Jonathan Chait writes: The Republican Party has sent mixed signals for months about how it plans to respond to Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Russia scandal — President Trump’s ragetweets have been alternating with silence, and his Congressional allies have mostly urged patience. But in the days leading up to the first arrests, beginning today with former campaign manager Paul Manafort, the signals have changed, and the dashboard is now flashing red. The party apparatus is gearing up for a frontal attack on Mueller in particular, and the idea that a president can be held legally accountable in general.
The Republican Congress is using its investigative apparatus not to discover the extent of Russian interference in the election, but instead to lash out at Trump’s political opponents. The Republicans have developed a bizarre theory of alt-collusion, which holds that the real interference was Russia feeding false allegations against Donald Trump to private investigator Christopher Steele. Since the FBI investigated Steele’s charges, the FBI is the agency that colluded. And since Robert Mueller is close with the FBI, Mueller, too, is tainted.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page has been serving as a barely filtered outlet for this line of attack from Republicans in Congress. The page has called for Mueller to resign, and other Republican media outlets spent the weekend amplifying this message. [Continue reading…]