Schiff discusses ‘halting’ Mueller testimony in new book


House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff won’t say whether former Special Counsel Robert Mueller should have been taken off the Russia probe due to ‘cognitive decline.’ 

But in his new book and an interview promoting it, he recalled how horrified he was when Mueller began his testimony before Congress in July 2019.  

‘The hearing began, 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, which was released Tuesday. 

‘I felt myself stiffen. In more than a decade of speaking with Mueller, I had never heard him grope for words. Yet as [House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold] Nadler continued to ask him questions, Mueller seemed increasingly halting, and uncertain,’ Schiff wrote.  

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff recalled how horrified he was when former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress in July 2019, describing Mueller's performance has 'halting' and 'uncertain' in a new book

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff recalled how horrified he was when former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress in July 2019, describing Mueller’s performance has ‘halting’ and ‘uncertain’ in a new book 

The California Democrat said he became increasingly ‘alarmed’ when Mueller wasn’t able to answer a question directly about whether any White House officials had refused to be interviewed as part of the Russia probe, which looked into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and examined ties to former President Donald Trump’s campaign. 

Trump, of course, refused to sit for an interview. 

‘Nadler’s question was almost rhetorical; anyone following the investigation could have answered it,’ Schiff wrote. ‘The most senior White House official of all – President Trump – had strung them along for over a year before refusing to speak with Mueller’s team.’ 

‘I winced at the sight of this and turned to my Democratic colleagues. It was heart-breaking to see Mueller, this person whom I so admired, having difficulty answering some of the most basic questions,’ Schiff continued. 

‘But this was not the Bob Mueller I knew,’ he wrote. ‘Two years had brought a striking change, and I suddenly understood not only his own reluctance to testify, but the protective instincts of his dedicated staff. 

'It was heart-breaking to see Mueller, this person whom I so admired, having difficulty answering some of the most basic questions,' Schiff wrote in his new book. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about the Russia probe in July 2019

‘It was heart-breaking to see Mueller, this person whom I so admired, having difficulty answering some of the most basic questions,’ Schiff wrote in his new book. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about the Russia probe in July 2019 

Schiff wrote that had he 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 didn’t answer interviewer Michel Martin directly, instead expressing how ‘this was one of the most difficult parts for me to write in the book.’ 

He spoke of being gathered with other members of the Intelligence Committee, which would question Mueller in a second session after Nadler’s Judiciary Committee.   

‘And I watched in an utter shock at the changes that had been wrought,’ Schiff said, adding ‘he was not 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 did understand immediately why his staff had been so protective and why they were so reluctant to have him testify,’ he continued. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Russian ties to now former President Donald Trump's (pictured) campaign

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Russian ties to now former President Donald Trump’s (pictured) campaign

Schiff recalled how he immediately told the Democratic Intelligence Committee members to cut down the length of their questions to make them easier for Mueller to answer. 

‘And it was, it was painful. Honestly it was painful. And if I had known I would not have pushed for his testimony,’ Schiff said. 

Martin then asked why Schiff didn’t get a heads up about what lawmakers would encounter. 

Schiff said he believed it was of a ‘real protective instinct’ among the people around Mueller. 

‘It was difficult for them to convey,’ Schiff said. 

‘Now we did get some inkling, as we negotiated over the format of the hearing, that we were better off with shorter periods of questioning and so there, there were signs – but I didn’t know whether to believe some of the public rumors because President Trump had an incentive to malign Bob Mueller and people around him were maligning him in all kinds of false and terrible ways,’ Schiff added.  



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