- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2019

President Trump called impeachment a “filthy, disgusting” word Thursday and framed his battle with special counsel Robert Mueller and Democrats as a stand for democracy and a rebuke of the Washington establishment’s “insurance” policy against his presidency.

Speaking a day after Mr. Mueller delivered a public statement saying he didn’t clear the president of a crime, Mr. Trump called the former FBI chief a “never Trumper” and his two-year probe “a sad period” for the country.

The president said by fighting back he is protecting not only his White House, but also future chief executives, from zealous attacks.

“I think in the end, I will consider what’s happening now one of my greatest achievements — exposing this corruption,” Mr. Trump said.

Asked by a reporter whether he expects to be impeached, the president recoiled.

“To me, it’s a dirty word — the word ‘impeach.’ It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. And it had nothing to do with me,” he said. “There was no high crime and there was no misdemeanor. So how do you impeach based on that?”

Mr. Mueller, in his statement Wednesday, said Justice Department policy precludes charging or prosecuting a president for federal crimes, so he didn’t make a determination on whether crimes were committed.

He said, however, that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Attorney General William P. Barr said Thursday Mr. Mueller could have reached a conclusion even if he couldn’t charge the president.

“He could’ve reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity, but he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained. And I am not going to, you know, argue about those reasons,” the attorney general told CBS News.

Mr. Barr said, though, that when Mr. Mueller failed to make a recommendation, he and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided to make a determination. They concluded the president wouldn’t have been charged even without the department’s policy against indicting a sitting president.

Democrats saw Mr. Mueller’s statement as confirmation that they are on the right path in investigating Mr. Trump — and calls for his impeachment grew louder.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pumped the brakes on that process, saying the American people should get an unredacted version of the report and see Mr. Mueller testify before Congress, while her troops gather facts on the campaign and Mr. Trump’s finances.

Mr. Trump on Thursday called the headwinds he’s faced — from a secret FBI investigation during the campaign to Mr. Mueller’s probe to House Democrats’ myriad examinations — the Washington establishment’s “insurance policy” in case Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.

“In other words, ‘Should Hillary Clinton lose, we’ve got an insurance policy,’” Mr. Trump said. “Guess what? What we’re in right now is the insurance policy.”

Mr. Trump was alluding to correspondence between two high-ranking FBI agents, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, referring to the Russia investigation of the Trump campaign as an “insurance policy” to undermine Mr. Trump’s presidency, in case Mrs. Clinton lost the 2016 election.

“What we’re in right now is the insurance policy,” Mr. Trump said, referring to what he considers continual partisan harassment and investigation without a basis for it.

Mr. Trump did raise eyebrows with a morning tweet saying he had “nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,” seeming to acknowledge for the first time that Russians worked to boost him, as the Mueller report states on its first page of text.

Moments later, Mr. Trump pulled it back.

“No, Russia did not help me get elected,” he told White House reporters.

He said Russia would have preferred to see Mrs. Clinton as president, arguing “nobody has been tougher” on Vladimir Putin’s country than him.

Mrs. Clinton hit back online.

“The president hasn’t just refused to condemn a foreign power that attacked our democracy. He’s also failed to protect the country’s voting systems against future attacks. He betrays his oath every day,” Mrs. Clinton said in a tweet.

The White House says it’s working across agencies to ensure election security in 2020, while Mr. Trump said he would like to see paper ballots across the board, to ensure there is a record of votes that cannot be hacked.

“Because,” he said, “going to good, old-fashioned paper, in this modern age, is the best way to do it.”

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