Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mueller needs to speak out - soon.

Here is a pair of opinion pieces from the New York Times. The common thread is that Mueller needs to do more than fade away in silence. There is a real possibility that Trump will be reelected and that he will visit damage to our democracy and the rule of law that are the stuff of nightmares. Certainly Mueller does not want to be a part of that. He needs to speak plainly to America - and soon.

Michael Tomasky thinks that Mueller Is Admirably Apolitical. That’s the Problem. He is serving a vision of America that no longer exists.

Robert S. Mueller III has spoken, but he had very little to say. As he said at a brief news conference on Wednesday morning, he will not go beyond what his report said. He will not criticize Attorney General Bill Barr, even though he wrote a letter to Mr. Barr in late March complaining that the attorney general’s summary of the Mueller report did not capture its “context, nature, and substance.”

And while he didn’t completely close the door on appearing before Congress, Mr. Mueller made it clear that it wouldn’t exactly be must-see TV, so what would be the point.

What we saw on display in Mr. Mueller’s nine-minute statement was his often discussed sense of rectitude and propriety. These are admirable attributes, normally. But we might well wonder whether those attributes are what is needed in the age of Donald Trump, or whether the preservation of our democratic institutions demands more.

What does the real Mueller think of Trump?

I think we know. And yet, Mr. Mueller will not say so publicly. He just reiterates that he wants the evidence to speak for itself. The evidence, however, was not allowed to speak for itself, as he knows. The attorney general spoke for it. And many Republican members of Congress apparently didn’t even read the evidence. The president of the United States mocks it and lies about it, saying the report found no evidence of obstruction.

And so we are living in a clash of Robert Mueller’s two Americas. In the America in which he grew up, and the America he has served with rectitude and dignity, riding quietly off into the sunset would perhaps have been the right thing to do.

But that America is no longer. Shards of it remain, but it is under constant assault. If Mr. Mueller wishes to serve and preserve that America, he might still ask himself whether this brief statement followed by silence is the best way to do that. And he should determine to do, to quote his old toast, what an American should.

Robert Mueller, We Need to Hear More. You said that your investigation’s work “speaks for itself.” It doesn’t. Here’s an excerpt from a letter addressed to Mueller.

Say what you will about the president — and I have — when it comes to that lying, exaggerating, bullying thing, no one can touch him. He has set up a world where it seems as if those disapproving of him can effectively challenge him only by becoming just like him. He’s bringing down the level of the entire playing field.

And here, Mr. Mueller, is where you come in — where you need to come in. In your news conference, you said that your investigation’s work “speaks for itself.” It doesn’t. It may speak for itself to lawyers and lawmakers who have the patience and obligation to read through the more than 400 pages of carefully chosen words and nuanced conclusions (with all due respect, as good a read as it is, you’re no Stephen King).

You’ve characterized the report as your testimony, but you wouldn’t accept that reason from anyone your office interviewed. Additional information and illumination emerge from responses to questions. I know you’re as uncomfortable in the spotlight as the president is out of it. I know you don’t want to become part of the political spectacle surrounding Russia’s crimes and your report on them. I know you will, however reluctantly, testify before Congress if called, because you respect the system and follow the rules, and I understand why you’d want to do it away from the public glare.

But the country needs to hear your voice. Your actual voice. And not just because you don’t want them to think that your actual voice sounds like Robert De Niro reading from cue cards, but because this is the report your country asked you to do, and now you must give it authority and clarity without, if I may use the term, obstruction.

We’ve learned our lesson about what can happen to the perception of your work when interpreted in rabid tweets by the president, dissected by pundits all over the map, trumpeted in bizarre terms by the president’s absurd personal lawyer and distorted by the attorney general.

And if, in fact, you have nothing further to say about the investigation, for your public testimony, you could just read from the report in response to questions from members of Congress. Your life has been a shining example of bravely and selflessly doing things for the good of our country. I urge you to leave your comfort zone and do that again.

You are the voice of the Mueller report. Let the country hear that voice.

With great respect,

Robert De Niro

“Mr. De Niro is an actor, producer and director.” And, adds your Scriber, he appears frequently on Saturday Night Live impersonating Robert Mueller.

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