UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the FBI. ...
Tom Williams

Trump’s line on the Mueller report takes a confusing turn

About a month ago, asked about a possible report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Donald Trump said he was eager to read the findings. “I look forward to seeing the report,” the president told reporters.

Last week, however, the Republican dramatically switched gears. During a rather manic Twitter tantrum, Trump not only called Mueller’s investigation “illegal,” the president said there never should have been a special counsel, and as such, “there should be no Mueller Report.”

Yesterday, during a brief Q&A, Trump flipped back to his original position, telling reporters, “I look forward to seeing the report.” And while the reversal was notable on its own right, part of what made this interesting was the rhetorical journey the president took before arriving at this point.

Q: Do you know when the Mueller report will be released, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I have no idea. No collusion. No collusion. I have no idea when it’s going to be released. It’s interesting that a man gets appointed by a deputy; he writes a report. You know – never figured that one out. A man gets appointed by a deputy; he writes a report. I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country. Tremendous success. Tens of millions of voters. And now somebody is going to write a report who never got a vote.

Much of this is gibberish. Trump seems to believe that Mueller shouldn’t be able to write a report (a) because he was appointed by a deputy attorney general; (b) because of the size of Trump’s victory; and (c) because Mueller “never got a vote.”

On the first point, I have no idea why that’s relevant. On the second, Trump’s election victory was smaller than most modern presidents’ victories. And on the third point, I have no idea what Trump was trying to say.

Soon after, during the same Q&A, he repeated this same argument all over again – this time, misstating the 2016 electoral vote breakdown – before adding, “It’s sort of interesting that a man, out of the blue, just writes a report.”

Again, even for Trump, the argument is just odd. “Out of the blue”? Mueller has led a special counsel investigation for nearly two years. He and his team have indicted dozens of people, including several members of the president’s inner circle. There’s an expectation that he’ll report to the Justice Department on his findings. There’s nothing “out of the blue” about any of this.

And yet, he kept saying it. “It’s sort of an amazing thing that when you have a great victory, somebody comes and does a report out of nowhere – tell me how that makes sense – who never got a vote.”

Trump seems convinced that there should be a connection between the size of his modest election victory and the legitimacy of a Mueller report. That’s … strange.