Robert S. Mueller: An epitaph

The Robert Mueller hearing delivered two shockwaves.  First, the extent of Mueller's mental deterioration was revealed — highlighting so many pressing issues for the I.G. and Durham teams to explore.  Second, it exposed the Left's role in conducting this grand, sweeping deception — this two-year-long ventriloquism act — known as the Mueller Investigation or Mueller Report.  They broadly conspired to prop up this enfeebled man so that his reputation — deserved or not — would lend legitimacy to their witch hunt.

I believe that Mueller got used and abused by the very people he trusted to shepherd the project.  Many of them, like Andrew Weissmann, once worked for him.  In earlier years, they made him look good as the FBI director.  One tends to remember those days.  FBI directors don't get involved in the day-to-day activities of the bureau.  The job is more more political than practical.  After all, you are a political appointee.  You answer to politicians, not case workers.  And when the entire bureau works for you, it's easier to cover your butt.  You want to look like the person in charge, but it's always others who help sustain the mirage.

It wasn't that way in this situation.  Mueller no longer had his back covered by his employees.  He had no bureau behind him, or a DOJ, at least not officially.  It was only he and his S.C. staff, all of whom wanted to look good in the end.  Mueller hasn't been the FBI director for a number of years.  Plus he seems to be in a state of physical decline.  We all get there someday.  This was his day.  And on public display. 

Mueller apparently assumed that the old days were still alive for him.  They weren't.  The game had changed.  And the ground rules.  No one was there to cover his six.  He chose to be on the limb all by himself, except for Aaron Zebly, his apparent mentor, who had little say in the matter except to point the cat in the direction of the zigging red light.  Mueller's allies were willing to let him swing in the wind, if need be.

I feel for him.  I truly do.  He was not a man prepared for the moment.  I think it overwhelmed him.  If Bob Mueller ever picked up on it in advance, it was too late to do him any good.  The notion of "trust, but verify" apparently had passed him by.

Mueller is well past his prime.  He never had an incentive — best I can tell — to become a passionate anti-Trump activist in his mid-70s.  I'm not defending his acceptance of the S.C. appointment in 2017, inasmuch as he accepted the job on his own, and for his own private reasons.  But I can imagine why someone at his stage in life would accept it, and without a conscious bias.  Who among us does not want one more day in the sunlight?  Especially when others are telling you how great you still look?

I suspect that Mueller's overseers knew as much, and his underlings.  Sharks can sense blood in the water.  Do not underestimate a politician's senses.  Especially in Washington, D.C.  They may well have respected him in earlier years, but they had a job to do, which was to unseat a sitting president, and they were hell-bent on completing the task and looking good on the cocktail circuit.  Mueller trusted them to do their job.  They didn't.  And he wasn't mindful.  It proved his downfall. 

I think he chose to attend the hearings on July 24 to save his honor.  Why else?  He held a losing hand.  I think he knew it.  Bill Barr knew as much as well.  He suggested to his friend that he not go to the hearing, if only to save face.  Mueller chose otherwise.  Perhaps he thought he could salvage his reputation.  Perhaps not.  I'm only guessing.  But it was too late.  I think he knew that the battle was lost, and it humiliated him.  Whatever the motive, he ended up falling on his sword.  It was painful to watch.  Perhaps he was an honorable man and a good soldier, even to the end. 

Such is my opinion, no more or less.  But it makes sense to me.

R. Stephen Bowden blogs at