President Donald Trump is standing by his son, Donald Jr., amid the fallout of the latter's newly-revealed meeting with a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton sourced to the Russian government. "My son Donald did a good job last night," Trump tweeted, referencing the younger Trump's softball appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox show. "He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!" But neither Trump is out of the woods yet. For the son, whose story about his discussions with the Kremlin-linked lawyer continues to shift, there will be hearings and meetings with investigators, and each inconsistency will be scrutinized. For the father, the exploding Russia scandal has gone from the theoretical to the proven: there is now no doubt that an inner-circle member of the Trump campaign would have gleefully accepted assistance from the Russian government. What they did or did not provide is now a matter for investigators, and the political toll those investigations will take on the Trump presidency is incalculable.
What's clear is that as he nears the six-month mark in office, Trump is surrounded by a factious and distrusting staff that is fearful of what actions may have been taken during the wild 2016 campaign. Republicans on Capitol Hill are wary of expending more political capital to defend a beleaguered president who has thrown them under the bus time and again. Their efforts to pass a healthcare bill so desired by the White House is running into fresh headwinds, while they fume over the White House's inability to control the president. All the while, investigators are poring over documents and emails, seeking out sources, and preparing for interviews with potential witnesses—and the media is meticulously cataloguing the false and misleading statements offered by the Trump administration in its Russia defense. In short: it's no surprise why President Donald Trump is feeling increasingly frustrated in office, but as ever, he's the true source of his own dissatisfaction.
Gary Cohn is eyed for Fed Chair. McConnell delays August recess. And Trump's FBI nominee says he won't pledge loyalty to the president.
Here are your must reads:
A trusted insider met with Trump [New York Times]
Move comes as McConnell aims to pass health-care bill that likely will retain two taxes on high-income households [Wall Street Journal]
If National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn decides he wants the job, he is likely to get it, sources close to the process said [Politico]
Trump allies look for dirt on journalists [Washington Post]
Trump frustrated with top aides [Associated Press]
"I sure as heck didn't offer one." —Trump FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray to the Senate Judiciary Committee when asked if he'd made a loyalty pledge to the president. He added he wouldn't make one if asked.
"In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently. Again this is before the Russia mania, this is before they were building this up in the press. For me this was opposition research, they had something you know maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I’d been hearing about." —Donald Trump Jr. to Fox News' Sean Hannity.
Bits and Bites
A revelation unlike any other in the Russia investigation [Washington Post]
Trump defends son after disclosure of Russian emails [Associated Press]
Russia Denies Connections to People Who Set Up Meeting With Donald Trump Jr. [Associated Press]