Politics

Trump allies dismiss Mueller report's damaging details and claim 'total vindication'

Key Points
  • President Trump's personal lawyers, his reelection campaign and his political backers were quick to dismiss the contents of the newly released Mueller report.
  • "The results of the investigation are a total victory for the President," Trump's four personal attorneys say in a statement.
  • Trump's reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee chair issued similar declarations.
President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd of supporters during a campaign rally at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Nov. 5, 2018.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

President Donald Trump's lawyers, his reelection campaign and political backers were all quick to dismiss the damaging revelations about the president's conduct detailed in the newly released 448-page report of the special counsel's investigation.

"The results of the investigation are a total victory for the President," Trump's four personal attorneys said in a statement after the redacted report was released Thursday. "The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning — there was no collusion — there was no obstruction.

"In addition to the report completely vindicating the President, both Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ... concluded there was not a single instance in which the elements of any crime were met," wrote the four member team of Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and her husband, Marty.

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Mueller report: Cannot conclude no criminal conduct occurred

Yet even as they held up the report by special counsel Robert Mueller as proof of their client's innocence, Trump's lawyers also sought to undermine the veracity of the report itself, and the scores of damaging revelations contained within it.

The report included vivid details of more than a dozen instances during which the president appears to have sought to interfere in the special counsel's Russia probe.

"The report itself is nothing more than an attempt to rehash old allegations" wrote Trump's lawyers. The attorneys also suggested that the report might violate rules that prohibit the Justice Department from "insinuating or alleging that an individual who has not been charged with a crime is nevertheless guilty of some wrongdoing."

While Trump himself made only a passing reference to the report on Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence issued a statement that essentially served as the White House's formal response. "The report confirms what the President and I have said since day one: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and there was no obstruction of justice," the statement said.

Even as he struck a note of confidence, Pence also tacitly acknowledged that the report's release would do little to put to rest the serious questions raised about the propriety of the president's actions during his first two years in office. According to Pence, however, these questions amount to little more than partisan political weapons.

"While many Democrats will cling to discredited allegations," Pence said, "the American people can be confident President Trump and I will continue to focus" on improving the country.

For those in Trump's political firmament, however, the damaging revelations in the Mueller report appeared not to exist at all.

"President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again," Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.

"Now that the collusion and obstruction conspiracy theories have been exposed for the pathetic hoaxes they always were," the statement continued, "the Obama-era DOJ and FBI must answer for their misdeeds and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people."

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel called the report "a complete and total vindication of President Trump."

"It is increasingly clear that the only scandal here is the Obama administration's repeated failure to act against Russian cyber meddling," she added. "Instead, they prioritized spying on a political opponent — the Trump campaign — and used a phony DNC-funded dossier as justification."

Both McDaniels' and the Trump campaign's statements sought to dismiss the contents of the report and focus on the unfounded allegation that Trump's 2016 presidential campaign had been placed under improper surveillance due to its myriad contacts with people suspected of connections to Russian intelligence.

Yet as the amount of damaging information about the president's actions grew larger and more public Thursday, it was unclear how long Trump's political operation would be able to go on focusing exclusively on Attorney General Bill Barr's conclusions while ignoring the report's contents.

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Pimco's Libby Cantrill: The Mueller report will slow lawmaking in a partisan Congress