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

Smoke rising from deck fire in West Kelowna

The fire was first reported at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 6.

Driver rescued after car goes down embankment near Kelowna

The Kelowna Fire Department performed the high-angle rope rescue around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 5

UPDATE: Wildfire forces evacuation of homes between Summerland and Penticton

Emergency vehicles are at the scene near Sage Mesa, evacuation centre set up in Penticton

Morning Start: Water can freeze and boil at the same time

Your morning start for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Hunting cabins were built west of Summerland

Area around Darke Lake was once known as the Piggeries

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen presents bursaries worth more than $40,000

Nine endowment funds provided bursaries to 20 students within region

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread

British Columbians worried as end of COVID-19 rental supplement looms

Single mom struggles as supplement was her saving grace

Fire at Marble Point near Sicamous now under control

Two days of work on the fire has reduced its size and controlled it

Arson suspected in several wildfires lit near Kootenay town

RCMP making progress in arson investigation of Marsh Creek fires

Three screening officers at Vancouver airport test positive for COVID-19

The public is not believed to be at risk of exposure

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

Most Read