The Mueller Hearings Won’t Move the Needle on Impeachment
To the surprise of no one, the former special counsel was unwilling to play into Democrats’ hands
Ever since Democrats won back the House in the 2018 elections, they have anticipated using their powers of subpoena and oversight to shine a light on the misdeeds of President Donald Trump. One of those opportunities came to fruition Wednesday as former special investigator Robert Mueller delivered testimony to the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees. Democrats were hoping the hearings would galvanize support for impeachment. Unfortunately for them, even after Wednesday, that’s not likely to happen.
Mueller — a former Marine, federal prosecutor, and FBI director — appeared somewhat overwhelmed by the intensity and pace of the hearings. His answers were short, he consistently referred to the report, and he came across as reserved and methodical. While his deliberate demeanor is not a surprise to anyone, Democrats may not have anticipated his inability to show agility or resilience in the face of agitated and even angry questioning from Republican House members. Mueller seemed to get somewhat rattled by the aggressive questioning. He checked his notes frequently, often asked to be directed to page references in the report he authored, and generally projected more discomfort than confidence. What’s more, this demeanor was the same whether Democrats or Republicans were doing the questioning. Democrats were hoping Mueller would play the role of star witness; he looked more like an unwilling participant.
He seemed to be there more as a target than a witness.
After the Justice Department insisted that Mueller’s testimony be confined to the substance of the report, it has been expected that the hearings would largely be political theater. Republican and Democratic members of Congress came to the hearings uber-prepared and mostly used the event to engage in their own grandstanding rather than attempt to extract anything original from Mueller. He seemed to be there more as a target than a witness.
Knowing that most Americans have not read the Mueller report, Democrats seemed to hope that the hearings would act as a televised…