Robert Mueller was unable to remember which president appointed him U.S. attorney for Massachusetts on Wednesday, highlighting just how shaky the former special counsel was during his House Judiciary Committee testimony.
“Which president appointed you to become the United States Attorney for Massachusetts?” Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton asked Mueller.
“Which senator?” Mueller asked.
“Which president,” repeated Stanton, a Democrat.
“I think that was President Bush,” Mueller said, referring to George H.W. Bush.
“According to my notes, it was President Ronald Reagan had the honor to do so,” said Stanton, as some in the audience laughed.
“My mistake,” Mueller responded.
Reagan appointed Mueller acting U.S. attorney in Massachusetts in 1986. Bush appointed him acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division in 1990, and Bill Clinton appointed him as a U.S. attorney in California in 1998.
George W. Bush appointed Mueller FBI director in 2001.
Mueller, 74, appeared at times not to understand questions posed to him by House Judiciary Committee members. He also seemed to be out of the loop on aspects of his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
At one point, Mueller said that he was “not familiar” with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous Steele dossier. Fusion GPS has been widely discussed in the media and in Congress since the dossier was published in January 2017.
Even some of Mueller’s most ardent supporters noted that he seemed ill-prepared for the hearing.
“I will say that Mueller seems a little… shaky,” said Seth Abramson, a leading Russiagate conspiracy theorist who has staunchly defended the special counsel’s probe.
9/ I will say that Mueller seems a little… shaky… particularly the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence could really hammer him this afternoon with some strong cross-examination on Volume 1 of the two-volume report, and I do wonder now how well he would handle it.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) July 24, 2019
Journalist Michael Isikoff said that Mueller seemed “confused at times” during the hearing.
Mueller is answering few questions– citing the report, asking questions to be repeated, seems confused at times and uncertain about key parts of his own report.
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) July 24, 2019
David Axelrod, the Obama campaign and White House strategist, offered a succinct assessment of the hearing: “This is very, very painful.”
This is very, very painful.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 24, 2019
Mueller had said in the wake of the release of his Russia report that he did not want to testify before Congress about the investigation. But he appeared Wednesday in response to a subpoena issued on June 25 by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
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