Good afternoon! It’s way past time to get up!
Your friendly neighborhood Uprising correspondent has returned from a long weekend in the woods and is ready once again to face the wilds of the political landscape!
Due to my travels, this week’s Uprising will run on a Wednesday through Friday schedule, so keep an eye on your inboxes. I am also going to test a new format. All of this week’s newsletters will be free, but the longer stories will be exclusively available to paid subscribers. If you’re interested in reading the full version of original items such as today’s piece on California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, it’s time to sign up!
BACK TO CALI: Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and Kardashian family member, is running for governor in California’s quirky recall election. She showed up to a recent event with a full camera crew in tow. That, along with a heavy focus on merchandising in her campaign materials, has fueled questions her gubernatorial bid might be the basis for a new reality show. The Uprising asked one of Jenner’s top advisers, ex-President Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale, if she is launching a series along with her political career. Parscale flatly denied it. Uprising subscribers can read that full story here.
SWISS MIX: President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a summit on Wednesday. The meeting, which was the first face-to-face between the two leaders, took place in Geneva, Switzerland, which the event’s host, Swiss President Guy Parmelin, noted is “the city of peace.” After over two hours of conversations, including an hour-and-a-half where the pair met alone, they both held press conferences and Biden said the meeting was “positive.”
“I did what I came to do,” Biden said.
According to Biden, he told Putin “human rights” would “always be on the table.” The president specifically said he pressed Putin on the release of two former U.S. Marines, who are currently being held in Russia, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed, as well as the jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. A reporter asked Biden if he talked to Putin about what would happen if Navalny is killed.
“I made it clear to him the consequences would be devastating for Russia,” Biden said.
The summit comes as tensions are high between the U.S. and the Kremlin following Russian intervention in the last two American presidential elections and a series of ransomware attacks on U.S. companies. In a clear sign of the strained relationship between the two nations, when Biden and Putin sat down for an expanded meeting with top officials, the two sides each brought their own bottles of water to drink.
Biden described the talks as “positive,” but at the tail end of his press conference, the president got testy with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins when she asked why he is “so confident” Putin will “change his behavior.” A clearly frustrated Biden stressed that he is not predicting any especially dramatic shift from Putin.
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior. What the hell — what do you do all the time?” Biden asked. “When did I say I was confident? … I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything.”
For his part, Putin quoted Tolstoy when asked to assess the prospect for improved relations after the summit.
"There is no happiness in life, there is only a mirage on the horizon, so cherish that,” Putin said.
FULL COURT PRESS: There were also tensions between the reporters from the two countries. According to Politico’s White House Correspondent Anita Kumar, who filed pool reports from the summit, there was a “shoving match” between the American and Russian press corps as they were brought in to see Putin and Biden.
“The media scuffle was the most chaotic your pooler has seen at a presidential event in nine years. Journalists pushed and shoved, yelling at each other to move but no one did. After just a minute or two, Russian security pulled the red rope separating the media from the leaders back to try to keep them away from the presidents,” Kumar wrote.
According to Kumar the “Russian security yelled at journalists to get out and began pushing.”
“Journalists and White House officials screamed back that the Russian security should stop touching us,” she added. “Your pooler was pushed multiple times, nearly to the ground, as many poolers tripped over the red rope, which was now almost to the ground.”
WHITE RIOT: Putin brought up the January 6 attack when he was asked about Navalny’s case. The Russian president ignored multiple questions about Navalny and pointedly avoided saying the opposition leader’s name. However, when ABC’s Rachel Scott pressed Putin about whether jailing and poisoning political opponents means he doesn’t “want a fair political fight,” the Russian leader noted the crackdown on the pro-Trump protesters who stormed the Capitol, including Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed during that attack.
“On the question of who is murdering whom, people rioted and went into the Congress in the U.S. with political demands, and many people were declared as criminals and they are threatened with imprisonment for 20 to 25 years. These people were immediately arrested after those events,” Putin said, later adding, “Others were just shot on the spot and unarmed as well.”
Some American conservatives have similarly expressed sympathy for the January 6 rioters who have faced consequences for their actions. And on Tuesday, 21 conservative Republicans voted against a bipartisan bill to award a congressional medal to Capitol and D.C. police officers for their bravery during the riot. The measure passed with 406 votes. Opponents including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the January 6 rioters. Gosar did not respond to requests for comment from a local paper about why he voted against honoring the members of law enforcement, many of whom were injured that day.
FUN FACT: According to a White House official, Biden gave Putin two gifts at the summit. The first was “a crystal sculpture of an American Bison by Steuben Glass of New York, a stately interpretation of one of our nation’s most majestic mammals and representative of strength, unity, resilience.” Steuben Glass sells an “American Bison Sculpture” for $3,200, but it seems like Putin received an upgraded version.
“The sculpture will be presented on a cherry wood base, symbolic of our nation’s first president, George Washington, with a custom engraved inscription plaque commemorating the meeting between President Biden and President Putin,” the official said.
Biden also gifted his Russian counterpart “a pair of custom Aviators made by Randolph USA.” Aviator sunglasses have become one of Biden’s trademarks over the years and were even featured on his campaign posters and merchandise during last year’s election.
That’s all for today! Tomorrow and Wednesday’s issues of The Uprising will only be available to paid subscribers, so if you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Uprising and tell your friends! And if you work in politics, please don’t forget to leave a (news) tip on your way out → email@example.com