Feb 17, 2018

We know nothing; Mueller knows all

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Robert Mueller's meaty indictment, accusing 13 Russians (including an oligarch known as "Putin's cook") of "information warfare against the United States of America," shows the special counsel has been doing deep, serious investigative work — totally under the radar, and with zero leaks.

  • Amazing that there was no hint of this in the media.
  • The gist: "The alleged scheme was run by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to try to influence the White House race."

Thought bubble:

  • We’ve only been reading about [Mueller's] interviews with Trump associates and White House officials — because these are the folks that Washington reporters talk to.
  • But Mueller has been picking apart complicated, secretive and well-funded Russian networks that could only have originated from the Kremlin.
  • Mueller’s indictments are not the work product of some frivolous fishing expedition to indict Trump, as some of Trump’s conservative allies have claimed.
  • This shows that Trump was wrong when he said during a debate that the DNC hacker "could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” It’s not fake news.
  • This shows Mueller has been doing consequential work, not just sniffing around the White House looking for an excuse to indict Trump. 
  • President Trump is either woefully ignorant, or deliberately lying, about the scope of Kremlin influence. This was a major Kremlin operation.

Why it matters:

  • It will now be even harder for Trump to fire Mueller. Capitol Hill already would have gone crazy if Trump tried that. But after Mueller has done such substantive work — even earning the lavish praise of Trump lawyer John Dowd — it’s impossible to imagine Trump getting away with firing him. 
  • The fact that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a press conference is significant. It was a major vote of confidence in the Mueller probe: This is Rosenstein saying he’s proud of this work, and fully supports it.
  • It's also a notable show of independence by Rosenstein — a Heisman to the White House.

How it's playing ... Lead story of WashPost homepage: "Justice Dept. deals fatal blow to Trump’s Russia ‘hoax.'"

  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “The nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists.”

Go deeper

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Clashes erupted between police and protesters in several major U.S. cities Saturday night as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black men spread across the country.

The big picture: Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

Demonstrators gather at Lafayette Park across from the White House to protest the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Trump to invite Russia and other non-member G7 countries to summit

President Trump at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Saul Martinez/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Saturday evening he would postpone the G7 summit to September and expand the meeting to more nations that are not members of the Group of 7.

Details: Trump said he would invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to the summit, according to a pool report. "I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," he said.