Under a barrage of bipartisan criticism, President Trump said Tuesday he “misspoke” in the news conference in Helsinki after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was Trump’s original statement about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
President Donald Trump: “People came to me. Dan Coats came to me, and some others. They said they think it’s Russia, I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
That was Trump speaking Monday in Helsinki alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. But on Tuesday, after news anchors, lawmakers and members of the intelligence community decried his comments as treasonous, Trump said he’d misspoken, mistakenly saying “would” when he meant to say “wouldn’t.”
President Donald Trump: “Just to repeat it, I said the word 'would' instead of ’wouldn’t.’ And the sentence should have been—and I thought it would be maybe a little bit unclear on the transcript or unclear on the actual video—the sentence should have been: 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative. So, you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”
In rare public comments, former President Barack Obama issued a thinly veiled criticism of President Trump, denouncing the rise of “strongman politics,” while Obama was speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa, at an event marking the centennial of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
Barack Obama: “I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts. Look around. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”
That was former U.S. President Barack Obama speaking at the centennial commemoration of the birth of Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years in apartheid South Africa before being released and becoming South Africa’s first black president. He would have turned 100 years old today. We’ll have more on Mandela’s life later in the broadcast with Rev. Jesse Jackson.
In more news on Trump’s comments about Russia, a New York Times photographer took a photo of his prepared remarks, showing a Sharpie was used to cross out the phrase “anyone involved in that meddling to justice,” in reference to prosecuting those involved in the alleged interference in the election. The prepared remarks also showed the words “There was no collusion” scrawled in Sharpie in the margins of the paper. After delivering his statement, Trump launched a tweet storm attempting to defend his comments in Helsinki, tweeting last night, “The meeting between President Putin and myself was a great success, except in the Fake News Media!” He also tweeted this morning, “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”
On Capitol Hill, Senate committees are holding hearings today and tomorrow on President Trump’s proposal to reorganize the federal government. Trump’s plan includes merging the Labor Department with the Education Department, privatizing the U.S. Postal Service and radically transforming the Interior Department. In response to Trump’s proposal, the American Federation of Government Employees says, “There’s little reason to believe this reorganization plan is anything more than a scheme to eliminate essential programs and public-service jobs, reward or punish political appointees … and privatize government programs to reward political donors.”
The European Union and Japan signed one of the world’s largest free-trade agreements during a meeting of leaders in Tokyo Tuesday. The trade deal will cover a quarter of the global economy. It comes as the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, threatened to incite a trade war with China, and pulled out of sweeping trade deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In East Africa, the first direct flights between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 20 years have taken off from Addis Ababa, headed to Eritrea’s capital Asmara, this morning. Al Jazeera reports that the majority of the flights’ passengers were members of families separated by the long-running “state of war” between the neighboring countries. The resumed flights come as part of a historic peace effort to end the 20-year conflict.
In Spain, a 3-day strike by Amazon workers continues despite repression by Spanish police, who attacked striking workers Tuesday and arrested at least two people. The attack in Spain came as thousands of Amazon workers in Germany and Poland also went on strike. This is Spanish union leader Douglas Harper, speaking about the international strike action.
Douglas Harper: “The local management, which is handling the negotiations here, have told us that management at headquarters in the United States have placed a glass ceiling which they cannot break, so we hope that with these mobilizations the glass ceiling expands and comes closer to what we are demanding.”
And activists and educators have successfully raised enough money to erect a monument to honor famed journalist, abolitionist and suffragist Ida B. Wells. The fundraising effort was first launched over 10 years ago by Ida B. Wells’s great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster. The $300,000 monument will be designed and built by celebrated African-American sculptor Richard Hunt and installed near Ida B. Wells’s former home in Bronzeville, Chicago.