Americans who somehow missed the ‘Russiagate’ book can now see the movie adaptation, namely former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before two committees of Congress. A must-see event, or much ado about nothing?
Mueller will appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday, four months after he concluded his investigation into Democrats’ allegations that Donald Trump “colluded” with Russia during the 2016 US presidential elections – finding nothing to substantiate that claim.
Democrats, who had who had pinned their hopes of forcing Trump out of the Oval Office on Mueller, quickly pivoted from disappointment to outrage, arguing that his 448-page report released in mid-April proved the president had engaged in obstruction of justice.
Mueller was initially reluctant to testify, telling reporters at the end of May that the report was self-explanatory and that he had nothing to add to it.
We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. The report is my testimony.
He was originally scheduled to appear on July 17, but the testimony was delayed by a week. There were reports on Tuesday that he requested his chief of staff Aaron Zebley to be sworn in, along with speculation as to what that might mean.
Republicans are expected to grill Mueller on the origins of his probe, the role of former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page – infamous for anti-Trump texts exchanged during their extramarital affair – the role of the “dossier” compiled by British spy Christopher Steele and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as any other flaws and inconsistencies in the report.
Democrats, on the other hand, intend to milk the hearings for maximum publicity, live-tweeting the key moments with hashtags prepared beforehand and have celebrities reading from the special counsel’s report, all in an effort to paint Trump as a threat to “our democracy.”
The party’s strategy was outlined in a six-page memo from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), doubling up on the claims that the Clinton campaign first made in July 2016.
“Mueller’s report uncovered the truth behind one of the most serious attacks on our democracy in our history,” the memo said, adding that “the Russians waged an all-out, systematic assault on the 2016 elections to benefit Donald Trump.”
Pelosi pledged the Democrats would “investigate, litigate, legislate” in defense of “our sacred Constitution.” She did not, however, mention the word “impeach.” Though a growing number of Democrats have eagerly jumped on that bandwagon since the Mueller report came out, last week’s vote on an impeachment motion was defeated.
Mueller may have failed to deliver on the years of hype, but the media and politicians pushing the “Russiagate” conspiracy simply have no choice but to keep going – and in the absence of anything better, beating a dead horse will just have to do.
Restaurants and bars across the Washington, DC area are already promoting their food and drink specials, with journalists and political operatives expected to huddle around television sets, hanging onto Mueller’s every word. But for the remaining 330 million or so Americans, it will be just another Wednesday.