Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, says top U.S. official

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

(IT IS SIMPLE REALLY, ALL RUSSIA HAD TO DO WAS TO INFECT A FEW OF THE STATES THAT TRUMP WAS EXPECTED TO BE SOMEWHAT CLOSE IN THE VOTE TOTALS AND FLIP THE TOTALS, GIVING TRUMP THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE, AND THE WIN THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DID NOT GIVE HIM, TIME IS GOING TO PROVE THIS CORRECT!)

Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, says top U.S. official

The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”

Jeh Johnson, who was DHS secretary during the Russian intrusions, said, “2016 was a wake-up call and now it’s incumbent upon states and the Feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again.”

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 DHS cybersecurity head: ‘No doubt’ Russians penetrated voter registration systems 0:26

Watch Cynthia McFadden on Nightly News tonight for more

“We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government.”

NBC News reported in Sept. 2016 that more than 20 states had been targeted by the Russians.

There is no evidence that any of the registration rolls were altered in any fashion, according to U.S. officials.

In a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, 79 percent of the respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned that the country’s voting system might be vulnerable to computer hackers.

Image: Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra testifies

Homeland Security Undersecretary Jeanette Manfra testifies during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on June 21, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Wong / Getty Images file

In January 2017, just weeks before leaving his post, Johnson declared the nation’s electoral systems part of the nation’s federally protected “critical infrastructure,” a designation that applies to entities like the power grid that could be attacked. It made protecting the electoral systems an official duty of DHS.

But Johnson told NBC News he is now worried that since the 2016 election a lot of states have done little to nothing “to actually harden their cybersecurity.”

Manfra said she didn’t agree with Johnson’s assessment. “I would say they have all taken it seriously.”

Play

 DHS cybersecurity head: ‘No doubt’ Russians penetrated voter registration systems 0:26

NBC News reached out to the 21 states that were targeted. Five states, including Texas and California, said they were never attacked.

Manfra said she stands by the list, but also called it a “snapshot in time with the visibility that the department had at that time.”

Image: Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson prepares to testify

Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, on June 30, 2016 in Washington. Allison Shelley / Getty Images file

Many of the states complained the federal government did not provide specific threat details, saying that information was classified and state officials did not have proper clearances. Manfra told us those clearances are now being processed

Other states that NBC contacted said they were still waiting for cybersecurity help from the federal government. Manfra said there was no waiting list and that DHS will get to everyone.

Some state officials had opposed Johnson’s designation of electoral systems as critical infrastructure, viewing it a federal intrusion. Johnson said that any state officials who don’t believe the federal government should be providing help are being “naive” and “irresponsible to the people that [they’re] supposed to serve.”

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny barred from entering presidential race

Story highlights

  •  Navalny will appeal the decision to bar him from the presidential race
  • Navalny has called for a boycott of the March 2018 election

Moscow (CNN)Russian officials barred activist Alexey Navalny from entering the country’s presidential race a day after he held nomination gatherings to kick off his run, according to state-run media outlet RIA-Novosti.

Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected Navalny’s registration the day after he submitted it, citing a previous embezzlement conviction, RIA-Novosti reported.
“Firstly, a citizen who has been sentenced to imprisonment for committing a grave or especially grave crime and who has an outstanding conviction for the said crime, has no right to be elected president of the Russian federation,” said CEC member Boris Ebzeev.
The decision was not a surprise. Navalny’s candidacy was unlikely because Russian law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office, though Navalny and his supporters have said his conviction was politically motivated to block his presidential bid.
Navalny will appeal the commission’s decision, his campaign press secretary Ruslan Shaveddinov told CNN late Monday.
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Navalny would be running against incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who announced his intention to seek re-election — his fourth presidential bid — as an independent candidate at his annual press conference earlier this month.
At the time, he said his aim was for Russia to have a “competitive” and “balanced” political system, but it wasn’t his responsibility to create political opponents.
“I want this,” Putin said, “and I will strive for a balanced political system and that is impossible without competition in the political field.”
Putin has been either the Prime Minister or President of Russia since 1999.
In response to a question about why Russia lacked effective opposition leaders, Putin said most of the current opposition figures were more focused on “making noise” instead of a genuine agenda that could benefit the country.
Navalny called for a boycott of the March 2018 election in response to the CEC’s decision.
“We are announcing a voters’ strike,” Navalny said. “The procedure in which we are invited to participate is not an election. It involves only Putin and those candidates whom he personally chose, who do not pose a slightest threat to him.”
The opposition activist is widely popular among young people and has tapped into anger over a sluggish economy and endemic corruption. Navalny first rose to prominence during 2011’s large-scale anti-government protests.

Expert: Putin will ‘almost without a doubt’ win election

Jill Dougherty, a Russia expert and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, said Navalny still has a role to play in the presidential race, though it probably won’t be as a candidate.
“I think he will be a factor,” she said, “but he will not be an organized participant in any electoral process. He will be kept on the outside and he is definitely opposition, so he’s used to being kept on the outside.”
But Navalny’s support among young Russians could also play a factor in the election.
“A lot of the people who support him are very young, like 19 or 20 years old — sometimes even younger,” Dougherty said, and they have been exposed to the rest of the world and the way the rest of the world lives, and they are dissatisfied.
“Their dissatisfaction, although not very focused at this point, is a factor the Kremlin is worried about,” she said. “The Kremlin is very focused on the youth and making sure that young people support Putin.”

Meet the Russian socialite running for president

Meet the Russian socialite running for president 10:29
Dougherty also pointed to Ksenia Sobchak — a Russian socialite and reality TV star who has said she wants to challenge Putin — as someone who could offer a liberal alternative to Putin if Navalny can’t run. But Navalny’s supporters wouldn’t necessarily support her, she said.
“Putin will almost without a doubt win the election,” Dougherty said, “because he is supported by the majority of Russians and because the system is organized … to favor his candidacy.”

CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

 

China’s envoy to Russia has praised the increasingly powerful relationship between the two countries as both the strongest and most important ties between two major states. Beijing’s man in Moscow also took the opportunity to offer a veiled slight at Washington.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui spoke Wednesday at a government news conference organized in response to the results of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in October. Russia and China, the two leading diplomatic and military rivals of the U.S., have pursued closer relations in past years while embarking on initiatives to modernize their forces and assume a more assertive role in international politics.

Related: U.S. and Western Europe could lose badly in a war against Russia without China’s help

“The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world and, moreover, the best relations between big countries,” Li told the state-run Tass Russian news agency, which hosted the gathering.

“One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world,” Li added.

RTX3MLVU Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Zhang Youxia, China’s Central Military Commission vice chairman, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on December 7. China has described its relationship with Russia as the strongest and most important in the world, leaving out the U.S. altogether.SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

One of the key reasons the diplomat cited as being responsible for Russia and China’s success was that they “abandon the thinking of the Cold War” and a “zero-sum game” policy. Both countries have frequently criticized the U.S. for viewing the world in black-and-white, portraying Russia and China as enemies rather than partners in global affairs.

Moscow’s post-Soviet relationship with Washington has been tumultuous but was thought to have been salvaged with the election of President Donald Trump, who promised a reset after the administration of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, witnessed heightened tensions and historic military mobilizationsbetween U.S.-led Western military alliance NATO and Russia across Europe. Ongoing investigations into Trump’s alleged conspiracy to win the election with the help of the Kremlin and differing views between the Republican leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, have damaged the chance of a future U.S.-Russia alliance.

Russia has denied any interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and has portrayed efforts of U.S. authorities to produce evidence of such a plot as being reminiscent of the anti-Communist wave of the 1940s and 1950s.

Unlike Russia, China was an early and frequent target of Trump’s and his allies’ both before and after the billionaire real estate tycoon took office earlier this year. The Trump campaign accused China of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. As he prepared to assume the role of secretary of state, Rex Tillerson suggested the U.S. should potentially use military force to deny Beijing its vast territorial claims in the disputed seas of the Western Pacific.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping expanded his nation’s sphere of influence, his country has accused the U.S. of portraying this rise as a malicious one. Trump has tried to boost cooperation between the two, but mostly in regard to the nuclear crisis between the U.S. and North Korea, during which China has appeared most eager to work with Russia to reach a political framework.

RTX3LKDSChinese armed police and Russian national guards take part in a joint counterterrorism drill in Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on December 5. Both countries have criticized the U.S. for pursuing policies they view as destabilizing in the Middle East and contributing to a rise in extremist movements.STRINGER/REUTERS

China and Russia’s joint simulated anti-missile drills, geared at deflecting potential U.S. or North Korean missiles, on Monday were also the latest evidence of the burgeoning military cooperation between the two powers. The countries have been deeply suspicious of the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific, and although both Beijing and Moscow share Washington’s opposition to a nuclear North Korea, they have urged Trump to pursue direct talks and avoid provocative shows of force in the tense region.

China and Russia also have joined forces against the West in other parts of the world, including in Syria, where they both backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against jihadist and rebels who received international support. Over the summer, Russia and China also launched their first joint drills in the Baltic Sea, near one of the tensest flash points between NATO and Russian forces in Europe.

As China and Russia empower their partnership as well as their respective militaries, the Rand Corporation noted in a report earlier this week that despite superior technology and defense spending, “U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight.”

(Humor Poem) Donald ‘Jailhouse’ Trump

DONALD ‘JAILHOUSE’ TRUMP

 

Pennsylvania Avenue is used to being paved with lies

But it ain’t seen nothing like this frauds Turkey Jive

He’s got a Pinocchio nose and those tiny little hands

Couldn’t find the truth if he was grabbing with both hands

Got that Turkey Gobble neck and that big wide behind

 

Molestual Congress and the Clinton’s ain’t got nothing on him

Coward refused to wear the Uniform, now he’s in charge of them

Was his Daddy a Goose stepper or only the head of the NYC Klan

He’s just a ‘robbing hood’ except all the stolen money goes to him

Career of stealing from Charity’s and investors, all the same to him

 

Presidents Putin and Jinping playing this clucking Moron like a clown

Maybe he can teach Russian to the Guards when he’s Leavenworth bound

Alphabet Soup is getting tired of his mouth and his little Tweety brain

Will habitual lying and destruction of justice be where he will gain his fame

Deserving end, Donald, Hillary and Sessions doing life in the same jail cell

 

If Not For President Putin, Bernie Sanders Would Be The U.S. President?

If Not For President Putin, Bernie Sanders Would Be The U.S. President

 

Folks, this article to you this evening is obviously just my opinion but if I did not believe that it was correct I would not waste my time or your time with it. Last fall the American people really only had two choices that we were being allowed to have in our vote for our next President. We had the reality that we were either going to have as our next President “Crooked Hillary”, or we could have Donald “Fake News” Trump. During the campaign (DFNT) used as one of his slogans concerning “Crooked Hillary” was “lock her up.” This was even though he knew darn well that if he won that he was not going to pursue this venture, just as he knew that Mexico was not ever going to pay far any wall. If you are one of the few people in the world that didn’t know it before he stole the election from Hillary (because of Putin), he “the Donald” is and has always been, an habitual liar.

 

As I am sure you caught it, my statement about this Fraud in Chief steeling the election from Hillary, I do actually believe that is correct. Personally I believe that Russian hackers were able to infiltrate several of the State election systems thus taking a few of the States away from Hillary and giving them to Trump, thus swinging the election to him. I do believe that history will prove this as a fact but, what about now? What do we as the American public do about having a FRAUD President in the Oval Office? If he is impeached and imprisoned for the rest of his life as he should be, who takes his place, Mike Pence, the VP? But since Trump is illegally in office, Mike Pence is not legally the VP so it is unfair to allow him to be put into the Office of President, so now what? The next in line would Constitutionally have to be the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. But for how long? Personally the most honest answer would be to swear Bernie Sanders into Office for one seven-year term with that being a one time gig for him, no second term.

 

As I stated above, I totally believe that Trump and Putin stole the election from Hillary, but, and it is a big but, she stole the Democratic Nomination from Senator Bernie Sanders. Hillary illegally took over the controls of the DNC rigging the process so that only she could win the Nomination. By the events that I have been learning, Hillary is guilty of several frauds, tax evasions, among several other Felonies. So, it is my honest opinion that if President Putin had not interfered in our elections the Democratic Nominee would be our President right now. The only one of the three biggest candidates (Trump, Hillary, and Sanders) who are not guilty of mass felonies is Mr. Sanders. So, in my opinion Mr. Sanders should be awarded the Presidency ASAP. The other two pathetic egomaniacs should be put into Fort Leavenworth Prison for the rest of their lives. This is just a short oped, just wanted to tweak your thoughts to see what you think. Just think of all of the damage that Donald Trump has done to our country here and abroad in this 10 months he has been sitting in the White House. I do have to wonder how the world would be different if we didn’t have this idiot moron of a fool pretending to be the American President.

Investigators to Open Case Into Gay Chechen Purge

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Investigators to Open Case Into Gay Chechen Purge

Nov 1, 2017 — 19:15
— Update: 19:15

im Lapunov, a Russian man who is accusing authorities in Chechnya of brutally beating him as part of a broad crackdown on gay people in the Russian Region (Pavel Golovkin / AP / TASS)

Chechen investigators are pursuing a gay man’s allegations that was tortured by police because of his sexual orientation, the Interfax news agency reported.  

Dozens of gay men are believed to have fled the Muslim-majority region in the Russian North Caucasus amid reports of a government led crackdown. Both Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the Kremlin deny claims of any systematic suppression of gay men.

Maxim Lapunov is the first man in Russia to publicly charge that local police detained and tortured him in Chechnya early last year.

His testimony comes after the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported earlier this year that more than 100 gay men were detained and tortured in the region.

Tatyana Mokalkova, Russia’s human rights ombudswoman, has vowed to oversee that Lapunov’s allegations are properly investigated.

Moskalkova told reporters on Wednesday that she personally inspected investigative materials in the North Caucasus police department because of what she described as foot-dragging by local authorities.

“I believe there are grounds to open a criminal case and provide state protection to Maxim Lapunov,” she said cited by state-run TASS news agency.

Moskalkova told journalists on Wednesday that local investigators reversed an earlier decision not to investigate the victim’s allegations, Interfax reports.

“Questions were raised about finding the witnesses that Lapunov is pointing to, and who I believe haven’t yet been found because of the investigators’ insufficient activity,” Moskalkova said.

Russian politician: US spies slept while Russia elected Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Russian politician: US spies slept while Russia elected Trump

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Russian parliament, made the snarky comment
  • Nikonov’s tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest

Washington (CNN)A Russian politician appeared to mock the US intelligence community in a recent television appearance, saying American spies “slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, made the snarky reference to Russian interference in the 2016 US election on Sunday during a weekly political show called “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.”
“(To achieve world dominance) the US overextended themselves,” Nikonov said. “Because the most recent tendencies, economical, military, even tendencies in the intelligence (services) which slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
“It’s just ridiculous, what kind of intelligence in the USA one can even talk about?” he added. “The US sagged in all these aspects for the past two decades. This superpower is losing its ability to define the world.”
The comments were first noticed by Julia Davis, who runs a website that is largely critical of Russian media called “Russia Lies.”
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While Nikonov’s tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest for the purpose of arguing the point that American power in the world was declining, his jab at US intelligence services comes amid several ongoing investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, including a probe into alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign.
The US government publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the election.
And in January, days before President Donald Trump took office, the US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at hurting Trump’s rival, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump has branded the investigation the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history and consistently questioned the intelligence community’s findings well into his presidency.
Since the election, Trump has appeared to view suggestions of Russian meddling as a Democratic effort to de-legitimize his election win, even though the intelligence community did not conclude that Russian efforts made a difference in the election result.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in any attempts to influence last year’s US Presidential election.
When asked directly whether Russia interfered in the election, Putin said in March: “Read my lips: No.” He also described the allegations as “fictional, illusory, provocations and lies.”
At a June economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin compared accusations of Russian meddling in the US election to anti-Semitism and labeled the reports of then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s meetings with Trump associates as “hysteria,” saying the envoy was simply doing what he’s paid to do.
In March, CNN reported that Kislyak is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, citing senior US government officials. Russia’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected the allegations.
Kislyak downplayed his contact with members of the Trump campaign in an exclusive interview with CNN last month, calling allegations that he worked as a spymaster and tried to recruit people within Trump’s orbit “nonsense.”

“Russia Has Never Denied Israels Rights To Jerusalem, The Temple Mount Or The Western Wall”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JERUSALEM POST)    (THIS IS A RE-POST FROM 11-06-2016 HAS ANYTHING REALLY CHANGED)

Moscow has never denied Israel’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said in advance of his visit to the Jewish state later this week.

“These rights are clear and it would be absurd to deny them,” he told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy.

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He spoke warmly of Russia’s ties with Israel, despite Moscow’s votes against the Jewish state at the United Nations and its delivery of the S-300 missiles to Iran.


Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev. (Photo credit: RIA NOVOSTI / REUTERS)

Levy quizzed him about those controversial issues as well as his support for Syrian President Basher Assad and charges that his country had intervened in the US elections.

How does Russia explain its support of the UNESCO vote “to disregard the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Levy asked Medvedev.

The issue had been blown out of proportion, he responded speaking in Russian, with a Hebrew translation by Channel 2.

There have been some ten votes by UNESCO Boards and Committees on such Jerusalem resolutions, Medvedev said.

“There is nothing new here,” he said, as he dismissed the significance of UNESCO texts that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al Haram Al Sharif.

“Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall,” Medvedev said.

“Therefore there is no need to politicize this decision,” Medvedev said, adding that such resolutions, were “not directed against Israel.”

Similarly, he said, there was nothing contradictory in Russia’s sale and shipment of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran.

Israel had opposed such sales because they significantly upgrade Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attacks. It is particularly concerned because it does not believe that the Iran deal, put in place in 2015, will limit Tehran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

Medvedev told Channel 2 that prior to the Iran deal, Russia respected the sanctions against Tehran and refrained from delivering the S-300. Now that the deal is in place and the sanctions were lifted, there was no reason not to complete the sale, he said.

Moving over to Syria, he referred to President Bashar Assad as the country’s only legitimate leader and added that Israel’s leadership preferred his rule to the prospect of a divided country under terrorist leadership.

“I know him (Assad) personally. There are those who love him and those who don’t. At present Assad is the only legitimate authority operating in Syria. Any regime change would have to occur legitimately,” Medvedev said.

“I remember that during my meetings with Israeli leaders, they told me they were not completely for Assad, but that there has to be someone in charge of the situation, rather than an uncontrolled break up of the country into enclaves ruled by terrorists,” Medvedev said.

Middle East terrorism, he said, is threatening his country from within.

“There are thousands of Russians fighting on behalf of ISIS and other Islamic Jihadist groups,” Medvedev said. “When they return they are experienced murders and terrorists. After their time fighting in Syria we don’t want them to organize something similar [within Russia],” he said.

Levy asked how the presence of the Russian air force in Syria impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.

Medvedev said that it was operating from the assumption that “all sides would not take steps to aggravate the conflict.”

With regard to the United States, he charged that it had not kept its commitments in Syria and that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at a very low point.

Medvedev chuckled when Levy asked him if Russia had interfered with the US elections.

He quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he stated that “the United States is not a banana republic.”

The US, he said, was a large and strong country and could not be influenced in that way. “It doesn’t matter who will be elected, but what policy they will execute,” he said.

“Its clear [that either candidate] will act in the best national interest of the US,” Medvedev said.

He called Republican candidate Donald Trump brilliant and said he had never met him. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said, was professional and known to him from the times he met with her when she was US Secretary of State from 2009-2012.

Russia expects to have a “normal” and “productive” relationship with whichever of the two candidates wins the White House, Medvedev said.

With regard to the Russian initiative to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Presdient Mahmoud Abbas, Medvedev said that Moscow was not looking to replace the United States or anyone else when it comes to the peace process.

On the other hand, he said, there are very discouraging signs with regard to that conflict and there have been no advancements to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the last few years.

“It’s very sad,” he said.

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

For Donald Trump, the noose is tightening

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

OPINION Updated: Aug 08, 2017 08:21 IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Drew is a journalist and author

The views expressed are personal

Project Syndicate, 2017

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President’s Trump, Jingping, Putin: When Habitual Liars Are Lying To Each Other, Destruction Follows

 

Truth troubles, yes it is the name that I chose for this blog about five years ago when I started it and for reasons like today’s article is a good example why. Our Lord Jesus told us that “no liar shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven” yet we are also told that we should all “pray for our leaders”, yet what do we do when our leaders are habitual liars to their own people and to the whole world? Here in the U.S. the majority of our Congressmen and Senators have a ‘Law’ background. You would think that if a Lawyer or Judge wished for such a position that they were seeking the political office to help make sure that the Government was performing their job in a Constitutional manner. Unfortunately it seems that these people use their Law education to find ways around the Constitution to bring themselves more riches. Here in the States new Lawyers are required to take what I have long called the ‘Hypocrites’ Oath. So, to me it seems fitting that such people become politicians. I do not know how other Countries obtain their Politicians ‘Chairs’ but it does seem that ‘Truth’ is a worldwide issue/problem for almost all political figures.

 

In November of 2016 ‘We The People’ here in the U.S. basically only had the option of choosing which one of two habitual liars we were going to vote in as our next President. Basically we had to choose between two people that seems incapable to being honest. I am an Independent voter whom chose a ‘Third Party’ candidate, I chose him not because I thought he could win, but because I just couldn’t choose Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump and the main reason was because of their constant lies. For those who chose Mr. Trump they are now seeing just how big of a constant liar he is. Mr. Trump lies so often that he has proven that he can’t remember what lies he told from one day to the next, yet Hillary is certainly is no better.

 

The U.S. does not have a monopoly on lying/crooked people in positions of power as recent events in South Korea and Brazil have proven quite well. There should be no shock or dismay that Countries who have Dictators such as Venezuela, North Korea, Russia and China are also plagued with ‘Leaders’ who say what ever is ‘convenient’ for their own agenda. I am going to bring up the issue of North Korea today because of the huge lies that President Putin of Russia but mainly President Xi Jingping of China have been telling the world. As most people in the wired world know, the world has a problem with the crazy little fat boy with the bad haircut in North Korea. This week Mr. Kim fired an ICBM just before the G-20 Summit started in Germany. North Korea’s missile program has been getting much better, much faster than the UN was aware of. This missile used technology that undoubtedly came from China, they also used a launching pad system that was Chinese.

 

Just before this latest missile was launched by North Korea China’s President Xi Jingping visited Moscow and President Putin, what a coincident that he was there when the ICBM was fired. President Trump has been trying to get China to enforce tougher sanctions on North Korea because they are not only neighbors they are North Korea’s financial lifeline. Russia also shares a border with North Korea but they do not have the financial clout there like China does. President Jingping has said that they are cracking down on North Korea this year as the UN has requested all nations to do yet Mr. Jingping has been lying to the world about China’s policies with the North Korean government. Last month the U.S. put sanctions on a large Bank in China who has been laundering billions of dollars into and out of North Korea. Now the UN is saying that during the first three months of this year that China has increased their exports with them by 37.4%. Mr. Trump used the figure of 40% so I guess he was just rounding up.

 

The problems that the different Nations are having with each other is not at all the fault of the people of these Countries, it is the Leaders who are causing the problems that the world is facing. Mr. Jingping and his Communist Party leadership as well as Mr. Putin in Russia are playing a strategy to make the U.S. as weak as possible because they have the intent of filling that power vacuum. China’s government seems to believe that all of the Countries that are anywhere near China belong to China. Mr. Putin seems to have dreams of reforming Russia back into the Soviet Union. To make a long story short I believe that the governments of China and Russia if North Korea is able to strike as many Democracy’s as possible with Nukes as well as Iran doing the same thing. They know that the U.S. would strike back at North Korea and Iran and not at China or Russia. This is why they are trying to delay any U.S. strikes on North Korea so that they and Iran can have the time to build their Nuke programs and it appears there is no doubt that China is helping North Korea to reach that level, they are very obviously not hindering them. In other words Presidents Jingping and Putin are just like Mr. Trump in that they are professional liars, they are like three brothers from different mothers. The difference in this threesome is that Presidents Jingping and Putin are very smart and they are playing the Western Democracies for fools as they are using the gullible egomaniac Trump like an out of tune fiddle. It is a sad thing for the human race that these three have such Truth Troubles. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

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