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Daily Reads: Trump Had A Second, Undisclosed Meeting With Putin; Does Bernie Sanders Need a Protége?

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Trump Had A Second, Undisclosed Meeting With Putin

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Recriminations –> In the wake of yet another failed attempt to strip health care from millions of Americans, “the House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders,” writes Molly Ball at The Atlantic. “Republican lawmakers have yet to turn on President Trump in any meaningful way. But they’re starting to turn on each other.”

And Josh Dawsey reports for Politico that Trump was totally “blindsided” by the Senate bill’s sudden meltdown, which occurred as he was at the White House trying to woo a group of senators that didn’t need wooing. “Trump has privately wondered why legislators don’t seem to listen to him, and the blow from [Sens.] Moran and Lee [announcing they wouldn’t support the bill] illustrated the limits of the president’s capacity to master the art of the Washington deal,” writes Dawsey. “To Trump, the Obamacare fight has always been about scoring a win. He doesn’t care nearly as much about the specifics, people close to him say, and hasn’t understood why legislators won’t just make deals and bring something, anything, to his desk.”

More crises ahead? –> Also at Politico, Rachel Bade and Burgess Everett report that “Republicans are divided over whether to raise the debt ceiling before the August recess, with senators preferring to act soon and members of the more conservative House reluctant to take the contentious vote before the break.” Adding to GOP leaders’ headaches “is that striking a debt agreement will likely take much longer than two weeks. Republicans will need Democrats to carry the legislation because conservatives won’t vote for a debt ceiling increase without steep spending cuts — a proposition at which Democrats scoff. Senate Democrats have also suggested they may play hard to get, demanding policy changes for their support.”

Dodged a bullet on the Iran Deal –> Eli Lake reports for Bloomberg that, “just as [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was preparing to inform Congress on Monday that Iran remained in compliance with what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Trump called it off, according to administration officials. He wanted to know his options and what would happen if Tillerson didn’t make the announcement.” After realizing that doing so without first laying any groundwork for the move would create chaos in Congress, “Trump walked back from the ledge, and the administration certified Tehran’s compliance.”

Kremlingate –> It turns out that Trump had a second, previously undisclosed, hour-long meeting with Vladimir Putin at a G-20 dinner for leaders and their spouses. Putin’s translator did the work; no Americans were present. The White House says this is perfectly normal. Ian Bremmer, president of the consulting firm Eurasia group, a New York-based research and consulting firm, was in attendance and told The New York Times: “Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care.” Bremmer said he had heard directly from attendees that “they were flummoxed, they were confused and they were startled.”

And the eighth person in the room during that meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government has been identified as Ike Kaveladze, an employee of the Russian oligarch who arranged the meeting. Kelly Weill and Katie Zavadski report for The Daily Beast that Kaveladze is suspected of being a money-launderer who helped move $1.4 billion in Russian cash through US banks.

Vox’s Sean Illing talked to Seva Gunitsky, a politics professor at the University of Toronto and a Russia expert. Gunitsky said that “if we’re talking about the roots of the collusion, we have to look at where Trump’s links with Russia begin. And it begins with money. [These roots] don’t start with the election;…it starts with Russian oligarch money pouring into Trump’s real estate and casino businesses. Many of them Trump has been working with for years, well before he developed any serious political ambitions. And we’re not talking about small change here; we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Possibly even enough to keep Trump out of another bankruptcy.” There are other insights in this one as well.

And Erica Orden and Byron Tau report for The Wall Street Journal that “House Republicans are seeking to defund the US Election Assistance Commission, the sole federal agency that exclusively works to ensure the voting process is secure, as part of proposed federal budget cuts. The defunding move comes as the EAC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine an attack late last year on the agency’s computer systems by a Russian-speaking hacker.”

We’re sensing a pattern here…

Not everyone seems so unconcerned. The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reports that “the former managers of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns are leading a new initiative called ‘Defending Digital Democracy’ in the hopes of preventing a repeat of Russia’s 2016 election interference.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress writes that the Trump regime “is nearing a deal with Russia to return two espionage-linked compounds on American soil. The compounds, located in Maryland and New York, were seized by the Obama administration in December in response to Russia’s interference in the presidential election on President Donald Trump’s behalf. News that a deal is close to being struck comes while the official Twitter account of the Russia’s embassy to the US threatens ‘retaliation measures’ if the compounds aren’t swiftly and unconditionally returned.”

But his emails –> “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been caught repeatedly misleading Congress about his use of different email accounts during his six years as Oklahoma’s attorney general,” according to Alexander Kaufman at HuffPost. The climate change-denying EPA head “said he used just one email, when he actually had two. He sent official correspondence from a personal address, and appeared to deliberately delay public-records requests to cover his tracks before facing a Senate confirmation hearing. Now, a senator involved in that confirmation process is backing an effort that could get Pruitt disbarred in his home state, Oklahoma, for violating ethics rules.”

In search of a protége –> At The Week, Ryan Cooper argues that while Bernie Sanders is the most prominent — and most popular — leftist in the country, he would also be the oldest person to ever run for president if he chooses to do so in 2020. For this and other reasons Cooper lays out, “Sanders really ought to start using his immense popularity and influence to start grooming a successor or three. Who it is is less important than there be somebody who can help spread his message and step into his shoes, should that become necessary.”

A stealth attack on working people –> Justin Miller reports for The American Prospect that “it’s at the NLRB, the independent agency charged with enforcing and interpreting the nation’s labor laws, where Trump will be able to most forcefully reverse President Obama’s workers’ rights legacy — a highly vulnerable legacy given that it was confined to leveraging the power of executive-branch departments and agencies.” Miller looks at Trump’s nominees to the board and finds that they’re united by a fierce opposition to workers’ rights.

A radical campaign to achieve gender parity among elected officials –> She Should Run, a “nonpartisan organization that helps recruit and train women to run for public office,” is setting an ambitious goal of achieving gender parity among the 500,000 elected official in the United States by the year 2030. According to Alexi McCammond at Axios, women hold only 25 percent of those positions today.

Why are the Danes so happy? –> Finally, we’ll leave you with this animated explainer of the benefits of social democracy from The Nation and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project…

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.


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