On March 24, Attorney General William Barr released a summary of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that stressed positive news for President Donald Trump. The redacted text of the report would not be released until April 18, more than four weeks later.

Over those four weeks, Trump and his supporters made the most of their one-sided information advantage. They blared “No collusion! No obstruction!” They dismissed the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia as a “hoax.” They demanded punishment of those in government and media who had investigated and reported on those connections.

In retrospect, that was not a very smart thing to do.

The smart play would have been to pocket the legal win—no more indictments—and then try to rise above the controversy. The president could have given a speech analogous to the one President Ronald Reagan gave after being absolved of direct personal responsibility for Iran-Contra: Acknowledge mistakes, apologize for them, vow that lessons would be learned.