White House exults on Mueller victory lap

The White House on Monday exulted over the findings in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation, doing a media blitz — including to outlets not always on its regular routine — to declare the president vindicated.

The media tour also served as an opportunity for White House officials to slam Democrats and members of the media who had questioned the president's innocence while, in the administration's view, revving up the country over a Russia conspiracy.


"I think it’s a day America’s looked forward to for a long time," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a rare appearance on CNN.

"It’s a great day for America when a decision like this comes forward, and, frankly, it’s a great thing that we can move back, that the media and everyone can move back to focusing on the economy, the defeat of ISIS and rising wages in this country," she added.

Sanders, White House counselor Kelllyanne Conway and Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani all sounded similarly triumphant notes.

"It's a very bad thing for the country that we had it because it's not true," Giuliani told Hill.TV hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton, referring to the Mueller probe. "It never should have happened in the first place." 

"It should have stopped with the indictment of the Russians when there was no American they conspired with," he continued. 

Trump's allies appeared on nearly every major network, including those that they or the president have in the past derided as "fake news."

They uniformly hailed the conclusion of Mueller's investigation and suggested it was time for the country to move on.

Trump himself has offered only brief comments on the report, calling it a "complete and total exoneration" on Sunday and tweeting out quotes reflecting that view on Monday morning. 

Barr said in a four-page summary of Mueller's main findings that the special counsel's investigation found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. On the matter of alleged obstruction of justice, Mueller said he had neither exonerated Trump nor concluded that he had committed a crime.

Barr said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE concluded that the “evidence developed … is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

White House surrogates largely declined to reconcile Trump's and their own past language deriding Mueller's investigation as a biased "witch hunt" with the special counsel's findings that they said exonerated the president. Instead, they laced their embrace of Mueller's conclusions with skepticism and backhanded compliments.

“It was thorough and it was conducted by people who had a bias to get him. People who didn’t want him elected," Giuliani said on "Fox & Friends."

Conway said Mueller, Barr and Rosenstein had "repaired" the reputation of the Department of Justice and FBI while chiding former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE and others in the Obama administration.

The White House reserved its sharpest barbs for Democrats and the media, excoriating them for giving legitimacy to claims of collusion.

"Don’t let this investigation confuse you," Sanders said on CNN. "This was not about looking at whether or not Russia interfered. The purpose of this was to determine whether or not Russia interfered and the Trump campaign had something to do with it. They didn’t.

"We said that from day one, yet Democrats and the media perpetuated that lie day in and day out and breathlessly covered every second of negative attention that they thought would be the one moment that would bring this president down," she continued. "They were wrong in 2016 when he beat them and they’ve been wrong every day since about this president."

Conway called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global Schiff calls on Amazon, Facebook to address spread of vaccine misinformation Spotlight turns to GOP's McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.) to resign, citing his past comments that there was plenty of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Questions remain about the fate of Mueller's full report. 

Democrats have overwhelmingly pressed for the entire document, including the underlying evidence used to formulate it, to go public. Party members have pledged to press forward with their oversight and investigations of the administration, the president's business and his campaign.

They have zeroed in on Mueller's murky language on the obstruction of justice charges, arguing that underscores the need for further scrutiny.

Sanders, Sekulow and Giuliani each downplayed Mueller's language on obstruction and insisted that the president had done nothing wrong.

Sanders indicated on CNN's "New Day" and NBC's "Today," that the president was open to Barr making the full Mueller report publicly available. She suggested the White House would seek to exert executive privilege to shield certain aspects from becoming public.

White House surrogates scoffed at the idea of Democrats in the House carrying on with investigations, suggesting it was redundant and a poor use of resources. Instead, Conway suggested the tables should be turned.

She called for a full accounting of alleged abuses of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications, of a dossier of allegations about Trump and Russia, and of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE.

"Oh, why are you still talking about Hillary Clinton?" Conway asked mockingly. "Because, folks, you wouldn’t let the 2016 election go. And now you’re running up against 2020 and you’ve got a big, old nothing.”

"Beto O’Rourke two days ago said there’s beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president colluded. What is he talking about?” she continued, referencing the 2020 presidential candidate. "There should be a reckoning because our democracy deserves nothing less."