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This is devastating for Trump

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin says it's shocking, but not surprising, to hear that the FBI has arrested longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 3:30 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 3:30 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: 445047

Reported Deaths: 5955
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin924911470
Ramsey39703735
Dakota32788331
Anoka30811360
Washington20004225
Stearns17775185
St. Louis13546240
Scott1189996
Wright11548102
Olmsted1035775
Sherburne815765
Carver691436
Clay648478
Rice600166
Kandiyohi552871
Blue Earth538033
Crow Wing479673
Otter Tail453464
Chisago449732
Benton416785
Winona386246
Douglas372466
Nobles366746
Mower362328
Goodhue343657
Polk327756
McLeod323144
Morrison310043
Beltrami308746
Lyon299835
Itasca282643
Becker281738
Isanti281141
Carlton278143
Steele27119
Pine265113
Freeborn241320
Todd230929
Nicollet223336
Brown213734
Mille Lacs212845
Le Sueur208515
Cass206123
Meeker198533
Waseca188816
Martin169126
Wabasha16883
Roseau165316
Hubbard148338
Redwood139227
Renville136539
Houston135313
Dodge13304
Chippewa130832
Cottonwood126518
Fillmore12215
Wadena119416
Rock109512
Sibley10797
Aitkin107133
Watonwan10618
Faribault104615
Pennington97715
Kanabec97218
Pipestone93823
Yellow Medicine93314
Murray8655
Jackson85010
Swift83018
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6978
Clearwater68514
Lac qui Parle65616
Lake62915
Wilkin6229
Koochiching59010
Lincoln4821
Big Stone4543
Unassigned43468
Grant4257
Norman4228
Mahnomen4087
Kittson37019
Red Lake3164
Traverse2473
Lake of the Woods1801
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 303065

Reported Deaths: 4267
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45335447
Linn17673274
Scott15356163
Black Hawk13648236
Woodbury12945175
Johnson1202149
Dubuque11300149
Pottawattamie8934112
Dallas881171
Story863434
Webster467471
Cerro Gordo462968
Sioux453356
Clinton448361
Warren437538
Marshall425561
Buena Vista391529
Muscatine386177
Des Moines380641
Plymouth348868
Wapello340898
Jasper319658
Lee313530
Marion301752
Jones269649
Henry263230
Carroll253034
Bremer242048
Crawford228122
Boone216217
Washington214231
Benton208544
Jackson190831
Mahaska190736
Tama185657
Dickinson184226
Delaware172236
Kossuth170543
Clay166019
Wright162724
Fayette159522
Buchanan158023
Hamilton157829
Winneshiek154819
Harrison154462
Hardin153929
Cedar151419
Clayton150748
Butler146424
Page143715
Cherokee138127
Floyd137936
Mills136016
Lyon133632
Poweshiek132324
Hancock128824
Allamakee126827
Iowa122822
Calhoun12209
Grundy120026
Jefferson119524
Madison11869
Winnebago118229
Mitchell115634
Louisa114130
Cass112541
Chickasaw110512
Emmet110231
Sac110215
Appanoose109638
Union108122
Humboldt104219
Guthrie102224
Shelby101326
Franklin101218
Unassigned9210
Palo Alto9019
Keokuk84325
Montgomery84022
Howard82519
Monroe80518
Clarke7817
Pocahontas77211
Ida73830
Greene6887
Davis68721
Adair68620
Lucas6468
Osceola6349
Monona63316
Worth5983
Taylor5919
Fremont5036
Van Buren49412
Decatur4784
Ringgold4269
Wayne41421
Audubon4108
Adams2953
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