So, Trump Is Mad At The FBI For Them Doing Their Job, Are You Mad At Them Too?
I am not a fan of Donald Trump nor am I a fan of Hillary Clinton, personally I believe that these two should have gotten married, they are just alike. In November of 2016 we the people of the U.S. knew going in to election day that we were all going to end up with an habitual liar as our next President, the only question was, male of female. I have no doubts at all that both of these people as well as several of the people who are close to them are nothing but liars and crooks. It is my personal belief that Hillary, Bill, Donald, Donald Jr, Erick, Jarred Kushner and Ivanka should all be forced to live out the rest of their lives in one 4×8 jail cell in the basement of Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. In that last election I voted for the third-party candidate Gary Johnson, not because I thought that he could win, I never even knew what he said he stands for, I just couldn’t drag myself to have to say that I voted for Donald or for Hillary.
Now to the main part of this article. As most everyone who lives here in the States probably knows President Trump is very mad at the FBI because he strongly feels that they should never ever have been investigating reported crimes being committed during the election cycle by himself and his indentured whores. Yet he does feel that they should have been investigating crimes he says that the Hillary Campaign were/are guilty of. I have no doubt that Hillary and her campaign committed many federal, state and local crimes, yet Trump feels that his campaign should get a free pass from the FBI for their crimes. It appears to me that Donald and his henchmen committed about every election crime that is possible to be committed including treason with several foreign and even hostile governments. Personally I would be very upset if the FBI and several of the other ‘Policing Agency’s’ weren’t still investigating Hillary and Donald’s crimes, after all, that is their job! How do you feel about this issue? Should the FBI just give political campaigns a free hand to do any thing with anyone no matter how many laws they are breaking?I still strongly believe that the Special Council should be working hard on ‘the money trail’ and this would include the filed taxes of these fore mentioned players. Remember, Donald still has not made his taxes public, there is a reason for his lies on this matter. On just one issue, one business, his golf club in Ma-largo Florida shows how crooked his is and how willing he is to commit tax fraud. He tells his visitors and golfing buddies that this business is worth over a 100 million dollars yet when he filed his property taxes on it he reported that it was only worth 1 million dollars so that he would only have to pay 1% of the taxes due. Folks, almost all of the houses around this club are valued at more than one million dollars. Donald, just like Hillary, is nothing but a fraud a thief and a liar and he should be in prison, not the Oval Office!
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Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)
Three months before the November 2016 elections, senior members of the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a small group of people from the Mideast who offered to help the controversial businessman win the race against Hillary Clinton. The group included “an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, and Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the former head of the private security firm Blackwater whose sister Betsy Devos is now secretary of education, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
The August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the report, “was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.”
According to the report, the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, “extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign,” and his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”
The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrat, according to Bloomberg.
This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP)
The plan, according to the report which cited three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort,” involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.”
Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”
Nader allegedly said that the two crown princes “saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.”
Trump Jr. “responded approvingly,” the New York Times said, citing “a person with knowledge of the meeting,” and following the initial offers for help, Nader “was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”
Nader was also reportedly “promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”
After Trump won the election, Nader paid Zamel “a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million.” and while the NY Times said there were conflicting accounts for the payment, “a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”
In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The August 3 meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked last year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the lead-up to the election.
The revelation of the meeting is the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign.
Nader also reportedly visited Moscow twice during the campaign and Zamel’s businesses have ties to Russia, which are “of interest” to the special counsel’s investigation, according to the report.
Zamel was already questioned by investigators for the special counsel, the report said, “and at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal.”
The Israeli police worked with US investigators to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation, according to the report.
Nader too has been cooperating with the inquiry, the report said, “and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.”
Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the NY Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader, and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”
A lawyer for Zamel, Marc L. Mukasey, told the NY Times, that “neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign.”
“The DOJ [Department of Justice] clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.
“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he added.
The New York Times reported that though it is still unclear if any direct assistance was forthcoming from Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, “two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.”
The August 3, 2016 meeting came two months after Trump Jr., Kushner, and others met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton.
This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting on June 9, 2016.
In a closed-door interview last year with the committee, Trump Jr., said he did not give much thought to the idea that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race.
What Making Deals with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner Taught Me About Deception
Senior Advisor Jared Kushner waits for a meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room of the White House Sept. 12, 2017 in Washington, D/C. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Carter, a former publishing director of the New York Observer, is a writer based in Brooklyn.
About 13 years ago, I walked into Donald Trump’s office hoping to sell him advertising in The New York Observer. At that time, I was publishing director of the newspaper, which was still owned by my father, Arthur Carter, but I could see a potential sale of the struggling paper looming and sought to fend it off. In those days, I sold ads because I had the noble idea that I could save the newspaper. That didn’t happen. But over time, I did grasp something about the nature of selling and witnessed a range of ways in which it’s achieved.
That day, Trump — who was speaking on the phone, to one of his children, I believe — smiled, greeted me wordlessly and pointed to a chair. He had no intention of pausing his activities because I had arrived for a meeting. He continued on in a seemingly friendly, inclusive manner, but ignored the stated purpose of my visit. He picked up the phone intermittently, while employees wandered in and out of the office. A consummate performer, he appeared to be conscious of his audience. I tried to corral his attention and began my sales pitch several times, but I don’t think I spoke two uninterrupted sentences. He chatted with me off and on, talking fondly of his kids, then asked my advice on interior design for one of his properties. It was a question about gilded molding, I believe.
“You like this one?”
And then, my allotted time was up.
DONALD TRUMP JR. HAS PREVIOUSLY UNDISCLOSED BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP WITH HUNTING BUDDY
WHITE HOUSE SAYS TRUMP WON ARBITRATION AGAINST STORMY DANIELS
On my way out, Trump beamed at me. “You’re so thin!” he cried out. I didn’t have a good response to his oddly inappropriate comment, which he probably intended as flattery. I smiled awkwardly and waved goodbye. Unfortunately, he didn’t buy ads from me that day or any other day. I doubt he ever intended to. He probably met with me hoping to ingratiate himself and get some positive coverage from the Observer.
A year or two later, in 2006, I was seated with my father in his living room and 25-year-old Kushner walked in. This time, we were selling the whole newspaper. I don’t mean to inflate my role — I was merely on the selling team, just a passive spectator. Nevertheless, I had a personal stake in the outcome, having gone to work for my father with the idea that I’d take over when he retired. I experienced the sale of the paper as a crushing blow. I’d moved to New York to work there and invested five years of my life. But if it was inevitable, then at least I could hope for a like-minded owner, ideally someone who’d welcome my presence and assistance.
Kushner positioned himself as a naïve protégé who looked up to my father as a mentor. His family’s name had recently been sullied by his own father’s misdeeds and subsequent time in prison. He had yet to meet Ivanka Trump. In retrospect, it seems clear to me that his desire to acquire the newspaper had to do with rehabilitating his family’s image. The Huffington Post reported that a family friend of the Kushners said the move was one of three suggestions public relations guru Howard Rubenstein gave Jared. (Kushner Companies and Rubenstein denied the account.)
Outwardly modest and guileless, eyes and chin down, he talked in his soft-spoken voice of his respect and admiration for this venerable institution. He said if he were to own the newspaper, he would be eager for my father’s continued participation as well as mine — in fact, he seemed enthusiastic about my staying on at the Observer. Lastly, he implied he had enough money to keep the paper running forever.
Kushner was effective in selling himself to my father and me, but I would grow to realize that his interest in the Observer had nothing to with a love of journalism, or even a passing interest in journalism. Once he owned the paper, colleagues told me he said he found it excruciating to read — and acknowledged as much in a 2009 New York magazine interview. Once he owned the paper, we barely spoke. Kushner didn’t fire me, nor did he formally demote me. But I left after six months, when he’d made it clear to me, with his lack of words or a blink in my direction, that he did not intend to work with me.
Almost everyone has to sell, no matter your occupation. It’s one of the hardest and most underestimated jobs. Though I didn’t excel at it, I recognize what it requires: sharp intuition — the ability to discover who people are. Salespeople are social creatures who enjoy learning. They figure out people in order to provide them with what they want or need. At least the principled ones do.
But there are other sorts of salespeople who take the exact opposite tactic — you might call them show people. They are the ones who go through life projecting an image ceaselessly. They believe success comes from the ability to ignore information that doesn’t suit them. They write their own narrative, and they commit wholly, relentlessly.
Every president this country has ever had was to some degree a salesman. But it is clear to anyone who has done business with President Trump that he views the presidency as an extension of sales: in his view, it is an occupation that has little to do with listening. To take in new information, he would need to stop projecting an image.
You could have seen this at the listening session held at the White House on Feb. 26, in which the President spoke with governors about school shootings. Twenty-five seconds into remarks from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the President crosses his arms; when Inslee stopped speaking, Trump quickly refuted what the governor said and moved on to someone who agreed with him.
Kushner, too, never stops projecting an image. Though Senior Advisor to the President and Trump’s son-in-law, the public has little first-hand knowledge of his character. Witness this recent and somewhat puzzling story on BuzzFeed, which emphasizes his opportunistic streak: “Kushner Sought To Sell Newspaper to Trump’s Political Enemies” shortly after the 2016 election.
Perhaps wishful thinking led me to believe in Kushner’s initial sincerity when he bought the Observer because it served me to do so, but eventually I felt duped. Once he owned the newspaper, his deferential attitude was replaced by a posture of superiority. That air of superiority, as opposed to authority, defied common sense because he had no experience in journalism. At times, it seemed to me that he was acting a role and knew he was. At other times, it seemed more likely that Kushner had come to believe his own performance. Given his prominent role today, either is a disturbing prospect. Apparently similar to President Trump, he didn’t and doesn’t know that leadership has to do with learning and listening. For this White House, leadership is about presentation. All you need to do is say it, and then it will be true.
Carter’s work has appeared in The Economist, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Observer and other publications.
TIME Ideas hosts the world’s leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.
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Then, The Washington Post published a bombshell report that at least four countries had discussed how to use Kushner’s sparse experience, financial troubles and intricate business arrangements to manipulate him.
The triple blows at Trump’s inner circle added to the already incredible personal, political and legal pressure heaped on the President and the strain on those staffing his turbulent presidency.
They come at a moment when Mueller’s probe is gathering pace, cranking out indictments of Trump associates, and appears to be posing a more severe threat to the President, Kushner and other important associates.
The developments were more than a personal and public humiliation to Kushner, who has played an influential, if mysterious, role in the administration.
They put the sustainability of his role as a top foreign policy adviser to Trump in doubt because he will have access to far fewer government secrets and cannot see the Presidential Daily Brief, the collection of the spy community’s treasures prepared for the commander in chief.
The downgrade appears to make it all but impossible for Kushner to do his job even though the White House and his lawyer say that is not the case.
But how for example can he carry out his duties running the Middle East peace process or liaising with top Gulf powers if he is not privy to the latest intelligence about his interlocutors or other key regional players like Iran?
Similarly, Kushner could find himself asked to leave sensitive meetings in the White House or force top intelligence or foreign policy officials to avoid the most sensitive subjects in meetings that he is in with the President.
“He can’t see intercepted communications — that’s top secret, he’s now downgraded to secret … he can’t see the most secret CIA information about their informants,” said Phil Mudd, a former CIA and FBI official who is now a CNN national security analyst.
“He can’t see some of the stuff our Western allies see,” he added.
Ultimately, unless Kushner is cleared by the FBI to receive a permanent security clearance or gets a waiver from the President his diminished role will spur fresh speculation about his longevity as a White House staffer.
His departure and potentially that of his wife Ivanka Trump, who just controversially led a US mission to South Korea’s Winter Olympics at a time of flaring nuclear tensions with North Korea, would mark a huge earthquake in Trump world.
As it is, the couple will see their “influence diminished,” a GOP source close to the White House told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Fresh doubts over Kushner’s position also risked reflecting poorly on Trump, given that the President made a close family member who was apparently unqualified or at risk of being compromised by foreign powers such a pivotal adviser.
After all, Trump pledged to hire the most qualified people in the world to serve in his administration, and made the alleged mishandling of classified material by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton a key argument of his campaign.
Trump was already under ethical fire for breaking anti-nepotism conventions by hiring family members. Kushner’s new troubles will make those questions even more acute.
“This is a stunning blow to President Trump,” said CNN presidential historian Timothy Naftali, noting that Kushner was one of the few senior advisers with whom Trump felt comfortable.
“This is a big deal … he must be fuming,” Naftali told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
The idea that key foreign countries, including Mexico, Israel, China and the United Arab Emirates had acted on conversations about how to manipulate Kushner, according to current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports cited by the Post, is also a problem.
After all, the optics of a senior presidential adviser sitting down with leaders who have been publicly reported to have tried to compromise him would weaken his leverage.
The political implications of the Kushner news are less profound than the national security questions but no less intriguing.
The strike against Kushner is a bold move by Kelly who has worked to remove what he sees a distracting elements around the President — such as former top political adviser Steve Bannon and former foreign policy aide Sebastian Gorka. But his decision to take on the President’s son-in-law is the most significant and potentially risky coup yet.
Last week, Trump told reporters he would let Kelly decide what to do about his son-in-law’s clearance but stressed that Kushner had done an “outstanding job.” The comment was seen by many in Washington as a broad hint to Kelly that the President wanted Kushner kept in the loop.
Now any attempt by Trump to contradict Kelly’s move would shatter the chief of staff’s authority and make his position all but impossible. But if Kelly prevails, his decision on Kushner will be regarded as a gutsy political victory and would undercut speculation he cannot last much longer in the White House.
Signs that Mueller is looking into Trump’s finances meanwhile add a layer of intensity to the drama surrounding his investigation.
The President has previously warned that he would not tolerate the special counsel seeking such information, so speculation about whether Trump will try to fire Mueller will be revived.
While there is no indication so far of any wrongdoing by Trump or collusion with a Russian election meddling effort, the report again poses the question of whether his past business dealings could have been a target for any Russian attempt to compromise him.
Any sense on the part of the President that the walls are closing in will not have been helped by Tuesday’s testimony to a House committee by Hope Hicks, his communications director and close campaign aide.
Jared Kushner should not be working in the White House
Jennifer RubinThe Washington Post
The Washington Post reports:
“A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to three people familiar with the discussion.
“The Feb. 9 phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to White House Counsel Donald McGahn came amid growing public scrutiny of a number of administration officials without final security clearances. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation’s most sensitive material for over a year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed.
“A week after the call from Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced that staffers whose clearances have not been finalized will no longer be able to view top-secret information — meaning that Kushner stood to lose his status as early as Friday.”
We do not know for certain why Kushner’s security clearance has been held up. Suffice it to say, however, that if a senior staffer in any other administration had to repeatedly amend his disclosure statements, failed initially to disclose meetings with Russians during the transition (including one in which a back channel cutting out our intelligence services was discussed), ran up huge personal debts and consulted with a now-fired, indicted White House official, he would have been denied a clearance and shown the door. (“Kushner’s actions during the transition have been referenced in the guilty plea of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted he lied to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,” The Post reports. “Prosecutors said Flynn was acting in consultation with a senior Trump transition official, whom people familiar with the matter have identified as Kushner.”)
It isn’t surprising that Chief of Staff John Kelly would be happy to see Kushner go. (“Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner’s uncertain security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer, according to people familiar with the conversations. He has said he would not be upset if the president’s son-in-law and his wife, Ivanka Trump, left their positions as full-time employees.”)
Aside from whatever political backstabbing might be going on (Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump is purportedly involved in trying to replace Kelly), Kushner now stands in violation of the deadline Kelly imposed to end all interim security clearances. If Kushner remains and gets special treatment, the message from the White House is clear: The Trump family doesn’t meet basic security requirements and gets special treatment. The mixed message to the rest of the White House staff undermines Kelly’s authority and ability to force compliance with essential security requirements.
Taking a step back, in any other White House a senior adviser whose job requires access to classified material would be obliged at the very least to step away from duties pertaining to national security. We have known since May 2017 that Kushner was under investigation. (The Post reported on May 19, 2017: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.” That person was later identified as Kushner.) “Under no circumstances should Kushner have maintained his security clearance this entire time, given the nature of the conduct that is under investigation,” says former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. “And without a security clearance, he couldn’t be in the job he’s been in.”
Norman L. Eisen, former ethics counsel for President Barack Obama, tells me: “Kushner should have been gone — and in Obama’s or any other White House, would have been gone — as soon as the red flags of his dozens of omissions on his security clearance and financial disclosure forms began to accumulate. That is because they signaled the trouble ahead. It is only because of nepotism (also a violation of federal law, by the way) that he is still there.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, of which Eisen is the board chair, sent a letter to Kelly on Feb. 15 demanding that Kushner’s temporary clearance be revoked, citing multiple factors — e.g. foreign influence, omission of information — that would trigger a denial of clearance under existing regulations and executive orders.)
Unless Kushner has been entirely cleared of wrongdoing, his continued presence in his current White House role is unprecedented and inexcusable. He is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence, but not to a high White House post with a top security clearance so long as there is credible information to believe he acted improperly with regard to the matters under investigation. If this were a corporate setting, a high-level executive would be put on “leave” pending conclusion of an investigation. Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tells me, “It’s ridiculous that Kushner still works in the White House, all the more so that he has access to classified information. Anybody else would be gone, but the Justice Department consigned us to this fate when it [condoned] nepotism in the White House.”
We raise this point about Kushner’s presence to underscore how entirely abnormal is the situation the country finds itself. His continuing role in the White House demonstrates just how far out of bounds is the conduct of this White House and the degree to which the administration now serves Trump’s personal and family interests rather than the nation’s. Unfortunately, as we have learned, the country at large begins to become accustomed to the inexcusable — if the inexcusable goes on long enough.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS/POLITICS)
Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks, Sources Say
Tillerson worries secret plan could plunge region into chaos
White House rejects accusation State Department isn’t informed
Jared Kushner’s Rise to Power Mirrors Trump’s
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is increasingly alarmed by what he sees as secret talks between Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — fearful that the discussions could backfire and tip the region into chaos, according to three people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns.
The central goal of the negotiations, as described by two people with knowledge of the talks, is for an historic agreement featuring the creation of a Palestinian state or territory backed financially by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, which could put tens of billions of dollars toward the effort.
A lasting Middle East peace treaty has been a U.S. goal for decades, and at the start of his administration Trump assigned the 36-year-old Kushner to head up the effort to make it happen.
Tillerson believes Kushner hasn’t done enough to share details of the talks with the State Department, according to the people, leaving senior U.S. diplomats in the dark on the full extent of the highly sensitive negotiations.
“The problem is, the senior presidential adviser does not consult with the State Department — and it’s unclear the level of consultation that goes on with the NSC,” one of the people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns said, referring to the National Security Council. “And that’s a problem for both the NSC and the State Department and it’s not something we can easily solve.”
Kushner to Speak
Kushner is scheduled to speak publicly for the first time about the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East on Sunday. He’ll appear at the Saban Forum in Washington, an annual conference organized by the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution that’s focused on U.S.-Israel relations.
The State Department’s concerns about Kushner’s approach predate reports this weekthat Trump may move to oust Tillerson by the end of the year. The president rejected the reports, which Tillerson’s team believes are being stoked by Kushner allies, one person said. An administration official said Kushner had nothing to do with the reports.
Asked about Tillerson’s concerns, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “If he has any concerns, he brings them up one-on-one or in private.”
Trump provided a public boost to Tillerson on Friday, saying on Twitter that while he and the secretary of state “disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!” Tillerson, earlier in the day, called the reports of his ouster “laughable.”
Tillerson and other senior State Department officials are also concerned that Saudi leaders, having been held at arm’s length by President Barack Obama, see the connection with Kushner as a way to regain influence in the White House and U.S. backing for actions that could be controversial. Already, Prince Mohammed, heir to the Saudi throne, has put several such steps into motion.
Those include summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, where he initially resigned only to postpone his decision upon returning to Beirut; the arrest and detention of dozens of Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen on corruption charges; and a more aggressive posture in the war in Yemen. Indeed, Trump tweeted his support for the anti-graft crackdown and the White House has offered only muted comments on Hariri and the conflict in Yemen.
A White House official said Kushner was not aware in advance of the Saudi moves and gave no signal of approval beforehand.
NSC spokesman Michael Anton denied that the NSC and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster aren’t being fully informed by Kushner.
“General McMaster and the National Security Council believe that the Israeli-Palestinian peace team led by Jared runs a thorough and transparent interagency process, feel completely in the loop about their conversations with the Saudis and other parties and have complete confidence in their overseeing the Administration’s efforts to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with regional support,” Anton said in a prepared statement.
Tillerson is concerned that Saudi Arabia may want to act with a freer hand in Qatar, moving beyond its economic embargo to pursue military action, according to the people. One risk is that such a move could have any number of unpredictable and dangerous consequences, including inflamed tensions with Russia and Turkey, an armed response from Iran, or a missile attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Put the Brakes On
In recent weeks, Tillerson has attempted to put the brakes on key parts of any potential plan, the people said, saying he is does not want the Saudis to get mixed messages from U.S. diplomats and the president’s son-in-law.
The White House denied the contention that Kushner isn’t fully communicating with Tillerson and the State Department, and also disputed the description of the discussions between Kushner and Prince Mohammed.
“This description of our potential plan and conversations is flat out false. While we have obviously discussed economic support for a potential peace deal from many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, we have never discussed specific numbers with other countries and we have not linked a deal to Qatar,” Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Mideast envoy, said in an emailed statement. “Anybody who is suggesting these details or linkage were discussed is not in the know.”
Kushner frequently visits the State Department to brief Tillerson about his efforts in the Middle East, but the worry is that, whether by design or neglect, Kushner hasn’t kept the secretary of state or his top aides informed about many of the details of his overseas negotiations.
Tillerson has concluded that even Trump didn’t know all of the details of Kushner’s discussions with the crown prince.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in an emailed statement: “The President is very pleased with the engagement and progress being made by his team managing the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio and is supportive of their efforts including travel to the region and ongoing discussions with counterparts. He is aware of the conversations and developments and this remains a priority for his administration.”
Kushner has grown close to Prince Mohammed, 32, and has traveled to Saudi Arabia for some of the discussions. What’s worrisome to U.S. officials is that Kushner may have given the Saudis secret assurances that don’t have wider support.
In September, Trump himself intervened on the question of Saudi military action against Qatar, telling Saudi Arabia’s leaders to drop the idea, Bloomberg reported at the time. Yet the Saudis may not have given up, said two of the people. Trump has authorized Tillerson to inform Saudi leaders the U.S. won’t tolerate an attempt to force regime change in Qatar, even if they had heard otherwise from Kushner, one of the people said.
A senior Saudi official denied such plans existed. “Qatar is a small matter and has been resolved by the boycott and we have forgotten it,” he said. “It will return to its senses and its natural size.”
It isn’t clear how far along the discussions are between Kushner and Prince Mohammed, three people said. And some in the U.S. government are skeptical the effort will succeed, in part because of the historic intractability of Israelis and Palestinians, and because any peace deal would ultimately require the support of many competing leaders in the region.
The State Department officials’ skepticism about the Middle East discussions also reveals ongoing frustration at the president’s decision to go around them and the U.S. diplomatic corps he regularly disparages. Instead, Trump placed delicate peace negotiations in the hands of Kushner, who has no experience in diplomacy and little background in the complexities of one of the world’s most volatile regions.
Yet Trump, who has long spoken of Mideast peace as the ultimate trophy for a career deal maker, has shown unwavering faith in his son-in-law’s ability to deliver. “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” Trump told Kushner on-stage at a black-tie presidential inaugural event in January. “All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal to make, but I have a feeling Jared is going to do a great job.”
US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
WASHINGTON — Defying longstanding American policy, US President Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to an Axios report on Friday.
A White House spokesman, contacted by The Times of Israel on Friday afternoon, would not confirm the story. “The president has always said it is a matter of when, not if,” the official said. “The president is still considering options and we have nothing to announce.”
The Axios report cited two sources with direct knowledge of Trump’s intentions.
The US Embassy building in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, December 28, 2016. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
Multiple reports surfaced this week that the president would for the second time waive a congressional mandate requiring the US embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but that he would take the dramatic step of formally recognizing the holy city as Israel’s capital.
An Israeli television report on Wednesday, for instance, said that the Israeli government considered it extremely likely that Trump would declare in the next few days that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he is instructing his officials to prepare to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The White House rejected that report as “premature.”
On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump “is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Pence spoke at a gathering of UN ambassadors, diplomats and Jewish leaders at an event in New York commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote for partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the State of Israel.
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he attends a Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote calling for ‘the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel’ at the Queens Museum on November 28, 2017 in New York. (AFP/ Timothy A. Clary)
Declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a highly controversial move, with the potential to spark unrest in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials were contacting embassies in the region warning them to prepare for the possibility of violent protests.
A presidential declaration could risk producing an angry response from the Palestinians and other Arab allies, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, just as the Trump White House is preparing to move forward with its attempts to broker a Mideast peace accord.
Israel says Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish state, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been tasked with leading the administration’s peace efforts. He will participate in a highly anticipated keynote conversation this Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington, DC, marking a rare occasion when he will give public remarks and discuss the administration’s peace push.
Jared Kushner exits the West Wing of the White House October 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)
At that event, he will likely face questions about the Trump team’s position vis-a-vis Jerusalem and how that might impact their quest to forge an agreement between the sides.
A 1995 law requires the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but provides the president with the prerogative to postpone the move every six months on national security grounds.
Each of Trump’s three immediate predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — repeatedly exercised that right. Trump, for his part, signed the waiver when faced with his first deadline in June. He will have to decide whether to sign it for the second time in his presidency on Monday. (While the official deadline is December 1, since that date falls on a Friday this year, the deadline is extended until after the weekend.)
Israel’s Channel 10 TV news, citing sources in Israel, said there were three camps in the White House with differing opinions on how to deal with the issue.
The first was pushing the president not to sign the waiver and start the process of moving the embassy, and also recognize Jerusalem at Israel’s capital. “It could happen” that the president “simply doesn’t sign” the waiver, Channel 10 reported Friday.
A second camp says don’t do anything, sign the waiver and don’t recognize Jerusalem as it would harm prospects for a peace process and hurt ties with Arab states. The third group is urging the president to sign the waiver, but make a symbolic gesture by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, the report said.
Trump Says U.K. First, Putin Says Iran First, Xi Says Egypt First
Before you freak out, or, think that I have done flushed my brain down a toilet I need to let you know that, no, of course they didn’t say any such a thing. So, why did I say such things in the headline? There are two simple reasons, first, to draw your attention to the article, two, to make people think a little bit. The first is self-explanatory. Now, concerning the second of the two reasons. Anyone who reads my articles knows quite well that I believe that Donald Trump is the biggest idiot and the biggest ass to sit in the Oval Office since Andrew Jackson back in the first half of the 18 hundreds, and friends, that is really saying a whole lot because we have really had a lot of trash as Presidents in our Nations History.
There are many people, it seems mostly Democrats, who think that it is a horrible slogan that Mr. Trump came up with during his primary run, “America First.” Here is where I have to say that you folks who are ragging him over this slogan, you are quite goofy yourself. What the heck was the man suppose to say, England First, or Mexico First? Just what do you think any politician at any level, of any country, should do? If President Putin at the next Russian election started putting out propaganda saying that the Russian people and government need to start putting Iran, or Syria first, do you think that even in Russia that he would win the election? Possibly even worse, it would probably get him shot. Even as powerful as President Xi Jinping is in China if he came out with a policy saying China is going to start putting Egypt or North Korea before the people of China do you honestly believe that he would live five more years to finish out his term?
What I am getting at is that you folks here in the U.S. that are whining about Mr. Trumps ‘America First’ slogan are showing the world just how big of dummies you are. Also, the U.S. Media outlets who fall in line with such ignorance help fuel Liberal stupidity in European countries and in a few other Nations as well. For politicians and for the people of every Country on Earth, if you are not putting your country first, then you are truly a traitor to every person in your Country. For we folks who are Christians or Jewish, we all need to look at the teachings of Scriptures. You should know very well that we are supposed to cater to the needs of our families first and once our families are secure and safe, then we are to be charitable from the inside out. By this, I mean our family, our community, then outward, such as our County, our State, our own Country, then the world. We are to take what we really need from our own work, our own earnings, then use the rest to help others. This is where we are told not to hoard, not to store up for many years ahead for ourselves, but to use the extra that we have to help others. This is why we are told that charity covers many sins.
Even though I know that Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about the teachings of the Bible it does not mean that everything he says is incorrect, most everything, but not all things. As our President, Mr. Trump is supposed to ‘Put America First’, if he is not doing so, then he is a traitor to the American people. Unfortunately, I personally do not believe that this ‘slogan’, to him, is anything but a slogan, something he thinks his voter base wants to hear. Personally, I have no doubt of any kind that Donald Trump, his Dad, and his adult kids, as well as his son in law Mr. Kushner, have done, or will do, anything except and ONLY, put themselves first, always! Yet in U.S. politics, do you honestly expect anything except selfishness?
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Jared Kushner and other senior White House advisers traveled to Saudi Arabia last week to continue discussions on Middle East peace, a White House official told CNN.
Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, joined Kushner on the trip.
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, traveled commercially, leaving Wednesday and returning Saturday evening. Politico first reported the trip, which was not announced to the public.
The White House official would not say who Kushner and the other officials met with while in Saudi Arabia.
This trip is the latest effort by US officials to continue discussions with regional partners about a Middle East peace effort, a senior White House official said. Kushner has also been in frequent talks with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the official said.
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“While these regional talks will play an important role, the President reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal,” the official said. “No deal will be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians. We are committed to facilitating a deal that improves conditions for both parties.”
Exclusive: Kushner didn’t disclose personal email account to Senate intel committee
By Jake Tapper, Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent
Updated 4:30 PM ET, Thu September 28, 2017
Washington (CNN)In his closed interview with the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner did not share the existence of his personal email account, which he has used for official business, CNN has learned.
CNN has also learned that the chair and vice chair of the committee were so unhappy that they learned about the existence of his personal email account via news reports that they wrote him a letter via his attorney Thursday instructing him to double-check that he has turned over every relevant document to the committee including those from his “‘personal email account’ described to the news media, as well as all other email accounts, messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used, or that may contain information relevant to our inquiry.”
The emphasis in the letter on “all other” personal accounts not known by the committee would seem to be a reflection of the frustration the committee leaders feel with that fact that Kushner was not up-front about the existence of his personal email account and their desire for him to cover the bases of all his possible communications avenues when responding to their letter. This issue could become more serious if there emerge any emails or communications related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that Kushner has not turned over, and whether he did so with the express purpose of concealing information from the committee.
Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, told CNN, “It is perfectly normal that the committees would want to make sure that they received all pertinent records. We did review this account at the time and there were no responsive or relevant documents there. The committee was so informed when documents were produced and there is no issue here.”
The Senate intelligence committee had no official comment.
The chairman of the committee, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, and the vice chair, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, learned of the existence of the personal email account, which Kushner used from January through August of this year, via the media. Their letter specifically references a CNN digital story headlined “Attorney: Kushner used private email account to talk to WH officials.”
CNN obtained the letter labeled “COMMITTEE SENSITIVE” via the self-styled “email prankster,” a man in the UK who has several times impersonated members of the orbit around President Donald Trump to others in that circle.
Earlier this week, the prankster pretended to be Kushner and wrote to Kushner’s real attorney, Lowell, about the (fictitious) adult content of emails he had shared with White House officials, as covered by Business Insider. Apparently, earlier Thursday, when Lowell attempted to forward the very real letter from the very legitimate Senate intelligence committee leaders, his email auto-fill supplied the address of the very fake Kushner account run by the prankster. A person familiar with the email transmission told CNN it was inadvertently forwarded to the prankster’s address.
In a statement to CNN, the prankster explained why he does this: “The original prank’s intention was to meet hypocrisy and cronyism with levity and a soupçon of embarrassment, instead of giving into the well worn grooves of anger and frustration. There’s a dash of modern-day surrealism creeping in at times, and this is evolving the more friends I make in the US.”
Kushner has been criticized in the past for initially not disclosing more than 100 contacts with foreign leaders including those from Russia, as well as ownership of a multimillion dollar tech company with links to Goldman Sachs and businessmen Peter Thiel and George Soros. Kushner was also one of three top campaign officials or surrogates who failed to disclose a June 2016 meeting with a woman billed as being with the Russian government and having incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.
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