On the eve of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before two committees of the House of Representatives, media organizations decided to give Democrats a stern notice to step up their efforts to get President Trump removed from office.
“Democratic frustrations with the House majority’s oversight of President Trump are beginning to boil over, as longtime party strategists and liberals alike decry what they view as an ineffective effort to hold a lawless president accountable,” the Washington Post’s Rachael Bade wrote under the headline, “’A lack of urgency’: Democrats frustrated as House investigators struggle to unearth major revelations about Trump.”
At Slate, under the headline “Robert Mueller’s Testimony Before House Democrats Is a Game of Chicken Between Chickens,” Dahlia Lithwick wrote: “There has been a stomach-churning amount of nastiness thrown around before Mueller is even sworn in, including an 11th-hour attempt by the White House to limit the scope of his testimony, and his own Tuesday request to have his right-hand aide, Aaron Zebley, sworn in with him as a witness before the Judiciary Committee.
“Republicans will work doubly hard to discredit him with deep state conspiracy theories, and Democrats will be content to land a few made-for-TV punches. Mueller himself really doesn’t want to be there, while Democrats are hoping he’ll bail them out of their impeachment holding pattern. Wednesday’s testimony will be a standoff between two institutions that each think the other institution should leap into action. It’s a game of chicken between, er, chickens.”
Bade goes on to chide Democrats in the House. “In more than seven months of investigating Trump, a half-dozen Democratic-led House committees have struggled to unearth major findings, hold high-profile hearings that move public sentiment or follow up on inquiries they laid out when the party took the majority in January.”
This “thin record,” Bade wrote, “increases the pressure on Democrats for Wednesday’s hearings with a long-sought witness former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who will answer questions about his nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump tried to derail the inquiry.”
It’s not that, as the Mueller report admitted, there is no evidence the president colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, or that, as Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found, that there was no obstruction of justice by the president. It’s that he just won’t let them investigate him, even though he provided all requested witnesses and documents, including his personal attorneys, to Mueller’s investigators.
She accepted as fact Democrats’ claim that Trump is “blocking more than 20 congressional investigations” and has “instructed former aides or Trump-related entities to ignore at least half a dozen subpoenas.”
But she points out, “the lack of action – or a clear strategy – is starting to rankle Democrats, as the House leaves for a six-week recess Friday.”
Lithwick wrote that House Democrats “need exactly what Mueller, the White House, the DOJ, and House Republicans hope to deny them: a summer blockbuster filled with exploding revelations of Trump’s wrongdoing and helicopter crashes of his unfitness.” It’s that most of what was in the Mueller report was already well known and adjudged not critical by the American people.
“Somehow, in a deep misjudgment of the moment, Mueller released Moby Dick to a country that couldn’t quite be bothered to open a can of tuna,” she wrote. “He asked us to read the report, and he trusted government officials and purveyors of the news to offer truthful summaries.”
She concludes: “One thing is clear though: Bob Mueller believes his work speaks for itself and always has. He believes that we already know what he already told us. He told the House of Representatives to handle it. They won’t or can’t. What happens Wednesday will be a live-action repeat of the same film that has happened for a half a year: a movie about mutual paralysis, played for monster ratings that will never come.”