Trump goes on the attack before release of Mueller report

President Trump on Monday took a shot at the credibility of Robert Mueller's investigation by reiterating Attorney General William Barr’s claim there may have been “spying” on his 2016 campaign, as Washington prepares for the long-awaited release of the special counsel's report.

In a pair of tweets published just after the Justice Department said the report will become public on Thursday, the president renewed his claim it was written by “18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters” and “should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign.”

“INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!” he tweeted early Monday morning, before writing in a later post that “THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN (We will never forget)!”

Trump is likely seeking to downplay expectations for the report, which is expected to contain more damaging information about his conduct than Barr’s four-page letter saying he would not face charges on collusion or obstruction related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 race.

Barr’s letter reportedly made Trump feel emboldened to escalate his attacks on Mueller and his investigators, but some allies of the president are worried the assault might backfire if the special counsel’s report paints an unflattering picture of the president or those close to him.

Such a result could revive the Russia probe as a political issue for Democrats and cast the victory lap the president took in the aftermath of Barr’s letter, during which he claimed “complete and total exoneration,” in a more negative light.

Top White House officials have nonetheless chosen to follow the president’s lead.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday attempted to minimize the potential ramifications of Mueller’s fuller findings, deeming the matter “case closed.”

“I don't think it's going to be damaging to the president because the entire purpose of the investigation was whether or not there was collusion,” Sanders said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Mueller was crystal clear in the fact that there was no collusion, not just between the president but any American, they couldn't find anything,” she continued. “They couldn't make a determination, which is basically Mueller's way legally of saying we can't find anything.”

Sanders pushed back on the suggestion that Trump is opposed to the public release of Mueller’s report, arguing that the president “wants transparency.”

Trump previously said Mueller had acted honorably. He has said he would defer to the attorney general on making the report available but would support letting the public view the document.

That rhetoric has given way more recently to pre-emptive attacks on Democratic lawmakers who are unlikely to be satisfied by a heavily redacted version of Mueller’s report.

“The Radical Left Democrats will never be satisfied with anything we give them,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “They will always Resist and Obstruct!”

Barr has said he would not redact information to protect Trump’s reputation, only to shield possible grand jury or classified information.

But Democratic leaders have pressed for the attorney general to provide an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, along with the underlying evidence that the special counsel used to formulate his findings.

Democrats have argued that Barr, a political appointee of the president, should not be trusted to deliver an unbiased accounting of Mueller’s findings.

“I don’t trust Barr, I trust Mueller,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told The Associated Press last week.

Democrats and other national security officials have said Barr’s use of the word “spying” was inappropriate in describing surveillance used by federal investigators on Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 campaign.

Barr told members of Congress last week that he would look into whether any of the surveillance was inappropriate.

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