Trump enters the stage

Elevate form over function to get at less easily articulable truths.

Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 07, 2019 1:24 am

POLITICO

House Republicans want Mueller to testify despite Trump opposition
By KYLE CHENEY and JOHN BRESNAHAN

05/06/2019 07:05 PM EDT

Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins
"I think Mueller should testify," said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

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House Republicans say they're eager for special counsel Robert Mueller to testify about the findings of his investigation into links between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia — despite Trump's Sunday declaration that "Mueller should not testify."

Though Republicans have largely sided with Trump's claim that Mueller's 448-page report absolved the president of wrongdoing — despite laying out vivid details of Trump's repeated efforts to thwart Mueller's probe — the president's GOP House allies say they want to hear from the former FBI director.



"I think Mueller should testify," Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Monday. "There was no collusion, no obstruction, and that's what Bob Mueller will tell everyone."

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), another member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he has "a lot of questions" for Mueller. "So I hope that happens."

Both House Republicans say their interest is less in Mueller's report than in whether he has any insight into how the FBI launched an investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump has amplified those concerns, claiming he was targeted by Trump-hating FBI officials rather than the numerous contacts between Trump associates and Russia-linked figures.




"I think the president is just frustrated here, and I get that," Collins added. "I've wanted Mueller to come before the committee all along. Then I can ask [Mueller] about how this investigation got started in the first place, what he was told about how it all began."

Collins had previously urged Democrats to quickly call Mueller to the Capitol, even suggesting last month that they cut short a two-week recess to hear from the special counsel about his findings.

"I think we can agree this business is too important to wait, and Members of the Committee will surely return to Washington at such a critical moment in our country’s history," Collins wrote at the time, a plea that was rejected by the committee's chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) as premature.

In private, several top House Republicans believe it would be a mistake for Trump to prevent Mueller from appearing before the Judiciary Committee. To these GOP lawmakers and aides, that would allow Democrats to focus on the issue of Mueller's non-appearance rather than the findings in his report.

"Then the issue becomes 'Trump is stonewalling,' rather than 'Mueller didn't find anything,'" said an aide to one senior Republican. "This will be a bad move."

LEGAL

Ex-DOJ prosecutors: Trump would have been charged with obstruction if he weren't president
By CAITLIN OPRYSKO
If Mueller testifies, however, Democrats will surely ask the special counsel about issues that could greatly damage the president and his administration, including evidence that Trump tried to stymie the Russia probe or letters Mueller wrote to Attorney General William Barr disputing Barr’s four-page summary of his findings.



But House Republicans' efforts to secure Mueller testimony stands in contrast with their counterparts in the Senate. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has said he has no interest in a full hearing with Mueller, but is willing to hear testimony on the narrow issue of whether Mueller disputes Barr's characterization of his findings.

Graham, though, is brushing aside demands from Democrats that Mueller be given a platform to discuss the findings of the report itself.

"Enough already," Graham told reporters last week. "It's over."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) similarly said he's satisfied without a hearing from Mueller.

Trump: 'Mueller should not testify'
By QUINT FORGEY
“It really would probably be healthy for the country to move on," Cornyn told reporters on Monday. "Otherwise the charade is just going to continue, people are going to try and parse and pick apart every sentence and punctuation mark of that. And it’s not going to change the outcome.”

Barr released a redacted version of Mueller's report last month which indicated the special counsel lacked sufficient evidence to establish that any Americans conspired with the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election. Mueller's report also described numerous episodes in which Trump attempted to thwart the probe or affect witnesses' testimony, but Mueller stopped short alleging the president obstructed justice, in part because he said Justice Department guidelines prohibit the indictment of a sitting president.

Barr, who received Mueller's report in late March, rejected several of the special counsel's legal theories and determined that the evidence failed to show the president committed obstruction, absolving him in a four-page letter to Congress several days later. Barr then spent several weeks reviewing the report and making redactions based on several categories of sensitive information before releasing a version on April 18.

Democrats have ripped Barr for what they said was attempted to spin Mueller's findings before the public had a chance to view the report. Nadler has been working with the Justice Department, to little avail, to arrange public testimony for Mueller.


© 2019 POLITICO LLC
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 07, 2019 6:27 pm

Mueller report: Democrats slam Republicans for 'stunning act of cynicism' – live
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called Mitch McConnell’s ‘case closed’ speech ‘a brazen violation of the oath we all take’ in a joint letter



Tom McCarthy in New York

Tue 7 May 2019 12.38 EDT First published on Tue 7 May 2019 09.00 EDT
Key events
12.38pm

Democrats call McConnell 'case closed' speech 'a stunning act of political cynicism'
House speaker Nancy Pelosi and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have issued a joint letter calling McConnell’s “case closed” speech this morning “a stunning act of political cynicism and a brazen violation of the oath we all take”:

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12.35pm

On Senate floor, Warren calls for impeachment
Warren brings her call for Trump’s impeachment from the campaign trail to the floor of the US senate:

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12.33pm

Senator Elizabeth Warren, also a 2020 candidate, as much as calls the president a criminal, speaking this morning on the Senate floor:

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12.30pm

As the White House stonewalls Congress in its effort to follow special counsel Robert Mueller’s road map to what many regard as Donald Trump’s criminal misconduct, Senator Kamala Harris, a candidate to unseat Trump in 2020, is preparing to introduce a law demanding transparency between the White House and attorney general on certain matters, she tells NBC’s Andrea Mitchell:





White House orders McGahn not to comply with subpoena
The White House has informed Congress that it has ordered former counsel Don McGahn not to hand over documents subpoenaed by a congressional committee investigating the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a letter to House judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House lawyer Pat Cipollone cited “significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”

McGahn in February 2018. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
In a subpoena, Congress had requested documents from McGahn pertaining to 36 matters, including discrete episodes in the Russia affair ranging from the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn to the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Cipollone said McGahn “does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third persons.”

In a follow-up letter to Congress, a lawyer for McGahn said he intended to follow the White House direction. “Where co-equal branches of government are making contradictory demands on Mr McGahn concerning the same set of documents,” the letter reads, “the appropriate response for Mr McGahn is to maintain the status quo unless and until the committee and the executive branch can reach an accommodation.”

The order came a day after the Treasury Department denied a Congressional request for Donald Trump’s tax returns. Both document denials appeared to be subject to immediate legal challenge by Democrats.

Testimony by McGahn was central to Mueller’s record of conduct by Trump that critics from both parties, including hundreds of former federal prosecutors, have said amounted to felony obstruction of justice.










Updated at 11.33am EDT
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11.14am

Nixon, again:

Trump tax returns: Democrats to fight for release after Mnuchin refusal

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10.55am

After not tweeting all morning, the president is warming up for a planned meeting this afternoon with Republican senators to talk immigration:

Trump and Republican senators are scheduled to meet to discuss a new White House immigration plan, the AP reports:

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway describes the plan as “fairly comprehensive,” saying it aims to beef up border security and maximize merit-based immigration. Conway says it will cover other changes favored by Trump, including ending some family migration and visa lottery programs.

Conway says the plan could also touch on the plight of thousands who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The proposals are being developed by senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. A previous attempt by Trump to reach a comprehensive immigration deal with Congress collapsed.

Trump put immigration at the center of his presidential campaign, including a promise to build a wall on the U.S-Mexico border.

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10.51am

Wray: authorized surveillance is not 'spying'
FBI Director Chris Wray says “spying” is not the term he would use for court-authorized surveillance conducted by the bureau, the Associated Press reports:

Wray was asked at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday about Attorney General William Barr’s assertion last month that the Trump campaign had been spied on during the 2016 election.

Asked if he believes that the FBI is involved in spying when it conducts surveillance with a warrant, Wray replied, “That’s not the term I would use.”

He acknowledged that different people use different language, but that the key question for him is “making sure it’s done by the book.”

Wray declined to discuss the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign because it’s part of an ongoing Justice Department inspector general investigation.

Having fun on the Hill back in April. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters
In testimony before the Senate last week, Barr refused to back down from his use of the word “spying” to describe surveillance of the Trump campaign, then engaged in extensive secret contacts with Russian operatives.

“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word spying,” Barr said, noting he previously worked for the CIA. “I don’t think the word spying has any pejorative connotation at all.”

Updated at 10.52am EDT
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10.34am

Pompeo cancels talks with Merkel
Patrick Wintour
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has abruptly cancelled a long-established plan to hold talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin, citing unspecified “international security issues”.

The unusual last-minute schedule change follows brief talks between Pompeo and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in Finland on Monday.

Journalists travelling with Pompeo were not informed where they were going instead of Berlin, with Pompeo’s staff saying they may not be able to reveal the next destination until after they had left. Their plane has been tracked heading east.

Pompeo rang the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, to explain the decision to drop his first meeting in Berlin as secretary of state, and promised to reschedule soon.

Norbert Röttgen, the chair of the German foreign affairs committee, described the cancellation as “very regrettable”, adding: “There is a lot to discuss about common challenges, but also about the internal relationship between Germany and the US. Even if there were unavoidable reasons for the cancellation, it unfortunately fits into the current climate in the relationship of the two governments.”

British and US sources said the Berlin cancellation did not mean talks planned for later on Wednesday between Pompeo, the UK prime minister, Theresa May, and the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would also be dropped.






Trump tax returns: Democrats to fight for release after Mnuchin refusal
Trump pardons former US soldier convicted of killing Iraqi prisoner

© 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.




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WORST CASE SCENARIO: Here's what it looks like if Trump starts a trade war with China
Thomas Franck | @tomwfranck
Published 8 Hours Ago Updated 1 Hour Ago
CNBC.com
Wall Street's top investment banks are preparing clients for the worst case scenario following President Trump's surprise threat to hike tariffs on Chinese imports.
Jitters stemming from an escalated trade fight could be so bad that it could send the S&P 500 in a correction (10% slide), said UBS strategist Keith Parker.
"Fasten your seatbelt and don't hold your breath," Bank of America wrote Monday. "The latest escalation of the trade war was completely unexpected."

All signs point to an escalation of the trade war between the United States and China, the world's two-largest economies.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that he would seek to increase tariffs to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods starting at 12:01 a.m. ET Friday due to China pulling back on trade promises. China is still sending a delegation to negotiate this week, but right now it looks like an all-out trade war is about to begin.


The worst-case outcome there, say experts, is a fight that sends the S&P 500 into a correction — which would be 10% off that key indicator. The companies likely to be hardest hit, say the experts, are likely Boeing, Apple and Caterpillar. They are all down about 5% this week already.

Then the pain ripples into the metals, mining and automobiles sectors.

"Fasten your seatbelt and don't hold your breath," Bank of America strategists wrote in a note this week. "The latest escalation of the trade war was completely unexpected, despite the strength of the economy and the markets."

Stock market impact
Global equities have been on edge this week after Trump tweeted Sunday that the current 10% tax on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will rise to 25% on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average is down about 450 points this week, while the S&P 500 shed 1.9%.

"With risks having increased, it is worth asking where the largest asset market moves could occur if trade tensions were to rise further," Keith Parker of UBS wrote Tuesday.





For its part, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said its bear case includes a U.S. tariff hike and a response from China on U.S.-made cars. Beijing could also decide to buy more soybeans from Brazil instead of the U.S., putting the pressure on farmers throughout the country.

An inflamed trade war would have sizable impacts on European and Asian markets, too.

Based on models complied by UBS' Parker, the Stoxx 600 index — which tracks large-, mid- and small-capitalization companies among 17 European countries — could see another approximate slide of 7% if trade tensions worsen. The index is already 3.3% off its 52-week high.

WATCH: Jeremy Siegel: 'Big blow to the markets' if trade deal falls apart

Economic impact
He added that a full-blown trade war would shave off 45 basis points from global economic growth, while China's GDP would take a hit of between 1.2% and 1.5%.

For his part, Morgan Stanley's head of U.S. public policy strategy, Michael Zezas, wrote that while his base case expects China's GDP growth to recover to 6.5% in the second and third quarters, a U.S. tariff hike could cut that estimate by 0.3 percentage point.



"While we expect a re-escalation would be temporary, as market weakness would help bring both sides back together, any escalation inherently augments uncertainty and further undercuts risk markets," Zezas said.

Further, if China responds by raising its weighted tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods to 15% from the current 7%, that could reduce U.S. GDP by 0.1 percentage point.

"Negative surprises like a potential re-escalation of trade tensions can have a greater price impact than fundamentals might dictate," Zezas told clients. "Near-term downside risk for Chinese equities onshore and offshore could be down 8% to 12%, arguably the biggest among major markets we cover."

Will Fed step in?
To be sure, trade deliberations aren't the only force at play in the markets. Any continued turbulence between the U.S. and China could be mediated by the Federal Reserve by lowering interest rates, suggested DataTrek co-founder Nick Colas.

"With US equity volatility looking to rise this week, markets will inevitably back into an ever-stronger view that Fed policy will have to shift," Colas wrote Monday. "On the plus side, that should limit daily slides in stock prices. On the downside, it paints the Fed into an ever-tighter corner. And it will force equity investors to have higher conviction that a rate cut is coming than the central bank itself has just now."

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in March that weaker Chinese and European economies are undermining U.S. growth.

"Now we see a situation where the European economy has slowed substantially and so has the Chinese economy, although the European economy more," he said at the time. "Just as strong global growth was a tail wind, weaker global growth can be a headwind to our economy."

That Powell and other Fed members spent so much time in a recent meeting discussing softer growth in Asia and Europe could mean that the central bank could step in and lower borrowing costs if it felt the U.S. economy needed a boost.



Still, many Wall Street insiders had assumed that the relative calm in U.S.-Chinese trade relations to start the year would soon lead to a permanent resolution. Instead, Trump's weekend remarks that trade progress is moving "too slowly" caught many — including UBS Washington strategist Chris Krueger — by surprise.

Paying homage to the doomed British cavalry charge of the 1850s, Krueger poked fun at the renewed barbs between the two nations in a portion of his market warning entitled "The Charge of the Lighthizer Brigade."

Prior to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's Monday comments, Cowen had assumed the "'Great Man' theory would hold, Trump and Xi would have the best conversation, talks would continue, and Trump would put tariffs on hold for ~30 days," Krueger wrote.

Lighthizer told reporters Monday that the planned tariff increased will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, but added that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is expected to join a trade delegation in the United States this week.

"This was Trump acting out on a rainy Sunday in Washington with nothing on the public schedule," he added. "To paraphrase Lenin: there are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen...and then there is a single week in the Trump Presidency. What a time to be alive."






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Last edited by Meno_ on Wed May 08, 2019 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trump enters the stage -the branding of america

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 07, 2019 8:08 pm

At this point, a little over a year of following the phenomenon which came to be known as 'Trumpism', a few words as to why the resiliency it displays to all the world to see, a phenomenon which it appears, has no bounds or the effect that the application of reason may dispel it.

One very simple answer may fill the inquiring mind as perhaps any other, be it complex analysis , or statutory or even institutionalized support.

That the Nazi era has parallels in a very discouraged German society, is no mere fantasy, for institutions were well caught up with politocal momentum covering the ethos and pathos of post ww1 futility.

Where does the parallel begin here in the United States, the ultimate winner of world wars , a techno politocal economic superpower of unprecedented dimensions, covering more body politic then any other empire has attained previously.

That simple answer lies in a new coin, of which Jesus said, let it convey to Ceasar, whereas those which belong to God, ceede to God.

The ages parallel as well, the 3 rd Reich was preceded by a continuation of the Holy Roman Empire, which flew from the Greco Roman.

So what is the simple formula formulating this continuum of empire?
Why exactly the very coin, from which mine- that of human nature itself can be extracted.

That coin in Trumpistic terms is Brand.

You've seen poor people shopping for brand to elevate the prescription for their self image, that is at the base political reality today, and the greatest branded today is TRUMP. That it has been shown to be built on very thin ice, that of debt and hypocracy , does not matter in the least. The market buys it, banks buy it, and institutions have to buy it because they are invested in it.
That is the program, the branding not only of economic edifices, but politocal superstructure as well.
The rest is left to the ad men, who nowadays consist of equally vested politicians, lawyers whose basic function have been reduced to the role of sales. They have been caught in the pinched of supply and demand as well, of promotion, with the slow erosion of black letter they have played the game of deception as competence players .
Trump, a non lawyer, may as well be one, in a power game of striking after the largest payoff.
The brand used to be scarlet, in a time when colors seemed to matter, and in the most indigenous sense, that color sense has been equally reduced from socio political individuation, through so called civil rights' gains through expansion from the blinders' removal through some deus ex machina, and so on , biting through politocal and fiscal conservatism, - when in fact, it was the omnipresent and sudswm realization that money mattwred most, and it's the economy stupid.

That's it in a nutshell, and that is the reason behind the panic of the constitutional makeup of this Nation.
This is the result of bringing practice into the arena of ideas, which was so very unique and extraordinary in 1776.

That Marxism has come to describe well the euthanasia that the effects of consumerism has been effected, os quite suggestive of how that idea has been very cleverly dissuaded and remarketed as did poisonous loans sold in overspeculatee real estate recently.

The sales of the soul , the the sole proprietor of the hermetic philosophy going nowhere in a futuristic sense of post modern recognition, ashews
and gives rationale of something that has been so solidly built in, that it can be aggregiously be renamed a systemic uncertainty , not to be messed with, even at the heaviest price of large scale annihilation.


To support this idea, I will quote a recent book on self improvement , quite generic in it's approach to sales:


Dean Del Dad to 'Shift Your Thinking 200 Ways' 2013.

"If you were a brand, would you buy yourself or keep shopping?

You may not give it much thought, but you are a "brand" to everyone who knows you. Your personal brand is always speaking, and like all brands , it is subject to constant scrutiny and potential breakdown.Comprising your integrity, way of being, and, of course, your track record in day-to-day life, the way your personal brand resonates with others will profoundly impact your relationships, career opportunities, and life momentum. At the same time, your brand can stop you in your tracks if you are not clear about what you stand for and how you make yourself relevant and beneficial to those around you"

What is this but not an overt sell of self prescription as a product, in an age of technosocially programmed branding?

Incidemtally , this work was given nihil on star by leading Forbes CEO's and educational leaders. To note, I am again taking a neutral position, not being critical of industry driven technology and artificial intelligence; only to point out the subliminal techniques behind sales through branding as it reinforces and feeds back into socially prescribed values.

The hypocracy begins at the level of contradiction, where Trump is pitching to a regional audience, in sync with their primary understanding, while that.becoming incomparable with it in more then a long term relevance.

That is systemic, you may say, with built in obsolescence, where down the line, a new model must be purchased, to keep the assembly moving along.
Well that would be ok, of major perimeters were not involved , such as environmental issues which may evoke an early 20 th century indifference on part of the manufacturers of the American Dream.

But again, may be it's a matter of an apparent free will hiding in a gross determinancy.

And how does his middle road manifest contradictically?

Lets rise below the clouds or sink above to toward reality.

The middle is the point of most pressure, where from can be noticed the aggregates of how at the very seem, classes fall into two, not at the periphery where only the very rich and the extremely poor can be gleaned, and how this continuum, is spread, intentionally , to be hidden, the source of which, value is transcribed from hidden wealth, toward it's fair value so called, by superinflating one side while metadecomposing the other, but unwittingly, those moving from the center are induced to buy in and finance the whole structural eddificacy.

How far cam this inflation go on? Until fair parity runs out of value in the supply demand chain, that is why Trump wants to deflate by going against the aFed's more modest change ininterest rate .

Trump really is no economist, lawyer politician, he started branding through a desperate bankruptcy of affect, wishful and behest by those hiding the line to fill it, the brand with materially credible short term devices.

That long term it's disfuntional is graphically evident on the DOW, s retreat on long term call buys. For that the environment is sacrificed.
And speculation will witness anotjer crisis of hyperinflative and speculative crisis, with unpredictability leaving the China tariff a crisis unfactored in an already unstable fodder for a possible huge death star with the 2020 election.

The whatnut political game plan, may end sorely as a unquestionable prisoner's dilemma, albeit world wide.

The present timberbox is exemplified by the cancelled meet between Trump and Markel as planned to forth come in Berlin.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the foreign policy setbacks of Venezuela, the Middle East, and North Korea added bad international news to the internal political problems Trump is facing this week.



Contempt against Barr




May 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence from public view.

The committee’s 24-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate that featured apocalyptic language about the future of American democracy, marked the first time that the House has taken official action to punish a government official or witness amid a standoff between the legislative and executive branch. The Justice Department decried it as an unnecessary and overwrought reaction designed to stoke a fight.

The drama raised the stakes yet again in an increasingly tense battle over evidence and witnesses as Democrats investigate Mr. Trump and his administration. By the day’s end, it seemed all but inevitable that the competing claims would have to be settled in the nation’s courts rather than on Capitol Hill, as Democrats had initially hoped after the initial delivery of Mr. Mueller’s report.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 09, 2019 3:19 pm

Trump asserts executive privilege over Mueller report
By Meg Wagner, Amanda Wills and Veronica Rocha, CNN
Updated 4:38 PM ET, Wed May 8, 2019


Trump asserts executive privilege over Mueller report What we covered here
Contempt vote: The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.
Executive privilege: The Justice Department informed the committee that President Trump is asserting executive privilege.
What this is about: It comes after the Justice Department declined to provide an unredacted version of the Mueller report to Congress.
6:01 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
Our live coverage has ended. Scroll through the posts below to see how the committee vote unfolded or follow CNN Politics.
5:04 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
Justice Department spokesperson slams contempt vote as "politically motivated"
The Department of Justice called the vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress "politically motivated and unnecessary."

"It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics," department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

Read the DOJ's full statement:
“The accommodation process between co-equal branches of government is supposed to be a two-way street. Unfortunately, the only side who has made accommodations is the attorney general, who made extraordinary efforts to provide Congress and the public with information about the special counsel’s work. The attorney general could not comply with the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department’s prosecutorial functions. Despite this, the Department of Justice engaged with the committee in good faith in an effort to accommodate its stated interest in these materials. Unfortunately, rather than allowing negotiations to continue, chairman Nadler short-circuited these efforts by proceeding with a politically motivated and unnecessary contempt vote, which he refused to postpone to allow additional time to explore discussion and compromise. It is deeply disappointing that elected representatives of the American people have chosen to engage in such inappropriate political theatrics. Regrettably, chairman Nadler’s actions have prematurely terminated the accommodation process and forced the President to assert executive privilege to preserve the status quo. No one, including chairman Nadler and his committee, will force the Department of Justice to break the law.”
4:58 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
Judiciary chairman: "We are now in a constitutional crisis"
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler called today's vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress "a very grave and momentous step."

He went on to say the committee had no other choice but to take this action.

"This was a very grave and momentous step we were forced to take today to move a contempt citation against the attorney general of the United States. We did not relish doing this but we have no choice. Attorney General Barr having proved himself to be the personal attorney to President Trump rather than to the United States by misleading the public as to the contents of the Mueller report twice, by not being truthful with Congress has not shown himself to be the personal attorney of the United States rather than the attorney general," Nadler said.
The Democratic congressman accused Barr of turning the Department of Justice "into an instrument of Trump personally rather than an instrument of justice and representative of the United States."

"We are now in a constitutional crisis," Nadler declared.

4:34 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
NOW: House Judiciary Committee votes 24 to 16 to hold Barr in contempt
From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju
The House Judiciary Committee just voted along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, escalating the looming constitutional collision over the Mueller report between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration.

The party-line vote was 24-16.

What happens next: The contempt resolution now moves to the full House for consideration.
Barr was held in contempt for not complying with the committee’s subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. The contempt vote came after President Trump asserted executive privilege this morning over the materials that the committee had subpoenaed, following through on a threat the Justice Department made last night if the committee moved forward with the contempt vote.

4:26 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
House Judiciary Committee is voting right now on holding Barr in contempt
The House Judiciary Committee is voting right now on whether it will hold Attorney General William Bar in contempt of Congress after the Justice Department declined to provide an unredacted version of the Mueller report to Congress.

This marks the first time that House Democrats are moving to punish a Trump administration official for defying a congressional subpoena and represents a dramatic escalation in tensions between Democrats and the White House.

1:45 p.m. ET, May 8, 2019
House Judiciary Committee adopts amendment related to executive privilege
From CNN's Jeremy Herb
The House Judiciary Committee has adopted an amendment from chairman Jerry Nadler adding a section to the contempt report that responds to President Trump's assertion of executive privilege.
The amendment passed along party lines.

Why this matters: Earlier today, the Justice Department informed Nadler that the “President has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials."
What happens next: The committee is now in recess until 2:30 p.m. ET, when Nadler said they would resume the markup.
11:53 a.m. ET, May 8, 2019
White House says House Democrat is trying to "break the law" by requesting unredacted Mueller report
From CNN's Betsy Klein

Moments after the White House announced President Trump would assert executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller's report, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders slammed House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whom she said is seeking to “break the law” with his requests for the unredacted report.

“They’re asking for information they know they can’t have. The attorney general is actually upholding the law,” Sanders said, adding, “Chairman Nadler is asking the attorney general of the United States to break the law and commit a crime by releasing information that he knows he has no legal authority to have. It’s truly outrageous and absurd what the chairman is doing and he should be embarrassed that he’s behaving this way.”
She attacked Nadler’s understanding of the law, saying that she feels she “(understands) it better than he does.”

11:40 a.m. ET, May 8, 2019
White House says executive privilege assertion doesn't change Trump's position that Mueller should not testify
From CNN's Joe Johns and Betsy Klein
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was just asked how the invocation of executive privilege affects the President's position on special counsel Robert Mueller testifying and if Mueller’s employment with DOJ might be extended under the circumstances.

She said she wasn’t aware of anything new on that.

Some context: On Sunday, President Trump reversed course and said Mueller should not testify before Congress. That remark came just two days after he told reporters that the attorney general should make that decision.
“The President’s made his feelings on that very clear,” Sanders said today. “This is over, and just because the Democrats didn’t like the result doesn’t mean they get to redo this process."

The special counsel’s office would not comment when CNN asked if his employment is being extended under the circumstances.

11:34 a.m. ET, May 8, 2019
Trump's cabinet meeting was supposed to be open to press. Now, it's closed.
The White House now says there will be no press coverage of the President’s cabinet meeting, which was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET.
Typically, coverage is allowed.




© 2019 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu May 09, 2019 11:48 pm

The Trump Impeachment
Unfit To Lead
‘We Are in a Constitutional Crisis’: Groups Deliver 10 Million Petitions to Congress Demanding Trump Impeachment


@womensmarch / Twitter We are in a dark time
@womensmarch / Twitter
A coalition of grassroots progressive advocacy groups on Thursday delivered 10 million petitions to Congress demanding that House Democrats uphold their “constitutional obligation” by immediately launching impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.



The petition delivery—which one organizer described as “likely the biggest” in U.S. history—came just hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the country is in the midst of a “constitutional crisis” due to the Trump administration’s refusal to comply with congressional oversight.




During a rally on Capitol Hill Thursday, Jane Slusser—organizing director for Need to Impeach—urged Pelosi to take action in line with the gravity of her words.

“On behalf of a growing movement of 10 million, we ask Democratic leadership to be bold in standing up for democracy,” Slusser said. “We agree with Speaker Pelosi: We are in a constitutional crisis. And there is a remedy: Start impeachment hearings now.”

10,000,000 & counting to #ImpeachTrump. Add your name: https://t.co/wQHfGSXJbu pic.twitter.com/xkBS6EvJmV

— MoveOn (@MoveOn) May 9, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told the crowd at Thursday’s rally that the U.S. Congress cannot continue to stand by and “allow the rule of law to be eroded.”

“Movements happen with actions like this where millions of us speak up, demanding that our representatives work on our behalf,” said Tlaib, who submitted a resolution to begin impeachment hearings before the redacted Mueller report was made public last month.


“We are in a dark time in our country but this moment is a moment of light. This is about our country and our democracy.” Rep. @RashidaTlaib #ImpeachTrump pic.twitter.com/9jtj3n7K9a

— Women's March (@womensmarch) May 9, 2019

Mueller’s findings provided a detailed look into the Trump administration’s corrupt and possibly criminal behavior around the Russia investigation, including numerous instances of potential obstruction of justice.

Since the release of the special counsel’s 400-page report, a growing number of Democrats in Congress have expressed support for launching impeachment proceedings against Trump, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

With their delivery of 10 million petitions on Thursday, activists hoped to get the attention of Democrats who have yet to join their fellow lawmakers and constituents in backing impeachment hearings.

“I ask: How much more do we need to see to take action?” said Joseline Garcia, a volunteer with advocacy group By the People. “What kind of message are we going to be sending to future administrations and generations of people if we do not hold Donald Trump accountable for the numerous violations he has committed?”



“Congress, you have a choice,” Garcia added. “Are you going to be on the right side of history? Are you going to be on our side, or Trump’s side?”


‘We Are in a Constitutional Crisis’:



Daily dose of outrage at what is going on in Washington.


Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.




------------------------------ -----------------------






OPINION
No, the case against President Trump is far from closed
There's much in the redacted Mueller report that Congress has a right to discretely examine, no matter what Sen. Mitch McConnell says: Our view
THE EDITORIAL BOARD | USA TODAY | 7 minutes ago


President Trump's executive privilege claim over the full Mueller report has stirred heated debate in Congress. Is it even constitutional?

Congressional Republicans want to end investigations into the presidency of Donald Trump and the unusual circumstances surrounding his rise to power. Several have made this case, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Tuesday used the disclosure of parts of the Mueller report to declare "case closed."


The tactic is not entirely new. In 1998, supporters of President Bill Clinton, who was then under siege over his relationship with a former White House intern, created a group called MoveOn.org to urge Congress to, well, move on. The group exists to this day supporting liberal causes.

In this case, the call to move on is being made by actual members of Congress who are undermining their institution and their authority.

One day, they will regret this. They will regret it when a Democrat is next elected president and abuses his or her power. They will regret it when their grandchildren ask about their role in fostering democracy. Perhaps they will even regret it when they next look in the mirror.

McConnell's "move along, folks, there's nothing to see here" approach is contradicted by more than 800 former prosecutors, Republicans and Democrats, who have signed a letter saying the Mueller report provided more than enough evidence to indict Trump for obstruction of justice, were he anyone else but the president.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report.
ERIK S. LESSER, EPA-EFE
SEAN SPICER: Democrats should accept the conclusions of the Mueller report

Similarly, by refusing to provide the House Ways and Means Committee with the tax documents it has demanded, the Trump administration is in clear violation of law. The relevant statute, passed in the wake of a previous presidential scandal, is unambiguous that these documents "shall" be provided upon the request of the chairman. In backing up Trump, Republicans are essentially playing the role of accessories.

Worse, in providing cover for Trump’s refusal to provide other material, including the complete Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the GOP is debasing the Constitution.

If it weren’t enough that most Republicans countenanced Trump as he usurped Congress’ power of the purse with his border emergency declaration earlier this year, now they are ceding Congress’ oversight role and vital function as a check on presidential power.

Previous presidents might not have always agreed with decisions of Congress or the courts, but they recognized and honored the Constitution’s precept of separation of powers. They saw the genius in having three distinct branches sometimes in conflict or competition. Trump, on the other hand, treats laws and critics with contempt.

There is much that the American people still need to know about Trump's finances, particularly his relationship to Russia in the years after massive real estate losses made him radioactive to most Western banks. There is much in the Mueller report, including supporting evidence and what is behind some of those blacked-out sections, that Congress has a right to discretely examine.

Now is most assuredly not the time to arbitrarily end investigations.



© Copyright Gannett 2019

-----------


The Guardian -

Security officials monitoring a Chinese container ship at the port of Humen in
Even Trump may ultimately retreat from the cost of the China trade war
The president’s bullish advisers may be taking a hard line, but the chances of a deal are better than they look
Phillip Inman
@phillipinman
Sat 11 May 2019 11.00 EDT
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via Email
During Donald Trump’s campaign to be president, he regularly cited China’s export subsidies as “evil”, and in his manifesto he pledged to “cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete”.

The president turned decades of musings into a policy mission after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, handed him a book by the academics Peter Navarro and Greg Autry – Death by China – which set out to explain how China manipulated the global trade system for its own ends.

Navarro has since become Trump’s trade tsar and – with Robert Lighthizer, the White House’s chief negotiator – provides the intellectual underpinning for Trump’s attempt to prise open China’s markets.


Autry was cheerleading for Trump on the BBC’s Today programme last week after the president increased the tariff from 10% to 25% on Chinese goods worth $200bn on Friday, including transport equipment, chemicals and an array of foods.

The message from the White House was that backsliding by Beijing over previously agreed liberalising trade reforms meant another $300bn of Chinese imports could soon be added to the list, which would effectively cover all imports to the US from the world’s second largest economy.

Autry said that it would be better if countries traded with each other without barriers, but that the global economy could still grow in a world of high tariffs – or at least the US could.

He likened the situation to the 19th century and Britain’s preference for free trade, which he said was pursued to its detriment when countries such as the US hid behind a protectionist wall of tariffs. After the second world war, the US had followed the free-trade lead set by the UK and that had been a mistake, he said. Free trade had been Britain’s downfall while protectionism played a large role in America’s success.

That is not a view of history shared by many economic historians. There were too many other factors at play in the 19th century that could have been more important, from slavery in the US providing farmers with free labour to Britain’s burgeoning empire, which became so costly to maintain.

White House observers are not sure that Trump has even read Navarro’s book, given that his goals appear to be so narrow: for example, declaring China “a currency manipulator” and putting “an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards”.

Trump’s senior trade advisers are thought to be at the heart of the renewed tension between the US and China. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Lighthizer and Navarro are more concerned that Beijing tear up laws that force foreign companies to go into partnership with – and hand over technological knowhow to – domestic businesses when they sell goods in China. They also want to agree an arbitration process that bypasses communist-party-controlled arrangements.

These more structural issues are at the heart of Navarro’s book and are the crux of the current dispute, which those close to the president say is being driven by Lighthizer.

Most analysts believe there would be a high cost to both sides from higher tariffs, though the impact on the global economy might be cumulative as economies in Europe and the US lose momentum. A fall in trade might knock between 0.2% and 0.3% off global GDP, says Angus Armstrong, a former head of macroeconomics at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. “That doesn’t sound like much, but if it happens when there’s a broader slowdown, it adds to the momentum and can make matters much worse,” he says.

Analysts at the Oxford Economics consultancy say the likely cost of the tariff rises – arising from lost Chinese demand for US goods due to retaliatory measures and extra expense for US consumers – would rebound on the US and hurt key states and industries, rippling out to the rest of the world. “The Trump administration’s tariff hike will cost the US economy $62bn in lost output by 2020, or 0.3% of GDP, relative to the expected level of US GDP in our baseline forecasts,” the analysts say. “The cost to the global economy will surpass $360bn in foregone output relative to what would otherwise have been the case under our baseline for 2020.”

The conciliatory language and the measured response from Beijing is reassuring
Bo Zhuang and Eleanor Olcott, economists at the consultancy TS Lombard, say the costly implications for both sides of a prolonged fight means a deal is still likely.

“Even if the tariffs remain in place, the fundamentals call for a deal. Trump will maintain talks with China, just as he has done with North Korea following the fallout from the Hanoi summit. The rising bankruptcy rate of US farmers and greater volatility in the markets will sharpen his resolve for a deal,” they say.

“Some commentators have said Beijing will now call for boycotts of US goods and place non-tariff barriers on US goods. At this stage, we believe that such harsh retaliatory measures are unlikely. This week’s events have pushed back our timeline for a deal but the conciliatory language and the measured response from Beijing is reassuring,” they add.

To some extent, Trump is already winning. The US trade deficit with China decreased to the narrowest in almost three years in March – $28.3bn – as imports slowed and exports advanced.

That turnaround offers Trump a chance to claim his trade war was yielding desired results. Add to that the clamour from Iowa soya bean farmers, who are already suffering from lost sales in China due to counter-tariffs, and the pressure on Trump to agree a deal could be overwhelming.



© 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Fri May 10, 2019 3:17 am

CONGRESS
Pelosi's Trump impeachment approach is coming together
Analysis: The president's recent actions have helped Pelosi start to resolve the conflicts in her caucus — and unite them around a deliberate, relentless investigative approach.

"It's not about pressure. It's about patriotism," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday of Congress' attempts to get the full unredacted Mueller report released.Win McNamee
May 9, 2019, 5:03 PM ET
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi portrayed herself Thursday as the protector of the Constitution, Congress and the country as House Democrats braced for war with President Donald Trump over his refusal to give them full access to special counsel Robert Mueller's report, related documents and witnesses.

"This is very methodical, it's very Constitution-based, it's very law-based, it's very factually based," Pelosi said about House plans to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for withholding documents. "It's not about pressure. It's about patriotism."


Trump and his Republican allies say Democrats are simply dressing up a partisan witch hunt in the haberdashery of constitutional principle. They express confidence that recent polls showing a lack of support for impeachment, particularly among independents, is evidence that the public agrees with them and that Democrats will only hurt themselves — and help the president — if they continue on their current course.

"If we’re already seeing that before any of the investigations begin, then moving toward impeachment will more than likely result in a backlash for Democrats," said one source close to the White House who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of Trump.

While the courts are likely to decide the scope of what Democrats can get their hands on, the fight over the terms of the public debate — partisan or constitutional — figures to have a significant impact on the political outcome, especially during a period in which the Trump's assertion of executive privilege limits the House's ability to produce any new evidence.

In any period in which one party controls the House and the other controls the White House, the impeachment process is inherently both a matter of solemn constitutional duty and partisan politics.


All of that helps explain why it's Pelosi's defense of another institution — the Democratic caucus — that is at the core of her approach to the investigations and possible impeachment of Trump. Though the cable talk shows and digital press have been full of speculation about what Pelosi wants — or believes — about impeachment, people who know her well say that she is driven in large measure by keeping solidarity in her ranks.

"She’s moving at a pace that all the spectrum of her caucus can tolerate right now," said former Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards. "She is very protective of the institution and the prerogatives of the institution, and you can see that, that she wants to insulate this from the politics and the electoral politics, and that is in keeping with her protection of the unity of the caucus."

In other words, when Trump's liberal critics put the impeachment cart before the process horse, moderate Democrats are quick to jump out. But when the question is framed as one of pursuing legitimate oversight of the executive branch, following investigations where they lead and maintaining the Constitution's balance of power, it is much easier for her to keep her troops in line.

In that way, Trump's actions have helped Pelosi start to resolve the conflicts in her caucus.


"There's a deep concern, particularly among institutionalists, about the balance of power," said a senior aide to one moderate Democrat who noted that the administration's refusal to comply with subpoenas has angered some lawmakers who had been reluctant to escalate the fight.

That is, the pace is speeding up even for most Democrats who have been reluctant to go down a path that could lead to impeachment.

Pelosi has said she believes Trump is "goading" Democrats into impeaching him, and many Republicans and Democrats in Washington believe that a House impeachment followed by a Senate acquittal would be a political gift to Trump and House Republicans.

There's even some concern among House Democrats that the very act of impeaching Trump would hand over power by giving the savvy Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., control of the timetable and process for trying the case with the 2020 election approaching.


And yet Trump's blanket defiance of Congress on the Mueller report and a range of other issues, from declining to provide his tax returns to declaring a national emergency so he could shift funds to build a border wall, has put Democrats in the position of acquiescing or escalating.

"The president and the attorney general have left the Congress, and the House in particular, not many choices," Edwards said.

For the moment, Democrats may have been handed some ammunition by an unlikely source as they try to make their case that Trump is tampering with the Constitution's checks and balances. It was reported Wednesday that the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, issued a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr. after the panel was unable to secure a second round of testimony from him in its Russia probe.

While Trump Jr. is not an administration official — and the subpoena was actually sent in mid-April —the off-pitch sound from the GOP's previously harmonious message was discordant enough to trigger a response from Burr's fellow Republicans.

"The Mueller report cleared @DonaldJTrumpJr and he's already spent 27 hours testifying before Congress," GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, Burr's home-state colleague, wrote in a tweet. "Dems have made it clear this is all about politics. It's time to move on & start focusing on issues that matter to Americans."

To win, Pelosi has to convince Americans that the fight is more about checks and balances than partisan politics — and that they should side with House Democrats over the Republican in the White House.

A divided caucus undermines that message. A united one helps to sell it.

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen is a Washington-based national political reporter for NBC News who focuses on the presidency.
© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL


And now this: another absurd twist, help to whitewash the counter punches? A legitimization of a novel political dirty trick?





May 10, 2019, 8:27 AM ET
By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann
WASHINGTON — In 2016, the Trump campaign gladly accepted Russia’s help to defeat Hillary Clinton.

And heading into the 2020 race, Rudy Giuliani is headed to Ukraine to push the country’s president to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, the New York Times writes.


“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani told the Times about his upcoming visit to Ukraine.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he added. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

How isn’t this the biggest political story in America right now — Team Trump wants the help from another foreign government to dig up dirt on an opponent?

If you don’t think this is a five-alarm scandal — and instead you’re shrugging your shoulders at this story — then we’ve truly gone down the power-hungry rabbit hole, where anything and everything is fair game.


!!!!!! !!!!!!!





The New York Times

|

White House Asked McGahn to Declare Trump Never Obstructed Justice

President Trump believed that Donald F. McGahn II, his former White House counsel, showed disloyalty by telling investigators about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.CreditAndrew Harnik/Associated Press
By Michael S. Schmidt
May 10, 2019
WASHINGTON — White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for the key witness against President Trump in the Mueller report, Donald F. McGahn II, to say publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice, according to two people briefed on the requests.

Mr. Trump asked White House officials to make the request to Mr. McGahn, who was the president’s first White House counsel, one of the people said. Mr. McGahn declined. His reluctance angered the president, who believed that Mr. McGahn showed disloyalty by telling investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, about Mr. Trump’s attempts to maintain control over the Russia investigation.

The White House made one of the requests to Mr. McGahn’s lawyer, William A. Burck, before the Mueller report was released publicly but after the Justice Department gave a copy to Mr. Trump’s lawyers in the preceding days. Reading the report, the president’s lawyers saw that Mr. Mueller left out that Mr. McGahn had told investigators that he believed the president never obstructed justice. Mr. Burck had told them months earlier about his client’s belief on the matter and that he had shared it with investigators.

Mr. McGahn initially entertained the White House request. “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister,” Mr. Burck said in a statement. “It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment.


But after the report was released, detailing the range of actions Mr. Trump took to try to impede the inquiry, Mr. McGahn decided to pass on putting out a statement supportive of the president. The report also revealed that Mr. Trump told aides he believed Mr. McGahn had leaked to the news media to make himself look good.

See Which Witnesses the Mueller Report Relied on Most A partially redacted report of the special counsel’s findings released on April 18 cited interviews with 43 individuals at least 10 times.
The episodes show the lengths the White House has gone around the release of the Mueller report to push back on the notion that Mr. Trump obstructed justice. House Democrats have used the report to open investigations into whether Mr. Trump abused his position to insulate himself from the Russia inquiry.

The revelations came as the Democrats on Friday increased their pressure on the White House on other fronts. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard E. Neal, subpoenaed the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service for six years of Mr. Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Democrats are also pursuing testimony from Mr. Mueller but have not agreed on a date, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters.

In the days after the report was released, White House officials asked Mr. McGahn again to put out a statement as Mr. Trump fumed about his disclosures but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the second request as well.

White House officials believed that Mr. McGahn publicly asserting his belief would calm the president and help the administration push back on the episodes that Mr. Mueller detailed in the obstruction section of the report, said one of the people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations involving the White House.

Around the time Mr. McGahn declined the second request, the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani began publicly attacking his credibility, saying that Mr. McGahn had a bad memory. “It can’t be taken at face value,” Mr. Giuliani said of Mr. McGahn’s account one day after the Mueller report was released. “It could be the product of an inaccurate recollection or could be the product of something else.”

The White House learned in August that Mr. McGahn had told Mr. Mueller’s investigators that he believed the president had not obstructed justice, according to one of the people. After a New York Times article revealed that Mr. McGahn had spoken to investigators for at least 30 hours, Mr. Burck tried to reassure the White House by explaining that his client told Mr. Mueller that he never believed Mr. Trump had committed an obstruction offense.


Mr. McGahn’s cooperation with Mr. Mueller played a crucial role in allowing the special counsel’s investigators to paint a picture in their report of a president determined to use his power atop the executive branch to protect himself from the Russia investigation.

Read the Mueller Report: Searchable Document and Index The findings from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are now available to the public. The redacted report details his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The president’s lawyers are particularly concerned about two episodes that Mr. McGahn detailed to prosecutors. In one, Mr. Trump asked him to fire the special counsel but backed off after Mr. McGahn refused. After that episode was revealed, the president asked Mr. McGahn to create a White House document falsely rebutting his account. Mr. McGahn declined to go along but told Mr. Mueller about the encounters.

It makes no difference legally whether Mr. McGahn believes Mr. Trump obstructed justice. That is a determination made by prosecutors, not witnesses. But politically, such a statement could have been a powerful argument for Mr. Trump, who faces scrutiny from House Democrats about whether he obstructed justice and abused his power.


Mr. Mueller declined to make a determination about whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, saying that because a sitting president cannot be indicted, it was unfair to accuse him of committing a crime. Attorney General William P. Barr stepped in and decided with his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, to clear Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.

But because Mr. Mueller made no determination — and wrote a damning report that showed repeated efforts by Mr. Trump to interfere with his inquiry — questions about whether the president obstructed justice have lingered as Democrats have sought to gain momentum in their investigation of Mr. Trump.

The Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed Mr. McGahn to testify. But White House advisers have indicated they will try to block him from appearing before lawmakers, and Mr. Trump has said that there is no reason for Mr. McGahn to speak with congressional investigators because he had cooperated so extensively with Mr. Mueller’s team.

“I’ve had him testifying already for 30 hours and it’s really — so I don’t think I can let him and then tell everybody else you can’t,” Mr. Trump said last week in an interview with Fox News. “Especially him, because he was a counsel, so they’ve testified for many hours, all of them, many, many, many people. I can’t say, ‘Well, one can and the others can’t.’ I would say it’s done.”

Mr. McGahn left the White House last year but is still entangled with the president on matters related to the Mueller investigation. The White House instructed Mr. McGahn on Tuesday to not turn over documents he had to the House in response to a subpoena. Mr. McGahn followed the White House’s advice and is now waiting to see whether Democrats will hold him in contempt.



RELATED COVERAGE
Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him



© 2019 The New York Times
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Re: Trump enters the stage house subpoenas rebuffed, legal?

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 11, 2019 12:13 am

The Washington Post logoDemocracy Dies in Darkness

House committee subpoenas Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig over Trump tax returns
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, Friday, May 10, 2019 for trade talks between the United States and China. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, Friday, May 10, 2019 for trade talks between the United States and China. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By Jeff Stein
May 10, 2019 at 5:06 PM EDT
A House committee issued subpoenas Friday ordering Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to turn over President Trump’s tax returns by next Friday at 5 p.m., according to copies of the subpoenas provided by the committee.

House Ways and Means Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) authorized the subpoenas following months of disagreements with the Trump administration over whether federal law mandates Congress can obtain the records.

“The IRS is under a mandatory obligation to provide the information requested,” the subpoena states. “The IRS has had more than four weeks to comply with the Committee’s straightforward request. Therefore, please see the enclosed subpoena.”

Read the letter from the Ways and Means Committee to Rettig and Mnuchin

Trump refused to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign in a break with decades of precedent from previous presidents. Legal experts have said Mnuchin’s refusal to turn over the returns is unprecedented, noting a 1924 law explicitly gives lawmakers the authority to seek the records.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on May 6 denied House Democrats' request to turn over President Trump's tax returns. (Reuters)
A Treasury Department spokeswoman confirmed receipt of the subpoena.

The subpoenas come amid a widening legal conflict between House Democrats and the White House over a range of oversight issues, with the administration invoking executive privilege to prevent Trump's former counsel from giving certain records to Congress.

Neal first demanded six years of Trump’s personal and business returns, from 2013 to 2018, in letters to the administration this April.

Neal’s subpoenas demand Mnuchin and Rettig turn over Trump’s individual income tax returns, all “administrative files” such as affidavits for those income tax returns, and income tax returns for a number of Trump’s business holdings, such as the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, an umbrella entity that controls dozens of other businesses, such as the Mar-A-Lago club in Florida

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., who is demanding President Donald Trump's tax returns for six years, is joined at right by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a hearing on taxpayer noncompliance on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
The Trump administration has rejected Democrats’ requests for the president’s tax returns as violations of taxpayer privacy, with an attorney hired by the president and congressional Republicans echoing similar concerns. Mnuchin repeatedly asked for more time to respond to Neal’s request before rejecting it outright earlier this month.

“I think we’re coming to the point where we’re running out of letters to write,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, in an interview on Thursday.

If Mnuchin and Rettig do not turn over the returns, Neal could respond by going to a congressional body to authorize a lawsuit in federal court against the two Trump administration officials. That body, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, is controlled by Democrats.

The subpoena could bolster Neal’s position in federal court because it will help him demonstrate he pursued all possible avenues to obtain the returns before filing a lawsuit against the administration, said Steve Rosenthal, a legal expert at the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think-tank. That, at least in theory, will make it less likely for the court to strike down his claim on procedural grounds.

“A week now could save many months later,” Rosenthal said.

Even if House Democrats receive Trump’s tax returns, there is still no guarantee they will necessarily be made public. Legal experts say leaking the returns is a violation of privacy law that could be punishable with up to five years in prison, a provision intended to ensure taxpayer privacy, said George Yin, a legal expert at the University of Virginia.

Earlier this week, the New York Times published a report, based on data from 10 years of Trump’s federal tax returns, showing Trump reported more than $1 billion in losses to the IRS and lost more money than almost every other taxpayer in America from 1985 to 1994.

Earlier on Friday, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, cautioned Neal against issuing a subpoena, arguing, “Such actions would be an abuse of the committee’s oversight powers and further examples of the Democrat majority’s coordinated attempt to weaponize the tax code.”



Jeff Stein is a policy reporter for The Washington Post. He was a crime reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and, in 2014, founded the local news nonprofit the Ithaca Voice in Upstate New York. He was also a reporter for Vox. Follow
washingtonpost.com
© 1996-2019 The Washington Post



And now:





Congress, put country over party on Trump's claim of 'executive privilege'
By Wayne Gilchrest and Nick Rahall, CNN
Updated 5:40 PM EDT, Sat May 11, 2019


Editor's Note: (Former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest was a Republican member of Congress who represented Maryland's 1st District from 1991-2009. Former Rep. Nick Rahall was a Democratic member of Congress who represented West Virginia's 4th and 3rd districts from 1977-2015. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the authors. View more opinion articles at CNN.)

(CNN) For members of Congress, there are some principles that should take precedence over others. The first of those is to uphold and defend the Constitution, which includes the systems of separation of powers and checks and balances. Another is to preserve the integrity of the institution of Congress as a coequal branch of government by conducting legitimate oversight and holding the other branches accountable. Sometimes, members have to make the choice to prioritize these fundamentals of our democracy over party loyalty. We know firsthand that it can be hard to do, but we urge today's members to rise to the occasion.

Wayne Gilchrest

Overseeing the executive branch is often a contentious process, but there are rules in place to make sure that the process works. In fact, congressional authority to conduct oversight is rooted in its most fundamental constitutional power: legislating. In order to assess existing laws or consider new ones, Congress has to be able to uncover, and even compel, information. As the Supreme Court has noted, Congress's power clearly extends to oversight of executive agencies, which Congress created and funds. Congress can get the information it needs in many ways, whether by holding hearings or requesting documents. When asking doesn't work, Congress can compel responses through subpoenas and punish people by holding them in contempt.

Though it is unfortunately and dishearteningly normal for presidents to resist congressional oversight to a certain extent, the Trump administration may be taking such resistance to a new level. Attorney General William Barr recently refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee while simultaneously refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee requesting access to the unredacted Mueller report and supporting documents. The Trump administration has also refused to provide the House Ways and Means Committee with the President's tax documents that it has requested.

Recent comments by President Trump and other administration officials indicate that they may go so far as to categorically defy all oversight subpoenas. And indeed, individuals tied to the Trump administration are actively defying multiple subpoenas. Meanwhile, Trump has sued multiple banks to block the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees from gaining access to his financial records, which they had requested.

Nick Rahall
Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of particular investigations, but what we should all be able to agree on is the constitutionally embedded reality that Congress has both the right and the duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and that congressional subpoenas in particular must be honored -- no matter the context. If these subpoenas are ignored, it is incumbent upon all members of Congress, regardless of party, to consider citations of contempt against the relevant administration officials.

In light of stonewalling and defiance, a contempt citation is a vital step to assert Congress's authority. These votes can be defining moments for those of us who have the privilege to be elected to the United States Congress.

Our experiences could be instructive today.

In February 2008, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest took such a vote across party lines to hold George W. Bush's former counsel, Harriet Miers, and former chief of staff Joshua Bolten in contempt for failing to testify before Congress and provide documents. In this case, the House was pursuing a legitimate inquiry into the potentially unscrupulous and politically motivated mass termination of federal prosecutors in 2006. There was evidence that Miers was involved in plans to fire the prosecutors and Bolten possessed potentially relevant documents.

In June 2012, Rep. Nick Rahall faced a similar choice. In this instance, the Obama administration had resisted and ultimately did not comply with congressional subpoenas related to the failed "Operation Fast and Furious." In this case, the subpoena concerned an undercover operation that tried to track illegally purchased guns that the government knew were being sold. The Justice Department refused to turn over documents Congress requested for its investigation into the program and, as a result, the House voted to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. All told, 17 Democrats voted in favor of the contempt citation.

Trump-Congress confrontation goes to Defcon 1
Our contempt votes in 2008 and 2012 are by no means the only examples of lawmakers taking difficult stances for the right reason. History shows us how important it is for members of Congress to act in the broad interest of the country as opposed to the narrow interest of a party. Remember that it was a bipartisan group of senators who formed the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, some putting their politics aside to do what was necessary to hold the executive branch to account.

The committee and the report it produced in 1974 ultimately helped resolve one of the most shocking scandals in American political history. The committee's Democratic chairman, Sen. Sam Ervin, its Republican vice-chairman, Sen. Howard Baker, and their five colleagues worked cooperatively in the pursuit of the truth around the Watergate scandal and toward the eventual healing of a national wound.

We do not write to chastise current members of Congress, but rather to urge action in the institutional interest. We know how hard it can be to vote against the party line. Above all else, we write this because we are strong supporters of the institution of Congress and do not wish to see its legitimacy and authority undermined for partisan advantage.

If Congress conducts oversight and demands accountability only when the majority party faces a White House controlled by the opposing party, then Congress is not conducting true oversight at all. Accountability will become a mere matter of political point scoring, not the good stewardship of public trust it should be. In such an environment, the American people will continue to lose faith in Congress and the efficacy of our democracy. We urge all members of Congress to remember why we chose a life of public service in the first place -- and remember that we were all elected to serve the people, not the party.

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Last edited by Meno_ on Sun May 12, 2019 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trump enters the stage foreign policy

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 11, 2019 7:53 pm

Subscribe
'We're courting danger': Trump suffers foreign policy setbacks in Iran, North Korea
DEIRDRE SHESGREEN AND DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 11 minutes ago


Venezuela is in crisis after an attempt overthrow corrupt dictator Nicolas Maduro. But is this just another proxy war between the U.S. and Russia?
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is deriding President Donald Trump as foolish for trying to oust him. Kim Jong Un is testing Trump’s “love” – and his resolve – in the North Korea negotiations. And Iran’s leaders are finding new ways to threaten the U.S. and to defy the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

In short, Trump’s foreign policy agenda is hitting the diplomatic rocks, with potentially disastrous results.

Some say it’s by design – Trump doesn't mind sowing chaos and confusion, and he has. Others say it’s a result of misguided policies and contradictory, undisciplined decision-making inside the White House.

Either way, the president has suffered a series of stunning foreign policy setbacks this week, raising fresh questions about his approach to military engagement and international affairs.

“What you see is a mismatch between means and ends across the board – whether it’s in Venezuela, whether it’s in North Korea, whether it’s in Iran – where the end’s always extremely ambitious and the diplomatic means tend to be quite de minimis,” said Robert Malley, a senior White House adviser on the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region in the Obama administration. “We’re courting danger where there’s no reason to.”

Jon B. Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, said the series of foreign policy crises that have come to a head in recent days seem part of Trump’s design.

“The president is a lot more comfortable with chaos than any president in recent memory,” Alterman said. “The president doesn’t see uncertainty and disorder as a liability. He sees it as an asset.”

So escalating tensions in Iran and the stalemate in Venezuela, he said, are not necessarily an aberration but a feature of Trump’s sometimes erratic and contradictory approach to world affairs.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
ALEX BRANDON, AP
The result has been on full display in recent days:

On Tuesday, the Pentagon rushed B-52 bombers and a carrier strike group to the Middle East in response to intercepted intelligence indicating Iran or its proxies in the region might be preparing attacks on American military troops and facilities. A day later, Iran’s president declared his country would pull back on its compliance with a sweeping, multilateral nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

On Thursday, North Korea tested a suspected short-range missile, the second time in less than a week that Kim’s regime has taken that kind of provocative step.

On Friday, Trump roiled markets and sowed confusion when he deleted and then reposted a Twitter thread in which he said Chinese trade talks were progressing in "a very congenial manner" and that there is "no need to rush" a new agreement – right after his administration imposed new U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods because the two sides were unable to reach a new trade deal.

Last week, top Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, touted the possibility of U.S. military action in Venezuela as a U.S.-backed uprising led by opposition leader Juan Guaido fizzled and Maduro mocked the failed effort as “foolishness by coup mongers” in the Trump White House.

For his part, Trump says he is cleaning up "the mess" left behind by predecessors, from bad trade deals across the globe to protracted military conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.

"We have made a decisive break from the failed foreign policy establishment that sacrificed our sovereignty, surrendered our jobs and tied us down to endless foreign wars," Trump said during a political rally Wednesday in Florida.

Democrats scoff at Trump's efforts to blame his foreign policy troubles on previous presidents.

“Everything the president has touched internationally has gone to crap,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said at a national security forum on Friday sponsored by former Obama administration officials.

“We have split our alliances," said Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We have engaged in a trade war that’s cost Americans money. We have allowed Iran to restart their nuclear program. We have made no substantial progress in North Korea. The Middle East is more chaotic, not less chaotic. There’s still 20,000 members of ISIS who are getting ready to regroup.”

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the fundamental problem with Trump's approach to foreign policy is that he sets sky-high goals, but is unwilling or unable to deliver on them.

"The president has articulated wildly ambitious goals that he almost certainly is going to fail to meet," he said.

For example, Trump says he wants North Korea to give up its entire nuclear arsenal, and to do it quickly. He wants Iran's regime to collapse or to radically alter its behavior across the Middle East. He wants fundamental changes in China trade policy.

All these are long shots, at best, Haass said.

"In all three of those cases he will have to compromise, or he will fail," said Haass, author of the book "A World In Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order."

Others echoed that assessment but said Trump has exacerbated that disconnect with contradictory positions coming from within the White House.

Take the current crisis in Venezuela, where Trump had forcefully backed Guaido's bid to oust Maduro, a socialist leader who had helped drive his country to the brink of economic collapse. Trump's position has been driven by hawks inside his administration, including Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

After Maduro's uprising floundered last week, Bolton and Pompeo went to the Pentagon to talk to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about possible U.S. military options. But such intervention would run directly counter to Trump's own instincts, and his campaign promises, to steer clear of military interventions.

Trump's advisers seem "more willing to bandy about the threat of the use of military force, whereas he is far less inclined to do so," Malley said. That split between Trump and his advisers creates one layer of confusion, Malley said, and a second one comes from "a tug of war within (Trump's) own mind."

While Trump says he wants to avoid messy military entanglements, he also wants "to project a sense not just of power but of a willingness to go the brink and to court confrontation," Malley said.

That has fed a sense of failure or stalemate in places like Venezuela, he added, where Bolton predicted Maduro's ouster was just a matter of time. And it's created whiplash on North Korea, where Trump went from threatening Kim with "fire and fury" to declaring that they "fell in love."

Alterman said economic pressure, like the sanctions that Trump has slapped on the Maduro government, almost never lead to regime change or a popular revolt against an authoritarian leader. But Trump doesn't seem to really want to take the next step of military intervention in places like Venezuela.

The same is true with Iran, he said, where Trump has set himself up for failure by outlining a policy that shoots for the stars – complete transformation of the Iranian regime, or what Alterman called "self-regime change." But the president is relying on economic pressure and bellicose rhetoric to achieve that, which Alterman said will almost certainly not work.

View | 8 Photos
The day in pictures
Brian Hook, the State Department's special envoy for Iran, argues that Trump's approach to Iran has borne fruit. Exhibit A, Hook says, is that Iran appears to be cutting back its financial support for militant groups in Syria and Lebanon.

But he and others concede that Iran is not close to reopening talks with the U.S. on a broader agreement that would curb its ballistic missile program or halt its support for terrorism. And just days after the Pentagon rushed its bombers to the region in response to an Iranian threat, Trump told supporters he would like to sit-down with Iran's president and negotiate.

"I hope to be able at some point … to sit down and work out a fair deal," he said during Wednesday's rally in Florida. "We’re not looking to hurt anybody ... We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons."

Like what you’re reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

Related coverage:

'We need to know why': Lawmakers wary as Trump aides weigh military options for Venezuela

President Donald Trump hopes to 'sit down' with Iran over nuclear deal

North Korea launches second projectile in less than a week

Originally Published 2 hours ago
Updated 11 minutes ago
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Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
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Re: Trump enters the stage foreign policy

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 11, 2019 8:06 pm

'We're courting danger': Trump suffers foreign policy setbacks in Iran, North Korea
DEIRDRE SHESGREEN AND DAVID JACKSON | USA TODAY | 11 minutes ago


Venezuela is in crisis after an attempt overthrow corrupt dictator Nicolas Maduro. But is this just another proxy war between the U.S. and Russia?
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is deriding President Donald Trump as foolish for trying to oust him. Kim Jong Un is testing Trump’s “love” – and his resolve – in the North Korea negotiations. And Iran’s leaders are finding new ways to threaten the U.S. and to defy the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

In short, Trump’s foreign policy agenda is hitting the diplomatic rocks, with potentially disastrous results.

Some say it’s by design – Trump doesn't mind sowing chaos and confusion, and he has. Others say it’s a result of misguided policies and contradictory, undisciplined decision-making inside the White House.

Either way, the president has suffered a series of stunning foreign policy setbacks this week, raising fresh questions about his approach to military engagement and international affairs.

“What you see is a mismatch between means and ends across the board – whether it’s in Venezuela, whether it’s in North Korea, whether it’s in Iran – where the end’s always extremely ambitious and the diplomatic means tend to be quite de minimis,” said Robert Malley, a senior White House adviser on the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region in the Obama administration. “We’re courting danger where there’s no reason to.”

Jon B. Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, said the series of foreign policy crises that have come to a head in recent days seem part of Trump’s design.

“The president is a lot more comfortable with chaos than any president in recent memory,” Alterman said. “The president doesn’t see uncertainty and disorder as a liability. He sees it as an asset.”

So escalating tensions in Iran and the stalemate in Venezuela, he said, are not necessarily an aberration but a feature of Trump’s sometimes erratic and contradictory approach to world affairs.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
ALEX BRANDON, AP
The result has been on full display in recent days:

On Tuesday, the Pentagon rushed B-52 bombers and a carrier strike group to the Middle East in response to intercepted intelligence indicating Iran or its proxies in the region might be preparing attacks on American military troops and facilities. A day later, Iran’s president declared his country would pull back on its compliance with a sweeping, multilateral nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

On Thursday, North Korea tested a suspected short-range missile, the second time in less than a week that Kim’s regime has taken that kind of provocative step.

On Friday, Trump roiled markets and sowed confusion when he deleted and then reposted a Twitter thread in which he said Chinese trade talks were progressing in "a very congenial manner" and that there is "no need to rush" a new agreement – right after his administration imposed new U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods because the two sides were unable to reach a new trade deal.

Last week, top Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, touted the possibility of U.S. military action in Venezuela as a U.S.-backed uprising led by opposition leader Juan Guaido fizzled and Maduro mocked the failed effort as “foolishness by coup mongers” in the Trump White House.

For his part, Trump says he is cleaning up "the mess" left behind by predecessors, from bad trade deals across the globe to protracted military conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.

"We have made a decisive break from the failed foreign policy establishment that sacrificed our sovereignty, surrendered our jobs and tied us down to endless foreign wars," Trump said during a political rally Wednesday in Florida.

Democrats scoff at Trump's efforts to blame his foreign policy troubles on previous presidents.

“Everything the president has touched internationally has gone to crap,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said at a national security forum on Friday sponsored by former Obama administration officials.

“We have split our alliances," said Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We have engaged in a trade war that’s cost Americans money. We have allowed Iran to restart their nuclear program. We have made no substantial progress in North Korea. The Middle East is more chaotic, not less chaotic. There’s still 20,000 members of ISIS who are getting ready to regroup.”

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the fundamental problem with Trump's approach to foreign policy is that he sets sky-high goals, but is unwilling or unable to deliver on them.

"The president has articulated wildly ambitious goals that he almost certainly is going to fail to meet," he said.

For example, Trump says he wants North Korea to give up its entire nuclear arsenal, and to do it quickly. He wants Iran's regime to collapse or to radically alter its behavior across the Middle East. He wants fundamental changes in China trade policy.

All these are long shots, at best, Haass said.

"In all three of those cases he will have to compromise, or he will fail," said Haass, author of the book "A World In Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order."

Others echoed that assessment but said Trump has exacerbated that disconnect with contradictory positions coming from within the White House.

Take the current crisis in Venezuela, where Trump had forcefully backed Guaido's bid to oust Maduro, a socialist leader who had helped drive his country to the brink of economic collapse. Trump's position has been driven by hawks inside his administration, including Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

After Maduro's uprising floundered last week, Bolton and Pompeo went to the Pentagon to talk to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about possible U.S. military options. But such intervention would run directly counter to Trump's own instincts, and his campaign promises, to steer clear of military interventions.

Trump's advisers seem "more willing to bandy about the threat of the use of military force, whereas he is far less inclined to do so," Malley said. That split between Trump and his advisers creates one layer of confusion, Malley said, and a second one comes from "a tug of war within (Trump's) own mind."

While Trump says he wants to avoid messy military entanglements, he also wants "to project a sense not just of power but of a willingness to go the brink and to court confrontation," Malley said.

That has fed a sense of failure or stalemate in places like Venezuela, he added, where Bolton predicted Maduro's ouster was just a matter of time. And it's created whiplash on North Korea, where Trump went from threatening Kim with "fire and fury" to declaring that they "fell in love."

Alterman said economic pressure, like the sanctions that Trump has slapped on the Maduro government, almost never lead to regime change or a popular revolt against an authoritarian leader. But Trump doesn't seem to really want to take the next step of military intervention in places like Venezuela.

The same is true with Iran, he said, where Trump has set himself up for failure by outlining a policy that shoots for the stars – complete transformation of the Iranian regime, or what Alterman called "self-regime change." But the president is relying on economic pressure and bellicose rhetoric to achieve that, which Alterman said will almost certainly not work.

View | 8 Photos
The day in pictures
Brian Hook, the State Department's special envoy for Iran, argues that Trump's approach to Iran has borne fruit. Exhibit A, Hook says, is that Iran appears to be cutting back its financial support for militant groups in Syria and Lebanon.

But he and others concede that Iran is not close to reopening talks with the U.S. on a broader agreement that would curb its ballistic missile program or halt its support for terrorism. And just days after the Pentagon rushed its bombers to the region in response to an Iranian threat, Trump told supporters he would like to sit-down with Iran's president and negotiate.

"I hope to be able at some point … to sit down and work out a fair deal," he said during Wednesday's rally in Florida. "We’re not looking to hurt anybody ... We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons."

Like what you’re reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

Related coverage:

'We need to know why': Lawmakers wary as Trump aides weigh military options for Venezuela

President Donald Trump hopes to 'sit down' with Iran over nuclear deal




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The Washington Post logoDemocracy Dies in Darkness
Europe
Trump’s interest in stirring Ukraine investigations sows confusion in Kiev
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani speaks in Washington last year. Giuliani said Friday he was canceling a planned trip to Ukraine. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani speaks in Washington last year. Giuliani said Friday he was canceling a planned trip to Ukraine. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
By Anton Troianovski, Josh Dawsey and Paul Sonne
May 11, 2019 at 2:58 PM EDT
MOSCOW — As President Trump and his inner circle appear increasingly focused on Ukraine as a potential tripwire for Joe Biden and other Democrats, officials about to take power in Kiev are pushing their own message: Leave us out of it.

Supporters of Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky — who is expected to take office in the coming weeks — said in interviews Saturday that they feared they were being pulled into a domestic political conflict in the United States, potentially at Ukraine’s expense.
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 12, 2019 4:58 pm

Pete Buttigieg says Donald Trump's white 'identity politics' creating a 'crisis of belonging'
MAUREEN GROPPE | USA TODAY | 40 minutes ago


Pete Buttigieg, a two-term mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is now running for president at the age of 37. Here's what we know about the man and his campaign.
DWIGHT ADAMS, DWIGHT.ADAMS@INDYSTAR.COM
Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg on Saturday accused President Donald Trump of dividing America and creating a "crisis of belonging" for people of color, immigrants, gay people and others.


While Trump's proposed border wall is a fantasy, the South Bend, Ind. mayor said, the administration is erecting real walls with what he called the most divisive form of "identity politics" – white identity politics.

That can leave black women, immigrants, the disabled, displaced auto workers and others feeling like they're living in a different country, Buttigieg told a gala of gay rights activists.

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Buttigieg, who is openly gay, said there is also some schismatic thinking in the Democratic Party, such as when "we're told we need to choose between supporting an auto worker and supporting a trans women of color, without stopping to think about the fact that sometimes the auto worker is a trans woman of color and she definitely needs all the support that she can get."

Buttigieg said at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Las Vegas that each person has a story that can be used to either separate – or connect – them to others.

"What every gay person has in common with every excluded person of any kind is knowing what it’s like to see a wall between you and the rest of the world and wonder what it’s like on the other side," he said. "I am here to build bridges and to tear down walls."

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivers a keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) 14th annual Las Vegas Gala at Caesars Palace on May 11, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. The HRC is the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States.
ETHAN MILLER, GETTY IMAGES
Buttigieg's remarks were a continuation of a unity theme he's emphasized since officially launching his presidential campaign last month. His campaign logo includes a bridge that encapsulates his first name.

Trump sounded out his potential rival's harder-to-pronounce last name at a campaign rally in Florida Wednesday, while ticking through Democratic presidential contenders: "Boot-edge-edge," the president sounded out, "They say 'edge-edge.'"

On Friday, Trump compared Buttigieg to the longtime mascot of Mad Magazine, a freckled-faced cartoon boy.

"Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States," he told Politico.

Buttigieg, who had to Google the character that was popular long before he was born to understand the jab, made an oblique reference to it Saturday.

He said his teenage self would not have been able to comprehend the fact that he would wake up in Las Vegas one day "to reports that the president of the United States was apparently trying to get his attention."

"Let alone if you told him that the president somehow pronounced his name right," Buttigieg said as the audience laughed.

Buttigieg to Pence: If you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is with my creator

Pence answers Buttigieg's criticism: 'He knows better. He knows me'

Rising star? 7 hurdles facing Democrat Pete Buttigieg's 2020 presidential campaign

Saturday's event at Caesars Palace was one of more than a dozen local dinners the Human Rights Campaign is holding before their national dinner in September in Washington.

Two other presidential candidates – California Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey – spoke at a March dinner in Los Angeles.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, will co-host a forum for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates this fall.

“Anyone in this room understands that politics isn’t theoretical; it is personal," Buttigieg said. "So many of us have a marriage that exists by the grace of a single vote on the U.S. Supreme Court."

That's why, he said, what matters in Washington is "not the show." But "the way a chain of events starts in one of those big white buildings and reaches into our lives, into our homes, our paychecks, our doctors' offices, our marriages," he said. "That's what's at stake today."


Originally Published 4 hours ago
Updated 40 minutes ago




© Copyright Gannett 2019
Meno_
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 12, 2019 7:10 pm

Los Angeles Times
Suddenly conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of power
By DOYLE MCMANUS
MAY 12, 2019 | 4:00 AM
WASHINGTON

Suddenly conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of power
George Conway is a prominent conservative lawyer and frequent critic of President Trump. His wife is Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor to Trump. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Washington seems to be barreling toward a constitutional crisis.

Democrats are barraging President Trump with demands for witnesses and documents. Trump has answered by stonewalling, vowing to fight “all the subpoenas.”


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As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned, Trump seems to be goading the Democratic-controlled House toward impeachment, perhaps because it’s a battle he thinks he can win.

Politicians on both sides are repairing to their tribal corners.


Is there anyone who can serve as honest referees in this partisan standoff?

One answer — don’t laugh — is lawyers. Specifically, Republican lawyers.

Even as Republicans in Congress have fallen in line to defend Trump at every turn, a surprising number of conservative lawyers have broken ranks and are condemning the president for abuses of power and denouncing his blanket claims of executive privilege.

Last week, John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who drafted a notorious memo justifying the torture of detainees under President George W. Bush, warned that Trump had gone too far in asserting unbridled presidential power.

Al
“That's what Nixon did,” Yoo told NPR. “That's what other presidents who have failed have done.”

In an email exchange, Yoo told me he stands by the comparison, and added that Trump’s actions are sufficient grounds for the House to consider impeachment.

“Impeachment [is] the only solution to Trump’s challenge to the constitutional order,” he wrote.

Trump says Mueller shouldn’t testify to Congress, escalating fight with Democrats
MAY 05, 2019 | 1:45 PM
Yoo isn’t alone. George Conway, a leading conservative lawyer (and dissenting husband of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway), declared that Trump is “a cancer on the presidency,” echoing White House Counsel John Dean’s famous warning to Nixon during Watergate. Conway urged Congress to remove Trump from office.

“Presidential attempts to abuse power by putting personal interests above the nation’s can surely be impeachable,” Conway wrote in the Washington Post. Last year, he changed his voter registration from Republican to “unaffiliated,” saying the GOP had become a “personality cult.”

Other attorneys have been more restrained, but only a little.

“The president’s conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law— a disregard that is in direct conflict with his constitutional responsibilities,” 11 conservative lawyers wrote last month. They urged the House to continue its investigations, but stopped short of endorsing impeachment.

“This president is undermining the basic principle of checks and balances,” one of the 11, former Deputy Atty. Gen. Donald B. Ayer, told me. “It’s really kind of tyrannical. It’s un-American. It’s the sort of expansion of government power you would expect Republicans to worry about.”
In addition, more than 800 former federal prosecutors, many of them Republicans, signed a statement declaring that the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, far from exonerating Trump, showed that he deserved to be indicted for obstruction of justice.

“It seems to me important, especially today, for lawyers to speak with consistency about the rule of law and apply it without consideration of party,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a former assistant to independent counsel Kenneth Starr in the investigation of President Clinton that led to his impeachment by the House in 1998. The Senate did not convict, and Clinton served out his term.

The existence of dissident Republican voices shouldn’t be noteworthy — but it is. There aren't many institutions in Washington that have resisted the descent into tribalism.

To take the most glaring example, the Republican caucus in the Senate — home to Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who once called Trump “a complete idiot” and “a race-baiting bigot,” and Ted Cruz of Texas, who called him a “pathological liar” — is now, on most working days, a chorus of Trumpolatry.

Why are so many Republican lawyers standing against their party’s prevailing tide?

Maybe they just take their professional canons seriously.

“You are the guardians of the rule of law,” Rod Rosenstein, then Trump’s deputy attorney general, told the American Bar Assn.’s annual meeting last year. “Honorable lawyers defend the rule of law, even when it is difficult, so it will be there when we need it.”

On a more visceral level, some are offended by Trump’s disdain for lawyers. After all, two of Trump’s, Roy Cohn and Michael Cohen, were disbarred.

“There’s a point in the Mueller report where Trump complains that [then-White House Counsel] Don McGahn is always taking notes, and McGahn explains that real lawyers do that,” Ayer said. “If you want to be an autocrat, you don’t want people who care about what’s legal looking over your shoulder. They’re out to get the lawyers.”

And they know that this constitutional crisis, like most, is likely to end up in the courts.

In their recent book “How Democracies Die,” Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt noted that one way autocratic regimes rise to power is by undermining the media, the legal profession and the judiciary. All are potential independent checks on government.

“Democracy no longer ends with a bang, but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions,” they wrote.

Trump has often described the courts in partisan terms. He has condemned judges appointed by Democratic presidents as biased against him, while extolling the Supreme Court as a Republican-led refuge.

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“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he tweeted recently.

The president seems to think government lawyers are duty-bound to defend his every whim, and that Republican judges are duty-bound to decide cases in his favor.

These GOP lawyers are reminding their colleagues — justices as well as attorneys — that their real duty lies elsewhere.


Doyle McManus is a Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times and director of the journalism program at Georgetown University. During his long career at The Times, he has been a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, a White House correspondent and a presidential campaign reporter.

U.S. and China break off talks without deal to end widening trade war
MAY 10, 2019

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times

----------------------

ABCNews
Trump repeats unsubstantiated claims of 'coup' attempt after former FBI lawyer knocks them down
By Cheyenne Haslett
May 13, 2019, 9:10 AM ET

WATCH: Meanwhile, his chief economic adviser says American businesses and consumers will pay for tariffs on Chinese imports, not China. ABC News' Trevor Ault reports.
President Donald Trump on Monday repeated unsubstantiated claims that efforts by law enforcement to investigate the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia were part of a "coup."

The president's tweeted reference to a "coup" -- short for "coup d'etat," the French phrase for a government overthrow -- elevates claims from conservative voices including Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and pro-Trump commentator Dan Bongino.


The president also attacked the FBI as having "no leadership," an insult aimed at FBI Director Chris Wray, whom Trump nominated to replace former FBI Director James Comey. Wray testified before Congress last week that he wouldn't use the word "spying" to describe the bureau's investigative activity.

Trump retweeted a claim that Wray was "trying to protect the same gang."

Wray's comments stood in contrast to Attorney General William Barr's, who told Congress in April that he thought "spying did occur." Barr also said he wasn't suggesting that it "wasn’t adequately predicated," but that he needed to "explore" that.

The president's comments, issued in a late-night Twitter thread quoting Judicial Review's Fitton last week on one of the president's favorite Fox News shows, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," followed public push-back on his allegations of spying and a coup from a former senior aide and lawyer for the FBI, James Baker.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill, May 7, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Last week, Baker spoke out against the president publicly for one of the first times.

"There was no attempted ‘coup,'" Baker, the FBI's former general counsel, said in an interview at the Brookings Institution on Thursday. “There was no way in hell that I was going to allow some coup or coup attempt to take place on my watch.”

“I want to talk about the origin of the investigation to reassure the American people that it was done for lawful legitimate reasons and was apolitical throughout in my experience,” Baker said in an interview with Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes.

The president also tweeted about the House Judiciary Committee's vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress, which Trump quoted Fitton describing as "just another abuse of power in a long series of abuses of power by the Democrats."

The vote came after the attorney general's refusal to produce the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, along with all of the underlying documents. Ahead of the vote, Trump asserted executive privilege over the report and its underlying evidence.

© 2019 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved



Some background-






May/June 2018 Issue
Eastern Europe's Illiberal Revolution
The Long Road to Democratic Decline
By Ivan Krastev
In 1991, when the West was busy celebrating its victory in the Cold War and the apparent spread of liberal democracy to all corners of the world, the political scientist Samuel Huntington issued a warning against excessive optimism. In an article for the Journal of Democracy titled “Democracy’s Third Wave,” Huntington pointed out that the two previous waves of democratization, from the 1820s to the 1920s and from 1945 to the 1960s, had been followed by “reverse waves,” in which “democratic systems were replaced . . . by historically new forms of authoritarian rule.” A third reverse wave was possible, he suggested, if new authoritarian great powers could demonstrate the continued viability of nondemocratic rule or “if people around the world come to see the United States,” long a beacon of democracy, “as a fading power beset by political stagnation, economic inefficiency, and social chaos.”

Huntington died in 2008, but had he lived, even he would probably have been surprised to see that liberal democracy is now under threat not only in countries that went through democratic transitions in recent decades, such as Brazil and Turkey, but also in the West’s most established democracies. Authoritarianism, meanwhile, has reemerged in Russia and been strengthened in China, and foreign adventurism and domestic political polarization have dramatically damaged the United States’ global influence and prestige.

Perhaps the most alarming development has been the change of heart in eastern Europe. Two of the region’s poster children for postcommunist democratization, Hungary and Poland, have seen conservative populists win sweeping electoral victories while demonizing the political opposition, scapegoating minorities, and undermining liberal checks and balances. Other countries in the region, including the Czech Republic and Romania, seem poised to follow. In a speech in 2014, one of the new populists, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, outlined his position on liberalism: “A democracy is not necessarily liberal. Just because something is not liberal, it still can be a democracy.” To maintain global competitiveness.








FOREIGN AFFAIRS



GRADUATE SCHOOL FORUM
Council on Foreign Relations
From the
publishers
of Foreign Affairs



by Stewart M. Patrick


Privacy PolicyTerms of Use
©2019 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Foreign Affairs
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Re: Trump enters the stage. Iran

Postby Meno_ » Mon May 13, 2019 7:41 am

World War 3 ALERT: Iran sends stark warning to Trump - 'We will HIT you in the HEAD!'
US-Iran relations have taken a severe downturn after Trump deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln

US-Iran relations have taken a severe downturn after Trump deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln
IRAN has warned if the US makes a military move against the Middle Eastern nation it will “hit them in the head” as tensions between the two powers continue to rise.

PUBLISHED: 00:12, Mon, May 13, 2019
UPDATED: 00:15, Mon, May 13, 2019


Amirali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, boasted to the Iranian Students' News Agency: "An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now... the threats have switched to opportunities. If the Americans make a move we will hit them in the head." His words come shortly after an Iranian leader warned US President Donald Trump the US fleet dispatched to the Persian Gulf will face “dozens of missiles” if it “attempts any move”, raising the prospect of a direct, explosive military confrontation.




Trump warned Iran has 'means and will' to cause worldwide CATASTROPHE
Trump sends a missile, warship and bombers to Middle East as tensions

And US officials have said there was an “increasing possibility” of Tehran or its regional proxies launching strikes against US commercial ships including oil tankers as the situation continues to deteriorate.

The ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: "Their billion-dollar fleet can be destroyed with one missile.

"If they attempt any move, they will face dozens of missiles because at that time government officials won't be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”

In the latest tense exchange between Tehran and Washington, Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards separately said Iran would not negotiate with the United States, a stance likely in part to be intended to discourage Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate allies from taking up a US offer of talks.

Mr Trump on Thursday urged Iran's leaders talk with him about giving up their nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation.

Trump made the offer as he increased economic and military pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the US Navy and Air Force presence in the Gulf.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, an official said on Friday.

The US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday and American B-52 bombers have also arrived at a US base in Qatar, US Central Command said.

Iran has dismissed both moves - which the United States said it took after US intelligence signaled possible preparations by Tehran to attack U.S. forces or interests - as "psychological warfare" designed to intimidate it.

In an advisory posted on Thursday, the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against US and partner interests.

These included oil production infrastructure, after Tehran threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz chokepoint through which about a fifth of oil consumed globally passes.

US-Iranian tensions have risen since Mr Trump withdrew a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and major powers and began ratcheting up sanctions to throttle Tehran's economy, and these were further tightened this month.

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Copyright ©2019 Express Newspapers. "Daily Express" is a registered trademark.

-- ----- ------ ------------------- ------------------



Dave Lawler
2 hours ago
Trump pushes China and Iran to the brink


President Trump is pushing both China and Iran to the brink, betting they’ll capitulate and warning of dire consequences if they don’t.

Why it matters: The stock market is already taking a beating as China retaliates to Trump’s tariff hikes on $200 billion in Chinese goods, and analysts are warning of a possible global recession if he follows through with his threat to extend them to all Chinese imports. Meanwhile, Trump’s warnings that Iran will "suffer greatly" if “they do anything” to provoke the U.S., paired with bellicose statements from senior officials, are deepening fears of another war in the Middle East.

Even short of war, Trump’s pressure campaign will likely mean higher oil prices, more suffering for the Iranian people and the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Between the lines: This is how Trump negotiates, Axios’ Jonathan Swan emails:

“He believes in grand displays of hard power — extreme threats of military force ('fire and fury' for North Korea, sending the carrier to Persian Gulf) and punitive measures (tariffs and sanctions) — more than he does the subtler tools of statecraft.”
“He believes the only way to get what you want from another country is to first force them into a begging position. The leaders in both China and Iran are hardliners who put a premium on maintaining national pride and, as the Chinese explicitly said, ‘dignity.’"
“Both countries' leaders have indicated they're willing to be patient with Trump and intend to wait him out. The question is how impatient Trump becomes and how he reacts to the negative domestic effects of some of his punitive policies.”
The latest: China announced tariff hikes today on $60 billion in U.S. goods. Meanwhile, the Communist Party’s propaganda machine kicked into high gear, Bill Bishop reports in his Sinocism newsletter.

Chinese media “has struck a defiant tone since Friday, blaming the US for the failure, playing the victim with its usual shrill skill, talking tough about being able to outlast the US in any prolonged trade fight, and … threatening non-tariff retaliatory measures,” Bill notes.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added a last-minute stop in Brussels to his schedule today in order to warn leaders there of the “escalating threat” from Iran.

Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have continued to raise such threats over the past week without offering specifics. Trump told reporters today that he’d been “hearing little stories about Iran,” adding: “If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.”
“Today, the question in Washington — and surely in Tehran, too — is whether President Trump is making moves that will provoke, instigate, or inadvertently drag the United States into a war with Iran,” Robin Wright argues today in the New Yorker.

“The Administration has vowed to keep increasing pressure until Iran changes its behavior. ... So far, Tehran has not changed course.”
The stated position from both civilian and military leaders is that the U.S. isn’t seeking a military confrontation with Iran but is prepared for one if necessary.
“The problem, as U.S. history proves, is that the momentum of confrontation is harder to reverse with each escalatory step,” Wright contends.
What to watch: Last month, as the U.S. stepped up its attempts to block all Iranian oil exports, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil chokepoint,” per Fortune.

Today, Saudi Arabia announced that two Saudi tankers were damaged by an “act of sabotage” over the weekend in the Gulf, without identifying any suspects. Iran’s foreign ministry distanced itself, calling the incident “worrisome” and “regretful."
But now, AP is citing an anonymous U.S. official as saying an "initial assessment is that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies" were responsible.
FOREIGN POLICY



59 mins ago
NYT: Pentagon presented plan to deploy 120,000 troops in case of Iran escalation

At the direction of national security adviser John Bolton, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan last week presented top White House national security officials with a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran "attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons," the New York Times reports.

Details: The plan was reportedly presented during a meeting about the Trump administration's broader Iran policy, attended — among others — by Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. It's unclear if President Trump has been briefed on the details of the plan, which did not call for a land invasion of Iran, but requested a similar number of troops involved the U.S.' 2003 invasion of Iraq, per the Times.







Fears of social media manipulation rock the developing world
People in emerging economies around the globe are becoming wary of using social media for political news due to the rampant amount of misinformation spreading on those platforms, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Adapted from a Pew Research Center chart

© Copyright Axios 2019
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Del Ivers » Mon May 13, 2019 2:00 pm

And isn't it a coincidence that this now happens to take away attention from the Turd's fight with congress? Still, the dingleberries will follow him even if it means the lives of those in the Armed Forces. Too bad we can't have a U.S. Military coup on the White House.

(Meno, I know this is your, 'news network'. Just consider this one of those quick, man-on-the-street video clips.)
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Re: Trump enters the stage. And the beat goes on...

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 14, 2019 4:22 am

Attorney General taps top Connecticut federal prosecutor for review of Trump-Russia inquiry
KEVIN JOHNSON | USA TODAY | 38 minutes ago


Attorney General William Barr told a Senate panel that he believes "spying did occur" on Trump campaign. He said "it's my obligation" to explore that.
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr tapped Connecticut's chief federal prosecutor, John Durham, to assist in an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and the FBI's surveillance activities, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.


The person, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said that Durham has been assisting the attorney general for at least a couple of weeks to determine whether federal investigators acted appropriately in the early stages of the now-completed inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Barr announced that he had launched the review last month during an appearance before a Senate subcommittee. He expressed concern about the FBI's use of surveillance involving associates of then-candidate Donald Trump as authorities sought to understand Russia's interference efforts, though Barr also said he did not know whether officials had done anything wrong.


"Spying on a campaign is a big deal," Barr told lawmakers then. "I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated."

At that time, the attorney general said he planned to examine the "genesis and the conduct" of the FBI's investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In this April 25, 2006, file photo, John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.
In this April 25, 2006, file photo, John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.
BOB CHILD, AP
"I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred," Barr told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "I am concerned about it. There is a basis for my concern."


Democrats have seized on Barr's use of the term "spying," asserting that the attorney general has sided with President Trump to disparage the 22-month investigation that the president has repeatedly described as a "witch-hunt."

As recently as last week, however, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was unaware of any evidence indicating that the FBI had abused its surveillance authority, distancing himself from the attorney general. "That's not the term I would use," Wray told the same Senate committee, referring to the "spying" reference.

Rod Rosenstein, until recently the department's second-in-command, said in a speech Monday that based on what he knew in 2017, "the investigation of Russian election interference was justified, and closing it was not an option."


The review involving the attorney general and Durham, a longtime Justice Department official, marks the third such inquiry into aspects of the Russia investigation that was led by special counsel Robert Mueller. It was first reported late Monday by the New York Times.

The department's inspector general is conducting a review of surveillance warrants authorities used to eavesdrop on a former campaign aide, Carter Page, in October 2016. Barr has said that effort should be completed by late May or perhaps June. The chief federal prosecutor in Utah, John Huber, also is in the midst of a separate review.

Trump and Republicans in Congress have complained repeatedly that the FBI targeted the president's campaign for political reasons, revealing text messages between two senior officials involved in the probe who expressed their personal contempt for Trump. And they have focused on the FBI's reliance on information from a former British spy who had been hired indirectly by Clinton's campaign to conduct research on Trump before the election.

During his long career at the Justice Department, Durham has taken on a number of special investigations, including an appointment during the George W. Bush administration to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotapes depicting the torture of terror suspects.

"Snitty." That's the way William Barr described a letter from Robert Mueller expressing concerns about his portrayal of the Russia probe. (May 1)
AP
Originally Published 49 minutes ago
Updated 37 minutes ago


© Copyright Gannett 2019
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Re: Trump enters the stage. And the beat goes on...

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 14, 2019 4:35 am

Meno_ wrote:Attorney General taps top Connecticut federal prosecutor for review of Trump-Russia inquiry
KEVIN JOHNSON | USA TODAY | 38 minutes ago


Attorney General William Barr told a Senate panel that he believes "spying did occur" on Trump campaign. He said "it's my obligation" to explore that.
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr tapped Connecticut's chief federal prosecutor, John Durham, to assist in an investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and the FBI's surveillance activities, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.


The person, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said that Durham has been assisting the attorney general for at least a couple of weeks to determine whether federal investigators acted appropriately in the early stages of the now-completed inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Barr announced that he had launched the review last month during an appearance before a Senate subcommittee. He expressed concern about the FBI's use of surveillance involving associates of then-candidate Donald Trump as authorities sought to understand Russia's interference efforts, though Barr also said he did not know whether officials had done anything wrong.


"Spying on a campaign is a big deal," Barr told lawmakers then. "I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated."

At that time, the attorney general said he planned to examine the "genesis and the conduct" of the FBI's investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In this April 25, 2006, file photo, John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.
In this April 25, 2006, file photo, John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.
BOB CHILD, AP
"I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred," Barr told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. "I am concerned about it. There is a basis for my concern."


Democrats have seized on Barr's use of the term "spying," asserting that the attorney general has sided with President Trump to disparage the 22-month investigation that the president has repeatedly described as a "witch-hunt."

As recently as last week, however, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was unaware of any evidence indicating that the FBI had abused its surveillance authority, distancing himself from the attorney general. "That's not the term I would use," Wray told the same Senate committee, referring to the "spying" reference.

Rod Rosenstein, until recently the department's second-in-command, said in a speech Monday that based on what he knew in 2017, "the investigation of Russian election interference was justified, and closing it was not an option."


The review involving the attorney general and Durham, a longtime Justice Department official, marks the third such inquiry into aspects of the Russia investigation that was led by special counsel Robert Mueller. It was first reported late Monday by the New York Times.

The department's inspector general is conducting a review of surveillance warrants authorities used to eavesdrop on a former campaign aide, Carter Page, in October 2016. Barr has said that effort should be completed by late May or perhaps June. The chief federal prosecutor in Utah, John Huber, also is in the midst of a separate review.

Trump and Republicans in Congress have complained repeatedly that the FBI targeted the president's campaign for political reasons, revealing text messages between two senior officials involved in the probe who expressed their personal contempt for Trump. And they have focused on the FBI's reliance on information from a former British spy who had been hired indirectly by Clinton's campaign to conduct research on Trump before the election.

During his long career at the Justice Department, Durham has taken on a number of special investigations, including an appointment during the George W. Bush administration to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotapes depicting the torture of terror suspects.

"Snitty." That's the way William Barr described a letter from Robert Mueller expressing concerns about his portrayal of the Russia probe. (May 1)
AP
Originally Published 49 minutes ago
Updated 37 minutes ago


© Copyright Gannett 2019



Del Ivers wrote:

-------------------------
Meno, I know this is your, 'news network'. Just consider this one of those quick, man-on-the-street video clips.)
---------------------------

Its something I've been thinking all along .
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 14, 2019 5:55 am

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 14, 2019 2:45 pm

POLITICO

Judge set to rule on Trump's subpoena challenge
The decision could provide a blueprint for other judges deciding on the president's attempts to stop congressional investigations.

By ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY

05/14/2019 05:12 AM EDT


The ruling from Judge Amit Mehta (left) will represent a flashpoint in the myriad disputes between the White House and Congress. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

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President Donald Trump’s strategy of outright resistance to House subpoenas will face its first test in federal court on Tuesday, setting up a ruling that could boost Democrats’ efforts to investigate the president’s business dealings.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is set to rule on the Democrat-led House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records. The committee’s demand is part of its investigation into alleged financial crimes committed by Trump.



Trump filed suit seeking to invalidate the subpoena three weeks ago — the first of two lawsuits aimed at hobbling House Democrats’ investigations targeting his administration, presidential campaign and business empire.

Mehta’s ruling will represent a flashpoint in the myriad disputes between the White House and Congress — marking the first time the judiciary weighs in on Trump’s blanket strategy of refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas and oversight requests from House Democrats.

Trump and his Republican allies have argued that the subpoena was politically motivated and amounts to an abuse of Congress’ authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch. Democrats have said Trump’s court challenges are frivolous efforts to delay legitimate probes, part of what they say is a broad “stonewalling” effort by the Trump administration.

CONGRESS

Nadler squeezed with calls for ‘inherent contempt’
By JOHN BRESNAHAN and KYLE CHENEY
Mehta is expected to deliver his decision after an 11 a.m. hearing at a Washington federal district courthouse. The judge decided to expedite the process, contending he already learned enough to rule without hearing in-person arguments by Trump lawyers or the House general counsel.

That move bodes poorly for Trump. It suggests the judge didn’t want to drag out the case as Democrats seek to quickly gather evidence of Trump’s alleged financial impropriety. On Monday, ahead of the hearing, Trump’s attorneys telegraphed those concerns in a new court filing and asked Mehta to cancel the hearing altogether and set a trial date.

“While Plaintiffs understand the Court’s desire to decide this case efficiently, resolving it in this way—and on this schedule—will severely prejudice Plaintiffs,” Trump attorney William S. Consovoy wrote.

Douglas Letter, general counsel for the House of Representatives, backed Mehta’s plan to rule from the bench, saying in a court filing that Consovoy’s “complaint lacks merit and an expeditious resolution of the subpoena’s validity is necessary for the committee’s investigations to continue.”

Mehta later formally denied Consovoy’s request, writing in a brief order Monday night: “The hearing will proceed tomorrow as scheduled.”



Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) issued the so-called friendly subpoena to Mazars, which asked for the subpoena so that it could comply with the request. He issued it just days after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, provided documents to the Oversight panel purportedly showing that the president artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets in order to benefit financially.

CONGRESS

Democrats subpoena Trump's tax returns in escalating fight with White House
By BRIAN FALER and AARON LORENZO
Cohen in February disclosed several of Trump’s financial statements which were submitted to Deutsche Bank in 2014 as Trump was seeking a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills NFL team. Cohen told lawmakers that the documents showed that Trump inflated the value of certain assets in order to secure the loan.

The committee says it needs Trump’s financial records from Mazars as part of its efforts to corroborate Cohen’s allegations.

Trump’s lawyers argue the subpoena is defective because it relies so heavily on Cohen’s testimony.

“Chairman Cummings requested this information because Michael Cohen—a felon who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress—told the House Oversight Committee that the President had misrepresented his net worth while he was a private citizen,” Trump’s attorneys wrote, calling it “one of the worst examples of the House Democrats’ zeal to attack President Trump.”

Mehta’s ruling could provide a blueprint for other judges deciding on Trump’s attempts to thwart congressional investigations. Trump has also filed suit to block the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees from subpoenaing Deutsche Bank and Capital One, where many of his business and personal financial records are housed.

CONGRESS

Here’s why Democrats may rethink impeaching Trump
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN and JOSH GERSTEIN
Trump’s attorneys have argued that House Democrats’ efforts to obtain Trump’s records are political grenades masked as efforts to conduct legitimate investigations. Democrats just want to damage the president politically ahead of his reelection fight, they argue, and their subpoenas are illegitimate because there’s no underlying effort to support possible legislation that could arise.

“Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and even his family,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically.”

Story Continued Below

If Mehta, an appointee of President Barack Obama, rules in favor of House Democrats, it may be House Republicans’ previous court battles that helped provide the road map. In 2017, House Intelligence Committee Republicans successfully sued Fusion GPS — a research firm hired by Democrats that commissioned the so-called Steele dossier alleging a vast Trump-Russia conspiracy to influence the 2016 election — for the firm’s financial records.

In that case, Judge Richard Leon — a George W. Bush appointee — indicated that Congress had broad authority to define the legitimate “legislative purpose” of its demands for information.

“This court will not — and indeed, may not — engage in a line-by-line review of the committee’s requests,” Leon wrote at the time.


© 2019 POLITICO LLC

--------------------------------------
And relevance re executive privilege :



ABCNews
House panel opens inquiry into claims Trump legal team edited Michael Cohen's testimony
By Lucien Bruggeman
May 14, 2019, 6:55 PM ET

WATCH: The president said Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, lied "a lot" but added that he was surprised his former fixer did not lie about the Russia probe.
The Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee has launched an investigation into claims brought forth by Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, who has suggested that members of President Donald Trump's legal team edited his statement to Congress about a prospective Trump Tower-Moscow project.

During public testimony in March, before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen said Trump's current personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, changed his statement to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees regarding the duration of those discussions before he submitted it to Capitol Hill.


In his initial statement to Congress, Cohen said discussions about the Moscow project ended in January of 2016, when in reality conversations about the prospective deal continued through the summer of 2016 -- well after Trump became the Republican nominee for president. Federal prosecutors in special counsel Robert Mueller's office later wrote that Cohen also sought to "minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1," referring to then-candidate Trump.


Rep. Adam Schiff appears on a Washington Post Live discussion on the Mueller Report, April 30, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
Cohen, who is currently serving a three-year prison term at the federal corrections facility in Otisville, New York, pleaded guilty late last year to lying to Congress about the content of that statement. Sekulow has denied the claims, writing in a statement at the time that "today's testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false."

Since March, the House Intelligence Committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has exchanged a series of letters with attorneys representing members of Trump's legal team. News of the nascent investigation and Schiff's letters to the attorneys was first reported Tuesday by the New York Times.

Schiff, in a statement released Tuesday, said his committee would be "negligent not to pursue" Cohen's claims.

"The materials we are requesting in these letters go to the heart of that investigation and to Congress's ability to conduct meaningful oversight," Schiff said.


Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of President Donald Trump, arrives to testify to the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 6, 2019.

An attorney representing the president's legal team, Patrick Strawbridge, said in a statement of his own that his clients intend to resist complying with the committee's request, citing "one of the oldest and most sacred privileges in the law … attorney-client privilege."

In a letter addressed to Schiff in April, Strawbridge wrote, "we are at a loss to see how that charge justifies your sweeping and unprecedented requests to our clients."

Schiff, in response, wrote that a "bare assertion of privilege without any particularized discussion of specific documents or communications is woefully inadequate to meet your burden of establishing the elements necessary to support a valid claim of privilege."

During his closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in March, Cohen shared documents and emails with committee members showing what he said were edits to the false statement he provided to Congress in 2017, in an effort to bolster his public testimony, two sources familiar with the matter said at the time. ABC News has not independently reviewed the nature of those edits.

In addition to the charges of lying to Congress, Cohen also pleaded guilty late last year to campaign finance violations and a slew of tax- and bank-fraud.

ABC News' John Santucci and Benjamin Siegel contributed reporting


© 2019 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage Iran

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 14, 2019 6:37 pm

Iran says Trump playing 'very dangerous game' and risking 'devastating war'
KIM HJELMGAARD | USA TODAY | 28 minutes ago


President Donald Trump is warning Iran, saying that if Tehran does "anything" in the form of an attack "they will suffer greatly."
AP
LONDON – The United States is playing a "very dangerous game" as it attempts to "drag Iran into an unnecessary war," a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.


Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, told reporters here that the Trump administration's deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, B-52 bombers and other military personnel and equipment to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged, unspecified Iranian threats risked "serious miscalculation."

Baeidinejad denied that Iran or its "proxies" were behind what Washington has described as the possible Iranian-backed "sabotage" of oil tankers in the Gulf belonging to Saudi Arabia, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said that drones also attacked one of its oil pipelines and other energy infrastructure, an incident that caused global oil price benchmarks to jump.

"We are prepared for any eventuality, this I can tell you," Baeidinejad said, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran that have appeared to bring the two longstanding foes to the brink of war. The two countries have no formal diplomatic channel of communication, contributing to fears war could be started by accident.

Baeidinejadsaid said from the Iranian perspective it appeared that some of President Donald Trump's closest advisers such as National Security Adviser John Bolton were actively "trying to convince" Trump to start a military confrontation that neither country wants and would be "devastating" for both Iran, the U.S. and the region.

'They're not going to be happy': Trump threatens Iran over reports of 'sabotage'

This handout picture released by the U.S. Navy on May 8, 2019, shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln conducting exercises in the Persian Gulf.

Baeidinejad's comments came as Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedly presented a military plan at a meeting of top national security officials that would send as many as 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East in the event Iran strikes U.S. forces in the region or speeds up its development of nuclear weapons, according to a report published in The New York Times on Monday. The plan was partly ordered by Bolton, the report said. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran.

Trump dismissed the report but also said he would send U.S. troops if needed.

Since last week the Trump administration has been insisting that is has "specific and credible" intelligence indicating Iran or its regional supporters may be preparing attacks against American forces or targets in the region. "It's going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens," Trump said Monday outside the White House.

However, the details of that intelligence remain murky and potentially wrapped up in what seasoned Iran-watchers and security experts believe may be part of attempts by Trump administration hawks to find a pretext for a military conflict with Iran following the president's decision to withdraw from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The accord was viewed by former President Barack Obama as one his signature foreign policy accomplishments and Trump campaigned on abolishing it.

"As we read of Bolton's plan to send 120,000 U.S. troops to go to with Iran, we should remind ourselves that this is a TOTALLY UNNECESSARY CRISIS!" wrote Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council, on Twitter.

"We're only here cuz Trump quit the deal and put Bolton in charge of Iran policy," he said. The NIAC seeks improved relations between Washington and Tehran.

"This is politics, and this is about Bolton and others who have had a bee in their bonnet about Iran for as long as they have been in politics," said Robert Muggah, a specialist in international security and co-founder of The SecDev Group, an Ottawa, Canada-headquartered consultancy that analyses open-source intelligence.

Trump has pursued a policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran, a strategy that has seen the U.S. slap the Middle East country with a series of increasingly onerous economic sanctions that have crippled its economy, led to runaway inflation and caused some food and medicine shortages. Last week, Tehran announced that it was abandoning two of its nuclear-deal-related obligations: exporting excess uranium and "heavy water" used in nuclear reactors. The Trump administration characterized this move as an attempt by Iran to hold the U.S. "hostage" and an example of "nuclear blackmail."

However, Iran's partial breach of the accord was a direct response to the U.S. ending exemptions from nations that purchase these stockpiles. In other words: It did it to comply with U.S. sanctions. "The (nuclear deal) is becoming meaningless because of the U.S.," Baeidinejad said, noting that Iran has given the three European signatories to the deal – the United Kingdom, Germany and France – 60 days to "salvage" it.

Otherwise, he said, "there will be consequences from our side" that could include suspending modernization of Iran's Arak nuclear facility. Modernization of the "heavy water" plant has ensured it produces less plutonium, needed for a nuclear bomb. The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has verified 14 times that Iran has been complying with the terms of the agreement – even after the U.S. withdrew from it in May last year.

Baeidinejad refused to be drawn on whether Iran would consider Trump's apparent offer to hold talks with Tehran. "I'd like to see them call me," Trump said last week. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated while on a trip to Moscow where he met with his Russian counterpart that the U.S. isn't seeking a war with Iran.

Still, inside Iran, the U.S. military moves were being taken seriously.

"You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead," wrote Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, on Twitter.

Yet Ashena also found room for a moment of levity on the social media platform.

"That’s what happens when you listen to the mustache," he added in the tweet, referring to Bolton, who is known for his bushy facial hair above the upper lip, and who Trump sometimes reportedly refers to as "the Mustache."

Middle East in turmoil: Saudi Arabia says 2 oil tankers damaged by sabotage attacks


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Rolling Stone
The Trump Administration Is Thirsty for War, Intelligence Be Damned
The United States is goading Iran into taking action so it can justify an invasion

RYAN BORT
MAY 15, 2019 8:57AM EDT

It was reported on Monday that the Trump administration has concocted a plan that involves sending 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter a potential Iranian attack on American forces. Whatever threat may exist is almost entirely of the president’s own design. Since Trump rebuffed allies, experts and his own administration in removing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal last year, tension between the two nations has escalated steadily. Both have seemed especially jittery in the past few months as the U.S. continues to ramp up sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy.

But it seems like the threat of military aggression from Iran isn’t what the Trump administration wants people to believe. On Tuesday, a British military official told reporters at the Pentagon that there isn’t evidence Iran is any more of a threat that it has been in the past. “We are aware of their presence clearly and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because of the environment we are in,” said Major General Chris Ghika, adding that “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

Related

It Sure Looks Like the Trump Administration Is Preparing for War With Iran
Are We in a Constitutional Crisis?
According to the New York Times, these early machinations for conflict have largely been set in motion by National Security Adviser John Bolton, a war hawk who supported the invasion of Iraq and unsuccessfully pushed George W. Bush to take action against Iran. The plan to send 120,000 troops was reportedly his idea, as has been the idea that military action against Iran could soon be warranted. The Times notes that, according to intelligence and military officials in both the United States and Europe, “most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran but in Washington — where Bolton has prodded Trump into backing Iran into a corner.”

One American official said, according to the paper, that the intelligence supporting the idea that Iran is a threat is “small stuff,” and that Bolton wants to goad Iran into taking action against American forces, thus, in his mind, justifying a military response. Vali Nasr, the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told the Times the current tension with Iran is “a crisis that has entirely been manufactured by the Trump administration.”


Democratic politicians feel similarly. When asked by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes whether he trusts the administration to not manipulate intelligence reports, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said he doesn’t. “As a member of the Senate, I actually also have information about the things the U.S. is doing to provoke and poke Iran,” he said. “I think there is an effort underway by the U.S. to try to instigate Iran into doing something, and if they do something in response to U.S. provocation, the administration … will use that as their pretext for 125,000 troops, or as the president said today, more.”

Though some Republicans have cautioned against the administration getting ahead of itself in regard to Iran, others practically seem giddy at the idea of unleashing America’s military might on the nation. “Two strikes, the first strike and the last strike,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said flatly of how the United States would wipe out the nation during an appearance on Firing Line With Margaret Hoover.


As Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Marchly noted on Twitter, former defense secretary Jim Mattis gave a more tempered response when asked about a potential conflict in Iran before Trump took office. “We can handle Iran. I have no doubt,” he said. “It would be bloody awful. It would be a catastrophe if we have to have another war in the Middle East like that. But could we handle it from a military point of view? Absolutely.”

But Mattis, who also advocated for remaining in the Iran nuclear deal, is gone now. He resigned late last year out of frustration with the president continually undermining him. In his place is Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who, as Politico recently reported, is being “overpowered” in internal debates by war-crazy officials like Bolton. Unlike Mattis, Shanahan doesn’t seem to have any inclination to push back against Trump, who seems perfectly willing to indulge Bolton’s thirst for conflict.

When asked on Tuesday about the report that the administration’s devised a plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East, Trump naturally called it “fake news” but then said he “absolutely” would do it, and that “if we did that we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”


In December, the president, who now doesn’t seem to mind the idea of sending “a hell of a lot more” than 120,000 troops to fight Iran, made a big show of opposing foreign wars, abruptly deciding he wanted to pull American troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. He justified the move by repeatedly and falsely claiming ISIS had been defeated, and that there was no longer any reason for troops to be over there. “We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” he explained during a brief visit to Iraq later that month.

If his stated opposition to entanglements in the Middle East and his administration’s strategy toward Iran don’t seem to jibe, it’s because they don’t. Trump has no overarching foreign policy philosophy. Everything he does is done according to what he thinks is most politically expedient in the moment. One would hope that he’d stop short of going to war for political purposes, but this is of course not true. Years ago, he repeatedly theorized that a “desperate” President Obama was planning to attack Iran in order to “save face” and “get re-elected.” This is just how Trump thinks. Everything is done solely for one’s own self interest, nothing more.


What political purpose would be served by going to war with Iran? Plenty, but most pressing for Trump is probably the onslaught of investigations Democrats have launched into his administration. You probably didn’t think about any of them over the course of reading this article. That’s the point.


© 2019 PMC. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage Iran threat

Postby Meno_ » Wed May 15, 2019 6:54 pm

NATIONAL SECURITY
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Democrats accuse the Trump administration of taking reckless steps that could lead to war with Iran.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called on the administration to explain to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee why it had decided to evacuate U.S. diplomatic missions in Iran.Andrew
May 15, 2019, 12:29 PM ET
By Dan De Luce
WASHINGTON — Senators from both sides of the aisle demanded Wednesday that the Trump administration explain why it had evacuated U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq and brief lawmakers on the alleged threats from Iran that prompted the move.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the administration "to immediately provide this committee with a briefing on the decision to order the departure of embassy staff, the intelligence on what Iran may be planning to do and any plans to go to war with Iran."


Speaking at a committee hearing, Menendez said there were only two reasons to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq: Americans working at the missions are at risk, or it is "in preparation for military action in Iran."

The senator said it was the committee's duty to help write laws to authorize the use of military force and to oversee the State Department and the safety of its employees.

"And yet the Trump administration has not provided any information to this committee on the intelligence behind their decisions and what they plan to do in Iraq or Iran," he said.

Menendez added that Congress has not authorized war with Iran and if the Trump administration was contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek approval.


At the same hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he agreed with Menendez "about the need for a classified briefing on the matters in Iraq" and that "I hope that either the entire committee or perhaps the chair and the ranking member would be able to have that kind of briefing"

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said a full briefing for the entire Senate was "in the works."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an outspoken advocate for tough action toward Iran and a frequent defender of President Donald Trump, also said the State Department and the Defense Department needed to brief lawmakers about why it had chosen to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq.

"I would urge the State Department and DoD to come down here and explain to us what's going on," Graham told reporters. "Because I have no idea what the threat stream is beyond what I read in the paper."


He added: "I think there are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran, but we need to understand what we're doing."

The State Department earlier Wednesday ordered the departure of nonemergency employees from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Erbil, and renewed a warning to American citizens not to travel to Iraq.

The announcement did not say how many personnel were affected, and did not offer more details about the threat posed to Americans in Iraq.

The move came days after the administration said it was deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East due to an unspecified threat posed by Iran and its proxies to American interests in the region.


But a senior British military officer directly contradicted the U.S. assessment on Tuesday, saying there was no heightened danger from Iran or its proxies in Iraq and Syria.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — said "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria."

U.S. Central Command issued a statement disputing the British general's comments.

Democrats in Congress have accused the Trump administration of taking reckless actions and engaging in rhetoric that could trigger an unnecessary war with Iran.

The administration has defended its approach, saying it is merely seeking to safeguard U.S. personnel and making clear that it will respond if Iran or its proxies target Americans.

Dan De Luce



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WORLD
Trump administration's Iran threat claim disputed by foreign officials
"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," said British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika.

A Patriot missile defense system on board the U.S.S. Arlington was sent to the Middle East this week amid rising tensions with Iran.MCSN Jason Waite / AFP - Getty Images
SHARE THIS —
May 16, 2019, 6:43 AM ET / Updated May 16, 2019, 8:05 AM ET
By Linda Givetash and Abigail Williams
The Trump administration's claims that the threat of an attack by the Iranian regime on U.S. targets in the Middle East is increasing has been disputed by allies in Europe.

On Wednesday the State Department ordered all nonemergency government employees to leave its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil and advised Americans against travelling to Iraq. Earlier this month national security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. was preparing for possible attacks by Iran or its proxies.


However, a British deputy commander in the global coalition against the Islamic State contradicted the risk of an attack.

"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika told reporters Wednesday. "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."

Related
NEWS
U.S. deploying carrier strike group to send 'message' to Iran
Ghika said the anti-ISIS task force had no intention to change protection measures or its escalation processes despite the developments in the Persian Gulf this week.

"There are a substantial number of militia groups in Iraq and Syria and we don't see any increased threat from many of them at this stage," he said.

Army Lt. Col. CJ Kirkpatrick, right, escorts British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, Combined Joint Task Forces Operation Inherent Resolve Deputy Commander, through the streets of Mosul on Oct. 9.U.S. Army / AP
NBC News asked the British Ministry of Defence on Thursday whether it would raise the threat level for U.K. forces and diplomats in Iraq. A spokesperson would not be drawn on that question but said the ministry "has long been clear about our concerns over Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region” and that the security of personnel and assets is under constant review.


Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Wednesday that he made it clear to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting earlier this week that a unilateral strategy of increasing pressure against Iran was ill-advised.

"Maximum pressure always carries the risk of an unintended escalation," Maas said. "If you take a look at what other hot spots and sources of conflict are there in this region, then we certainly do not need one thing at the moment: an additional fuse."

U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle called on the Trump administration to explain why it had removed diplomatic staff from Iraq.

The dispute over the risks is a reflection in the diverging tactics of the U.S. and Europe to maintain productive relations with Iran, said Sanam Vakil, senior research fellow for the Middle East North Africa program at the London think tank Chatham House.

While Europe opts for a more cautious approach in engaging the Iranian regime, in part due to its close proximity to the Middle East, the U.S. has adopted a strategy of "fear-mongering and posturing," she said.


"[Europeans] ultimately believe the Trump administration has manufactured a crisis and this crisis has prevented them from addressing the other equally important issues that impact European security," she said.

The current situation stems from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, she said, adding that the deal was working and Iran was in compliance.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran on April 18.Tasnim News Agency / Reuters file
Europe and other allies could attempt to kickstart diplomacy with Iran to protect the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, Vakil said, but it would require a very public and meaningful effort with no guarantee the U.S. wouldn't obstruct the process.


U.S. senior state department officials told NBC News on Wednesday that intelligence on threats to peace and security have been shared with British, French and German allies, who were also were asked to use their influence with the Iranian regime to deescalate the situation.

“I would say it would be an act of gross negligence if we did not take the necessary precautions in the light of credible threat streams,” said one senior State Department official. "That does not mean we are rushing to a conflict."

Related
POLITICS
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesman to Iraq's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told NBC News that the situation in Iraq remains stable. The government "is cooperating with all countries that are part of the latest development in the region to reach a balanced solution," he said.

Linda Givetash
Linda Givetash is a reporter based in London. She previously worked for The Canadian Press in Vancouver and Nation Media in Uganda.



2019 NBC UNIVERSAL



Possible policy struggle betwewn Trump and Bolton.


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that President Donald Trump would like to see "behavioral change" from Iran. She also warned that if Tehran takes any action, "they're not going to like what he does in response." (May 16)

AP, AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump had a pithy response Thursday to what has become a pressing question around the world: Is his administration marching the United States into a war with Iran? 

"I hope not," the president told reporters at the White House. 

The three-word response was the latest case of the president adopting a wait-and-see stance amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration deployed an aircraft carrier ahead of schedule and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter what the administration has described as threats from Tehran. 

Yet Trump has struggled to present a unified message on Iran. On the one hand the administration has sought to tamp down talk of a military confrontation with the country. On the other, Trump has said he would "absolutely" send ground troops to the region if needed. 

Trump and his aides have downplayed the prospects of military action with Iran in recent days. That includes a Wednesday tweet in which the president raised the prospect of diplomatic negotiations with the country’s leaders.

The United States and Iran have been lobbing threats, fighting proxy wars, and imposing sanctions for decades. USA Today looks at over 60 years of this back-
Last edited by Meno_ on Thu May 16, 2019 8:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Trump enters the stage rejection of house requests

Postby Meno_ » Wed May 15, 2019 11:19 pm

DONALD TRUMP
White House rejects House panel's demands, says investigation amounts to 'unauthorized do-over' of Mueller probe
"Unfortunately, it appears that you have already decided to press ahead with a duplicative investigation," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote.

President Donald Trump leaves the White House on May 14, 2019.Carlos Barria / Reuters

May 15, 2019, 1:18 PM ET / Updated May 15, 2019, 3:22 PM ET
By Allan Smith
The White House told the House Judiciary Committee in a letter Wednesday that it will not comply with a broad range of the panel's requests and called on it to "discontinue" its inquiry into President Donald Trump.

"Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized 'do-over' of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote, citing special counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report on his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump sought to obstruct the investigation.


Cipollone wrote, however, that he was not exerting executive privilege, adding that he would consider more narrow requests from the committee if it can provide the legal support and legislative purpose for such requests.

"The appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry," Cipollone wrote to the panel's chairman, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. "Unfortunately, it appears that you have already decided to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered."

In early March, Nadler requested information from 81 individuals or entities connected to the president as part of a broad investigation into whether Trump abused his power or acted corruptly. Cipollone wrote his letter in response to Nadler's March letter requesting documents from the White House as part of that broad push.

Responding to the White House on Wednesday, Nadler told reporters that the claims in the letter were "outrageous," "ridiculous," "preposterous," and "un-American," and vowed that his panel would continue its investigations.


"Taking that position that a president cannot be indicted, they are saying only Congress can hold a president accountable, and now they're saying that Congress can’t, which means nobody can, which means the president is above the law," Nadler said. "And that is an un-American, frankly un-American claim."

“I don't know whether they're trying to taunt us towards an impeachment or anything else," Nadler added. "All I know is that they have made a preposterous claim."

Cipollone homed in on a rationale that the White House and Trump's business have made elsewhere: that Congress cannot conduct such oversight of the president unless it has a specific legislative purpose.

In his letter, Cipollone wrote that "it appears that the committee's inquiry is designed not to further a legitimate legislative purpose, but rather to conduct a pseudo law enforcement investigation on matters that were already the subject of the Special Counsel's long-running investigation and are outside the constitutional authority of the legislative branch."


"The only purpose for this duplication seems to be harassing and seeking to embarrass political opponents after an exhaustive two-year investigation by the Department of Justice did not reach the conclusion that some members of the Committee apparently would have preferred," he continued. "That, of course, is not a permissible purpose for demanding confidential information from the Executive."

Congress has broad oversight powers that have been affirmed by the Supreme Court. In McGrain v. Daugherty, the court ruled the "potential" for legislation to come about as a result of a congressional inquiry was sufficient rationale to launch one. And in Eastland v. United States Servicemen’s Fund, the court ruled, "To be a valid legislative inquiry there need be no predictable end result."

According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress generally enjoys "extremely broad" power "to obtain information, including classified and/or confidential information."

"While there is no express provision of the Constitution or specific statute authorizing the conduct of congressional oversight or investigations, the Supreme Court has firmly established that such power is essential to the legislative function as to be implied from the general vesting of legislative powers in Congress," CRS wrote.


Despite that broad interpretation of legislative purpose, "its scope is not without limits," the agency added. "Courts have held that a committee lacks legislative purpose if it appears to be conducting a legislative trial rather than an investigation to assist in performing its legislative function."

And although "'there is no congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure,' 'so long as Congress acts in pursuance of its constitutional power, the Judiciary lacks authority to intervene on the basis of the motives which spurred the exercise of that power,'" CRS said.

A federal judge expressed skepticism at a hearing Tuesday about Trump's efforts to block Congress from getting some of his financial records.

Amit Mehta, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, told Trump lawyer William Consovoy that he would have trouble ruling that Congress did not have the constitutional authority to obtain Trump's taxes due to a lack of explicit legislative purpose because of prior Supreme Court rulings.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday after Cipollone sent his letter, a senior administration official said Nadler should "rethink this oversight or investigation," accusing him of "brushing aside the conclusions of the Department of Justice, and doing so in favor of political theater."

Democrats argued that Mueller's report made clear that it was up to Congress to further any inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice; Mueller wrote in his report that he neither concluded Trump had committed a crime nor exonerated him of having done so.

The senior administration official said Nadler "has to do a better job of setting out a legitimate legislative purpose for what" he's doing," and called on him to make clear "some type of public law he intends to introduce" alongside his committee's investigation.

When asked, the official said Trump was not "above the law."

"But he also is not below the law," the official said. "He has rights and privileges as the rest of us do."

And as president, the official said, Trump "has a couple more rights that the rest of us don't have."

Allan Smith
Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.


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Live TV
Trump's wealth in the spotlight with new disclosure forms
Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Updated 10:33 AM EDT, Thu May 16, 2019

article video
CNN Special Report "The Trump Family Business," hosted by Erin Burnett, will air Friday, May 17 at 9 p.m. ET.

Washington(CNN) America is about to get a tantalizing look into the hidden fortune on which Donald Trump made his name but is at the root of some of the most mysterious unresolved questions about his presidency.

The expected release of the President's latest financial disclosure forms on Thursday will trigger a now annual controversy about Trump's wealth, including the question of whether he is adding to it while in office.

The former real estate baron anchored his political appeal on his multi-billion dollar pile, claiming it showed he had the kind of ruthless deal maker's instincts that insulated him from political pressure and enabled him to thumb his nose at elites.

"I am smarter than they are, I am richer than they are," Trump said at a rally in 2018, showing how he uses money as a barometer of his own success and as a badge of honor to wield against an establishment that has never really accepted him.

But Trump's largesse has also been a liability as a politician. He goes to extreme lengths to keep his financial affairs private. He won't release his tax returns like his predecessors and is even suing a congressional committee that is trying to muscle his business records away from his accounting firm.

Mounting questions about his money have tarnished Trump's legend, including a recent New York Times report that suggested the supposed business genius lost more cash than any other American over a 10-year period in the 1980s and 1990s. The report said he lost more than $1 billion in the decade.

Is the presidency costing Trump?
There are also signs that Trump's controversial presidency could be eating into his bottom line.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump's Doral golf resort in Florida was in steep decline. His Trump Tower landmark in Manhattan also seems to be a fading asset.

Earlier this year, it became clear that new development deals have slowed badly at the Trump Organization since the President was elected. The company has also shelved plans for two hotel licensing concepts. Trump's son Eric blamed politics for the sluggish business prospects.

Trump's refusal to fully divest himself of his business in office has prompted unwelcome questions about potential conflicts of interests involving foreign investors.

The documents to be released on Thursday are unlikely to fully light up Trump's labyrinthine financial affairs.

But they will offer a picture of Trump's income last year -- potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In last year's disclosure form, the President reported income of $450 million.

They will detail other income from assets including properties, retirement accounts, book royalties and investments.

More controversially, the forms will also likely reveal a glimpse of Trump's liabilities.

In 2017, for instance he declared $311 million in mortgages and loans. The actual number could actually be higher due to technicalities in reporting requirements.

Or is Trump enriching himself?
The documents are likely to revive the debate over whether the President is in effect using the symbolism of the presidency to enrich himself and his sprawling business operation.

Trump reported last year that his private Florida resort brought in revenue of $25 million in 2017.

The club doubled its membership fee after he took office and critics claim his repeated visits -- offering guests a chance to rub shoulders with the President -- boost business.

Similarly, Trump's opponents will seize on his disclosure to assess the impact of his presence on Trump International Hotel in Washington, a few blocks from the White House.

On his disclosure last year, Trump reported $75 million in income from the property, which has been at the center of conflict of interests concerns over the possibility that foreign governments can curry favor with the President by booking rooms.

Trump's disclosures could also force him into revealing information about his private affairs he would rather keep secret.

Last year, he acknowledged for the first time that he repaid his former lawyer Michael Cohen more than $100,000 for expenses incurred during the 2016 presidential election.

The document did not explicitly state what the payments were for. But Trump's lawyers had previously said that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

The Office of Government Ethics confirmed on Wednesday that Trump had filed the disclosure forms.

While the documents offer some details of Trump's financial fortunes from year to year, they do not contain details of how much tax he has paid.

They also do not reveal in depth information about the sources of his wealth or identify customers for his real estate business, a fact that concerns ethics campaigners.

The President bucked tradition by refusing to release his tax returns as a candidate and after winning the White House.

He insists that he is under audit but his opponents charge he is worried about revealing advantageous tax arrangements, an assessment of his wealth that does not match his inflated claims, or is worried about declaring incriminating sources of income.

The release of the less comprehensive financial disclosure will likely be used by the White House to rebut claims he is not meeting minimum standards of transparency.

This year's disclosure was filed with the President locked in showdown over his taxes with a Democratic-led committee in Congress that is seeking six years of returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted on Wednesday that his department would not comply with a subpoena for the returns.

The comment escalated a confrontation with Democrats who will likely now have to go to court in an effort to force the turnover of the elusive documents.

This story has been updated.

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Presidents who gambled and lost.

The New York Times
Thursday, May 16, 2019
NYTimes.com/David-Leonhardt »
Op-Ed Columnist

Twenty-eight years ago this month, President George Bush took a break from his vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine, to deliver a big speech about China. Bush flew from his family’s compound on the Maine coast to his alma mater, Yale, and gave a graduation speech that doubled as a policy announcement.
It was 1991, only two years after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Some members of Congress were trying to persuade Bush to punish China’s human rights atrocities by refusing to renew its status as a “most favored” trading partner of the United States. But Bush said no.
He justified the decision with soaring language about the morality of engaging with China rather than punishing it. “It is wrong to isolate China if we hope to influence it,” he said.
That same view would guide the next three presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And their approach certainly had some benefits. Hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have emerged from abject poverty.
But there have also been downsides. China has gotten away with cheating the international trading system, stealing intellectual property, blocking foreign countries from entering its market, heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, bullying other Asian countries and repressing its own citizens.
President Trump is now taking a more hawkish approach to China. I think his approach is clumsy, highly flawed and likely to fail. (My colleague Bret Stephens has a good explanation of why.) But unlike in so many other policy areas, Trump’s instincts are at least directionally correct. I hope that whoever succeeds him as president recognizes the problems not only with Trump’s strategy but also with that of his predecessors.
Back in 1991, Bush was making a bet — that treating China favorably would cause it to become a less repressive, more open society. “We want to advance the cause of freedom, not just snub nations that aren’t yet wholly free,” he said. He lost that bet.
Go deeper on China
On this week’s episode of “The Argument” podcast, Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and I debate the wisdom of Trump’s China policy. We also talk about a potential comeback for organized labor, and I tell a story about my experience in The New York Times’s union.
Elsewhere, on China: The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and the Brookings Institution’s Thomas Wright both have advice for the Democratic presidential candidates. Sargent says Democrats should cast Trump’s tariffs on China as a failure of “unilateral America-First Trumpism.” He argues: “This isn’t a debate Democrats need to fear.”
Wright, in The Atlantic, advises Democrats to cast China as a threat to America’s economy, security and values. “Democrats need a powerful foreign-policy message that connects with domestic politics,” he writes. “Competing responsibly and effectively with China is the best one they have.”
Robert Rubin, a former Treasury secretary, and Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singaporean diplomat, both think there are better alternatives than confrontation. Mahbubani argues in Harper’s that the United States should match China’s investments in research and education, while limiting its rise through international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank.
Rubin, in The Times earlier this year, wrote, “For the future of humanity, not to mention our immediate economic interests, our two countries must recognize our mutual self-interest in a constructive relationship.”
Trump’s failure to press China on human rights abuses against the country’s minority Muslim population is both a moral and strategic failure, says CNN’s Frida Ghitis: Highlighting those abuses would give Trump more leverage.
“China is now an adversary of the United States. A wise U.S. policy should treat it as one. But it should also do everything possible to keep it from becoming an enemy,” Bret Stephens writes, in the column I mentioned above. “How do we gradually deflect and deflate the ambitions of an immense rival power, without quite bursting them? That will be America’s central geopolitical challenge for years to come.”

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A reversal? And acknowledgement of failure to gather popular support , in advance of re-election?

He declared to the joint chiefs of his opposition to start a war with Iran, and today, those o 'll surely rattle bible thumping supporters, somewhat:



Subscribe
Trump supports Buttigieg campaigning with his husband: 'It's good'
REBECCA MORIN | USA TODAY | 24 minutes ago


President Donald Trump used an official government speech at a liquefied natural gas export facility to handicap his potential 2020 Democratic opponents and attack the Green New Deal proposal for aggressively cutting carbon emissions. (May 14)
AP, AP
President Donald Trump has repeatedly mocked South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, making fun of his name — "Boot-edge-edge" — and deriding the Rhodes Scholar as Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman.


But the president didn't take an opportunity to insult the 2020 Democratic White House hopeful in a video clip released Thursday. Instead, he praised Buttigieg for campaigning with his husband, Chasten.

"I think it’s good," Trump said.

During an interview with the president, Fox News host Steve Hilton commented how he thinks it's great to see Buttigieg on stage with his husband as the couple normalizes same-sex marriage amidst the ever-present media spotlight of a presidential campaign.

“I think it’s absolutely fine," Trump replied. "I do."

An interactive guide: Who is running for president in 2020?

Hilton noted that it's "a sign of great progress in the country," to which the president interrupted and said "I think it's great."


He added, however, that he believes some people in America will take issue with seeing the couple campaigning together.

"I think that’s something that perhaps some people will have a problem with," he said, quickly adding, "I have no problem with it whatsoever." The Fox News interview with Trump will air 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, an hour after Buttigieg has a live town hall on the network.



Buttigieg, who is one of 23 Democrats running for president, has repeatedly talked about being gay and has campaigned with his husband, which has sparked backlash from some conservative figures. Chasten Buttigieg, a former middle school teacher, is an avid social media user, who frequently posts on Twitter and Instagram about his life with his husband and on the campaign trail.

The Indiana Democrat over the past couple of weeks has also called out Vice President Mike Pence over his stance on LGBTQ issues. Pence, the former Indiana governor, during his tenure leading the state signed into law a “religious freedom” bill that critics said was a license to discriminate against gay people. But soon after he signed the measure he also signed an amendment intended to make it clear that businesses in the state could not discriminate against gays and lesbians.


Buttigieg, who has repeatedly touted his Episcopalian faith, last month called out Pence, saying that it was not his choice that he is gay.

More: Buttigieg blasts Trump Iran escalation: 'This is not a game. This is not a show.'

More: Pete Buttigieg made $75K on his book deal, but owes much more in student loans, disclosure finds

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg responds to anti-gay hecklers at a rally in Iowa.
USA TODAY
“If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg said during the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington. “And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

In addition, Buttigieg has also questioned how a devout Christian like Pence “could allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency.”


Since then, Pence has said that Buttigieg "knows better." Earlier this week, the vice president also suggested he was holding back with regard to the 37-year-old politician.

"If he wins their party’s nomination, we’ll have a lot more to say about him," Pence said of Buttigieg during an interview on Fox News
2020 Presidential candidates
Originally Published 13 hours ago
Updated 22 minutes ago


© Copyright Gannett 2019
Meno_
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Re: Trump enters the stage fight over tax returns

Postby Meno_ » Fri May 17, 2019 11:55 pm

POLITICO

Administration rejects subpoena for Trump's tax returns, upping stakes in battle with Democrats
The decision was no surprise, with Mnuchin indicating earlier this week that he expected the dispute to be settled by the courts.

By BRIAN FALER

05/17/2019 04:08 PM EDT

Updated 05/17/2019 05:32 PM EDT

Donald Trump
Republicans say Democrats just want to search President Donald Trump’s taxes for things they can use to embarrass him politically.

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The Trump administration on Friday rejected House Democrats’ subpoena for the president’s tax returns, pushing the two sides closer to a major court fight.

In a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who issued the subpoena last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated what he told Neal in earlier letters: The administration does not believe Democrats have a “legitimate legislative” reason for seeking the tax filings.




“For the same reasons, we are unable to provide the requested information in response to the committee’s subpoena,” he said.

The decision was no surprise, with Mnuchin indicating earlier this week that he expected the dispute to be settled by the courts. Also, the administration is defying subpoenas from Democrats on several other fronts.

The announcement shifts the focus back to the House, where Democrats intend to try to enforce their subpoena.






They have not said exactly how they intend to do that — that will be up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She could have the entire chamber vote to authorize the House general counsel, Douglas Letter, to file suit against the administration. Another potential, and likely faster, option would be to have a group of House leaders known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group vote to authorize the suit, though there are questions about whether that is allowable under the chamber’s rules.

Either way, a Democratic aide said, it will likely be weeks before a suit is filed in court.

"Given the Treasury Secretary’s failure to comply today, I am consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward," Neal said in a statement Friday, noting that a subpoena was also issued to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

"Issuance of these subpoenas should not have been necessary," he said. "The law provides clear statutory authority for the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to request and receive access to tax returns and return information."

Neal has been demanding six years worth of Trump’s personal tax records, along with those of several of his businesses, since early April.



Democrats, complaining Trump has thumbed his nose at a decades-old tradition of presidents voluntarily releasing their tax filings, are trying to seize his records by relying on a 1924 law allowing the heads of Congress’s tax committees to examine anyone’s confidential tax information.

Republicans say Democrats just want to search Trump’s taxes for things they can use to embarrass him politically. They are pointing to court decisions in which judges have said lawmakers’ investigations must have some purpose related to their official duties as policymakers.

The administration is likely to try to drag out any court fight in hopes of pushing the issue beyond the 2020 elections. By then, Republicans may retake the House, allowing them to quash the suit. Trump could be in his second term by then, when the issue will be less important, or he could be voted out of office next year.

TAX

What we know — and don’t know — about Trump’s taxes
By TOBY ECKERT
A case would likely begin in federal court in Washington, D.C. If the administration loses there, it could appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court and, from there, to the Supreme Court.

Although a legal fight is likely to be lengthy, it’s conceivable that delaying could prove a bad strategy for the administration if it is forced to turn over the documents just ahead of next year’s elections.

It also would not be unusual if a judge were reluctant to decide such a politically charged case, and instead pushed the two sides to compromise.

The House has only sued the executive branch a handful of times in its history.

“In the last 20 years, there have been maybe five suits, and, prior to that time, there had been none,” said Michael Stern, a former senior counsel in the House’s Office of General Counsel.



“It is obviously something that is happening much more frequently now, but it is still, historically, extremely rare,” he said.

Democrats have other options when it comes to trying to enforce their subpoena, though they are generally considered less appealing.

They could vote to hold Mnuchin in criminal contempt, though that would ultimately be referred to the Justice Department, which is unlikely to prosecute him.

There is an "inherent contempt” option where lawmakers could have the House’s Sergeant at Arms arrest Mnuchin, though that is improbable, not least because he has Secret Service protection.

They could try to attach riders to the annual budget bill funding Treasury that dock Mnuchin’s salary, though they’d need Republicans to agree to go along with that. Democrats could also impeach Mnuchin and Rettig.

This story tagged under:
Donald Trump Donald Trump 2020 Finance & Tax Tax Returns Donald Trump tax returns

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What threatens democracy? Legendary Navy SEAL warns of Trump's attacks on US institutions

SUSAN PAGE | USA TODAY | 12 hours ago





Admiral McRaven is the man who got Osama bin Laden and Captain Phillips. He wants you to make your bed... and take your shoes off at airport security.

USA TODAY

AUSTIN — Once the longest-serving Navy SEAL on active duty, Admiral William McRaven played a key role in thousands of dangerous missions abroad, including commanding the one that cost Osama bin Laden his life.

Now retired, McRaven warns that the greatest threat to American democracy he's seen during his decades in national security comes not from a rogue regime or a terrorist group but from the caustic rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

"An attack on the press or an attack on the Department of Justice, or to imply that there are dirty cops at the FBI or to ignore the intelligence community, I think, really undermines our institutions," McRaven told USA TODAY in an interview about his memoir, Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, out Tuesday. "And that makes me fearful of the future direction of the nation."

McRaven: Trump's media attacks 'greatest threat to our democracy'



Five years after retiring as commander of U.S. Special Operations, McRaven retains the ramrod bearing and the reserve of a career officer with more than 37 years in uniform. In his new book, being published by Grand Central Publishing, he also reflects the military tradition of expressing nothing but regard for the presidents he served in top jobs, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

His account of daredevil missions — to intercept Somali pirates, free American missionaries held hostage in the Philippines, interrogate Saddam Hussein and recover long-frozen military remains in British Columbia — ends with his final salute in dress whites in 2014.

Donald Trump's name doesn't appear in the 335-page memoir. 

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014.

ERICH SCHLEGEL, FOR USA TODAY

But in 2017, during a stint as chancellor of the University of Texas, McRaven began raising objections to Trump's attacks on the press in an address that also called on journalists to hold themselves accountable for accuracy and fairness. Last year, he wrote an open letterprotesting the president's decision to revoke the security clearance of a frequent critic, former CIA director John Brennan, and asking that his own security clearance be revoked as well.

That brought a rebuke from the president — he dismissed McRavenas a "Hillary Clinton fan" who should have caught bin Laden faster — and blowback from some of his former military colleagues, who argued it was inappropriate for him to publicly criticize the commander in chief.

"It has been an unwritten rule that senior military officers don't come out against the president, and I think that's a good unwritten rule," McRaven said. "But I've got to look myself in the mirror and make sure I'm doing what I think is the right thing."

Who is James Comey?: Ex FBI director called Trump a 'chronic liar.' What his politics mean for the FBI



His concerns about Trump's attacks on democratic institutions have only deepened, he said, noting the president's increasingly defiant response to congressional investigations.

"When the lawmakers of this nation ask for a person to testify or ask for certain documents, I think sooner or later, the White House needs to comply, as does the military or anybody else that's being subpoenaed to provide information," he said.

At stake, in his view, is faith in the foundations of democracy. 

"If the American people feel like they can't trust those institutions, then what do they turn to?" he asked. "Our institutions really have got to be able to survive whoever's in the White House."

He said he doesn't plan to play a role in the 2020 presidential campaign but added that he's "learned never to say 'never.'"



Legendary Navy SEAL has served his country for decades

Climbing the walls

When the Navy SEALS were established in 1962, McRaven was 6 years old and to all appearances already in training for the special operations force.

His father was a Spitfire combat pilot in World War II who was then assigned to the military arm of NATO, based in France. The youngster would terrify his older sister by scaling from window to window on the outside of their three-story chateau, or by climbing down the well in the backyard. When their father was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, McRaven became a regular visitor to the Wilford Hall Air Force Hospital emergency room to have gashes stitched up and broken bones set in the aftermath of adventures.

At the University of Texas, he graduated with a bachelors degree from the journalism school, but only because he saw the subject as easier to ace than his previous majors, in pre-med and then accounting, where his grades were so borderline that they might have made it difficult for him to get the Navy commission he wanted.

He joined the elite SEALS (an abbreviation for Sea, Air and Land teams), was pushed out of SEAL Team Six when he complained about a lack of military discipline, then thrived. He would hold command at every level. Finally, in 2011, he designed and executed the special-ops raid in Pakistan that led to the death of bin Laden a decade after the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Osama bin Laden's son: Hamza emerging as new al-Qaeda leader

In some ways, he said, the experiences of his long career seemed to be in preparation for Operation Neptune's Spear.

"I was at the top of my game," he said, having run Special Operations longer than anyone else. "I had seen thousands of missions. I knew the personalities of the people involved. I knew how to do this mission. I knew how to command this mission, because my life had brought me to that point." The mission succeeded even though one of the stealth helicopters crash-landed during the assault and had to be abandoned. 

When the other Black Hawk helicopter carrying the body of the man they believed to be bin Laden returned to the Jalalabad airfield in Afghanistan, McRaven went to the hangar to confirm his identify. He unzipped the rubberized bag, pulled out the body and stretched it to its full length. He looked like bin Laden, but McRaven wanted to double-check before he informed President Obama.

"Son, how tall are you?" he asked one of the SEALS, who told him he was 6'2". "Good," McRaven said. "Lie down next to the body." Bin Laden was reported to be 6'4", and unorthodox way of measuring the corpse indicated it was him.

In the office of his home, in a leafy area of Austin, McRaven has a plaque that Obama presented him a few days later. On it is mounted a bright yellow 25-foot metal tape measure. "If we can afford a $60 million helicopter," the inscription reads, "I think we can afford a tape measure."

'Which time was that?' 

McRaven already is a best-selling author. His 2014 commencement address detailing 10 principles he followed as a Navy SEAL was published in 2017 as a self-help volume titled Make Your Bed. (The title of Chapter One: "Start Your Day with a Task Completed.") It has sold more than a million copies.

In his new book, being published by Grand Central Publishing, retired Admiral William McRaven reflects on the military tradition of expressing nothing but regard for the presidents he served in top jobs, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING

He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2010, when he was on duty in Afghanistan. He managed the symptoms of the blood cancer for years but hit "a perfect storm of bad health" in 2017 that forced him to retire as chancellor of the University of Texas the next spring. Exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic chemicals has been tied to the disease.

"I've been exposed to so many things over the course of my career," McRaven, now 63, said. "I used to dive under nuclear submarines and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. You're diving in waters that are hardly crystal-clear."

But he expressed no regrets. "I wouldn't change it for anything."

It was dangerous duty from the start.

Asked in the USA TODAY interview to describe more details about "that time when you were sure you were going to die," McRaven replied, brow furrowed, "Which time was that?"

President Donald Trump went after retired four star Admiral William McRaven after he criticized Trump for undermining the media. Veuer's Sam Berman has the full story


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Constitutional crisis approach?







The US treasury secretary of treasury, Steve Mnuchin, in Washington DC.
Show caption
Trump tax returns: Steven Mnuchin refuses to comply with subpoena
House Democrat demands six years of tax returns and expects to take matter to court as early as next week

Julia Carrie Wong and agencies
@juliacarriew
Fri 17 May 2019 22.00 EDT
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The US treasury secretary defied a House subpoena for Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, setting up another potential court battle between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

Steven Mnuchin said in a letter that the subpoena from the House ways and means committee chairman, Richard Neal, a Democrat, was “unprecedented” and “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose”.

When Neal issued the subpoena on 10 May, he noted in a letter that the Internal Revenue Service had an “unambiguous legal obligation” to comply with his committee’s requests for information, noting that such a request “never has been denied”.

Mnuchin’s rejection of the subpoena had been expected. Earlier on Friday, Neal had said: “We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week.”

Asked if he might seek to hold Mnuchin in contempt of Congress for his refusal to supply the tax returns, Neal said: “I don’t see that right now as an option. I think that the better option for us is to proceed with a court case.”

Democrats are seeking Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information when requested to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees.

“The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information,” Neal said in a statement after Mnuchin’s decision was announced. “Given the Treasury Secretary’s failure to comply today, I am consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward.”


With the exception of Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.

#ConstitutionalCrisis? Trump's battle with Congress comes to a head
In a tweet on 10 May, Trump said that he had won the presidency in 2016 “partially based on no Tax Returns while I am under audit (which I still am), and the voters didn’t care. Now the Radical Left Democrats want to again relitigate the matter. Make it part of the 2020 Election!”

When he issued the subpoena last week, Neal said he was seeking six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS was doing its job properly to audit a sitting president and whether the law governing such audits needed to be strengthened.

In his letter Friday saying he would not comply with the subpoena, Mnuchin said he had consulted with the justice department and had been advised that he was not authorized to turn over the tax returns because Neal’s request did not represent a legitimate congressional purpose.

The fight with Congress over Trump’s tax returns is one of a number of battles House Democrats are having with the administration over the release of information. The House judiciary committee has voted to hold the attorney general, William Barr, in contempt and is fighting to obtain an unredacted report prepared by the special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 election.



© 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.



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U.S.
EX-FEDERAL PROSECUTOR SAYS TRUMP’S ‘TREASON’ TWEET ‘TERRIFIES ME’: ‘NOTHING SEEMS INCONCEIVABLE ANYMORE’
By Jason Le Miere On 5/17/19 at 12:16 PM EDT

President Donald Trump salutes as he walks from Marine One after arriving from a one-night trip to New York, on the South Lawn of the White House, on May 17. A former federal prosecutor reacted with alarm to Trump tweeting that those investigating his campaign for president were guilty of “treason” and should face “long jail sentences.”


U.S. DONALD TRUMP RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

One former federal prosecutor has reacted with alarm to President Donald Trump tweeting Friday morning that those involved in investigating his campaign for president were guilty of “treason” and should face “long jail sentences.”

Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, tweeted that Trump’s latest broadside at those responsible for what he claims was “spying” on his campaign “terrifies” her.

“First I was outraged at these kinds of tweets-how could a POTUS talk like this?” Rocah, now an analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, wrote. “After a while, I rolled my eyes & shrugged them off as meaningless & repetitive nonsense. Now, especially because of Barr, this gives me chills & terrifies me. Nothing seems inconceivable anymore.”



Rocah wasn't alone in her alarm among legal experts.


"'Treason' is defined very narrowly in the Constitution, so his tweet is meaningless legally," wrote former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. "But the message is clear nonetheless. Barr is not only failing to stand up to this dangerous rhetoric—he’s stoking it."

The comments came in response to Trump’s latest missive against the Russia investigation,


“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on,” Trump exclaimed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”

Despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s report being released a month ago and clearing the Trump campaign of a conspiracy with Russia, the president has shown no signs of letting the issue die. While Republican leaders have urged the country to move on, despite Mueller not exonerating Trump on obstruction of justice, Trump has focused his attention on the source of the investigation.

Trump has long called for the investigators to be investigated and complained of “spying” on his campaign. In William Barr, Trump has found an attorney general willing to heed his calls.


Barr, who was confirmed as the replacement for Jeff Sessions in February, caused a stir among Democrats when he said during congressional testimony last month that he believes “spying” did occur on the Trump’s 2016 campaign. The comment led to accusations from Democrats that Barr was acting more like the president’s personal attorney than the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official.

Despite that assessment subsequently being rejected by FBI Director Christopher Wray, Barr earlier this week appointed a U.S. attorney to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.

RELATED STORIES
Carl Bernstein: Barr Abetting 'Authoritarian' Trump in a 'Cover-up'
Fox News Judge Says Barr Guilty of Trying to ‘Sanitize’ Mueller Report
Fox News Analyst: Barr’s Response to Congress ‘Was Not a True Answer’
"It wasn't handled in the ordinary way that investigations or counterintelligence activities are conducted,” Barr said in a Fox News interview that aired Friday. “It was sort of an ad hoc small group. Most of these people are no longer with the F.B.I. Or the C.I.A. Or the other agencies involved."




© Copyright 2019 NEWSWEEK
Last edited by Meno_ on Sat May 18, 2019 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
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Re: Trump enters the stage Iran threat

Postby Meno_ » Sat May 18, 2019 7:23 pm

Meno_ wrote:NATIONAL SECURITY
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Democrats accuse the Trump administration of taking reckless steps that could lead to war with Iran.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called on the administration to explain to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee why it had decided to evacuate U.S. diplomatic missions in Iran.Andrew
May 15, 2019, 12:29 PM ET
By Dan De Luce
WASHINGTON — Senators from both sides of the aisle demanded Wednesday that the Trump administration explain why it had evacuated U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq and brief lawmakers on the alleged threats from Iran that prompted the move.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the administration "to immediately provide this committee with a briefing on the decision to order the departure of embassy staff, the intelligence on what Iran may be planning to do and any plans to go to war with Iran."


Speaking at a committee hearing, Menendez said there were only two reasons to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq: Americans working at the missions are at risk, or it is "in preparation for military action in Iran."

The senator said it was the committee's duty to help write laws to authorize the use of military force and to oversee the State Department and the safety of its employees.

"And yet the Trump administration has not provided any information to this committee on the intelligence behind their decisions and what they plan to do in Iraq or Iran," he said.

Menendez added that Congress has not authorized war with Iran and if the Trump administration was contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek approval.


At the same hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he agreed with Menendez "about the need for a classified briefing on the matters in Iraq" and that "I hope that either the entire committee or perhaps the chair and the ranking member would be able to have that kind of briefing"

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said a full briefing for the entire Senate was "in the works."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an outspoken advocate for tough action toward Iran and a frequent defender of President Donald Trump, also said the State Department and the Defense Department needed to brief lawmakers about why it had chosen to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq.

"I would urge the State Department and DoD to come down here and explain to us what's going on," Graham told reporters. "Because I have no idea what the threat stream is beyond what I read in the paper."


He added: "I think there are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran, but we need to understand what we're doing."

The State Department earlier Wednesday ordered the departure of nonemergency employees from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Erbil, and renewed a warning to American citizens not to travel to Iraq.

The announcement did not say how many personnel were affected, and did not offer more details about the threat posed to Americans in Iraq.

The move came days after the administration said it was deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East due to an unspecified threat posed by Iran and its proxies to American interests in the region.


But a senior British military officer directly contradicted the U.S. assessment on Tuesday, saying there was no heightened danger from Iran or its proxies in Iraq and Syria.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — said "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria."

U.S. Central Command issued a statement disputing the British general's comments.

Democrats in Congress have accused the Trump administration of taking reckless actions and engaging in rhetoric that could trigger an unnecessary war with Iran.

The administration has defended its approach, saying it is merely seeking to safeguard U.S. personnel and making clear that it will respond if Iran or its proxies target Americans.

Dan De Luce



© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL




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WORLD
Trump administration's Iran threat claim disputed by foreign officials
"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," said British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika.

A Patriot missile defense system on board the U.S.S. Arlington was sent to the Middle East this week amid rising tensions with Iran.MCSN Jason Waite

May 16, 2019, 6:43 AM ET / Updated May 16, 2019, 8:05 AM ET
By Linda Givetash and Abigail Williams
The Trump administration's claims that the threat of an attack by the Iranian regime on U.S. targets in the Middle East is increasing has been disputed by allies in Europe.

On Wednesday the State Department ordered all nonemergency government employees to leave its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil and advised Americans against travelling to Iraq. Earlier this month national security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. was preparing for possible attacks by Iran or its proxies.


However, a British deputy commander in the global coalition against the Islamic State contradicted the risk of an attack.

"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika told reporters Wednesday. "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."

Related
NEWS
U.S. deploying carrier strike group to send 'message' to Iran
Ghika said the anti-ISIS task force had no intention to change protection measures or its escalation processes despite the developments in the Persian Gulf this week.

"There are a substantial number of militia groups in Iraq and Syria and we don't see any increased threat from many of them at this stage," he said.

Army Lt. Col. CJ Kirkpatrick, right, escorts British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, Combined Joint Task Forces Operation Inherent Resolve Deputy Commander, through the streets of Mosul on Oct. 9.U.S. Army / AP
NBC News asked the British Ministry of Defence on Thursday whether it would raise the threat level for U.K. forces and diplomats in Iraq. A spokesperson would not be drawn on that question but said the ministry "has long been clear about our concerns over Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region” and that the security of personnel and assets is under constant review.


Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Wednesday that he made it clear to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting earlier this week that a unilateral strategy of increasing pressure against Iran was ill-advised.

"Maximum pressure always carries the risk of an unintended escalation," Maas said. "If you take a look at what other hot spots and sources of conflict are there in this region, then we certainly do not need one thing at the moment: an additional fuse."

U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle called on the Trump administration to explain why it had removed diplomatic staff from Iraq.

The dispute over the risks is a reflection in the diverging tactics of the U.S. and Europe to maintain productive relations with Iran, said Sanam Vakil, senior research fellow for the Middle East North Africa program at the London think tank Chatham House.

While Europe opts for a more cautious approach in engaging the Iranian regime, in part due to its close proximity to the Middle East, the U.S. has adopted a strategy of "fear-mongering and posturing," she said.


"[Europeans] ultimately believe the Trump administration has manufactured a crisis and this crisis has prevented them from addressing the other equally important issues that impact European security," she said.

The current situation stems from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, she said, adding that the deal was working and Iran was in compliance.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran on April 18.Tasnim News Agency / Reuters file
Europe and other allies could attempt to kickstart diplomacy with Iran to protect the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, Vakil said, but it would require a very public and meaningful effort with no guarantee the U.S. wouldn't obstruct the process.


U.S. senior state department officials told NBC News on Wednesday that intelligence on threats to peace and security have been shared with British, French and German allies, who were also were asked to use their influence with the Iranian regime to deescalate the situation.

“I would say it would be an act of gross negligence if we did not take the necessary precautions in the light of credible threat streams,” said one senior State Department official. "That does not mean we are rushing to a conflict."

Related
POLITICS
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesman to Iraq's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told NBC News that the situation in Iraq remains stable. The government "is cooperating with all countries that are part of the latest development in the region to reach a balanced solution," he said.

Linda Givetash
Linda Givetash is a reporter based in London. She previously worked for The Canadian Press in Vancouver and Nation Media in Uganda.



2019 NBC UNIVERSAL



Possible policy struggle betwewn Trump and Bolton.


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that President Donald Trump would like to see "behavioral change" from Iran. She also warned that if Tehran takes any action, "they're not going to like what he does in response." (May 16)

AP, AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump had a pithy response Thursday to what has become a pressing question around the world: Is his administration marching the United States into a war with Iran? 

"I hope not," the president told reporters at the White House. 

The three-word response was the latest case of the president adopting a wait-and-see stance amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration deployed an aircraft carrier ahead of schedule and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter what the administration has described as threats from Tehran. 

Yet Trump has struggled to present a unified message on Iran. On the one hand the administration has sought to tamp down talk of a military confrontation with the country. On the other, Trump has said he would "absolutely" send ground troops to the region if needed. 

Trump and his aides have downplayed the prospects of military action with Iran in recent days. That includes a Wednesday tweet in which the president raised the prospect of diplomatic negotiations with the country’s leaders.

The United States and Iran have been lobbing threats, fighting proxy wars, and imposing sanctions for decades. USA Today looks at over 60 years of this back-





WHITE HOUSE
The Trump administration has already built its case for Iran war
Analysis: U.S. officials' words and actions suggest they may turn to the 2001 use-of-force resolution as justification to bypass Congress.

There's little question that Trump administration hawks like John Bolton are getting ready to take action on Iran — and getting ready to go it alone.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
SHARE THIS —
May 18, 2019, 9:23 AM ET / Updated May 18, 2019, 12:01 PM ET
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump may not need Congress to go to war with Iran.

That's the case his lieutenants have been quietly building as tensions between the two nations have escalated.


The key elements involve drawing links between al Qaeda and Iran and casting Iran as a terrorist threat to the U.S. — which is exactly what administration officials have been doing in recent weeks.

That could give Trump the justification he needs to fight Iran under the still-in-effect 2001 use-of-force resolution without congressional approval.

That prospect is unsettling to most Democrats, and even some Republicans, in part because there is a reluctance to engage U.S. forces in another theater of war, and in part because many lawmakers believe Congress has given too much of its war-making authority to the president over the years.

With Congress unlikely to grant him new authority to strike Iran under the current circumstances, and amid a campaign of "maximum pressure" against the regime in Tehran that has escalated tension between the two countries, Trump administration officials have sent strong signals that they will be ready to make an end run around lawmakers, using the 2001 authorization for the use of military force — or "AUMF" in Washington-speak — if necessary.


That law gave the president the power to use force against "nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Earlier this month, the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. Three U.S. officials told NBC that a surge in American forces in the region was a response in part to intelligence-gathering suggesting that the Iranian regime had given proxies a green light to attack U.S. personnel and assets in the region.

And in recent weeks, the Trump administration has accused Iran of assisting al Qaeda, designated an arm of the Iranian military as a foreign terrorist organization and accused Iran of being linked to a terrorist threat against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

National Security Council officials declined to speak on the record with NBC about whether such incidents would satisfy the legal threshold necessary for the president to determine he had the authority to use force against Iran.


But former government lawyers familiar with the 2001 law and its applications say it's obvious from those moves what the Trump administration is trying to do.

"The whole thing is building up to the notion that they don't have to go to Congress for approval," Yale University law professor Harold Koh, who served as the State Department's top lawyer under Secretary Hillary Clinton, said in a telephone interview with NBC News.

Yet Koh said an attempt to shoehorn Iran into the 2001 AUMF is absurd and shouldn't pass legal muster.

"The theory of war powers has to be that Congress doesn't just sign off once," he said. "The suggestion now that Iran attacked us on 9/11 is ridiculous."

The original law essentially creates a two-part test for the president to make a determination that force is warranted: a country, group or person has aided al Qaeda and force is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack against the U.S. from that entity.


Under questioning from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a critic of the executive branch's expansive view of its war powers under both Presidents Barack Obama and Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he would "leave it to the lawyers" to sort out whether Trump had the authority to go to war with Iran absent a new authorization from Congress.

But he also forwarded an argument that he has been making since the early days of the administration that is tantamount to a case that the first part of the test has been met.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

"The factual question with respect to Iran's connections to Al-Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al Qaeda, they have permitted al Qaeda to transit their country,” he said at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al Qaeda. Period, full stop.”

There has been intense debate in recent years about the extent to which the remnants of al Qaeda have found assistance in Iran, with Iran hawks taking the position that the ties are deep and significant and others contending that attempts to link the Shia regime to terrorism carried out by Sunni groups are wrong or disingenuous.

But the deployment of more forces to the region to counter the threat of attacks on American personnel and assets, as well as the partial evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, could be seen as satisfying the second part of the use-of-force test. That is, the idea that force is appropriate to prevent a terrorist threat from a country that has given assistance to al Qaeda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that she appreciates that Trump has generally been reluctant to go to war and cast his advisers as the drivers of the current escalation of tensions. She said the president doesn't currently have the power to go to war with Iran.

“The responsibility in the Congress is for Congress to declare war,” she said. “So I hope the president’s advisors recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way. They cannot call the authorization, AUMF, the authorization for the use of military force, that was passed in 2001, as any authorization to go forward in the Middle East now,”

Trump himself has left the door open.

Asked about the possibility this week, he said, "I hope not."

But there's little question that his administration is getting ready — and getting ready to go it alone.

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen is a Washington-based national political reporter for NBC News who focuses on the presidency
© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL
Last edited by Meno_ on Sun May 19, 2019 10:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 19, 2019 3:50 am

Del Ivers wrote:And isn't it a coincidence that this now happens to take away attention from the Turd's fight with congress? Still, the dingleberries will follow him even if it means the lives of those in the Armed Forces. Too bad we can't have a U.S. Military coup on the White House.

(Meno, I know this is your, 'news network'. Just consider this one of those quick, man-on-the-street video clips.)



!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!



ABCNews

'Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct,' says Rep Justin Amash

By Benjamin Siegel,Mina KajiMay 18, 2019, 7:44 PM ET



WATCH: With the public release of the special counsel's highly anticipated and redacted report, pundits and politicians are parsing its findings, analyzing whether the report exonerates Trump and more.

Rep. Justin Amash has become the first congressional Republican to call for the president's impeachment based on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The self-identifying libertarian Republican and frequent Trump critic shared his "principal conclusions" on Saturday, including his assertion that "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" in a Twitter thread on Saturday after reading the full redacted report.

The special counsel did not establish that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia. He also provided no conclusion on the matter of possible obstruction of justice, choosing instead to leave that decision for Congress.

Amash said that the 448-page report "identifies multiple examples" of the president's conduct "satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice."

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stopped short of calling for impeachment but left the door open to the prospect, though Democratic leaders are reluctant to launch a divisive effort that would likely end with the president’s acquittal in the GOP-led Senate.

In his lengthy post, Amash stated that partisanship is getting in the way of our system's checks and balances.

"When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles," he said.

Amash has frequently been one of the few Republicans willing to call out Trump when he feels the president has crossed the line.

Amash was one of 13 Republicans to vote with Democrats against Trump’s national emergency to fund the border wall. Amash also took a different approach than his fellow Republicans in his questioning of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. He asked Cohen softer, open questions instead of trying to delegitimize Cohen’s testimony and criticize Democrats.

Another one of Amash's primary conclusions from the redacted report was that Attorney General Bill Barr "deliberately misrepresented" Mueller's findings.

"It is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings," Amash wrote.

Attorney General Barr said he had determined that a case for obstruction was not warranted. In his statement to lawmakers, Barr underscored that the report stated that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Amash has said as recently as last monththat he hasn't ruled out seeking the Libertarian nomination for presidency in 2020.

ABC News' John Parkinson, Will Steakin contributed to this report.

© 2019 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.
Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: Trump enters the stage Iran threat! skating on thin ice!

Postby Meno_ » Sun May 19, 2019 10:46 pm

Meno_ wrote:
Meno_ wrote:NATIONAL SECURITY
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Democrats accuse the Trump administration of taking reckless steps that could lead to war with Iran.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called on the administration to explain to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee why it had decided to evacuate U.S. diplomatic missions in Iran.Andrew
May 15, 2019, 12:29 PM ET
By Dan De Luce
WASHINGTON — Senators from both sides of the aisle demanded Wednesday that the Trump administration explain why it had evacuated U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq and brief lawmakers on the alleged threats from Iran that prompted the move.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the administration "to immediately provide this committee with a briefing on the decision to order the departure of embassy staff, the intelligence on what Iran may be planning to do and any plans to go to war with Iran."


Speaking at a committee hearing, Menendez said there were only two reasons to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq: Americans working at the missions are at risk, or it is "in preparation for military action in Iran."

The senator said it was the committee's duty to help write laws to authorize the use of military force and to oversee the State Department and the safety of its employees.

"And yet the Trump administration has not provided any information to this committee on the intelligence behind their decisions and what they plan to do in Iraq or Iran," he said.

Menendez added that Congress has not authorized war with Iran and if the Trump administration was contemplating military action with Iran, it must come to Congress to seek approval.


At the same hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he agreed with Menendez "about the need for a classified briefing on the matters in Iraq" and that "I hope that either the entire committee or perhaps the chair and the ranking member would be able to have that kind of briefing"

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said a full briefing for the entire Senate was "in the works."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an outspoken advocate for tough action toward Iran and a frequent defender of President Donald Trump, also said the State Department and the Defense Department needed to brief lawmakers about why it had chosen to evacuate the U.S. missions in Iraq.

"I would urge the State Department and DoD to come down here and explain to us what's going on," Graham told reporters. "Because I have no idea what the threat stream is beyond what I read in the paper."


He added: "I think there are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran, but we need to understand what we're doing."

The State Department earlier Wednesday ordered the departure of nonemergency employees from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Erbil, and renewed a warning to American citizens not to travel to Iraq.

The announcement did not say how many personnel were affected, and did not offer more details about the threat posed to Americans in Iraq.

The move came days after the administration said it was deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East due to an unspecified threat posed by Iran and its proxies to American interests in the region.


But a senior British military officer directly contradicted the U.S. assessment on Tuesday, saying there was no heightened danger from Iran or its proxies in Iraq and Syria.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve — the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — said "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria."

U.S. Central Command issued a statement disputing the British general's comments.

Democrats in Congress have accused the Trump administration of taking reckless actions and engaging in rhetoric that could trigger an unnecessary war with Iran.

The administration has defended its approach, saying it is merely seeking to safeguard U.S. personnel and making clear that it will respond if Iran or its proxies target Americans.

Dan De Luce



© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL




************** ****************



WORLD
Trump administration's Iran threat claim disputed by foreign officials
"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," said British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika.

A Patriot missile defense system on board the U.S.S. Arlington was sent to the Middle East this week amid rising tensions with Iran.MCSN Jason Waite

May 16, 2019, 6:43 AM ET / Updated May 16, 2019, 8:05 AM ET
By Linda Givetash and Abigail Williams
The Trump administration's claims that the threat of an attack by the Iranian regime on U.S. targets in the Middle East is increasing has been disputed by allies in Europe.

On Wednesday the State Department ordered all nonemergency government employees to leave its embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil and advised Americans against travelling to Iraq. Earlier this month national security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. was preparing for possible attacks by Iran or its proxies.


However, a British deputy commander in the global coalition against the Islamic State contradicted the risk of an attack.

"There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria," Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika told reporters Wednesday. "We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in."

Related
NEWS
U.S. deploying carrier strike group to send 'message' to Iran
Ghika said the anti-ISIS task force had no intention to change protection measures or its escalation processes despite the developments in the Persian Gulf this week.

"There are a substantial number of militia groups in Iraq and Syria and we don't see any increased threat from many of them at this stage," he said.

Army Lt. Col. CJ Kirkpatrick, right, escorts British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, Combined Joint Task Forces Operation Inherent Resolve Deputy Commander, through the streets of Mosul on Oct. 9.U.S. Army / AP
NBC News asked the British Ministry of Defence on Thursday whether it would raise the threat level for U.K. forces and diplomats in Iraq. A spokesperson would not be drawn on that question but said the ministry "has long been clear about our concerns over Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region” and that the security of personnel and assets is under constant review.


Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Wednesday that he made it clear to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting earlier this week that a unilateral strategy of increasing pressure against Iran was ill-advised.

"Maximum pressure always carries the risk of an unintended escalation," Maas said. "If you take a look at what other hot spots and sources of conflict are there in this region, then we certainly do not need one thing at the moment: an additional fuse."

U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle called on the Trump administration to explain why it had removed diplomatic staff from Iraq.

The dispute over the risks is a reflection in the diverging tactics of the U.S. and Europe to maintain productive relations with Iran, said Sanam Vakil, senior research fellow for the Middle East North Africa program at the London think tank Chatham House.

While Europe opts for a more cautious approach in engaging the Iranian regime, in part due to its close proximity to the Middle East, the U.S. has adopted a strategy of "fear-mongering and posturing," she said.


"[Europeans] ultimately believe the Trump administration has manufactured a crisis and this crisis has prevented them from addressing the other equally important issues that impact European security," she said.

The current situation stems from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, she said, adding that the deal was working and Iran was in compliance.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran on April 18.Tasnim News Agency / Reuters file
Europe and other allies could attempt to kickstart diplomacy with Iran to protect the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, Vakil said, but it would require a very public and meaningful effort with no guarantee the U.S. wouldn't obstruct the process.


U.S. senior state department officials told NBC News on Wednesday that intelligence on threats to peace and security have been shared with British, French and German allies, who were also were asked to use their influence with the Iranian regime to deescalate the situation.

“I would say it would be an act of gross negligence if we did not take the necessary precautions in the light of credible threat streams,” said one senior State Department official. "That does not mean we are rushing to a conflict."

Related
POLITICS
Senators demand answers from Trump administration on Iran threat
Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesman to Iraq's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told NBC News that the situation in Iraq remains stable. The government "is cooperating with all countries that are part of the latest development in the region to reach a balanced solution," he said.

Linda Givetash
Linda Givetash is a reporter based in London. She previously worked for The Canadian Press in Vancouver and Nation Media in Uganda.



2019 NBC UNIVERSAL



Possible policy struggle betwewn Trump and Bolton.


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that President Donald Trump would like to see "behavioral change" from Iran. She also warned that if Tehran takes any action, "they're not going to like what he does in response." (May 16)

AP, AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump had a pithy response Thursday to what has become a pressing question around the world: Is his administration marching the United States into a war with Iran? 

"I hope not," the president told reporters at the White House. 

The three-word response was the latest case of the president adopting a wait-and-see stance amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration deployed an aircraft carrier ahead of schedule and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter what the administration has described as threats from Tehran. 

Yet Trump has struggled to present a unified message on Iran. On the one hand the administration has sought to tamp down talk of a military confrontation with the country. On the other, Trump has said he would "absolutely" send ground troops to the region if needed. 

Trump and his aides have downplayed the prospects of military action with Iran in recent days. That includes a Wednesday tweet in which the president raised the prospect of diplomatic negotiations with the country’s leaders.

The United States and Iran have been lobbing threats, fighting proxy wars, and imposing sanctions for decades. USA Today looks at over 60 years of this back-





WHITE HOUSE
The Trump administration has already built its case for Iran war
Analysis: U.S. officials' words and actions suggest they may turn to the 2001 use-of-force resolution as justification to bypass Congress.

There's little question that Trump administration hawks like John Bolton are getting ready to take action on Iran — and getting ready to go it alone.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
SHARE THIS —
May 18, 2019, 9:23 AM ET / Updated May 18, 2019, 12:01 PM ET
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump may not need Congress to go to war with Iran.

That's the case his lieutenants have been quietly building as tensions between the two nations have escalated.


The key elements involve drawing links between al Qaeda and Iran and casting Iran as a terrorist threat to the U.S. — which is exactly what administration officials have been doing in recent weeks.

That could give Trump the justification he needs to fight Iran under the still-in-effect 2001 use-of-force resolution without congressional approval.

That prospect is unsettling to most Democrats, and even some Republicans, in part because there is a reluctance to engage U.S. forces in another theater of war, and in part because many lawmakers believe Congress has given too much of its war-making authority to the president over the years.

With Congress unlikely to grant him new authority to strike Iran under the current circumstances, and amid a campaign of "maximum pressure" against the regime in Tehran that has escalated tension between the two countries, Trump administration officials have sent strong signals that they will be ready to make an end run around lawmakers, using the 2001 authorization for the use of military force — or "AUMF" in Washington-speak — if necessary.


That law gave the president the power to use force against "nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Earlier this month, the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. Three U.S. officials told NBC that a surge in American forces in the region was a response in part to intelligence-gathering suggesting that the Iranian regime had given proxies a green light to attack U.S. personnel and assets in the region.

And in recent weeks, the Trump administration has accused Iran of assisting al Qaeda, designated an arm of the Iranian military as a foreign terrorist organization and accused Iran of being linked to a terrorist threat against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

National Security Council officials declined to speak on the record with NBC about whether such incidents would satisfy the legal threshold necessary for the president to determine he had the authority to use force against Iran.


But former government lawyers familiar with the 2001 law and its applications say it's obvious from those moves what the Trump administration is trying to do.

"The whole thing is building up to the notion that they don't have to go to Congress for approval," Yale University law professor Harold Koh, who served as the State Department's top lawyer under Secretary Hillary Clinton, said in a telephone interview with NBC News.

Yet Koh said an attempt to shoehorn Iran into the 2001 AUMF is absurd and shouldn't pass legal muster.

"The theory of war powers has to be that Congress doesn't just sign off once," he said. "The suggestion now that Iran attacked us on 9/11 is ridiculous."

The original law essentially creates a two-part test for the president to make a determination that force is warranted: a country, group or person has aided al Qaeda and force is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack against the U.S. from that entity.


Under questioning from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a critic of the executive branch's expansive view of its war powers under both Presidents Barack Obama and Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that he would "leave it to the lawyers" to sort out whether Trump had the authority to go to war with Iran absent a new authorization from Congress.

But he also forwarded an argument that he has been making since the early days of the administration that is tantamount to a case that the first part of the test has been met.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

"The factual question with respect to Iran's connections to Al-Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al Qaeda, they have permitted al Qaeda to transit their country,” he said at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “There is no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al Qaeda. Period, full stop.”

There has been intense debate in recent years about the extent to which the remnants of al Qaeda have found assistance in Iran, with Iran hawks taking the position that the ties are deep and significant and others contending that attempts to link the Shia regime to terrorism carried out by Sunni groups are wrong or disingenuous.

But the deployment of more forces to the region to counter the threat of attacks on American personnel and assets, as well as the partial evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, could be seen as satisfying the second part of the use-of-force test. That is, the idea that force is appropriate to prevent a terrorist threat from a country that has given assistance to al Qaeda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week that she appreciates that Trump has generally been reluctant to go to war and cast his advisers as the drivers of the current escalation of tensions. She said the president doesn't currently have the power to go to war with Iran.

“The responsibility in the Congress is for Congress to declare war,” she said. “So I hope the president’s advisors recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way. They cannot call the authorization, AUMF, the authorization for the use of military force, that was passed in 2001, as any authorization to go forward in the Middle East now,”

Trump himself has left the door open.

Asked about the possibility this week, he said, "I hope not."

But there's little question that his administration is getting ready — and getting ready to go it alone.

Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen is a Washington-based national political reporter for NBC News who focuses on the presidency
© 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL




The Latest: Trump Warns Iran of Ruin if It Starts Fight

Associated Press • May 19, 2019, at 5:06 p.m.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

1:05 a.m.

Days after saying he hoped the U.S. and Iran would not go to war, President Donald Trump threatened Iran with destruction if it seeks a fight.

Trump issued the warning after a rocket landed less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy on Sunday in Baghdad's Green Zone, further stoking tensions in the region.

Trump tweeted: "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"

Iranian officials say the country is not looking for war.

Trump had seemed to soften his tone after the U.S. recently sent warships and bombers to the region to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran. On Thursday, when asked if the U.S. and Iran were headed toward armed conflict, he answered: "I hope not."

___

9:55 p.m.

An apparent rocket attack has exploded in the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone, home to government headquarters and the U.S. Embassy.

Iraq's state-run news agency says a Katyusha rocket crashed inside the area without causing any casualties.

Alert sirens sounded briefly in Baghdad after the explosion was heard, according to Associated Press reporters on the east side of the Tigris River.

The apparent attack comes amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf, after the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran. The U.S. also has ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq.

Iraq hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those U.S. forces to leave.

6:50 p.m.

The U.S. Navy says it has conducted exercises in the Arabian Sea with an aircraft carrier strike group ordered to the Persian Gulf to counter an alleged, unspecified threat from Iran.

The Navy said Sunday the exercises and training were conducted with the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, highlighting U.S. "lethality and agility to respond to threat," as well as to deter conflict and preserve U.S. strategic interests.

Also taking part in exercises were the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, both deployed to the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations in the Persian Gulf.

The Navy says the exercises, conducted Friday and Saturday, included air-to-air training and steaming in formation and maneuvering.

___

11:10 a.m.

A top Saudi diplomat says the kingdom does not want war but will defend itself, amid a recent spike in tensions with archrival Iran.

Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke early Sunday, a week after four oil tankers were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.

Saudi Arabia has blamed the pipeline attack on Iran. Gulf officials say an investigation into the tanker incident is underway.

A-Jubeir told reporters: "We want peace and stability in the region, but we won't stand with our hands bound."

Ministers from major oil-producing countries were to meet in Saudi Arabia later Tuesday.

Copyright 2019 The  Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 © U.S. News & World Report L.P.



Monday, May 10 : the ice is getting very thin:



Trump news - live: Democrats threaten 'serious consequences' as former White House aide refuses to testify to congress over Russia

Follow the latest updates from Washington

Chris Baynes

3 minutes ago 

Click to follow
The Independent

Donald Trump has lost a lawsuit seeking to stop his accounting firm handing over financial records to a US House of Representatives committee. 

US district judge Amit Mehta said it was "simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behaviour would deny congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct". 

Accountants Mazars LLP have been ordered to comply with a House of Representatives Oversight Committee subpoena within seven days.



 TOP ARTICLES1/5Your morning briefing: Whatyou should know for Tuesday, May 21



The ruling came as the US president hit the campaign trail for a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, where he joked about serving five terms in the White House.

"Now we're going to have a second time," he told supporters. "Maybe if we really like it a lot and if things keep going like they're going, we'll go and we'll do what we have to do. We'll do a three and a four and a five."






KEY POINTS

Trump loses legal bid to block release of financial records

Congress to question national security officials over Iran tensions

White House to defy request to testify to judiciary committee after Trump pressure

Democrats threaten 'serious consequences' as president attempts to stonewall Russia probe

3 minutes ago

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that it is "quite possible" that Iran is behind the sabotage of Gulf oil interests.

 

It's the latest sign of strife as the US and Iran have grown further and further apart, and as Donald Trump has threatened war.

Clark Mindock

21 May 2019 15:17

6 minutes ago

Iranians are reportedly working hard to enrich uranium after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

 

The news comes as the US and Iran have seen heightened tensions, with the president outright threatening Iran in the past week.

 

Here's our report:

Iran quadruples production of enriched uranium, officials say

‘This is part of Iran’s pushback strategy against the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign’, expert says

Clark Mindock

21 May 2019 15:14

50 minutes ago

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has called the US administration "novice politicians with naive ideas", saying Donald Trump had stepped back from his threats against Tehran after military aides advised him against a war with the Islamic Republic.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Rouhani also claimed the unity of the Iranian nation changed Trump's decision to wage war.

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 13:58

1 hour ago

China's foreign ministry spokesman has accused Washington of misusing "state power" to hurt overseas companies and interfere in commercial markets. 

Spokesman Lu Kang said in a routine briefing on Tuesday that "the Chinese government has determination and ability to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests." 

Responding to a question about Donald Trump's comment that a trade deal with Beijing has to be more beneficial to the US than China, Lu said it was "unscientific and unprofessional" to assume that there must always be a winner and a loser in trade relations between the two countries. 

He said any agreement must be balanced, equal and mutually beneficial. 

Lu also said that using government power to "crackdown" on foreign companies and interfere in markets would not be in the interest of the US.

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 14:13

1 hour ago

A further escalation of Donald Trump's trade war with China risks damaging the US and wider global economy, a major international organisation has warned.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) cautioned that if the dispute intensified, it could knock as much as 0.7 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021-22.

It comes as the Paris-based think tank cut its outlook for global growth to 3.2 per cent in 2019 and 3.4 per cent in 2020.

Growth in China and the United States could come in 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent lower on average by 2021 and 2022 if the countries do not resolve their long-running dispute, the OECD predicted.

In the worst-case scenario, America's GDP could be more than 0.8 per cent lower and Chinese GDP over 1.1 per cent lower if tensions escalate further, it added.



A former White House aide is to defy a request to testify before the US Congress after being ordered by Donald Trump to help stonewall investigations into the president.

A lawyer for Donald McGahn, former White House counsel, has confirmed he will follow the president's directive and skip the House Judiciary Committee hearing this week in defiance of a subpoena.

Democrat committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said would the committee would vote to hold McGahn in contempt and take the issue to court.

In a letter sent today, on the eve of the hearing, Nadler told McGahn: "You face serious consequences if you do not appear."

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 14:13

3 hours ago

Justin Amash, the first Republican in the US congress to say openly that Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses, has fired back at his critics in the party.

Standing behind his earlier remarks, Amash issued a string of tweets that challenged some of the most common arguments of those who defend Trump over special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Amash said people who claim Trump could not have intended to illegally obstruct Mueller's investigation relied on several falsehoods, including a claim that there were no underlying crimes.

"In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged, and some of which were not," he tweeted.

Responding to Amash's initial comments on Sunday, Trump tweeted that the representative for Michigan was "a total lightweight" and "a loser."



Top national security officials are heading to Capitol Hill today to discuss Donald Trump's bombast over Iran. 

The officials will hold separate behind-closed-doors briefings with Republicans and Democrats in congress, following weeks of escalating tensions in the Gulf that have raised alarms over possible military confrontation.

The Trump administration has been warned it cannot take the country into war without congressional approval.

The back-to-back briefings show the wariness among Democrats, and some Republicans, over the White House's sudden policy shifts in the Middle East. 

Trump on Monday threatened to meet any provocations by Iran with "great force," but also said he was willing to negotiate. 



Donald Trump reckons he's so popular he could serve five terms as president, if not for that pesky US constitution.

Recalling his election victory in 2016, joked to a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, last night: 

Now we're going to have a second time.

And then we'll drive them crazy. Ready?

And maybe if we really like it a lot and if things keep going like they're going, we'll go and we'll do what we have to do. We'll do a three and a four and a five.

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits presidents to two terms in the White House, which I think we can all agree is probably for the best.

 



21 May 2019 10:48

4 hours ago

A US judge has ruled in favour of a House of Representatives committee seeking to obtain president Donald Trump's financial records from his accounting firm.

Washington district iudge Amit Mehta, who heard oral arguments in the case last week, said the Oversight Committee had "shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the president's financial records".

"It is simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants congress the power to remove a resident for reasons including criminal behavior would deny congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct - past or present - even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry," he said in Monday's ruling.

The documents from accountants Mazars LLP might assist congress in passing laws and performing other core functions, he added.

The judge also denied a request by Trump to stay his decision pending an appeal.

Mehta said Mazars had seven days to comply with the subpoena.





US POLITICSTrump turns on Fox News and suggests jailing Democrats in wild speech
Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

Re: Trump enters the stage-skating on thin ice

Postby Meno_ » Tue May 21, 2019 4:13 pm

Trump news - live: Democrats threaten 'serious consequences' as former White House aide refuses to testify to congress over Russia

Follow the latest updates from Washington

Chris Baynes

3 minutes ago 

Click to follow
The Independent

Donald Trump has lost a lawsuit seeking to stop his accounting firm handing over financial records to a US House of Representatives committee. 

US district judge Amit Mehta said it was "simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behaviour would deny congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct". 

Accountants Mazars LLP have been ordered to comply with a House of Representatives Oversight Committee subpoena within seven days.



 TOP ARTICLES1/5Your morning briefing: Whatyou should know for Tuesday, May 21



The ruling came as the US president hit the campaign trail for a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, where he joked about serving five terms in the White House.

"Now we're going to have a second time," he told supporters. "Maybe if we really like it a lot and if things keep going like they're going, we'll go and we'll do what we have to do. We'll do a three and a four and a five."






KEY POINTS

Trump loses legal bid to block release of financial records

Congress to question national security officials over Iran tensions

White House to defy request to testify to judiciary committee after Trump pressure

Democrats threaten 'serious consequences' as president attempts to stonewall Russia probe

3 minutes ago

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that it is "quite possible" that Iran is behind the sabotage of Gulf oil interests.

 

It's the latest sign of strife as the US and Iran have grown further and further apart, and as Donald Trump has threatened war.

Clark Mindock

21 May 2019 15:17

6 minutes ago

Iranians are reportedly working hard to enrich uranium after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

 

The news comes as the US and Iran have seen heightened tensions, with the president outright threatening Iran in the past week.

 

Here's our report:

Iran quadruples production of enriched uranium, officials say

‘This is part of Iran’s pushback strategy against the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign’, expert says

Clark Mindock

21 May 2019 15:14

50 minutes ago

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has called the US administration "novice politicians with naive ideas", saying Donald Trump had stepped back from his threats against Tehran after military aides advised him against a war with the Islamic Republic.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Rouhani also claimed the unity of the Iranian nation changed Trump's decision to wage war.

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 13:58

1 hour ago

China's foreign ministry spokesman has accused Washington of misusing "state power" to hurt overseas companies and interfere in commercial markets. 

Spokesman Lu Kang said in a routine briefing on Tuesday that "the Chinese government has determination and ability to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests." 

Responding to a question about Donald Trump's comment that a trade deal with Beijing has to be more beneficial to the US than China, Lu said it was "unscientific and unprofessional" to assume that there must always be a winner and a loser in trade relations between the two countries. 

He said any agreement must be balanced, equal and mutually beneficial. 

Lu also said that using government power to "crackdown" on foreign companies and interfere in markets would not be in the interest of the US.

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 14:13

1 hour ago

A further escalation of Donald Trump's trade war with China risks damaging the US and wider global economy, a major international organisation has warned.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) cautioned that if the dispute intensified, it could knock as much as 0.7 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021-22.

It comes as the Paris-based think tank cut its outlook for global growth to 3.2 per cent in 2019 and 3.4 per cent in 2020.

Growth in China and the United States could come in 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent lower on average by 2021 and 2022 if the countries do not resolve their long-running dispute, the OECD predicted.

In the worst-case scenario, America's GDP could be more than 0.8 per cent lower and Chinese GDP over 1.1 per cent lower if tensions escalate further, it added.



A former White House aide is to defy a request to testify before the US Congress after being ordered by Donald Trump to help stonewall investigations into the president.

A lawyer for Donald McGahn, former White House counsel, has confirmed he will follow the president's directive and skip the House Judiciary Committee hearing this week in defiance of a subpoena.

Democrat committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said would the committee would vote to hold McGahn in contempt and take the issue to court.

In a letter sent today, on the eve of the hearing, Nadler told McGahn: "You face serious consequences if you do not appear."

Chris Baynes

21 May 2019 14:13

3 hours ago

Justin Amash, the first Republican in the US congress to say openly that Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses, has fired back at his critics in the party.

Standing behind his earlier remarks, Amash issued a string of tweets that challenged some of the most common arguments of those who defend Trump over special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Amash said people who claim Trump could not have intended to illegally obstruct Mueller's investigation relied on several falsehoods, including a claim that there were no underlying crimes.

"In fact, there were many crimes revealed by the investigation, some of which were charged, and some of which were not," he tweeted.

Responding to Amash's initial comments on Sunday, Trump tweeted that the representative for Michigan was "a total lightweight" and "a loser."



Top national security officials are heading to Capitol Hill today to discuss Donald Trump's bombast over Iran. 

The officials will hold separate behind-closed-doors briefings with Republicans and Democrats in congress, following weeks of escalating tensions in the Gulf that have raised alarms over possible military confrontation.

The Trump administration has been warned it cannot take the country into war without congressional approval.

The back-to-back briefings show the wariness among Democrats, and some Republicans, over the White House's sudden policy shifts in the Middle East. 

Trump on Monday threatened to meet any provocations by Iran with "great force," but also said he was willing to negotiate. 



Donald Trump reckons he's so popular he could serve five terms as president, if not for that pesky US constitution.

Recalling his election victory in 2016, joked to a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, last night: 

Now we're going to have a second time.

And then we'll drive them crazy. Ready?

And maybe if we really like it a lot and if things keep going like they're going, we'll go and we'll do what we have to do. We'll do a three and a four and a five.

The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits presidents to two terms in the White House, which I think we can all agree is probably for the best.

 



21 May 2019 10:48

4 hours ago

A US judge has ruled in favour of a House of Representatives committee seeking to obtain president Donald Trump's financial records from his accounting firm.

Washington district iudge Amit Mehta, who heard oral arguments in the case last week, said the Oversight Committee had "shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the president's financial records".

"It is simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants congress the power to remove a resident for reasons including criminal behavior would deny congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct - past or present - even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry," he said in Monday's ruling.

The documents from accountants Mazars LLP might assist congress in passing laws and performing other core functions, he added.

The judge also denied a request by Trump to stay his decision pending an appeal.

Mehta said Mazars had seven days to comply with the subpoena.





US POLITICSTrump turns on Fox News and suggests jailing Democrats in wild speech
Meno_
Philosopher
 
Posts: 4796
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:39 am
Location: Mysterium Tremendum

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