More than half of Republicans would back extending Trump's first term due to fears of voter fraud, poll finds
So, Hillary Clinton got more than 2.8 million more votes than President Trump in the 2016 election (yes, California's votes count), and there is zero evidence of any significant amount of voter fraud, despite Trump's false claims about millions of illegal Clinton voters and the staunch numerical agnosticism of the voter-fraud commission he ordered into being. Still, a new survey from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Yeshiva University found that 47 percent of Republicans said they believe Trump won the popular vote, 68 percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted in 2016, and 73 percent said voter fraud happens somewhat or very often.
"This is similar to previous polls," the researchers, Ariel Malka and Yphtach Lelkes, write in The Washington Post. But they took this a step further, asking respondents: "If Donald Trump were to say that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote, would you support or oppose postponing the election?" Then they asked the same question with the addition that Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed postponing the election together. More than half of Republicans, 52 percent, supported postponing the vote, and 56 said the same thing if the GOP offered the proposal alongside Trump.
This was just a hypothetical question, Malka and Lelkes noted, but "we do not believe that these findings can be dismissed out of hand." They explain:
At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied). And although the ensuing chaos could turn more Republicans against this kind of proposal, it is also conceivable that a high-stakes and polarized debate would do the exact opposite. [The Washington Post]
Hopefully, this particular hypothetical will never be tested. Certainly, it reveals some anxiety about Trump's electoral chances, as well as Republican faith in the integrity of state-run elections. But if you are one of the majority of voters who picked someone else in the 2016 election and are alarmed at Trump's job performance, you might understand the devilish allure of saying yes to postponing an election. Malka and Lelkes surveyed 1,325 Americans, including 650 self-identified Republicans, from June 5-20. Their sample was weighted to match the general population. You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber
Just hours after President Trump's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, the Justice Department revealed charges against a Russian citizen for conspiracy against the U.S.
Maria Butina, a Russian national living in Washington, D.C., was charged Monday with conspiracy to act as an unregistered Russian agent, per the DOJ's press release. She was arrested in D.C. on Sunday after allegedly working from 2015 until at least February 2017 to infiltrate American politics.
Butina apparently built close ties with the GOP through a gun rights organization, which sources say is the NRA, to advance Russia's interests in America, per the DOJ affadavit. She connected with politicians and candidates and even went to National Prayer Breakfasts, all under the direction of a high-level Russian official who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April, The Associated Press reports. Butina was supposed to be studying international relations in the U.S. on a student visa but was secretly reporting back to Moscow, per NPR.
In a statement, Butina's lawyer denied the charges, saying that "there is simply no indication of Butina seeking to influence or undermine any specific policy or law in the United States," NPR says. The charges are not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the 2016 election but are connected to a separate Russian intelligence operation, The New York Times reports. Kathryn Krawczyk
After President Trump's shocking press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, national security experts and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have sounded the alarm on Trump's apparent choice to believe Putin over America's own intelligence agencies. While acknowledging that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, among other U.S. security experts, informed him that Russia was responsible for the interference in the 2016 election, Trump sided with Putin, whom he said told him "it's not Russia."
Trump's comments prompted fierce blowback, including a fiery statement from Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who said — among other jaw-dropping condemnations — that "no prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant." Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican congressman from Texas and former CIA officer, had an explanation for Trump's conduct that was possibly even less flattering: "I never would have thought that the U.S. president would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands," Hurd wrote.
I've seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.
— Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) July 16, 2018
Hurd additionally declared that "the president is wrong. Russia interfered in the 2016 election and seeks to undermine our democracy." While Putin disputed Russia's role in the meddling, he did take the occasion of the press conference to remind everyone that he was a highly trained KBG officer before becoming Russia's president. Kimberly Alters
After siding with Putin over U.S. intelligence, Trump insists he has 'GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people'
Responding to fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle regarding his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump said he hopes we can all just move on from this whole election-meddling thing.
In a Monday tweet, Trump said "we cannot exclusively focus on the past" when it comes to building "a brighter future" in U.S.-Russia relations.
"I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people," wrote Trump, pointedly pulling out the one bit of his press conference comments that resembled slight criticism of Russia. When asked whether he believed the intelligence community over Putin's denials of interference, Trump dodged, saying, "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that meddled.
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Trump's emphasized trust in intelligence officials, who are quite positive that Russia interfered in the election, flew in the face of his own comments. Just moments later, he lauded Putin's "strong and powerful" denial of wrongdoing. Summer Meza
Dictionary.com knows how to deliver a subtweet, which it defines as "a hostile or otherwise negative post ... about a particular person but [that] does not mention the person's username."
The website often tweets the meaning of whatever word is taking over the news each day. And in the wake of President Trump's much-derided Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that word was "traitor."
Patriot: A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
Traitor: A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.https://t.co/Keq4fhTlRB
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) July 16, 2018
Dictionary.com didn't name any names, but its replies lit up with users who thought this tweet referred to a particular president. And for those tired of calling Trump's summit with Putin a "disaster," Thesaurus.com offered some alternatives:
— Thesaurus.com (@thesauruscom) July 16, 2018
The dictionary site's most-visited definitions were also remarkably reflective of the national mood. Trending on Monday were "proliferation" — as in nuclear proliferation — and "collusion" — that thing Trump insists his campaign didn't do with Russia. Kathryn Krawczyk
President Trump on Monday directly pitted the advice of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats against the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin — and appeared to side with the latter. During his joint press conference with the Russian leader following their closed-door summit, Trump said of Russian meddling in the 2016 election: "All I can do is ask the question. People came to me — Dan Coats came to me, and some others — they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be."
This line is so disturbing: President Trump on election meddling while standing next to Putin: “Dan Coats came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this I don’t know any reason why it would be.” pic.twitter.com/p8ZeK08pNe
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) July 16, 2018
Following Trump's appearance with Putin, Coats released a statement reaffirming the conclusion of the American intelligence community, which is that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Without mentioning either the American or the Russian president, Coats wrote: "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy." He added pointedly: "We will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security."
BBC editor Paul Danahar noted that the fact that Coats would release "a statement that appears to be in repudiation of his boss tells you how unprecedented Trump's comments alongside President Putin today truly were." Read Coats' full statement here. Kimberly Alters
Mike Pence lauds Trump-Putin presser: 'Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first'
Conservatives in and out of Washington were alarmed by President Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, where the American leader refused to affirm the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin's Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Pressed directly by Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire as to whether he believes Putin's assertions that Russia is innocent over the findings of American intelligence, Trump dodged the question altogether — and he later lauded Putin's "very strong denials" of meddling and said, "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered.
But where some national security experts saw a president who appears to be "wholly in the pocket of Putin," Vice President Mike Pence saw quite the opposite. "What the world saw, what the American people saw, is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first," Pence said, per NBC News' Peter Alexander.
NBC News' Benjy Sarlin notes that on July 27, 2016 — just days after Pence was introduced as Trump's running mate at the Republican National Convention — Pence struck quite a different tune. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections," Pence said at the time, "I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences." Kimberly Alters
Democrats and Republicans alike have united to condemn President Trump's statements at Monday's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin — but Russian officials couldn't be happier.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called Trump's performance "shameful," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) condemned the president's "naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats," and former CIA Director John Brennan called the comments "nothing short of treasonous."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, said the summit was "fabulous ... better than super," Russian media reported. Perhaps Lavrov and failed GOP-hopeful Don Blankenship can start a club — a very, very small club. Summer Meza
Lavrov, asked how the summit went, responds:
"Fabulous…better than super." https://t.co/Ah7IbiWit0
— Anton Troianovski (@antontroian) July 16, 2018