Not everyone was buying it when President Trump said he simply misspoke during his Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he said he didn't "see why it would be Russia" that interfered in American elections. On Tuesday, he told reporters that he simply meant to say that he didn't "see why it wouldn't be" Russia, adding, "I think that probably clarifies things."
Lucky for Trump, some conservative lawmakers were happy to accept his defense of Russian meddling in the 2016 election as a simple misunderstanding.
"I'm just glad he clarified it," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told NBC News. "I can't read his intentions or what he meant to say at the time, and suffice it to say that for me as a policy maker, what really matters is what we do moving forward."
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) concurred, telling Fox News that he took the president at his word when he explained his controversial comments as a botched double-negative. Portman on Monday called Trump's failure to side with the U.S. intelligence community "troubling."
While Rubio and Portman enjoyed a sigh of relief, not every conservative who condemned Trump's Monday comments has been so quick to move on. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), for example, didn't back down from his criticism, including when he said Monday that Trump gave Putin "a propaganda win." Instead, he told Fox News that Trump had been "weak" and delivered a "bad day for America." Summer Meza
President Trump would like to say "you're welcome."
Trump on Tuesday claimed that he prevented a war from breaking out between the U.S. and North Korea.
"If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea," he said, also boasting that "all of Asia is thrilled" with the progress of the denuclearization talks, which have not led to any clear results.
Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
Trump patted himself on the back for a job well done after his June 12 meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. The summit included signing a vague document that pledged efforts to "work toward" denuclearization, which Trump called a "big step back from potential nuclear catastrophe." Though the president arguably escalated the threat of conflict in the first place with the Twitter insults he lobbed at Kim, he would now like us to all thoroughly enjoy the war that didn't break out as a result. Summer Meza
Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's attorney, is so confident in his legal strategy that he's willing to apply it to one of Trump's wildest claims.
Giuliani told TMZ that there's no way Trump will be indicted while in office — even if he shoots somebody. The bizarre assertion came up after TMZ asked Giuliani about Trump's 2016 claim that he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not face any consequences. But not to worry, Giuliani said: Trump was just using a rhetorical device, not threatening murder.
"He's not going to do that, that's obviously just a metaphor," Giuliani said.
Giuliani further explained that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators can't indict a sitting president, because in order for a commander in chief to be indicted he must first be impeached. "All they get to do is write a report," Giuliani told CNN.
Giuliani said that Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian meddling in the 2016 election, told Trump's legal team that he would not try and indict Trump if his team found any wrongdoing. There is some disagreement among lawmakers whether the Constitution bars sitting presidents from being indicted, but Giuliani certainly seems unconcerned with the debate. Watch his full comments at TMZ. Summer Meza
In space, an asteroid that comes within 120,000 miles of Earth is considered a close call.
So we should feel lucky that a flying boulder whizzed past us Sunday without incident, especially considering that scientists didn't see the massive rock coming until the last minute. The asteroid, named 2018 GE3, was the size of a football field, measuring about up to 361 feet in diameter.
Because asteroids are relatively small and dark, LiveScience reports, it can be hard to predict when one will approach our planet — which is a fairly rare occurrence anyway. This most recent asteroid passed at half the moon's distance from Earth — about 119,500 miles — but the Catalina Sky Survey didn't spot it until a few hours before because the massive rock reflected so little light.
Telescopes used by NASA are generally on the lookout for much larger and potentially extremely dangerous flying objects, reports LiveScience, so it's easy for skywatchers to miss smaller asteroids that would have only a, say, mildly devastating effect on impact. So rest assured: If a truly enormous asteroid were on its way to slam into Earth, NASA would let you know.
President Trump on Thursday reassured surely trembling Republicans that he "will veto" Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) single-payer health-care bill. Sanders introduced the legislation Wednesday with surprisingly solid backing from the Democratic caucus and to lots of media fanfare, but with almost zero chance of it ever passing Congress.
But Trump, puzzlingly, promised he would put an end to the whole affair from the Oval Office, seemingly implying he believes a bill advocating for a public health-care system paid for by higher taxes and managed at the federal level could: garner a majority of votes in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives; win 60 votes in the Senate, where the GOP controls 52 seats; and be agreed upon by both chambers, who propose it to him for a signature.
So Trump thinks a single payer bill is going to land on his desk? pic.twitter.com/DEOnKKTgx4
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) September 14, 2017
Either that, or he needs a little civics refresher, which we've provided below. Kimberly Alters
Rest easy, America: President Trump is "small potatoes compared to Nazi Germany." At a town hall Tuesday night shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) attempted to soothe his constituents by pointing to a moment in history that was worse than Trump's presidency. "America has overcome amazing challenges that Donald Trump, as frightening as he is to some people, small potatoes compared to Nazi Germany," Garrett said.
When constituents met that remark with jeers, Garrett doubled down. "So he's worse?" Garrett said, literally asking the crowd if they'd rank America's commander-in-chief as greater cause for alarm than the Third Reich. Garrett pointed out people were worried about former President Barack Obama too, and promised that, no matter what, "this great nation will continue to move forward by virtue of the collective of American people."
Feel better now? Becca Stanek
Congress on Friday passed a stopgap spending bill, keeping the government funded through May 5 and dodging a looming government shutdown on President Trump's 100th day in office Saturday. The spending extension easily passed the House, 382-30, and it passed the Senate in a voice vote. The bill will now go to Trump's desk.
Lawmakers were staring down a deadline of Friday at midnight to either pass a spending bill or see a partial government shutdown. Now that the stopgap bill has passed Congress, legislators on Capitol Hill will have an additional week to negotiate a $1 trillion spending bill financing government agencies through the end of the federal government's fiscal year. Becca Stanek
For anyone concerned about President-elect Donald Trump's grasp on the Constitution, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is already on the case. When asked about Trump's understanding of the differences between running a country and a business empire, Ryan said he has talked to Trump "extensively" about the founding document, particularly the section on the separation of powers. "We've talked about the Constitution, Article 1 on the Constitution, the separation of powers," Ryan said in an excerpt of a 60 Minutes interview set to air Sunday. "He feels very strongly, actually, that under President Obama's watch, he stripped a lot of power away from the Constitution, away from the legislative branch of government, and we want to reset the balance of power so that people and the Constitution are rightfully restored."
Trump's handle on the Constitution has been questioned on several occasions, such as when he said in July that he supported Article 12 of the Constitution. The Constitution has just seven articles.
You can catch Ryan's full 60 Minutes interview on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. In the meantime, watch the excerpt below. Becca Stanek