Donald Trump planned all along to use anything short of an indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller as a chance to declare victory and attack Democrats. And guess what? Trump is using not just the absence of an indictment, but Attorney General William Barr’s sketchy and slanted summary of Mueller’s report to … declare victory and attack Democrats.
What a surprise.
When Trump allies claim that Trump was exonerated, they are in direct conflict with one of the most important things Barr’s letter quoted from Mueller: that “while this report does not conclude the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
It. Also. Does. Not. Exonerate. Him.
Everything Trump says on this subject, such as, “This was an illegal takedown that failed and hopefully somebody is going to be looking at their other side,” is an attempt to get the media to ignore that the actual Mueller report is not public and everything we know about it comes from a hasty summary provided by an attorney general chosen in part for his hostility to the investigation.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, personal attorney, and national security adviser have all been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes related to this investigation, the final report of which “does not exonerate” Trump. But Republicans screaming about how this was some plot by Democrats—involving, for some reason, a Republican special counsel—will dominate the headlines. And that’s their plan. That’s the only plan they ever had. Declare victory and attack Democrats, in an effort to distract from the fact that we don’t actually have the Mueller report, and even Trump’s own attorney general felt it necessary to quote that part about Trump not being exonerated.