Can A Person Have Credibility While Employed By A World Class Fool?

 

I started working for a living when I was 13 and due to health reasons I had to retire at 56, almost 57. During this time I worked for many different employers in various fields of employment. I have had a small handful of good honest intelligent supervisors and company owners, but I have had many such people in my life who were idiots, morons, thieves, habitual liars, egomaniacs, frauds and ignorant butt-wipes, in other words, Donald Trump wannabees. I have tried to teach all of my kids that in life there are two types of people you do not want to be around, idiots and liars. So, I hope that they learned that lesson and that they choose to stay away from D.C..

 

There are some basic truths in life that hold true throughout the annals of time itself. There are issues like a liar and a thief walk hand in hand with each other because one is almost always the other. People do judge you by not only the clothes or the shoes that you wear you are also judged by the company we choose to keep. To think that you can hangout on the street corner with a well-known gang and not have some of their dirt rub off on you is quite ignorant of you. When we work for a company that has a decades long history of being crooked to their employees what kind of fool does it say we are when we knowing apply to work for this crooked employer? Does it say we are idiots, crooked also, or maybe just plain stupid?

 

I am pointing this article this morning at our blusterous blowhard who is our current President. Folks how does anyone with any credibility stay employed by this man? The former mouthpiece for daily briefings, Mr. Spicer at the White House under this President found out just how hard it is to work for an ignorant, blowhard fool such as Mr. Fraud-in-Chief Trump. Honestly, if I were an employer and I was wanting to find good quality employees I would not go to the house of a total idiot to find them. The only way I can see of a quality company wanting to hire a person who had someone like Donald ‘Fake News’ Trump on their resume would be, well, quite honestly, I wouldn’t. People do not usually stay with an employer who has a long reputation as a butt-wipe unless they too are in constant need of toilet paper. Why would an employer choose to hire an employee who has been faithful to the whims of a world-class piece of pond-scum?

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Fact Checker

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal

 October 14 at 3:00 AM
 Play Video 3:00
Trump’s Iran deal announcement, in 3 minutes
President Trump announced Oct. 13 that his administration would take new steps going forward to confront Iran. (The Washington Post)

In his speech on the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Trump made a number of factual assertions. The deal was negotiated by Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China), Germany and the European Union.

Here’s a guide to some of his rhetoric, in the order in which he made these statements.

“The regime harbored high-level terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, including Osama bin Laden’s son.”

The president recounted a long list of aggressive acts by the Iranian government toward the United States since the shah was overthrown in 1979, many of which would be familiar to Americans. This claim — that Iran harbored al-Qaeda terror suspects — might be less well-known, but it was recently documented in a 2017 book, “The Exile,” by investigative reporters Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.

The book noted that the steady flow of senior al-Qaeda figures into Iran after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was controversial among various factions. The government actually made some arrests and sent some al-Qaeda figures back to countries of origin. But the Revolutionary Guard was more supportive. Trump, in using the phrase “regime,” glosses over the debate within the country.

“The regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks.”

Trump suggests the assistance to al-Qaeda continues to the present day. This is in line with the latest State Department Country Reports on terrorism, released in July, which said: “Since at least 2009, Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” This phrasing marked a shift from previous reports, which indicated the support was in the past.

“The previous administration lifted these sanctions, just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime, through the deeply controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”

There is little evidence that the Iranian government was on the verge of “total collapse,” though it was certainly struggling because of international sanctions. The Obama administration had been able to win broad international support for crippling sanctions precisely because it convinced Russia and China, two major Iranian partners, that the pressure was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force the government into negotiations. If the government had started to teeter because of the sanctions, especially if it was perceived as part of an American campaign of regime change, that support probably would have been withdrawn.

JCPOA “also gave the regime an immediate financial boost and over $100 billion its government could use to fund terrorism. The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the United States, a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran.”

Trump often suggests the United States gave a $100 billion to Iran, but these were Iranian assets that had been frozen. The Treasury Department has estimated that once Iran fulfills other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. (Much of the funds were tied up in illiquid projects in China.) For its part, the Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion, not $55 billion. Iran has also complained that it cannot actually move the money back to Iran because foreign banks won’t touch it for fear of U.S. sanctions and their U.S. exposure.

As for the $1.7 billion in cash, this was related to the settlement of a decades-old claim between the two countries. An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, 2016, the same day Iran’s government agreed to release four American detainees, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian. The timing — which U.S. officials insisted was a coincidence — suggested the cash could be viewed as a ransom payment.

But the initial cash payment was Iran’s money. In the 1970s, the then-pro-Western Iranian government under the shah paid $400 million for U.S. military equipment. But the equipment was never delivered because the two countries broke off relations after the seizure of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

Two other payments totaling $1.3 billion — a negotiated agreement on the interest owed on the $400 million — came some weeks later.

“The deal allows Iran to continue developing certain elements of its nuclear program and, importantly, in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.”

JCPOA has been in place for two years. Certain provisions of the nuclear aspects of the deal do not last indefinitely, but virtually all phase out between years 10 and 25. It’s doubtful Iran would have agreed to an indefinite ban on nuclear activities, given that it has a right to have a nonnuclear program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Critics of the agreement argue that Iran’s past behavior suggests it will cheat in any case and thus has forfeited its rights.

Trump does not mention that under the agreement, Iran is permanently prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will be subject to certain restrictions and additional monitoring indefinitely. (Readers may also be interested in a previous fact check we did on whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons; we found the claim dubious.)

It’s unclear why Trump refers to a “few years” before a potential nuclear breakout. Nonnuclear provisions having to do with arms-related transfers to and from Iran will expire in three years, or possibly sooner. In six years, U.N. Security Council restrictions end on any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

“Those who argue that somehow the JCPOA deals only with nuclear matters and should be judged separate from the restrictions in [U.N.] Resolution 2231 fail to explain that a nuclear weapon is a warhead and a delivery system,” noted David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, in testimony before Congress. “Today, the delivery vehicle of choice is a ballistic missile.”

“The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement. For example, on two separate occasions, they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water. Until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges.”

Trump is right that Iran twice exceeded the deal’s limit on heavy water. But supporters of the deal say it shows JCPOA is working. Iran tried to take advantage of fuzzy language in the agreement but was immediately caught by international inspectors; the other partners objected and forced Iran to come back into compliance.

As for the centrifuges, the deal limits both the number and type of centrifuges Iran is permitted to use. Again Iran tried to take advantage of ambiguous limits — “roughly 10” advanced centrifuges — by operating slightly more than that number.

The dispute for the moment also appears to have been resolved, though Albright in his testimony noted that “Iran has also built and operated more advanced centrifuges than it is allowed, and it has misused quality assurance limitations to conduct banned mechanical testing of advanced centrifuges.”

“There are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea. I am going to instruct our intelligence agencies to do a thorough analysis and report back their findings beyond what they have already reviewed.”

This was a puzzling statement. The phrasing suggests there is not enough evidence to claim that Iran has dealings with North Korea, but the intelligence agencies will keep looking. But it raises the question about why the president made the assertion in the first place.

“It is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”

The other partners to the agreement dispute that Trump has the authority to end the deal. In an unusual joint statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron noted: “JCPOA was unanimously endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA through its long-term verification and monitoring program.”

Similarly, Federica Mogherini, the E.U. foreign policy chief, said no one country could terminate the deal. “This deal is not a bilateral agreement,” she said. “The international community, and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is, and will, continue to be in place.”

However, a president can stop waiving nuclear sanctions at any point, causing nuclear sanctions to come back into force. Moreover, U.S. law requires Trump to waive nuclear sanctions regularly, so he could simply not do anything and nuclear sanctions come back. In effect, that would terminate the deal, whether the other partners like it or not.

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President Trump Suspends ‘Jones Act’ In Effort To Get Help To Puerto Rico Quicker

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The White House has authorized a waiver to loosen shipping rules regarding Puerto Rico that island officials say would be a significant help for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria.

“At @ricardorossello request, @POTUS has authorized the Jones Act be waived for Puerto Rico. It will go into effect immediately,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Thursday morning.
Her tweet comes after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he asked the White House to loosen the regulations Wednesday night.
He joined the growing list of officials who argued that lifting the the Jones Act — a federal law designed to protect the financial interests of US shipbuilders by limiting shipping by foreign vessels — would help expedite supplies to the ravaged island. The act has had the unintended consequence of making it twice as expensive to ship things from the US mainland to Puerto Rico as it is to ship from any other foreign port in the world, according to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s office.

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico

Trump weighs lifting Jones Act for Puerto Rico 01:01
The act was quickly lifted to help Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Department of Homeland Security said it was able to lift the restrictions quickly because the Department of Defense requested a waiver for those states and the department hadn’t yet done so for Puerto Rico.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that “we’re thinking” about lifting the law, but added that a “lot of shippers” didn’t want it lifted.
In the wake of the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — along with other US politicians, including McCain and Marco Rubio, R-Florida — had urged the suspension of the Jones Act in order to speed up supply deliveries.

In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

In U.N. speech, Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ and calls Kim Jong Un ‘Rocket Man’

 September 19 at 12:36 PM
 Play Video 2:33
Trump attacks ‘depraved’ North Korean regime
President Trump harshly criticized North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un at the U.N. on Sept. 19, calling him “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” if need be. (The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump warned the United Nations in a speech Tuesday that the world faces “great peril” from rogue regimes with powerful weapons and terrorists with expanding reach across the globe, and called on fellow leaders to join the United States in the fight to defeat what he called failed or murderous ideologies and “loser terrorists.”

“We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril,” Trump said in his maiden addressto more than 150 international delegations at the annual U.N. General Assembly. “It is up to us whether we will lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”

The president’s address was highly anticipated around the world for signs of how his administration would engage with the United Nations after he had criticized the organization during his campaign as being bloated and ineffective, and threatened to slash U.S. funding.

Trump offered a hand to fellow leaders but also called on them to embrace “national sovereignty” and to do more to ensure the prosperity and security of their own countries. Over and over, he stressed the rights and roles of “strong, sovereign nations” even as they band together at the United Nations.

“I will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first,” Trump said, returning to a campaign theme and the “America First” phrase that has been criticized as isolationist and nationalistic.

The president warned of growing threats from North Korea and Iran, and he said, “The scourge of our planet is a group of rogue regimes.”

The North Korean delegation was seated, by chance, in the front row, mere feet from the U.N. podium.

Trump praised the United Nations for enacting economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he emphasized that if Kim Jong Un’s regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Trump added, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

Trump is scheduled to have a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the situation. He spoke separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is not attending this year’s General Assembly.

Following the speech, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to temper the idea that Trump’s remarks about North Korea were a break from past U.S. policy.

Presidents have always been clear to deter threats: “We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals” –@BarackObama last year

Trump also called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal “one of the worst and most one-sided” agreements ever, and “an embarrassment” to the United States. His voice rising, Trump strongly hinted that his administration could soon declare Tehran out of compliance. That could potentially unravel the accord. Trump and his top aides have been critical of Iran for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the end of it,” Trump said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beamed as he and his wife, Sara, listened to Trump speak. The Israeli leader, an opponent of the international nuclear deal with Iran, was also addressing the world body later Tuesday, a day earlier than usual because he is leaving the gathering in time to spend the Jewish holy days in Israel.

“In more than 30 years of my acquaintance with the U.N., I have not heard a more courageous and sharp speech,” Netanyahu, a former Israeli ambassador to the body, said after Trump’s remarks. “President Trump told the truth about the dangers lurking in the world, and called to face them forcefully to ensure the future of mankind.”

In a meeting with media executives Tuesday shortly before Trump’s address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has complied fully with its commitments under the nuclear deal and predicted the United States will be the loser if it “tramples upon” the 2015 agreement.

“Everyone will clearly see that Iran has lived up to its agreements and that the United States is therefore a country that cannot be trusted,” Rouhani said.

“We will be the winners,” he added, while the United States “will certainly sustain losses.”

Rouhani also seemed to suggest a U.S. withdrawal would free Iran from its obligations under the deal, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

“It will mean that this agreement has seen a foundational problem, and under those conditions, Iran will be freed to choose another set of conditions,” he said.

In his speech, Trump pledged that his administration would support the United Nations in its goals of pursuing peace, but he was sharply critical of the organization, and its member nations, for not living up to the promise of its founding in 1945.

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, values or systems of government,” he said. “But we do expect all nations to uphold their core sovereignty and respect the interests of their own people and rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution and the foundation for cooperation and success.”

The president also focused on the growing threats of “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he had left out of other recent speeches, including a prime time address to the nation on his Afghanistan strategy. He declared that his administration would not allow “loser terrorists” to “tear up our nation or tear up the entire world.”

But Trump also cautioned that areas of the world “are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.” He spent a portion of the speech decrying the “disastrous rule” of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose authoritarian regime has sent the country into political and economic crisis.

“It is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch,” Trump said, calling on the United Nations to help the Venezuelan people “regain their freedom and recover their country and restore their democracy.”

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He did not address some aspects of his foreign policy that have alarmed foreign leaders, including the proposed temporary ban on immigration for several Muslim-majority nations, a border wall with Mexico or the planned U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

He appeared to answer international criticism of sweeping new restrictions on refugee resettlement by saying that the United States is helping refugees in other ways. Washington can help 10 people displaced in their home regions for the cost of moving one to the United States, Trump said.

Near the end of his remarks, Trump asked rhetorically: “Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and take ownership of their futures?”

Martin Baron contributed to this report. 

Read more:
U.S. warns that time is running out for peaceful solution with North Korea

For Trump and his team, a ‘time to be serious’ at United Nations debut

U.S. and Iran accuse each other of backsliding on nuclear deal

President Putin Offered A Plan For Full And Immediate Normalization Ties With The U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN)Russia offered a plan to the United States for a full and immediate move toward normalization — or a restoration of diplomatic ties — in the opening weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that “of course” Russia floated proposals such as this one to the US.
“Moscow systematically advocated for a resumption of the dialogue, for an exchange of opinion and for attempts at finding joint solutions,” Peskov said. “But, unfortunately, it saw no reciprocity.”
Peskov said Russia’s proposals had come through in parts and a summary of the offer went through diplomatic channels.
News of the plan first came to light in a BuzzFeed News report after the outlet obtained a document which outlined the proposal a top Russian diplomat made directly to the US State Department.
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Asked about the report, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert would neither confirm nor deny its accuracy. Nauert said in general terms that the US and Russia share the goal of improving diplomatic relations between the countries.
A Russian official confirmed to CNN that the document was authentic.
“We are sorry to hear that documents keep leaking from the (Trump) administration, though it shows that Russia keeps doing its best to normalize relations‎,” the official said.
Earlier Tuesday, Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon met with his Russian counterpart in Finland. The meeting was their third of the year to discuss so-called “irritants” in the relationship. Nauert said the meeting provided an opportunity to “raise questions or concerns,” but did not say if the two had resolved anything.
The proposal, BuzzFeed wrote, called for the US to restore all channels — diplomatic, military and intelligence — that had been cut following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and intervention in Syria.
In the coming months, the proposal called for Russia and the US to collaborate on information security, Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, North Korea and eventually a full face-to-face meeting between the top national security officials of the two nations.
Relations between the United States and Russia have soured considerably since the opening of the Trump administration, when many expected Trump might bring the nations closer together as he said repeatedly was his goal during the campaign.
Russian military involvement in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an attempt to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, has cast a shadow on the US side over the potential rapprochement.
The US under then-President Barack Obama increased sanctions on Russia following the country’s alleged election interference, and moved to shutter some of the Kremlin’s facilities in the US.
Trump met with Putin face-to-face in a scheduled meeting at the G20 summit in July then spoke again during an unannounced conversation at a dinner for world leaders during the summit. Trump went on to propose a joint US-Russia cyber effort, then after sustained criticism of the proposal, Trump said he knew “it can’t” happen.
Russia responded in kind to the US’ sanctions after several months delay and ordered large cutsin the US diplomatic staff in Russia. Around the same time, Trump signed a bill putting more sanctions on Russia and restricting his ability to lift them.
He also thanked Putin for forcing the US to reduce its diplomatic staff in a comment the White House later described as sarcastic. Before Moscow’s deadline for the US to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia, the US ordered the closure of three Russian facilities in the US.

Can We Except Life Or Even Should We

 

 

This title is just a thought that fluttered across my tired mind as I sit here at my computer just before 5 AM on this rainy Friday morning. I just spoke with one of my regular readers here on-line a few moments ago about an article I reblogged for another writer earlier this morning. The article that I reblogged was one about Norway being the happiest country in the world and I made a comment to my friend that Norway is where my ancestral tree has its roots. In our conversation I mentioned that I have never been to Norway and reality is that I never will go there. She came back with a comment that I could just make a short trip and visit that proverbial Tree. I didn’t get into reality issues in our conversation so there are things that she was not aware of as to why I haven’t gone there or why I won’t be able to go there in the future (if there is one). There are two main reasons that I won’t be able to go there and they are simply I do not have the health nor the money to make such a trip. Reality is also that if I had one of those rich Uncles that I never knew about and he offered to give the means to do such traveling I would turn that offer down and ask him to spend that money more wisely such as giving it to a food pantry, soup kitchen, meals on wheels or to a shelter. The needs of the poor are so many that if I inherited a billion dollars I could spend it right here in Appalachia and I know that this still would not be even close to enough to cover the needs of the people. My wishes to see other lands outside of North America are nothing in comparison to children having good food to eat and a roof over their head.

 

As I have aged I have mellowed out my rambling and rowdy ways of my youth which is something that I am very glad of. When a person knows that they are close to death and the doctors have for years been saying that they do not even know how you are alive one can get a bit philosophical in how they view life and the world. The things that matter to you seem to evolve within yourself. As I look back at the different events in my life where I made horrible decisions that hurt other people it in some cases just makes me sick. There are many things that happened in my past with people who were suppose to have loved who treated me horribly constantly instead. Yet I did learn from how others treated me and I have learned from my own sins, they are all part of what has made this person that I am today.

 

There are some people who might say that I have given up on life but I disagree with that line of thought. I feel that I am simply realistic. I have learned to accept my physical health and all of the limits it forces on me. As we humans age we all have to understand that at some point if we live long enough there are going to be things that we used to could do that simply isn’t safe for us to do or is just to painful for us to do. People who have lived almost all of their lives in financially week to week survival mode are very used to not even thinking about a new car or being able to take a week’s vacation even if they stayed at home because they simply can’t afford to. Things like stocks and bonds and European holidays or belonging to a Country Club never even cross their mind because they are to busy working their fingers to the bone trying to come up with housing and food for the next week. People have different realities that make their life unique from other people’s lives even from within their own families. We are all individual creatures ordained by God through the breath of life that He has given to each of us and though we can all be tied together by the Holy Spirit of God, our Souls are individual creations.

 

We all have to decide what kind of person we will settle on being, even if we feel that we do not choose, that we are just ‘happy go lucky’ that is still our choice. If I could somehow trade places with President Trump but I would have to have his ‘qualities’ and his Soul, even though he obviously has much better health, a lot more money and a really cool job, there is no way I would accept that offer. So, can we except the person that we are today? Are we alright with that person? Do you have youth and or decent health? Do you have the desire to live better or different from what you are today? So, can we except our lot in life, can we change it if we really want to? I have found my own answers and my own personal peace with our Creator, before you leave this Earth I pray that you will figure out who you are and if that is okay with you. This is an individual thing, only we can decide what our path in front of us looks like and if we are content with that path.

How to tell when Trump is hiding something? The Trump Jr. saga offers 2 clues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(THE TRUMPS ARE LIKE THE BUSHES AND THE CLINTON’S: IT IS NOT ‘MISS SPEAKING’ IT IS CALLED LYING FOLKS)(TRS)

The Fix

How to tell when Trump is hiding something? The Trump Jr. saga offers 2 clues.

 August 1 at 12:08 PM
 Play Video 3:18
Donald Trump Jr.’s contradictory statements about the Russia meeting
A timeline of Donald Trump Jr.’s comments and contradictions about his meeting with a Russian lawyer in June of 2016. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post’s report that President Trump dictated his son’s misleading statement about meeting with a Russian lawyer contradicts previous denials by Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer. But one person without egg on her face is White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who pleaded ignorance when asked repeatedly about the president’s involvement.

In hindsight, Sanders’s shrugs look like signals that Trump was hiding something — perhaps even from his own spokeswoman — and provide clues about how to detect secrets in the future.

  1. Pay attention to things that White House spokesmen say they “don’t know” or “haven’t asked” about. These types of answers are given frequently.
  2. Watch for times when the White House declines to repeat the claims of Trump’s personal legal team.

The statement at the root of The Post’s report was issued to the New York Times when it reported July 8 that Donald Trump Jr. met last summer with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer. Here’s the key passage: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no followup.”

That version of events was, at best, a partial truth. The Times reported a day later that the premise of the meeting was that the Russian lawyer would share damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, the genesis of the original statement — with its glaring omission — interested journalists. Was the president involved?

At an off-camera news briefing on July 11, Sanders was asked when Trump and Trump Jr. had spoken last. She said she did not know.

 Play Video 0:34
Huckabee Sanders plays down Trump son’s meeting with Russian lawyer
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was nothing inappropriate about a meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Russian attorney during the campaign last year. (Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Reuters)
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That night, the Times reported that the president had signed off on his son’s statement.

On “Good Morning America” the next day, Sekulow disputed the Times’s report. “The president didn’t sign off on anything,” Sekulow said. “He was coming back from the G-20 [summit], the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I’m sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn’t involved in that.”

At an off-camera briefing hours later, however, Sanders wouldn’t repeat Sekulow’s denial. This was her exchange with The Post’s Philip Rucker, one of the reporters behind Monday’s scoop:

RUCKER: Has President Trump had any communication with his son, Donald Trump Jr., over the last several days? And was he involved in helping Donald Trump Jr. craft his statement to the press over the weekend on Air Force One, as was reported in the New York Times?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not sure about specific communications and the nature of those conversations. I know that they’ve spoken at least at some point over the last few days, but beyond that I don’t have any other further details.

RUCKER: Has he helped him with his response?

MS. SANDERS: Not that I’m aware of, but I just don’t know the answer to that, Phil.

RUCKER: So is that not true?

MS. SANDERS: I’ve been telling you, I’m just not sure. I don’t know the answer. I’ll have to check and let you know.

RUCKER: Okay. Can you find out?

MS. SANDERS: Yeah.

Sanders never followed up with reporters. It is certainly possible that she truly did not know whether the president was involved in crafting the statement; if that is the case, then she was remarkably incurious. Perhaps it was best not to know.

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

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Plum Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The claims were later shown to be misleading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vladimir Putin Doesn’t Understand the Limits of Donald Trump’s Power

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Finland
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a joint press conference with Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto in Savonlinna, Finland, on July 27, 2017. Mikhail Svetlov—Getty Images

Vladimir Putin Doesn’t Understand the Limits of Donald Trump’s Power

7:07 AM ET

There are still many in Russia who take pleasure in watching the White House consumed by infighting and stumbling from one setback to another, most recently the failure to push through health care reform and the rapid hiring and firing of foul-mouthed communications director Anthony Scaramucci. But the more common feeling around the Kremlin these days might seem familiar to many Republicans. After observing Trump in office for more than six months, there is a mix of disappointment and foreboding.

President Vladimir Putin seems particularly out of sorts. By now he has realized that betting on Trump represents a mistake he has made before with Western leaders, and his decision on Sunday to expel hundreds of diplomats and other personnel from the U.S. embassy in Moscow shows that he’s ready to cut his losses. “There was nothing more to wait for,” his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said in explaining the decision on Monday. “It was all pretty obvious.”

And Putin should have known better. His closest alliances with the West have all gone the same way. Whether it was Jacques Chirac in France, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy or Gerhard Schroeder in Germany, each was built on a personal rapport with an incoming head of state, always another man, usually also a blowhard. Each collapsed when that leader was confronted by the limitations of democracy: term limits, a free press, an independent legislature, an unhappy electorate, or any of the other checks and balances built into their constitutions. But with each new attempt at a friendship with the West, Putin seemed to hope that his counterparts could override these curbs on their authority the same way Putin has done in Russia.

They have always let him down, though none quite as spectacularly as President Trump. The U.S. Congress sent Trump a veto-proof bill on July 27 imposing new sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential elections last year, not even a month after the two Presidents met for the first time during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. To many in Moscow, the legislation proved Trump to be a feckless leader, unable to make good on his earnest promises to “get along” with Russia. “Since Trump cannot handle his own lawmakers, it means he is weak,” the Russian political analyst Alexei Makarkin wrote in an analysisof the sanctions bill.

But the point Makarkin missed was the one that Putin also seems incapable of getting his head around: that members of the U.S. Congress, including the Republicans, are not Trump’s “own lawmakers.” They represent a co-equal branch of government, much like the judiciary that has repeatedly blocked Trump’s agenda on immigration.

That confusion over the limits on executive authority goes back to the early years of Putin’s presidency, when he established control over the Russian media and began to assume that his Western counterparts could do the same in their countries. During a summit in 2005 with then-President George W. Bush, Putin refused to believe that the U.S. commander-in-chief does not have the power to muzzle American journalists. “Don’t lecture me about the free press,” Putin said, according to Bush’s memoir. “Not after you fired that reporter.”

It took a moment for Bush to realize what Putin was talking about. “Vladimir,” he said, “Are you talking about Dan Rather?” The veteran broadcaster had been forced to apologize and resign from CBS News a few months earlier, not due to any White House fiat but because of a flawed report on Bush’s service in the National Guard. In Putin’s eyes, the incident showed that the American posturing about freedom of the press was a charade. Bush tried to set him straight. “I strongly suggest you not say that in public,” he recalls telling the Russian President. “The American people will think you don’t understand our system.”

But that’s just it – he doesn’t. A few years into my stint as a reporter in Moscow, I lost track of the number of officials who tried to explain to me that there is no such thing as an independent journalist. One official even started our interview by exclaiming that American reporters are all just secret agents in disguise. This is how Pavel Astakhov, then the Kremlin ombudsmen for children’s rights, greeted me one afternoon in 2013: “The CIA is here!” he shouted, laughing, to his assistant. “Send him in!”

He wasn’t entirely kidding. In Russian officialdom (and among the public generally) people often assume that the West functions a lot like Russia, with a tame judiciary, a subservient media and a ruling clique that pulls all the strings. This view of the world makes it easier to brush away foreign criticism: if everyone is corrupt, no one has the right to judge. But a lot of very senior officials in Moscow also happen to believe this.

They tended to believe, for instance, that Trump would be able to override the other branches of government in pursuing his agenda, especially when it comes to easing U.S. sanctions against Russia. On a deeper level, they believe that power in the U.S., like in Russia, is concentrated in the hands of the executive, while the rest is mostly democratic window dressing.

And that conviction is not likely to budge amid the latest lesson in American civics. On Russian state television channels, Trump’s failure to silence the media and force his agenda through Congress and the courts has simply been cast as further proof that the U.S. is run by some all-powerful cabal – only this time the cabal has turned on the U.S. President.

It is a new twist on a familiar narrative, and it suggests that the Kremlin still holds out hope for Trump getting a grip on the American system and steering it toward an alliance with Moscow. “We have fed the hope that the situation will change,” Putin lamented on Sunday in a televised interview. “But it seems that if this change does come, it won’t be soon.”

Trump suggests Republicans will let ACA market collapse, then rewrite health law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Power Post

Trump suggests Republicans will let ACA market collapse, then rewrite health law

 July 18 at 10:52 AM
President Trump predicted Tuesday morning that Republicans may wait for the federal insurance market to collapse and then work to broker a deal to rewrite the nation’s landmark health-care law.In a series of tweets, Trump blamed the demise of a months-long effort to rewrite the Affordable Care Act on Democrats “and a few Republicans,” but he suggested that the drive to overhaul the law was not completely over.

“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” he tweeted. He added in a separate tweet: “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”

Trump’s latest comments appeared likely to intensify the current political uncertainty on Capitol Hill, where GOP leaders were debating what to do next, as well as raise anxiety among insurers that must commit to staying on the federal health exchange within a matter of weeks.

Republicans are reeling after two more GOP senators declared their opposition Monday to the party’s plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, likely ending their quest to make good on a GOP promise that has defined the party for nearly a decade and has been one of Trump’s top priorities.

Two Senate Republicans oppose health-care bill, jeopardizing vote
The U.S. Senate’s healthcare overhaul appears to be in trouble after two more Republicans say they oppose a revised version of the bill. (Reuters)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opened the Senate on Tuesday morning touting his latest plan — to vote on a pure repeal, with a two-year delay, by taking up the House’s health-care bill. But while conservatives and Trump have been pushing for such a repeal as a last resort, it appeared unlikely that the vote would succeed.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins (Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), expressed opposition Tuesday to the repeal-only option, apparently burying it.

“I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” Capito said on Twitter. “I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

“This doesn’t have to be the end of the story,” McConnell said. “Passing the repeal legislation will allow us to accomplish what we need to do on behalf our people.”

McConnell said the Senate would next take up “a repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable two-year transition period.” He said that President Barack Obama had vetoed such legislation before but that “President Trump will sign it now.”

While he noted that the measure had overwhelming support among Republican senators in 2015, the Senate leader also acknowledged that his party has suffered a political setback.

“I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful,” he said. “We will now try a different way to bring the American people relief from Obamacare.”

Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) issued statements Monday declaring that they would not vote for the revamped measure. The sudden breaks by Lee, a staunch conservative, and Moran, a McConnell ally, rocked the GOP leadership and effectively closed what already had been an increasingly narrow path to passage for the bill.

They joined Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Collins, who also oppose the latest health-care bill. With just 52 seats, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes to pass their proposed rewrite of the ACA. All 46 Democrats and two independents are expected to vote against it.

Lee supports the idea of moving ahead with a straight repeal of the existing law, and his spokesman, Conn Carroll, said Tuesday he would back a motion to proceed on a bill that would achieve that aim. But many centrist Republican senators have said they oppose dismantling key aspects of the ACA without an immediate replacement, given that roughly 20 million Americans have gained coverage under the law.

The confusion over next steps highlights the predicament now faced by Republicans, who have made rallying cries against Obama’s 2010 health-care law a pillar of the party’s identity. They may be forced to grapple with the law’s shift from a perennial GOP target to an accepted, even popular, provider of services and funding in many states, which could make further repeal revivals difficult.

Meanwhile, Trump and other Republicans will confront a Republican base that, despite fervent support for the president, still seeks a smaller federal government and fewer regulations.

All of these forces remained vexing factors Monday as senators bailed on the bill. And no evident solution was offered by the White House — which has been limited in its sale of the GOP plan — or from McConnell, for how to bring together a party in which moderates and conservatives are still deeply divided over the scope of federal health-care funding and regulations.

In many ways, the leadership plan did not go far enough for those on the right, but was too radical for GOP centrists. It scaled back some key ACA requirements and made deep cuts over time in Medicaid, but preserved popular provisions of the law such as a ban on denying coverage to consumers with costly medical conditions.

But the fact that it would reduce federal Medicaid funding and phase out the program’s expansion in 31 states and the District of Columbia rankled several key GOP governors and senators, who feared that their states would be saddled with the unpalatable choice of either cutting off constituents’ health coverage or facing a massive new financial burden.

The opposing pressures have left McConnell in a tough position as he has struggled to find a solution, which is why he has now thrown out the idea of moving to an immediate repeal.

Abolishing several of Obamacare’s central pillars — including the mandate that taxpayers buy coverage, federal subsidies for many consumers’ premiums and Medicaid coverage for roughly 11 million Americans — could wreak havoc in the insurance market. A Congressional Budget Office analysis in January estimated that premiums in the individual insurance market would rise between 20 and 25 percent next year and would roughly double by 2026.

At the same time, according to the CBO, the number of uninsured would spike by 18 million next year and rise to 32 million by 2026.

“For insurers, the worst possible outcome in this debate has always been a partial repeal with no replacement, which is exactly what Congress is about to take up,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in an email. “Insurance companies would be on the hook for covering people with preexisting conditions, but with no individual mandate or premium subsidies to get healthy people to sign up as well.”

But GOP leaders had no choice but to shift gears after Lee and Moran declared they could not support the party’s current health plan.

“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations,” Lee said in a statement.

Moran said the bill “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs.”

The two senators timed the release of their statements and made clear that modest tinkering around the edges of the legislation drafted by McConnell would not be enough to meet their demands. They joined a pair of GOP colleagues in calling for a complete redrawing of the legislation that would take many months, short-circuiting McConnell’s wish to end the debate this month.

The news threw the effort to pass the legislation into turmoil, with additional Republicans weighing in on Twitter about a flawed process that must take a new direction. Trump tweeted late Monday that “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) called for a “new approach” while Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) tweeted, “Time for full repeal.” White House aides, meanwhile, said they still plan to press ahead.

The setbacks appear to have left McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) with few good options. Conservatives have suggested moving a bill that would simply repeal the Affordable Care Act and set up a timeline of several years to figure out how to replace it, a politically risky move that also might lack support to pass.

Another move, which McConnell threatened recently, would be to work with Democrats to prop up the insurance exchange markets that have been imploding in some states — which probably would win passage but would infuriate the conservative base that has been calling for the end of the Affordable Care Act.

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a statement released late Monday. He revealed plans to move forward with a vote in the coming days anyway, in some ways daring his Republican opponents to begin debate and open the legislation up to amendments.

Democrats quickly jumped at the opportunity to declare the effort dead.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” said Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.). “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health-care system.”

But Ryan showed little interest Tuesday in making common cause with Democrats, telling reporters that House leaders “would like to see the Senate move on something” to keep the repeal-and-replace process alive.

In a closed-door conference meeting, according to several members present, Ryan told colleagues that the ball remains in the Senate’s court and announced no plans for further action on health care in the House. He also urged House members to be patient and not to openly vent frustration with the Senate, the members said.

Publicly, he emphasized that the Senate had “a razor-thin majority” and that passing legislation is “a hard process.”

Republican leaders had returned to the Capitol on Monday still pledging to press ahead with plans to pass a far-reaching overhaul, but the day had begun with uncertainty as the health of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) put the future of the flagging effort deeper in doubt.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said that he had spoken with McCain on Monday morning and that “he’ll be back with us soon.” The Arizonan is recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye that involved opening his skull.

McConnell had delayed action on the health-care bill until ­McCain’s return in hopes that he could be persuaded to vote yes. That hope faded after Lee’s and Moran’s announcements, however, with McCain issuing a statement from Arizona calling for a fresh, bipartisan start.

Senate Republicans have been under self-imposed pressure to complete their work on health care. As they have struggled to show progress, McConnell has said he would keep the chamber in session through the first two weeks of August, postponing the start of the summer recess period to leave time to work on other matters.

Kelsey Snell, Mike DeBonis and Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.

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