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As Mueller’s ‘book’ becomes a live show from The Hill, is America sick of ‘Russiagate’?

As Mueller’s ‘book’ becomes a live show from The Hill, is America sick of ‘Russiagate’?
With former special counsel Robert Mueller set to testify before two Congressional committees and Democratic lawmakers talking impeachment, has America finally moved on?

President Donald Trump came out swinging against Mueller on Monday, calling the special counsel’s two-year investigation against him a “ridiculous Witch Hunt” championed by “phony Democrats in Congress.” 

Mueller is set to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday, marking the first time that the former special counsel will have spoken publicly on his probe into alleged Russian interference since he declared in May that his exhaustive report “speaks for itself.”

After two years, 2,800 subpoenas and 500 search warrants executed, Mueller’s team found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the 2016 election, and insufficient evidence to declare that Trump had obstructed the special counsel’s probe. Despite this conclusion, Democratic lawmakers have worked to keep the pressure on Trump. Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) stated on Sunday that Mueller’s report “presents very substantial evidence” for impeachment, and that he looked forward to having Mueller “present those facts to the American people.”

Nadler has, since the release of the Mueller report, continued to clamor for further investigation. The New York Democrat first demanded the Justice Department release a full, unredacted version of the report (a violation of department policy), then took it upon himself to prove the obstruction that Mueller could not prove. “Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” he told NBC in April.

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For the Democrats on the committee, Wednesday’s hearing will be a chance to bring the 440 pages of Mueller’s report to life, broadcast live in a televised spectacle. “Not everybody is reading the book,” committee aides told Politico, “but people will watch the movie.” However, these same aides cautioned eager anti-Trumpers not to expect bombshell revelations, calling Mueller a “creature of the DOJ” who they expect to stick to the book.

Republicans have already given the movie the thumbs-down. Wednesday’s session will be “like an old TV show that you watched years ago,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia), the committee’s top Republican, told the Associated Press. “After a few minutes you could quote what the characters could say, and nothing is new any more. Frankly, the American people have moved on.”

“I'm not sure what purpose is served by dragging him up there and trying to grill him,” Attorney General William Barr said earlier this month. “The quicker this all goes away the better,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) told the New York Times. “People are weary of it. When I talk to people back home, the independents are weary about this.”

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According to the polls, it does seem like a majority of Americans are weary of the ‘Russiagate’ circus. Despite Nadler’s lofty promise to make the case for impeachment before the American people, only 21 percent of those people support impeachment hearings, according to a Wall Street Journal poll. Even among Democrats, only 39 percent favor such hearings.

Even if impeachment wasn’t Nadler and co’s aim, a majority of Americans told a CBS News poll in May that they had “heard enough” about the Mueller report, and that Congressional Democrats should “drop it and move on to other issues.”

Straight after Mueller’s report dropped in late March, an overwhelming 72 percent of voters said that further information from Mueller would not change their opinion of the investigation. Furthermore, a majority found no problem with Mueller’s redactions, despite Nadler’s protestations.

Alongside the partisan dogfight over collusion, obstruction, and impeachment, President Trump’s approval rating has hovered between 44 and 50 percent since the report’s release, according to Rasmussen’s daily poll. With everything taken into account, Wednesday’s hearing is unlikely to win over Americans who have long since made up their minds, and unlikely to seriously dent the popularity of a president who has proven impervious to scandal.

Expect ‘Mueller: The Movie’ to be dissected endlessly by critics, but to prove a box-office flop.

By Graham Dockery

Graham Dockery is an Irish journalist working for RT since March 2018

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