REPUBLICANS TO THE WORLD: WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO? There was a general consensus in the Capitol yesterday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP thoroughly embarrassed the United States standing next to Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN on the world’s biggest stage.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-ARK.), a reliable Trump ally, criticized the president — albeit not by name. REP. WILL HURD, a Texas Republican who was a covert CIA operative before becoming a politician, told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in my career, and I never thought the U.S. president would be one of them.” SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), Trump’s golf buddy, even had choice words.
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BUT, PRIVATELY, senior-level Republican aides and lawmakers had a second message: WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT US TO DO?
HOLD HEARINGS? They’ve done that, they say. Nearly every Capitol Hill probe into the 2016 election showed that Putin’s Russia did, indeed, interfere in the election to boost Trump. The president chooses to ignore that.
THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS slapped endless sanctions on Russia. They’ve sought to boost Russia’s foes, and defend NATO. That’s a pretty strong rebuke against a president of their own party.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, senior Republican aides and lawmakers told us yesterday, it’s up to the president to conduct foreign policy. The Hill can — and does — criticize and conduct oversight.
SO THE ANSWER TO THE MEDIA FEEDBACK LOOP FROM YESTERDAY: Of course, Congress is not going to do anything substantive. They have no idea what more they should be doing.
TRUMP is clearly testing Republican patience more than ever before. Most Republicans see TRUMP as an uninformed neophyte who likes the vibes of strongmen. A man who believes it’s wise to ignore past misdeeds to pave the path for future deals. They don’t think he’s a wanna-be autocrat looking to turn the United States into the next Turkey.
ON AN ISLAND — BURGESS EVERETT and ELANA SCHOR report on how SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY.) was one of the few who came out finding a lot to like in Trump’s presser. http://bit.ly/2LpYZhh
COLUMN IN THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE — owned by the Huntsman family: ROBERT GEHRKE: “Come home, Ambassador Huntsman, your country needs you” http://bit.ly/2NpczSO
Good Tuesday morning. POLITICO EU’S DAVID HERSZENHORN breaks down what exactly happened in Helsinki with this after-action report: https://bit.ly/2zSar3I … CHRIS CADELAGO on Trump’s new world order: http://bit.ly/2mqFTfT
THE STEP BACK — NYT’S MARK LANDLER on A1, “Trump Sheds All Notions of How a President Should Conduct Himself Abroad”: “President Trump, who gleefully defies the norms of presidential behavior, went somewhere in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday where none of his predecessors have ever gone: He accepted the explanation of a hostile foreign leader over the findings of his own intelligence agencies.
“Mr. Trump’s declaration that he saw no reason not to believe President Vladimir V. Putin when he said the Russians did not try to fix the 2016 election was extraordinary enough. But it was only one of several statements the likes of which no other president has uttered while on foreign soil. He condemned the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia as a ‘disaster for our country.’
“He suggested that the F.B.I. deliberately mishandled its investigation of Russia’s hacking of the [DNC]. And he labeled an F.B.I. agent who testified about that investigation before Congress as a ‘disgrace to our country.’ In the fiery, disruptive, rules-breaking arc of Mr. Trump’s statecraft, his assertions during a news conference with Mr. Putin marked a new milestone, the foreign policy equivalent of Charlottesville. …
“Rather than defend the United States against those who would threaten it, he attacked his own citizens and institutions. Rather than challenge Mr. Putin, an adversary with a well-documented record of wrongdoing against the United States, he praised him without reservation. His statements were so divorced from American policy goals, so at odds with the rest of his administration, so inexplicable on so many levels that they brought to the surface a question that has long shadowed Mr. Trump: Does Russia have something on him?” https://nyti.ms/2zRUyL0
WAPO’S ASHLEY PARKER, JOSH DAWSEY and CAROL LEONNIG: “Ahead of the meeting, staffers provided Trump with some 100 pages of briefing materials aimed at laying out a tough posture toward Putin, but the president ignored most of it, according to one person familiar with the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal deliberations. Trump’s remarks were ‘very much counter to the plan,’ the person said.
“‘Everyone around Trump’ was urging him to take a firm stance with Putin, according to a second person familiar with the preparations. Before Monday’s meeting, the second person said, advisers covered matters from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to its interference in the U.S. elections, but Trump ‘made a game-time decision; to handle the summit his way.” https://wapo.st/2Lfx2fe
— POLITICO’S BRYAN BENDER (@BryanDBender): “JUST IN: Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, not known to utter anything unambiguous: ‘I never saw or imagined so uneven a handover of American security interests and principles with nothing in return…It was like watching the destruction of a cathedral.’”
… CNN’S CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR (@camanpour): “Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns doesn’t mince his words on the Trump/Putin summit: ‘I think that press conference was the single most embarrassing performance by an American president on the world stage that I’ve ever seen.’” http://bit.ly/2Lfvba5
****** A message from the Alzheimer’s Association: Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country. Every hour, Alzheimer’s costs taxpayers $21 million dollars. Today, Alzheimer’s costs the country $277 billion a year and that will quadruple to more than $1 trillion over the next generation. Funding for Alzheimer’s research must increase. Learn more at alz.org/askcongress ******
FRONT PAGES … NYT, banner headline: “TRUMP, WITH PUTIN, ATTACKS 2016 INTELLIGENCE” http://bit.ly/2mmvwtJ … WAPO, also a banner: “Trump touts Putin’s powerful denial” …
… N.Y. POST: “SEE NO EVIL: Pres gives big bear hug to wicked BFF Vlad, jabs U.S. intel” https://nyp.st/2Nnf4or … N.Y. DAILY NEWS, “OPEN TREASON: Trump backs enemy Putin over U.S. intel — Russian spy busted, tied to GOP & NRA” http://bit.ly/2LeIurw
CLICKER — MATT WUERKER’s cartoon today which shows Trump as a dancing Russian bear http://bit.ly/2NY9g5V
WSJ EDITORIAL BOARD – “The Trump First Doctrine: Putin respects strength but Trump showed weakness”: “Details from the private Trump-Putin talks in Helsinki will spill out in coming days, but Monday’s joint press conference was a personal and national embarrassment.” https://on.wsj.com/2Jvh4bY
A BIG MOMENT FOR CHRIS WALLACE … WAPO’S AARON BLAKE: “Fox News’s Chris Wallace gives Putin the grilling Trump won’t” https://wapo.st/2mlUfhF … Video of the interview http://bit.ly/2JtxWjr … Clip of Wallace trying to hand Putin the indictment http://bit.ly/2LomSpu
LIKE A PLOTLINE FROM ‘THE AMERICANS’ — “U.S. officials charge NRA-linked Russian with acting as Kremlin agent,” by Josh Meyer and Darren Samuelsohn: “Federal authorities on Monday charged a Russian citizen living in Washington, D.C. with conspiracy to act as an illegal agent of the Russian government, including attempting to establish ‘back-channel’ relationships with U.S. officials on behalf of the Kremlin, the Justice Department said.
“Mariia Butina, 29, was arrested Sunday in connection with what an FBI agent described in court documents as a ‘Russian influence operation.’ She made her initial appearance Monday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in Washington and was ordered to be held pending a hearing set for Wednesday.
“U.S. officials allege that Butina, while attending a university in Washington, worked from 2015 until at least February 2017 as a Kremlin agent under the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government and Russian central bank, according to an FBI affidavit in support of the complaint. Although the complaint does not name him, it appears to refer to Alexander Torshin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and longtime supporter of the [NRA] who reportedly also has ties to Russian security services and organized crime figures.
“Authorities have been investigating whether Butina and Torshin, both gun enthusiasts who attended NRA events together, were part of a plot to funnel Russian money through the NRA to the Trump campaign, perhaps through NRA entities that were not required to disclose their funding sources. Butina’s lawyer denied that on Monday, and Torshin also has denied any wrongdoing. The NRA did not respond to requests for comment.” https://bit.ly/2mpNg7w
— FLASHBACK – TIM MAK in The Daily Beast, Feb. 23, 2017, “The Kremlin and GOP Have a New Friend—and Boy, Does She Love Guns: Depending on who’s asking, Maria Butina is either a Russian central bank staffer, a gun rights advocate, or a connection between D.C. Republicans and Russia.” https://thebea.st/2LrWkn5
— @Isikoff: “Maria Butina, arrested by FBI on charges she is Russian agent, was first to ask Trump about sanctions. Later, as @DavidCornDC and I write in ‘Russian Roulette,’ Trump advisors fretted over video of Butina’s interaction with the candidate.” http://bit.ly/2LgYXeD
HAPPENING TODAY … ABOUT THAT MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS … THE PRESIDENT is hosting a conversation with six Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee today about a second round of tax reform. EXPECTED AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (Texas), Reps. Peter Roskam (Ill.), Diane Black (Tenn.), Jim Renacci (Ohio), George Holding (N.C.) and Mike Bishop (Mich.). VP Mike Pence will also be there. This begins at 2 p.m.
— BLACK is running for governor, Renacci for the Senate, and Roskam has a tough House race. FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH … Some sort of tax reform 2.0 is not likely to become law, since it would need to garner 60 votes in the Senate.
REMEMBER THE HOUSE GOP’S ‘ABOLISH ICE’ PLAY? Not so fast. RACHAEL BADE and KYLE CHENEY report that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “quashed a rank-in-file effort to force Democrats to take a politically toxic vote to abolish the federal government’s immigration enforcement agency.” https://bit.ly/2moKW0k
THE LATEST GOVERNMENT SPENDING SALVO — SARAH FERRIS and JENNIFER SCHOLTES: “Top Trump administration officials sent a letter Monday cautioning lawmakers against raising spending caps to accommodate shifts in funding for a popular veterans health program, though they stopped short of threatening a veto. Many Democrats — and some powerful Senate Republicans — are insisting billions of dollars be spent beyond the limit agreed upon in this year’s grand budget deal.
“The White House’s public stand draws battle lines in the first major showdown ahead of this fall’s funding deadline, endangering congressional efforts to clear updated spending levels before fiscal 2018 cash runs out Sept. 30. The likely result: Another continuing resolution that extends funding at current levels as lawmakers and the administration struggle to find consensus.” https://bit.ly/2NRWy8K
WHY IT MATTERS: “Although funding for veterans programs is riding within a package that houses just three of the 12 annual funding bills, the breakdown does not bode well for broader spending negotiations leading up to the fiscal 2019 deadline.”
THE JUICE …
— BARACK OBAMA is speaking in the 8 a.m. hour today at the 16th annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg. It can be streamed at Obama.org.
— THE BLACK WOMEN’S CONGRESSIONAL ALLIANCE is hosting a week of activities on the heels of a Senate diversity report, including a Rising Stars Reception that will honor the next generation of women of color Hill staffers, a breakfast with the CBC PAC and the DCCC to get women of color to volunteer on campaigns during the August recess and sessions focused on the art of negotiations and efforts to diversify Capitol Hill. Listen to Anna’s Women Rule podcast with the BWCA founders https://bit.ly/2NVzy8X
SPOTTED at the kickoff event: Erica Johnson, Cristina Antelo, Joyce Brayboy, Nicole Venable, Jennifer Stewart, Kim Trinca, Ebony Simpson, Ashley Baker-Hayes, Rhonda Foxx, Maia Estes, Tasia Jackson, Keenan Austin-Reed, Amena Ross, Carissa Smith, Meaghan Lynch, Olivia Nutter, Mia Keeys, Lakisha Foster, Erica Lowe, Jalisa Washington and Niccara Campbell.
YES! BRYCE HARPER won the home run derby at Nats Park. https://wapo.st/2zL2cXj … THE ALL STAR GAME is tonight, live from Nats Park. It begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox.
2018 WATCH — ELANA SCHOR: “Dianne Feinstein’s moment of truth arrives”: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein has shrugged off a chorus of calls from within her party to step aside, arguing that her seniority and past achievements make her better qualified to represent California than a challenger decades her junior. Now she’s going to have a chance to prove it.
“As the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the coming confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Feinstein is about to take on a lead role in the biggest partisan battle of this election year. She’ll do so with a more progressive foe nipping at her heels back home — her general election opponent, state Sen. Kevin de León, overwhelmingly won the state party’s endorsement over the weekend — and a pair of rising-star Democrats on the committee, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, setting a pugnacious tone for the confirmation clash.
“The 85-year-old five-term senator remains unmoved in the face of pressure from California activists, touting her decades of experience in the trenches of Supreme Court politics. ‘I don’t really feel that pressure’ to give way to a younger generation, Feinstein told POLITICO in an interview. ‘I’m sure some people think that way, but I look at my vote, and there aren’t a lot of people that can win every county in the state.’ She was referring to outperforming de León in all 58 California counties in the first round of voting in June.” https://bit.ly/2zMRsaQ
YOU ARE INVITED: ANNA, host of the WOMEN RULE podcast, is moderating a TECHNET panel conversation this morning at AJAX (1011 4th St. NW) about the importance of supporting female entrepreneurship. Doors open at 8 a.m. Register to attend https://bit.ly/2zJ3Eth … Sign up for the Women Rule podcast https://apple.co/2lCPzCe
****** A message from the Alzheimer’s Association: Costing taxpayers $21 million every HOUR, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the country. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million family and friends are providing care. Alzheimer’s is a national issue, and needs a national response. Alzheimer’s yearly cost of $277 billion will quadruple to more than $1 trillion over the next generation – a crisis we cannot afford and shouldn’t accept. While it is the only leading cause of death that can’t be prevented, cured, or even slowed, research and medical advancement can change that. That’s why the Alzheimer’s Association is fighting to end the disease through the advancement of research, while also providing care and support for all affected. Learn more at alz.org/askcongress. ******
THE NEW GILDED AGE — “Jeff Bezos Becomes the Richest Man in Modern History, Topping $150 Billion,” by Bloomberg’s Olivia Carville and Tom Metcalf: https://bloom.bg/2uqKxiw
MEDIAWATCH – “Publishing Executives Argue Facebook Is Overly Deferential to Conservatives,” by WSJ’s Benjamin Mullin and Deepa Seetharaman: “At the off-the-record meeting between Facebook officials and publishing executives in New York on Thursday, BuzzFeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith said that, by his count, there were about six conservative-leaning publications among the dozen or so outlets represented at the gathering. He said the ratio implied a fundamental misconception among Facebook employees about the workings of the news industry …
“Mr. Smith said that the number of conservative publications in attendance indicated that Facebook had bought into the idea, promoted primarily by conservatives, that mainstream outlets such as the New York Times are liberal and should be counterbalanced by right-leaning opinion outlets, said people familiar with his remarks. Mr. Smith objected in particular to the presence of the Daily Caller, a conservative-leaning outlet whose journalistic standards he called into question. He said other conservative outlets present, such as the Weekly Standard, held higher standards.” https://on.wsj.com/2usme3I
SPOTTED: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) having dinner last night at City Tap House in Penn Quarter – pic http://bit.ly/2Lj9GFx … Glenn Close and Christian Slater having dinner with others at Filomena last night.
SPOTTED at a World Cup final watch party Sunday at Proper 21 hosted by the Qatari Embassy: Abbe Lowell, the lawyer representing Jared Kushner.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, is 32. He’s celebrating with a Broadway show and dinner with his girlfriend. A fun fact about Kyle: “I’ve been organizing dinner parties every few weeks since 2011 in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and now in New York City. We pick a topic to discuss at length and we host it at a different apartment or venue each time. In S.F., the goal simply was to get people to talk about politics 3,000 miles away from the nation’s capital. In D.C., our general rule was to avoid anything political. And, in NYC, the goal is to just get people to show up on time.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://bit.ly/2JrZ2Y8
BIRTHDAYS: Catherine Frazier, senior comms adviser for Sen. Cruz … Katie Zezima, WaPo national correspondent … Kayla Tausche, CNBC Washington correspondent … Roz Leighton, WH special assistant to the president and regional political director …Katherine Smith, special assistant in the WH Council on Environmental Quality … former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios is 53 … Josh Barro … Seth Bringman is 37 … David L. Wade … Reuters’ Mike Stone … Politico’s Jessica Cuellar, Collin Greene and David Hackney … FT’s Caitlin O’Connell Fitchette … German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 64 … Opal Vadhan (hat tip: Nick Merrill) … Stacy Helen Schusterman … Eeda Wallbank … Ben Deutsch … Jon Graham … Cathie Levine Isay … Christine Haughney … Jon Monger … Jonathan Lee … Laura MacInnis … Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) is 55 … Lou Penrose, head of Lou Penrose Government Relations, is 5-0 … R. Kevin Ryan … Chris Berardi … Ben Harris, who served as the chief economist to former VP Biden and is now editor-in-chief of the Biden Forum and founder of Cherrydale Strategies (h/t Sarah Berlenbach) …
… Andrew Bowen, who recently started global investment advisory firm Therao … Matt Berger, VP of comms at Hillel International … Anna Bross, senior director of comms at The Atlantic … BuzzFeed’s Emma Loop … Andy Barr … Mercury’s Caitlin Klevorick … Ben Shannon, a Burson-Marsteller alum who starts next week in Porter Novelli’s healthcare practice (h/t Ben Chang) … The Guardian’s Lawrence Wakefield … Facebook’s Dan Comstock is 34 (h/ts Tim Burger and Tim Griffin) … Katherine Beck … David Vandivier … Dani Simons … Michael Presutti … Shannan Butler Adler … PwC’s Ben Softy … Sara Clinton Lowenstine … Steph Anderson … Cat Gross … Carter Baer … David A. Steinberg … Annabel Ascher … Myrna Lim … Shell’s Marnie Funk … Chris Buki is 29 … Suzy Wagner … Nicole Tarbet … Bashir Rostom … Lizzie Cooper … Evi Wareka … Susan Kennedy … Rich Judge … Caroline Koss (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)
****** A message from the Alzheimer’s Association: Alzheimer’s is not a red or blue issue. 73 million American voters — nearly half — know or have known someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. And nearly a quarter of all registered voters have served as an unpaid caregiver to a friend or relative with the disease. Alzheimer’s remains the only leading cause of death in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed — yet. Only medical breakthroughs can change that. The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to supporting advancements in research that will lead to the first Alzheimer’s survivor. With 4 in every 5 voters supporting an increase in federal funding for Alzheimer’s research, Congress should make the same commitment. Learn more at alz.org/askcongress. ******
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