So what is the fall out from the press conference?
Let me share a few thoughts.
Trey Gowdy just released a statement on the President’s press conference. It’s about what you’d expect in most respects. But the last sentence is key.
The video clips below speak for themselves. There’s little to add to them. I’m watching big think types on TV right now expressing outrage, surprise, bewilderment, anger that President Trump didn’t “hold Putin accountable.” Sometimes when you’re surprised again and again and again, it’s time to consider your assumptions.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m pretty cautious in my arguments, cautious on a lot of fronts. I can be aggressive in how I frame those arguments. I sometimes speak in hyperbole. But in basic judgments I’m quite cautious. Something is fundamentally wrong here. There is no reasonable explanation for the simple facts we see other than that Russia has some kind of hold over President Trump.
President Trump’s press conference with President Putin was relatively normal by the extremely abnormal standards of the Trump Presidency – until the end. Then, when asked about who he believed, Russia or US intelligence, Trump went on a tirade against the FBI, lashing out about the DNC server, Hillary’s emails and more. Later, Putin provided a non-denial denial about a pee tape and Trump concluded with a final attack against Peter Strzok and the Mueller “witch hunt.”
Good morning; happy Monday. President Donald Trump is meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin this morning before returning to Washington, D.C., this evening. Here’s more on that, and on the other things our team has its eyes on.
Take a moment to read this column by David Ignatius in the Post. Ignatius’s column in early 2017, first revealing the calls between Michael Flynn and the then-Russia Ambassador, was a key moment in the whole Russia story. It lit a fuse that led to Flynn’s resignation only weeks later and showed for perhaps the first time that the entire Trump/Russia story – with at least some levels of collusion – was quite real. This new column has no big news revelation. What is provides is perspective, ways in which the Friday indictments are a warning to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
Key line from a new article in The Jerusalem Post on the apparent denouement of the Syrian Civil War and Israel’s effort to enlist Russian assistance in securing its key strategic objectives in a post-conflict Syria: “Benjamin Netanyahu worked laboriously mobilizing all his influence in Washington to persuade Donald Trump to meet Vladimir Putin.”
It got overwhelmed by news of the new Special Counsel indictments on Friday. But a group of Senate Democrats released a report late on Thursday (or early Friday) which shows why Congressional oversight is so important and what might be in store for next year. Most coverage of the report focused on the fact that Novartis gave Trump fixer Michael Cohen policy recommendations that ended up included in official administration policy. But that’s not the most important finding.
This is wild. You may have heard of the British far-right activist Tommy Robinson (actually a pseudonym for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon). He’s the founder of something called the English Defense League, a far-right nationalist group with a record of organized violence against British Muslims. Think of it as some variant of US alt-right types but with a specific focus on anti-Muslim xenophobia. Pam Geller, just more terrible and violent. He’s currently serving a year sentence for breaking a UK law that bars certain kinds of publicity of on-going criminal trials.
One of the things we’re going to be doing is using Prime as a channel for what are sometimes called reporters’ notebooks: working questions, notes, things to look into, to remember for future reference. I’m using this thread for my notes on today’s news, focusing specifically on things I want to look deeper into or am keeping an eye on.
I’ll be updating this post with nuggets through the rest of the day. So check back.
President Trump’s past statements denying, clouding, blame-shifting, and minimizing (Prime access) the Russian hacking of Democrats in 2016 read in an especially stark light after today’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers.