Thursday, April 25, 2019

Robert Mueller discusses the report

Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC - Creative Commons photo by David, Flickr 
It was a chilly evening in Washington, DC when I stepped into the Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street. I had never been here before but as soon as crossed its threshold, I recognized this small restaurant from a dozen other places around the country with a different name but the same feel.

Its dark interior, lit with only a small lamp on each table. The aroma of rich food and fine wine filled the air with a subtle scent of old leather. This is the place where Washingtonians of the Old Boy’s Club could safely meet with outsiders over a meal or drinks.

I spotted the man that I came here to see at a table in the corner. Depending on who one asked, he was either the man who gave Congress a roadmap to impeach the President of the United States or the man who lead a two-year long witch hunt; a witch hunt that would ultimately provide that same President with a total vindication.

“Hi, there, Frank,” he said as I approached his table.

“Good evening, Mr. Mueller,” I replied. “I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to talk with me tonight.”

“It’s okay,” he added with a subtle grin and a wink. “Susan spoke highly of you.”

Back during the summer of 1994, I served as a driver for Congressman John Dingell. He lived less than a mile from me and I got to chauffeur him around from campaign event to the next. It was during those moments driving from one stop to another that Mr. Dingell imparted at least shared of his wisdom with me.

When it comes to life in general or politics in particular, Mr. Dingell told me a quarter of a century ago, success ultimately comes down to relationships. People must be able to trust you, respect you, and like you. He taught me that getting things done requires compromise and a willingness to share the credit. It also helps to have a few people owe you a favor.

It that last piece of advice that led me here to a one-on-one meeting with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. A friend of a friend told me back in the winter of 2002 that Susan Timchack needed a really big favor; one that would require help from someone outside of normal social circles.

17 years later, it was time to cash in that favor.

“Would it be okay if I recorded this?” I asked as I pulled a small recorder from the inside pocket of my jacket and set it on the table in front of me.

With that, he nodded and my interview with Robert Mueller began.

Robert Mueller in the Oval Office c. 2012 - White House photo

Frank Nemecek
Thank you for talking with me Mr. Mueller. There has been a lot of discussion about the report that you presented to the Attorney General earlier this month. Before We go too far into this, I would like to ask if there is anything in particular that you’d like the American people to know about it.

Robert Mueller
I don’t believe that it’s necessary for me to add anything to it. My team and put a lot of effort into getting our report – both in terms of the facts of this case as well as how the law applies to it.
Our report speaks for itself.

Frank Nemecek
What about the – shall we say – divergent opinions about what the report says? That is, how some claim that it provides President Donald Trump with a total and complete vindication – the “no collusion, no obstruction” view while others take the exact opposite interpretation of it?

Robert Mueller
I think those interpretations, comments, or whatever one wants to call them, I think that those things clearly demonstration who has read our report and who hasn’t.

Frank Nemecek
Are you concluding then that President Trump did not even read your report before commenting on it publicly?

Robert Mueller
I’m saying that his critique of the investigation process and the final report shows very clearly how closely the President and others in Washington have or haven’t read it. I trust both the American people and their elective representatives to draw their own conclusions based on our report and what is in it.

Frank Nemecek
I see. Well, along those lines, what do you think about the amount of material that was redacted?

Robert Mueller
My team and I knew from the beginning that many things were going to have to be left out of public view. The report mentions intelligence sources, ongoing investigations, and criminal cases that have not been fully adjudicated. It makes sense for things about that nature to be withheld from the general public at this time.

Regardless, when one looks at the volume of material that was redacted across the three volumes of the report, I have to feel that it was excessive and went beyond was necessary and appropriate.

Frank Nemecek
Wait, wait – Mr. Mueller, did you say three volumes?

Robert Mueller
Yes, my final report to the Attorney General contained three volumes of material. The first two contained a review of the facts surrounding efforts by the Russians to influence our election, contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals as well as the various efforts taken by those in government to impede an investigation into these matters.

The third volume was much shorter – only about twenty or so pages, if I recall correctly. It described some things uncovered during the course of the investigation that did not relate to either of our two lines of inquiry (collusion and obstruction); things that were not illegal nor a violation of any relevant policy directives yet still contain a compelling public interest because these things have the potential to be used by foreign actors in ways that would not be in the best interests of the United States.

Frank Nemecek
I don’t suppose you’d be willing to elaborate a little on this point?

Robert Mueller
Congress has the authority to conduct independent investigations; to subpoena records and witnesses. While the Attorney General has the authority to withhold this information, for the time being, that power is not without its own restrictions. I’m confident that all of the relevant materials will eventually be seen by Congress.

When they see it, they will no doubt understand why so much redacted from the first two volumes since much of that matter omitted was portions that referred to volume three in the first place. Plus, once Congress sees volume three of my report, I believe that Exhibit PPT in that volume will make many, many things clear to the public.

Frank Nemecek
Exhibit PPT? You mean, like .ppt – the extension for a PowerPoint file?

Robert Mueller
[Editor’s note: at this point, Mr. Mueller did not say anything. He kept staring at the interviewer for several seconds instead.]

Frank Nemecek
Or like – pee pee, like pee pee tape?

Robert Mueller
[Editor’s note: at this point, Mr. Mueller again did not say anything. He merely coughed three times.]

Robert Mueller
I’m sorry, Frank, but I really do have to cut this interview short. If you’ll excuse me.

I didn’t say anything as I watched Robert Mueller walk get up from our table and walk towards the door. At that moment in time, I’m not anyone could think of anything that would fully describe the situation.

I stared at my phone on the table. I had used it to record this entire conversation. Now it was only recording silence.

I stopped the recording, uploaded the audio file to a cloud server, and emailed links to a few of my friends. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I did, however, feel better knowing that a few other people had access to this same information.

With that, it was my turn to follow Mueller footsteps into the evening air.

* * *

Publisher's Note: Most of the material covered in this blog is straight-forward journalism. However, I believe that there are some topics that can only be covered through political satire. One can find examples of these rare inclusions of satire here, here, and here.

In case any readers have not only come to such a realization, this is another example of a story being told through political satire. Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not actually talk candidly with anyone from this blog.

However, we have a lingering suspicion that, if he did, the resulting conversation would result in something much like what was imagined here.

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