President Trump said this morning he plans to kick off his 2020 reelection effort in a strategic planning session with his campaign manager on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
“The Dems have already started rigging the election, so we have to be smart and not let them fraudulently get three million more votes than we did like they did last time,” Trump said.
Trump said his campaign manager, Vladimir Putin, “knows how to play tough” when it comes to winning elections, so that should serve as a warning to Democrats. “Vlad doesn’t fool around,” he said. “He gets in there and makes a difference, whether it’s on social media, cyber strategy, he has a plan for every situation.”
Putin’s campaign experience in the United States is limited. He was heavily involved in Trump’s 2016 win—some analysts credit him with pulling Trump over the finish line ahead of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton—but, beyond that, most of his experience is in Russian, Crimean, and Ukrainian elections.
“Putin’s a street fighter who cut his teeth in the ruthless electoral environment in Russia and Eastern Europe, where they don’t spend time worrying about things like polls,” says Seth Cohen, a campaign strategist who has worked for Democratic candidates in the United States and also some left-leaning candidates in Eastern Europe. “Assassination, poll tampering, intimidation, misinformation—he’s a master of all sorts of tricks that have only recently come to the United States. No doubt President Trump will ask him to leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding what works.”
Helsinki is a convenient place for the two of them to meet because they’ll already be there talking about bilateral issues between the United States and Russia. “When they’re done going over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, it’s an easy transition to start talking about what Trump needs to win in 2020,” says Heather Hanson, ABC political correspondent.
Republican campaign strategists say Trump, by tapping Putin, is clearly expecting Democrats not to make the same mistake they made in 2016.
“In 2016, Democrats brought a knife to a gun fight,” says Rebecca Majors, CNN political analyst. “Trump knows that, in 2020, they will most certainly bring a gun. So, this is where Putin comes with an advantage: poison, imprisonment, kompromat—he brings options that other campaign managers know little about.”
With Putin at the helm, there’s unlikely to be the same ambiguity over Trump’s 2020 victory that there was in 2016. “Here we are in 2018 and people are still asking if Trump is a legitimate president,” says Cohen. “Did FBI Director James Comey win the election for Trump? Did Russian meddling? We just don’t know. But in 2020 that will all be forgotten and Trump’s hold on power will be complete and unambiguous, no matter how people end up voting. It’s that kind of certainty and legitimacy that trump is craving and that Putin can deliver.”
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Senior White House advisors say the media is missing the big picture of what President Trump is trying to do with regard to his foreign policy, because it’s not the haphazard approach it appears to be. Instead, everything is tied to the idea that the United States leads best when it leads from Putin’s behind. “If you want to give it a name, you can call it ‘Leading from Putin’s Behind,” says National Security Advisor John Bolton. “Are we leading? Absolutely. We’re leading in Europe. We’re leading in the Middle East. But we want to be subtle about it. We don’t want to be perceived as throwing our weight around. Thus, we’re leading from behind. It’s not a new concept. But we’re not just leading from behind. It’s more strategic than that. We’re leading from Putin’s behind.” More.
President Donald Trump defended his call to Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his reelection to the Russian presidency earlier this week by saying he’s no different than any other leader who picks the candidates he runs against, controls the voting system in his country, and dictates any policy he wants as long as he doesn’t trigger opposition from his opponents who are lying in wait to depose him. “Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau—are they all so much different than President Putin?” Trump said in remarks to reporters this morning. Trump said that Theresa May, who is prime minister of Great Britain, wouldn’t be much different than Vladimir Putin if she had her political enemies assassinated and knew Parliament would rubber stamp any policy she handed it. More.
Russian president Vladimir Putin says he’s enjoying the positive coverage he’s getting from the endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but he doesn’t want to give the impression his success is all about his leadership skills; it helps to be an authoritarian, he says. Putin says he could never work his will if he couldn’t jail critics or have them killed, which takes care of a lot of opposition. He also takes advantage of a rubber-stamp legislative body and gets to set the terms of his election, which is better than running campaign ads, even if they’re good ones. “Truth be told, it helps to do what you want without checks and balances,” he says. “Sure, I’m a good leader. I’m strong. But at the end of the day, I never lose sight of the real source of my strength: my authoritarianism.” More
President Donald Trump has charged the Democratic party with already having rigged the 2020 presidential election and he says his Democratic opponent has already cheated. “Loser Dems haven’t even waited until my first year as president is over before rigging the 2020 elections because they can’t win on their own,” Trump said today. He also accused his Democratic opponent of cheating. “My Democratic opponent, who had the help of the crooked and corrupt DNC, is already getting dead people, immigrants, criminals to vote in New Jersey and other unAmerican, socialist states.” Trump vowed to “lock up” his Democratic opponent “who is totally corrupt, by the way” after the election. “We must SAVE USA the beautiful from liberal elite who will EXPAND the deficit and cut the Regs for liberal Wall Street and sexual harassers in Hollywood who don’t represent America.” More.
A handful of Americans, allegedly operating out of the nation’s highest office, tried to influence the presidential election in Russia this week in favor of keeping President Vladimir Putin in office, a secret U.S. intelligence report says. “We have reason to believe officials used public statements, policy actions, and other overt and covert tools to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in office,” said the report, issued today jointly by all of the national security agencies of the United States. Although the report didn’t directly accuse any specific federal officials of intervening in the Russian election, it said the nation’s “top officials . . . More.
HAMBURG, Germany. President Donald Trump, fresh from his two-hour meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin, was in good spirits as he headed for a dinner at the G-20 meeting here Friday night. “I had a terrific meeting with President Putin, a really terrific meeting that will mean great things for America,” Trump said. “I’ve said all along America would be better off if we got along with Russia, and our meeting today was a fresh start, a really good start after the disastrous years we’ve had for so long.” Trump said he and Putin talked about cyber security and bringing peace to Syria—“a really important topic, by the way, really serious stuff”—and about forging closer ties between their two countries in the coming years. “I said I wanted to put the past behind us,” Trump said. “President Putin is a strong leader who I think we can do a lot with. And he certainly respects our strength, our military, our control over the cyber. We’re a really big country and I think he knows that.” More.
As he vowed to do, President Barack Obama retaliated against Russian hacking of the U.S. election by releasing photos that Russian President Vladimir Putin is embarrassed to see on the Internet. “We were clear to President Putin that he would regret meddling in the election, which is so fundamental to our Democracy,” said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest this morning. “President Obama was very clear that the United States would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing, and today we have made good on that threat with the release of these embarrassing photos of Vladimir Putin.” The photos are devastating indictments of Putin, say security experts and intelligence analysts. In one photo, Putin is wearing an anti-Putin t-shirt. In another, he has a propeller hat on his head. In a third, he has a message taped to his back that says “Kick me!” More.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the trial balloons he’s been floating about retiring after tax reform passes have nothing to do with his plans to run against Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. “I am not planning and will not plan to offer Republican voters an alternative to the crazy man in the White House today,” Ryan said. Ryan said there’s no truth to the rumor that he would seek to give an alternative to Republican voters who don’t want to see Trump reelected but also don’t want to see a Democrat take the White House. “I know there’s speculation that I would put myself out there as a safe vote for Republicans who don’t want another Roy Moore-type debacle in 2020, but that is not the case,” he said. More.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate say they urgently must pass tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy before the end of the year because of pressure coming from Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “Would it be better to slow down and better think through our tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy? Of course,” says John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate whip. “Right now our own analysis is showing a $1 trillion addition to the budget deficit even after projected growth in the economy. So, if we had more time we could craft changes that address that and still give our wealthy donors what they want. Unfortunately, time is a luxury we don’t have.” That’s because Mueller’s investigation is winding down. More.
President Donald Trump today called on his former Democratic opponent for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, to step down. “Witch hunt against DT most unfair ever,” the president wrote on Twitter early this morning. “Where’s investigation into Dem/HC Russia collusion?! Clinton needs to step down NOW!!” Reached while walking her dog with her family in the woods outside of Chappaqua, N.Y., Hillary Clinton said she had no comment.Trump reiterated his call for Clinton to resign at a press briefing later in the morning. “Where are the calls from the fake media for Hillary Clinton to resign?” he said. “She needs to be investigated. She will be investigated. We know about the corruption, the uranium deal that let the Russians buy a quarter of our uranium here in the United States, and the money that went into her sex-harasser husband’s phony foundation.” More.
Pedophiles across the United States are coming out of the shadows and testing the waters for making deeper inroads into mainstream American society now that Republicans are defending accused child molester and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. “I knew when Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 we would start to see great things happening in our country for sexual predators because he was sending signals that he had our backs,” says Tom Clark, a pedophile in Houston. “What I didn’t expect was this path to mainstream acceptability to open before his first year in office was out. I’m so stunned I have to make sure I’m really alive and not caught in a very, very good dream.” Clark and other pedophiles in the United States say they never thought they would live to see the day when their sexual perversion would become something other than the most heinous sexual act a person could commit. More.
A poll conducted shortly after the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at Hofstra University shows voters overwhelmingly believe the Democratic nominee is unqualified for the presidency because her husband, former president Bill Clinton, cheated on her. “How many affairs did Bill Clinton have? Four? Five?” says Greg Newsome, a warehouse supervisor in Harrisburg, Pa. “And she wants to be president? I just don’t see how she can be our leader if her husband had affairs with other women.” Many voters say they’re disappointed Trump held back from bringing up Bill Clinton’s affairs during the first debate. “If there’s a nuclear emergency at 3 a.m., how will Hillary make the right decision if her husband couldn’t keep his pants on when he was younger?” says Ann Burton, a retired school teacher in Springfield, Mo. More.
Hank Galloway, a retired stockroom supervisor who lost about $16,000 when he invested in a Trump resort that was never built, says Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a corrupt politician who stole plateware from the White House and should be sent to prison and he wouldn’t mind if she were on the target side of a bullet, either. “That was a good chunk of my life’s savings that I lost in that Trump project,” says Galloway, 69. “If Crooked Hillary doesn’t go to jail instead of the White House, it’s because we’re letting terrorists laugh up their sleeve at our country and giving good-paying jobs to Mexicans who think life in America is one long siesta.” Galloway says he also tried to learn how to become a real estate investor by taking classes at Trump University, but he didn’t learn anything except that he should invest money in Trump projects, which he did. “It’s these regulations that the Socialists in Congress impose on business that’s strangling this country,” he says. More.
Vice President Mike Pence confided to his aides that he’s happy to be president after Donald Trump is removed from office later this year but he’s also nervous about the number of times he’ll have to be alone with a woman who is not his wife. “The presidency is a big responsibility and there are a lot of important women I’ll have to meet and I’m not sure I’ll always be able have an aide with me,” said Pence, who adheres to a policy of never being alone with a woman unless she’s his wife, Karen. “Take Theresa May,” he said, referring to the prime minster of Great Britain. “I know there will be occasions when the two of us will have to have a private talk. I’m just not sure what I’m going to do. I’m very concerned about this.” More.
Fox News this morning highlighted a White House poll showing President Donald Trump with an approval rating of 111 percent, almost triple what an aggregate of recent national polls are showing. “The latest poll out of the White House makes clear that President Trump is not only popular throughout the country, he’s the most popular president ever, despite Democrats’ effort to thwart his agenda and paint him as a divider rather than a uniter,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said.The poll, which the White House released this morning, shows the president’s approval rating increasing from 106 percent last quarter to 111 percent, a five percentage point jump that the White House says is due to the president’s effort to eliminate wasteful and unlawful health care subsidies for low-income households and to stop people who’ve been victims of bank fraud from filing frivolous lawsuits against financial institutions. More.
The U.S. Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion today to condemn the acts of gun violence that will plague the country in the months and years ahead. “We condemn the senseless taking of innocent life that we will experience in the future,” the resolution reads. “We call on all Americans to come together during these times of national trauma that will inflict us, probably twice a year if not more frequently.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), one of the sponsors of the resolution, says it’s a step in the right direction for lawmakers to get all of their future condemnations of acts of gun violence out of the way at once, because that will free up time for other legislative priorities. More.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told members of his caucus this morning he wants to limit President Donald Trump to a single term of office so Republicans can get down to the business of passing tax reform, their party’s priority. “The single most important thng we want to achieve is for President Trump to be a one-term president,” McConnell said. The Majority Leader and Trump have had a rocky relationship from the start, but sources say the back-and-forth between the two has worsened since the Senate’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. “The last time the two of them talked they were shouting profanities at each other,” said one official who is familiar with the conversation. More.
President Donald Trump said today he wants to be the only thing people think about each and every moment of their lives, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I only exist if people are thinking about me and only me from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep,” he told reporters at a briefing in the Oval Office. “There are still people in parts of Africa, Antarctica, and maybe a few other places that don’t think about me and what I’m doing to the United States and even to the world. But with my success ratcheting up tensions with North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, and other countries around the globe, I believe I will reach my mark soon.” More.
Pointing to the “unbelievable job” he’s doing as president, Donald Trump today said he’s way ahead of his schedule for fixing everything that’s wrong with America. “When I was nominated by so many Americans last year, I said that I alone can fix our great country’s problems,” he said in a briefing with reporters. “I’m glad to say your president has delivered on his promises and you’ll be so surprised and so pleased at how much I’ll deliver on my promises in the weeks and months ahead.” Trump cited the success of free speech that was expressed in Charlottesville, Va., yesterday, in which a coalition of white nationalist groups clashed with anti-fascist demonstrators. “The free speech was so good,” he said of the rally, at which one protestor was killed when an alleged neo-Nazi supporter rammed his car into a crowd of people. Two officers were also killed when their police helicopter crashed. Virginia Governor Terrence McAuliffe declared a state of emergency. More.