Going into the hearing, impeachment advocates needed either explosive new claims or a compelling prosecutorial performance to generate meaningful new interest in impeachment. If they could get both new facts and a compelling performance, then the short-term demand to launch a formal impeachment inquiry would surge.
They got neither. There are no explosive new facts, and Mueller did not give a compelling prosecutorial performance. Quite the contrary. The most charitable assessment of Mueller’s performance is that it was the work of a man who objected to the proceedings and wanted his written work to stand for itself. There was no Perry Mason moment. There were no prosecutorial flourishes. There were no flourishes at all.
In fact, even the Democratic hope of highlighting damaging elements of the Mueller report for a public that likely hadn’t even read a page was frustrated and interrupted by Republicans who used their time to attack the credibility of the investigation itself. Each side emerged with more red meat for the base. Neither side discovered truly meaningful new facts.
The simple truth is that by the time the Mueller report emerged, enough Americans had already absorbed and evaluated each new damaging revelation about Trump’s misconduct or his team’s Russian contacts. Each new indictment and each new revelation represented only a marginal new addition to the argument against Trump. Even if collectively the contacts paint a damaging portrait, the slow, steady pace of charges and reports worked more to harden hearts against Trump than to change minds.
And, make no mistake, impeachment requires changed minds.