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Friday, July 05, 2019

Mueller Report: The Play (Updated)

What started as a joke and emerged as parody was done as a serious piece of theater , titled The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts. It features A-list actors including John Lithgow, Joel Grey,* Annette Benning, Kevin Kline and Justin Long; it was written by award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan. A video of the show (running about 1:15) is embedded in the LawFare piece and at the Law Works site.

[*] "Willkommen! Dobro Pozhalovat! Welcome!"

The author of the LawFare piece (Mikhaila Fogel) explains how dramatization shows how members of Congress should (and should not) approach next week's hearing. In short: Do ask "deliberate, narrative-driven questions about the text of the report [that] will tell a powerful and credible story;" do not rely on "[s]entiment, indignation and pontification." In other words, act like trial lawyers or judges, not grandstanding politicians.

Update: Having watched watched the performance (from late June), I see Fogel's point about melodrama. But if House Dems see themselves as speaking to the American People--specifically those portions of the American People who are neither convinced of Trump's culpability nor unpersuadable that Trump did anything wrong--there is a nice legal question of how to understand that audience. Is it a jury or a panel of judges? And does that affect how you ask the questions to present the case? And should it?

Also: If a similar reading  of the Starr Report had been staged in 1998, imagine the accompanying soundtrack.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 5, 2019 at 02:43 PM in Current Affairs, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


"People who are neither convinced of Trump's culpability nor unpersuadable that Trump did anything wrong..."

I consider myself in that group. I can say in all honesty the biggest hurdle that anyone now faces in persuading me that Trump broke the law is the Report itself. That was "official washington's" one shot to pull the trigger and they didn't do it. So anything now looks like spin. This is why Mueller's testimony before the House befuddles me because it is difficult for me to see how it does anything other than weaken his hand.

Mueller may be a great guy and a fine legal mind but he is no Paul Biegler. He's playing DC ball, which may impress a judge but not this member of the jury.

Posted by: James | Jul 7, 2019 6:56:54 PM

Howard, although you beseech members of Congress to act as judges or trial lawyers, for many, that will require far too much self-restraint as well as a conscious decision to put country ahead of personal gain.

Posted by: Paul Sonnenfeld | Jul 5, 2019 3:50:53 PM

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