Editor’s Blog

The Bigs Are Starting to Accept the Unimaginable

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was very skeptical that President Trump’s stunning performance at Monday’s press conference would lead to any great shift on Capitol Hill or among core Trump voters. I remain skeptical. In fact, we’ve seen evidence from the Hill tending to validate that skepticism. Some Sens and Reps are blaming Trump critics for the last four days. Many more are accepting at face value the President’s would/wouldn’t nonsense or simply saying there’s nothing they can do. Read More

on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Um, Wait. What Phone Call? Prime Badge
If you so predictably state as fact precisely the reverse of what are actually the facts you can, perversely and paradoxically, become a reliable witness against yourself.
Today’s Agenda: July 19, 2018 Prime Badge
Tucker Carlson Talks International Politics With ‘The Geniuses At Talking Points Memo’

Matt Shuham asked Fox News how Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump ended up talking about the “aggressive” and warlike people of Montenegro. Tucker called him back.

Read Matt’s write-up of their conversation (Prime access) →

Work Requirements Work As Intended

One of the ways the Trump administration has been chipping away at Obamacare is by approving state plans to attach work requirements to Medicaid. Now, one set of work requirement is going into effect: Arkansas is requiring Medicaid recipients to submit proof online that they work or searched for a job at least 80 hours per month. But Arkansas has the second-worst rate of home internet in the country; thousands of people missed the deadline and could lose their health care.

Get the full story, and catch up on other assaults on Obamacare, in Alice Ollstein’s Weekly Primer on health care (Prime access) →

Cold War Echoes

Mariia Butina will be held in jail until her trial, a judge ordered a short time ago. Tierney Sneed reports from the courthouse. Keep checking back as she adds new details that emerged in court.

Coming Up

Mariia Butina is scheduled to appear in federal court in DC within the hour for a preliminary hearing, following her arrest Sunday and indictment Tuesday. Tierney Sneed is at the courthouse. More when we have it.

Read More

Sex, Guns, And Spycraft

Prosecutors reveal more about Mariia Butina’s clandestine influence operation targeting the NRA, and yes, sexual favors were allegedly involved.

Heads Up

New goings-on in the Mueller probe at the federal courthouse in DC … Tierney Sneed is there … more soon.

 

Late update: Here’s what Tierney sleuthed out.

Today’s Agenda: July 18, 2018 Prime Badge
A Must-Listen Interview

If you’re interested in what it means that the Russians got access to the DNC’s “analytics” you’re definitely going to want to listen to this episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast. There aren’t that many people who have a really high level understanding of how this works, what you could do with this info and has run this for a national presidential campaign. We talked to one of those people. Listen here or download at iTunes.

Trump Reviews His Trip to Europe

So reviewing the President’s trip to Europe – he succeeded in “raising vast amounts of money” at the NATO Summit.

Read More

In Plain Sight Prime Badge
Trump and Putin Apparently Talked a Lot About the Mueller Probe

The President gave an interview to Sean Hannity, apparently just after he concluded today’s joint press conference. The interview just aired on Hannity’s 9 PM show. Below are three notable clips. A lot of the discussion was a rehash of things we’ve been hearing for weeks or months. But though he didn’t say it directly, the clear import of his account is that a primary or perhaps the primary topic of their conversation was Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump repeated that President Putin confirmed that there was no collusion. More notably, he said that in their private conversation Putin repeatedly lamented that the Mueller probe had driven the two countries apart and prevented them from doing great things for the world.

Video after the jump. Read More

The Mystery Meeting
HELSINKI, FINLAND - JULY,16 (RUSSIA OUT) U.S.President Donald Trump (L) and  Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) enter the hall during their joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, July,16,2018. Russian and U.S. Presidents have arrived to Helsinki for the summit. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

About an hour ago the White House sent out a schedule for the tomorrow with a 2 PM meeting at the White House with “Members of Congress.” This is the first mention of such a meeting. So it seems to be new as of this afternoon or evening. Meanwhile Huffpo’s Jennifer Bendery reports on Twitter that she’s spoken to the offices of Ryan, Pelosi, McConnell and Schumer and none of them know what it is about, who is invited or anything else. It’s not clear to me whether they don’t know what it is about or whether they literally haven’t been contacted about it by the White House at all. It seems like the latter. Read More

Oh No! It’s Sheriff Clarke’s Turn in the Barrel

Russian foreign agent Maria Butina has been arrested for operating as an undisclosed foreign agent, tasked with infiltrating the NRA and other conservative political organizations in the US on behalf of Russia. It turns out her gun rights front group, Right to Bear Arms, paid for Sheriff David Clarke’s trip to Moscow. Read More

Take Close Note of This

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. Read More

The Worst Case Scenario Has Been Obvious for a While

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. Read More

We Got What We Expected With 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.” Read More

Today’s Agenda: July 16, 2018 Prime Badge
Warnings

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. Read More

Israel Pushed Heavily for Trump to Meet with Putin

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.” Read More

This Is Why Oversight Matters (And It Won’t Be Good for Novartis)

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. Read More

Working Notes 7.14.18 Prime Badge
Trump Admin Goes to Bat for British Far Right Figure

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. Read More

Working Notes 7.13.18 Prime Badge