In subpoenaing former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before two House committees, Democrats have finally stretched the Russia hoax past its breaking point. It may go down as one of the greatest miscalculations of modern congressional politics.
There’s no two ways about it: Mueller’s testimony was an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats. Every new revelation that came out during the hearings contradicted some element of the narrative they’ve desperately pushed over the past three years, right down to the original “collusion” conspiracy theory.
Making matters even worse for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and his fellow Democrats, Mueller was clearly not the right man to provide authoritative answers about the report that bears his name.
If one thing became clear over the hours of testimony on July 24, it’s that Mueller was likely a mere figurehead throughout the special counsel investigation that he ostensibly led. At various points during his testimony, Mueller appeared unfamiliar with the material in his own report, unwilling to discuss public statements that were put out in his name, and uncertain of what his subordinates were even doing for the 22 months that the investigation was ongoing.
Astute observers have suspected from the moment the Office of the Special Counsel was staffed with blatantly partisan Democrat “investigators,” that former FBI Director Mueller wasn’t really at the helm. It seemed to them—and millions of other Americans—that the rabidly anti-Trump team was really being led by Mueller’s second-in-command, close Hillary Clinton ally Andrew Weissmann.
Those suspicions got a huge boost over the course of Mueller’s testimony. The putative head of this investigation couldn’t even provide a good explanation for why so many clearly compromised and biased individuals were hired to conduct such a sensitive investigation.
It wasn’t just Weissmann, who reportedly may have colluded with a Ukranian oligarch to get dirt on President Donald Trump’s inner circle. The bias wasn’t even limited to the 12 other registered Democrats on Mueller’s team, several of whom had actively supported Clinton.
It was also evident in the hiring of Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI agent who spent months on Mueller’s team after sending text messages in which he promised to stop Trump from winning the 2016 election and admitted that there wasn’t actually any evidence behind the Russia collusion story. It was clear when another Justice Department lawyer, still publicly unidentified, texted Strzok “viva la resistance,” an apparent reference to the moniker adopted by the president’s most rabid opponents.
Again and again, Mueller had to ask members of Congress to repeat their questions about these obvious conflicts of interest. It was as if he was completely unaware that a majority of his investigators were 100 percent committed to overturning the 2016 election because—and only because—of their intense hatred of Trump and his supporters, whom Strzok once derisively quipped that he could “smell” when he entered a Walmart.
It was obvious from Mueller’s answers that he was either so detached from the actual investigation that he really didn’t realize it was being conducted by a partisan hit team, or he was actually in on the deception himself. It’s tough to assess which explanation would be worse, but either way, the hearing showed that the “Mueller investigation” was really the “Weissmann investigation.”
Mueller’s exposure as a mere figurehead wasn’t the end of Democrats’ woes, though. The former special counsel also repeatedly refused to discuss the numerous aspects of his investigation that would implicate Democrats in wrongdoing, providing confirmation that his investigation really was the partisan hack job that so many people long suspected it was.
Mueller couldn’t, for example, explain why his report dedicated page after page on the infamous “Trump Tower meeting,” but neglected to mention that the Russian lawyer at the heart of it had met with the CEO of Fusion GPS—the firm that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid to create the infamous “Steele dossier”—both the day before and the day after that meeting.
In one of the hearing’s most absurd moments, Mueller appeared to claim that he didn’t know what Fusion GPS was.
Almost as disconcerting was Mueller’s spectacular verbal slip in response to a question from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), which was so egregious that Mueller felt compelled to issue a correction later in the proceedings.
“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the President because of the OLC opinion.’ That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller clarified. “As we say in the report and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”
Whatever the Democrats hoped to get out of these clown show hearings, they didn’t get it. All they got was a very shaky and confused-looking Mueller stumbling over the exact same material the American people have been shrugging at for four months.
If the Democrats were hoping to rehabilitate the Russiagate conspiracy theory, they failed miserably. If anything, the hoax has now been discredited in the eyes of the American people for good and will go down as the greatest political scandal in the history of U.S. politics.
Jason D. Meister is an advisory board member of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. Twitter: @jason_meister