The guesswork and false reports about the Mueller investigation’s impending conclusion have surely levied a great deal of stress on President Trump’s lawyers and PR team. But according to a new report from the Los Angeles Times, all those known unknowns have left the White House prepared for anything.
For Trump, that team readiness is the good news; the bad news is that the defense they’ve come up with doesn’t sound very sophisticated. Speaking with the L.A. Times, Giuliani said that if the Mueller report provides further damning evidence about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — in which Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer to discuss potential “dirt on Hillary” — the Trump team would “point out that nothing ever happened and it never went anywhere.” So, if the special counsel does provide new evidence on the meeting, the messaging would effectively be that the Trump campaign did collude with Russia for kompromat on Clinton, but they did a bad job. According to Giuliani, the White House has prepared an 80-page counter-report full of such legal and argumentative wisdom.
In recent months, Trump has also boosted his defensive flanks to prepare for the close of the Mueller investigation. In January, the office of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone hired 17 new attorneys to receive the Mueller report. And in February, as the L.A. Times notes, the president shipped an experienced attorney, Steven Groves, to the White House Press Office, a shop that had been filled mostly with interns and assistants.
Within the Times report, Trump allies gave a clear picture of their thoughts on the looming end of the Mueller investigation. Newt Gingrich — the leader of the House effort to impeach Bill Clinton — called the White House’s strategy to survive the report an “endurance contest,” and said that the news will cause a “couple days of bad media.” He also asked, “In this environment, how will that be any different?” Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster, expected that the report could not substantially break through America’s staunch partisan divide. “How entrenched is concrete?” he asked. Of course, neither mentioned that it is not public perception, but the decision of Senate Republicans to stand by a compromised president, that makes impeachment a nonfactor for Trump.
At the moment, Rudy Giuliani is maintaining a collusion-half-fake mindset on the Mueller report’s potential findings. “If they exonerate him,” Giuliani told the L.A. Times, “we’ll just say congratulations.”