Any hope that the interrogation of prosecutor, Robert Mueller, would provide some closure to the endless spectacle of Russiagate was dashed. As long as Donald Trump is in power, the show must go on.
When Mueller, 74, was led into the lion’s den of the congressional coliseum on Wednesday to defend his 22-month, multi-million-dollar investigation from the slings and arrows of partisan power-brokers, the temptation to feel some pity for the man was surprisingly strong.
The former special counsel appeared frail, disheveled and, as many others have acknowledged, well past his prime. His demeanor resembled that of a powerful official who had just been yanked from bed at gunpoint to appear before a midnight military tribunal. The flimsy shield he hid behind when confronted with any serious question regarding his 448-page report was deference to “the ongoing investigation.”
Given his poor memory, sluggishness, and lack of familiarity with his own Report, we now have more insight into why Mueller allowed his 2-year investigation to spiral out of control and devolve into absurdity
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) July 24, 2019
The Republicans drew blood early. Jim Jordan, veteran House member and former wrestling champ, maneuvered Mueller into an inescapable lock-hold. Jordan pressed Mueller as to why the ‘witch hunt’ hauled away half a dozen Trump-connected cohorts to prison – including Roger Stone, a former adviser to the president, who was arrested in a crack-of-dawn FBI raid that was all-too conveniently filmed by a CNN camera crew – yet nobody affiliated with the Democratic Party suffered equally harsh measures.
Jordan reminded the mute Mueller that the FBI, with the blessing of the Democratic Party, had pulled off a historic first when they spied on two members of the Trump campaign, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. That brazen act of espionage should have been at the heart of Mueller’s probe, but strangely it went missing in action.
Here’s where things get really dark. In the course of the FBI’s undercover work, a mysterious Maltese professor by the name of Joseph Mifsud – who purportedly lied three times to investigators – passed along ‘secret information’ to Mr Papadopolous that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadopolous then informed a diplomat about the claim, which was then – thanks to the notoriously bad plumbing inside of the nation’s capital – leaked to the media. That single drop of fake news put into motion not only the bogus Steele dossier, complete with a bizarre reference to golden showers in Moscow, but the entire Russiagate hoax.
Jordan demanded to know why Mifsud, who was once photographed alongside Boris Johnson, the newly elected British prime minister, was not dragged in for questioning as were so many Republicans. Mueller’s silence on the matter was deafening.
There were other glorious moments for the Republicans in this made-for-TV reality show. Rep. Mike Turner, for example, resorted to props as he argued over a single word that appeared at the end of the Mueller Report: “exonerate.” The termwas found in the very last sentence of the report: “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” That controversial statement has attracted much ire from the Republican camp, not to mention Trump himself.
Turner, with law books piled high on his pulpit, together with a copy of the US Constitution, lectured Mueller that neither he nor the attorney general has any power to exonerate the president of the United States, since ‘exonerate’ is not a legally binding term. The inclusion of that word, Turner argued, “colored the report,” thereby allowing US news channels to run with the ‘breaking news’ that “Trump was not exonerated.” It was a very clever way of demonstrating how the mainstream media can frame a story according to its political bias, which is known to lean heavily liberal and Democrat.
Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed those sentiments when he said “the Russia investigation was never about finding the truth. It’s always been a simple media operation… this operation continues in this room today.”
Rep. Mike Turner brings out a prop: a blow-up of CNN’s panel, and complains about the chyron pic.twitter.com/DCECw1jnB4
— Alex Thomas (@AlexThomasDC) July 24, 2019
The Democrats, meanwhile, were also fixated with words, first and foremost ‘obstruction.’ Since they failed to nail Trump to the cross of collusion, their next best approach was to accuse him of preventing Mueller from carrying out his assigned duties, which is a federal offense.
When asked by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler if “the report did not conclude that [the president] did not commit obstruction of justice,” Mueller responded: “That is correct.”
It was obvious to everyone watching where Nadler’s line of inquiry was leading, and that was to the explosive I-word: impeachment. Yet no amount of coaxing and fawning by the Democrats could get Mueller to spit out the one word that has been the wet dream material of every liberal voter since the debacle of the 2016 presidential election. So now the Democrats, if they decide to press forward with impeachment proceedings, will have to do so without the solemn consent of Robert Mueller, a veteran Washington insider with considerable standing and influence in the swamp. That makes the idea of impeaching Trump downright risky to the point that it has reportedly unhinged the Democrats down the middle.
According to Politico, Nadler suggested that several House committee chairs could start “drafting articles of impeachment against Trump.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called the idea “premature,” according to anonymous sources.
So now the Democrats find themselves in a very precarious situation as the United States prepares to enter what promises to be one of the most momentous, not to mention tempestuous, presidential election seasons of all time. If they proceed with impeachment proceedings against Trump, they risk alienating a large segment of their constituents, many of whom are suffering ‘probe fatigue’ and are anxious to turn the page.
At the same time, however, many high-ranking Democrats may feel they have no choice but to make a major effort to dislodge Trump from the Oval Office due to one nagging consideration: Attorney General William Barr is actively investigating the many players involved in the ‘Russiagate’ saga and what he may unearth – specifically as to who was responsible for launching the greatest conspiracy theory of modern times – has certainly got a lot of Democrats extremely concerned.
If Barr discovers that there was no legal basis for spying on the Trump campaign, some very influential people may find themselves – like Roger Stone – the target of early morning FBI raids at the behest of a Republican inquest.
What this means is that the Democrats, by pushing for the impeachment of Trump, are in reality engaging in their own form of obstruction of justice, and that is justice over their own possible crimes.
In other words, fasten your seat-belts and start the popcorn because ‘Russiagate’ is not over; in fact, it has only just begun.
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