The Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back to the Walk-Back. President Trump told CBS News that it’s “true” Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and he “would” hold Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for interference. Said Trump: “Well, I would, because he’s in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country. So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes.” Well, first, you are not in charge of the country. And thankfully, you are not responsible for everything in the country (but if you want to be, then I will gladly blame you when anything goes wrong).
The walk back to CBS came after another shoe in the mouth moment this morning when Putin’s little bitch claimed “that Russia is no longer targeting the United States, contradicting his top intelligence official who said the opposite earlier this week,” CNN reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s comments were the latest in a dizzying collection of conflicting statements from Mr. Trump since he emerged from a private meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday in Helsinki, Finland.”
All these walk backs do not take back all of what Trump has said in the last three days. First Read highlights what he didn’t try to clean up:
- “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”
- “I think that the [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”
- “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC’s] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”
- “What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”
- “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
- “And what [Putin] did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 [indicted Russians]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” (By the way, Putin’s condition for that offer? That Americans and U.S. residents who Russia believes have committed illegal actions should be questioned, too.)
“So what should be the major takeaway? That Trump tried to clean up a couple of statements from his meeting with Putin? Or that didn’t walk back everything else he said in Helsinki.”
Holy fucking shit. https://t.co/N5Rukowbjn
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) July 18, 2018
Trump to turn over American citizens and officials to Putin’s KGB. Press secretary Sarah Sanders says the White House is still weighing an offer [or order] from Russian President Vladimir Putin to allow the U.S. to interview the indicted Russians accused of election meddling in exchange for Putin’s KGB getting to question Bill Browder and our former Ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, both critics of Putin and connected to the lawyer, Magnitsky who exposed Putin’s corruption and then was ordered killed by Putin. An American President would have stood up and left the meeting at that suggestion. A Russian Traitor says he will consider it.
If this happens, there must be violent riots in protest.
He even called people from Montenegro "very aggressive people" https://t.co/yfOUcI56jI
— Vox (@voxdotcom) July 18, 2018
Kavanaugh wants to end Special Counsel law. “Judge Brett Kavanaugh two years ago expressed his desire to overturn a three-decade-old Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of an independent counsel, a comment bound to get renewed scrutiny in his confirmation proceedings to sit on the high court,” CNN reports.
Speaking to a conservative group in 2016, Kavanaugh bluntly said he wanted to “put the final nail” in the 1988 Supreme Court ruling.
“Whether that means Kavanaugh views Mueller’s appointment and investigation itself as unconstitutional is unclear, given the special counsel works directly for the Justice Department under a different set of rules that governed the independent counsel.”
GOP Congressman wants to call women sluts again. Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) “has a long history of making deeply misogynistic comments on the radio, including lamenting that women can no longer be called ‘sluts,’” CNN reports.
Said Lewis: “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”
Instead of "electability," Democrats ought to value "unbreakability" in a 2020 candidate–someone who won't screw up what should be a winning hand. https://t.co/M3cfWTlkHW
— Ed Kilgore (@ed_kilgore) July 18, 2018
Reducing Caucuses and Superdelegates: A good compromise. “A quiet but significant shift across a handful of states could reshape the Democratic nominating process ahead of 2020: The party is now poised to see a historic reduction in the number of states that use caucuses over primaries to pick a presidential nominee,” BuzzFeed News reports.
“By next year, Democrats could see the number of caucus states cut in half.”
“Four states have already moved from a caucus system to a traditional primary: Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, and, as of last month, Idaho made the switch. Party officials say two more states — Nebraska and Washington — are now considering the same change. And as Democratic Party members prepare to adopt changes to the nominating process at their annual summer meeting next month — including a new rule to “encourage” the use of primaries over caucuses “whenever possible” — caucus states may face new outside pressure to embrace state-run primaries.”
The Unity Reform Commission has already agreed to limit and reduce the number of superdelegates.
How the Obamas stayed invisible in Washington post-presidency. Washington Post: “The conventional move for a post-presidency life is back home: a return to roots, a presidential library and distinguished service. No modern president has remained in the nation’s capital after leaving office; the last was the ailing Woodrow Wilson in 1921. So the idea of the vibrant, glamorous Obamas — two of the most famous people in the world — living here was a very big deal. Expectations were high.”
“Longtime Washingtonians hoped they would become unofficial ambassadors for the nation’s capital, embracing their adopted city. Instead, they’ve embraced their new lives as private citizens, emphasis on private.”
“In the past 18 months — aside from a few carefully curated public appearances — they are rarely spotted around town. They still love going to restaurants and attending the occasional exhibition or play. But outside a rarefied circle of close friends, they fly pretty much under the radar.”
The question isn't going away: Why is an American president openly colluding with an enemy dictator who’s out to subvert Western democracy in general, and America in particular? @frankrichny writes https://t.co/L9i8KKot2z
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 18, 2018
Democrats Have Massive Cash Edge In Key Senate Races. “Senate Democrats and supportive outside groups have built a massive cash advantage over Republicans 3½ months before the midterm elections, raising GOP concerns that they will squander a golden opportunity to grow their narrow majority,” The Hill reports.
“All told, Democratic candidates in 10 of the most critical races are sitting on $75 million, while their Republican rivals hold $33 million in cash on hand.”
Suspected Spy Contacted Russian Intelligence. Prosecutors said that a woman “charged with secretly acting on behalf of Russia was working as a covert agent in the United States and was recently in contact with a suspected Russian intelligence official,” the New York Times reports. “The new details about the woman, Maria Butina, 29, were disclosed by prosecutors in a court filing arguing that she should be held without bond because she was a flight risk… The authorities disclosed that she was moving money out of the country, had her boxes packed and had terminated her lease.”
So far, impeachment has been a non-starter for Republicans in Congress. But once Robert Mueller releases a report with his findings, the GOP's excuses to put it off will no longer hold. https://t.co/Xjm9l6Zmza
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) July 18, 2018
The Trump Drownout Strategy. GOP strategist Josh Holmes told McClatchy the President Trump is an asset for the midterm elections and that Republicans are counting on his media dominance to turn out their voters in November — and drown out opponents’ messaging.
Said Holmes: “Everybody thinks that President Trump is some kind of drag on the Republican Party, [when] in this case, he’s just the essential ingredient.”He added: “What the president is doing by continuing to discuss the investigation and the quote-unquote ‘witch hunt,’ particularly on prime time Fox News, is doing more to mobilize base voters than any legislative issue we’ve seen.”More: “You could be up with 10 million points of health care messaging from now until the election. None of that matters if President Trump doesn’t utter the word health care. He controls the conversation in a way that we have not seen a president do.”
Polling Update. A new Center for American Progress poll in 48 Republican-held congressional districts finds a majority of voters think Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats, 54% to 46%. Democrats also hold a 4-point lead on the generic ballot in these districts, “a notable shift from the last two cycles, where Republicans led in the same districts by an average of 14 points.”
“A majority of Americans, 68 percent, consider Russia either unfriendly or an enemy of the United States,” according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll. “That’s a 9 percent increase from one year ago, when 59 percent of Americans said they considered Russia either unfriendly or an enemy, signaling that attitudes toward Russia have worsened amid President Trump’s administration and the federal probe into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election. The poll was conducted just prior to Trump’s Monday news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
A new Pew Research poll finds 41% think the U.S. Senate should confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, while 36% say they should not and 23% do not offer a view on the question. “Opinions of his nomination are already deeply polarized: 73% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think he should be confirmed. By contrast, 63% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the Senate should not confirm him.”
A new Center for Politics/Ipsos poll finds 51% of Americans believe elections are fair and open, and large majorities of Americans express skepticism about big money in politics and favor disclosure of donations.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 55% of Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling relations with Russia, while 37% approved, in a survey conducted after his controversial summit and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, among Republicans, 71% approved of his handling of Russia compared to just 14% of Democrats.
In the Trump era, no one can know for sure which Democrat is most "electable." But everyone has an incentive to pretend that they do. https://t.co/SgeVAUqtQV
— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) July 18, 2018
The Financial Times says Trump betrayed America. Financial Times editorial: “Mr Trump has undermined his country and his office in a series of important ways. His performance in Helsinki made it absolutely clear that the US president places his own political survival and personal vanity above any belief in the rule-of-law. Just a few days earlier, Rod Rosenstein, America’s deputy attorney-general, had indicted 12 Russian agents accused of interfering in the 2016 election and had correctly pointed out that the indictments should not be a partisan issue. But this crucial point is lost on Mr Trump. Everything — including truth, the rule-of-law and the dignity of the US — is subordinated to his own partisan interests.
The president’s rambling and self-centred remarks also underlined the questions about his intellectual fitness for office. The contrast with the controlled, polished (and deeply cynical) performance of Mr Putin was painful to behold.”
“I’d trade a public relations nightmare for the nightmare I’ve lived through any day of the week,” a former marine sergeant and PFAS contamination victim tells me, disappointed that an EPA-suppressed report didn't get the attention it deserved https://t.co/hyB1pmQktn
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) July 17, 2018
Another Special Election Democratic Upset? The August 7th special election in central Ohio, which was called after longtime Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) resigned, “will be the last gut-check for both parties ahead of November’s midterms,” the Washington Postreports.
“Danny O’Connor, the Democratic nominee in a special congressional election here, has denounced both party leader Nancy Pelosi and the Republican-passed tax cut. Troy Balderson, a longtime Republican state legislator, has underwhelmed his party’s strategists and lagged in fundraising.”
“Republicans, who presided over a 2011 gerrymander that appeared to turn the district safely red, concede that Democrats have put it in play. A Republican super PAC has been on the air for five weeks; both Vice President Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have flown in to help Balderson raise money and wake up voters.”
Some thoughts on whether Trump can convince Americans this is the greatest economy ever: https://t.co/ygkp4eMuQe
— Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) July 17, 2018
Trump’s $250K Jerusalem Embassy Will Cost $21 Million. President Trump “has repeatedly boasted that he would save US taxpayers a bundle by negotiating a $250,000 price tag for a new embassy in Jerusalem. Turns out the final cost, just for a temporary facility, is almost 100 times more,” Al Monitor reports.
“Documents uploaded this week to the official database of federal spending show that Maryland-based joint venture Desbuild Limak D&K has been awarded a $21.2 million award to design and build ‘addition and compound security upgrades’ to the embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. That’s in addition to the $335,000 spent to get the facility, formerly a US consulate, ready for its ritzy grand opening as an embassy back in May.”