Situational awareness: Piers Morgan interviewed President Trump today. The interview will air on British channel ITV.
- Per the White House pool report: "Jill Colvin of AP asked how the interview went. Piers laughed."
1 big thing: Mueller looms over Trump's Eurotrip
President Trump's royal welcome was overshadowed today by his own Justice Department, as the Mueller investigation charged 12 Russians with hacking Democrats during the 2016 elections — and this comes just three days before Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin.
The big picture: The Mueller investigation's charges today directly tie the Russian government to 2016 election hacking, charging 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking U.S. Democratic candidates and organizations. The charges also include conspiracy and money laundering.
- Matt Miller, MSNBC analyst and former Obama Justice Department official, tells me: "This is the biggest shoe to drop yet."
Just hours before the indictments came down, Trump blasted the Mueller investigation while overseas:
- “I think that we’re being hurt very badly by the, I would call it the witch hunt; I would call it the rigged witch hunt... I think that really hurts our country and it really hurts our relationship with Russia.”
What they're saying:
- Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer: "President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections."
- Top Senate Intel Democrat Mark Warner called on Trump to "cease and desist" from calling the Mueller investigation a "witch hunt."
- John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman who had his email hacked, said he is "pleased that there's enough criminal evidence to bring an indictment."
- White House Spokesperson Lindsay Walters: "Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”
- The White House has no plans to cancel the Putin meeting, Sarah Sanders said. "It's on."
Be smart: These indictments are unlikely to ever put Russians in U.S. prisons, but they will up the political pressure and could mean frozen assets for those with money overseas.
2. What you missed
- Prime Minister Theresa May said today that the U.K. and U.S. will pursue an "ambitious" free trade deal following the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. Go deeper.
- Axios’ Jonathan Swan reporting from Chequers: Trump “has still not been specific about what he wants to achieve from his meeting with Putin. I asked Trump to tell us the three or four things he wanted to achieve from his meeting with Putin and he just listed topic areas — ‘Ukraine,’ ‘Syria,’ ‘non-proliferation,’ etc. A senior European official told me that when he tried to get an agenda or even goals for the meeting the White House response was very vague.” Go deeper.
- The Cook Political Report shifted 10 House seats in Democrats' favor this week. There are now 60 competitive seats (54 held by Republicans) and 26 toss-up seats total.
- Facebook is drawing fire for defending its decision not to ban InfoWars and other entities that repeatedly post debunked conspiracy theories. Go deeper.
- Barack Obama is going to Africa for the first time since leaving office. Stops include Kenya and South Africa. What he's reading.
- "After drawing intense criticism for accepting a role in the movie, Rub & Tug, by her Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders, Scarlett Johansson has withdrawn from the movie, she told OUT in an exclusive statement today."
3. 1 beach read
Today's Axios PM Friday beach read ... "The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America's Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality," by Anna-Lisa Cox (PublicAffairs):
- Henry Louis Gates Jr. says on the jacket: "Tracing the free black families who settled the nation's first frontier, the great Northwest Territory [Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan], Anna-Lisa Cox convincingly shows that African American history has always been interwoven with the pioneer experience in America."
- Cox writes: "They understood that by colonizing the newest portion of the nation, they were laying claim to citizenship in powerful ways."