Georgia Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson accused Republicans at a hearing earlier this month of purposely mispronouncing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s last name to “besmirch” him.
At a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 12, Hank said that he has heard more and more Republicans calling the former special counsel “[Mew-ler],” instead of “[Muller].”
“I’ve heard more and more Republicans starting to pronounce Director Mueller’s name as ‘[Mew-ler].’” I’ve been hearing that over the past few weeks. Is that some kind of Republican attempt to besmirch Director Mueller?” Johnson asked.
He directed his question at Dr. John Eastman, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.
Eastman, seeming surprised, responded, “No, maybe it’s a bit of my German heritage. My mother’s maiden name was ‘Stein’ and the ‘[Mew-ler]’ is the German pronunciation, so.”
Johnson then said it seemed like there was a “secret memo” instructing Republicans to say ‘[Mew-ler].’”
“It’s ‘[Muller]’ and I’ve heard so many people saying “[Mew-ler]’ on the other side it just seems like there’s some kind of secret memo floating out there,” he stated, before moving on.
Watch his remarks:
Despite Johnson’s suggestion, the correct way to pronounce Mueller has long been a debate by Americans of all political persuasions.
How do I pronounce Mueller’s name? I want to make sure I toast him correctly in the coming week or so.
— j barbush (@jbarbush) December 5, 2018
REPORT: I refuse to learn how to pronounce Mueller.
— Adam Steinbaugh (@adamsteinbaugh) March 22, 2019
A COUNTRY DIVIDED: How do you pronounce Robert Mueller’s name?
— The Valley Report (@TheValleyReport) May 4, 2019
It is even unclear for BBC presenters how to pronounce it.
I’ve heard three different BBC newsreaders pronounce ‘Mueller’ in three different ways today: ‘mooler’, ‘m’uller’ and ‘mewler’
— Simon Parkin (@SimonParkin) March 29, 2019
Johnson once suggested in a hearing that Guam might “tip over and capsize” if too many Marines were stationed on the island.
His questioning came at one of the hearings held by Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on the Mueller’s final report about alleged Russian collusion and obstruction since it was completed in March.
In lieu of having Trump administration officials and former officials testify, Nadler has brought in experts and even former indicted Nixon White House counsel John Dean.
This hearing featured constitutional law experts, to discuss what options Congress has to address alleged presidential misconduct or refusal to cooperate with congressional subpoenas.
Republicans have accused Nadler of trying to keep the accusations of Russian collusion and obstruction alive. Mueller’s report found no criminal conspiracy by anyone on the Trump campaign related to Russia, and did not make any determination as to whether President Trump obstructed justice.
The committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday with Mueller to discuss his report.
Follow Kristina Wong at @kristina_wong.