I just hope that the Democrats didn’t commit the cardinal sin of over hyping Robert Mueller. As Mueller’s actual testimony has loomed ever closer, both committee chairs, Nadler on Judiciary, and Schiff on Intelligence have done a nice job of trying to manage expectations, saying that they want Mueller to “bring the report alive.” But following the release of the report, and William Barr’s bullshit manipulation of it and continuing through Mueller’s media statement, the Democrats touted Mueller as the man who would bring two US marshals with him who would perp walk Trump out of the Oval Office once Mueller was finished.
It ain’t happening. And I’ll tell you what else ain’t happening. These committee members are not going to trick, coerce, intimidate, or strong-arm Mueller. Hell, Mueller has been testifying in front of congressional committees for longer than some of the younger members have been walking the earth. He has already stated that his testimony will remain within the boundaries of the four corners of the report, and anyone who marveled at his discipline for the last 2+ years is well served to believe him.
Besides, you don’t need Mueller to go beyond the contents of his report, but a few simple ground rules will help to maximize his impact on the public. First, ask simple direct questions, especially questions that incriminate Trump and can be answered “yes” or “no.” This will allow time for more questions, and you can always ask a follow-up question requesting him to expand on his answer if necessary.
Second, don’t try to get cute or tricky. Don’t play semantic games, Mueller is already an expert interrogator. Don’t bother asking a question like “Director Mueller. Would you have indicted President Trump for obstruction of justice if it were not for that OLC memo?” That’s a great marquee 5:00 p.m. news question, but it’s only going to be answered by, “I’m sorry, but I’m not here to deal in hypothetical questions, Congressman.” The same thing goes for asking questions trying to get Mueller to throw shade all over Barr. Mueller is there for two reasons, to rehabilitate and legitimize the work of his team and himself, and to try to rehabilitate as much as possible toe reputation of the department that Tubby the Ewok has sprayed a fire hose of shit all over.
Numero tres, please co-ordinate for Crissakes! Each member is only going to have five minutes to question Mueller. It is inexcusable that any member asks Mueller a question that has been previously asked by another member. Mueller is going to be well prepared, and as taciturn as hell, so there isn’t going to be that much for him to remember. Besides, he isn’t going to answer a question just because you flip the order of the words around. This isn’t Trump you’re talking to.
Number four is for the two committee chairmen, Nadler and Schiff: Be ruthless! The Republicans on the committees don’t want Mueller there in the first place, and they want him answering questions even less. The ranking members are going to interrupt the proceedings every chance they get with objections and arcane points-of-order rules. Deal with them summarily, and shut off the fucking mics if you have to. Mueller is going to adhere rigidly to the agreed-upon time limits, and you can’t afford to have these flaming muckbills pissing away time.
Number five may be the most critical of all. Pay close attention when the GOP members are asking questions, and be ready to improvise. The Septic Tank Twins, Mark Meadows, and Jim Jordan are already thumping their chests and making ooh-ooh-ooh noises about how they’re going to demolish Mueller with their attacks on his credibility, methods, and bias. And since the two of them combined have the intelligence of dried sage, I can damn near guarantee that at least one, if not both of them, are going to either misrepresent, or flat out lie about Mueller’s report, testimony, or results. And if Mueller is going to slip up and reveal something, it is going to be at that moment, in his zeal to correct the record, and slap these two jackheels down. Be ready to take notes, and then immediately ask Mueller to expand on his answer. Once Mueller has opened a Pandora’s box, he won’t shut the lid again.
That’s pretty much it. Wednesday promises to be an interesting day, so let’s hope that the Democrats have prepared well for it. Because Mueller sure as hell ain’t coming back. This is their one whack at the pinata, so they better get the candy while it’s hanging right there in front of them.