Heard on the Hill

What happened when I went to a baseball game instead of reading the Mueller report

Some in Washington scrambled. Others spent the day eating Dippin’ Dots

Something happened in Washington on Thursday: the Nats played the Giants. Above, fans pose for photos with George Washington in the stands at Nationals Park in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

You didn’t have to venture far from the Capitol on Thursday to find a crowd of Washingtonians who weren’t overwhelmed by the Mueller report.

Patrick Corbin, the newest Nationals star starting pitcher, took the mound a little after 1 p.m., before key Democrats like House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler or Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner had even weighed in on the substance of the report.

With the House and Senate in recess, and a number of area schools on spring break, the ballpark was filled with kids. Corbin had the crowd’s attention early, carrying a one-hitter into the eighth inning.

Announced attendance was just over 26,000, and there was more interest in the Dippin’ Dots than the much-anticipated report of the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

One gelato stand had run out of products to sell by the seventh-inning stretch, while another ice cream stand only had soft serve left to offer.

The Capitol complex itself was largely quiet Thursday, with Mueller’s report arriving on CDs at the House and Senate Judiciary committees right on schedule around 11 a.m., and while those hand-offs attracted a full complement of television and still photographers, as well as a momentary scramble to get junior congressional aides to confirm what reporters were observing in the halls of the Dirksen and Rayburn buildings, there was not much more to see.

That’s because, of course, the release of the redacted Mueller report by the Department of Justice at the direction of Attorney General William Barr came while both chambers were on their spring recesses, a traditional two-week break for the observances of Passover and Easter.

After joining other reporters for a press gaggle about Mueller’s report with Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri, who drew the short straw of needing to be on Capitol Hill to preside over a brief pro-forma session, I walked south to the Navy Yard, getting to Nationals Park by the third inning.

It being a day game in Washington, there were plenty of folks in the stands paying attention to their phones, likely scrolling through countless breaking news alerts, emails and tweets from journalists going through the report.

But when Corbin pitched, he had the attention of those in attendance, with the fans of both the Nationals and visiting San Francisco Giants wondering how close Corbin might get to the performance he put on against the same opponents last April (a one-hit, complete game shutout for his former team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Phoenix).

It wasn’t quite a repeat, but Corbin did strike out nine Giants over seven and two-thirds innings on his way to his first win in a Nationals uniform.

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