Mueller warns of Russian midterm attack, while Trump attacks Mueller

One of the most important stories of the week is that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE issued a dramatic warning that Russia is now waging an aggressive attack against our midterm elections.

In a filing to a U.S. District Court in Washington this week, in his prosecution of Russian nationals and entities charged with attacks against the presidential election in 2016, Mueller warned that similar Russian attacks are occurring today against our midterms

The elections are fast approaching. The Mueller investigation is rapidly advancing. The Russian attacks against midterm election are aggressively continuing. The attacks against Mueller from President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE and his supporters are now escalating. 

While these events unfold, there is now excruciating pressure on two key suspects in the scandal: former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJudge rejects Manafort motion to suppress evidence seized from residence Mueller probing Roger Stone following Russian hacker indictment: report Judge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC MORE and former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen.


Manafort and Cohen face potentially dire legal consequences. There is a significant possibility that Manafort, Cohen or both will reach plea bargain deals with the feds. With the breaking news that Manafort’s bail is being revoked and the judge is sending him to jail pending his trial, the pressure on him to make a deal will reach white-hot intensity.

There is high drama surrounding Manafort and Cohen and high probability that a historic and decisive moment is fast approaching if they cut a deal with Mueller. 

Here is the playing field in the Russia scandal as midterm elections approach:

Mueller, a decorated Marine and skilled prosecutor with impeccable credentials, has escalated his public warnings about the Russian attack against the midterms. Donald Trump, the beneficiary of the Russian attack against the 2016 election, has escalated his political war against Mueller, who investigates the Russian attack.

Democrats are fiercely united in support of Mueller and have seen their midterm prospects increase in recent polling data and election results. Republicans are bitterly divided over the Mueller investigation. 

Some Republicans, such as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEx-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations Joe Lieberman urges voters to back Crowley over Ocasio-Cortez in general MORE (Ariz.), fiercely support Mueller. Others, such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesRussia raises problems for GOP candidates GOP lawmaker regrets appearing on Alex Jones's radio show Freedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations MORE (Calif.) and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, are waging a relentless political war against Mueller and the investigation. A third group of Republicans privately admires Mueller and deplores the Russian attacks against America, but is terrified of alienating the Trump base before a midterm.

The erratic machinations of Giuliani, who increasingly acts as the class clown of the Trump defense team, have had the effect of slowing down the investigation. This will prove disastrous to Republican midterm prospects. Giuliani’s maneuvers bring the crescendo of events in the Russia scandal closer to the crescendo of events in midterm voting. 




The blockbuster report from the Justice Department inspector general debunks the key conspiracy theory promoted by Trump and his defenders.

As the inspector general states, while a handful of FBI personnel clearly opposed Trump, they did not let their political opinions affect their investigations. The net political effect of the FBI investigation, like the net effect of the Russian attack against America, was to hurt Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState Dept: Russia’s allegations about American citizens ‘absolutely absurd’ Trump on possible sit-down with Mueller: 'I've always wanted to do an interview' Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE and help elect Trump.

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIntelligence officials showed Trump classified proof Putin ordered election interference: report FBI director says Russian influence efforts are ‘very active’ Ex-Clinton press secretary Fallon rejects Comey endorsement of Democrats in midterms MORE clearly made monumental failures of judgment and engaged in violations of Justice Department practice, as I wrote in The Hill when I first called on the inspector general to investigate. However, as the inspector general states, Comey was not biased in favor of Clinton, and, in fact, his actions helped elect Trump.

As the midterm elections come closer and the Mueller investigation rapidly advances, American democracy has reached a critical moment and the Republican Party faces a serious decision.

Russia is indeed waging a war against democracy in America and Europe. Mueller is indeed waging a battle against this Russian aggression using the rule of law as a weapon for democracy against this Russian aggression. Republicans are indeed facing a historic decision about whether to support Mueller against Russia or whether to support Trump against Mueller.

Elected Republicans take great risks of alienating the Trump base if they back Mueller over Trump. They face potentially catastrophic risks in the midterm elections if they attack Mueller, while Mueller battles Russia, which would hyperenergize a massive turnout of midterm voters who are not members of the Trump base.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.