“It would have been so much wiser if the president said, ‘I was exonerated on collusion and there’s no case to be made on obstruction,’ ” Fleischer said. “He would have had the same good positive result, dismissing it all, without waving a red flag in front of his critics and the media.”
But, Fleischer added: “The president’s style is to raise the red flag in front of the media bull, and he likes to do it.”
Privately, White House aides and Trump allies say they fully expect the report to contain embarrassing specifics for the president. In the days immediately following Barr’s summary, some officials were careful to offer more tempered portraits of vindication in contrast to Trump’s victory dance.
But neither they nor the president are likely to retreat from Trump’s initial claims of exoneration. The president views politics and policy almost entirely through the lens of public relations — incendiary statements, demeaning nicknames, marketing-style proclamations — and he has already taken advantage of the information vacuum between Barr’s brief March 24 summary and the report’s imminent release to prosecute his case in the media.