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Amazon Go

By Phantom On May 8th, 2019

Today, Amazon opened a new physical Go store in NYC. It’s in the World Financial Center, on the other side of the Trade Center.

These are stores without checkout counters. You show an app on your phone as You enter, select your goods, then walk right out.

I walked over to pick up an early sushi lunch. I was in the store for 30 seconds.

This store is small. They sell pre made sandwiches, sushi, drinks, chips.

It joins other locations in Seattle and Chicago. But they have huge ambitions – there is talk of 3000 more Go stores in two years.

People hate to wait in line in department stores, a big reason for the success of Amazon’s online store. I don’t want to wait in line at a food store either.

I want to see one of these in every airport I travel to. When traveling I don’t want foo foo food in 15 minutes. I want OK food right now.

The best defense against online shopping could be physical stores like this.

Amazon is one of the best world companies, led by a great builder and thinker. Never bet against them.

78 Responses to “Amazon Go”

  1. //Amazon is one of the best world companies, led by a great builder and thinker. //

    Anyone read the book Private Government by Elizabeth Anderson?

    It sort of shows Bezos to be more a stinker than “a thinker”.

    She tells the story – among many others – of an enormous Amazon packing facility, in Philadelphia I think, where during a recent heat wave workers sweated in temperatures of 38 deg (over 100 deg. F). They asked if the large doors to the delivery bay could be opened to allow in cooler air. This was refused – there would then be a risk of theft of merchandise.

    Amazon did, however, arrange for ambulances to wait at the exit for people who passed out. Impoverished job applicants were kept waiting to take the places of thosse who collapsed. The victims later found the time they were unable to work was deducted from their wages. There were 100 other forms of deductions for what normal people would consider trivia.
    Basicaly the picture Anderson gives of Amazon is one of a slave-driver in anti-slavery states.

    These kind of sweatshop conditions are apparently not uncommon in the US. In some poultry farms, she talks of adults not being allowed toilet breaks and having to wear diapers.

    In fairness, Amazon does sell the book. Its management are probably so busy thinking of new ways to save money that they don’t have time to read books and aren’t aware of its content.

  2. I want to see one of these in every airport I travel to. When traveling I don’t want foo foo food in 15 minutes. I want OK food right now

    Interesting comment. If we take this line of thought to it’s logical conclusion would you also like to see fully automated aircraft control and pilotless planes?

    I’ve heard some real horror stories of Amazon Noel. It certainly doesn’t seem to be capatilism with a conscience.

  3. Phantom

    //Amazon is one of the best world companies, led by a great builder and thinker. Never bet against them.//

    I feel a lot better about Amazon if they didn’t treat their staff like s***, and paid at least a fair amount in tax.

  4. Retail is a tough business Paul.

    And you don’t only want to only focus on a starting salary. Good workers are promoted and get increases.A lot of people who work in warehouses have done very well financially, esp via Amazon stock options that many of them received,

    I don’t want pilotless planes today, since the technology is not there. Maybe someday. But if my flight is taking off in 45 minutes, I’d like food in the terminal to be good quality, pre made, ready right now. I have no interest for fine dining at any airport

  5. Phantom,

    //I don’t want pilotless planes today, since the technology is not there. Maybe someday. //

    I’m afraid you’re out of touch with this comment Phantom. The technology is there. In bad weather planes that have the capability now make autonomous landings. In fact a recent study into plane crashes has shown that if the planes had been flying themselves completely, there would actually have been less accidents.

  6. I’m not sure that the industry and safety regulators agree that pilotless planes are ready to carry passengers today

  7. The industry and safety regulations might not agree, but the science and statistics do. if I remember correctly it covered the last 10 years of plane crashes and near misses. modelling the scenarios in today’s software, many of the wouldn’t have happened if the planes have been under computer control.
    I am trying to find the article for Phantom so you can read it yourself.

  8. Anazon’s greed and poor record regarding working conditions are two reasons I don’t celebrate them as some glorious sunbeam. I like humans in commercial places. I don’t need instant gratification.

  9. Retail is indeed a tough business Phantom but surely the sheer size of Amazon and the huge profits it generates means that there is ample room within the company to pay and treat their workers with dignity as other smaller retailers do instead of treating them like disposable drone units?

    As for pilotless planes. Two words, Chesley Sullenberger

    I like humans in commercial places. I don’t need instant gratification.

    I’d generally be of the same opinion Mahons.

  10. So long as I don’t have to give up self gratification.

  11. Don’t worry. We’ve always got Colm.

  12. “As for pilotless planes. Two words, Chesley Sullenberger”

    That also works the other way. Reason for pilotless planes – Andreas Lubitz.

    I also wonder whether or not the worker safety things are a feature of Amazon or a feature of the piss poor worker safety and worker rights laws in the United States.

  13. Who says that there aren’t human employees in Amazon Go shops? There most certainly were employees around.

    I am a big fan of small mom and pop business, and will go out of my way to support them. Many of them have faster service than big stores do, and they know the products that they sell, something that you’ll rarely say about the WalMart or Home Depot employee.

    The small business can steal certain ideas from Amazon and others.

    A small single location pizzeria near me has a good website, and an app whereby you can order and pay easily, which means a bit less work for the guys in the store, a bit less work for the customer also. ” Pete ” can compete against Big Pizza any day of the week.

    https://www.petespizzabayridge.com/

    A huge problem for all retail business here and there is shoplifters. I would hope that the no-checkout model can eliminate this problem, which adds cost for everyone. ( On line sellers don’t have the problem of customers stealing, a competitive advantage for them )

    There are times when human element / conversation is great, there are times when its not. If I’m running for a plane or train, I don’t want any conversation with strangers. I want to get my stuff and walk out without breaking stride. At Heathrow or JFK if you want to get a quick bite, you’re likely to have to wait in line and in some cases have to figure out a proprietary ordering and payment system. That’s entirely unacceptable. Good luck Amazon, open a store at JFK now.

  14. That also works the other way. Reason for pilotless planes – Andreas Lubitz

    Absolutely it works both ways but I’d certainly feel more secure knowing that there’s somone at the metaphorical wheel of that pressurised metal tube that I’m in 30,000 foot in the air rather than it being flown by essentially remote control, regardless of safety stats. I.e. I’d feel more secure knowing that the pilot’s life is as much at risk as mine.

    A huge problem for all retail business here and there is shoplifters. I would hope that the no-checkout model can eliminate this problem, which adds cost for everyone.

    A fair point but it’s a bit of double edged sword in terms that it disposes of jobs. You and I have spoken about work ethic here a few times before and I personally don’t mind paying a few extra cents for products if it means keeping people in employment.

  15. Retail stores have a massive shoplifting problem. Its really bad in dodgy inner city areas, but it’s a problem everywhere.

    Shoplifters actually coach one another on best practices on the web.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/IllegalLifeProTips/comments/8t1r5q/ilpt_when_shoplifting_dont_linger_in_the_store/

  16. “Absolutely it works both ways but I’d certainly feel more secure knowing that there’s somone at the metaphorical wheel of that pressurised metal tube that I’m in 30,000 foot in the air rather than it being flown by essentially remote control, regardless of safety stats. I.e. I’d feel more secure knowing that the pilot’s life is as much at risk as mine.”

    Sure. I’d imagine that it won’t be a 1 day there is piloted planes and the next day there won’t be. It will just gradually be replaced over time. Ultimately the advantages of it, not just in terms of safety, but also design, fuel efficiency, etc… make it inevitable in my opinion.

  17. It is inevitable.

    As are widespread use of self-driving passenger trains, which already exist to an extent in NYC and lots of other places.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrGdQemWRm0
    JFK Airport Airtrain, which connects the terminals with each other and with two subway/rail stations.

  18. I think that pilotless passehger planes will be a hard sell.

  19. I think for some people sure it will be a hard sell. But there will always be people who are willing to try it (not least because there is a big chance that it will be cheaper). You’ll have a scary but ultimately safer, cheaper alternative. And as more people use it it becomes more normalised in society and then it will saturate the market.

    “A fair point but it’s a bit of double edged sword in terms that it disposes of jobs. You and I have spoken about work ethic here a few times before and I personally don’t mind paying a few extra cents for products if it means keeping people in employment.”

    Most studies have shown that high employment doesn’t drive living standards increases. High productivity does. So, it would suggest, it is better to have an economy that produces more with less, than less with more. This will drive up living standards even at the micro economic costs of a few jobs.

    So having the guy on the till is probably, short term anyway, better for the guy on the till. Its kind of shit for everyone else though.

  20. You’ll have a scary but ultimately safer, cheaper alternative.

    Well it certainly better be safer as after the first pilotless plane crash I’d imagine things will, ahem, nosedive.

    Even at the micro economic costs of a few jobs

    It’s the micro economic level I’m referring to Seamus. Economic studies don’t mean much to the poor sod who’s lost their employment and for me employment means more than a pay packet and economic sustainibility. I still don’t mind paying a few cents extra if it means some shopworker keeps their job.

  21. “Well it certainly better be safer as after the first pilotless plane crash I’d imagine things will, ahem, nosedive.”

    No more so than all of the piloted plane crashes caused by pilots.

    “Economic studies don’t mean much to the poor sod who’s lost their employment and for me employment means more than a pay packet and economic sustainibility.”

    And yet keeping people stuck in low wage jobs, especially when they aren’t added any value, never mind little value, is why living standards are stagnating.

  22. The key to me isn’t just cost. It’s the experience. I have zero interest in doing this any more.

    The big and small store shopping experience often totally sucks. I want something completely different than what I see now.

    Bezos saw the need for a complete rethink of the shopping experience, when most others did not.

  23. No more so than all of the piloted plane crashes caused by pilots

    Of course the diffeence being that at that time there was no alternative to piloted planes.

    And yet keeping people stuck in low wage jobs, especially when they aren’t added any value, never mind little value, is why living standards are stagnating

    If it comes to the option of low paid job or no job I’ll go with the low paid job regardless of living standards. Being in employment is about much more than a pay packet. I’m sentmental that way.

    Bezos saw the need for a complete rethink of the shopping experience, when most others did not.

    Agreed. My problem is his seemingly absolute indifference to his workforce.

  24. If what you describe is correct, that’s not on, and that’s why we have governments, to ensure protections.

    But also note that he has enriched many employees, many of whom like working there, many who recommend it as a place to grow and be surrounded by highly intelligent people.

    The company wouldn’t be sustainable if they were cruel to their employees as part of a business model. All the good people would leave.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-work-at-amazon-2018-2#employees-receive-competitive-benefits-and-compensation-8

  25. I’ve only ever heard horror stories about working for Amazon Phantom but must admit that I haven’t done any digging into the company past occasional articles I’ve read.

  26. See below, unfiltered comments from current and recent Amazon workers, posted on a big job hunting website

    It’s not for everyone, reviews are mixed, many very negative, many very positive!

    https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Amazon.com/reviews

  27. Paul.

    //Absolutely it works both ways but I’d certainly feel more secure knowing that there’s somone at the metaphorical wheel of that pressurised metal tube that I’m in 30,000 foot in the air rather than it being flown by essentially remote control, regardless of safety stats. I.e. I’d feel more secure knowing that the pilot’s life is as much at risk as mine.//

    This is flawed thinking Paul based on your mistrust of technology.
    Most plane crashes have been caused by pilot error. even based on our current software many of these crashes wouldn’t have happened if the plane was under computer control.
    It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.
    understanding many people especially mine and the older generation feel more comfortable with having people in charge. but the up-and-coming in the generations do not have this hang up which is why pilotless planes are inevitable.
    What day will have, is a capability for a human being on the ground to remotely fly them, which might go somewhere to put in people’s minds at rest.

  28. Despite their tax evasion and dodgy business practices, Amazon have done some really great things. Is v-model and market dominance going to be good for society and business in the long run? W

    ho knows.

  29. Amazon doesn’t really dominate the overall US retail market – its share is maybe 5 or 6 percent

    They dominate on line with a share of about 50%

    These are still early days of internet / online. They can be competed against. The others must up their game, for physical stores and online.

  30. Dave,

    I’d certainly feel more secure knowing that there’s somone at the metaphorical wheel of that pressurised metal tube that I’m in 30,000 foot in the air rather than it being flown by essentially remote control, regardless of safety stats . I.e. I’d feel more secure knowing that the pilot’s life is as much at risk as mine.

    It’s absolutely emotive thinking but when most people are 30,000 feet in the air in a pressurised metal tube I’d suggest that emotion trumps logic.

    What day will have, is a capability for a human being on the ground to remotely fly them

    I don’t know. I think the operative factor is if the person controlling the machine knows that their life is as much at risk as the passanger’s then there’s the expectation that he’s going to be pretty careful not to make mistakes.

  31. There have been at least two major crashes caused by intentional action of suicidal airline pilots ( Egyptair off JFK, which the Egyptians never admitted to, Germanwings )

    Computers won’t do that.

  32. Phantom I’m going to talk about you, but it’s not to insult you as an attack.

    This may help explain what I mean as a bubble.

    I want to see one of these in every airport I travel to. When traveling I don’t want foo foo food in 15 minutes. I want OK food right now.

    I understand exactly what Phantom means. To him that ability to app your food and move right through is a need and some entrepreneur exploited it and made it into a business. A business with a market but a very limited market.

    Major Metropolitan Cities 5 mill+, exchange market streets, major airline hubs. It will make money and makes sense in that market. It is however a very small bubble a group of less than 1% of the world population.

    How many of work in the heart of a major center for major international corporations whose job requires you to fly at least once a month. God knows I believe Phantom has to fly more, but that’s because his job and his skills require it.

    How many others on here will ever really use a service like this? When I worked for the Airline this would be ideal for me, but out here in central pa there is no market for it.

    When I speak of the Bubble it is not a region it’s a sector of our society. My bubble is even smaller than Phantom but for different sociological reasons.

    sorry for the side track but it just popped in.

  33. I bet a Northern Ireland £5 note that everyone here will shop in a store like this, probably within five years.

    Amazon is said to want to open 3000 stores just like it across America in the next couple of years.

    I guarantee you that other retailers will follow.

    I don’t suggest for a minute that this model is only for airports. NYC, Philly, Boston, Washington, Chicago, all the urban centers have many busy employees, many of whom commute by train or bus. This model is perfect for those millions of people, but also for many others.

    Patrick, you drive and you go into places like Wawa i am sure ( 711 type big convenience stores that sell gas typically ). I guarantee you that Wawa is exploring this model for their stores right now and that they will roll it out in some locations soon.

    Food stores at highway rest stops are busy places, this model could work for them also.

    ( btw I took that photo. The people outside are a mix of curious onlookers and Amazon home office types observing the first day at this location.)

  34. we’ll see I think it will be profitable but only in those certain locals

  35. I updated my prior comment.

    I predict the opposite – I predict that big stores, including Safeway, Tesco, Aldi, Trader Joe’s will all do this or something like this.

    And Whole Foods, of course. ( owned by Bezos now )

  36. If it reduces costs for the company then most likely it will reduce the prices in the shop as well. That will be the reason it will go mainstream.

  37. Amazon is the most merciless cost cutter, and their business model is to be a low cost seller to the consumer.

    This fits with that strategy.

    Customers will spend less time in the store but will probably buy more, at the same time that their labor cost is reduced.

    And again, since each item is tracked so closely, you probably cut ” shrinkage ” ( shoplifting ) costs a lot too.

    The retailers used to all fear WalMart, but now WalMart fears Amazon.

  38. Amazon is the most merciless cost cutter, and their business model is to be a low cost seller to the consumer.

    And also a low-wage employer. As Bernie Sanders has pointed out, a significant number of Amazon staff are eligible for food-stamps, so Bezos is being subsidised by US taxpayers.

    Needless to add, Amazon pays virtually no tax anywhere. Any Amazon goods bought in the UK are sold from Luxemburg “for tax reasons”. Another scam that needs to be knocked on the head for good.

  39. Amazon are a bare minimum employer. They will pay their employees the bare minimum, and they will put in place the bare minimum of health and safety. The way to improve that is not to bitch and moan about Amazon being bad and wrong. The way to improve that is to raise minimum wages and put in place stricter health and safety laws.

  40. The way to improve that is to raise minimum wages and put in place stricter health and safety laws.

    Yes.

  41. The way to improve that is not to bitch and moan about Amazon being bad and wrong.

    No, Amazon should be called out constantly for its poor employment practices. That will increase the chances of getting laws passed. In former times it would have been pressure from the unions, but needless to say Amazon refuses to recognise any unions.

    Bezos is a typical hypocritical plutocrat. He endorses liberal causes (to the rage of Trump) but in business he is a ruthless monopolist and a bad employer.

  42. “No, Amazon should be called out constantly for its poor employment practices.”

    Why? It’s legal.

  43. How is the guy with a 5% market share of retail sales a monopolist?

    If he’s such a bad employer why do substantial numbers of workers like working there?

  44. Why? It’s legal.

    So was slavery, that didn’t make it right.

  45. “So was slavery, that didn’t make it right.”

    Yes and the key to ending it was making it illegal. Not bitching and moaning about this guy or that guy.

  46. Phantom

    1. Why are High Street and shopping centre stores closing? Amazon is a big part of the answer, so its market share is steadily growing. I accept that there is a structural shift to online retail, but try being an online trader without an Amazon presence, which will cost you plenty.

    2. Workers have to work. Often Amazon is the only choice. One of its main distribution centres in the UK is in a former mining area where employment opportunities are severely limited.

  47. Yes and the key to ending it was making it illegal. Not bitching and moaning about this guy or that guy.

    No again. The political climate to abolish it did not exist in 1750. By 1800 it did exist, thanks to a lot of bitching and moaning by the abolitionists who succeeded in changing political opinion by their bitching and moaning about the brutality of the slave trade and its beneficiaries.

  48. Overwhelmingly the campaign was about the problems with slavery. Not about how bad Joe Bloggs down the street was.

  49. Even if Amazon were closed tomorrow, all the big retailers are getting into online sales with both feet. Macys, Sears, Walmart, Tesco so the online trend will continue to grow.

    Some of course are hybrid, where you can buy online and pick it up at the store. Or return a badly fitting garment that you bought on line to the store.

    There is an endless testing of what works and what does not but physical stores need to up their game, because on line is here to stay.

  50. Of course Phantom, as I said this is a structural shift.

    The question is what will we do with the tech monopolies? Google is already a monopoly and Amazon is well on the way. Facebook has had a few issues recently, but there is no serious competition. Between the three of them they have wiped out the advertising revenue of newspapers.

    I exclude Netfix because it faces significant competition from Apple TV and Amazon Prime and probably Disney. So no doubt a de-facto cartel will emerge soon. They are already charging identical subscriptions in the UK.

  51. Ultimately it depends on if they exhibit monopoly behaviour. If they do then fine them. If they continue to do so break them up. But ultimately having a dominant market share is not a monopoly.

  52. Ultimately it depends on if they exhibit monopoly behaviour. If they do then fine them. If they continue to do so break them up. But ultimately having a dominant market share is not a monopoly.

  53. To a considerable extent, Amazon, Facebook and Google invented / developed the categories that they are now dominant in.

  54. But ultimately having a dominant market share is not a monopoly.

    It is if you operate as a cartel. Think of the UK electricity market. They do not compete with each other, their prices have always marched in lock-step. In September one of them will announce a price increase of x% and within a few weeks they will all have matched it. If the market was competitive, one of them would announce a price freeze for six months in an attempt to win customers from the others, but that never happens.

  55. US electricity also has fake competition among suppliers.

    They won’t even compare prices over the last year if you ask them to do it.

    What’s the point

  56. Yes Phantom, just like Standard Oil in its time. But Teddy Roosevelt saw what needed to be done and did the necessary. Ronald Reagan did the same with Ma Bell in the 1980s.

  57. Teddy Roosevelt – great man, great president.

    Fierce enemy of corporate abuses, supporter of health care for all.

    The modern Republicans would call him a ” communist “, because its fun to say stuff like that.

  58. “It is if you operate as a cartel. Think of the UK electricity market. They do not compete with each other, their prices have always marched in lock-step. In September one of them will announce a price increase of x% and within a few weeks they will all have matched it. If the market was competitive, one of them would announce a price freeze for six months in an attempt to win customers from the others, but that never happens.”

    The problem with the electricity companies is that they are as you say a cartel. They all used to be regional monopolies. And instead of breaking them up region by region they just allowed them to continue with their regional monopolies.

    “Yes Phantom, just like Standard Oil in its time. But Teddy Roosevelt saw what needed to be done and did the necessary. Ronald Reagan did the same with Ma Bell in the 1980s.”

    Though both were out and out monopolies in industries that tended towards natural monopolies. I think there is a distinction from gaining a monopoly like market share due to a natural monopoly and gaining a monopoly like market share due to being the best product on the market.

    Ultimately the solution to both is to ensure that there are lower barriers to entry. Make it easier for startups and new companies to challenge the big boys.

  59. Teddy Roosevelt – great man, great president.

    Yes Phantom, the creator of the National Parks. The current clown wants to sell them off for drilling and whatever else his crony capitalist cronies want to do.

  60. Paul
    //I don’t know. I think the operative factor is if the person controlling the machine knows that their life is as much at risk as the passanger’s then there’s the expectation that he’s going to be pretty careful not to make mistakes//

    Research has shown that people under pressure tend to make more mistakes not less.
    I can’t think of being under a greater pressure than trying to save your own life.

  61. Phantom,

    There have been at least two major crashes caused by intentional action of suicidal airline pilots…..

    Computers won’t do that.

    As long as they remember not to install the ISIS jihadi app from the app store.

  62. Actually yes.

    Beware that type of hacker.

    One more reason to have a human pilot in there, who can override bad instructions from the machine?

  63. Dave, you miss my point.

    All the safety stats, logic and reassurance of AI won’t replace the comforting thought that if the metal tube that you’re travelling at 500 mph through the heavens in goes down then the bloke controlling it is going down along with it and you and is therefore less likely to be sloppy about how he does things.

    It’s not an argument against the safety record of computers. It’s more a slightly TIC comment on human nature.

  64. Just to point out in the event of pilotless aircraft it won’t be a metal tube. Fly by wire makes flying the plane easier (not reliant on pilot reflexes for example). That means you can have a less traditionally stable design and go for a more radical (but more effecient) aircraft design. So most likely it will be the blended wing body style designs.

    So lose the metal tube, bring in the carbon fibre box.

  65. So lose the metal tube, bring in the carbon fibre box

    Indeed. How does it react on contact with immovable objects at high speed?

  66. “Indeed. How does it react on contact with immovable objects at high speed?”

    60% better than aluminium alloy.

  67. Seamus, that was a light hearted comment in line with my comments of fear of flying. Don’t think it’ll decrease the anxiety factor by 60%

  68. Mine was also an attempt at humour. Carbon fibre tests at 60% stronger than aluminium alloy. Obviously if a carbon fibre structure strikes something at speed then it is going to break.

  69. Okay. Both proof that attempted humour doesn’t always transmit well on screen.

  70. Carbon fiber is seriously great stuff.

    It costs more than metal but yes its stronger and it does not corrode and it weighs less, so plane makers and airlines love it

  71. It’s a bitch to work with. You drill it and it’s like coal. Get’s everywhere.

  72. Indeed Paul.

  73. I quit amazon after xmas. For a host of reasons.

    They, along with other big tech are headed for breakup. Their devastating power isnt just in the labour market. They control too much infrastructure across the internet and are therefore a huge barrier of entry for potential competition. Same goes for google etc.

    Life without amazon is great too. They are the first of many tech roll backs i have planned.

  74. I agree with Trip I see several major breakups on the horizon.

  75. over 90% of your time in the air the computers are flying the plane even during landing and takeoff.

    This was a a software glitch. It was a glitch on several levels do to the only one sensor there was an if then else left open that only popped up in very rare conditions. When a planes instruments sense a catastrophic set of circumstances and the pilots don’t correct it the software takes over control of the aircraft. The pilots can regain control at that point they should be able to disengage the software and fly manually but it seems the software after a certain amount of time recording the erroneous signals the software turns itself back on a tries to correct the parameters again. Only a third of the pilots had training on this feature.

  76. that’s what has been found to have brought these planes down according to the arline rumor mill. Which on accidents is pretty accurate.

  77. hey Phantom

    Bezos can put all other retailers out of business and it would be fine with me if this is what he does with the money.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-moon-lunar-lander-2019-5

  78. and some plain speaking

    From the first, the Trump-Russia investigation has been a political controversy masquerading as a set of legal problems. This has never changed, so it should never be forgotten.

    It is the dynamic driving the latest dust-up over whether special counsel Robert Mueller should be summoned to testify before Congress. As with most everything else in Russiagate, politics makes Mueller’s testimony inevitable, so arguing over whether it should happen as a matter of law is pointless. Politics is driving this train, and always has.

    When Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017, there was neither a factual predicate for a criminal investigation nor a conflict of interest that would have prevented the Justice Department from conducting the investigation without calling in an outside lawyer. Under the special counsel regulations, those are the two legal prerequisites for the appointment of a special counsel.

    Yet, Mueller was appointed anyway

    https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/442677-the-trump-russia-investigation-politics-from-beginning-to-end