Relationships

Our Most Special Special Counsel

The author of a lusty love letter to Robert Mueller explains her obsession with the “sweet, square Swan” of the Russia investigation.

Robert Mueller.
“Square-Jaw McGraw.”
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Vanity Fair has been covering the Mueller investigation with the same gusto as the rest of the press, publishing a steady stream of newsy updates to its website. But this week its Mueller coverage also featured one piece with a decidedly different tone: a love letter to Robert Mueller. It called him “the epitome of B.D.E.” and praised his “patrician uprightness,” his “perfectly parted silver hair,” and his “pronounced jawline.” At least one Twitter user found the whole thing ”deeply uncomfortable.” Who could be so brazen as to declare for the whole world to see that she wanted to “████████████████ and then ████████” with the special counsel? That would be Rachel Dodes, a New York–based writer and co-host of a podcast called This Week in Nope. Slate called Dodes to … inquire about her obsession with the man she called her “sweet, square Swan.”

Slate: First things first: Do you really want to get with Robert Mueller?

Rachel Dodes: I will say that I think about Robert Mueller a lot. I’m very consumed by the ins and outs of the investigation. I listen to all these podcasts—Slate’s Trumpcast and Mueller, She Wrote—but do I necessarily want to be romantically involved with Robert Mueller? No. That said, I think he’s a very handsome, stylish man, and I think he possesses all the qualities anyone of any gender should seek in their partner. And I think Mueller will be remembered as one of the finest Americans to have ever lived. But the piece was kind of to take on the persona, a bit exaggerated, of someone who believes she’s in an unrequited relationship with Robert Mueller. Because to some extent, I feel like we all are. He’s so mysterious, he’s so beguiling, and there’s just so little information coming out that it keeps us all guessing.

You can tell he’s extremely smart. I have this vision of him of having a very good, cerebral sense of humor. I have no idea if that’s true, that’s what I’ve gleaned from listening to a couple speeches that he’s given. He’s a handsome guy. He stays fit. I’m sure he probably eats the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and goes to the gym at the same time every day and adheres to a very strict, regimented life. He is our most special special counsel.

When did this start? Was it love at first sight?

I do have to give credit where credit is due: My wonderful editor at Vanity Fair, Claire Howorth, asked me what I thought of the idea of a love letter to Robert Mueller; she knows I’m very into him. I took the assignment and ran with it.

What does your husband think of this?

My husband is kind of also obsessed with Robert Mueller, though probably not to the degree I am. I showed him an early draft of my story. He did not get it at all. I was like, “What’s wrong with it? What should I change?” He was just like, “All of the words.”

Is Mueller your usual type?

My husband is an amazing person and very dependable, and a very ethical person. I see some of the qualities of Robert Mueller in him, so in that respect, it’s similar to the types of things I’ve always been attracted to. But as far as a historically Republican-leaning government worker, no, it’s different.

Have you looked into Mueller’s wife at all?

I’ve read a little bit about her. The thing about her that I think is so great—it’s like that Groucho Marx quote about not wanting to belong to any club that would have you as a member. The basis of my Robert Mueller attraction is that he’s not the type of man who would ever be unfaithful to his wife, who seems like a wonderful person. So it’s just a paradoxical attraction.

What has the reaction to your piece been like?

I noticed there were some people on Twitter saying it’s a dangerous trend for straight women to sexually objectify G-Men. To that I say, bullshit! I think that this letter could have easily been written from the perspective of a gay man or a straight man or whomever. My dad could have written it! He is also in love with Robert Mueller. He probably would be a more age-appropriate partner than I would be. The point is that the letter was not meant to be serious, and thankfully most people interpreted it that way. To suggest that it’s some weird straight woman’s perversion is in itself sexist and reductive.

Have you ever dreamed about Mueller?

I don’t think I’ve dreamed about Mueller, no. But hope springs eternal.

Who do you think would play him in a movie?

My mom also kind of has a crush on Robert Mueller, and she was lamenting the other day that Cary Grant was not around to play him in a movie. She feels like nobody else but Cary Grant could have played Mueller in a movie. I think Clooney.

What would you say to Mueller if you ever met him?

I would just say, “Thank you for your service. I am totally inspired by you.” I would be starstruck in a way that I never have been. I used to write about Hollywood for the Wall Street Journal, so I’ve met most celebrities and interviewed them. Robert Mueller would be the ultimate.

At the end of your letter, there’s a redacted bit. Did you have any specific words in mind that would go there?

I was thinking more that this would be the way to create a sense of mystery for Mueller, to really lure him in. I don’t know what would be under those redactions. Personally, I’m more of a sexter in the Jeff Bezos tradition: I would say something like, “I want to plan with you” or “I want to have brunch,” “I think you’re very competent.”

If this led to an offer to write Mueller erotica, would you consider that?

I don’t think so, no. I don’t know if I would be the best erotica writer, given, as I said, my sexting would be very Jeff Bezos–like.

Do you think Mueller has seen the piece?

I don’t know. I think that it’s likely that his spokesman, Peter Carr, the guy who’s been referred to as “Mr. No Comment” in the news, I think he probably saw it, and whether or not he interrupted Mueller while he was doing much more important things to deliver a love letter from me, I have no idea. I certainly hope not. But if Mueller did read it, I really do have a feeling that he has an excellent sense of humor and would have received it in the spirit in which it was intended.