President Trump isn’t supposed to be watching television at 9:30 am tomorrow. The White House has scheduled him to attend events that are supposed to make him look above the fray. But that’s also when Attorney General William P. Barr will take a breather from targeting asylum seekers and hold a press conference on Thursday morning to discuss the release of the Mueller report.
If his previous performances are anything to go by, Barr’s comments will be directed directly at Trump in another bid to curry favor with him. Meanwhile, Trump himself is saying that he may conduct his own press conference: ‘Maybe I’ll do one after that, we’ll see.’ Weighing in on the report before anyone has a chance to read it would give Trump another chance to trumpet his no collusion, full exoneration claim.
The fact is that Trump will likely never read the report. He dislikes reading, though one of his ex-wives claimed that he kept a copy of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. Once Megyn Kelly asked him what book he had most recently read: ‘I read passages, I read areas, chapters. I don’t have the time,’ he explained. And that was before he was president.
But that will not be enough to stop him from tweeting ad nauseam about the expurgated report, especially if he doesn’t like what he hears about it. So far, his and Barr’s efforts to denude it of any clout appear to be working, at least when it comes to rallying the faithful. A new poll indicates that four out of ten voters believe that Trump was spied on in 2016. But there are bound to be some eyebrow-raising passages in the report that will depict in a less than flattering light. How great was his avidity to secure WikiLeaks information? What was Roger Stone’s role? And so on.
Word is that the White House is worried about its contents, particularly those centering on the 30 or so hours that former White House lawyer Donald McGahn spent blabbing with the Mueller team about Trump’s efforts to stymie the probe in the first place. The Donald was never really happy with Donald. According to Politico, ‘McGahn’s tenure in the White House ended in a deeply broken relationship between the White House counsel and the president. McGahn was frustrated by the frequency of president’s angry outbursts, causing him to nickname the commander-in-chief, “King Kong”, and Trump felt equally frustrated that the White House’s top attorney did not do more to shield him personally, or stop the special investigation.’
Still, if the report does really injure Trump’s political fortunes for 2020, he has a potential fallback plan. Steve Bannon is apparently starting a school for would-be Trumps. Richard Engel reports on Twitter: ‘Steve Bannon & his allies have leased a monastery in the Italian countryside for 19 years, where they plan to build a school for budding populists and “modern gladiators.” But it’s ignited protest from locals, who want Bannon to take his right-wing populist agenda elsewhere.’ Maybe Trump could serve for a year as headmaster.