Elderly Trump Critics Await Mueller's Report — Sometimes Until Death Mitchell Tendler, a 93-year-old WWII vet, died recently. According to his son, one of his last statements was about the special counsel: "'I'm not going to see the Mueller report, am I?'"
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Elderly Trump Critics Await Mueller's Report — Sometimes Until Their Last Breath

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Elderly Trump Critics Await Mueller's Report — Sometimes Until Their Last Breath

Elderly Trump Critics Await Mueller's Report — Sometimes Until Their Last Breath

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We still don't know when we're going to get the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. And critics of the president are feeling a growing sense of anticipation the longer this goes. NPR's Tim Mak has been talking to some elderly and ill people who are determined to hang on so they can see how all this unfolds.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: As a World War II veteran, Mitch Tendler had lived through many historical milestones of the 20th century - the Korean War, then Vietnam, Watergate and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And he was watching the current presidency with something bordering on obsession. But on December 29, at the age of 93, he began feeling pain in his legs.

WALTER TENDLER: And I got a call at 11 o'clock. My mom said, well, Dad's not feeling well. He really can't stand.

MAK: That's Tendler's son, Walter, who lives in San Diego.

TENDLER: Within a couple of hours, they called 911 and got him into the ER 'cause it wasn't getting any better.

MAK: Mitchell Tendler began to fade. Doctors gave him some painkillers. And then he had a final thought.

TENDLER: It just was quiet for a little while and then just sits up in bed halfway and looks at me. And he goes, [expletive], I'm not going to see the Mueller report, am I? And that was really the last coherent thing that he said.

MAK: For nearly two years, those who find fault with Trump have been hanging onto hope that Mueller will produce evidence damaging to the president. These expectations are so high that there are even those who, in their last years, are hoping to survive just long enough to see the conclusion. Richard Armstrong is 94 years old, currently in hospice care in Plainsboro, N.J. And he identifies with Tendler's words.

RICHARD ARMSTRONG: I know exactly how he feels. I feel the same way. I've been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

MAK: He is an independent who had voted for Republicans at times, including Richard Nixon in the '70s. But he's watching Mueller with anticipation.

ARMSTRONG: I was hoping to live to see the outcome of what I think should be justice. I'll be surprised and disappointed if it isn't.

MAK: The story about the World War II vet's last words made its way by word of mouth to Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He tweeted it out without naming the family and was flooded by responses from Americans whose parents or grandparents had similar feelings about Mueller.

KRISTINA MAKANSI: When I saw that tweet about the Mueller report and the old man on his deathbed, I thought, oh, my gosh. That's the kind of thing that my mother would say.

MAK: That's Kristina Makansi, who lives in Tucson, Ariz. Her mother passed away in January at the age of 94.

MAKANSI: I think she really wanted to see that justice was done.

MAK: The voices in this story are hardly the only ones eager to see Mueller as the person who will give them the answers. Many Democrats want Mueller's investigation to lead to follow-on action. Here's Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

LEE MIRINGOFF: When it comes to Democrats, the expectations are sky-high. And they're looking for this to initiate further action, both of a political nature and of a legal nature, against Donald Trump. They'll be disappointed, I think, if either of those falls short.

MAK: The stories show just how much communities across America are eagerly awaiting news from the special counsel. And it's even more urgent for those Americans approaching the end of their lives. Tim Mak, NPR News, Washington.

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