Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony was, at times, painful to watch. He stuttered and bumbled his way through his questioning before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Grabien posted a montage of Mueller looking confused and asking for questions to be repeated multiple times.
Chris Wallace of Fox News, a pundit not known for being a Trump ally, called the hearing a disaster for the Democrats.
— Trump War Room – Text WOKE to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) July 24, 2019
Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times described Mueller as “befuddled” by his own report, as he appeared to be unaware of key statements and findings, and in fact contradicted the report. President Trump himself thanked Democrats for calling Mueller to testify.
I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing. Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff – an Embarrassment to our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
POLITICO reported that the mood in the White House was “euphoric” even before Mueller finished testifying.
The tense opening moments of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill gave way to an early sense of relief at the White House, where aides were quietly celebrating what they viewed as disjointed questioning from Democrats and a weak performance from the star witness himself.
Mueller, whose steely reputation has cast a long shadow over the Trump’s tenure, proved — at least in the early offing — a less formidable witness in the flesh than Democrats had hoped, offering up clipped, monosyllabic responses and repeatedly asking lawmakers to repeat their questions. Watching from the White House, at least one Trump aide said the former FBI director, who spent some 22 months investigating the president, simply seemed past his prime and incapable of doing Trump much harm.
According to Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, “The Democrats built up these two Mueller hearings as their Super Bowl, and at half time, it is not looking good for their side.” New White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham echoed that sentiment. “The last three hours have been an epic embarrassment for the Democrats. Expect more of the same in the second half,” she said. According to POLITICO, a Trump ally “described the mood in the White House simply as ‘euphoria.'”
Some inside the White House were especially pleased with the questioning of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another close Trump ally, who hammered Mueller over his failure to charge a key figure, the Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud, for making false statements to the FBI. Mifsud, according to Mueller’s report, told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, but lied to the FBI about his interactions with Papadopoulos.
When Mueller said he could not “get into” his decision not to charge Mifsud, Jordan snapped, “A lot of things you can’t get into…You can charge all kinds of people who are around the president with false statements. But the guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can’t charge him. I think that’s amazing.” Trump later retweeted video of the exchange posted by a supporter.
The New York Post described the hearing as a “waste of everyone’s time.”