Top officials in the intelligence and defense community delivered a White House briefing Thursday intending to show resolve and commitment to countering the threat from Russia’s efforts to undermine American Democracy. But one major voice was missing from the briefing — that of President Donald Trump.
As former special agent at the FBI Clint Watts argued on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, Trump’s conspicuous absence from the briefing extends an ongoing pattern of suspicious behavior from the president regarding Russia. This behavior was on display after Trump held a private summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last month and then proceeded to deliver an obsequious press conference with the authoritarian leader that stunned many observers.
Questions about this meeting have only multiplied since it took place, as no official readout about what the two leaders discussed has been released. And when appearing with the other top officials Thursday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he “is not in a position” to talk about exactly what went on during the private meeting.
“[Trump] wanted it to be a secret meeting, it’s still a secret meeting,” said John Heilemann on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.” “Even from the people who should be at the highest level of government to know what happened. So that is an act of intent. What does one read from that act of intent that he is still keeping that secret from Dan Coats and others?”
“When I’ve talked to friends either in government or out of government, current Republicans who will always just vote for a Republican — that Helsinki press conference was like: ‘Oh my God. Is this a Manchurian candidate?'” Watts said. “Everyone, I think, had doubts about it — totally dispelled it — but when you watch that press conference… everything that’s been said about Trump, you start to say, ‘What if this is true?’ And so we’re having this reaction today about election interference.”
He continued: “He knows this is a mistake. And yet he won’t talk about that press conference. He did not even communicate to DNI Coats that he was going to extend an invitation to Vladimir Putin to come to the United States. and then when Coats was onstage and shocked about that — as he should be because he should be the first person that’s told about this! — he has to go back and essentially negotiate with the president to calm his anger, from what I understand.”
Watts added that the situation we’re in is a “crazy scenario.”
“Even with all the pressure — I think a lot of that pressure is from Capitol Hill. I think it’s from the institutions that Donald Trump is in charge of — even with all that pressure, he will not take the next step and say: “I’m going to be tough on Russia, and here’s what I’m going to do,'” he said.
Watch the clip below:
"that Helsinki press conference was like 'oh my god. Is this a Manchurian candidate?'.. everyone, I think, had doubts about it but when you watch that press conference….you start to say 'what if this is true?' …so we're having this reaction today…" – @selectedwisdom pic.twitter.com/PXr9oWaCSu
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) August 2, 2018
‘Deeply hurt’ Ex-Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweets out Bible verse about being persecuted
Former Trump re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale is "deeply hurt" after being demoted Wednesday night by Jared Kushner, according to Politico.
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them," Parscale tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) July 16, 2020
GOP officials admit 2020 platform is basically whatever’s on Trump’s Twitter account
President Donald Trump has shaped the Republican Party into his own image in less than four years on the job, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.
Nearly half of the House Republicans on the job when Trump took office in 2017 have either retired, resigned, been defeated or are retiring in 2020, and many of the GOP newcomers are devoted Trump loyalists, reported Politico.
“Whether the president wins or loses, his policy views and style have firmly taken over the Republican Party — nationalism and white grievance, those kinds of things,” said Matt Moore, former chairman of South Carolina's GOP. “I don’t think that Trumpy politics will be leaving the stage anytime soon.”
Coronavirus data disappears from CDC dashboard after Trump hijacks info
The Trump administration on Tuesday forced all hospitals and states to make a significant and immediate change in how they report coronavirus patient data, hijacking the information to be funneled into the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Experts warned the move could allow the administration to politicize the data, hide it, be less transparent, all of which interferes in the real-time usage of information to fight the coronavirus pandemic.