It’s a short week, and we’re all still aglow within and without from the fireworks, BBQ and celebrations of 241 years of declaring our independence, so there isn’t a surfeit of denizens on either side of the ledger right now. That said … Based on the growing preponderance of evidence that Russia not only acted to sabotage the 2016 election, but is still actively engaged in efforts to affect upcoming elections as well, it was nothing short of astonishing to see the warm welcome President Donald Trump gave to Russia’s Vladimir Putin – a greeting that made even President Jimmy Carter’s welcomes to Leonid Brezhnev look like the actions of a true cold warrior.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took pains to assure anyone who would listen that Trump repeatedly pressed Putin on Russia’s role in rigging the election for his eventual victory, and that Putin denied any involvement. If you’re waiting for a more substantive version of what really transpired between the two leaders, you might be doing so for a while. The Trump administration’s crackdown on leakers within the national security establishment has become so encompassing that information flow from sources is drying up at an alarming rate. Kinda gives a little more relevance to the Washington Post’s motto, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

OK, just for laughs, let’s see what Vice President Mike Pence was up to while his boss was blaming Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta for the DNC email server hacks last year – and yes, you’re right, Podesta had nothing to do with the DNC or its server, but man, does he know how to burn in 140 characters.

 

WINNERS

Tom Wolf: The governor authored a reasoned, emphatic denial of access to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, calling it out for the violation of voter privacy and data grab that it is, rather than the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, as it purports to be.

Joe Khan: the former US Attorney and assistant district attorney appears to be one of the frontrunners to become Philadelphia’s interim district attorney. If appointed, it would be a consolation prize for the second-place finisher in May’s Democratic primary for DA.

Judicial recommendations: The Philadelphia Bar Association teamed up with EConsult Solutions to track how their recommended judicial candidates did in May’s primary. As anyone who has stared at the daunting list of possibilities on the ballot can tell you, any information is welcome – and the results bore that out, showing that candidates with the PBA imprimatur fared extremely well.

 

LOSERS

Pennsylvania: The impact of S&P Global Ratings warning that it would downgrade the commonwealth’s credit rating without a speedy and viable funding solution to the 2016-17 and 2017-18 budgets cannot be overstated: lowered ratings mean higher interest payments, tougher credit terms and even more belt-tightening.

Pat Toomey: The junior US senator’s spineless decision to hold an invitation-only town hall this week is narrowly beaten out by his admission that the reason he and the rest of the Senate GOP majority have had so much trouble crafting a workable replacement for Obamacare is because none of them expected Trump to win in November – so they were just planning to obstruct a Clinton presidency, basically.

John Dougherty: The scope of the FBI investigation into the powerful International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 leader and his union continues to grow, as evidenced by the recent disclosures of search warrants and a mammoth wiretapping operation.