After news broke Friday that the Mueller report was finished and no more indictments were forthcoming, the walls “closed in” around an ominous phrase that many political and media figures used frequently over the past two years.
Presumably hoping that his two-year inquiry would lead to President Donald Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, many verified Twitter accounts had described special counsel Robert Mueller as “closing in” around the president at various times throughout the investigation.
One of the earliest uses of the phrase seems to be from a tweet by Foreign Policy magazine that touted a column by Max Boot, a Washington Post columnist and senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. “Trump should be scared,” the tweet warned. “Robert Mueller is closing in on him.”
Written June 2017, a month after the special counsel’s appointment, Boot’s piece claimed that Trump was terrified in light of Mueller’s character—”universally respected for his integrity and doggedness”—and the tenacious competence of his “hunter-killer team of crack investigators and lawyers.” He asserted that “what worries Trump is not that Mueller may be a Democratic partisan […] but that the Marine combat veteran cannot be bought off or intimidated.” (RELATED: To Be A Daily Caller Intern In DC During The Trump Era)
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) June 28, 2017
Boot teamed up later that year with Max Bergman, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, to write a December 2017 column for The Guardian about how much further Mueller had “closed in.” “Mueller is coming,” they predicted in the wake of the indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Charged With Making False Statement To The FBI)
Claiming that Mueller’s indictments were moving closer and closer into the president’s inner circle, Bergman and Boot argued that an indictment of Trump was inevitable, for which reason Congress was duty-bound to pass legislation preventing the investigation from being shut down.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) December 12, 2017
Over the years, the “closing in” analogy seemingly became a mantra among those who anxiously awaited Mueller to sound the death knell of the Trump presidency.
Former Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown went after Trump and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions on March 7, 2018, after the Department of Justice sued the state of California for failing to enforce federal immigration law. Brown dismissed the lawsuit as a “political stunt” enacted by an attorney general who could not be normal because Mueller was “closing in” and about to issue more indictments. (RELATED: California Gov. Channels Trump In Response To DOJ Lawsuit)
“Mueller is closing in”: California Gov. Jerry Brown taunts Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump after their lawsuit challenging the state’s immigration laws https://t.co/RJ4uM0Lxyd pic.twitter.com/UjRZzQCTHx
— CNN (@CNN) March 7, 2018
Outspoken liberal Hollywood director Rob Reiner, who became famous in the 1970s playing progressive layabout Michael “Meathead” Stivic on “All in the Family,” claimed on May 10, 2018, that Vice President Mike Pence’s call for an end to the Mueller investigation was an indication that “the special counsel is closing in on guilt” and that Trump “doesn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch.”
Mike Pence has shown Mueller a huge tell. His call to end the investigation tells the Special Counsel he’s closing in on guilt. And the only thing Michael Cohen is “fixing” is Donald Trump’s criminal wagon. Guessing that POTUS doesn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) May 10, 2018
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan said Dec. 7, 2018, on “Morning Joe” that “Mr. Trump is seeing more and more of the walls closing in on him, which is why he’s becoming increasingly desperate.” (FLASHBACK: John Brennan Predicted Additional Mueller Indictments Just Two Weeks Ago)
John Brennan, fmr. CIA director, on President Trump’s tweetstorm on Mueller probe: “Mr. Trump is seeing more and more of the walls closing in on him, which is why he’s becoming increasingly desperate.”https://t.co/Dap2BJH4Wt
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 7, 2018
Politico quoted multimedia journalist Chris Whipple in December 2018 as saying, “This White House is headed into a world of trouble — a Democratic Congress, Mueller closing in, and anybody who comes into this White House has to be thinking about lawyering up.”
“This White House is headed into a world of trouble — a Democratic Congress, Mueller closing in, and anybody who comes into this White House has to be thinking about lawyering up….”
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) December 10, 2018
The Democratic Party’s National Lawyers Council chair Andrew Weinstein scolded Trump for the impending government shutdown on Dec. 20, tweeting, “The economy is slowing, the Dow is tanking, Mueller is closing in, North Korea still has nukes, Putin is getting his way in Syria, and yet Republicans in Congress are willing to shutdown the government over Trump’s stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. What a disgrace.”
The economy is slowing, the Dow is tanking, Mueller is closing in, North Korea still has nukes, Putin is getting his way in Syria, and yet Republicans in Congress are willing to shutdown the government over Trump’s stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. What a disgrace.
— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) December 20, 2018
On the same day, executive producer of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Andy Lassner, tweeted, “Trump knows Mueller is closing in fast. So now, he’s gonna bring down the whole fucking thing with him. Brace yourselves.”
Trump knows Mueller is closing in fast. So now, he’s gonna bring down the whole fucking thing with him. Brace yourselves.
— andy lassner (@andylassner) December 20, 2018
When BuzzFeed reported on Jan. 17, 2019 that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen told investigators that the president had instructed him to lie to Congress, former CBS news anchor Dan Rather tweeted that the bombshell, if true, was “a political earthquake” and concluded that “the walls do appear to be closing in” around Trump. Mueller’s office personally denied BuzzFeed’s story the next day, in a rare public statement. (RELATED: Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed’s Report)
If true, the Buzzfeed story is a political earthquake. Caution: we really know little; Mueller knows much. Time to be steady, let facts lead us to truth. But at almost every turn in this national nightmare, implausible has become plausable. The walls do appear to be closing in.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) January 18, 2019
Since Mueller delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr with no further indictments, many pundits have been comparatively muted as the walls have seemingly stopped closing in for now. As Reuters tweeted Friday, “Robert Mueller is closing up shop …”
Robert Mueller is closing up shop on a probe that Trump has routinely called a ‘witch hunt.’ https://t.co/uqgDSgmj9t Here’s how the special counsel soldiered on in his investigation https://t.co/ZDkzeZRsE9 pic.twitter.com/LrYtLvYyBW
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 23, 2019
Max Boot reminded his Twitter followers Saturday that “Trump is doing great damage even when he is not violating the law.”
While we await the Mueller report, read this. A reminder that Trump is doing great damage even when he is not violating the law. https://t.co/41Nzdhh5LQ
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) March 23, 2019
“I figured I would go on Twitter to suggest we all give social media a break until we actually have something to read and talk about,” Dan Rather reflected Saturday afternoon. “Maybe take a walk? Call an old friend? Read a book? Check out college basketball…”
I figured I would go on Twitter to suggest we all give social media a break until we actually have something to read and talk about. Maybe take a walk? Call an old friend? Read a book? Check out college basketball…
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) March 23, 2019