Trump Draws “Red Line” For Mueller, Who Immediately (Maybe) Crosses It

Like The Bratwurst In A Mid-Inning Sausage Race At A Major League Baseball Game, The Mueller Investigation Rallies Late To The Front Of The Pack In A Week Of Wild Stories

The reason we say “maybe” is at the time of publication of this newsletter, only Bloomberg is reporting that Mueller indeed has expanded his investigation to include the President Trump’s business transactions. Presumably other major news organizations have been racing to independently confirm, and haven’t been able to yet.

During his instantly legendary interview with the New York Times, Trump was asked whether Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his and his family’s finances, and Trump answered: “I would say yes”. He would not say what the consequences for Mueller crossing that line might be, but continued: “my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company. And actually, when I do my filings, people say, ‘Man!'”

We also found it interesting that even in that unusually free-wheeling interview, Trump chooses his words very carefully when it comes to dealings with Russia: “‘I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t….Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years.” Trump always steers this question to his lack of involvement in Russian real estate, but never mentions whether he owes Russians money.

Meanwhile: moves afoot for Trump to shore up his own, private legal apparatus, creating an us-against-them atmosphere with federal law enforcement (like the Justice Department and FBI), seen more and more as adversaries of the White House, even though they all ultimately report to the President.

The Washington Post reported late last night Trump’s lawyers are busy at work looking for ways to “limit or undercut” the Mueller investigation. Of particular concern: access to Trump’s tax returns.

The New York Times reports Trump’s team is trying to dig up dirt on the lawyers on Mueller’s team that might be the basis for a smear campaign.

Sessions Surprises Many By Not Resigning

Sessions saying instead he will continue to serve “as long as that is appropriate.” That’s after Trump cruelly roasted him in the Times interview, musing that he probably should never have been Attorney General in the first place.

Some, like Lawfare Blog’s Benjamin Wittes, called Sessions’ decision not to resign “nothing more or less than a lack of self respect.” But we think, in the long run, it may be better to have someone who’s really mad at Trump in that position.

Others suggest that Trump’s targets are many and changing, and periodically being in the doghouse is just something that comes along with working for him. But his attack on Sessions has been sustained since the Attorney General recused himself from the Russia investigation, leaving Trump at the mercy of “a second man, who’s a deputy” (his characterization of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in the Times interview.)

The White House told reporters, in effect, to “shake it off.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying “Clearly, [Trump] has confidence in [Sessions], or he would not be the Attorney General.”

We Have An Alternative Theory About Whether The Wife Of Japan’s Prime Minister Can Or Can’t Speak English

Much was made of the possibility the Prime Minister of Japan’s wife, Akie Abe, faked not speaking English in order to avoid dinner conversation with Trump at the G20. Trump complained during the Times interview that Abe couldn’t even say “hello” in English, implying that’s what eventually drove him to seek out the company of Vladimir Putin. Several news organizations promptly linked to video of a speech Abe gave, in English.

We believe there is a more likely explanation: Trump is lying to the Times, and didn’t even try to engage in conversation with Ms. Abe. Why? We’re just speculating, but could be several reasons: 1) He was too busy fuming inside about the seating chart, which plopped him between Ms. Abe and the wife of the President of Argentina! (Don’t worry, Merkel will pay for this!) 2) She’s a woman (that’s a cheap shot, we know, but possible), 3) He was too busy trying to get Putin to go off with him under the bleachers…

After all, the reason the White House gave for why Trump was alone with Putin during their “second, secret meeting” was that Trump didn’t have a Russian translator with him, only a Japanese translator.

Health Care Still Up In The Air?

The two news sites we turn to most often for reliable coverage of health care, as legislation winds its way through congress, present us with opposing viewpoints:

Politico reports Senate Republicans’ renewed efforts to revive health care legislation (after Trump told them to) is “sputtering.”

• But Vox warns “this is a dangerous time for complacency.”

We’ve said the Senate’s bill won’t totally be dead until Senators go on their summer vacation, which was supposed to start today, but now won’t for two weeks. And Republican Senators insist they will vote next week, on something

One thing’s for sure, the absence of John McCain, who was diagnosed this week with aggressive brain cancer, will definitely have an impact both on a health care vote and on issues related to defense and the military.

And the Congressional Budget Office released some more difficult numbers: the newest version of the bill would still mean 22-million people lose health care, and the bill as currently written might even not be legal, because deductibles would end up being so high, they’d violate maximums set out by the law.

There’s A Reason The U.S. Military Is Very Focused On The Effects Of Climate Change, Even With Trump

We’re not saying this is necessarily related to climate change, but there’s a massive drought in North Korea right now, the worst in 15 years, which is likely to have an impact on the volatile military dispute with the U.S. and regional allies.

It could go either way: either driving North Korea back to the bargaining table in order to secure food aid, or push it further into military brinkmanship in an effort to distract its population.

And in an unrelated climate-related story, the Washington Post reports the Trump Administration pulled the Superintendent of Glacier National Park from a tour he was set to give to Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg. Park staff was also ordered not to link to anything Zuckerberg posted about his visit on their official website. Zuckerberg did comment on concerns about shrinking ice sheets at the Montana national park.