Trump plots post-Mueller payback

President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Korea conducts potential 6th missile test in a month Kemp leading Perdue in Georgia gubernatorial primary: poll US ranked 27th least corrupt country in the world MORE and his allies on Monday sought to exact political revenge on congressional Democrats and the news media, seizing momentum generated by the end of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s Russia investigation.

The clear signal from Team Trump is that they think they can go on offense by using Mueller’s findings to jam Democrats and juice Trump’s base in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential race.

ADVERTISEMENT

A summary of the special counsel’s conclusions released Sunday by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe Jan. 6 committee chair says panel spoke to William Barr William Barr's memoir set for release in early March MORE said that Mueller had not found enough evidence to prove a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. The special counsel did not make a determination on if the president had obstructed justice.

“There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things — I would say treasonous things against our country,” Trump, without naming names, said in remarks from the Oval Office on Monday. “Those people will certainly be looked at. I’ve been looking at them for a long time.”

Trump’s advisers and outside allies did name names, blasting out talking points to supporters and flooding the airwaves to attack Democrats who long pledged that Mueller would deliver a major blow to the president.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.) was a popular target, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Press: Newt says lock 'em up – for doing their job!  The Hill's Morning Report - Biden, NATO eye 'all scenarios' with Russia MORE (R-Calif.) and White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayPennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McCormick drawing support from Trump alumni ahead of Pennsylvania Senate bid Christie says Trump, Meadows should have warned him of positive COVID-19 test MORE among those saying he should step down over his accusations against Trump.

“#fullofSchiff has been flagrantly lying to the American people & slandering POTUS & me for years for airtime. Should he not face any repercussions for the lies?” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpRittenhouse to speak at Turning Point USA event White House calls Jan. 6 text revelations 'disappointing' Court orders release of some redacted passages of Mueller report MORE, tweeted on Monday 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republicans bash Democrats' China competition bill Man seen wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt on Jan. 6 pleads guilty to trespassing Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema MORE’s (D-Calif.) office defended Schiff’s performance and said he would keep his chairmanship.

The Trump effort kicked into high gear on Monday morning, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did a rare round of interviews with network morning talk shows to blast Democrats and the media over their comments about collusion.

“Democrats and the media perpetuated that lie day in and day out and breathlessly covered every second of negative attention that they thought would be the one moment that would bring this president down,” she said on CNN. “They were wrong in 2016 when he beat them and they’ve been wrong every day since about this president.”

ADVERTISEMENT

A sheet of talking points the White House circulated to Trump surrogates, which was obtained by The Hill, knocked Democrats for “criticizing the special counsel’s findings” and accused them of plotting “their own politically-motivated investigations of the president.”

“Congressional Democrats have an opportunity to leave these pointless investigations in the past and join with the President to achieve what’s best for the American people,” the sheet reads.

The Trump campaign sent a memo to television networks urging them not to book Democratic guests they say made “outlandish, false claims” about collusion, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams Andrew Cuomo attorney says AG investigation was 'shoddy,' outcome was 'predetermined' Democrats quietly explore barring Trump from office over Jan. 6  MORE (N.Y.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE. The memo was first obtained by Axios.

The Republican National Committee also emailed reporters to criticize specific articles published by CNN, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and Rolling Stone about the investigation.

The notion that Trump prevailed over powerful foes in government and media played into his view of himself as a victim of the so-called deep state, something allies believe will energize his core supporters.

“It’s rocket fuel for the base,” said a former White House official. “I think a lot of the people who were feeling pretty down about the immigration stuff are being energized for the fight. This was a weight a lot of people were carrying with them.”

Trump is likely to take that message on the road this week at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he will appear Thursday for his first campaign-trail stop since the Mueller investigation’s end. Trump won Michigan by roughly 10,000 votes in 2016, and he is expected to mount a concerted effort to win it and other Rust Belt states again in 2020.

Though polls show opinions about the Mueller probe largely fall along party lines, the president’s allies believe they can win over independents and moderates if they can convince them Democrats are unfairly pursuing Trump.

“It puts the Democrats in a bad position, not with their partisans but with the people in the middle of the road,” said the former White House official.

Top Democrats said they have no plans to let up in their quest for the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence in the probe, warning Trump and Republicans they are at risk of prematurely declaring victory.

Mueller did not conclude one way or the other if Trump obstructed justice, deferring the decision to Barr, who said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE decided not to pursue charges.

Democrats are also conducting separate investigations into allegations of misconduct in Trump’s administration, inaugural committee, campaign and businesses, and federal prosecutors continue to probe some of those organizations as well.

“Democrats aren’t going to be intimidated by the White House or congressional Republicans, we’re not going to be distracted from securing the release of the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence,” Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in a statement. “The days of Congress ignoring the mountain of legal and ethical misconduct by this president and administration are over.”

Republicans in Congress sought to push back against Democrats’ investigations with their own counterinvestigations into the origins of the Mueller probe, an idea Trump floated on Sunday.  

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Schumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' MORE (R-S.C.), who spent the weekend with the president in South Florida, announced he intends to launch new probes of the Justice Department’s and the FBI’s actions in the 2016 investigations into Trump and into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Armageddon elections to come Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE use of a private email server.

Graham told reporters he will ask Barr to testify and reiterated his call for a new special counsel probe of possible abuse of surveillance authorities in what became the Mueller investigation, saying officials must “unpack the other side of the story.”

“I believe that Donald Trump got scrutiny like nobody else in the history of the presidency since Nixon, probably,” Graham said. “And he, in my view, came out of this thing stronger. To those who were abusive of the process in 2016 on the other side, you haven’t had much scrutiny, but that’s coming.”