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)
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.
Over the years, the “closing in” analogy seemingly became a mantra among those who anxiously awaited Mueller to issue 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)
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.”