The tenor of President Trump’s tweets became increasingly desperate over the weekend. By Monday morning, we could see why.
Special counsel Robert Mueller released the first results of his sweeping investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. He indicted two former Trump campaign officials and announced a surprise guilty plea of a third.
Clearly, it is evidence of a connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
He can call it “fake news,” blame it on the media and point fingers all he wants. Most rationale Americans know that the louder Donald Trump complains the more likely it appears this investigation will have serious consequences.
If Trump were to order Attorney General Jeff Sessions to dismiss Mueller or issue blanket pardons, it will plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. We must be prepared; with one voice, Congress must say that Mueller will be allowed to complete his inquiry.
There are two bipartisan bills in the Senate. But bills to protect Mueller have gone nowhere in the House, which has shown less backbone than certain senators. California’s 14 Republican members – including Jeff Denham – have been silent as Trump sought to undermine Mueller at every turn. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, actively colluded with the White House to obstruct the inquiry.
Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has “no intention” of firing Mueller. She also tried to create distractions by claiming Hillary Clinton, not Trump, colluded with Russia.
Her “proof” is that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that led to the salacious “dossier” concerning Trump and Russia. Never mind that the dossier started with funding from an unnamed Republican running for president. Never mind that every campaign does “oppositional research,” and there’s nothing illegal about it. Besides, it’s what’s in the dossier that counts.
The Trump machine is also trying to revive conspiracy theories about a 2010 uranium deal approved by the Obama administration while Clinton was secretary of state.
Neither case has led to anything close to the 12-count indictment against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates, who are charged with conspiracy to launder money and making false statements related to their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine before the 2016 Trump campaign. Don’t forget, that while America was trying to nurture a budding democracy in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was doing its utmost to crush it. Still is.
Mueller disclosed Monday that former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos already has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about an April 2016 conversation with a professor with close ties to Russia, offering “dirt” on Clinton in thousands of emails. The White House says Papadopoulos played a very limited role in the campaign, but court documents say senior officials knew of his Russians contacts.
In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort and Jared Kushner met a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton. That was the meeting the president, himself, tried to tell us was actually about adoptions. Hardly.
If Republicans in Congress truly believe no one is above the law, and if they take seriously Russian interference in our democracy, there’s a good way to prove it: Make sure Mueller can finish his job.