President Donald Trump was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, just 36 hours removed from one of the best moments of his presidency: Attorney General Bill Barr announcing -- via a letter to Congress -- that special counsel Robert Mueller did not establish any conspiracy or coordination between the President's 2016 campaign and the Russian government.
And yet, despite that clear political victory, Trump proved old habits die hard. He insisted the investigation, which was begun by the FBI and taken over by Mueller after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, was the result of some sort of targeted effort by high-ranking officials to bring him down. Here's the exchange:
TRUMP: "It went very high up, and it started fairly low, but with instructions from the high up. This should never happen to a president again. We can't allow that to take place."
REPORTER: "Do you think it reached the West Wing of the Obama White House?"
TRUMP: "I don't want to say that, but I think you know the answer."
As with almost all his conspiracy theories, Trump offered zero proof of his claim, which, if true, would be a massive deal. Think what he is alleging: The outgoing administration somehow targeted the incoming President simply because they disagreed with his policies. That's a HUGE story (if true).
Trump has long harbored -- and promulgated -- the unproven and, to date, fact-free idea that there was (and is) some sort of "deep state" conspiracy against him. "The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy - & they don't know what to do," Trump tweeted last fall. "The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!"
He doesn't provide evidence for these claims because a) none seems to exist and b) his supporters don't require it. Remember when Trump made a similarly outlandish claim that then-President Barack Obama had ordered his phone at Trump Tower tapped during the 2016 campaign? Trump never offered any proof of that allegation and intelligence and national security officials denied it happened. Didn't matter. To this day, lots and lots of Trump supporters believe Obama did it.
This is who Trump is and what he does. His political ambitions were born amid a conspiracy theory (that Obama wasn't born in the United States) and he trafficked in all sorts of conspiracy theories during the campaign and as President. That he refuses to give up the idea that Mueller, a lifelong Republican handpicked for the special counsel job by Trump appointee Rod Rosenstein, was somehow leading an Obama-inspired bureaucratic coup against him EVEN AFTER Mueller's final report was as favorable to Trump as he could have wanted, speaks to the depths of Trump's commitment to his conspiracies.
The Point: Trump won't change. But we shouldn't let that reality get in the way of the facts. And the facts here are simply not on Trump's side.