Trump Deleted Line About Bringing Hackers to Justice

In preparation for a public statement meant to mitigate the damage his news conference with Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post reports that President Trump “brought four pages of handwritten notes to a meeting with congressional leaders and in his own distinctive scrawl, he added notes to the prepared comments. And in several instances, he struck out things he planned to skip.”

Photos of the pages taken by a photographer at the meeting show that Trump struck out a line about bringing “anyone involved in that meddling to justice.”

Trump Decided to Allow Indictments Before Putin Summit

President Trump “gave the go-ahead to announce new Russian election-hacking indictments before his meeting with Vladimir Putin rather than after — in the hopes it would strengthen his hand in the talks,” Bloomberg reports.

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went to Trump last week and offered him the choice: before or after the Putin summit on Monday in Helsinki? Trump chose before, ultimately putting the issue into the spotlight just 72 hours before the high-stakes meeting.”

Special Counsel Offers Immunity to Five Witnesses

“The special counsel prosecuting Paul Manafort is seeking to give immunity to five potential witnesses in advance of his trial in Alexandria federal court next week,” the Washington Post reports.

“All five have said they will not testify so as not to incriminate themselves… and so prosecutors are asking Judge T.S. Ellis III to grant them immunity and compel their testimony.”

“The motions are sealed, and the government will not reveal the names of the witnesses unless they are actually called to testify.”

Americans Split on Kavanaugh Nomination

A new Pew Research poll finds 41% think the U.S. Senate should confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, while 36% say they should not and 23% do not offer a view on the question.

“Opinions of his nomination are already deeply polarized: 73% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think he should be confirmed. By contrast, 63% of Democrats and Democratic leaners  say the Senate should not confirm him.”

Trump Now Accepts Intelligence on Russian Meddling

After the uproar he created yesterday, President Trump said he has full confidence in the U.S. intelligence agencies and accepted the finding that Russia meddled in the election but still said there was no collusion, CBS News reports.

Said Trump: “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn’t. The sentence should have been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things.”

But he added: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

O’Rourke Says He Would Vote to Impeach Trump

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), who is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), told the Dallas Morning News that President Trump’s performance at a summit with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin merits impeachment.

Said O’Rourke: “Standing on stage in another country with the leader of another country who wants to and has sought to undermine this country, and to side with him over the United States – if I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president. Impeachment, much like an indictment, shows that there is enough there for the case to proceed and at this point there is certainly enough there for the case to proceed.”

Can the GOP Survive a Trade War?

Bloomberg: “Trump’s decision to start a trade war four months before the midterm elections carries a heavy risk for his party because many of his most loyal followers will bear the brunt of the fallout. This wasn’t the case with his major actions before now. The crackdown on refugees and immigrants didn’t hurt the white, blue-collar voters who make up the core of his support. And although they got little benefit from his tax cut, aimed primarily at corporations and the wealthy, neither were they directly penalized.”

“Trade is different. The bulk of punitive tariffs from around the globe falls heavily on Farm Belt and Rust Belt states that went for Trump. Many of the new measures are designed, with almost surgical precision, to harm his supporters. Of the 30 congressional districts hit hardest by Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans, 25 are represented by Republicans, five by Democrats—but all 30 voted for Trump.”

Flashback Quote of the Day

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump… swear to God.”

— House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), quoted by the Washington Post in a private recording, speaking to a group of GOP lawmakers a month before Donald Trump clinched the GOP presidential nomination.

Speaker Paul Ryan quickly interjected: “This is an off-the-record… no leaks, alright? This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

‘Treason’ Enters the Political Lexicon

New York Times: “While the T-word has been thrown around on the fringes of the political debate about other presidents or politicians from time to time, never in the modern era has it become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way. Never in anyone’s lifetime has a president engendered such a wave of discussion about whether his real loyalty was to a foreign power over his own country.”

“To the president’s defenders, this all sounds like a sign of what they often call Trump Derangement Syndrome. That he drives his critics to such extremes, they argue, says more about them than it does about Mr. Trump. But the president has had fewer such defenders in the last 24 hours, with prominent Republicans and even some of Mr. Trump’s traditional allies lambasting his performance and distancing themselves from him.”

Trump Was Unaware He Bombed Press Conference

CNN: “Immediately after his news conference, Trump’s mood was buoyant, people familiar with the matter said. He walked off stage in Helsinki with little inkling his remarks would cause the firestorm they did, and was instead enthusiastic about what he felt was a successful summit.”

“By the time he’d returned to the White House just before 10 p.m. ET on Monday, however, his mood had soured. Predictably, the President was upset when he saw negative coverage of the summit airing on television aboard Air Force One. It was clear he was getting little support, even from the usual places.”

State Election Systems Had Remote-Access Software

The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the company “installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them,” Motherboard reports.

“Election-management systems are not the voting terminals that voters use to cast their ballots, but are just as critical: they sit in county election offices and contain software that in some counties is used to program all the voting machines used in the county; the systems also tabulate final results aggregated from voting machines.”