems supporting which generally mirrors even Dem public support for impeachment.
As I responded to my mother, I feel impeachment is unlikely.
Time for dems to lay their cards on the table
That said, I’ve not changed my view. Trump is controlling the message and defining Dems right now. His reelection strategy is clear.
So Dems, what say we? Personally I’d want Dems to lay their cards on the table – what are the election issues – health care, ending immigration cruelty, impeachment hearings… The debates are debates, they aren’t the same as what I’d hope for, but it’s likely all we’ll get.
Mueller gave us his report; in his own style he reinforced key points of his findings including why he did not indict or subpoena Trump. Get former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify – he spent 30 hours with Mueller’s team and is a key part of the report. He’s ignored his subpoena, take it to court. McGahn won’t go to jail, he just needs a legal directive to appear but take legal action as far as necessary. Who after McGahn? Keep going down the list.
And forget timing – that is now an invention that doesn’t serve Dems given the Trump/Barr resistance and non-cooperation. Follow the impeachment hearing game plan regardless of timing, as I’ve said before, hold hearings right up to election day if that’s how it plays out.
Mueller aside, impeachment aside, how are Dems going to self-define? We already know Trump’s version and his version likely leads to reelection.
As I am wrapping up, I see an Alert flash by saying North Korea has fired two “projectiles”. I’m sure Trump values reelection over his presumptive Nobel Peace Prize.
Not a good day for Dems, a better day for Trump.
Mueller Insists His Report Did Not Exonerate Trump On Obstruction Charges
Ex-special counsel said Trump ‘was not exculpated’ but confirmed Russia launched ‘sweeping’ attack.
By David Smith
The Guardian (7/24/19)
The former US special counsel Robert Mueller methodically demolished Donald Trump’s central claims about his Russia investigation – insisting the results did not exonerate Trump – but he did not provide the fireworks that supporters of impeachment had been craving as he testified to Congress on Wednesday.
Testifying for almost seven hours at back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Mueller rejected the US president’s claims that his investigation was “a witch-hunt”, that Russian election interference was “a hoax” and that Mueller’s report provided Trump with “total exoneration”.
Yet for those who had billed the hearings as a made-for-TV-moment that would convey the Mueller report to millions of people unaware of its contents, there was also a sense of anti-climax. It was political theatre without much drama as Mueller stuck rigidly to his published conclusions and provided few new revelations.
Worse, he was a star witness lacking star power, often struggling to keep up as questions pinballed from one member of Congress to another and providing only halting answers. At times he seemed uncertain of the contents of his own report.
Nevertheless, Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, teased some specific answers out of Mueller likely to grab the attention of TV viewers. “It is not a witch-hunt,” the special counsel said, refuting one of the president most repeated assertions. …
- MSNBC The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell — Coverage and analysis of the Mueller hearings: Link to 40-Minute Video