President Donald Trump is running for reelection in 2020, even as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller prepares to testify before Congress about his Russia investigation. It just so happens that Trump's next campaign rally and Mueller's testimony have been planned for the same day, and it's unclear whether or not that is a coincidence. Elite Daily has reached out to the Trump campaign about the decision to hold the upcoming rally on the same day as Mueller's testimony, but did not immediately hear back.
According to The Washington Post, Trump's 2020 presidential campaign has planned a campaign rally in North Carolina on July 17, which is the same day that Mueller will deliver his highly anticipated testimony to Congress. Trump's decision to schedule a campaign rally on the same day as Mueller's testimony could be coincidental, but as The New York Times pointed out in February, the president often responds to losses with distractions — and in some ways, Mueller's decision to testify could be a loss for him. In fact, Politico reported, Mueller's testimony could shed light on Trump's potential interference in the Russia investigation. Elite Daily has reached to the Justice Department for comment on the situation, but did not immediately hear back.
In his capacity as special counsel, Mueller conducted an extensive investigation into whether or not Russia interfered in the 2016 American presidential election, and the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Nearly two years after his appointment in May 2017, Mueller concluded his Russia probe in March, finding that while the Trump 2016 presidential campaign had not colluded with Russia, it had "expected to benefit" from Russian election meddling. In Mueller's report of his findings, his team also weighed in on whether the president had obstructed justice in the probe, and wrote that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Trump, in turn, claimed exoneration. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on details alleged in the report, but did not hear back.
Trump responded to the Mueller report findings after the release of the redacted version of the report on April 18 by telling a group of veterans at the White House that "I’m having a good day," per CNBC.
"No collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said after the redacted report was publicly released. “There never was, by the way, and there never will be. And we do have to get to the bottom of these things. This should never happen ... to another president again. This hoax. It should never happen to another president again.”
But in the days and weeks following the report's release, Democratic leaders started putting pressure on Mueller to testify before Congress. Mueller expressed his reluctance to discuss the probe publicly beyond what he included in his report. "It is important that the office's written work speak for itself," Mueller said during a press conference on May 29. "I hope and expect this to be the only time that I speak to you on this matter." But in June, Democrats announced that the former special counsel had agreed to testify on July 17.
In announcing Trump's upcoming campaign rally in North Carolina, his team did not make any mention of Mueller or his testimony. Instead, Michael Glassner — the chief operating officer of Trump's re-election campaign — told The Washington Post in a statement that the president hopes to use this rally as a chance to highlight "the successes of the Trump presidency.”
North Carolina tends to be an election battleground; according to The Hill, Trump won the state by approximately 3.5 points in the 2016 presidential election, and he's aiming to keep it Republican in 2020. However, Democrats are hoping that Mueller's testimony will turn public sentiment against Trump, so it's not impossible that the president has an additional motive in hosting the rally on July 17 — to distract from whatever it is that Mueller has to say.