U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, House Dems will hold a public reading of the Mueller Report | Thursday Morning Coffee

May 16, 2019 7:16 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Gambling that Americans just haven’t gotten enough of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Democrats in the U.S. House are planning an epic public reading, starting today, of the redacted, yet still sprawling, 400-plus page document.

The effort is being organized by  U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, a freshman who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. She was among the House Dems to vote to hold Mueller’s boss, Attorney General Bill Barrin contempt of Congress last week.

“We’ve been saying for weeks that if you think there was no obstruction and no collusion, you haven’t read the Mueller Report. So the ongoing quest has been, ‘How do we get that story out there while we are waiting for the witnesses to come in?’” Scanlon, the committee’s vice-chairwoman, told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

Indeed, polling data indicates Democrats have their work cut out for them. A poll by The Hill, released just a week after Mueller’s report went public in mid-April, found 76 percent of Americans saying the special counsel’s meticulous 22 months’ worth of work hadn’t changed their opinion of President Donald Trump.

Politico/Morning Consult poll released this week, meanwhile, found the public evenly split on Attorney General Bill Barr’s handling of the report, which began with the release of a four-page summary, and was followed by an intelligence-insulting press conference that hijacked the public narrative on the report.

In a statement, Scanlon’s office said 25 Democrats will participate in the reading of the report.

All told, it’ll take the participants 12 to 14 hours to read all 448 pages of the document, Scanlon told the Post. The reading will be done in shifts, with dulcet-toned Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., taking second shift, the newspaper reported.

Democrats plan to live-stream the reading on YouTube. It will also be broadcast live on C-SPAN 3, marking the first time that most of the nation will be aware that there is a C-SPAN 3.

The reading, which will later be released as a podcast, will get underway at high noon in the House Rules Committee Room in the Capitol. But only after the assembled Dems take part in an 11:30 a.m. press conference.

While this exercise is surely envisioned as a public service, we cannot help but wonder who Scanlon and her fellow Democrats are trying to reach: Those Americans who don’t have the time to read the report, and may not yet have formed an opinion about it, or the Democratic base that agrees with Scanlon and already thinks Trump should be impeached.

The polling data suggests that the latter might well be the case.

Speaking to the Post, Scanlon batted aside suggestions that Democrats were showboating by holding both a press conference and a public, live-streamed, nationally televised reading of a widely available public document, and then later releasing it as a podcast.

“It’s not a ploy to keep anything going,” Scanlon insisted in an interview with a national newspaper about the press conference, followed by a public, live-streamed, nationally televised reading of a widely available public document that will later be released as a podcast.

“The Mueller Report was a mandate from the Department of Justice that there be an investigation into these very troubling aspects about what was happening in our government,” she told the Post. “So you know, it may be inconvenient, it may be time consuming, but it’s what we have to do.”

Perhaps Scanlon is right. Maybe the public reading of the Mueller Report will penetrate the public consciousness, overtun the nonsense from Barr and the White House, incite massive voter outrage, and lead to impeachment and a Democratic takeover of the White House in 2020.

Or it could end up being Ted Cruz reading ‘Green Eggs & Ham.’

We wish Scanlon and her comrades good luck — and better ratings.

Mea Culpa:
Wednesday’s edition of The Coffee incorrectly portrayed a floor speech by state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chesterduring debate on the Down Syndrome abortion ban bill.Otten was telling the story of her sister’s decision to bring a challenging pregnancy to term, not her own. We regret the error. We also muffed the spellings of the last names of Reps. Sara Innamorato and Elizabeth Fiedler

Our Stuff:
Stephen Caruso 
leads our coverage today with a can’t-miss piece about the soul-search undertaken by some House Democrats as they decided how to vote on the Down Syndrome abortion ban.

These suburban Philly middle-schoolers wanted people to skip using plastic straws for a day. What they got was a crash course in the legislative process.

With budget season closing in, Gov. Tom Wolf called in some allies to make the closing pitch for his $4.5 billion infrastructure planCaruso also reports.

House Republicans issued a more strongly worded scolding of state Rep. Brian Sims, again calling on him to fully apologize for harassing protesters outside a Planned Parenthoodclinic in Philly.

On our Commentary Page, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Mike Turzai defends the decision to totally shut down Rep. Liz Hanbidge last week during the first round of debate over the Down syndrome abortion ban.  

Also on our Commentary Page, advocates for seniors and the disabled say Pennsylvania’s guardianship law is in dire need of an overhaul.

Ex-Veep Joe Biden will run his 2020 presidential campaign out of PhiladelphiaThe Inquirer reports.
Pennsylvania is getting serious about tackling water pollution issuesPennLive reports.
The Penn-Trafford schools in western Pa. are taking flak for employing a negative Arab stereotype during a shooting drill, the Post-Gazette reports.
Pa. voters have picked Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump in a new Quinnipiac University poll, The Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM explains why Philly’s odd “councilman prerogative” isn’t going away.
In the Philly ‘burbs, readers are seeing a preponderance of ‘ghost newspapers,’ WHYY-FMalso reports (via WITF-FM).
BillyPenn wants readers’ sample ballots in next week’s primary election to see who’s influencing the races. looks at the confluence between race and breast cancer diagnoses.
Politico looks at how the 75-year-old magazine, Human Eventsis being rebooted as the new vehicle for Trumpism.

What Goes On.
The House Agriculture Committee roadtrips it to scenic Kersey, Pa., in Elk County, for a 1 p.m. hearing on the forest products industry.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 heads to Philly for 2 p.m. meeting of the Delaware River Governors’ Leadership Summit at the Independence Seaport Museum.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Philly Councilwoman Cherelle Parker
 holds an 8:30 a.m. breakfast at Bellevue Strategies on South Broad Street. Admission runs $150 to $3,000.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Lexi Belcufine Grine, previously of The Incline, now of the Inky, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
This Thursday morning finds us in a vintage soul kind of mood. Here’s The Emotions and ‘The Best of My Love.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
San Jose 
took a 2-1 series lead in their Western Conference final with St. Louis on Wednesday night. The Sharks beat the Blues 5-4 in OT.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.