clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: Mueller? More like duller.

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Mueller’s long-awaited testimony wasn’t as enlightening as some may have wished; Facebook is fined $5 billion over privacy practices.

Mueller finally testifies in front of Congress

Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images
  • Former special counsel Robert Mueller finally appeared before Congress to testify today — and it didn’t exactly live up to the hype built up around it. [Vox / Emily Stewart and Alex Ward]
  • In the morning, Mueller testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), for about three hours on obstruction of justice. In the afternoon, he fielded questions from the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), for about two hours on Russian interference in US elections. [NYT]
  • As Mueller had warned before, he didn’t speak beyond what was already in his report, often declining to answer or simply referring back to his report. According to NBC News, he deflected questions 198 times. [NBC News / Nigel Chiwaya and Jiachuan Wu]
  • Republicans and Democrats had distinctly different strategies: Outlets had already reported that Democrats had been meticulously coordinating their question, and the lawmakers tried to build a case for impeachment during the hearing. To their disappointment, however, Mueller refused to speak beyond the findings of his report, resulting in rather lackluster exchanges. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Republicans, meanwhile, decided to personally attack Mueller, his credibility, and the investigation — even reverting to conspiracy theories (like that Mueller’s staff was biased and wanted to incriminate Trump). Mueller’s refusal to talk about anything beyond the report helped Republicans because he largely declined to defend himself or the investigation against their allegations. [Vox / Emily Stewart and Alex Ward]
  • A key moment for Democrats was when Mueller clearly disproved one of Trump’s biggest talking points: no obstruction. During an exchange with Nadler, Mueller said his report did not state there was no obstruction; his team simply refrained from stating an opinion. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
  • As much as lawmakers wanted to talk about Trump, Mueller only had a single message: Election interference is a real, ongoing threat and we need to do more to address it. [NPR / Philip Ewing]
  • And with that, the Trump-Russia scandal might have finally reached its end. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop puts it: “the big picture is that the investigation is over and that, as damning as some may think the findings are for Trump, it appears he has survived it.” [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

Facebook pays for its privacy breaches

  • A Federal Trade Commission investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices has resulted in a $5 billion fine and extensive oversight of the social media giant — but many doubt that much will really change in the company’s operations. [CNN / Brian Fung]
  • Per the settlement terms revealed Wednesday, all of Facebook’s new products will have to undergo a privacy review, and these reviews will then be submitted to the CEO and a third party quarterly. [CNBC / Salvador Rodriguez]
  • The company will also have to pay $5 billion — the second-largest fine ever issued by the FTC — although some think it’s a slap on the wrist for a company that makes $55 billion a year. [The Verge / Makena Kelly]
  • Consumers seem to agree: Despite negative headlines, the company posted second-quarter earnings of $16.9 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in profit — which is 28 percent higher than last year. [WSJ / Jeff Horwitz]
  • And the penalties barely address the more troubling aspect of Facebook’s privacy practices, such as how much of its users’ data it collects and if they’re allowed to sell it for ads. [NBC News / Jason Abbruzzese, Jo Ling Kent, and Cyrus Farivar]
  • The FTC settlement shows how despite the global trend of tech regulation — European officials most recently imposed penalties on tech giants — the US is reluctant to do the same. [NYT / Mike Isaac and Natasha Singer]
  • The FTC says it’s not letting Facebook off the hook yet: The company announced Wednesday that both the trade agency and the Department of Justice will hold antitrust investigations to review how they’ve acquired market power. [The Verge / Nick Statt]
  • The reality, however, is that these ongoing controversies will do little to curtail Facebook’s dominance in social media. [CNN / Seth Fiegerman]


  • A US citizen was held in an immigration detention center for three weeks because of paperwork problems. He was finally released Tuesday. [Dallas Morning News / Obed Manuel]
  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics medals will be made out of old smartphones. Japanese citizens have donated 78,895 tons of electronic devices to extract 32 kg of gold, 3,500 kg of silver and 2,200 kg of bronze. [The Verge / Sam Byford]
  • A Russian website promoted hunting and torturing LGBTQ people, Saw-style, as part of a “game.” A prominent LGBTQ activist, who was targeted by the website, was later found stabbed to death. [Washington Post / Reis Thebault]
  • Wildfires have been ravaging the Arctic at unprecedented levels. At least 100 have been witnessed since June, which was also the planet’s hottest month on record. [CNN / Isabelle Gerretsen]
  • Forever 21 was accused of fat-shaming after some customers, including plus-size shoppers, received diet bars in their packages. The clothing chain claims that was never its intention and that customers of all sizes were subject to the promotion, which has now been cut. [NBC News / Elisha Fieldstadt]


“I don’t think you will review a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us.” [Mueller’s defense of his report during his hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee]

Listen to this: Mueller reports

At long last, former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress today. [Spotify | Apple Podcasts]

Read more

MTV added a K-pop award to the VMAs. BTS fans think it’s a way of excluding the band.

Is GPS really ruining our brains?

5 losers and 0 winners from Robert Mueller’s testimony to the House of Representatives

Puerto Rico is in political chaos. Here’s what’s at stake.

Lean Cuisine doesn’t want to be part of diet culture anymore. Does it have a choice?

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.