Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
As several of us have written over the past twenty four hours, one of the key takeaways from Robert Mueller’s disastrous testimony yesterday was that he not a man in charge of his own investigation. Time and time again, we saw evidence of that spill out in the hearings. Mueller often didn’t know basic facts and he couldn’t recall things that were in his own report. He also patently refused to answer any questions, even questions clearly in bounds, that wouldn’t allow him to give a boilerplate deflection referencing the report, again calling into question his knowledge.
One such instance involved a much discussed letter from Robert Mueller to Attorney General Bill Barr. Billed as a “bombshell” by left-wing media, it contained a claim that Barr’s initial summary of the top line findings failed to “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller report.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.
This was of course nonsense. Barr’s release of the top line findings was, by its very definition, not meant to reveal all the context and substance of the report. Something stunk about that letter, as well as the way it got to The Washington Post. The tone was also unlike Mueller according to Bill Barr, who called it “snitty,” speculating that someone else wrote it.
Republicans brought all this up in yesterday’s hearings and while Mueller naturally obfuscated, he said enough to basically confirm the speculation.
Here was the first exchange.
Madeleine Dean: 00:07 Thank you. I wanted to ask you about public confusion connected with Attorney General Barr’s release of your report. I will be quoting your March 27th letter. Sir, in that letter, and at several other times, did you convey to the Attorney General that the “Introductions and executive summaries of our two volume report accurately summarize this office’s work and conclusions.”?
Robert Mueller: 00:35 I’d have to say that the letter itself speaks for itself.
Madeleine Dean: 00:39 And those were your words in that letter. Continuing with your letter, you wrote to the Attorney General that “The summary letter that the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” Is that correct?
Robert Mueller: 01:00 Again, I rely on the letter itself for its terms.
Madeleine Dean: 01:04 Thank you. What was it about the reports, context, nature, substance, that the Attorney General’s letter did not capture?
Robert Mueller: 01:12 I think we captured that in a March 27th responsive letter.
Madeleine Dean: 01:17 And this is from the 27th letter. What were some of the specifics that you thought-
Robert Mueller: 01:22 I direct you to the letter itself.
Madeleine Dean: 01:24 Okay. You finished that letter by saying, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects as a result of our investigation.” Could you tell us specifically some of the public confusion you identified?
Robert Mueller: 01:39 Not generally. Again, I go back to the letter. The letter speaks for itself
Madeleine Dean: 01:41 And could Attorney General Barr have avoided public confusion if he had released your summaries and executive introduction and summaries?
Robert Mueller: 01:49 I don’t feel comfortable speculating on that.
Mueller continually points to the letter itself, even though the letter doesn’t provide the answers to the questions being asked. Keep in mind, this letter is not covered under any privilege and was actually leaked by Mueller’s own office. Yet, he refuses to answer even the most basic questions about why he wrote it and what its purpose was.
Then things started to break down for Mueller. He’d later be asked about the letter again, including its leaking.
Martha Roby: 03:59 On March 27, 2019, you wrote a letter to the attorney general essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report. You wrote, and I quote, “The summary letter the department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 didn’t not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the department on the morning of March 25th. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the result of our investigation.” Who wrote that March 27th letter?
Robert Mueller: 04:29 Well, I can’t get into who wrote it. The internal deliberation-
Martha Roby: 04:36 But you signed it.
Robert Mueller: 04:37 What I will say is, the letter stands for itself.
Martha Roby: 04:39 Okay. Why did you write a formal letter since you had already called the attorney general to express those concerns?
Robert Mueller: 04:45 I can’t get into that. Internal deliberations.
Translation: He didn’t write the letter.
Someone who was confident in A) what the letter said and B) that he wrote it, would not refuse to answer a question as basic as “who wrote the letter.” He also would be able to deal with the letter’s accusations instead of constantly saying the letter stands for itself, which it does not. How does the letter answer the question of why he didn’t just call Bill Barr? It simply doesn’t.
Rep. Roby would then press Mueller on the letter’s leaking and that only led to more confusion.
Martha Roby: 04:47 Did you authorize the letter’s release to the media, or was it leaked?
Robert Mueller: 04:52 I have no knowledge on either.
Martha Roby: 04:55 Well you went nearly two years without a leak. Why was this letter leaked?
Robert Mueller: 05:00 Well, I can’t get into it.
Martha Roby: 05:02 Was this letter written and leaked for the express purpose of attempting to change the narrative about the conclusions of your report? And was anything in Attorney General Barr’s letter, referred to as principal conclusions, inaccurate?
Speaker 3: 05:15 The time of the gentle lady is expired. The gentle lady [crosstalk 00:05:17]
Martha Roby: 05:16 Can he answer the question, please?
Robert Mueller: 05:21 And the question is?
Speaker 3: 05:21 He may answer the question.
Martha Roby: 05:21 Was anything in Attorney General Barr’s letter, referred to as the principal conclusions letter dated March 24th, inaccurate?
Robert Mueller: 05:28 Well, I am not going to get into that.
Speaker 3: 05:31 Time of the gentle lady is expired.
So he can’t tell us who wrote the letter. He can’t tell us who leaked the letter and claims to not know. He can’t even say that there was nothing inaccurate in his letter. This doesn’t sound like a man who was in control of his own investigation. It sounds like his “deputies” wrote this letter and put it in front of him to sign. I’m not sure if Mueller was truly so out of it that he couldn’t even process what was going on, but its pretty jarring to see him unable to answer baseline questions about a letter he claims is his words.
Mueller would later say in testimony that he didn’t even believe his office leaked the letter. That’s simply an insane contention given the letter originated from his office and that there’s no logical reason Bill Barr would have leaked it given it was harmful to his account.
The only thing that makes sense here is what’s becoming more and more obvious. Robert Mueller was a figurehead. A nominal “Republican” providing cover for a team of partisans that were actually running the show. Andrew Weissmann clearly had more power and more say in the Mueller report than Robert Mueller himself did. That’s apparent by not only the wording at times, but by the presence of Part II (which breaks DOJ guidelines on slandering unindicted people) and Mueller’s own inability to discuss his own report.
Remember when AG Barr testified he was surprised to receive the letter from Mueller instead of a phone call? He said he called him and said “what’s with the letter, why not just call me?” Makes so much more sense now.
— Rampage Rebekah (@RichBeeker) July 25, 2019
The bottom line is this. Mueller never should have been appointed as special counsel, especially if as Sen. Graham claims, that it was common knowledge that Mueller was “mentally feeble.”
What we ended up with was a group of Hillary donors, including people who attended her “victory” party, running wild. They ignored criminality by others in a rabid pursuit of only people connected to Donald Trump. Robert Mueller showed little control over his investigation and allowed DOJ policy to be blatantly violated.
This was a travesty of justice and there needs to be a reckoning.
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