On March 24, Attorney General William Barr revealed in his summary of the much-anticipated Mueller report that the special counsel “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” according to The New York Times.
Barr directly quoted Robert Mueller, which leaves little to no room for speculation in terms of there being a Trump-Russia conspiracy. The special counsel has not exonerated the president of obstruction, however, and Mueller’s failure to prove collusion has not stopped top Democrats from alleging it.
The full Mueller report is set to be released mid-week, so the capital is “on pins and needles,” according to Axios. The White House, however, remains completely unfazed — neither the president nor any of his advisers are worried about Mueller’s findings, according to individuals briefed on the matter. The Russia investigation appears to be a closed chapter for the president and his confidants, who rarely even mention Robert Mueller.
But that doesn’t mean that the White House is sitting idly by. Although unconcerned, the president’s advisers and lawyers are working on their own counter-reports, meant to soften the political — albeit not legal — blow.
“You’re looking at it and determining what is the political optic of it; it’s not a legal optic here, it’s political. Until we see the report, it’s very hard to speculate about what we’ll be dealing with mid-week,” one of Trump’s advisers revealed.
A member of the president’s legal team, who has maintained correspondence with the special counsel’s office, said that the White House is preparing to counter Robert Mueller’s findings pertaining to potential obstruction of justice by the president. Even though Mueller chose not to exonerate the president on obstruction, he did not conclude that the president had committed a crime either.
Because of this, according to one of Trump’s lawyers, the Mueller report could “look more like obstruction to the casual eye.”
“My guess is, it’s probably going to be, when it’s put all together by Mueller’s team, it’s going to look more like obstruction to the casual eye than it might be legally. I’m also very interested to find out what it is that Mueller said about why he was not going to draw a conclusion” about obstruction, the lawyer said.
Some Congressional offices have stockpiled whiskey and drafted pizza orders in anticipation of a reading marathon of the Mueller report https://t.co/stCVUSzFBK
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 14, 2019
According to individuals with direct knowledge, Trump has two groups of attorneys working on their own responses to the Mueller report. The White House’s institutional response is being worked on by the president’s lawyers, and another group of legal experts is working on a more aggressive response to Mueller’s findings.
Some of the president’s confidants are worried that the Mueller report could reveal embarrassing information about the commander-in-chief, however. Echoing Trump, his counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested that the Democrats are moving away from conspiracy and collusion claims, and looking for a way to “harass” and “embarrass” the president.