Maggie Haberman, The New York Times’ White House correspondent, posited Friday morning that President Donald Trump was especially angered this week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference for one reason: He has never read the report.
In what CNN’s New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota jokingly called an “armchair analysis segment,” she asked Haberman why she thought Trump on Thursday “seemed more irritated” following the public statement, in which Mueller confirmed on live television that he didn’t charge the president with any crimes because of Department of Justice policy—not because of the president’s innocence.
“You know, there are some days he comes out and he’s sort of playing and sparring with the press,” said Camerota. “Yesterday, he seemed more irritated about some of the—I mean, Mueller didn’t say anything that dramatic that wasn’t in the report, but somehow it seemed to have angered the president.”
Haberman responded, “You think the president has read the report? Because I do not.”
“I think that when he hears Mueller say that on TV—again, him interpreting everything through this screen that is in front of him, I think that that had much more resonance than almost anything else that has happened,” Haberman added.
Haberman, who pointed to Trump’s obsession with TV news as a source for information, is hardly alone in her doubts that the president took the time to read the 448-page report on potential ties between Team Trump and Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.
Furthermore, the report found 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice committed by the president.
Haberman also noted that Trump likely read—and was comforted by—the four-page summary of Mueller’s report initially released by Attorney General Bill Barr and watched the press conference about it, in which Barr, according to Haberman, “used the president’s own language.”
At the time, Mueller wrote a letter to Barr complaining that his summary did not “fully capture” the results of the probe and alleging that his spin sowed “public confusion” ahead of the report’s public release.
“This was essentially the president’s PR language,” Haberman told Camerota. “I think that the president had felt pretty good about that. And then I think he saw Mueller in the box, and I think that spooked him.”