Trump: Some US Jews don’t love Israel enough

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump tells pro-Israel conference that some US Jews don’t love Israel enough

Speaking to Israeli American Council in Florida, US president says those in the audience will vote for him to protect their wealth; draws accusations of anti-Semitism

US President Donald Trump addresses the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

US President Donald Trump addresses the Israeli American Council National Summit 2019 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida on December 7, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump told a pro-Israel conference Saturday night that some American Jews don’t love Israel enough. He also noting that he did not have to worry about getting his audience’s votes, because they would cast ballots with business interests in mind.

Those comments, to the Israeli American Council advocacy group in Florida, drew quick criticism from opponents and were derided as anti-Semitic.

In his 45-minute speech to an audience of over 4,300, the president criticized American Jews who, he said, were not sufficiently supportive of the Jewish state.

“You have people — Jewish people — and they are great people and they don’t love Israel enough,” he said.

The comments were reminiscent of remarks he made in August when he said that Jews who vote for Democrats were disloyal, drawing a vociferous backlash.

Nonetheless, the vigorously pro-Israel crowd in Hollywood, Florida, cheered the president with chants of “Four more years!” and loud applause.

Later, Trump told an anecdote about people saying that he wouldn’t step down after a second term.

“So now we have to start thinking about that, because it’s not a bad idea,” Trump said. The audience responded with chants of “12 more years.”

Trump was welcomed to the stage by Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, who fund the IAC and who donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race.

Jews make up only a small portion of the national electorate but in Florida they represent a crucial piece of the swing state electoral puzzle. Historically, American Jews have voted heavily Democratic.

Wading into the 2020 campaign, Trump said the crowd would not vote for one of his potential Democratic opponents because she would take their wealth away.

“You have to vote for me, you have no choice,” Trump said. “You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that,” referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in a dig at her claiming Native American ancestry.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addresses a crowd outside of the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center October 26, 2019 in Florence, South Carolina. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP)

“You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax,” he went on. “Let’s take 100 percent of your wealth away. No, no. Even if you don’t like me — and some of you don’t; some of you, I don’t like at all, actually — and you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes.”

Warren has proposed an annual two percent tax on households with a net worth of between $50 million and $1 billion — and an additional four percent tax on those with a net worth exceeding $1 billion.

Speaking about finding a location for the US Embassy in Israel, he told the audience, “A lot of you are in the real estate business.”

“I know you very well, you’re brutal realtors.”

Trump said that when making the decision to move the embassy, he ignored calls from “countries you’ve never even heard of,” along with powerful kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers.”Don’t do it. Don’t do it, please. Don’t do it,” they implored, he said. “But unlike other politicians, I kept my promises.”

Jewish Democrats criticized the president’s remarks about wealth as anti-Semitic.

“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” said Aaron Keyak, a former chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “Trump’s embrace of anti-Semitic rhetoric much stop. Period.”

Emily Tamkin

@emilyctamkin

Hahaha Jews won’t vote for the candidate who wants a wealth tax because Jews are all about wealth get it lolol it’s funny because it’s an old trope often used to justify violent discrimination lmao https://twitter.com/avivaklompas/status/1203497195292499969 

Aviva Klompas

@AvivaKlompas

Further thoughts from the president on who the Jewish community should vote for next year.

Embedded video

67 people are talking about this

The Democratic Majority for Israel on Twitter slammed Trump for peddling anti-Semitic tropes and ignoring the threat from the far right.

Watching Trump “traffic in antisemitic stereotypes is disgusting,” the tweet said. “Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacy when discussing antisemitism is equally distressing.

This is not the first time Trump has been accused of anti-Semitism for linking Jews to money.

In 2015, Trump, then a candidate, told the Republican Jewish Coalition that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine.”

President Donald Trump receives a menorah from Las Vegas Sands Corporation Chief Executive and Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson, left, and his wife Miriam Adelson at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Fla., Saturday, December 7, 2019. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

Throughout his speech, Trump boasted about his Israel policies — with a special emphasis on moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cutting aid to the Palestinians, and withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.

He said he made the Golan recognition decision within a matter of moments, after discussing it with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. “Fifty-two years, and I go bing, and it’s done,” he said.

At no point in the 45-minute speech did Trump mention Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of his closest allies on the world stage who is facing indictment as he battles for his political life, with Israel poised to head into its third elections in less than a year.

Netanyahu’s Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar was set to address to conference on Sunday but pulled out in order to take part in the Likud Central Committee meeting on Sunday evening in Ramat Gan.

US President Donald Trump speaks at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, December 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The political deadlock has stalled the roll-out of the administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, but Trump said that his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was still working on hammering out a deal.

“If Jared Kushner can’t do it, it can’t be done,” he said.

The president also castigated the Obama administration as hostile to Israel. “I don’t think they liked Israel too much, I’m sorry,” he said. “After eight years [in] which our alliance was undermined and neglected, I am happy to report the United States-Israeli relationship is stronger now than ever before.”

At one point in his remarks, the president thanked Republican members of Congress in the room who were defending him against impeachment, such as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, calling them “warriors” who were defending him “from oppression.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Trump abruptly cancels NATO news conference after summit turns sour

KEY POINTS
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.
  • The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
  • Hours before it was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic apparently mocking Trump.
GP: Donald Trump NATO Summit 191204 BRITAIN-NATO-SUMMIT
US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) pose for the family photo at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Peter Nicholls | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a press conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th anniversary meeting.

“When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington,” Trump said in a series of tweets.

“We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!” Trump said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Great progress has been made by NATO over the last three years. Countries other than the U.S. have agreed to pay 130 Billion Dollars more per year, and by 2024, that number will be 400 Billion Dollars. NATO will be richer and stronger than ever before….

14.5K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….Just finished meetings with Turkey and Germany. Heading to a meeting now with those countries that have met their 2% GOALS, followed by meetings with Denmark and Italy….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days. Safe travels to all!

14.2K people are talking about this

The presser was scheduled to come after a series of bilateral meetings with NATO members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Hours before the news conference was set to start, video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic mocking Trump.

Watch Trudeau, Macron and Johnson appear to gossip about Trump on hot mic

Trump offered a blunt retort when asked Wednesday about Trudeau’s comments.

“He’s two-faced,” Trump said, before adding, “I find him to be a very nice guy but the truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it.” Trump has long griped about NATO members paying less than their “fair share” toward the alliance, and brought up the issue repeatedly over the two-day anniversary meeting this week.

In an audio clip later published by reporters covering the NATO event, Trump appeared to compliment himself for his harsh words toward Trudeau. “That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced,” Trump is heard saying.

Trudeau, speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said that Trump “was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.”

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau said at another point in the video, raising his eyebrows and motioning with his hand for effect.

None of the politicians in the hot mic video, which emerged on social media Tuesday evening, mentioned Trump by name. But Trudeau reportedly said Wednesday that it was Trump’s surprise announcement of the location for next year’s Group of Seven summit that made “his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

Trump revealed Tuesday that the 2020 G-7 summit will be held at Camp David in Maryland, weeks after he retreated from a plan to host it at his own Miami golf resort.

Later Wednesday, while sitting alongside Conte, Trump explained that “There’s no reason to have press conferences because you had about eight of them,” apparently referring to his lengthy prior remarks to reporters.

The hot mic gossip was the latest point of tension at the meeting, but it was far from the only dispute between leaders on display.

Macron defended his recent claim that NATO was suffering from “brain death” from critics including Trump, who had called that comment “very nasty.”

The French leader also called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his threat to oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if it does not recognize groups Turkey deems as terrorists. The White House announced Wednesday morning that Trump had met with Erdogan during the NATO event.

Trump calls Canada’s Prime Minister ‘Two Faced’ at NATO meeting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

London (CNN)After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
Trudeau indicated that he wasn’t concerned about his comments impacting the US-Canadian relationship, but Trump reacted angrily earlier Wednesday calling Trudeau “two-faced,” before adding, “honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy.”
Trump also canceled his own press conference scheduled for the end of his trip to the NATO summit. The President was caught on a hot mic of his own after the cancellation, saying, “Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”
The 25-second clip was first reported by CBC, begins with Johnson asking Macron why he was late.
“Is that why you were late?” Johnson asked.
Macron nodded, as Trudeau replied, “He was late because he takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top.”
At no time in the video do the leaders mention Trump by name.
None of them seemed to be aware that the conversation was being recorded, although they were talking openly and loudly enough to be heard by others.
“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Trudeau also appears to say at one point. Trudeau said during his press conference that the comment was made in reference to Trump’s announcement during their bilateral meeting that the upcoming G7 summit will be hosted at Camp David.
“Every different leader has teams who now and then (had) jaws drop at unscheduled surprises, like that video for itself, for example,” Trudeau said.
Johnson at a press conference said it was “nonsense” to suggest the video indicated he didn’t take Trump seriously.
“I don’t know where that’s come from,” he added.
Microphones could only pick up snippets of the conversation at the reception, which the press was given limited access to.
Trump also criticized Trudeau over the fact Canada does not currently meet NATO’s 2% defense spending target.
“The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said, adding that “he should be paying 2%” and that Canada “has money.”
“I can imagine he’s not that happy, but that’s the way it is,” Trump said.
A spokeswoman for Macron at the Elysée Palace told CNN they had “no comment. This video does not say anything special.” A spokesperson for Rutte also told CNN they do not comment on closed-door sessions.

Clash with Macron

Trump spent Tuesday in meetings in London headlined by a clash with a key ally, France. He met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, making extended remarks and taking questions from the press on each occasion.
Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Macron was remarkably tense as the French President refused to back down from remarks that Trump called “nasty” and “insulting.” Last month, Macron had described NATO as suffering from “brain death” caused by American indifference to the long-time alliance.
But the two leaders appeared to be on good terms as they walked onto the road leading to 10 Downing Street together for another reception following the gathering at the palace. It appeared that Trump had given Macron a lift in his motorcade vehicle commonly referred to as “the beast.”

Trump loses appeal to block Deutsche Bank, Capital One from handing his financial records to Congress

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

Trump loses appeal to block Deutsche Bank, Capital One from handing his financial records to Congress

KEY POINTS
  • A federal appeals court rules that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can hand over years of President Trump’s financial records in compliance with House Democrats’ subpoenas.
  • The ruling offers another loss in the courts for Trump, who has fought attempts to obtain his financial records through multiple lawsuits.
  • The case is likely destined for the Supreme Court, where the president has already appealed two other lower court decisions requiring the disclosure of his financial records.
GP: President Trump Holds Listening Session In Cabinet Room On Vaping And The E-Cigarette Epidemic
President Donald Trump listens during a listening session on youth vaping of electronic cigarette on November 22, 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can hand over years of President Donald Trump’s financial records in compliance with House Democrats’ subpoenas.

The ruling in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals offers another judicial loss for Trump, who has fought off attempts to obtain his financial records, including his tax returns, through multiple lawsuits.

Neither the White House nor a lawyer for Trump immediately responded to CNBC’s request for comment on the ruling.

In May, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that the two banks can comply with subpoenas issued by the Democrat-led House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees to hand over financial records related to Trump, his businesses and members of his family.

Trump appealed Ramos’ ruling two days later.

Tuesday’s decision was issued by a divided three judge panel made up of two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee.

Circuit Judge Jon Newman, a Carter appointee, wrote in the court’s decision that the House committees interest in “pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”

Newman also emphasized in the opinion that the issues raised by the lawsuit “do not concern a dispute between the Legislative and Executive Branches” because the subpoenas sought Trump’s personal, rather than official, records.

But in a partial dissent, Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected that argument, and called the subpoenas “deeply troubling.”

“I cannot accept the majority’s conclusions that ‘this case does not concern separation of powers,’ and that there is ‘minimal at best’ risk of distraction to this and future Presidents from legislative subpoenas of this sort,” she wrote.

The case is likely destined for the Supreme Court, where the president has already appealed two other lower court decisions requiring the disclosure of his financial records.

The two other cases involve subpoenas issued to the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA.

The justices are likely to decide soon whether to hear the cases. On Thursday, the president’s private legal team is expected to submit its formal petition to the top court asking it to review a decision by the federal appeals court in Washington that ordered Mazars to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee.

The justices will meet in private later this month to discuss the petition in the other case, over a subpoena issued to the firm by state prosecutors in New York.

Trump’s lawyers have argued in multiple lawsuits that the various requests for his financial records have no “legitimate legislative purpose” and are being pursued merely as an attempt to embarrass the president for political gain.

That legal argument has so far failed to sway judges in New York and Washington and was similarly rejected by the three-judge panel in the Second Circuit.

Trump has defied calls to publicly release his tax returns and provided a variety of explanations for his failure to do so. He is the first president in more than 40 years not to voluntarily make his tax records public.

Trump blasts French President Emmanuel Macron at NATO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Trump blasts French President Emmanuel Macron at NATO meeting planned to show unity

NATO Summit

President Trump during his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in London on Tuesday.
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump lit into French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, criticizing comments the French leader made about NATO as “insulting” “very, very nasty,” and “very disrespectful.”

Trump’s comments came hours before he was scheduled to meet with Macron at the start of a two-day leaders conference of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that is supposed to stress unity for an alliance that is marking its 70th anniversary.

While Trump targeted Macron’s comments that questioned NATO’s effectiveness — something he has also done — he suggested that his greater ire stemmed from Macron’s threat to levy a 3% tax on tech companies, including American giants Facebook, Google and Amazon, a topic he and Macron have been at odds over for much of this year.

“If anybody’s going to take advantage of the American companies it’s going to be us,” Trump said. “It’s not going to be France.”

On another international economic issue, Trump continued the slow walk-back of his statement from last week that the U.S. and China were close to resolving their trade war.

“I have no deadline,” Trump said, suggesting that a new trade deal with the Chinese might not come until after next year’s election. “The China trade deal is dependent on one thing: Do I want to make it?” he said.

Trump has made a habit of clashing publicly with allies and breaking diplomatic norms during international conferences, which factored into NATO officials’ decision to keep this year’s leaders meeting short.

Trump arrived in London late Monday evening and is scheduled to depart on Wednesday.

Trump answered questions for more than 50 minutes with reporters during his initial meeting here with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, at the Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in the United Kingdom, located in Regent’s Park.

As Trump held forth on a variety of issues including impeachment, Russia, China trade and North Korean missile tests, Stoltenberg mostly sat watching, occasionally interjecting a comment about the importance of unity.

In addition to NATO officials, British political figures and candidates in next week’s parliamentary elections have also worried Trump would interfere in the campaign during his visit. Some conservatives here fear that Trump’s association with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party leader, could hurt Johnson with British voters.

Trump said he would stay out of the election, but praised Johnson and insisted the two would be meeting, even though he does not have a one-on-one with the British leader on his public schedule.

“I stay out of it,” Trump said. “I think Boris is very capable, and I think he’ll do a good job.”

Trump also said he “can work with anybody” when asked about Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor Party leader who is Johnson’s chief opponent.

Macron had stirred controversy last month, worrying about NATO’s “brain death” in an interview with the Economist.

Ironically, the comments were spurred in large part by Trump’s “America First” agenda and his overall go-it-alone approach in Syria and other global hot spots that have concerned European allies about America’s reliability.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” during his campaign for president. But on Tuesday, he cast himself as the alliance’s defender, blaming Macron as an outlier while touting his own efforts to prod allies to increase the size of their defense budgets.

“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” Trump said. “We benefit the least….That’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

He said the United States is helping Europe protect against a foe “that may or may not be a foe,” referring to Russia. Trump took credit for pushing NATO, which was founded to counter what was then the Soviet Union, to broaden its focus to other threats.

“There are other foes out there also,” he said, further de-emphasizing Russian aggression.

Macron has tried more than other European leaders to befriend and flatter Trump. But like other allies, he has been frustrated by Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal as well as his fights over trade. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on wine and other French products in retaliation for France’s tech tax.

The public clash with an ally is hardly unusual for Trump, who has flouted diplomatic norms observed by his predecessors. During the same session, Trump also attacked domestic foes, something prior presidents have usually resisted while on foreign soil.

“In Germany, they like Obama. The reason they like Obama because Obama gave the ship away. He allowed them to take everything,” Trump said of his predecessor. “They may not like me because I’m representing us, and I represent us strong. President Obama did not represent us strong.”

“He gave everything away” to Europe, Trump said, without specifying what he was talking about. “We’re still paying the price for what he did.”

He called Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry against him “unpatriotic” and said they would be to blame if the probe causes “a cloud” on his efforts internationally.

He said he would not accept a censure resolution that would condemn his actions in Ukraine while stopping short of removing him.

“You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong,” he said. “They’re what you call an investigation in search of a crime.”

Trump also weighed in on another domestic issue, the possibility that Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo would resign to run for Senate in Kansas.

Trump said Pompeo, who stood behind him while he made the comments, was doing a “tremendous job,” but “if I thought there was a risk to losing that seat, I would sit down and seriously talk to Mike.”

Many Republican leaders think there is a serious chance the party could lose the Senate seat being vacated by Pat Roberts, who plans to retire, and they have urged Pompeo to run.

Even as Trump clashed with an ally and Democrats, he continued to stress his strong relationship with American adversaries. He shrugged his shoulders when asked about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s missile tests.

“He really likes sending rockets up doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man,” Trump said, again emphasizing his personal ties to the autocrat.

And even as NATO allies and American officials have complained about Turkey’s incursion in northern Syria and its decision to purchase Russian S-400 missiles, Trump undercut any attempts to rein in the NATO member country.

He praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for allowing the U.S. military to cross its airspace during the mission that led to the death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the founder of Islamic State. And he misleadingly blamed Obama for Turkey’s decision to buy the weapons, echoing Erdogan’s own line.

In addition to meeting Macron later today, Trump is also scheduled to hold a Republican fundraiser expected to raise $3 million, meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have tea with Prince Charles and his wife, Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles, and attend a reception with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.


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Hong Kong protesters wave Trump-Rocky photos at rally

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS NETWORK)

 

Hong Kong protesters wave Trump-Rocky photos at rally

Protesters in Hong Kong on Thursday night could be seen waving pictures featuring the image President Trump recently shared of his face superimposed on the body of Sylvester Stallone’s fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.

The Washington Post reports many protesters in attendance at the “Thanksgiving Rally” were draped in American flags and cheered on Trump.

The president on Wednesday signed legislation affirming the United States’s support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Protesters flooded the streets of Hong Kong shortly after the bill was signed in Washington.

The legislation made its way to Trump’s desk quickly after it cleared both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities.

The legislation imposes sanctions on individuals who commit human rights violations in Hong Kong and blocks them from entering the United States.

Trump’s signing of the bill grew his popularity in Hong Kong, with the Trump-Rocky photo serving as a fitting symbol of the demonstrators’ approval of the president.

The Post noted that some protesters even sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the demonstration.

Pro-democracy protests have gone on for months in Hong Kong, escalating in recent weeks as demonstrators have clashed with police. The uprising was initially sparked by a bill that would have allowed some citizens to be extradited to mainland China. The bill has since been withdrawn, which did little to quell the protests.

Trump signs bills backing Hong Kong protesters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC)

 

Trump signs bills backing Hong Kong protesters into law, in spite of Beijing’s objections

KEY POINTS
  • President Trump signs two bills backing Hong Kong protesters, the White House says in a statement.
  • The president says he “signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong.”
  • He also says he hopes “Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences.”
GP 191127 President Trump Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey
U.S. President Donald Trump with first lady Melania Trump looking on in the Rose Garden of the White House November 26, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

President Donald Trump has signed two bills supporting the Hong Kong protesters into law on Wednesday, despite Beijing’s repeated objections.

“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

Congress sent the bills to the president’s desk last week, after both chambers passed the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The first bill would require the State Department to certify once a year that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to retain its special U.S. trading consideration — a status that helps its economy. Under that designation, the city is not subject to the tariffs that have been levied on China. The bill also sets up the potential for sanctions on people responsible for human rights abuse in Hong Kong.

The second measure would bar the sale of munitions such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.

Hong Kong, a former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, has been engulfed in months of anti-government protests. Initially sparked by a bill that would have enabled extradition to mainland China, the protests have morphed into broader anti-government demonstrations, including a wider range of demands such as greater democracy and universal suffrage.

VIDEO03:36
China decries House bill, calls it the ‘Support Violence in Hong Kong Act’

As the protests more frequently lapsed into violence, U.S. lawmakers increasingly criticized China’s response to the protests.

Trump’s Wednesday statement echoes his earlier comments that China should handle the situation itself. Though he has also warned that harsh treatment of the people in Hong Kong could derail trade negotiations.

Trump signed the bills into law as he tries to reach a “phase one” trade deal with Beijing, which has repeatedly condemned the legislation as meddling in its domestic affairs. The Hong Kong government has also spoken out against the bills, saying they are “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the sponsors of the Hong Kong rights bill, said he applauds Trump “for signing this critical legislation into law.”

“The U.S. now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Following last weekend’s historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong U.S. support for Hong Kongers’ long-cherished freedoms,” Rubio said in a statement.

VIDEO01:54
Hong Kong markets jump following pro-democracy candidates’ landslide victory

Over the weekend, Hong Kong democrats swept district council elections as 2.94 million cast their ballots, a record turnout of about 71.2%. While those seats largely focus on local issues like bus routes, some district councilors will also join the Election Committee which nominates and votes on candidates for the city’s leader.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said the legislation is an “important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental human rights.”

— CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.

Trump Now Throwing Rudy Giuliani Under The Bus: Trump Says “I hardly Know Him”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT)

 

It looks like President Donald Trump is finally tiring of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Gone are the days when he casually directed the leaders of foreign governments to “talk to Rudy” about matters of pressing national security policy.

A month ago, Trump offered a public show of support for the embattled former New York mayor; now, he says, he hardly knows the poor sap.

This week’s sudden split was a long time coming. In October, federal prosecutors nabbed Giuliani henchmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman as they attempted a one-way trip out of the United States. In the weeks since their arrest, Parnas provided audio and video recordings to the House Intelligence Committee that implicate Giuliani in corrupt foreign dealings. A federal criminal indictment against Giuliani appears imminent.

At the same time, three rounds of highly credible witnesses testified at House impeachment hearings that Giuliani put American foreign policy at risk by conducting an unofficial, Trump-approved intimidation campaign against American-allied Ukraine. The goal? To deliver damaging political dirt on political rival Joe Biden. Trump mega-donor and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland asserted under oath that Giuliani’s behavior amounted to a corrupt quid pro quo.

Now, at last, Trump is pulling the plug on another failed business venture. In a bizarre interview with disgraced former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, the president disavowed ever sending Giuliani to Ukraine. Giuliani, he argued, must have been operating independently. 

“I didn’t direct him,” Trump told O’Reilly.. “But he’s a warrior. Rudy’s a warrior. Rudy went. He possibly saw something… Rudy has other clients, other than me.”

Gordon Sondland: We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt

Even by the standards of Trump’s well-known disloyalty, his comments to O’Reilly represent a stunning willingness to throw even his closest advisers to the wolves. Of course, the idea that Giuliani acted on his own is risible — the official transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky includes a direct instruction to “talk to Rudy.” Trump’s comments are an act of desperation, a last-ditch attempt to cut off the cancerous limb that is Giuliani’s ineptitude. 

Friendship with Donald Trump is a fleeting affair filled with reputational risks. Just ask Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, currently serving three years in federal prison for his role in covering up Trump’s hush-money payments to porn stars and mistresses. By the end,of Cohen’s sordid saga, Trump claimed to barely know a man he had worked with for more than a decade.

Or take former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who went from Trump confidante to personal nemesis in the span of only 11 dizzying days. Or former Senior Adviser Steve Bannon, who guided Trump’s campaign and occupied a plush White House office until Trump fired him. Trump spent weeks dragging Bannon in the press as “sloppy” and a crybaby who couldn’t handle the pressures of government. 

For all his laughable incompetence, Giuliani represents a far more dangerous challenge for Trump than Bannon, Scaramucci or even Cohen. Giuliani is every bit as transactional as Trump. On one occasion last week, Giuliani claimed he had an “insurance policy” to ensure Trump didn’t turn on him — evidence that, for all their camaraderie, Giuliani knows the best way to handle Trump is through mutually assured destruction. 

With pressure mounting on Giuliani to testify under oath about his shady dealings in Ukraine, Trump has every reason to put miles between himself and his personal attorney. Trump’s claim that Giuliani was just a freelancer don’t hold water. It is too cute by half to assert that Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine just happen to match one-for-one with the quid pro quo Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to on live television

It doesn’t help that Giuliani has admitted on multiple occasions in rambling Fox News interviews that he acted at Trump’s direction — a self-serving effort to shield himself from legal fallout in much the same way Trump now seeks to shield himself from Giuliani. In a White House governed by opaque dealings, the Trump-Giuliani relationship is one of the few transparent elements.

President Trump is trying his best to wash his hands of Rudy Giuliani’s lethal radioactivity. Unfortunately for Trump, Giuliani is a fellow expert in the fair weather friendships of high-level politics. How Giuliani responds to Trump’s latest incitement will determine whether the White House survives the gathering impeachment storm.

The Real Reason Trump Withheld Military Is A Favor To Putin?

The Real Reason Trump Withheld Military Aid To UKraine Is A Favor To Putin?

 

This is just an oped on my part, I am only giving you my opinion about this issue. This is something that I have thought to be the truth ever sense the Ukraine story broke. As most of the world knows President Putin of Russia took the State of Crimea by military force from the country of UKraine a few years ago and Russian forces have been at war with the nation of UKraine in the east of that country ever sense. So, of course Mr. Putin does not want the US selling military arms to the nation of UKraine because those weapons are being used against his Russian soldiers on the battle field. I simply believe that it only makes sense that Mr. Putin wanted Mr. Trump to freeze that weapons sale to the Ukrainian government. As most of the world realizes, including the Republicans in the US Congress and Senate, Mr. Trump is nothing but a Putin Patsy. Now because of all of Mr. Trumps habitual lying he has found himself on the impeachment hot seat, it isn’t like he can actually tell the truth about his collusion with the Russian government to undermine an American Ally. These are just my thoughts, right, wrong or only somewhat correct, or not. What are you thoughts on this matter?

Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Editorial: Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, has emerged as a key figure in the House impeachment inquiry.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock )

Even before Gordon Sondland testified publicly Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, investigators had assembled a persuasive if circumstantial case that President Trump abused his power to prod Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically — just as the unnamed whistleblower contended. But Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, strengthened that case immeasurably with his testimony, which had added weight because he is a Trump political appointee who can’t be accused of being part of a sinister “deep state.”

The events Sondland recounted dovetailed with what previous witnesses had revealed. He testified that there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved in Ukraine policy: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would not get the coveted White House visit he was promised unless he announced investigations into a Ukrainian energy company for which former Vice President Joe Biden’s son served as a director and into a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. In an important revelation, Sondland said he also concluded from all he was hearing that, as surely as “two plus two equals four,” U.S. security aid was being held up as well in order to pressure Ukraine into announcing those investigations.

There was more: Sondland made it clear that Trump had expressly directed him and other U.S. officials to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has agitated for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens and who was Trump’s emissary on the demand for a quid pro quo. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland testified. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt.”

Finally, Sondland testified that his efforts and Guiliani’s weren’t the result of a rogue foreign policy. Instead, he said, important officials in the administration — including Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — were “in the loop” about the pressure campaign.

What emerges from his testimony and that of other witnesses is an all too believable picture of a foreign policy process hijacked by the president’s willingness to use the powers of his office to benefit his domestic political interests.

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee argued that Sondland’s testimony wasn’t a smoking gun because he couldn’t cite any conversation in which Trump had told him that there was a quid pro quo. The president himself pointed reporters to a Sept. 9 telephone call in which Trump, Sondland testified, told him that “I want nothing” from Ukraine and forswore any quid pro quo. But that call took place after the whistleblower complaint was filed, and on the same day Congress announced an investigation of whether there was a quid pro quo. The timing of Trump’s denial makes it suspect, to say the least.

Moreover, the idea that Trump wanted nothing from Ukraine conflicts with what remains the most incriminating evidence against the president: the reconstructed transcript of the president’s July 25 telephone call with Zelensky in which, after noting that “we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump suggested that Ukraine “do us a favor.” He asked Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory linking Ukraine to hacked Democratic emails and suggested that he talk with Atty. Gen. William Barr about rumors that Biden as vice president had forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor widely viewed as corrupt in order to protect Hunter Biden. Both ideas emanated from discredited Ukranian sources, some of whom have since recanted the allegations that Giuliani had fed to Trump.

Significantly in light of Sondland’s testimony, Trump in that call said it “would be great” if Zelensky would speak to Giuliani.

An array of witnesses, including Sondland, have provided the larger context in which that conversation — which Trump has defended as “perfect” — must be viewed. The fact that the administration has blocked the testimony of witnesses in close contact with Trump, such as Mulvaney or former national security advisor John Bolton, is outrageous. Trump himself should testify, as he suggested this week he might.

But let’s be clear. Even without such testimony, the House committee has pieced together a plausible and damning narrative, and Trump’s defenders are forced to rely on utterly incredible arguments. They include the laughable idea that Trump might have a principled objection to corruption in Ukraine (or anywhere else) and the “all’s well that ends well” defense: The administration ultimately released the aid for Ukraine — after the whistleblower complaint was filed and Congress started looking into the delay.

The testimony will go on, and some point the House may decide that Trump’s abuse of power justifies the extraordinary step of impeachment. But even if the president is impeached, the servility of congressional Republicans makes it unlikely that he would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office before the end of his term. That means his corrupt and chaotic presidency must be brought to a merciful end next year, at the ballot box.