While media commentators across the political spectrum have tended to agree that congressional hearings with former special prosecutor Robert Mueller were a disaster for the Russian-interference-in-the-2016-election narrative, two top Vermont politicians are doubling down in support of Mueller’s testimony.
“Members of the U.S. Senate once again blocked bills that would further protect our elections from foreign attacks, without explanation, only hours after the special counsel’s testimony, repeating a pattern of partisan stonewalling on any measure that would strengthen election security and get states the resources we need to defend our democracy sustainably into the future,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said in a statement Thursday.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who was at the hearing, grilled Mueller on the notion that not only might it be true that the Russians interfered with the election, but it could happen again.
Here’s my exchange with Mueller this afternoon. He agreed: 1) Significant evidence of Trump campaign conspiring with Russians; 2) Foreign interference in U.S. elections may be the “new normal.” #vtpoli #MuellerHearings https://t.co/0SgWwTrDJQ
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) July 24, 2019
Yet across the political media landscape, even commentators who typically favor Democrats were forced to admit the Russian-collusion narrative is fading fast following the Mueller testimony, especially since the former special prosecutor spent much of his time defending against accusations that the investigation was flawed from the start.
Some of the most embarrassing moments for Mueller came when he refused to answer questions by U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla, regarding what his expansive investigation found and how it all began.
STEUBE: Given your 22 months of investigation, tens of million dollars spent, and millions of documents reviewed, did you obtain any evidence at all that any American voter change their vote as a result of Russia’s election interference?
MUELLER: I’m not going to speak to that.
STEUBE: You had two years to investigate. Not once did you consider it worthy to investigate how an unverified document [the infamous Steele Dossier] that was paid for by a political opponent was used to obtain a warrant to spy on the opposition political campaign. Did you do any investigation in that way?
MUELLER: I do not accept your characterization of what occurred.
STEUBE: What would you — what would be your characterization?
MUELLER: I’m not going to speak any more to it.
CNN.com, a strongly left-wing media organization, called the hearing a nightmare: “What a nightmare Robert Mueller’s testimony has been for Congressional Democrats and their dreams of impeachment momentum. In his much-anticipated bombshell performance, Mueller bombed. Aside from difficult to watch testimony, there has been no new information and no elaboration on the 448-page report.”
Another political commentator, Kimberly Ross of the Washington Post, wrote that all hopes that Mueller’s report might lead to impeachment are off the table.
“The long-awaited testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller did one main thing: confirm that the Democratic Party’s impeachment dreams are over,” she wrote. “Now, it’s more apparent than ever that the Left’s only hope to remove President Trump from office will be through a 2020 election victory of their own.”
TownHall.com commentator Matt Vespa summarized some of the big liberal names who abandoned ship after the Mueller hearing.
“Die-hard liberals like Michael Moore reacted more intensely. He had an ‘I told you so’ moment, telling those pundits who said to put faith in Mueller to ‘STFU.’ I think you can fill in the blanks there. Laurence Tribe, a liberal lawyer, even admitted that today’s hearings were a disaster for Democrats. CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, the network’s legal analyst, also conceded that Trump won the day.”
Popular HBO commentator Bill Maher was another who melted down during the hearing.
Maher says: “If this Mueller testimony was supposed to be ‘the movie,’ it’s a Terrence Malick movie. Democrats are a political party that does not know how to do politics. … I can’t watch this anymore. Go home, guys. You made O.J. try on the glove, and it just didn’t work. You can still win the election, but I wouldn’t bet my own money on it.”
But Condos and Welch, establishment leaders in a strongly blue state, continue to hold onto a separate narrative.
“The Mueller report spelled out plainly and simply what I and my election official colleagues, alongside the entire US intelligence community, already knew: the Russians executed a sweeping and orchestrated campaign to attack US state election systems, warp public opinion, and weaken voter confidence in the integrity of our elections in 2016,” Condos said.
Welch also tweeted his expectation of new bombshell information from the week’s hearings, prior to the event.
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) July 24, 2019