The Week on Planet Trump: Voters Turn Against POTUS as he Sides with Russia on Interference

Monday: Bipartisan Outrage at Putin Summit

President Trump's unwillingness to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint appearance on Monday prompted a groundswell of criticism from Democrats and Republicans — including many longtime defenders of the president.

"The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said after a joint press conference between the two leaders.

A growing number of Republican lawmakers focused on Trump’s remarks that both the U.S. and Russia were to blame for troubled relations between the two countries. Trump, responding to a question about whether Russia had any responsibility for that relationship, indicated that the ongoing investigation into the 2016 election was as much to blame as the Russian interference itself.

Aboard Air Force One, Trump posted on Twitter that he has "GREAT confidence" in his intelligence officials but added that "I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past."

"The only plausible explanation is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

John Fritze, David Jackson and Eliza Collins, USA Today

Tuesday: 24 Hours Later… an Absurd U-Turn

President Trump on Tuesday claimed he accepts the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russians interfered in the 2016 election. He also said he misspoke when he suggested otherwise in a widely criticized press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Helsinki, Finland.

Mr. Trump appeared to be reading from typed notes — with some handwritten additions — during his remarks in which he stated that Russians were behind the meddling. One of the handwritten notes appeared to say, "there was no collusion."

The president, making what he described as clarifying comments in a meeting with members of Congress at the White House Tuesday, said he meant to say that he had no reason to think Russia "wouldn't" have interfered in the 2016 election, instead of what he actually said on Monday, which is that he had no reason to think Russia "would" have interfered. Facing backlash over his remarks, Mr. Trump told reporters he reviewed a transcript of what he said, and decided to clarify his comments.

Kathryn Watson, CBS News

Wednesday: POTUS Turns against NATO

In the 12 short years since Montenegro regained its independence, the European country has joined NATO, boosted its defense spending, and according to official figures contributes more troops per capita to the war in Afghanistan than the United States.

Yet this U.S. ally — smaller than Connecticut and about as populous as Baltimore — found itself in President Donald Trump's crosshairs late Tuesday as he once again criticized NATO.

The president suggested he would be unhappy defending "tiny" Montenegro if it were attacked, calling into question NATO's central principle of mutual defense.

He also questioned whether the country's "very aggressive people" could draw NATO into a war with Russia.

Article 5 of its founding treaty states that an attack on one member "shall be considered an attack against them all" and is at the "very heart" of the organization. It doesn't specifically mandate allies respond with force but that's the spirit in which many see it.

The only time Article 5 was invoked was on behalf of the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Alexander Smith, NBC News

Thursday: Crackdown Benefits Criminals

President Donald Trump has said that he wants immigration policy that secures the border. But his aggressive policy has instead resulted in organized crime groups preying on droves of desperate asylum seekers who have been turned away by US authorities, according to people familiar with the smuggling operations.

Experts said the administration's now-reversed policy of prosecuting parents who cross the border illegally -- thus separating children from their families -- and the elimination of domestic violence and gang violence as grounds for asylum is having another result: Further strengthening ties between human smugglers, other organized crime groups and corrupt local law enforcement along the border.

Ray Sanchez, Nick Valencia and Tal Kopan, CNN

Friday: Economy Sacrificed for Trade War

President Trump threatened to impose tariffs on every product imported from China, dialing up the pressure in the growing trade dispute between the world's two economic superpowers.

In an interview with CNBC broadcast this morning, Trump said, "We're down a tremendous amount," referring to the trade imbalance between the U.S. and China. "I'm ready to go to 500."

In the interview, which was recorded Thursday, Trump also indicated his willingness to endure stock market volatility as he pursues an aggressive trade agenda with China. Asked about the potential of a market downturn over his trade policies, he said: "If it does, it does. Look, I'm not doing this for politics."

He said the United States is "being taken advantage of, and I don't like it." Trump's views on issues such as guns and abortion have shifted throughout his public life, but on trade, he has been a consistent protectionist, dating back to the 1980s.

Uri Berliner, NPR

Saturday: Disgraced Lawyer Threatens Presidency

President Trump’s former longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen reportedly dismissed as "innuendo" sources saying that he is questioning Trump’s ability to serve as president, but declined to deny the report.

Axios reported Saturday that sources told the outlet Cohen has been openly questioning Trump’s fitness as president since Trump’s widely criticized press conference earlier this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cohen has moved to distance himself from Trump over the past few weeks, fueling speculation that the president’s former fixer may flip on Trump. Cohen is under criminal investigation for alleged financial crimes.

The relationship between the two suffered another blow on Friday when The New York Times reported that Cohen secretly recorded a conversation with Trump shortly before the 2016 election about making a payment to a former Playboy model alleging an affair with Trump.

The recording was seized when federal agents raided Cohen's offices earlier this year.

Trump knocked Cohen in a tweet Saturday, suggesting that Cohen recording their conversation was "perhaps illegal."

Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill

Sunday: Disapproval for Russia Appeasement

A majority of Americans disapprove of Donald Trump casting doubt about U.S. intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election, with relatively modest support for the president even in his own party and among conservatives in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

The public by a 17-point margin also says America’s leadership in the world has gotten weaker, not stronger, under Trump. And just 33 percent approve of his handling of his summit with Vladimir Putin last week, with four in 10 saying he went too far in supporting the Russian leader.

In terms of intensity of sentiment, the survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 70 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals strongly disapprove of Trump questioning U.S. intelligence on the matter, while just 28 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of conservatives strongly approve.

Gary Langer, ABC News

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