President Trump held a rally last night in the state of West Virginia where he spent time firing up his base and launching bombs back at his detractors in DC. While not referring to the Russia investigation by name, the President referred to the “witch hunt” and told his supporters that the establishment in Washington is “trying to cheat” them out of what they voted for. At one point, he jokingly asked the crowd if there were any Russians in attendance. Also in attendance at the rally was the Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, who announced at the rally he was switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
Report on the event from NBC News:
More than eight months after winning the election, President Donald Trump on Thursday declared Hillary Clinton’s defeat “the greatest loss in the history of American politics,” while painting the Russia investigation as a “total fabrication” by Democrats to distract from their failure to win the White House and lack of message.
“The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made-up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda and no vision,” Trump told a raucous crowd of supporters gathered for a campaign rally-style event in Huntington, West Virginia.
The president called probes into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election “demeaning” and “fake.”
“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign — there never were,” Trump said. “We didn’t win because of Russia. We won because of you, that I can tell you.”
“Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania?” Trump continued, listing states he won last year before quizzing the crowd: “Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”
Here’s a video excerpt, courtesy of Reuters and YouTube, of the salient parts of Trump’s speech last night:
Meanwhile, back in DC, Dept. of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller weeks ago convened a grand jury to continue the Russia investigation, according to ABC News:
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news of the grand jury. ABC News later confirmed the panel’s existence with a source familiar with the matter.
Ty Cobb, the special counsel to the president, said he was unaware a grand jury was being utilized by Dept. of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller in his probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, according to a statement released by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said in a statement.
“The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly … The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller,” he added.
The source reached by ABC News said the grand jury began weeks ago in Washington, D.C., separate from an additional grand jury underway in Alexandria, Virginia as part of the special counsel’s inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s actions. The panel permits Mueller’s team to subpoena materials, question witnesses under oath and potentially issue formal charges.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.
If there was ever a time when the President needed to rally his base, this is it. No word on when we will get results from the grand jury or when Robert Mueller will complete his investigation, it could go on for quite some time.