Updated on March 28 at 6:45 p.m. ET
It’s been just four days since the president learned that Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion, but Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer, is no longer in the mood to celebrate. He’s thrilled about the outcome, of course, as is his client. Trump told the former New York mayor that “he’s happier than he thought he would be.” But Giuliani, sipping a Diet Coke on Wednesday morning at the Trump Hotel, said it’s time to focus on the next mission: Find out who started all this—and why.
“We’re now trying to prove who did it,” Giuliani said. “The premise is, somebody had to have started the ‘He colluded with the Russians’” narrative. (Never mind that Trump’s posture toward the Kremlin has long been strange.) Asked whether the president himself wants an investigation to examine this question, Giuliani said, “Goddamn right he [does]. This is not ‘Oh, gee, it’s over, let’s forget about it.’”
A reliable barometer of Trump’s moods, Giuliani offered a glimpse into the future. Mueller might be done with his investigation, but Trump and company are loath to let it drop. They want to capitalize on the president escaping criminal charges and make Mueller’s findings a core piece of 2020 campaign messaging. In their view, Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of the report is a gift that vindicates Trump, undercuts Democratic investigations, and repudiates critical news coverage. There’s time enough to talk policy on the campaign trail. Team Trump first wants to showcase the special counsel’s conclusions: According to Barr, Mueller reported no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and he couldn’t make a judgment on obstruction of justice. Even though the probe has led to 215 criminal charges and five prison sentences, Trump and his allies have framed Mueller’s findings as total exoneration.