We know 2020 Democrat presidential candidates will talk endlessly about the alleged sexism, racism, and every other -ism and -phobia they can come up with, but there’s one thing they surprisingly don’t want to discuss: Alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
Politico reports that Democrat candidates and their aides are trying to figure out how to use Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation against President Donald Trump, but are so far not bringing it up themselves.
“They know the campaign that gets it right could break free from the cluttered 2020 pack. In the early primary and caucus states, the Democratic hopefuls are already encountering 'simmering, seething outrage' about Trump’s possible ties to Russia, said one strategist for a 2020 campaign. The candidate who taps into that anger could ride the wave to the nomination,” Politico reported.
On the other hand, bringing up the issue could hurt the candidates. Not just because they would be seen as replaying an election from four years ago, but because, as Politico puts it, “the party’s presidential hopefuls are wary of appearing consumed by — and politicizing — a scandal that grips regular Rachel Maddow viewers but seems confusing and distant from the kitchen tables of many Americans.”
One Democrat strategist told the news outlet that the Russia “issue” is one to avoid for now and “deal with it” when necessary.
There’s another reason why Democrats should be wary of discussing Mueller’s probe. If they get too wrapped up in it and assume the Trump administration will be brought down and proven to have colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election, and Mueller finds no collusion, Democrats will have egg on their face. So far, not one person nabbed by Mueller’s investigation has been charged with colluding with Russia. They’ve been charged with unrelated matters and process crimes.
Republicans in 2016 certainly hitched their wagons to the idea that Hillary Clinton would be charged over her use of a private email server. Then-FBI Director James Comey outlined everything Clinton did wrong, but asserted she hadn’t committed a crime. That hurt Trump’s campaign, which expected a blow to her campaign. Salvation came when Comey announced he was reopening the investigation just weeks before the election.
The few times Democrat presidential candidates have had to discuss Mueller, they’ve relied on talking points about Trump’s alleged obstruction and interference of the investigation.
Some candidates have used the Mueller investigation to bombard Trump attorney general nominee William Barr or hinted at the investigation in campaign speeches.
Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who is apparently also going to run for president, is talking about Mueller’s investigation.
“Holder, who is expected to announce his White House plans later this month, has already said he thinks the special counsel has the legal authority to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice. It’s a bold assertion that runs counter to decades of internal Justice Department policy dating back to Richard Nixon and Watergate,” Politico reported.
The American people aren’t dumb. They can understand the complexity of the Mueller investigation. Democrats don’t like that, because when the investigation is explained, the idea that Trump colluded with Russia to steal an election becomes absurd.