Mueller Changes Everything…And Nothing
Indy counsel departs amid confusion, criticism, and congressional chaos.
My take: Pro-impeachment forces got nothing new from Mueller (except something they DIDN’T want — his fresh position that calling him to testify before Congress would yield nothing beyond what is in his report).
But they took from his opaque words that Mueller was inviting them to impeach Trump for obstruction. Many cable commentators echoed that interpretation.
The new dilemma for Democrats, before they actually get to a climactic battle over whether to impeach Trump, is how much they fight to get an unwilling and unenthusiastic Mueller to testify. That effort would take their focus off of Trump and off of Attorney General Barr. And, of course, off of health care.
And, say they win the fight and get Mueller to appear. Will his reading aloud from his report, while dodging questions about his relationship with Barr, really help the Democrats’ cause?
Nothing Mueller said immediately changes the four realities that drive Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to beginning impeachment proceedings:
A. Public opinion still remains largely against impeachment.
B. Senate Republicans still are lock-step against removing the president from office.
C. Pelosi’s vulnerable members in Purple and Red districts mostly did not talk about impeachment in their Wednesday statements.
D. There is now no Mueller public appearance in the offing that is going to reframe the debate in a way that leads a stampede towards support for impeachment.
Public opinion might have moved slightly in favor of impeachment proceedings, but not enough to shake Pelosi’s confidence that she should keep the option of impeachment open while congressional investigations continue, but keep the bar super high for actually pulling the trigger.
Helping Trump politically: three serious conservative voices (John Podhoretz, Rich Lowry, and the Wall Street Journal ed board) all denounced Mueller’s conduct in a way that will rally the right inside and outside of Washington.
The smart betting remains: Pelosi lets her chairs continue to investigate, but she tries to run out the clock on impeachment into the 2020 presidential cycle.
Bernie Sanders Is Either Stalled or Revving Up
Vermonter no longer alone in Tier 2.
My take: This must-read Washington Post story nicely sums up why Sanders is under performing almost as much as Biden is over performing. With Elizabeth Warren crowding him out for some voters and Sanders having trouble expanding his appeal, it is legit to ask if the 2016 runner-up needs a second act. There are still reasons to believe that Sanders has loyal supporters who will get him to the finals at a minimum, and might even allow him to out-organize and out-energize Biden and the rest and win Iowa and New Hampshire. But polling and other metrics suggest he is suffering the effects of the large field as much as everyone but Biden has so far.
Trump Can’t Get Over John McCain
Namesake Navy vessel ordered hidden during presidential trip to Japan.
My take: The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, put in sharp relief just how consumed Donald Trump still is with McCain, even after the Senator’s passing. What is most surprising about this tale is that it isn’t the least bit surprising.
Facebook Draws Pelosi, Clinton Ire
My take: Facebook of course has been a punching bag now for politicians of all stripes for some time. But these two powerful voices add fresh problems for the tech giant, with questions being raised about their competence, vigilance, and values.
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The Hollywood Reporter