Mueller time come and gone.

It is now crystal clear that nobody is going to rescue us. Mueller was not the savior some were hoping for, and, paradoxically, it is a good thing. Had his testimony been less dry, Republicans would have found extra ammunition there to describe the Special Counsel investigation as a witch hunt led by prosecutors in the pocket of the Democratic Party. They repeatedly questioned the impartiality of Mueller’s team by citing their political contributions. That, in itself, is problematic because it posits that civic engagement is an impediment to fairness. Text messages between two FBI agents expressed a dislike of Trump (and of Clinton, but somehow that gets forgotten) and the assumption was made that their personal feelings made them unfit for their jobs. This is dangerous territory, in a way similar to Trump saying that a US judge of Mexican heritage could not preside over a case involving him and his sacred cow/wall.

Watching yesterday’s hearing was like watching guerilla warfare. Mueller appeared frail at times, especially in front of the Judiciary Committee. His job, as he saw it, was to defend the integrity of the report. The Democrats wanted a “gotcha” moment that would have proved Trump’s transgressions in the eyes of his supporters and moved us closer to impeachment. The Republicans wanted to either turn the report into something favorable to Trump (“no collusion, no obstruction”) or, failing that, they wanted to discredit Mueller and his team. As is the case in asymmetrical warfare, the “enemy” (Republicans) needed to be right only a couple of times picking details of the report to knock Mueller off his game. Mueller, the “knight in shining armor” needed to defend 448 pages, and be right and forceful every single time.

Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, gave brilliant opening and closing statements, linking the conduct of Trump and his entourage of crooks to the financial profits they stood to make through the election of Trump. He mentioned the numerous indictments and trials, linked them to foreign interests, and suggested a pattern of treasonous behavior without uttering the word “treason” – but it was there if you wanted to listen for it. He painted a deeply unflattering portrait of a president who Mueller himself described as “generally” untruthful. Mueller agreed that accepting help from foreign enemies in order to win elections is “unpatriotic” and “wrong”.

The punditry has described the hearings as disappointing to Democrats, but if you take the long view, there is reason to hope that the repeated spectacle of Republican badgering of witnesses will eventually influence a portion of the electorate. Color me naïve, but I still believe that among those who still support Trump, some must be quite queasy. You need to be seriously damaged to want your kids to grow up to be just like the Donald – or the two poster boys for toxic masculinity, Jim Jordan (“I’m too sexy for my jacket”) of Ohio and Matt Gaetz (“King of Snark”) of Florida. When the results of some of Trump’s policies start affecting his constituency – talking to you, soy farmers – they will begin to see the ugliness too.

Marie-Anne wrote this post. She is, as usual, solely responsible for content, as her views may occasionally differ from those of county or state officials.

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