Donald Trump and his allies are attempting to turn his two-year Russia investigation saga into a political boost for the 2020 presidential election in the wake of the Mueller report .
The president’s Justice Department is looking into the inquiry’s origins to see if US intelligence over-stepped the line, cheered on by supporters who want to “investigate the investigators”.
The Trump re-election campaign is fundraising off the report, attempting to raise $1 million with emails titled “EXONERATED (again)” and “CONFIRMED: NO COLLUSION”.
Figures close to the White House have also told The Sunday Telegraph that they believe Mr Trump could benefit from any impeachment move, triggering a backlash from US voters who see it as rushed.
The emerging strategy suggests that far from drawing a line under the report by special counsel Robert Mueller , Mr Trump is preparing to use it as a rallying cry for his support base.
In tweets late on Friday night, Mr Trump dubbed Mr Mueller’s investigation a “big, fat, waste of time, energy and money” and signposted his determination to scrutinise how it begun.
“It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even spying or treason,” he tweeted. “This should never happen again!”
Mr Mueller’s findings, published on Thursday after a 22-month investigation, found there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin in the 2016 US election.
It also did not recommend an obstruction of justice charge against Mr Trump. He pointedly refused to say no crime had been committed by the president but handed the decision to the Justice Department, who brought no charges.
Those two top-line outcomes have allowed the president to declare “no collusion, no obstruction” and his legal team to announce “total victory”.
The 448-report itself paints a more complex picture, one where Mr Trump repeatedly attempted to thwart the Mueller investigation and both lie himself or make subordinates do likewise.
The president urged his legal counsel to say he was not ordered to fire Mr Mueller when he was, the report found. Mr Trump also issued misleading statements to the press to deny reports now confirmed.
The Democrats have attempted to force the spotlight on this “unethical” behavior but are split on how to proceed – whether to begin impeachment proceedings now or wait until the 2020 election to remove him from office .
William Barr, Mr Trump’s newly installed US attorney general, announced shortly before the Mueller report’s release that he would look into how US government officials begun the Russia investigation before the 2016 election.
The president’s allies see political advantage, framing the investigation as a deep state ploy to thwart Mr Trump – despite the insistence of those involved that they were acting in the public interest.
Sebastian Gorka, a former deputy assistant in the White House, told this newspaper: “It’s clear that what we’ve seen in the last two years is an attempt to use the American intelligence community in a politically motivated spying scandal.”
Emails sent out by the Trump campaign in the 24 hours after the report to supporters also used the findings to generate a new wave of funds.
“Sorry haters: NO COLLUSION & EXONERATION AGAIN! How many times do I have to be exonerated before they stop? WHAT A JOKE!” read one line in a fund-raising email, sent in Mr Trump's name on Friday.
“The attacks and lies will keep coming because Democrats know they don’t stand a chance in 2020. That’s why we need to fight back BIGGER and STRONGER than ever before.”
It went on: “Let's send a HUGE message to all of the Trump Haters by raising $1,000,000 in the NEXT 24 HOURS.”
The email ended by saying that Mr Trump would be handed a list naming everyone who had contributed before the 24-hour deadline. The Trump campaign has since confirmed it hit the $1 million mark within 24 hours.