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 TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE and his supporters are now escalating. 

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While these events unfold, there is now excruciating pressure on two key suspects in the scandal: former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortCohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump's dealings with Russia: report Vote Democrat in midterms to rein in Trump, preserve justice Hillicon Valley: Trump's exclusive interview with Hill.TV | Trump, intel officials clash over Russia docs | EU investigating Amazon | Military gets new cyber authority | Flynn sentencing sparks new questions about Mueller probe 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 McCainArizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief MORE (Ariz.), fiercely support Mueller. Others, such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesRussia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election Gowdy: House Intel panel should release all transcripts from Russia probe 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. 

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MORE FROM BRENT BUDOWSKY

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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 ClintonTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE and help elect Trump.

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFBI memos detail ‘partisan axes,’ secret conflicts behind the Russia election meddling assessment New grounds for impeachment? House Dem says Trump deserves it for making society worse Sessions gets unexpected support - from a Democrat who wants to impeach Trump 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.