White House: Trump will consider letting Russia question investor, former ambassador

President Donald Trump will consider allowing Russian investigators to question U.S.-born investor Bill Browder, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others after President Vladimir Putin floated the idea, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

“He said it was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing. “He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”

Later in the day, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the concept “absolutely absurd.”

“The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens, and the assertions that the Russian government is making about those American citizens — we do not stand by those assertions,” Nauert said.

In a joint press conference with Trump Monday, Putin proposed that the U.S. allow Russian officials to interview Americans in exchange for Russia allowing U.S. officials to interview Russians, such as the 12 people recently indicted for their role in hacking Democratic computer systems in 2016.

“This kind of effort should be a mutual one,” Putin said Monday. “We would expect that the Americans would reciprocate.”

The idea was “an incredible offer,” Trump said.

The Russian leader mentioned Browder, whom, he said, “we have an interest of questioning” over tax issues. Browder has been at odds with the Kremlin for years, including because of his advocacy for efforts to sanction Russians suspected of committing human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office released a wishlist of potential people to extradite, including members of the State and Homeland Security departments and members of the CIA. McFaul, a former ambassador who had strained relations with the Kremlin and has since said he was banned from traveling to Russia, was also included.

“I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin,” McFaul tweeted Wednesday. “Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

It would be an extraordinary step to allow Russian investigators access to current or former U.S. officials. Browder, though born in the U.S., is now a British citizen, so it is unclear how a deal involving him would work.

[Politico]

Trump Bashes Media for Russia Coverage: Press Didn’t Cover My Private Meeting

President Donald Trump sat down for an interview with CBS News’ Jeff Glor at the end of whirlwind tour of Europe that culminated in the widely panned press conference with Vladimir Putin — and trashed the media for its coverage of his summit with the Russian autocrat.

After declaring “I think I did great at the news conference,” Trump embarked on a rambling anti-press diatribe:

“I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I think we did extremely well. I think the press makes up — look it’s fake news that people understand. I think the press largely makes up a lot of the fuss about a lot of things. And I’m not talking about one of it I’m talking about everything, it’s crazy. You do something that’s positive, and they try and make it as negative as possible.”

Trump went on to say that “some of the most honorable people I know, some great people are reporters, journalists etc.,” before adding “but the level of dishonesty in your profession is extremely high.”

Glor pointed out that the press simply covered the statements Trump made in his televised press conference with Putin.

Trump dismissed that point, arguing that the press should have covered his private one-on-one meeting with Putin.

“They didn’t cover my meeting, the important thing frankly was the meeting,” Trump said.

[Mediaite]

Trump, When Asked if Russia is Still Targeting America: ‘No’

President Donald Trump seems to be walking back his walk back with regard to his comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 election in his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

As the president held a meeting with cabinet officials at the White House today, reporters asked him if Russia is still targeting America. Trump’s answer: “No.”

He continued:

“There has been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors not there. Look at unfortunately that what happened in Syria recently. I think President Putin knows that better than everybody, certainly a lot better than the media. He understands it, and he’s not happy about it. He shouldn’t be happy about it because there’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.”

This directly contradicts what DNI chief Dan Coats said on Monday: that the intelligence community stands by its assessment that Russians meddled with the 2016 election and have “ongoing pervasive efforts” to try and undermine American democracy.

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘People at the higher ends of intelligence loved’ my performance

President Trump said in an early morning tweet on Wednesday that “people at the higher ends of intelligence loved” his press conference performance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was widely condemned.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” he said. “Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”

[The Hill]

President Trump blames media for criticism over Putin news conference

The day after his ill-fated news conference with Vladimir Putin drew criticism even from supporters, a defiant President Donald Trump said Tuesday he had a great meeting with the Russian leader and blamed the news media for the poor reception.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted after returning from a weeklong trip to Europe. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”

Having watched the president’s performance, lawmakers across the ideological spectrum criticized Trump for taking Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence officials who report that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Like Trump, the critics showed no signs of backing down.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said he was glad to see criticism from both parties. A day after saying that Putin probably celebrated the Trump meeting with caviar, Corker called for legislation to counter some of the president’s foreign policy moves, including tariffs on imports.

“As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin,” Corker tweeted. “It is time for Congress to step up and take back our authorities.”

During his morning tweet session, Trump also defended the Putin news conference by citing the thoughts of a rare supporter who stuck up for him: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!” Trump tweeted, citing a comment by the Kentucky senator that “the President has gone through a year and a half of totally partisan investigations – what’s he supposed think?”

Paul was one of the few Republicans to defend the president after he accepted Putin’s denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, despite the conclusions of U.S. intelligence officials that Russians hacked Democratic officials and pushed fake news to help Trump.

While taking Putin’s side, Trump also condemned the ongoing investigation of Russia as a “disaster” driving a wedge between the United States and Russia.

[USA Today]

Trump sides with Russia against FBI at Helsinki summit

After face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies and said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote.

Mr Putin reiterated that Russia had never interfered in US affairs.

The two men held nearly two hours of closed-door talks in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday.

At a news conference after the summit, President Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to the allegations of meddling in the elections.

“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it should be,” he replied.

US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Mr Trump had sent the Kremlin a message of US “weakness”.

He tweeted: “Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections.”

Fellow Republican Senator Jeff Flake – a staunch critic of President Trump – called his words “shameful”.

Some US politicians had called for the summit to be cancelled after 12 Russian military intelligence agents were indicted last week by US special counsel Robert Mueller, accused of hacking the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Speaking on Monday, President Putin offered to allow US investigators to visit Russia to question the officers.

He made it clear that, in return, Russia would want similar access to people in the US it suspects of criminal activity.

President Trump said Mr Putin had been “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” of any election meddling.

[BBC]

Trump: Strzok’s testimony ‘a disgrace to our country’

President Trump in an interview broadcast Sunday called the testimony of FBI agent Peter Strzok “a disgrace to our country.”

“I watched some of the testimony, even though I’m in Europe, of Strzok. And I thought it was a disgrace to our country. I thought it was an absolute disgrace,” Trump told CBS News.

“Where he wants to do things against me before I was even, I guess before I was even the candidate. It was a disgrace. And then he lied about it,” Trump added. “And you know, talking about shutting it down and ‘we, we.’ And he says ‘oh I meant the American people’ all of a sudden you know, he came up with excuses.”

Strzok’s hearing last Thursday quickly devolved into rancorous partisan bickering after he declined to answer questions about special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation.

Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, exchanged text messages critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation when the messages came to light, but Republicans have zeroed in on him as key to uncovering what they allege was systemic FBI bias against Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats, meanwhile, have cast the effort as a politically driven charade.

The controversial FBI agent was also an investigator in the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s private email server.

“He was a disgrace to the FBI,” Trump told CBS News. “So when I look at things like that and he led that investigation or whatever you call it. I would say that yeah, I think it hurts our relationship with Russia. I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries.”

[The Hill]

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

President Trump at NATO Presser: Putin is ‘Not My Enemy’, It’s Not About ‘Enemy’, ‘He’s Not My Enemy’

During his surprise press conference today at the end of the NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump was asked if he admires Vladimir Putin since he compliments the latter so often.

Trump called the Russian leader a “competitor” rather than a friend or enemy at the start of this week, so a reporter wanted to know if he thinks the two will get along well once they hold their meeting in the next few days. Trump said he doesn’t “know Putin well enough” even though they got along during previous meetings together, but he mostly deferred to the “competitor” label again.

“He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. So, n a sense, we’re competitors. Not a question of friend or enemies. He’s not my enemy, and hopefully someday, maybe he’ll be a friend. It could happen, BUT I just don’t know him very well.”

Russia was a recurring subject of interest throughout the presser, so Trump was asked about matters such as whether Russia is a “security threat,” and whether he’ll ask Putin if Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

[Mediaite]

Trump calls on Twitter to boot NY Times and Washington Post since they are banning ‘fake accounts’

President Donald Trump on Saturday again lashed out at his enemies in the media in a Twitter rant where he urged the company to delete the accounts of The New York Times and Washington Post.

“Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace. Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist,” Trump wrote.

The president, whose businesses have repeatedly declared bankruptcy, also predicted that both newspapers would be, “out of business in 7 years!”

The company has been repeatedly urged to ban President Trump for violating the company’s terms of service.

In January, the social media company updated its policies to protect President Trump’s account.

“Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter claimed.

Two days later, demonstrators gathered at the company’s San Francisco headquarters to protest the announcement.

The protesters projected criticism on the facade of Twitter’s building, with messages stating Chief Executive Office Jack Dorsey is “complicit” and asking the question, “would Twitter ban Hitler?”

[Raw Story]

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