It was a sharp contrast to the Democratic presidential candidates who lined up to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s bombshell first public remarks about his investigation. On Fox News, an alternate reality seemed to exist, where many of the network’s most prominent personalities claimed the special counsel had done little more than “grandstand before the cameras.”
“It’s like, at the end of a fight, one guy takes one last kick,” said Pete Hegseth, a contributor at Fox News, during an appearance on “Fox & Friends. “Not because he won, just because he wanted to get one last in. And that feels like what Mueller tried to do here — no reason for it.”
Brian Kilmeade, a co-anchor of the show, affirmed Hegseth’s opinion.
“Well as you said, Pete, he’s saying, ‘I can’t indict, but I hope you will,'” Kilmeade said. “And to me, it shows that those — for two years the president has been saying it’s a witch-hunt — Mueller is compromised. He took it personal. My opinion? He took it personal, and that was his subtle shot trying to remain professional but saying, ‘I’ll get you in the end.'”
Laura Ingraham, the anchor of “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News, argued that Mueller’s press conference was the result of Washington’s legal establishment disliking the president.
“This city’s legal establishment has always hated Donald Trump. They think he’s uncouth. They think he’s not smart. They think he didn’t deserve the presidency. He didn’t check all their boxes, and they never wanted him to be president. And the fact that he managed to get through two years of this investigation and accomplish as much as he has, I think it sticks under their craw,” Ingraham explained.
She later added, “I’m hot on this, because I don’t like when prosecutors grandstand before the cameras.”
Sean Hannity, anchor of the Fox News show “Hannity,” argued this marked the beginning of the next phase in the ongoing Trump-Russia scandal.
“We can report tonight: Act One is over, in spite of the noise. Robert Mueller is out,” Hannity told his viewers. “The witch hunt has been dissolved. He said nothing today that wasn’t already said in the Mueller report. So Act Two, which is surrounding the Deep State’s unprecedented abuse of power and corruption, that is now only beginning. That means Jim Comey, James Clapper, John Brennan and others . . . They are terrified. They know they’re in big trouble.”
He later added, “Number one: Mr. Mueller doesn’t know the law; he’s basically full of crap. And the special counsel’s regulations? They are very clear.”
In contrast to the Fox News personalities, Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 argued that Mueller’s press conference proved the need to open an impeachment inquiry against the president.
“Mueller’s statement makes clear what those who have read his report know: It is an impeachment referral, and it’s up to Congress to act,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote on Twitter. “They should.”
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey made a similar point, tweeting that “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”
“What Robert Mueller basically did was return an impeachment referral. Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable,” Sen. Kamala Harris of California wrote on Twitter, adding: “We need to start impeachment proceedings. It’s our constitutional obligation.”