Thursday 22 August 2019

Trump tries to raise funds on back of Mueller findings

US president Donald Trump. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
US president Donald Trump. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump and his allies are attempting to turn the two-year Russia investigation saga into a political boost for the 2020 presidential election in the wake of the Mueller report.

The justice department is looking into the investigation's origins to see if US intelligence overstepped the line, cheered on by the president, who wants to "investigate the investigators".

The Trump re-election campaign is fundraising off the report, attempting to raise $1m with emails titled "Exonerated (again)" and "Confirmed: no collusion".

The strategy suggests that far from drawing a line under the report by special counsel Robert Mueller, Mr Trump is preparing to use it as a rallying cry for his support base.

In tweets last Friday, Mr Trump described Mr Mueller's investigation a "big, fat waste of time, energy and money" and signposted his determination to scrutinise how it began.

"It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even spying or treason," he tweeted. "This should never happen again!"

Mr Mueller's report, published after a 22-month investigation, found there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin in the 2016 election.

It also did not recommend an obstruction of justice charge against Mr Trump. It refused to say no crime had been committed by the president but handed the decision to the justice department, which brought no charges.

Those two outcomes have allowed the president to declare "no collusion, no obstruction" and his legal team to announce "total victory".

The 448-report itself paints a more complex picture in which Mr Trump repeatedly attempted to thwart the investigation and lie himself or make subordinates do so.

The president urged his legal counsel to say he was not ordered to sack Mr Mueller when he was, the report found. Mr Trump also issued misleading statements to the press to deny reports that have now been confirmed.

Democrats have attempted to force the spotlight on this "unethical" behaviour but are split on whether to begin impeachment proceedings now or wait until the 2020 election to remove him from office.

The president's allies see political advantage, framing the investigation as a deep state ploy to thwart Mr Trump, despite the insistence of those involved that they were acting in the public interest.

Emails sent out by the Trump campaign used the findings to generate a new wave of funds.

"Sorry haters: no collusion and exoneration again! How many times do I have to be exonerated before they stop? What a joke!" read one line in a fundraising email, sent in Mr Trump's name on Friday. It went on: "Let's send a huge message to all of the Trump haters by raising $1,000,000 in the next 24 hours.

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