The Note: A long, strange trip for Trump and the GOP

It’s long perplexed even members of Trump’s inner circle why the president can’t seem to bring himself to criticize Vladimir Putin and his regime. The political and geopolitical signs point him in one clear direction, yet he swerves amid the mere hint that he didn’t win the election entirely on his own merits.

Now, another day of messaging confusion after two consecutive days where the official word was that Trump was misunderstood because of a stray or missing syllable.

The White House is asking its allies to trust the president’s word. But if the integrity of the nation’s elections is being undermined, with nationwide voting barely 100 days away, Trump isn’t talking or acting that way.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

If the commander in chief thought there was a real threat from Russia or anywhere, wouldn’t he or she act on it? Move resources and manpower to address it?

That assumption is at the heart of the conundrum this week.

What next after the president’s statements, misstatements, do-overs and slips of the tongue over the last few days? His saying “no” when asked if Russia “is still targeting the U.S.” only to have his staff say, twice in one week, he meant something else?

Looking at it all, you’re left wondering: If the president were really concerned about this, he would do something, right? And why isn’t he concerned, if his intelligence chiefs say they are?

ABC News contributor and former acting undersecretary for intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security, John Cohen, wrote Wednesday: “These inconsistent statements from the president are likely why to date we have seen no coordinated, comprehensive, White House-led interagency effort to address the Russia threat.”

The Note: A long, strange trip for Trump and the GOP

Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesSen. Steve Daines on Capitol Hill, June 27, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, on ABC’s Powerhouse Politics podcast, I asked Sen. Steve Daines, a Montana Republican, if he thought the White House was taking the threat from Russia seriously. He had previously said he was very concerned about it. He replied saying people who “serve at the pleasure of the president” are concerned, people including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He added that he thought Congress should work to provide more funding and support to the agencies on this issue.

The TIP with Rick Klein

It looks like a second consecutive president will seek reelection with a convention in Charlotte.

After a local tussle over whether it was worth the hassle and potential costs, and a strong push by Las Vegas to secure its first ever national political convention, the 2020 Republican National Convention appears to be on track to take place in the Queen City.

An RNC committee voted to make that recommendation Wednesday, with a formal vote coming Friday at the party’s ongoing meeting in Austin, Texas, according to a GOP official.

That would put Trump’s re-election convention in the same city as Barack Obama’s. Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012, though Obama lost North Carolina, even though he had won the state for years earlier.

The Note: A long, strange trip for Trump and the GOP

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesDelegates pose for an official convention photograph on the opening day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 18, 2016.


  • President Trump hosts the Pledge to America’s Workers event at 3 p.m.
  • Supreme Court Nominee, Brett Kavanuagh, will meet with Sens. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Dean Heller, David Perdue, James Lankford, and Mike Enzi starting at 9:30 a.m.
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speak at the ASPEN Security Forum starting at 11 a.m.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks at the American Enterprise Institute about ‘the importance of maintaining constitutional principles and mediating institutions in an age of tribalism and identity politics’ at 11 a.m.

    “That translator is an official of the U.S. government … It is imperative that the American people know precisely what the president shared or promised on our behalf.” — Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and New Hampshire Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen.


    Trump declines to call Putin a liar, now says he accepts that Russian attacks continue. “I don’t want to get into whether or not he’s lying. I can only say that I do have confidence in our intelligence agencies as currently constituted,” President Trump told CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor. (Jordyn Phelps)

    FBI Director: ‘Russia attempted to interfere in the last election’. As President Donald Trump continues to “clarify” his views on whether Russia launched an assault on the 2016 presidential election, the FBI director made his own views clear today: “Russia attempted to interfere in the last election,” FBI Director Chris Wray stated unequivocally. (Mike Levine)

    Trump ‘very clear’ in accepting Russia interference: Daines on Powerhouse Politics. In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s Helsinki comments at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a freshman Republican senator who initially criticized the president now says he accepts his explanation of what he believes about Russian election interference. (Roey Hadar)

    White House disputes that Trump denied Russia still targeting the US. For the second time in as many days, the White House sought to clarify President Donald Trump’s comments on whether Russia targeting the U.S. saying that the president’s “no” was actually a no to taking reporters’ questions. (Justin Fishel)

    Trump’s contradictions force tough choices for Republican Party: ANALYSIS. A head-spinning few days in the presidency of Donald Trump are spiraling into a defining moment for the political movement he has led – and are raising questions about where the Republican Party goes from here. (Rick Klein)

    Trump’s comments on meddling put cybersecurity back in spotlight. As President Donald Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and called the Russian president’s denials of Russian meddling “extremely strong,” he snapped back into focus for lawmakers and cybersecurity experts alike the subject of election meddling. (Allison Pecorin)

    Senate Democrats want to question Trump’s interpreter at Putin summit. Senate Democrats, who believe they won’t get any insight into what actually took place during the private meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin from the administration itself, are now looking to the U.S. interpreter who was in the one-on-one encounter for more information. (Mariam Khan)

    Trump orders redesigned red, white and blue Air Force One. Air Force One could be one of the most recognizable airplanes in the world, but by 2024, the plane is getting a big patriotic makeover. (Michael Pyskaty)

    Real-life ‘Red Sparrow’? Court filings allege Russian agent offered sex for access. A new court filing alleges Maria Butina, the Russian gun-rights activist who was recently arrested and charged as a foreign agent, offered “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization” as part of a bid to gain access and make contacts in American political circles. (Jack Date, Matthew Mosk, Pete Madden)

    Feds spend nearly $70k at Trump hotel in Scotland. The U.S. federal government billed taxpayers nearly $70,000 in expenses at the Trump hotel in Turnberry, Scotland, during President Donald Trump’s visit last weekend, federal spending records show. (Soo Rin Kim and Shannon Crawford)

    Grannies across the U.S. unite to caravan to the southern border to protest. Nearly 30 grandparents will pack into two 15-seat vans to caravan from New York to the U.S.-Mexico Border at the end of this month to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. (Karolina Rivas)

    GOP forces House Democrats into ‘gotcha vote’ supporting ICE. House Republicans forced a vote Wednesday on a resolution to express support for ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — enraging Democrats who complained the measure was a political stunt intended to embarrass Democrats who have called to abolish the embattled agency. (John Parkinson)

    Alabama representative wins runoff, past position on Trump a key issue. Alabama congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Ala., defeated a primary challenge Tuesday night from former congressman and mayor of Montgomery, Bobby Bright. (Adam Kelsey and Adia Robinson)

    Republicans Scramble to Contain Trump’s Damage, but Path Is Unclear. The New York Times reports:

    The Washington Post reports: Kavanaugh’s role in Bush-era detainee debate now an issue in his Supreme Court nomination.


    The Note: A long, strange trip for Trump and the GOP

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