1. Florida Politics

Trump tries to shift focus as first charges reportedly loom in Russia case

Published Oct. 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's frustration at the investigations into his campaign's ties with Russia boiled over Sunday, as he sought to shift the focus to a litany of accusations against his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, a day before the special counsel inquiry will reportedly produce its first indictment.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said it is "likely" a federal judge could unseal an indictment against either Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, or Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump's national security adviser in the White House. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, said he was reacting to press reports and could not confirm the target or whether it involved Russia. "We haven't been told who it is," he said on ABC's This Week.

Trump, in a series of midmorning Twitter posts, said Republicans were now pushing back against the Russia allegations by looking into Clinton. But the president, who has often expressed anger that his allies were not doing more to protect him from the Russia inquiries, made it clear he believed that Clinton should be pursued more forcefully, writing, "DO SOMETHING!"

He did not specify who should take such action, though critics have accused him of trying to improperly sway the inquiries.

"Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more," Trump wrote. "Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia-collusion,' which doesn't exist."

Trump was apparently referring in his tweets to revelations last week that Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee had paid for research that was included in a salacious dossier made public in January by BuzzFeed. The dossier contained claims about connections between Trump, his associates and Russia.

The president was also reviving unproved allegations that Clinton was part of a quid pro quo in which the Clinton Foundation received donations in exchange for her support as secretary of state for a business deal that gave Russia control over a large share of uranium production in the United States.

And he was returning to questions about Clinton's use of a private email server and how former FBI director James Comey handled an investigation into the matter, which was closed with no charges being filed. Trump initially cited the email case as a reason for firing Comey before conceding that it was because of the Russia inquiry.

The president's Twitter fusillade came as he and his advisers braced for the first public action by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor named after Comey's ouster to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. As part of his inquiry, Mueller is believed to be examining whether there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Moscow and whether the president obstructed justice when he fired Comey.

CNN reported Friday that a federal grand jury in Washington had approved the first charges in Mueller's investigation, and that plans had been made for anyone charged to be taken into custody as early as today. CNN said the target of the charges was unclear. The New York Times has not confirmed that charges have been approved.

"The Dems 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," Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter. "There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!"

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the president had been "too defensive" about Mueller's inquiry. "We ought to instead focus on the outrage that the Russians meddled in our elections," said Portman, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The tweets came days after House Republicans announced that they were opening new investigations into two of Trump's most frequently cited grievances: the Obama Justice Department's investigation of Clinton's emails and the uranium deal.