President Trump gushed about his love for Attorney General William Barr during a private meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the lunch told The New York Times.
After receiving Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign on Friday evening, Barr sent Congress on Sunday a four-page letter with his interpretation of the report. He wrote that Mueller did not find actionable coordination between the campaign and Russia, but was unable or unwilling to determine whether Trump obstructed justice. "I love the A.G.," Trump enthused during the lunch. "He works fast. I love this guy. You told me I would."
Trump's aides are treating Barr's letter like a total vindication of Trump, not showing any concern over what the full Mueller report might say. Aides have been holding celebratory dinners, the Times reports, and GOP strategist Harlan Hill said the mood is of "over-the-moon ecstasy."
But they might want to pump the brakes, Democratic strategist Joe Lockhart, who served as former President Bill Clinton's press secretary when Clinton was impeached, told the Times.The White House might come to regret taking a victory lap before the Mueller report is released, Lockhart said, comparing this to former President George W. Bush standing in front of a "Mission Accomplished" sign early in the Iraq War.
The Trump administration has "left it wide open for every new development to be a big story," Lockhart said. "I just think they struck the exact wrong tone. Right now it can only go one way, which is bad for them." Catherine Garcia