President Donald Trump has railed against a special counsel probe he calls a witch hunt, but he may try to upend Robert Mueller's report by claiming exoneration no matter what.
Mueller's report is expected any day, and the president and his Republican allies are signaling that they expect no clear evidence will be found that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 campaign, reported the Associated Press.
Trump and his GOP congressional allies seem increasingly confident he can weather Mueller's findings, and possibly even turn them to his political advantage.
"One scenario would have seemed downright implausible until recently," the AP reported. "The president will take the findings and run on them, rather than against them, by painting the special counsel as an example of failed government overreach and Trump himself as the victim who managed to prove his innocence."
Mueller's investigation has so far indicted 34 people, including six Trump associates, and three companies, and court documents have mapped out a broad campaign by Russia to interfere in the U.S. presidential election on behalf of the former reality TV star, and that the president's family and associates were eager to benefit.
Trump continues to insist the investigation is an effort by his "deep state" political enemies in the federal government and the Democratic Party, and his GOP defenders plan to exploit any opening to claim exoneration for the president if there's no smoking gun evidence.
“Trump can say, here is the report, I didn’t fire Mueller, I didn’t interfere with him," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a strong Trump supporter. "If you want to keep investigating me, it just shows that it is purely partisan.”
Trump has told his inner circle he will use Twitter to gloat if Mueller cannot directly tie him to a Russia conspiracy, according to advisers and confidants, and his re-election campaign, pro-Trump political groups and conservative media -- including Fox News -- will portray the investigation as a failed coup, those sources told the AP.
The president and his surrogates will then try to tie the report to the various investigations launched by the Democratic House majority since the start of this year, in hopes of turning independents and more conservative-leaning Democrats to turn against those probes.