The White House has 28 fireplaces which could prove useful. Not only are they warm, cozy fixtures to gather around for the holidays, but they may also help fight the deep chill of the Russia investigation descending on Pennsylvania Avenue.
This week, Donald Trump Jr. celebrated the coming of Christmas with a political speech (because, you know, what could be more festive?) suggesting the whole Russian kerfuffle is merely part of a nefarious plot to unseat dear old dad. “You know,” he said, “my father talked about a rigged system through the campaign and people said, ‘Oh, what are you talking about?’ But it is, and you’re seeing it.”
Only he’s wrong. Most Americans are not “seeing it.” To the contrary, a new poll by CNN (released on the very day winter arrived, for those of you keeping score of the irony) says most voters are decidedly rejecting Team Trump’s denials on the Russian front. Asked to complete this sentence, “The things Donald Trump says about the Russia investigation are …”, only 8 percent finished the phrase with “… completely true.” Twenty-eight percent said “mostly true.” Thirty-two percent said “mostly false.” And 24 percent said “completely false.”
Sixty-one percent of voters consider the Russian allegations a “serious matter,” not a political witch hunt as the president claims. And while almost a third of voters surveyed approve of how Trump is handling the investigation, well over half — 56 percent — do not. As you might suspect, the sampling is heavily weighted by party affiliation with Republicans hugely inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, and Democrats just the opposite. But independents are siding with the Dems on this one, and that is enough to severely tilt the scale of public opinion against Trump.
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Will any of this change how vigorously he disparages and tries to discredit the investigation? Of course not. As long as Twitter is working, that will go on unabated. And when all is said and done, the investigation may yet fail to prove any profound violations of law — especially with regard to the president himself. But for now, winter is here — and even as the White House feels the frost — the investigation is getting hotter.