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Now matter how carefully summits between world leaders are scripted, there is always more going on than can be surmised from the surface.
Today’s Putin-Trump meeting in Helsinki is no different.
We do know that when Donald and Vlad were first on camera, they were not smiling. No handshake. Trump stared straight ahead, and Putin looked uncomfortable. Putin made a few brief remarks which Trump didn’t understand, and then they shook hands for the cameras.
Next, they went into their two-hour private meeting, with only interpreters present. At Trump’s insistence, Pompeo and Lavrov were not there, no lower-level staff either.
The prevailing view as to why is that Trump didn’t want anyone to interrupt him or undercut him — no leaks. That’s not surprising, because, on a daily basis, he undercuts the people who are, unbelievably, still working for him.
But we here at AP have ways of getting around all that secrecy.
Trump’s interpreter is Foma Kheroshonski. He is our Moscow Bureau Chief.
This is a brief summary of what happened:
“Vlad old buddy, glad to see you, wondering why there was no Mrs. Putin at the opening ceremony.”
“There is no Mrs. Putin any more. I ditched Lyudmila four years ago.”
“I hope you noticed, Vlad, how good Melania looked.”
Immediately, Pussy Riot leader Nadezhda Tolokonnikova entered the room, escorted by Kheroshonski. She’s the activist who, with her fella Pussy Riot leaders, was convicted in 2012 of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after a performance at the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
To see why Putin blanched in horror as soon as Tolokonnikova broke past the security guards to taunt him, check out her video at https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/15/europe/pussy-riot-world-cup/index.html, and you will immediately be struck by the fact that Tolokonnikova speaks better English than Trump. In the video, she says that Trumpistic populism is spreading virulently around the world, the same way that sexually transmitted disease is spread.
Putin recovered quickly, but Trump, who never has a script, seized on the moment to torment Putin for his failure to have anything comparable to his Hollywood Access tape, in which Trump famously bragged on camera about his ability to do anything he wants with women because he’s a star. When the Hollywood Access tape became public in October 2016, millions of pussy hats suddenly emerged on the American landscape at anti-Trump protests. Trump’s only regret about that is that he didn’t rake in a lot of cash from sales of those hats.
Trump then turned to Putin and said, “Vlad, I want to do some things to help you out, and I guarantee that I will get Congress to waive all of Obama’s sanctions.”
“Go ahead and take over all of Ukraine, not just the east. You guys did the right thing by annexing Crimea.”
Putin smiled cautiously.
“And I want you to take over all of Syria. There are too many American soldiers being killed over there, and I need for Rand Paul to know that I have his back.”
Putin reached out and shook Trump’s hand vigorously.
“And Vlad, I want you and me to motor over to St. Petersburg so I can meet those twelve brave Russian military intelligence officers who were named in Mueller’s indictment on Friday. I don’t for a moment want you to extradite them to the US, because that’s something you guys don’t do anyway. I just want to thank them for proving my point that all this talk about how you Russians meddled in our election, that was all Obama’s fault.”
Putin left the room briefly to tell Lavrov to make the necessary arrangements for the impromptu trip to St. Petersburg. Then he walked in with Edward Snowden; Snowden was handcuffed and gagged and thus unable to impress Putin with his ability to speak Russian. Trump stared at Snowden and asked Putin to leave him alone with the former NSA contractor who blew the whistle on how the NSA conducts secret surveillance. During his 2016 campaign, Trump said that if he could get his hands on Snowden, he would have him executed. As he recovered from his surprise at seeing Snowden, he texted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and told her to take Snowden away and put him in Gitmo as an act of mercy. Then Trump said, “Thanks for that, I really appreciate it, but Vlad, please quit making videos about how easy it would be for you to nuke Florida, because I want us to have a nice cozy meeting at my Mar-a-Lago."
Then Putin raised the issue of NATO. Anticipating Putin’s needs, Trump said that if Putin will visit him at Mar-a-Lago for a great photo-op, he will immediately withdraw from NATO as an act of respect for Russian sovereignty.
Macron, Putin Revisit the Napoleonic Wars as Macron Celebrates France's Victory Over Croatia in the World Cup
Yesterday, we compared the 1789 storming of the Bastille to Donald Trump’s totally unhelpful and disgraceful visit to the UK (https://www.apocryphalpress.com/2018/07/14/how-trump-s-visit-to-the-uk-resembled-the-storming-of-the-bastille-fake-news-association-is-announced-at-the-white-house/).
This caused associate solitary reporter and chief international correspondent Larry Theis, who is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Polish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and dozens of other languages, including (to a considerably lesser extent) English, to confer with Macron and Vladimir Putin today in Moscow’s Luzhniki Statium as Macron and Theis celebrated France’s victory over Croatia, 4-2. Croatia’s 46-year old president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, stayed in Zagreb during the match, out of concern that she might be hit on by numerous Russian goons.
“Larry,” Macron said, “yesterday, your colleague, associate solitary reporter Dana Packwood, provided AP readers with a compelling narrative, in which Theresa May revisited the War of 1812 by planning to launch a full-scale attack on the upstart United States after Donald Trump publicly trashed her ahead of his meeting tomorrow with his close personal friend Vladimir Putin, who is sitting here right next to me.”
“Although the United States was only a footnote on the world stage in 1812,” Macron continued, "our glorious Napoleon I marched into Moscow in 1812. But for the Russian Winter, he would have defeated Tsar Alexander I and captured all of Russia, all the way to Russia's Pacific coast.”
Putin interjected, “Emmanuel, you seem to forget that we glorious Russians chased Napoleon all the way to Paris in an ignominious retreat.”
“And that’s my strategy for re-establishing the Soviet Empire,” Putin continued, “and that dolt Trump is such a putz, nobody can stop me now.”
As all this was taking place, Putin told associate solitary reporter Foma Kheroshonski, “Foma, after I retake Bulgaria and Romania, I’m heading straight to Croatia. It was Communist under Yugoslavia’s Tito, and it's Tito’s unacceptable refusal to be part of Stalin’s Soviet Union that I am revisiting now, as long as we are talking about rewriting history.”
“Josef Stalin was the greatest leader the world has ever known,” Putin added. Putin has recently condemned Armando Iannuci’s 2017 satirical film, The Death of Stalin, for misrepresenting the Golden Age of Soviet Communism.
Everybody knows that when Putin meets a greatly weakened Trump tomorrow in Helsinki, Trump will give Putin anything he wants. Putin prepares for summits meticulously, while Trump just breezes in and out of summits, with no preparation, treating them all the while as photo-ops.
As Macron continued his friendly chat with Theis, Macron glowed with pride as he said, “Larry, did you notice how many black players were on France’s team? And that Croatia’s team was all-white? Kylian Mbappe scored our fourth goal, and he’s only 19, and born in Paris."
Associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones was with Trump as he arrived today in Helsinki. Trump told Jones that he plans to ask Putin to introduce him, in Moscow, to the twelve Russian military hackers who were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday. “Johanna, I want to meet them and thank them for helping me be where I am today."
How Trump's Visit to the UK Resembled the Storming of the Bastille; Fake News Association Is Announced at the White House
Today is Bastille Day in France. The significance of that for Donald Trump is two-fold.
First, until just the other day in Brussels, he had never known what it is, and when French President Emmanuel Macron explained it to him in simple English, Trump did actually get the basic point about ordinary aggrieved citizens storming the bastions of a repressive government.
And that’s the script that Trump followed during his less than calm visit to the UK over the last three days. He arrived in the UK and performed there as the angry anti-establishment candidate that he was in 2016 and, although he was not aware of it (but we were) he assaulted the British political establishment in the same way the revolutionaries in France did in 1789 when they stormed that ancient prison and killed its governor.
Just as the attackers of the Bastille killed its governor, our very own Disrupter-in-Chief stabbed Prime Minister Theresa May in the back during a recorded interview with The Sun, which is one of the many papers owned by his close personal friend Rupert Murdoch. The following day, he said nice things about May at a joint press conference and denied what he had said in the recorded interview.
Associate solitary reporter Dana Packwood met with May after Trump said that one of her chief rivals, recently resigned Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, would make a great PM.
May told Packwood that Trump’s slam against her and the UK deserves a resumption of the War of 1812 (as it is known in the US and Canada, though in the UK it is usually described as a minor part of the Napoleonic Wars).
When Packwood told associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones what she had just learned, Jones told Trump, who immediately left his golf course in Scotland to tell Defense Secretary James Mattis to launch an anticipatory attack on our closest ally.
Back in the USA, the White House announced that Trump has appointed Bill Shine to be his communications guy to replace Hope Hicks, one of the many Trump staffers who has sensibly quit. Shine was banished from Fox News over — you guessed it— sexual improprieties. Shine, of course, denies the allegations — a familiar pattern for Trump and Co.
At the Trump-May news conference, Trump refused to take a question from CNN, calling it fake news.
Simultaneously, Shine held a news conference, without the permission of Chief of Staff John Kelly, to announce that he, Murdoch, and Trump have established the Fake News Association, which Shine will be running. Its purpose, Shine said, is to put all news organizations that have ever said anything negative about Trump on a blacklist, with all press privileges revoked. So far, Fox News and Breitbart are the only organizations which are allowed to attend White House press briefings or Trump’s news conferences.
Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert Takes Top Prize for Inanity as GOP Fails to Phase Defiant FBI Agent Peter Strzok; May Gives Trump the Boot
No wonder the vast majority of Americans are disgusted with Republican politicians. Those who voted them into office deserve whatever came down as a result.
Consider the case of Blake Farenthold. He’s the overwhelmingly sleazy Republican pol who represented Texas’ 27th Congressional District from 2011 until he was forced to resign in April after numerous reports that he used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. When he resigned at the instance of House leadership, Farenthold pledged to reimburse the United States $84,000 in public money that he used to settle the lawsuit, but then he reneged on his pledge in May.
Yesterday, we reported on the antics of House Republicans as they tried unsucessfully to rattle FBI Agent Peter Strzok (https://www.apocryphalpress.com/2018/07/12/perez-taps-strzok-as-his-deputy/).
Yesterday's hearing was expressly designed by the House GOP leadership to divert attention from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the obvious collusion by Russia with Donald Trump’s highly improbable campaign, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
It was theoretically presided over by House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, who looked like a partially grownup gnome, and House Judiciary Committee Chariman Bob Goodlatte, who threatened Strzok with contempt of Congress while shouting down the Ranking Member, Congressman Jerry Nadler (N-New York).
The hearing lasted ten hours, and CNN preempted Erin Burnett’s nightly Out Front show to continue showing the circus.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TP-Texas) is a member of the Judiciary Committee. Gohmert is well-known to those who follow Congress for being a first-class nincompoop. He provides classic material to Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Steven Colbert. In short, Gohmert is the most notorious boob in Congress. Unbelievably, he challenged Paul Ryan for his Speakership in 2015, with little real chance of success and only minimal support.
At yesterday’s hearing, Gohmert went after Strzok, demanding to know how he did or didn’t tell his wife about his infidelity with colleague Lisa Page. This drew virulent shouted objections from the Democrats on the panel. Check out the short video of Gohmert’s outburst at https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/12/fbi-peter-strzok-testify-trump-714977.
This is, of course, the Age of Bill Clinton and of sexual scandals ad infinitum in our Nation’s Capital.
As we reported yesterday, associate solitary reporter Melissa Smith covered the hearing. After its conclusion, she approached Gohmert, who did his best to avoid her, but all our associate solitary reporters are intrepid, which is why we pay them so highly.
“Congressman,” Smith demanded, “I found it very interesting that you went after Agent Strzok for his sex life — but in 2012, in a meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, you stated your strong support for a trans-Alaska pipeline as a way for the caribou to have more sex.”
As Smith and Gohmert were talking, Farenthold, now a lobbyist in DC for all manner of hyper-conservative causes, approached them and insisted on joining their conversation.
“Louie,” Farenthold began, “you dumb s__t, you didn’t lift a finger to help me when Ryan forced me out, and then you rattle on and on about the sex life of caribous?”
Placidly, Gohmert responded, “Blake, as the song says, 'It’s All In the Game of Love.’"
Gohmert, who has absolutely no singing voice, slipped off into the night singing the famous 1958 Tommy Edwards song, as Farenthold tried to convince Smith that he was unfairly forced out by the #MeToo Movement.
Smith went back to her office singing John Fogerty’s song of political protest, “Fortunate Son.”
In London, Trump told Prime Minister Theresa May that she would get no trade deal from him because of her softened approach to Brexit negotiations (https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/13/politics/donald-trump-britain-brexit-theresa-may/index.html). Associate solitary reporter Johanna Jones was with May as she told Trump that he is persona non grata and must therefore leave the UK immediately, especially since his presence there has already drawn massive protests.
So much for our "special relationship" with the UK.
We here at AP are frequently perplexed as to what stories we should follow.
Donald Trump is, as usual, making a fool of himself in Europe, upending the NATO alliance that has, for decades, protected the West from Russian aggression.
And here in the good ol’ USA, the GOPs in the House convened not one, but two, committees, in a feeble attempt to grill Peter Strzok, the FBI agent they love to hate.
Strzok was tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. He texted his mistress and fellow FBI agent, Lisa Page, saying how important it was to stop Donald Trump.
This morning, associate solitary reporter Melissa Smith attended the House GOP’s attempted witchhunt show against Strzok. This took place at a joint hearing before both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee. If Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) had been smoking Only in Colorado joints, they would’ve been better off and more coherent.
In the hearing, Strzok sought to explain his texts. He described his personal feelings about Trump when, during his meritless campaign in 2016, he attacked Gold Star family Ghazala and Khirzr Khan. Their son, Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 during Bush Two’s ill-conceived Iraq War.
Strozek continued, saying, “My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, [was] that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States” (https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/12/politics/peter-strzok-hearing-congress/index.html).
ASR Smith couldn’t contain herself. As soon as she heard Strzok say that, she applauded, along with everyone else in the hearing room, and was forcibly removed from the hearing room.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez was watching the hearing on CNN. As soon as the hearing was concluded, he called Strzok and said, “Peter, you can’t possibly be happy working in Sessions’ Justice Department. Keith Ellison, my Deputy, isn’t running for re-eleciton in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, so he can run for Attorney General of Minnesota. Come and work for me as my Deputy.”
As ASR Smith watched, Strzok accepted on the spot.
Happy Days Are Here Again!