Mueller under the lights: ‘Disaster’

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Grace Vuoto

The much-anticipated congressional testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was shocking: he was a mumbling, stumbling, bumbling incompetent dotard. More astonishing still: he did not know the contents of the report he presented on Russian interference in the 2016 election; he does not appear to be its author.

The real Mueller, on display during the July 24 national broadcasts, proved to be completely unlike the portraits that have been painted by both the “Mainstream Media” and the conservative press.

The Left presented him as a man of unimpeachable integrity, stellar work ethic and judicious stewardship of the many weighty matters that had been put before him throughout his years as FBI Director from 2001 to 2013. And conservative pundits and broadcasters presented him as a cunning, clever member of the “Deep State,” working in cahoots with a few cagey intelligence officers to overthrow a duly elected president. Both caricatures implied this man has a formidable intellect. Both portraits disintegrated within a few moments of the commencement of the hearings.

This Ivy League educated former attorney and prosecutor did not realize his own stunning contradictions nor appear to grasp the essentials of American jurisprudence. In his opening statement, he said his report had found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump administration and the Russians, and also that “collusion” had not been addressed. Yet, Republican Rep. Doug Collins pointed out that the report states that conspiracy and collusion would be viewed as synonymous. Once Mueller realized that the report contradicted his opening statement, he was forced to concede the point.

How on earth could his opening statement be in such direct opposition to a key pillar in the report — and a point that has been hotly debated for months? Not only did he appear not to have written the report, he may not even have read it in the weeks preceding the hearings.

His performance was so alarmingly deficient it led MSNBC’s Brian Williams to admit on air that he was hearing the word “disaster” from liberals and Democrats who had pinned their hopes on these hearings to bring down President Donald Trump. David Axelrod tweeted: “This is very, very painful.” The former adviser of Barack Obama stated Mueller was clearly not as “sharp” as he used to be.

Even these comments are too charitable as they imply that Mueller’s lack of knowledge was due to the infirmities accompanying his 74 years of age. Surely some of the problems like the speed of his comprehension of the questions being asked and his inability to hear correctly might be due to his advanced years. But his failure to defend or dispute basic legal principles belies that age was not the primary culprit in this catastrophic appearance. Mueller did not appear to be well versed in the law; he could not debate key matters; he simply did not know basic facts. In other words, Mueller came across as a C student who has bamboozled his way into powerful positions. His secret has been well kept until now: he is a buffoon.

The most embarrassing scolding came at the behest of Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe. The congressman for Texas’ s 4th district slammed the standard of “exoneration” that has been cavalierly bandied about regarding the issue of whether Trump obstructed justice. The report said Trump could not be “exonerated” on these charges despite the fact that the Special Counsel could not conclude he had committed a crime. Ratcliffe rained righteous indignation upon Mueller, asking where this legal standard has ever been applied before?

“Respectfully, director, it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him because the bedrock principal of our justice system is the presumption of innocence. It exists for everyone,” Ratcliffe said. “Everyone is entitled to it, including sitting presidents.”

Ratcliffe had the best moment of the agonizing hearings with this simple statement: “I agree with Chairman Nadler this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. But he damn sure should not be below the law which is where Volume II of this report puts him.”

And thus the Mueller Myth was exploded. This former Special Counsel had not been painstakingly fair and even-handed, even cautious to a fault, as his supporters had said. Instead, he has trampled on the Constitution and stomped on the president’s dignity for two long years. He has placed the rights of the occupant of the highest office in the land beneath even the rights of the most hardened criminals who are first presumed innocent before being found guilty. Even this standard of jurisprudence has been too high for President Trump who is so reviled he is not given the same rights granted to every other American citizen. For Trump, they created a new standard.

Mueller cannot be exonerated for his complete failure to carry out his duties effectively as Special Counsel. He is guilty of gross incompetence.

Now we understand why he did not want to testify. This shameful performance has destroyed his reputation forevermore.

Grace Vuoto, Ph. D, is a WorldTribune columnist.

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