Many agents who worked under him say this personality made him the perfect person to remake the bureau after the Sept. 11 attacks. Others chafed at his unrelenting style. A common criticism is that, after 12 years in office, he had filled the F.B.I.’s senior ranks with two types of people:
- big personalities whose naturally intense styles matched his, and
- those who ultimately submitted to his will.
It is not that he was uncaring; colleagues recall his compassion during difficult periods in their lives. Rather, he is focused — at the expense of nearly everything else — on the job.
“He didn’t care about internal politics. He doesn’t care about people’s reactions to things,” Ms. Arguedas said.
.. When Mr. Mueller learned that C.I.A. officers were waterboarding prisoners, locking them in coffins, chaining them to walls and keeping them awake for days, he famously ordered his F.B.I. agents not to participate.
For Democrats and human rights advocates, it was a laudatory but ultimately mealy-mouthed response. The F.B.I., after all, has the authority to investigate torture and prison abuses.
“Why did you not take more substantial steps to stop the interrogation techniques that your own F.B.I. agents were telling you were illegal?” Representative Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, asked in 2008.
For Mr. Mueller, the answer was obvious. The Justice Department had declared the C.I.A. tactics legal, and it was not his job to challenge that conclusion.
.. That may be why Mr. Mueller has allowed negotiations to drag on for more than eight months over whether Mr. Trump will sit for an interview. Forcing the issue with a subpoena would test the limits of executive power, and Mr. Mueller does not make such moves lightly.
- .. “He wants the public to believe he gave the president every opportunity to have his side heard.”
- .. She opposed a Justice Department policy shielding federal prosecutors from oversight by state ethics officials, and she suspected he felt the same way. But he refused to budge, even privately. “It’s an institution,” she said, “and you follow the rules.”
- .. He is heard from so infrequently that, when Robert De Niro and Kate McKinnon portrayed him on “Saturday Night Live,” neither even tried to mimic his voice. For someone who spent more than a decade in some of Washington’s most important jobs, Mr. Mueller is most often seen in brief archival video clips or old photographs.
. For someone who spent more than a decade in some of Washington’s most important jobs, Mr. Mueller is most often seen in brief archival video clips or old photographs.
.. A less splashy finale suits Mr. Mueller. He likes letting documents do the talking, and as a prosecutor and F.B.I. director, colleagues said, he regularly excised hyperbole or flourish from his prepared public comments.
.. One of the defining moments of his F.B.I. tenure came in 2004, when Mr. Mueller and the deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, raced to the hospital room of the ailing attorney general, John Ashcroft.
.. When Mr. Mueller next appeared before Congress, Democrats had to claw to extract even the barest confirmation from Mr. Mueller. “I don’t dispute what Mr. Comey says,” he said bluntly. Mr. Mueller had a powerful political story but went to great lengths to avoid fueling the fight.
.. “I guess it covered very generally what had happened in the moments before,” Mr. Mueller said, not giving an inch.
“And what had happened in the moments before?”
“Well, again,” Mr. Mueller said, “I resist getting into conversations.”
That moment revealed not only Mr. Mueller’s reluctance to be drawn into a political fight, but also the contrast with Mr. Comey, who would succeed him at the F.B.I. While the two men share mutual respect, friends say the two have never been personally close — despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to paint them as such. Among their biggest differences, Mr. Comey was at ease in the limelight and made contentious decisions in the name of transparency during the investigation of Hillary Clinton.
.. Mr. Mueller has always preferred to let others do the talking. If, as special counsel, he unearths evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime, former colleagues say they are certain he will try to hold Mr. Trump accountable. But if the evidence is not clear cut, they say, he will not feel compelled to tell a story just because it involves the president.
.. Mr. Pistole and others said they had no doubt that Mr. Mueller was bothered by Mr. Trump’s tweets accusing the F.B.I. and the Justice Department — two agencies he dedicated his life to — of being part of a “deep state” working against his presidency.
As for the president’s remarks about Mr. Mueller and his team personally? “I wouldn’t be surprised if he is somewhat unconscious about all of this,” Ms. Haag said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in one ear and out the other.”
- .. Mr. Mueller has shown that he is interested in investigating Mr. Trump’s tweets when they might be evidence of a crime. Everything else is just background noise.
“He’s going to find out what there is to find out, and he’s going to say it in the most straightforward, neutral way possible,” Ms. Arguedas said. “And then he’s going to walk away, because his job will be done. He won’t go on any talk shows, and he won’t write a book.”
The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the “Beatles” because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.
.. The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions.
.. Mr. Kotey “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding
The Apprentice debuted on NBC in 2004 with 20.7 million viewers, ranking it seventh among all primetime programs.
.. Did tens of millions ever cast their eyes on the junior senators from Florida or Kentucky or Texas, or the governor of Ohio, not to mention the ex-governors of Arkansas or Florida, or the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard, before they chanced to mount the stage for a debate with Donald J. Trump last August, a television event that drew the unheard-of viewership of 24 million? Those 24 million tuned in to see Trump.
.. In the casually corrupt American political system the candidates serve as bagmen carrying cash from the corporations to the networks.
.. What other candidate is allowed to call in to morning shows or the sacred Sunday shows for television “interviews” whenever he pleases?
.. this in large part relies on the carefully cultivated illusion that it is all off the cuff, that it comes from the heart and that on a given day he might indeed say anything
.. So they have a choice: They can pretend some impossible solution is actually going to happen, or they can listen to the person who has proved that he can solve problems.
.. as the height of monomania. One can find, in any speech or tweet, more concentrated versions, for example this tweet on Easter Sunday: “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve.”
.. Ignorance and narcissism are joined together here, surely, but they are fortified by the very fact of the amazing events of the last ten months.
- He hired no pollster.
- He spent relatively little money, bought few ads.
- He promulgated few policies.
- He merely flew on his own plane from city to city, from arena to arena, talking about himself—about how the country “has big problems” and how only he can solve them
Who is there to contradict his claim that “there’s nobody like me. Nobody”?
.. These “exceptional powers or qualities” include not just the reputed business genius—a mysterious power that makes the promulgation of specific policies redundant—but the ability to tell a story about why “our country is in big trouble” that is simple, convincing, and satisfying.
.. “Our leaders are so incompetent,”
.. turning on its head the entire drift of post–World War II American propaganda that said the country acted to rebuild Europe and protect the free world not out of national self-interest but out of good old exceptional American generosity.
.. As he declared last November about waterboarding terrorists, “You bet your ass I would!… It works…. If it doesn’t work they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing!
certain European leaders of the 1930s would have recognized. The sense of threat from the Other—whether it be Mexican rapists swarming over the border or Muslim terrorists posing as refugees or “two young bullies cursing and threatening”; the sense of national decline that this signals (“We don’t win any more…”); the clear path to a restoration of greatness marked by simple, autocratic solutions (imposing tariffs, pulling out of NATO, bringing back torture, “bombing the shit” out of ISIS)—all of it springs from the populist toolbox, if not the fascist one, and the advertisements show that the roots of these positions and attitudes run very deep.
.. “fascinating intersection of celebrity and neo-fascism”
.. Trumpism is partly the child of the 2008 Wall Street collapse and the vast sense of political corruption and self-dealing it brought in its wake: the sense that the country was looted on a vast scale and that the politicians of all stripes made sure the criminals were not punished.
.. anger at and fear of the Other—illegal immigrants, Muslim refugees, an African-American and possibly Muslim president who seems in league with both—that Trump has skillfully cultivated.
.. Again and again when I asked rally-goers why they supported Trump I heard the word “honesty.” “He doesn’t slip and slide like all the others,” a retired accountant in his seventies told me. Or else: “I see strength in him, power. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks….” That he speaks clearly—that he is unafraid of the police of political correctness—itself bespeaks a power to cut through the corruption and the dealmaking, to fight and fight to get things done: to actually end illegal immigration, to actually repeal Obamacare. It suggests he has the sheer fighting power and energy to do what he says.
.. Rorty’s words prophesy not only the strongman’s rise but his blithe refusal to let “political correctness” prevent him making sexist and bigoted remarks, and his fans’ euphoric enjoyment of their hero’s reveling in the pleasures of free speech. He says what he wants: he is rich enough, strong enough, to do what he pleases.
.. So we started, and something happened called Paris. Paris happened, and Paris was a disaster. There’ve been many disasters but it was Paris and then we had a case in Los Angeles, in California
.. That this is a fact, and that Trump recognizes this fact, represents the greatest risk of that future that the political class still stubbornly refuses to take seriously
.. the longtime lobbyist and fixer Paul Manafort, confidentially assured Republican National Committee Members:
When he’s out on the stage,…he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose…. He gets it. The part that he’s been playing is evolving into the part that now you’ve been expecting…. The negatives will come down. The image is going to change.
.. we are sure to be hearing a lot about “Crooked Hillary.” (“You have to brand people a certain way when they are your enemies,” he proclaimed to us at Boca. “You gotta brand people….”)
.. A President Trump could likely only emerge as a product of our own fears, carefully fostered as they have been ever since the airliners emerged out of that bright September sky one morning in 2001.