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This is devastating for Trump

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders discusses the arrest of President Donald Trump's longtime associate Roger Stone.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 9:40 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 9:40 PM

The arrest of Roger Stone in the early morning hours Friday is another devastating political blow to President Donald Trump. It gives more ammunition to House Democrats to accelerate their own investigation plans, and it will certainly generate more fear among Republicans, even those who continue to stand by the President.

Robert Mueller's indictment of Stone over alleged coordination with Trump officials about stolen emails from WikiLeaks brings the number of Trump associates charged in the special counsel's investigation to six. Many of the indictments have revolved around the ways in which various advisers lied about their connections with Russians during the election as well as their role in trying to obstruct a legitimate investigation into what happened.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders immediately tried to distance the administration from the news in an appearance Friday on CNN's "New Day." She tried the line, "My first reaction is simple: This has nothing to do with the President, and certainly nothing to do with the White House," but the indictment provides more evidence of the highly suspect activities in Trump's orbit during the 2016 campaign and ever since. Stone's indictment, coupled with dramatic footage of his arrest by the FBI, raises more questions about how far the Trump campaign was willing to go to win the election and the efforts it has undertaken to cover up its actions.

The fact that Stone was in Trump's orbit for so long is problematic in itself. For more than four decades, Stone has been part of the underside of Republican politics. Since his work on behalf of President Richard Nixon, when Stone really pioneered the art of "dirty trick politics," which used disinformation and character assassination as the primary means toward victory, he has been willing to sell his talents to whichever candidate was willing to listen to him.

Many Republicans have turned to him for his services since the 1970s, including Ronald Reagan in his 1980 campaign. While Republicans like to talk about the free market ideology and tough national security ideas they have brought to the table as the reason for their political success over the decades, a large number of the top players in the party have also been willing to go really low when it came time to win campaigns.

During his work for Nixon and Reagan, as well as during his time in the 1980s co-heading a major lobbying firm with Paul Manafort that worked with notorious overseas authoritarian leaders, Stone always was willing to get as close to the line of illegal as possible in pursuit of victory and access to power. A recent film about Stone captured him sharing some of the famous sayings that reflect his outlook: "It is better to be infamous than never to be famous at all" and "one man's dirty trick is another man's civil political action."

Trump and Stone have a relationship that goes back many decades. Stone was part of the discussions that resulted in Trump running for the presidency.

What impact will Stone's indictment and arrest have? Legally, the answer is that we just don't know. The ways in which his story and actions fit into the broader findings that Mueller is putting together remain to be seen.

Politically, there's no doubt that this is a damaging development. It comes at a time when the Republican firewall that has protected Trump has shown some slight but serious cracks as a result of the disastrous government shutdown. A number of Republicans voted with the Democratic spending bill that the Senate ended up rejecting. Sandwiched between the Democratic takeover of the House in 2018 and the fears about what will take place in the 2020 election, Republicans are sweating it out every day about what political costs they will pay from ignoring the scandal for so long.

From the beginning, the outcome of the entire investigation has been as much a political as a legal issue, and the dynamics fundamentally changed when Democrats took control of the House. If Trump had any illusions about how firm House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be in dealing with the chaos caused by this administration, those should have been quickly dispelled during the shutdown crisis. Several committees are now gearing up to launch different kinds of investigations.

Stone's indictment, which gets the investigation so close to the original question of what kind of coordination may have transpired between Trump campaign and Russian officials, is a huge splash of cold water on the President's defenders, who say there is nothing there.

Each week seems to bring further information about the wrongdoing of the people whom Trump surrounded himself with, the people whom he trusted to run his campaign and some who have worked with him ever since.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485655

Reported Deaths: 6558
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1007641586
Ramsey43106801
Dakota36297390
Anoka33293385
Washington22078256
Stearns18734201
St. Louis14805262
Scott13290107
Wright12526115
Olmsted1178988
Sherburne872872
Carver772640
Clay691587
Rice670491
Blue Earth594735
Kandiyohi579574
Crow Wing520681
Chisago499045
Otter Tail482170
Benton446490
Winona418349
Mower404731
Douglas392668
Nobles387047
Goodhue385768
Polk343162
McLeod339349
Beltrami337951
Morrison324547
Itasca313046
Lyon313044
Becker311342
Isanti306154
Steele300411
Carlton300149
Pine282016
Freeborn280723
Nicollet258641
Todd248030
Brown245037
Le Sueur235320
Mille Lacs227447
Cass220024
Waseca208717
Meeker207434
Martin189528
Wabasha18653
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15224
Renville149640
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134416
Wadena130920
Faribault123017
Aitkin118833
Sibley117310
Watonwan11738
Rock115714
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9448
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8045
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake74018
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68416
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned46768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362827

Reported Deaths: 5440
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58260551
Linn20670313
Scott18318210
Black Hawk16258292
Woodbury14979211
Johnson1384874
Dubuque13562194
Dallas1138690
Pottawattamie10791143
Story1024945
Warren556674
Clinton543784
Cerro Gordo533782
Webster519587
Marshall497272
Sioux494869
Buena Vista474537
Des Moines458861
Muscatine452291
Wapello4345108
Jasper417766
Plymouth395378
Lee375452
Marion359169
Jones294154
Henry293337
Carroll286249
Bremer280854
Crawford275135
Boone259730
Washington254347
Benton253854
Mahaska224746
Jackson221638
Dickinson217840
Tama213765
Kossuth208555
Clay193625
Hamilton192142
Delaware189140
Winneshiek189127
Buchanan185729
Fayette185235
Page183319
Hardin181439
Wright179931
Harrison179469
Cedar178523
Clayton168154
Butler167231
Mills163020
Floyd162741
Cherokee154836
Madison154718
Poweshiek154330
Hancock147130
Allamakee146747
Lyon145941
Iowa145023
Appanoose139247
Grundy139230
Jefferson138734
Winnebago138631
Cass134751
Calhoun133811
Mitchell130940
Louisa128241
Union126631
Chickasaw125215
Sac124618
Emmet121740
Shelby121733
Franklin118319
Humboldt117925
Guthrie116628
Palo Alto105221
Montgomery104136
Howard102921
Clarke100420
Unassigned9900
Keokuk98229
Monroe93328
Adair92128
Ida91432
Pocahontas85419
Davis83123
Monona81627
Greene77510
Lucas74021
Osceola70615
Worth6997
Taylor66612
Fremont5909
Decatur5829
Van Buren56118
Ringgold52320
Wayne48921
Audubon4889
Adams3274
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