Republicans said Mueller’s probe was a “witch hunt” by a margin of 81 percent to 12 percent. Another poll showed that Republicans think Mueller is setting Trump up, by a 61-17 margin. A May CBS news poll even showed that more Americans thought the probe was “politically motivated” (53 percent) than “justified” (44 percent).
We now have an investigation, for all intents and purposes, that around half of the most reliable voters regard as suspect. And a very strong majority of Republicans regard it not just as questionable, but as conspiratorial. The Nunes memo, the Strzok testimony and the Page warrant application all provide them something to latch on to, regardless of how accurately those things are being interpreted and portrayed. The messy and imperfect nature of investigations is being laid bare thanks to the fact that Republicans are in charge and thanks to the fact that we have a president who is willing to push the bounds of acceptable discourse and lodge any conspiracy theory he feels at any given point.
.. If Mueller finds anything but a smoking gun,
- Republicans will be hard-pressed to convince their base that Trump did anything wrong, much less that his offenses are worthy of impeachment or removal from office.
- If he tries to charge Trump, Republicans will justifiably point out that this isn’t how things are usually done, and it will feed their sense of persecution. And
- if Mueller exonerates or clears Trump, we’ll have a whole other side of the political debate that had been counting on him to carry out its own predetermined version of justice — a side convinced that collusion and obstruction of justice are already completely apparent, based upon publicly available evidence.
It’s not a recipe for a resolution, especially not a tidy one. In fact, it’s a recipe for the kind of destabilization that Russia and Vladimir Putin sought in the first place.
Russian-Backed Facebook Accounts Staged Events Around Divisive Issues
They publicized or financed at least 60 events—on all sides of most polarizing issues—before and after the 2016 election
.. In July 2016, as outrage swelled over fatal shootings in Dallas and Minneapolis, alleged social-media agitators tied to Russia worked quickly to capitalize on the emotionally charged atmosphere.
Workers linked to a Russia-based firm organized two gatherings, both for July 10: In Dallas, a “Blue Lives Matter” rally honored the five police officers slain there on July 7; and near Minneapolis, nearly 300 people rallied in support of Philando Castile, a man fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop.
The events show that the Russian-linked account activity went far beyond paying for polarizing ads dropped into Facebook members’ news feeds. At least 60 rallies, protests and marches were publicized or financed by eight Russia-backed Facebook accounts from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., according to a review by The Wall Street Journal
.. it had found 470 such accounts that it says belonged to Russians and that sought to exploit social divisions in the U.S. through provocative issue ads... but the live events demonstrate how the alleged use of social media by Russian forces served as a launchpad for deeper infiltration into the American democratic process. Many rallies were sparsely attended, but some attracted news coverage, helping the accounts seem legitimate.. People representing “Black Matters US,” one of the Russia-backed accounts, pressured Los Angeles activist Nolan Hack to plan events that would raise the account’s visibility... Collectively, the eight accounts analyzed by the Journal were “liked” nearly two million times
.. Russian entities likely promoted events because the Kremlin believes protests destabilize democracies, according to Ms. Oates, who studies Russian propaganda. Event listings show how Russia-backed pages organized protests for and against the same issues. The page “Born Patriotic” planned 17 pro-Trump rallies on the same day in August 2016 while “Black Matters” hosted anti-Trump rallies after the election.