Standing on the White House lawn and screaming over the sound of the helicopter idling in the background, Donald Trump engaged in a prolonged attack on Robert Mueller, President Obama, John McCain, and “the worst people in the world.”
It’s clear that the 10 minutes that Mueller spent on stage Wednesday morning kicked Trump’s rage burner to a new level, as he actually spent longer shouting his responses and finding new insults to fling at the special counsel’s office than Mueller spent talking. In addition to calling Mueller a “true never-Trumper,” Trump lied repeatedly about Mueller wanting the job of FBI director. Trump insisted that Mueller “wanted the job badly,” came to Trump for the job, and “was told no” a day before he was selected as special counsel. Which Trump declared meant that Mueller “should never have been picked.” Trump also brought up the dispute over golf fees that caused Mueller to leave one of Trump’s clubs as a reason that Mueller was “conflicted.”
All of which will be great material for questioning when Robert Mueller appears before Congress. Especially since Steve Bannon has already testified that it was Trump who wanted Mueller brought in to solicit his advice on who should get the FBI director job.
While he was screaming, Trump disavowed that he had been the one to order hiding the name of the destroyer USS John McCain so he wouldn’t see it during his Japan visit—and then went on to blame McCain for the war in Iraq by saying that he had “forced” George W. Bush to launch that conflict. But Trump admitted that the name had been obscured by “someone who knew” that he hated McCain.
But Trump returned to Mueller repeatedly, refusing to agree that Mueller had acted honorably, but still insisting that Mueller had exonerated him. “With Bill Clinton, his special prosecutor, it was guilty, guilty, guilty … with me, he said essentially, you’re innocent.” Reporters attempted to point out that this wasn’t true, and that Muller believed he wasn’t allowed to bring charges. Trump sneered on.
And when someone brought up impeachment, Trump’s screaming reached a new pitch as he called it “a dirty, disgusting, filthy word.”
Donald Trump knows a lot about dirty, filthy, disgusting words—that much is recorded on tape and in court documents. But with those 17 minutes on the White House lawn, Trump made an excellent case for applying this particular “dirty word” immediately.
Trump lied about Mueller asking for the the FBI job. He lied about the results of the report. He called the investigators in the special counsel’s office “some of the worst people in the world.” And he declared that his effort to take down the whole Department of Justice and the FBI would be “one of my greatest achievements.” He lied about McCain. He lied about Russia and insisted that “Russia did not help me at all” and that, if anything, Russia helped Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s helipad rant was a direct response to Mueller, to the building momentum for impeachment, and to the way that William Barr’s wall of lies is beginning to crumble. And it was a powerful display of the need to keep up the pressure.