Saturday Briefing: Mueller Files Charges, Republicans Lose their Damn Minds
Last night, as most of you surely must know by now, Robert Mueller filed his first charges in the Russian probe. We don’t know who he has indicted, and we have no idea what the charges are, but an arrest or arrests are expected on Monday. Unfortunately, we don’t have any details beyond that, but I would expect that Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Michael Flynn to be in the first round of indictments. (If it’s Kushner, I will weep with joy).
The Republicans reacted to the news calmly and professionally, as one might expect. Here’s Roger Stone, for instance, flipping the f*ck out:
Roger Stone is handling tonight’s news like the dapper gentleman he is pic.twitter.com/trojChlac2— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) October 28, 2017
I’m not going to embed them all, but Roger Stone basically went into full-on meltdown mode last night. He could be one of the men indicted this week or soon thereafter.
Mostly, though, the Republicans, as they have all week, tried to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton who, by the way, IS NOT THE PRESIDENT.
This has been a HORRIBLE week for Mueller, Special Counsel’s office. THIS IS ALL A DISTRACTION. Monday I’ll have the details. TICK TOCK….!— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 28, 2017
When will @HillaryClinton be indicted?— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 28, 2017
Corey Lewandowski urged us to focus on the “Clinton Administration,” though there IS NO CLINTON ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE SHE IS NOT PRESIDENT.
Corey wants us all to focus on President Hillary Clinton’s Administration. https://t.co/ETpYehn3M1— Cheri Jacobus (@CheriJacobus) October 28, 2017
The Press Secretary also focused on Clinton:
The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC & Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable->https://t.co/nLRAMrJK3c— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) October 28, 2017
Same with James Woods:
Meanwhile, Trump himself — who went golfing this morning — has been strangely quiet, although this tweet from yesterday has not aged well:
It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2017
I think we all get the point:
It's clear that every Republican surrogate has been given the same marching orders: switch the Russia topic to Hillary Clinton.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) October 28, 2017
To an extent, no matter who is arrested, it’s going to work. The Republicans don’t need the truth; they just need a narrative they can cling to. So, don’t get cocky. The Republican party is not going to suddenly wilt once indictments are handed down, and I’m sure there’s more dirt — real or imagined — they can dig up on the Democrats and alter a news cycle or three. They’re going to go on the offensive, and there are going to be some shitty days ahead where it will feel like all is lost because the Republicans didn’t crumble.
On the other hand, I think it’s safe to say that they will turn on each other. I mean, Trump has never been shy about throwing his own people under the bus, so there will be a lot of infighting. The McCain/Corker/Flake wing of the party may also use the opportunity to go after the populist wing, and if it looks like tax reform isn’t going to happen, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell may finally turn on Trump, too. We can hope.
It’s interesting times, and it could go on for a very long time, according to a former Obama Justice Department official, who tells Axios: “I think it means this will be a rolling investigation. Rather than conduct his entire investigation and then wrap things up with indictments and possibly a report at the end, he is doing it in stages, the way the Justice Department might attack a drug cartel or a mafia family.”