No collusion when we need it
He’s not mad enough to give Vladimir Putin a Twitter nickname. But President Donald Trump lamented Wednesday that Russia is working against U.S. interests by helping North Korea get supplies despite international sanctions.
“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.”
“He can do a lot,” Trump said of Putin. “But unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia.”
Trump has repeatedly blamed the Russia investigations for thwarting his wish for improved relations with Moscow. He tweeted two months ago: “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing.”
Trump also said North Korea is “closer every day” to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States and “it’s very possible” the standoff can’t be solved peacefully. He didn’t rule out talks with Kim Jong Un, but said, “I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem.”
Stable genius: I got this
Trump often complains that North Korea’s nuclear threat went unsolved by three predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Now he’s got a theory why, based on the results of the cognitive tests from last week’s medical exam.
“I guess they all realized they were going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he told Reuters, which described the remark as a joke.
Janison: Bannon-a republic
No one in Trump’s world cares much about what Steve Bannon has to say since he was sent into exile. Except what he might tell Russia investigators.
A claim of executive privilege stalled his answers to questions from the House intelligence committee. But Bannon has agreed to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. For more, see Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Time is dwindling to avoid a government shutdown by a midnight Friday deadline, with deal-making efforts set back by the bitter immigration fight.
House Republicans leaders were scrambling to get votes behind a plan that would provide funds for four more weeks, but excludes Democrats’ demands for a DACA deal. Most Senate Democrats appeared to oppose the plan.
See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
Flake: Truth needs a defense
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) assailed Trump’s attacks on the news media and promotion of “pernicious fantasies.” In a fiery Senate floor speech, Flake called out GOP colleagues for standing with Trump or looking the other way.
Flake said, “2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth — more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government.”
See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
No one got a trophy
Trump’s “Fake News Awards” were announced Wednesday night. The production values weren’t up to his past contest-show standards.
The list was posted on the Republican National Committee website, which promptly crashed and stayed down for a while. Here’s a full roundup from The Hill.
Another crack in the 'wall'
In yet another sign of internal confusion, the president was directly contradicting his top aide early Thursday on Twitter over his "border wall," which many believe to be chimerical.
First Chief of Staff John Kelly told Democrats that the president's position on the barrier had "evolved" and that he wasn't "fully informed" when he proposed it during the campaign.
But Trump denied that, tweeting early Thursday: "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it." He stopped short of awarding Kelly a "fake news" award.
Yes but No-prah
Oprah Winfrey would beat Trump 52% to 39 % in a theoretical 2020 matchup, but two-thirds of voters in a new Quinnipiac poll said electing a celebrity president was a bad idea.
Voters overall were split down the middle about Trump’s mental stability, but there were differences along party and gender lines. Republicans and men were more likely to believe Trump is fine.
What else is happening
- Bloomberg News offers new details on how “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff snowed a gullible Trump White House into letting its guard down. He got them to think the book would be sympathetic. Nearly every interviewee there thought someone else had approved their participation.
- Rejecting charges that his father is racist, Eric Trump said on “Fox & Friends:” “My father sees one color, green. That’s all he cares about. He cares about the economy.”
- Despite the diplomatic protests from Africa over Trump’s characterization of countries there, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told BuzzFeed “nothing has changed with respect to our relationship with African nations and we continue to see them wanting to strengthen our relationship.”
- Outside cardiologists who looked at the data from Trump’s physical exam, including his LDL cholesterol level, think the White House physician is underplaying the risk of a heart attack, The New York Times reported.
- Trump leans toward smaller food portions, not more exercise, for his weight-loss goal. “I get exercise. I mean I walk, I this, I that,” he told Reuters. “I run over to a building next door. I get more exercise than people think.”
- White House communications director Hope Hicks is scheduled to appear Friday for a closed-door interview with the House intelligence committee.
- Three Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb apartments housing Somali refugees wanted prospective jurors to come from counties where more residents voted for Trump. A federal judge in Kansas rejected their request.
- Porn star Stormy Daniels and her 2006 relationship with Trump continue to stir tabloid interest as more salacious details spread.