With special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation moving forward and new revelations about Russian propaganda efforts during the 2016 election, the Trump-Russia scandal clearly isn't going away anytime soon, and ignoring it no longer seems like a viable political strategy.
So many conservative media figures and GOP politicians have increasingly tried to publicize other Russia-related matters that they say implicate Trump's political enemies — whether the Obama administration, the Clintons, Mueller, fired FBI Director James Comey, or even the FBI as a whole — in misconduct of some kind.
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Two of these stories — questions about an Obama-era uranium deal, and questions about the salacious "dossier" on Trump — have been bubbling in conservative media for some time, and have gotten particular attention this week. So it was no surprise that the president himself tried to push them on Twitter Thursday:
The political reason Trump is embracing both of these stories is clear enough: He's trying to cast Russia-related dirt on both Democrats and the FBI (which he views as part of a "deep state" unfairly persecuting him), to try to discredit the investigation as a whole, and to change the subject from the question of whether any of his associates colluded with the Russian government during the campaign.
And indeed, conservative media figures are arguing that these stories make Democrats and the FBI look at the very least hypocritical on Russia, and at worst like Russian patsies themselves.
Much as occurred earlier this year with the "unmasking" controversy, the Trump administration, leading Republicans, and conservative reporters and media outlets are trying to publicize — some would say drum up — Russia-related controversies that make Democrats or the FBI look bad.
So as much of the mainstream media continues to drill into the question of whether there was any collusion between Trump's team and Russia during the election, much of the conservative media is spending a great deal of time on these other Russia-related stories.
The two that Trump tweeted about Thursday morning are:
The Senate Judiciary Committee under Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has long been investigating the Steele dossier matter, and is now looking into the Russian nuclear matter too. And again, it's entirely possible that there was some wrongdoing on either front.
Still, the question of why Trump is so enthusiastic about these recent stories is hardly a mystery. The bigger picture is that he's hoping to change the subject from questions about what he and his associates may have done, and to muddy the waters on the Russia issue by casting aspersions on his biggest critics.