This Is The Key Takeaway From Special Counsel Mueller’s Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee

It all comes down to the last ten seconds of this 34 second clip:

The questioner is Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO District 4). He’s a former prosecutor, so he should have known not to ask a question he didn’t already know the answer to. There is, of course, argument over whether the Special Counsel was speaking specifically about the President or hypothetically and generally about any president once they are out of office and the Office of Legal Counsel guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted would no longer apply. Regardless, this should be the focus of Democratic information operations going forward. Just the last ten to twenty seconds of this clip, hammered over and over and over again. In TV advertisements, in radio advertisements, on social media and in Internet based advertisements, and every time a Democratic candidate for president or Federal office, or a Democratic elected official, or their surrogates are asked about the outcome of Mueller’s investigation.

And it should be paired with this 20 second clip of Congressman Lieu (D-CA District 33):

We can wait and see what this afternoon’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearings with Special Counsel may bring.

Also, here’s bonus footage of Congressman Gaetz (R-FL District 1/Overstimulated) preparing for this morning’s hearing:

Open thread!

75 replies
  1. 1
    Joy in FL says:

    I appreciate the live stream. Will there be one for the afternoon hearing? Any idea when that will start?

  2. 2
    Betty Cracker says:

    Haven’t watched the circus, so thanks for bringing this to our attention. A Republican asked that? God, what an idiot.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Joy in FL: The HPSCI session should start about an hour after the Judiciary Committee hearing ended. So everyone has time for lunch. If no one else does, I’ll try to put up a lives stream.

  4. 4
    randy khan says:

    Buck’s question was a pretty awful own goal. I love it.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    @Joy in FL: C-Span says 12:45.

    @Betty Cracker:

    A Republican asked that? God, what an idiot.

    And, one of the three reasonable sounding ones.

  6. 6
    guachi says:

    Since Republicans didn’t really ask anything useful it means Democrats can spend the hour working on questions that weren’t asked in the first session or areas for further clarification.

  7. 7
    Chyron HR says:

    He’s a former prosecutor, so he should have known not to ask a question he didn’t already know the answer to.

    Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Adam? He knew the real answer: “NO OBSTRUCTION NO COLLUSION”.

  8. 8
    StringOnAStick says:

    Perfect, Adam, absolutely perfect!

    Ken Buck tried to become a Senator from CO; he failed. IIRC, what got him was a variation on the “what is ‘real rape'” theme, a bit before that became a bigger issue (as it needed to). He represents a region with a majority of farmers/ranchers/wing nuts. What he’s known for is engaging mouth before brain, so thanks, Ken! Never change!

  9. 9

    @Betty Cracker: We’re talking about Ken Buck here. He’s not as voluble as Gaetz or some of the other famously stupid GOPer congress members, but just as dumb. How he ever made it as a prosecutor is beyond me.

  10. 10

    @Adam L Silverman: Please do put up the live stream. My real life will probably distract me.

  11. 11
    tokyokie says:

    Gee, Mueller’s testimony sure doesn’t seem to support Barr’s interpretation of Mueller’s findings. Funny that.

  12. 12
    donnah says:

    MSNBC is tearing down the Mueller testimony. They are taking opinions from their usual commenters and contributors and the general feeling is that Mueller was dull, confused, and has been detrimental to the Report.

    I watched most of the event but missed the second half. I didn’t have a feeling that it had gone badly. I guess we find out more at the end of the day, but lots of negative feedback.

  13. 13
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @StringOnAStick: IIRC he was one of the paranoid nutters who thought the UN was going to ban golf and force everyone to ride bikes because of climate change. Then again, so was Joni Ernst, and she ended up winning.

  14. 14

    @StringOnAStick: Yup, that’s Ken. That Senate race was quite a flameout.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    1. There are a lot of people including Members of Congress that have not read the report.
    2. A lot of Republicans have fully convinced themselves that tRump did nothing wrong. That this was a “witch hunt” etc.
    3. Muller has some personal agenda.

    1 + 2 + 3 = Buck asking that question.

  16. 16
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    wow, really surprised to hear Jeremy Bash say this hearing set back the effort to expose trump

  17. 17
    trollhattan says:

    Did our Special Needs Congressman McClintock really spend his time defending Russia against that meanie, Mueller?

    I so wish we could rid ourselves of this carpetbagging hump.

  18. 18
    Mart says:

    Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Instead of worrying about high crimes and misdemeanors, can they just impeach the fat bastard for bribing the two woman to keep their affairs quite?

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:

    @donnah: That’s like when Andrea Mitchell used to tell us what we had just seen, WRT an Obama speech, and it did not comport with what had actually been said.

    Why I don’t catch much news from broadcast/cable/NPR sources. Want to see it myself. They are not always trustworthy, and answer to their owners. That goes for political coverage from the NY Times too.

  20. 20
    Steve in the ATL says:


    he was one of the paranoid nutters who thought the UN was going to ban golf

    I could support that if it were limited to links-style courses

  21. 21
    oatler. says:

    Once more, here’s Chuck Todd “leading” us through the darkness:

    “On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the OLC guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things. But on optics, this was a disaster”

  22. 22
    Joy in FL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you, Adam for making sure there is a live stream here. And thank you for the time, @Elizabelle

  23. 23

    I mostly read the BJ thread, so I don’t have an independent sense of how the hearing went, but it sounded to me like it went well. There are clips already on social media.

    We’ll have to see how most people react. We’re not typical, but neither are MSNBC commenters.

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    BBC has a pic of the queen shaking hands with new PM Boris front-paged. She doesn’t appear particularly chuffed at the exchange.

    Why do I feel like we’re two countries who pinkie-swore a suicide pact?

  25. 25


    UN was going to ban golf

    I fail to see a problem with this.

  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @donnah: Mueller was, and will be again this afternoon, the quintessential example of a career DOJ official. He says no more than he feels he should and that’s it. He also now has serious old man voice. Together this presents as visually reticent to befuddled, but it isn’t. You’ll notice when he’s had his team’s integrity impugned, he’s been more animated. No disrespect to Jeremy Bash, but he’s a political appointee, not someone whose made a career in National Security positions of different types. His understanding and approach and expectation of how you respond to these things is different than the one Mueller learned and has abided by during his long career. And Frank Figliuzzi’s explanation of this reality was spot on. The news media screaming that he didn’t give them the juicy media clips they want is just garbage. Finally, this format wasn’t and isn’t designed to actually produce detailed, delineated, thoughtful responses. If the Democrats on the committee, or Democrats in Congress, or anyone else wanted that, then committee counsel should have been given the first two hours, 1/2 hours each rotation for the Democratic and Republican counsels, to ask appropriate questions and elicit detailed answers in follow ups. The final hour to 90 minutes could be reserved for individual member questions. Optimally, the whole hearing would have been done by the committee counsel and the members would have sat there and taken notes.

  27. 27
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @oatler.: “On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the OLC guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things. But on optics, this was a disaster”

    that’s the gormless Chuck Todd in a nutshell

  28. 28

    @trollhattan: Just don’t send him back here.

  29. 29
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @ ForTheRuleOfLaw
    Republicans for the Rule of Law Retweeted Republicans for the Rule of Law
    Rep. Demings: Did “lies by Trump campaign officials and administration officials” impede your investigation?

    #RobertMueller: “I would generally agree with that.”

    IANAL, but how is that not a working definition of “obstruction of justice”. Every one of those lies was told under oath.

  30. 30
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I thought you liked Asian women. Have you seen the ladies on the LPGA tour these day?

  31. 31
    cmorenc says:

    @randy khan:

    Buck’s question was a pretty awful own goal. I love it.

    Even FoxNews’s website couldn’t duck away from including in the bold headline for the story: “Trump not exonerated“.

  32. 32
    trollhattan says:

    Untrainable puppies go back to the breeder. Just sayin’.

  33. 33
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @donnah: More of an example of why cable news is toxic – “dull” doesn’t negate “True”, except in entertainment.

  34. 34
    zhena gogolia says:


    What was wrong with the optics? That the Democrats actually reported on the contents of the Mueller Report, unlike Chuck Todd and his employers and colleagues?

  35. 35
    zhena gogolia says:


    They wanted him to act like Martin Sheen on The West Wing.

  36. 36
    Miss Bianca says:

    As I just posted on the Book of Faces: “Thank you for your service, Mr. Buck”.

    This Coloradan is deeply appreciative.

  37. 37
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @donnah: Ultimately, the media was probably going to announce that this was a yawn-fest unless Mueller made a thunderous proclamation that Trump was obvious guilty and he really wanted to indict him but Barr personally told him not to.

    What we got was about what I expected: Some explicit public comments that Trump was not exonerated and would have been indicted if he was anyone but the president. I’ll take it. Like Adam said up top, that should be the focus of Democratic messaging.

  38. 38

    @Steve in the ATL: I can walk a few blocks to the fancy pants mall, same thing.

  39. 39
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Joy in FL: Everyone should feel free to establish a Patreon for me and contribute often and in large denomination amounts!//

    More seriously, you are quite welcome.

  40. 40
    cynthia ackerman says:


    He came across as addled and confused. dear God, he’s clearly got medical/psychic issues, and his soldiering on today is out of sight awesome to behold.

    Mueller is a rock, albeit a complex and sphinx-like rock.

  41. 41

    @zhena gogolia: The media wanted a circus(with peanuts), they didn’t get a circus, they have a sad.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    jl says:

    Listened to some clips of the testimony. I heard news talkers saying that Mueller didn’t seem sharp, was faltering and not the sharp robust guy we expected. I didn’t sense that at all in any of the clips I listened to. Mueller seems fine, except he talks in an ‘old man voice’,which is expected because he is kind of old.
    Edit: though if we worked out like Adam, probably wouldn’t have ‘old man voice’. Sad!

    Is this a case of GOP operatives whispering propaganda in the news actors’ ears that they run and repeat on the air?
    Or am I paranoid and cynical?

  44. 44

    If that dumbfuck represents your district, raise your hand.



  45. 45
    oldgold says:

    My opinion:

    The Democrats did as well as could be expected, given the insanity of this hearing process.

    The Republicans were Republicans – awful. Tellingly, they focused exclusively on process, not substance.

    Mueller was what I expected – humble, professional, but …

    Given the power of confirmation bias, I doubt any minds were changed.

  46. 46
    Fleeting Expletive says:

    My favorite of the Republican weirdos was R-Meathead from Pennsylvania, didn’t catch his name because I was getting the exact quote of him bragging on himself being “a magistrate judge in Pennsylvania so I’m very well versed in the legal system.” He was just before Gym Jordan, who of course got cut off by the chairman after one sneering sentence. That was some lighning and thunder there, I tell you what.

  47. 47
    donnah says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    As I said, I felt it went well in terms of showing that the Mueller Report gave factual information and Mueller said what he could to reinforce the findings. I thought the Republicans came across as desperate and determined to undermine the legality or the premise of the investigation because they could not refute the facts.

    What bugs me is that the media is furthering the Republican side and once again and dismissing the meat of the testimony. Stupid Brian Williams is repeating the comments that the Democrats are calling the Mueller testimony a disaster. But Ted Lieu just came on and strongly refuted that. I hope his message is one that will resonate over the noise from the press.

  48. 48
    bemused says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    My impression was that Mueller was being very, very careful, no doubt due to his decades of experience. It went about as I expected, Republican idiots grandstanding and Dems reiterating main points of report.

  49. 49
    zhena gogolia says:


    How could they be calling it a disaster?????

    This is horrible. I wish all TV stations would be nuked from orbit.

  50. 50
    BC in Illinois says:

    Chuck Todd:

    On substance, Democrats got what they wanted: that Mueller didn’t charge Pres. Trump because of the OLC guidance, that he could be indicted after he leaves office, among other things.

    But on optics, this was a disaster.

    Shorter Chuck Todd:
    “In fact . . . this.”
    “But in MY eyes . . . that.”

  51. 51
    zhena gogolia says:

    I guess I’m going to have to check out and do my work. This is very upsetting.

  52. 52
    cain says:

    Yes for them it is all about ratings and be able to build a conversation after so they can get more people to look at their shitty shows.

  53. 53
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Richard M. Nixon @ dick_nixon
    For all the terrible Eagle Scout act, Comey is a smoother lawyer. He reels it off. Mueller is a better lawyer. He might stammer but it’s because his mind is already ahead of his mouth.

  54. 54
    L85NJGT says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    “Hot take” political and sports coverage – they’re being paid to spew something out. Is it correct? Who cares, on to the next segment.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Live stream for the HPSCI session with Mueller has just gone hot. They’re just now starting.

  56. 56
    jl says:

    @donnah: You mean Brian Williams, the fantasist and liar, who has a history of saying things to fluff his popularity rather than giving honest opinions? Gee what a surprise.

    I have to wonder how much crap GOP operatives have whispered in these corrupt and incompetent news actor frauds’ ears. For example, I heard some network guy saying “Gee, doesn’t seem like Mueller can answer a lot of the questions… seems faltering.’ Well, shit, Mueller said he wasn’t going to answer a lot of questions that would go any farther than the final report.

    So, am I paranoid and cynical to suspect what I do?

  57. 57
    sdhays says:

    @Nethead Jay:

    How he ever made it as a prosecutor is beyond me.

    Every day, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that people with important jobs are just as likely to be incompetent morons as anyone else.

    Meritocracy my ass.

  58. 58
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    ohn Harwood @ JohnJHarwood
    on Trump Tower meeting w/Russians:

    NEGUSE: Don Jr. was only Trump associate who participated and declined to be voluntarily interviewed. Correct?
    MUELLER: Yes
    NEGUSE: Did Don Jr. or his counsel communicate intent to invoke 5th amendment?
    MUELLER: i’m not going to answer that

    so it got asked….

    (Jesus, not one Democrat has the brains to go on TeeVee and put a good spin on what Mueller did say? He did not exonerate trump, he didn’t indict because of the OLC memo, trump’s people lied to obstruct the investigation. Fuck Claire fucking Eeyore McCaskill. She should go volunteer in a legal clinic somewhere)

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

  60. 60
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Brian Williams saying “lots and lots of Democrats” are on social media calling this “a disaster”.


  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Just an FYI, Ben Shapiro says Rabbi Zimmerman is not actually a rabbi because his feelings don’t care about her facts.

  62. 62
    sdhays says:

    @Fleeting Expletive: Wasn’t it a “judge in Pennsylvania” who went to prison for throwing any child he could get his hands on into a private juvenile detention center so that he could get kickbacks from the owner? Good company.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    M31 says:

    omg, Nunes, what a fucking tool

  65. 65
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I hope, somehow, this makes it into Chuck Todd’s twitter feed

    Benari @ BenariLee
    “By winning the Dems actually lost” is every single Chuck Todd analysis ever

  66. 66
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    There are two types of news stories, Drama and Democrats In Disarray. Mueller was not dramatic. Ergo, the talking heads are sure Democrats lost.

    In the real world, if the press actually shows something, nobody cares what the press tells them to think about it. They do usually believe other people think what the press says to think.

  67. 67
    Elizabelle says:

    Mueller looks like he thinks Nunes is a tool, too. Almost saw a shudder.

  68. 68
    Elizabelle says:

    Adam Schiff looks like he’s thinking “name, rank, serial number.”

    And Nunes is done. Straight to Fox News, that opening statement was.

  69. 69
    Fleeting Expletive says:

    @sdhays: Yeah, I remember that instance too. This was way funnier.

  70. 70
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It is becoming clear that Shapiro is the secret cleric who is in charge of secret committee that excommunicates ‘bad Jews’. Was he running that department when Josh Marshall was excommunicated? He’s been posing as the press secretary?

    Edit: sorry it was the then editor of the New Republic who excommunicated Marshall. I thought this business of random people excommunicating whoever they disagree with was a Protestant thing. I guess the Catholics are the most organized about it.

  71. 71
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Chuck Todd really needs to quit or toss himself out of a window or something. He encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the mainstream media and cable reporting.

  72. 72
    A Good Woman says:

    Mueller took issue with Liu’s statement about the OLC mem and whether the president would have been indicted, but for that memo. Says the characterization is incorrect, fell back to the report.

  73. 73
    Miss Bianca says:

    @TaMara (HFG): Oh, you poor thing…well, I have Scott Tipton, who is frankly not much better.

    by the by, completely o/t, do you happen to have any good ideas for a birthday cake for diabetics? One of my friends is having his birthday in a couple weeks, and another friend wants to bake him a cake!

  74. 74
    J R in WV says:

    @A Good Woman:

    Mueller took issue with Liu’s statement about the OLC mem and whether the president would have been indicted, but for that memo. Says the characterization is incorrect, fell back to the report.

    Not how I heard it… I heard that without the OLC memo prohibiting indictment of a sitting president, Trump would be standing trial right now. Not those words, but to that effect.

  75. 75

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