In this March 13, 2019 image from video provided by Alicia Barnett, her dog’s tag is laser engraved with his name, “Mueller,” at a pet store in Kansas City, Kan. At Christmas, her teenage son brought home a 10-week-old chocolate lab. ‚ÄúThe strong, silent type,‚Äù Barnett observed. And then she named him ‚ÄúMueller‚Äù _ an homage to the stoic special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign played any part. (Alicia Barnett via AP)

In this March 13, 2019 image from video provided by Alicia Barnett, her dog’s tag is laser engraved with his name, “Mueller,” at a pet store in Kansas City, Kan. At Christmas, her teenage son brought home a 10-week-old chocolate lab. ‚ÄúThe strong, silent type,‚Äù Barnett observed. And then she named him ‚ÄúMueller‚Äù _ an homage to the stoic special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign played any part. (Alicia Barnett via AP)

Mueller’s most devoted fans anxiously await his report

But Mueller has become a boogeyman for many of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters

Her family wanted a puppy, so Alicia Barnett dreamed they would find one that was smart, steady and a bit mysterious. She hoped their new addition could share a personality — and a name — with the man who has become her rather unlikely idol.

And so, the Barnetts’ new chocolate Lab was christened Mueller — an homage to the stoic special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the Trump campaign played any part.

For devoted Democrats like Barnett, Robert Mueller has become a sort of folk hero since his appointment in May 2017. To them, he represents calm in the face of a storm, quiet in a city of bombast, a symbol of hope that a presidency they view as dishonourable might soon face some type of consequences.

“He gives me reassurance that all is not lost,” says Barnett, who lives with her family and Mueller the puppy in Kansas City, Kansas. “I admire his mystique. I admire that I haven’t heard his voice. He is someone who can sift through all this mess and come up with a rationale that makes sense to everyone.”

The special counsel — a 74-year-old registered Republican, Marine and former director the FBI — has even inspired his own genre of arts and crafts. One can buy Mueller paintings, prayer candles, valentines and ornaments. A necklace, earrings, keychains. A stuffed toy of Mueller in a Superman outfit, cross-stitch patterns, baby onesies — even an illustration of his haircut to hang on the wall.

“Stare at Special Counsel Mueller’s crisp coiffure for three minutes and you will notice a sense of calm come over you,” that artist, Oakland, California-based Wayne Shellabarger, wrote in his online listing for a $10 print. “That’s a haircut you can set your watch to.”

Mueller has become a boogeyman for many of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, as the leader of the investigation the president derides as a “witch hunt.” But his fans often speak of him in soaring analogies. Barnett imagines him as a duck’s legs: kicking heroically to keep things afloat but under the water, out of view. Karen Adler, a Placerville, California, crafter who sells a coffee mug with Mueller dressed as a saint and wearing a crown of laurels “for victory,” describes him as “Paul Bunyan-esque,” a man of superhuman labour. Shellabarger thinks of him “almost like Bigfoot,” a mystical creature rarely seen in public.

Mueller has remained completely silent as the ceaseless speculation about his investigation turned him into one of the most famous men in America. He hasn’t given a single interview, and his office does not leak.

When Kim Six posted her cross-stitch tribute to Mueller on her Facebook page, some people told her to keep politics out of crafting. The framed stitching featured the letters “M.A.G.A.” down the side, a reference to Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan but with these words substituted: “Mueller Ain’t Going Away.” Her critics assumed she was far-left, but she considers herself a centrist, having voted in the past for moderate Republicans.

Her husband is a “card-carrying Trump fan,” says the resident of California’s Bay Area. They agree to disagree, and she thinks Americans should be able to do the same. To her, Mueller represents a middle ground where facts exist, as opposed to the ideological rants that consume political discourse.

“Let’s get all the facts on the table,” she says, “and let this impartial person come in and tell us what the truth is — not spin, just truth.”

She’s imagined findings so thorough Congress and voters would be forced to act accordingly. But as the investigation has continued on, with 34 people charged and five sentenced to prison, she’s noticed Americans retreating to their corners and rearranging the facts to fit their political position.

She’s losing faith that Mueller’s probe, whenever it does come to an end, will change anything at all.

“How naive I was,” she says. “I have this fear, no matter what happens, either side is going to spin it the way they want to. So I don’t know anymore if he’s the coming saviour we had hoped for.”

Carmen Martinez feels doubt, too. She and her business partner in New York City have sold 500 Christmas ornaments and earrings with Mueller’s face. They tend to get a rush of orders after major Mueller news: indictments, sentencings. Martinez saw him as the one person who could lead the country out of chaos with truth, and believed his report would push everyone to turn away from Trumpism.

READ MORE: Michael Cohen calls Trump ‘racist, ‘conman’ in testimony

READ MORE: Manafort gets 7 years in prison, then faces fresh NY charges

But Martinez, a Peruvian immigrant, was shocked last year by the administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexico border. She started to wonder: If images of children in cages don’t sway many minds, how could Mueller’s report, just words on paper?

Others remain hopeful: “I feel like we’re in the middle of a book, like a saga,” says Janice Harris, a textile artist in Detroit. “And we’re just waiting for the climax.”

She was never a particularly political person before Trump’s election — much of her work featured kittens or dancers. But she was inspired to immortalize Mueller on handmade makeup bags. She had custom fabric printed with Mueller’s face, stitched it into her pouches and sold around 50.

Wayne Shellabarger has sold two prints of his Mueller haircut illustration. One happy customer wrote that using the print as a meditation aide allowed her to stop taking anti-anxiety medication.

“The world has gone completely insane and topsy-turvy,” Shellabarger says. “Mueller’s hair is one little shining piece of sanity in a sea of madness, so precise and sober and straightforward and without deceit, absolutely by the book, the opposite of everything that’s going on in the world.”

He hung one of the haircut prints in his own living room in Oakland, California — close to the television, so when he watches the news and his heart starts to pound, he can glance up at it.

There is such a thing as fact, it reminds him.

“And that gives me hope,” Shellabarger says, “that since he’s in charge, the world can be normal again.”

Claire Galofaro, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Authorities have confirmed a case of COVID-19 within a school in Kelowna. Someone within the Rutland Elementary School community has tested positive. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express/FILE)
Authorities confirm COVID-19 exposure in Kelowna school

Interior Health (IH) states they will be following up with anyone potentially exposed

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the city won’t look at changing its policy regarding automatic cost of living pay bumps for himself and city councillors, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (File)
Kelowna won’t look at nixing automatic pay raises for council, mayor

Mayor Colin Basran said the raise is minuscule, won’t look at changing policy amid residents’ COVID struggles

Kevin Lee Barrett is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. (Facebook)
Court hears of victim’s injuries in West Kelowna attempted murder trial

Two-week-long trial continues for Kevin Barrett, accused of trying to kill mother in West Kelowna

Homeless man lying on the bench. (File photo)
Temporary emergency shelter opens in Kelowna

The shelter, located at the former location of Tree Brewing, will offer 38 beds

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Icewine is thicker and sweeter than regular table wine, and takes longer to produce. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Mild winter brings small icewine harvest for Central Okanagan vintners

It must be -8 C or lower before grapes can be harvested for icewine

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in B.C. school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Vaccine rollout is focused on health care workers first, especially those dealing with long-term care facilities. (Nathan Denette - Canadian Press)
General public shouldn’t expect vaccines until fall: Interior Health South Okanagan Similkameen

Interior Health focused on vaccinating long-term and first-line care workers

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

A mother hold hands with her daughter while sharing about her struggles with addiction during Overdose Awareness Day. (Jesse Major/Black Press file)
Overdose and suicide support group starts in Penticton

Penticton was one of the province’s communities hardest hit by the overdose crisis in 2020

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read