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Trump wishes he knew if Putin really liked him best

President Donald Trump at a joint news conference

President Donald Trump at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, July 13, 2017. Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Was Vlad glad about him?

Donald Trump mused openly for years, even before he ran for president, about becoming friends with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. They met at last a week ago. They spoke for more than two hours.

But Trump said he came away wondering how Russia’s president really felt about him — especially during the campaign.

“It’s really the one question I wish I would have asked Putin: Were you actually supporting me?” Trump said in a Reuters interview. Pushing a new line that Hillary Clinton would have been better for Russia, Trump said, “I would bet that inwardly Putin would have been against me.”

Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to Paris, Trump hedged again on whether he believed Putin’s denials of election interference, which U.S. intelligence agencies say was real.

After asking Putin about it twice, Trump said he moved on. “What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, OK?”

Trump said he’d like to invite Putin to the White House “at the right time. I don’t think this is the right time.”

The kid’s all right

Trump’s stepped up his defense of Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who was touted as bearing dirt on Clinton. His son is “a good boy, “a good kid” (he’s 39) — and maybe it’s the Obama administration’s fault that the Russian got into the country.

“He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer — not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.” Actually, the emails that enticed Trump Jr. explicitly described Natalia Veselnitskaya as a “Russian government attorney.”

Trump added that “somebody said ... maybe that’s wrong,” that her visa was approved by Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The reason Veselnitskaya was allowed in, a report by The Hill said, was to participate in the defense of Russian businessman Denis Katsyv’s company in a Manhattan federal court case. The permission apparently expired five months before the Trump Tower meeting. A spokesman for Lynch told The Washington Post she had no knowledge of Veselnitskaya’s travel.

Funny thing about that case

The Justice Department agreed on May 12 to a $5.9 million settlement of its suit against Katsyv’s Prevezon Holdings Ltd., which had been accused in a tax theft and money laundering scheme tied to a $230 million Russian tax fraud, Bloomberg News reported.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to explain the decision. The suit had been pursued by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by the Trump administration in March.

The take-away: Side effects

Newsday’s Dan Janison looks at the epic struggles by Republicans to get a Senate majority behind an Obamacare repeal plan. They keep finding that fixing one problem seems to worsens another.

Trump has said he will be “very angry” if they don’t get it done. But he’s no longer expressing surprise that it’s complicated.

“I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is health care,” he told reporters on Air Force One. “ ... You get a couple here and you say, great, and then you find out you just lost four over here.”

Friday's tweets are full of loving...

After going on TV and saying how angry he will be if the Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump put some verbal sugar in his Twitter taps.

A sample, from 4:09 a.m.: "Mike Pence is working hard on HealthCare and getting our wonderful Republican Senators to do what is right for the people."

He’ll always have Paris

At a news conference in France’s capital with President Emmanuel Macron, Trump retreated from his campaign-time stories of how “Paris no longer looks like Paris” — an allusion to migrants and terrorism.

He said Thursday that Paris is “one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world” and heaped praised on Macron — elected in May over a far-right candidate that Trump had hinted he preferred — as “a great” and “tough” president.

Trump had attributed his past pans of Paris to a friend named “Jim.” As The Associated Press reported, it’s unclear whether Jim actually exists.

Climate change?

One big difference between them is Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. Asked if he might reconsider, the U.S. president said, “We’ll see what happens.”

Wall worry: A smackdown

Trump doesn’t always have a big interest in details, but when it comes to his proposed wall on the Mexican border, he’s been thinking a lot of things through. For example:

“You have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall. ... I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over.”

He estimates the wall would cover 700 to 900 miles of the 2,000-mile border — it’s not needed where there are natural barriers.

What else is happening

  • Trump is 24 years older than his wife, Melania. Macron is 25 years younger than his wife, Brigitte. Perhaps it wasn’t the smoothest move when Trump looked the French first lady up and down and said, “You know, you’re in such great shape” — then turned to Macron to compliment her “good physical shape.” (Video here.)
  • Conspiracy enthusiasts, please stand down. Records and other evidence indicate the suicide of a GOP operative who talked about seeking Clinton emails from Russian hackers really stemmed from his failing health and nothing more. 
  • Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s Russia investigation lawyer, says he will apologize for a series of profane and threatening replies to a man who urged him via email to resign. The missives were sent at the end of a “very long day,” a spokesman for Kasowitz said.
  • Trump’s relationship with Donald Jr. is close now, but wasn’t always. His namesake wouldn’t talk to his dad for a year after the divorce from his mother, Ivana Trump, and he initially spurned the family business. See profiles of Trump Jr. by Politico and The Atlantic.
  • Defenders of Trump complaining of a double standard point to an operative who worked with the Democratic National Committee who reached out to Ukraine seeking damaging information on Trump. CBS News explains the similarities and differences between that and Russia’s efforts for Trump.
  • Democrats are calling for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be revoked following news he attended Trump Jr.’s meeting with Veselnitskaya — a contact Trump’s son-in-law didn’t initially disclose on his clearance application.
  • The White House and like-minded GOP senators are working on a plan to cut legal immigration by half.

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