White House shuts down press availability after Trump tweet admits collusion

The White House announced on Monday that President Donald Trump would not take any questions after he admitted on Twitter that his son may have colluded with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

In a tweet over the weekend, Trump reversed course on his explanation of a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower. The president had originally claimed that the meeting had been about adoptions. But in his Sunday tweet, Trump admitted that the purpose of the meeting had been to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee.

On Monday, White House correspondents reported that the White House had issued a “lid” on presidential travel and questions from the press.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also had not scheduled a Monday briefing by the time of publication.

[Raw Story]

Trump administration tells ACLU to find deported parents

The Trump administration on Thursday informed a federal judge that it isn’t responsible for locating deported parents separated forcibly from their children at the southern border.

DOJ said in a court filing that the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over family separations, should instead take the lead in reunifying deported parents with their children.

“Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” DOJ said.

The administration suggested that the ACLU find out whether the deported parents wish to be reconnected with their children, or whether they waive that option.

An administration official said Thursday evening that the filing “simply asks the court to require the ACLU to determine the wishes of and fulfill their obligations to their clients, as they have repeatedly represented in court that they would.“

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has statedrepeatedly that no parents were deported without first being given the option to take their children with them. But a Trump administration official told POLITICO on July 25 that an estimated three-quarters of the parents who left the country alone left no record behind that they ever consented to leave their children in the U.S. “We don’t see it in the documentation,” the official said.

At a Senate hearing earlier this week, Matthew Albence, executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, repeatedly dodged questions about whether DHS could document that it secured deportee parents’ consent to leave their children behind.

[Politico]

Update

A federal judge has said the Trump administration is 100% responsible to find the lost parents.

Trump tweets support for congressman not on the ballot

President Donald Trump issued one of his patented Twitter endorsements on Thursday, urging people to vote for a top political ally next week. But there was just one problem: He’s not on the ballot.

Trump tweeted that Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who is leading House Republicans’ efforts to keep the chamber in this fall’s midterm elections, has earned his “full [and] total endorsement.” Stivers, Trump wrote, “has done a fantastic job” as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Get out and vote for Steve on Aug 7th,” Trump wrote.

But Stivers isn’t up for reelection next Tuesday. The fourth-term incumbent was unopposed in his primary, all the way back in May. He will next go before voters on Nov. 6, when he faces Democrat Rick Neal.

Trump quickly deleted the tweet — but not before earning ridicule for the mix-up from other users of the platform.

It’s unclear whether Trump or his social-media team intended instead to tweet support for another Ohioan who ison the ballot Aug. 7: state Sen. Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee in next week’s closely watched special election in a neighboring district.

About a half-hour later, Trump teased his Saturday rally in Lewis Center, Ohio, where he will campaign for Balderson, who is facing Democrat Danny O’Connor — both next week and in the November general election.

“Looking forward to being in the Great State of Ohio on Saturday night where I will be campaigning hard for a truly talented future Congressman, @Troy_Balderson,” he tweeted, along with a link to sign up for tickets at a website set up for Trump’s reelection campaign.

[Politico]

Trump, citing politics, looking to revoke security clearances

President Donald Trump is considering stripping a half-dozen former national security officials of their security clearances, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, calling their public commentary about the ongoing Russia probe inappropriate.

The list of former officials under consideration includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, according to Sanders.

“They’ve politicized and in some cases monetized their public service,” Sanders said during a press briefing. “Making baseless accusations of an improper relationship with Russia is inappropriate.”

Sanders would not say when the President would make the decision; she said only that the White House would provide updates when it had them.

The announcement came after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tweeted that he planned to speak with Trump about removing Brennan’s security clearance. Brennan declared last week that Trump’s performance following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was “nothing short of treasonous.”

A decision to strip a former official of a security clearance would prove a striking use of presidential power. Even Michael Flynn, Trump’s onetime national security adviser who was fired during the Obama administration, maintained his clearance when he was acting as a campaign surrogate for Trump, often leading “lock her up” chants at political rallies.

Sanders did little to mask the political nature of Trump’s threat, indicating the President was frustrated by the former officials’ criticism of him.

“When you have the highest level of security clearance, when you’re the person that holds the nation’s deepest, most sacred secrets at your hands and you go out and you make false accusations against the President on the United States, he says that’s something to be concerned with,” Sanders said.

“We’re exploring what those options are and what that looks like,” she said of the process for removing the officials clearances.

When they leave government, national security officials routinely maintain their security clearances, partly to consult with those who replace them about ongoing situations or issues.

Officials also use their clearances to obtain high-paying consulting positions in the private sector.

“I think this is just a very, very petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it,” Clapper said on CNN in the immediate wake of Sanders’ announcement.

“There is a formal process for doing this,” he added. “But, you know, legally the President has that prerogative and he can suspend and revoke clearances as he sees fit. If he chooses to do it for political reasons, I think that’s a terrible precedent and it’s a really sad commentary and its an abuse of the system.”

Hayden indicated being stripped of his clearance would be of little consequence to his commentary.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” he tweeted.

It is the President’s prerogative to revoke security clearances, a former senior intelligence official said on Monday, who added that instances of such an occurrence were rare.

Usually former senior officials retain clearances so their successors can consult with theem on a pro bono basis, the former official said.

[CNN]

Trump on Whether He’ll Ask Putin to Extradite Indicted Russians: ‘I Might, I Hadn’t Thought of That’

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor and previewed his big summit with Vladimir Putin.

And given the indictments handed down Friday against 12 Russian officers for hacking the Clinton campaign and the DNC, there have been many calls for Trump to call off the summit. Senator John McCain said it shouldn’t happen if Trump’s “not prepared to hold Putin accountable.”

Trump told Glor he believes in meetings, saying having meetings with Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping are good.

Of the Putin summit in particular, the President said, “Nothing bad’s going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out. But I go in with low expectations, I’m not going in with high expectations. I don’t really––I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can tell you what I’ll be asking for and we’ll see if something comes of it.”

[Mediaite]

Media

President Trump Committed a Royal Faux Pas During His Visit With the Queen

The internet is up in arms over a breach in royal etiquette President Donald Trump committed during his visit with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday.

The internet is up in arms over a breach in royal etiquette President Donald Trump committed during his visit with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday.

The awkward interaction amounted to a minor faux pas on Trump’s part, as it is considered rude to turn your back to the Queen, according to the BBC, or to walk ahead of her. Trump was reportedly also 12 minutes late to their appointment to have tea, although some have contested that assertion.

[TIME]

Trump Tweets Glowing Post-Summit Letter From Kim Jong Un…Which Doesn’t Mention Denuclearization

So Donald Trump had some contentious dealings with allies during the NATO summit this week in Brussels. But as far as his relationship with North Korea is concerned, it looks like the president believes things are going along just peachy.

Trump, on Thursday afternoon, tweeted out a letter he received from Kim Jong Un, along with a translated version. The note appears to have been sent on July 5 — based on a line within which states 24 days have passed since the summit in Singapore. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Kim refers to Trump as “your excellency” five times, praises the “improvement of relations” between the U.S. and North Korea, and expresses hope for a new future. It does not, however, give any mention to the end of North Korea’s nuclear program, nor the end of the country’s regular human rights abuses.

Ever since Trump’s summit with Kim in Singapore, critics have slammed the president for not doing more to challenge Kim, elevating a dictator on the global stage, and touting a pact the two leaders signed which doesn’t provide any solid agreement for a denuclearization plan. Recent evidence actually suggests that the rogue nation continues to build up their nuclear infrastructure.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently travelled to Pyongyang to move things forward, though the North Koreans said the talks were “regrettable” afterwards, and U.S. officials were snubbed today when they were supposed to meet with Kim’s representatives on the DMZ.

Trump Tweets Glowing Post-Summit Letter From Kim Jong Un…Which Doesn’t Mention Denuclearization

Trump dismisses concerns about Russia: ‘Putin’s fine’

President Trump on Thursday waved off concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions as he prepares to meet with his Russian counterpart in Finland later this month.

Speaking at a campaign-style rally in Montana, Trump attacked critics who have questioned his preparedness for the July 16 summit with Putin and made light of Putin’s past as a top-ranking intelligence official.

“They’re going ‘Will President Trump be prepared, you know, President Putin is KGB and this and that,’” Trump said. “You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

In fact, Putin served for years in the KGB, the now-defunct Soviet intelligence agency, before becoming the director of its successor, the FSB.

Trump has long insisted that he wants to improve U.S. relations with Russia – a task that has been complicated by the U.S. intelligence community’s determination that Moscow sought to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

That interference by Moscow – and whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians – is the subject of a special counsel investigation, which Trump has dismissed as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

The American president on Thursday rebuffed critics, who have expressed concern over his ambitions to form bonds with authoritarian leaders, like Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said that “getting along” with such countries “is a good thing.”

“Getting along…with Russia and getting along with China and getting along with other countries is a good thing,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”

[The Hill]

Trump on Whether We Believe Kim Jong Un: ‘I Shook Hands With Him, I Really Believe He Means It’

During his big Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo, President Donald Trump talked again about his relationship with Kim Jong Un.

Bartiromo asked him about the historic summit with Kim in Singapore just weeks ago, saying North Korea should be telling the U.S. “exactly where their facilities are” soon to see how serious Kim is.

“I think they’re very serious about it,” the President responded. “We had a very good chemistry.”

He again talked about ending the “unbelievably expensive” “war games” and insisted, “We gave nothing.”

Trump said he god along very well with Kim before having this exchange with Bartiromo:

BARTIROMO: But do we believe him, Mr. President?

 

TRUMP: I made a deal with him, I shook hands with him. I really believe he means it. Now, is it possible––have I been in deals, have you been in things where people didn’t work out? It’s possible.

[Mediaite]

Trump disrupts G-7 gender equality meeting by arriving late

President Donald Trump arrived late for a gender equality meeting at an international summit, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to kick it off without waiting for “stragglers” to arrive.

Trump created a distraction when he walked in late for Saturday’s breakfast meeting during the Group of Seven summit of leading industrialized nations being held in Quebec.

He missed Trudeau’s introductory statement and entered the room while Gender Equality Advisory Council co-chair Isabelle Hudon was speaking.

Security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a throng of journalists and cameramen. The camera clicks for Trump almost drowned out Hudon.

French President Emmanuel Macron stared at Trump after he sat down.

Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later tweeted photos of the women’s empowerment meeting, showing Trump’s empty chair.

Trudeau had made the issue of gender equality a priority for the gathering. He said gender equality must “cut through” everything the G-7 does.

[PBS]

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