Trump responds to special counsel’s grand jury by ranting about Russia to West Virginia crowd

Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury and is issuing subpoenas in his investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, so naturally Donald Trump went full demagogue about Russia in his West Virginia campaign-style rally Thursday night.

“We didn’t win because of Russia — we won because of you, that I can tell you,” Trump said, continuing the riff. “Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania? Are there any Russians here tonight? They can’t beat us at the voting booths, so they’re trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and most importantly demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution.”

You know what’s demeaning to all of us and demeaning to our

and demeaning to our Constitution and—I’ll add one more—demeaning to our democracy? A popular-vote-loser who squeaked into the White House with the help of a foreign government’s interference in our elections and quickly started trying to obstruct investigations into his inner circle’s many, many ties to that foreign government.

Trump also demeaned all of us, our country, and our Constitution by trying to distract from his own shady doings by whipping up the crowd against his previous political opponent. “What the prosecutors should be looking at,” Trump said, “are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” going on to repeat conspiracy-theory-level accusations about “owned Russian companies” and “the uranium she sold” (that would be uranium the United States sold with the sign-off of multiple agencies in which the State Department’s involvement was not handled by Clinton). The crowd, of course, knew its part, chanting “lock her up.” 

A crowd in West Virginia can’t solve Trump’s Russia problems. The man or his inner circle may be in legal jeopardy and you don’t derail a federal investigation by ranting to a crowd, however adoring. But Trump is continuing to do Russia’s work here, undermining faith in the United States’ democratic institutions and its legal system. That’s probably not on purpose—Trump is motivated by his ego here—but it’s not clear how much of a difference that makes.

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