There could be a good reason that Donald Trump seemed so put off and lashed out at Robert Mueller’s press conference this week, a New York Times writer says — Trump may not have actually read the report.
Despite the president frequently repeating a refrain of “no collusion, no obstruction” in response to the release of the Russia report, White House correspondent Maggie Haberman says that Trump never actually read the report itself. In an appearance on CNN’s New Day to discuss Trump’s lashing out against Mueller, Haberman said she believes it was the first time that Trump had actually had the findings laid out for him. The report detailed 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice but noted that it was against Department of Justice policy to indict a sitting president, so it would be up to Congress to decide whether to impeach.
“I think that when he hears Mueller say that on TV — again, him interpreting everything through this screen that is in front of him, I think that that had much more resonance than almost anything else that has happened,” Haberman said, via The Daily Beast.
Haberman added that Trump was much more likely to have read the four-page summary put together by Attorney General William Barr, which was slammed for misinterpreting the findings of the report — so much so that Mueller even wrote a letter to Barr complaining that the report did not “fully capture” the probe’s results.
This week, for the first time, Trump was confronted with the true findings, Haberman said.
“[Barr’s summary] was essentially the president’s PR language,” she said. “I think that the president had felt pretty good about that. And then I think he saw Mueller in the box, and I think that spooked him.”
Many political analysts have interpreted the remarks from Mueller this week as a challenge to Congress to take up the issue of whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. The special counsel made it a point to note that if there had been evidence exonerating Trump, they would have said that specifically.
Conservatives Stunned by Mueller Suggesting Trump Is Not Innocent. https://t.co/wchHIlXsYN— Kenny_ANTI_gop (@Hope012015) May 31, 2019
There appears to be increasing support for moving forward with impeachment proceedings. Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been hesitant to move forward, many Democrats have been increasingly vocal about the need for impeachment and were joined this week by the first sitting Republican to call for impeachment, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash. As the Detroit Free Press noted, Amash’s call was well-received by his constituents, and he received a standing ovation at a town hall meeting this week.