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What Putin says about interfering in US elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied accusations that his country interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 1:14 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 1:36 PM

Fresh off a disastrous news conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to tout how successful his two-hour-plus meeting with the Russian President had been.

"While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "Sadly, it is not being reported that way - the Fake News is going Crazy!"

What made the meeting so great? What was discussed? What was the mood? How well did the two leaders get along (or not get along)? Where were the points of agreement or disagreement?

We don't know the answer to any of those questions because the Trump-Putin meeting was a one-on-one affair, with only translators for each man in the room. There is no official readout of the meeting. Nothing but any notes Putin or Trump took, their memories and the memories of their translators. And that, apparently, is how Trump likes it.

There's any number of problems with this approach to diplomacy -- particularly with a leader like Putin. Here are the two big ones:

1. It allows both sides to tell their own version of what happened without concern for what actually happened.

Without anyone other than Putin, Trump and the translators in the room, there's simply no way of getting anywhere close to a definitive account of the meeting.

Putin is already shaping his version of events, telling state TV in Russia after the meeting that the two men talked about Syria, Ukraine and "Russia's mythical interference into US elections."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also threw in his two cents about the meeting after it concluded, noting it went "better than super."

Is that right? And if it went "better than super" from the Russian perspective, is that a good thing for the US? Who knows!

Members of Congress have said they'd like to call Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others on Trump's national security team to the Hill to testify about what exactly happened in that meeting.

"I think we need a read out on if there was any agreement," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters Tuesday. "I don't mind meeting with our adversaries. Russia is definitely an adversary, but I want to make sure we're being informed as to what potential agreements were made and whether or not and whether or not we think in Congress it makes sense."

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner put it this way: "What I'm deeply concerned about, and warned the administration beforehand, was what happened in this one-on-one setting. If the President was willing to dismiss American concerns in public, what in the heck did he say in private?"

But it remains to be seen if Pompeo will comply -- and remember that even if Pompeo *does* head to the Hill, he is passing on what Trump told him about the meeting, not what he himself heard in the meeting. Because he wasn't in the meeting.

2. We now have to rely on two unreliable narrators.

Both Putin and Trump have shown an affinity for bending -- and breaking -- the truth when it suits their needs. That's never a good thing, but it's a really not good thing when they are the only two people (aside from the translators) who know what really happened in that room. And when the geopolitical fate of the world rests, at least in part, on what transpired between the two men, that's worrisome.

Even if Trump and Putin weren't shaping the truth to suit their political and policy needs, the sheer challenge of remembering every in and out of a two-plus hour meeting is daunting. Think back to the last two-hour meeting you were in. If you didn't take notes -- and reportedly Trump did not have a notepad/pen, while Putin did -- how well do you think you would recall all the details of that meeting?

Hell, I take notes in my meetings and I struggle to remember what every line or jot means or refers to.

All of which brings me back to this: Was the summit "even better" than Trump's NATO meeting? We have absolutely no idea. And we never will. And that is a bad thing -- whether you love Trump or hate him.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 256827

Reported Deaths: 5638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
Tippah243050
Copiah242749
Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
Covington214672
Marion213073
Adams207070
Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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