The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Putin isn't Coming

Rich Galen

Thursday July 26, 2018

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    From Park City, Utah

  • I was going to write about two recent polls measuring Donald Trumps job performance. Both are legit polls. One - the Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll - is headlined: Donald Trump's Approval Rating Inches Higher, Buoyed by Republican Support.

  • That poll shows Trump at "the highest point in his presidency" with 45 percent approval, 52 percent disapprove. That's + 1 percentage point from June.

  • The other, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, shows Trump's job approval at 35 percent approve, 58 percent disapprove - down five points from a month ago.

  • The Q poll was "in the field" from July 18 - July 23. The WSJ/NBC poll was in the field from July 15 - July 18.

  • What does this matter? Because the Helsinki summit between Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin was held on July 16 so about half the sample didn't know, or hadn't yet processed, the now-infamous press conference with Trump and Putin.

  • The Q poll began sampling Americans the day the WSJ/NBC poll was ending.

  • You can read the full report on both polls on the Secret Decoder Ring today.

  • But, that's not what I want to write about today.

  • It was widely reported that Donald Trump and the traveling Trump Show were so pleased with his performance in Helsinki, it wasn't until they were on their way home aboard Air Force One when they realized everyone else this side of Moscow thought it was a disaster.

  • You remember Walkback Tuesday, Walkback Wednesday, and Pivot Thursday when Trump ordered National Security Advisor John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington, DC "to begin implementing" the issues they discussed in Helsinki.

  • This, in a continuing and growing theory on the part of Donald Trump that he needs no one else to run the country, was done without any consultation with any military or U.S. intelligence officials.

  • Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, was being interviewed at a conference in Aspen, Colorado when NBC's Andrea Mitchell read the invitation from a Tweet.

  • "Say that again?" Coats asked with a shocked expression. "That's gonna be special."

  • It turns out another person who was surprised at the Putin invitation was Putin.

  • The invitation was for Putin to visit Washington sometime this Fall. The other event this Fall is the mid-term elections.

  • If I were advising a Republican Member of Congress running for re-election (which I am not, to the great relief of Republican Members of Congress running for re-election) I would urge them to pass the word to the Leadership that we have enough problems to deal with over the next 103 days without having to defend having Trump and Putin doing the Bunny Hop at the White House.

  • Unwilling to accept that the invite proved yet another double-negative, that two bad ideas (or two bad summits) to not make a good idea, Trump had Bolton effectively withdraw the Fall invitation blaming it on Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
    "The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year."

  • It is not clear to me why Bolton believes the Mueller investigation will be concluded by the first of next year, but rainbows and unicorns abound in the West Wing.

  • According to Reuters, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, needing to give their members some political breathing room, "said on Tuesday that Putin would not be invited to address Congress or visit the Capitol if he accepted Trump's invitation."

  • It is also not clear to me - despite my three hours of Con Law at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750 - whether Putin might be liable to be nabbed by the U.S. Justice Department while on U.S. soil for his role in infecting the 2016 election.

  • Right now Vladimir Putin is holding all the cards. He knows he's got Trump dancing on the end of a string over what might have been discussed in Helsinki. He knows he has been successful in driving a larger and larger wedge between not just Americans and Europeans, but between Americans and Americans.

  • And, he knows he's likely to be around as the leader of his country long after Donald Trump is back making real estate deals from his office in Trump Tower.

  • All we know is: Putin isn't coming.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the two polls mentioned above and to that Reuters piece on GOP pushback against the Putin visit.

    The Mullfoto is a pretty good addition to our license plate collection.

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