One of the most overused terms in American politics is that of “Manchurian Candidate,” a reference to the 1959 novel of the same name written by Richard Condon and twice made into a film. The basic premise is that of a foreign government secretly controlling a candidate and the presidential election process in order to insert their own agent into the role.
Wednesday’s congressional hearings have given us a fresh way to apply a tired term. Robert Mueller’s performance appears to present strong evidence that he may have been the first Manchurian special counsel.
Let me state my conclusion right up front: Robert Mueller did not actually lead the investigation into “Russian collusion” with the Trump presidential campaign. He was simply a prop chosen by Rod Rosenstein (and whoever else was part of the Manchurian conspiracy) in order to give a respected face to a very dirty effort.
Watching Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday was equal parts infuriating and disconcerting. I have been, and remain, extremely critical of Mueller and his investigation since the very beginning.
I believe he has acted without integrity and I have stated that he should have stopped his investigation the very moment he concluded that there was no conspiracy between the president and Russia. That moment had to have come well in advance of the 2018 midterm elections and I have further argued that he deliberately influenced those results.
In short, Robert Mueller has engaged in far more effective election tampering than anything the Russians might have done in 2016.
That said, watching him on Wednesday I could not help but wonder whether or not Mueller actually had much if anything to do with the investigation bearing his name. He appeared to be incoherent at times and was making statements that simply could not be reconciled with either his report or with reality.
His greatest moment of clarity came in defending his team, in particular, Clinton stooge Andrew Weissman, when he said "We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job. I've been in this business for almost 25 years, and in those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done. What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job quickly and seriously and with integrity."
The written quote doesn’t do justice to the line. It was Mueller’s single movie moment inside of six hours of testimony. For the rest of the time, he came across more like a sadly failing elderly man, confused as to where he just placed his coffee mug.
Consider the following brief examples from the testimony:
- Mueller seemed to be completely lost in discussing the use of terms collusion and conspiracy and whether or not they were synonymous or what their actual legal use means. This at one point prompted Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., after helping Mueller frame his thoughts to say, “You help me, I’ll help you.”
- When pressed by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz, as to when he discovered there was no conspiracy with Russia, Mueller replied, “As you understand, when developing a criminal case, you get pieces of information as you make your case…When you make a decision on that particular case depends on the factors. I cannot say specifically we reached a particular decision on a particular defendant at a particular point in time…We were ongoing for two years...I can’t say when.”
- He refused to answer why he did not seek an indictment against Joseph Misfud, a Maltese academic who lied to investigators and who in 2016 told George Papadopoulos he had access to stolen Clinton emails. There are theories backed by evidence that Misfud was part of a wider conspiracy between Western Intelligence agencies to target the Trump campaign.
- Mueller left it unclear whether or not he had read the report from Fusion GPS, the fake Steele dossier, or if he had interviewed the key people involved with its creation. His repeated response to questions in that area was, “Outside of my purview.”
Outside of his purview? The Steele Dossier was the entire foundation and cause of his investigation!
The coverage of Mueller’s testimony has been interesting. The ultra-extremists on social media have been critical of him for either not telling what he really knows or for performing in a weak and “frail” manner. The MSM outlets like ABC News are simply ignoring his performance and spinning the story in a way that makes things sound bad for President Trump. Whether they are condemning their champion of using propaganda to salvage him, Trump haters are deflecting from the obvious.
Mueller in no way represents a man capable of having directed this investigation. He doesn’t even seem to be familiar with the contents of the report issued under his name. After watching him testify, I’m not certain if he should be disbarred or remanded for a mandatory 72-hour psych hold.
The action is underway right now within the Justice Department to “investigate the investigators,” that is, to take a look at the who and the how of behind this fake Russian collusion yarn originally getting spun. Based on Wednesday’s testimony, Attorney General Barr should add to that investigation the determination of who was behind our Manchurian special counsel. Somebody other than Mueller was directing the effort to dismantle a presidency.
The true collusion/conspiracy (what’s the difference?) of the 2016 election has yet to be revealed. Here's hoping that it will be prior to November of 2020.