President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE on Thursday lashed out at The New York Times for reporting that members of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate 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 MORE’s team have concerns with Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJan. 6 committee chair says panel spoke to William Barr William Barr's memoir set for release in early March The enemy within: Now every day is Jan. 6 MORE's summary of its report on the Russia investigation.
“The New York Times had no legitimate sources, which would be totally illegal, concerning the Mueller Report. In fact, they probably had no sources at all! They are a Fake News paper who have already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me!” Trump tweeted.
The New York Times had no legitimate sources, which would be totally illegal, concerning the Mueller Report. In fact, they probably had no sources at all! They are a Fake News paper who have already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2019
The Times report detailed concerns from unidentified investigators that Mueller’s findings are worse for Trump than Barr’s summary made them appear.
“False. Our reporters interviewed multiple government officials and others to gather the facts for the story,” the Times said in a statement responding to Trump’s tweet.
False. Our reporters interviewed multiple government officials and others to gather the facts for the story; read it here: https://t.co/UYGWMnuOQt— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) April 4, 2019
The Washington Post and NBC News followed up with reports that some on the special counsel’s team have told associates they gathered significant evidence that Trump obstructed the probe and were frustrated with Barr’s description.
Barr wrote in a four-page letter to Congress that Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the country's election interference efforts in 2016 and stated that the special counsel's team did not reach a conclusion “one way or the other” about whether Trump’s behavior amounted to obstruction of justice.
The news reports raised fresh doubts about Trump’s decision to take a victory lap following the Russia probe, during which he has said Mueller delivered him a “complete and total exoneration” and called for a counterinvestigation into the origins of the probe.
Trump declared victory even though he and members of his staff say they have only seen the limited information provided by Barr, and not the full Mueller report.
Team Trump stayed on the offensive on Thursday despite the reports, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters that Mueller’s supporters “wasted two years of their life and they need to find a way to validate it.”
“They lost in 2016. They lost on the collusion battle and now they’re looking for anything and everything they can to continue to attack this president because they have no message,” Sanders said, referring to Democrats and some political pundits. “The only idea they have is to attack the president.”
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, on Wednesday blamed the reports on “disgruntled” members of Mueller's team who are “a bunch of sneaky, unethical leakers.”
Congressional Democrats have ramped up pressure on the attorney general to release the full report and the underlying evidence used to compile it. The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to authorize a subpoena for the entire report.
“I think they should release the report,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday. “That’s where the evidence is, the information is. Let’s see the report. If they don’t have anything to hide, they shouldn’t worry.”
The Justice Department (DOJ) defended its decision to release a brief, initial summary of Mueller’s investigation, saying it could not publish the full report because it contained secret grand jury information.
“Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the attorney general decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process,” said DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
Kupec said Barr “does not believe the report should be released in serial or piecemeal fashion.”
Barr wrote in his March 24 letter to Congress that he believed it was important “to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions” reached by Mueller, and included a handful of partial verbatim quotes from the full report.
--Updated at noon.