A new book from CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is shedding light on Attorney General Bill Barr’s first encounter with then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the infamous Trump–Russia probe — and according to the Washington Examiner, “healthy” is far from the first impression Barr got.
After the AG and his team met with Mueller ahead of the release of his final report on allegations of Russia collusion by the Trump 2016 campaign team, they “noted that Mueller looked tired and old,” Toobin wrote in his upcoming book, the Examiner reported.
An excerpt of Toobin’s book, True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump, was shared by The New Yorker late last month. The book is slated for release in August.
“An old 74”
According to the Examiner, the meeting between Mueller and Barr’s team came in March 2019, just a month after Barr was first confirmed as President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Justice Department. As The New Yorker reported, Toobin wrote that “[t]he meeting was Barr’s first chance to assess the Mueller investigation before the report was released.”
“It was a fairly relaxed session. Mueller gave a brief introduction,” Toobin wrote, according to The New Yorker. But it seems the meeting didn’t end on a high note.
The Examiner reported that according to Toobin, Barr and company “later reflected on how the former FBI director didn’t live up to expectations.”
“Because Mueller had been the focus of so much public attention for nearly two years and said so little in public, he had taken on an almost mythic status, even among people who once knew him well, like Barr,” Toobin wrote, according to the Examiner. “To see him after this exhausting enterprise was startling. He was an old seventy-four.”
“Not the man that I knew”
Of course, Barr and his team were not the only ones who noticed this apparent change in Mueller. As the Examiner reported, even House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has suggested Mueller was not full of the strength and vibrance he once exuded when he testified before Congress on the Trump–Russia probe in July 2019.
“I have known Bob Mueller for a long time. I have tremendous respect for him. I think he is just an amazing human being and public servant,” Schiff said in a May interview, according to the Examiner. “He was not the man that I knew just in terms of his strength of presence, and so, it was quite surprising.”
A former strategist for President Barack Obama had a similar message. “This is delicate to say, 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,” David Axelrod wrote in a tweet published during Mueller’s 2019 testimony, according to Politico.
Mueller certainly didn’t live up to Democrats’ expectations when he announced that there would be no charges related to Russia collusion against Trump or any of his associates. But as disappointed as those on the left may be, it’s hard to argue with a lack of evidence.
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019