We’re getting mixed messages out of the White House about how Trump is dealing with the Mueller investigation. He’s railed against it as a “hoax” and an attempt to destroy him, but some sources say he thinks Mueller is going to exonerate him, perhaps as early as next week.
Trump has spent much of his first year in office so enraged by the federal investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election that lawmakers who work with him tried to avoid the issue entirely and his friends worried that Trump might rashly fire the special counsel. But in recent weeks, Trump has privately seemed less frustrated about the investigation, according to multiple sources who have spoken with the President.
Until those next signs emerge, Trump is boasting to friends and advisers that he expects Mueller to clear him of wrongdoing in the coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the conversations. The President seems so convinced of his impending exoneration that he is telling associates Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him that Trump can brandish to Washington and the world in a bid to finally emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has loomed over the first chapter of his presidency, the sources said.
This account of how Trump and his senior staffers are privately grappling with the Russia investigation is based on interviews over the past week with nearly three dozen White House officials, lawmakers, outside advisers, friends of the President and sources familiar with the Mueller probe. It depicts a president genuinely convinced of his innocence and advisers preparing for him to explode early next year if the probe doesn’t end as neatly as Trump expects…“The President’s mantra is ‘All this Russia stuff, it’s all going to wrap up soon.’ He repeats it as fact,” said one source who speaks to Trump. “Part of me is like — ‘Are you serious? You believe this?'”
It may end up being true that Mueller won’t find enough to actually file criminal charges against Trump himself, but that would not mean he’s been exonerated. Reagan was never charged with anything in the Iran-Contra affair, but it tainted his presidency forever. Because it happened at the end of his time in office, though, it didn’t lead to impeachment. This is happening at the beginning, so it could lead to impeachment or to a Democratic sweep in the midterms that ties his hands even more than they already are and would thus make him a very early lame duck. There are lots of ways this could turn out and render him ineffective and unable to do much of anything, with or without any criminal charges being filed.
I suspect what is really going on here is that he goes back and forth on it. Some days he’s enraged over it and then he tries to convince himself and others that it’ll all work out just fine.