The Hill's Morning Report — Trump isolated and denounced after Putin meeting

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and we’re rooting for an upbeat Tuesday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

Local hero Bryce Harper won a thrilling home run derby last night for the hometown Washington Nationals. Tonight at 8 p.m. ET the American League and National League will face off from Nationals Park for the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

***

President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE is isolated after his politically disastrous meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, in which he refused to acknowledge foreign interference in the 2016 election and proposed a new alliance with a government that Washington views as hostile to U.S. interests.

Republican congressional leaders rebuked Trump. The president’s conservative defenders on Capitol Hill were silent or sought to separate themselves from his remarks. Establishment Republicans erupted in anger. Longtime allies sounded the alarm.

Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsJordan, Meadows press intelligence chief on House Intel Russia probe transcripts Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan Kerry goes after Trump over climate on Capitol Hill MORE, publicly broke with the president while news anchors, analysts and reporters on Fox News hammered the president and dissected the extent of the political damage.

And the president did it to himself. Meeting one-on-one with Putin was an idea no one else in Washington favored, and Trump had been warned.

For at least a day, Washington was united.

 

 

 

 

 Among the controversies to come out of Helsinki…

  • The president had vowed to confront Putin over Russian interference in the 2016 election, but he betrayed his stubborn, and many insist, unfounded skepticism. The pressure was on for Trump to deliver after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for election crimes, including the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Instead, Trump offered an equivocal response over whether he trusts Putin over his spy chief Coats, the nation’s senior-most intelligence officer. Coats (R), a former Indiana senator with long ties to Capitol Hill, responded:

“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the president and policymakers. We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

  • The president said that he discussed with Putin a partnership on a cybersecurity initiative aimed at preventing future election meddling.

“It’s like inviting a criminal to come help you solve a crime, which the criminal committed. I just don’t see the point of inviting the Russians to help us on something that we know they did.” – former CIA officer and Fox News analyst Daniel Hoffman.

  • Trump suggested that the U.S. and Russia could work together to bring humanitarian relief to Syrians displaced by their country’s civil war. But Putin is propping up Syrian leader Bashar Assad, who uses chemical weapons against his own people in an effort to stay in power. The Syrian civil war, now in its eighth year, is at the root of a refugee crisis about which both leaders professed concerns without mentioning Assad.

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.” – Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Democrats need a 'celebrity' candidate — and it's not Biden or Sanders Juan Williams: The high price of working for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.).

The president’s refusal to confront Putin over Russia’s election meddling appears to be embedded in his concern that it diminishes his Electoral College defeat of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' Seth Rich's brother calls for those pushing conspiracy to 'take responsibility' MORE in 2016.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Democrats put harassment allegations against Trump on back burner Democrats seize on Mueller-Barr friction MORE (R-S.C.), who has been an ally of the president in seeking to hold FBI and Justice Department (DOJ) officials accountable for their election year investigations, said he hopes that Coats and the rest of Trump’s Cabinet “will be able to communicate to the president it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success."

But the president’s performance in Helsinki bolstered the messaging by his political detractors and opened the door for Democrats to intone darkly about his motivations.

 

 

 

 

 The president fired back at his critics from Air Force One during his return to the states.

 

 

In a post-summit interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump continued fuming at Mueller and the special counsel investigation. Hannity praised the president’s performance and lashed out at what he described as biased coverage from a news media that is hell-bent on taking the president down.

“You’re mainstream media – just blind hatred for President Trump. They’d long predetermined that anything the president does is terrible, devastating and apocalyptic. At this point, they’re just a broken record.” Hannity

Takeaway: The Helsinki summit will become an enduring controversy for the White House and potentially an election year flashpoint. Democrats are already fundraising off Trump’s event with Putin. GOP candidates running in swing districts were among the first to denounce him. Trump served to inflame, rather than quiet, bipartisan instincts in Washington to protect the special counsel and defend Mueller’s eventual findings. Congressional Republicans want to separate themselves from Trump’s belief that the U.S. and Russia are allies during a week in which Trump called the European Union a “foe.” Congress is weighing legislation to serve as a check on the executive branch, and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO while condemning Russia as a hostile foreign power.

For those who want to read more...

LEADING THE DAY

HELSINKI ROUNDUP:

News:

Fox News’s Chris Wallace interviews Putin, who refused to look at Wallace’s copy of Mueller’s indictment. Wallace pressed Putin on why so many of his political enemies end up dead.

The Hill: Shocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip.

The Washington Post: Trump’s team briefed and prepared him. But his performance with Putin was “very much counter to the plan.”

The Hill: GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki.

Analysis:

The Memo: Five takeaways from Trump’s jaw-dropping performance with Putin.

Andrea Mitchell: Why Russian officials were gleeful over Trump’s diplomatic train wreck.

NBC News: Trump slammed from all sides.

The New York Times: Republicans rebuke Trump but propose no particular action.

Opinion:

Thomas Friedman: Trump and Putin vs. America.

Dov Zakheim: Trump pulls off trifecta of disruption on European trip.

Ezra Klein: What we know about Trump and Putin is damning.

Andrew McCarthy: Mueller’s politicized indictments of Russian intelligence officials.

Douglas Schoen: Putin eats Trump’s lunch in Helsinki.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: ***Breaking this morning*** … two big new spending buys from influential conservative groups in support of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughAmericans for Prosperity will release its first wave of direct mail and digital ads in West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana and Florida, which is part of a larger multi-million dollar effort … and the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) is putting $1.4 million behind a new ad that will run on cable news, broadcast and digital platforms in Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia … that brings JCN’s total spending to $3.8 million since former Justice Anthony Kennedy retired.

> House Republican leaders have scrapped a floor vote on a Democratic measure to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and will instead vote on a measure to support ICE (The Hill). GOP leaders had seen the vote to abolish ICE as a means of getting Democrats on the record for a difficult vote but some Republicans up for reelection in swing districts opposed the idea.

Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal MORE (R-Tenn.): Why ICE must not be abolished.

Elaine Godfrey: What Democrats really mean when they say ‘abolish ICE.’

> Today is primary day in Alabama. The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports on the incumbent race of Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyOcasio-Cortez: 'I was stopped because it was assumed I was an intern' Insurgency shakes up Democratic establishment Dem House candidate claims Russians tried to hack campaign website MORE (R-Ala.). Roby is a past Trump critic who has been forced into a runoff against former Rep. Bobby Bright (R-Ala.), a former Democrat whom she unseated in 2010. The president is supporting her reelection campaign (The Hill).

More than 50 Democratic House challengers outraised GOP incumbents this quarter (The Hill) … Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D) no-holds-barred approach has made her an overnight sensation, but has also rubbed some Democrats the wrong way (The Hill) … Meet the former Uber and Twitter official the Democratic National Committee hired to address cybersecurity (The Hill).

ADMINISTRATION: Meanwhile, other policy news …

Immigration – reunited families: The Hill: A federal judge on Monday temporarily halted the administration from deporting reunited migrant families, granting a request from the American Civil Liberties Union and giving the government one week to prepare its opposition to the request.

FCC – merger: The Hill: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that he has "serious concerns" about the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media, a surprising move that could likely kill the controversial $3.9 billion deal.

Treasury Department – Iran sanctions: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars Former Sears holding company sues ex-CEO, Mnuchin and others over 'asset stripping' On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost MORE says the administration will consider some waivers for countries that need more time to wind down imports of oil from Iran. The United States seeks to avoid disrupting global oil markets while re-imposing sanctions against Tehran (Reuters).

U.S. & Russia – energy prices: The Hill: Putin said on Monday in Helsinki that the U.S. and Russia “can work together” to determine the right pricing for Russia's Liquid and Natural Gas exports, adding that Trump is aware of Russia's need to keep prices from dropping.

EPA – administrator: The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency’s new administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is seen as a sharp contrast to his ousted and scandal-plagued predecessor, Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide Court orders EPA to make final decision on banning controversial pesticide Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt registers as lobbyist in Indiana MORE. Wheeler could keep top job for years without Senate confirmation (Bloomberg).

State Department – Conventional Arms Treaty: Trump approved the State Department’s implementation plan for the administration’s “Buy American” push to boost weapons exports to focus on the U.S. economy and national security, the State Department announced on Monday (Defense News).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

OPINION

France’s World Cup victory is a win for Emmanuel Macron, by Rachel Donadio, The Atlantic https://bit.ly/2LeOOzm

Why don’t Kansas political parties pay for their own primaries? Kansas City Star editorial https://bit.ly/2KZhSvk

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 10 a.m., and at noon for legislative business.

The Senate convenes at 10:00 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of James Blew to be assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the Department of Education.

The president will meet with members of Congress in the Roosevelt Room at 2 p.m.

Vice President Pence will meet with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pompeo rejects North Korean call for him to leave negotiations | Trump talk with rebel Libyan general raises eyebrows | New setback to Taliban talks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report Pompeo: 'I'm still in charge of' North Korea negotiation team MORE this morning in the secure White House Situation Room. He’ll join Trump for the meeting with lawmakers this afternoon.

Secretary of State Pompeo officiates this afternoon at the swearing-in ceremony for Robert C. O'Brien as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the Department of State.

ELSEWHERE

> Facebook is at a political crossroads: Liberal groups say Facebook should better police its content. But GOP lawmakers worry Facebook could target conservative content on the powerful platform (The Hill).

> Woman who sought `back channel’ meeting between Trump and Putin arrested as Russian agent (The New York Times). Maria Butina worked to infiltrate American organizations as a way to secretly advance Russian interests, prosecutors said. The indictments portray a multifaceted effort by Russia to sway the election through computer espionage, personal overtures and the assistance of American intermediaries … The Daily Beast unpacks who Butina is, based on extensive coverage.

> Amazon’s annual sales gimmick, “Prime Day,” officially began at 3 p.m. ET on Monday. The 36-hour sale features more than 1 million product “deals” and ends Wednesday at 2:59 a.m. ET (CNET).

THE CLOSER

And finally … Trump returns again and again to a favorite theme as he travels the globe.

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” – Trump speaking with Russian President Putin about U.S.-Russia diplomacy, July 16

“I must say that I have gotten to know Theresa May much better over the last two days than I've known her over the last year and half. …The relationship is very, very strong.” – Trump speaking about the British prime minister, July 13

“We’ve had a really great time together, a great relationship.” – Trump speaking about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, June 12

“I would say that the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin. I would say the relationship is a 10.” – Trump referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, June 9

“President Xi and I have a great relationship.” – Trump, speaking of Xi Jinping of China, May 22

“We have developed a great relationship.” – Trump speaking of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, April 30

“Shinzo and I have developed a very close relationship.” – Trump, praising Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, April 17

“So we really have a great friendship, a great relationship. I would really have to say the relationship was, to put it mildly, very, very strained during the Obama administration.” – Trump, speaking of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, March 20

“We've developed a great relationship, both as countries where I think it's never been stronger—and I can honestly say that—and also, as personal friends.” – Trump, hailing Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, January 25