Emboldened by His Attorney General, Trump Confronts Mueller Report Head-On – The New York Times

“When they began to go after people he knew personally, who had worked for him for years, I think it gnawed at him, and I think he felt helpless,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and a confidant of Mr. Trump’s.

But since Mr. Barr issued his letter, the president has felt liberated and has been testing his bounds. He has poked fun at Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president considering a presidential run, for his handsy approach to politics, despite his own troubled history with women. He has floated the idea of a pardon for Kevin McAleenan, now his acting homeland security secretary, if he encountered any legal problems in shutting the southwestern border. And he has heightened his attacks on the press beyond his normal refrain of “fake news,” falsely claiming that journalists are “knowingly” bending the truth.

Now, as Mr. Barr prepares to submit a redacted version of the report, Mr. Trump’s plan of attack, aides said, is to act as if the report itself is extraneous to Mr. Barr’s brief letter.

“The bottom line: The result is no collusion, no obstruction, and that’s the way it is,” the president told reporters on Thursday. He said that Democrats “know it’s all a big scam, a big hoax” and that he believed what they were doing was “actually treason.” Days earlier, en route to Texas, Mr. Trump told reporters: “I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated.”

Mr. Trump is purposefully escalating his language, people who know him said, expressly to enliven his base of supporters and to enrage his political rivals and the news media. He has revived an idea that his administration rejected — sending immigrant detainees to so-called sanctuary cities — in part, people close to him said, to distract from the report.

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