The Upshot of The Mueller Report & Hearings
All the takeaways you need in five points
Like many Americans, on Wednesday the 24th of July, I was glued to my TV screen for as long as I could afford, watching Robert Mueller’s hearing before Congress. I didn’t expect to learn anything new; I was well-aware that this hearing was not going to be what Republicans apparently thought us Democrats (and Lib’ruls) were clinging to as our “one last hope.”
Far from that.
Because, perhaps unlike many Americans, I’m one of the few regular, everyday folks who actually read the full Mueller report, though, at times, admittedly having to force my eyes to stay open while scrolling through pages upon pages of tedious, redundant legalese.
These hearings were not something any smart Democrats or Liberals were “clinging to” or hanging their hopes on. We were merely happy the man himself would finally testify, in open session, on a live television broadcast, and simply confirm the findings contained within this historic, unfortunate report bearing his name.
I also felt relief because maybe, just maybe, those Americans who have not become brainwashed but are perhaps on the fence because they simply haven’t been paying attention, could finally reach their own conclusions regarding other Americans who, despite having solid, indisputable, in-your-face evidence, continue chanting “witch hunt,” “deep state,” and “Russia hoax” like there’s no tomorrow.
And honestly, because Rachel Maddow and her crew did such a top-notch, thorough job of outlining much of the public contents of the report every night, before the report was even released, there really weren’t any huge surprises overall. Covering everything from the most egregious acts of trump, to the teeny-tiniest nuances of potential crimes that wouldn’t even register for many, we sort of already knew a lot of what was in the report to begin with, except for the rare gold nuggets we received, like trump’s own quote, to Jeff Sessions, upon finding out that Robert Mueller would be appointed as Special Counsel in 2017.
“Sessions stepped out of the Oval Office to take a phone call from (Rod) Rosentein, who told him about the Special Counsel appointment, and Sessions then returned to inform the President of the news. According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said:
“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
— The Mueller Report, pg. 290
Not the words you’d expect to hear from an innocent man.
Following that exchange, the report details how angry the president became, how he lambasted Sessions for his decision to recuse from the investigation, how he asked, “How could you let this happen, Jeff?” while also telling Sessions he was a letdown, because, “you were supposed to protect me,” and bemoaning, “this is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” (Despite the fact he did it to himself.)
Aside from those fly-on-the-wall, deeply rich conversations and quotes, reading the report firsthand was basically just confirmation of all the events I’d already learned about from a handful of good journalists and as many original sources as I could find. And everything I’d learned about Robert Mueller led to my instant and deep respect. Because he’s the kind of Republican I knew from back home, growing up. Good folks. Opposite the Republican party of 2016 and beyond, which has openly embraced trumpism like some kind of misguided cult with a newfound religion.
As I’d figured, Twitter was on fire yesterday with heated Republicans, Conservatives, and trump enablers, all attacking, disrespecting, berating, and making fun of Robert Mueller — a man from their supposed own political party. They spared no part of him, ripping — in typical trumpian style: vicious, juvenile bullying— everything from his “frail” appearance and poor memory, to what they very wrongly perceived as his “liberal bias,” in shameful attempts to discredit the man.
We shouldn’t have to remind folks that Robert Swan Mueller, III, is among the most patriotic Americans we’ll see in this lifetime, nor should we have to compel folks to believe that a five time draft dodging con man who build his entire career on fraud, cheating, swindling, and lying is not patriotic at all, yet here we are.
And the thing is, Mueller wasn’t the one who was on trial, here. Most of us understood this, but not the Republicans yesterday. They were absolutely awful to Mueller, a man who, by his own words, didn’t even want or expect to be there. From Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to Jim Jordan (R-OH) and all the other usual Republican suspects, the two House committees treated Mueller with visible contempt and wanton disrespect, threw ridiculously cheap conspiracy theories at him, and at times, outright mocked him.
It’s noteworthy that the Republicans failed to question any of the factual accounts from the report detailing any of trump’s appalling, unpatriotic behavior, and (likely criminal) attempts to obstruct justice.
It was certainly a telling moment when Rep. Jerry Nadler felt compelled to remind everyone, through an opening statement, exactly who Robert Mueller is, and why he was the best man for this job.
Having served his country as a Marine Corps officer, Mueller is a decorated Vietnam war veteran awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism, and a Purple Heart recipient. Post-military, Mueller was appointed as head of the Justice Department, Criminal Division, under President George H.W. Bush; as a U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton; as a homicide prosecutor in Washington, D.C.; as the acting U.S. deputy attorney general, appointed by President George W. Bush, and later, FBI Director from 2001–2013; and President Barack Obama reappointed him for a two-year term, which required a special act of Congress.
Though Mueller is a registered Republican, he’s widely regarded throughout Washington, D.C. as an apolitical and nonpartisan figure. Journalist Garrett Graff, in an NPR “Fresh Air” interview, stated:
“Bob Mueller is probably about as apolitical and nonpartisan a figure as you could find in Washington, particularly at the levels of government in which he has served. This is someone who really, truly believes in truth, justice [and] in the American way, in a way that very few people in American life today anymore do.”
However, for as many of us who were glued to our TVs (or laptops, or work computers), there were certainly just as many who weren’t — and many who don’t even know any of this is happening right now. So, if you didn’t read the report or watch the hearings, no worries. Enough of us did, I think. And it can all be summed up in about five pieces, thusly:
- trump and his team of professional enablers welcomed and even encouraged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- trump and his team of professional enablers repeatedly lied and perjured themselves to cover up the Russian ties (among other things), and they persuaded everyone in trump’s orbit to lie and/or perjure themselves as well.
- trump himself tried to impede or obstruct the investigation, through witness tampering and other means, at every. single. step. of the investigation.
- The reason why Mueller could not indict trump is varied and multi-faceted, having to do with his views of fairness, and the fact that his team decided at the outset of the investigation to not make a decision on charging the president with a crime. (Which he wrote and stated up front.) But also, the reason is in part because the opinion of the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel, a body within the DOJ that provides legal advice to many different parts of the executive branch, including the Attorney General’s office) states that “a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime.”
- In a huge blow to Republicans, Mueller emphatically responded “yes” when asked, twice, by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) if the president could be charged with a crime after he leaves office. It wasn’t that Mueller concluded there was insufficient evidence to try trump, or to consider him “innocent until proven guilty,” but rather, that trump could not legally be prosecuted while he’s still in office, and therefore, Mueller’s team wouldn’t even bother making that calculation. But, through a very detailed report, he provided a roadmap for Congress to take swift action, if they so choose.
It was awful — not surprising, but awful — to see Republicans throughout the day far more focused on preserving a treasonous, racist, White House felon than preserving America’s own democracy, which has already suffered catastrophic destruction at the hands of a hostile foreign power. And, it will continue being destroyed, at least through election meddling and psychological division, as Mueller clearly stated in the most chilling moment of the day, “It wasn’t a single attempt; they’re doing it as we sit here.”
That is, it will keep happening until trump enablers gain some common sense and flee the cult (or, at least feel guilty enough to flip, like Michael Cohen finally did).
Our democracy is being stolen from us. And it’s happening right under our noses, while we’re looking out the window, thinking about which plants might fare well in next year’s garden.
On the point of having a reckless, shady, and unethical tragedy that demands our immediate and full attention, I believe Robert Mueller delivered. And that’s all I could’ve asked for.
Martie sir-ROY (she/her) is a top writer in Culture, Politics, and LGBTQ for Medium, editor of Gender From the Trenches, and has been a featured contributor for HuffPost, Scary Mommy, NPR affiliates, and SiriusXM Insight, among others. Martie is the founder of S.E.A.R.CH., a program of her local LGBT Center, for trans youth and their parents. Connect with Martie on Twitter, Facebook, or follow her website & blog.