Over the past two years, President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed foreshadowed many of the findings of the Mueller report. That’s both good and bad for the president.
Trump has tweeted dozens of times that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia. He was right. “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,” the report says.
The investigation details how Russia interfered with the U.S. election, through both a social media campaign and hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. Trump even once responded unwittingly to a tweet sent by a Russia-controlled account.
Trump wasn’t the only candidate the Russians were interested in promoting, either. Russian social media operators were told to “ ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary [Clinton] and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).’ ” Those instructions appear to have come during the primary elections. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to accuse Sanders of colluding with the Russians.
The most concerning contact between the Trump campaign and the Russians occurred on June 9, 2016. Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met “with a Russian attorney expecting to receive derogatory information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.” But the meeting, which lasted 20 minutes, was such a bust that Kushner emailed two people asking them to call him so he would have “an excuse to leave.”
The episode makes Trump Jr. look bad, even though he didn’t commit a crime.
Because collusion was a bust, Democrats and their allies in the media will now look for evidence of a cover-up. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed (obstruction of justice), it also does not exonerate him,” the report says.
Turns out that Trump’s bellyaching on Twitter reflected his internal efforts to end or narrow the investigation. Trump was especially upset about then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself. Sessions believed his role in the campaign necessitated it. Trump complained that Sessions refused to act like Eric Holder, who was attorney general under Barack Obama. Holder once called himself Obama’s “wingman.” Holder was also held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
Trump attempted to persuade Sessions to walk back his recusal. Sessions refused. Trump directed Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to get Sessions to restrict the special counsel’s work to preventing future election interference. Lewandowski didn’t deliver the message. Trump ordered Don McGahn, then-White House counsel, to oversee the firing of Mueller. McGahn offered to resign instead. Trump backed down.
Trump seemed to think these efforts would have stopped the investigation and the political headaches. He would have been wrong. He should be grateful his staff obstructed his efforts. Trump did eventually back off his demands, too.
The Mueller report is a win for President Donald Trump on the legal and political fronts. It reflects more poorly on his judgment and self-control.