March 28, 2019

THIS ARTICLE HAS IT WRONG: TRUMP WON’T BE CAMPAIGNING ON THE MUELLER REPORT, HE’LL BE CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE PRESS.

Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”

They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.” (“It’s the same thing we’ve been doing the last two years. We’re going to hold the media accountable when we see fit,” an RNC official clarified, adding that this would include digital clips shared on social media.)

Earlier this week, Trump’s campaign previewed the in-your-face tactics they have in mind. A campaign official sent a letter to TV producers cautioning them against booking certain guests who had alleged that Trump colluded with Russia, including Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

“It’s not hard to figure where we’re going to go with this,” a current campaign official told The Atlantic. “We’re still in victory-lap mode, but it will turn into a message that [Democrats] will say or do anything to stop us from making America great again, including making up lies about the president and ruining a lot of people’s lives.”

Well, the nice thing about that argument is that it’s true. And Trump will treat the press like it’s made up of Democratic operatives with bylines, which is also true.

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