President Trump gave an interview to the NY Times Wednesday in which he spoke about the first charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller this week. The Times reports that Trump tried to project an air of calm, denying earlier reports that he was fuming over the charges:
“I’m not under investigation, as you know,” Mr. Trump said in a brief telephone call to The Times late Wednesday afternoon. Pointing to the indictment of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, the president said, “And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.”
“It has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said…
“I’m actually not angry at anybody,” Mr. Trump told The Times.
All of this appears aimed at rebutting a report published by the Washington Post Monday which said the president spent the morning in the White House residence watching the news in disgust:
The president digested the news of the first indictments in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe with exasperation and disgust, these people said. He called his lawyers repeatedly. He listened intently to cable news commentary. And, with rising irritation, he watched live footage of his onetime campaign adviser and confidant, Paul Manafort, turning himself in to the FBI…
Trump’s anger Monday was visible to those who interacted with him, and the mood in the corridors of the White House was one of weariness and fear of the unknown. As the president groused upstairs, many staffers — some of whom have hired lawyers to help them navigate Mueller’s investigation — privately speculated about where the special counsel might turn next.
“The walls are closing in,” said one senior Republican in close contact with top staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly. “Everyone is freaking out.”
Tuesday a CNN account of the same events quoted an unnamed source who said Trump was “seething.” Those reports spread through the left-wing media.
It’s easy to see why Trump might be eager to downplay this story. Reports that he was angry feed the narrative that he is worried about where the special counsel might strike next. By contrast, downplaying those claims reinforces the idea that he feels he has nothing to worry about from this investigation. Ultimately no one really cares about how Trump reacts except as a window into the truth. What will matter in the end is what Mueller can prove and how close that gets to Trump himself.