700 Million People Live South Of U.S. Border: Are They But Toilet Paper?

 

By now almost all of us have heard of Donald Trumps recent comments about how the people of some countries south of the U.S. Border and in Africa are part of ‘shit-hole’ countries. Trump admits himself that he has not been to most of these countries yet he dumps on them and their people. I myself have also been to none of these countries but I have known people who were from some of them, this does not make me an expert on the countries or their people. Mr. Trump has proven himself to not be an expert or even basically intelligent on any subject that I have ever heard him open his mouth and talk about, quite the opposite. If a person wishes to learn stats about a country they can Google the ‘CIA Fact book’ for things like population, GDP, average age, religion etc. Personally I do not believe that Mr. Trump has ever done even this as he feels that he is the world expert on all things plus the fact that he doesn’t trust the CIA’s basic intelligence or trustworthiness.

 

Back in 2016 during the Republican Presidential Debates Mr. Trump when speaking of Africa once said ‘I love Africa, many of my friends have gone there to get rich’. Think about that statement for a moment please, ‘many of my friends have gone there to get rich (er)’. Not, I have friends who have gone there to help bring up the standard of living for the people there. You see, people like Mr. Trump go to places like Africa to rape the people there of any and all financial elements the people of a country may have. Why do you think that the countries in Africa who have great mineral wealth whether it be diamonds, gold, oil or anything else still have such starvation rates? Why do you think that the people of these countries are living without clean water or electricity? The reason is that large out of country corporations and banks set up brutal Dictators who they buy off as they and these crooked Leaders funnel billions of dollars out of the countries and into their own personal bank accounts all around the world. They do this as the people starve and are enslaved or imprisoned or just plain murdered. Then pious asses like Mr. Trump slams the people for being poor as they rob them of their wealth and financial dignity.

 

Now I wish to turn my attention to the countries south of the U.S. border. First I am going to speak of Mexico which Mr. Trump has constantly slammed. Just this week the U.S. State Department put out travel warnings for 5 of the States in Mexico as ‘no go’ States. They say these States are to dangerous for people to visit. There are several issues that the Mexican government must fix within their own borders just like several other Nations to their south must fix. The first single thing that must be fixed is the security issues for the people who live in these areas. The second biggest issues that must be fixed is the economies of the places the citizens live. Mr. Trump doesn’t want these ‘poor’ people flooding across the U.S. border so to do this we must work with, not against these people.

 

The first thing I am going to write about is the totally failed and totally dangerous U.S. War On Drugs Policy. The easiest first policy would be to totally legalize recreational Marijuana and tax it like it was beer or wine. This would take the profit away from the Drug Cartels and would save thousands of lives each year. Even though I am not a fan of any of the manufactured chemical drugs they should then be treated the same way, mostly. If the laws were different here in the U.S. in regards to drugs like Cocaine and Heroin we could also take all of the profit out of the Drug Cartels also saving many thousands of lives each year. Here is what I am getting at, if I could buy Heroin or Cocaine legally just like beer and wine all of the revenue for the Cartels is gone, now the people who live in the ‘Cartel’ areas would then be able to live in a more peaceful situation. Before you decide that I am totally crazy about making these drugs legal, there is more to my plan.

 

Here are some of my conditions about having legal chemical drugs. Just like you can get a ticket for being under the influence of a legal prescription medication if that medication messed up your physical ability to drive, expand this to the following. Right now here in the States you can get a ticket and go to jail for driving ‘under the influence’ of a drug like Morphine even if you have a script for it and you can be sued if you caused a wreck and you can go to prison. The same laws hold true if you were driving under the influence of Morphine in your system, but you did not have a script for it. Where we would have to tweak the existing laws is this: If you have a non-script chemical drug in your system ‘like Cocaine or Morphine’ and you get in an accident whether it be in a vehicle or on a job site you must receive Federal Prison time. Also, you personally must pay for all damages. No Insurance Company pays for any damages to you or your personal property. Any and all of your personal property will be attached and sold until all damages are paid in full. If you have an accident at work and you have a drug like Cocaine in your system the Company’s Work Comp carrier is not liable for any of your medical bills and you will not be eligible for payments from the Insurance company while you are unable to work. There would also have to be one other requirement which would be pointed straight at Companies. Just like a famous Soda Pop Company used to add Cocaine to their drink to make it more addictive there would have to be mandatory Federal Prison sentences for any and all company executives who were adding any of these drugs into their products as well as selling off of all of their personal property to help pay for the damages to people.

 

Most all of the people that I have spoken with who are here in the U.S. who are from ‘Southern Countries’ have told me that they would much rather be in their home Country but there is no work there, no way to feed their families, that this is why they are here in the U.S., for work. These ‘Southern Countries’ must put all of their efforts into creating livable wage jobs within their own borders. These Countries Leaders must not allow companies from other countries to come in and financially rape them of their assets whether it be mineral or human. Mr. Trump would not have to build his 18 billion dollar border wall if the Countries to our south had their own stable economies. One of the things that is obvious about Mr. Trump is that he hates poor people, it seems that if you do not have a personal net worth of at least several hundred million dollars he considers you as nothing more than a used piece of used toilet paper. The true reality of these “shit-hole” Countries is that it is people like Mr. Trump, the mega rich, who come in and steal everything these poorer Countries and their people have, for their own personal gain, who are the true pieces of human feces, not the people they steal from.

This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a ‘shithole’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

PostEverything

This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a ‘shithole’

President Trump’s defenders don’t know anything about Haiti’s history — or the United States’s.

 January 12 at 5:36 PM

Jonathan M. Katz, a freelance journalist, is the author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” He is the director of the media and journalism initiative at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.
 2:29
Long before ‘shithole,’ the U.S.-Haiti relationship was complicated

President Trump is under fire for referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries.”

The president had no respect for Haiti. He could see as well as anyone following the news that the country was a basket case — wracked by political unrest, filthy, incapable of handling its own affairs. There was no doubt his opinion of the black republic was informed by his blatant racism, which included praising members of the Ku Klux Klan. He had criticized his predecessors’ foreign wars while running for office. But in the White House, he realized he was willing to flex the country’s muscles abroad, so long as the mission fit his motto: “America first.”

Taking Haiti was a U.S. priority, he decided. The United States would invade.

That president was Woodrow Wilson. The year was 1915. And if that was the beginning of a story you’ve never heard before, you aren’t alone.

Since news broke that Wilson’s unwitting heir, Donald Trump, called Haiti — along with El Salvador and seemingly all 54 nations in Africa — “shithole countries,” the president’s defenders made it clear that not only do they not know Haiti’s history, they’re unaware of their own. As soon as they heard his comments, Trump’s partisans went defensive, claiming that while Trump might have been rude, he was right. Fox News regular Tomi Lahren tweeted: “If they aren’t shithole countries, why don’t their citizens stay there?” “Trump should ‘vehemently condemn’ the Haitian government for running a shithole country,” wrote one of the organizers of last year’s inaugural “DeploraBall.”

Some on the right particularly applauded a segment on CNN, where National Review editor Rich Lowry asked political commentator Joan Walsh if she would “rather live in Norway or Haiti.” It was a reference to Trump’s reported wish that the U.S. bring in more Nordic immigrants instead of those from Latin America or Africa. Walsh refused to answer, noting she’d never visited either country. Tucker Carlson accused her of dishonesty. “Those places are dangerous, they’re dirty, they’re corrupt and they’re poor,” the Fox News host said, with an indignation Wilson would have admired. “Why can’t you say that?”

Trump’s supporters on cable news appear to believe that they, and he, are brave tellers of unvarnished truths others are too timid or politically correct to say out loud. (Never mind that Trump is a notorious, if not pathological, liar — or that, hours later, he tried weakly to walk back the “shithole” remark after his favorite TV show told him to.)

But in reality, they don’t know many truths at all. To rail against poverty in countries like Haiti, and argue that it’s some naturally occurring, objective reality, ignores why that poverty exists and what the United States’s own role has been in creating it. And ignoring that means not only making bad and hateful decisions today, but risks repeating the errors of the past.

***

Haiti was founded Jan. 1, 1804, by people of African descent who were tired of being slaves. They fought and won a revolution against France, ultimately defeating an expeditionary force of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, then the most powerful in the world.

France fought so hard to keep the colony because it was basically the Saudi Arabia of coffee and sugar at the time, providing the majority of both commodities consumed in Europe. The money it generated fueled the entire French empire. But it was made with blood. The slave regime necessary to produce those crops was so deadly that 1 in 10   enslaved Africans kidnapped and brought to the island died each year. As historian Laurent Dubois has noted, the French decided that it was cheaper to bring in new slaves than to keep the ones they had alive.

As soon as Haiti was free, the world’s most powerful empires did everything they could to undermine it. France refused to acknowledge the new nation existed. In the United States — then the only other independent country in the Americas — President Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, was uninterested in seeing a free black nation succeed nearby. The slaveholding powers refused to set up official trade with Haiti, forcing the country into predatory relationships. Haiti’s independence remained a cautionary tale U.S. slavers used to counter abolitionists until the Civil War.

France finally offered much-needed diplomatic recognition in 1825, at gunpoint. King Charles X demanded the Haitian government pay restitution of 150 million gold francs — billions of dollars in today’s money — to French landowners still angry about the loss of their land and the Haitians’ own bodies in the war. If they didn’t pay, he would invade.

Haiti’s leaders agreed. They spent the next decades raiding their own coffers and redirecting customs revenue to paying France for the independence they had already won, ravaging the economy. By the 1880s, Haiti had paid what France had wanted. But now it owed huge sums to foreign banks, from which it had borrowed heavily to make ends meet. In the early 20th century, much of that debt belonged to banks in the United States. Americans had also established extensive business interests in Haiti, exporting sugar and other commodities.

The United States, meanwhile, was looking to expand. Starting in 1898, we began using our military to secure new territory and markets overseas. By 1914, we had annexed the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam and other islands in the Pacific. In the Caribbean, we had Puerto Rico and a permanent base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. Marine Corps had also helped carve out a new Central American country, Panama, in exchange for rights to dig a canal providing a trade route to Asia — and invaded Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico and elsewhere.

Haiti was next. Haiti’s politics, roiled by the economic turmoil caused by the debt, were in a tailspin. Presidents were repeatedly assassinated and governments overthrown. The banks demanded payment; U.S. businessmen wanted more security and control. Newspapers had been paving the way for U.S. public opinion — a New York Times dispatch in 1912 declared, “Haitians acknowledge the failure of a ‘Black Republic’ and look forward to coming into the Union.”

In late 1914, U.S. Marines came ashore in Port-au-Prince, marched into the national reserve and carried out all the gold. It was hauled back to the National City Bank in New York — known as Citibank today. Months later, declaring his concern that European powers, especially Germany, might gain a foothold in the Caribbean (even though they were all busy with World War I), Wilson ordered an invasion, then a full occupation.

The U.S. flag was run up Haiti’s government buildings. The Haitian government and armed forces were dissolved. For the next 19 years, the United States ruled Haiti. U.S. Marines fought a bloody counterinsurgency campaign to stamp out resistance. The Haitian government, Constitution and army were disbanded and replaced with new U.S.-friendly ones. Intending to embark on a major public works program, the Marines instituted a system, drawn from Haitian law, called the corvée, in which peasants were essentially re-enslaved. Many of the occupation’s leaders were explicit white supremacists, who used lessons they had learned instituting Jim Crow at home to create new, American forms of discrimination in Haiti. One major organizer was Col. Littleton W.T. Waller, a child of antebellum Virginia, who assured his friend, Col. John A. Lejeune — the future commandant of the Marine Corps: “I know the n**ger and how to handle him.”

Not all Americans were fans of the colonial regime in Haiti. Anti-imperialist lawmakers, journalists and organizations including the NAACP protested, held hearings and wrote screeds against the occupation. But most Americans, then as now, were essentially unaware. As reports of massacres and other abuses mounted, though, embarrassment grew. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had served in the occupation of Haiti as assistant secretary of the Navy, came to office promising to end U.S. imperial policies in this hemisphere. The occupation ended in 1934. Haiti had some new roads and buildings, a legacy of scars and abuse and a new U.S.-made economic and political system that would keep wreaking havoc over the decades to follow.

In 1957, a U.S.-trained physician, François Duvalier, came to power. Known as Papa Doc, he was a black nationalist who positioned himself in part as an heir to the Haitian Revolution and opponent of U.S. imperialism, but he also knew how to manage a nearby superpower. U.S. presidents gave him, and his son who succeeded him, support at key moments (when they weren’t trying to sponsor coups against him), until the dictatorship ended in 1986.

***

So in light of all that history, to be convinced that Haiti just happens to be a failed “shithole” where no one would want to live, you’d have to know nothing about how Haitians view their country and themselves. You’d have to know nothing about the destructive U.S. trade policies that continued past the end of the dictatorship, destroying trade protections and, with them, local industries and agriculture. You’d have to not know about the CIA’s role in the 1991 coup that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or the U.S. invasions in 1994 and 2004. You’d have to know nothing about why the United States sponsored and took the leading role in paying for a United Nations “stabilization mission” that did little but keep a few, often unpopular, presidents in power and kill at least 10,000 people by introducing cholera to Haiti for the first time. And you’d have to not understand the U.S. role in the shambolic response to the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake — which was a mess, but possibly not in the way that you think.

Haiti is indeed a difficult place to live for many of the people who live there. Poverty is rampant. There is no good sanitation system, in part because the same international system that introduced cholera in 2010 steadfastly refuses to meet its promises to pay to clean it up. (Before the outbreak, the United States withheld funds to pay for water and sanitation infrastructure for more than 10 years for purely political reasons.) After centuries of exploitation and abuse, the best hope for many Haitians is to move away — and suddenly encountering infrastructure and opportunities, they thrive. For many migrants, the ultimate goal is to earn enough money to retire, build a home in Haiti and go back.

In trying to walk back his slur Friday, Trump insisted that he “has a wonderful relationship with Haitians.” There is no evidence of that. As he decided to move forward with forcing the deportation of tens of thousands of Haitians allowed to take refuge after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s leading newspaper pronounced him the country’s “worst nightmare.” Last summer, he reportedly said all Haitians have AIDS — a slur that cuts deep in the Haitian American psyche. And now this.

I lived in Haiti for three and a half years, by choice. I saw many people struggling, many beautiful and terrible sights and lived through some of the hardest days of my life. I learned a lot about the complicated relationship between that country and ours — the ways in which our power can be used for good, and to do incredible harm. Many people pointed out this week that Haitians have been through far worse than a racist president calling their country a “shithole.” The question is if, knowing the truth, we all want to go through it again.

Read more:

Trump sounds ignorant of history. But racist ideas often masquerade as ignorance.

I’m one of the Central Park Five. Donald Trump won’t leave me alone.

President Trump has no idea what’s happening in Puerto Rico

These ‘Shithole Countries’ Have a Message for President Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS AND THE WASHINGTON POST)

(DONALD IS ‘THE SHITHOLE’ IN CHIEF)

 

By NASH JENKINS

Updated: January 12, 2018 11:45 AM ET

President Donald Trump reportedly singled out Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during a rant about immigration Thursday. Those places aren’t happy

Trump’s comments came during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House held to reach a bipartisan immigration deal, according to the Washington Postwhich broke the news. Sources familiar with the meeting told the Post that the president was amenable to more immigrants from Norway and Asia, whom he says help the country economically, but wondered aloud “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

According to the Post, Trump also said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

On Friday morning Trump posted a series of tweets about the immigration deal in which he appeared to deny he said “shithole countries.”

“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” he wrote.

In a second tweet, sent around two hours after the first, Trump said that he “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country” and that he never uttered the phrase “take them out.”

Trump also claimed that the accusation was “made up” by members of the Democratic Party. “I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians,” he added. “Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

However, the White House on Thursday did not deny the Post’s report about Trump’s language.

A spokesman for the United Nations said Friday that Trump’s reported words were racist.

“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist’… This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia,” United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Here’s how Trump’s alleged “shithole countries” are responding to the remarks:

Haiti

CBS News reports that the Haitian government promptly summoned charge d’affairs Robin Diallo, the top U.S. diplomat in the country, to respond to the comments.

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe tweeted, “SHAME ON TRUMP! The world is witnessing a new low today with this #ShitholeNations remark! totally unacceptable! uncalled for moreover it shows a lack a respect and IGNORANCE never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President! Enough is enough!!”

The Haitian government said in a statement “these insulting and reprehensible statements in no way reflect the virtues of wisdom, restraint and discernment that must be cultivated by any high political authority,” according to the Associated Press, adding that the comment “reflects a totally erroneous and racist view of the Haitian community and its contribution to the United States.”

Other Haitians took to social media to share pictures of their nation’s beautiful beaches to make a point about the president’s alleged remarks.

El Salvador

Hugo Martinez, El Salvador’s foreign minister, tweeted calling on the U.S. government to confirm or deny Trump’s statements. In subsequent tweets, he noted that a number of individuals who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were from El Salvador and saying that he “feels proud to be Salvadoran.”

Jean Manes, the U.S. envoy to El Salvador, tweeted that the United States “values the friendship and the relationship with the Salvadoran people.” Manes added that she has had “the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans,” and that it is “an honor” to live and work there.”

African Union

The African Union responded to the reported remarks by pointing out many Africans arrived in the U.S. as slaves.

“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” Ebba Kalondo, a spokesperson for the 55-nation African Union, told the Associated Press. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”

Leanne Manas, a news anchor for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, tweeted Friday morning, “Good morning from the greatest most beautiful “shithole country” in the world!!!”

Somali information minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told CNN, “If it’s real, it doesn’t need a response. Those comments do not deserve a response.”

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party, described Trump’s comments as “abhorrent” on Twitter. His tweet continued: “He confirms a patronizing view of Africa and promotes a racist agenda. Africa/U.S. relations will take strain from this, with a leader who has failed to reconcile humanity. The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”

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President Approves $133 Million Sale Of Anti-ballistic Missiles To Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Washington (CNN)The Trump administration notified Congress on Tuesday that it has approved the potential sale of SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles to Japan in a deal estimated to be worth $133.3 million, according to a State Department statement.

Included in the sale are four Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles, four MK 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.
The SM-3 Block IIA is an anti-ballistic missile that can be employed on Aegis-class destroyers or on land, via the Aegis Ashore program, according to a State Department official.
“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States by enhancing Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force’s … ability to defend Japan and the Western Pacific from ballistic missile threats,” the official said.
The sale would also “follow through on President (Donald) Trump’s commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies” threatened by North Korea’s “provocative behavior,” the official added.
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Throughout 2017, North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests despite constant criticism from the West and trade sanctions.
The most provocative moment came November 29, when North Korea said it successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a “super-large heavy warhead” which it said was capable of striking the US mainland.
Last month, Japan’s cabinet approved a plan to buy two US-built Aegis missile defense systems, state broadcaster NHK reported, as the country faces increasing hostility from neighboring North Korea.
Russia accused the US of violating an arms control treaty by agreeing to supply anti-missile systems to Japan.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deal with Japan was part of a bigger plan by the US for a “global anti-missile system.”
Zakharova claimed they were in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington that has been in force for 30 years.
“We need to bear in mind that all these systems have universal missile launchers that can use all types of missiles. It means another violation of the INF treaty and we see that Japan is an accomplice in this matter,” she said.
The US rejected the accusation. “The United States is in full compliance with the INF Treaty. Russian claims to the contrary are false and meant to deflect attention from Russia’s own very clear violations,” a spokesman for the US State Department told CNN at the time.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke with Japan Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera on Monday to discuss a range of US-Japan alliance matters and reaffirmed US commitments to the defense of Japan — pledging to work closely with his Japanese counterpart to bolster critical alliance capabilities.

Trump (is the) “least credible person who has ever walked on earth”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

 

POLITICS

Fire and Fury’ author Wolff calls Trump least credible person who has ever walked on earth

Michael Wolff, the author of a new book that gives a behind-the-scenes accountof the White House, defended his work Friday, insisting he spoke with President Donald Trump on the record and calling the commander in chief “a man who has less credibility than, perhaps, anyone who has ever walked on earth.”

Wolff, in an exclusive interview on NBC’s “Today,” said that everyone he spoke to for the book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” described the president the same way.

“I will tell you the one description that everyone gave, everyone has in common: They all say he is like a child,” Wolff explained. “And what they mean by that is, he has a need for immediate gratification. It is all about him.”

Wolff added that “100 percent of the people around” Trump, “senior advisers, family members, every single one of them, questions his intelligence and fitness for office.”

Play

 ‘Fire and Fury’ author Michael Wolff: ‘I absolutely’ spoke to President Trump 8:12

Wolff also contended that he “absolutely” spoke to the president during his reporting of the book.

“Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record,” Wolff said. “I spoke to him after the inauguration, yes. And I had spoken to, I mean I spent about three hours with the president over the course of the campaign and in the White House, so my window into Donald Trump is pretty significant.”

Trump, however, said on Twitter Thursday night that he “authorized Zero access to White House” for the author and “never spoke to him for book.”

Hitting back at Trump, Wolff said Friday that Trump isn’t one to talk when it comes to credibility.

“My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than, perhaps, anyone who has ever walked on earth at this point,” Wolff said.

Wolff added that he has the evidence to back up his work.

“I work like every journalist works so I have recordings, I have notes,” Wolff said. “I am certainly and absolutely in every way comfortable with everything I’ve reported in this book.”

“Fire and Fury” features behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Trump’s White House, including details on how the most powerful men and women in Washington worked to make Trump president — and then turned on one another after he took the oath of office.

Wolff writes in the book, and explained during his “Today” interview, that top aides said at various points Trump that is “a moron, an idiot.”

“Actually there’s a competition to sort of get to the bottom line here of who this man is. Let’s remember, this man does not read, does not listen. So he’s like a pinball, just shooting off the sides,” Wolff said.

Image: President Trump meets with GOP senators in the White House

President Trump meets with GOP senators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Wolff also revealed how people around the president noticed an apparent decline in his mental stamina.

“In the beginning, it was like every 25 or 30 minutes, you would get the same three stories repeated,” Wolff said about Trump. “Now it’s the same three stories in every 10 minutes.”

Wolff was then asked to elaborate on an anecdote he described in an article in The Hollywood Reporter this week in which he said Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the winter holiday break, didn’t recognize old friends.

“I will quote Steve Bannon — he’s lost it,” Wolff said, referring to Trump’s former strategist.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appearing on Fox News Friday morning, said it was “outrageous to make these types of accusations” about Trump’s mental health.

It’s “sad that people are going and making these desperate attempts to attack the president,” she added.

Widely reported excerpts from the book have roiled Washington, including claims from Bannon that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”

The president apparently referred to Bannon as “Sloppy Steve,” on Twitter Thursday night. On Friday afternoon, as he left the White House for a weekend at Camp David, he ignored shouted questions from reporters about whether he had read the book himself yet.

Wolff’s book was released early Friday by Henry Holt, which announced a day earlier that it was pushing up the publication date due to demand. Earlier Thursday, Trump attorney Charles Harder demanded in a letter sent to Wolff and his publisher that the book not be published or disseminated. The book reached No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list Wednesday.

A copy of the letter obtained by NBC News cites defamation, libel and “actual malice” among the alleged wrongdoings in the book.

NBC News has not confirmed much of the book. Wolff has been accused in the past of suspect reporting, most notably in his 1998 book “Burn Rate.” In its review, the now-defunct media journal Brill’s Content cited 13 people depicted in the book as saying that Wolff invented or changed quotations and that they couldn’t recall his taking any notes or recording their interviews.

Bannon: 2016 Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Bannon: 2016 Trump Tower meeting was ‘treasonous’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

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

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

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

The ups and downs of the Bannon insurgency

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

There’s more to Trump’s ‘fair’ prediction on Mueller probe than meets the eye

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

There’s more to Trump’s ‘fair’ prediction on Mueller probe than meets the eye

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trump raises questions on how he’ll act if Mueller doesn’t end his probe soon
  • “I hope that he’s going to be fair,” Trump told The New York Times

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s latest interview with The New York Times is a many layered exercise of political positioning, calculated ambiguity and veiled menace.

On the face of it, the President appears to undercut a holiday season campaign by Hill Republicans and the pro-Trump media to discredit Robert Mueller’s probe by saying he believes the special counsel will be “fair” to him.
Yet Trump raises implicit questions about how he will act if Mueller does not soon end his investigation and clear him. Other comments in the interview are already prompting new concerns about the President’s perception of his own powers of jurisdiction over the Mueller inquiry and the Justice Department itself.
Trump also used the session to direct a stinging new critique toward Jeff Sessions, revealing the President’s still boiling fury with the attorney general, which will provoke new speculation about how long the former Alabama senator will survive in his job.
The interview, conducted Thursday during Trump’s stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, offers a fascinating glimpse into the President’s mind and mood as the Russia investigation hangs over his administration despite a strong end-of-year streak that saw the passage of the most sweeping tax reform law in 30 years.
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He stayed true to his recent strategy of not criticizing Mueller personally, though many of his supporters among Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the pro-Trump media are waging an escalating campaign against the special counsel and arguing that his subordinates are biased against Trump.
“I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. … There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair,” Trump said.
The President’s comments could be seen as an above-the-board attempt to ensure that Mueller’s capacity to finish his investigation is not compromised. Or perhaps his motivation is to set up a good guy/bad guy scenario as his allies continue to attack the special counsel.

Defining ‘fair’

Lead Chalian new CNN Russia poll live_00011812

  
New CNN poll on Russia 
It’s impossible to know what the President is really thinking, since his remarks are characteristically ambiguous and open to so many interpretations. They allow his supporters and adversaries to take specific messages, while allowing him plausible deniability that he is trying to lean on Mueller or Justice authorities.
One example of this is when Trump defines what fairness means in his mind: a swift conclusion by Mueller that there was no cooperation between his campaign and Russia in last year’s election. The implications of a verdict that does not measure up to his expectations remain unspecified but ominous possibilities are left hanging in the air.
“Everybody knows the answer already. There was no collusion. None whatsoever,” Trump said, before returning over and over again to the “no collusion” line throughout the interview.
While there has been no proof offered of collusion so far either by Mueller or multiple congressional investigations into the matter, no probe into the affair has yet concluded that collusion did not exist. And Trump’s comment that all Democrats say there is no collusion — while not being true — also appears to be an attempt to prejudge the outcome of the various inquiries.
Mueller is not investigating the collusion issue alone. His moves so far — for instance, the plea deal with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and interviews with White House staff — suggest he is also probing whether the President obstructed justice.
In the interview, Trump maintains that the prevailing shadow of the Russia investigation is detrimental to the best interests of the United States at large. His gambit follows reports by CNN that his lawyers have told him they believe the Mueller probe will be wrapped up soon and that he will be exonerated, despite the lack of outside signs that the special counsel is anywhere near that point.
“The only thing that bothers me about timing, I think it’s a very bad thing for the country. Because it makes the country look bad. It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said.
“So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
Taken at face value, those comments can be read as evidence of altruistic concern by a head of state for the damage a divisive affair is wreaking on US political and judicial institutions, and they will be perceived that way by Trump supporters.
“We have one investigation, let alone three right right now currently going on to address issues related to the last election,” Republican Rep. Rodney Davis said on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.
“I think the President is clear in his distaste for the disarray that any investigation causes. And I think he’s right to say that.”
Yet to critics concerned about an authoritarian streak that Trump has displayed throughout his 11 months in power, and his propensity to attack institutions like the FBI and the Justice Department, his motive in equating his personal, political interests with those of the nation may appear more sinister.
Some Republicans don’t agree with the President, saying the nation’s interests are better served by pursuing the Russia probes to their rightful end and that the investigations show the robustness of American civic institutions.
“I believe the Russia investigation, you know, speaks to our transparency in many ways,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent told “New Day.” “The Russians meddled in our elections, and not only here but throughout the world, and it’s important this be investigated by Congress and Director Mueller.”
“We have to let him do his work and let’s see what he finds before we jump to conclusions,” Dent said.

Justice Department powers

Analyst: No job safe in Trump administration

  
Analyst: No job safe in Trump administration
Trump’s interview also contains a remarkable assertion of presidential power over the Justice Department that will do little to quell concerns among the President’s critics who fear he may eventually move to dismiss Mueller as the investigation gets ever closer to the Oval Office.
Asked whether the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server should be reopened, Trump makes a case that such a move could be within his purview.
“What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter,” Trump told the Times.
While the President can remove top Justice Department officials and the head of the FBI, presidents have traditionally sought to avoid perceptions they are influencing or politicizing the act of implementing the law.
The word “absolute” in this context is a loaded one. And should Trump order the department to end an investigation into his own conduct, he could open himself to accusations that he is obstructing justice.
The hint that Trump retains the right to use the department to investigate his enemies will raise fresh worries that he could test constitutional norms in the future.
Former US Attorney Michael Moore said Trump’s comments made him sound like a king or an emperor.
“He has absolutely no idea what his constitutional role or responsibilities or limitations are,” Moore told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Friday.
“The Justice Department is not his tool. It maintains independence for a very specific reason. It is not a tool of the administration either to persecute your political enemies or to somehow be a cheerleader for political accomplishments,” Moore said.
Trump’s interview also aimed another body blow at Sessions, who the President has repeatedly criticized for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, given Sessions’ previous role as a member of the President’s campaign team.
Trump was asked if former Attorney General Eric Holder was more loyal to his President, Barack Obama, than Sessions is to him.
“I don’t want to get into loyalty,” Trump said, while also taking a characteristic swipe at the previous administration.
“I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump said.
“When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the President. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest,” he said.

U.N. General Assembly Votes Against Trump-Israel On Jerusalem Issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY)

 

The United Nations General Assembly moved Thursday to repudiate President Trump’s controversial declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump threatened to withhold aid to countries that vote for the resolution.

The measure, drafted by U.S. ally Egypt, urges nations to support U.N. resolutions dating to 1967 when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan, that call for Jerusalem’s status to be decided through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel says a united Jerusalem will remain its capital, while Palestinians want it to cede East Jerusalem as the capital of a future, independent Palestinian state. Only a handful of countries recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, while most others maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

The resolution says “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Trump warned Wednesday that the vote could impact “billions of dollars” in U.S. aid.

“Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot,” Trump said. “We don’t care. This isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing.”

Americans are “tired of being taken advantage of” at the U.N. “and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer,” Trump said.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Trump for threatening to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision. “Mr Trump, you cannot buy Turkey’s democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear,” Erdogan said at a cultural awards ceremony in Ankara on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley threatened the 193 U.N. member states and the United Nations with funding cuts if the assembly approves the draft resolution rejecting the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She said Wednesday that “no vote in the United Nations will make any difference” on the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which will go ahead because “it is the right thing to do.”

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” Haley said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Haley also threatened Tuesday to “take names” of countries that vote in favor of the measure.

At the UN we’re always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we don’t expect those we’ve helped to target us. On Thurs there’ll be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.

Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement also said the State Department had been ordered to begin the years-long process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Trump said the decision, following a law passed by Congress in 1998, does not impact the borders of Jerusalem, but reflected the reality that Israel considers the city its capital.

His announcement was widely condemned in capitals around the world, and provoked deadly protests in the Middle East.

More: U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution on Jerusalem

More: Jerusalem Palestinians still seek Israeli citizenship despite Trump declaration

More: Trump’s Jerusalem plan signals to Palestinians — the less you give up, the more you lose

Thursday’s vote at an emergency meeting of the General Assembly comes after the U.S. vetoed the same measure in the Security Council on Monday.

The remaining 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, including key U.S. allies such as Italy, Japan, Britain, France and Ukraine.

While the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — had veto power in the first vote, there are no vetoes at the General Assembly.

The General Assembly vote expresses widespread disapproval, however, it has little or not practical impact.

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Tax Bill Lets Trump and Republicans Feather Their Own Nests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Photo

CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

To understand the cynicism and mendacity underlying the Republican tax bill, look no further than a provision that would benefit President Trump and other property tycoons that is in the final legislation Congress is expected to vote on this week.

The provision would allow people who make money from real estate to take a 20 percent deduction on income they earn through limited liability companies, partnerships and other so-called pass-through entities that do not pay the corporate tax. The beneficiaries would also include members of Congress like Senator Bob Corker, who last week decided he would vote for the bill even though Republican leaders did nothing to address his concerns about an exploding federal deficit.

The biggest winners would be people like Mr. Trump, his family and similarly advantaged developers who make tens or hundreds of millions of dollars every year on swanky office towers and luxurious apartment buildings. An earlier version of the bill passed by the Senate provided a 23 percent deduction but put limits on its use that would prevent wealthy developers from profiting from it. The House version would simply have reduced the rate at which pass-through income is taxed.

Republican leaders and Mr. Corker, who owns a real estate partnership in Tennessee, say the new loophole was not put in place to win over his vote. Mr. Corker has become more important because his party can afford to lose only two votes, and Senator John McCain will be absent because of the aftereffects from his cancer treatment.

Republicans insist, further, that the provision was not “airdropped” — Mr. Corker’s term — into the tax bill during conference committee negotiations, and that its main purpose was to make sure pass-through businesses were not treated unfairly because corporations would be getting a big tax cut to 21 percent, from 35 percent now. Whatever the Republicans’ protestations, this malodorous loophole is further confirmation that congressional leaders are doing everything they can to maximize benefits for the wealthy at the expense of almost everybody else.

As for Mr. Trump, he has been going around saying the tax bill would “cost me a fortune” and his accountants “are going crazy now.” This claim has always been “fake news.” But with the new loophole it has become even more nonsensical. Having done nothing to drain the Washington swamp, the president now luxuriates in its warm waters.

Continue reading the main story

All told, the 20 percent deduction for pass-through income would cost the government $414.5 billion in lost revenue over 10 years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. To put that number into context, it is about 29 times as much as the roughly $14 billion a year that the federal government spends on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers nearly nine million kids from low-income families. Congress let authorization for that program lapse at the end of September.

The tax bill’s generosity toward real estate titans stands in stark contrast to its stinginess toward the average wage earner as well as its very real damage to taxpayers in high-cost states. Average wage earners who would get modest tax cuts in the early years would see them evaporate into thin air after 2025. Homeowners and others in high-cost states like California, New Jersey and New York would see their once-sizable deductions for state and local taxes shrink to a maximum of $10,000 a year, which could in turn reduce home values. Further, the tax bill would permanently change how tax brackets are adjusted for inflation so that more people would be pushed into higher tax brackets over time even if they received only modest raises in salary.

356COMMENTS

Details aside, here in broad numbers is the bill’s impact 10 years from now, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center: Nearly 70 percent of families with incomes of between $54,700 and $93,200 a year would pay more in taxes than they would under current law. By contrast, 92 percent of families whose incomes put them in the top 0.1 percent of the country would get a tax cut averaging $206,280.

This bill is bad enough. No less revolting is the dishonest and sneaky way it was written.

Trump: Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump to present new doctrine that says Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

‘America First’ national security strategy, to be unveiled Monday, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational deals that long dominated US policy

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, US President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and downplays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on the broader world order.

The new national security doctrine reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of “America First,” will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump’s doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the US must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

US President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 9, 2017. (AP/Andy Wong)

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

The last such document, prepared by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the US is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he’ll deem as “rogue regimes,” like North Korea, and “revisionist powers,” like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

The senior officials said the document refers to China as a “strategic competitor,” rather than the stronger accusation of “economic aggression” previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president is also set to make the case that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.

The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the US stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.

The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the US political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of US democratic institutions.

The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president’s remarks.

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