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Politics Trump Is Testing Putin’s Campaign Strategy

17:42  01 july  2020
17:42  01 july  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

White House adviser says Trump's call for less coronavirus testing was 'tongue in cheek'

  White House adviser says Trump's call for less coronavirus testing was 'tongue in cheek' President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that more coronavirus testing leads to more cases, making the country look bad.

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- So here we are again, back where this presidency began: Trump and Russia. Russia and Trump.

Vladimir Putin et al. sitting in a chair in a suit and tie: OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE,28 (RUSSIA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, in Osaka, Japan, June,28,2019. Vladimir Putin has arrived to Japan to partcipate the G20 Osaka Summit and to meet U.S.President Donald Trump. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images) © Photographer: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Europe OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE,28 (RUSSIA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, in Osaka, Japan, June,28,2019. Vladimir Putin has arrived to Japan to partcipate the G20 Osaka Summit and to meet U.S.President Donald Trump. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

News that Russian President Vladimir Putin was paying bounties for killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and that President Donald Trump was briefed about it and took no action, is the latest shocking/unsurprising twist in a long and sordid saga. Some day, perhaps, the American people will learn why Trump is so subservient to Putin. Meanwhile, another important question is how far Putin is willing to go to help Trump get re-elected.

‘I don’t kid’: Trump says he wasn’t joking about slowing coronavirus testing

  ‘I don’t kid’: Trump says he wasn’t joking about slowing coronavirus testing President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that he was serious when he revealed that he had directed his administration to slow coronavirus testing.Video by The Washington Post

It’s perplexing that, four years after Trump was privately pleading for Kremlin approval to build a tower in Moscow while publicly insisting that he had no business dealings in Russia, the exact nature of his Russian passion remains  a mystery. American intelligence agents are said to know a great deal about Putin’s hidden wealth. It beggars belief that they don’t know quite a bit about Trump’s, too.

Even Trump’s astonishing humiliation before Putin in Helsinki in 2018 did not shake the details of his subjugation loose from some knowledgeable quarter. “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant,” said the late John McCain in a candid assessment.

So, what if Trump *was* joking about coronavirus testing?

  So, what if Trump *was* joking about coronavirus testing? On Saturday night at his much-hyped return to the campaign trail in Tulsa, Oklahoma, President Donald Trump said this about testing for Covid-19: require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); "When you test -- when you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people. You're going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please."Which, even by the incredibly lowered standards by which Trump statements are judged, was immediately controversial.

Whatever Trump so desperately needs from Putin, he needs far more of it now. Trump’s re-election campaign is a travesty on par with his shambolic 2016 effort. (His campaign was both boorish and victorious.) This time, however, the political context is less cooperative. His peculiar incompetence is killing tens of thousands of Americans while keeping the economy in suspended animation.

Trump’s crude instincts are no different than in 2016. But he is proving incapable of adapting to new political realities, just as his lies are failing to fool a virus. Meanwhile, he faces a candidate less easily caricatured than his 2016 opponent.

Polls are dismal. Without a dramatic turnaround, Trump will need serious help to win. Attorney General William Barr has made it clear that he won’t sound an alarm if Putin pulls another electoral burglary. In a rare appearance before Congress last year, Barr refused to commit to defend the election even if North Korea intervened. In case Putin is hard of hearing, on Tuesday Senate Republicans blocked a provision to require campaigns to report offers of foreign assistance.

Ecclestone shoots against Hamilton - and threatens Putin

 Ecclestone shoots against Hamilton - and threatens Putin © Getty Images Vladimir Putin and Bernie Ecclestone (right) have a good relationship The verbal exchange of blows continues. Long-time Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone shot back against Lewis Hamilton after his allegations. "I'm not against blacks. The opposite is the case. I've always been for them. Lewis' father even wanted to start a company with me. If I were anti-black, I never would have considered it.

So what does Putin do this time? The context is different for him as well. On the one hand, his preferred candidate is flailing. If Putin goes all in for Trump and Democrats win the White House, Russia, and Putin personally, may face a blistering blowback from the new administration. On the other, having Trump in the Oval Office is a strategic asset of incalculable value. How far is Putin willing to go to secure it?

It’s difficult to mitigate risks to an election when the greatest risk is the incumbent in the White House and a party that accepts foreign interference and views voting as a threat to its power. Likewise, the perils of foreign sabotage go far beyond Russian hacking and coordination with the bumblers in the Trump campaign.

In his book “Election Meltdown,” election law expert Richard Hasen raises the harrowing possibility of targeted electrical outages on Election Day. It’s easy to imagine: Russia targets the power in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia (you can add Miami too, if you like). Chaos ensues. Large numbers of Democrats concentrated in those cities are unable to vote. Trump wins those states. Barr’s Justice Department and the Supreme Court refuse to act. The tainted vote stands. Trump is re-elected.

The White House ensures that Trump reads the notes it receives

 The White House ensures that Trump reads the notes it receives © Provided by Le Point US President Donald Trump reads the notes sent to him by the intelligence services, the White House assured Tuesday in response to questions about his attitude in a case involving Russia. According to the New York Times, American intelligence has become convinced that Moscow has distributed bonuses to insurgents for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017, the FBI opened an inquiry into whether Trump was working on behalf of Russia. It was a glaringly obvious question then. In the years since, Trump’s haphazard foreign policy — damaging NATO, acceding to Russia in Syria and Kurdistan, promoting oil and attacking green technology, undermining Ukraine, advocating Russian membership in the G-7 — has included an uncanny litany of Kremlin victories.

Over the next four months, Americans will find out what Putin is prepared to do to sustain his winning streak. What we are unlikely to learn, in a systemic political failure unparalleled in American history, is why Trump is so very keen to enable it.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Susan Rice: Trump picks Putin over troops 'even when it comes to the blood of American service members' .
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Sunday that President Trump picks Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. troops "even when it comes to the blood of American service members."Rice, who also served as former President Obama's national security adviser, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that she believes Trump was briefed on the intelligence that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition service members in Afghanistan. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

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