Trump: Mueller’s a true Never Trumper who begged to be my FBI director, or something


After yesterday’s valediction from special counsel Robert Mueller, the big question was how Donald Trump would respond. Would he claim that Mueller’s statement was old news, just a recap of the report? Focus on a lack of charges? Claim that Mueller was part of an establishment out to get him?

The answer, Trump made plain in an impromptu press conference this morning, is yes. At first, Trump said it was “the same as the report … no obstruction, no collusion, nothing”:

Trump followed that up with an accusation that Mueller was “totally conflicted, ” citing a “business dispute” between them earlier. Trump then claimed that Mueller, who was supposedly sore over this business dispute, asked Trump for the FBI director job after James Comey was fired. And on the heels of that bizarre claim, Trump then says that Mueller was either “in love with James Comey” or “in deep like” with him, which doesn’t exactly comport with the idea that Mueller begged Trump to get Comey’s job:

By the way, despite wanting to work for Trump, Mueller is “a true Never Trumper,” the president claimed in his extemporaneous offensive:

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Interspersed into this head-spinning analysis was a more coherent defense, if not exactly a convincing one. Trump pointed out repeatedly that Mueller never brought charges against him, which under the American legal tradition requires an assumption of innocence. Reporters challenged that interpretation, noting that Mueller was constrained by Department of Justice policy from indicting a sitting president, a point Mueller emphatically presented yesterday as his central reason for not doing so. Trump rejected that, claiming that Mueller would have done so anyway if he’d found a predicate for it, and suggested that he’s being accused of fighting back against a smear.

This strange performance also overshadowed a good question from Trump: why didn’t Mueller investigate the origins of Crossfire Hurricane? Mueller pointedly never mentioned Carter Page or the FISA warrant that fueled this investigation. As special counsel, perhaps Mueller thought that was outside of his commission from the DoJ, but its omission from his report raises some interesting questions, and Mueller’s perspective would be equally intriguing to know.

Had Trump stuck to those points in a disciplined manner, they might have driven the news cycle this morning. Instead, the media will obsess over Trump’s kitchen-sink approach, perhaps better characterized as a blizzard of bull feces. Trump’s throwing everything at Mueller in the hope that some of it sticks, which it might with his base. Everyone else will be under the impression that Trump and the truth are only casual acquaintances. The White House press office will have to work overtime to unwind this performance.

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