Following the public release of the Mueller report, Donald Trump turned an event for wounded warriors into a celebration of “no collusion”.
“They’re having a good day and hey, I’m having a good day too”, Trump said, gesturing at the other people in the room. “It’s called, ‘no obstruction, no collusion.'”
As it turns out, that’s not “what it’s called”. Rather, it’s called “charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.” That’s a direct quote from Robert Mueller’s Wednesday statement.
Just as Trump’s “good” mood following the public release of the redacted report quickly gave way to recriminatory bombast, the president on Thursday took to Twitter to lambast Mueller and his team following the special counsel’s statement.
“The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history”, he began, capitalizing a proper noun he made up himself. “After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!”, Trump continued.
That, folks, directly contradicts what Mueller explained, on television, to the public, on Wednesday. Here, again, is what Mueller said:
There is no ambiguity there. It’s no longer possible for Trump to lie about this, although Thursday’s tweets are evidence that he’s still going to try. Mueller would not have charged Trump no matter what the special counsel’s office found, and indeed, the report lays out multiple instances where the president at least attempted to engage in behavior that might have constituted obstruction.
Believe it or not, Trump’s blatant contradiction of Mueller’s televised remarks wasn’t the silliest thing the president did on Thursday morning – not by a long shot.
In his next tweet, Trump said the following:
So, that is Donald Trump, on Twitter, admitting to “Russia helping me to get elected.”
Trump is notorious for waffling when pressed on whether he accepts the intelligence community’s assessment of Russian meddling in the election. This is one point on which he has no defenders. Everyone on both sides of the aisle concurs and even if you didn’t believe US intelligence and law enforcement, Facebook made some of the evidence public.
The reason Trump is so reluctant to admit that Russia interfered with the vote (well, in addition to being fearful of Mueller and, probably, scared of the Kremlin) is that conceding the point would delegitimize his election win – or at least in his mind it would. Never forget that during the Helsinki summit, Trump said this with regard to Russian tampering:
Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.
Trump’s performance in Helsinki was widely panned. Even Fox News called it “disgusting.”
Later, he attempted some damage control, claiming, hilariously, that while he said “would”, he meant “wouldn’t”.
“I actually went out and reviewed a clip of an answer that I gave, and I realized that there is a need for some clarification”, Trump said later. “It should have been obvious, I thought it would be obvious, but I would like to clarify just in case it wasn’t: In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’.”
In other words, Trump implicitly blamed everyone else by saying that “it should have been obvious”. But, that couldn’t be further from reality. That is, if there’s anything in the world that is not obvious (and therefore shouldn’t be expected to be seen as such), it’s that Trump trusts the US intelligence community’s assessment of who interfered with the 2016 election. The reason why that shouldn’t be obvious, is that Trump has said, on too many occasions to count that Russia might not have been responsible.
Hours after claiming that “would” meant “wouldn’t”, Trump delivered the following not-at-all-convincing answer when pressed on the subject:
Mueller’s report (and Wednesday’s statement), provided yet another unequivocal take on the situation. There is no question whether the Kremlin interfered with the election in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton and thereby assist Trump.
The punchline to Thursday’s Twitter boondoggle is that, when asked by a reporter to clarify whether Russia helped him get elected, Trump said “no”. Here’s the clip:
Those comments were delivered an hour after the tweet shown above was posted.
One wonders how long it’s going to be before Trump claims his Twitter account was hacked or, perhaps better, that he’s never even heard of this “Donald Trump” person.