Trump's Patriotism Questioned After Helsinki
Donald Trump’s extraordinary performance alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have crossed a red line with his fellow Republicans.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were aghast at the sight of the U.S. President yesterday appearing to aid Putin’s goals of reclaiming Russia’s Cold War-level influence on the global stage and undermining confidence in Western institutions.
Trump sided with Putin against the U.S. intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, disparaged Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s election probe as a “disaster,” and indicated that he gives at least equal weight to Putin’s views as he does to those of his closest intelligence aide, Dan Coats. Any hopes that the president would take a hard line against foreign interference in the democratic process were dashed.
Although Republican party leaders couched their criticism in cautious terms to avoid directly confronting a president who remains popular with their base, the display has left Congress at “an inflection point,” said former Republican Representative David Jolly.
“This will be one of those moments the long lens of history remembers,” Jolly said, adding that Americans never before have “had reason to question a president’s patriotism.”
Tory turmoil | With members of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party publicly trading insults yesterday over the best way to leave the EU, it seemed old divisions had finally morphed into all-out war — with no sign of Prime Minister Theresa May being able to forge a peace. As one Tory put it, “Brexit is coming home to roost.” The government eventually won a knife-edge vote on post-Brexit customs arrangements, but another rebellion is brewing over trade. No wonder May wants to send lawmakers on their summer holidays early.
Growing problems | Trump’s trade disputes with China, Mexico and Canada are already eroding the value of U.S. agricultural production. Many farmers, including some whose incomes are plunging as exports stall, are still supporting the man they helped vote into office, Alan Bjerga and Mario Parker report. But they’d like him to win the trade war before the fall harvest starts compounding the problem — just as the midterm elections are heating up.
One country, two presidents | Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the landslide winner of Mexico’s elections, may not take office until December, but he plans to start advancing his agenda immediately. Nacha Cattan and Amy Stillman explain that on everything from Nafta to oil auctions and next year’s budget, he’s already overshadowed the current government and essentially will be co-running the country.
Tightening its grip | Amid an already tense election campaign, Pakistan’s military has been accused by rights groups and the media of intimidating critics and increasing its already firm hold over the South Asian nation. The army’s dominance has raised concerns the country could be backsliding democratically, making Trump’s aim of halting alleged Pakistani support for Islamist militant groups more difficult to achieve.
Village banking | A shortage of bank branches and ATMs in India’s hinterland is holding back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s financial inclusion efforts and risks angering a key slice of the electorate before elections next year, Bibhudatta Pradhan and Vrishti Beniwal report. The policy is effectively forcing poor citizens into the system by linking some welfare benefits to accounts. “They don’t increase facilities, but they take away my money,” one rural voter said, complaining about charges and vowing not to vote for Modi.
And finally… Venezuela’s embattled police officers are getting millionaire bonuses. Nicolas Maduro said yesterday he’d give each member of the force a 10 million-bolivar bonus, or $3 in the black market exchange. The generous incentive — the country’s minimum wage is set at 5 million bolivars — comes amid high desertion rates among military troops as hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flee the nation’s economic collapse.
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