In a July hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller revealed that he took notes of the infamous White House visit to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital room because the events were so “out of the ordinary.”
Chairman John Conyers wrote to Mueller after the hearing to request access to his notes. Today, Conyers’ office put out a statement explaining that the Judiciary Committee has taken a look at Mueller’s notes, which were “heavily-redacted.” Yet, even from the amount the Committee was able to read, Conyers reported that it is clear there was a craven effort to take advantage of “a sick and heavily-medicated Ashcroft“:
“Director Mueller’s notes and recollections concerning the White House visit to the Attorney General’s hospital bed confirm an attempt to goad a sick and heavily medicated Ashcroft to approve the warrantless surveillance program,” said Conyers. “Particularly disconcerting is the new revelation that the White House sought Mr. Ashcroft’s authorization for the surveillance program, yet refused to let him seek the advice he needed on the program.
“Unfortunately, this heavily redacted document raises far more questions than it answers. We intend to fully investigate this incident and the underlying subject matter that evoked such widespread distress within the Department and the FBI. We will be seeking an unredacted copy of Director Mueller’s notes covering meetings before and after the hospital visit and expect to receive information from several of the individuals mentioned in the document.”
Former Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales rushed to Ashcroft’s bedside to get his sign-off for the administration’s NSA warrantless surveillance program because then-Acting Attorney General James Comey refused to authorize it.
Mueller’s notes indicate Ashcroft was “feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.” Moreover, Mueller’s notes indicate Ashcroft “was in no condition” to see visitors, much less decide whether to authorize the program. Nevertheless, Ashcroft articulated the fact that he did not have the proper legal guidance he needed to make a determination on the program. See Mueller’s redacted notes here. See a key snippet below, courtesy of The Gavel: