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Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:56 pm
by Meno_
Putin warns the threat of nuclear war should not be underestimated
Holly Ellyatt | @HollyEllyatt
Published 4 Hours Ago Updated 2 Hours Ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the threat of a nuclear war should not be discounted and criticized the U.S.' move to withdraw from an international nuclear treaty.
Speaking at his annual media press conference, Putin was asked by one journalist to assess the threat of nuclear war or a third world war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the threat of a nuclear war should not be discounted and criticized the U.S.' move to withdraw from an international nuclear treaty.

Speaking at his annual media press conference, Putin was asked by one journalist to assess the threat of nuclear war or a third world war.

"The danger of the situation is being downplayed," Putin told the audience of over 1,000 journalists at his year-end question and answer session.

"It now seems to be impossible, something without crucial importance, but at the same time if something like this would happen this would lead to the collapse of the entire civilization and maybe our planet. So this is an important question," he said via a translator.

"Unfortunately, we have this trend to underestimate the current situation. There are dangers, there are risks in our day-to-day lives. What are those risks? First and foremost, the collapse of the international system of arms control, of moving away from an arms race," he said.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Putin said it was hard to predict what the consequences would be of a U.S. withdrawal from the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987. He also stated that an escalation of tensions that could lead to war should not be allowed to happen.

"Now they're making another step and they are withdrawing from the INF treaty so what's going to come out of that? It's hard to imagine what will come next," he said.

Putin's comments come after President Donald Trump said in October that he will withdraw the U.S. from the long-standing "Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty," or INF treaty, citing Russian violations of the deal. Trump says that Russia has violated the arms agreement by building and fielding the banned weapons "for many years." Russia has denied it is in violation of the deal.

The 1987 treaty prohibits Russia and the U.S. from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile having a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers or "to possess or produce launchers of such missiles."

WATCH: The Trump-Russia ties hiding in plain sight

Economic progress
Putin started the press conference Thursday morning by outlining Russia's economic statistics and forecasts for the coming year.

Growth is estimated to have reached 1.8 percent in 2018, he said, and industrial output is estimated to have grown 3 percent in this year. He said inflation was at an "acceptable level" (it stood at 3.8 percent, as of November) and that decreasing unemployment was encouraging and would stand at 4.8 percent in 2018.

"For the first time since 2011, we see a budget surplus and this is going to be around 2.1 percent of (gross domestic product)," he added.

Putin's annual media question and answer session comes at an challenging time for the economy.

Several key Russian sectors are subject to Western sanctions including the banking, infrastructure, oil and military industries. Sanctions were imposed after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and role in a pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine. There are restrictions on numerous individuals and entities alleged to have links to the government.

The major oil exporter has also had a torrid time with volatile oil prices over the last year. A barrel of Brent crude cost around $67 in January. But the price zig-zagged throughout the spring and summer and reached around $85 in October, before falling to its current level of $55. Russia formed a close relationship with fellow oil producer, and OPEC leader, Saudi Arabia, to stabilize prices by cutting production.

Amid fears of a drop in global supply both producers agreed to pump more oil in summer. In early December, that decision was reversed with the alliance deciding to cut again. Despite Russia's reliance on oil exports for much of its growth, Putin once again stressed the need for structural reforms and diversification when asked by one journalist why growth was not higher.

"We cannot provide for the necessary rate of economic growth unless we change the structure of our economy," he said.

Putin's annual press conference is largely seen as a way for the Kremlin to show it is transparent and accountable but the level of questioning is not usually overtly critical on Putin.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 4:00 pm
by Meno_
Trump's pick for attorney general warns Mueller's obstruction inquiry 'fatally misconceived' in memo to DOJ
By Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN
Updated 9:29 AM EST, Thu December 20, 2018

(CNN) Former Attorney General William "Bill" Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department, reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that Trump's interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice, according to a copy of a newly released June 2018 memo to senior Justice officials.

The fact that Barr weighed in on such a sensitive issue and would be poised to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's work, if confirmed as attorney general, will undoubtedly now thrust his nomination into greater controversy. Barr discussed the memo with Trump and told him it would likely come up during his Senate confirmation, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN.

Barr has not shied away from defending Trump's firing of Comey, but the June 8 memo -- first reported by The Wall Street Journal and provided to lawmakers late Wednesday -- offers a detailed analysis of one of the most consequential episodes of Trump's presidency, concluding that while he's "in the dark about many facts," Mueller's obstruction inquiry was "fatally misconceived." Barr adds that Trump asking Comey to let go of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and later firing Comey were within his powers as head of the executive branch.

"Mueller should not be able to demand that the President submit to an interrogation about alleged obstruction," Barr wrote. "If embraced by the Department, this theory would have potentially disastrous implications, not just for the Presidency, but for the Executive branch as a whole and the Department in particular."

The full repercussions of the President's behavior toward Comey are yet to be resolved, as the matter is still under investigation by Mueller.

Barr's memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, who leads the Office of Legal Counsel, was unsolicited, according to a Justice Department official. The official said Barr had "no non-public information about the Special Counsel's investigation when preparing the memorandum (and still has none)," which he wrote as a "former official" when he was a law firm partner and private citizen. At the time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was still in office, but his job security was always less than rock-solid, as the President regularly lambasted him for stepping aside from the Russia investigation.

"I have admired Bill Barr for decades, and I believe that he will be an outstanding Attorney General," Rosenstein said in a statement Wednesday night. "Many people offer unsolicited advice, directly or through the news media, about legal issues they believe are pending before the Department of Justice. At no time did former Attorney General Barr seek or receive from me any non-public information regarding any ongoing investigation, including the Special Counsel investigation. His memo has had no impact on the investigation."

Barr's memo is sure to draw significant scrutiny now from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill already troubled by his past comments on the special counsel's investigation.

Barr previously wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, "Trump made the right call on Comey," criticizing the former FBI director for flouting longstanding Justice Department protocols when he announced in July 2016 that he wouldn't recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified info during her time as secretary of state, usurping the role of the attorney general at the time.

"I think it is quite understandable that the administration would not want an FBI director who did not recognize established limits on his powers," he wrote.

Later, Barr called the special counsel's obstruction of justice inquiry "asinine" in a June 2017 interview with the Hill.

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Note: Barr's reasoning is as full of.holes as the under lying issue of collusion.

How can it be argued at the same time that the president as a person is at fault, hence, he is tarnishing the office while using a reverse argument that any abrogation of the power of the presidency will be forever tarnished?

I do realize that Saint Anselm's ontological argument is arguably relevant, but Trump is nowhere close to an ideal statesman such as Marcus Aurelius, for example.

On such high plateau that is the minded argument that it fails. It is totally fallacious.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2018 12:39 am
by Meno_
Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump's
By Jeremy Diamond and Barbara Starr, CNN
Updated 6:22 PM EST, Thu December 20, 2018

article video
Washington (CNN) Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday on the heels of President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria, citing irreconcilable policy differences in a move that took Washington by surprise.

"Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his letter to the President.

Mattis' resignation letter amounts to a rebuke of several of Trump's foreign policy views, with the outgoing defense secretary touting the importance of US alliances and of being "unambiguous" in approaching adversaries like Russia and China. It is devoid of any praise for the President.

In Syria withdrawal, Trump discards advice from allies and officials
In Syria withdrawal, Trump discards advice from allies and officials

The news emerged at a chaotic moment in Trump's presidency: The US government is teetering on the edge of a government shutdown, the Trump administration is about to face the hot light of Democratic investigations and the President is grappling with the fallout of a series of firings and resignations. Trump, seeking to downplay the news, stepped out in front of the resignation, spinning Mattis' resignation as a retirement.

Mattis did not explicitly cite his opposition to the President's planned withdrawal of US troops in Syria -- which caught US allies off guard -- but the retired four-star general was privately adamant in urging Trump against the pullback.

It was just the latest issue on which Mattis has sought to position himself as a bulwark against some of the President's rashest decisions, but his relationship with the President has grown increasingly fractured in recent months and Mattis' efforts to deter Trump on key issues less influential.

In his letter, Mattis pointedly stated that the strength of the US depends in part on the strength of its alliances around the globe, many of which have become notably frayed under Trump.

"One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies," he added.

How it happened
Mattis met with Trump one-on-one in the Oval Office, a senior White House official told CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Mattis told Trump he was going to be leaving and offered his resignation letter.

"They had differences on some issues," the official said, but couldn't say if it was over Syria. "Just over the course of the last couple of months," this person added.

Trump first announced Mattis' departure in a tweet.

"General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years," Trump tweeted.

Trump touted the "tremendous progress" that has been made during Mattis' tenure at the helm of the Defense Department and thanked Mattis for his service.

Trump said a successor "will be named shortly."

Mattis and the President's other top national security advisers opposed Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria.

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And reactions, including bipartisan republicans:

Shaken, saddened, scared: Washington erupts over Mattis resignation
By Nicole Gaouette, CNN
Updated 11:34 PM EST, Thu December 20, 2018

Washington (CNN) Shaken, disappointed, saddened and scared -- those were just some of the reactions in a bipartisan outpouring of shock and concern as lawmakers reacted Thursday to the news that Defense Secretary James Mattis had resigned over President Donald Trump's policy decisions.

"Just read Gen. Mattis resignation letter," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tweeted. "It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries."

"This chaos," Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said on Twitter, "both foreign and domestic, is putting America in danger and must stop immediately."

RELATED: Mattis quits, says his views aren't 'aligned' with Trump's

At the Pentagon, military officers and civilian officials expressed dismay at the news, but the overriding sentiment was shock. "People are stunned," CNN's Ryan Browne reported.

'The wheels may be coming off'
"This is scary," tweeted Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Secretary Mattis has been an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration."

News of Mattis' resignation broke as Trump faced an imminent government shutdown, the Dow had plunged more than 1,200 points since Monday and the President was being blasted for foreign policy decisions. On Wednesday, Trump had announced that the US will pull its troops from Syria because "we have defeated ISIS," and earlier Thursday, CNN's Jake Tapper reported that officials throughout the administration were bracing themselves for Trump to make an announcement about the US presence in Afghanistan.

US military ordered to begin planning to withdraw about half the troops in Afghanistan
"The wheels may be coming off," said a conservative House Republican who supports Trump, commenting on the news about Mattis' departure at the end of February.

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said that "the kind of leadership that causes a dedicated patriot like Jim Mattis to leave should give pause to every American."

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta simply sounded furious. "The last damn thing we need is more chaos and crisis," Panetta told CNN's Erin Burnett.

"This is a President who operates somehow by his gut instinct and how he reads the politics of the moment," Panetta said.

"He enjoys chaos" because he believes it brings him more attention, "but a steady diet of chaos creates hell for the American people," Panetta continued. "We need a president who is going to make the right decisions and provide stability for this country."

'Straw that broke the camel's back'
Mattis said in his resignation letter to Trump that "because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

The letter capped months of tension over policy disagreements and amounted to a rebuke of several of Trump's foreign policy views. The defense secretary stressed the importance of US alliances and of being "unambiguous" in approaching adversaries like Russia and China. It did not contain a whiff of praise for the President.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who's the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he believes the President's decision on Syria was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for Mattis.

"He couldn't just go along with it," Engel said. "How can you continue to work for an administration whose foreign policy is not something that you believe? ... How can you keep working for a boss whose policies you don't believe in?"

Others called, directly and indirectly, for oversight and possibly intervention.

Warner tweeted that "as we've seen with the President's haphazard approach to Syria, our national defense is too important to be subjected to the President's erratic whims."

Rubio tweeted, "I hope we who have supported this administrations initiatives over the last two years can persuade the President to choose a different direction. But we must also fulfill our constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the policies of the executive branch."

Sen. Ben Sasse said it was a "sad day" for America.

"General Mattis was giving advice the President needs to hear," the Nebraska Republican said in a statement. "Mattis rightly believes that Russia and China are clear adversaries and that we are at war with jihadists across the globe who plot to kill Americans at home. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans and America's allies. Radical Islamic jihadists are still at war with us, and no ISIS is not gone."

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry said he was "disappointed" that Mattis is leaving, though he said he wants to write out his thoughts before elaborating.

Asked if he has any interest in the job, the Texas Republican jumped into an elevator and said he "scoffed" at the notion.

Thornberry's replacement, the incoming chairman of Armed Services, Rep. Adam Smith, said the news of Mattis' resignation is "very disappointing."

"He will be missed," the Washington state Democrat said.

'There is chaos now'
"I'm sad. I'm shaken by it. I had so much respect for him," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN. Like many, the California Democrat expressed discomfort at Trump's erratic and impulsive leadership style. Mattis had been a "comfort to many of us as a voice of stability in the Trump administration," Pelosi told reporters later.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Mattis "one of the few symbols" of "strength and stability" in the administration. "There is chaos now," he said.

"This week was one of the most chaotic weeks we've ever seen in American government," the New York Democrat added.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, headlining a town hall in Iowa on Thursday, responded to the news by suggesting that it is now only Trump and his adviser Stephen Miller making decisions together.

"I at least had some peace in knowing there were adults in the room, and now (chief of staff John) Kelly and Mattis are gone," the California Democrat said, calling the prospect of decisions by Miller and Trump "terrifying."

He added: "Some of the best hope for order at the White House, those people are leaving."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, sometimes seen as a possible candidate for defense secretary, tweeted that he'd learned of the news "with great sadness."

Graham, a strong Trump supporter who nonetheless opposes the President's decision to pull out of Syria, continued: "Mattis is a combination of intellect and integrity. He has been in the fight against radical Islam for decades and provided sound and ethical military advice to President Trump."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Thursday, in strong comments by his standards: "I believe it's essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties. We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter. So I was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration."

"But I am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America's global leadership," the Kentucky Republican said in a statement, "It is regrettable that the president must now choose a new Secretary of Defense. But I urge him to select a leader who shares Secretary Mattis's understanding of these vital principles and his total commitment to America's servicemembers."

CNN's Manu Raju, Kaitlan Collins, Jim Acosta, Jim Sciutto, Jeremy Herb, Dan Merica and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report
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Can anyone feel a strange drift, that's beginning to show above and beyond politics? If not, then there really is something about the state of mass . denial . The undertow is getting more violent. Lets see how this theatre turns completely absurd.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky, issued a strong statement following the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, saying he is "particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership."

Trump lashes out at Whittaker:

Trump lashed out at Whitaker after explosive Cohen revelations
By Laura Jarrett and Pamela Brown, CNN
Updated 8:38 PM EST, Fri December 21, 2018

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President's actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.

The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump's firing of Jeff Sessions.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign -- something Trump fiercely maintains isn't an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn't being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

The previously unreported discussions between Trump and Whitaker described by multiple sources familiar with the matter underscore the extent to which the President firmly believes the attorney general of the United States should serve as his personal protector. The episodes also offer a glimpse into the unsettling dynamic of a sitting president talking to his attorney general about investigations he's potentially implicated in.

Whitaker and William "Bill" Barr, Trump's nominee to replace Sessions, are facing increased scrutiny this week for their criticisms of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Whitaker refused to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe. And a memo from Barr came to light in which he wrote that Trump's decision to fire former FBI director James Comey did not amount to obstruction.

Trump has already shown a willingness to use the Justice Department to settle political scores. As CNN previously reported, the President questioned Whitaker about the progression of the investigation against Hillary Clinton when Whitaker was Jeff Sessions' chief of staff.

"It seems very clear that the only reason that Matt Whitaker was ever appointed to this role was specifically to oversee the Mueller investigation," Mueller biographer Garrett Graff said on Friday in an interview on CNN's Newsroom.

With Sessions, Trump ranted publicly about how he did nothing to curtail the Mueller investigation. Sessions had recused himself from oversight because of his role on the Trump campaign.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now," the President tweeted in August.

The Justice Department declined to comment on any discussions between Whitaker and the President.

The President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could not confirm the conversations with Whitaker but said the President views the SDNY prosecutors as out of control. "The president and his lawyers are upset about the professional prosecutors in the Southern District of New York going after a non-crime and the innuendo the president was involved," Giuliani said in a statement to CNN Friday.

One source close to Whitaker pushed back on the notion that the Cohen situation caused tension between the two, emphasizing that Whitaker and the President have a "great relationship."

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Now here is a pitch toward the right:

Fox News

OPINIONPublished December 22, 2018 Last Update 13 hrs ago
Andrew C. McCarthy: What you need to know about the Barr memo and Mueller's obstruction investigation
Andrew McCarthy By Andrew McCarthy | Fox News

Continue Reading Below

In his capacity as a former U.S. attorney general, William P. Barr, President Bush’s nominee to resume that position, wrote an unsolicited memorandum to top Justice Department officials expressing concerns about the obstruction aspect of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. As I’ve explained at National Review, the Barr memo is a brilliant piece of legal craftsmanship, thoughtfully outlining the damage Mueller’s theory of obstruction – to the extent it is publicly known – could do to the administration of justice and the institution of the presidency.

Barr’s memo was addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel, who heads up DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

In it, Barr acknowledges that he is not privy to the non-public facts of Mueller’s probe has uncovered. He does not prejudge Mueller’s conclusions or question the legitimacy of his investigation. Indeed, he posits that what Mueller finds on the issue of suspected (but unproven) Trump campaign “collusion” with Russia could be critical to the question whether there could be a legitimate obstruction.

Moreover, Barr does not doubt that a president theoretically could be guilty of obstruction. Citing the Nixon and Clinton precedents, Barr observes that a president who engaged in obstructive conduct as that term has always been understood in American jurisprudence and Justice Department practice – corrupt actions to tamper with witnesses and physical evidence – could certainly be cited for obstruction.

The issue addressed in the memo is Mueller’s expansive theory of obstruction. As Barr understands it, based on public reporting, the special counsel assumes the president’s lawful exercise of his constitutional prerogatives – e.g., to fire subordinate executive officials, to issue pardons, or to weigh in on the merits of an investigation – could be grounds for an obstruction charge if a prosecutor assessed the action to be improperly motivated.

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As Barr correctly points out, this interpretation of the law would not only impair the president’s capacity to carry out his Article II duties. It would apply to every subordinate executive official, including Justice Department prosecutors. They would face potential prosecution based on charging decisions they make, the strategic manner in which they guide investigations, the tactics they choose to use or forbear from using, as well as personnel and management decisions.

Moreover, Barr makes an incisive point about cohesion in a free, self-determining society. If a Justice Department investigation is going to be responsible for removing a democratically-elected president, then it must be over a clear, egregious crime. A prosecution based on an aggressive, dubious theory of obstruction, particularly if no underlying “collusion” crime can be proved, would leave much of the nation believing the political class was arbitrarily seeking to oust a president not to its liking.

Coverage of the memo is likely to reignite public debate over Special Counsel Mueller’s request that President Trump submit to an interview. In the memo, which is dated June 8, 2018, Barr argued that “Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.” Of course, in the months since the memo was sent to the Justice Department, the president’s lawyers negotiated an agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors, pursuant to which the president provided written answers to various questions, mainly about the “collusion” aspect of the investigation.

Barr’s position on this point is entirely correct. As I’ve contended for months (based on nearly 20 years’ experience as a Justice Department prosecutor), a prosecutor does not get to subpoena the president just because it might be interesting. The president’s duties are unparalleled in their centrality to American governance. Consequently, the Justice Department normally would not permit a prosecutor to divert the president from those duties and attempt to compel him to answer questions in the absence of: (a) a serious crime in which the president is clearly implicated, and (b) the existence of critical evidence or testimony that the prosecutor can only get from the president – i.e., no other source is available.

To argue, as some do, that this puts the president above the law is nonsense. What it means is that a prosecutor does have the power to issue a grand jury subpoena to the president, but only after we’ve balanced competing public interests: the vital interest in enabling the president to tend to his responsibilities, and the important interest in providing essential evidence in the investigation of a serious crime. We do not spare the president, but we heed his weighty duties. The same reasoning undergirds the Justice Department’s long-held guidance that a sitting president may not be indicted – no one is saying a president can never be indicted; we simply do not want the president dealing with criminal process while he is responsible for national security and the execution of the laws.

This is obvious to people when an issue arises about whether a journalist or an attorney should be subpoenaed. Unlike the president, journalists do not have a legally recognized privilege to withhold information; attorneys do have such a privilege, but like executive privilege, it is not absolute – there are important exceptions. In the Justice Department, a prosecutor may not issue a subpoena to a journalist or lawyer as if he or she were just like any other potentially relevant witness. Main Justice instead enforces a rigorous process in which the prosecutor must demonstrate that the evidence is critical to an investigation and there is no other viable source for it. And even upon that showing, the Justice Department would not permit a subpoena to issue if it appeared, under the circumstances, that the constitutional and public interests at stake were not adequately protected.

The presidency is entitled to no less deference. Again, this is not to say that the president should never be subpoenaed in an obstruction investigation – we know from our history that this is not the case. It is to say that the existence of a clear, serious crime in which the president is implicated must be a prerequisite.

Former Attorney General Barr’s memo is an impressive piece of legal craftsmanship. It is not an attack on the Mueller investigation. It is a plea that the Mueller investigation be conducted within the bounds of constitutional law, congressional intent, and venerable Justice Department guidance.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review. @andrewcmccarthy

Latest resignation :

BBC News
US envoy Brett McGurk quits over Trump Syria pullout
22 December 2018 US & Canada
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Image copyright AFP Brett McGurk in Syria in 2017
Image caption Mr McGurk (L) had previously said the US should retain a presence in Syria
A top US official in the fight against the Islamic State group has quit over President Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria, reports say.

Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat IS, brought his departure forward from February.

Before Mr Trump's announcement he had insisted that the US would continue working against IS in Syria.

It follows the resignation of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday.

Gen Mattis had also opposed withdrawing troops from Syria as well as reducing the US presence in Afghanistan.

Trump rewrites US Syria policy
After the caliphate: Has IS been defeated?
Who are the Kurds?
Mr McGurk is an experienced diplomat who was appointed to his current role in 2015 under the Obama administration.

In early December he told reporters: "We want to stay on the ground and make sure that stability can be maintained in these areas."

He went on to say: "It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now. I think anyone who's looked at a conflict like this would agree with that."

What did McGurk say about his resignation?
In his resignation letter, seen by AP news agency, Mr McGurk said that IS militants in Syria were on the run but not yet defeated . He said that withdrawing US forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to IS.

In an email to staff quoted by the New York Times, he said Mr Trump's decision to pull out troops "came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy". It "left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered", he said.

"I ultimately concluded I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity ," he went on to say.

What does Trump say?
Mr Trump announced his decision to withdraw some 2,000 US troops from Syria on Wednesday, asserting that IS had been defeated.

He has not yet reacted to Mr McGurk's resignation.

But on Saturday he continued to insist that the decision to pull out was the right one and that, now that IS was defeated on the ground, other players could take care of the situation.

However, important allies including senior Republicans and foreign powers have disputed the claim and say the move could lead to a resurgence of IS.

A Kurdish-led alliance, the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) has also warned that IS could recover.

US troops have helped rid much of Syria's north-east of the jihadist group, but pockets of fighters remain.

A recent US report said there were still as many as 14,000 IS militants in Syria and even more in neighbouring Iraq.

What is the US presence in Syria?
US ground troops first became involved in Syria in Autumn 2015 when then President Barack Obama sent in a small number of special forces to train and advise local Kurdish fighters who were fighting IS.

The US did this reluctantly after several attempts at arming anti-IS groups had descended into chaos.

Over the intervening years the numbers of US troops in Syria increased, standing today at some 2,000, though some estimates place the number perhaps even higher.

A network of bases and airstrips has been established in an arc across the north-eastern part of the country.

The US has also been part of an international coalition conducting air strikes against IS and other militants.

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 6:43 am
by Meno_
Former CIA Director John Brennan (2013-2017) said Wednesday on Morning Joe that President Trump is acting like a cornered animal and acting out any way he can. Brennan said Trump is mean-spirited, dishonest and lacks integrity. (Full interview at bottom.)

Brennan warned of a 'wag the dog' situation where Trump may try to cause a distraction from controversies he is facing such as military action in North Korea or something in Iran. Brennan said Trump could do something domestically such as fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or special counsel Robert Mueller. Brennan warned if Trump did that he would "bring the country to the brink of crisis."

"I think you have concerns on the international front as well as on the domestic front," Brennan said on MSNBC. "On the international front, I'm hoping we're not going to see a wag the dog scenario whereby he is going to try to distract the attention here domestically and politically on him and engage in some type of international initiative that is going to really put our nation at risk. Military action against North Korea, maybe doing something vis-a-vis Iran, tearing up the Iranian nuclear agreement and provoking and pushing for some type of confrontation in the Gulf."

A serious comment on a real possibility.

Another recent comment:

Most of us have heard of the term “the tail is wagging the dog.” In common usage, the phrase refers to a situation where the unimportant part of something becomes too important and controls the entire thing.

In politics, the process has come to refer to a situation where a politician creates an issue of perceived importance to divert attention away from more serious matters. Our current president is a master of using the technique. He uses inappropriate tweets and public statements that attract the attention of the media while he is engaging in other actions that more significantly affect the county. “Wag the Dog” was the title of a movie released 20 years ago about a president who was up for reelection and facing internal scandals in his administration and wagged the dog by creating a war which drew the public’s attention away from the problems in his presidency.

It appears that President Donald Trump may be trying to take the technique of wagging the dog to a more dangerous level. He has done everything in his power to provoke North Korea’s unstable leader into taking military action that would justify the United States to go to war with North Korea, thus drawing attention away from a domestic agenda that appears to be aimed at creating and preserving an American aristocracy for decades to come.

Trump’s most recent move of announcing his intention to relocate the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem appears to be another effort to wag the dog by creating an increase in terroristic actions around the world aimed at the United States. We live in a world where terrorism is a constant threat. Trump knows that moving the American Embassy is a controversial matter that will inflame fundamentalist terrorists throughout the world and will provoke acts of terror aimed at our government and corporate interests worldwide and domestically.

This will no doubt be used to justify further military intervention by the United States throughout the world to combat terrorism. The truth is that we will never defeat terrorism militarily. The only way to defeat terrorism is to treat the problems of poverty, inequality and bigotry that ferment its existence. All war is dehumanizing. The recent incident in Niger where an American military unit was ambushed by terrorists is typical of what we can expect if we begin to engage in further military involvement with terrorists.

that will better their lives, but more importantly to recognize that he is willing to use the blood of their children to maintain an agenda that will only benefit the upper 1 percent.

William Fleischaker is a Joplin attorney.

that will better their lives, but more importantly to recognize that he is willing to use the blood of their children to maintain an agenda that will only benefit the upper 1 percent.

Blackwater redux

The Trump Impeachment
“We are coming” The Viceroy of Afghanistan may return as Trump could privatize that war.
By annieli / Daily Kos (12/23/2018) - December 23, 2018241

Fox Business / YouTube Should Trump impose Magnitsky like sanctions 1540345141.jpg...
Fox Business / YouTube
Trump’s desire to withdraw half of the current US forces from Afghanistan immediately makes mistakes similar to his reckless Syrian force withdrawal.

Trump’s wagging the dog may only ever be about wagging, as the nation gets sent to a farm upstate.

Erik Prince thinks the same mission can be done cheaper, reminding us about Rumsfeld’s attempt to invade Iraq on the cheap. It’ll only cost the equivalent of what Trump wants from Congress for this wall (this time). According to the NY Times, Prince proposed to send private contractors to Afghanistan instead of U.S. troops, and have the entire operation overseen by a “viceroy.”

Who wouldn’t want that? Because underwhelming your enemy is always a good strategy.

Privatizing certain wars with mercenaries also brings the potential of greater conflicts in wider theaters of operation and perhaps the spread of terrorism that comes from having smaller footprints for military forces and smaller networks of allies. In the Afghan case, reducing US forces might have a greater impact on the training role essential to make the Afghan army more effective. And then there’s serving the Russians’ interest in crippling NATO.
Blackwater took out a full-page ad in the latest edition of Recoil magazine with the message: “We are coming,” the Military Times reported on Friday. The ad comes a day after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced he would resign from his post and word emerged that President Trump will draw down troops in Afghanistan.
Former founder Erik Prince sold the company in 2010, but has maintained communications with Trump and reportedly pressed him to employ private contractors in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is said to be preparing to withdraw nearly 7,000 troops.

Prince — who has also been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into whether Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election — does not have any known relations to the Constellis Group, the new name put on the company after it was purchased by Apollo Holdings Group. The firm reportedly shelved plans earlier this year to try to sell the Constellis Group.

Leah McElrath
Is the war in Afghanistan — and possibly elsewhere ― about to be fully privatized?

Blackwater — the disgraced defense contractor founded by Erik Prince — published a full-page ad in a 2019 magazine in all black with a simple message:
“We are coming.” …

5:57 PM - Dec 22, 2018
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Mattis is out, and Blackwater is back: ‘We are coming’
Mattis' resignation may revive plans to privatize the Afghanistan war.
2,373 people are talking about this
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Leah McElrath
· 15h
Replying to @leahmcelrath
This is all predictable.

The many self-identified leftists espousing support for U.S. troop withdrawals as supposedly contributing to “ending” the respective conflicts are going to have a rough wake up call as this plays out into 2019.


Leah McElrath
Cool. Cool.

In 2019, Blackwater will arrive and war crimes will begin in earnest. More generations of Afghans will become radicalized.

Taliban’s happy now.
War crimes for profit are imminent.

Everything is cool.

NBC News

Taliban greets Pentagon's withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan with cries of victory.


NBC News

Taliban greets Pentagon's withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan with cries of victory.

7:32 PM - Dec 22, 2018
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Taliban greet Trump withdrawal news with cries of victory
"The 17-year long struggle and sacrifices of thousands of our people finally yielded fruit," said a senior commander in Helmand.

“The 17-year-long struggle and sacrifices of thousands of our people finally yielded fruit,” said a senior Taliban commander from Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

“We proved it to the entire world that we defeated the self-proclaimed world’s lone super power.”
“We are close to our destination,” added the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the group’s leadership had prohibited members from talking to the media about current events. He added that all field commanders had also been told to intensify training efforts to capture four strategic provinces in the run up to the next round of talks between the U.S. and Taliban, which are expected in January.

In 2017, Afghanistan overtook Iraq to become the deadliest country for terrorism, with one-quarter of all such deaths worldwide happening there. And the number of civilians killed in the country reached a record in the first half of this year, with a surge in suicide attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, according to the United Nations.

Despite years of fighting, only around 65 percent of the Afghan population lives in areas under government control.

The bills of goods sold by neoliberal privatization: outsourcing security always works, because rent-a-cops don’t have constitutional responsibilities, and they cost less.

Even if the US shouldn’t be the world’s policeman, national security is not like defending a shopping mall.

(September) Blackwater founder Erik Prince thinks the time is right to try a new approach in Afghanistan, one that he says will reduce war spending to a sliver of its current levels, get most troops home and eliminate Pakistan’s influence on U.S. policy there: Let him run it.

In an exclusive interview with Military Times, Prince shared new details about his proposed force and why he believes a small footprint of private military contractors and even smaller footprint of U.S. special operators may be able to accomplish what hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and NATO forces over the last 17 years could not.

Prince first presented the idea as President Donald Trump took office last year, hoping that the president’s long-stated opposition to keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan would open the door to a privatized presence.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:52 pm
by Meno_
6 DAYS AGO Open in Who Shared Wrong byline?
Opinion | The Crisis of Good Intentions
By William McGurn — Almost everywhere you turn these days, someone is claiming that capitalism is facing an existential crisis. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who will soon be a congresswoman from New York, declares that our “no-holds-barred Wild West hypercapitalism” is on the way out.

His argument centers the balancing act by asserting the overall more poignant fact, that he thinks is the fault of Greenpeace inspired environmentalists, who politically dictate issues that could easily be solved by reversing their economic outlooks. True or false , or wrongly or mistakenly compiled?

Opinion, The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, Dec 7
William Mc'Gurn

In the same edition Walter Russel Mead argues :

Voters Rebel in Europe’s Big Three
Walter Russell Mead

The past week has seen the leaders of the three most important European states fighting for their political lives. In London, Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to hold power as opinion in Parliament moves against her Brexit agreement. In Paris, a firestorm of public rage has humbled President Emmanuel Macron and forced him into an undignified retreat before street protests he previously vowed to ignore. Even Berlin experienced its share of political drama as Chancellor Angela Merkel officially stepped down under pressure as leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Her preferred successor was able to eke out only a narrow win over anti-Merkel challengers.

The turbulence in these countries, pillars of European and indeed world order, isn’t just about particular leaders. Their entire political systems have come under strain. In the U.K., even before the Brexit referendum, the rise of the Scottish National Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s victory over the moderate wing of the Labour Party had already transformed the political system. In France, Mr. Macron came to power as the existing party system imploded. In Germany, the antiestablishment Left and Alternative for Germany parties have been steadily gaining strength as centrist parties falter in the polls.

........Does all this international wrangling smell of the era of great denial by prime minister Chamberlain, in his Peace of Our Time message? Are there various loopholes ignored as presumptive positions are flaunted into a increasingly neglected arena?
These conservative tactics lay down a tilted balance hanging on a hook of undetermined plausible future scenario.

But hasn't this always been the case ?

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:53 am
by Meno_
Meno_ wrote:6 DAYS AGO Open in Who Shared Wrong byline?
Opinion | The Crisis of Good Intentions
By William McGurn — Almost everywhere you turn these days, someone is claiming that capitalism is facing an existential crisis. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who will soon be a congresswoman from New York, declares that our “no-holds-barred Wild West hypercapitalism” is on the way out.

His argument centers the balancing act by asserting the overall more poignant fact, that he thinks is the fault of Greenpeace inspired environmentalists, who politically dictate issues that could easily be solved by reversing their economic outlooks. True or false , or wrongly or mistakenly compiled?

Opinion, The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, Dec 7
William Mc'Gurn

In the same edition Walter Russel Mead argues :

Voters Rebel in Europe’s Big Three
Walter Russell Mead

The past week has seen the leaders of the three most important European states fighting for their political lives. In London, Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to hold power as opinion in Parliament moves against her Brexit agreement. In Paris, a firestorm of public rage has humbled President Emmanuel Macron and forced him into an undignified retreat before street protests he previously vowed to ignore. Even Berlin experienced its share of political drama as Chancellor Angela Merkel officially stepped down under pressure as leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Her preferred successor was able to eke out only a narrow win over anti-Merkel challengers.

The turbulence in these countries, pillars of European and indeed world order, isn’t just about particular leaders. Their entire political systems have come under strain. In the U.K., even before the Brexit referendum, the rise of the Scottish National Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s victory over the moderate wing of the Labour Party had already transformed the political system. In France, Mr. Macron came to power as the existing party system imploded. In Germany, the antiestablishment Left and Alternative for Germany parties have been steadily gaining strength as centrist parties falter in the polls.

........Does all this international wrangling smell of the era of great denial by prime minister Chamberlain, in his Peace of Our Time message? Are there various loopholes ignored as presumptive positions are flaunted into a increasingly neglected arena?
These conservative tactics lay down a tilted balance hanging on a hook of undetermined plausible future scenario.

But hasn't this always been the case ?

Carl Bernstein on Mattis' resignation
"What the Mattis letter has done, in a monumental way, is to push Republicans into making some real judgments," Carl Bernstein says. He says some of them have privately concluded that President Trump is "unfit." He says journalists need to be questioning GOP lawmakers about this subject.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:09 pm
by Meno_
Read more news from CNN

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Chief Justice pauses contempt order for mystery company in Mueller investigation
By Kevin Bohn and Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Updated 8:49 PM EST, Sun December 23, 2018

(CNN) Chief Justice John Roberts on Sunday issued a temporary pause on an order holding an unnamed, foreign government-owned company in contempt over a mystery court case related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The order puts on hold the contempt citation issued by a DC federal judge against the company related to a grand jury subpoena it received, but only long enough for the justices to decide whether they want to intervene in the case.

Mystery company involved in Mueller investigation appeals to Supreme Court
Mystery company involved in Mueller investigation appeals to Supreme Court
The company asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a federal appeals court ruling that ordered the company to comply with the subpoena, which required it to turn over "information" about its commercial activity in a criminal investigation. The Supreme Court action also paused fines the company was facing for every day of noncompliance.

The pause lasts until the court has time to review a response from the government due on or before December 31.

The request to the Supreme Court is the latest twist in the secret case, much of which is under seal and has made its way through the federal court system with uncommon speed.

This is the first known legal challenge apparently related to Mueller's investigation to make its way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court could separately be asked to hear an appeal of the case.

"So far as we know, the Court has never had a sealed argument before all nine justices," said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "They can keep parts of the record and briefing sealed, and often do, such as in cases implicating trade secrets. But there's no procedure in the court's rules for having the whole case briefed, argued and decided under seal. The only times I'm aware of in which parties tried it, the court denied certiorari," or the review of the case.

The company's challenge of the subpoena appears to have begun in September. In its ruling this past week, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia offered few clues about the company and its country of origin or what Mueller's team sought.

In one short passage in the three-page decision, the judges describe how they had learned confidentially from prosecutors that they had "reasonable probability" the records requested involved actions that took place outside of the United States but directly affected the US. Even the company was not informed of what prosecutors had on the issue, because revealing it to the company would have violated the secrecy of the grand jury investigation, the judges said.

The range of possibilities on the identity of the company is vast. The company could be anything from a sovereign-owned bank to a state-backed technology or information company. Those types of corporate entities have been frequent recipients of requests for information in Mueller's investigation.

And though Mueller's work focused on the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors have said and CNN has reported that the Mueller team looked at actions related to Turkish, Ukrainian and other foreign government interests.

Mueller previously indicted three Russian companies and 25 Russians for their alleged contributions to a social media propaganda scheme meant to influence American voters and to the hack of the Democratic Party. The special counsel and other Justice Department units continue to pursue several investigations related to Mueller's core mission.

Another challenge of a Mueller subpoena, from Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller, began at the trial level months before the anonymous company's action apparently began. Miller's case is now before the DC Circuit as well but has not yet been decided by the judges. His case became public after his attorneys publicly spoke about his intention to challenge Mueller and the subpoena.

The company in the Supreme Court challenge has stayed secret---as has the grand jury proceeding it's related to. And both the company, prosecutors and the circuit court took pains to keep the identities of those involved in the case under wraps. An entire floor of the DC federal courthouse was locked down by security on the morning of the company's appeal argument, so that the lawyers entering and leaving the courtroom would not be seen.

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This judicial action to pause a sealed argument has never before been before the court.

It may bring to a forefront review of aattending to talents , whereby the cohesion of the court itself can be assessed.

The seal issue may overcome certain judicial bias. It may develop into a kind of centerpiece of judicial autonomy.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:11 am
by Meno_
Trump rants while 'all alone' in White House on Christmas Eve
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 5:34 PM EST, Mon December 24, 2018

article video
(CNN) It's Christmas in America: The President is home alone in the White House, ranting at his foes inside and outside; an administration lurching deeper into crisis; stock markets are in free fall and the government is paralyzed by a partial shutdown.

Donald Trump is spending the festive season as he did much of the year, sparking chaos and raising concerns in the capital and around the world about his impulsive behavior and boiling with frustration as he barges right up to the limits on his power.

Mnuchin's attempts to calm the markets have opposite effect, leave bank CEOs 'totally baffled'
Mnuchin's attempts to calm the markets have opposite effect, leave bank CEOs 'totally baffled'
One reason for his fury: A favorite barometer of his own success has been stripped away by days of savage losses on the markets. In a shortened Christmas Eve session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 600 points after a bizarre attempt by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday to calm investors by consulting with the CEOs of top banks backfired. Losses were compounded by another of Trump's Twitter attacks on the Federal Reserve -- following revelations that he has asked if he can legally fire the independent central bank's chairman, Jerome Powell.

The Dow fell 2.91% and the S&P 500 dipped 2.71% in the biggest Christmas Eve declines in the two indices' history. The slump came after the stocks last week had their worst week since the Great Recession a decade ago, and the last time the market fell so far in December was in 1931, during the Great Depression.

Trump turns to Twitter while "all alone" in the White House
While many Americans gathered with their families and with his vacation to the "Winter White House" at Mar-a-Lago iced by the shutdown, the President spent the day at the White House blasting critics -- including Democrats who have refused his demands for $5 billion in funding for his border wall in a standoff that shuttered the government at midnight on Friday.

"I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security," Trump wrote in what may have been a tongue in cheek tone in his 10th tweet of the day.

Melania Trump closes 2018 with fewer personal woes, but a difficult public perception
Trump was due to be rejoined for Christmas Day by first lady Melania Trump, who had already decamped to Florida before the shutdown took hold.

The President also lashed out Brett McGurk, his special envoy for eradicating ISIS, who followed Defense Secretary James Mattis by resigning in protest at Trump's hurriedly announced Syria withdrawal. He hit out at "Little Bob Corker," the outgoing Tennessee senator who has criticized him over Syria and the shutdown. He also insisted he did like allies -- but said many took advantage of the US "both in 'Military Protection and Trade...' "

A senior administration official told CNN's Jim Sciutto that national security decision-making has "basically stopped working" and decisions are "made on a whim on phone calls." The official added the Syria withdrawal was "a complete reversal" and it was done "without deliberation, no consideration of risks."

American allies and partners are "shocked and totally bewildered" and the Syrian Democratic Forces "don't believe this is happening," the official said.

It all added up to a feeling of a White House that is hurtling out of control and a President who is becoming increasingly emotional and vexed at a time when he faces mounting legal and political pressure from special counsel Robert Mueller. He is also days away from a new era of punishing Democratic oversight when the new Congress convenes in early January.

The loss of Mattis -- who was seen around the world as a check on Trump's erratic national security decision-making -- has raised anxiety about his presidency to previously unmatched levels.

Of course, many Trump supporters voted for disruption and to rattle the Washington establishment when they sent him to the White House so are likely to be less concerned than Washington insiders about the febrile Christmas mood.

After the shock of Mattis' resignation, some see a different narrative
But the President's irascible temper is also detracting from his top achievements at the end of the year, including low unemployment and a strong economy despite market turmoil. The passage of a groundbreaking criminal justice bill has also been overshadowed and there is little talk about his most enduring legacy win -- the new majority he and the Senate GOP engineered on the Supreme Court.

The President seemed to have his loyal base in mind by engineering a shutdown drama that appears to have no easy exits, but allows him to make a political stand cheered on by the conservative media.

"AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!" he tweeted at one point on Monday, likely with those voters in mind.

"Hunker down like a jackass in a hailstorm"
But the frenetic Christmas Eve spectacle was stunning even by the President's standards, and prompted the two top Democratic leaders, the likely House speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to issue a joint statement.

"It's Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve -- after he just fired the Secretary of Defense," the statement said.

As the shutdown lumbered through its third day, with no end in sight, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas arrived to gavel in the chamber for a pro-forma session that only exemplified the lack of action between the White House and Democrats towards a resolution. He resorted to quoting the earthy wisdom of a former Senate majority leader and President to capture the sense of futility and political dislocation.

"LBJ said sometimes you just have to hunker down like a jackass in a hailstorm and just take it. That's about where we are," he said.

But in one sign that the festive spirit can triumph over Washington's humbug, the National Parks Service announced the reopening of the National Christmas Tree, thanks to support from the National Park Foundation -- a group of philanthropic organizations and donors.

National Christmas Tree site reopens during shutdown
The popular Yuletide tourist spot had been closed after a man tried to climb the tree and damaged it. The government shutdown then prevented the National Park Service from reopening it.

The shutdown is the third this year and has sent hundreds of thousands of federal employees home for Christmas unsure about their upcoming paychecks.

At the same time, the stock market is careening south with much of the blame being put on the confusion coming from Washington.

Mnunchin has had to reassure investors Trump won't fire Powell and left major bank CEOs "totally baffled" with a weekend call asking them about the state of their businesses. More criticism from Trump toward the Fed sent markets reeling Monday, as the Dow closed down 653 points before shutting up shop early for Christmas Eve.

Mnuchin's intervention was just the latest development that sparked uncertainty in the days running up to the holiday.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has cancerous nodules removed from lung
A surprise announcement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for cancerous growths on her lung added to the frenetic mood in Washington, as the Supreme Court dealt a blow to Trump by knocking back his new restrictions on asylum seekers who cross the southern border.

And more mystery is brewing in the highest court in the land after Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily paused an order holding an unnamed, foreign-government owned company in contempt over a court case related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

It all adds up to a Christmas that is feeling less and less merry and bright on Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street.

© 2018 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Trump Is Reportedly Considering Firing Mnuchin Over Stock Market Woes

DEC 25, 201810:17 AM
President Donald Trump speaks after a bilateral meeting as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looks on in New York on September 24, 2018.
President Donald Trump speaks after a bilateral meeting as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looks on in New York on September 24, 2018.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could become the latest White House official to get the boot. President Donald Trump has been souring on Mnuchin for some time now and the continued decline in the stock markets could be the final straw, reports Bloomberg. One source told Bloomberg that the president has considered firing Mnuchin while another said that whether he stays on or not will depend in large part on what happens to the markets.


If Trump was already not so happy with his Treasury secretary, what he did before Christmas Eve surely didn’t help things. Mnuchin rattled nervous markets over the weekend when he put out a statement saying the heads of the country’s six largest banks had told him they had “ample liquidity” to keep lending. Considering that was never seen as a serious concern many saw it either as a huge blunder or a sign that the government knows something the rest of the world doesn’t. He then held a call Monday with members of the President’s Working Group on financial markets, which also raised concern that the problems in the economy could be deeper than many thought.

That, in addition to Trump’s continued anger at Fed Chair Jerome Powell, combined to push the market even lower to the steepest Christmas Eve losses in decades. The Dow Jones industrial average, for example, plunged 653 points, or just under 3 percent in the shortened trading day. The benchmark S&P 500, meanwhile, dropped 2.7 percent.

As markets decline, “the president will continue looking for a scapegoat,” notes Bloomberg. Mnuchin and Mick Mulvaney, the incoming White House chief of staff, said the president knows he can’t fire Powell. That means Trump may be looking for someone else to take the blame. And if he looks toward Mnuchin there won’t be many in the White House who will stand up for him. “There are plenty of people inside the White House who are not fans of Mnuchin who are happy to throw him under the bus,” Stephen Myrow, managing partner at Beacon Policy Advisors in Washington and a former Treasury official, tells Bloomberg. “Up ’til now, he’s been protected by the fact that Trump liked him and he’s been a loyalist.”

Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company.
All contents © 2018 The Slate Group LLC. All rights reserved.

Read more news from CNN

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Trump says no end to shutdown until border barrier funded, plans January visit to new section of wall
By Kevin Liptak, CNN
Updated 11:24 AM EST, Tue December 25, 2018

(CNN) President Donald Trump said Tuesday the government won't reopen until funding is secured for his border barrier, and he plans to go to the border in January to visit a new stretch of wall.

"I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it," Trump said in the Oval Office after a Christmas call with US troops.

Negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over the President's demands for a border wall have so far not yielded an agreement, and the shutdown will continue until at least Thursday, when the Senate returns to Washington. Both sides seem entrenched in their opposing stances and it's possible parts of the government could remain closed until the new Congress is seated in the first week of January, when Democrats will take control of the House.

Trump repeated a claim made a day earlier -- without explanation -- that he'd recently approved 115 miles worth of border barrier. The White House hasn't provided any further details about the claim, which Trump first made on Twitter on Christmas Eve.

He said he would go to the new stretch of the wall in January.

"It's going to be built, hopefully rapidly," he said. "I'm going there at the end of January for the start of construction. That's a big stretch."

"We're almost having a groundbreaking, it's such a big section," he said. "It's probably the biggest section we'll get out."

Trump has previously visited wall prototypes near the border.

During a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Trump also said he continues to have confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, despite the December downturn in the stock market. He also warned Democrats that oversight of his administration would amount to "presidential harassment."

Trump also claimed, without evidence, that federal employees on furlough or working without pay understand his demand for a border wall -- and support him in his mission.

"I think they understand what's happening," he said. "They want border security. The people of this country want border security."

"It's not a question of me," he continued. "I would rather not be doing shutdowns. I've been at the White House. I love the White House, but I wasn't able to be with my family. I thought it would be wrong for me to be with my family, my family is in Florida, Palm Beach, and I just didn't want to go down and be there when other people are hurting."

Trump was presumably referring to his adult children; his wife, Melania Trump, returned to the White House on Monday to spend the holiday with her husband.

Trump said many federal workers have told him to hold out for wall funding, though the President didn't provide names or positions of those workers.

"But many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats, because they don't mind open borders, but open borders mean massive amounts of crime," he said.

This story has been updated

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Who would have thought that with the hoopla surrounding the demise of the Soviet Union, and the world-harangue of total all inclusive World inclusive capitalism, such could augment the cyber-political collusion:


Re: Trump enters the stage summation 1st 2 years of Trumpism

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:15 pm
by Meno_
If one were to try to assess what has gone down in the first half of this administration, the so called 'collusion', can be encapsulated by .another conflation .

The fact is becoming clearer, that the Republican agenda is becoming more of a focal point , diminishing Trump's significance in the definitive attempt to form a credible international position , changing the US role from the predominant post WW2 era.

Much of the power behind the overwhelming overwhelming superiority of the U.S. 50 years ago, has waned , do to the increasing autonomy which the former Brit colonial system has engendered, losing the defacto control that has remained since the abrogarion by Great Britain of Her Imperial designs lasting hundreds of years.

The U.S. can not tale on the burden of being the policeman of the world any longer, even if other States would like that role to continue, and Trumpism is right in that surmise, as well as cutting into the unfair trade practices of partners taking advantage of that unbalance, not to mention out and out cheating by non partners and former enemies.

Human rights have recessed as focal points by which policy is impacted as well, and uneven distribution of the common wealth of the world has been put on a hold , by which previously favored national interests must be able to absorb the severe hardships which such change becomes unacceptable , as caged by indexes based on the rate of change of crime, social welfare, public health needs can no longer be funded, based on inequality created by the choice between guns and butter.

The 50 some years of relative balance in the world has not changed downward linearly but increasingly taking on hyperbolic affirmations of Marxian prediction.

That a re-emergence of planned social matrix has reappeared is due to the vacuum left by a failed ideology, ironic , as expected to see and interpret ideology as a dual relationship , whwre degrees of overlap between them determined the prejorotive
and the majorative balance.

The judicial issues become constitutional, reducing these under lying planetary issues strictly internal politically signified prescriptions of the
dynamic issues facing the world today, still harbor the U.S. the mover and shaker it still is clamoring to be, as before. This is short sighted and a presumption impossible impossible to sustain economically.

As a consequence of the above considerations , the alleged sins of Trumpism are becoming more of a rationalization to fill in the difference between social and political understanding of the need for a 'collusion' which transcends personalities, such as that of the President.

In fact, Trump is being used in this respect to over come such differences.
There is vast fear that Trump himself may not be in a position to appreciate any or most perimeters, and create a situation which significantly reduces the chances that accidental lack of oversight may fail, and some indications are surfacing here and there, like the abrupt firing of the Secretary of Defense, however this also may indicate a formation of a wider Republican understanding of the state of the world, then a personal assessment assessment more likely to be found on Trump's dislike of people he needs to work with.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:25 am
by Meno_
The Trump Impeachment
UncategorizedUnfit To Lead
Christmas Meltdown Shows Mentally Unfit President.
By KeithDB / Daily Kos (12/26/2018) - December 26, 2018517

For a President who in his first year waged a faux war so he could declare victory in the non-existent war against Christmas, Trump turned Grinch this year, and unlike the “real” Grinch he never got better. His crazy tweets sent the stock market plummeting, he challenged the innocence of a 7-year-old, and concluded with a bizarre “Christmas message” hate rant involving James Comey. What the pattern all shows is a mentally ill man unfit to serve in the office.

To create some context, the Christmas season was not going well for Trump. The sentencing hearings for Michael Cohen and General Flynn were disasters for the President, with both implicating the President in potential criminal wrongdoing. Trump’s Foundation agreed to close under state supervision due to its misdeeds. The government shut down as Trump refused to accept any budget deal without $5 billion in wall funding. Trump’s Secretary of Defense resigned with a blistering letter attacking Trump for insulting our allies while helping our enemies. That resignation followed the early resignation of Trump’s Chief of Staff.

Even the stock market, something Trump once pointed to as proof of his economic success, was having a quite bad December. A week before Christmas, Trump took to Twitter to plead to the Federal Reserve that it does not raise rates.

Donald J. Trump

The Federal Reserve promptly ignored the President and raised rates anyway. News reports announced that Trump was demanding to know if he could fire Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell. Trump’s threats to attack the apolitical Federal Reserve rattled the markets further, sending them plummeting.

Trump’s Christmas Eve Grinch Attack On the Stock Market

Unsurprisingly, the markets opened Christmas Eve down, but began to recover — after all, it’s Christmas. Then Trump tweeted. With the markets down out of fear Trump would attack the independence of the Federal Reserve, Trump tried to solve the problem by attacking the independence of the Federal Reserve.

Donald J. Trump

The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch - he can’t putt!

The market turned sharply down, closing the day about 650 points lower. This nearly 3% one day drop was the worst Christmas Eve fall in the markets since . . . EVER! Yes, worse than any Christmas Eve drop in even the Great Depression, or the Great Recession in 2008. It wasn’t even close. The market had never closed more than 1% down on Christmas Eve. Trump managed to triple the Christmas Eve market Grinch record.

President Grinch Challenges a Seven Year Old On Santa

Attempting to appear more normal — and human — Trump and Melania took calls from children calling into a hotline to get updates on NORAD’s tracking of Santa’s sleigh. As Presidential duties go, it would seem almost impossible to screw this one up. You talk to kids, bedazzled by the President taking their call. You smile for the cameras and laugh as you ask what they want for Christmas and whether they have been good. Yep, this is kissing babies easy, impossible to screw that up. Unless you are a Trump. Trump challenged a seven-year-old girl’s belief in Santa.

“Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?”

said the Scroogely Grinch. I don’t know how to respond other to ask, who does this? What kind of sick man, taking calls of this nature, says that sort of thing to a seven-year-old?

The good news is the President did no real harm. The little girl involved, saying she never heard the word “marginal” before, still believes in Santa.

A Christmas “poor me” In My Mansion

Trump took to Twitter a lot on Christmas Eve, with somewhere around 20 tweets. Most were not exactly happy holiday greetings or even the customary effort to wish the best for those one does not get along with. Rather, Trump seemed determined to engage more in the parody holiday Festivus traditional “airing of grievances.” Here’s a sampling.

Donald J. Trump

Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence. It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it. Desperately needed!

6:31 AM - Dec 24, 2018

Donald J. Trump

To those few Senators who think I don’t like or appreciate being allied with other countries, they are wrong, I DO. What I don’t like, however, is when many of these same countries take advantage of their friendship with the United States, both in Military Protection and Trade...

Donald J. Trump

....We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fix

Donald J. Trump

For all of the sympathizers out there of Brett McGurk remember, he was the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal (now terminated) approved by Little Bob Corker.

7:23 AM - Dec 24, 2018

The President concluded saying “poor me” to America, literally.

Donald J. Trump

I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!

9:32 AM - Dec 24, 2018

Mr. President, if you find being in that house such a hardship, there are many who would love to see you leave it.

A Christmas Day Hate Message

But even the Scrooge and The Grinch, while having bad Christmas Eves, reformed and found the true spirit of Christmas on Christmas Day. Not so President Trump. Trump found coal in his stocking, though perhaps he would regard that as a good thing. So Trump summoned reporters to the Oval Office for a bizarre “Christmas message” presenting himself as the victim of Democrats. The tirade included a hating rant about Former FBI Director James Comey. Trump the declared it a “disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” before grudgingly offering an “other than that, a very Merry Christmas.”

“Take Comey. Everybody hated Comey, they thought he did a horrible job. The Democrats hated him. They were calling for his resignation, Literally the day before I fired him, they were saying he should be fired. As soon as I fired him, they said, ‘Oh, what did you fire him for? That was a terrible thing to do.’ It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”

Imagine being the President and talking about hating someone on Christmas Day.

When you listen to that, one thing should stand out. These are not the Christmas words of a mentally well man. It’s not cute or funny that the President of the United States is mentally ill.

Re: Trump enters the stage identity politics

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:35 am
by Meno_
The Trump Impeachment
UncategorizedUnfit To Lead
The New York Times Reveals How Cadet Bone Spurs Got His Military Deferment

We all know by now the sad story of the White House Squatter’s bones spurs, and how this terrible disability led to exemptions from military service. What we didn’t know, until the New York Times revealed today, that Fred “Old Man” Trump bought these bone spurs from a Podiatrist tenant in Queens.

For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.

As Woody Guthrie sang, Old Man Trump was a horrible, overcharging, racist landlord. But, for this podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, who rented a small store front office from him, was able to get services other tenants were unable to receive.

“I know it was a favor,” said one daughter, Dr. Elysa Braunstein, 56, who along with her sister, Sharon Kessel, 53, shared the family’s account for the first time publicly when contacted by The New York Times.

Elysa Braunstein said the implication from her father was that Mr. Trump did not have a disqualifying foot ailment. “But did he examine him? I don’t know,” she said…

“What he got was access to Fred Trump,” Elysa Braunstein said. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”

Well, who needs examinations? Just ask Dr. Harold Bornstein. There was another “diagnosis” from a different doctor who was — surprise! — another tenant.

There was some involvement by a second podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein, who died in 1995, lived in two apartments in Brooklyn owned by Fred Trump; city directories show he moved into the first during the year Donald Trump received his exemption.

Does this surprise anyone? Daddy Trump took care of his boy.

An investigation by The Times in October showed the extent to which Fred Trump had assisted his son over the years, despite Donald Trump’s insistence to the contrary. The investigation revealed that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, including the equivalent of $200,000 a year by age 3.

Is there nothing about this man that isn’t a total fraud? No there is not.

His experience in ‘fraud’ is unprecedented. He has lots of practice and enough cohorts either paid off or threatened. Anybody who writes that off as “just his quirks, but we have a ‘strong economy” (sorry, does not work anymore) is as big or a bigger Jack Ass than he is.

Note: As personality politics tries to disengage from a strictly referential structure focusing on the President, even Republican Senators distancing themselves from referentiality to a cult of personality, identity politics , resulting from an extension toward the political base, is becoming more pronounced. This is a necessary act, serving as damage control, looking toward the next political milestone, two years hence.

As the lines are beginning to draw more closely around party political planning and expectations, the weight of Congressional expectations are beginning to outweigh even the Presidential run in 2020.

The identity political landscape between elitist and sexist demarcation also are tilting internal over external international interests. To note: key players, including big money Republican contributors are seen as modifying and even holding their expected affiliations in terms of time-lines of pronounced plans , in many cases firefighting their shirt term commitments, toward more long term wait and see attitudes.

The recent more then usual turbulence in the markets is hedging them to do so.

Scaramucchi on Trump's strategy to win in 2020.

Re: Trump enters the stage-Isolationism & and identity polit

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 5:37 pm
by Meno_
The president’s posturing on the government shutdown over the funding of the border wall is comparable to three-card monte, where we cannot believe our eyes (and ears). He campaigned on the claim that Mexico would pay for the wall. Recently, he proclaimed that he would “own” the shutdown. Now he’s trying to shift the blame to the Democrats despite Republican control of the House and Senate. It seems to me that the Democrats are simply holding him accountable for his campaign representation that the wall would not be paid for with U.S. dollars.
Washington Post

December 27, 2018 - 03:42 PM EST
The Memo: Trump puts isolationism at center stage


President Trump's embrace of isolationism has been a hallmark of his presidency.

It is now at the center of a foreign policy that will remove troops from Syria and cut the U.S. presence in Afghanistan in half.

The president's "America first" instincts and his willingness to make public his differences with military commanders differentiate him from recent presidents and from many members of his own party.

During his visit with American troops stationed in Iraq on Wednesday, he emphasized his distrust of his own generals - who he characterized as repeatedly asking for more time to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

It was an unusual message for a commander in chief to give during an inaugural visit to troops in a combat zone after nearly two years in office.

"They said again, recently, 'Can we have more time?' " Trump said of his generals.

"I said, 'Nope. You can't have any more time. You've had enough time. We've knocked them out,' " Trump told the soldiers in Iraq, according to pool reports.

The choice of words was particularly notable given two resignations in the last week that have rocked the Pentagon: Defense Secretary James Mattis and the administration's special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk.

Mattis resigned in a letter that laid bare his differences with Trump over foreign policy, and that led to sighs of worry from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

McGurk's departure came as a direct response to Trump's decision to remove all troops from Syria, which the president justified in a Dec. 19 tweet that said ISIS had been defeated in the country.

"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency," he wrote in an assessment that is not shared by Mattis, McGurk or allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Trump went on to complain in his remarks in Iraq that other nations should be sharing the burden of U.S. military adventures, a theme that he had also sounded when speaking with reporters in the Oval Office on Christmas Day.

In the Oval Office, he noted, "Right now, we are the policeman of the world and we're paying for it. And we can be the policeman of the world, but other countries have to help us."

Trump's distrust of multilateralism is long-standing. It permeates his views on trade and environmental policy as well as military matters.

But it is particularly striking on matters of armed intervention. In one GOP presidential debate early in his 2016 run, Trump called the Iraq War "a big fat mistake" and accused the administration of then-President George W. Bush of having "lied" about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Last August, while announcing - with obvious reluctance - that he would send another 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Trump took pains to point out that the U.S. "is not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists."

Trump loyalists point to the fact that he was elected in part as a disruptive force. His isolationist instincts were no secret; they were encapsulated in his "America First" slogan. Even as the battles over his foreign policies play out, the government is partially shut down over Trump's demands that Congress fund a wall on the Mexican border.

The president's allies say his instincts are broadly in line with an American public that has grown weary of the bloody conflicts that have consumed much of the past two decades. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began 17 years ago.

Yet Trump's moves have alarmed plenty of Republicans, as well as Democrats, who fear that he could create new dangers.

Some fear an Islamic State resurgence once the U.S. leaves Syria, but others point to more nebulous risks. An abdication of the American willingness to be the "policeman of the world" creates a vacuum that global rivals such as China and Russia would be all too eager to fill, they say.

Mattis made a version of this argument in his resignation letter.

"While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies," Mattis wrote.

The Defense secretary added: "It is clear that China and Russia ... want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model ... to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense."

Mattis's resignation and the media coverage that focused on his differences with Trump appears to have sparked further fury on the president's part.

Although Mattis originally intended to stay in his post until the end of February, Trump announced that he would in fact replace him at the end of the year with an acting Defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan.

Trump also complained on Twitter that Mattis had failed to see any problems with, as the president characterized it, the U.S. "substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade."

Many Republicans are disconcerted by the president's withdrawal from Syria, arguing that it could leave the door open for an ISIS resurgence just when it appeared that the radical organization was all but vanquished.

Graham called that decision a "disaster" and a "stain on the honor of the United States." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called it "a major blunder."

But Trump is not for turning back.

"We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about," he told reporters who traveled with him to Iraq. "Frankly, it's ridiculous."

Trump threatens to close 'Southern Border entirely' if Dems don't fund wall
Key players in new fight over Trump tax returns

Poll: More Americans blame Trump for shutdown than Democrats
White House steps up shutdown blame game.

Identity Politics

Hamburger icon
The Harvard Crimson

Why I Don't Support Identity Politics Anymore
By Michelle I. Gao, Crimson Opinion Writer
January 24, 2018

I used to believe in identity politics because it told me: You and your experience matter. Your identity gives you authority. Your beliefs can’t be invalidated because your identity can’t be invalidated. This logical leap was empowering to take.

In the case of race, non-white people decided that their non-whiteness enabled them to speak with authority on topics of race. White people could only participate when they admitted that they were less worthy of speaking.

This kind of identity politics failed me when I went home. At the dinner table, I was ready to proselytize why we Asians, as people of color, needed to fight institutionalized racism and support minority movements like Black Lives Matter. I was armed with my experiences and the rhetoric of how America was built on a history of racism and white superiority.

But it was like I ran into a brick wall. The problem wasn’t that my parents didn’t know these things. They simply didn’t care much about them. They emphasized their own lived experiences as Asians instead—immigrating to America in the 1980s and creating new lives in a time of arguably more open racism than that of today. They didn’t have any reason to oppose whiteness and support black-led movements. White people weren’t any more racist to them than black people. The trajectories that other immigrants led proved that America was a land of opportunity, even for minorities.

Under the rules of identity politics, arguing with my parents about race became essentially impossible. I could never make progress if I kept staking my correctness on being Asian and my experiences living with that identity. My parents, who had the same marginalized identity, could do the same thing. We’d be at a standstill. Admitting that our beliefs were wrong would mean essentially yielding our identity, and nobody was willing to give that up.

I realized that I had lowered the standard of conversation by opening with appeals to our race. I was not giving reasons why we should act; I was merely arguing that external factors obligated us to act. But arguments following the logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” make for halfhearted allyship at best.

The best solution was to deemphasize identity altogether. Appealing to my parents on the basis of race was unnecessary to the discussions I wanted to have. I wanted to make them care about what I saw as unjust killings of innocent people and unjust verdicts freeing culpable cops. But police brutality, at its core, is not about race. Why is it wrong for a police officer to shoot a man reaching for his wallet in his own car and then go free, for example? As Columbia professor Mark Lilla argues in his book "The Once and Future Liberal," those acts are wrong because the victim is another citizen, another human. Humans do not deserve to be deprived of the benefit of the doubt and killed for ordinary acts. Similarly, humans deserve to be held accountable for their misdoings and wronging of others.

This kind of rhetoric would be a much more effective strategy for groups like Black Lives Matter, which need widespread support to effect change. It’s tragic that, though the statement “black lives matter” is so obviously valid, after several years, most Americans still don’t support the movement. But that’s because its most vocal members have made everything about race—citing their race as the reason why everyone must listen to them, instead of trying to convince people why they must be listened to. They make as many sweeping generalizations about race—who can speak, who can ask questions, who can understand, who must try to understand but will never understand anyway—as they accuse others of making. So, they shouldn’t be surprised when, instead of effecting change, they are now mired in cultural wars—the product of dissenters turning identity politics against them.

Identity politics makes people feel better about themselves at the expense of productive discourse. A person’s lived experience should never be invalidated. But no identity makes the beliefs that someone derives from their lived experience automatically more correct. This is not just a logical fallacy that should be avoided on principle. In practice, it is actually a hindrance to persuading others. In a time of such polarization, identity politics makes us close ranks with the like-minded when we need to reach out.

Michelle I. Gao ’21, a Crimson editorial editor, lives in Weld Hall.

Copyright © 2018 The Harvard Crimson, Inc.

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Open Future
Can liberal democracies survive identity politics?
A book excerpt and interview with Francis Fukuyama, author of “Identity”

Open Future

Sep 30th 2018 | by A.L.
Almost two decades ago Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the victory of liberal democracy. Today he’s seeing the system shattered in large part by identity politics—the subject of his latest book.

Identity politics describes when people adopt political positions based on their ethnicity, race, sexuality or religion rather than on broader policies. Though it started on the left, it has been more potent on the right: it fueled Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

How did it become one of the most powerful forces in contemporary politics? The Economist asked Mr Fukuyama about the ascent of identity politics and how societies can regain a sense of unity. The interview is followed by an excerpt from the book.

* * *

The Economist: Identity has always been a part of politics. Why is there suddenly so much talk about identity politics now?

Mr Fukuyama: Over the past decade, the main axis of politics in Europe and North America has been shifting. During most of the 20th century, the main divisions were based on economic issues surrounding how much the state should intervene to promote equality, versus how much freedom to permit to individuals and the private sector. Today politics increasingly centers around assertions of identity. There has been a widespread populist revolt against globalization, based partly on its unequal economic consequences, but also on the threats to traditional national identities arising from high levels of migration.

The Brexit leave voters were often willing to suffer bad economic consequences to their decision because they felt that protecting traditional British identity was more important to them. The populist nationalist regimes in Hungary feels it has more in common with Putin's Russia than it does with liberal Germany, despite the ideological divide that used to separate it from the former Soviet Union. Many working class voters that used to support left-wing parties in Europe and the US have switched allegiance to new populist insurgents on identity grounds.

The Economist: You write in your book that “The rise of the therapeutic model midwifed the birth of modern identity politics.” What do you mean by that?

Mr Fukuyama: The modern concept of identity is built around self-esteem—that is, the idea that we have hidden selves that are undervalued by other people, leading to feelings of anger, resentment, and invisibility. By the mid-20th century, it was less priests and ministers to whom people turned for solace, but to psychiatrists seeking to raise people's self-esteem. This therapeutic mission spread throughout society, to schools, universities, hospitals, and the social services offered by the state itself.

This therapeutic turn coincided with the great social movements of the 1960s, which increasingly saw low self-esteem linked to the marginalization of African-Americans, women, gays and lesbians, and the like. The fights that we have today over issues of race, gender, gender orientation, and the like, are often more over offended dignity than over material resources.

The Economist: Are liberal democracy (with its focus on individual liberties) and identity politics (with its focus on group rights) compatible?

Mr Fukuyama: It depends on the nature of the groups in question. Independence movements like those in Scotland, Quebec, and Catalonia may lead to the separation of a region and its emergence of a separate sovereign state, but the successor states will likely be liberal democracies protecting individual rights. In these cases democracy per se is not threatened, though the procedures that lead to separation must be democratic.

On the other hand, some cultural groups can themselves violate individual rights, as when a Muslim family in the West forces their daughter to marry someone she doesn't want to, or doesn't let her work. In such cases, the group right improperly (in my opinion) undermines the individual right. Liberal democracies have no choice but to take the side of individuals over groups if they are to remain true to their principles.

The Economist: You write that a “creedal national identity [...] needs to be strongly reemphasized and defended from attacks by both the left and the right”. What is a “creedal national identity” and what would it look like in practise?

Mr Fukuyama: A creedal national identity is one based on a creed or idea, rather than on biology. An example of the latter is Hungary's Viktor Orban, who has said that Hungarian national identity is based on Hungarian ethnicity. That is an exclusionary identity that makes no room for citizens who live in Hungary but are not Hungarian.

France and the United States, by contrast, had by the late 20th century developed creedal identities. In the French case it is the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity coming out of the French Revolution; one could become a French citizen if one was loyal to those ideals, regardless of race or ethnicity. The same for the United States, where following the Civil War we had come so see American identity as loyalty to the Constitution, the rule of law, and the principle of equality embedded in the Declaration of Independence.

In my view, contemporary liberal democracies that have become de facto multicultural must develop creedal, as opposed to blood-based national identities if they are to survive as democracies.

The Economist: Have identity politics pushed some voters away from progressive politics? And if so, how can their votes be won back without diminishing the plight of minorities?

Mr Fukuyama: At the core of Trump's support were working-class white voters who felt the Democratic Party had become a party of minorities and professional women that no longer took their concerns, like job loss from outsourcing, seriously. The same can be said for European working class voters who deserted the left over the latter’s support for multiculturalism. It should be perfectly possible to win these voters back, based on an appeal to broad economic status rather than narrower support from a collection of special interest groups.

Inequality should be addressed by social policies like Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which provided health care to all people regardless of preexisting conditions, regards of race, gender, disability status, and the like. And it is important from progressives not to let patriotism become the exclusive property of the right, or to let justifiable sympathy for refugees morph into a disregard for enforcement of existing immigration laws.

* * *

Excerpt from “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2018), by Francis Fukuyama:

But perhaps one of the great drivers of the new American nationalism that sent Donald Trump into the White House (and Britain out of the European Union) has been the perception of invisibility. Two recent studies of conservative voters in Wisconsin and Louisiana by Katherine Cramer and Arlie Hochschild, respectively, point to similar resentments. The overwhelmingly rural voters who supported Republican governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin explained that the elites in the capital, Madison, and in big cities outside the state simply did not understand them or pay attention to their problems. According to one of Cramer’s interlocutors, Washington, D.C., “is a country unto itself...They haven’t got a clue what the rest

of the nation is up to, they’re so absorbed in studying their own belly button.” Similarly, a Tea Party voter in rural Louisiana commented, “A lot of liberal commentators look down on people like me. We can’t say the N-word. We wouldn’t want to; it’s demeaning. So why do liberal commentators feel so free to use the R- word [redneck]?”

The resentful citizens fearing loss of middle-class status point an accusatory finger upward to the elites, to whom they are invisible, but also downward toward the poor, whom they feel are undeserving and being unfairly favored.

According to Cramer, “resentment toward fellow citizens is front and center. People understand their circumstances as the fault of guilty and less deserving people, not as the product of broad social, economic, and political forces.” Hochschild presents a metaphor of ordinary people patiently waiting on a long line to get through a door labeled the american dream, and seeing other people suddenly cut in line ahead of them—African-Americans, women, immigrants—aided by those same elites who ignore them. “You are a stranger in your own land. You do not recognize yourself in how others see you. It is a struggle to feel seen and honored. And to feel honored you have to feel—invisible man and feel seen as—moving forward. But through no fault of your own, and in ways that are hidden, you are slipping backward.”

Economic distress is often perceived by individuals not as resource deprivation, but as a loss of identity. Hard work should confer dignity on an individual, but that dignity is not recognized—indeed, it is condemned, and other people who are not willing to play by the rules are given undue advantages. This link between income and status helps to explain why nationalist or religious conservative groups have been more appealing to many people than traditional left-wing ones based on economic class. The nationalist can translate loss of relative economic position into loss of identity and status: you have always been a core member of our great nation, but foreigners, immigrants, and your own elite compatriots have been conspiring to hold you down; your country is no longer your own, and you are not respected in your own land. Similarly, the religious partisan can say something almost identical: You are a member of a great community of believers who have been traduced by nonbelievers; this betrayal has led not just to your impoverishment, but is a crime against God himself. You may be invisible to your fellow citizens, but you are not invisible to God.

This is why immigration has become such a neuralgic issue in many countries around the world. Immigration may or may not be helpful to a national economy: like trade, it is often of benefit in the aggregate, but does not benefit all groups within a society. However, it is almost always seen as a threat to cultural identity, especially when cross-border flows of people are as massive as they have been in recent decades. When economic decline is interpreted as loss of social status, it is easy to see why immigration becomes a proxy for economic change.

Yet this is not a fully satisfactory answer as to why the identity nationalist right has in recent years captured voters who had formerly voted for parties of the left, both in the United States and in Europe. The latter has, after all, traditionally had a better practical answer to the economic dislocations caused by technological change and globalization with its broader social safety net. Moreover, progressives have in the past been able to appeal to communal identity, building it around a shared experience of exploitation and resentment of rich capitalists:

“Workers of the world, unite!” “Stick it to the Man!” In the United States, working- class voters overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party from the New Deal in the 1930s up until the rise of Ronald Reagan; European social democracy was built on a foundation of trade unionism and working-class solidarity.

The problem with the contemporary left is the particular forms of identity that it has increasingly chosen to celebrate. Rather than building solidarity around large collectivities such as the working class or the economically exploited, it has focused on ever smaller groups being marginalized in specific ways. This is part of a larger story about the fate of modern liberalism, in which the principle of universal and equal recognition has mutated into the special recognition of particular groups.


Excerpted from “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment”. Copyright © 2018 by Francis Fukuyama. Used with permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. All rights reserved.

Re: Trump enters the stage-interesting but creating anti-sla

PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:28 pm
by Meno_

House probe of FBI-DOJ's alleged anti-Trump, pro-Clinton bias hits unceremonious end -- with no repor
Rep. Gowdy reacts to Mueller probe filings
House Republicans unceremoniously ended their investigation into the way the FBI and the Department of Justice handled Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and the bias allegations against President Trump.

The House probe was led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Judiciary Committee and sought to look into allegations that the FBI and the DOJ were biased against Trump during the 2016 presidential election and favored Clinton’s candidacy.

Two Republicans chairing the committees – Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. – said in a letter Friday that the DOJ must appoint a special counsel to investigate the “seemingly disparate treatment” of the investigations into Clinton’s use of private emails and Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

Rep. Goodlatte: Comey is still playing games with usVideo

The letter came less than a week before the Republicans formally lose control of the House to Democrats, while both Gowdy and Goodlatte are retiring from politics.

The Democrats have long criticized the Republican-led probe as a distraction from Mueller’s Russia investigation, with U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, taunting Republicans for their unceremonious end of the probe.

“This is how the House Republican effort to undermine Mueller by ‘investigating the investigators’ ends. Not with a bang, but with a Friday, buried-in-the-holidays whimper, and one foot out the door,” he wrote in a tweet.

Adam Schiff

This is how the House Republican effort to undermine Mueller by “investigating the investigators” ends. Not with a bang, but with a Friday, buried-in-the-holidays whimper, and one foot out the door.

Jeremy Herb

NEW: Gowdy and Goodlatte have sent a letter to AG Whitaker, IG Horowtiz and McConnell summarizing their investigation into FBI/DOJ and concerns about the handling of the Clinton and Trump/Russia probes.

But both Gowdy and Goodlatte reject criticism that their investigation undermined the Mueller probe.

“Contrary to Democrat and media claims, there has been no effort to discredit the work of the special counsel,” they said. “Quite the opposite, whatever product is produced by the special counsel must be trusted by Americans and that requires asking tough but fair questions about investigative techniques both employed and not employed.”

The lawmakers sent the letter to the Justice Department and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying that their investigation “revealed troubling facts which exacerbated our initial questions and concerns.” The House investigation didn’t produce a full final report of the panel's findings.

Strzok texts raise questions about FBI actionsVideo
Republicans say top FBI officials were biased against then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, pointing to Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI official who was ousted from Robert Mueller’s team and later from the agency after his anti-Trump text messages with his colleague and lover Lisa Page were revealed.


The pair exchanged more than 50,000 text messages throughout the 2016 presidential election, with many of them expressing anti-Trump sentiments. In one message, Page asked Strzok if Trump could become president, prompting his reply: “No. No he won't. We'll stop it.”

Goodlatte and Gowdy also refer to the report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog earlier this year that claims Strzok’s anti-Trump text messages raise questions about the agency’s bias, while fired FBI Director James Comey repeatedly broke the protocol.

The lawmakers also stress in the letter that the probe into Clinton’s use of emails was too lenient and cleared her of any wrongdoing without sufficient inquiry into the controversy.

The letter urges Congress to continue the investigation, saying that “while Congress does not have the power to appoint a special counsel, Congress does have the power to continue to investigate,” and notes that “the facts uncovered thus far” merit the continuation of the probe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.

Note: this pronouncement creates an impression prima facea that the Mueller investigation should also be wrapped up. days before the Dem leadership commences in the House.

Exclusive: Russian Ex-Spy Pressured Manafort Over Debts to an Oligarch

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (right) is allegedly investigating ties between Victor Boyarkin (center), who worked for a Russian oligarch, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (left). Boyarkin was captured in a rare photo, posted on Facebook, after a conference near Moscow in April 2018. Photo-illustration by TIME; source images: Manafort: Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images; Boyarkin: Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; Mueller: Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images
A TIME investigation reveals a Russian ex-spy was a key link between Paul Manafort and a Putin ally

December 29th, 2018
When the U.S. government put out its latest sanctions list on Dec. 19, the man named at the top did not seem especially important. Described in the document as a former Russian intelligence officer, he was accused of handling money and negotiations on behalf of a powerful Russian oligarch. The document did not mention that the man, Victor Boyarkin, had links to the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump.

A months-long investigation by TIME, however, found that Boyarkin, a former arms dealer with a high forehead and a very low profile, was a key link between a senior member of the Trump campaign and a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In his only interview with the media about those connections, Boyarkin told TIME this fall that he was in touch with Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the heat of the presidential race on behalf of the Russian oligarch. “He owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin says. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”

The former Russian intelligence officer says he has been approached by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Boyarkin’s response to those investigators? “I told them to go dig a ditch,” he says. Peter Carr, the spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, declined to comment. Through his spokesman, Manafort likewise declined to comment on his alleged connections with Boyarkin.

But those connections could be potentially important to the Special Counsel’s inquiry. They would mark some of the clearest evidence of the leverage that powerful Russians had over Trump’s campaign chairman. And they may shed light on why Manafort discussed going right back to work for pro-Russian interests in Eastern Europe after he crashed out of the Trump campaign in August 2016, according to numerous sources in the TIME investigation.

‘Our friend V’
When he joined the campaign in the spring of 2016, Manafort was nearly broke. The veteran political consultant had racked up bills worth millions of dollars in luxury real estate, clothing, cars and antiques. According to allegations contained in court records filed in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands, he was also deeply in debt to Boyarkin’s boss, the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who was demanding money from Manafort over a failed business deal in Ukraine and other ventures.

Boyarkin says it fell to him to collect the debt from Manafort. “I came down on him hard,” he says. But the American proved elusive. In a petition filed in the Cayman Islands in 2014, lawyers for Deripaska, a metals tycoon with close ties to the Kremlin, complain that Manafort and his then-partner had “simply disappeared” with around $19 million of the Russian’s money.

When he reappeared in the headlines around April 2016, Manafort was serving as an unpaid adviser to the Trump campaign. He wanted his long-time patron in Moscow to know all about it.

In a series of emails sent that spring and summer, Manafort tried to offer “private briefings” about the presidential race to Deripaska, apparently, as one of the emails puts it, to “get whole.” Reports in The Atlantic and the Washington Post revealed those emails in the fall of 2017. Among the questions that remained unanswered was the identity of Manafort’s contact in Moscow, the one referred to in one of the emails as “our friend V.”

Even after TIME learned his full name in April, he proved a difficult man to find. His online presence amounted to digital scraps: one photo of him at a conference in Moscow, a few benign quotes in the Russian media from his years selling arms for state-linked companies, and some vague references in U.S. government archives to someone by that name, “Commander Viktor A. Boyarkin,” serving in the 1990s as an assistant naval attaché at the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. – a job sometimes used as cover for intelligence agents.

Only in early October was a TIME reporter able to track Boyarkin down. In the company of a senior Russian diplomat and two young assistants from Moscow, he attended a conference in Greece that was organized by one of Putin’s oldest friends, the former KGB agent and state railway boss Vladimir Yakunin. “How did you find me here,” was the question Boyarkin asked, repeatedly, when confronted about his ties to Manafort during a coffee break at that conference.

Once he agreed to discuss their relationship, it was mostly to confirm the basic facts, often with a curt, “Yes, so what.” (He did not respond to numerous requests for comment after his name appeared on the U.S sanctions list on Dec. 19.)

The outlines of Boyarkin’s career suggest a life spent at the intersection of Russian espionage, diplomacy and the arms trade. Having served at the Russian embassies in the U.S. and Mexico in the 1990s, dealing primarily in military affairs, he says he turned his focus to the arms trade in the early 2000s. His specialty was the export of small and medium-sized warships and other naval vessels that were produced in Soviet-era shipyards across Russia.

This business kept him in touch with military buyers from around the world, including in various parts of Africa. By the late-2000s, he had put this expertise in the service of Deripaska, whose global mining and metals empire often involved making deals with despots in the developing world.

But his range was broader than that. As Boyarkin tells it, his acquaintance with Manafort goes back to around 2006, the year Deripaska asked both of them to help redraw the map of Eastern Europe.

The Montenegro connection
Montenegro, a tiny Balkan nation on the Adriatic Sea, was an important testing ground for Manafort’s relationship with Deripaska. The oligarch had invested heavily in that country, buying control of a vast aluminum smelter in 2005 that accounted for roughly half of Montenegro’s exports and a sixth of its entire economy. The following year, he decided to support the Montenegrins’ drive to become an independent country. That meant breaking away from its more powerful neighbor, Serbia – and convincing the world to recognize Montenegro as an independent state.

To get this done, Deripaska offered the help of several of his advisers, including Manafort. “They were a good team,” says a senior official in Montenegro who was involved in that vote. “They helped get the support we needed from our international partners,” both in Russia and the West, says the official, who spoke to TIME on condition of anonymity. After the people of Montenegro voted by a margin slightly above 55% to declare independence from Serbia in May 2006, all the world’s major powers recognized the results.

Manafort has been open about his role in this campaign. “I have always publicly acknowledged that I worked for Mr. Deripaska and his company,” he said in a statement to reporters in the spring of 2017. “For example, one of the projects involved supporting a referendum in Montenegro that allowed that country to choose membership in the EU, a measure that Russia opposed.”

In fact, Moscow never tried to stop Montenegro’s independence, and Deripaska would not likely have supported it so robustly without approval from the Kremlin. (In 2007, he told the Financial Times, “I don’t separate myself from the state. I have no other interests.”)

“There was never any real resistance from Moscow [to the independence vote],” says the senior official in Montenegro, who was involved in lobbying for Russian support in the years before and after that referendum. The Kremlin, he says, was only too happy to have another potential ally in Eastern Europe – one that was heavily dependent on Russian investments. The arrangement suited Montenegro’s leaders just fine. “Better the Russians come here with suitcases of money than with columns of tanks,” says the official.

But their relationship with Deripaska quickly soured in much the same way it began—over money. After years of disputes over unpaid debts, the Russian billionaire sued Montenegro in 2014 for seizing the aluminum plant he controlled. The country then sped up its plans to join the NATO military alliance and integrate with the West.

The Kremlin wasn’t pleased. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in 2014 it would be “irresponsible” and “even a provocation” for another Balkan state to become a NATO member. According to investigators in Montenegro, Russian agents soon began plotting to unseat the nation’s leaders and install a government more friendly to Moscow. By coincidence, the dispute came to a head in the fall of 2016, at the same time as the U.S. presidential race.

About three weeks before the American elections, the people of Montenegro were due to hold a pivotal vote of their own. Depending on the outcome, the government would either shepherd the country into the NATO alliance the following year, or a new set of leaders would take power, most of whom wanted to change course and develop closer ties with Russia.

According to three sources in this opposition movement, known in Montenegro as the Democratic Front, they were counting on help from an American lobbyist who had worked in their country before – and who happened to be fresh out of a job in Washington. His name was Paul Manafort.

Enter Manafort
Having served for three months as Trump’s campaign chairman in 2016, Manafort was forced to resign in mid-August after his links to Russian interests in Ukraine became public. Still deep in debt, he reportedly went around pitching his services as a consultant in the months that followed to a wide variety of foreign leaders, from the Kurds in Iraq to the incoming president of Ecuador.

The TIME investigation found that Manafort was also in contact with politicians from his old stomping ground of Montenegro. Among them was Nebojsa Medojevic, one of the opposition leaders who were then campaigning to unseat the country’s pro-NATO leaders. His ties to Manafort were first reported to TIME by a former associate of Montenegro’s ruling clique, who said the American consultant had met with Medojevic to discuss a possible consulting deal in the fall of 2016.

At first the tip seemed implausible. Why would one of the world’s most prominent political advisers – still fresh from the chairmanship of the Republican presidential campaign – consider working with a group seen as pro-Russian upstarts in a Balkan nation of 600,000 people?

The senior Montenegrin official suggested an answer. “If Manafort got involved here in 2016, it would only be through the Russians,” he said.

At the time, Russian money was indeed flowing into Montenegrin politics. According to the sanctions list posted Dec. 19, Deripaska and Boyarkin were “involved in providing Russian financial support to a Montenegrin political party ahead of Montenegro’s 2016 elections.”

In more than a dozen interviews that TIME conducted this year, officials and political leaders in Montenegro confirmed that Deripaska and one other Russian oligarch bankrolled the pro-Russian opposition in 2016. Two of them said they heard Manafort’s name come up in strategy meetings for that opposition movement.

When asked about Manafort’s role, Medojevic, one of the leaders of this movement, confirmed that he had met with Manafort to discuss a potential partnership in the fall of 2016. He added that the meeting was a disappointment, and that no deal came out of it. In several follow-up conversations, however, he refused to talk about the meeting, saying that his contacts in the West were legitimate and urging reporters not to publish his initial comments.

For Medojevic and the rest of the opposition, the elections in Montenegro did not go smoothly. The day before the vote, a group of men was arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow the government of Montenegro, assassinate its leader and seize power by force – all with abundant help from Moscow. The Montenegrin authorities later charged two agents of Russia’s military intelligence service with masterminding the alleged coup. Several of the leaders of the opposition in that country, including Medojevic, are currently on trial for charges that stem from the alleged coup attempt.

The following year, Montenegro’s parliament overwhelmingly ratified membership in NATO, as pro-Russian demonstrators protested outside. Russia’s foreign ministry said lawmakers were “trampling all democratic norms and principles.” Now, Montenegro is protected by Article 5 of the alliance, which calls for all members to support any state that comes under attack.

This summer, President Trump took issue with that protection. “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” he said, after being asked by Fox News in July if the U.S. should come to Montenegro’s defense. “They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.”

Known unknowns
It remains unclear whether Manafort actually provided any services in Montenegro in 2016. His lawyers deny he did any work for any Montenegrin politicians that year. Nor is it clear whether Manafort owes debts to Deripaska and, if so, how much. A court in Virginia convicted Manafort in August on eight charges of bank and tax fraud related to his lobbying work in Ukraine; he is due to be sentenced in February.

Boyarkin, for his part, denies having anything to do with Montenegrin politics. When TIME met him in Greece, he said he had not worked for Deripaska since the end of 2016. The U.S. government differs on that point; the Dec. 19 press release from the Treasury Department said Boyarkin “reports directly to Deripaska and has led business negotiations on Deripaska’s behalf.”

Those negotiations, involving mining deals in Africa and factories in Europe, were of secondary concern to U.S. investigators when they contacted Boyarkin last year, he says. They wanted to know about his links to Manafort, and the “private briefings” he had offered to Boyarkin and his boss. “They asked about all of that, yes,” the operative recalls. Once again, he says he told them to get lost.

—With reporting by Jovo Martinovic/Podgorica, Montenegro and Tessa Berenson/Washingto

© 2018 USA, LLC, d/b/a TIME. All Rights Reserved

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:43 pm
by Meno_


A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe?
We’re about to find out why the chief justice of the Supreme Court decided to get involved in the special counsel’s investigation.

By NELSON W. CUNNINGHAM December 30, 2018
A mysterious grand jury subpoena case has been working itself through the D.C. courts since August. Doughty reporting by Politico linked the grand jury case to special counsel Robert Mueller. Some of us, connecting the dots, wondered whether Mueller’s antagonist in this secret subpoena battle might be President Donald Trump himself. Speculation heightened two weeks ago when the D.C. Circuit cleared an entire floor of reporters assembled for the oral argument, in order to protect the identity of the litigants.

Four days later, the D.C. Circuit judges burst the speculative bubble with a decision that halfway revealed the identity of the party litigating against the government: not Trump, but an unnamed corporation (“the Corporation”) owned by an unnamed foreign state (“Country A”). Although the case is still plenty mysterious (What foreign state? What records of what transactions? Why the hard-fought litigation?), the evident fact that Trump was not directly involved in the litigation seemingly drained further proceedings of direct suspense. Mueller watchers headed off for the holidays.

Story Continued Below

And then, last week, on the Sunday before Christmas, Chief Justice John Roberts personally intervened in this matter.

That’s right: The chief justice of the United States himself issued an order on a Sunday, in this very case. If you think that’s highly unusual, you’re right. And the action he took was equally unusual. At least for the moment calling into question the unanimous decisions of the courts below, the chief justice blocked the District Court’s order requiring the foreign corporation to comply with the grand jury subpoena, until the government’s lawyers could respond to the Corporation’s briefings.

So now, in abrupt fashion, Mueller’s investigation has suddenly reached the Supreme Court, and with the personal attention of the chief justice, no less.

Story Continued Below

What does this all mean? Let’s try to unpack it.

This month's three-page summary D.C. Circuit decision revealed a fairly dry set of legal issues that just might conceal a juicy core. The dry issues involved matters of jurisdiction and statutory interpretation fathomed only by elite appellate lawyers, but the potentially juicier underlying issues hinted of fascination: Somewhere, a corporation (a bank? a communications firm? an energy company?) owned by a foreign state (Russia? Turkey? Ukraine? United Arab Emirates? Saudi Arabia?) had engaged in transactions that had an impact in the United States and on matters involved in the special counsel’s investigation.

Intriguingly, the decision revealed that a regulator from Country A had filed a submission claiming that compliance with the subpoena would cause the Corporation to violate Country A’s law. So whoever Country A is, this matter captured its officials’ attention and prompted them to send filings to a faraway country to block the subpoena. Why does Country A care? And, what is it trying to hide?

Story Continued Below

So, from the D.C. Circuit's decision we learned that a foreign government was actively involved in blocking Mueller’s investigation. That fact is intriguing enough. In the ordinary course, that should have been the end of it. The state-owned Corporation filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which receives roughly 7,000 petitions a year but acts in fewer than 200 of them. There was unanimity below — all four judges (the District Court judge and the three Circuit Court judges) had agreed that the Corporation and Country A’s legal claims of sovereign immunity and of contrary foreign law were without merit. There was little reason for judicial watchers to expect anything beyond a quiet return to the grand jury and further proceedings there. We headed off for the holidays.

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And then came Roberts’ surprise Sunday decision. He is the “circuit justice” for the D.C. Circuit, meaning he is the justice assigned to receive emergency and other petitions arising from that circuit. Under Supreme Court rules, the circuit justice may act without consulting his or her colleagues to dispose of routine rulings. So, we should not read too much into the fact that it is the chief justice in particular who acted here.

Story Continued Below

But we can read a good deal into his decision to intervene at all. Although every judge below agreed there was ultimately no merit to the Corporation’s legal claims, Roberts evidently harbors some doubt. Something in the Corporation’s papers caught his attention. So rather than consigning this appeal to the discard pile with thousands of others, he has blocked the lower courts’ decisions until he can receive the government’s briefs defending those decisions. Those papers must be filed no later than New Year’s Eve. Once he receives the full briefing, he can reject the Corporation’s appeal or he can advance the matter to the full court for consideration.

Story Continued Below

Until then, we can only wonder at the remarkable circumstance that the chief justice of the United States has personally intervened, at the request of a foreign government through its corporate entity, in Mueller’s investigation. Only two days before, court observers noted that in a high-profile asylum decision, Roberts had sided with his four liberal colleagues against the Trump administration. Many observers took that as evidence that Roberts was carefully seeking to preserve the court’s institutional neutrality, integrity and balance.

Story Continued Below

What are we to make of his pre-Christmas intervention on behalf of Country A and the Corporation, and against Mueller’s office? We may know soon. Mueller’s office filed its submission early, on Friday evening. We’ll keep our eyes glued to the docket.

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Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudolph Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chair Joseph R. Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton. He is now president of McLarty Associates, an international strategic advisory firm based in Washington.


Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:06 pm
by Meno_

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:18 pm
by Meno_
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Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani responds to the latest news on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigationVideo
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani responds to the latest news on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
Rudi Giuliani weighs in on the future of the Mueller probe.

In a wide-ranging interview Sunday on "Fox & Friends," President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested that key evidence of anti-Trump bias has been deleted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, and charged that Democrats rejected legislation that would have "absolutely prevented" the murder of California police officer Ronil Singh by an alleged illegal immigrant early Wednesday.

The suspect in the slaying, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, had known gang affiliations as well as two past DUI arrests. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson this weekend argued that the murder "could’ve been preventable," saying that California law had prevented authorities from sharing information about Arriaga's DUI arrests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"This could've been prevented by just a reasonably sensible policy," Giuliani said. "Democrats ... voted against legislation that would have absolutely prevented this by focusing on gang members. He should've been taken in for being a drunk driver. ... There was special legislation to focus on gang members. Most of the Democrats voted against it. Almost every Republican voted for it. Had that legislation been in place, this murder may very well not have happened."


In September 2017, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, which would have given authorities the ability to take immigration enforcement action against suspected gang members even if they have not been convicted of a crime, passed the House along party lines but did not receive further Senate consideration.

Giuliani added that "this is going to keep happening," and pointed to Democrats' previous support for enhancing border wall funding.

Illegal immigrant arrested in the murder of California police officer Ronil Singh had been previously arrested for DUIVideo
"This thing about a wall is totally crazy -- they all voted for it," Giuliani said. "She [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi] was in favor of it; now she says it's immoral. So I hope she went to confession. I mean, she's a Catholic."

Fox News has learned that behind the scenes this weekend, several senators are discussing a new potential compromise to end the ongoing partial federal government shutdown. One bipartisan proposal is to provide $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall, as well as a congressional reauthorization of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for those brought to the U.S. illegally as children, along with some other immigration provisions.

There has also been talk about a special allowance for some classes of Central American refugees to be granted a more robust asylum status.

Separately, Giuliani openly cast doubt on Mueller's official explanation for why the phones belonging to two of his former top deputies were completely wiped just days after they were fired for their anti-Trump bias. Giuliani also reiterated his previous assertions that Trump would not sit down for a one-on-one interview with Mueller, citing what he called the "unethical or grossly negligent behavior" of special counsel prosecutors.


In a comprehensive report issued earlier this month, the Department of Justice's internal watchdog blamed a technical glitch for a swath of missing text messages between anti-Trump ex-FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page -- and revealed that government phones issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office to Strzok and Page had been wiped completely clean after Strzok was fired from the Russia probe.

Strzok -- who in August 2016 texted Page about an "insurance policy" in the event Trump won the election and who secretly discussed a "media leak strategy" concerning the Russia probe -- was removed from Mueller's team in late July 2017 after the FBI discovered he had been sending anti-Trump text messages. He sent many of those messages to Page, with whom he was engaged in an extramarital affair.

"All those texts from Strzok and Page -- deleted?" Giulani asked. "After they find out that Strzok is texting that he hates Trump, that he's going to get him and stop him -- and that if he can't stop him, he has an 'insurance policy' to get him out of office. I believe Mueller is the insurance policy to get him out of office. I'm not just saying that -- Strzok was his first investigator."

The DOJ's Inspector General (IG) said that, with help from the Department of Defense, it was able to uncover thousands of missing text messages written by Strzok and Page and sent using their FBI-issued Samsung phones from December 15, 2016, through May 17, 2017, "as well as hundreds of other text messages outside the gap time period that had not been produced by the FBI due to technical problems with its text message collection tool."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may submit Russia investigation report to attorney general as early as February 2019Video
But when the IG went looking for the iPhones separately issued to Strzok and Page by the Mueller team, investigators were told that "[Strzok's] iPhone had been reset to factory settings and was reconfigured for the new user to whom the device was issued."

The records officer at the special counsel told the IG that "as part of the office's records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok's DOJ issued iPhone" on September 6, 2017, and "determined it contained no substantive text messages" before it was wiped completely -- just weeks after Strzok was fired from Mueller's team for anti-Trump bias and sending anti-Trump text messages.


"The person who determined what to eliminate was Mueller's records officer, who says there was nothing of interest there," Giulani said. "It's hard to believe Strzok and Page suddenly decided, 'We're not going to text anymore about Donald Trump.' They seemed to be obsessively and compulsively texting about him. I don't know what kind of lovers they were if they were texting about that all the time. It's ridiculous."

Still, while he questioned why Strzok and Page's Mueller-issued phones were wiped, Giuliani did not dispute the FBI's contention that a technical glitch had affected Strzok and Page's separate FBI-issued Samsung phones.

"Texts only last... for a little while... not like emails," Giuliani said. "I do this work, cybersecurity work. Texts are hard to get. That's legitimate.”

How press botched Flynn hearing
How press botched Flynn hearing
Media expected no jail time for ex-aide.

Giuliani added that it was likely that Strzok, in fact, had been using his Mueller-issued phone to discuss topics like the FBI's tactics in the investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Explosive court documents released earlier this month revealed that, in January 2017, then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pushed Flynn not to have an attorney present during the questioning that ultimately led to his guilty plea on a single charge of lying to federal authorities.

"Just maybe, it would be very embarrassing if he was saying the same things while working for the holier-than-thou special counsel -- 'we're framing Flynn, we're not gonna tell him he has the right to counsel,'" Giuliani said.

Asked whether he expects Mueller's final investigative report to be issued in February, Giulani suggested he isn't holding his breath.


Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh in Moscow, Russia, on March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Journalists watch as Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh in Moscow, Russia, on March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
"Oh gosh, almighty -- first he was coming out in March, then in May -- we're now in fourth degree of separation from the non-crime of collusion," Giulani said. "We went to the non-crime of obstrution of justice, that didn't work out for them. Then he moved on to campaign contributions, which by the way are not violative of the campaign finance law. And then they're looking at now the Russia tower. They should go to Moscow. There is no tower. It didn't get built. It didn't get beyond a nonbinding letter of intent, which is like a wish."

Giuliani maintained that Trump was "as surprised as I was" about the WikiLeaks disclosures of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 presidential campaign, and emphasized that the underlying emails were not doctored.

What hurt the Hillary Clinton campaign, Giuliani said, was that the emails revealed that her campaign had received illicit inside information from the DNC to help her secure the nomination.

"The thing that really got Hillary, is not that it was revealed, but that it was true -- she really was cheating on the debates, she really was getting the questions from Donna Brazile beforehand, she really did screw Bernie Sanders -- every bit of that was true."

He added a personal message to Mueller: “My ultimatum is ‘put up or shut up, Bob.’ I mean, what do you have? There are those who believe you don’t have anything on collusion. And, by the way, even if you did it’s not a crime – so what the heck are you doing? Do you have anything that shows the President of the United States was involved in a conspiracy to hack the DNC with Russia? Of course you don’t. If you do, put out a report, or give it to the Justice Department, let them review it, make sure it’s not classified or whatever, put out a report. We’re ready to rebut it. I’ve had the report ready for two months.”

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Joseph Goebbels would turn green with envy over the propaganda machine that the Republican right wing has built. FOX, Sinclair, Limbaugh, right-wing radio, Social Media, Preachers on TV, Republicans in Congress, talking points of the day, fake think tanks, conspiracy theories… the list goes on and on. They take their cues from each other and run with the same lies to reach as many people as possible in the shortest time possible.

The Republican party CAN NOT exist without lies, fear, and hate. When was the last time you saw a Republican run for office without, caravans coming toward the border, children with Ebola mixed with ISIS members coming, Democrats are going to take away your Medicare, Socialized medicine, Flashing red terrorist warning lights from Homeland Security…? The last time I can remember a Republican trying to run a half honest campaign was John McCain. He will be remembered for the time he pulled the microphone from that propagandized lady who called Obama a Muslim and said “No Ma’am”, and won the respect of many Americans, and lost the minds of most Republicans.

Greg Sargent has a series of tweets today that are aimed at Trump’s lies, but I think this can be applied to the propaganda the Republican party has been using for decades to build the real mindless cult of followers that allows them to attack our democracy with such ferocity.

1) As Trump ends the year with a flood of lies about his wall, we need to recapture a core truth about this presidency. Trump isn’t “twisting the truth” or “stubbornly refusing to admit error.”Trump is engaged in *disinformation.*This is a different thing entirely.

2) The WaPo and NYT fact-checkers have now posted their year-end pieces. They are notable.

Via @glennkesslerwp, Trump has now passed the 7,500 mark in falsehoods and distortions as president:

3) Meanwhile, @YLindaQiu points to a pattern in which Trump regularly converts his falsehoods into “alternative facts” through “sheer force of repetition.”

This is the essence of the matter.

4) Why does Trump lie *all the time* about *everything,* even the most trivial, easily disprovable matters? The frequency and the audacity of Trump’s disinformation is the *whole point* of it — to wear you down. More and more of the lies slip past, undetected and uncorrected.

5) Others have pointed this out to great effect. See @sarahkendzior or @jayrosen_nyu or @brianbeutler or @drvox. I tried to give this topic the ambitious treatment it deserves in my book, “An Uncivil War.” I don’t know if I succeeded, but I tried.

Greg Sargent

· 11h
Replying to @ThePlumLineGS and 6 others
6) Once Trump’s lying is understood as concerted and deliberate disinformation, it becomes clear that the frequency and audacity of it is *the whole point.*

Those are features of the lying. They are central to declaring the power to say what reality is: …

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Greg Sargent

7) The other crucial half of this is to destroy the credibility of the institutional press.

Previous presidents have tangled with the media. But Trump’s ongoing casting of the press as the "enemy of the people" is in important respects something new: …

4:15 AM - Dec 30, 2018
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8) When people dig up old Trump tweets contradicting current claims and say “LOL there’s always a tweet,” this misses the point.

Trump is *openly and unapologetically* declaring that norms of consistency and standards of interplay with the institutional press *do not* bind him.

9) I don’t know how conscious this is for Trump. But his background conditioned him for it. His Reality TV past (reality is created via force of personality) fused with Steve Bannon’s love of totalitarian propaganda to create what we’re seeing now:

10) There’s a reason Bannon immediately recognized in Trump a kindred spirit.

Both are authoritarian populists and as such share devotion to the awesome possibilities of disinformation.

Greg Sargent

· 11h
Replying to @ThePlumLineGS and 7 others
11) All these things led @jayrosen_nyu to declare early that the media is embroiled in a “public battle," the “fight of its life.”

We've struggled for the right footing.

But we’ve endured situations like this before. Historically, the media has adapted: ... ncivil+war

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Greg Sargent

12) I believe the press is undergoing a generational institutional adjustment, and that Trump’s corruption of our politics w/disinformation is failing.

My book tries to tell this story with history/scholarship in an effort to reckon w/it seriously. FIN ... ncivil+war

4:33 AM - Dec 30, 2018
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An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome...
In An Uncivil War, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent sounds an urgent alarm about the deeper roots of our democratic backsliding—and how we can begin to turn things around between now and 2020....
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George Orwell tried to warn future generations of the danger of propaganda.

In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

Ronald Reagan referred to nuclear-tipped missiles as “Peacekeepers”. Dick Chaney said we can’t wait until we see the mushroom clouds, exposed the identity of a CIA agent, and planted false stories in the NYT… Deception, misinformation, fear…, these have been but a few of the tools of propaganda that the Republicans have been using for decades.

During the disastrous presidency of GWB, we Democrats were screaming BUSH! BUSH! BUSH!, when I think we should have been screaming REPUBLICANS! REPUBLICANS! REPUBLICANS!. Even Republicans blamed Bush for his disaster, knowing full well he did exactly what they wanted him to do but the right wing propaganda machine could convince enough Americans that he was the exception to conservatism rather than the rule.

There are thousands of Trumps, McConnells, and Ryans rising up to manipulate the propagandized cult base and use the propaganda machine in order to gain the power that they seek to change the rules so their power can never be challenged. This is who the manipulators of the Republican party are and have been for many decades.

The members of our 4th estate, who have the biggest microphones, are failing us. The “both side-ism” and the fear of being part of the “liberal media” has made them cower in submission and become an additional tool for the propagandists to spread their lies to the masses.

We will need to walk a fine line between supporting the freedom of speech that is part of the concrete foundation of democracy and crushing the right wing propaganda machine that is replacing that foundation with the sands of authoritarianism. The path to restoring truth in America is uncertain, but the understanding of the founding fathers that, democracy can not exist without an informed public.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:27 am
by Meno_
This is why become hyperbole cake to be a repressed idea to fool parties into an ideally fixed double entendre, the Russians getting some wrenched up idea that they are owned some thing, as ethereal to believe in some actual economic leverage to guarantee some payoffs.

Not realising the blindness of forfeiture backed up by a history of bankruptcy.

As hypo and hyper reality extend, to enclose the sensible, the what is=what is may transform that problem.

At that point the synthetic problem of changing what is to what should be, may no longer serve as a measurable contradiction between opposites, simulated as such, and/or familiar to similar.

Given the possibility that nature will up end human intentionality, the equation of the above quote may itself loose relevance.

Then interpretation itself may deemphasize personhood~identify by the variance between situation and context, by ever more largely spaced intervals.

If not, then life itself will cease to operate except by way of exclusive sophistry and propaganda.

AI will then would be neutralized as of consisting of untrusted intent, and a newer and more profound dark ages will commence.

Therefore, this evolutionary trait, of squeezing reality between hyper and hyporeality must be compensated by other means, albeit synthetic.
In this day and age, deceptive misrepresentation can only be supported within and without limited
spatial-temporal descriptipn.

AI needs to compensate by reversely engineered processes, to change its contradictory functions, to assimulate,
reductive programs.

That is the problem with Trumpism, its REDUCTIVE without a limit or a compensatory program.

It does not recognise it's logical antithesis and tries to de- differentiate into a repressive ambiguity, leaving political dynamics in tact, hoping that the necessary reactions can be later manipulated.

We are heading incredibly toward larger perimeters of conflict.

It is then the larger concern of existential leaps, that socially consciousness will have to be concerned with.

Arminius, if he was still around would need to look at the burst of bubbles.

RUSSIA chose Donald Trump and ran him as President as Moscow thought he would be the most advantageous candidate, a former agent of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has claimed.

VLADIMIR Putin is targeting Belarus in his bid to create a Greater Russia reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, the Belarus president warned today. 

FORMER advisor to President Trump has admitted that there are genuine concerns over Russia’s shock plan to use a “doomsday device” that would create a 300-ft radiation tsunami wave - powerful enough to wipe out major US cities.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:49 am
by Meno_
now have we a need to experience bubbles bursting from the foam to see collusion not only between national ambitions, privy to personal debt, and philosophical cynicism?
How about the Russian development of hyperweapons which can not be stopped by the latest antimissle technology? How does that fare with Reagenites and Trumpists and ideologically loaded and short sighted optimists weaned on progressive pragmatism, weighed by naustalgic isolationism and the myth of American hegemony and manifest Destiny?

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:04 pm
by Meno_
central question remains unanswered, and it's one that could hold the key to what happens over the next few months: What did FBI officials know in the summer of 2016 that dissuaded them from telling Trump they were investigating his top aides?

The world may soon know the answer. Government officials and others familiar with the situation tell NBC News that Mueller is nearing the end stages of his investigation, and a report by the special counsel is expected to be submitted to the Justice Department as early as mid-February.

Appointed in May 2017, Mueller, a Republican, Vietnam combat veteran and career public servant who led the FBI after 9/11, assembled a team of veteran prosecutors. They called upon the fruits of secret U.S. intelligence gathering to lay bare, in two indictments, how Russian intelligence officers and agents used fake social media personas and illegal hacking to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

Stay tuned in 2019. My prediction is, that well into his term, nothing drastic will happen.

A lot of.hanky panky happened after the JFK assassination and the lengthy investigation. And report of the Warren. commission still left very credible issues unresolved, in fact, so called conspiracy theories wrote down the report as vastly unexamined.

Political pressures have ominously bore the weight of public opinion against examined facts, which in today's legal world can easily be ascribed to policy and security considerations.

The progressive information divide between the haves and the have nots can bring in addition the plausibility question by the mainstream.

Like it is said, 'time heals all wounds' and healing is pursuant to credibility factors.

The collision course here is primarily one of the economic collusion within what Gen.Dwight Eisenhower called the 'military-industrial complex'.

Trumpism is a lite-motif between enormous , long standing policy reification.

The thought that Trump was forced to fill the role he currently suffers, at the threat of a gun, indebted as he was and still is to the various financial and political entities, may not be necessarily ruled out.

How good an actor he is, is yet to be determined, but it's doubtful he cam measure up to Ronald Reagan , who actually was the president of the screen actor's guild.

Now is Trump's chance at a minor role of necoming Time's Man of the Year, and /or, winner of the Noble Peace Prize, outgunning even Obama, whom he despises.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:27 am
by Meno_
In one of his first tweets of the new year, President Donald Trump attacked retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal after he criticized the President on Sunday.

"'General' McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!"

Trump was retweeting a post from Fox News' Laura Ingraham sharing a story headlined "Media Didn't Like McChrystal Until He Started Bashing Trump."

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:06 am
by Meno_

Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.
By Mitt Romney

January 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM

President Trump speaks during an interview with Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey in the Oval Office at the White House on Nov. 27. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah and the party’s 2012 nominee for president, will be sworn into the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a “sucker” in world affairs all defined his presidency down.

It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly and Mattis were encouraging. But, on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.

It is not that all of the president’s policies have been misguided. He was right to align U.S. corporate taxes with those of global competitors, to strip out excessive regulations, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to reform criminal justice and to appoint conservative judges. These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.

To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.

Related: [The Post’s View: The last lines of defense against Trump]

The world is also watching. America has long been looked to for leadership. Our economic and military strength was part of that, of course, but our enduring commitment to principled conduct in foreign relations, and to the rights of all people to freedom and equal justice, was even more esteemed. Trump’s words and actions have caused dismay around the world. In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Sweden believed the American president would “do the right thing in world affairs.” One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent.

This comes at a very unfortunate time. Several allies in Europe are experiencing political upheaval. Several former Soviet satellite states are rethinking their commitment to democracy. Some Asian nations, such as the Philippines, lean increasingly toward China, which advances to rival our economy and our military. The alternative to U.S. world leadership offered by China and Russia is autocratic, corrupt and brutal.

The world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it. A world led by authoritarian regimes is a world — and an America — with less prosperity, less freedom, less peace.

To reassume our leadership in world politics, we must repair failings in our politics at home. That project begins, of course, with the highest office once again acting to inspire and unite us. It includes political parties promoting policies that strengthen us rather than promote tribalism by exploiting fear and resentment. Our leaders must defend our vital institutions despite their inevitable failings: a free press, the rule of law, strong churches, and responsible corporations and unions.

We must repair our fiscal foundation, setting a course to a balanced budget. We must attract the best talent to America’s service and the best innovators to America’s economy.

America is strongest when our arms are linked with other nations. We want a unified and strong Europe, not a disintegrating union. We want stable relationships with the nations of Asia that strengthen our mutual security and prosperity.

Related: [Jimmy Carter: How to repair the U.S.-China relationship — and prevent a modern Cold War]

I look forward to working on these priorities with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other senators.

Furthermore, I will act as I would with any president, in or out of my party: I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

I remain optimistic about our future. In an innovation age, Americans excel. More importantly, noble instincts live in the hearts of Americans. The people of this great land will eschew the politics of anger and fear if they are summoned to the responsibility by leaders in homes, in churches, in schools, in businesses, in government — who raise our sights and respect the dignity of every child of God — the ideal that is the essence of America.

Read more:

Antony J. Blinken and Robert Kagan: ‘America First’ is only making the world worse. Here’s a better approach.

Jeff Flake: Republicans must move beyond the cult of Trump’s personality

Jennifer Rubin: A frightful portrait of a president out of control

George Will: This sad, embarrassing wreck of a man

Helaine Olen: 2018 is the year hope began to triumph over Trump’s nihilism

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:29 am
by Meno_
Attorneys Eric Dubelier, left, and Katherine Seikaly, right, representing Concord Management and Consulting LLC, leave federal court in Washington, Wednesday, May 9, 2018, after pleading not guilty on behalf of the company, which has been charged as part of a conspiracy to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorneys Eric Dubelier, left, and Katherine Seikaly, right, representing Concord Management and Consulting LLC, leave federal court in Washington, Wednesday, May 9, 2018, after pleading not guilty on behalf of the company, which has been charged as part of a ... more >
'Real Justice Department' veteran emerges as Mueller's top courtroom adversary
By Rowan Scarborough
A former federal prosecutor has emerged as special counsel Robert Mueller’s most persistent courtroom critic.

It’s not Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and now President Trump’s ubiquitous defender, or any of cable TV’s prosecutors-turned-pundits.

He is Eric A. Dubelier, a litigator for the Reed Smith law firm who knows international law and the D.C. playing field. He served eight years prosecuting cases as a Justice Department assistant U.S. attorney in Washington. He refers to his former employer as “the real Justice Department,” implying that Mr. Mueller’s team is something less.

His biting remarks have come in months of court filings and oral arguments. Mr. Dubelier has depicted Mr. Mueller as a rogue prosecutor willfully ignoring Justice Department guidelines.

He has accused Mr. Mueller of creating a “make-believe crime” against his Russian client, Concord Management and Consulting, which is accused of funding a troll farm that interfered in the 2016 election.

So far, the federal judge presiding over the case has sided with Mr. Mueller.

Mr. Dubelier charges that the Mueller team violated the confidentially of Concord’s counter evidence while hiding documents Concord needs for its defense. The prosecutor wants to “whisper secrets to the judge,” Mr. Dubelier says, as Mr. Mueller is calculating the “short-term political value of a conviction” and not worrying about an appeals court defeat years later.

An example: In a Dec. 20 motion, Mr. Dubelier resurrected a botched case spearheaded by Mr. Mueller’s top prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann.

Mr. Weissmann headed the Justice Department’s Enron task force nearly two decades ago. He won a conviction against the accounting firm Arthur Andersen for shredding the defunct energy firm’s financial documents.

Years later, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the conviction. The 2005 decision effectively said that Andersen, by then out of business and its 28,000 employees gone, hadn’t committed a crime.

“Mr. Dubelier is exactly right on Mr. Mueller’s motives and tactics,” said Sidney Powell, whose book “License to Lie” exposes years of Justice Department scandals. “His lieutenant Weissmann is the poster boy for prosecutorial misconduct and has no regard for the facts or the law. He will make up whatever he wants to win, and the entire like-minded team views as an accomplishment everyone whose life they destroy in pursuit of their objective.”

‘Made up a crime to fit the facts’

Concord Management and Consulting is an unlikely client. Legal observers opined that when Mr. Mueller brought charges against various Russians who hacked computers and trolled the 2016 election, no defendant would travel the nearly 5,000 miles to show up for trial.

No defendant has personally arrived. But Concord did appear quickly after the February indictment. Of 28 Russian individuals and firms charged with election interference by Mr. Mueller, only Concord has appeared in U.S. District Court, in this instance in the person of the aggressive Mr. Dubelier.

The Washington defense attorney seemed to catch the Mueller team off guard by immediately demanding disclosure of evidence. Disclosure, Mr. Dubelier argues, is a sacred legal right in America, even for the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, Concord’s chief with close ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Concord is accused of an elaborate conspiracy with another Russian operation, the Internet Research Agency. The indictment accuses Concord of providing the troll farm $1.2 million monthly to defraud the U.S. The two firms set up fake personas and false Twitter accounts, Facebook ads and other social media posts mostly to disparage Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump.

In a separate case, Mr. Mueller brought charges in July against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democratic computers, stealing emails and funneling them to three websites for distribution.

Mr. Dubelier argues that people are free to create fake accounts. It’s done all the time, he says.

“When it comes to political speech, one is free to pretend to be whomever he or she wants to be and to say whatever he or she wants to say,” he said at an Oct. 15 hearing.

“That’s why in this case this special counsel made up a crime to fit the facts that they have,” Mr. Dubelier said. “And that’s the fundamental danger with the entire special counsel concept: that they operate outside the parameters of the Department of Justice in a way that is absolutely inconsistent with the consistent behavior of the Department of Justice in these cases for the past 30 years.”

Mr. Dubelier lost that argument with U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who rejected his bid to dismiss the case.

But he wasn’t done. There is an ongoing battle over Concord’s access to “sensitive” evidence that Mr. Mueller won’t let its officers see because they are Russians with ties to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Dubelier has expressed exasperation.

“This equates to the burden of preparing for trial without any ability to discuss the evidence with the client who is to be put on trial,” he said. “This has never happened before in reported case law because the notion is too ludicrous to contemplate.”

“What Mueller has turned over is often irrelevant to mounting a defense, such as promotion emails for airlines and personal naked selfie photographs,” Mr. Dubelier said in a December filing.

The special counsel is keeping most relevant information between himself and Judge Friedrich, excluding Mr. Dubelier.

Why no probe of dossier writer?

Mr. Mueller won the argument over “sensitive” material. He now wants to hold closed sessions with the judge over classified information — again, without Mr. Dubelier.

Mr. Dubelier responded in a Dec. 27 filing: “The Special Counsel has made up a crime that has never been prosecuted before in the history of the United States, and now seeks to make up secret procedures for communicating ex parte [meaning no defense counsel present] to the court which have never been employed in any reported criminal case not involving classified discovery.”

The defense attorney admitted his motion is “likely fruitless” because Judge Friedrich previously has ruled against Concord.

Many documents are in Russian, a culturally different language than English.

One Russian word, Mr. Dubelier says, “can be translated into the English words ‘chief,’ ‘boss’ or ‘chef’ — a distinction that is critically important since international media often refers to Mr. Prigozhin as ‘Putin’s chef.’”

On another matter, Mr. Dubelier is accusing the Mueller team of skullduggery.

Judge Friedrich last summer approved the prosecutor’s request for a “firewall counsel” to review evidence for its national security implications.

Mr. Dubelier said he submitted evidence to the firewall lawyer only to see it fall into the hands of Mr. Mueller’s team, who began using it to further investigate Concord. “Surely a remarkable coincidence,” Mr. Dubelier said.

In another pre-trial argument, Mr. Dubelier is the first defense attorney to ask this question: Why isn’t British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by Democrats to obtain anti-Trump information from the Kremlin to influence 2016 voting, being investigated by the Justice Department for election interference just like the Russians?

Mr. Steele didn’t register under the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act, under which Mr. Mueller has brought charges against a number of defendants, including the Concord team. Judge Friedrich rejected Mr. Dubelier’s argument of “selective prosecution.”

Mr. Mueller’s counter-motion boils down to this: Mr. Prigozhin is a criminal fugitive who blatantly interfered in the U.S. election and is not entitled to sensitive national security information he would share with the Kremlin intelligence.

In a new battleground, the Mueller team wants to show the judge top secret material to persuade her to keep it from the defense.

“Disclosure of such information could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security,” the Mueller filing stated.

Judge Friedrich ruled in June that Mr. Prigozhin is prohibited from viewing non-classified sensitive information that details how the government obtained evidence.

The Mueller team argued: “Discovery in this case contains sensitive information about investigative techniques and cooperating witnesses that goes well beyond the information that will be disclosed at trial … Information within this case’s discovery identifies sources, methods, and techniques used to identify the foreign actors behind these interference operations … the government has particularized concerns about discovery in this case being disclosed to Russian intelligence services.”

Mr. Mueller says that as long as Mr. Prigozhin, whom the U.S. sanctioned and then indicted for election interference, remains in Russia, he isn’t entitled to see sensitive evidence.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

Read more news from CNN

Live TV
Tomorrow is the day Donald Trump's presidency totally changes
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated 8:16 PM EST, Wed January 02, 2019

Washington (CNN) Donald Trump may not realize it totally yet, but today was the last easy-ish day of his presidency.

By noon (or so) Thursday, Nancy Pelosi will become the new speaker of the House of Representatives -- formalizing the Democratic majority her side won in last November's election. And that will change everything.

Trump has sought to look on the bright side of divided control of government to date -- insisting that maybe he will be able to make deals with the new Democratic majority in the House. "It really could be a beautiful bipartisan situation," he said at a press conference the day after the 2018 election.

But the early returns are not promising. The federal government has been shut down for the past 12 days -- and there's little reason to believe that will change at any point soon. Trump has dug in on his demand for $5 billion to fund construction of his border wall. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, are equally dead-set on providing zero dollars for Trump's wall.

View this interactive content on
And this is only the beginning. Starting tomorrow, Democrats in the House will make Trump's life a living hell. Efforts are already underway to bring a number of his Cabinet officials before Congress, to extricate his tax returns from his grip and to more deeply probe his business dealings both before and during his presidency.

Trump, a political neophyte prior to the 2016 race, has never had to deal with this sort of opposition before. Sure, Democrats have never been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But he never really needed Democrats to do much of anything, either. The Republican majorities in the House and Senate ensured Trump got his tax cuts and two Supreme Court picks. There was no real political penalty for his total unwillingness and inability to work with Democrats.

Those days are now over. Democrats can now do Trump real political damage using the official means of their House majority. While they may not be able to, say, force his tax returns into public view (the jury remains out on that), they can make sure the issue is front and center and create major distractions for a White House that has already shown it can distract itself very well, thank you very much.

Trump claims to understand this, likely with his self-professed titanic intellect. To me, that's like when people who are about to have a baby say they are totally ready for it. As evidence, they point to their nursery being all set up, the Diaper Genie being up and running, and so on and so forth. Then the baby comes -- and they realize, like every parent that has gone before them, that no amount of planning or bracing could fully prepare them for their new reality.

That's Trump and the new Democratic House majority.

The Point: Look out: It's going to be a mess.

View on CNN
© 2019 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights


The president is demanding more than $5 billion to build a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. House Democrats plan to advance legislation that would reopen key parts of the government but deny Trump any additional money for a wall, as one of their first acts after they take control of the chamber on Thursday.

But Trump told congressional leaders he will not sign the measure, said incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who attended the meeting.

Anderson Cooper on 'General Trump' :

CNN’s Anderson Cooper had some home truths for Donald Trump after the president bragged he’d have made “a good general” during Wednesday’s bizarre Cabinet meeting.

“The world will never know General Trump, in part because the president never set foot in a combat theater until last week with his trip to Iraq,” said the host of “Anderson Cooper 360°.”

“The closest he came to serving in uniform was his teen years as a student in the New York Military Academy, which was a prep school. His parents sent him there to straighten out his behavior, apparently,” Cooper added.


PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:17 am
by Meno_
Meno_ wrote:Duplicity and lack of faith in anything signed by the US is anything but a sign reassurance, especially from one as paranoid as NK.

The undermining of credibility seems to be the modus operans here, and it is quite possible that duplicious states of mind do project the internal structure of belief unto a global stage.

Is such inflation necessary or contingently a subtle attempt to solidify a vastly increasing rate of erosion of power?

This another reversal of apocalyptic proportions?

If its based on a contingency of politics as usual , then no.
But conceive that its a necessary part of a grand design, in the conventional use of the term, then , the answer propels5 toward less calculable effects.*

*Unless contingency run programs trump a grand design

Moments ago: President Trump spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room. He refused to take questions.

Sanders introduced President Trump, who talked about his border wall demand, and then both Sanders and Trump left the room, taking no questions from reporters.

CNN's Brianna Keilar called the question-less appearance a "non-briefing."

Re: Trump enters the stage-leaving for Cebu and North Vietna

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:50 am
by Meno_
The US government is warning Americans that if they visit China they may not be able to return home
Benjamin Zhang Jan 3, 2019, 3:05 PM

Air China plane flags
The Chinese presidential Boeing 747-400. The State Department has released a travel advisory for China.Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
The US State Department has issued a travel advisory urging Americans to "exercise increased caution" when traveling to the People's Republic of China.
The elevated travel advisory is out of concern that China may arbitrarily enforce local laws and detain US citizens without cause using exit bans.
Under these exit bans, US citizens may be detained or forced to stay in China for an indefinite period of time and may be subject to harassment and interrogation.
The China travel advisory is a level-two advisory, which urges increased caution.
Other countries or regions with a level-two advisory include Algeria, Antarctica, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Myanmar, and the United Kingdom.
The US State Department has issued a travel advisory urging Americans to "exercise increased caution" when traveling to the People's Republic of China.

The State Department's elevated travel advisory is out of concern that China may arbitrarily enforce local laws and detain US citizens without cause.

The advisory also indicates that US-Chinese citizens or Americans of Chinese heritage are especially vulnerable to "additional scrutiny and harassment."

"Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit US citizens from leaving China by using 'exit bans,' sometimes keeping US citizens in China for years," the State Department said in its advisory.

Read more: The US is warning Americans about the dangers of traveling to China. Here's what to know before you visit the country.

According to the advisory, China tends to use these exit bans in a coercive manner to "compel US citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties."

In addition, the State Department said Americans find out about these exit bans only when they try to leave China, and they aren't notified how long the bans will last.

Read more: The government shutdown could spur more flight delays making travel a nightmare, air traffic controllers claim.

The advisory also said that Americans affected by exit bans have been "harassed and threatened" by authorities.

"US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime," the State Department said. "US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to "state security."

"Security personnel may detain and/or deport US citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government," the agency added.

Read more: Here are all the countries not allowed to fly into the US

The new China travel advisory is a level-two advisory, which urges increased caution. A level-one advisory suggests travelers "exercise normal precautions," while a level-three advisory urges Americans to "reconsider travel." A level-four advisory recommends that Americans avoid traveling to a particular country.

Re: Trump enters the stage

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:57 am
by Meno_
Leaving for Asia tonight- Hanoi and Cebu. This may be my last correspondence. Try to write after arrival.