What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

 

I am a registered independent who does vote in all of the Presidential election cycles and in all of the mid-term elections. I have voted for several Republicans and several Democrats throughout the years. I am not a fan of either of these two main parties and I darn sure can not stomach Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, I do believe that these two caricatures belong chained in the basement of a Federal Pen until the day they rot away and die. In case you are wondering, I voted for Gary Johnson back in 2016 for President, not because I thought that he would win anything, I just couldn’t get myself to vote for either of those other two donkeys behinds.

 

Now, I am going to tell you what I believe is the honest truth about what happened on election night of 2016. What I believe as of tonight is exactly what I believed happened back on November 8th of 2016, no changes. As pretty much almost all sane folks know (if you are a person who believes all the security agencies) Russia at the direction of their President Mr. Putin had their security agencies interfere in 21 States computer election systems. It is a fact that all these Russian hackers had to do was to move about 1/2 of 1% of the votes in just 3 or 4 of the States that were projected to be close that Hillary was projected to win. This would be enough to flip the winner of the Presidential election away from Hillary whom Mr. Putin hates to Mr. Trump whom I believe Mr. Putin has major ‘dirt’ on.

 

Hillary won the popular vote by a little over 2.8 million total votes. This is more than 5 times the amount that Al Gore beat George W. Bush by back in 2000 yet some how the ‘Arkansas Witch’ lost the election. If you are wondering, Mr. Gore beat Mr. Bush by a little more than 500,000 total votes. Mr. Trump likes to say that he won the election by a ‘historic’ amount even though history shows him to be a liar even on this matter, but then, what doesn’t this fraud not lie about, daily? Mr. Trump is said to have won 304 Electoral College votes to Hillary’s 227. For a person to win the election the had to garner at least 270 of these votes. So, Mr. Trump received 34 more than required to be the winner. Next I am going to show you a few final numbers from the 2016 election. There are more States with more examples of these issues, I have just picked 4 of them to show you. All of these States the poles right up to the election and the exit polls after people had voted all said that Hillary would win these States, but the computers say she didn’t.

 

Florida: 29 Electoral votes: Trump 49.20%,   4,615,910 popular votes

Hillary 47.81%,   4,501,455 popular votes

Trump wins by 1.39%  and by 114,455


Pennsylvania: 20 Electoral Votes: Trump 48.58%, 2,970,753 popular votes

Hillary 47.85%,  2,926,441 popular votes

Trump wins by .73% and by 44,312


Michigan: 16 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.50%,  2,279,543 popular votes

Hillary 47.27%,  2,268,839 popular votes

Trump wins by .23% and by 10,704


Wisconsin: 10 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.26%, 1,407,028 popular votes

Hillary 46.45%,  1,382,947 popular votes

Trump wins by .81% and by 24,081


Folks remember, on these percentages all you have to do is to cut the wining margins in half to change the outcome of the election. For example lets use Wisconsin. Mr. Trump is said to have won by .81%, now, cut that in half, take away .41% and give it to Hillary. This would equal a Hillary win 47.86% to Trump at 47.85%. Example of Michigan, .12% changes the winner. It is a well know fact that Russian intelligence agencies hacked these States systems trying to help Mr. Trump win.

All that historically huge win that Mr. Trump has bragged about would have changed if Hillary had won even the three smallest of these States, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Folks, this is just 3 of the 21 the Russian Agencies hacked. These three States alone totaled 46 Electoral Votes. Flipping just those three States, those 46 votes would have made the final Electoral Vote tally of Hillary 273, Trump 258. I honestly believe that we have a ‘fake’ President who is going to end up being impeached. I would say imprisoned also except that I am quite sure that President Pence as his first piece of business will pardon Mr. Trump of all of his felonies, including the treason charges I believe Mr. Mueller will prove Trump guilty of. I believe that Mr. Trump will pardon all of his mafia clan before he is himself impeached. The clan of which I speak does include the two crooks convicted today, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Manafort. I also believe that Mr. Mueller will get convictions on Eric and Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jarred Kushner.

 

Okay friends, that is my rant for the night. As a very dear old friend of mine used to like to say, now “we shall see what we shall see.” You can say I’m totally correct on everything that I have written this evening, most of it, some of it or even none of it.  I just wanted to get my thoughts down in print. Now, time will tell us “what we shall see.”

 

 

Kushner said pushing to close UNRWA, end refugee status for Palestinian millions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Kushner said pushing to close UNRWA, end refugee status for Palestinian millions

Report quotes Palestinian official saying US peace envoys asked Jordan to move toward halting UNRWA’s operations there as part of wider apparent efforts to shutter agency

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 18, 2018. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, May 18, 2018. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, has been pushing to remove the refugee status of millions of Palestinians as part of an apparent effort to shutter the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, a report on Friday said.

Under Trump, the US has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, with the US president linking the decision to the Palestinians’ refusal to speak with his administration after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to emails published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine, Kushner has been highly critical of UNRWA, with he and other White House officials weighing its closure as part of their peace efforts.

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email dated January 11, just days before the US froze $65 million in funding for UNRWA. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” he added in the email, according to Foreign Policy.

Uniquely, UNRWA grants refugee status to all descendants of Palestinians who left or fled Israel with the establishment of the state in 1948, swelling the number to an estimated five million at present, when the number of actual refugees from that conflict is estimated to be in the low tens of thousands. In peace talks, the Palestinian leadership has always demanded a “right of return” to Israel for these millions — an influx that, if accepted by Israel, would spell the end of the Israel as a majority Jewish state.

Israel argues that the Palestinian demand is an UNRWA-facilitated effort to destroy Israel by demographic means. The Palestinians also seek an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Months of ongoing violent protests fueled by Hamas at the Gaza border with Israel were initiated under the banner of a “March of the Return,” and encouraged by Hamas leaders with the declared ultimate goal of erasing the border and destroying Israel.

Israel argues that an independent Palestinian state, if agreed upon in negotiations, would absorb Palestinian refugees and their descendants, just as Israel absorbed Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and north African countries over the decades.

Palestinians collect food aid at a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

In an email from later in January, an adviser to Jason Greenblatt — Trump’s Middle East peace envoy — suggested UNRWA’s closure as part of the US peace push.

“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” wrote Victoria Coates.

Coates described the proposition as one of the “spitball ideas that I’ve had that are also informed by some thoughts I’ve picked up from Jared, Jason and Nikki,” referring to Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

Other proposals raised were moving UNRWA to a monthly operating budget and coming up with “a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials.”

The report also quoted Palestinian officials saying Kushner and Greenblatt in June asked Jordan to remove the refugee status of some 2 million Palestinians in order to end UNRWA’s operations in the country.

“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” said Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi, according to Foreign Policy.

“They want to take a really irresponsible, dangerous decision and the whole region will suffer,” she added, claiming the White House wanted Gulf states to pick up the tab for whatever this would cost Jordan.

Saeb Erekat, speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York on December 13, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Shortly after the reported request, top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Kushner and Greenblatt of seeking the “termination” of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.

“They want to terminate the role of UNRWA by proposing direct aid to the countries hosting the Palestinian refugees and sideline the UN agency,” Erekat said at the time. “On top of this, they are planning financial aid to the Gaza Strip worth one billion dollars for projects, also separate from UNRWA and under the title of solving a humanitarian crisis.”

He added: “All this is actually aimed at liquidating the issue of the Palestinian refugees.”

The White House would not directly comment on the Foreign Policy report, though an official told the magazine that the US position on UNRWA “has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion. The administration will announce its policy in due course.”

Israel, which has also sometimes accused UNRWA of employing Palestinians who support terrorism, says UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees helps to perpetuate the Palestinian narrative of Israeli illegitimacy. It notes that UNRWA’s policy of granting refugee status to the descendants of Palestinian refugees, even when they are born in other countries and have citizenship there, does not apply to the refugees cared for by the UN’s main refugee agency, UNHCR, which cares for all other refugees worldwide. The population of Palestinian refugees thus grows each year, even as other refugee populations in the world shrink with each passing generation.

A spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Washington, Elad Strohmayer, told Foreign Policy: “We believe that UNRWA needs to pass from the world as it is an organization that advocates politically against Israel and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem.”

US President’s peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Foreign Policy report came as US officials say the Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for peace pointmen Kushner and Greenblatt, according to the officials.

The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Although Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, the emerging plan has not been described with even a small amount of detail by Kushner, Greenblatt or any other official.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

New York Times says ‘Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,’ emissary for Saudi, and Emirati princes met with Trump Jr. and others 3 months before election

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son  Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Three months before the November 2016 elections, senior members of the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a small group of people from the Mideast who offered to help the controversial businessman win the race against Hillary Clinton. The group included “an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, and Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the former head of the private security firm Blackwater whose sister Betsy Devos is now secretary of education, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the report, “was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.”

According to the report, the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, “extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign,” and his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”

The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrataccording to Bloomberg.

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP)

The plan, according to the report which cited three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort,” involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

Nader allegedly said that the two crown princes “saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.”

Trump Jr. “responded approvingly,” the New York Times said, citing “a person with knowledge of the meeting,” and following the initial offers for help, Nader “was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”

Nader was also reportedly “promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”

After Trump won the election, Nader paid Zamel “a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million.” and while the NY Times said there were conflicting accounts for the payment, “a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The August 3 meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked last year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the lead-up to the election.

The revelation of the meeting is the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign.

Nader also reportedly visited Moscow twice during the campaign and Zamel’s businesses have ties to Russia, which are “of interest” to the special counsel’s investigation, according to the report.

Zamel was already questioned by investigators for the special counsel, the report said, “and at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal.”

The Israeli police worked with US investigators to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation, according to the report.

Nader too has been cooperating with the inquiry, the report said, “and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.”

Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the NY Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader, and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

A lawyer for Zamel, Marc L. Mukasey, told the NY Times, that “neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign.”

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.

“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he added.

The New York Times reported that though it is still unclear if any direct assistance was forthcoming from Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, “two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.”

The August 3, 2016 meeting came two months after Trump Jr., Kushner, and others met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting on June 9, 2016.

In a closed-door interview last year with the committee, Trump Jr., said he did not give much thought to the idea that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race.

AP contributed to this report

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Making Deals with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner Taught Me About Deception

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

Senior Advisor Jared Kushner waits for a meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room of the White House Sept. 12, 2017 in Washington, D/C. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Senior Advisor Jared Kushner waits for a meeting with Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, U.S. President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room of the White House Sept. 12, 2017 in Washington, D/C. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

By MARY DIXIE CARTER

9:25 AM EDT
IDEAS
Carter, a former publishing director of the New York Observer, is a writer based in Brooklyn.

About 13 years ago, I walked into Donald Trump’s office hoping to sell him advertising in The New York Observer. At that time, I was publishing director of the newspaper, which was still owned by my father, Arthur Carter, but I could see a potential sale of the struggling paper looming and sought to fend it off. In those days, I sold ads because I had the noble idea that I could save the newspaper. That didn’t happen. But over time, I did grasp something about the nature of selling and witnessed a range of ways in which it’s achieved.

That day, Trump — who was speaking on the phone, to one of his children, I believe — smiled, greeted me wordlessly and pointed to a chair. He had no intention of pausing his activities because I had arrived for a meeting. He continued on in a seemingly friendly, inclusive manner, but ignored the stated purpose of my visit. He picked up the phone intermittently, while employees wandered in and out of the office. A consummate performer, he appeared to be conscious of his audience. I tried to corral his attention and began my sales pitch several times, but I don’t think I spoke two uninterrupted sentences. He chatted with me off and on, talking fondly of his kids, then asked my advice on interior design for one of his properties. It was a question about gilded molding, I believe.

“You like this one?”

“Yes.”

And then, my allotted time was up.

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On my way out, Trump beamed at me. “You’re so thin!” he cried out. I didn’t have a good response to his oddly inappropriate comment, which he probably intended as flattery. I smiled awkwardly and waved goodbye. Unfortunately, he didn’t buy ads from me that day or any other day. I doubt he ever intended to. He probably met with me hoping to ingratiate himself and get some positive coverage from the Observer.

A year or two later, in 2006, I was seated with my father in his living room and 25-year-old Kushner walked in. This time, we were selling the whole newspaper. I don’t mean to inflate my role — I was merely on the selling team, just a passive spectator. Nevertheless, I had a personal stake in the outcome, having gone to work for my father with the idea that I’d take over when he retired. I experienced the sale of the paper as a crushing blow. I’d moved to New York to work there and invested five years of my life. But if it was inevitable, then at least I could hope for a like-minded owner, ideally someone who’d welcome my presence and assistance.

Kushner positioned himself as a naïve protégé who looked up to my father as a mentor. His family’s name had recently been sullied by his own father’s misdeeds and subsequent time in prison. He had yet to meet Ivanka Trump. In retrospect, it seems clear to me that his desire to acquire the newspaper had to do with rehabilitating his family’s image. The Huffington Post reported that a family friend of the Kushners said the move was one of three suggestions public relations guru Howard Rubenstein gave Jared. (Kushner Companies and Rubenstein denied the account.)

Outwardly modest and guileless, eyes and chin down, he talked in his soft-spoken voice of his respect and admiration for this venerable institution. He said if he were to own the newspaper, he would be eager for my father’s continued participation as well as mine — in fact, he seemed enthusiastic about my staying on at the Observer. Lastly, he implied he had enough money to keep the paper running forever.

Kushner was effective in selling himself to my father and me, but I would grow to realize that his interest in the Observer had nothing to with a love of journalism, or even a passing interest in journalism. Once he owned the paper, colleagues told me he said he found it excruciating to read — and acknowledged as much in a 2009 New York magazine interview. Once he owned the paper, we barely spoke. Kushner didn’t fire me, nor did he formally demote me. But I left after six months, when he’d made it clear to me, with his lack of words or a blink in my direction, that he did not intend to work with me.

Almost everyone has to sell, no matter your occupation. It’s one of the hardest and most underestimated jobs. Though I didn’t excel at it, I recognize what it requires: sharp intuition — the ability to discover who people are. Salespeople are social creatures who enjoy learning. They figure out people in order to provide them with what they want or need. At least the principled ones do.

But there are other sorts of salespeople who take the exact opposite tactic — you might call them show people. They are the ones who go through life projecting an image ceaselessly. They believe success comes from the ability to ignore information that doesn’t suit them. They write their own narrative, and they commit wholly, relentlessly.

Every president this country has ever had was to some degree a salesman. But it is clear to anyone who has done business with President Trump that he views the presidency as an extension of sales: in his view, it is an occupation that has little to do with listening. To take in new information, he would need to stop projecting an image.

You could have seen this at the listening session held at the White House on Feb. 26, in which the President spoke with governors about school shootings. Twenty-five seconds into remarks from Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the President crosses his arms; when Inslee stopped speaking, Trump quickly refuted what the governor said and moved on to someone who agreed with him.

Kushner, too, never stops projecting an image. Though Senior Advisor to the President and Trump’s son-in-law, the public has little first-hand knowledge of his character. Witness this recent and somewhat puzzling story on BuzzFeed, which emphasizes his opportunistic streak: “Kushner Sought To Sell Newspaper to Trump’s Political Enemies” shortly after the 2016 election.

Perhaps wishful thinking led me to believe in Kushner’s initial sincerity when he bought the Observer because it served me to do so, but eventually I felt duped. Once he owned the newspaper, his deferential attitude was replaced by a posture of superiority. That air of superiority, as opposed to authority, defied common sense because he had no experience in journalism. At times, it seemed to me that he was acting a role and knew he was. At other times, it seemed more likely that Kushner had come to believe his own performance. Given his prominent role today, either is a disturbing prospect. Apparently similar to President Trump, he didn’t and doesn’t know that leadership has to do with learning and listening. For this White House, leadership is about presentation. All you need to do is say it, and then it will be true.

Carter’s work has appeared in The EconomistThe San Francisco ChronicleThe Chicago TribuneThe Philadelphia InquirerThe New York Observer and other publications.

Kushner, Russia bombshells rock the White House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kushner, Russia bombshells rock the White House

Washington (CNN)A volley of stunning revelations over Jared Kushner and the Russia probe are rocking Donald Trump’s inner circle and suggest a pivotal moment is at hand in the West Wing personnel wars that have raged throughout his presidency.

First, it emerged Tuesday that chief of staff John Kelly downgraded the top secret security clearance for the President’s son-in-law in a bid to clear up a scandal over whether top administration players are qualified to access the most sensitive intelligence.
Then, The Washington Post published a bombshell report that at least four countries had discussed how to use Kushner’s sparse experience, financial troubles and intricate business arrangements to manipulate him.
Hours later, CNN reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is asking questions about Trump’s business dealings with Russia before the President’s campaign, a potentially significant development in the investigation.

Toobin: Kushner is definition of security risk

Triple blows

The triple blows at Trump’s inner circle added to the already incredible personal, political and legal pressure heaped on the President and the strain on those staffing his turbulent presidency.
They come at a moment when Mueller’s probe is gathering pace, cranking out indictments of Trump associates, and appears to be posing a more severe threat to the President, Kushner and other important associates.
The developments were more than a personal and public humiliation to Kushner, who has played an influential, if mysterious, role in the administration.
They put the sustainability of his role as a top foreign policy adviser to Trump in doubt because he will have access to far fewer government secrets and cannot see the Presidential Daily Brief, the collection of the spy community’s treasures prepared for the commander in chief.
The downgrade appears to make it all but impossible for Kushner to do his job even though the White House and his lawyer say that is not the case.
But how for example can he carry out his duties running the Middle East peace process or liaising with top Gulf powers if he is not privy to the latest intelligence about his interlocutors or other key regional players like Iran?
Similarly, Kushner could find himself asked to leave sensitive meetings in the White House or force top intelligence or foreign policy officials to avoid the most sensitive subjects in meetings that he is in with the President.
“He can’t see intercepted communications — that’s top secret, he’s now downgraded to secret … he can’t see the most secret CIA information about their informants,” said Phil Mudd, a former CIA and FBI official who is now a CNN national security analyst.
“He can’t see some of the stuff our Western allies see,” he added.
Ultimately, unless Kushner is cleared by the FBI to receive a permanent security clearance or gets a waiver from the President his diminished role will spur fresh speculation about his longevity as a White House staffer.

Ex-CIA Analyst: Kushner's clearance downgrade 'huge'

His departure and potentially that of his wife Ivanka Trump, who just controversially led a US mission to South Korea’s Winter Olympics at a time of flaring nuclear tensions with North Korea, would mark a huge earthquake in Trump world.
As it is, the couple will see their “influence diminished,” a GOP source close to the White House told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Fresh doubts over Kushner’s position also risked reflecting poorly on Trump, given that the President made a close family member who was apparently unqualified or at risk of being compromised by foreign powers such a pivotal adviser.
After all, Trump pledged to hire the most qualified people in the world to serve in his administration, and made the alleged mishandling of classified material by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton a key argument of his campaign.
Trump was already under ethical fire for breaking anti-nepotism conventions by hiring family members. Kushner’s new troubles will make those questions even more acute.
“This is a stunning blow to President Trump,” said CNN presidential historian Timothy Naftali, noting that Kushner was one of the few senior advisers with whom Trump felt comfortable.
“This is a big deal … he must be fuming,” Naftali told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Burnett presses WH spokesman on Kushner news

Foreign manipulations

The idea that key foreign countries, including Mexico, Israel, China and the United Arab Emirates had acted on conversations about how to manipulate Kushner, according to current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports cited by the Post, is also a problem.
After all, the optics of a senior presidential adviser sitting down with leaders who have been publicly reported to have tried to compromise him would weaken his leverage.
The political implications of the Kushner news are less profound than the national security questions but no less intriguing.
The strike against Kushner is a bold move by Kelly who has worked to remove what he sees a distracting elements around the President — such as former top political adviser Steve Bannon and former foreign policy aide Sebastian Gorka. But his decision to take on the President’s son-in-law is the most significant and potentially risky coup yet.
Last week, Trump told reporters he would let Kelly decide what to do about his son-in-law’s clearance but stressed that Kushner had done an “outstanding job.” The comment was seen by many in Washington as a broad hint to Kelly that the President wanted Kushner kept in the loop.
Now any attempt by Trump to contradict Kelly’s move would shatter the chief of staff’s authority and make his position all but impossible. But if Kelly prevails, his decision on Kushner will be regarded as a gutsy political victory and would undercut speculation he cannot last much longer in the White House.
Signs that Mueller is looking into Trump’s finances meanwhile add a layer of intensity to the drama surrounding his investigation.
The President has previously warned that he would not tolerate the special counsel seeking such information, so speculation about whether Trump will try to fire Mueller will be revived.
While there is no indication so far of any wrongdoing by Trump or collusion with a Russian election meddling effort, the report again poses the question of whether his past business dealings could have been a target for any Russian attempt to compromise him.
Any sense on the part of the President that the walls are closing in will not have been helped by Tuesday’s testimony to a House committee by Hope Hicks, his communications director and close campaign aide.
CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Hicks testified that she has sometimes had to tell white lies for the President, but had not lied about anything substantive.

Jared Kushner should not be working in the White House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Commentary: 

Jared Kushner should not be working in the White House

Jennifer RubinThe Washington Post

The Washington Post reports:

“A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

“The Feb. 9 phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to White House Counsel Donald McGahn came amid growing public scrutiny of a number of administration officials without final security clearances. Most prominent among them is Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who has had access to some of the nation’s most sensitive material for over a year while waiting for his background investigation to be completed.

“A week after the call from Rosenstein, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced that staffers whose clearances have not been finalized will no longer be able to view top-secret information — meaning that Kushner stood to lose his status as early as Friday.”

We do not know for certain why Kushner’s security clearance has been held up. Suffice it to say, however, that if a senior staffer in any other administration had to repeatedly amend his disclosure statements, failed initially to disclose meetings with Russians during the transition (including one in which a back channel cutting out our intelligence services was discussed), ran up huge personal debts and consulted with a now-fired, indicted White House official, he would have been denied a clearance and shown the door. (“Kushner’s actions during the transition have been referenced in the guilty plea of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted he lied to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak,” The Post reports. “Prosecutors said Flynn was acting in consultation with a senior Trump transition official, whom people familiar with the matter have identified as Kushner.”)

It isn’t surprising that Chief of Staff John Kelly would be happy to see Kushner go. (“Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner’s uncertain security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer, according to people familiar with the conversations. He has said he would not be upset if the president’s son-in-law and his wife, Ivanka Trump, left their positions as full-time employees.”)

Aside from whatever political backstabbing might be going on (Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump is purportedly involved in trying to replace Kelly), Kushner now stands in violation of the deadline Kelly imposed to end all interim security clearances. If Kushner remains and gets special treatment, the message from the White House is clear: The Trump family doesn’t meet basic security requirements and gets special treatment. The mixed message to the rest of the White House staff undermines Kelly’s authority and ability to force compliance with essential security requirements.

Taking a step back, in any other White House a senior adviser whose job requires access to classified material would be obliged at the very least to step away from duties pertaining to national security. We have known since May 2017 that Kushner was under investigation. (The Post reported on May 19, 2017: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.” That person was later identified as Kushner.) “Under no circumstances should Kushner have maintained his security clearance this entire time, given the nature of the conduct that is under investigation,” says former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. “And without a security clearance, he couldn’t be in the job he’s been in.”

Norman L. Eisen, former ethics counsel for President Barack Obama, tells me: “Kushner should have been gone — and in Obama’s or any other White House, would have been gone — as soon as the red flags of his dozens of omissions on his security clearance and financial disclosure forms began to accumulate. That is because they signaled the trouble ahead. It is only because of nepotism (also a violation of federal law, by the way) that he is still there.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, of which Eisen is the board chair, sent a letter to Kelly on Feb. 15 demanding that Kushner’s temporary clearance be revoked, citing multiple factors — e.g. foreign influence, omission of information — that would trigger a denial of clearance under existing regulations and executive orders.)

Unless Kushner has been entirely cleared of wrongdoing, his continued presence in his current White House role is unprecedented and inexcusable. He is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence, but not to a high White House post with a top security clearance so long as there is credible information to believe he acted improperly with regard to the matters under investigation. If this were a corporate setting, a high-level executive would be put on “leave” pending conclusion of an investigation. Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tells me, “It’s ridiculous that Kushner still works in the White House, all the more so that he has access to classified information. Anybody else would be gone, but the Justice Department consigned us to this fate when it [condoned] nepotism in the White House.”

We raise this point about Kushner’s presence to underscore how entirely abnormal is the situation the country finds itself. His continuing role in the White House demonstrates just how far out of bounds is the conduct of this White House and the degree to which the administration now serves Trump’s personal and family interests rather than the nation’s. Unfortunately, as we have learned, the country at large begins to become accustomed to the inexcusable — if the inexcusable goes on long enough.

Washington Post 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

Bannon: 2016 Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Bannon: 2016 Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, is based on hundreds of interviews
  • Bannon also reportedly told Wolff: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV”

(CNN)Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon called the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer purportedly offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton “treasonous,” according to a new book obtained by The Guardian.

The book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, is based on hundreds of interviews, including ones with President Donald Trump and his inner circle. According to the Guardian, Bannon addressed the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Russian operatives that was arranged when Trump Jr. agreed to meet a “Russian government attorney” after receiving an email offering him “very high level and sensitive information” that would “incriminate” Clinton.
“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers,” Bannon continued, according to the Guardian. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
Bannon also reportedly told Wolff: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
The White House declined to comment Wednesday about Bannon’s reported assertions.
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Bannon also reportedly told Wolff that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia is centered on money laundering, saying that the White House is “sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five” hurricane.

The ups and downs of the Bannon insurgency

“You realize where this is going … This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose (senior prosecutor Andrew) Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy,” Bannon reportedly said. “Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”
Bannon said he believes Kushner, the White House senior adviser and the President’s son-in-law, could be convinced to cooperate if Mueller probes his financial records.
“They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me,” Bannon is reported as saying, apparently referring to Trump Jr. and Kushner.
The Trump Tower meeting has been of intense interest to the congressional Russia investigators as well as Mueller.
Trump Jr. testified before House investigators last month but would not say what he and his father discussed after reports surfaced about the meeting, citing attorney-client privilege.

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

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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.

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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.
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“While these regional talks will play an important role, the President reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal,” the official said. “No deal will be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians. We are committed to facilitating a deal that improves conditions for both parties.”
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.