Quick Takes: Mueller Is Digging Deep on the Question of Collusion

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Robert Mueller is running a tight ship, so the leaks from his team are few and far between. Recently people have been interpreting his moves to suggest that he is zeroing in on the question of whether or not Trump obstructed justice. But this latest leak indicates he’s continuing to dig deep on the question of Trump/Russia collusion.

In just the last few weeks, his prosecutors have begun questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. They are seeking to determine if the joint effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate, according to two of the sources.

In what is potentially another ominous sign for the White House, the lawyer for Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and senior adviser who was in charge of the campaign’s digital operation, recently began searching for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries — a step frequently taken by people who believe they may be facing criminal charges.

* Things are going to get ugly as Trump and his lawyers start throwing their colleagues under the bus in an effort to save the president’s skin.

President Trump’s legal team plans to cast former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn as a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses the president or his senior aides of any wrongdoing, according to three people familiar with the strategy.

The approach would mark a sharp break from Trump’s previously sympathetic posture toward Flynn, whom he called a “wonderful man” when Flynn was ousted from the White House in February…

Attorneys for Trump and his top advisers have privately expressed confidence that Flynn does not have any evidence that could implicate the president or his White House team. But since Flynn’s cooperation agreement with prosecutors was made public earlier this month, the administration has been strategizing how to neutralize him in case the former national security adviser does make any claims.

* Speaking of throwing people under the bus, this tidbit from an AP story is one of the most pointed examples of narcissistic delusion that I have ever seen.

Exactly one week before the raid [on Manafort’s home], Trump sat in the Oval Office with reporters from The New York Times and, with little prompting, veered into an attack on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Trump blasted Sessions, once one of his closest allies, for recusing himself from the Russia probe, believing that helped lead to Mueller’s appointment.

Trump continued his assault in a series of tweets in which he called Sessions “weak” and “beleaguered.” Privately, he discussed firing Sessions, but was met with a wave of resistance from his advisers. Some warned it would worsen the Russia probe, while Bannon told the president it would hurt with his base supporters, who loved Sessions’ tough-on-crime approach at the Justice Department.

Kelly, in his first weekend on the job, called Sessions to assure him his position was safe. But the rift between Trump and Sessions still has not healed. Recently, Trump bemoaned the Republicans’ loss in a special election in Alabama and in part blamed Sessions, whose departure from the Senate to head to Justice necessitated the election.

Absolving yourself of any responsibility for bad outcomes is a primary task for narcissists, even if it means blaming someone like Sessions for your own decision to nominate him to be your attorney general.

* I can only imagine how Trump’s minders are having to shield him from this news:

* Even the Wall Street Journal is beginning to document the movement towards a blue wave next year.

When Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, they were propelled by a big swing toward the party among women. Now, signs are emerging Republicans could be handicapped in 2018 by women shifting away from the GOP.

In particular, women with a four-year college degree have moved toward favoring Democratic control of Congress, recent polling shows, helping to account for a substantial Democratic lead in multiple surveys on the question of which party Americans want to see leading Congress after the midterm elections.

* I offer you this by way of evidence that a lot of truth can be packed into less that 140 characters.

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As a thank you, here’s a rendition of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” that will knock your socks off.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.