From the moment back in March when President Trump declared the Mueller report to be a “Complete and Total EXONERATION ” of him, Democrats and others have tried to counter with what the report actually says: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” In May, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and her colleagues decided that widespread ignorance of the report’s contents remained a problem: “If you think there was no obstruction and no collusion,” Scanlon said, “you haven’t read the Mueller report.” So she and her colleagues read it aloud, on the House floor. A few weeks later, Robert Mueller himself finally spoke, if briefly: “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Now Mueller plans to appear before two congressional committees for public testimony this coming week. Who better to correct the stubborn “alternative facts” about the report than its author?
We’re not optimistic. The aspiration is unimpeachable, but spoon-feeding people the truth does not make them believe it. At best, it’s ineffectual. At worst, it betrays a misunderstanding of the problem. Once people have been the subject of gaslighting, it is difficult — but not impossible — to ungaslight them.