The TAKE with MaryAlice Parks
What happens now?
Before the extraordinary press conference Monday, the German foreign minister said in an interview: “We can no longer fully rely on the White House.”
A number of Republicans on Capitol Hill had strong words, calling Trump’s performance “disgraceful,” “bizarre,” “a sign of weakness.” But what comes next? Do they censure the president? Subpoena his advisers?
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for hearings and that the president be mandated to sit for an interview with the special counsel.
Putin said Monday that courts should speak next. In democracies, final conclusions are delivered by trial. Of course, it will be hard for the U.S. to drag Russian actors before a judge, but it’s worth remembering the indictment brought by the Justice Department last week was approved by a grand jury of Americans.
And then there’s law enforcement and what’s next for them? What happens down the road to other legal cases after the commander in chief undercuts intelligence agencies?
On a global scale, questions, too. What happens when the American president looks as if he is holding the door for the Kremlin?
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
It shouldn’t be lost amid the fallout from Trump’s extraordinary news conference in Helsinki that the U.S. is a nation just 112 days away from a major election.
The president seems not only content to call into question his own intelligence agencies’ assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but also willing to let his fellow Republicans deal with the political ramifications.
While Republicans including Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Lindsey Graham and John McCain all offered harsh rebukes of the president’s unwillingness to confront Putin, none is facing voters this cycle.
Instead, Republicans in competitive races across the country are having to answer to the president’s public praise of Russia and Putin, and their Democratic opponents were quick to take advantage of that opportunity.
“When our president sides with Putin over his own executive branch, he emboldens the Russian organizations set on threatening us,” said Michigan Democratic congressional candidate Elissa Slotkin, who is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Bishop.
“Today’s press conference was a shameful capitulation to Vladimir Putin,” said California Democrat Gil Cisneros, running for the open seat left by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce’s retirement.
It’s no surprise that Democrats are attempting to make the midterms a referendum on the president’s handling of U.S.-Russia relations, but it is strange that standing side by side with Putin, Trump showed no remorse in feeding that narrative.
The TIP with Ali Rogin
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were virtually united in rejecting Donald Trump’s pro-Russia message in Helsinki. But beyond strongly worded statements, don’t expect much more in any effort to stop him.
Both Democratic and Republican senators said a good place to start is additional non-binding resolutions making clear that Congress believes Russia did meddle in the U.S. election and that lawmakers trust the intelligence community.
At the same time, many acknowledge there’s not much else they can do as long as there are lawmakers in both chambers who may not want to check the president’s authority.
Case in point: The House’s defense bill currently has a provision that allows the president to lift sanctions on Russians, with few preconditions. That’s not exactly the type of language that indicates House Republicans are going to resoundingly support any Russia-related bills with bite.
“All we can do is pass legislation that the president can’t veto, and I hope we do,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told reporters.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.” — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a statement Monday.
NEED TO READ
5 key moments from Trump and Putin on Russian-US election interference: ANALYSIS. In case there was any doubt, President Trump made clear Monday the specific evidence U.S. law enforcement and Congress have laid out about how Russian agents actively sought to intervene in the 2016 elections, is not a top concern for him at all. (MaryAlice Parks) https://abcn.ws/2L0enF0
Trump casts doubt on US intelligence, calls Putin’s meddling denial ‘strong and powerful.’ President Trump said he addressed Russia’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election and that President Putin was “extremely strong” in his denials. (Jordyn Phelps and Meridith McGraw) https://abcn.ws/2L2uAJR
Trump tells Hannity Russians ‘have no information on Trump.’ “He said there was no collision whatsoever. He said it as strong as you can say it. They have no information on Trump,” Trump said. “And one thing you know, if they had it, it would have been out.” (Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2NV0RAc
Head of intelligence community fires back after Trump casts doubt. President Trump hedged on whether he agrees with the intelligence community on its conclusion that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election at a joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Monday. (Matt Seyler) https://abcn.ws/2zLs3OW
Putin gives Trump World Cup ball after question on Syria: ‘Now the ball is in your court.’ The Russian president paused a joint press conference after answering a question on whether the ball is “in the Russian court” regarding cooperative efforts in Syria to hand Trump a soccer ball in Helsinki Monday. (Matt Seyler) https://abcn.ws/2LmXBfm
John McCain slams Donald Trump’s ‘most disgraceful’ meeting with Vladimir Putin. Sen. John McCain issued a damning statement of President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Putin, calling their joint news conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” (Meghan Keneally) https://abcn.ws/2L9VYF5
‘Bizarre’ and ‘shameful’: Republicans lead responses to Trump news conference with Putin. The response from lawmakers to Trump’s press conference with Russian president Putin was swift and almost universally negative, with especially critical statements coming from members of Trump’s own party. (Ali Rogin) https://abcn.ws/2mm2lqv
Maria Butina, Russian gun rights activist linked to NRA, charged with conspiracy. Maria Butina, the mysterious Russian gun rights activist who has cultivated ties to the National Rifle Association, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to act as a Russian agent. (Matthew Mosk and Pete Madden) https://abcn.ws/2zK7cvl
Former National Teacher of the Year now running for Congress. Hayes told ABC News that the wave of new candidates running for office across the country without formal political experience “gave me the courage to say, ‘You know what, maybe I will say yes this time.'” (Meghan Keneally) https://abcn.ws/2LprNq7
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page returns to Capitol for second day of grilling. Page returns Monday after Republicans called her first testimony “credible” as they search for anti-Trump bias in the handling of the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. (Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2L2RlgR
Republicans say they have new leads after interview with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Page and Peter Strzok, who testified publicly in a fiery marathon hearing on Capitol Hill last Thursday, are at the center of Republican concern about political bias at the FBI and Justice Department regarding the handling of the Russia and Clinton email investigations. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2L3727B
FiveThirtyEight reports on poll data that appear to show Americans’ beliefs on the Mueller investigation are nearly intractable. https://53eig.ht/2Ll9sxS
The Washington Post reports on the Freedom Caucus leaders asking the DOJ to investigate whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened congressional aides in a January meeting. https://wapo.st/2JqrOIt
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.