Monday, March 25, 2019


Mr. Trump’s aides warned him not to react to the findings with a sense of triumphalism, people close to him said.

-- Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman in The New York Times

The outcome is a huge political victory, and Trump will use it to bludgeon the media and Democrats for the next 18 months.

--Mike Allen at Axios
Allen goes on to write, "Much of the country will probably agree with him." Is that true? I think the part of the country that already agrees with him on everything will agree with him. I think people in the middle will agree that he's been exonerated, because Republicans are still better at spin, as they have been for decades.

But will the Americans who aren't right-wing partisans really care? On the campaign trail, even with partisan crowds, Democrats aren't hearing a lot of questions about Mueller and Russia.
At events across early primary states, voters asked about health care and school shootings and immigration. Questioners were far less likely to address the report by the special counsel....
Trump may be experiencing a real victory -- or he may be experiencing a Bush-takes-Baghdad victory, which didn't save George Bush the Elder in 1992 and almost didn't save his son in 2004.

The Democrat who emerges as the presidential nominee in 2020 will have serious ideas about health care, gun violence, climate change, immigration, inequality, and many other issues. Trump's message might still be "NO COLLUSION!" in all caps. That might be his entire agenda -- to wreak vengeance on the people who confronted him about Russia. (That plus the wall.)

If "NO COLLUSION!" is Trump's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED," maybe it will be enough to get him over the hump in 2020 -- but it's quite possible that he'll seem like someone who's disengaged, and oblivious to the concerns of ordinary Americans, like Poppy Bush in '92. The Democratic nominee -- even if it's an elder like Warren, Biden, or Bernie -- will be the one talking about the future.

And imagine if Trump takes vindictiveness as far as his sycophants suggests. Imagine if he now decides to order a new investigation of Hillary Clinton, as the New York Post's Michael Goodwin recommends, or of officials in the Obama administration, which is the recommendation of Devin Nunes. I don't think he will, though we can't rule it out. If so, he'll delight people who were already 100% certain to vote for him, while seeming utterly disconnected from the concerns of the rest of us. This could possibly be a moment of hubris from which Trump will have a terrible fall.


AND: Right on cue, here's Lindsey Graham preparing to launch an actual witch hunt.
The South Carolina Republican announced Monday he will investigate whether the Justice Department and FBI influenced the 2016 election to stop Trump, arguing it has not been appropriately probed in comparison to the Trump campaign's interactions with Russian officials.

Graham specifically cited the decisions made to surveil the Trump campaign in 2016 and its handling of the uncorroborated Steele Dossier.

“I’m going to get answers to this. If no one else cares, it seems that Republicans do. Because if the shoe were on the other foot, it would be front page news all over the world. The double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing,” Graham said....

Graham's list of grievances ran long during a 30-minute new conference on Monday morning: He complained about anti-Trump bias in federal law enforcement agencies, lack of media interest in the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the election, why Trump wasn’t informed former campaign aide Carter Page was being watched and what role James Comey played in the saga....

The investigation would look into “whether those who believed that the FBI and the Department of Justice were playing politics, that they wanted Clinton to win and Trump to lose, that somebody can satisfy them,” Graham said. “By any reasonable standard, Mr. Mueller thoroughly investigated the Trump campaign. You cannot say that about the other side of the story.”
We're being told that an obsession with Russia and the Mueller probe was very damaging politically for Democrats going into 2020 (even though an obsession with alleged Hillary Clinton scandals wasn't damaging at all to Republicans in 2016). When this is the first of several payback investigations directed at Democrats and law enforcement, will media hand-wringers say it's a terrible strategy for the GOP?

(I hope it is. It will certainly impress and energize the right, but only voters who were going to vote Republican anyway. For everyone else, I hope it will seem low, petty, and vindictive.)

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