INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has come to an end, and now both sides are trying to spin various aspects of what the nation saw and heard on Wednesday.
"If the Mueller report is the book, the Mueller hearing is the movie," said Adam Wren, a contributing editor for Politico Magazine.
He said Mueller’s testimony can be explained in terms of theater and substance, and in his opinion, Democrats got off to a slow start.
“However, I think later in the day, we saw lawmakers like Representative Adam Schiff use his time, roughly five minutes to very cleanly, quickly and clinically ask questions that led to answers that were not helpful to the president,” said Wren.
Some Republicans are still skeptical, criticizing Mueller's memory and quiet, mumbling demeanor.
"This hearing is political theater. It's a 'Hail Mary' attempt to convince the American people that collusion is real, and it's concealed in the report," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Indiana Rep. Andre Carson got his chance to question Mueller.
He concentrated on Paul Manafort’s role in the report. Wren said though his questions were fascinating, it didn’t lead to the kind of definitive answers Carson wanted.
But Carson made sure his views about the report were known.
"I know enough to say yes, trading political secrets for money with a foreign advisory can leave you vulnerable to blackmail and it certainly represents a betrayal of values,” said Carson.
Afterwards, Carson issued a statement, backing the launch of an impeachment inquiry, and escalating the debate among Democrats about what to do next with just over a year until the 2020 election.
"This President has failed to meet these basic standards of conduct," said Carson. "Congress must continue to use every tool at our disposal to hold him accountable, including opening an inquiry into his impeachment, and ultimately ensuring this type of dangerous, foreign interference never happens again. The future of our democracy depends on it."
President Trump spoke to the media after the hearings saying, in part:
"The performance was obviously not very good. He had a lot of problems but what he showed more than anything else is that this whole thing has been three years of embarrassment and waste of time for our country.”
Mueller's testimony comes just days before the next Democratic debate, with twenty candidates for President taking the debate stage over two nights next week in Michigan.
Many of the 2020 candidates have also called for the President's impeachment, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) insists more investigation needs to happen first.
Next week's debates begin on Tuesday night, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg taking the stage alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, among others.
The other top-tier candidates, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris will take part in Wednesday night's debate.