David Axelrod and Claire McCaskill aren't thrilled with the Mueller testimony: 'This is very, very painful'

Claire McCaskill.
(Image credit: Screenshot/Twitter/MSNBC)

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his first of two congressional hearings on Wednesday, and so far, a few prominent Democrats aren't thrilled with how things are going.

As Mueller wrapped up his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, described the hearing as "very, very painful." In a follow-up tweet, he clarified that he still believes Mueller's report is "damning" but wrote that the former special counsel "clearly was struggling today." Earlier, Axelrod had tweeted that Mueller "does not appear as sharp" as he used to be.

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Former Democratic senator Claire McCaskill wasn't happy with the testimony, either, saying on MSNBC that "today he was a witness, and he frankly wasn't a really good witness." McCaskill complained that Mueller declining to answer so many questions allowed Republicans to get "more and more outrageous" with their questioning, and so "the Democrats have to be disappointed that he didn't more vigorously defend his process and the team."

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Brutal assessments along those lines dominated cable news during the break between hearings, with Jeremy Bash, former Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency chief of staff under President Obama, saying that Mueller "sucked the life out of the report," panning Mueller as "boring," "evasive," and saying he "seemed lost." Legal scholar Laurence Tribe agreed that Mueller "sucked the life out of" the report, while NBC's Chuck Todd echoed a similar statement from Fox News' Chris Wallace by saying that while Democrats "got what they wanted" on substance, "on optics, this was a disaster."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.