Robert Mueller’s live testimony

July 24, 2019 • 8:21 am

PBS is broadcasting Robert Mueller’s testimony live, and it’s been going on for almost an hour. At any rate, you can see it below, and here’s the precis from PBS:

Former special counsel Robert Mueller has begun his July 24 testimony on the Russia investigation. Mueller, who led an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, agreed to appear before Congress after a subpoena from Democrats, but warned he would not go beyond what was already documented in his final report. Stay tuned for PBS NewsHour’s ongoing coverage of Mueller’s testimony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, and continues at noon with a House Intelligence committee hearing.

I doubt that I’ll have time to watch much of this, but am putting this up for those who have the time. Please put any comments below.

56 thoughts on “Robert Mueller’s live testimony

    1. I ask once again the unaddressed question: What “intelligence” is supposedly conveyed by Bob Terrace’s #1 posting of the single word “Subscribe”?

        1. IFF (*) you tick the checkbox in the comment subscription webpage division.

          (*) “If and only if” – once I learned it in programming logic, I’ve thought it should be in regular speech.

          1. I agree. I like IFF as much as you do. As a matter of fact, I think human communication would be much clearer if regular speech included many aspects and notation from math and logic and critical thinking. I’d also throw in fluency in statistics and probability.

      1. Be grateful you got “subscribe” instead of “sub.” One so posts that occasionally when one has nothing to say at the moment, but wants to follow the conversation.

        I suppose one could simply subscribe without saying so. That would be quite informative and clarifying.

  1. I have been watching on TV. It is covered on many channels – take your pick. I will have to DVR some of it as I have an appointment to go to. The republicans as usual are obstructing, just like their boss. I think the democrats are doing a pretty good job and have planned their questions well.

    One observation concerning Robert Mueller. He is showing his age as is to be expected. I can certainly see why he did not want to do this. I expect the part one session will go much better than part two.

    1. Mueller does seem a bit doddery, but then I probably would be in similar circs.

      He contradicted himself on the collusion/conspiracy distinction, which is perhaps a bit of a red herring. Regardless of what you call it, the legal bar for collusion/conspiracy is set high, and actions that in the vernacular would be called collusion would not necessarily be prosecutable. Also, it’s possible that one reason it wasn’t prosecutable was because of the Trump campaign’s incompetence – attempted collusion is not a crime, apparently!

      Mueller also said that he hadn’t been hindered in his investigation at all, shortly after explaining that he tried for 12 months to interview the President. Not sure what that is if it’s not a hindrance.

  2. To me, the the two most important questions to ask Mueller are 1) is the publicly available, redacted report a fair representation of the unredacted report (given Mueller’s referral to the report as his “testimony”, my sense is that it probably is), and 2) did Mueller “finish” his investigation, or was he instructed to wrap up once Barr became AG?

    Both questions are pretty critical to our ability to contextualize what the available report says, and I’m not aware that either has ever been answered in any satisfactory manner.

    1. Yes, your second question is pertinent.
      Mr Mueller appeared on a roll, had just asked for a 6 month extension, and a week or so after Mr Barr becoming his boss the investigation was ‘concluded’.
      Mr Barr was clearly appointed to protect Mr Trump (‘offer to procure appointive public office’, a felony, with his June 2018 memo).
      I’d ask Mr Mueller if at any time Mr Barr suggested he should conclude his report shortly, more shortly than he originally intended?

    2. Technically no. There are other more important questions:

      “Did Donald Trump obstruct your investigation?”

      is one, but there’s no chance of getting an answer to that.

      1. Imagine my hypothetical question had “with corrupt intent” at the end. Trump did obstruct the investigation but it’s only the corrupt intent part that Mueller has a problem with.

    1. Parallel to my reply-comment to Bob Terrace’s #1 posting of the single word “Subscribe”, what “intelligence” is supposedly conveyed by Sue B’s #4 posting of the single syllable “Sub”??

      On-line search provides no useful clues, since “SUB — short for stuck up bitch” does not seem helpful in the current unisex context.

  3. This is from Mr. Jeffries (NY):

    “Three Elements of Obstruction of Justice
    1. Obstructive Act
    2. Nexus to an Official Proceeding
    3. Corrupt Intent”

    Mr. Jeffries questions Mueller. They go through and check off each one. Mr. Jeffries then says at the end, “The President must be held accountable one way or the other.” Mueller then goes on to address the way Mr. Jeffries went through the checklist and said, “I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark.” Mueller then says something like “however” and then: “I’m not supportive of that analytical charge.”

    Why wouldn’t Mueller be? They went through the checklist together and it seemed like everything was there.

    1. Department of Justice (DoJ) regulations say that a prosecutors are prohibited from making public statements that a person should be indicted unless that person has actually been indicted. There is an opinion from the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that says a sitting president cannot be indicted under Article 2 of the US constitution.

      Bob Mueller is nothing if not a by-the-book prosecutor, so has refrained from saying Trump could be indicted for obstruction of justice. (Mueller’s punctiliousness in observing the DoJ regulations is what allowed Attorney General Robert Barr to take a dump on the Special Counsel’s report before its release by falsely claiming that the decision had been left to him and that he found Trump to be “exonerated” on all charges.)

      I think it clear from Mueller’s testimony this morning that Donald Trump would have been indicted but for the opinion from the OLC saying a sitting president cannot be indicted — indeed, at one point Mueller said as much expressly in response to a question from California congressman Ted Lieu (although I think that may have been because Mueller forgot to add his standard disclaimer about not reaching that ultimate decision).

      1. “Department of Justice (DoJ) regulations say that a prosecutors are prohibited from making public statements that a person should be indicted unless that person has actually been indicted.”

        My understand, however, is that Mueller’s job was not to recommend or not recommend indictment, but to report what transpired and let the facts speak for themselves. Surely the opinion from the OLC doesn’t preclude revealing factual evidence without any inference as to how it could or should be acted upon. Or am I mistaken about that?

        1. You are correct. In Volume II of his report, the Special Counsel identified 10 potential acts of obstruction of justice committed by Donald Trump, and found as to five of them that there was substantial evidence of each of the three essential elements required to establish a violation of the federal obstruction-of-justice statute. All the Special Counsel refrained from doing, in deference to the OLC memo, was taking the final step of saying that Donald Trump would have been indicted for these crimes were he not the sitting president.

          1. Let me also add that over a thousand former US Department of Justice prosecutors have signed a statement that takes precisely that final step, saying that anyone else who had engaged in the conduct alleged in Volume II of the Special Counsel’s report would have been indicted for federal obstruction-of-justice offenses. The signatories include appointees of every prior Republican president going back to Dwight Eisenhower.

            Robert Mueller was asked about that statement in his testimony this morning. While he abjured from expressly endorsing it, he acknowledged that the people who signed it included respected former colleagues of his, and gave no indication that he disagreed with their conclusion.

  4. What’s most surprising is the difference between the image a lot of people have had in their heads about the guy – some kind of combination of the Terminator and Captain America, whose stentorian proclamations would echo through the ages if only he opened his mouth – and the image we actually see now, when he’s under pressure from both sides and is forced to speak extemporaneously.

    It reminds me of when Gordon Brown became PM, and he turned from being a fierce, serious, stern authority figure who the public could trust to shepherd the country, into a desperate PR creation who had to be coached in how to smile. When he emerged from the shadows there was a huge discrepancy between what the public expected and what he gave them

    1. Mueller has information that could directly impact multiple ongoing prosecutions and will absolutely not risk disclosing any of it by going beyond the bounds of his report. And he’s said he wouldn’t discuss anything not in the report many times, so this is not surprising.

      Personally I think the people who imagined Mueller as Superman are just as delusional as the people who think he’s a secret Trumpist ally.

      1. I did find the comic book illustrations of Mueller as a literal Superman, complete with costume underneath his suit, pretty embarrassing.
        I know they were partly tongue-in-cheek, and I know also that they were expressing an understandable, latent yearning for some kind of bipartisan integrity, but you really do hold yourself hostage to fortune if you start drawing children’s books making him out to be a saviour of democracy.

    2. Congressional dems want Mueller to give them permission, not quite in so many words but darn close, to impeach. That’s not his job. Transforming them into vertebrates is also not his job.

      1. Transforming them into vertebrates is also not his job.

        Tunicates are vertebrates (I know of no dissenting opinions, but would love to hear a serious argument why they’re not). Tunicates are, per Wikipedia, “solitary individuals, […] marine filter feeders with a water-filled, sac-like body structure and two tubular openings”. Which I think is pretty accurate.

        1. Tunicates are *invertebrates*, while being members of Cordata since they have dorsal nerve cords. They obviously lack a backbone.

          1. In their embryonic form they have a stiff notochord. They lose that (well, soften it and bend it into a curve) in the metamorphosis into an adult form.

  5. It’s looking like Republicans were specifically told to ask Mueller questions the DOJ barred him from answering. Top tier scummy.

    1. The hearings have only a certain amount of time allocated for them? In which case, they’re talking down the clock, to prevent substantive questioning.
      They may be loathsome but that doesn’t make them stupid.

      1. It’s scummy because they knew ahead of time what topics were made off limits by their own DOJ and they’re asking questions they know Mueller is duty bound not to answer it order to make it look like he’s hiding something.

    1. A long drawn out debate about whether or not the gate should be shut after the horse has bolted and taken up residence in the neighbouring stud ranch run by a team psychopaths who specialise in dismantling gates.

    2. Maddow is is intelligent and articulate. I don’t know if her dreams are feverish, but her presentation of “the case against Trump” is anything but. She calmly and pedantically lulls her viewers into believing Trump will be finished at any moment. Terrible journalism, and anyone who believed her is undergoing the appropriate pain.

      1. Yes, I’m sure we would do much better over at fox taking in all that crap they put out. If you have such a problem with Maddow, you would do well to stay away. I am sure she won’t miss you.

        1. Randall, I try not to silo myself. I consume numerous sources trying to be informed, including Fox. I do watch Reachel Maddow. If I only watched her I might be bewildered that Trump is still in office, but I am not surprised at all, having taken the trouble to be well informed.

          1. If your opinion is – Terrible journalism, why would you listen to it. So that you would have something to complain about?

            You see, I do not have to complain about Fox because I do not watch it. That is why we have many options and do not have to silo ourselves anywhere.

            1. The only way I know Maddow’s Trump narrative is terrible is that I do watch it. It would be pretty foolhardy to criticize something I don’t.

  6. I don’t think many people ever expected anyone to change their minds after this. Mueller could’ve delivered the most astonishing, bravura performance, and magicked up a copy of the golden showers tape, and Trump’s apologists would’ve just shrugged their shoulders and explained it away.
    ‘He’s anti-establishment – you liberal piss-shamers just don’t understand that the American people are sick of the fake news and the leftist elites anti-USA spitting on the white working class communist squad political correctness abortion dinner parties AOC-‘ …then BANG! their heads explode in a gooey ecstasy of buzzwords.

    My hope is that you guys vapourise him at the ballot box. Forget about everything else and concentrate on that.
    And I hope the Dems do so by presenting their own vision, not by responding to his. Treat him as an irrelevance and an insult to the character of the nation, who needs to be swept aside.
    Emphasise rebirth and positivity and confidence; he has nothing to offer against that and people notice it when they’re offered a contrast between positivity and relentless, dismal negativity/pettiness.

    1. Today’s hearings are basically theatre of little consequence. Trump could rape and shoot a 13 year old girl on 5th avenue and he would get away with it..

      1. He’d better shoot the girl first – can’t take the risk of an abortion controversy.

      1. Yes, that seems spot-on to me.

        Treat Trump as a child, an irrelevance, and emphasise these characteristics through CONTRAST, not through pointing them out. Show don’t tell.
        Just behave with serious-minded, confident irritation when he inevitably starts lobbing fatuous insults around. React with contemptuous, annoyed disbelief that a president is not focused on the American people. Then move onto talking about them rather than him. The criticism of Trump should always be off-hand, passive, and laced with annoyance and disbelief that he’s being taken seriously.

        Always have it in the back of your mind to contrast yourself positively with Trump; by doing so you don’t have to mention the man, and you diminish him in the voters’ minds. Treat him as an annoyance, as an unserious character.

        Most crucially, DO NOT insult him directly, avoid criticising him as a person.
        This is because a significant chunk of his voters see him as their avatar.
        It is therefore inevitable that insulting him will be seen as insulting them.
        If you want to win them over, make the insults oblique, dispassionate and in-passing…Buttigieg is masterful at this incidentally. He makes Trump seem un-serious without directly insulting him(and by proxy insulting his supporters).

        The only candidate I can see coming close to pulling this overall approach off is Buttigieg. I believe that if he’s given a chance his sexuality won’t hurt him too badly with voters, although I acknowledge that I might be absurdly naive in this respect.

    2. I think the best way to deal with Trump is to ignore him. If the Democrats stopped responding to his tweets, I think he would explode. He is fueled by controversy. I probably shouldn’t have even posted this response.

    3. Donald Trump is doing his level best, within the constraints imposed by the US system of government, to create a cult-of-personality for himself, in the style of Mao or Kim Jong-un, in which his appointees, congressional Republicans, and the right-wing media all derive their authority and legitimacy solely from their personal relationships with him and their ability to avoid incurring his displeasure. The instability of Trump’s personality and the incoherence of his policy fluctuations keep the people in this cult in a constant state of uncertainty as to how to accomplish this task.

      There is no clearer demonstration of this — and no more pitiful a character in American public life today — than Vice President Mike Pence.

      1. “He might – he will make an effort to speak out”

        That encapsulates the problem. Trump won’t “tell them to stop”, he “might make an effort to speak out”. Pence and Trump are as scared of these people as anybody else, perhaps more so. They can’t speak out against this stuff, because if they do, the mob might turn against them.

        1. Yes, Trump’s great fear is losing his hardcore base — the white-nationalists who followed him into presidential politics from his days leading the drumbeat for the “Birther” movement.

          And everyone else around Trump is afraid of him, because 90+% of Republicans have jumped on the Trump bandwagon.

      2. Amen. It’s shameful the way some politicians and journalists fall in line with Trump’s excesses. Perhaps more shameful than the man himself.

  7. PBS is broadcasting Robert Mueller’s testimony live, and it’s been going on for almost an hour.

    In a corner of the Republican Party’s Barad-Dûr, an orc working for the UnAmerican Activities prosecuting team chalks up another mark on the list of times that PBS showed it’s inherent communist tendencies (Public”? and “Broadcast”? Together without “Profit” in the title? Must be communists!). Very literally, their card is marked. With a prick, they are damned. Their status as unBroadcasters will be established before the programme to repeal the 22nd amendment to the US constitution starts in earnest. Once that’s in the handbag, the hereditary presidency will start with a vote to choose between Ivanka and Donald Junior.

  8. American Democrats,

    Beating Trump (not the smartest person in history) should not be that difficult!
    Instead of impeachment just win the white house in the next election.

    Support a presidential candidate that:
    * stays clear of identity politics
    * supports sensible legal immigration
    * have a little concern for the deplorables
    * appeal to decent folks from all sides (ignore loud radicals)
    * have an inclusive positive message
    * do not talk about Trump all the time

    Someone that can talk 10 minutes without uttering the words; trump, lbtq+ or white privilege.

    In other words not Beto O’Rourke!

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