Trump: I'm concerned that Russia will try to meddle in the midterm campaign -- to help Democrats

Easily one of his top 10 tweets all-time, if not top five. He’s the Rembrandt of trolling and this is his “Night Watch.”

As chance would have it, Quinnipiac asked Americans about that in a new poll released today: Are you worried about Russia messing around in the midterm campaign, and do you think Trump should be doing more to protect the U.S. from that meddling? On the first question, Democrats split 89/11 in saying they’re at least somewhat concerned while Republicans split 34/66 in saying they’re not so concerned. On the second, Democrats say Trump should be doing more at a rate of 88/8; Republicans say he’s doing enough, 31/57.

Republicans don’t seem to share the president’s concerns about Putin meddling to help the Dems! Go figure.

It’s worth scrolling through the Quinnipiac data, as it’s chock full of reaction to the Helsinki summit and views of Trump and Russia generally. The good news for POTUS is that a plurality of Americans, 39/48, thinks he did *not* personally collude with Russia in 2016. Unfortunately, a narrower plurality thinks his campaign did, 46/44. This result, on whether people believe Russia has compromising info on Trump, isn’t great either:

Asked whether Trump was acting in America’s best interests in meeting with Putin or not, a majority says the latter, 41/54. A majority also says the summit was a failure for the U.S., 27/52. More generally, contra his insistence that he’s tough on Russia, Americans believe he’s too friendly: 55 percent say so versus 37 percent who think he has the “right attitude” towards the Kremlin. In all cases you have near unanimity among Dems and decisive majorities among independents who view Trump skeptically. Even strong Republican support can’t balance that scale.

One more from the poll, the cruelest cut of all. Whom do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues, Trump or U.S. intelligence agencies?

Same dynamic as above — unanimous Dems and lopsided indies — plus more tepid support than usual for POTUS among Republicans. Still, Trump’s “deep state” rhetoric isn’t really aimed at persuading the country writ large. It’s aimed at solidifying those Republican numbers as much as he can just in case Mueller delivers something that puts impeachment in play. The more unified GOPers are, the more congressional Republicans will waver on whether to take action against him.

As for his tweet, it’s not easy imagining why meddling on behalf of *Democrats* this time might make more strategic sense for Putin than meddling on behalf of Republicans. All that would do is make an enemy of Trump, a president otherwise favorably disposed to Russia. And interfering again to try to help Republicans would further embitter the partisan divide, deepening Democratic suspicions about Trump/GOP collusion with the Kremlin. If it’s true, as is often said, that Putin’s ultimate goal is to sow discord among Americans, why would he try to hack the GOP and unify the country in hatred for him and his meddling ways? Better to stay on one side of the aisle and make mischief.

There is one obvious way it might pay for Russia to help elect the Dems, though. Namely, impeachment. The ultimate discord would be a wrenching, toxic debate over whether a Democratic Congress should try to remove a Republican president. It would be partisan nuclear war, and therefore would appeal to Putin. The hitch is that to make it remotely feasible he’d need a Dem majority in the House *and* a sizable Dem majority in the Senate. And a sizable Dem Senate majority is basically the only outcome this fall that’s impossible. Still, having Pelosi and the Democrats in charge of House committees, hauling Trump deputies before the chamber to testify and launching investigations various and sundry into Trump’s behavior, would fit nicely with the “discord” theory of Russian behavior. Putin will have something to celebrate no matter who prevails this fall.