Fox News viewers and supporters of Donald Trump in general are utterly clueless about the Russian attack and the Special Counsel's investigation of it. So far, they simply haven't been following along with the ongoing developments in the story due in part to the teeny-tiny information bubble in which they exist. Consequently, when the latest round of indictments were handed down on Friday by Robert Mueller and his team of Untouchables, the Trumpers reacted as if the entire investigation was over.
For instance, Bill Mitchell, a Trump supporter and online TV pundit with 333,000 followers, tweeted "GAME OVER" for the Mueller probe. He also tweeted something about "the final message of the Mueller Investigation." Final? What?
Elsewhere, RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany tweeted, "Mark today as the day that the Democrats’ Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy theory unraveled!"
Likewise, Trump himself seemed to ignore all 44 of his tweets about how the Russian attack was a "hoax" and instead confirmed that Russia did what it did while also suggesting that the issue of collusion was put to bed.
Seriously, they think this is over. Not just in terms of exonerating Trump but also in terms of Mueller literally wrapping up his investigation. Hilarious.
Had these delusional Trump disciples been paying attention, they'd know that just in the last 24 hours, we learned that the second-in-command in the Trump campaign, Rick Gates, is reportedly cooperating with Mueller. Gates isn't just handing over damning information about Paul Manafort, either. We can safely say he knows things about Trump's activities as well. He's also agreed to a "queen for a day" interview in which, in exchange for a deal, he's agreed to answer all kinds of questions without any threat of prosecution. We learned this less than 24 hours ago.
We also learned moments after Mitchell's "final message" tweet that, yes, Mueller is continuing to look into conspiracy (collusion, etc) by the Trump campaign. Bloomberg:
Friday’s indictment of a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” and 13 Russian nationals should be seen as a limited slice of a comprehensive investigation, the person said. Mueller’s work is expected to continue for months and also includes examining potential obstruction of justice by Trump, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation that is largely confidential.
The key takeaways from the Bloomberg piece above are, of course, "limited slice" and "continue for months." In other words, the Trumpers are idiotically spiking the football while still on their own 20 yard line. (I hate sports metaphors, but this one works.)
So, then, what did we learn from the indictment?
1. The Friday indictments were strictly about the social media trolling prong of the attack, leaving several other prongs, including the malicious hacks, unanswered (for now) by the Office of the Special Counsel.
2. We know for certain that Russia did, indeed, interfere with the election in support of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and against Hillary Clinton, in part by weaponizing social media.
3. The indictments suggest Trump campaign staffers "unwittingly" helped the Russians. Of course, the indictments only cover the social media ratfucking. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent noted, however, that "unwitting" cooperation "does not foreclose the possibility that Mueller has more to come, including conspiracy."
4. It's still entirely possible that Trump campaign staffers knowingly conspired on other aspects of the attack.
5. By confirming the extent of this prong of the attack, it reveals Trump to be entirely feckless when it comes to stopping the Russians from doing it again -- which they are.
6. Part of the attack was to weaponize Bernie Sanders supporters against Hillary by flooding their timelines with fake news and bogus ads about the Clinton campaign.
Speaking hypothetically, it's also important to mention the fact that Trump could be entirely innocent when it comes to collusion/conspiracy, but it really doesn't matter given that he clearly engaged in a cover-up after the fact by, among other things, abusing his presidential power to undermine the investigation. It's quite Nixonian in this regard. I'm fully expecting Trump to be indicted for obstruction of justice -- at the very least. Collusion or not, Trump is doomed. Trumpers, however, seem to believe that if collusion disappears as an indictable Trump offense, this will somehow be a victory, not realizing that there's an array of other crimes for which Trump will likely be charged. They think that's a win? Weird.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke to the press shortly after the indictments were released and noted that the "information cyberwar" in this series of indictments didn't alter the outcome of the election. (It's unclear how he could possibly know how many people changed their minds as the result of the fake news and ads.) Rosenstein was careful to twice include the phrase "in this/the indictment," which means other future indictments could involve conspiracy with the Trump staff.
Trumpers are taking all of this at face value because they're just plain unaware of so much of the reporting and revelations to date, and, it goes without saying, they're desperate for some good news. This isn't good news, not for Trump. Not by a long shot. Russian operatives linked to the Kremlin endeavored for two years to help Trump win. It delegitimizes his victory, even if he didn't personally participate. It also further erodes Trump's already wafer-thin credibility by exposing his "Democrat hoax" line as a lie.
One thing's for sure, when the actual indictments of Trump and the rest of his co-conspirators are handed down, Fox News and their viewers will lose their minds. They don't see the singularity of justice pulling them in, and they won't see it until it's too late -- until Mueller has this case so rock solid it'll be impossible for anyone to pull-up in time to escape its event horizon.