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Mueller Testimony Preview
July 23, 2019

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly before House lawmakers for five hours on Wednesday, and the TV networks are promising blanket coverage. Will President Trump be watching? "No, I'm not going to be watching, probably," he told reporters Monday. "Maybe I'll see a little bit of it."

Trump and his aides are pre-emptively dismissing the hearings as old sour grapes, The New York Times notes, but "Trump's history of remaining glued to television news — especially when the coverage is about him — suggests that he is certain to be tuned in as Democrats on Capitol Hill use Mr. Mueller's appearance to amplify the damning report about the president and the people in his orbit."

Trump's approach to Mueller's report and upcoming testimony "reminds us of the line from the opening of Annie Hall," Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly write at The Washington Post. "Two women are eating at a Catskills resort, and one says, 'The food at this place is really terrible.' The other replies, 'I know, and such small portions."' Trump has "spoken or tweeted about Mueller more than 300 times during his presidency," they add, and he appears to view Mueller's report as "both an exoneration and a source of bitter complaints," hailing "some of the report's findings — usually by mischaracterizing them — while denouncing its other conclusions."

This is the media's rare chance "to correct a serious wrong" from it's "gullible" coverage of Attorney General William Barr's slanted recap of Mueller's report, which "essentially transmitted to the public — especially in all-important headlines and cable-news bulletins — what President Trump desperately wanted as the takeaway: No collusion; no obstruction," the Post's Margaret Sullivan argues. "Many Americans have made up their minds already about Mueller's findings," but "there is an opportunity here to remove a false, cartoon version of Mueller's investigation and to substitute a well-rendered portrait of a subject that could hardly be more important to the country." Peter Weber

July 23, 2019

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller won't testify before two House committees until Wednesday morning, but the pregame show has already started on cable news. CNN's Anderson Cooper deconstructed President Trump's lies about Mueller and then had a panel of experts, including former White House counsel and Watergate star witness John Dean, preview Mueller's testimony. Dean argued that if Mueller had been the Watergate prosecutor, Richard Nixon would have gotten away with his alleged crimes.

On MSNBC, Ari Melber pointed to reports that Attorney General William Barr "is stepping in again" and trying to limit what Mueller says. And Mueller will not be "standing with the president's critics," he added. "Remember, as a legal matter, when Mueller steps in front of the world Wednesday, he will be a hostile witness under subpoena. He is prepping to be pressed and to push back."

"There are damning facts in the Mueller report, but some Democrats want more than a dry, factual presentation," Melber said. "They want to press Bob Mueller under oath to say in English what the Mueller report only said in lawyer jargon: That there is substantial evidence against Trump, that it comes from his own staff, and that it suggests he committed multiple crimes in office."

Former Solicitor General Neal Katyal told Melber he's "extremely concerned" about the reports Barr is, in his analysis, "trying to gag Mueller and trying to say that anything that's not in the report is 'presumptively privileged.' And you know, Mueller is so by-the-book, I suspect that will influence him greatly, what Barr and others are trying to say in terms of squelching him." At the same time, Mueller's "by-the-book" nature could also work against Trump, Katyal suggested, because "the book's actually changed" since Mueller turned in his report, specifically because Barr has since said he could have reached a conclusion about whether Trump has committed crimes.

Whether Mueller would have said Trump committed crimes is "exactly the kind of question the Democrats should be leading the hearing with," Katyal said. Melber said Katyal was engaging in "a little bit of wishful thinking," but Katyal said given Barr's comments, Mueller "absolutely should go further" than what's in his report, "and indeed I don't see how he can't answer that question." Peter Weber

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