Trump Bites on Putin’s ‘Incredible Offer’

But he’s not the first president to foolishly place his trust in the Russian despot.

President Trump did get one thing right on Monday in Helsinki: Vladimir Putin did make an “incredible offer.”

.. But he’s not the first president to foolishly place his trust in the Russian despot.

President Trump did get one thing right on Monday in Helsinki: Vladimir Putin did make an “incredible offer.”

.. having the indictment, they must have calculated, would strengthen Trump’s hand in the confrontation.

.. Of all the president’s mind-boggling utterances at the press conference, I found this the most stunning.

.. One hoped that Trump’s election would end Obama’s hallmark depictions of moral equivalence between America and thug countries. Yet here’s how the president, at the start of his term, defended Putin when Bill O’Reilly called him a “killer”: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?

.. when has this president ever been restrained by a presidential norm?

.. the most alarming part of the presser was the palpable satisfaction the president took in describing Putin’s “incredible” proposal. Trump is desperate to show that his entreaties to the Russian despot — amid the “collusion” controversy and against the better judgment of his skeptical advisers and supporters — could bear real fruit. It made him ripe to get rolled.

.. The proposal to invite Mueller to Moscow brought to mind others who’ve tried to investigate Putin’s regime on Russian soil. There is, of course, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed the regime’s $230 million fraud only to be clubbed to death with rubber batons in a Russian prison — Putin said he must have had a heart attack.

.. Then there is Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer for the Magnitsky family who has been investigating regime involvement in the fraud. He was slated to testify in a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against Prevezon, a company controlled by Putin cronies that is implicated in the fraud. But then, somehow, Gorokhov “accidentally” fell from the fourth-floor balcony of a Moscow apartment building.

.. Truth be told, the prospect of hosting Mueller’s investigators in his accident-prone country interests Putin less than the “reciprocity” he has in mind.

.. This is classic Putin. The former KGB agent takes every Western misstep as a precedent, to be contorted and pushed to maximum advantage. As we’ve observed over the years, for example, the Kremlin has rationalized its territorial aggression against former Soviet satellites by relying on U.S. spearheading — over Russian objections — of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia.

.. While positing lip-service denials that he meddled in our 2016 election, Putin implies that we had it coming after what he claims was Obama-administration interference in Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections

.. if our government does not see how Russia (like other rogue nations) is certain to exploit the precedent the Justice Department has set by indicting foreign officials for actions taken on their government’s behalf, we are in for a rude awakening

.. Naturally, Putin expects us to help him investigate Bill Browder. If you think the word “collusion” makes Trump crazy, try uttering the word “Browder” around Putin

.. the Russian dictator repeated his standing allegation that Browder and his associates have evaded taxes on over a billion dollars in Russian income. He further claimed that “they sent a huge amount — $400 million — as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton.” While this is outlandish, it reminds us of the purported dirt on Mrs. Clinton that Putin’s operatives sought to peddle to the Trump campaign in June 2016.

.. Natalia Veselnitskaya reportedly told Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort that Browder was involved in a tax-evasion scheme that implicated Clinton donors. This, she urged, was information that could be used to damage the Clinton campaign. Ms. Veselnitskaya also rehearsed the Kremlin’s rant against the Magnitsky legislation.

.. at least as far as what is publicly known, the Trump Tower meeting remains the closest brush that Trump has had with “collusion” — the narrative (indeed, the investigation) that has dogged his presidency. It is astonishing that the president would allow Putin to manipulate him into reviving that storyline.

.. Memo to DOJ: Expect Russia to issue indictments and international arrest warrants soon — as Putin said, it’s all about “reciprocity.”

.. The “incredible offer” that Putin hit Trump with — and that Trump was palpably thrown by — was not woven out of whole cloth. Did you know that the United States and the Russian Federation have a bilateral mutual-legal-assistance treaty? Yeah, it was negotiated by the Clinton administration and ratified by the Bush administration. The MLAT calls for us to cooperate when the Putin regime seeks to obtain testimony, interview subjects of investigations, locate and identify suspects, transfer persons held in custody, freeze assets — you name it.
.. It’s part of our government’s commitment to the notion that the law-enforcement processes of a constitutional, representative republic dedicated to the rule of law can seamlessly mesh with those of a gangster dictatorship whose idea of due process is deciding which nerve agent — polonium or novichok — is the punishment that fits the “crime.”

..  It enables Putin to pose as the leader of a normal, law-abiding regime that just wants to help Bob Mueller out and maybe ask Bill Browder a couple of questions — preferably out on the balcony.

  1. Clinton joined with Russia in an agreement to . . . wait for it . . . protect Ukraine.
  2. Bush looked Putin in the eye, got a “sense of his soul,” and found him “straightforward and trustworthy” — so much so that
  3. his State Department regarded Russia as a “strategic partner” that was going to help us with Iran (by helping it develop nuclear power!) .
  4. . . while Russia annexed parts of Georgia.
  5. Then came Obama’s “Russia Reset” — more “partnering” on Iran,
  6. ushering Moscow into the World Trade Organization,
  7. signing off on the Uranium One deal (and let’s not forget that cool $500,000 Russian payday for Bill Clinton and all those millions flowing into the Clinton Foundation) . . .
  8. while Russia backed Assad and the Iranian mullahs,
  9. annexed Crimea,
  10. stoked civil war in eastern Ukraine, and
  11. conducted cyber attacks on our election system.

Richard Cordray’s Political Stunt

Democrats pretend that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is its own branch of government.

This fiasco underscores that the CFPB is a rogue agency whose structure is an affront to the Constitution’s separation of powers. A panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in PHH Corp. v. CFPB that the “independence” Mr. Frank so prizes is unconstitutional and that the bureau’s director must be subject to presidential authority.

.. Democrats created an executive-branch agency insulated from Congressional appropriations and presidential control, and now they claim to be able to run it like a branch of government unto itself with a self-sustaining directorship. This is a perversion of constitutional government that the President is right to resist and the courts should reject.

Trump Makes Caligula Look Pretty Good

Even before the media obsession with Hillary Clinton’s email server put The Worst President Ever™ in the White House, historians were comparing Donald Trump to Caligula, the cruel, depraved Roman emperor who delighted in humiliating others, especially members of the empire’s elite.

.. For one thing, Caligula did not, as far as we know, foment ethnic violence within the empire.

.. Finally, when his behavior became truly intolerable, Rome’s elite did what the party now controlling Congress seems unable even to contemplate: It found a way to get rid of him.

.. Journalists have stopped seizing on brief moments of not-craziness to declare Trump “presidential”; business leaders have stopped trying to curry favor by lending Trump an air of respectability; even military leaders have gone as far as they can to dissociate themselves from administration pronouncements.

.. “Not my president” used to sound like an extreme slogan. Now it has more or less become the operating principle for key parts of the U.S. system.

But remember, this administration has yet to confront a crisis not of its own making. Furthermore, a series of scary deadlines are looming. Never mind tax reform.

Congress has to act within the next few weeks to enact a budget, or the government will shut down;

  • to raise the debt ceiling, or the U.S. will go into default;
  • to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or millions of children will lose coverage.

So who’s going to ensure that these critical deadlines are met? Not Trump

.. remember when people took Paul Ryan’s pretense of policy expertise seriously? And their association with President Caligula has destroyed their moral credibility, too. They could keep the government functioning by dealing with Democrats, but they’re afraid to do that, for the same reason they’re afraid to confront the madman in the White House.
.. Everyone in Washington now knows that we have a president who never meant it when he swore to defend the Constitution. He violates that oath just about every day and is never going to get any better.
.. But a third of the country still approves of that rogue president — and that third amounts to a huge majority of the G.O.P. base.

.. Trump is already supporting challengers to Republicans he considers insufficiently loyal.
.. The fact is that white supremacists have long been a key if unacknowledged part of the G.O.P. coalition, and Republicans need those votes to win general elections. Given the profiles in cowardice they’ve presented so far,
it’s hard to imagine anything — up to and including evidence of collusion with a foreign power — that would make them risk losing those voters’ support.
.. So the odds are that we’re stuck with a malevolent, incompetent president whom nobody knowledgeable respects, and many consider illegitimate. If so, we have to hope that our country somehow stumbles through the next year and a half without catastrophe, and that the midterm elections transform the political calculus and make the Constitution great again.

Tomi Lahren Was Made for the Trump Era

The rising TV starlet might have run afoul of social conservatives. But with her wide reach and trademark sass, her future could be positively Trumpian.

.. she’s pro-choice

.. I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.”

.. Beck, Lahren’s boss, questioned Lahren’s libertarian bona fides as a zealous Trump supporter

.. Trump is anything but libertarian.

.. high-speed rant style with “Final Thoughts .. little jalapeño poppers of bravura bile clock in at just 30 seconds, and are perfectly suited to social media

.. Lahren’s departure from TheBlaze might contain clues for the future of conservative media in the age of Trump and beyond, and even for the Republican Party.

.. most in conservative media are impotent to censure the president himself for his betrayal of signature conservative positions, they can flex some muscle by smacking down Lahren

.. a suggestion of what could happen, ideologically, if the GOP is ever emboldened .. to take Trump to task for his disregard of both civil liberties and family values.

.. on track to be the Samantha Bee of the right

.. the ironies that interest her concern “snowflakes” and “participation-trophy” types

.. she admitted that Trump’s on-tape comments about groping women didn’t “look good

.. “Don’t go around acting holier than thou about this, like you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that before.

.. “When will those in black communities take a step back and take some responsi-damn-bility for the problems of black communities? Because it seems to me blaming white people for all of your problems might make you the racist.”

.. grew up in a military family in South Dakota

.. with decades of sass ahead of her, Lahren is rumored (without clear evidence) to be in Fox’s sights

.. Mindful of her senior-citizen base, Lahren has made her home not primarily on Snapchat or even Twitter but on venerable old Facebook.

.. Facebook is a perfect place for her to perform for Tea Partyers and older conservatives, leaning on her love of guns and country to come off as the dream daughter—like Ivanka Trump, but country and not snooty.

.. tacit pact with Beck: He could give her the conservative white-old-man seal of approval and then she would be allowed to be spicy and pro-Trump, which in turn would be evidence of Blaze’s big tent.

.. Beck is a genuinely principled conservative, and his commitments to both family values and libertarianism made Trump—multiply-married, genital-grabbing, pro-choice in some interviews—insupportable, and finally appears to have made Lahren insupportable, too.

.. many uneasy bargains .. are being tested now

.. If Ryan’s tax reform, or Pence’s desired overturn of Roe v. Wade, come to nothing, how much more will they be willing to sacrifice for this rogue president?

.. there are libertarians, who have quarrels with Trump.

There are family-values types, who have quarrels with Trump.

And then there is Trump—a reality star who darkens his skin and lightens his hair and says whatever gets the biggest response

 .. She’s trying to be Trump.