On Friday night, just hours after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III delivered his report to Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump got up to give a speech.
Addressing guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, during a Republican fundraiser that was closed to the media, Trump thanked Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and first lady Melania Trump.
Notably absent from Trump’s brief remarks: any mention of Mueller or collusion.
Trump’s silence on the end of the Russia investigation is striking, considering how frequently he has repeated his claim of “no collusion” in the past. Trump has said a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign started the investigation (it didn’t), that the investigation was a “witch hunt” (34 individuals have been charged with crimes) and that it’s a waste of taxpayer money (Mueller is on track to bring in more money than he has spent).
The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey report more:
Behind the scenes Trump and his team had made limited preparations in the run-up to Friday, when Mueller finally delivered his much-anticipated report to Attorney General William P. Barr.
They had not coordinated an aggressive response machine, as President Bill Clinton’s aides did ahead of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s 1998 report about Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. Surrogates were not mobilized in advance. Talking points were not distributed. A report was prepared to counter Mueller’s findings — but there is internal debate about whether to release it.
According to the Factba.se database of Trump’s comments, speeches and interviews, the president has claimed “no collusion” at least 231 times since he first said it in May 2017. Yet at the time of this writing, it has been more than 24 hours since the president tweeted anything from his personal account, even as congressional Republicans spin the end of the investigation as vindication for Trump.
It is unclear what the report will say, or whether the public will ever see it. As The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes, Trump’s silence could mean he thinks he’s won. Or lost. Or it could mean nothing at all.