While Washington mourns McCain, Trump leaves town

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

WHITE HOUSE

While Washington mourns McCain, Trump leaves town

Supporters at the raucous rally didn’t seem to mind that Trump had been snubbed by the McCain family.

As Washington prepared a last hero’s welcome for Sen. John McCain Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump left town.

The Air Force jet carrying the Republican senator’s casket lifted off for the nation’s capital with 200 Arizona National Guard soldiers and airmen on the tarmac paying silent tribute.

Twenty minutes later, a campaign fundraising email hit inboxes.

“The President has promised you he will travel ANYWHERE he needs to go to get real conservative fighters elected,” Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, wrote. “He’ll spend however much we need to win.”

Trump has embraced his outsider bona fides this week while the capital, Republicans and Democrats alike, comes together to pay tribute to a favorite son. The president wasn’t invited to participate in ceremonies for the Arizona Republican, so Thursday night he headed to a campaign rally and fundraiser in Evansville, Indiana. He didn’t mention McCain.

Supporters at the raucous rally didn’t seem to mind that Trump had been snubbed by the McCain family; thousands were lined up around the Ford Center in Evansville hours before Trump even left Washington, according to media reports.

“This whole idea the world should stop for John McCain’s funeral is just a disconnect between the Republican Party and the president’s priorities — including keeping the House and avoiding impeachment — and the D.C. echo chamber,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide who was working for the campaign when the then-candidate took early shots at McCain’s military service.

“It’s not like he did this on Monday,” after McCain died Saturday, Nunberg said. “The world is not going to stop for all eight days that this is going on. It’s ridiculous.”

Republicans close to the White House, however, admit Trump is in a tough spot while Washington mourns McCain. He wasn’t welcome at the remembrances, and his campaign events for Thursday and Friday have been on the books for weeks. Ultimately, whatever Trump does over the next two days, as McCain lies in state at the U.S. Capitol and is buried in Annapolis, Maryland, will come down to how the president feels at the time, they said.

For now, supporters say Trump is being as respectful as the moment requires.

“The flags have been lowered to half-staff, he’s respecting the requests of the family,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. “I don’t think anybody in the base notices or cares.”

Still, the moods in Washington and Trumpland were markedly different Thursday night.

It was twilight when Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met Cindy McCain as she disembarked from Air Force Two. A military honor guard took possession of her husband’s remains. A flag covered his casket.

Minutes later, Trump took the stage at the arena in Evansville, where he dismissed the media as “dishonest” and “terrible” people and invited businessman Mike Braun, the Republican challenging Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly in November, onstage.

“It’s not very classy, quite frankly. Of all times, right now holding a political rally and doing a fundraiser just doesn’t seem appropriate,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. “How classy it would have appeared to have canceled this in light of the national mourning and celebration of the life of John McCain.”

“The president, I think, would do better to have stayed put, doing his job quietly, keeping out of the limelight,” Rozell said. “This is McCain’s family time.”

The 11,000-seat area in Indiana was filled to capacity when Trump launched into familiar attacks on the media, revisited his electoral college victory in 2016 and compared his popularity to President Abraham Lincoln’s.

He railed against the “scum” of immigrant gangs that “infest” American communities and fell back on his favorite foil, 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up!” the crowd chanted.

For Trump’s critics, the night’s events confirmed their distaste for his behavior.

“This is a petty, small, narcissistic man desperate to drag the spotlight back onto him and away from a moment where the memory of John McCain’s service to this country and his example could be something we’re all talking about as a nation,” Republican strategist Rick Wilson said before the rally.

“The people that love Donald Trump hate everyone who isn’t named Donald Trump. They’re going to support him and revel in this,” Wilson said. “His supporters will continue to look at this as the greatest thing ever, and everyone else will look at it with a combination of dismay and disgust.”

Chris Cadelago and Rebecca Morin contributed to this report.

John McCain just dealt the GOP’s latest healthcare bill a critical blow

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

John McCain just dealt the GOP’s latest healthcare bill a critical blow

John Kerry John McCainSen. John Kerry, D-Mass. listens at left as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speak during a news conference on on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, to urge Senate approval of an international agreement for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. AP

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican who delivered the final blow to the previous attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, came out against the Graham-Cassidy bill Friday afternoon, dealing the legislation a potentially fatal blow.

In a statement, McCain said the lack of regular order in crafting the legislation is what pushed him away.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment,” McCain said. “But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30 budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.”

“We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009,” McCain added. “If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.”

McCain’s opposition puts the bill on the brink of defeat. Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, said Friday she was leaning against voting for it. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has come out strongly against the legislation. Republicans can only afford two defections for the legislation to pass.

McCain also pointed to the lack of clarity surrounding future impacts of the bill if it were to become law. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office announced they would not be able to provide a full estimate of the bill’s impact by the September 30 deadline in which the GOP would try to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.

The longtime Arizona lawmaker also said he believes Sens. Bill Cassidy and Linsdey Graham were making a genuine attempt to fix what he believes is a broken healthcare system, but the process by which it was being conducted was not in accordance with how the upper chamber should operate.

“I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can,” McCain said.

‘We’re getting nothing done.’ John McCain’s no-holds-barred lecture to the Senate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

The Fix

‘We’re getting nothing done.’ John McCain’s no-holds-barred lecture to the Senate, annotated

 July 25 at 3:45 PM
 Play Video 3:54
McCain: Senate debates ‘aren’t producing much for the American people’ right now
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on July 25 addressed senators days after being diagnosed with brain cancer. He said the Senate has become too partisan. (U.S. Senator)

Not even a week after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was diagnosed with a particularly brutal form of brain cancer, he stood on the Senate floor in Washington, all 99 senators and the vice president at his attention, and delivered an indictment of the modern era’s hyper-politicized environment, Republicans’ secretive health-care process and a wishful look back at the way things used to be. It was an emotional, no-holds barred moment that came right after the Senate voted 50-50 to debate a health-care vote, requiring Vice President Pence to break the tie. We’ve posted his remarks, as prepared, below and annotated it using Genius. Click on the highlighted text to read the annotations.

Mr. President:

I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency.

It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority.

But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate.

I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years. I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love.

I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest.

But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.

That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.

I’m sure it wasn’t always deserved in previous eras either. But I’m sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions.

Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.

Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy.

Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours.

Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement.

Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth. It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’

I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.

Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.

We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.

I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.

We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.

Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order.

Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.

What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.

The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.

This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.

We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!

As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours. And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves.

The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations.

We are the servants of a great nation, ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.

America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren’t afraid. “We don’t covet other people’s land and wealth. We don’t hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity.

What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us.

What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body.

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It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved.

I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.

Thank you, fellow senators.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Senator John McCain Has Aggressive From Of Brain Cancer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Sen. John McCain, 80, has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, Mayo Clinic doctors directly involved in the senator’s care told CNN exclusively. The doctors spoke directly to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

The senator underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on Friday at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Lab results from that surgery confirmed the presence of brain cancer associated with the blood clot.
Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive tumor that forms in the tissue of the brain and spinal cord, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
A pathologist was in the operating room during the procedure, a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision, said his doctor, who added that the surgery lasted about three to four hours. Post-surgical brain scans show the tissue causing concern has been completely removed.
McCain is recovering “amazingly well,” according to a statement from his office.
The senator showed no neurological problems before or after the operation, said his doctors. Though not identified by name, at McCain’s request, his doctors were given permission to speak with Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon.
McCain is now recovering at his Arizona home. He and his family are considering treatment options, which will likely include radiation and chemotherapy, his doctors said.
“The news of my father’s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain Family,” tweeted Meghan McCain on Wednesday. “It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father.”

Routine exam

Doctors discovered the clot during a routine physical exam last week. They said he is very diligent about coming in for scheduled exams and is seen every four months for skin checks due to his history of skin cancer.
He arrived at his early morning appointment, Friday before 8 a.m. and as per usual, looked good, according to a doctor who has been involved in his care for nearly a decade. McCain, described as not being a complainer, did report feeling fatigued, which he attributed to a rigorous travel schedule.
He also told his doctor he had, at times, felt foggy and not as sharp as he typically is. In addition, he reported having intermittent double vision. These symptoms and doctor intuition prompted a CT scan.
When the results came back, McCain, who had already left the clinic, was asked to return for an MRI. Before the operation, his neurological exam was normal, according to his doctor.
The operation began in the late afternoon and the senator was recovering in the ICU by evening. His doctors told Gupta they were amazed at how sharp McCain was when he awoke. He knew what year it was and started cracking jokes. He also made it clear that he wanted to leave the hospital and get back to work, his doctors said.
Showing no signs of cognitive delays, McCain was discharged Saturday and has been recovering at his home since then.
His doctors would not reveal details but said his post operative care is standard.

‘Aggressive tumor’

His doctor said McCain was oriented, with good balance and no headaches or seizures.
The clot was over the senator’s left eye, not far from the left temple where he was diagnosed with melanoma in 2000. Previously, McCain had three other malignant melanomas removed in 1993, 2000 and 2002. None of these melanomas were invasive. All were declared Stage 0.
However, McCain has been regularly screened by his doctors since 2000.
Gupta was one of a select group of reporters who reviewed McCain’s medical records in 2008 when he was campaigning for president.
The surgical procedure McCain underwent is “a significant operation,” said Gupta, explaining that a bone underneath the eyebrow had to be removed to do the procedure and then later put back.
“It’s a very aggressive tumor,” said Gupta. He explained that average survival for malignant glioblastoma tends to be around 14 months with treatment. In McCain’s case, additional therapy, including radiation, could not begin until the incision heals, which would be in the next three or four weeks.
Still, one 2009 study reported that almost 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
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“This is the same tumor that Ted Kennedy had,” said Gupta.
McCain’s diagnosis is the latest chapter in a storied life. Tortured as a Vietnam prisoner-of-war, the maverick politician fell short of the pinnacle of politics with two failed presidential runs. His absence from Washington in recent days has come at a politically inopportune time for a bill repealing and replacing Obamacare. This week, McCain broke ranks and called for discussions with Democrats and a full committee process to finally provide “Americans with access to quality and affordable health care.”

 

Nevada GOP official tweets article calling for McCain’s death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Nevada GOP official tweets article calling for McCain’s death

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The post she shared called for McCain’s death
  • She said, “People are going to read things into things”

Washington (CNN) Diana Orrock, the Republican national committeewoman for Nevada, shared an article on Monday calling for the death of Sen. John McCain for his hawkish foreign policy views.

“Amen,” Orrock wrote in a now-deleted tweet sharing a post on Medium titled “Please Just F***ing Die Already.”
CNN reached out to Orrock, who said she was not a “big fan” of McCain’s approach to foreign policy.
However, she denied actually wanting McCain to die and claimed she was agreeing with the “sentiments” of the article.
The article’s author made clear it was a literal call for McCain’s death, saying at one point, “If you’re waiting for the part where I say I’m just kidding and would never wish death on anybody, please allow me to make myself clear: I sincerely, genuinely hope that Arizona Senator John McCain’s heart stops beating, and that he is subsequently declared dead by qualified medical professionals very soon.”
Nevertheless, Orrock repeated she did not want McCain to die, but rather that he just not be in the Senate, and said it would be reaching to say otherwise about her.
“People are going to read things into things,” Orrock said of her sharing the article calling for the senator’s death.
McCain’s office announced Saturday that he was recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday evening that he would delay a vote on the Senate Republican health care bill until McCain returned to Washington.

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

MAR 22 2017, 10:20 PM ET

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press Daily” whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.

“Actually no, Chuck,” he said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”

Play
House Intel Cmte. Creates Confusion As Chairman Releases Trump Details 1:59

Questioned whether or not he has seen direct evidence of collusion, Schiff responded, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”

That is a shift from Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, when Schiff only went as far as to say that there was circumstantial evidence of collusion and “direct evidence” of deception.

.@RepAdamSchiff on Trump/Russia connection: “There is more than circumstantial evidence now…and is very much worthy of investigation.”

The Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly denied that Trump’s associates were at all connected to any activities related to Russia’s attempts to influence the last election.

Schiff’s comments came after Republican committee chair Devin Nunes said that he had seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community showing communication from members of the transition team — and possibly the president himself — were “incidentally collected” as part of a broader surveillance effort.

Nunes said it appeared most of the information was collected after the election and during the transition, it appears it was collected legally, and none of it was related to Russia or the investigation into Russia. He said he did not know who ordered the alleged surveillance.

The disclosure drew condemnation from some Democrats. Schiff bristled at the fact that Nunes did not share the information with him before updating reporters and the White House.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both,” Schiff said.

Play
Full Interview: Schiff on His Confidence in House Intel Committee 8:40

Nunes said at a press conference that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about American citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

“From what I know right now it looks like incidental collection, we don’t know exactly how that was picked up, but we’re are trying to get to the bottom of it,” Nunes said.

Trump said he felt somewhat vindicated by Nunes’ disclosure: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” the president said.

Nunes said he has not seen any evidence that former President Barack Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped” before the election — a claim Trump made on Twitter. The director of the FBI said Monday he has no evidence backing up the tweeted claim.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he was “absolutely mystified by Chairman Nunes’ actions,” and the decision to brief Trump on the information “seems pretty inappropriate to me.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that the back-and-forth among the top members of the committee was “bizarre” and he said partisan fighting had cost Congress its credibility to investigate Russian interference the election.

“No longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone, and I don’t say that lightly,” McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

Play
McCain: Select Committee On Russia Now A ‘Requirement’10:36

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia had been ongoing since July. Comey said the probe was included in the agency’s investigation into what the U.S. intelligence community concluded was an attempt by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump win.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own investigations.

Two weeks ago on “Meet The Press,” James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, said that to his knowledge, there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Clapper oversaw the work of U.S. intelligence agencies through January 20th.

On Wednesday, Schiff told Todd of Clapper’s statements, “All I can tell you is reviewing the evidence that I have, I don’t think you can conclude that at all — far from it.”

Donald Trump Is Using 23 Million People In Taiwan As A Trade Bargaining Ploy With China?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Why Donald Trump Really Shouldn’t Play Games with China Over Taiwan

The U.S. President-elect has said the “One China” policy was up for negotiation and dependent on what Beijing does for the U.S. in return

East Asian geopolitics is a tapestry of fictions. Beijing insists Taiwan is part of China, despite the island of 23 million being self-governing for over half-a-century. The constitution of Taiwan — officially called the Republic of China, a legacy of the routed Nationalists (KMT) flight across the Strait in 1949 following China’s civil war — still claims dominion of all of the Chinese mainland and even Mongolia. The U.S. concedes Taiwan is part of China, having broken off diplomatic relations one China policy

with Taipei in 1979, yet is treaty-obliged to sell the island the weapons it uses to protect itself from Beijing.

One can have sympathy for Donald Trump not wanting to partake in such a charade, which is commonly known as the “One China” principle. The U.S. President-elect had the backing of many people in Taiwan when on Dec. 2 he accepted a phone call from its President, Tsai Ing-wen. Owing to “One China,” which was negotiated by an earlier KMT government in Taiwan, it was the first direct contact between the leaders of Taiwan and the U.S for almost four decades. When Beijing cried foul, Trump sent a series of unrepentant tweets, culminating with an interview on Fox on Sunday during which he said “One China” was up for negotiation and dependent on what Beijing does for the U.S. in return.

Read More: ‘Trump Truly Is a Mad Dog’: How Chinese Social Media Melted After the Taiwan Call

“Trump’s taking a more realpolitik approach, saying there are no sacred cows, we won’t be pushed around and everything is on the table,” says Prof. Nick Bisley, an Asia expert at Australia’s La Trobe University.

But Trump should be wary of wielding realpolitik in this land of fictions. Beijing regularly cites the “Taiwan question” as one of its “core interests,” and the topic is toxic even among otherwise politically inert Chinese. On Wednesday, An Fengshan, a spokesman for China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said, “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait will be seriously impacted” if the U.S. wavers on “One China.”

For Taiwan, the “One China” policy is partly a millstone, precluding the island from a seat at the U.N. or from joining potentially lucrative free trade groupings. But conversely, the agreement — otherwise known as the “1992 Consensus” — has allowed peaceful ties to flourish across a previously truculent Strait. Today, tourists and exchange students flock in both directions and 40% of Taiwan’s exports go to the mainland. Taiwan has a lot to gain from official recognition but even more to lose. “In the short term the [Taiwan] government seems to be very excited about [Trump addressing ‘One China’],” says Prof. Tang Shaocheng, an international relations expert at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University. “But the consequences — the reaction from Beijing — is still unpredictable.”

Donald Trump Angers China With Historic Phone Call to Taiwan’s President
Trump went where no U.S. commander-in-chief had gone since diplomatic relations were restored with China in 1979 — by speaking directly to the President of Taiwan, the island-state of 23 million that is essentially an independent country.

Taiwan would bear the brunt of a metastasizing Sino-U.S. relationship, though Trump has never mentioned what the island’s citizens desire during his bating of the Chinese leadership. Instead, the President-elect has treated the case like a business deal, jostling for the smallest advantage, while needling the world’s second largest economy over trade tariffs and alleged currency manipulation. “Trump is trying to get some more bargaining chips to use later with Beijing,” adds Tang. “Taiwan is just a leverage point for Trump.” And Trump’s actions elsewhere are recasting the rules of the game and further imperiling the island’s people.

Read More: Trump’s Doubting of ‘One China’ Has Sparked Both Hope and Fear in Taiwan

The other headline of Trump’s nascent foreign policy is warming ties with Russia. Trump repeatedly praised President Vladmir Putin during his presidential campaign, flying in the face of the international condemnation prompted by Moscow’s 2014 annexing of the Crimea, not to mention its steadfast support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. On Wednesday, Trump named his candidate for Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil chief with a long history of deals with the Kremlin, and who was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship in 2013. The nod raised eyebrows even within Trump’s own party.

“I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was,” Sen. John McCain told Fox News on Saturday. “But I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me.”

What exactly Trump hopes to gain from courting Putin is unclear. The real estate mogul may have been elected on promises to put “America first,” but Putin is a Russian nationalist of the deepest dye and unlikely to yield much of consequence to Washington. One theory is that Trump is maneuvering for a “reverse Nixon” strategy: teaming up with Moscow to isolate Beijing, in a mirror of U.S. policy to counter the Soviet Union in the 1970s. However, that is unlikely to bear fruit. According to Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank, Beijing and Moscow have never been as close as they are today. “I would call them a ‘détente’ state of relations,” says Trenin. “That’s somewhere between a strategic partnership and a full-fledged alliance.”

Read More: China Says Donald Trump’s Suggestion of Closer U.S.-Taiwan Ties Are ‘Out of the Question’

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s seminal One Belt, One Road economic strategy — a rekindling of the iconic land and maritime Silk Road though infrastructure and development projects — is dependent on rosy relations with Russia and particularly Central Asia, which is largely beholden to the Kremlin. Today, Russia is the world’s top oil exporter — accounting for 70% of all national exports — and its top customer is China, which bought 22 million tons in the first half of this year. Squabbles over disputed territory in Central Asia have been solved with surprising prudence and a raft of pipeline and other infrastructure deals have been struck. “Relations are robust and I can only see them getting stronger,” says Trenin.

By contrast, the U.S. has little to offer Russia. But Trump’s fawning of Putin does have an effect. Trump announced Tillerson’s appointment just as Assad’s Russian-backed troops retook Aleppo, displacing thousands and reportedly slaughtering scores of innocents. But Beijing is most acutely aware that the Kremlin suffered few repercussion from its seizing of Crimea, other than economic sanctions it shrugged aside (and Trump could soon lift them at a stoke of his pen.) If Trump wants to put ethics aside and talk realpolitik: What would the U.S. do if China decided to retake Taiwan?

Read More: Donald Trump Details Plan to Rewrite Global Trade Rules

To rephrase: What could it do? The U.S. military is stronger that China’s overall, though a war in China’s coastal waters would be bloody and impossible to win. The Philippines, traditionally America’s staunchest ally, has become antagonistic with Washington and chummy with China since new President Rodrigo Duterte took office. There are also resurgent calls to removed U.S. troops from bases in South Korea and Japan, who both list China as their largest trading partners. Beijing has built islands — dubbed unsinkable aircraft carriers — in the South China Sea, which new satellite images indicate contain significant weaponry. Not to forget that Trump campaigned on drawing down commitments on costly wars overseas.

“Xi is a tough guy and has shown unprecedented tolerance for Trump’s arrogance,” says Prof. Shi Yinhong, director of the Center on American Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University. “But if Trump still wants to mess with China’s core interests after he becomes President, Sino-U.S. ties will suffer the greatest damage since [the resumption of diplomatic relations]. China will not compromise.”

Trump thinks he is being clever by shaking up the status quo in East Asia, but there is a reason why all six preceding U.S. Presidents have firmly stuck to the convenient fiction of “One China.” In a game of true realpolitik when everything is on the table, China knows exactly what it wants — and it also now knows what it can probably get away with.

—With reporting by Zhang Chi / Beijing

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