WASHINGTON – The Republican Party has launched an elaborate multimedia effort to go on offense with special counsel Robert Mueller's report, advising state parties to attack Democrats as wasting the nation's time and money by dwelling on the findings.
McClatchy obtained a packet the Republican National Committee has sent to each state party, as well as activists and grassroots leaders, with guidance. A sample suggested statement reads: "Democrats have spent the past two years on an overzealous witch hunt, rather than focusing on the issues that matter to the voters they are supposed to represent."
The statement continues: "Today's release confirms what we knew all along — no collusion. It's time RepX/SenX starts working for the American people, instead of fantasizing over baseless accusations."
The 448-page Mueller report has triggered a fresh wave of Democratic, and to some degree public, outrage.
Mueller detailed areas where questions arise as to whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, but concluded "we are unable to reach that judgment."
Democratic-run House committees plan hearings and further probes.
The RNC's packet included suggested tweets, such as "While @RepX/SenX spent years obstructing and embarrassing themselves, President @RealDonaldTrump has led our nation to unprecedented heights!" Or "Two Years + Tens of Millions of Tax Dollars = Witch Hunt."
And this: "Democrats have been saying for two years to let Mueller do his job and release the report. Now that the report is out with unprecedented transparency like they wanted, they're moving the goalposts! @RepX/SenX needs to get back to working for StateX!"
Another section urges state party officials to "Stay up to date with these talking points."
Among them: "Proving this was a politically motivated fishing expedition against President Trump, Democrats have attempted to move the goal posts throughout this entire process. First, Democrats called for an investigation into the 2016 election.
"Then they demanded then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself from the investigation," the statement continued. "Then they called for a special counsel. After the investigation concluded and (Attorney General William) Barr's Letter reaffirmed there was no collusion and no obstruction, Democrats called for a complete, unredacted summary be released to the public. Now, Democrats will continue to call for expensive investigations to harass the President."
The packet urges officials to "Keep your audience engaged with these video clips." Clips include "No Collusion: The ONLY news fit to print," "Dems & the Media were wrong: No collusion" and "Democrats Lied. No Collusion."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed that Congress would learn more about the report.
"Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the president has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds," the California Democrat told colleagues in a letter Monday.
She accused congressional Republicans as having "an unlimited appetite for such low standards, adding, "The GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the president their blessings."
Republicans say they're ready to eagerly counter such talk. A key part of the strategy is firing up the GOP base. "They believed the president when he says there was no collusion with Russia," said Katon Dawson, former South Carolina Republican chairman.
Many Democrats, though, are ready to move on from the report, saying that much of the public wants to discuss other matters. Democrats are defending 31 House seats in districts Trump carried in 2016, and at least a dozen more seats are regarded as vulnerable.
Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats next year to win a House majority, and will give special attention to the swing districts.
Ten GOP House incumbents are included in the first round of "Patriot Program" members who will get a boost from the party. Among them are Reps. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican who narrowly won re-election last year. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump in his district.
Also on the list are three other Texas Republicans, Reps. Mike McCaul, Pete Olson and John Carter.
Democratic strategists in swing areas are well aware that polling shows most people in those districts would rather discuss health care costs, immigration policy and environmental concerns.
On Capitol Hill, Pelosi has been unenthusiastic about impeachment proceedings, but other House leaders are more willing. This week, she left the door open to start down that road.
Pelosi acknowledged the different views of party members, but said Monday, "We all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth."
The speaker noted that it was important to know "that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings."
As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact," Pelosi said.