New York Times: “The woman, Maria Butina, carried out her campaign through a series of deceptions that began in 2014, if not earlier, prosecutors said. She lied to obtain a student visa to pursue graduate work at American University in 2016. Apparently hoping for a work visa that would grant her a longer stay, she offered one American sex in exchange for a job. She moved in with a Republican political operative nearly twice her age, describing him as her boyfriend. But she privately expressed ‘disdain’ for him and had him do her homework, prosecutors said.”
“Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved,” the Washington Post reports.
“‘Important verbal agreements’ were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements, major bilateral arms control treaties whose futures have been in question.”
“But officials at the most senior levels across the U.S. military, scrambling since Monday to determine what Trump may have agreed to on national security issues in Helsinki, had little to no information Wednesday.”
President Trump claimed “that Russia is no longer targeting the United States, contradicting his top intelligence official who said the opposite earlier this week,” CNN reports.
New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s comments were the latest in a dizzying collection of conflicting statements from Mr. Trump since he emerged from a private meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday in Helsinki, Finland. “
Prosecutors said that a woman “charged with secretly acting on behalf of Russia was working as a covert agent in the United States and was recently in contact with a suspected Russian intelligence official,” the New York Times reports.
“The new details about the woman, Maria Butina, 29, were disclosed by prosecutors in a court filing arguing that she should be held without bond because she was a flight risk… The authorities disclosed that she was moving money out of the country, had her boxes packed and had terminated her lease.”
- “I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.”
- “I think that the [Mueller] probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.”
- “You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the [DNC’s] server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that.”
- “What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”
- “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
- “And what [Putin] did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 [indicted Russians]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” (By the way, Putin’s condition for that offer? That Americans and U.S. residents who Russia believes have committed illegal actions should be questioned, too.)
“So what should be the major takeaway? That Trump tried to clean up a couple of statements from his meeting with Putin? Or that didn’t walk back everything else he said in Helsinki.”
President Trump “seemingly questioned the United States’ commitment to defending all NATO allies in an interview that aired Tuesday evening,” CNN reports.
TUCKER CARLSON: Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III.
I understand, but that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago, but I took over the conversation three or four days ago and I said you have to pay.
“Even before his plane touched down in Finland for a summit meeting with President Trump, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who was widely seen as coming out ahead at the meeting, had notched a victory in the air, the Estonian authorities say,” the New York Times reports.
“Estonia — small, vulnerable and at the northeastern rim of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mutual security zone — has long been seen as a test case for the alliance’s willingness to resist Russian military moves.”
“For more than a decade, Russian military planes have regularly zipped through the edges of NATO airspace over the Baltic Sea off Estonia’s coast, in daring, high-stakes runs that taunt the alliance’s air defenses. While flying from Russia to Finland on Monday morning, Mr. Putin’s presidential plane entered NATO airspace without clearance over a portion of the Baltic Sea that is often the site of Russian military jet fly-bys.”
“A majority of Americans, 68 percent, consider Russia either unfriendly or an enemy of the United States,” according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll.
“That’s a 9 percent increase from one year ago, when 59 percent of Americans said they considered Russia either unfriendly or an enemy, signaling that attitudes toward Russia have worsened amid President Trump’s administration and the federal probe into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.”
”The poll was conducted just prior to Trump’s Monday news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
“Republicans scrambled on Tuesday to mitigate the damage done by President Trump’s embrace of President Vladimir Putin of Russia over his own intelligence agencies, setting a public hearing in the Senate next week, examining new sanctions on Moscow and reaffirming the fraying Western alliance,” the New York Times reports.
Many Republicans found themselves wrestling with an unwelcome dilemma two years in the making: They could publicly undermine the president and risk upsetting the loyal Trump voters they need to win elections, or they could stifle their own long-held beliefs that Russia is a dangerous actor set on destabilizing the United States. At least some were dealing with a moment they helped create: Since the summer of 2016, they have abetted the president’s refusal to recognize Russia’s actions by initiating their own attacks on those who would expose the Kremlin’s efforts.
Washington Post: “Even lawmakers and strategists who have been skeptical that the Russia investigations would motivate swing voters said Tuesday that the president’s decision to publicly question the conclusions of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies while standing at Putin’s side represented a watershed political moment.”
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 55% of Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling relations with Russia, while 37% approved, in a survey conducted after his controversial summit and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, among Republicans, 71% approved of his handling of Russia compared to just 14% of Democrats.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) says she wants to bring in the U.S. interpreter who was in the private meeting President Trump help with Vladimir Putin to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on what, exactly, Trump shared with Putin, the HuffPost reports.
Said Shaheen: “That translator is an official of the U.S. government. It is imperative that the American people and this Congress know precisely what the president shared or promised the Kremlin on our behalf.”
President Trump portrayed his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a great success, saying that it had gone “even better” than a meeting with NATO allies the week before, the Washington Post reports.
Said Trump: “Sadly, it is not being reported that way — the Fake News is going crazy!”
“The European Union and Japan signed a landmark deal on Tuesday that will eliminate nearly all tariffs on products they trade,” the AP reports.
“The ambitious pact signed in Tokyo runs counter to President Trump’s moves to hike tariffs on imports from many U.S. trading partners. It covers a third of the global economy and markets of more than 600 million people.”
The Salt Lake Tribune, which is owned by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman’s brother Paul, has a column calling on Jon Huntsman to quit his post:
As Utahns, many of us were a bit stunned last year when you accepted the job as U.S. ambassador to Russia, but your explanation made sense: It was a role you took on, much like your tenure in China, out of a deep sense of duty.
But that duty is to your country and the best way now to serve your country is not by holding on to some title and being the emissary of a president who doesn’t share your values, or American values, for that matter.
It’s by resigning immediately and speaking out against a president who attacks our allies, gives comfort to our adversaries and undermines our moral standing, our commitment to democratic ideals and our interest in human rights every time he opens his gaping mouth.
President Trump “has repeatedly boasted that he would save US taxpayers a bundle by negotiating a $250,000 price tag for a new embassy in Jerusalem. Turns out the final cost, just for a temporary facility, is almost 100 times more,” Al Monitor reports.
“Documents uploaded this week to the official database of federal spending show that Maryland-based joint venture Desbuild Limak D&K has been awarded a $21.2 million award to design and build ‘addition and compound security upgrades’ to the embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. That’s in addition to the $335,000 spent to get the facility, formerly a US consulate, ready for its ritzy grand opening as an embassy back in May.”
“I never saw or imagined so uneven a handover of American security interests and principles with nothing in return… It was like watching the destruction of a cathedral.”
— Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, quoted by Politico, on President Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.