Mueller's testimony before Congress was painted as the Super Bowl of scandal hearings. Thirty-six hours before the event, NBC's Savannah Guthrie gushed, "We are drawing closer tonight to what may be the most anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill in a decade."
And then the testimony happened.
All the networks canceled their regularly scheduled programming so every American could be riveted by Mueller. By the lunch break, even MSNBC was crestfallen. Analyst Jeremy Bash complained Mueller "seemed lost at times" and "sucked the life out of the report." Brian Williams ruefully admitted, "A lot of Democrats in particular used the D-word and branded this a disaster early on." ABC's Terry Moran bluntly said, "Impeachment's over."
Within hours, conventional wisdom shifted: Was Mueller in charge of his own investigation? This question became painfully obvious when he was questioned by Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala. She asked how many of the approximately 500 interviews his office conducted he attended personally. "Very few," he said.
Then she asked about a letter he signed to Attorney General William Barr that complained about media coverage of his report. She asked who wrote the letter. "I can't get into ... the internal deliberations," he mumbled. "But you signed it?" Roby replied. She asked Mueller whether he authorized the letter being released to the media or it was leaked behind his back. He replied, "I have no knowledge on either."
Who's running this show? This is the omniscient man Time magazine compared to the Greek goddess Nemesis?
Mueller insisted he didn't know of the Hillary Clinton-funded hit-piece factory called Fusion GPS, even though it was essential in spreading the Trump-Russia narrative. Mueller said every inconvenient fact was beyond his "purview." He said so when Rep. Matt Gaetz asked him whether there was any evidence of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia.
All of this added to the growing notion that Mueller's team of pro-Clinton prosecutors was really running the show. Mueller brought his longtime aide Aaron Zebley to testify beside him. Zebley represented former Clinton Foundation aide Justin Cooper in the 2016 investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Cooper was an IT expert who helped set up the server and smashed some of her mobile devices with a hammer.
Mueller's lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, attended Hillary Clinton's election night "victory party" in 2016. Mueller told Republican questioners that he never asked anyone if they were a big fan of (or had donated to) the Democrats or Clinton. "I've been in this business for almost 25 years, and in those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation," he insisted. Journalists relentlessly described Mueller as a "lifelong Republican."
Throughout the Mueller investigation, Democrat-loving journalists have painted a team of Democratic prosecutors (who were expected to remove President Trump from office) as tremendously nonpartisan and overflowing with rectitude. That's just as believable as the assumption that our press is tremendously nonpartisan.
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