For well over a year, opponents of President Donald Trump eagerly awaited both the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and his testimony before Congress.
In addition to having found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia, Mueller’s performance as a witness left many Democrats profoundly disappointed — and as he made clear in a shocking interview last week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is apparently among them.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman shared his opinion of Mueller’s 2019 testimony during a May 15 interview on the Daily Beast podcast The New Abnormal.
“Not the man that I knew”
“I have known Bob Mueller for a long time,” Schiff was quoted by the Washington Examiner as saying during the interview. “I have tremendous respect for him.
“I think he is just an amazing human being and public servant,” the high-ranking congressman remarked before adding in regard to Mueller’s testimony, “He was not the man that I knew just in terms of his strength of presence, and so it was quite surprising.”
The Washington Examiner also reported that prominent Never-Trump Republican consultant and podcast co-host Rick Wilson speculated that “a lot of folks had projected on Mueller a level of aggression that was not present in that testimony — in that hearing.”
Shaky performance revisited
As he spoke to lawmakers, Mueller often appeared unable to remain focused on the proceedings and frequently asked representatives to repeat their questions, as USA Today reported. He also seemed utterly unfamiliar with significant sections of his report.
“Rarely has a made-for-TV drama been such bad TV,” wrote National Review editor Rich Lowry at the time, dismissing the special counsel’s testimony as a “laconic, halting, uncertain performance.”
“Rather than knocking anyone’s socks off, of course, Mueller’s testimony raised the question of whether the special counsel who had been puffed up by so many had really only been presiding over and lending his name to the investigation rather than actively running it,” Lowry noted.
Mueller’s performance was so underwhelming that many observers openly wondered whether the special counsel was suffering from mental decline.
“He’s a different person,” Washington Post contributor Carol Leonnig told CNN host John Berman after Mueller’s appearance concluded, as Fox News noted.
Leonnig went on: “He was stumbling over his words. You saw him in July in his testimony before Congress, there were people that I spoke to who are very, very good family friends of his who said, ‘I couldn’t watch the television anymore, I had to turn it off. It wasn’t the Bob I knew.'”