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.
From The Hill
Attorneys working with the Office of the special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday submitted a request for immunity for up to five witnesses his team has asked to testify in the trial against Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign.
Mueller made the request in a court filing Tuesday afternoon, which also requests that the identity of the potential witnesses remain under seal.
According to the filing, the potential witnesses have yet to be publicly identified with the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and the office wishes to shield them from “undue harassment.”
Top aides to President Donald Trump faced calls from critics to resign after the U.S. leader publicly sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin and against the U.S. intelligence community over charges that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and national security adviser John Bolton were among the officials who political commentators and lawmakers said should quit their posts over the president’s seeming submission to Putin during a joint news conference Monday.
Even some on the right jumped into the fray, largely via social media, to suggest that Cabinet officials or other top members of Trump’s team should look for the exits.
From The Hill
President Trump confirmed in an interview that aired Tuesday that Air Force One is set for a redesign with a red, white and blue paint job.
Trump spoke with Jeff Glor of CBS News last weekend and described his plans for the new model of the presidential aircraft.
“I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors.’ And we’re not,” Trump told Glor from his golf course in Scotland.
“Air Force One is going to be incredible,” he continued. “It’s going to be the top of the line, the top in the world, and it’s going to be red, white and blue. Which I think is appropriate.”
President Trump sucking up to Vladamir Putin after the summit in Helsinki yesterday was such an unbelievable, indelible moment that many deflated White House officials didn’t even bother to defend or explain it.
Between the lines: The prevailing theory among Trump aides and alumni is pretty simple. “He can’t separate meddling from colluding,” said one source close to Trump. “He can’t publicly express any nuanced view because he thinks it concedes maybe there’s something he did wrong.”
- Trump has, at times, privately conceded that Russia probably hacked. But the minute the word “election” comes up in conversation, his brain shifts into an attack mode that throws U.S. intelligence out the window and delights Putin.
- The source added: “His P.R. and legal strategy right now is to impugn the FBI in order to inoculate himself from the Mueller investigation writ large.”
What we’re hearing:
- A former senior White House official, who worked closely with Trump, immediately texted us: “Need a shower.”
- One of Trump’s own former National Security Council officials texted: “Dude. This is a total [effing] disgrace. The President has lost his mind.”
- CBS “Face the Nation” anchor Margaret Brennan, who was in the audience, told AP she was messaging some U.S. officials during the speech who said they were turning off the television.
From The Hill
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Tuesday defended President Trump‘s performance in a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking, “What was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin?”
“I mean come on, snap out of it everybody, the guy is doing what he’s supposed to be doing and that is protecting us,” Pirro said while making an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“What was he supposed to do, take a gun out and shoot Putin? Putin said, ‘I didn’t meddle in your election,’ so the president should say ‘hang on, let me execute this guy?'”
You can accuse President Donald Trump of many things. But after his controversial press conference Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, some critics have called his actions treason. Do lawyers agree?
“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,’” tweeted former CIA Director John Brennan. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Brennan’s premise for the accusation is that Trump appeared to back Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies‘ assertion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Putin denies what the U.S. intelligence community has told Trump—that the Kremlin used cyberwarfare to undermine American democracy. And Trump, whose 2016 campaign is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible collusion with the Russian government, seems to believe Putin.
From The Hill
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Tuesday said it stands ready to step up cooperation with the U.S. on international security matters outlined by President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their Monday summit in Helsinki.
“The Russian Defense Ministry is ready for practical implementation of the agreements in the sphere of international security reached by Russian and U.S. Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, at their Monday’s summit in Helsinki,” Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the ministry said, according to the Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Konashenkov said that Russia was ready to enter into discussions about extending the New START Treaty, which places caps on deployable nuclear weapons.
As of now, that treaty is set to expire in 2021.
From The Hill
President Trump‘s prepared remarks on Tuesday aimed at walking back his comments that he doubted whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election included a handwritten note emphasizing that “there was no collusion.”
Trump spoke to reporters at the White House on Tuesday where he read from a series of printed pages. He emphasized that he accepts the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but added in an apparent ad-lib that “other people” also could have been involved.
Multiple pages included handwritten notes scrawled in black marker. One page included a note about a “permanent middle class tax cut,” while multiple reporters on Twitter quickly noticed that one page apparently featured the message “There was no colusion [sic].”
From The Daily Beast
At first, I thought the closed-door, principals-only meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin would be a kind of Schrodinger’s Cat thought-exercise.
The famous physics gedanken experiment states we can never know if the notional cat is either alive or dead because any observation collapses the quantum field of possibilities. Given it was to be just Trump and Putin alone in a room, I expected that we’d never hear anything even close to the truth.
The press conference after the meeting proved me wrong; it showed us precisely what happened in that room. Donald Trump sold out his country to Russia, then proudly affirmed it, live on camera. A former intelligence agency chief just asked me, “If the Russians didn’t write Trump’s talking points, how could you tell?”
Trump didn’t just do it in the privacy of his treason boudoir; he walked out to the podium and sided consistently and passionately with Putin over America’s interests. Trump publicly stated he believes Putin is more trustworthy than America’s intelligence services. He refused to condemn any of Russia’s malicious, murderous, destabilizing behavior in the world, including its obvious and proven attacks on the United States and our allies.