Russian interference in the 2016 election "is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious," said former Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who served in the Obama administration, in an NBC News interview Saturday. "The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had," he added. "I don't see much evidence of a response."
Vickers' comments come one day after The Washington Post's comprehensive report detailing former President Obama's inaction in response to Russian election interference in 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have also criticized the Obama administration's "inadequate" response.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an on-camera appearance Friday on Fox News to discuss President Trump's recent admission that he has no tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey. Spicer denied Democrats' claims that Trump had falsely indicated on Twitter that he'd recorded his conversations with Comey to "intimidate" the FBI director.
Spicer said that actually, by making these claims, Trump was pursuing his truth-finding mission — not, say, lying to coerce a witness. "I think the president made it very clear that he wanted the truth to come out," Spicer said. "He wanted everyone to be honest about this and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. I think he succeeded in doing that."
Spicer argued that by referencing the non-existent tapes, Trump "made Comey in particular think to himself, 'I better be honest. I better tell the truth.'" The White House press secretary seemingly suggested that if weren't for Trump's baseless threat of tapes, Comey might not have been truthful about the fact that Trump was not personally under investigation in connection to the ongoing probe into Russian election meddling.
Watch it below. Becca Stanek
Bernie Sanders slams the Senate health bill as 'the most harmful piece of legislation I've seen in my lifetime'
Senate Republicans finally unveiled their health-care bill Thursday, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017." The bill had been drafted in an insular, closed-door process by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to the point where even many Republican senators expressed frustration over the secrecy.
Democrats were quick to condemn the bill, which mirrors much of the legislation that passed the House early last month, promising to end the individual mandate installed by the Affordable Care Act, phase out Medicaid expansion, and allow states to apply for waivers from insurance regulations designed to protect the poor and the sick. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was not impressed:
The bill Republicans announced today is even worse than expected and by far the most harmful piece of legislation I've seen in my lifetime. https://t.co/EIVIdTKY1x
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2017
Republicans want to throw millions of Americans off of health insurance while providing over $200 billion in tax breaks to the top 2%.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got salty Tuesday when Bloomberg asked him if he'd seen his party's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. "No, nor have I met any American that has," McCain said, referring to the GOP-backed health-care plan. "I'm sure the Russians have been able to hack in and gotten most of it."
While McCain might have been the only Republican senator to bring up Russia, he certainly isn't the only one frustrated with the party leadership's lack of transparency over the American Health Care Act. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg that he thinks "it might be time to get the copier out." "We still haven't seen the bill," Paul said. He predicted that "using a one-party approach is setting up failure over the long term."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) admitted the secrecy surrounding the bill has her worried. "This is like a really big deal to get this right for the country," Murkowski said. "You're asking me questions about something that neither one of us know what it looks like. Doesn't that worry you as a reporter? You don't even know how to frame the questions. I don't know how to frame the responses."
Dianne Feinstein warns Trump not to fire Mueller, Rosenstein: That's 'a blatant violation of the president's oath of office'
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed concern Friday that President Trump's early morning Twitter rant indicates he is considering firing "not only Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible obstruction of justice, but also Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller."
Trump expressed frustration Friday morning on Twitter, writing, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director!" He also mocked the probe, tweeting: "After seven months of investigations [and] committee hearings about my 'collusion with the Russians,' nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!" Trump's aides have also reportedly urged the president not to fire Mueller.
"The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn't apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired," Feinstein wrote. "That's undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president's oath of office." Read her entire statement below. Jeva Lange
Dianne Feinstein: Trump's tweets today are "a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office." pic.twitter.com/jukmGh55K9
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 16, 2017
Ivanka Trump expressed surprise at the "level of viciousness" leveled at her father's administration during an interview with Fox & Friends on Monday. "It is hard," she told the hosts. "There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy."
Trump, who serves in the administration an assistant to the president, added, "We're looking to change the status quo, so I didn't expect it to be easy. I think some of the distractions and some of the ferocity, I was a little blindsided by on a personal level. I'm trying to keep my head down, not listen to the noise, and just work really hard to make a positive impact in the lives of many people."
Not everyone was moved by her honesty:
It is really vicious. The last president had some guy demanding to see his birth certificate! https://t.co/zBKV1eivTp
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) June 12, 2017
Watch Ivanka Trump's interview below. Jeva Lange
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 12, 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey called out the Trump administration for lies during his testimony before the Senate on Thursday and President Trump has had no trouble lobbing the accusations right back. But White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' declaration Thursday that she "can definitively say the president is not a liar" had the weight of words that might come back to bite the White House, some people observed:
From "I am not a crook" to "My boss is not a liar." But Nixon was a crook and Trump is a liar. Not even a close call. https://t.co/W6PLmSnjVr
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 8, 2017
"The President is not a liar" will be a buzz phrase that will go down in history like Nixon's "I am not a crook".
— William Ryan (@WilliamRyan2016) June 9, 2017
1973, Nixon said "I am not a crook." In 1974, resigned because he was one. Today it's claimed Trump is not a liar pic.twitter.com/KHtDE32qil
— RiotWomenn (@riotwomennn) June 8, 2017
"Such protestations from any White House are never a good thing," Politico points out, adding: "See Richard Nixon's, 'I am not a crook,' and Bill Clinton's, 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,' just for starters." Jeva Lange
Paul Ryan excuses Trump's questionable discussions with Comey because the president is 'just new to this'
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) claimed Thursday that President Trump just didn't know any better than to talk to former FBI Director James Comey about the ongoing investigation into his team's ties to Russia's election meddling.
Trump is "just new to this," Ryan insisted, and "wasn't steeped into the ongoing protocols" of what was appropriate to discuss with Comey. Ryan reiterated that the FBI director does need to act independently of the executive branch.
Ryan's defense of Trump came as Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on his conversations with Trump regarding the Russia probe. Comey revealed that Trump pushed him to pledge his "loyalty" and urged him to "let go" of the investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Becca Stanek