Mueller Prepares to Hand Off Russian Troll Case

“A handful of new federal prosecutors have joined one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s cases — an indication that he is preparing to hand off at least one prosecution to others when his office completes its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The case those prosecutors are joining could drag on for years because the indictment charges a number of Russians who will probably never see the inside of a U.S. courtroom. Russia does not extradite its citizens.”

Trump Has Failed to Make Deals He Promised

“President Trump likes nothing more than presenting himself as the ultimate deal maker, the master negotiator who can translate his success in business into the worlds of politics, policy and diplomacy,” the New York Times reports.

“Except that so far he has not. As he threw in the towel on immigration legislation on Friday, saying that Republicans should give up even trying until after the fall midterm elections, Mr. Trump once again fell short of his promise to make ‘beautiful’ deals that no other president could make.”

“His 17 months in office have in fact been an exercise in futility for the art-of-the-deal president.”

Trump Reverses Himself on North Korea Threat

President Trump told Congress in a letter that North Korea’s “provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions… continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the United States, the Daily Beast reports.

The letter comes just over a week after Trump boasted on Twitter that there “is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” and that “everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office.”

Why Trump Lost Control of the Child-Detention Scandal

Vanity Fair: “The wrenching story of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border has unfolded differently. Trump has been forced to play defense. It’s not just because the policy is cruel, inhumane, and an ugly stain on our country’s moral integrity. It is all of those things. But Trump has done plenty of ugly things. What’s different this time, and the handful of times Trump has found himself losing, is that there are pictures.”

“Think of the handful of moments when Trump has been subjected to a sustained drubbing that’s lasted more than just a day or two: the Access Hollywood tape. Sean Spicer’s lie about the size of the inauguration crowd. The massive airport protests around the travel ban. Trump’s “very fine people” comment about neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville. The Rob Porter domestic-abuse allegations fiasco. (Porter has denied the allegations.) And now the gross panorama of migrant children being separated from their desperate parents. All of these stories were accompanied by images—pictures or video—that either tilted public opinion against the president or blatantly contradicted the dubious claims of Trump and his allies.”

Mueller Asks Judge to Sentence Papadopoulos

“Special counsel Robert Mueller is asking that George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, be sentenced in September on the false-statement felony charge he pleaded guilty to last fall,” Politico reports.

Trump’s Trade War Is Starting to Hurt Americans

New York Times: “Mr. Trump, who campaigned on a get-tough approach to trade, has said his tariffs would make trade pacts more fair and ultimately help American workers, farmers, manufacturers and other. But the situation could soon become politically perilous to Mr. Trump, whose trade policies are starting to inflict economic pain across the country, including in areas that are home to the voters who helped him win election.”

“Business owners across the country are fearing the worst and wondering if Mr. Trump, who calls himself a master negotiator, will get the better end of the deal. Here are the ways several American products are being affected.”

Can Trump Use Immigration to Stop a Blue Wave?

New Yorker: “Trump’s ability to gin up fears about illegal immigration, more than perhaps any other issue, won him the White House. Headed into a midterm election that will be won by the political party that can better rally its base, Trump has remained determined to talk about immigration, even when others in his party have resisted. Indeed, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were furious with Trump as the immigration controversy spiraled out of control this week—a time they had planned to spend celebrating the G.O.P. tax cut, along with the general strength of the economy, which they hope to make the centerpiece of their fall campaign.”

“On Monday, as the political pressure on Trump was escalating, I met with Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster who has advised G.O.P. leaders about this fall’s elections at a couple of recent retreats. Trump, she told me, had a ‘freakishly stable’ approval rating; in such a polarized moment, people know where they stand on the President. She said that, unlike in previous midterm elections in which the incumbent President’s party has done poorly, voter enthusiasm for Trump has remained strong among Republican voters, even as a blue wave of Trump-hating Democrats has been building.”

Said Anderson: “The question is, if the blue wave is coming, have Republicans built a large enough wall to stop it?”

Britain’s Collusion Scandal Looks Exactly Like Trump’s

Jonathan Chait: “The most important thing to understand about the Russia scandal is that it perfectly fits a clear pattern of behavior. What Vladimir Putin is accused of doing to help Donald Trump win the presidency is essentially identical to what he is either accused of or proven to have done to help many other right-wing candidates in many other countries. As the plot in the United States is slowly exposed, a remarkably similar one in the United Kingdom is quickly surfacing.”

“Months before the United States narrowly elected Trump, the United Kingdom narrowly elected to withdraw from the European Union. Both votes advanced Russian foreign policy goals — in the latter case, by splitting up the Western alliance. (Trump has energetically pursued this strategy, too.) Russia employed many of the same tools to influence both elections. It deployed social-media bots and trolls to spread its message. It recruited friendly candidates who gave voice to previously marginal Russophile positions. And, as the newly surfaced evidence suggests, it indirectly financed the campaign.”

Not Trumpy Enough

Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC): “I wasn’t Trump enough in the age of Trump — and so indeed I lost. As one of 435 members of the House, this shouldn’t matter to someone living in Fairfax or Cleveland, but, based on what I saw on election night, I think it will.”

“We should all be alarmed when dissenting voices are quashed. President Trump is not the first executive to want compliance from a legislative body, but he has taken it to a new level. This is more than a problem; it’s a challenge to one of the most basic of American tenets — that we can agree to disagree.”

Yet Another Issue for the Midterms

George Will: “Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.”

Fortune reports Will has left the Republican Party.

Trump’s Shift Sets Off Clash at White House

“Tense arguments broke out at the White House over the past two days as top government officials clashed over how to carry out President Trump’s executive order on keeping together immigrant families at the Mexican border,” the New York Times reports.

“The disputes started Thursday night. They continued Friday as Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, returned to the White House to question how his agency was supposed to detain parents and children together when the law requires that children not be held indefinitely in jail.”

Washington Post: “The White House’s hastily crafted executive order to end child separations spurred confusion and fights within the federal government, and second-guessing from the president who had demanded the order in the first place.“

‘These Aren’t Our Kids’

Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade came to the defense of President Trump on Friday for his policy of forced family separation at the border between the U.S. and Mexico, New York magazine reports.

Said Kilmeade: “Like it or not, these aren’t our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country.”