July 25, 2019
"Finally, Washington sort of agrees on something," the New Yorker half-joked. "Mueller bombed." After 124 days of waiting, "painful" doesn't begin to describe the disjointed spectacle of former special counsel Robert Mueller's House hearing. The epic dud, proclaimed across the news networks as "sad," "embarrassing," and "a disaster" came to an anti-climatic end Wednesday for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) party. Democrats, who've desperately been trying to find a way to end Donald Trump's presidency prematurely, are back to square one. If they want to send Trump packing, the Washington Post pointed out, they'll have to do it the old-fashioned way -- at the ballot box.
The seven-hour sit-down was supposed to be the must-see event of the year. Instead, the New York Times pronounced, Mueller's appearance was "the blockbuster that wasn't." Confused, evasive, and downright scattered, the man at the center of one of the biggest political witch hunts in history did nothing but prove what a waste of time this entire drama has been. The liberal's political savior was such a liability that by afternoon's end even CNN's Jeffery Toobin was calling it a "win" for President Trump.
Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.), chair of the Republican Study Committee who had a front row seat for the circus in the hearing, told me on "Washington Watch" that Democrats had every right to be disappointed. "They truly hoped, as I said in my closing statement for the Republican side... that there was really one reason that Mr. Mueller was called to testify today -- and that was to give political cover to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. They desperately wanted him to tell them that they had to impeach the president. He did not do that. His report of course did not do that. And that's where we are today -- just exactly where we were yesterday."
When I asked him if he felt like the committees had covered any new ground, he said flatly, "None at all." But then, he pointed out, everyone should have expected that. Mr. Mueller himself made that quite clear when he had his press conference more than a month ago, when he insisted, "I'm going to stick to the four corners of this document."
But as frustrating as the scene must have been for Democrats, Republicans were equally annoyed. After all, Mike pointed out, there were so many questions that went unanswered about the report's bias, its origins, the Steele dossier, the tainted FBI agents. None of those gaping holes in this theory were addressed, Congressman Johnson vented. "He refused to even talk about the origins of this whole charade... now proven to be totally bogus. That was the foundation of this entire ordeal.... and if the root of it is corrupt, then everything that comes from it is as well."
Mueller was asked to get to the bottom of this supposed collusion with Russia, but we've all known for quite some time that, as Mike put it, "There was 'no there there' -- not even any smoke, much less any fire... It was a political hack job, and now it's proven to be so." From an investigative team with 14 Democrats and zero Republicans, none of this should have come as a surprise. There were FBI agents texting how much they hated Donald Trump and vowing to take him out. "[Those are] their own words. So it's hard to look at this by any objective measure and say, 'Oh, well, this was a fair investigation.'"
For all those people who camped out to watch what history, what they witnessed instead was, in Rep. Johnson's eyes and others, a "colossal waste of time." But don't think for a second that that will deter Democrats. Will the House finally move on now, I asked Mike? "Boy, I wish that were true," he said. Instead, he expects that they'll just change their narrative. "Speaker Pelosi and Jerry Nadler and the other Democrats in charge of these committees are just absolutely fixated on investigating the president. I think it's going to go on through the election."
That's just fine with the White House, who knows the American people are just as sick and tired of this wild goose chase as they are. If Pelosi keeps it up, President Trump will know exactly where to send a thank you note for 2020.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.