Jake Tapper: What the hell is going on?

CNN's Jake Tapper reacts to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders' statement that says President Trump disagrees with Putin's "sincere" proposal to interrogate Americans.

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 12:19 PM
Updated: Jul 20, 2018 12:36 PM

President Trump is turning heads again. After coming under intense fire for his stunning remarks, effectively siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the US intelligence community in Helsinki, Trump has doubled down on his rogue policies toward Russia.

After a few mild, confusing and halting assurances that he understands the risks Russia's cyber operations pose to our election system, the White House announced that the President would like to have Putin come to the United States for a second summit this fall.

And while Trump practices shock and awe diplomacy, the Republican-controlled Congress has been passing meaningless resolutions.

Today, by 98 to 0, the Senate voted to oppose President Putin's proposal to interrogate some US officials. This resolution came soon after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the administration was considering the possibility of allowing Russia to question Americans, including Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia. The idea rightly drew widespread condemnation and Trump finally said he disagreed with it.

The former ambassador thanked the Senate for their unified stance against the proposal, tweeting, "98-0. Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you for all your support."

There have been a few other signs of life from a dormant Congress. The Senate, for instance, took a similar step with trade when they rebuked the president's embrace of tariffs.

Yet the Senate should not be giving itself too much of a pat on the back.

While resolutions are an important step, relative to doing nothing, they are a weak use of legislative power against a president who has been extraordinarily aggressive in flexing his institutional muscle. They are just slightly more impactful than the sporadic remarks that senators like Jeff Flake or Bob Corker have made, which get attention in the media but don't amount to any substantive restraint on Trump.

If the Republican Congress wants to show that it is taking seriously the threats the President has posed, it has to show it is willing to take more tangible action. After all, with a slim 51 seat majority, any Senate Republicans who really want to demonstrate a profile in courage could refuse to vote in favor of the president's wish list.

It would only take a handful of Senate Republicans to block the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee.

If they want to take affirmative steps that put pressure on the President, they could also team up with Democrats to push for bipartisan legislation to protect the Mueller investigation from a president determined to bring it down. Additionally, Republicans could vote in favor of a substantive cybersecurity bill to address huge holes in our election system and the ongoing threat that we face.

Or they could conduct vigorous, televised oversight hearings to expose some of the problems taking place in the White House. Historically, hearings have massive effects on public debate about a president when done seriously -- think of William Fulbright and Vietnam, Sam Ervin and Watergate or Senator Inouye and Iran Contra. The hearings need to be public and they need to cover a broad range of issues that have roiled the nation.

Senate Republicans should be more resolute in pushing back against the kind of campaigns that have taken place in the House to delegitimate intelligence and law enforcement organizations. When the President kicks and screams about legislation they do send his way, as he did with implementing the Russia sanctions bill, they need to keep his feet to the fire with their oversight power.

Finally, Senate Republicans can't offer situational verbal support to the president when they believe that he is doing things that are fundamentally damaging to the republic. Recently, there has been an escalation in the angry reactions to Trump's actions -- such as Sen. John McCain saying that Trump gave "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory" in Helsinki -- but Republicans need to be more consistent in their opposition between now and the midterm elections. Otherwise, their words won't have much of an impact within the Republican electorate.

The Republican Congress has really reached an important historic crossroads. Given the highly dramatic and consequential developments that have taken place since day one of the Trump administration, the party will be remembered for how it responds and whether it does anything beyond passing resolutions and tweeting reprimands. If it does not, there will be no way to characterize the Republican Congress other than allied with the President, making them supportive participants in the era of Trump.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604687

Reported Deaths: 7643
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1250161780
Ramsey52519898
Dakota46852471
Anoka42789458
Washington27436291
Stearns22561225
St. Louis18146313
Scott17553137
Wright16383149
Olmsted13406102
Sherburne1202795
Carver1067448
Clay826592
Rice8204110
Blue Earth762744
Crow Wing681895
Kandiyohi668185
Chisago620152
Otter Tail586284
Benton582998
Goodhue484074
Douglas475781
Mower470533
Winona461451
Itasca460163
Isanti440364
McLeod430961
Morrison424962
Beltrami407962
Nobles407750
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347133
Pine334923
Nicollet331345
Mille Lacs311854
Brown308040
Le Sueur297326
Cass286332
Todd285633
Meeker263543
Waseca238023
Martin235333
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182846
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163423
Fillmore157610
Faribault155219
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122812
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine115020
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95518
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48393
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371226

Reported Deaths: 6056
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58274641
Linn21241339
Scott20311248
Black Hawk16180312
Woodbury15241230
Johnson1462285
Dubuque13515211
Dallas1129499
Pottawattamie11233174
Story1072048
Warren583891
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554196
Sioux517674
Webster516094
Muscatine4884106
Marshall487176
Des Moines467672
Wapello4337122
Buena Vista427040
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382556
Marion366176
Jones301057
Henry294537
Bremer288761
Carroll287252
Boone268534
Crawford268340
Benton260355
Washington257551
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232751
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212271
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198935
Page194522
Buchanan194133
Cedar192323
Hardin187544
Fayette186943
Wright186140
Hamilton182051
Harrison179973
Clayton171157
Butler166535
Madison164519
Mills163924
Floyd163542
Cherokee159338
Lyon158941
Poweshiek157136
Allamakee152852
Hancock150334
Iowa149724
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138813
Grundy137433
Emmet135841
Jefferson133335
Shelby131637
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129849
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126743
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113523
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke101124
Keokuk96832
Monroe96431
Unassigned9550
Ida91635
Adair87432
Pocahontas85822
Davis85325
Monona83431
Osceola78917
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7628
Taylor66812
Fremont6279
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56418
Wayne54423
Audubon53411
Adams3444
Rochester
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 62°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Charles City
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Storm chances increasing for Thursday and Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events