- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2018

During the final days of the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump had an exclusive chat with talk radio host Michael Savage — which suggests just how long the future president had been mulling over his future dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump hoped at the time to “talk about peace with Putin,” according to Mr. Savage — and that time was over 21 months ago.

The radio host, heard daily by 11 million listeners, released a portion of that interview Wednesday, which reveals that Mr. Trump was willing to meet with his Russian counterpart even before Inauguration Day, if he was elected president.

He was that concerned.

“Putin has no respect at all for Obama. And I think that you have potentially a really catastrophic situation here, I’ll be honest with you,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Savage during their conversation. “I will say this, if I win on Nov. 8, I think I could see myself meeting with Putin, and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration. I think it would be wonderful.”

Mr. Savage agreed that such a move would be “fabulous.”

Mr. Trump also said that relations between the U.S. and Russia at that time were at their worst point since the Cold War, and he blamed then-President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for contributing to the disintegrating relationship.

“The problem is Putin has no respect for Obama. At all,” Mr. Trump said again.

“He doesn’t like him and doesn’t respect him. And Obama doesn’t like Putin. They have a great dislike for each other,” Mr. Trump said, also citing the influence of both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

“They insult him constantly. I mean, no wonder he can’t stand Obama and Hillary Clinton,” the future president concluded.

HAYDEN HAS A SAY

“OMG. OMG. OMG.”

That was retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, reacting on Twitter to President Trump’s straightforward indication Wednesday that Russia was no longer meddling in U.S. elections.

Helpful notes: Mr. Trump was asked whether Russia was still targeting the U.S. at the close of a White House Cabinet meeting and he simply replied “No.”

For the uninitiated, “OMG” means “Oh, my God.”

Then there’s an assessment from Twitchy.com, a canny group that monitors noteworthy tweets on a daily basis: “Gen. Michael Hayden hits DEFCON 3 on the OMG-o-meter with Trump’s latest on Russia.”

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later explained that Mr. Trump’s “no” was not in response to Russian meddling. He was responding “no” to taking further questions from the press. For a time, #SarahSanders topped the national trends on Twitter, sparking some 45,000 tweets.

And that is all part of the American political landscape at this juncture.

ONE PARTICULAR HAPPY HOUR

There’s a lot of talk about self-identified Democratic socialists these days, and quite a few public polls which indicate that American millennials are quite intrigued with the idea of socialism taking root in the U.S.

But what about the real socialists? We’re talking the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a 14-year-old political party which describes itself as “a revolutionary Marxist organization” with branches in 17 states.

Like everyone else, they too are gearing up for the midterm elections, with an upcoming study groups, conferences, training classes, film screenings and a happy hour and fundraiser with the Answer Coalition, an activist group, to be staged Thursday at a rustic gastropub in the nation’s capital, not all that far from the White House.

The organizers advise: “Food, fun, conversation, drink specials, raffles and more.”

And that too is part of the American political landscape at this juncture.

CONSERVATIVES REJECT CARBON TAX

A feisty group of 41 prominent conservative groups have fired off a letter to all members of Congress advising them to support a nonbinding resolution from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, and Rep. David McKinley, West Virginia Republican, which would condemn a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy by stunting productivity, job growth and other factors. The tax is, the conservatives say, a “job killer.”

Among the scores of signers: Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute; Tim Huelskamp, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute; David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth; and Lisa B. Nelson, CEO of ALEC Action.

ART OF THE DEAL, KOREAN EDITION

Divers off the South Korean island of Ulleungdo have discovered the wreck of the “Dmitrii Donskoi,” a Russian armored warship sunk by the Japanese navy in 1905, and rumored to still contain 5,500 boxes of gold bars and coins worth around $133 billion, according to The South China Morning Post.

The effort was organized by Shinil Group, a Seoul-based maritime salvage company, which plans to raise the vessel in a few months.

And then what will the organization do?

“It has reached an agreement with the Russian government to hand over half of the gold that is found aboard the vessel. Around 10 percent of the remaining bullion would be spent on tourism projects on Ulleungdo Island, including a museum dedicated to the ship and its crew. A percentage of the rest of the gold will be donated to joint projects designed to promote development in northeast Asia, such as a railway line linking Russia and South Korea through North Korea,” the Post explained.

POLL DU JOUR

84 percent of U.S. voters have confidence in the military; 92 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats agree.

74 percent have confidence in the police; 86 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

59 percent have confidence in church and organized religion; 73 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

51 percent have confidence in the presidency; 88 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent have confidence in Congress; 51 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,991 registered U.S. voters conducted July 13-14.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter at @harperbulletin


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