After a bombshell report that the first arrest in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is coming in a matter of days, reports noted a strange but familiar target from Donald Trump and the White House — Hillary Clinton.
On Friday, CNN reported that Mueller’s investigation had yielded an indictment from a federal grand jury and that the first arrest would be taking place within a matter of days. The report did not specify who would be arrested or what the charges might be — though several reports have indicated that it likely will be former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — but it has nevertheless sent shockwaves across the political landscape.
To many pundits and legal experts, the news represented a major step forward in the Russia investigation and a sign that Mueller is likely still gaining steam. But the White House has had a largely muted reply, with Trump not directly addressing the reports.
Instead, outlets have noted that Donald Trump’s administration appears to be doubling down on his attacks on former rival Hillary Clinton. In a tweet Saturday morning, just hours after the story of the first arrests broke, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted an article claiming that Hillary Clinton had colluded with Russia.
A report earlier in the week indicated that Clinton’s campaign picked up the cost for the completion of a salacious dossier accusing Trump’s campaign of colluding with Russian intelligence officials. Though many of the more salacious claims from this dossier remain unverified — including the famous one that Donald Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had previously slept in — a number of other claims have been proven true as Mueller’s investigation unfolded.
But many right-wing news outlets this week claimed that Clinton had paid to have the claims fabricated to be used as a basis to investigate Trump, and Sanders picked up on that claim.
As Think Progress noted, the claims that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia appeared to be an attempt to muddy the waters after evidence already surfaced of members of Trump’s inner circle meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton late in the 2016 campaign. The outlet termed it a “desperate” attempt to pivot to bashing Clinton.
“But the Clinton campaign’s relationship with Fusion GPS is not equivalent to Trump campaign’s ties with Kremlin-connected operatives,” the report noted. “As Vox details, there are at least three major differences — the initial funding for the Steele dossier came from anti-Trump Republicans, opposition research is not the same as colluding with a foreign government, and some of the claims in the Steele dossier have since been deemed credible by top-ranking U.S. intelligence officials operating independently of any political campaign.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was not the only one turning attention to Hillary Clinton in the wake of the news that the Russia investigation would be yielding arrests. Trump himself tweeted about Clinton within minutes of the CNN story being published, posting a New York Post story claiming that Clinton used the dossier to fool the press into thinking Trump had colluded with Russia.
But on late Saturday, nearly one day after the story first broke, Donald Trump still had nothing directly to say about the report that the first Russia investigation arrests would be coming shortly.
[Featured Image by Aude Guerrucci – Pool/Getty Images]