President Trump on Tuesday appeared to walk back many of his controversial comments from his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, held Monday in Finland.
Trump faced widespread backlash for failing to side with the U.S. intelligence community over Putin during Monday's summit. On Tuesday, the president addressed the controversy and sought to correct the record. "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place" he said. "Could be other people also. A lot of people out there."
He also reversed one of his most-criticized comments, when he said he didn't "see why it would be" Russia that interfered in the election. "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump explained. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things."
As critics pointed out, this was one of several instances in which Trump was forced to backpedal a statement after receiving fierce backlash. But Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser noted that Trump claiming he misspoke — and doing so more than 24 hours after the initial remarks — doesn't quite align with his post-press conference tweets and interview with Fox News, in which he fully stood by his comments on Russia's purported innocence.
Trump added that has "full faith" in intelligence officials, and pledged that his administration "will repel any effort to interfere in our elections" going forward. Summer Meza
Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D) was canvassing her constituents in Clackamas, outside Portland, on Tuesday when a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy pulled up alongside, she told The Oregonian on Wednesday. The deputy told Bynum, who is black and running for a second term, that a woman had called to report her for apparently canvassing the neighborhood while on her phone. Bynum, 43, said she has knocked on probably 70,000 doors over her years of campaigning, and this was the first time someone has called the cops on her. She told The Oregonian that the deputy was courteous, professional, and agreed to take a selfie with her.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) July 4, 2018
Bynum got the deputy to call the woman who reported her, and she and the woman spoke. The woman, whose race Bynum said she did not know, was apologetic and said she called 911 out of concern for her neighborhood's safety. "It was just bizarre," Bynum told The Oregonian, adding she wished the lady had spoken to her instead of calling the police. "It boils down to people not knowing their neighbors and people having a sense of fear in their neighborhoods, which is kind of my job to help eradicate. But at the end of the day, it's important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings." Peter Weber
There are 5.1 million registered voters in Los Angeles County, and 118,522 of them did not appear on the rosters for Tuesday's primary.
L.A. County Registrar Dean C. Logan told the Los Angeles Times that their names were accidentally left off the rosters due to a printing error. Logan apologized for the "inconvenience and concern this has caused," and said his office is trying to figure out why this happened. The error affected 2.3 percent of the county's registered voters — including some celebrities — and 35 percent of its 4,356 precincts.
Those voters weren't out of luck, though — they were still able use provisional ballots, which are verified by vote counters. Catherine Garcia
CIA Director Mike Pompeo faces the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, the first test of his nomination to be secretary of state, and with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) a "no" vote and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) out for cancer treatment, he is going to need Democratic support. In prepared remarks, Pompeo, a Republican former congressman from Kansas, emphasizes his plans to restore morale to and fully staff the State Department, touts his close relationship with President Trump, denies that he is overly hawkish, and says he plans to fix the Iran nuclear deal, which he has previous backed scrapping entirely.
Pompeo's confirmation hearing was already going to be tough, but on Wednesday evening, McClatchy DC reported that Pompeo did not disclose his ties to a Chinese state petroleum company in his background form to head the CIA. Juan Pachon, a spokesman for Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told McClatchy that committee staff are aware that Pompeo had ties to Sinopec, an oil and gas giant whose majority owner is state-owned China Petrochemical Corporation. "We expect Director Pompeo to be able to explain exactly what financial entanglement he had with the Chinese government and why he failed to disclose it," Pachon said.
Pompeo was president of oilfield equipment maker Sentry International from 2006 until his election to the House in 2010, and in 2006, he registered SJ Petro Pump Investment LLC, McClatchy reports. SJ Petro, or SJ Petroleum Machinery Co., is a subsidiary of Sinopec, which agreed to help develop a $43 billion natural gas project in Alaska last November and is currently lobbying the U.S. government. Pompeo's "former business partners (Sinopec) are spending more than $30,000 a month lobbying the Trump administration," said Harrell Kirstein at American Bridge 21st Century, which opposes Pompeo's nomination, "and probably drooling over the idea of installing their pal as secretary of state." Read more at McClatchy DC. Peter Weber
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated federal law when she weighed in on Alabama's special Senate election in two televised interviews last fall, the U.S. Official of Special Counsel said Tuesday. Conway appeared in interviews on Fox News' Fox & Friends and CNN's New Day in which she urged voters to support Republican candidate Roy Moore over Democrat Doug Jones, the contest's eventual winner. In doing so, she "impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates," the OSC wrote.
The law Conway ran afoul of is the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in certain partisan activities. Because Conway was appearing in the interviews — with Fox News in November and CNN in December — in her official capacity as counselor to the president, her advocacy for Moore and against Jones in those appearances was unlawful, the OSC wrote.
The OSC is an independent investigative arm for the federal government and is separate from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which falls under the Justice Department's purview. The OSC said it "gave Conway the opportunity to respond to the allegations" during its investigation, as well as upon completion of its report, but that "she did not respond." Read the OSC's full release below. Kimberly Alters
JUST IN: Office of Special Counsel finds Kellyanne Conway twice violated the Hatch Act and "submitted the report to the President for appropriate disciplinary action." pic.twitter.com/N6kyhhqdrW
— ABC News (@ABC) March 6, 2018
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has some serious concerns about Donald Trump. Or rather, he did, way back in the long-ago time of February 2016, before Trump won the presidency and tapped Pruitt to lead the environmental agency.
Appearing on The Pat Campbell Show, a talk show in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, market, Pruitt — then the state's attorney general — predicted that Trump would "use executive power to confront Congress in a way that is truly unconstitutional" were he to win the presidency. At the time, Politico notes, Pruitt was an adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who was vying for the Republican nomination against Trump.
Pruitt's remarks were publicized Tuesday by the watchdog group Documented. During his appearance, Pruitt also unfavorably compared Trump to then-President Barack Obama. When host Pat Campbell remarked that "everything that we loathe and detest about Barack Obama and the abuses of power, Donald Trump is the same thing except he's our bully," Pruitt replied, "That's right."
The future EPA chief also agreed with Campbell's assessment of Trump as "dangerous." At one point, Pruitt prophesied that Trump "would be more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama."
Pruitt was asked about the comments during a Senate hearing Tuesday and claimed to not remember making any such remarks, Politico reports. He did, however, subsequently release a glowing statement about his boss: "After meeting him, and now having the honor of working for him, it is abundantly clear that President Trump is the most consequential leader of our time," he said. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Stephen Bannon did the one thing he wasn't supposed to do during his House Intelligence Committee hearing
It apparently only took an hour and a half for Stephen Bannon to crack himself like an egg during his hearing with the House Intelligence Committee.
Axios reported Wednesday that Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, accidentally told congressional investigators about his time working for the Trump administration, despite the fact that he'd been instructed not to by the White House. Bannon was less than 90 minutes into his hearing, Axios claimed, when he mentioned discussions he had with White House officials about the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Donald Trump Jr. tried to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer.
The Trump Tower meeting "has become one of the most important focal points of the Russia investigation," Axios explained, given reports that President Trump himself helped draft a misleading statement responding to the news after the meeting was first revealed by The New York Times last July. The White House's involvement in the creation of that statement could illuminate whether the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia and whether the White House lied about those attempts, Axios explained.
Bannon declined to elaborate on his accidental disclosure, repeatedly invoking executive privilege. He additionally faced tough questioning from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) about comments he'd made in Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury, where he'd claimed the Trump Jr. meeting was "treasonous." Read more about Bannon's rocky testimony at Axios. Kelly O'Meara Morales
President Trump surprised White House aides when he invited the press in to watch him negotiate immigration policy with Democrats and Republicans for 55 minutes on Tuesday, and the point seemed to be "to show that he could do his job," The Washington Post reports, after a week dominated by the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury, which suggests otherwise. Trump "demonstrated stability, although not necessarily capability," write Post reporters Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, and he left his audience with "a cliffhanger": What is going on with immigration legislation?
At one point, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Trump if he would support "a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure," and Trump replied, "Yeah, I would like to do that. I think a lot of people would like to see that." Senate Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), looking alarmed, jumped in to explain that a "clean" DACA bill would solve only the DREAMer issue, not border security.
Watch President Trump and congressional leaders debate immigration policy pic.twitter.com/QSnhJmhfnF
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 9, 2018
By the end, Trump appeared to agree with McCarthy. "I think a clean DACA bill to me is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people," Trump said. "But I think to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA — we take care of them, and we also take care of security." Still, the Post notes:
McCarthy apparently was not the only one concerned by Trump’s seeming agreement with Feinstein. When the White House released its official transcript Tuesday afternoon, the president’s line — “Yeah, I would like to do it” — was missing. A White House official said that any omission from the transcript was unintentional and that the context of the conversation was clear. [The Washington Post]