President Donald Trump has already claimed to have been “completely exonerated” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia report. Even though it’s true that he and his campaign were not accused of conspiring with the Russian government, the report did “not exonerate” Trump of obstruction of justice, Attorney General William Barr said on the matter.
Regardless, this response from the president is a sure sign of gloating to come, despite the several guilty pleas Mueller got out of Trump campaign members and associates.
The Atlantic explored Thursday afternoon how Trump and his allies plan on using the conclusion of the Mueller probe to their political benefit heading into 2020. The media, unsurprisingly, is going to be a frequent target of derision. It sounds obvious, but the way the mockery is supposedly going to be unleashed is catching attention.
After a brief intro featuring remarks from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was kicking his feet up at the Trump Hotel and sipping on a Diet Coke, the article shifts its sights to 2020. Could it be that Republicans have screengrabbed reporters’ tweets about collusion from the last two years and are waiting to deploy them when the opportune moment arrives? It could.
Brooding about media coverage and issuing sharp criticism of it has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency, and it seems that one strategy will be to go back to this well on the campaign trail.
From The Atlantic:
Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”
They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.”
Other signs that frequent reminders like these are on the horizon involve the criticism of Democratic lawmakers like House Intel Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who claimed that there was more than circumstantial evidence of collusion. Congressional Republicans are calling on Schiff to resign.
A Trump campaign official said, “It’s not hard to figure where we’re going to go with this” and confirmed“We’re still in victory-lap mode.”
[Images via Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images, Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]