Now that Robert Mueller’s redacted report is set to be released Thursday, Donald Trump wants America to know that his attorney general’s four-page cover up is all they ever need to see. Sure, Mueller’s probe lasted nearly two years and he and his investigators compiled 400-plus pages of analysis with appendices/exhibits, but Attorney General William Barr’s pro-Trump bastardization of Mueller’s work should really suffice, according to Trump.
“I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated,” Trump told reporters last week. A few days later, he added, “The bottom line: The result is no collusion, no obstruction, and that’s the way it is.”
Or at least, that’s the way Trump hopes it will be. The New York Times reports that Trump’s close confidants say he and the White House are purposely prepping his rabid base to be incensed by anything other than complete and total exoneration from Mueller’s report. On Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declared it “case closed.” Whatever the heavily redacted report says, it’s fake news as far as Trump is concerned, unless it manages to relay Trump’s total innocence, which seems pretty unlikely. No one takes two years, 37 indictments, and 400 pages to say: nothing to see here!
The biggest problem for Trump is that, while Barr may be able to redact some of the most damning parts of the report, he can’t actually insert language that wasn’t originally there, like for example, Trump engaged in no wrongdoing. That’s why Barr released his cover-up exoneration first and let it sit for weeks on end before muddying the exoneration waters with the Mueller redaction.
But as usual, Trump has built his entire strategy around some 35 percent of Americans who will follow him to the ends of the Earth and march off a cliff with him, if it comes to that. While his sheer disconnect from reality will surely please his true believers, anything short of total exoneration emerging from the redacted Mueller report could easily backfire, further alienating the remainder of the electorate.
Beyond Trump though, a whole cast of Trump associates and relatives are about as eager to claim exoneration as Trump was, including Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and even Rudy Giuliani, who recently sent a Federalist article titled, “Rudy Giuliani Knew Exactly What He Was Doing” to an array of journalists. Giuliani’s supposed PR prowess remains to be seen.