House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff would not say whether former special counsel Robert Mueller should have been removed from the Russia investigation because of “cognitive decline.”
But in his new book and an interview promoting it, he recalled how shocked he was when Mueller began his testimony before Congress in July 2019.
“The hearing started and within minutes I knew something was wrong. Seriously wrong,” Schiff wrote in his book Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, released Tuesday.
‘I felt stiff. In the more than ten years I’d talked to Mueller, I’d never heard him grope for words. but if [House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold] Nadler kept asking him questions, Mueller always seemed hesitant and unsure,” Schiff wrote.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff recalled how shocked he was when former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress in July 2019, describing in a new book that Mueller’s performance is “stopping” and “uncertain.”
The California Democrat said he became increasingly “alarmed” when Mueller was unable to directly answer a question about whether White House officials had refused to be interviewed as part of the Russia investigation, which has investigated Russian interference in the presidential election. 2016 researched. and examined ties to former President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Trump, of course, declined to be present for an interview.
‘Nadler’s question was almost rhetorical; anyone following the investigation could have answered it,” Schiff wrote. “The top White House official of them all — President Trump — had peddled them for over a year before refusing to speak to Mueller’s team.”
“I cringed at the sight of this and turned to my Democratic colleagues. It was heartbreaking to see Mueller, this person I admired so much, struggled to answer some of the most fundamental questions,” Schiff continued.
“But this wasn’t the Bob Mueller I knew,” he wrote. “Two years had brought a marked change, and suddenly I understood not only his own reluctance to testify, but the protective instincts of his devoted staff.
“It was heartbreaking to see Mueller, this person I admired so much, struggled to answer some of the most fundamental questions,” Schiff wrote in his new book. Former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about the Russia investigation in July 2019
Schiff wrote that if he had known, “I would not have pursued his testimony with such vigor—in fact, I would not have pursued it at all.”
In an interview Sunday on NPR, Schiff was asked directly if Mueller was experiencing “cognitive decline.”
The California congressman did not answer interviewer Michel Martin directly, but said that “this was one of the hardest parts for me to write in the book.”
He spoke of a meeting with other members of the intelligence committee, which Mueller would question in a second session after Nadler’s Judiciary Committee.
“And I was shocked at the changes that had been made,” Schiff said, adding that “he wasn’t the same man I knew.”
Martin then asked if Mueller was experiencing “cognitive decline,” if he should have been in charge of the Russia investigation.
“I can’t answer that,” Schiff said.
“But I immediately understood why his staff had been so protective and why they were so reluctant to let him testify,” he continued.
Special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Russia’s ties to former President Donald Trump’s current (photo) campaign
Schiff recalled immediately telling Democratic Intelligence Committee members to shorten the length of their questions so that Mueller could answer them more easily.
“And it was, it was painful. Frankly, it was painful. And if I’d known, I wouldn’t have insisted on his testimony,” Schiff said.
Martin then asked why Schiff was unaware of what lawmakers would face.
Schiff said he believed it was a “true protective instinct” among the people around Mueller.
“It was hard for them to get across,” Schiff said.
“Now we got an idea, when we negotiated the format of the hearing, that we were better off with shorter interrogations and so there were signs – but I wasn’t sure if I should believe some of the public rumors because President Trump had an incentive to slander Bob Mueller and people around him defamed him in all sorts of false and horrible ways,” Schiff added.