August 22, 2019

All's Quiet in the Western Wing

“They had hours of advance notice, but White House aides still seemed stunned by the televised spectacle that was about to unfold. After keeping a disciplined silence for more than two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was about to speak about an investigation that posed a mortal threat to Donald Trump’s presidency.

What would he say? No one inside the building seemed to know exactly, though they insisted they had not tried to block him from speaking. They expected he would thank a legal team that Trump has repeatedly scorned. But the real question was how far Mueller would go in this rarest of public appearances. Would he stay within “the four corners” of his 448-page report, as one senior administration official put it? Or would he “editorialize,” as the official said, and reveal his thinking about whether Trump had obstructed justice as the inquiry played out?

When the address began at 11 a.m., the West Wing fell silent, save for Mueller’s low monotone coming from TVs in the press area and from behind thick closed doors. Hallways were empty. The main door to the Oval Office was shut, with a lone agent sitting sentry outside. Trump watched the appearance one floor up, from the White House residence.”

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