It’s been twenty hours since we all learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to the Attorney General – and Donald Trump still hasn’t said a word about it. In fact he hasn’t tweeted anything at all since the news broke. This silence is surreal, and it’s worth exploring. In fact it reminds me of a photograph from election night.
Right now, the likes of Donald Trump Jr and Rudy Giuliani are busy gloating on Twitter about… well, they surely don’t know. They’re insisting that this report, which they haven’t seen, somehow exonerates the Trump regime and proves “no collusion.” Mueller isn’t indicting anyone else, but they don’t seem to grasp that any further indictments are simply going to come from permanent U.S. Attorneys’ offices like SDNY, which have been working with Mueller all along.
Then there’s Donald Trump himself. He’s down at Mar-a-Lago right now, and by all accounts, he has his personal defense attorney Emmet Flood and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone with him. These people aren’t babbling buffoonish “TV lawyers” like Giuliani. Instead they’re the knowledgeable behind-the-scenes lawyers who are surely telling Trump exactly what the circumstances of this report really mean, why it’s a big deal that Willam Barr says he didn’t deny a single Mueller request, and why no more indictments from Mueller doesn’t mean no one else is getting indicted. It could explain why Trump is so quiet right now, even as the idiots around him are gloating. But there’s also another thing.
There’s a famous photo from election night in 2016 which captures the precise moment Donald Trump and his people heard on television that he’d been named the winner. Everyone around Trump was celebrating. Trump himself had a somber look, as if he was the only one in his inner circle who understood that the spotlight of the presidency was going to expose his criminal plot to rig the election, and every other criminal scandal he’s ever had.
Again, people on Donald Trump’s cheerleading squad are only celebrating right now because they mistakenly think “no more indictments from Mueller” means “Trump has been exonerated by the report” and “no more indictments period.” If Trump’s behind the scenes legal advisers have been able to explain to him that that’s not how anything works, then Trump knows there’s nothing for him to be optimistic about right now – and he’s as scared of what’s about to happen to him as he should be.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report