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“By the Book” Mueller Disappoints


I just watched Mueller’s statement before the Press. He remained “by the book” — as he has so often been described.

(“By the book” in more ways than one: he’s made it clear that if called to testify, he’ll say nothing other than what’s already in his “book,” i.e. the Mueller Report.)

Mueller’s “by the book” doesn’t seem to me the best course to take when his important work is under all-out assault from people (Trump, Barr) whose way of fighting is to burn the book.

I also watched an excellent panel of experienced legal experts discuss Mueller’s appearance on MSNBC. It was marvelous to watch them extract from Mueller’s very careful testimony a great number of important points that Mueller made by implication, by innuendo, by omission.

(They saw; a subtle slap at Barr; a clear statement that it’s up to Congress to indict where Mueller was prohibited to; that the Trump campaign’s response to the Russians wasn’t OK; etc.)

But I think it insufficient for Mueller to speak in ways that only the professionals can decode. The task of this moment is to dispel the public confusion that we know Mueller is aware of (from his March letter to Barr). And there’s probably not one in a thousand who could understand what these first-rate, lifelong, legal professionals can read from Mueller’s subtle clues.

But I’m afraid that now we know that Mueller will confine his contribution to resolving this crisis to his by-the-book Report, that he will maintain his image and preserve his long-standing professional habits (rather than fully use his unique status to maximize his impact to preserve our constitutional order at this dangerous moment), and that he will leave it to others to do whatever else the nation requires.



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