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Yesterday was a sad day for Robert Mueller. Many have already focused on his inept and befuddled performance in front of the House Committees. After reflecting on the two meetings, I have an even more tragic and disgraceful theory of what we watched.
They used Mueller from the very beginning.
Let’s go back to when Mueller was first hired. I surmise that even then, Mueller was showing signs not only of age but of mental difficulties, albeit to a lesser degree. Although he was no longer in government, he associated with people who were, people who might have realized that he was no longer the brilliant, dedicated, and admirable man he once was. Wouldn’t he be the perfect person to “put in charge” of a group of operatives who were working to take down the president? Especially if the position of Special Counsel were presented to him as a worthy way to save the country from a crazy and incompetent president?
And they would provide him with all the help he needed: dedicated and smart attorneys who would do all the leg work, and one man who had shown his “bulldog” approach to investigations would lead the group: Andrew Weissmann. The investigation would be the project of the century, and Robert Mueller would be the best man to head all of it.
Only the whole thing was One. Big. Lie.
I think that Robert Mueller may have signed up with mostly respectable motives. I don’t know if his capabilities were already questionable. But Andrew Weissmann, who had worked with him before, would handle most of the day-to-day oversight. The challenge for Mueller of what could become one of the most consequential investigations in American history was too enticing. Even two years ago, Mueller might have suspected he wasn’t quite up to snuff. He probably didn’t say he wasn’t at his best, but if Weissmann didn’t know Mueller had limitations, he figured out pretty quickly that he basically had carte blanche to run the investigation as he wished.
What “evidence” do I have for my theory? For one, we barely saw Mueller during the past two-plus years. Was he trying to avoid public exposure? Or maintaining the confidentiality of the investigation? When he gave his May 2019 press conference, he appeared awkward, even though he read his presentation. He was adamant that the report would be his testimony, hoping to avoid a committee hearing. He stalled for weeks in agreeing to show up, probably in a panic about appearing, knowing that not only might his mental state be exposed, but his lack of involvement with and oversight of the investigation would be obvious. In addition, AG Barr tried to rescue him on a couple of occasions. He downplayed his disagreements with the final report. He couldn’t figure out why Mueller was writing about his disagreement with Barr’s summary, rather than just calling him. (We can guess that Weissmann was the one who was angry and he wrote the letter.) AG Barr insisted that Mueller could agree to or decline appearing before the committees; it was Mueller’s decision. And finally, at Mueller’s request, he wrote a letter stating that Mueller could only testify about information within the report, so that he couldn’t be drawn into subjects about which he knew little or nothing.
By this time, AG Barr knew that Mueller was in deep trouble.
At the last minute, Mueller had a member of the Special Counsel team attend with him. Perhaps he came for moral support; perhaps he was there to bail out Mueller if he was about to bury himself.
But he was unable to stop the calamity.
I think Mueller’s testimony reflected not only his age, but his mental deterioration, as well as his lack of familiarity with some of the most basic parts of the investigation and the report. He had trouble understanding several of the questions. He contradicted himself. He asked for sections of the report to be read rather than read them himself. The list goes on.
Some people will ignore Mueller’s performance. Our local newspaper had as the headline, “Mueller did not exonerate Trump.” Today, do people really care?
From my viewpoint, I see only tragedy. I believe Mueller was used and abused by political operatives. I believe they knew he could be manipulated by appealing to his long-standing commitment to the country. Millions of dollars have been spent. People’s lives have been damaged, even destroyed, emotionally and financially. The country has experienced enormous upheaval.
But the President has survived.
And I have no way of knowing how much of my theory is true.
Let’s hope that the promised investigations by AG Barr and the Inspector General will shine some light on this entire, ugly process.
And let’s say a prayer for Robert Mueller.