Key Takeaways from the Mueller Hearing, with Video


The hearings with Mr. Mueller yesterday were about getting the findings in the Report out to a broader audience, by using video. The sad fact is that a great majority of Americans have not read the Report, much less the helpful executive summaries of the two sections of the Report, and unless the findings made their way to a TV, many citizens would remain in the dark.

Honestly, I have no idea why anyone thought that the hearing would be “explosive.” If you’ve read the Report, nothing said yesterday was new. (Well, aside from the weird, ineffective shenanigans the Republicans were pulling.) Mr. Mueller’s sole press conference made it clear that 1) he is a man who is very measured and will not stray from the Report, and 2) he did not want to be in the middle of a political football game.

I’m deeply disappointed that so many media outlets and pundits are focusing on HOW Mr. Mueller presented instead of WHAT he said. With that, I give you the video clips of what I thought were the key moments in the hearings.

Morning Session – Obstruction of Justice

The morning hearing started off in the House Judiciary Committee. There, they discussion focused primarily on the section of the Report that dealt with Trump’s obstruction of justice. Right off the bat, Chairman Nadler asked Mr. Mueller if his Report completely exonerated the President, as the President has tried to claim.

Mr. Mueller made clear that the DOJ policy was written such that he was not allowed to determine if Trump obstructed justice because he is currently president. The question was asked, could he be charged AFTER he leaves office? (The question came from a Republican who, I’m guessing, immediately regretted his question when Mr. Mueller answered.) Here’s how he answered:

If you’re wondering what the Republicans were doing during the morning hearing, well, here’s what I wrote about that:

Afternoon Session – Russian Interference

The afternoon hearing was in the House Intelligence Committee and primarily dealt with the section of the Report dealing with Russia’s interference with the 2016 election. Although Mr. Mueller said this particular bit at his opening statement earlier in the day, I’m putting it here for clarity.

Mr. Mueller was asked about Trump praising Wikileaks during the course of the 2016 campaign. He did not mince words:

Rep. Adam Schiff had the final comments in the afternoon hearing. His interaction with Mr. Mueller touches on just how low the bar is for Trump and how that just shouldn’t be the case with the President of the United States.

Rachel Maddow made a great point on her show last night, which was to point out how incredibly important open hearings like these are to the national conversation. We all need to be working from the same set of facts.

So what now?

My site wouldn’t be this site unless we discussed what should happen now. First of all, I’d recommend that we all start talking. Ask friends, family, and whomever what they thought about the hearings. Let them know what your takeaways were. Maybe they’re similar, maybe they’re not. We have to get the conversation going, especially with those who maybe only just started paying attention.

And secondly, you need to call your U.S. Representative in the House. (Get their contact info HERE.) Is there action you want them to take based on what you heard yesterday? They can’t read your mind; you need to tell them. Act now.

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6 replies

  1. I admit, somewhat shamefully, that I did not watch any of the Mueller Hearing yesterday for two reasons : 1) Unlike many hopefuls, I truly doubted that there would be any new astounding revelations. 2) I could not find the strength to endure what was undoubtedly going to become a contest between the two parties. I had already read the Mueller Report from a printed copy that I had purchased shortly after the report’s release. I also knew that following yesterday’s appearance there would be several reliable sources to obtain the true and relevant facts, yourself among them. I had read Brookingslib’s post at “On The Fence Voters” last evening, watched Rachel Maddow’s show last night, perused reports from various news sites this morning and now this excellent post by you. Robert Mueller was in a difficult position and one has to admire the way in which the man has handled himself throughout the investigation right up to and through yesterday’s appearance. He deserves our gratitude, not the condemnation of Trump and the GOP. The question remains…what will the Democrats do with this and when? Thank-you!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Ellen. You are right. Anyone who had read the Mueller Report, like yourself, was not the intended audience for the hearing. As for the Democrats, they too are in a tough spot. In order for televised impeachment hearings to be effective, the Democrats need a helping hand from the media. Because we know the Republicans will never vote to convict Trump, the power of the impeachment hearings would be to get important info out to a wider audience to inform them. But if the media treats impeachment hearings like they did Mueller—whining about no fireworks or it being “bad TV”—then the hearings accomplish nothing. Why then should the Democrats waste their time? I’m going to write more about this tomorrow.

  2. Excellent observations especially concerning the media. While I do appreciate the difficult position Mueller was in, not just yesterday in his testimony but also in his role as Special Counsel, he does deserve some criticism. Let me explain.

    The parallels to Watergate have been well covered, and rightly so. However, there is one huge difference today compared with 45 years ago – that is, the viability of impeachment. Back then, when Nixon’s crimes were publicly exposed, Republicans could no longer politically support him; and, that’s why he resigned. Now, after Trump’s egregiously worse crimes were at least partially exposed, Republicans saw more political risk to themselves if they didn’t continue to politically support him; and, that’s why he’s still in office. This difference relates to the much more intense cultural polarization in America today. Trump supporters see him as some sort of ideological messiah, a champion for all their angers and fears. Nixon, even at the height of his popularity, never was seen so loftily. The typical Republican of the 1970s was much more level-headed, objective, and duty-bound than the rabid version of the 2010s.

    For this reason, the responsibility of holding Trump accountable fell squarely on Mueller regardless of how unfair such a position might be. I always believed that he understood this, and his testimony yesterday has confirmed my suspicions. If Mueller had accepted that responsibility to first and foremost uphold the U.S. Constitution, uphold the rule of law, and uphold the nation’s democratic principles, then he would’ve pursued his investigation and prosecutions much more vigorously and without apprehension. He would not have bypassed attention on Trump and Trump’s family. He would not have skirted around the very serious Russia collusion problem, and he would not have acquiesced to the DOJ’s arbitrary internal policy prohibiting the criminal prosecution of a sitting U.S. president. Such a heavy burden of responsibility would be unbearable for most people, and we now know that it was too much for Mueller to bear. Therefore, he is no “hero” in my view – just a relatively honorable official whose shoes were too big for him to fill.


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