You know that Utah Senate election is in the bag when the nominee can tweet this and fear no backlash in November. Is there another Republican candidate anywhere on the ballot this fall who could get away with a similar statement, especially after Mark Sanford just got nuked for being too Trump-skeptical?
My statement on today’s summit in Helsinki. pic.twitter.com/WSxFGDKMau
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 16, 2018
The implicit shot at Obama there from 2012 softens the blow to righty populists, I assume. But the fact remains that if Trump’s summit had happened before the Utah Republican primary, even with Romney a near-mortal lock to win, Mitt’s critique would have been phrased more … delicately.
Not the hardest shot he’s taken from a former adversary today, by the way:
Well, now we know. https://t.co/olQlhzQiuO
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 16, 2018
This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country. Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.
— James Comey (@Comey) July 16, 2018
The highest-ranking Republican resignation over today’s performance that I’m aware of came from a county Republican chairman in southeast Ohio, who claimed that Trump “is entitled to GOP party leaders, at all levels, fully committed to his views and agenda” and that he no longer met that job requirement after watching the Helsinki press conference. Keep your eye on Jon Huntsman, though, who’s no one’s idea of a hardcore Trump crony and who, as a Utahn, would enjoy the same soft landing among Republicans back home if he quit as ambassador to Russia as Romney’s planning on having this fall. He’s getting pressure to quit from people close to him — and I don’t just mean his daughter Abby, who tweeted earlier that “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.” Remember this guy?
@JonHuntsman Resign, if you have any honor.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) July 16, 2018
Weaver was chief strategist on Huntsman’s 2012 campaign before migrating over to Team Kasich more recently. As an ambassador, Huntsman’s also sufficiently low-ranking that if deputies within the administration reach a consensus that *someone* should resign in protest over today’s comments, he’d be a natural choice. He’s the White House’s mouthpiece on Russia and he’s not in an operational role as momentous as, say, Mattis or Coats or Chris Wray are in which Americans would worry which substandard Trump crony might replace them. No disrespect to Huntsman, who’s a seasoned diplomat, but it doesn’t matter really who the ambassador to Russia is. Trump’s running that particular show. For Huntsman, it’s a question of whether he wants to reconcile himself to the new Trumpified GOP (he wasn’t a fan of the tea party in 2012, you may recall) or exile himself from it. A loyal midwife for Trump’s detente with Putin might find himself on the shortlist for Secretary of State once Mike Pompeo moves on. How excited is Huntsman after today by the prospect of being MAGA’s ambassador to the world?
Your exit quotation below comes from Newt, the first major defector from Trump’s inner-ish circle over today’s performance. Trump will not “correct” the mistake, needless to say; I don’t know why Gingrich would even call it a “mistake,” as Trump’s remarks today were perfectly in line with the worldview that won him Gingrich’s support during the campaign. Newt’ll be back on the Trump train within 24 hours, don’t you worry.
President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected—-immediately.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 16, 2018