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March 19, 2019

President Trump on Tuesday attacked late Senator John McCain for the fourth time in as many days, this time during a meeting with the president of Brazil.

While speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Trump yet again criticized the Republican senator who died in 2018 following a battle with cancer. When asked why he has been going after McCain, Trump said that he is "very unhappy" that McCain didn't vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. "I think that's disgraceful," said Trump. "Plus, there are other things."

"I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be," Trump added. Per CNN's Manu Raju, the president did not take a follow-up question about whether his attacks on the late senator are "beneath the dignity of the office."

Trump repeatedly went after McCain on Twitter over the weekend, attacking him for his ObamaCare vote and falsely accusing him of leaking the Russia dossier written by Christopher Steele to the media before the 2016 election and of being last in his class. Trump also retweeted a supporter who wrote that "we hated McCain."

McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, responded to Trump's attacks on Monday by saying that the president will "never be a great man" and that he leads a "pathetic life." Brendan Morrow

9:36 a.m.

On Thursday morning, Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference ahead of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 election. The press conference is airing on all the major news networks and their online live streams, and can be watched without a cable subscription for free on CSPAN here, or below. Jeva Lange

9:26 a.m.

President Trump is already satisfied with the Mueller report he got three weeks ago. Maybe he shouldn't be.

When Attorney General William Barr delivered his initial findings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe in late March, Trump was quick to spin it as "total and complete exoneration." Yet Trump's conclusion — which isn't true, by the way — didn't really change how Americans felt about him.

After a low point during the government shutdown, Trump's approval ratings have hovered around 42 percent, per FiveThirtyEight's ongoing conglomeration of several polls. In fact, Trump saw a 42.1 percent approval rating on March 24, the day Barr released his infamous report findings. But instead of convincing the public of no collusion like Trump had hoped, it seems Barr's findings did absolutely nothing. On Thursday, as Congress is scheduled to receive the whole redacted Mueller report, Trump is at a solid 42 percent.

FiveThirtyEight compiles dozens of polls into its approval rating matrix, "accounting for each poll's quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean," it says. Check out the rest of Trump's unchanging approval numbers here. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:22 a.m.

President Trump braced for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday with a dramatic video montage in which he declares "no collusion" over and over again.

Trump on his Twitter account released an edited video compiling instances in which he dismissed Mueller's investigation by declaring "no collusion," doing so in this video 10 times within the span of 24 seconds. Clearly, the montage is far from complete, with The Washington Post having previously tracked down at least 231 instances of Trump using that phrase.

The video then cuts to a highlight reel of media coverage after Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report, which said that Mueller did not establish that Trump's campaign conspired with Russia.

The video doesn't reference the second aspect of Mueller's report, with Barr having said that Mueller did not conclude whether the president obstructed justice but did not exonerate him. It's this obstruction of justice question that the redacted report may be able to provide more clarity on, and which could potentially include some details damaging to the administration. Trump did, however, write "no obstruction" in his tweet.

The whole video is set to dramatic music as if it's a movie trailer, although this time, the White House did wisely avoid using the score from The Dark Knight Rises without permission. Watch Trump's video below. Brendan Morrow

9:15 a.m.

As of Thursday morning, no one knows how much of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report will be redacted — or even how long it is — but that hasn't stopped the publishing industry from going hog wild over getting it into print as fast as possible.

On Amazon, you can already take your pick of six versions of the Mueller Report, from Skyhorse's edition (with an introduction by Alan Dershowitz), The Washington Post's edition (which includes analysis by staff reporters), an audiobook version (available "only from Audible"), Melville House's edition (which has an initial print run of an impressive 50,000 copies), Brown Books Publishing Group's Kindle edition (with lawmakers co-writing a bipartisan introduction), and a plain Kindle version ("free of additional commentary").

That's not even to include Muller Report-adjacent publications that have already come out, including The Mueller Report by humorist Jason O. Gilbert, A Comprehensive Review of the Lies in the Mueller Report: Exhaustive Analysis of Each and Every Specific Lie by Nate Roberts (all the pages are blank — get it?), and The Mueller Meme Report: Winners Aren't Losers - A Coloring Book Meme Guide to All the Russian Collusion Found After 657 Days of Investigating, self-published by "Trumpy McTrumpface."

Of course, the Mueller Report will also be available online on Thursday for free via the Department of Justice. Jeva Lange

9:07 a.m.

After the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, Michael Cohen will be ready to chat.

President Trump's former lawyer, who previously testified before Congress, on Thursday tweeted that he will soon "be ready to address the American people again" and "tell it all" after the redacted version of the Mueller report drops later in the day.

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman notes that the Mueller report is likely to include information that Cohen provided while speaking to the special counsel's team for hours.

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, said on Thursday that it "does not matter" how much Barr redacts the Mueller report because Cohen will be able to "fill in the bulk" of these redactions, adding in a message to Trump, "nice try." Brendan Morrow

8:50 a.m.

CNN's Chris Cuomo is befuddled by Attorney General William Barr's rollout of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report — but the way it's being handled does remind him of someone.

Barr plans to hold a press conference on Thursday morning about the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report. But the report won't actually be made public until hours later, meaning journalists won't have the opportunity to ask informed questions, and Barr could be able to frame the narrative about the report.

This plan "to have a press conference about something before you've released that thing," is "weird," Cuomo concluded on New Day. Perhaps it's because Barr has taken some inspiration from President Trump, Cuomo considered. He asked: "Who likes to do press conferences where they promise that things are going to happen and people don't know the facts yet, but 'here, this is going to be amazing' ... I wonder who may have encouraged this press conference?"

Cuomo, in fact, raised concerns about Barr all throughout Thursday's New Day. At the top of the show, Alisyn Camerota noted that Democrats are "accusing Barr of trying to shield the president and color Mueller's findings for the public," to which Cuomo shot back, "And that's because he is," per NewsBusters. Cuomo on his Wednesday show complained about Barr's handling of the entire process, from his four-page summary to his press conference held before a holiday weekend, arguing, "The process has been stinky."

Cuomo's fears didn't seem to be assuaged after the Justice Department announced the topics for the press conference later in the morning, with Cuomo saying that "Democrats are accusing Barr of improperly trying to color Mueller’s findings before the public or lawmakers could read the Mueller report, and by definition, he’s doing just that." Brendan Morrow

8:17 a.m.

The Justice Department has just revealed what Attorney General William Barr plans to discuss at his highly-anticipated press conference on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

A DOJ spokesperson on Thursday said that Barr in his press conference will address three issues: whether executive privilege was invoked, what recent interactions the Justice Department has had with the White House, and the redaction process, per CNN's Abby Phillip.

Barr had previously come under fire from Democrats for holding this press conference before the Mueller report is released to Congress or to the public, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both calling the plan "indefensible."

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be present for the press conference, per CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, but he does not plan to make a statement. It will reportedly last about 20 minutes. CNN's Jim Sciutto observed that if the conference is limited to these three questions, it sounds like it's "not about Mueller, it's about Barr and Barr defending Barr." Brendan Morrow

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