News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
President Donald Trump cast his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a step “towards a brighter future.”
But the global community had a different assessment: the summit in Helsinki signaled the manifestation of a new world order.
As Trump decamped from his weeklong trip to Europe, he was holding up America’s friends as its “foes,” and presenting Russia, the former superpower scorned by his predecessor as a fading regional player, as significant enough to be in competition with the U.S.
Trump, during a surreal joint news conference following the meeting, showed deference to Putin by repeatedly refusing to criticize the Russian president, noting that his description of him as a “competitor” was meant purely as a compliment.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing behind the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russians interfered in the 2016 elections — despite President Donald Trump’s latest comments.
The Kentucky Republican told reporters at the Capitol on Monday: “The Russians are not our friends.” And he said he “entirely” agrees with intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russians meddled in the election.
McConnell spoke several hours after Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference in Helsinki and said he didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would have meddled. Trump said Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in denying Russian involvement.
McConnell did not respond when asked if he was disappointed in Trump’s remarks.
President Donald Trump usually turns to Fox News and the Fox Business Network when he wants to hear pundits defend his policies and behavior, but he probably would not have liked what he saw on Monday following his joint press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Directly after the press conference, Fox Business host Neil Cavuto, who also hosts a daily show on Fox News, called Trump’s performance “disgusting.” Referring to Trump’s refusal to side with US intelligence agencies and his own Department of Justice over allegations that Putin ordered a Russian interference scheme in the 2016 elections, Cavuto said Trump “is essentially letting the guy get away with this and not even offering a mild criticism. That sets us back a lot.”
“Putin won,” said Cavuto’s guest, Mark Weinberg, a former Reagan administration official. “Trump missed the opportunity to call [Russia] out in no uncertain terms. He dodged every opportunity to do it, and he missed a chance he won’t get again.”
A federal judge on Monday ordered a temporary halt to any deportations of immigrant families who were reunited after being separated by the Trump administration at the border.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw imposed a delay of at least a week after a request from the American Civil Liberties Union, which cited “persistent and increasing rumors … that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification.”
Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart opposed the delay but did not address the rumors in court. He said he would respond later in writing. The judge gave the department until next Monday.
From The Hill
Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson slammed his own parents for making the “maximum contribution” to his Democratic opponent in a fiery editorial published by Fox News on Monday.
The hopeful who is currently embroiled in an intense primary battle for the GOP nomination accused his parents of turning “their back on me, my wife” and their grandchildren following a report from CNN earlier this year that highlighted his parents’ donations to the incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
“My parents have since turned their back on me, my wife, their grandchildren, and their extended family,” Nicholson, who entered the GOP primary in July 2017, wrote in the editorial.
He pointed to his parents’ donation as a “representation of the intolerance” in the Democratic Party.
Former CIA director Brennan urges Pompeo, Bolton, Kelly to resign following ‘treasonous’ Trump-Putin summit
From The Hill
Former CIA Director John Brennan on Monday called on members of President Trump‘s Cabinet to resign in protest following the president’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton and chief of staff John Kelly “can continue in their jobs”
“I thought that there was nothing Donald Trump could say that would shock me, but I was wrong. I was just totally shocked at the performance of Donald Trump in Helsinki at a press conference with Vladimir Putin. I just found that it was outrageous,” said Brennan to anchor Brian Williams on MSNBC immediately following Trump’s press conference in Helsinki, Finland.
The Trump administration, responding to a federal judge’s sharp admonition, provided an updated plan Sunday about how it will verify the parentage of older children in detention.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw scolded the Health and Human Services Department Friday, saying it was using safety concerns as “cover” to avoid meeting his July 26 deadline to reunite with their parents all 2551 children aged 5 to 17 who were detained at the border.
Sabraw previously ordered HHS to return to their parents by July 10 all 102 children under 5 who were detained at the border. In response, HHS reunited all but 46, saying these children were ineligible for reunificaiton because verification wasn’t complete or because of safety concerns.
Two security experts from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory drove to San Antonio, Texas, in March 2017 with a sensitive mission: to retrieve dangerous nuclear materials from a nonprofit research lab there.
Their task, according to documents and interviews, was to ensure that the radioactive materials did not fall into the wrong hands on the way back to Idaho, where the government maintains a stockpile of nuclear explosive materials for the military and others.
To ensure they got the right items, the specialists from Idaho brought radiation detectors and small samples of dangerous materials to calibrate them: specifically, a plastic-covered disk of plutonium, a material that can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, and another of cesium, a highly radioactive isotope that could potentially be used in a so-called “dirty” radioactive bomb.
But when they stopped at a Marriott hotel just off Highway 410, in a high-crime neighborhood filled with temp agencies and ranch homes, they left those sensors on the back seat of their rented Ford Expedition. When they awoke the next morning, the window had been smashed and the special valises holding these sensors and nuclear materials had vanished.
After meeting one-on-one for the better part of two hours in Helsinki, Finland, Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin made statements and then took a handful of questions from reporters. It was some kind of, um, performance, from Trump as he sought to cast Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election as a “both sides” issue even while running down the US intelligence community.
My initial take on what was a disastrous and shameful performance is here. But I also went through the transcript of the press conference and pulled out the 21 most newsworthy and noteworthy lines from Trump.