Raging Trump demands FBI investigate Clinton, uranium
Trump’s insistence that the FBI investigate his former political opponent marked a remarkable attempt by a president to interfere with the traditional independence of the bureau. It also recalled Trump’s unprecedented threat to jail Clinton during a presidential debate last October.
“What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus … People are angry,” Trump tweeted.
“At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!”
Trump’s tweet storm came as special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up the federal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow with the indictment on Monday of two former campaign officials and the announcement of a guilty plea by a third. The president’s tweets reflected an effort to distract from the Russia investigation and focus attention instead on Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
Trump referenced in particular an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Donna Brazile, who served as the DNC’s interim chairwoman after Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down amid controversy before the party’s convention in July 2016. In the extract, published by Politico on Thursday, Brazile detailed an agreement between Clinton and the DNC long before Clinton won the Democratic primary and became the party’s candidate that gave her campaign influence over the Democratic party’s finances, strategy and staffing.
“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems . . . New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary,” Trump tweeted.
In her book, Brazile wrote that she set out as interim chairwoman to address claims by the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders that the DNC had rigged the primary process to help Clinton secure the party’s presidential nomination.
“I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any,” Brazile wrote. “Then I found this agreement.”
The victory fund agreement was signed in August 2015 and widely reported during the course of the campaign, amplifying the friction between Sanders and the DNC that had already been fueled by disagreements over the primary debate schedule and access to the party’s voter database.
The agreement stipulated that the DNC and the Clinton campaign could participate in joint fundraising activities to raise money for both entities, although Clinton would not have had access to those funds until and unless she was chosen by voters as the party’s nominee.
The Sanders campaign later accused Clinton’s team of exploiting the agreement to avoid contribution limits under campaign finance laws, but that was the subject of substantial coverage during the election and not a new revelation.
Brazile’s book also overlooked the fact that Sanders inked his own joint fundraising deal with the DNC two months after Clinton’s. Sanders, an independent who made his aversion to money in politics a pillar of his campaign, largely preferred to raise money through small donations.
It is not untrue that leaked DNC emails – the hacking of which the US intelligence community said was part of Russian meddling in the election – showed an internal preference in the DNC toward Clinton. But the fight over the DNC delegate and rules process was also exhaustively covered in real time, prompting Democrats to express frustration that Brazile had reopened wounds the party has sought to move past.
The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren added further fuel to the fire on Thursday by stating her belief on CNN that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor. Trump seized on Warren’s comments, using the derogatory nickname “Pocahontas” for the senator in a reference to her claim of Native American heritage.
“Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.,” he tweeted.
Warren responded swiftly by noting Trump was attempting to deflect from the Russia investigation.
“I understand your desperation to change the subject, @realDonaldTrump. Your campaign mgr was just indicted for conspiracy against the US,” Warren said in a barrage of tweets. “You might think your tweets are cute, @realDonaldTrump, but they won’t stop Mueller’s investigation or keep your people out of jail.”
“The DNC shouldn’t play favorites. But that’s a whole lot different from illegally conspiring with Russia. The FBI knows the difference,” she added.
“Slurs, lies & trash talk won’t stop the FBI from doing its job. This isn’t a dictatorship. It’s our democracy. And it’s stronger than you.”
As Mueller has closed in on Trump’s associates, the president has aggressively focused his ire on Clinton with the help of Fox News and rightwing media.
On Monday, Muller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, on 12 charges that included conspiring against the US and money laundering. Unsealed documents also revealed that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to perjury by lying to the FBI about the nature of his contacts with Russians linked to the Kremlin.
Trump and the White House have attempted to switch the narrative by resurrecting controversies over Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state and a false claim that Clinton gave Russia 20% of America’s uranium production capacity.
The relentless focus on Clinton prompted her to joke that some on the right, namely Fox News, are under the impression she was elected president.
“It does strike me that in the last few days at least, Fox News seems to think that’s where I live, in the White House,” Clinton said last week at a dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “Because they spend a disproportionate amount of their time talking about impeaching me.”
Brazile, for her part, hit back at Trump for misrepresenting her story.
“Today’s lesson: Being quoted by Donald Trump means being MIS-quoted by Donald Trump,” she tweeted. “Stop trolling me. #NeverSaidHillaryRiggedElection.”