The president is having a moment on Twitter, seemingly because of a New York Times story published on Saturday that said Donald Trump Jr. at least toyed with the idea of accepting help in his father’s presidential campaign from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a meeting in Trump Tower.
The president fired off a series of tweets on Sunday morning slamming the story as “long” and “boring” and asking when special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will “STOP!” He returned to many of his old talking points on Hillary Clinton and Russia and seemed to suggest the FBI should have broken into the Democratic National Committee’s offices and seized its server after its emails were hacked. “Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam,” Trump wrote.
Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia hit the one-year mark this week. Just this week, a lot of related news has broken. A sampling: The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee said that Russia tried to help Trump win in 2016 on Wednesday; the Times and the Washington Post reported that the FBI sent an informant to talk to Trump campaign advisers after the bureau found evidence the campaign had suspicious contacts with Russia in the early stages of the Russia investigation; and reports were published that the FBI is looking into payments Trump lawyer Michael Cohen took from a South Korean aerospace company, and that Cohen had reached out to a Qatari investor asking for $1 million in exchange for consulting services.
Then on Saturday, the Times reported that in August 2016, the president’s eldest son took part in a second questionable Trump Tower meeting where an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the UAE offered to help out his father’s campaign. An Israeli social media specialist who had put together a plan to boost Trump using thousands of fake Facebook accounts also attended. (Trump, of course, knows that taking help from foreign countries in the context of a campaign is illegal.)
The president complained that the Mueller investigation has found “nothing” on Russia or him, so “they are now looking at the rest of the World!” He said investigators would likely continue their work into the 2018 midterm elections, “where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party,” and said the FBI’s focus should instead be on Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and John and Tony Podesta.
Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
....At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
...in the Hillary Clinton Campaign where she deleted 33,000 Emails, got $145,000,000 while Secretary of State, paid McCabes wife $700,000 (and got off the FBI hook along with Terry M) and so much more. Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party. Don’t worry about Dems FISA Abuse, missing Emails or Fraudulent Dossier!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
What ever happened to the Server, at the center of so much Corruption, that the Democratic National Committee REFUSED to hand over to the hard charging (except in the case of Democrats) FBI? They broke into homes & offices early in the morning, but were afraid to take the Server?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
....and why hasn’t the Podesta brother been charged and arrested, like others, after being forced to close down his very large and successful firm? Is it because he is a VERY well connected Democrat working in the Swamp of Washington, D.C.?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
What Trump is doing on Twitter today, explained
There’s a lot to unpack here. While the president tweeted that the Times story was long and boring, it obviously irked him — it seems as though the expanding scope of Mueller’s investigation has made him nervous. Trump claimed that Mueller has found no collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice, but, of course, we don’t know if that’s true. The fact is that Mueller’s investigation isn’t over, and there have already been multiple indictments — including of Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort — and guilty pleas, including from former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates. Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and fixer, is under criminal investigation.
Trump complained that the Mueller investigation is a “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” doubling the $10 million figure he cited five days ago. The Mueller investigation cost the government about $6.7 million in its first five months, according to Justice Department figures released last year, and ABC News reports the $10 million figure comes from a placeholder number in the Justice Department’s 2019 budget request. It’s not clear how Trump got from $10 million to $20 million.
He said there are 13 “Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats” and two people who worked under Obama on the Russia investigation. There are Democrats on the team, but Mueller himself is a Republican. Trump also returned to Hillary Clinton and many of his typical lines of attack — that she deleted 33,000 emails (an employee who managed her server did), that she made $145 million as secretary of state (this appears to be a reference to the Uranium One conspiracy, which has been debunked), and that she paid former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife $700,000 (Jill McCabe received that amount from two entities associated with Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe in her 2015 Virginia Senate race).
Trump seems to be aware that the Russia investigation could harm Republicans in the 2018 midterms, though that’s hardly all of their problems. The GOP is also facing a lot of enthusiasm from Democrats, a high number of retirements among Republican members of Congress, and a struggle to sell its tax bill to voters. “Don’t worry about Dems FISA Abuse, missing Emails or Fraudulent Dossier!” Trump tweeted, referring to a number of conspiracies regarding the FBI’s application for a warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Clinton’s emails, and the now-infamous Steele dossier.
In his last tweets of the morning, Trump turned his ire on the fact that so many around him are facing criminal consequences for their misdeeds while others whom he thinks should also be under scrutiny have not. He asked what happened to the Democratic National Committee’s server, which Russians hacked in the 2016 election, and why the DNC didn’t hand it over to the FBI. The FBI has said the DNC wouldn’t let it see their servers, but as PolitiFact points out, it did access the forensics from a review of the system performed by a cybersecurity firm.
“They broke into homes & offices early in the morning, but were afraid to take the Server?” Trump wrote. The FBI raided the home and office of Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, in April, and of Manafort, the former campaign chair, in August of last year. Cohen is under criminal investigation, and Manafort has been indicted. The DNC was a victim of a hack.
Trump also asked why “the Podesta brother,” presumably Tony Podesta, hadn’t been arrested and charged for anything. Podesta stepped away from his lobbying firm last fall after coming under scrutiny in the Mueller investigation, and his fate in the probe isn’t yet known. The Mueller investigation isn’t over yet — and that’s got the president worried.
Trump fired off two more tweets on Sunday afternoon. One lamented the expansion of the Mueller investigation; in the other, Trump announced that he plans to ask the Department of Justice to probe whether the department or the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018