Shifting hopes as Republicans and Democrats await Mueller

Staff Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a witch hunt, a vendetta, the worst presidential harassment in history.
That’s what President Donald Trump has shouted for two years about the special counsel’s Russia probe. Now, barring an eleventh-hour surprise, Trump and his allies are starting to see it as something potentially very different: a political opportunity.
With Robert Mueller’s findings expected any day, the president has grown increasingly confident the report will produce what he insisted all along: no clear evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and his 2016 campaign. And Trump and his advisers are considering how to weaponize those possible findings for the 2020 race, according to current and former White House officials and presidential confidants who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
A change is underway as well among congressional Democrats, who have long believed the report would offer damning evidence against the president. The Democrats are busy building new avenues for evidence to come out, opening a broad array of investigations of Trump’s White House and businesses that go far beyond Mueller’s focus on Russian interference to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
It’s a striking role reversal.
No one knows exactly what Mueller will say, but Trump, his allies and members of Congress are trying to map out the post-probe political dynamics.
One scenario would have seemed downright implausible until recently: The president will take the findings and run on them, rather than against them, by painting the special counsel as an example of failed government overreach and Trump himself as the victim who managed to prove his innocence...To read more, please refer to our print or online edition.

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