When former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress in 2019 about the results of his two-year investigation into alleged Trump-Russia collusion, many noticed that the former FBI director appeared to be struggling mentally.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) alluded to those concerns about Mueller’s mental health during a contentious hearing on Thursday, suggesting that it might be better for Mueller to be represented by a team member rather than testifying personally about the special counsel probe.
Graham suggests Mueller may not be capable of testifying
The hearing was held to vote on granting Graham unilateral subpoena power in his probe into the basis of the special counsel investigation, the Washington Examiner reported. In discussing who could potentially be subpoenaed by the committee, ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) suggested that there were “many outstanding questions that remain unanswered” and that Mueller himself would be “best suited” to answer those questions.
Graham disagreed, and implied that it would be better for all involved if another member of the special counsel team, such as Mueller’s top prosecutor Andrew Weissman, be called to answer questions about the investigation instead.
“Mr. Mueller is a great patriot who served this country for a long period of time. I’m not averse to having somebody from the Mueller team come and tell the committee what they did and how they did it,” Graham said. “As a matter of fact, I think that’s a really good idea. I’m not so sure Mr. Mueller would be the best person now, but maybe Mr. Weissmann.”
“I agree with you,” he said to Feinstein. “I think we need to understand how the Mueller team worked. And I am very open to getting somebody from the Mueller team over here over the course of our inquiry.”
Feinstein: Mueller has “extensive brain cells”
Feinstein, perhaps understanding Graham’s implication, offered up a defense of Mueller’s mental faculties and argued that he would be up to the task of testifying once again. “I think Mr. Mueller is a man of extensive brain cells and can well recall the situation,” Feinstein said. “I think this side would very much like to have him here.”
Later on in the hearing, Graham suggested that he might concede to his counterparts and subpoena Mueller himself, and said, “As to Mr. Mueller: If you want to call him, I will.”
With a hint of caution, however, the chairman added, “I would just ask you to think twice about that. If you can find somebody else involved in the Mueller investigation that would serve your purposes, I am very open-minded to calling that person.”
Vote delayed, but Graham presses on
ABC News reported that the hearing on Thursday was a “bitter partisan fight.” Graham eventually decided to delay the vote on unilateral subpoena authority until next week, so as to allow more time for the discussion on who should be called to continue. The media outlet noted that Graham has signaled that he may issue upwards of 50 or more subpoenas for testimony from former Obama officials.
In response to criticism from Democrats over the probe, Graham accused them of hypocrisy, saying, “I can only imagine what they would be saying if the Republican Party had hired Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party paid him, and he wound up getting a Russian to give dirt on Hillary Clinton that was a bunch of garbage and it was used by the FBI to get a warrant against a Clinton operative.”
“I will not be deterred by this,” Graham added.