Trump lashes out on­line

Pres­i­dent again de­cries a po­lit­i­cal ‘witch hunt’

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Richard Wolf

Just two days after re­ports that a grand jury ap­proved the first charges in the fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump took to Twit­ter to de­nounce the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Democrats.

WASH­ING­TON – Repub­li­cans and Democrats waited anx­iously for more de­tails — which could come as soon as Mon­day — about po­ten­tial charges in spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with Pres­i­dent Trump’s as­so­ci­ates.

Just two days after re­ports that a grand jury ap­proved the first charges in the fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Trump ap­peared ready for the other shoe to drop, tak­ing to Twit­ter on Sun­day to de­nounce the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Democrats and his elec­tion op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“All of this ‘Rus­sia’ talk right when the Repub­li­cans are mak­ing their big push for his­toric Tax Cuts & Re­form. Is this co­in­ci­den­tal? NOT!” the pres­i­dent tweeted.

The pres­i­dent said Repub­li­cans were an­gry that in­ves­ti­ga­tors were fo­cus­ing

“All of this ‘Rus­sia’ talk right when the Repub­li­cans are mak­ing their big push for his­toric Tax Cuts & Re­form. Is this co­in­ci­den­tal? NOT!” Pres­i­dent Trump

on “phony Trump/Rus­sia ‘col­lu­sion,’ which doesn’t ex­ist” — rather than the Clin­ton cam­paign’s in­volve­ment in what he called a “Fake Dossier.” (Trump is re­fer­ring to the in­fa­mous, and still un­ver­i­fied, dossier that al­leges ties be­tween Trump and Rus­sia.)

The Democrats, he con­tin­ued, “are us­ing this ter­ri­ble (and bad for our coun­try) Witch Hunt for evil pol­i­tics, but the R’s are now fight­ing back like never be­fore. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clin­ton, and now the facts are pour­ing out. DO SOME­THING!”

It was un­clear whether Trump was plead­ing with the Jus­tice De­part­ment, con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the me­dia or his 41 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers to take ac­tion.

Yet some Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress in­sisted that Mueller should be given the time to make his case. “Too de­fen­sive,” Sen. Rob Port­man, ROhio, said of Trump’s state­ments.

“We ought to in­stead fo­cus on the out­rage that the Rus­sians med­dled in our elec­tions, not just this last elec­tion,” Port­man said on NBC’s Meet the

Press. “We need to get to the bot­tom of it, and we need to go where the facts lead us.”

CNN first re­ported late Fri­day that at least one charge in the fed­eral Rus­sia in­quiry could be­come pub­lic as soon as Mon­day — though it re­mains un­clear who would be charged or with what. The net­work re­ported that charges were sealed un­der orders from a fed­eral judge.

Among those who have been un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion are for­mer White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn and for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort, whose Vir­ginia home was raided by the FBI in July.

Mueller has used grand ju­ries in Vir­ginia and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to ad­vance a wide-rang­ing in­quiry into pos­si­ble co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Moscow. He took over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion after Trump fired FBI di­rec­tor James Comey, who started it in July 2016.

Pe­ter Carr, a spokesman for the spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice, de­clined to com­ment on Fri­day.

JIM WAT­SON, AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

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