In his brief public statement on May 29, Special Counsel Robert Mueller III made his position regarding his possible testimony before Congress clear:
“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. [My emphasis].”
I expect Mr. Mueller to be true to his word. The House of Representatives’ Judiciary and Intelligence Committees have nonetheless determined to have Mr. Mueller testify before them. Any number of pundits have opined that the Democratic-led Committees are thinking that since reading the Special Counsel’s report – exceeding, as it does, 400 pages – is beyond the ken of the great majority of Americans (a fact that is, of itself, worthy of reflection), having Mr. Mueller testify on television – even if he says nothing more than what is in the report — will galvanize Americans to realize that President Trump has behaved in a way unfit for the office he holds. I’ve seen several references to the effect that the 1973 Watergate hearings had upon the general public perception of President Richard Nixon.
We are in a different time and place. Although I consider Mr. Trump to have behaved in innumerable ways – both detailed within the Mueller Report, and outside its confines – that warrant his removal from office, I would suggest that the Committees have embarked upon a fool’s errand … a perspective that I suspect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shares. Mr. Mueller’s testimony promises to motivate those already vehemently opposed to the President to put pressure on their Democratic representatives to pursue Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office – a politically quixotic endeavor, since there are not 20 Republican Senate Republicans (who already know what’s in the Report) possessing the political courage to vote to remove the President even if they privately consider such action to be appropriate.
On the larger substantive level, I would offer that the Democrats’ efforts are misguided because it seems overwhelmingly likely that Mr. Trump’s supporters already viscerally know that he did all the things that Mr. Mueller and his team have reported … and they don’t care. [“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:9.] They believe themselves belittled, ignored, left behind, and perceive Mr. Trump – correctly or not – as being the first powerful politician in decades to speak for them. His voice is undoubtedly worth much more to them than what they almost certainly now dismiss as legal niceties. If you feel that you have been picked on for decades, and then a bully comes along that upbraids those that you consider to have abused you … you’ll be willing to overlook “your” bully’s flaws.
Spending more time obsessing and hyperventilating on malign activity that an insufficient segment of our electorate will be willing to act upon is a waste of taxpayers’ money. [For once, I agree with Republicans ;).] At best, Democrats may weaken Mr. Trump’s support among any voters that are still undecided about him – an extremely small slice of the electorate that admittedly might be the difference in a close election – but risk having the undertaking redound to the President’s benefit by energizing his supporters. Democrats might be better served by devising strategies that will meaningfully resonate with the non-bigoted segments of Mr. Trump’s base, rather than exhilarating in maneuvers that will probably enhance the President’s chances of re-election.
Enough pontificating for one day …