Quick Takes: Putin Wants Trump to Pay Up

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* In many ways, Putin has gotten exactly what he wanted from a Trump presidency: chaos and a weakened Western alliance. But he clearly wants those compounds back that Obama shut down in response to Russia’s meddling in our election.

The Kremlin on Monday said Washington must unconditionally restore its access to diplomatic compounds in the United States ahead of high-level talks on the issue.

Russia is angry that Washington is still barring its diplomats from using two compounds in the states of New York and Maryland after then president Barack Obama in December ordered the ban on access in response to suspected Russian meddling in the US election.

“We consider it absolutely unacceptable to place conditions on the return of diplomatic property, we consider that it must be returned without any conditions and talking,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

* Here’s a question we’ve faced more than once in the last six months: Who are you going to believe? U.S. intelligence agencies or the president (who sided with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States to sabotage Qatar)?

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.

The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified.

* In many ways, the Trump administration has adopted Obama’s strategy for defeating ISIS…with one big caveat.

Civilian casualties from the U.S.-led war against the so-called Islamic State are on pace to double under President Donald Trump, according to an Airwars investigation for The Daily Beast.

Airwars researchers estimate that at least 2,300 civilians likely died from Coalition strikes overseen by the Obama White House—roughly 80 each month in Iraq and Syria. As of July 13, more than 2,200 additional civilians appear to have been killed by Coalition raids since Trump was inaugurated—upwards of 360 per month, or 12 or more civilians killed for every single day of his administration…

The high civilian toll in part reflects the brutal final stages of the war, with the densely populated cities of Mosul and Raqqa under heavy assault by air and land. But there are also indications that under President Trump, protections for civilians on the battlefield may have been lessened—with immediate and disastrous results.

* Another Trump promise goes down the drain.

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional visas for low-wage seasonal workers for the remainder of this fiscal year, a seeming about-face from President Trump’s “Hire American” rhetoric, following heavy lobbying from fisheries, hospitality and other industries that rely on temporary foreign workers.

The increase represents a 45 percent bump from the number of H-2B visas normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year, said senior Homeland Security officials in a call with reporters.

* Ed Kilgore catches a GOP Congressman in a ridiculous lie. Here’s the video. Try to square what Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) is saying with the chyron even Fox News used and you’ll get where Ed is going with this one. It correctly states, “Senate needs 50 votes for health care bill.”

* It isn’t major news, but I tend to notice things like this. Real Clear Politics posted the video of an interview with conservative journalist Sheryl Attkisson. According to RCP, the interviewer is someone named, “Daily Caller News Foundation.” It is only by going to the original posting at The Daily Caller that you find out the actual name of the interviewer: Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Why do you suppose RCP didn’t want readers to know that?

* Finally, over the weekend I was reminded how much I appreciate the immense talent of Paolo Nutini. This song he did about three years ago is even more relevant now than it was back then.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.