Vladimir Putin

Cohen Secretly Tried to Arrange Meeting with Putin

Michael Cohen worked secretly to negotiate a business venture and a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow aven after Trump denied doing business in Russia, BuzzFeed News reports.

“While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo News — this is the definitive story of the Moscow tower, told from a trove of emails, text messages, congressional testimony, architectural renderings, and other documents obtained exclusively by BuzzFeed News, as well as interviews with key players and investigators. The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.”

Trump Really Wants to Meet with Putin

Susan Glasser: “This coming Monday, Putin, already Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin, will be inaugurated to a new six-year term. In March, Trump defied his own advisers to congratulate Putin in a post-election phone call, then surprised them again by inviting Putin to Washington for a summit meeting. It seems implausible and politically insane to imagine that Trump would even consider a chummy one-on-one with Putin now, especially when the risks to Trump from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties appear so significant. And yet the invitation, I’m told, was real, and reflects the President’s strongly expressed personal preference.”

“Will Trump follow through with it—and add yet another high-drama plotline to the already oversubscribed Trump show?”

Romney Says He’s Not a Fan of Putin Either

Mitt Romney told KSL-TV that he can’t comment on a recent report that suggested the Kremlin had blocked him from becoming Secretary of State.

Said Romney: “I don’t know what the president’s process was in determining his secretary of state, or why he chose to ask me to come in, or decided not to have me as his secretary of state. So, I really can’t comment on the Steele dossier in that regard.”

He added: “I do believe it’s pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not a fan of mine either.”

Trump Has Helped Putin Cover Up a Crime

David Corn: “This means that Mueller’s probe could yield additional information regarding the details and breadth of the Russian campaign to intervene in the election to assist Trump. The president, who has yet to say anything in public showing he is committed to preventing Russian meddling in this year’s election, can continue to dismiss such material as ‘fake news’ produced by a ‘witch hunt.’ (According to the Washington Post, in his first year as president, Trump said the Russia probe was a Democratic hoax 44 times.)”

“Hours after Friday’s indictment, Trump issued a statement once again dismissing the Russia investigation for producing ‘outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories.’  But with this indictment—and possibly others—Mueller has demonstrated that Trump, by refusing to acknowledge fully the Russian assault of 2016, has been helping Putin cover up a crime. “

Clapper Says Putin Is Managing Trump as ‘an Asset’

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be handling President Trump like “an asset.”

Said Clapper: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president,” clarifying that he means this “figuratively.”

He added: “You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer, that’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Quote of the Day

“I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

— Former CIA Director John Brennan, quoted by the Washington Post, on not confronting Russian president Vladimir Putin over his election interference.

Trump Careens Off Message After Talking to Putin

President Trump “stayed on script for more than a week as he crisscrossed Asia — and then Russian President Vladimir Putin showed up,” Politico reports.

“After chatting with Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, Trump abandoned the diplomatic tone the White House had carefully scripted for his five-country tour, once again contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.”

Trump Says He Believes Putin Didn’t Interfere In Election

President Trump suggested “he’s done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s election meddling since it’s insulting to the Russian leader,” CNN reports.

“Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the U.S. presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.”

Said Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it.”

Putin Says Tillerson Has ‘Fallen Into Bad Company’

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had veered off the path of cooperation and “fallen into bad company,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In recent weeks, Washington and Moscow have been engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat. Russia has ordered the culling of 755 staff members from the U.S. State Department’s Mission in Russia. Last week, the U.S. ordered the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate, a move Putin said this week he would instruct his foreign ministry to take up with the U.S. legal system.”

Said Putin: “I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and interaction will bring him to the right course in the end.”