The group at the front of the line outside Robert Mueller’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee this week told me that they had been in that spot since 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Inside, Playboy was seated against the back wall of the room, directly behind Robert Mueller so that each time I stood, I was on every single news channel in the nation. That’s because every single news channel in the nation was carrying the Mueller testimony. It would be reported later that nearly 13 million people watched the hearings.
Here are the things you may have noticed in that too-small room, the things you may have seen from the back wall but not the television screens. There is an American flag with gold tassels on the left side of the chairman conducting the hearing—this was Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) during the Judiciary hearing and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cali.) during the Intelligence hearing. There are eight portraits of serious-looking men positioned throughout the room. These figures are probably former chairmen of the Judiciary committee but it hardly matters, there are portraits and busts and statues of serious-looking men throughout the entire city of Washington.
There are several lawsuits making their way through the courts that the Democrats hope will shine some light on shadows in the president’s past.
Each side of the aisle will tell you, as they always do, that they carried the day. Republicans sought to force Robert Mueller to admit that his entire investigation was built upon a series of shams. A few of them hollered at him as he refused to answer questions outside his report. Freshman Rep. Greg Steube complained to Mueller, “you’re unwilling to answer the questions of the American people as it relates to the very basis of this investigation into the president.” Democrats mostly congratulated him; one even told him “you're the greatest patriot in this room today.”
After a lifetime of public service that included a tenure as FBI director and a young soldier’s trip to Vietnam, Robert Mueller’s act is probably finished, though the Democrats will now try to continue to fight the president from another angle—the courts. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) who sits on the Judiciary Committee told Playboy after the hearings, “Let’s hope it’s over but I doubt if the Democrats stop.”
There are several lawsuits making their way through the courts that the Democrats hope will shine some light on shadows in the president’s past. These lawsuits sit mostly under the jurisdiction of four bodies: the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
He told them at the onset of the hearing that he would not venture outside his report and over the course of six hours, he did not.
And so it is that in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the president should still be losing sleep over the possibility that the Democrats will try to impeach him again. And if those shadows lurking in his bank accounts are as ghoulish as the Democrats suggest, he should be losing a lot of sleep.
We must address the next question: What do we do with Robert Mueller? In Washington, we trade those we paint as historic public servants into various next moments of life. Frequently, they are sent to the network television cameras, as has happened to former Nixon lawyer John Dean and journalist Bob Woodward. We send our presidents back to their hometowns where they found organizations carrying their name and our Supreme Court justices usually play their last act in the robe we set them in.
But Mueller is something different, and he certainly won’t end up in front of a television camera and he doesn’t seem like he will be spotted on a golf course. There will be a few biographies of the man penned in the next few decades, and we can only hope they remember him fondly in that small place with the gold-tasseled American flag and the portraits of the serious men.