Offers This Theory: “Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.”
Trump spoke, and not by Twitter: Actually sitting down for two interviews, one with Pat Roberston on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the other with Reuters. The CBN interview is most notable for Trump saying Putin would’ve been happier with Clinton as President than him, and that he will be “very angry” if the Senate doesn’t pass health care.
Trump most directly addresses the actions of his son in the Reuters interview. The President saying he does not fault Donald Trump Jr’s decision to meet with a Russian lawyer he thought had damaging info on Hillary Clinton: “Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that.”
When we read through the transcript of the rest of the Reuters interview, we thought it might be best just to let the President speak for himself. The following are all real quotes:
• More On Trump Jr’s meeting with Russian lawyer: “You have to understand, when that took place, this was before Russia fever. There was no Russia fever back then, that was at the beginning of the campaign, more or less. There was no Russia fever.”
• When he asked Putin about campaign meddling: “First question – first 20, 25 minutes – I said, ‘Did you do it?’ He said, ‘No, I did not, absolutely not.’ I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, ‘Absolutely not.'”
• A little side theory about that: “Somebody did say if he did do it, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Which is a very interesting point.”
• On Syria ceasefire: “I said, ‘We’ve got to solve this problem in Syria. And Ukraine by the way.’ And what happened is we sat down and we worked out a ceasefire, which is by the way, as of 20 minutes ago, totally holding, and that’s four days. Four days doesn’t sound like a lot, but they’ve never had a ceasefire that lasted at all. That’s because Putin told them, as opposed to somebody that nobody ever heard of.”
• More on his role in the ceasefire: “…nobody else could have gotten but me.”
• Another interesting side theory: “….why would Putin want me? It’s really the one question I wish I would have asked Putin: Were you actually supporting me? I’m very big on energy, and that’s not good for Russia, because Russia makes its money with energy. That drives the price of energy down. I also am very strong on the military, very, very strong on the military. I’m also very strong on cyber. I would bet that inwardly Putin would have been against me.”
You do have a phone…it’s not like you’re somebody he never heard of…(We promised not to comment! Oops!)
• On the mood in the White House: “The White House is functioning beautifully. The stock market has hit a new high. Job numbers are the best they’ve been in 16 years. We have a Supreme Court judge already confirmed. Energy is doing levels that we’ve never done before. Our military is doing well. We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS, which Obama wasn’t. There’s not a thing that we’re not doing well in. The White House is functioning beautifully, despite the hoax made up by the Democrats.”
• On the ‘Russia Cloud’ not dissipating: “There was zero coordination. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. There’s no coordination, this was a hoax, this was made up by the Democrats.”
The President is now in Paris for a quick visit to commemorate Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. The Washington Post suggests the real reason he went is to see how France puts on a military parade, something Trump’s wanted to do back home for a while.
Editorial: What About Going To Plan “D” On Health Care? Get “D”emocrats To The Table And Hammer Out Something That’s Really Bipartisan
And maybe fixes things, instead of creating a whole new world of hurt. We’ve never been super-fans of Obamacare. Now we might have a chance at a really good bill. Even with adjustments, the Senate bill can never be that. Instead, it would push in one of two directions (or maybe both) if it indeed is passed: 1) A huge corporate welfare program for health insurance companies, 2) A really shady bazaar where everyone can sell pretty much anything they want. That’s leading many hospitals, doctors and patients to fear things could easily get worse than they were before there was any kind of health care law at all.
So why not give Plan “D” a shot? Democrats will sit down. They are not, at heart, in the business of obstruction. At least not if they feel they can do some good.
So what if it makes the President “angry”? So what if it doesn’t fit with the Trump doctrine that losers not only have to lose, but they have to suffer long and hard? Which may be why the White House seems to be fighting harder than anyone right now for a Senate bill to pass, with almost complete disregard for what’s in it. (Yes, even if it’s totally “mean.”)
Bloomberg suggests while many are calling this pie-in-the-sky, it’s already gaining traction, quietly, on the edges of congress. Meanwhile the Hill reports this morning that several Republican leaders are calling a possible bipartisan try “a waste of time.” But that also may be an indicator they’re taking it more seriously. The Senate’s most recent try at bipartisan legislation was wildly successful: a bill that increases sanctions on Russia and limits the President’s ability to remove them passed 98-2, but it’s since been stalled in the House, which seems to be yielding (at least temporarily) to pressure from lobbyists and the White House.
Bloomberg also came out with an analysis of how healthcare marketplaces are looking as insurers finalize offerings for 2018. Their conclusion: most of the people who use the marketplaces will have similar options as they do right now.
The Bloomberg survey does not address changes to premiums. Still it stands in stark contrast to the super-bleak picture painted by the White House on its own website.
“I Do Not Consider Director Mueller To Be On A Witch-hunt”
That statement coming from Trump’s nominee to be the next FBI Director, Christopher Wray, and is likely to pave the way for a relatively smooth bipartisan nomination. While not without contentious moments, and cautious, measured answers, Wray appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee as someone willing to stand up to the President if necessary, saying at another point “I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. Full stop.” You can watch some of his testimony by clicking on the photo:
Wray would replace James Comey, whom Trump fired and called a “nut job.” The President has also frequently characterized Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes raises the issue of whether Trump set a precedent when he fired Comey that will be followed by future Presidents: instead of honoring the 10-year FBI director term, bringing in a new FBI Director and Attorney General at the start of every new administration.
Lawyers Preemptively Try Out A Defense On Election Meddling By Foreigners
Reuters reports lawyers are kicking around the idea that while direct spending on U.S. elections by foreign nationals is illegal, that doesn’t cover online activities, including buying some political ads on Facebook and other networks. If that holds up in court, it could provide hurdles for government investigators trying to prove election interference. The argument being floated is that as long as the online content only addresses where a candidate stands on an issue, or spreads news about a candidate, or even attacks a candidate, it’s OK, as long as it doesn’t explicitly call for his or her defeat. No such loophole exists for broadcast, cable or satellite but exiting U.S. law makes no mention of the internet.
One thing this story indicates to us is that the legal community is fully expecting prosecutions in this area.
Russia Showing No Signs Of Bending To Pressure To Give Up Crimea, In Fact Quite The Opposite
Reuters is reporting exclusively it has new evidence Russia just delivered two giant German-made gas turbines to Crimea. Since the turbines were under wraps when Reuters’ reporters spotted them, there’s no way of confirming for sure they are from German industrial giant Siemens. If they are it would be in violation of international sanctions. Russia needs the turbines for new power stations after Ukraine cut Crimea from its power grid when Russia took control of the region.
Local officials Reuters spoke with were disarmingly nonchalant saying: “Of course, this whole story is going to come out, but let it come out without us.”
Siemens argues the turbines were sold legally and if they’re ending up in Crimea it’s against the company’s wishes and without its knowledge.
Here’s The Next Clip In Our Serialization Of The Senator Al Franken/David Letterman Series
This episode, more than anything else, is about what comedians and entertainers can and should do if they want to make a difference.
You can watch the whole series all at once on Funny or Die.
The Mother Of All Symbols
This story is completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is also really emblematic of the Trump administration. The White House released a short video clip slamming the Congressional Budget Office. However, it inaccurately spelled the word “inaccurately”, which is a bad thing to do if you’re calling someone else out for being inaccurate:
(Yeah, we know, we have typos too from time-to-time. But we are not the White House.)