Breaking his two-year vow of silence, special counsel, professional Boy Scout and part-time monk Robert S. Mueller III took time from his busy schedule of transitioning to the public sector and spoke to the country for almost 10 whole minutes. And we were honored.
Part of the thrill was hearing what the man sounds like, as this was the first time he’s spoken to the press since his appointment. Too bad we can’t say the same thing about the major subject of his investigation.
It’s pretty obvious the hastily arranged press conference was designed to keep Democrats from calling Mueller to testify on Capital Hill about his investigation. And the fact that Attorney General William Barr was out of town probably didn’t hurt.
Mueller knows most of America would rather dive into a piranha tank wearing a raw meat bathing suit than slog through the 448 pages of his investigative gobbledy-gook, so he grasped this opportunity to give the world the Reader’s Digest condensed version, highlighting the sticky bits.
He maintains the report is his testimony and there is nothing else to add, at all, ever. In other words, he asks the questions, pard’ner, he don’t answer them. Which is fine, because Bob Mueller is not the most colorful speaker in the world. The man is so dry, when he talks, little puffs of dust fly out of his mouth.
It was never a fair fight. Robert Mueller is the ultimate “by the book” guy who believes in playing by the rules. Whereas Donald Trump believes the rules are meant to be broken and has never read a book.
A particular phrase from the report was emphasized: “If we had confidence the president didn’t commit a crime we would have said so.” Boom. The essence of the whole thing condensed to a single line. Too complicated for you? He said if they thought the president was innocent, they would have said so. But they didn’t say so. Ergo ...
He also said Donald Trump’s conduct warrants an investigation, which he wasn’t able to do, because of a justice department policy that prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime. If he could have, he would have, but he couldn’t, so he didn’t. There you go, Congress. No pressure.
They’re still deciding whether to subpoena Mueller to testify in front of Congress, but the former FBI director’s desire to sit in front of a doubly hostile crowd of half-angry Democrats and half-angry Trumpsters appears to be between zero and you-got-to-be-freaking-kidding.
Mueller doesn’t want to testify. The attorney general refuses to cooperate. Nobody from the administration is turning over requested documents. The White House is expanding executive privilege to pizza delivery orders. Congressional Democrats must be developing a complex.
Responding to the sideshow, the president tweeted, “I had nothing to do with the Russians helping me win the election.” Oops. Then he said that wasn’t what he meant and people are picking on his every word. Well, yeah. You’re the guy in charge. Every word matters.
Perhaps this is just one more reason why, traditionally, the presidency has not been an entry-level position.