Last week, after the debacle that was Robert Mueller’s testimony, I speculated about whether Democrats knew in advance that Mueller would make a poor witness and, if so, why they put him on public display. As to the first matter, I assumed that Committee Democrats had some notice of Mueller’s weakness. As to the second, I wrote:
Maybe Mueller’s people were too tactful in how they [talked about their boss]. Maybe the Dems just couldn’t believe Mueller could be as bad as he was.
Maybe their hatred runs so deep that Democratic committee members simply ignored the warning and decided to push full speed ahead, anyway. Or maybe Democrats weren’t warned.
Based on this report in the Washington Post, the answer seems to be, all of the above, depending on who is talking.
The varying answers are to be expected. Blame-shifting is an art form in Washington.
Congressional Democrats responsible for having Mueller testify say that, to the extent there were “whispers” about Mueller having lost some sharpness, “some members” of the special counsel’s team “rejected the insinuation out of hand.” In this account, Mueller’s staff, not the Democrats, are to blame. Their sin? They wouldn’t bad-mouth their leader.
But critics of the decision to have Mueller testify say that, whatever Mueller’s staff might or might not have said, the Democrats had ample warning that something was amiss with the special counsel. There was his press conference, which was so unimpressive that “some committee members struggled with whether it was a good idea to bring him in.”
There was also the fact that Mueller’s team pushed for the two hearings to be held behind closed doors and be limited to two hours each. Hint, hint.
Why didn’t committee Democrats take the hints? Some committee members and staffers told the Post they had no choice. They needed to get Mueller “to publicly confirm unflattering facts about [President] Trump that they can further explore.”
In other words, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. This, I think, is the most honest explanation of why the Democrats proceeded as they did.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Mueller ended up publicly confirming unflattering facts about Mueller, thereby torpedoing their efforts to sink Trump’s ship. They have only themselves to blame.