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anne mikolay 2018As an American following the fiasco that is our present government, none of Robert Mueller’s testimony was surprising to me, nor was the keen sense of déjà vu I experienced afterward. Just as there were conflicting bipartisan reactions to President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 inaugural address, Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee was received quite differently on opposite sides of the political fence. Back in January, 2017, I heard a defiant inaugural address; many others construed the same words as hopeful patriotism. While that varied reception was likely a matter of personal taste, Robert Mueller’s fact-based testimony should not be so easily dismissed. And yet it has been. Despite Mueller’s very clear position that Donald Trump would have been indicted had it not been for the office Trump holds, the president’s base continues to believe Mueller exonerated the president.

How is it that intelligent Americans can listen to the same congressional testimony and hear two completely different things? Are we so tired of all of this that we no longer actively listen, or do we hear only what we want to hear, only that which supports our own agendas? When asked if he totally exonerated the president, Robert Mueller replied, “No. The president was not exculpated,” and yet the president has claimed otherwise, and his base happily supports him. Perhaps not enough people knew the definition of “exculpated” to completely grasp Mueller’s meaning, or perhaps they were too distracted by Mueller’s blatant discomfort to truly hear what he was saying. Granted, Mueller’s performance, despite his weighty testimony, was far from stellar (he was a reluctant, somewhat hard-of-hearing, often surprisingly befuddled witness), but Mueller’s lack of mighty oration should not detract from his findings. According to Mueller’s testimony, and as previously stated in the Mueller Report, there is substantial evidence that Donald Trump is guilty of obstruction, high crimes, and misdemeanors. This, and Russia's proven interference in our electoral process, should concern every American.

In the weeks preceding Robert Mueller’s testimony, Democrats repeatedly stated that the American people must hear Mueller’s findings and learn the truth. While it remains to be seen if Mueller’s testimony accomplished anything of political merit, it fell far short of its mark if imparting knowledge was its purpose. Mueller was either preaching to the choir or his words fell upon deaf ears. We are no less divided today than we were before Mueller’s testimony. What Robert Mueller wrote in his report and later stated before Congress will have very little impact for Americans deeply indoctrinated in the MAGA mentality. What of the rest of us?  I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of it all. I shudder each time I hear “No collusion! No obstruction!”, and not because I don’t wear a red MAGA hat. I cringe because I can’t believe this is America, no longer “one for all, all for one.” We live in the greatest country on earth, once dedicated to truth, justice, and equality. Our varied reception to Mueller’s testimony clearly reveals how profoundly the landscape has changed.