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Reuters/ Molly Riley
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Robert de Niro’s awkward Mueller SNL cold-open captures the real Russia investigation

Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Investigative reporter

There’s hope, at the beginning, that all the build up and stage-setting will eventually deliver a satisfying moment. But after a seemingly endless string of bland commentary, the Dec. 8 Saturday Night Live cold open on the Mueller investigation leaves you nonplussed. Much like the Mueller investigation itself.

Despite SNL’s series of successful political parodies, this weekend’s skit, featuring Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr, Alex Moffat as Eric Trump, and celebrity guest Robert De Niro as Robert Mueller, isn’t very funny. De Niro looks and sounds as though he’s never read the script before. He fluffs and repeats his lines and spends most of the time gazing confusedly off stage, presumably reading cue cards. And the jokes themselves don’t deliver, so all the build-up ultimately leads to nothing.

Thus far, much the same could be said of the real Mueller investigation. For months, the American public has anxiously awaited a definitive development—a piece of evidence to clearly damn or exculpate Donald Trump of colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Instead, there’s been more hype and speculation than actual revelation; in the past week alone, two of the probe’s three much-awaited document releases were heavily redacted. We keep waiting and watching but, deliberate or not, Muller has steadfastly refused to make it entertaining.

In that sense, at least, De Niro’s portrayal was pretty accurate.

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