People close to ex-special counsel Robert Mueller believe he became “a different person” over the span of his two-year probe into Russian election meddling, the author of a new book said Tuesday.
Carol Leonning, a Washington Post reporter and co-author of “A Very Stable Genius,” a new book about President Trump, said some of Mr. Mueller’s close family and friends had difficulty watching his frail appearance before Congress last summer.
“Phil [Rucker] and I, my co-author, we are not medical professionals, but over and over again, John, we heard from people who are very close to Bob Mueller who found him a different person, a changed person after two years of this investigation,’ she told CNN’s John Berman in an interview.
“They don’t know what that’s about,” Ms. Leonning continued. “Some of them do and haven’t shared that with us. But they know something happened. He’s a different person. He was stumbling over his words. You saw him in July in his testimony before Congress. There were people that I spoke to who are very, very, good family friends of his who said, ‘I couldn’t watch the television anymore. I had to turn it off. It wasn’t the Bob I knew.’”
Questions about Mr. Mueller’s health after his testimony before Congress which was described as “frail” and “befuddled.” During the July hearing, he struggled to hear lawmakers’ questions and couldn’t recall important facts from his report.
Republican lawmakers told The Washington Times in July they were aware of Mr. Mueller’s frailty and even strategized their questions around it.
“There were some House Republicans in our prep sessions patting themselves on the back about that and feeling optimistic about assertions he might not be all there,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, told The Times.
Mr. Gaetz said he didn’t believe those colleagues and warned them to expect a razor-sharp witness, but “it turned out the rumors we’ve been hearing about his condition seemed accurate.”
“I told my colleagues to expect him to be like a wolverine and they’d better know every chapter and verse and citation for every question,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, told the Times he was in “a weakened condition” and the Democrats should have never pressured him to testify.
“He’s an American patriot. He was wounded in Vietnam. He served as FBI director after 9/11. I am very upset that [Democrats] would put him in that spot. It was clear to me based on common friends that he’s in a weakened condition, and what happened was really over the top,” Mr. Graham said.
The special counsel team last year denied rumors that Mr. Mueller’s cognitive abilities were fading. But his shaky congressional testimony only fueled those rumors.
Ms. Leonning and Mr. Rucker revealed in their book that when Attorney General William Barr met with Mr. Mueller to discuss his book, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein left worried about his health. The special’s counsel’s hand shook while he held the paper and his voice was shaky too, according to the book.
In October, Mr. Mueller returned to private practice at the law firm WilmerHale.