Apparently set off by a sweeping indictment of 13 Russians and plea deal with one American, which revealed the extent of the Russian conspiracy to manipulate the election, President Trump spent the week in a frenzy, blaming the FBI and Democrats for the shooting in Parkland, Fla., and suggesting that if the authorities lay off investigating him, then more children won’t die.
He falsely denied he ever doubted that Russia meddled in the election. (“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer. The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — it never did!”) Twitter users almost instantaneously responded with tweet in which he had done just that. The Post’s Glenn Kessler found a bunch of these tweets as well.
Trump lashed out: “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” Actually, they succeeded and are laughing, very likely, because they helped elect an unhinged, erratic president who will not protect the United States against Russian meddling. The discord comes from Trump smearing the FBI and making up lies (e.g., accusing President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower).
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” [Trump] wrote just after 11 p.m. Saturday. “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
Attacking the FBI for missing a tip regarding the suspected Florida shooter — a significant blunder that the bureau admitted to Friday — while funerals are still being held for the victims was in itself a remarkable move by the president. The special counsel’s investigation, which is run separately from the main Justice Department, has nothing to do with the missed tip.
It was a new low, hiding behind the bodies of dead children and teachers to shield himself from accountability.
He blamed Democrats for not passing gun control when it was Republicans who torpedoed a compromise bill after the Sandy Hook massacre. David Hogg, a 17-year-old survivor of the massacre at his high school, spoke for many when he responded on “Face the Nation”: “President Trump, you control the House of Representatives. You control the Senate and you control the executive. You haven’t taken a single bill for mental health care or gun control and passed it. And that’s pathetic. … Are you kidding me. You think now is the time to focus on the past and not the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children. You sicken me.” I suspect a significant majority of Americans would agree with that sentiment.
Trump also lashed out at national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said at the Munich Security Conference there was “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian interference. (“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company.”) McMaster did not “forget.” He would not have made these false accusations because that would have made him sound unhinged and would cause us to worry about the mental health of our national security adviser.
To recap, the FBI and Justice Department have never said the election was not affected; there is no way to determine how many voters, if any, changed their minds. (Trump, however, did mention the Democratic National Committee hack about 140 times in the closing days of the campaign, so he must have thought it was useful.) And of course the Uranium One attack has been debunked time and again. The dossier was commissioned by Fusion GPS, which Hillary Clinton’s lawyer hired. Much of it has been confirmed, according to intelligence officials. The dossier was not used to throw the election; in fact, Christopher Steele vainly tried to get others to hear that Trump was being aided by the Russians. (“Conspiring” to reveal the extent of Trump’s Russia connection means doing what Donald Trump Jr. and others associated with his campaign did not: namely, patriotically report Russian interference to the authorities.)
Aside from the blizzard of lies, one is struck by how frantic Trump sounds. The number and looniness of the tweets arguably exceed anything he has previously done. His conduct reaffirms the basic outline of an obstruction charge: Desperate to disable a Russia probe that would be personally embarrassing to him, he has tried in many ways to interfere with and end the investigation. In doing so, he, at the very least, has abused his office. In turning on his inquisitors rather than to the job of protecting America from Russian influence, he confirms his peculiar fidelity to Vladimir Putin and reminds us he continues to violate his oath of office. There is no doubt he has, based on what we already known, committed actions constituting an abuse of his office. What, if anything special counsel Robert S. Mueller III intends to do about it remains to be seen. Trump’s meltdown over two days is likely to re-raise questions about his mental stability and temperamental fitness to govern.
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