President Donald Trump quoted two pundits on Twitter Tuesday morning, suggesting he continues to view the investigation into Russia’s meddling into United States' elections with skepticism.
The tweets included observations from Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, as well as legal analyst Jonathan Turley, who both suggested that there isn’t any concrete evidence of collusion on the part of Trump’s 2016 campaign and agents from Russia.
After quoting their comments on Twitter, Trump offered a third observation, a simple, two-worded tweet from himself that read, in all capital letters, “WITCH HUNT!”
“I’ve been skeptical about the collusion and obstruction claims for the last year. I just don’t see the evidence....in terms of the collusion, it’s all a bit implausible based on the evidence we have.” Jonathan Turley on @FoxNews— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
“We’ve seen NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION....I have seen nothing, the firing of James Comey and all of the aftermath, that suggests that the President has obstructed justice because he’s exercising his power as the President of the U.S. I just don’t see it.” Judge Ken Starr— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2018
Of course, two comments from Fox News correspondents do not necessarily exonerate the president or those close to him of wrongdoing. There are several investigations ongoing at this point: the separate House and Senate investigations in Congress, as well as the FBI investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Any one of those inquiries could result in serious problems for the president.
Trump’s insinuation that this is a mere witch hunt contradicts what has been gleaned by members of Congress and other observers, including members of his own White House. It’s been known for quite some time that Russia did make attempts to interfere in our elections and successfully influenced several Americans to attend political events based on their phony Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Indeed, Russian “bots” continue to do so even to this day.
That Russians are still inciting vitriol among Americans is clearly problematic, especially with the upcoming midterm elections just 251 days away. Compounding the problem is the fact that the president doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it, as the current director of the FBI Christopher Wray has said Trump hasn’t asked him to try to stop the current meddling.
Trump is also facing the possibility of obstruction charges from these separate investigations. It’s unclear as of right now, but he may have broken the law when he fired former FBI director James Comey, after which Trump admitted he was partly motivated to do so because of the Russia investigation. His various tweets, critical of the investigation itself, may be providing even more evidence of obstruction throughout the inquiry.
Trump is free to defend himself against these allegations — they are at this point suppositions, after all, and no formal charges have been made against him yet. But others close to Trump have been charged, as have Russian agents who Mueller alleges interfered with the election in a criminal way. In all, more than 20 indictments have been issued by the special counsel, approved by a grand jury. That hardly qualifies as a “witch hunt.”
Trump’s insistence on suggesting the Russia investigation phony is shortsighted (and his attempts to use national tragedies to discredit it are deplorable). There are clearly elements to this inquiry that have yet to be revealed and uncovered — including improper actions that Trump himself may have taken during and before the investigation itself.
His continual use of Twitter to vent off his frustrations may indicate that he’s losing it. The current president has never been one to be calm online, but writing “WITCH HUNT” in all capital letters, as well as denying that the investigation itself is legitimate, isn’t going to result in stopping the work of Congress and Mueller in digging deeper. If anything, it will motivate them to look for more.