Trump Admits He Revoked Brennan’s Security Clearance Over “Rigged Witch Hunt”

All it took for the White House’s James Comey story to collapse was a single TV appearance by Donald Trump. After the administration had sworn up and down that the former F.B.I. director was fired on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for mishandling the probe into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, the president appeared on NBC and famously told Lester Holt, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘you know, this Russia thing . . . is a made-up story.’” Trump has since contradictedhis own words, denying that the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election had anything to do with his decision to cut Comey loose.

Nevertheless, the incident is reportedly of critical interest to Robert Mueller as he seeks to determine whether the president obstructed justice. So it was with a strange sense of déjà vu that many read Trump’s Wednesday night interview with The Wall Street Journal,wherein he suggested that the security clearance of former C.I.A. director John Brennan was not revoked over fears that he would spill classified secrets on cable news, as the White House claimed, but because of the key role Brennan played in the beginning of the Russia probe. “I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham. And these people led it!” Trump told the paper. “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

His tirade, of course, flies in the face of the White House’s purported reason for stripping Brennan of his clearance: during Wednesday’s briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read aloud a statement declaring that Brennan’s alleged “lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary” and “wild outbursts on the internet and television” prompted the unprecedented move, arguing that someone prone to making “unfounded and outrageous” claims in public should not have access to the country’s most closely held secrets. Putting aside the obvious irony, many were skeptical of this line of reasoning, including Brennan himself. “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” he wrote on Twitter.

By what the White House would almost certainly argue is pure coincidence, much of Brennan’s “frenzied commentary” has been anti-Trump. Last month, the former intelligence chief was critical of Trump’s performance during the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, likening him to Bernie Madoff in that the two share a “remarkably unethical ability to to deceive & manipulate others.” More recently, Brennan chided Trump over his characterization of Omarosa Manigault Newman as “that dog.” “It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity,” he wrote in a widely shared tweet.

In fact, the White House’s list of those whose security clearances are under review—Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; former F.B.I. Director James Comey; former Director of the National Security Agency Michael Hayden; former National Security Adviser Susan Rice; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; former Deputy Director of the F.B.I. Andrew McCabe; Peter Strzok, an F.B.I. agent who was fired over the weekend; former F.B.I. attorney__Lisa Page;__ and Bruce Ohr,who still works at the Justice Department but was demoted earlier this year—reads like a laundry list of people Trump views as his enemies. While speaking with the Journal, Trump suggested that any number of them could face the same retribution as Brennan. “I don’t trust many of those people on that list,” he said. “I think that they’re very duplicitous. I think they’re not good people.” He also referenced the F.B.I.’s Clinton e-mail probe, in which a number of those whose security clearances are now under scrutiny were involved. “You look at any of them and you see the things they’ve done,” he said. “In some cases, they’ve lied before Congress. The Hillary Clinton whole investigation was a total sham.” (Comey and McCabe have said that their security badges were automatically demagnetized after they were fired.)

Some level of blame-shifting is to be expected from Trump, who has repeatedly sought to turn the “collusion” spotlight on Democrats and the Clinton campaign. But here he seems to be cementing a new strategy, a sort of feedback loop in which actions taken by his own administration serve as evidence that Mueller’s investigation should be shut down. After Deputy F.B.I. Director David Bowdich overruled the recommendation of Inspector General Michael Horowitz and ordered that Strzok be fired over a series of anti-Trump texts, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Strzok started the illegal Rigged Witch Hunt – why isn’t this so-called ‘probe’ ended immediately? Why aren’t these angry and conflicted Democrats instead looking at Crooked Hillary?” On Wednesday morning, foreshadowing the Brennan announcement, he expanded on this argument: “The Rigged Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on as the ‘originators and founders’ of this scam continue to be fired and demoted for their corrupt and illegal activity,” he wrote. “All credibility is gone from this terrible Hoax, and much more will be lost as it proceeds.”

The president, of course, has routinely cast the Russia probe as orchestrated by his political enemies, failing to acknowledge the continued threat Russian hackers pose to U.S. elections, not to mention the dozens of indictments Mueller has delivered. But Trump’s spin could prove to be the only thing that matters. While Republican leadership has repeatedly signaled that any move against Mueller would be met with Congressional opposition, stripping Brennan’s security clearance may have been a litmus test of sorts—in an interview with CNN Wednesday night, Clapper confirmed that Trump could do the same to Mueller, effectively hamstringing him: “The president does have the authority to exercise here if he so chooses,” Clapper said. Indeed, if the White House was holding its breath for Congressional uproar, it’s unlikely to arrive: though Paul Ryan said the president was merely “trolling” people when the White House first floated the idea of revoking security clearances last month, he has so far stayed quiet on Trump’s choice to follow through with the threat.

[Vanity Fair]

Sanders cites inaccurate numbers to claim Trump has created more jobs for African-Americans than Obama

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday cited inaccurate data that she claimed showed President Trump has created hundreds of thousands of more jobs for African-American workers than former President Obama did in his entire term.

Sanders drastically deflated the number of jobs Obama created for African-Americans as part of a broader response to questions about whether Trump had ever used the “N-word.”

Asked if she could guarantee Americans will “never hear” Trump say the racial slur on a recording, Sanders said she “can’t guarantee anything” before highlighting economic gains made under Trump.

“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies that help all Americans, particularly African-Americans,” Sanders said. “Just look at the economy alone.”

She claimed that the economy has added 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans in Trump’s first 18 months in office, which is accurate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sanders then said Obama only oversaw the creation of 195,000 jobs for African-Americans during his eight years in office.

The latter number is far from accurate. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the economy added roughly 3 million jobs for African-Americans during Obama’s time in office.

Sanders did not immediately respond to questions from The Hill about the inaccurate information, or whether she meant to cite a different timeframe.

Bloomberg first reported on Sanders’s exaggerated answer from the podium.

Tuesday’s press briefing was largely dominated by questions about Trump’s rhetoric toward African-Americans, and particularly toward former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” alleges Trump is a racist and a misogynist. She claims there are tapes of Trump using the “N-word” on the set of “The Apprentice.”

Trump has denied such tapes exist and tweeted Monday night that the racial slur has never been part of his vocabulary. He went on to attack Manigault Newman, who was once the highest ranking black official in his White House, as a “dog,” a “lowlife” and “wacky and deranged.”

[The Hill]

Media

White House: It’s ‘common’ for government employees to sign NDAs

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday would not say whether she’s signed a nondisclosure agreement since joining the Trump administration, but asserted it’s “common” for government employees to sign such documents.

“I’m not going get into the back and forth on who has signed an NDA here at the White House,” Sanders said at a press briefing when asked whether she’s signed such a document.

“I can tell you that it’s common in a lot of places for employees to sign NDAs, including in government, particularly anyone with a security clearance,” she added.

The question about requiring White House staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements has emerged as a point of contention as former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has published a new book filled with explosive claims about her time on the Trump campaign and as an aide in the Trump administration.

In her book released Tuesday, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” Manigault Newman alleges President Trump is a racist, a misogynist and a narcissist, and claims he repeatedly used the N-word on the set of “The Apprentice.”

Trump has lashed out at Manigault Newman in response, calling her a “dog” and a “lowlife.

The Trump campaign escalated the president’s war with Manigault Newman earlier Tuesday when it filed for arbitration, alleging she violated a nondisclosure agreement.

The campaign claims that by publishing the book, Manigault Newman violated the terms of a 2016 confidentiality agreement she signed with the campaign.

Asked Tuesday why compelling Manigault Newman to defend herself and potentially pay damages is necessary, Sanders said she could not speak on behalf of the campaign. However, she re-asserted that it’s “very normal” to require staffers to sign NDAs, arguing that “this White House is certainly no different” from past administrations.

Manigault Newman has acknowledged she signed a confidentiality agreement with the 2016 campaign but has denied signing a similar agreement upon leaving the White House.

The White House has in recent days confirmed its practice of requiring West Wing staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements, despite concerns from watchdogs that such documents are unenforceable and uncommon for public employees.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the existence of the agreements during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” defending them as needed to ensure privacy.

“We’ve all signed them in the West Wing,” she said. “We have confidentiality agreements in the West Wing, absolutely we do.  And why wouldn’t we?”

After Trump tweeted that Manigault Newman signed a nondisclosure agreement, the American Civil Liberties Union called the practice unconstitutional, saying Trump was attempting to “muzzle federal employees.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Requiring public employees and contractors to sign an SF312 security clearance is one thing, a non-disclosure agreement for all employees to silence critical speech is another and is clearly unconstitutional.

White House: ‘Can’t guarantee’ no tape of Trump using N-word

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday refused to definitively rule out the possibility that President Trump has used the N-word, but repeatedly pointed out the president has denied uttering the racial slur.

“I can’t guarantee anything,” Sanders said when asked if she can assure that the public will never hear a recording of Trump saying the racial slur.

Sanders said she has not “been in every single room” but added that “the president addressed this question directly” and that she has “never heard him say it.”

The remarkable exchange came after former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote in her new tell-all book “Unhinged” that there are tapes of Trump saying the racial slur on the set of his old reality show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump denied that claim in a Monday night tweet, saying an “Apprentice” producer called him “to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa.”

Manigault Newman’s book has caused a major headache for the White House, and Trump has spent the past several days publicly denying her claims and attacking her credibility. The president escalated those attacks on Tuesday morning, calling her a “lowlife” and a “dog.”

“The president is certainly voicing his frustration with the fact that this person has shown a complete lack of integrity,” Sanders said when asked about the tenor of Trump’s rhetoric.

She also denied that his scorched-earth approach is motivated by Manigault Newman’s race. Before her ouster, she was the highest-ranking African-American in the West Wing.

“The president is an equal-opportunity person who calls things like he sees it,” she said, adding that he will always “fight fire with fire.”

Even though Trump and his staff have spent several days pushing back on the book, Sanders blamed the news media for the amount of attention the book is receiving.

“The individuals in this room continue to create a large platform for somebody they know does not have a lot of credibility,” she said.

Trump’s campaign has filed for arbitration against Manigault Newman, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement with the publication of “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”

[The Hill]

Media

White House rips Omarosa in blistering statement

The White House on Friday unloaded on a new book written by former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman that depicts President Trump as a racist, saying it is “riddled with lies and false accusations.”

In a blistering statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Manigault Newman a “disgruntled former White House employee” who is “trying to profit off of these false attacks.”

“Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations,” Sanders said.

The spokeswoman also accused the media of giving her a “platform” after “not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the president during her time in the administration.”

Manigault Newman writes in the explosive memoir that Trump frequently used the n-word while he was the host of the “Celebrity Apprentice,” and that there are tapes to prove it.
While she said she never heard Trump used the word herself, Manigault Newman said that by the time she was fired last December, she had came to view Trump as a “racist.”

[The Hill]

Sanders defends Trump claim that grocery stores require ID

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday defended President Trump‘s assertion that shoppers are required to show ID when purchasing groceries.

In one exchange during Wednesday’s press briefing, ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega asked Sanders if she knew the last time Trump visited a grocery store as part of a line of questioning about Trump’s support for toughening voter ID laws.

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure why that matters, either,” Sanders said.

Multiple reporters quickly noted that Trump claimed at a Tuesday night rally that grocery stores require shoppers to show identification as part of his argument for implementing stricter voter ID laws.

“You go to the grocery store, I go to the grocery store, I’ve never had to show ID,” Vega said.

“Certainly if you go to a grocery store and you buy beer and wine you’re certainly going to show your ID,” Sanders responded.

The press corps noted that Trump has said he does not drink alcohol.

“He’s not saying every time he went in, he said when you go to the grocery store,” Sanders retorted.

“I’m pretty sure that everybody in here who’s been to a grocery store that’s purchased beer or wine has probably had to show their ID,” she continued. “If they didn’t then that’s probably a problem with the grocery store.”

Trump’s initial comment came at a campaign rally in Florida in support of Rep. Ron DeSantis’s (R-Fla.) gubernatorial bid. The president claimed tougher voter ID laws are needed to prevent illegal voting. He has in the past claimed without evidence that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election because of illegal votes cast for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

As part of his rationale, he highlighted other instances where ID is required, and landed on grocery stores as an example.

“You know if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card,” he said. “You need ID.”

“You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture,” he continued. “In this country the only time you don’t need it, in many cases, is when you want to vote.”

Reporters, political commentators and social media users quickly noted that grocery stores do not require ID for most purchases, aside from certain items like cigarettes and alcohol, and suggested it had been many years since Trump had done his own grocery shopping.

[The Hill]

Sarah Sanders presents the official White House policy: The media is the enemy of the people

When President Trump derides the media as the enemy of the people — as he’s doing more frequently — he’s not just spouting off his momentary frustration. He’s stating official White House policy.

The White House just made that abundantly clear. Four times in two days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was offered the opportunity by reporters to clarify whether the president really thinks journalists are the enemy of Americans, or that it’s wrong for people to harass journalists doing their job. It wouldn’t be the first time an official White House statement contradicted something the president said or tweeted.

But four times in two days, Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy of the people or to condemn people who heckled a CNN reporter Tuesday in Tampa, to the point where he feared someone was going to get hurt.

Instead, the White House press secretary ticked off a list of sometimes-inaccurate and sometimes-unrelated grievances about how these hyperpartisan times have affected her life and the president’s life, and why they blame journalists for that.

“The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in his administration,” Sanders said.

Basically: The White House thinks that journalists are the enemy of the people.

I don’t need to get into here why this is a problem; that’s Democracy 101.

But it’s worth spending a moment on where we are, both because having this debate in the first place is not normal and because it is shaping up to be a front line in the political battle between right and left in 2018.

In a week full of tension between journalists and Trump and Trump supporters, the most heady moment so far came Thursday, when the journalist at the center of so many attacks from the right (including from the president himself), CNN’s Jim Acosta, twice asked Sanders if she would say that the media is not the enemy of the people.

He was following up on an earlier question in the briefing about how Ivanka Trump said she doesn’t agree with her father that the press is the country’s enemy. Trump later tried to square her statement with his own by claiming he doesn’t think all media is the enemy, just most of it.

“… [I]t would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press — the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of the people like the ones you brought forward earlier — are not the enemy of the people,” Acosta said. “I think we deserve that.”

Instead, Sanders looked down at her notes and appeared to read a prepared statement about her perceived grievances with the media; how, among other things, she was cruelly made fun of by a comedian at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. (The association said Michelle Wolf’s performance “was not in the spirit” of the mission of promoting the free press.)

I mention Sanders reading from her notes because it’s a telling detail that she had something ready to go on this. It suggests she knew that she was going to be asked about Trump’s views on the media, she had talked about it with the president, and they decided not to back down, even on the basic question of whether the media contributes a public good to U.S. democracy.

Not that her response was a surprise. On Wednesday, a reporter asked Sanders if she would condemn the heckling of Acosta at Trump’s rally. The president tweeted the heckling to his 53.5 million followers.

Rather than denounce what happened to Acosta, Sanders used that opportunity to rip the media. She didn’t help her contention when she seized on a debunked story about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Acosta tried again. His question is worth sharing in full because it felt like a moment that may stand out in the dozens of daily contentious moments between the Trump White House and journalists:

You did not say in the course of your remarks you just made that the press is not the enemy of the people. Are we to take it from what you just said — we all get put through the ringer, we all get put in the meat grinder in this town, and you’re no exception. I’m sorry that happened to you; I wish that would not have happened — but for the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world who are watching, what are you saying Sarah, and the White House for the United States of America, the president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the American people. His own daughter acknowledged that and all I’m asking you to do, Sarah, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.

Sanders did not take him up on that: “I appreciate your passion, I share it. I addressed this question, I addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”

Acosta walked out of the press briefing before it was over. He was downright exasperated.

Bashing the media to gain leverage with one’s supporters is a tactic as old as American politics. But Trump has taken it to new heights by using language that dictators of history also have seize on. He’s exploited heavy public skepticism in journalism to cast journalists as the main villains when things go wrong in his administration. As The Fix’s Eugene Scott wrote after a man gunned down journalists at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis in June:

Those disinclined to trust the media get reinforcement when highly influential politicians and partisan media figures elevate the critiques, sometimes making personal jabs at journalists’ motives and their character. What may start as a difference of opinion eventually becomes a direct assault on the humanity of those in the media — something that those following press freedom issues have witnessed in other parts of the world.

A sitting Republican senator, Jeff Flake (Ariz.), started out 2018 by comparing Trump to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin over his attacks on the media.

At the same time, there is less room for journalists to make mistakes now that Trump has made them a central character in his own political story. On Wednesday a Politico reporter apologized for calling the Trump supporters cursing out Acosta “garbage people.” His apology made national headlines.

None of this is fading anytime soon. It’s a safe bet things are only going to get worse between journalists and the White House and some of Trump’s supporters before — if — they get better. What that will do to journalism, to politics, to democracy is an open, even scary question.

[Washington Post]

White House faces claims of fake weather news

A small change in President Trump’s travel plans on Thursday morning left some members of the press corps suggesting the White House literally lied about whether the sky was blue to avoid facing questions. The debate over the day’s weather was a dramatic illustration of the mounting tensions between the Trump administration and the reporters who cover it.

The latest controversy centers around whether canceling Trump’s helicopter ride to Andrews Force Base was a ruse to keep reporters away from the president. Trump’s walks to the presidential helicopter are one of the increasingly few venues where he takes questions from reporters.

Trump spent Thursday in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, where he toured local businesses, participated in a roundtable discussion on workforce development and delivered a speech on trade. His departure from Washington came after 9 a.m. on a gorgeous morning with blue skies, but the White House said bad weather forced Trump to skip the planned helicopter ride and instead travel by motorcade to Joint Base Andrews for his flight.

The White House’s claim that Trump was grounded by bad weather on what appeared to be a beautiful day prompted consternation from the press corps. Several reporters strongly hinted the travel arrangements were an effort to limit press access as the president faces a slew of issues, including the emergence of a taped conversation between Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen where they discussed a payment to a former Playboy Playmate who has alleged she had an affair with Trump.

McClatchy Newspapers White House correspondent Anita Kumar expressed skepticism in her press pool report announcing the president’s change of plans.

“On what appears to be the nicest day Washington has had all week, the White House has informed the pool that POTUS will motorcade to JBA because of bad weather,” Kumar wrote.

On Twitter, several other reporters speculated that the change was part of an effort to shield Trump from the shouted questions he would have faced if he had taken the presidential copter.

“The official reason, per the TV pool, is fog. But not having a Marine One departure to Andrews also means there won’t be an open press opportunity to try to ask the president questions on his way out,” wrote CBS News’ Steve Portnoy.

ABC White House reporter John Parkinson posted a photo of the clear blue skies outside the White House along with a pair of hashtags, “#noquestions #badweathercall.”

While the skies were clear when Trump left after 9 a.m., White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told Yahoo News the decision to nix his helicopter flight was made earlier.

“Weather calls are made over an hour in advance of the planned departure time. Following a routine test flight this morning, a bad weather call was made at 7:39 a.m. due to ground fog at JBA,” Walters said.

Though the skies did appear clear, satellite maps showed there was low cloud cover — which can be dangerous for helicopters — in the area during the 7 a.m. hour. Thursday’s weather forecast for the D.C. area from the Washington Post also noted there would be “morning clouds.” CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who initially accused Trump of dodging questions in a tweet, later posted a follow-up saying “our meteorologists note low cloud cover as well.”

In the end, Trump didn’t entirely dodge questions from the press corps. Before he boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews. Members of the traveling press pool were allowed to wait by the plane’s wing and lobbed questions at the president as he boarded the aircraft. According to a pool report from HuffPost senior White House correspondent S.V. Date, Trump “ignored shouted questions about Michael Cohen, etc.” as he got on the plane.

The forecast fracas highlighted just how toxic the relationship has become between the White House and a press corps that Trump routinely derides as “fake news.”

Thursday morning’s cloud controversy came on the heels of an incident where a CNN reporter was banned from covering one of Trump’s appearances because the White House objected to questions she asked in the Oval Office. On Wednesday, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was brought into the Oval Office to witness a meeting between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as a pool reporter for the television networks. While there, Collins questioned Trump about Cohen and his invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to come to Washington for a summit. Trump did not answer the questions, and afterward Collins said she was informed by White House communications director Bill Shine that she was “dis-invited” from a subsequent appearance with Juncker that Trump made in the Rose Garden.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement about the incident saying the administration took issue with Collins’s conduct, claiming she “shouted questions.” Sanders insisted, “We support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House.”

Reporters typically ask questions of Trump when they are allowed in the Oval Office.

The issues involving Trump’s Thursday White House departure and his meeting the day before in the Oval Office come as the White House has curtailed press access in other venues. Sanders has been holding few press briefings in recent weeks, and the ones that have taken place have been shorter than in prior administrations. Trump also has not held a solo press conference on U.S. soil since February 2017.

While the Trump administration has cut down engagement with the media in presidential press conferences and briefings, the president has regularly taken questions from reporters when he walks to helicopter flights and during pool visits to the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. The White House crackdown on Collins and the canceled flight raised the specter that the administration might be cutting down on these venues.

Yahoo News reached out to Sanders to ask if Trump will continue to take questions in the Oval Office and as he walks to Marine One.

“President Trump is the most accessible president in modern history,” Sanders said in response. “It’s absurd to suggest anything otherwise.”

[Yahoo News]

Reality

Weather.com put the day in DC as partly cloudy and sunny with a high of 89 degrees/

President Donald Trump asked national security adviser to invite Putin to Washington for fall meeting

Unbowed by criticism over his Helsinki summit, President Donald Trump extended an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet in Washington in the fall, the White House said Thursday.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Twitter that Trump had asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to invite Putin, adding, “Those discussions are already underway.” The invitation was announced hours after the president tweeted that he looked forward to “our second meeting” as he defended his performance Monday at the summit in which the two leaders conferred on a range of issues, including terrorism, Israeli security, nuclear proliferation and North Korea.

“There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems … but they can ALL be solved!” Trump tweeted.

The announcement of the invitation came as the White House sought to clean up days of confounding statements on Russian interference in the 2016 election that sent Trump to the presidency. Trump’s public doubting of Russia’s responsibility in a joint news conference with Putin on Monday provoked withering criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike and forced the president to make a rare public admission of error.

On Thursday, the White House said Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s offer to swap the questioning of 12 Russians accused of 2016 election interference for an interview with the former U.S. ambassador.

The White House retreated from what Trump had called Putin’s “incredible offer” during the Helsinki summit, revising its position just before the Senate voted overwhelmingly against the plan. It was Congress’ first formal rebuke of Trump’s actions from the summit and its aftermath.

Sanders said Putin’s proposal was “made in sincerity,” but Trump “disagrees with it.” She said the U.S. hopes Putin will have the indicted Russians “come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

[ABC News]

Sanders: Harassment of Trump supporters ‘unacceptable’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday pushed for respectful political discourse in the aftermath of her dismissal from a Virginia restaurant over the weekend.

Sanders addressed the incident at the start of Monday’s press briefing, saying she and her husband “politely left” The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., after she said she was asked to leave “because I work for President Trump.”

“We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm,” she said. “And this goes for all people regardless of politics.”

“Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable,” she said.

“America is a great country and our ability to find solutions despite those disagreements is what makes us unique,” she added before launching into a list of President Trump’s accomplishments.

 

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/394021-sanders-on-fallout-of-restaurant-incident-harassment-of-trump

 

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