Editor’s Blog

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
In Light Of What We Now Know …

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.

on May 18, 2018 in Washington, DC.
The Latest

Read Rosenstein’s prepared remarks. Here’s our run-down of the indictments themselves. Reactions from Schumer, Giuliani, Podesta.

Buckle Up, Folks

TPM’s Tierney Sneed is at the DOJ for the press conference which is starting momentarily. There were hints that it was a new Mueller indictment to be announced. And it is. More soon.

We’ll have running updates in this post. Read More

The Real Grim Shady

Good explanation here of Wilbur Ross’s slimy stock trade hijinks (Prime access).

Oh

President Trump fumes over London’s “baby Trump” blimp, says it makes him feel “unwelcome.”

Heads Up Prime Badge
Today’s Agenda: July 13, 2018 Prime Badge
New Podcast Episode!

Learn some little-known TPM history and the inside logistics of covering the Paul Manafort trial as TPM Managing Editor David Kurtz joins us for a special episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast.

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Iron Jim Gets What He Wants Prime Badge
This Was a Remarkable Moment

Today’s Agenda: July 12, 2018 Prime Badge
Jordan’s Boss, The Head Coach, Admits He Knew
OXON HILL, MD, UNITED STATES - 2018/02/23: Representative Jim Jordan (R), Representative for Ohio's 4th congressional district, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) sponsored by the American Conservative Union held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

One of the curious dimensions of the evolving Jim Jordan story is that the defenses of Jordan often become close to indistinguishable from the accusations against him. The first instance was that interlude in Jordan’s interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier in which he switched from adamant denials to making a distinction between formal accusations and “conversations in a locker room.” When Baier asked what “locker room” talk he’d heard, Jordan shifted back and insisted he hadn’t heard any. Now there’s another instance of this, an admission that essentially demolishes Jordan’s denials. The head coach Jordan worked for, Russ Hellickson, admits he knew Dr. Strauss was acting inappropriately with wrestlers on his team and confronted him about it. Read More

Trump Proposes Turning Europe Into Armed Camp
on July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Washington Post has just confirmed that in his quest to sow chaos and generally blow up NATO President Trump is now demanding that NATO raise its member state defense spending from a current goal of 2% (by 2024) of GDP to 4%. This is of course blathering nonsense. But I thought I’d try to put some numbers to this in any case. Read More