The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Off Putin

Melania Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump pose with a soccer ball.
Melania Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump pose with a soccer ball gifted to Trump by Putin at their summit in Helsinki.Sputnik Photo Agency / Reuters

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey), Maddie Carlisle (@maddieec123), and Olivia Paschal (@oliviacpaschal)

Today in 5 Lines

  • During a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump rejected the consensus among the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “They said, ‘I think it is Russia.’ I have President Putin. He just said it is not Russia,” Trump said in Helsinki after a two-hour private meeting with Putin. “I will say this: I do not see any reason why it would be.”

  • Members of Congress, including some Republicans, condemned Trump’s remarks and his refusal to confront Russia. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also issued a response, saying his agency “will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security."

  • The Justice Department charged a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia in the United States.

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he has “serious concerns” about the proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media.

  • Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer heard arguments about whether Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s statement to police should be made public.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Moment of Truth: There are only two explanations for President Trump's behavior during Monday's press conference, writes James Fallows. But regardless of what they are, one thing is clear: It's time for congressional Republicans to act.

  • The Original Backup Plan: On Monday, the world witnessed the strength of Russian President Vladimir Putin's influence over President Trump. Though unprecedented, the risk of a foreign power corrupting the presidency was actually considered by the authors of the Constitution. (David Frum)

  • Shamelessness Becomes Routine: Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show, Who Is America?, is meant to underline the “blind extremism of ideology,” writes David Sims. But Americans don’t really need the reminder.

  • Blaming America First: President Trump frequently blames the decline in U.S.-Russia relations on past presidents and the Mueller investigation. In Helsinki, he had an opportunity to switch tacks and hold Russia accountable, but instead he doubled down. (Uri Friedman)

Recommended Reading


Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a soccer ball to President Trump during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

What We’re Reading

What Does Robert Mueller Know?: As the Russia investigation unfolds, here are nine areas where Americans should expect answers. (Garrett M. Graff, Wired)

Red to Blue?: Support for President Trump is waning in several states in the Midwest, where voters are increasingly supporting Democrats over Republicans. (Dave Weigel, The Washington Post)

Trump, a Traitor: Americans have proof that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, writes Charles M. Blow, yet President Trump still “wants to be chummy with the enemy who committed the crime.” (The New York Times)

Worth a Try: President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin shows that he wants to improve U.S. relations with Russia. That’s a good idea, argues Harry J. Kazianis. (Fox News)

Not As Bad As It Looks: In an interview with PBS, congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But her comments were still completely in line with those of most American Jews, writes Batya Ungar-Sargon. (The Forward)


Step By Step: Here’s how Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. (Karen Yourish, The New York Times)