MSNBC Hypes Dems ‘Bringing Mueller Report to Life’ With Stunt Hearings

On Monday morning, MSNBC repeatedly touted House Democrats holding hearings to try to keep the Mueller Report in the news after the results of Special Counsel’s Russia investigation disappointed liberal lawmakers and reporters. The coverage claimed President Trump’s political opponents were simply “educating the public” and “bringing the Mueller to life” with the partisan stunt.

“In just a few hours from now, Democrats will kick off a series of hearings aimed at educating the public on the Mueller Report,” anchor Stephanie Ruhle announced early in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour. Turning to correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, Ruhle wondered: “Kelly, we know less than three percent of the American people have read the Mueller Report, we’ve got members of Congress that haven’t. What’s the ultimate goal here?”

 

 

O’Donnell described the upcoming hearings as a work of theater:

In many ways, Steph, this is about bringing the Mueller Report to life with a multi-act play, using key figures from the Watergate era, including Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, to talk about what obstruction means and to go through aspects of the Mueller Report and discuss them in a public setting here on Capitol Hill where it will generate attention and will perhaps bring some voters into this process who have not been paying attention.

Leading off a panel discussion on the topic minutes later, Ruhle reiterated: “House Democrats are not committing to impeachment proceedings, but short of that they are doing everything they can to keep the President and Robert Mueller’s report in the public eye this week.” One of the guests was former U.S. attorney and Trump critic Joyce Vance, who Ruhle noted was preparing to testify during Monday’s hearing:

Joyce Vance is a former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Alabama Law School, and she will also be testifying in this afternoon’s hearing....Joyce, obviously we should note you are an MSNBC contributor. But you’re testifying on your own today as a former U.S. Attorney with a whole lot of expertise. What can you tell us about your testimony and why you think this hearing is going to be so valuable?

Vance laughably denied any political motivation behind her participation in the partisan show: “...we’re there not because we have personal political views, but we’re there to lend our expertise as prosecutors and talk with the committee about how prosecutors evaluate evidence in an investigation...”

She noted that fellow former U.S. attorney and MSNBC contributor Barbara McQuaid would also be testifying.

A short time later, Ruhle observed that “these hearings are not fact-finding missions” but were “simply trying to shine a spotlight and explain more to the American people, most of whom have not read the report.” Vance admitted that the events were all about framing a political narrative: “I think that’s right, Stephanie. This is table setting.”

Picking up the coverage in the 10:00 a.m. ET hour, fill-in host Chris Jansing proclaimed: “House Democrats are back in town and apparently they mean business. They are kicking off a series of hearings and actions on the Mueller Report this week.” O’Donnell returned to repeat her earlier declaration that “it’s an attempt to make what is in the Mueller Report come to life by using witnesses like John Dean and others who can talk about some of the issues that the Mueller team described.”

Jansing also relied on correspondent Heidi Przybyla to provide a “deep dive” into Democratic strategy regarding the hearings. Przybyla sympathized with the liberal politicians: “How do you keep the drum beat going? How do you keep the sustained focus when you don’t have the witnesses coming and we haven’t even heard from Mueller?”

She promptly answered her own questions:

My reporting is that Democrats are now discussing a broader legislative strategy....What they’re going to do is to choreograph some of these hearings, not only pulling in people like John Dean and like expert witnesses, but also crafting actual legislation that addresses some of the wrongdoing that we saw outlined in the Mueller Report....Democrats believe that if they can pull out those specific instances, such as obstruction, such as the contacts with Russia, and craft legislation around it, maybe they can keep a sustained focus.

Even while admitting that the Mueller Report hearings were nothing more than political theater, MSNBC hosts and correspondents were still rooting for Democrats to succeed in keeping the media spotlight on the issue. Clearly many journalists are eager to oblige.

Here are excerpts of the June 10 coverage:

9:05 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Now let’s head to Kelly O’Donnell on Capitol Hill. In just a few hours from now, Democrats will kick off a series of hearings aimed at educating the public on the Mueller Report. Kelly, we know less than three percent of the American people have read the Mueller Report, we’ve got members of Congress that haven’t. What’s the ultimate goal here?

KELLY O’DONNELL: In many ways, Steph, this is about bringing the Mueller Report to life with a multi-act play, using key figures from the Watergate era, including Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, to talk about what obstruction means and to go through aspects of the Mueller Report and discuss them in a public setting here on Capitol Hill where it will generate attention and will perhaps bring some voters into this process who have not been paying attention.

It also serves a purpose of showing, according to Nancy Pelosi’s team, the specific actions that House Democrats are taking on a day-by-day basis to hold the President to account, to shine a light on what was found in the Mueller report, and to demonstrate that there is action happening. Although it is not an impeachment inquiry and many Democrats would like to see that happen much more quickly, and Nancy Pelosi is not on board on that yet.

When you look at the week ahead here, Steph, it is an indication of this idea of bringing things to life. Today we’re talking about this hearing. There’s also a vote being planned for contempt against the Attorney General, William Barr, and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

And then, not to forget the real underpinnings of where this began, the impact of Russian meddling, another subject for this week to again, as we’re into a new campaign season, talk about what Russia actually did and some of the concerns that still exist for the election we are facing. Steph?

RUHLE: Alright, thank you, Kelly O’Donnell.

(...)

9:18 AM ET

RUHLE: House Democrats are not committing to impeachment proceedings, but short of that they are doing everything they can to keep the President and Robert Mueller’s report in the public eye this week. That includes two congressional hearings and a full House vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in civil contempt.

First up, a hearing in the Judiciary Committee that will feature testimony from John Dean, President Nixon’s White House Counsel who testified against his former boss during the Watergate hearings back in 1973. Joyce Vance is a former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Alabama Law School, and she will also be testifying in this afternoon’s hearing. Also joining the conversation, Matt Miller, former chief spokesperson for the Justice Department. Joyce, obviously we should note you are an MSNBC contributor. But you’re testifying on your own today as a former U.S. Attorney with a whole lot of expertise. What can you tell us about your testimony and why you think this hearing is going to be so valuable?

JOYCE VANCE: It’s an interesting hearing, Stephanie, because today when we testify, and I’ll be there with my former colleague Barb McQuaid, who was the U.S. attorney in Detroit, Michigan when I was the U.S. attorney in Alabama. And we’re there not because we have personal political views, but we’re there to lend our expertise as prosecutors and talk with the committee about how prosecutors evaluate evidence in an investigation and how they compare that and analyze it in light of the legal standards, the elements you have to prove in order to establish a crime and how we would make charging decisions given the body of evidence that the Mueller Report has compiled.

(...)

9:21 AM ET

RUHLE: Joyce, these hearings are not fact-finding missions. John Dean, Barbara, and yourself were not involved in this administration. It seems more that they’re simply trying to shine a spotlight and explain more to the American people, most of whom have not read the report.

VANCE: I think that’s right, Stephanie. This is table setting. This is helping people understand the context in which the events that the Mueller Report examined occurred.

(...)

10:07 AM ET

CHRIS JANSING: Also this morning, House Democrats are back in town and apparently they mean business. They are kicking off a series of hearings and actions on the Mueller Report this week. The first, in the Judiciary Committee. A hearing on what they call presidential obstruction and other crimes, that’s happening this afternoon.

Now, a man you might recognize, John Dean, will be there. Here’s how Nixon’s former White House Counsel described what he’ll offer to the committee.

JOHN DEAN [CNN]: I hope I can give them some context and show them how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now, and as reported in the Mueller report, is.

JANSING: Thirteen of the 22 Democrats on that committee support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry and we’re going to talk with one of them a little later on in this hour.

Then tomorrow, we’ll watch the House vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt, ratcheting up tensions with the White House.

And the next day, well, the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first hearing on the counterintelligence implications of the Mueller Report. Our team is here with that story and all the others we’ll bring you this hour, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell on Capitol Hill. Heidi Przybyla is in Washington. So, Kelly, Democrats do seem to be picking up the pace on their investigations. What are we expecting in the hearing room today?

O’DONNELL: Well, it’s an attempt to make what is in the Mueller Report come to life by using witnesses like John Dean and others who can talk about some of the issues that the Mueller team described.

(...)

10:10 AM ET

JANSING: Well, Heidi, you did a deep dive. You did some in-depth reporting on Democrats and how they’re going to keep this going, considering bills on reporting foreign contacts, election security, obstruction of justice by a sitting president. I could go on. Tell us a little bit more about what you learned about that strategy?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA: Here’s the challenge. Just like Kelly just said, how do you keep the drum beat going? How do you keep the sustained focus when you don’t have the witnesses coming and we haven’t even heard from Mueller? My reporting is that Democrats are now discussing a broader legislative strategy. So in addition, Chris, to trying to compel these witnesses to comply and to testify, they’re going to also just go ahead and start anyway without them. What they’re going to do is to choreograph some of these hearings, not only pulling in people like John Dean and like expert witnesses, but also crafting actual legislation that addresses some of the wrongdoing that we saw outlined in the Mueller Report. Like we’ve seen, only 3% of Americans have actually read the report, so Democrats believe that if they can pull out those specific instances, such as obstruction, such as the contacts with Russia, and craft legislation around it, maybe they can keep a sustained focus.

(...)

NBDaily Congress Mueller Report Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Video Stephanie Ruhle Kelly O'Donnell Chris Jansing Heidi Przybyla

Sponsored Links