Media Worry ‘Anti-Climactic’ Mueller Hearing Could ‘Backfire’ on Dems

During her 10:00 a.m. ET hour on Tuesday, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson expressed concern that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming congressional testimony might be “anti-climactic” and possibly “backfire” on Democrats investigating President Trump. In the segment that followed, guests attempted to reassure Jackson that the hearing would pay off.

“For House Democrats, Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill just about two weeks from now may be do or die,” Jackson proclaimed. She then added: “They’re putting a bunch of eggs in this made-for-TV basket according to a new Bloomberg report this morning, arguing Mueller’s their best and maybe last shot to revive the investigations into President Trump.”

 

 

Further citing the Bloomberg piece, Jackson echoed the warning: “...banking on a Mueller testimony jolt is a risky double-edged sword. The risk being it could backfire if it becomes, quote, ‘another in a series of anti-climactic episodes.’” Turning to former U.S. attorney and reliable anti-Trump pundit Joyce Vance, Jackson fretted: “...Mueller is likely going to stick very close to what is already out in his written report. If that happens and if that is the case, do you believe it does have the potential to backfire for Democrats?”

Vance dismissed such worries and asserted:

Mueller doesn’t have a political axe to grind here. He’s not a Democrat, he’s not a Republican. He’s a prosecutor....But if Mueller simply testifies to the facts that are in his report, the facts that were in many ways concealed by Attorney General Barr’s precipitous release of his own summary, instead of the report itself, that may be a wake-up call to the entire country about what the truth is here and that truth should transcend the politics.

Jackson pointed out that “it’s not just Democrats who are eager to get in front of Robert Mueller and ask him questions,” but that Republicans were also highly anticipating the hearing. Talking to Politico’s Natasha Bertrand, the anchor quoted the reporter’s latest article: “Trump defenders...are signaling that they’ll use this historic moment to try to undercut his credibility and paint him as a political pawn in Democrats’ efforts to undermine the president.”

Bertrand sounded the alarm:

Yeah, so they’re really chomping at the bit here to ask Mueller about things like Pete Strzok, the former FBI agent who was removed from the Special Counsel’s team when those texts were discovered between him and Lisa Page, another FBI lawyer. And they want to ask also when he determined that there was no quote, unquote “collusion” between the President and Russia. And whether or not that was before the 2018 midterms or afterwards. And whether or not he held that just to have an impact perhaps on the election.

She then complained: “...we have to remember how much obstruction of justice there was by people like Paul Manafort, people like Roger Stone, that prevented Mueller from reaching any substantive conclusion on whether or not there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia...”

Bertrand brushed aside GOP questions: “So this is the route that Republicans are going to go down, they’re going to try to attack Mueller for his quote, unquote ‘biases,’ for perhaps inefficiencies in the investigation.”

Wrapping up the discussion, Vance strategized: “...a lot of this hearing will come down to how effectively Democrats can counter this Republican narrative...” She emphasized how important media spin would be in helping Democrats frame the hearing: “And the question in large part will be what did the American people see after the hearing? What does the news tell them? What do they believe?”

Most likely, the liberal media will try to claim new bombshells from Mueller whether there are any or not. In the meantime, the American people have clearly moved on.

Here is a full transcript of the July 2 segment:

10:40 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: For House Democrats, Robert Mueller’s highly anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill just about two weeks from now may be do or die. They’re putting a bunch of eggs in this made-for-TV basket according to a new Bloomberg report this morning, arguing Mueller’s their best and maybe last shot to revive the investigations into President Trump. But as Bloomberg points out, banking on a Mueller testimony jolt is a risky double-edged sword. The risk being it could backfire if it becomes, quote, “another in a series of anti-climactic episodes.”

Joining me now, Politico national security correspondent Natasha Bertrand and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, both are MSNBC contributors. Thank you both for being here. And, Joyce, to you, listen, the predictions so far have been that Mueller is likely going to stick very close to what is already out in his written report. If that happens and if that is the case, do you believe it does have the potential to backfire for Democrats?

JOYCE VANCE: You know, I think what folks on both sides of the aisle fail to appreciate is that Mueller doesn’t have a political axe to grind here. He’s not a Democrat, he’s not a Republican. He’s a prosecutor. He made that abundantly clear during his conduct of the investigation. So he will go into this hearing as a prosecutor with a report he has prepared and that he believes is his testimony. And how that will play for the political parties is obviously what folks are interested in. But if Mueller simply testifies to the facts that are in his report, the facts that were in many ways concealed by Attorney General Barr’s precipitous release of his own summary, instead of the report itself, that may be a wake-up call to the entire country about what the truth is here and that truth should transcend the politics.

JACKSON: Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Natasha, you’re reporting that it’s not just Democrats who are eager to get in front of Robert Mueller and ask him questions. House Republicans are, quote, “lying in wait” for Mueller as well. “Trump defenders,” you write, “are signaling that they’ll use this historic moment to try to undercut his credibility and paint him as a political pawn in Democrats’ efforts to undermine the president.” How do they plan to do that?

NATASHA BERTRAND [POLITICO]: Yeah, so they’re really chomping at the bit here to ask Mueller about things like Pete Strzok, the former FBI agent who was removed from the Special Counsel’s team when those texts were discovered between him and Lisa Page, another FBI lawyer. And they want to ask also when he determined that there was no quote, unquote “collusion” between the President and Russia. And whether or not that was before the 2018 midterms or afterwards. And whether or not he held that just to have an impact perhaps on the election.

Now, the problem with those questions, of course, is that Mueller removed Pete Strzok as soon as he discovered these text messages and Pete Strzok was a very high-ranking counterintelligence official who had a very large amount of expertise in this particular area. So he was a logical choice to choose. But again, when Mueller found out about these text messages that were disparaging of the President, he removed him from the team.

And then of course with regard to the conspiracy-collusion aspect of this, we have to remember how much obstruction of justice there was by people like Paul Manafort, people like Roger Stone, that prevented Mueller from reaching any substantive conclusion on whether or not there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia well before – well after the 2018 midterms. I mean, Roger Stone’s devices alone were just kind of searched and obtained this year by the FBI. There’s a lot of information that they only gleaned after the midterms.

So this is the route that Republicans are going to go down, they’re going to try to attack Mueller for his quote, unquote “biases,” for perhaps inefficiencies in the investigation. But Mueller, of course, has been doing this a long time and he’s a very steady figure in all of this.

JACKSON: We’re already seeing some evidence of what you’re writing about. Here’s Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is an ally of the President, somebody that I’ve bumped into at the White House more than once, talking about this overnight.

REP. MATT GAETZ [R-FL]: When Robert Mueller leaves Capitol Hill, I think the American people will see there that there was no collusion and there was oceans of bias.

JACKSON: Does this seem, Natasha, like what you think we’ll hear more of come July 17th and 18th?

BERTRAND: Yeah, that seems like it’s going to be their strategy here. They’re going to go all in on this. But of course Mueller can just push back and say, “I chose the best people that would allow me to move at the fastest pace in this investigation.” And indeed this pace was breakneck for a special counsel probe.

JACKSON: Joyce, quick final thoughts to you.

VANCE: [Audio cut out] – a lot of this hearing will come down to how effectively Democrats can counter this Republican narrative that Gaetz and others hope to bring. Mueller, by sticking to the facts, could do a lot to counter their attacks. But they’ll certainly try to get in shots. And the question in large part will be what did the American people see after the hearing? What does the news tell them? What do they believe?

JACKSON: And you’ll watch it all right here on MSNBC, of course. Natasha Bertrand, Joyce Vance, thank you both for being with us.

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