Trump’s Russia imbroglio – a red herring?

As the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 American election intensifies, some of Donald Trump’s closest allies are questioning whether special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation is becoming too partisan.

Trump is convinced that Mueller, like James Comey, is part of a “witch-hunt” by those wishing to see him “weakened or forced from office”, say Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in The New York Times. For now, however, the president’s real anger is “reserved” for James Comey. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump had demanded loyalty, asked him to drop the investigation into his formal national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and urged him to drop the Russia inquiry.

His testimony has fuelled accusations that Trump “obstructed the course of justice”, says Charlie Savage in The New York Times. On Friday a “defiant” Trump accused Comey of “committing perjury” and offered to share his version of events under oath, say Philip Rucker and David Nakamura in the same newspaper.

The Democrats have turned to the charge of “obstruction of justice” only because the “earnestly desired evidence” of collusion between Trump’s associates and Russians has not materialised, says Holman Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal. The real question is whether Mueller will “have the courage” to ask questions about the “gullibility and overeagerness of the FBI, CIA and NSA to play in domestic politics because of their dislike of Mr Trump”.

Come off it, says Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Republicans would be “calling for the head” of a Democratic president in Trump’s situation. “The real problem isn’t that Trump is a Washington naif, though he is. It’s that he brought his own distorted reality and warped values with him.” He still hasn’t expressed any real concern that the Russians tried to damage our democracy, and reiterated on Friday his “ridiculous contention that the Russia scandal is a red herring, even now that everyone agrees that it is real”.