At RNC meeting, no one is sweating Trump-Putin summit

If President Donald Trump sparked a widespread backlash over his news conference beside Russian President Vladimir Pu...

Posted: Jul 21, 2018 4:42 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2018 4:42 PM

If President Donald Trump sparked a widespread backlash over his news conference beside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland on Monday, one wouldn't have known it from the buoyant tone among Republican Party officials this week.

At the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in Austin, the controversy enshrouding the President was largely shrugged off or rejected -- with party officials instead applauding Trump's foreign policy work, including his public show of deference this week toward Putin and Russia.

RELATED: Pompeo says a second Trump-Putin meeting is 'all to the good'

"I am in full support of the President," said Demetra DeMonte, a national committeewoman from Illinois, when asked about Trump's stance on Russia. "He has been an incredible President, and I look forward to another two years and a second term."

Nor were Republican Party officials who spoke with CNN bothered by the President publicly questioning the work of his own intelligence officials, who have concluded that Putin had directed Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 US election and to boost Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Instead, some RNC members agreed with the President's suggestion that the intelligence community has sought to undermine him and his presidency, including special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"To have agencies going after an American President, to create an illusion of collusion that doesn't exist, it looks like they're trying to undermine the President of the United States," said Lori Klein Corbin, a national committeewoman from Arizona. "Not the Russians, but our own people. That is troubling to the American people, and Trump just happens to be brutally honest and he tells it the way he sees it."

"He's not in Putin's pocket," she added.

The President continued to defend his performance in Helsinki on Friday, tweeting: "I got severely criticized by the Fake News Media for being too nice to President Putin. In the Old Days they would call it Diplomacy. If I was loud & vicious, I would have been criticized for being too tough. Remember when they said I was too tough with Chairman Kim? Hypocrites!"

In remarks to RNC members, Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel cheered the President's "historic summit" last month with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "an unprecedented step toward peace in the region." She also touted Trump's efforts to extract greater defense spending from NATO countries, but she made no mention of his meeting with Putin.

Appearing on Fox News earlier in the week, McDaniel had offered her support for the President's appearance with Putin and his policy toward Russia generally. "The President doesn't underestimate Russia in any way, shape or form," McDaniel said then. "He knows exactly what type of foe they are, but he will continue to work with them on the issues where we do have national security interests combined."

The support for Trump from McDaniel and the RNC's membership jibes with the feelings of Republican voters generally. A CBS News poll this week found that 68% of Republicans approve of Trump's handling of his summit with Putin.

Nevertheless, some Republican lawmakers expressed concern and alarm in light of the President's remarks. Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican who's a former CIA officer and sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's Jake Tapper, "I've seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people in my career, and I never thought the US President would be one of them."

And even some of the President's own administration officials were surprised to learn he is inviting Putin to visit Washington this fall. "OK, that's going to be special," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said when he was informed of the possible visit during an interview Thursday.

The timing of the visit would coincide with the lead-up to Election Day, with the balance of power in Washington at stake. But Republican Party officials in Austin said they trusted the President's judgment in extending the invite.

"I'm sure that the White House and (Trump's) advisers will make sure that America comes first," said Terry Lathan, chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party. "If they feel like that's the best timing for us, that's fine."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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