Victor or Victim? Trump’s Changing Response to Mueller Report

When the report came out, much of the focus was not on the conclusions, which were by then four weeks old, but on the voluminous details made public for the first time. While Mr. Mueller found no criminal conspiracy with Russia, his report made clear that Mr. Trump and his team shared the interests of Moscow’s agents in trying to bring down Mrs. Clinton. And Mr. Mueller outlined nearly a dozen episodes that he said could be considered obstruction of justice even though he rendered no judgment himself.

Mr. Trump was unsure how to take the report. In just a half-hour on Monday, he offered two strikingly different perspectives, one promoting the report and the next attacking its authors.

“‘A very exculpatory section of the Mueller Report: NO CONSPIRACY, COORDINATION or COLLUSION with the Trump Campaign and the Russians. You can’t be more clear than that!’” he wrote on Twitter, quoting Gregg Jarrett, a Fox News analyst and author of “The Russia Hoax.”

Then, 27 minutes later, Mr. Trump wrote: “Isn’t it amazing that the people who were closest to me, by far, and knew the Campaign better than anyone, were never even called to testify before Mueller. The reason is that the 18 Angry Democrats knew they would all say ‘NO COLLUSION’ and only very good things!”

By Wednesday morning, he was trying to marry those two thoughts into a single message — both embracing the report and trashing it. “The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me,” he wrote. “I DID NOTHING WRONG.”

In subsequent tweets, he tried again to claim victory amid his victimhood, casting the investigation as a contest in which he prevailed. In terms rarely used regarding a criminal investigation, he asserted that “We waited for Mueller and WON” and denounced “the Witch Hunt, which I have already won.”

Mr. Trump has also switched assessments of Mr. Mueller himself. After Mr. Barr’s letter came out, when the president felt buoyant about the investigation’s conclusions, he said the special counsel had acted honorably. By this week, he was retweeting a year-old post by a Republican congressman saying that Mr. Mueller’s “disreputable, twisted history speaks to the character of the man placed in a position to attempt to legalize a coup against a lawfully-elected President.”

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