Mueller: Ashcroft was 'feeble' in hospital

Aug. 16, 2007 at 9:38 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller said former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft was “feeble” when White House officials paid him a controversial hospital visit.

Mueller’s view of Ashcroft’s condition is included in typed notes he turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The White House delegation included Alberto Gonzales -- who was White House counsel at the time and subsequently succeeded Ashcroft as attorney general. He visited Ashcroft in the hospital in March 2004 to try to convince him to sign an extension of the warrantless wiretapping program.

James Comey, Ashcroft’s deputy, who was serving as acting attorney general while Ashcroft was hospitalized, had refused to sign. Comey called Mueller and asked him to come to the hospital as well.

In his notes, Mueller also said Ashcroft was “barely articulate” and “clearly stressed.” Ashcroft also refused to sign, telling Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that Comey had the full authority of his office.

The White House, threatened with mass resignations in the Justice Department, agreed to make changes in the program to match Ashcroft’s objections.

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