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‘Is this a Manchurian candidate?’: Ex-FBI agent explains how Trump’s suspicious behavior with Russia has continued since the summit

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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.

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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.”

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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:

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‘Clearly impeachable and serious offense’: Ex-organized crime prosecutor says of Trump’s Ukraine scandal

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Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks recalled during an MSNBC panel discussion that she was once the prosecutor for organized crime. It was something that reminded her of this recent move by President Donald Trump and his administration.

Former U.S. Prosecutor Joyce Vance began by saying that the one major point is that the director of national intelligence has already violated the law by refusing to turn over the information to Congress within seven days.

"The real take away is that we’re well past the seven-day period that the DNI had to transfer this whistleblower’s complaint to Congress. And we don't know exactly what's in it. And when I say 'we,' really, I’m saying Congress because 'we' the public aren’t entitled to it. But Congress, the House Intelligence Committee that Congressman [Adam] Schiff (D-CA) chairs should have that."

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Iran accuses foreign forces of raising Gulf ‘insecurity’ — but doesn’t mention Trump by name

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President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday denounced the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf and said Iran will present a peace plan, after its arch-foe Washington ordered reinforcements to the tense region.

"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said before a military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq war.

Rouhani also said Iran would present a peace plan to the United Nations within days.

"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said.

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2020 Election

Trump holds mass rally with Indian Prime Minister that was more like a campaign event than official one

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US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared themselves united in a relentless fight against "terrorism," vowing a close, personal alliance in front of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans.

The two leaders, like-minded nationalists fond of fiery rallies and skeptical of traditional media, heaped praise on each other in an unusual joint appearance inside a football stadium in Houston.

To the bhangra beats of four drummers in saffron turbans, Trump in his dark suit and Modi in a yellow kurta and vest made a grand entrance with arms clenched together to ecstatic cheers from a crowd estimated by organizers at 50,000.

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