Does a Guilty Conscience Explain Mueller's Fumbling Testimony? (UPDATED)
It may be that Robert Mueller being — to be polite — a bit past it accounts for his surprisingly befuddled demeanor and seeming unfamiliarity with his own report at Wednesday's hearings. The imputation that Mueller does little or none of his own writing — many credibly believe Andrew Weissman and/or his cohorts are the true authors of the report — may also be an explanation for this behavior. On multiple occasions when questioned about his own text Mueller had a blank expression or looked over to his last-minute sidekick Aaron Zebley for answers that should have been obvious. (Zebley's presence was itself a sign of nervous desperation.)
I have another suggestion for something else that further explains the former special counsel's behavior, a particularly precipitous decline from when we have last seen him, from competent to doddering.
He has a guilty conscience.
He should. And not just because Peter Strzok texted to his paramour what feels like decades ago that there was "no there there." Anyone with an IQ in the proverbial triple digits has known that for a long time. (How distant it seems, months, years, that Dianne Feinstein was asked about the collusion/conspiracy— pick one — and admitted there was none.)
Mueller, unless he was living on Pluto, knew this. And somewhere, deep down, a part of him, an increasingly significant part, I suspect, must have realized what he was doing was wrong. (Besides his demeanor, this may also explain why he gave up on interviewing Trump.)
This guilty conscience was made manifest in the many questions he claimed he could not or would not answer on the subject of the predicate for his investigation. As the world knows, more and more it is becoming clear that the entire Russia probe was a put-up job. Mueller's awkward answers and body-language responding to the questions about why Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese "professor" of dubious alliances, was not prosecuted for his multiple lies when so many others were was particularly telling.
Mueller was correct in asserting his investigation wasn't a "witch hunt." It was far worse. It was part of a treasonous and/or seditious (depending on your definitions) attempt to prevent a man from winning the presidency and then, once he had done so, to sabotage and unseat him.
As we are now learning, the involvement in this — the real conspiracy — went up to the highest reaches of the previous administration, beginning when they were still in office. And once Trump was in office, the efforts were redoubled.
Here, in case you missed it, is the report from Real Clear Investigations' Paul Sperry on how Comey lied to Trump, telling the president he was not being investigated at the very moment he was — by Comey. Interesting in all this is the cast of characters:
In addition to adding notes of his meetings and phone calls with Trump to the official FBI case file, Comey had an agent inside the White House who reported back to FBI headquarters about Trump and his aides, according to other officials familiar with the matter.
Although Comey took many actions on his own, he was not working in isolation. One focus of [Inspector General] Horowitz’s inquiry is the private Jan. 6, 2017, briefing Comey gave the president-elect in New York about material in the Democratic-commissioned dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Reports of that meeting were used days later by BuzzFeed, CNN and other outlets as a news hook for reporting on the dossier’s lascivious and unsubstantiated claims.
Comey’s meeting with Trump took place one day after the FBI director met in the Oval Office with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss how to brief Trump — a meeting attended by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who would soon go to work for CNN.
No matter what you think of Trump, these are the actions of a Stalinist politburo, not a democratic republic.
No wonder the frail Mueller has a guilty conscience. As I said above, he should.
And before you accuse me over-psychologizing, just remember that a guilty conscience can lead to depression, which, it is well known, shuts down the brain. Time and illness obviously can account for a man's decline, but also circumstances. Mueller knew how his reputation was going to be destroyed. It's the old link between the mind and the body. Almost every one of us has seen this among people we know.
UPDATE: I notice that some commenters think I am excusing Mueller's execrable behavior in the past (anthrax case, etc.) by saying he has a guilty conscience. I didn't intend that in the slightest. I never bought the heroic image of Muelller. He is and was a pompous creep who ran over people. But the human mind is a complex animal. Many things happen at once. People like Mueller and Comey think they are good, which makes them all the more dangerous. In the case of Mueller, I suspect something was beginning to impinge on that--call it a guilty conscience or whatever, an uncomfortable truth-and he started to disintegrate in the tradition of the witch in the Wizard of Oz. That's what we saw today.
SOME OTHER OBSERVATIONS: Some of the Democrats, at least, probably have a degree of fear of what is obviously to come from the Durham investigation. This in great part was a reason they insisted on this ridiculous hearing, to distract. It didn't work.
AND: Another noteworthy dishonest facet of the Mueller report and his testimony is the insistence that the Russians interfered to help Trump. This exhibits a (deliberate?) lack of knowledge on how Russian/Soviet disinfo operates. They aim to confuse, not to favor. Indeed, conveniently left out of the report and Wednesday's testimony was Rosenstein's saying precisely that when he announced the indictment of the Russian hackers. He emphasized they intended to create dissension, not choose one candidate over the other. They clearly succeeded in their true intention and then some, thanks to the like of Adam Schiff. Moreover, why would the Russians even have thought they could get Trump elected? That would have been a waste of time to any competent KGB/FSB officer. They read the same polls we did.
Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJMedia — is an award-winning author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. His new novel — THE GOAT — will be available for pre-order on Amazon in August.