'Exuberant' Donald Trump Crashed GOP Senators' Policy Lunch to Gloat About Mueller Probe: Report

A cheerful President Donald Trump made an unscheduled appearance at a policy lunch held by Republican senators Tuesday, and used the occasion to brag about the reported conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

According to The Washington Post, Trump crashed the private lunch where senators were discussing disaster aid for Puerto Rico, which is still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

The president used his surprise appearance to brag about the Mueller report and air a selection of familiar grievances, according to people familiar with the event, quoted by the Post.

The full Mueller report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election has not yet been released. The document was sent to Attorney General William Barr on Saturday, who subsequently released a four-page summary of its main findings.

Barr said Mueller found no evidence that Trump and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. On obstruction of justice, Barr included text from the report that read: "While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Despite the vague language and the fact the full report has still not been released, Trump and his allies have touted the summary as full vindication of the president. Trump even warned he may now seek to punish those behind the investigation, while press secretary Sarah Sanders framed media reporting on the probe as treason, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has called for a new special council to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation.

On Tuesday, Senator Mike Braun of Indiana described the president's mood as "exuberant" as he sought reaction to Barr's letter. According to those present, Trump described the investigation as "two years of bullshit," gloated that he had emerged with a "clean bill of health" and complained of the impact it had had on his close family and friends.

The Hill reported that the president had falsely claimed, "The Mueller report was great, it could not have been better, it said no obstruction, no collusion."

Graham said Trump spoke as if he had a "new lease of life." North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer explained, "He's always high energy… He had a little extra today."

Aides reportedly tried to dissuade the president from attending, arguing there was no agenda for the visit. Trump's sudden appearance meant that Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie—who was scheduled to address senators about veteran care during lunch—was kicked off the agenda.

Speaking for almost an hour, Trump again criticized the amount of aid being sent to Puerto Rico. He noted that Texas and South Carolina received $29 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, to help them recover from storms, and questioned why Puerto Rico should get $91 billion. According to attendees, he joked that the whole island could be bought four times over for that amount.

The $91 billion figure is close to the estimated amount of damage to the island, but is a long way from the $20 billion appropriated $1.5 billion approved from Department of Housing and Urban Development funds by Congress for the unincorporated territory's relief.

Trump also criticized NATO ahead of the alliance's 70th anniversary celebrations being held in Washington next week. The president once again complained that the pact costs too much for the U.S. and said the new headquarters in Brussels was too expensive.

He went on to mock the Green New Deal, an ambitious climate change movement in the Democratic Party seeking huge investment to reorientate the U.S. economy to become more sustainable. Trump—an apparent climate change denier—reportedly told senators "don't kill it yet" because he wanted to run against the controversial proposals in 2020.

The White House told the Post Trump hit on a range of topics at his lunch appearance, including his "complete and total vindication" in the Mueller probe, health care policy and ongoing plans to expand the military.

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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media after he arrived at a Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 26, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images
'Exuberant' Donald Trump Crashed GOP Senators' Policy Lunch to Gloat About Mueller Probe: Report | U.S.