By CONNIE SCHULTZ
Minutes after Robert Mueller III had completed his first round of Wednesday’s congressional testimony, journalists and pundits started weighing in — on his acting abilities.
Mueller was “boring” and “phlegmatic.”
His performance was “a disaster,” “painful” and “deeply unsatisfying.”
Some compared his testimony to the bombastic pathology of Donald Trump — and even the conversational theatrics of former FBI Director James Comey — and found him wanting.
Mueller had expressed not one partisan viewpoint. He refused to be political. He even stumbled at times, failing to remember every reference in the 448 pages of his published report.
In this time of crisis in our country, with the most dangerous president in the United States history, they wanted former special counsel Robert Mueller to be entertaining.
Look at what we’ve become.
Better yet, look at what Mueller did say during his seven hours of testimony.
Let’s start with the Judiciary Committee, and Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler’s questioning:
NADLER: “Director Mueller, the president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him, but that is not what your report said, is it?”
MUELLER: “Correct, that is not what it said.”
NADLER, after reading an excerpt of Mueller’s report: “Does that say there was no obstruction?”
NADLER: “Did you actually totally exonerate the president?
Next time you hear Donald Trump bray that Mueller exonerated him, and we all know that he will, please remember that boring exchange.
On to the Intelligence Committee hearing, and an exchange with Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier.
SPEIER: “Would you agree that it was not a hoax that the Russians were engaged in trying to impact our election?”
MUELLER: “Absolutely. That was not a hoax.”
Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas pressed Mueller about Russia’s future intentions.
HURD: “In your investigation, did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election? Or did you find evidence to suggest they’ll try to do this again?”
MUELLER: “It wasn’t a single attempt,” he said. “They’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
Democratic Rep. Peter D. Welch asked Mueller about future foreign interference with our elections.
WELCH: “I ask if you share my concern… Have we established a new normal from this past campaign that is going to apply to future campaigns? So that if any one of us running for the U.S. house, any candidate for the U.S. senate, any candidate for the presidency of the United States, aware that if a hostile foreign power is trying to influence an election, has no duty to report it to the FBI or other authorities?”
MUELLER: “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”
WELCH continued his questioning: “And that there would be no repercussions whatsoever to Russia if they did this again, and as you stated earlier, as we sit here, they’re doing it now. Is that correct?”
MUELLER: “You’re absolutely right.”
Finally, try to stay awake for this exchange with Democratic Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff about the Trump campaign’s partnership with Russia.
SCHIFF: “Apart from the Russians trying to help Trump win … Donald Trump was trying to make millions from a real estate deal in Moscow?”
MUELLER: “You’re talking about the hotel in Moscow? Yes.”
SCHIFF: “When your investigation looked into these matters, numerous Trump associates lied to your team, the grand jury and to Congress?”
MUELLER: “A number of people we interviewed in our investigation, it turns out did lie.”
SCHIFF: “When the president said the Russian interference was a ‘hoax,’ that was false, wasn’t it?
SCHIFF: “In short, your investigation found evidence that Russia wanted to help Trump win the election, right?”
MUELLER: “That would be accurate.”
SCHIFF: “Russia committed federal crimes in order to help Donald Trump?”
MUELLER: “You’re talking about the computer crimes charged in our case? Absolutely.”
SCHIFF: “Trump campaign officials built their messaging strategy around those stolen documents?”
MUELLER: “Generally, that’s true.”
SCHIFF: “And then they lied to cover it up?”
MUELLER: “Generally, that’s true.”
This was one of Donald Trump’s tweets after Mueller’s testimony: “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION!”
If any of word of this strikes us as boring, we have our own question to answer: When did we give up on America?
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate.