Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS/POLITICS)

 

Kushner Is Leaving Tillerson in the Dark on Middle East Talks, Sources Say

 Updated on 
  • Tillerson worries secret plan could plunge region into chaos
  • White House rejects accusation State Department isn’t informed

Fullscreen

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.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Jared Kushner

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

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.

Read a QuickTake on Saudi Arabia’s brash young crown prince

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.”

Regain Influence

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.

‘Complete Confidence’

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.”

Secret Assurances?

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.

Regime Change

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.

Diplomatic Complexities

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.”

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

LEARN MORE

Trump Will Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in Wednesday speech — report

A White House official will not confirm the Axios report, saying only that president ‘is still considering options and we have nothing to announce’

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)

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.

READ MORE:

Trump Says U.K. First, Putin Says Iran First, Xi Says Egypt First

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?

Kushner Flies Commercially To Saudi Arabia, Why?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

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.
close dialog
Tell us where to send you Five Things
Morning briefings of all the news & buzz people will be talking about
Activate Five Things
By subscribing you agree to our
privacy policy.
“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.”
The October trip marks the third time Kushner has visited Saudi Arabia since Inauguration Day. He traveled with a presidential delegation last May and also visited in late August.
In May, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which was primarily brokered through Kushner.
In August, both Powell and Greenblatt were with Kushner on a Middle East tour aimed at addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

FBI Special Council Mueller Gets Important Warrant: Trump And Family Federal Prison Bound?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

  • Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for records of “inauthentic” Facebook accounts
  • It’s bad news for Russian election interference “deniers”
  • Mueller may be looking to charge specific foreign entities with a crime

FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the “inauthentic” accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.

The warrant was first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday night and the news was later confirmed by CNN.

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.

“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime.

Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, Rangappa noted. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts.

“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” she said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”

It also means that Mueller is no longer looking at Russia’s election interference from a strict counterintelligence standpoint — rather, he now believes he may be able to obtain enough evidence to charge specific foreign entities with a crime.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that the revelation Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content “may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.”

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in late July. The bureau is reportedly investigating Manafort’s financial history and overseas business dealings as part of its probe into possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow.

jared kushnerWhite House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump answer questions regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Facebook warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.

“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.”

That has implications for Trump and his associates, too, Mariotti said.

“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged.”

Congressional intelligence committees are homing in on the campaign’s data operation as a potential trove of incriminating information.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC earlier this month that he wants to know how sophisticated the Russian-bought ads were — in terms of their content and targets — to determine whether they had any help from the Trump campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee also wants to interview the digital director for Trump’s campaign, Brad Parscale, who worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s entire data operation and is  now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

Facebook said in its initial statement that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election “were geographically targeted,” and many analysts have found it difficult to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

In a post-election interview, Kushner told Forbes that he had been keenly interested in Facebook’s “micro-targeting” capabilities from early on.

“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner said.

“We brought in Cambridge Analytica,” he continued. “I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world, a nd I asked them how to scale this stuff . . . We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.”

FBI Raided Paul Manafort’s Home July 26th, 2017

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN) FBI agents raided a home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort last month, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The agents seized materials in Manafort’s home as part of the ongoing Russia investigation led by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the source said.
“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, told CNN. He declined to provide further details.
The so-called no-knock warrant, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was served at Manafort’s home in Washington’s northern Virginia suburbs on July 26, the day after Manafort met with Senate intelligence committee investigators.
The tactic appears unusual for a case that has been under investigation for months and for which Manafort has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to Senate investigators. The source told CNN the documents seized included financial and tax records and at least some of the information had already been provided to Senate investigators.
Since his appointment in May, Mueller has quietly gathered a team of more than three dozen attorneys, investigators and other staff in a nondescript office in Washington. Officials familiar with the probe describe it as akin to a small US attorney’s office, with FBI agents and prosecutors assigned to separate groups looking into various aspects of the investigation.
These include groups of investigators and lawyers focused separately on Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, as well as the investigations focused on Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a US official briefed on the investigation has told CNN.
So far, Trump’s campaign has turned over approximately 20,000 pages to the Senate judiciary committee, which is investigating Russia’s interference in the election, while Manafort turned over approximately 400 pages and Donald Trump Jr. turned over about 250 pages.
Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled a dossier at the center of the federal Russia probe, has not yet turned over any documents, according to the committee’s spokesperson, though a source told CNN the firm plans to provide the committee with “thousands” of pages of documents Wednesday.
The spokesperson declined to provide details about the specific contents of the documents.

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

At the end of six months in office, Donald Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about. The failure to repeal ‘Obamacare’ is the biggest. Another setback for Trump is Congress’ move to impose new sanctions on Russia. Added to this is the investigation into his and his team’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 election

OPINION Updated: Aug 08, 2017 08:21 IST

US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him
US President Donald Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him(AFP)

Even with a new minder trying to bring some order to the White House, United States President Donald Trump remains in a heap of trouble. The recent installation of retired general John Kelly, formerly Trump’s secretary for homeland security, as chief of staff, replacing the hapless Reince Priebus, has reduced some of the internal chaos and induced a bit more discipline in Trump’s behaviour. But all this could change any day, or at any moment.

Kelly has put a stop to aides sauntering into the Oval Office whenever they felt like it –Trump tends to echo the last person he’s spoken with – and has demanded that papers and memos for the president be submitted to him first. For the time being, at least, the president’s tweeting has been reduced in number and nuttiness.

Keen Trump observers expect that he’ll soon begin to chafe under the discipline Kelly has encouraged. Understanding Trump’s enormous ego, Kelly is said to encourage gently rather than instruct. Kelly also has the advantage of Trump’s high regard for generals.

But Trump could well become incensed by news stories praising Kelly for bringing order to the White House. (Counsellor Steve Bannon never fully recovered in the president’s esteem after he was on the cover of Time magazine soon after the inauguration.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s poll ratings are lower than ever – and the lowest of any president at such an early point in an administration. Members of his own Republican Party are distancing themselves from him.

Read more

The recent failure of the Republican-dominated Congress to repeal Barack Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, which made healthcare available for millions of people who previously couldn’t afford it, was a humiliating defeat for Trump. Just enough Republican senators (three, but more were in reserve if needed) voted to reject the last of several efforts to fulfil the party’s vow to replace ‘Obamacare’.

That nickname for the ACA, coined by the Republicans when the law was enacted in early 2010, was intended to be derogatory, and their opposition to the program seemed to be vindicated in that year’s midterm elections, when they swept both houses of congress. But the Republicans didn’t reckon on two things: that as people gained access to health insurance (some 20 million by this year), it became popular – as did Obama, who ended his second term as one of America’s most liked presidents.

Over Obama’s tenure, Republicans came to realise that it was no longer sufficient simply to call for a repeal of ‘Obamacare’, and their rhetoric shifted to the need to “repeal and replace”. They held more than 50 roll-call votes saying that they’d do just that, knowing that it didn’t really matter because Obama would veto any serious repeal. The roll calls were actually fundraisers: Appeals to the unsuspecting Republican base to send money to keep up the fight against the supposedly hated programme.

But when the 2016 election put a Republican in the White House, the party’s congressional leaders had nowhere to hide. The Republicans were now in full control of the government – and they hadn’t a clue about what should replace Obamacare.

At the end of six months in office, Trump doesn’t have a single legislative achievement to crow about (though he has claimed the Senate’s approval of Neil Gorsuch as a new Supreme Court justice as a victory). Significantly, Senate Republican leaders ignored Trump’s demand that they take up repeal and replace of Obamacare again, before they consider any other major issue.

While the healthcare bill was commanding most of the attention on Capitol Hill, another piece of legislation was moving along in the Congress, representing another setback for Trump. Troubled by the president’s apparent soft spot for (or perhaps fear of) Vladimir Putin, overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers passed a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia and – most unusually – to prevent the president from lifting any such penalties. And, because the bill passed with enough votes to override a presidential veto, Trump had little choice but to sign it, which he did in private, without the customary presence of a bill’s sponsors and the press.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Trump and his campaign’s relations with Russia in connection with its meddling in Trump’s favour in the 2016 election has continued out of the public’s sight. That investigation has broadened to include Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his son Donald Jr.

This spring, Trump let it be known that he wanted the special counsel running that investigation, Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who is highly respected by both parties, to be fired. He’d already fired FBI director James Comey, but by law, he couldn’t fire Mueller himself, so he tried to bully Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had (appropriately) recused himself from the investigation, into resigning. That way, Trump could appoint a replacement who would fire Mueller.

But Sessions, the first Republican senator to endorse Trump, was enjoying rolling back numerous Obama-era protections in areas like civil rights, and refused to resign. Several of Sessions’ former Senate colleagues also demanded that Trump back off. Though Kelly called Sessions to tell him that his job was safe, Republican senators, concerned that Trump might remove him during the August recess, established a procedure that would prevent Trump from appointing an interim attorney-general to fire Mueller, and warned that such a move would provoke a constitutional crisis.

Then, as Congress prepared to leave for the August recess, it was learned that Mueller – who had hired highly regarded prosecutors specialising in international financial transactions, despite Trump’s warnings not to investigate his finances – had impaneled a grand jury in Washington. The noose tightens.

Elizabeth Drew is a journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

Project Syndicate, 2017

Read more

DONALD TRUMP “IS FAKE NEWS”!!!

 

I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is crooked and an habitual liar but damn, she ain’t got nothing on this pathetic egomaniac idiot that we Americans unfortunately have to call our President. I am not a fan of anyone who could break both their arms patting themselves on the back for the things that they have done but this blabbering idiot setting in the Oval Office to me is far worse than even those pathetic egomaniacs. The reason I say this is that this piece of trash setting in the Oval Office lies about and brags about things that never even happened like him bragging to the Wall Street Journal about his speech last week at the Boy Scout Jamboree. He was supposed to not discuss politics in this speech to these kids but of course he lied, the whole speech was pretty much just bragging himself up and tearing down, and slandering Hillary Clinton and former President Obama. He was bragging to the WSJ that he had gotten a call after the speech telling him that it was “the greatest speech they had ever had” at one of their events. The truth is that after Mr. FAKE NEWS Trump got done making an ass out of himself in that speech, the Leaders of the Boy Scouts were calling their members apologizing for the horrible speech that was given to their kids. The director of the Scouts said that they did not call and tell Mr. FAKE NEWS Trump anything at all.

 

Okay, we have a scumbag who makes a totally out of line speech to a bunch of kids then totally and completely fabricates praise for himself which never happened. Do you remember how Donald FAKE NEWS Trump had fake covers of Time Magazine made up with his name and face on the cover and displayed them in prime locations in his Golf Clubs? Do you remember the story that has been in the news lately about Donald FAKE NEWS Junior meeting with all of those Russian folks at Trump Tower in New York City last June? It seems that the latest story that has been confirmed even from the White House staffers is that Poppa FAKE NEWS Trump dictated a line of BS for his son to give to the news papers as a way to get ahead of the story they were getting ready to print about that meeting. But of course the habitual liar Poppa FAKE NEWS Trump did nothing but lie about what really happened in that meeting. This does make this idiot complicit in ‘obstructing justice’ being he directly got involved in this sham. Think about it for a moment folks, what did Poppa FAKE NEWS Trump use as his first story/lie about this meeting? He sank so low as to use the cover of saying that his son, Donald FAKE NEWS Junior, his son-in-law Jarred FAKE NEWS Kushner and his now former heavily Russian connected Campaign Manager who met with all of these Russian folks who are directly connected to the Kremlin, met with them to discuss the freeze on the adoption of Russian children by Americans. This man (and I am using that term very lightly) has no problem at all using children to hide behind in his lies. So, do you see why I believe that we the American people are stuck with a total scumbag for a President and without a doubt in my mind he should forever more be known as DONALD ‘FAKE NEWS’ TRUMP.

President Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up the Russia scandal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Plum Line

President Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up the Russia scandal

 August 1 at 10:05 AM
 Play Video 2:26
‘Witch hunt, fake news, phony’: Trump’s defenses against the Russia probe
President Trump has repeatedly lashed out with insults to defend himself as the Russia investigation unfolds. Here are some of his go-to attacks. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

If the Russia scandal is nothing but a witch hunt, as President Trump so often says, it’s awfully strange that he’s going to so much trouble to cover it up.

Last night, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger broke the latest blockbuster story in this scandal, in which the president dictated a misleading statement about the nature of the fateful meeting his son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort had with a group of Russians during the campaign:

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany last month, President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril.

The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged.

But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed.

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

The claims were later shown to be misleading.

 Play Video 2:00
President Trump personally intervened to write Donald Trump Jr. statement
President Trump personally dictated a statement that was issued after revelations that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election. The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig explain. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

In case you haven’t been following, the meeting occurred because Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton that was presented to him as coming from the Russian government. He summoned Kushner and Manafort, forwarding them the email in which that offer was made. They joined him at the meeting, which was attended by a lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin, a former Russian intelligence officer and a gentleman who was once the subject of a congressional inquiry into an enormous Russian money-laundering operation. According to Trump Jr. and Kushner’s version of events, the damaging information didn’t materialize, and the Russians were more interested in discussing the potential repeal of the Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned certain Russian individuals accused of corruption and human rights abuses. So the line from the Trump team is essentially that they were trying to collude with the Russian government to help their campaign, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

subscribe
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.

This latest story is clearly one of the most significant developments in this scandal to date, for two reasons. First, it describes an organized effort to mislead the public — not to spin, or minimize the story, or distract from it, or throw out wild accusations about someone else, but to intentionally fool everyone into believing something false. Second, it implicates the president himself. Indeed, the most extraordinary part of the picture this story paints is that while other people involved were recommending some measure of transparency on the assumption that the truth would come out eventually, they were overruled by the president, who personally dictated the misleading statement.

And it gets worse. Once the story broke, Trump’s own lawyer went to the media and denied that the president was involved in the drafting of the misleading statement. In two televised interviews, Jay Sekulow said “the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement,” “The president didn’t sign off on anything,” and “The president wasn’t involved in that.” While it’s theoretically possible that Sekulow would make emphatic statements of fact like those about what his client did or didn’t do without actually asking Trump, that seems almost impossible to believe. Sekulow is a prominent attorney who knows exactly what kind of trouble that could bring, both to himself and his client. So the only reasonable conclusion is that he was repeating what Trump told him.

So, to put this together: The president of the United States personally wrote a statement about this meeting with the Russians, a statement that everyone involved knew to be false. Going further, he then either lied to his own lawyer about his involvement so that the lawyer would repeat that lie publicly (highly likely) or was candid with his lawyer and persuaded him to lie to the media on his behalf (much less likely).

We all know what the official White House line about this story is going to be: The real problem isn’t what Trump did; it’s the fact that it was leaked! I’m reminded of something the sadly departed Anthony Scaramucci said during his brief tenure as White House communication director: “There are people inside the administration who think it is their job to save America from this president.” He was right — or at the very least, they’re trying to save him from himself.

It has been entertaining to watch the ongoing soap opera of this White House — the infighting, the backstabbing, the firings, the general air of chaos — but it’s important to remember that the biggest problem it has is the man who sits in the Oval Office. The fact that Trump assumed that he could engineer this mini-coverup and the truth would never get out, both about the meeting itself and about his role in misleading the public about it, shows just how deluded he is about how his own White House works.

Let’s return to that scene on Air Force One. A damaging story is breaking, and Trump’s advisers are facing the dilemma many administrations have faced before: How do we deal with it? How much information should we voluntarily reveal? Is there a way to make the story go away that won’t set us up for even more trouble down the road? While they were debating those questions, the one person to whom no one could say no told them how it was going to be: They were going to lie. And as is so often the case with Trump, the lie was quickly revealed for what it was.

I promise you, the substantial number of people involved in that discussion were profoundly uncomfortable with Trump’s instructions. For a political flack, nothing inspires more dread than putting out a story that you know is bogus and that you don’t think will hold up.

Their fears were inevitably realized, and now the Russia scandal has reached all the way to the president himself. Something tells me there’s more to come.

Itsallaboutyu

UNDERSTANDING CHANGE BEGINS WITH OURSELVES

rosmaninho e alecrim

Artesanato (de)coração

Rezenhando

A Cultura POP de A a Z!

Tempero e Fogão

Adepta da CozinhaTerapia desde os 11 anos. Compartilhando meus pratos preferidos do interior de São Paulo para o mundo. Porque a cozinha rompe fronteiras e tempera vidas!

लेखनी चलती रहे....!

अहिंसा परमोधर्मः, धर्म हिंसा तथैव च।

My Perspective

Explaining the spidery corners of current affairs, ranging from politics to the nitty gritty news stories

Maroccfood

An all round blog on Moroccan food, my own recipes, home remedies as well as product reviews

Africa Zwelibanzi

Monarch Of Poetry

Anything but Ordinary

My way out of ordinary .

beyondimagination

Create and Believe

%d bloggers like this: