Donald Trump is totally cool about the Russia investigation. It won't last.

Cillizza: Russia probe not a witch hunt
Cillizza: Russia probe not a witch hunt

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Cillizza: Russia probe not a witch hunt 00:53

Story highlights

  • CNN reported Monday that President Donald Trump is calm about the Russia probes
  • There are certain realities that suggest this calm precedes a big storm

(CNN)Nothing has irritated President Donald Trump more in the first year of his presidency than the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia. He has called it a witch hunt. A hoax. He's blamed Democrats -- unwilling to admit he beat them in 2016 -- for it. He's railed -- publicly and privately -- at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Justice Department's investigation.

But now, according to a CNN report Monday morning, Trump has found a place of relative calm about the whole thing -- believing that the end of the investigation is nearing and that he will soon be fully exonerated by special counsel Bob Mueller.
    "Trump is boasting to friends and advisers that he expects Mueller to clear him of wrongdoing in the coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the conversations. The President seems so convinced of his impending exoneration that he is telling associates Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him that Trump can brandish to Washington and the world in a bid to finally emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has loomed over the first chapter of his presidency, the sources said."
    If past is prologue -- and it almost certainly is -- then this is the calm before another storm.
    Why? Consider:
    • Trump's calm -- as detailed in the piece -- is rooted in his lawyers' assertion that (a) the investigation is wrapping up and (b) he will receive some sort of "exoneration letter" proving that he was right all along. On the second point, all we know about Trump's status in the investigation is that he says former FBI Director James Comey told him on three occasions that he was not under investigation. But that was many months ago. On the first point, we -- and Trump's lawyers -- have no real way of knowing where Mueller is in the course of the investigation.
    • Trump is mercurial. He is goes from calm to angry in the blink of the eye. It's a personality trait that has been on display his entire life -- and politics has only exacerbated it. What Trump feels right now could well be radically different than what he feels later today, tomorrow or next month. He views this unpredictability as a major asset -- keeping people on their toes, never sure what they will get from him.
    Those twin realities make this calm likely to be a temporary condition before a(nother) major storm.
    What has not changed in all of this is that Trump is absolutely convinced that the whole Russia investigation is totally without merit, a creation of Democrats who can't accept they lost the election. (Side note: This is not a claim based in fact. The special counsel was formed by the Trump Justice Department; Mueller is a Republican who was first appointed FBI director by George W. Bush.)
    Returning from Camp David on Sunday night, Trump hit on a familiar refrain about the investigation: "There's no collusion. There's no collusion whatsoever."
    And, there may not be! But neither Mueller nor the congressional committees investigating Russia's active interference in the 2016 election have actually said that. They haven't said much of anything. We just don't know what they know or what they've ruled out or in at this point.
    What we do know is that four people affiliated with the Trump campaign -- including campaign chair Paul Manafort and senior adviser Michael Flynn -- have been charged with a variety of crimes by Mueller. Two -- Flynn and foreign policy adviser George Papdopoulos -- have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and are cooperating with the Mueller probe.
    None of that means that Trump himself is implicated in any way. Or that his insistence on "no collusion" is wrong. But, what it does mean is that the Mueller investigation doesn't seem like it is days away from ending.
    And, with every passing day where the exoneration letter -- is that a thing? -- doesn't come, the more likely it is that Trump's calm demeanor gives way to anger and frustration.
    So, for Trump allies, enjoy the calm. It almost certainly won't last.