The Hill reports that the congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election now includes Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen:
Cohen told ABC News on Tuesday that he was asked by House and Senate investigators “to provide information and testimony” regarding communication he has had with people connected to the Russian government.
“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen said in an email.
UPDATE: Josh Marshall has a good background post on Cohen at Talking Points Memo. Investigators Are Right To Be Looking at Michael Cohen. He’s not just “Trump’s bully lawyer who makes legal threats and mouths off on TV. He is a much, much more significant player.”
ABC News noted that after Cohen declined to cooperate, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee voted last Thursday to give the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat the power to issue subpoenas when they think it’s necessary.
NBC News reported on Tuesday that the request letters sent to Cohen were the same ones sent to former Trump aides Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
Last month, Cohen defended the president’s relationship with Russia, saying in an interview that Trump is reducing tensions between the United States and Moscow.
Trump on Tuesday said Russian officials are likely “laughing” at the U.S. amid continuing reports about the Russian election meddling.
Oh, the Russians are laughing at the U.S. alright after Putin’s puppet delivered as instructed at the NATO summit and G-7 meeting last week. Trump’s behavior at NATO is a national embarrassment:
After Trump called NATO obsolete (then proceeded to walk that back), Europe was looking for public support of Article 5, which affirms that NATO members will come to the mutual defense of any member that is under attack. But alas, Trump could not even bring himself to utter explicitly that the U.S. supports Article 5 in his remarks at Brussels, which every single U.S. president has done since Harry Truman in 1949. If NATO allies were nervous about the United States’ commitment to Europe’s security before, they must be fuming now. The NATO summit comes as reports surface that British police are withholding intelligence from the United States after leaks to U.S. media about the Manchester bombing investigation, and weeks after Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians about operations against the Islamic State. For all of Trump’s fire and fury about the United States getting the raw end of the deal from NATO, from an optics standpoint, it is the United States that is looking like the irresponsible partner.
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Maybe next time, NATO should serve chocolate cake, give out gold medals, impress Trump with glowing orbs, and throw in a sword dance or two. Oh, and $100 billion.
But in all seriousness, for anyone who cares about the America’s global leadership and the future of Europe, Trump’s behavior at the NATO summit has been embarrassing.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe Can No Longer Rely on Trump’s America:
Speaking at a campaign rally in Munich, Merkel came to the stark conclusion that Europe’s alliances that have held together much of the West after World War II “are to some extent over. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.” Although Merkel never mentioned Trump by name there was little doubt she referred to him in the speech in which she also said that Brexit meant Europe could no longer count on its traditional allies.
“And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands—of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia,” Merkel said in a beer tent at a campaign event. “But we have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”
This triggered a response from our always inecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in chief today (so much for that Twitter intervention we learned of last week). Trump, back home and on Twitter, continues spat with ally Germany:
President Trump took aim at German trade practices and defense spending Tuesday following pointed criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany may not be able to rely on its allies.
Last week, White House spokespeople had denied that Trump criticized German trade practices after the German newspaper Der Spiegel quoted him as having done so.
Trump unsettled Merkel and other allies during the recent NATO summit when, during his remarks, he did not mention the central commitment members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization make to defend each other.
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In a 2014 meeting, NATO defense ministers agreed that each state would move toward a goal of raising military spending to 2% of its annual economic output by the year 2024. German defense spending is below that goal [in 2017].
The U.S. trade deficit with Germany shrank to $65 billion in 2016 from $75 billion the year before.
Peter Baker of the New York Times fact checked Trump. Trump Says NATO Allies Don’t Pay Their Share. Is That True? Things are not quite as Trump describes them. You’re shocked, I’m sure.
UPDATE: The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler awards 4 Pinocchios for Trump’s claims on NATO funding.
Trump adviser Gary Cohn suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One that Trump might be open to lifting NATO sanctions on Russia. Top Trump adviser says POTUS is “looking at” lifting Russian sanctions:
“The discussion on sanctions and Russia came up at NATO tonight. It was a pretty broad discussion with a lot of NATO talking about Russian Sanctions,” Cohn said, per press pool reports. Asked about the U.S. position on Russian sanctions, he added, “I think the president is looking at it.”
“Cohn refused to either confirm or deny that Trump was considering lifting Russian sanctions, leaving the door open.”
Putin is getting exactly what he wants — undermining the European Union and undermining NATO — from his puppet Donald Trump. He may eventually get his goal of the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Crimea and Ukraine, and for interfering in the U.S. election. And he is making American democracy look like a disaster to the world in the process.
Oh yeah, the Russians are laughing at the U.S. alright. They can’t believe that enough Americans were actually gullible enough to elect this grifter and con man president.
UPDATE: Paul Waldman at the Washington Post adds:
Vladimir Putin is not buying any of the Fake News from you capitalist pigs:
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says the allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election are “fiction” invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Putin reaffirmed his strong denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails. The interview was recorded during Putin’s Monday trip to Paris and released Tuesday.
He said the claims of Russian meddling are driven by the “desire of those who lost the U.S. elections to improve their standing by accusing Russia of interfering.”
That sounds so familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh yeah: “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.” That’s the president of the United States. No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.