How the Republican Congress got completely snookered by the Trump-Russia arrests

We all saw it coming, because they saw it coming: early last week the Republican Congress suddenly went off the rails pushing phony tinfoil hat conspiracy theories involving Hillary Clinton and Russia, in an obvious attempt at temporarily shielding Donald Trump from what was about to come in his Russia scandal. The Republicans knew indictments and arrests were coming soon, and they were hoping to keep that story at bay. But they completely missed the timing of it, because they had the wrong man.

Follow the timeline here. Three days before the impending indictments and arrests leaked to the media, the Republican Congress suddenly began pushing the fiction about Hillary Clinton in coordinated fashion. They were clearly counting on the indictment news surfacing soon, and they were hoping to establish the Hillary faux-scandal in advance, so it partially would drown out the indictment storyline whenever it leaked. That way they might be able to prop Trump up just long enough to pass their tax scam for their wealthy donors. But here’s the thing: three days isn’t nearly enough time to firmly establish a phony scandal just by repeating it every day and baiting the media to report your words. The GOP would have known that.

If the Republican Congress had known early last week that the indictment news would leak on Friday, and that the arrests would take place on Monday, it’s almost impossible to imagine that it would have gone ahead and pushed the silliness about Hillary. There simply wasn’t enough time for it to be effective, and sure enough, it’s already almost completely disappeared from every major news outlet but Fox. The GOP had to have been under the impression that it had a couple weeks, not just a few days, before the arrests began. That brings us to two words: Michael Flynn.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey told the media on Friday that he was fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller with regard to Michael Flynn’s international kidnapping plot. That means Flynn is going to be indicted and arrested, in a federal grand jury case in Virginia that’s fully separate from the Paul Manafort case in Washington DC. As we’ve seen this week, the Flynn case isn’t quite wrapped up. It appears the GOP learned of the upcoming Flynn arrest, believed it had a few weeks, tried the phony Hillary scandal strategy, and then got completely snookered when the Manafort indictment suddenly came out of nowhere. Oops.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report