Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California is angry with former FBI director Robert Mueller.
The congressman is angry that Mueller’s 2019 congressional testimony produced no damning new evidence proving former President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election. Schiff is angry that Mueller underwhelmed in his appearance before Congress. Most of all, the congressman is angry that the testimony failed to revive the Russia collusion narrative after it was effectively euthanized by the release of the special counsel’s report.
In fact, Schiff is so angry, he has resorted to accusing the former prosecutor of being a useless dotard.
Mueller failed to deliver the goods not because there were no goods to deliver, Schiff writes in his forthcoming book Midnight in Washington, but because the 76-year-old former director’s brain has turned to mush. The congressman, who tried harder than anyone to will the collusion story into existence, claims he personally pressured Mueller to testify, thinking the then-special counsel’s appearance would give Democrats the win they so badly wanted. Schiff also claims it was “heartbreaking” to watch the subsequent performance.
“Had I known how much he had changed,” the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee writes, “I would not have pursued his testimony with such vigor — in fact, I would not have pursued it at all.”
He continues, claiming he quietly instructed his colleagues to keep their questions simple, alleging again this was done to accommodate Mueller’s supposedly deteriorating mind.
“No questions calling for a narrative answer,” Schiff writes. “No multipart questions. If you think your question may be too long, it is. Cut it down.”
To be clear, no doctor who has examined Mueller has declared any such thing about his mental state. No relevant medical professional has said the man is soft in the head. Schiff — who peddled several major lies during the collusion craze, including that he had personally seen evidence proving the then-president conspired with Moscow to steal the election — simply alleges Mueller’s brain has gone to rot. For good measure, the California congressman dresses up his baseless assertion in faux concern.
Though it’s a particularly detestable turn of events, it’s not particularly surprising.
Schiff, like so many in the Democratic Party and the press, had pinned his hopes of removing Trump and his associates from office on Mueller’s testimony. It was a Hail Mary after the special counsel’s investigation — which included 40 agents, 2,800 subpoenas, some 500 search warrants, and 500 witness interviews — concluded it could not “establish that the members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
As we know now, Mueller’s testimony did not, in fact, breathe new life into the collusion story. Just the opposite occurred: His 2019 appearance before Congress landed the killing blow on a narrative that had already fallen apart.
Mueller, who was reluctant to testify in the first place, gave an unremarkable performance, much to the anguish and chagrin of the anti-Trump “resistance.” He gave very basic and boring answers, sticking to his game plan of discussing only the contents of his 448-page collusion report. He revealed nothing new.
Now, Schiff claims Mueller’s testimony didn’t go as planned because the former FBI director is suffering from mental decline.
How’s that for gratitude? You browbeat a person into testifying in your stupid political circus, and then you slander him when things don’t go your way.
But what else did you expect? Schiff and his allies were hoping for a “blockbuster” moment. What they got instead was a dry and, frankly, boring hearing, one where the chief witness discussed only what the public already knew. Of course the “resistance” is angry.
Like the special counsel’s report itself, Muller’s testimony was a dud. It revealed nothing that wasn’t already public knowledge, and it obviously did not lead to Trump’s removal from office. And this is when the “resistance” faithful turned on Mueller, the man whose image graced votive candles in “resistance” households across the country.
Oh, do you not remember this? Schiff is not even the first person to suggest post-testimony that Mueller, the patron saint of Russia collusion, is really just a doddering old man.
“This is delicate to say,” former Obama White House strategist David Axelrod said during the hearing, “but Mueller, whom I deeply respect, has not publicly testified before Congress in at least six years. And he does not appear as sharp as he was then.”
He added, “This is very, very painful.”
“Take a break and listen on the radio, or close your eyes for a couple of minutes,” an anonymous FBI official told Politico. “He sounds much older — his starched, tall, distinguished physical appearance helps a great deal. He is clearly struggling a little, especially with long, convoluted questions.”
Naturally, the Trump camp was more than happy to go along with the narrative alleging Mueller has lost it.
“I said, ‘I remember this guy 20, 30 years ago. What happened to him?’” asked Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Or maybe, just maybe, instead of being a vegetable, Mueller made the conscious decision to keep things straightforward and simple, declining to engage in salacious theorizing and long-winded speculation. Maybe he made the conscious decision to stick strictly to facts and stay out of the partisan food fight, having reviewed the evidence of collusion himself and determined that, in terms of any direct conspiracy, there was no “there” there.
Maybe Mueller hasn’t “lost it.” Maybe he just wanted to get in and out of that hearing as quickly as possible.