After Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered a public statement standing by the findings of his final report, liberal commentators began reading between the lines. How long before Putin is accused of getting to Mueller?
Mueller delivered his public statement on Wednesday, and offered very few surprises. His final report, which cleared President Donald Trump of colluding with Russia in 2016 and found insufficient evidence to bring obstruction charges against the president, “speaks for itself,” Mueller said. The Special Counsel also stated that Attorney General William Barr has already “made the report on our investigation largely public,” and that he would not testify on anything beyond the publicly available information.
So a bland statement of Justice Department policy? On the surface, yes. But that didn’t stop Democrats from clamoring for further investigations, or viewing Mueller’s declination to prosecute as a dog-whistle for impeachment.
Journalist Mark Ames joked that “Putin has a Mueller pee tape,” a reference to one particularly lurid tale presented in the ‘Steele Dossier.’ Ironically, the Steele Dossier – though completely uncorroborated – was used by the FBI to justify surveilling the Trump campaign and played a central role in kick-starting the investigation that Mueller eventually took over.
Ames added: “If Maddow doesn’t air a segment tonight claiming Putin has a Mueller pee tape, it can only mean one thing – Putin has a Maddow pee tape.”
Actually, the idea that Maddow would air such a segment on Mueller is not a far-fetched one.
In the two years since Mueller took over the ‘Russiagate’ investigation, Maddow has flung dung-heaps of conspiratorial Russian nonsense at viewers every night. There was her warning that the Kremlin could “flip the off switch” on the US power grid and freeze Americans to death last winter, the suggestion that Trump personally paid for the services of “Russian hackers,” and the insistence that Vladimir Putin would use the (then debunked) ‘Pee Tape’ to force Trump to withdraw US troops from Eastern Europe (the exact opposite happened).
Of course, Maddow is not the only peddler of Russian hysteria out there. Nor is MSNBC the only outlet to do a little mind-reading in its coverage of Mueller’s statement.
“He seems to think that the president committed a crime,” one talking head offered on Wednesday, adding that perhaps “future prosecutors” should re-examine the president’s conduct once he leaves office.
CNN correspondent Sara Murray weighed in with her own Mueller lip-reading: “Mueller was telling everybody ‘Look at what I’m saying, I couldn’t do it (prosecute), because the law would not allow me to, but, even if the law did not allow me to charge him, I still could not clear him and I am telling you that.”
No idea is too wild or unbelievable for Maddow or the CNN talking heads to entertain. Tune in, but bring the tinfoil hat and the rubber sheets.