WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday celebrated former special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, declaring it was a “great day for me” after the lengthy hearings wrapped up.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House after Mueller’s testimony, insisted the pair of congressional hearings cleared him from the “phony cloud” cast by the Justice Department’s sweeping Russia probe, even though Mueller reiterated to lawmakers that the Russia probe did not exonerate the president.
“We had a very good day today,” Trump told reporters moments before departing for an evening campaign fundraiser in West Virginia.
The president lauded the line of questioning pursued by Republicans on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, while saying it was “dumb” for lawmakers to ask Mueller if the president could be indicted after leaving office. Mueller replied “yes” it was possible when asked by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.).
Trump described Mueller’s performance as “horrible” saying “his presentation was way off.” He then cushioned his criticism by saying that Mueller “had no material to work with so he did a poor job.”
Trump said Mueller did not present a strong defense of the 22-month investigation into Russian election interference and ties to the Trump campaign and whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation.
“There was no defense to what Robert Mueller was trying to defend,” Trump said. “There was no defense to this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt.”
Mueller, during his testimony, repeated to lawmakers that the underlying investigation revealed pervasive efforts by the Russian government to influence American elections, that he said would be ongoing in the 2020 election.
“Let me say one more thing, over the course of my career I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy,” Mueller said. “The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is the most serious.”
Trump, who previously said he would not tune in to the testimony, spent the day watching the hearings from the White House residence, where he took to Twitter to repost missives from his allies that were critical of Mueller’s performance.
The president, who started the day assailing Mueller’s investigation in a blitz of morning tweets, took on a more celebratory tone in his tweets by the time Mueller wrapped up the first of two hearings.
“I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearing,” Trump tweeted just after 1 p.m. He then took aim at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), saying, “Now, after 3 hours, Robert Mueller has to subject himself to #ShiftySchiff — an Embarrassment to our Country!"
The president’s 2020 campaign raised money off the hearing, dispatching text messages to supporters calling for campaign contributions to “tell the Dems to end this WITCH HUNT.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, in a statement, said the hearings “were a disaster for Democrats” and cast the hearings as an effort by Democrats to delegitimize Trump’s 2016 election.
“This entire spectacle has always been about the Democrats trying to undo the legitimate result of the 2016 election and today they again failed miserably,” Parscale said.
Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow in a statement said: “The American people understand that this issue is over. They also understand that the case is closed.”