Trump touts success with Putin as loyalists pile on criticism

President Donald Trump is continuing to trumpet his meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a success even as some of his staunchest allies join in the widespread criticism of Trump’s conduct in Helsinki.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy,” the president tweeted Tuesday.

But approbation for Trump publicly siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies on the question of whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election came from typically loyal quarters, including the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal.

“Monday’s joint press conference was a personal and national embarrassment,” the Journal editorial board wrote. “On stage with the dictator whose election meddling has done so much harm to his Presidency, Mr. Trump couldn’t Continue reading “Trump touts success with Putin as loyalists pile on criticism”

Trump blames Obama, FBI and Mueller for poor U.S.-Russia relations

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to blame the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election — not the interference itself — for chilly relations between Washington and Moscow, just hours before he was slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted, deploying his favorite derogatory nickname for special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation.

“President Obama thought that Crooked Hillary was going to win the election, so when he was informed by the FBI about Russian Meddling, he said it couldn’t happen, was no big deal, & did NOTHING about it. When I won it became a big deal and the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by Strzok!” the president wrote earlier in the morning, referring Continue reading “Trump blames Obama, FBI and Mueller for poor U.S.-Russia relations”

A look back at Trump’s statements on whether Russia meddled in the election

Special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians on Friday for their role in hacking the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as part of their effort to aid Donald Trump’s campaign.

Those indictments provide just the latest evidence of Moscow’s campaign to meddle in the 2016 election and help then-candidate Trump.

The CIA, FBI and National Security Agency have all said in no uncertain terms that Russia meddled in the election, and did so with the aim of helping Trump.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has endorsed that conclusion.

And Trump’s own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has acknowledged that he believes it to be true.

But Trump himself, time and again, has held back from fully and publicly accepting the finding — and the issue is newly charged as Trump prepares for a high-profile summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin Continue reading “A look back at Trump’s statements on whether Russia meddled in the election”

Clinton, Bush defend U.S. role abroad as Trump rattles NATO

Shortly after President Donald Trump rattled the U.S.-built international order and questioned the role of American leadership on a trip to Europe, two of his predecessors gathered in Arkansas and defended U.S. leadership and international aid.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, speaking at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock on Thursday, stressed the importance of American aid around the world.

“One of the lessons of 9/11 is the human condition elsewhere matters to the security of our country,” Bush said at the event, a graduation ceremony for Presidential Leadership Scholars, a program involving the Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson foundations and centers. “And, therefore, the idea of helping others alleviate disease and poverty and hunger is in our national interest. Obviously the United States can’t solve every problem, but we can set priorities.”

He spoke specifically about Continue reading “Clinton, Bush defend U.S. role abroad as Trump rattles NATO”

America’s Top Justices Are Less Like The Rest of The Country Than Ever Before

If Brett Kavanaugh’s swift, steady climb up the American legal ladder clears one more rung, the Supreme Court of the United States will have a majority of justices, five of them, who as young adults previously worked there in intensely coveted positions as clerks.

It will have seven justices who, before joining the court, worked in pivotal chapters of their careers as favored subordinates to powerful figures in Washington, D.C. It will have eight people who served tenures on federal appellate courts.

And it will have nine justices — all of them — who took their legal educations at Harvard or Yale. This actually represents no change, since retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy also went to Harvard.

Kavanaugh’s ascension would further ratify a trend that has been building for a generation: a court of careerists.

A generation of apple-polishers and résumé jockeys is one byproduct of the decades-long partisan war Continue reading “America’s Top Justices Are Less Like The Rest of The Country Than Ever Before”

Trump plays coy on Russia election meddling ahead of Putin talks

The CIA, FBI and National Security Agency have all said in no uncertain terms that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help then-candidate Donald Trump.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has endorsed that conclusion.

And Trump’s own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has acknowledged that he believes it to be true.

But Trump himself has held back from fully and publicly accepting the finding — and the issue is newly charged as Trump prepares for a high-profile summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment Thursday.

Here is a look at Trump’s varying statements on whether Russia is to blame for meddling in the 2016 election.

The 400-pound mystery man: At the first presidential debate Continue reading “Trump plays coy on Russia election meddling ahead of Putin talks”

Trump plays coy on Russia election meddling ahead of Putin talks

The CIA, FBI and National Security Agency have all said in no uncertain terms that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help then-candidate Donald Trump.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee has endorsed that conclusion.

And Trump’s own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has acknowledged that he believes it to be true.

But Trump himself has held back from fully and publicly accepting the finding — and the issue is newly charged as Trump prepares for a high-profile summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment Thursday.

Here is a look at Trump’s varying statements on whether Russia is to blame for meddling in the 2016 election.

The 400-pound mystery man: At the first presidential debate Continue reading “Trump plays coy on Russia election meddling ahead of Putin talks”

Trump declares ‘profound vindication’ in immigration fights

It was just five days ago that President Donald Trump committed a rare act of buckling to public pressure, signing an executive order to end — at least temporarily — his own administration’s policy of forcibly separating children from parents who illegally crossed the border.

On Tuesday, he declared “profound vindication” on another of his most hardline policies.

By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court delivered a sprawling victory to Trump when it upheld his highly controversial travel ban, the outgrowth of his campaign pledge to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Even as Trump faces a storm of controversy for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants that has included the family separations, the court’s ruling demonstrated Trump’s license to reshape the federal government in his own image even as critics decry the targeting of various minority groups.

The narrowly-decided ruling also served as a reminder of the lasting Continue reading “Trump declares ‘profound vindication’ in immigration fights”

Trump falsely claimed for days that he couldn’t end family separations

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would sign an executive order to pull back on his administration’s highly controversial policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents.

It was a jarring reversal for the president who has been falsely stating for days that only Congress could fix the problem.

Here are Trump and his allies incorrectly claiming this week that he could not end family separations:

Trump, in a Tuesday address: “So what I’m asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year — the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit. We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis. We have to stop child smuggling. This is the way to do it.”

Trump on Twitter on Tuesday: “Homeland Security @SecNielsen did a Continue reading “Trump falsely claimed for days that he couldn’t end family separations”

Trump leans on inflammatory rhetoric to defend border separation

President Donald Trump and his allies are using the same inflammatory language they’ve used to describe violent gangs to defend the separation of undocumented children from their parents at the border.

Trump on Tuesday tweeted that immigrants would “pour into and infest” the United States and questioned parents’ decision to send children unaccompanied to the border. The tweet came a day after Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen referred to the “flood” of immigrants, and Fox News host and Trump ally Laura Ingraham described the border crossings as a “slow-rolling invasion of the United States.”

The comments have drawn sharp rebukes from elected officials, including at least one Republican.

“No, @POTUS, saying immigrants ‘infest’ our country is repugnant, reprehensible, + repulsive,” tweeted retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). “To dehumanize those who wish to make a better life for themselves + their families flies in the face of decency. Continue reading “Trump leans on inflammatory rhetoric to defend border separation”

Foreign leaders who embraced Trump now feel burned

Call it friends without benefits.

Foreign leaders are learning that hand-holding, golf games, military parades and other efforts to personally woo President Donald Trump do not guarantee that Trump won’t burn them on key policy issues.

Trump calls Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who visits the White House Thursday, his “good friend.” French president Emmanuel Macron is a “great friend.” And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a “great friend, neighbor, and ally.” All have sought to butter up Trump through friendly face time, recognizing that the quickest way to the president’s heart is through his ego.

But all, to varying degrees, are exasperated with Trump.

The president is moving ahead with a June 12 summit with North Korea despite Abe’s grave concerns about its wisdom. He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported Japanese cars and metals. It’s hardly what Abe expected when he became Continue reading “Foreign leaders who embraced Trump now feel burned”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: ‘I’m an honest person’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly defended her credibility at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, even as she was pressed on an apparently false statement she gave months ago.

“I’m an honest person,” Sanders said as she repeatedly declined to explain her assertion in August that President Donald Trump did not dictate a letter about a meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Kremlin-connected lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. The letter falsely stated that the meeting was focused on adoption issues. Trump’s lawyers recently stated in a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Trump himself dictated the misleading letter.

Sanders deployed a dodge she frequently uses at the podium, asserting that she works “every day” to provide the best information she can.

And she quickly turned her ire toward the press.

"Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media’s," Sanders stated Continue reading “Sarah Huckabee Sanders: ‘I’m an honest person’”

White House divided over Trump’s embrace of red-state Democrats

President Donald Trump has long alternated between being nice to red-state Senate Democrats and punching them in the nose – and as the midterms approach, his muddled strategy is manifesting itself in tensions between key White House offices.

On the one side is the legislative office, which has in the past two weeks welcomed Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana – two of the Republican Party’s top targets in the fall – to stand alongside the president at bill-signing ceremonies. On the other is the office of political affairs, which has opposed any move that might help Democrats from states Trump won in 2016.

With a signing event for veterans’ health care legislation planned for next week, people in the White House are waiting to see whether an invitation will be extended to Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Continue reading “White House divided over Trump’s embrace of red-state Democrats”

Trump’s pardons skew toward celebrity

To get a pardon from President Donald Trump, it clearly helps to be famous.

As conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza received clemency Thursday for a felony conviction for making campaign contributions through straw donors, Trump seemed to confirm that D’Souza’s high public profile — primarily in right-leaning media outlets — contributed to his case.

“I’ve always felt he was very unfairly treated. And a lot of people did, a lot of people did, ” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I read the papers — I see him on television.”

Trump also floated two other high-profile convictions he is considering wading into, suggesting a commutation for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who’s serving a 14-year sentence for corruption, and a pardon for Martha Stewart, who served a short term in jail for lying to investigators during an insider-trading probe.

The string of six pardons and Continue reading “Trump’s pardons skew toward celebrity”

Giuliani: Trump won’t fire Sessions before Russia probe wraps up

President Donald Trump is unlikely to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the completion of the special counsel investigation, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told reporters on Wednesday.

“There’s no doubt he’s complained about him, there’s no doubt he has some grievances,” Giuliani said. “He’s not going to fire him before this is over. … Nor do I think he should.”

After the investigation concludes, Sessions and others might want to leave of their own volition, Giuliani said.

He later added that he also does not think Trump will fire special counsel Robert Mueller or deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

The comments come after Trump rekindled his long-running feud with Sessions on Twitter Wednesday morning, saying he wished he had picked someone else for the job. Trump has fumed at Sessions since the former Alabama senator recused himself from the Russia probe because of his role in the campaign, Continue reading “Giuliani: Trump won’t fire Sessions before Russia probe wraps up”

Trump dwells on Russia probe as he honors fallen service members

President Donald Trump solemnly laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery under a cloudy sky Monday morning, marking Memorial Day as commander in chief even as his White House remains embroiled in an ever-growing list of self-made controversies and Twitter-based conspiracy theorizing.

Trump kicked off the day with a tweet noting the holiday before shifting to touting his accomplishments in the White House.

“Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Quickly, though, Trump pivoted to tweeting about Fox News segments on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – an investigation that Trump and his allies contend, without evidence, was politically motivated Continue reading “Trump dwells on Russia probe as he honors fallen service members”

NFL caves to Trump

The National Football League will now punish teams if players kneel during the national anthem, handing a win to President Donald Trump who had demanded consequences for the mostly African-American players using the gesture to protest racism.

Players will no longer be required to be on the field during the anthem, the NFL announced on Wednesday, but those who are will be required to stand. Demonstrations such as kneeling will result in a fine against the demonstrator’s team.

“A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the new policy said. The statement goes on to say that the league commissioner “will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The NFL’s move marks a clear culture war victory Continue reading “NFL caves to Trump”

NFL caves to Trump

The National Football League will now punish teams if players kneel during the national anthem, handing a win to President Donald Trump who had demanded consequences for the mostly African-American players using the gesture to protest racism.

Players will no longer be required to be on the field during the anthem, the NFL announced on Wednesday, but those who are will be required to stand. Demonstrations such as kneeling will result in a fine against the demonstrator’s team.

“A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the new policy said. The statement goes on to say that the league commissioner “will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The NFL’s move marks a clear culture war victory Continue reading “NFL caves to Trump”

Trump signs an Alabama football, and drama ensues

When Cliff Sims cleared out his desk in the White House press office earlier this month, his colleagues immediately thought of the football incident – an odd and ultimately trivial episode that nonetheless attracted the attention and frustration of the chief of staff.

In April, when President Donald Trump invited members of the University of Alabama football team to the White House to celebrate their national championship win, Sims—an Alabama grad—surprised his colleagues by popping unannounced into the Oval Office, pigskin in hand, as Trump was posing for pictures with head coach Nick Saban and others.

Sims, whose title was special assistant to the president and director of White House message strategy, explained that he needed to get the ball signed as a gift for Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, at the request of the university. Sims dropped the ball off with another White House staffer and left the room.

Continue reading “Trump signs an Alabama football, and drama ensues”

Trump’s judges, U.S. attorneys overwhelmingly white men

President Donald Trump’s picks for top prosecutors and judges are overwhelmingly white men, according to an analysis released by the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

The report slams Trump for what the Democrats describe as “degradation of the judicial nominations process, the lack of diversity among President Trump’s nominees, and this administration’s commitment to nominate ideological, often-unqualified candidates.”

The report found that just 8 percent of Trump’s nominees for U.S. attorney positions are women, and just 8 percent are people of color. The report found a similar, if slightly less stark, trend when it comes to judgeships: 25 percent of Trump’s district court nominees and 19 percent of his circuit court nominees are women; 8 percent of Trump’s district court nominees and 11 percent of his circuit court nominees are people of color.

The report contrasts the numbers with former President Barack Obama, who Continue reading “Trump’s judges, U.S. attorneys overwhelmingly white men”