I've been up since 5:30 am this morning to watch Robert Mueller give testimony about what his report says to a country that seems totally unwilling to read it. The hope—for someone like me, who wants to see this goddamn president held accountable for his actions—is that Mueller would simplify what the report says so that even the toddlers in Congress could understand it. No dice. Shaky, slow-to-answer, and almost frail Robert Mueller only seems to want to talk about what it doesn't say.
His report doesn't say that President Trump did not commit obstruction of justice. And it doesn't say that Trump has been "totally exonerated," as the Cheeto-in-Chief and his henchmen keep saying. At the start of this morning's hearings, House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York, drilled that home. "So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice?" Nadler asked.
"That is correct," Mueller said. Watch that exchange—and a bit of the Q&A that followed—below.
It's been a big morning for double negatives. It's been a big year for double negatives.
For the rest of the morning so far, Mueller has seemed almost incapable of answering simple questions, grasping for words, appearing confused, almost doddering. Every time he's asked a direct question, he replies to look at the report, that the report speaks for itself. Every time one of his questioners goes ahead and refers to the report, Mueller asks for the page number and slowly flips to the page in question, and then once he gets to the page he asks what part of the page is being quoted from, and then after the quotation is read he often asks for the question to be repeated. And then once the question is repeated he replies with a one-word answer or he says, "I'm not going to get into that." It's unbelievably frustrating to watch. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd almost say he's trying to seem more confused than he is. Or maybe he's just pissed he has to be here.
Meanwhile, every Republican who asks a question fulminates about the unfairness of Trump being investigated, lays into Mueller for being bad at his job, or outright accuses him of perpetuating injustice. These exchanges—not available on YouTube yet—are so goddamn frustrating too. One would expect the decorated Marine to stand up for himself to fellow Republicans, and yet he hasn't done that. After one particularly outrageous jeremiad, all he would say was, "I take your question." I think he was trying to say, "I take your point," but whatever. "I take your question," he said, after being accused to perpetuating injustice, and then nothing further.
It's like watching Republicans poop in their own hands and fling it at him, then him just quietly letting the poop pile up on his face, without response. Is it frustrating to watch? Oh my god, it's frustrating.
But not as frustrating as his overall belief that he was not allowed to determine whether the president broke the law or whether charges could be brought, because a sitting president cannot be indicted. Then what was this all for? I keep shouting at the TV. I've probably had too much coffee. According to Mueller, he was asked to investigate, not asked whether the president could or should be charged with criminal activity.