The White House demanded in 2004 that the Justice Department approve a secret national security program without fully briefing the attorney general, according to the FBI director’s personal notes.
The partially censored notes from Robert S. Mueller, dated March 12, 2004, describe a distraught and feeble Attorney General John Ashcroft in his hospital room just moments after being visited by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and former presidential chief of staff Andy Card.
Mueller’s account of the dramatic hospital visit backs up earlier descriptions of the dispute over whether to continue the national security program despite Justice Department concerns that it might not be legal.
Last month, Mueller told a House committee that the clash was about the government’s warrantless wiretapping Terrorist Surveillance Program; Gonzales and the White House denied that and said it was about other intelligence activities.
“Saw AG,” Mueller wrote in his timed log of the events on the evening of March 10, 2004. “Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.”