I warned about this myself on Saturday when news trickled out that POTUS was “elated” that Mueller’s latest indictment said his associates contacted Russians only “unwittingly.” That’s great, but that’s just one niche in the broader Russiagate probe. He wasn’t been cleared yet. The more he drives public attention to Mueller’s findings now, the worse it’ll backfire on him later if Mueller turns around and indicts him for something. The last thing he should be doing, in case he needs to wage a political war of survival against Mueller’s office later, is legitimizing the special counsel’s conclusions. Even when they’re favorable.
And if that day never comes and Trump does get a clean bill of legal health from Mueller, the Friday indictment is still chock full of evidence that Russia did intervene on Trump’s behalf during the campaign — negligibly, maybe, but enough to further encourage Democrats who question his legitimacy as president. Rush figured all of this out quickly. It took Trump longer but apparently he’s since figured it out too.
President Trump began the weekend believing that something good had just happened to him. An indictment leveled against 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 election had not accused him or anyone around him of wrongdoing. “No collusion” was his refrain.
But once ensconced at his Florida estate on Friday, Mr. Trump, facing long hours indoors as he avoided breezy rounds of golf after last week’s school shooting a few miles away, began watching TV.
The president’s mood began to darken as it became clearer to him that some commentators were portraying the indictment as nothing for him to celebrate, according to three people with knowledge of his reaction. Those commentators called it proof that he had not won the election on his own, a particularly galling, if not completely accurate, charge for a president long concerned about his legitimacy.
The enraged presidential tweetstorm that followed on Sunday was one for the ages. He hit targets all over the political map — McMaster, who had called Mueller’s indictment “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia had interfered; Adam Schiff, who continues to pop up in front of cameras casting dark insinuations about collusion; the FBI, which Trump accused of dropping the ball on Nikolas Cruz because it was too busy with Russiagate, never mind that the units that handle those matters are independent. He hit everyone in lashing out. Except Russia, of course, the actual subject of Mueller’s indictment on Friday.
He hasn’t attacked Trey Gowdy yet, but that’s coming soon. Gowdy was back on TV yesterday praising Mueller for his indictment, saying, “This is exactly what we wanted him to do.” Schiff is an understandable target for Trump since he’ll inherit the gavel on the House Intel Committee next year if Democrats take back the House, making him a major political problem for POTUS potentially. But for now he’s just a nuisance. Gowdy is a more immediate threat since he has some credibility on the right and no longer has anything to lose in defending Mueller, as he’s retiring from Congress. I’m surprised Trump hasn’t swung at him. Soon, soon.
Two clips for you here, one of Rush and the other of Clinton crony John Podesta being asked, “How is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin, and your campaign didn’t?” Gooooood question, CBS. Hillary’s defeat certainly had less to do with the Russian influence campaign Moscow was running than with the Hillary Clinton influence campaign her own team wasn’t running in Michigan and Wisconsin. In lieu of an exit question, read this unusual piece in Politico by Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy confessing that … he doesn’t think Trump colluded with Russia. (The word “confessions” is even used in the headline, winking at the idea that Hounshell has something to apologize for.) I agree, but it’s *exceptionally* rare to see that case made in a non-right-wing publication by a non-right-wing author. I honestly can’t think of another example despite the fact that Russiagate has been raging for more than a year. The most you’ll typically get in a mainstream publication is stuff along the lines of “nothing’s been proved — yet,” followed quickly by a reminder that Mueller knows much more than we do. The hivemind on collusion buzzes in sync even more so than the average media hivemind does.