A Question for Historians: Robert Mueller’s Incapacity

 

To say that Robert S. Mueller III did not distinguish himself in his Congressional testimony Wednesday would be an understatement. His answers were halting, when not evasive, and he repeatedly had to ask that a question be repeated. Long before his appearance before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, there had been rumors that he was senile.

His testimony today suggests two possibilities: that he really is senile, or that he is pretending to be so in order to avoid having to explain his conduct as Special Prosecutor. If the latter is true, it had to do with his reluctance to discuss his decision to hire a host of hyper-partisan Democrats, such as Andrew Weissman, to do the footwork on the case and with his failure to investigate the origins of the Fusion GPS report and to consider the possibility that the Russians made clever use of the Clinton campaign.

I am, however, inclined to suppose that the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is senile and that he was already suffering from dementia when he was named Special Prosecutor. This would explain a great deal. If, in effect, the hyper-partisan Andrew Weissman was in charge, it would explain why, though by then they knew that he was innocent, the Special Prosecutor and his team did not exonerate Donald Trump of collusion with the Russians prior to the 2018 midterms. It would also explain the absence of any curiosity concerning Christopher Steele and the Fusion GPS report. And, of course, it would explain all the malarkey about obstruction of justice.

Donald Trump is an impulsive man. He knew that he was innocent of the charge being weighed by the Special Prosecutor, and he rightly discerned from the outset that Mueller’s appointment was a ploy aimed at his ouster. That this would enrage a man of his temperament is no surprise. But let’s face it. If you were on the receiving end of such treatment, you would be more than annoyed. That Trump would thrash about seeking the means for getting off the hook also makes sense, as does his rancor against Jeff Sessions, who allowed himself to be bulldozed by the staff of the Department of Justice. But, in the end, Trump did nothing to interfere with the investigation.

There are two matters that need investigation: the attempt to cripple an administration on … er … trumped-up charges, and the larger attempt to make the Department of Justice independent of the President, who is charged by the Constitution with the execution of the laws. William Barr and his merry women and men have their work cut out for them.

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There are 53 comments.

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  1. cdor Member

    If Mr. Mueller is not suffering at least some beginning stages of dementia, then he should get an Oscar, for he is certainly one heck of an actor.

    • #1
    • July 24, 2019, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Richard Easton Member

    Mueller interviewed with Trump to replace Mueller and once again head the FBI. He obviously was not selected. Then he got the job of investigating the man who declined to hire him. That alone is sufficient reason, if he was a man of integrity, for him to decline the appointment.

    • #2
    • July 24, 2019, at 3:54 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  3. Sweezle Member

    Mueller did not distinguish himself today but he did reveal his unfamiliarity with details in the report. I guess he was the supervisor and not an investigator these past two years. 

    Mueller’s war record and his service in government has won him a lot of respect from many. But his record as an investigator and prosecutor is not without prior failures.

    • #3
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:12 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. garyinabq Member

    Where have you been, Mr. Rahe? I have missed your input. Soft Despotism sits on my shelf a few feet away and every time I hear of Toqueville I think of you. Glad to see you’re still kicking.

    • #4
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. Aaron Miller Member

    If Mueller has been senile for months and that fact was hidden until now, then several people should be fired for that mischief.

    • #5
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    garyinabq (View Comment):

    Where have you been, Mr. Rahe? I have missed your input. Soft Despotism sits on my shelf a few feet away and every time I hear of Toqueville I think of you. Glad to see you’re still kicking.

    I have been in hiding, finishing two books. The first comes out on 6 August.

    • #6
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  7. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    garyinabq (View Comment):

    Where have you been, Mr. Rahe? I have missed your input. Soft Despotism sits on my shelf a few feet away and every time I hear of Toqueville I think of you. Glad to see you’re still kicking.

    There were rumors.

    • #7
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Allie Hahn Coolidge

    I like your analysis. This has been such a mess, and I wonder, 10-20 years from now, how people will look back on it all. With the benefit of hindsight, what will we be saying then? How will historians write about it? It will be interesting to see. 

    • #8
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    If Mueller has been senile for months and that fact was hidden until now, then several people should be fired for that mischief.

    There were rumors.

    • #9
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Allie Hahn (View Comment):
    I like your analysis. This has been such a mess, and I wonder, 10-20 years from now, how people will look back on it all. With the benefit of hindsight, what will we be saying then? How will historians write about it? It will be interesting to see. 

    As Winston Churchill said, “History will treat me kindly as I intend to write it.” It all depends on who writes the history. Will it be a firm anti-Trumper or a supporter. Since academia is comprised of a majority of liberals who dislike this president, odds are that Mueller’s investigation will end up smelling like a rose and do history a grave injustice.

    • #10
    • July 24, 2019, at 4:58 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. James Gawron Thatcher

    Paul,

    It almost appeared to me that Mueller began to enjoy the beating he was taking later on. How could he extricate himself from this dilemma? Here was his strategy (possibly). Walk into the room giving the Democrats what they were demanding, Donald Trump’s head and screw the law. Then he lets the Republicans tear him to pieces. Having manipulated everyone early now you walk it all back late giving the Republicans the decisive victory.

    You’ve given your psychotic buddies the raw meat they want and let the Republicans be blamed for the fact that the Dems didn’t get what they wanted anyway. Sounds like a plan unless somebody decides to indict Mueller for something. Of course, if Mueller is senile then it won’t be worth it.

    Then again if it is all a devious act.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #11
    • July 24, 2019, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Seems like if you’re William Barr, you’d want to see the emails and other documents from the Special Counsel’s office during the investigation, to see if they indicate Mueller was actually in charge as it was going on, or if he was already a figurehead, and Weissman was running things from the beginning (emails and other documents that showed Mueller knew about Fusion GPS wouldn’t preclude dementia making him forget about Fusion GPS over the past several months, but it would be a very handy time for sudden memory loss to come on, if those same documents showed he was well aware of the Steele dossier before the ravages of age took their toll).

    • #12
    • July 24, 2019, at 7:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    I find Mueller behavior entirely consistent with upper level law enforcement and judicial officials.

    • #13
    • July 24, 2019, at 8:21 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. PHenry Member

    Muller was cruelly used. His reputation was hijacked to put a veneer of legitimacy and fairness on a farcical and cynical attempt at overturning an election.

    It seems clear now that he was never involved in the investigation nor writing the report. He was a figurehead, and crimes were committed by the ‘investigators’ who were using him for cover. Justice was never a goal.

    This must be severe repercussions to all who were involved in using the FBI as an arm of the Clinton campaign, or it will soon become precedent for future administrations. 

    • #14
    • July 24, 2019, at 8:43 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  15. Western Chauvinist Member

    Trey Gowdy had the winning analysis of the day: “The person who learned the most about the Mueller Report today was… Robert Mueller.”

    On occasion, he seemed surprised by its contents. Dementia or ignorance? Toh-may-toh, toh-mah -toh. The whole operation was a political hit job on a duly elected president. More than a few people should go to jail, and they all have a (D) designation. 

    • #15
    • July 24, 2019, at 8:45 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  16. Bereket Kelile Member

    The question I have is whether this undermines the legitimacy of the report. Democrats are already calling for a redo of the investigation. His testimony certainly bolsters the case and makes it hard to counter. It’s really hard to tell right now who benefits more from the disappointing performance.

    • #16
    • July 24, 2019, at 9:06 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Al Sparks Thatcher

    PHenry (View Comment):
    Muller was cruelly used. His reputation was hijacked to put a veneer of legitimacy and fairness on a farcical and cynical attempt at overturning an election.

    This bears investigating by at least by an enterprising reporter.

    Mollie Hemingway?

    If Mueller was really taken advantage like this, I’d like the people who did it exposed for who they are.

    • #17
    • July 24, 2019, at 9:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I was on the other side of a criminal investigation from Mueller when he was at Justice more than 30 years ago. I don’t have much respect for him. But the man we saw today and also at his recent press conference has definitely lost something off his fastball. I don’t think it was put on – he is too proud a man to humiliate himself in that manner. The question is how far back does this go? Was he like this when appointed in May 2017? If so, it is impossible to see how he could have exercised much control over a massive, factually complex investigation conducted by the highly aggressive and partisan lawyers on his staff.

    I wrote earlier this year I thought Mueller was merely a prestigious figurehead. Today provides more evidence but I was shocked at the extent of his visible deterioration. 

    This whole situation is a disgrace. I can only hope that now the enemy’s last desperate thrust through the Ardennes has been stopped, a strong and relentless counteroffensive is mounted by General Barr.

    • #18
    • July 24, 2019, at 10:12 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  19. Al Kennedy Member

    PHenry (View Comment):
    Muller was cruelly used. His reputation was hijacked to put a veneer of legitimacy and fairness on a farcical and cynical attempt at overturning an election.

    Very well said. What I don’t understand is why Rod Rosenstein appears to have completely avoided any criticism for calling for a Special Counsel and selecting Mueller in the first place. Also, when are we going to see the guidelines that Rosenstein gave Mueller for his investigation?

    • #19
    • July 24, 2019, at 11:54 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Al Kennedy Member

    As I listened to Mueller’s responses during both hearings, I started to feel sorry for him. I’m not a doctor, and don’t know what his problem was. Here was a man who had spent his life in public service beginning with the Marine Corps. He consistently served with integrity. He deserved better than these hearings. I felt the Democrats were almost participating in elder abuse. I was glad to see that in the afternoon the Republicans seemed to have recognized Mueller’s frailty and toned down the intensity of their questioning. However I concluded that he had not really be in charge of this investigation and was simply a figurehead to provide gravitas to it.

    • #20
    • July 25, 2019, at 2:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Randy Webster Member

    PHenry (View Comment):
    This must be severe repercussions to all who were involved in using the FBI as an arm of the Clinton campaign, or it will soon become precedent for future [Democrat] administrations. 

    FTFY. The bureaucracy is too full of Democrats for a Republican administration to be able to pull it off.

    • #21
    • July 25, 2019, at 2:39 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Fourth The Sixth Listener

    Al Kennedy (View Comment):

    As I listened to Mueller’s responses during both hearings, I started to feel sorry for him. I’m not a doctor, and don’t know what his problem was. Here was a man who had spent his life in public service beginning with the Marine Corps. He consistently served with integrity.

    Public”service” … the more I hear that, the less I like it. They are PAID. And paid well. What’s so noble about that? It’s a job with a lot of power over others. That’s not noble in and of itself. 

    Being in the military is one thing, I will always respect that. But Being an FBI agent? Or a congressman? Or someone at treasury? So what? They are citizens paid by the rest of us to do a job

    • #22
    • July 25, 2019, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  23. Stad Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe: Andrew Weissman

    This is the “Mr. Big” of the investigation. I’m surprised the Dems – or Republicans for that matter – don’t subpoena him . . .

    • #23
    • July 25, 2019, at 5:57 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    PHenry (View Comment):
    This must be severe repercussions to all who were involved in using the FBI as an arm of the Clinton campaign, or it will soon become precedent for future [Democrat] administrations.

    FTFY. The bureaucracy is too full of Democrats for a Republican administration to be able to pull it off.

    One of the most illuminating things, really since the Plame kerfuffle that’s now almost 15 years ago, was how much partisan Democratic influence had permeated what previously had been thought to be the ‘Republican areas’ of government of national security and law enforcement. The head of the Justice Department or the CIA during a Democratic administration would be loyal to the boss, but you assumed the people below him wouldn’t be partisan hacks who would use their positions for blatant political actions.

    Live and learn, I guess, but if you’re the Trump people right now, you can’t let the people involved go unpunished and you don’t have much time to act on getting the probe into how the Fusion GPS report became the basis of the Russia allegations. The game now for those facing questions is really going to be to try and kick the can down the road past Election Day, 2020, and hope that the Democrats win back control of the White House and let them get away unpunished.

    • #24
    • July 25, 2019, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  25. Franco Member

    I believe Mr. Rahe is onto the crux of this.

    I suspect Mueller isn’t the first elderly Republican used by underlings as a figurehead for nefarious ends. 

    Distinguished men and women at the end of their days have a panoply of flaws and weaknesses. They aren’t especially curious, they have their reputation and legacy to revel in and protect, they aren’t very hard workers and they have been “going through the motions” for so long it becomes automatic. They have been supported and propped-up by underlings for so long they are dysfunctionally dependent.

    It then becomes a game. The figurehead gets all the perks and credit and the staff pushes through their agenda.

     

     

     

    • #25
    • July 25, 2019, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  26. Front Seat Cat Member

    Question: When asked by Adam Schiff about the Statute of Limitations and can Trump still be charged after leaving office if he wins another term, since they were trying to make the case that he did not charge the president on obstruction because he is a sitting president, Mueller half-smiled and said ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen.’ What is isn’t going to happen? Another term or being charged? Did anyone pick up on that – thoughts?

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    • July 25, 2019, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. Kozak Member

    Paul A. Rahe:

    His testimony today suggests two possibilities: that he really is senile, or that he is pretending to be so in order to avoid having to explain his conduct as Special Prosecutor

    Very convenient case of dementia. Amazing 3 years of investigation and no one noticed it?

    Did he fall and hit his head like Hillary, remember her “memory” problems that were very convenient for her as well?

    My Brain Injury Made Me Forget, but My Health Is Not an Issue

    How about, he’s a lying, devious, manipulative scum bag with an agenda from day one to destroy the President, facts and truth be damned.

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    • July 25, 2019, at 7:23 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  28. Kozak Member

    Allie Hahn (View Comment):
    With the benefit of hindsight, what will we be saying then? How will historians write about it? It will be interesting to see. 

    Here’s what they will write

    “Robert Mueller did not exonerate President Trump”

    That’s the Pravda that will be taught in every college and high school in the land.

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    • July 25, 2019, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. Unsk Member

    A. I am very dubious about the dementia claim. If you followed the testimony, when questioned by Representative Turner about Mueller’s use of the term “exoneration” in his report, Mueller was well aware of it and tried to defend it. A person with real dementia would have not done that. Mueller had selective dementia to avoid answering questions. 

    B. Secondly, Mueller’s refusal to answer multiple questions with his “that’s outside my purview” nonsense and other lawyerly dodges go the heart of the matter of a man trying to evade his responsibility. That lawyerly dodge was far beyond the capacity of someone who has dementia. If Congress cannot ask some very basic questions about the legal basis for the actions of the Special Counsel team, who can? 

    C. Past performances and his recent interviews show no signs of this dementia, which appears only now when he has to face serious questioning. 

    • #29
    • July 25, 2019, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  30. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    From today’s NY Times via Hot Air:

    Soon after the special counsel’s office opened in 2017, some aides noticed that Robert S. Mueller III kept noticeably shorter hours than he had as F.B.I. director, when he showed up at the bureau daily at 6 a.m. and often worked nights.

    He seemed to cede substantial responsibility to his top deputies, including Aaron Zebley, who managed day-to-day operations and often reported on the investigation’s progress up the chain in the Justice Department. As negotiations with President Trump’s lawyers about interviewing him dragged on, for example, Mr. Mueller took part less and less, according to people familiar with how the office worked…

    The calendars of one of the team’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, suggest that he met infrequently with Mr. Mueller apart from a daily 5 p.m. staff meeting, which typically lasted 45 minutes.

    Instead, the calendars cite Mr. Zebley’s initials 111 times, often next to “team leader” meetings, suggesting he may have led them.

    My guess is that there are some in the media who have known this for a long time but were never going to report it because it interfered with the narrative of the uncorruptible hard-working Mueller up to his elbows in the details and making sure his team stayed on course with a laser focus.

    And notice in the article there is a reference to the calender of Andrew Weissman which the Times reporter evidently had access to. Wonder how that happened?

    And Aaron Zebley, who before this week none of us paid attention to, apparently was running the whole thing. Perhaps not coincidentally another Clinton loyalist who defended the Clinton IT guy’s destruction of evidence in the email investigation, an act usually called obstruction of justice, through that term apparently does not apply to Clintons.

    • #30
    • July 25, 2019, at 8:54 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
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