It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Donald Trump, not Robert Mueller, was supposed to be broken and vanquished at the hands of his political foes. Donald Trump, not Robert Mueller, was supposed to suffer a legacy-ending humiliation on national television that would bury his tough-guy reputation and taint his past achievements. The supporters of Donald Trump, not the supporters of Robert Mueller, were supposed to slink away in embarrassment, desperately searching for any calcified crumb of credibility to salvage their beaten hero.
The climax of #TheResistance’s fantasy to take down Donald Trump wasn’t supposed to end with long faces at MSNBC and CNN, or with reporters at the Washington Post and the New York Times admitting defeat.
Mueller “looked dazed and confused as he listened, mouth agape, to his questioners, often struggling to identify who was talking,” confessed Post columnist Dana Milbank after the hearings on Wednesday. “He stammered, licked his lips, consulted his aide and begged forbearance.”
These are the kinds of things Washington Post opinionators write about Donald Trump, not about Mueller.
Panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” were supposed to be ebullient after watching their savior in action, not ranting like lunatics about the need for someone to “punch” President Trump. The Lawfare folks were supposed to be popping champagne corks, not turning on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for refusing to play along with their impeachment crusade. And it was Team Mueller, not Donald Trump, who was supposed to declare victory.
Stumping the Prosecutor
But the dream died on July 24, 2019, when former Special Counsel Robert Mueller not only failed to deliver the goods against Trump but revealed that #TheResistance, once again, had pinned its hopes on a flawed actor not up to the task. Just like the cast of conquerors who came before him—Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen, and Omarosa, just to name a few—Robert Mueller slouched out of the spotlight after failing to best the Bad Orange Man.
The spectacle in front of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee was not what the Democrats expected but it was exactly what they deserved. After delaying the scheduled hearing for a week, Mueller reluctantly appeared but only after negotiating a deal that his chief of staff could attend alongside him. Aaron Zebley was sworn in as a witness by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), but Republican members refused to direct any questions to him.
The man who had launched a thousand warnings that Trump’s days were numbered struggled to find page numbers. The man who was celebrated in a Christmas carol, whose face appeared on votive candles and mugs, who became a celebrity crush, couldn’t find the microphone or locate on the dais the lawmaker trying to speak to him.
The man whose name is emblazoned on the most anticipated report in modern political history was unfamiliar with its contents; after the media and Hollywood actors ridiculed the American public for not reading the report, it was painfully clear that the alleged author hadn’t read it, either. Mueller actually was stumped by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and ended up correcting an explosive comment that quickly deflated the only hopeful moment for Democrats.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Mueller made up new tenets of jurisprudence while coterminously violating Justice Department rules. “The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller stumbled to explain to the House Judiciary Committee.
Legal wizard say what?
Mueller sat speechless as Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) schooled the storied prosecutor about the rule of law and recounted the many ways in which Mueller breached those standards.
“Volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written,” Ratcliffe told Mueller, referring to the obstruction of justice section of the document. “It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department and it was written in violation of every DOJ principle.”
The fair, impartial arbiter of the truth also admitted he was a bit selective about whom he charged with lying to federal officials.
Under intense questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Mueller confessed that he did not charge Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor with alleged ties to Russia who met with George Papadopoulos and purportedly was the reason why the FBI opened up an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016, for lying to investigators even though the report cites three instances when Mifsud gave false statements. Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and others were not so lucky.
And the straight shooter rejected every entreaty to discuss the real foreign election interference: How Fusion GPS, working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Christopher Steele, a British operative, to produce the dossier, which reportedly was sourced by Russians tied to the Kremlin. Both Steele and Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion, were lobbying on behalf of Russian oligarchs at the same time they were working for the Democrats. But Mueller, or whoever wrote the report, conveniently omitted referring either to Glenn Simpson or Fusion GPS in the 448-page missive.
When pressed to answer questions about the omission, Mueller claimed he was “not familiar” with Fusion GPS, making him the only person within a 2,000-mile radius of the Beltway who hasn’t heard of the opposition research outfit. He further refused to answer any questions about the firm’s possible role in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, even though his report and investigation devoted a significant amount of time to the 20-minute briefing.
By the end of the day, the charade was so painful to watch that one of #TheResistance’s most despised foes, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), had mercy on Mueller and stopped questioning him despite having time on the clock to do so.
So, the dream of Robert Mueller hauling Donald Trump out of the Oval Office in handcuffs is dead. Impeachment dreams based on the good word and work of Robert Mueller also are dead. And now a nightmare looms in the dusk for #TheResistance in the shape of Attorney General Bill Barr, who is investigating the investigators.
#TheResistance is faced with getting rid of Trump the old-fashioned way—at the ballot box. But after squandering every ounce of political capital on the collusion plotline, the Democrats’ next nightmare very well might take place the evening of November 3, 2020.
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