Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Monday said that he regrets asking former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in 2019 following Mueller’s final report on the Russia probe.
In his upcoming book “Midnight in Washington,” Schiff reportedly wrote that although he sent Mueller a handwritten note asking him to testify in July 2019, he found it “heartbreaking” when the then-special counsel declined or deflected dozens of questions.
“Had I known how much he had changed, I would not have pursued his testimony with such vigor — in fact, I would not have pursued it at all,” Schiff wrote, according to CNN.
Schiff has given a few interviews in recent days expanding on that regret, including last night. Pressed on that revelation in his book during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Schiff detailed his regrets on requesting Mueller’s testimony when Maddow asked if he thinks someone else should have testified or led the Russia probe.
“My regret only is in forcing him to testify when I could understand the moment he did, why his staff had been so reluctant,” Schiff said. “He wasn’t able to bring the report really fully to life. He just wasn’t the same man that I knew from years earlier.”
Schiff added that Mueller led “a brilliant investigation” and is “a man of just incredible integrity” who “also presumes of others that they share the same devotion to the truth and have the same rectitude,” before taking aim at then-Attorney General Bill Barr for how he handled the receipt of the Russia probe report. When the report was finally finished, Barr got ahead of Mueller by putting out a diminishing and disingenuous summary of the special counsel’s findings before the report was public. Additionally, last year, Barr appointed Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel, which allowed his investigation of the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe to continue into the Biden administration.
“I think (Mueller) must have been astonished that Bill Barr would so betray his work, would lie to the American people about what was in his report repeatedly,” Schiff said. “And so I think you have the illustration of a really good man in Bob Mueller who presumes the best in everyone else, and then you have the exact opposite in Donald Trump.”
Prior to his remarks on MSNBC, Schiff shared his regrets surrounding Mueller’s testimony during an interview with NPR published on Sunday.
“I did understand immediately why his staff had been so protective and why they were so reluctant to have him testify,” Schiff said. “And I immediately told our members, ‘We need to cut down our questions. We can’t ask for narrative answers. We need to be very precise in what we ask. We need to have the page references of the report ready.'”
According to NPR, Schiff found Mueller’s testimony to be “painful.”
“And if I had known, I would not have pushed for his testimony,” Schiff told NPR.
Watch Schiff’s remarks to Maddow below: