Especially to those who have known and worked with former special counsel Robert Mueller over his long career in law enforcement, his performance before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday came as a shock.
Matt Drudge described him as “dazed and confused.”
“At times it was halting and slow and painful,” said Fox News’ Brett Baier.
Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor who worked under Mueller in the U.S. attorney’s office tweeted, “Bob Mueller is struggling. It strikes me as a health issue. We need only look at footage of his earlier congressional appearances to see the dramatic difference in his demeanor and communicative abilities.”
The former Special Counsel, who will turn 75 in two weeks, appeared in both looks and demeanor to be at least ten years older. He asked for most questions to be repeated. At a certain point, it became difficult to watch and I almost began to feel sorry for this man whom I’ve despised for two years.
Why would Democrats subject a man in Robert Mueller’s obviously frail condition to over six torturous hours of testimony? How did House Democrats allow yesterday’s debacle on Capitol Hill to ever happen?
According to Politico, people close to Mueller were whispering that he may not be “up to” testifying before Congress. Politico reported:
House Democrats caught wind of Robert Mueller’s reluctance earlier this year: the special counsel may not be “up to” testifying after he concluded his Russia probe.
The chatter was second-hand and cryptic. Staffers negotiating to get Mueller to appear on Capitol Hill weren’t sure where the messages were originally coming from. Were people close to Mueller sending a signal? Or was it just Justice Department officials who didn’t want the blockbuster hearing to go forward? Were there fears that Mueller’s reputation would be savaged in the hyper-partisan political circus of 2019? Were there stamina concerns?
“Take a break and listen on the radio, or close your eyes for a couple of minutes. He sounds much older — his starched, tall, distinguished physical appearance helps a great deal,” a former senior FBI official told Politico.
“He is clearly struggling a little, especially with long, convoluted questions. Having said that, even Mueller at his peak would be playing it very conservatively and would be giving short, curt answers,” added a second former FBI official.
I noticed that something seemed amiss with Mueller during his nine-minute “sneak attack” on May 29th. I wrote at the time:
If you watch Mueller’s demeanor, especially when he first steps up to the podium, he appears extremely ill at ease. It’s hard to imagine that such a powerful man would be quite so nervous, but he appeared petrified. And all he had to do was read something. He gave the impression that if he had to answer a serious question, he would explode.
He also made it clear that he was done. He would not take questions now or at anytime later, telling those gathered that the report speaks for itself.
Conservative commentator Mark Levin went even further. He said that Mueller appeared feeble. “This is not a man who would do well under seven, eight, nine hours of questioning, with the Republicans honing in on so many issues.”
Boy, was he right. And all Mueller had to do that day was read a statement.
Hot Air’s Allapundit offered his theories for why, knowing about Mueller’s condition, Nadler and Schiff were so determined to have him testify.
Progressives demanded it, and thus they were duty bound to haul him in whether he was “up to” it or not to prove their loyalty to The Cause. They weren’t about to say, “We can’t have him testify because he’s lost a step.” That would have undermined the credibility of the investigation, not to mention impugned Mueller. Better to bring him in and cross their fingers that his answers would sound cogent.
Another theory, if you’re into skullduggery, is that they wanted to cool the left’s impeachment ardor and were counting on a bad performance today by Mueller to do that. Certainly, the House is less likely to impeach now after listening to this than they were a month ago, no?
I agree with the former. I would add that this was their last opportunity to make their case for impeachment.
But given Mueller’s health, subjecting him to six hours of public testimony was cruel and, as it turned out, a miscalculation of epic proportions.
Their dreams of impeaching President Trump are dead.