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The Pronk Pops Show 1326, September 24, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Address To The United Nations — One of The Greatest Presidential Speeches in U.S. History — Videos — Story 2: Democrats Want To Impeach Trump For Winning In 2016 — If Democrats Impeach Trump The American People Will Elect Trump in 2020 in A Landslide Victory and Republicans Will Have Total Control of Congress — Creepy Sleepy Dopey Joe Biden Done Over Corruption of Hunter Biden Payoff Bribes In Ukraine and Communist China — Call The Impeachment Vote — Doubly Desperate Democrats — Drop Out Biden — Going, Going, Gone! — Videos —

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Story 1: President Trump Address To The United Nations — One of The Greatest Presidential Speeches in U.S. History — Videos —

WATCH AGAIN: Donald Trump addresses United Nations General Assembly

Watch Highlights From President Donald Trump’s U.N. Speech | NBC News Now

James Risen: I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine in 2015. The Right-Wing Media Twisted My Reporting

Watch Highlights From President Donald Trump’s U.N. Speech | NBC News Now

Donald Trump uses UN address to warn social media giants against ‘blacklisting’ conservatives and tells the world to be ‘skeptical’ of anyone who wants control over free speech

  • Utilizing his platform at the United Nations General Assembly, Donald Trump put social media giants on blast 
  • He warned against ‘silencing’ and ‘blacklisting’ political opinions that are unpopular in Silicon Valley – where most social media sites are headquartered
  • The president has often voiced his disdain over social media platforms silencing conservative voices
  • He warned the global audience at UNGA that social media is threatening free speech, even in ‘free nations’
  • Last week, Trump met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the Oval Office
  • He has also previously met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey 

Donald Trump put America’s social media giants on notice during a United Nationsaddress on Tuesday that the U.S. government will push back against online tech giants ‘silencing, coercing, canceling or blacklisting’ political opinions that don’t rate high in Silicon Valley.

‘A small number of social media platforms are acquiring immense power over what we can see and over what we are allowed to say,’ Trump told foreign leaders.

He said he is aggressively cracking down on the biggest platforms that play political favorites online, and encouraging other nations to follow suit.

‘A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,’ he said, ‘and a free people must never, ever be enlisted in the cause of silencing, coercing, canceling or blacklisting their own neighbors.’

Trump warns against social media giants limiting free speech
Donald Trump blasted U.S. social media platforms during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. 'A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,' he asserted

Donald Trump blasted U.S. social media platforms during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday. ‘A free society cannot allow social media giants to silence the voices of the people,’ he asserted

He told the room full of foreign leaders and a global audience that even 'free nations' are experiencing challenges to liberty and free speech from social media

He told the room full of foreign leaders and a global audience that even ‘free nations’ are experiencing challenges to liberty and free speech from social media

‘My administration has made clear to social media companies that we will uphold the right of free speech,’ he declared.

The president often complains about anti-conservative bias at Twitter, Facebook and Google.

He met last week with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. A White House official said the topic of ‘bias came up.’ Trump has also sat down for a talk with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The president on Tuesday raised social media in the context of condemning oppressive nations that control what their population can read, see and hear, and whose technological advances have the potential to limit freedom of speech.

Trump met last week with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right) in the Oval Office. A White House official said the topic of 'bias came up' during their meeting

Trump met last week with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right) in the Oval Office. A White House official said the topic of ‘bias came up’ during their meeting

‘A permanent political class is openly disdainful, dismissive and defiant of the will of the people,’ he continued. ‘A faceless bureaucracy operates in secret and weakens democratic rule. Media and academic institutions push flat-out assaults on our histories, traditions and values.’

‘Freedom and democracy must be constantly guarded and protected abroad, and from within,’ he said.

‘We must always be skeptical about those who want conformity and control. Even in free nations we see alarming signs and new challenges to liberty.’

Zuckerberg capped off a day of meetings in Washington, D.C. on Friday with a sit-down with Trump.

‘Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @facebook in the Oval Office today,’ the president wrote on Twitter, adding a picture of him with the Facebook CEO.

 

Story 2: Democrats Want To Impeach Trump For Winning The 2016 — If Democrats Impeach Trump The American People Will Elect Trump in 2020 in A Landslide Victory and Republicans Will Have Total Control of Congress — Creepy Sleepy Dopey Joe Biden Done Over Corruption of Hunter Biden Payoff Bribes In Ukraine and Communist China — Call The Impeachment Vote — Doubly Desperate Democrats — Drop Out Biden — Going, Going, Gone! — Videos

Biden sidesteps questions about son’s foreign work

Jun 20, 2019

Speaker Pelosi Launches Probe To Impeach Trump For First Time | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC

Trump: Joe Biden and His Son Are Corrupt

Nunes: Biden admitted he did the very thing Trump is accused of doing

Biden made Ukraine fire top prosecutor investigating son’s firm – report

Explaining Trump And Giuliani’s Allegations Against Joe Biden And His Son | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Napolitano: Trump’s admitted contact with Ukraine is a crime

Rudy Giuliani’s Actions Under Scrutiny In Trump’s Call With Ukrainian President | Hardball | MSNBC

BIDEN UKRAINE SCANDAL EXPLAINED: Unethical plan by Joe to help son Hunter profit

President Donald Trump Admits Discussing Joe Biden With Ukrainian Leader | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

The Five’ reacts to Trump and Biden’s whistleblower feud

White House reacts to Congress’ Trump impeachment inquiry

Giuliani: Democrats stepped into more than they realize

Nunes: Biden admitted he did the very thing Trump is accused of doing

Gowdy on whistleblower: Here’s why ‘anonymous sources’ shouldn’t count

Graham challenges whistleblower to appear before Senate Judiciary

Joe Biden is becoming an ‘impossible candidate’: Kennedy

•Sep 3, 2019

WSJ: Trump repeatedly asked Ukraine president to probe Biden’s son

 

Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch

Hunter Biden at a campaign event in 2008. He sits on the board of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies.
CreditCreditOzier Muhammad/The New York Times

When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.traveled to Kiev , Ukraine, on Sunday for a series of meetings with the country’s leaders, one of the issues on his agenda was to encourage a more aggressive fight against Ukraine’s rampant corruption and stronger efforts to rein in the power of its oligarchs.

But the credibility of the vice president’s anticorruption message may have been undermined by the association of his son, Hunter Biden, with one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings, and with its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, who was Ukraine’s ecology minister under former President Viktor F. Yanukovych before he was forced into exile.

Hunter Biden, 45, a former Washington lobbyist, joined the Burisma board in April 2014. That month, as part of an investigation into money laundering, British officials froze London bank accounts containing $23 million that allegedly belonged to Mr. Zlochevsky.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, an independent government agency, specifically forbade Mr. Zlochevksy, as well as Burisma Holdings, the company’s chief legal officer and another company owned by Mr. Zlochevsky, to have any access to the accounts.

But after Ukrainian prosecutors refused to provide documents needed in the investigation, a British court in January ordered the Serious Fraud Office to unfreeze the assets. The refusal by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office to cooperate was the target of a stinging attack by the American ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who called out Burisma’s owner by name in a speech in September.

“In the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, the U.K. authorities had seized $23 million in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people,” Mr. Pyatt said. Officials at the prosecutor general’s office, he added, were asked by the United Kingdom “to send documents supporting the seizure. Instead they sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result, the money was freed by the U.K. court, and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.”

Mr. Pyatt went on to call for an investigation into “the misconduct” of the prosecutors who wrote the letters. In his speech, the ambassador did not mention Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma.

But Edward C. Chow, who follows Ukrainian policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the involvement of the vice president’s son with Mr. Zlochevsky’s firm undermined the Obama administration’s anticorruption message in Ukraine.

“Now you look at the Hunter Biden situation, and on the one hand you can credit the father for sending the anticorruption message,” Mr. Chow said. “But I think unfortunately it sends the message that a lot of foreign countries want to believe about America, that we are hypocritical about these issues.”

Speaking during a visit to Ukraine, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged the country to weed corruption out of its system.CreditCreditMikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service

“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer,” she said. “The vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company. The vice president has pushed aggressively for years, both publicly with groups like the U.S.-Ukraine Business Forum and privately in meetings with Ukrainian leaders, for Ukraine to make every effort to investigate and prosecute corruption in accordance with the rule of law. It will once again be a key focus during his trip this week.”

Ryan F. Toohey, a Burisma spokesman, said that Hunter Biden would not comment for this article.

It is not known how Mr. Biden came to the attention of the company. Announcing his appointment to the board, Alan Apter, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker who is chairman of Burisma, said, “The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals.”

Joining the board at the same time was one of Mr. Biden’s American business partners, Devon Archer. Both are involved with Rosemont Seneca Partners, an American investment firm with offices in Washington.

Mr. Biden is the younger of the vice president’s two sons. His brother, Beau, died of brain cancer in May. In the past, Hunter Biden attracted an unusual level of scrutiny and even controversy. In 2014, he was discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine use. He received a commission as an ensign in 2013, and he served as a public affairs officer.

Before his father was vice president, Mr. Biden also briefly served as president of a hedge fund group, Paradigm Companies, in which he was involved with one of his uncles, James Biden, the vice president’s brother. That deal went sour amid lawsuits in 2007 and 2008 involving the Bidens and an erstwhile business partner. Mr. Biden, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, also worked as a lobbyist before his father became vice president.

Burisma does not disclose the compensation of its board members because it is a privately held company, Mr. Toohey said Monday, but he added that the amount was “not out of the ordinary” for similar corporate board positions.

Asked about the British investigation, which is continuing, Mr. Toohey said, “Not only was the case dismissed and the company vindicated by the outcome, but it speaks volumes that all his legal costs were recouped.”

In response to Mr. Pyatt’s criticism of the Ukrainian handling of Mr. Zlochevsky’s case, Mr. Toohey said that “strong corporate governance and transparency are priorities shared both by the United States and the leadership of Burisma. Burisma is working to bring the energy sector into the modern era, which is critical for a free and strong Ukraine.”

Vice President Biden has played a leading role in American policy toward Ukraine as Washington seeks to counter Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine. This week’s visit was his fifth trip to Ukraine as vice president.

Ms. Bedingfield said Hunter Biden had never traveled to Ukraine with his father. She also said that Ukrainian officials had never mentioned Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma to the vice president during any of his visits.

“I’ve got to believe that somebody in the vice president’s office has done some due diligence on this,” said Steven Pifer, who was the American ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000. “I should say that I hope that has happened. I would hope that they have done some kind of check, because I think the vice president has done a very good job of sending the anticorruption message in Ukraine, and you would hate to see something like this undercut that message.”

 

 

Let’s get real: Democrats were first to enlist Ukraine in US elections

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The Pronk Pops Show 1293, July 22, 2019, Story 1: Big Spending Democrat and Republican Parties Fail To Make Real Spending Cuts To Balance The Budget — — Massive Budget Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 — Deficit To Exceed $1,000,000,000,000 For Fiscal Year 2019 — Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Big Government Spending Parties — Videos — Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Desperate To Start War With United States and U. S. Allies — Careful What You Wish For — Joint United States and Israel Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Systems Programs Deep in Mountains — Nuclear Weapons Required For Total Destruction — Videos — Story 3: Iran Says It Captured 17 Central Intelligence Agency Spies — Plans To Execute Some of Them — Videos — Story 4: Where is The New Border Wall? — Where is Congressional Funding for New Border Barrier? — Congress Is Responsible for Crisis At The Border — New Improved Bipartisan Political Correct Chant — “Send Them All Home” Including Open Border/Citizenship For Illegal Aliens Democrats and Republicans and  Deport All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in United States — It Is The Law — Enforce The Law — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1282 June 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1281 June 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1280 June 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1279 June 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

See the source imageThe Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purposeSee the source imageSee the source image

See the source image

Story 1: Big Spending Democrat and Republican Parties Fail To Make Real Spending Cuts To Balance The Budget — Massive Budget Deficits For Fiscal Year 2019 — Deficit To Exceed $1,000,000,000,000 For Fiscal Year 2019 — Totally Fiscally Irresponsible Big Government Spending Parties — Videos —

See the source image

See the source image

Congress, White House Nearing Two-Year Debt Limit Deal

A budget agreement is ‘near final’, source says

White House projects the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion

Trump reportedly plans to make massive cuts to federal spending in second term Daily Mail Online

Trump Running $1 TRILLION DEFICITS FOR YEARS TO COME, After Promising to Pay U.S. Debt in 8 years!

Funding the Government: The Budget Process and Omnibus Spending Bills [Article I Initiative]

Why the federal deficit is rising, despite economic growth

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday. Mrs. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the agreement for weeks. PHOTO:REBECCA COOK/REUTERS

WASHINGTON—Congressional and White House negotiators reached a deal to increase federal spending and raise the government’s borrowing limit, securing a bipartisan compromise to avoid a looming fiscal crisis and pushing the next budget debate after the 2020 election.

The deal for more than $2.7 trillion in spending over two years, which must still pass both chambers of Congress and needs President Trump’s signature, would suspend the debt ceiling until the end of July 2021. It also raises spending by nearly $50 billion next fiscal year above current levels.

The agreement forgoes the steep spending cuts initially sought by the administration, providing for about $320 billion in spending over two years above limits set in a 2011 budget law that established automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, announced the deal on Twitter late Monday, citing all four congressional leaders. He added: “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated the agreement for weeks, hoping to complete a deal before the House leaves Washington at the end of the week for August recess. Mr. Mnuchin had warned that the government could exceed its borrowing limit as soon as early September, before lawmakers return from recess. Talks continued throughout Monday.

In a joint statement Mrs. Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s Democratic leader, pledged that the House would bring the deal quickly to the floor. They stressed that the agreement increases both defense and domestic spending and said they had agreed to spending offsets that were part of an earlier bipartisan agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he was encouraged by the deal, adding that it “secures the resources we need to keep rebuilding our armed forces.” He said he intended to have the Senate vote on it before the chamber departs for recess.

The deal marked a victory for congressional leaders and Mr. Mnuchin, who had stressed that without action, the government could exhaust its ability to keep paying its bills in early September.

A key sticking point in the negotiations was how to pay for the cost of the spending increases. The deal extends small cuts to Medicare beyond fiscal year 2027 and extends fees collected by Customs and Border Protection, amounting to $77 billion worth of savings to offset the cost. Those routine budget accounting moves fall short of the $150 billion in spending cuts originally sought by the administration.

In spring of 2018, Mr. Trump threatened to veto an omnibus spending bill and late last year he rejected a bipartisan spending agreement negotiated in the Senate because it didn’t include billions of dollars in funding to construct a border wall, setting off the longest government shutdown in modern history.

Fiscal hawks panned reports of the proposed deal Monday before many of the details had been released, warning it could add trillions of dollars more to projected government debt levels over the next decade. The White House estimated this month that annual deficits are on track to exceed $1 trillion this fiscal year because of weaker federal revenue following the 2017 tax cut and higher government spending under the current budget agreement.

“This deal would amount to nothing short of fiscal sabotage,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said Monday following reports of a two-year $320 billion deal. Ms. MacGuineas urged lawmakers to cancel recess and negotiate for a better deal.

Mrs. Pelosi has been clear that she wanted to reach an agreement before Congress leaves for summer break. She has said she wants the House to vote on the agreement on Thursday, before the chamber goes on recess on July 26. The Senate doesn’t take its break until Aug. 2.

Mr. Mnuchin took the lead negotiating on behalf of the administration, working closely with Mrs. Pelosi. That appeared to limit the roles of White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought.

Leaders of both parties sought to pair the debt limit vote with a broader spending agreement—a move that creates an impetus for Democrats to push for domestic spending increases and lets Republicans avoid a difficult, stand-alone vote on raising the borrowing limit.

An aide to the speaker said Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin spoke three times on Sunday and Mr. Schumer joined one of the calls. On Monday, they spoke in the morning and again in the late afternoon before Mr. Mnuchin held a conference call with the four congressional leaders to discuss any issues. During the call, Mr. Mnuchin told the leaders that the president would tweet on the deal within the hour.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left a meeting with top congressional leaders on a potential deal to raise the budget caps in May. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-and-congress-near-agreement-on-spending-debt-ceiling-11563799484

 

What to Know in Washington: Crunch Week for Debt, Spending Deal

Congress and the White House are closing in on a debt ceiling and budget deal but with time running short could resort to a short term extension of U.S. borrowing authority before the House recesses this week.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued talks over the weekend by telephone. A key point under negotiation is the Trump administration’s initial demand for as much as $150 billion in long-term spending cuts to attach to the deal.

Mnuchin warned the U.S. risks missing debt payments in early September — before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington after a recess that begins for the House on Friday and the Senate a week later.

Both sides have offered assurances that Congress won’t let the U.S. run up against the debt limit and trigger a default, but lawmakers are still trying to include a budget agreement in the negotiation.

If the budget negotiations can’t be concluded in time, lawmakers may decide to pass a debt ceiling extension into October. That would avoid the risk of a default in the short-term but would extend uncertainty for markets.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have tentatively agreed on one part of the deal: to suspend the debt ceiling for about two and a half years, along with an increase in discretionary spending that’s estimated to cost $350 billion. Trump officials want to partially offset that spending increase for the military and domestic agency budgets with savings in entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid that are not subject to annual budget caps.

The White House late Thursday floated a menu of savings options worth $574 billion from which Pelosi could choose what to include in the deal. Pelosi resisted offsetting any of the spending increases, and any hope of a deal hinges on finding a compromise with the $150 billion that Trump officials want to save.

The White House offer also proposed extending caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending for 2021 and 2022 to save another $516 billion.

After administration officials sent the offer to Pelosi, President Donald Trump on Friday said he thought the talks were in “good shape.” However he’d still have to sign off on the final terms of a deal and he hasn’t publicly set out what he wants on spending or on cuts.

While the budget deal doesn’t have to be included with a measure to raise the debt limit, lawmakers want it to be addressed soon so Congress can pass appropriations bills before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Otherwise they’ll have to pass a stopgap spending measure to prevent a government shutdown.

If Congress doesn’t lift the budget caps that limit government outlays, current law would trigger automatic cuts at the end of the calendar year. Read more from Erik Wasson.

https://about.bgov.com/news/what-to-know-crunch-week-for-debt-spending-deal/

Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Desperate To Start War With United States and U. S. Allies — Careful What You Wish For — Videos

Stena Impero: Crew seen in first pictures from inside UK-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran

Iran on ‘dangerous path’ after British-flagged tanker seizure

Iran Ambassador says UK raising tensions would be ‘dangerous and unwise’

 

British-operated oil tanker seized by Iran

First pictures INSIDE the British tanker captured by Iran: Tehran taunts the UK by releasing photo of terrified crew huddled on board vessel after it was seized by Revolutionary Guard gunmen

  • British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran on Friday as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz
  • First image taken inside vessel shows part of its 23-strong crew being held by Iranian Revolutionary Guards
  • Video also shows Iranians talking to the crew around a table, and thanking them for their cooperation 
  • Tehran seized the tanker after Iranian-flagged vessel was stopped by marines off Gibraltar earlier this month
  • Downing Street today said UK ‘does not seek confrontation with Iran’ but described the move as ‘escalatory’ 
  • Russia threw its backing behind ally Iran on Monday, saying its position ‘is much more convincing’ than UK 
  • Tehran also said it had arrested 17 suspected CIA spies and will put some to death, further increasing tensions

Iran today paraded the crew of a British-flagged tanker that it captured in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.

Tehran released video of some of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero sitting around a table speaking with one of their captors, alongside fresh images showing Revolutionary Guardsmen on board the Swedish-owned vessel.

The video shows seven of the crew wearing red jumpsuits and sitting around a table, as one Iranian guard can be heard thanking them for their cooperation. The cameraman can also be heard telling them not to look at him. Another video shows the crew laughing while standing around a coffee machine, and the ship’s cooks preparing food in an apparent attempt to show they are being treated well.

Pictures released by the semi-official Fars news agency earlier in the day show some of the crew – which includes 18 Indians, three Russians a Latvian and a Filipino – huddled cross-legged on the floor.

Standing over them in a Revolutionary Guardsman, while items of bedding and towels are scattered around the room. Their shoes have been taken off and piled in a corner.  Two others photos show an armed guardsman on the deck of the tanker, and the tanker being watched over by armed boats at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held.

The photos and videos are Iran’s latest taunt to Britain, after it also released video of its flag being raised over the vessel and the Islamic call to prayer being played through its speakers.

Iran seized the vessel as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, weeks after Britain detained an Iranian vessel off the coast of Gibraltar. Iran says the US ordered the operation amid a standoff between the two countries, but the UK claims the tanker was violating EU sanctions.

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table

Other images showed the crew - which included 18 Indians, three Russian, and Latvian and a Filipino - laughing and smiling. Tehran has previously said that the crew are well and are being looked after

Other images showed the crew – which included 18 Indians, three Russian, and Latvian and a Filipino – laughing and smiling. Tehran has previously said that the crew are well and are being looked after

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker's kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker’s kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Iran's state-affiliated Fars news agency released the first image inside the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker on Monday, showing part of the 23-strong crew sitting cross-legged on the floor under the watch of a Revolutionary Guardsman while their shoes sit piled up nearby

Iran’s state-affiliated Fars news agency released the first image inside the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker on Monday, showing part of the 23-strong crew sitting cross-legged on the floor under the watch of a Revolutionary Guardsman while their shoes sit piled up nearby

In a second image, an armed guardsman is seen patrolling along the deck of the Imepero in the latest taunt to Britain. Iran is trying to secure the release of its tanker - the Grace 1 - which was seized by Royal Marines near Gibraltar earlier this month

In a second image, an armed guardsman is seen patrolling along the deck of the Imepero in the latest taunt to Britain. Iran is trying to secure the release of its tanker – the Grace 1 – which was seized by Royal Marines near Gibraltar earlier this month

A third image shows the Imepero being watched over by an armed Iranian vessel at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held after it was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday last week

 

A third image shows the Imepero being watched over by an armed Iranian vessel at the port of Bandar Abbas, where it is being held after it was seized in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday last week

Speaking in the House of Commons this evening, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Iran to release the Stena and proposed a ‘European-led maritime protection mission’ to protect Middle East shipping.

Condemning an ‘act of state piracy’, Mr Hunt called the capture a ‘flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation on which the global trading system and world economy ultimately depends’.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee on Monday to discuss the crisis, even though her leadership is expected to pass to Boris Johnson in the coming days, who now faces a baptism of fire to diffuse the situation.

The government was also criticised for cutting the size of the navy so that it is not capable of meeting the threat from Iran, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the responsibility for protecting British ships ‘falls to the United Kingdom.’

In other developments on Monday:

  • Russia waded in to take the side of its ally – Iran – accusing Britain of ‘piracy’ for seizing the Grace 1 tanker 
  • Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee. Her spokesman said seizing the tanker was illegal and that officials had written to the UN to complain
  • Boris Johnson was urged to break his silence on the crisis, as he prepares to become Tory leader
  • Tony Blair said the future of Iran’s nuclear deal could be a way to exert diplomatic pressure on Tehran
  • Relatives of one of the crewmen were pictured weeping as they watched news of the tanker’s capture on TV
  • Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West led criticism that the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose and cannot protect British interests
  • Iran said it had captured 17 CIA spies and planned to put some of them to death

As Mrs May chaired a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, her spokesman said: ‘We are clear that the seizure of the British-flagged, Swedish owned Stena Impero on Friday was illegal under international law.

‘The ship was seized under false and illegal pretences and the Iranians should release it and its crew immediately.

‘The Foreign Secretary spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to make this demand.

‘We do not seek confrontation with Iran but it is unacceptable and highly escalatory to seize a ship going about legitimate business through internationally recognised shipping lanes.’

Hunt plans European mission to protect ships

Speaking in Parliament today, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Iran to release the Stena and proposed a ‘European-led maritime protection mission’ to protect Middle East shipping.

British-flagged ships are advised to avoid Iranian waters and the Straits of Hormuz, and could receive convoys, although Mr Hunt said it would be impossible to protect every ship.

The European-led force would not be part of America’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign as Britain still wants to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Mr Hunt said.

He said he would discuss how the new proposal would complement the American presence in the area.

Jeremy Hunt speaks to the House of Commons today

Jeremy Hunt speaks to the House of Commons today

Condemning an ‘act of state piracy’, Mr Hunt called the capture a ‘flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation on which the global trading system and world economy ultimately depends’.

Under international law, Iran had ‘no right to obstruct the ship’s passage, let alone board her’, Mr Hunt said, adding that Britain ‘does not seek confrontation with Iran’.

He also rejected Iran’s attempt to draw a parallel between the capture of the Stena and Britain’s seizure of Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar on July 4.

‘There is simply no comparison between Iran’s illegal seizure of a vessel inside a recognised shipping lane, where the Stena Impero had every right to be, and the enforcement of EU sanctions against a tanker that had freely navigated into the waters of a British overseas territory,’ he said.

‘If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline.’

The Foreign Secretary will discover tomorrow whether he or Boris Johnson will be Britain’s new PM.

But Tehran hit back, saying the seizure was ‘a legal measure by Iran. Iran confronted the ship (to ensure) the region’s security.’

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference in Tehran: ‘To all the countries that are calling on Iran to release the tanker, we ask them to tell Britain the same thing.

‘Comparing the two seizures is an unfair reading’ of the situation, said the Iranian government spokesman.

‘When you illegally seize the ship in Gibraltar, we too are not bound to tolerate any more.’

While Mrs May is handling the crisis for now, Boris Johnson is expected to take over as Prime Minister on Wednesday, and diffusing the crisis will be his first challenge.

He was urged to speak out about the crisis Monday, even as critics attacked his record on negotiating with Iran – after he managed to have the jail term of Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe extended while he was Foreign Secretary.

In a sign that Mr Johnson could opt to make his Tory leadership rival Mr Hunt the fall guy for the situation, Jacob Rees-Mogg today said it would be ‘vanity’ if the current Foreign Secretary refused to accept a demotion.

Meanwhile Moscow’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov insisted Iran was merely ‘taking care of ecology’ in the Gulf and said ‘Iran’s arguments are much more right than those of Gibraltar and London who are indulging in piracy’.

The tanker row – the latest in a series of threats to Middle East shipping – has sent tensions spiralling further amid furious exchanges of rhetoric over the crumbling nuclear deal with Iran.

Maritime industry publication Lloyd’s List said there are currently no U.K.-flagged ships heading to the Persian Gulf and eight U.K.-flagged vessels anchored there after a government advisory to such vessels to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.

Restoring the free flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is of critical importance to the world’s energy supplies because one-fifth of all global crude exports pass through the narrow waterway between Iran and Oman.

Yesterday the Iranian flag was hoisted over the Stena with Iranian armed forces patrolling the decks in the heavily-guarded port of Bandar Abbas.

The family of one of the crewmen - Deena and husband Pappachan - were pictured weeping at their home in Kochi, India, while watching news about the tanker on TV

Footage broadcast on Iranian state TV shows the seized British-registered oil tanker having an Iranian flag hoisted above it. The Royal Navy's nickname for the strait is 'Chokepoint Charlie'. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south

Footage broadcast on Iranian state TV shows the seized British-registered oil tanker having an Iranian flag hoisted above it. The Royal Navy’s nickname for the strait is ‘Chokepoint Charlie’. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south

Keeping watch: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat sails in front of the Stena Impero, the UK-flagged vessel which was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday

Keeping watch: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat sails in front of the Stena Impero, the UK-flagged vessel which was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday

Flashpoint: The Stena Impero, the UK-flagged tanker at the centre of the latest Middle East tensions, is seen at a heavily guarded Iranian port

On deck: The Stena is seen with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat beside it after it was captured on Friday

Video footage released by Iran showed the  tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.

In a radio exchange, an Iranian officer can be heard telling the tanker to change course.

‘You are ordered: change your course… immediately. If you obey, you will be safe,’ he said.

The British frigate HMS Montrose intervenes to inform the Stena its ‘passage must not be impaired, impeded, obstructed or hampered’ under international law.

The Iranians then tell the British warship: ‘No challenge is intended… I want to inspect the ship for security reason.’

The Montrose diverted to the Stena’s position but was around an hour away by the time it entered Iranian waters.

Iran ‘arrests 17 CIA spies, several face execution’

Seventeen alleged CIA spies have been arrested in Iran and some of them will face the death penalty, Tehran claimed today.

Iranian intelligence chiefs say they have broken up an American spy ring which had planted U.S. agents in nuclear, military and cyber facilities and allegedly tried to recruit spies in the UAE.

The suspects were all Iranians, some of them recruited by a ‘visa trap’ in which the CIA would target Iranians as they applied to travel to America, Iran claims.

Accusation: An Iranian official tells a documentary how authorities in Tehran had struck a blow against American intelligence

In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said 17 spies were arrested during the Iranian calendar year that ended in March 2019.

‘Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary… some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment,’ an intelligence spokesman told Iranian media.

‘The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information.’

Iranian officials said the suspects had been gathering classified information using ‘advanced equipment’.

Meanwhile an Iranian television documentary aired on Monday purported to show a CIA officer recruiting an Iranian man in the United Arab Emirates.

The Press TV documentary claimed that Iran had ‘dealt a blow to the U.S. foreign intelligence service’, though it was unclear if it was describing the same arrests.

‘Because there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai. It is very dangerous… Iranian intelligence,’ a woman was shown telling an Iranian in the documentary.

Iran impounded the Stena on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

A top British representative to the UN rejected Iran’s version of events, accusing Tehran of ‘illegal interference’ and saying there was no evidence of a collision.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, British charge d’affaires Jonathan Allen wrote that the vessel had been in Omani waters with its transponder switched on when it was approached.

Meanwhile T. V. Pappachan, the father of 26-year-old crew member Dijo Pappachan, said he is waiting anxiously for his son to be returned and called on Britain to guarantee his safety.

‘I am not speaking only for my son. All the 23 crew members set sail to foreign countries for work. They are onboard to make a living. It is the government’s responsibility to make sure they come back safe,’ he told the Kahleej Times.

I have complete trust in the government of India and our diplomatic strength. I understand that the issue is between countries and individuals cannot do much. We are all praying for the entire crew’s safe return.’

Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra on Monday amid concern over how Iran was able to capture the ship.

A second oil tanker, the Liberian-flagged Mesdar, which is managed by Norbulk Shipping UK, veered off course towards the Iranian coast after it was boarded by armed guards at around 5.30pm on Friday.

The Mesdar’s Glasgow-based operator said communication had since been re-established with the ship and the crew were unharmed.

Britain has warned its ships to avoid the Straits of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.

UK authorities intercepted the Grace 1 on July 4, saying it was violating EU sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.

A detachment of Royal Marines from 42 Commando boarded the vessel off Gibraltar in a joint operation with the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Gibraltar’s government said tests showed the supertanker was fully loaded with crude oil.

But Iran has insisted that the tanker was not headed for Syria.

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood attempted to dispel criticism that the UK had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ by allowing the tanker to be captured.

He said the UK had vessels going through 100 nautical miles of waterway every day in the region, adding: ‘It is impossible simply to escort each individual vessel.’

He also called for more money to be invested in the Royal Navy if Britain wants to continue to play a role on the international stage.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory party leader, added his voice to the critics – saying that Britain was offered help in guarding the vessels by the United States and refused it.

The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 4pm and ordered to head north on Friday. A second British-managed vessel, Mesdar, abruptly changed course towards Iran

Russian deputy foreign ministery Sergei Ryabkov (pictured) took Iran's side over the tanker

Russian deputy foreign ministery Sergei Ryabkov (pictured) took Iran’s side over the tanker

Footage showed troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns (pictured) rappelling to its deck from a helicopter before capturing the British-registered oil tanker on Friday night

Footage showed troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns (pictured) rappelling to its deck from a helicopter before capturing the British-registered oil tanker on Friday night

Royal Navy ‘disgracefully short of ships’

Former heads of the navy and politicians are joining a chorus of criticism of the state of the Royal Navy – warning Britain’s fleet no longer has the power to protect British interests, following the seizure by Iran of a British-flagged oil tanker.

Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West said the Navy is ‘disgracefully short of ships’ while retired commander of UK maritime forces Rear Admiral Alex Burton said the Navy’s decline since 2005 ‘has had an impact on our ability to protect our interests around the globe’.

On Friday the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose arrived an hour too late to prevent Iranian Revolutionary guard commandos from seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker.

The Royal Navy fleet is a fraction of its size three decades ago and many ships are currently out of commission undergoing maintenance or repair

They diverted the tanker and its mainly Indian crew to Iran, despite it sailing in Omani waters, in retaliation for the capture by British forces of an Iranian vessel earlier this month.

Politicians and military experts have asked why it was not accompanied by a Royal Navy convoy after the Iranian Grace One tanker, allegedly taking Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, was captured by UK forces off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman said yesterday: ‘I take the view that we have dropped the ball here … we did not put in place a chain where we asked all of our vessels to leave at a certain time under convoy.

‘So it was hardly a surprise when one of ours got taken.’

What does it mean for a ship to sail under a country’s flag?

While the Stena Impero is a British-flagged vessel, it is owned by Swedish shipping firm Stena AB – which is headquartered in Glasgow.

Being ‘British-flagged’ means the vessel is registered in the UK and is covered by the maritime laws of that country.

A vessel does not have to have any physical connection to the country in which it is registered and merely has to have an application accepted by that country’s shipping authorities.

A ship can only fly one flag at a time, but can change flags at any point.

As a result, some owners seek a so-called ‘flag of convenience’ which they believe will offer benefits.

Panama and the Marshall Islands are well-known for offering easy registrations and other benefits for those registering there, in the hopes of attracting business.

As a result, Panama has the largest ship register in the world, with the Marshall Islands second in the 2018 list.

Describing the grab by Tehran as a ‘major failure’ by the UK, he demanded to know why the offer of help was refused and said answers need to be offered ‘very quickly’.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the Tory European Research Group and a prominent supporter of Boris Johnson, suggested that leadership rival Jeremy Hunt’s Foreign Office should accept some of the blame for the current crisis in the Gulf.

Downing Street has denied that the US offered support to escort every single British ship through the Strait, with Theresa May’s official spokesman saying that the area is simply too large to provide that kind of assistance.

Meanwhile senior intelligence sources claimed that terrorists supported by Iran could strike Britain if tensions deepen between the two countries.

Agencies believe that the Islamic Republic has funded sleeper cells across Europe, including in the UK.

They rank the country behind only Russia and China as in terms of the threat it poses to national security.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is linked to radicals that are operating the terror cells, a source told the Daily Telegraph.

Counter-terror officers broke apart a cell in 2015 when they found it stockpiling explosives in London.

Britain only has the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose in the region plus four mine hunters, while the US as its Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain - which includes one aircraft carrier, one missile cruiser, five destroyers, two amphibious vessels and two or three submarines

Jeremy Hunt

Liam Fox

Senior Tory ministers including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (left) International Trade Secretary Liam Fox (right) arrived at an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee on Monday chaired by Theresa May
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matthew Hancock

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter (left) and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matthew Hancock (right) both attended the Cobra meeting

The source told the paper: ‘Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict. That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the UK.’

The current situation in the Gulf can be traced back to last year when President Trump’s administration tore up a nuclear deal signed under Obama.

Johnson’s first crisis?

Boris Johnson is expected to be crowned new Tory party leader Tuesday before taking the reins Wednesday, meaning he will take charge of managing the Iran crisis.

The former Foreign Secretary previously faced criticism after he managed to extend the jail term of Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran during his tenure, by suggesting that she was not on holiday, as had been previously claimed.

In just 48 hours, Mr Johnson could find himself negotiating the release of the 23-strong crew of the Stena Impero – which includes 18 Indians, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

He could also find himself doing so without the help of a Foreign Secretary, since his leadership rival is the man currently occupying the post -Jeremy Hunt.

While Mr Johnson has insisted the pair will ‘kiss and make up’ after the election is over, Mr Hunt may decide to follow one of his senior ministers – Sir Alan Duncan – and quit rather than serve under the new leader.

Mr Johnson has so far not spoken out over the crisis, despite mounting pressure to take a stand.

The deal guaranteed Iran economic benefits in return for curtailing its nuclear programme in a way which would not allow it to obtain nuclear weapons.

Trump reapplied stringent economic sanctions on Tehran, robbing the kingdom of much of its income, prompting the regime to walk back on its commitments.

As Iran tried to pressure European leaders to find a way to salvage the deal, tankers in the Gulf can under repeated attack, in explosions which Britain and America have blamed on Tehran.

A UAE investigation found four mysterious sabotage attacks on May 12 were linked to a ‘state actor’ but did not name Iran.

The attacks were carried out with limpet mines and were ‘part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation’, the report found.

The tanker attacks inflamed an already tense Middle East stand-off and prompted the U.S. to bolster its military presence in the region.

Matters worsened just four weeks later when another two ships were hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman.

Forty-four sailors were forced to abandon their ships amid a huge fireball on the MT Front Altair and another blast on the Kokuka Courageous.

America again blamed Iran, releasing a video which purported to show Iranian revolutionary guard forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the ships.

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

 

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these 'ultra-fast' boats in 2010

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard uses a large number of high-speed small vessels to harass shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The regime launched these ‘ultra-fast’ boats in 2010

A tape has emerged of HMS Montrose (pictured in 2007) ordering the crew of the Stena Impero not to follow Iranian demands to change its course

 

A tape has emerged of HMS Montrose (pictured in 2007) ordering the crew of the Stena Impero not to follow Iranian demands to change its course

Meanwhile tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions have also been heightening as Tehran moves ever further away from its 2015 nuclear deal. 

Iran has said that it could restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent.

But Major General Hossein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, denied Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Trump called off air strikes against Iran at the last minute in June after the Islamic republic downed a U.S. drone.

Today former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the future of Iran’s nuclear deal could be a way to exert diplomatic pressure on Tehran.

‘We have one substantial card in our hands, which is that the Iranians have been trying to get the British and the Europeans to keep to the Iran nuclear deal,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘Therefore actually their attempt to interfere with a British-flagged ship is obviously wrong, not just in principle, but it’s obviously a political gamble for them.’

He added that the UK would have to make special arrangements to escort shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

‘Chokepoint Charlie’: Patrolled by 2,000 Iranian speedboats, why the Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most chaotic and volatile shipping channels 

By Phil Diacon, for the Daily Mail

To grasp fully the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, you need a clear picture of the chaotic and volatile scene in what is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.

Up to 100 oil tankers pass through this narrow waterway every day, transporting close to 20 million barrels of oil – and that is only the activity we can most easily detect in these waters.

Hundreds of other boats and ships ply the same seas, which are not much wider than the English Channel between Dover and Boulogne, about 21 nautical miles.

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port today after being seized by Iran. Larger vessels in the strait are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft. It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway

Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port today after being seized by Iran. Larger vessels in the strait are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft. It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway

The Royal Navy’s nickname for the strait is ‘Chokepoint Charlie’. It links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, a tight hairpin bend with Iran to the north and the headland of Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the south.

Larger vessels are obliged to transmit their position, but those rules do not apply to the numerous smaller craft.

I spent my formative years in the RAF before founding a maritime intelligence service. The high seas, I have come to learn, are not like the skies, where all aircraft must keep to a flight plan and comply with air traffic control.

Instead, ships such as fishing vessels and pleasure boats do not have to signal their identity or their plans – which makes the Navy’s job of spotting Iran’s military patrol boats extremely difficult.

It is, therefore, simply impossible for one British warship to have a full and detailed picture of all the activity in the Strait of Hormuz. You might as well ask a single police car to track every vehicle on a motorway.

Iran knows this. It has been building up its military strength in the strait for decades, aimed at countering the West’s navies. The crisis in the Strait of Hormuz is extremely volatile. Tehran has become a hungry tiger, backed into a corner with few options for escape.

Already it has stockpiled mines and missiles. And most worryingly of all, the naval branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has about 2,000 fast attack craft (FAC) to be used in swarm formations. These speedboats can appear anywhere in the strait within minutes. Armed with heavy machine-guns and rocket launchers, they can carry radar-guided anti-ship missiles capable of sinking a 1,500-ton target.

Though their forces are no match for conventional Western navies, they have developed their strength in ‘asymmetric techniques’. It would be difficult for any warship – let alone a tanker – to defend itself against an assault by a swarm of FACs, especially if they were assisted by mini-submarines with torpedoes.

The Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose

The Stena Impero was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday around 4pm when it was stopped by IRGC boats, diverted into Iranian waters, and is now being held at the port of Bandar Abbas. Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose was an hour away at the time, leading to claims the Royal Navy is no longer fit for purpose

Analysts also believe that Iran has developed unmanned, remote-controlled sea-going drones called Ya Mahdi boats. These can be loaded with explosives and launched on high-speed attacks that are difficult to detect on radar.

Clearly, it would be extremely foolish of the UK to underestimate Iran’s military capabilities – or the country’s pride.

The Royal Navy sailors trying to protect British shipping in the Gulf face another headache. Such is the chaotic situation on the ground that it is by no means easy to say what is and isn’t a British ship.

When Iranian commandos stormed the Stena Impero on Friday evening, referred to by some as a ‘British tanker’ none of the 23 crew members taken hostage was, in fact, British. The vessel was sailing under the British flag or ‘red ensign’, but that was really a diplomatic nicety. The ship is owned in Sweden, not the UK – and companies from any number of nations might lay claim to portions of its cargo.

The Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith asked yesterday why Britain had not accepted US offers of naval assistance, but the problem is not a lack of warships: it is knowing what to do with them.

So how should the next Prime Minister navigate this treacherous strait? Let us hope that mediation and cool responses prevail. Putting more warships into the area would increase the likelihood of conflict. I do not believe, therefore, that sending US aircraft carriers and our own nuclear submarines to the region is the answer.

Neither is greater use of convoys. Convoys can move only as fast as their slowest member, and many of the ships in the strait have no reason to join any convoy because they do not perceive any threat.

As long as this stand-off continues, the situation will remain tense. No one should be craving further military action. But after a weekend of dire warnings and threatening rhetoric, Britain has very few viable next steps.

  • Phil Diacon is managing director of the maritime security experts Dryad Global

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7271815/Russia-says-Irans-tanker-position-right-Britains.html

Story 3: Iran Says It Captured 17 Central Intelligence Agency Spies — Plans To Execute Some of Them — Videos

Pompeo dismisses Iran’s claim it arrested 17 CIA spies

Iran says it has captured 17 alleged US spies

Iran claims to have captured spies working for CIA

Iran crisis: ‘CIA spies’ sentenced to death

Iran releases the names and photos of some of the 17 ‘CIA spies’ it claims to have captured as Trump insists they have NOT been arrested and accuses Tehran of lying because it has ‘no idea what to do’ amid rising tensions with the West

  • The Iranian intelligence and security forces released photographs and the names of some of people they are are among the 17 on Monday 
  • Their identities have not been verified by any other government  
  • It  came as President Trump denied that any CIA agents had been arrested 
  • He accused Iran of lying because the country had become desperate
  • Iran claims to have arrested the spies sometime before March this year
  • It says it is only now publicizing their arrests as tensions with the West escalate 
  • All of the ‘suspects’ are Iranian nationals who were ‘lured’ by ‘US visa traps’, the Iranians claim  
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo retorted that Iran had a ‘history of lying’
  • Middle East tensions have been rising for weeks amid a series of tanker attacks
  • They have spiraled again in recent days after Iran seized a UK-flagged vessel 

An Iranian media outlet has released photographs of some of the 17 ‘CIA spies’ its government claims to have captured.

Photographs of some of the men were shared on Twitter on Monday by the Tasnim News Agency along with ‘details’ of their apparent work for the US.

The images and information were released by the Iranian intelligence and security forces, the agency reported.  They have not been verified by the US or any other government.

All of the ‘spies’ are Iranian nationals who the Iranian government claims were lured by the US with the promise of getting visas, according to Iran, which claims they were arrested in the Iranian calendar year which ended in March.

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Only now are their arrests being made public as the standoff between the West and Tehran intensifies.

As the photos emerged on Monday, President Trump denied that anyone had been arrested and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to Iran’s history of lying.

‘The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false,’ Trump wrote in a tweet.

Scroll down for video 

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the 'spies' names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar year which ended in March

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the 'spies' names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar which ended in March

Iran released unmuzzed versions of these photographs along with some of the ‘spies’ names on Monday morning after claiming to have captured them in the Iranian calendar year which ended March

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies' families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government+27

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies' families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government

Some of the photographs included the alleged spies’ families. Iran says all are Iranian nationals but that they were lured into working for the US government

Another of the 'spies' Tehran claims to have captured in retaliation against the US+27

Another of the ‘spies’ Tehran claims to have captured in retaliation against the US

Trump called the reports 'lies and propaganda' and claimed Tehran is flailing amid a sinking economy and 'has no idea what to do'

 

Trump called the reports ‘lies and propaganda’ and claimed Tehran is flailing amid a sinking economy and ‘has no idea what to do’

‘Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.’

‘Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!’ Trump wrote.

Iran’s security chiefs said they smashed an American spy ring that had planted U.S. agents at ‘sensitive sites’ in the country’s nuclear, military and cyber facilities.

The 17 suspects are all Iranians, some of them recruited by a ‘visa trap’ in which the CIA would target Iranian nationals as they applied to visit America, Iran claims.

The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the 'spies'
The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the 'spies'

The news agency also shared photos of business cards, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles they say belong to some of the ‘spies’

A documentary that aired Monday on Iranian TV purports to show U.S. agents trying to recruit Iranian spies in the Middle East, although the footage has not been verified.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Fox news Channel interview that Iran’s mullahs can’t be taken at their word.

‘It’s part of their nature to lie to the world,’ Pompeo said. ‘I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions they’ve taken.’

Iran says the suspects were arrested in the 12 months ending March 2019, but the regime is now publicizing the case now, just as tensions spiral in the Persian Gulf.

Tehran has been feuding with the West for weeks over the crumbling nuclear deal and a series of threats to Middle East shipping, which heightened again last week when Iran’s revolutionary guards seized a British tanker in the Straits of Hormuz.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not commented on the claims specifically, but said Iran ‘has a long history of lying’.

An Iranian documentary which aired on Monday alluded to some form of strike on the US, particularly the CIA

This man was highlighted in an Iranian documentary about alleged U.S. intelligence work in Iran, as officials announced they had arrested 17 suspects. The footage has not been verified

The TV documentary also shows one woman telling an Iranian that 'there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai'

The TV documentary also shows one woman telling an Iranian that ‘there are so many intelligence officers in Dubai’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) said or Iran in a 'Fox & Friends' interview on Monday that 'it's part of their nature to lie to the world'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) said or Iran in a ‘Fox & Friends’ interview on Monday that ‘it’s part of their nature to lie to the world’

Centre of attention: Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, is seen at Bandar Abbas port on Friday after being seized by Iran

‘I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken,’ he said in response to Iran’s claims.

Jason Rezaian, an Iranian journalist and formerly the Washington Post's bureau chief in Tehran who was convicted of espionage in 2015 but has always maintained he was falsely accused by his country's government, chimed in on Monday to say Iran had learned little

Speaking in Florida, he added: ‘There’s a long list of Americans that we are working to get home from the Islamic Republic of Iran.’

On Monday, a documentary which aired in Iran claimed the country had ‘dealt a blow to the U.S. foreign intelligence service’.

Jason Rezaian, an Iranian journalist and formerly the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran who was convicted of espionage in 2015 but has always maintained he was falsely accused by his country’s government, chimed in: ‘5 years ago today, my wife and I were abducted from our home in Tehran, beginning a long, terrible & unjust ordeal.

‘Officials in Iran have obviously learned little from that episode, as they continue their 40 year practice of hostage taking, glorifying it at every opportunity.’

In a statement read on state television, the Ministry of Intelligence said: ‘Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary… some were sentenced to death and some to long-term imprisonment,’ an intelligence spokesman told Iranian media.

‘The identified spies were employed in sensitive and vital private sector centres in the economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas… where they collected classified information.’

First picture inside captured tanker

Iran today paraded the crew of a British-flagged tanker captured in the Straits of Hormuz on Friday.

A picture taken inside the Stena Impero shows part of the 23-strong crew huddled on the floor under the watchful eye of a Revolutionary Guardsman.

The men are seen sitting cross-legged on the bridge of the vessel having had their shoes removed and piled up nearby.

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table+27

Iran has today paraded the crew of the Stena Impero oil tanker, which sails under a British flag, after its Revolutionary Guards captured the vessel on Friday. Footage released on state TV channels showed part of the crew sitting around a table

The photo is the latest taunt by Iran to Britain after the regime also aired footage of their flag being raised over the vessel.

On Monday Iran also broadcast footage of the Muslim call to prayer being played from the tanker’s speakers.

Iran seized the ship in retaliation for its own vessel, the Grace 1, being stopped by Royal Marine off the coast of Gibraltar last month in which it says was an operation carried out on behalf of the US. Britain says the ship was violating EU sanctions.

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker's kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated+27

Chefs are also shown preparing food in the tanker’s kitchen in an attempt by Iranian authorities to prove that the crew are not being badly treated

Iranian officials said the suspects had been gathering classified information using ‘advanced equipment’.

‘Some were approached when they were applying for a visa, while others had visas from before and were pressured by the CIA in order to renew them,’ said the intelligence chief.

‘All of the network’s members, all the 17 people, were trained by CIA officers on how to set up safe communications.’

Iran said last month that it had dismantled a spy network linked to the CIA, but it was not clear if the latest announcement was part of the same operation.

Either way, the timing of the latest announcement has raised concerns that Tehran is hardening its position in its stand-off with Western powers.

A top security official alleged the CIA used special stone-like containers to send communications tools and identity documents to its network.

‘The forgery was clumsy, showing that it was done by the CIA itself,’ he said, adding that this ‘proves’ it was government-sanctioned.

‘After they were discovered, CIA officers ordered the spies to destroy all the documents,’ he added.

The intelligence official also handed out a CD with a video recording of an alleged foreign female spy working for the CIA.

The disc also included names of several U.S. Embassy staff in Turkey, India, Zimbabwe and Austria who Iran claims were in touch with the recruited Iranian spies.

In April the regime said it had uncovered 290 U.S. spies in recent years.

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

The Ministry of Defence released this photo of HMS Montrose warding off Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats (circled) which harassed the UK-flagged tanker British Heritage on July 10

Middle East tensions mounted again at the weekend after Iran captured the UK-flagged Stena Impero, in retaliation for a British Royal Marine operation two weeks ago in which an Iranian vessel was seized off Gibraltar.

Video footage released by Iran showed the tanker being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.

Authorities said they impounded the ship on allegations it failed to respond to distress calls and turned off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

But Iran made the link between the two separate seizures this month explicit on Saturday.

‘The rule of reciprocal action is well-known in international law,’ said Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for Iran’s Guardian Council.

The Stena’s crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

A top British representative to the UN rejected Iran’s version of events, accusing Tehran of ‘illegal interference’ and saying there was no evidence of a collision.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7271681/Iran-claims-arrested-17-CIA-spies.html

 

 

Iran Hands Down Death Sentences to Group of Alleged CIA Spies

Story 4: Where is The New Border Wall? — Where is Congressional Funding for New Border Barrier? — Congress Is Responsible for Crisis At The Border — New Improved Bipartisan Political Correct Chant — “Send Them All Home” Including Open Border/Citizenship For Illegal Aliens Democrats and Republicans and  Deport All 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in United States — It Is The Law — Enforce The Law — Videos Videos

See the source image

See the source image

Trump wall President addresses nation on border ‘crisis’ BBC News

Tucker Carlson Tonight 7/22/19 | Tucker Carlson Tonight Fox News July 22, 2019

President Trump signs border aid bill

Border Wall Presentation

Major Decision Coming From The Supreme Court Over The Fate Of Trump’s Wall

Trump says Mexico has been helping the US a lot with the border crisis

Trump’s border wall still not built as US faces immigrant crisis | 60 Minutes Australia

Trump has not built a single mile of new border fence after 30 months in office

The Trump administration has not installed a single mile of new wall in a previously fenceless part of the U.S.-Mexico border in the 30 months since President Trump assumed office, despite his campaign promise to construct a “big beautiful wall.”

In a statement last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency overseeing border barrier construction, confirmed that all the fencing completed since Trump took office is “in place of dilapidated designs” because the existing fence was in need of replacement.

The agency said that it had built 51 miles of steel bollard fence with funding that was set aside during fiscal 2017 and 2018. But while the funding was meant both to replace outdated walls and to place barriers where there previously had been none, the government has only completed the replacement projects. The projects to secure areas with no fence are still in the works.

The 50 miles of completed replacement barrier is a 10-mile gain since early April. In Trump’s two and a half years in office, his administration has installed an average 1.7 miles of barrier per month, and none of it in areas that did not previously have some sort of barrier. A total 205 miles of new and replacement barrier has been funded in the two and a half years since Trump took office.

A senior administration official told the Washington Examiner that Border Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers moved faster on replacement projects than the new ones because the approval process for environmental and zoning permits was far less extensive than areas of the border with no barrier.

A second senior official defended the administration’s progress and blamed Democrats in Congress for blocking funding for additional projects the White House has tried to move on.

Despite the lack of new barriers, Trump has applauded his administration for building more border wall. His 2020 campaign has made the border wall its primary messaging.

Trump’s 2020 campaign debuted the slogan “Finish the Wall” at his first rally of 2019 in El Paso, Texas. At one point during his speech, the crowd began cheering “build that wall.” Trump responded, “Now, you really mean ‘finish that wall,’ because we’ve built a lot of it,” though he did not share numbers with the thousands of people in attendance.

The White House initially persuaded Congress to fund replacement projects in 2017, then moved in 2018 to get more money for both replacement fencing and projects in parts of the border that have no barrier.

Congress in 2017 approved $341 million for 40 miles of replacement wall in San Diego, California; Santa Teresa, North Mexico; Calexico, California; and El Paso, Texas.

“To this date, CBP has completed the construction of approximately 99 percent of the 40 miles funded in fiscal year 2017. Additionally, construction of 35 gates to close gaps in current border infrastructure in the Rio Grande Valley sector continues,” the Department of Homeland Security agency said in a statement.

In the 2018 omnibus government funding bill, lawmakers approved $1.375 billion for 80 miles of new and replacement wall in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, various regions of California, and Yuma, Arizona. CBP said it has finished roughly 10 miles of that portion, of which none has been new fencing.

Meanwhile, the administration maintains that significant portions of new wall will be finished in the time remaining in Trump’s term. Army Corps Commanding Gen. Todd T. Semonite said earlier this spring the Corps will put up 450 miles of wall by November 2020.

However, CBP reiterated this month it is only moving on the approximately 205 miles that have been funded as of 2019, including with Treasury Forfeiture Fund dollars Trump redirected through executive action in February. The remaining 85 miles that has already been funded was proposed this year and is intended for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas — some of which is meant to be new wall.

The Trump administration was sued earlier this spring after seizing $6.6 billion in military and other department funding to use for border wall construction. The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the White House plan from going forward. The court is expected to rule in the next few weeks.

Roughly 700 miles of the 2,000-mile border has some sort of barrier as a result of the Secure Fence Act, which was passed by Congress during the George W. Bush administration. It was the first major piece of legislation that funded the construction of barriers along the southern border.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1278, June 20, 2019, Part 1– Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done , Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos — Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos — Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Videos — Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida — Boom Boom Boom — Send Them Home — MAGA MAGA MAGA — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Keep America Great — Win Win Win — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

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Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Story 1: President Trump: “Iran made a very big mistake” — Option A: Strong Message and Done, Option B: One Missile Attack and Done, Option C: Total War With Iran and World Recession Due To Spike in Oil and Gas Prices — Videos —

Tucker: Washington is war-hungry

Pentagon releases footage of US drone being shot down by Iran

LIVE: President Trump first comments after Iran shoots down US Drone | June 20th 2019

US is bringing the Iranian economy to its knees: Nile Gardiner

Oil prices rise after Iran shoots down US drone

40% Chance of 2020 U.S.-Iran Military Conflict: Eurasia CEO

Iran shoots down US drone as tensions escalate

Video shows Iran shooting down US drone

Iran says it shot down US drone ‘violating Iranian air space’ amid growing tensions

Iran Shot Down U.S. Drone to Disrupt Trade in Persian Gulf, Senior U.S. Military Official Says

President Trump makes first comments after Iran shoots down U.S. Drone | ABC News Special Report

Iran says it’s ‘ready for war’

Iran shoots down US military spy drone | DW News

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal ‘in days’ as its uranium stockpile limit nears

Is The U.S. Going To War With Iran? | AJ+

Iran’s foreign minister accuses US, Mideast of provoking conflict

Iran’s Zarif thrashes Trump, “US driven by pathological obsession” (Munich Security Conference 2019)

Can air strikes take out Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Did Trump Just Blink or Bluff in Standoff With Iran?

Anthony Halpin

Bloomberg

Was it all a bluff? After news leaked that President Donald Trump approved and then called off U.S. airstrikes on Iran last night, it emerged he’d warned Tehran about an imminent attack while insisting he was against a war.

Today, as airlines began re-routing flights away from the Strait of Hormuz, Iran’s Foreign Ministry called in the Swiss ambassador, who also represents U.S. interests, for talks.

Was the outreach why Trump abandoned the strikes? Or was this the latest example of the whipsaw approach from a president who’s twice attacked Syria but also backed away from using force after lashing out at Iran and North Korea?

The leak of Trump’s about-face also speaks volumes about the battle for influence in the White House. Hardliners clearly thought they’d convinced him to back a tough response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. Navy drone. Yet Trump was elected on a pledge to pull out of Middle East wars.

The president, who governs with the cliffhanger style of his Apprentice TV show, thrives on keeping supporters hooked on dramatic twists.

But as his 2020 re-election campaign gains steam, the stakes now include the prospect of armed conflict and instability in a region that supplies a third of the world’s oil.

Global Headlines

Biden’s burden | Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is encountering the same pitfalls as other seasoned politicians who’ve found their experience and record can be a liability. The former Delaware senator’s struggles to defend his remarks this week about finding common ground with two segregationists is an early sign of the trouble he could have explaining a complicated voting record and his nostalgia for a Washington collegiality that has steadily diminished since he was first elected in 1972.

Border control | Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to crack down on migrants crossing the border into the U.S. after the two countries entered an agreement aimed at stemming the flow of people entering Mexico from Central America. Mexico will take greater control of its southern border and ask foreigners to register their arrival.

Osaka drama | Before Trump, Group of 20 summits were dull if worthy affairs. This year’s gathering in Osaka, Japan next week promises to be anything but, as the U.S. president holds talks with China’s Xi Jinping after threatening to escalate their trade conflict. The best-case scenario would be a pause in new U.S. tariffs and a resumption of negotiations that broke down in May. The worst-case would be a new Cold War between the two largest economies.

Favorites flushed | European Union leaders cast aside the candidates who’ve dominated the race to head the next EU Commission and will start from scratch less than two weeks before a self-imposed deadline. The decision at a summit in Brussels extends gridlock that has left investors in the dark over a series of critical posts including the next president of the European Central Bank.

Bad air | As climate change tops political agendas from Washington to New Delhi, there’s no solution in sight for the bad air choking Europe’s poorest countries. While the EU has focused mostly on stability in the volatile Balkans, health problems and lost productivity from air pollution cost the continent more than 10 billion euros a year. Obsolete coal plants and cars spew smog and hundreds of thousands of people burn tires, wood and trash to stay warm.

What to Watch

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will go head-to-head in the contest to become the U.K.’s next prime minister as they seek votes from the Conservative Party’s 160,000 grassroots members over the next month. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court threw out a challenge to a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ordering early parliamentary elections. The ruling confirmed a vote will take place next month and a new government should be in place by the fall. Turkey reruns the election for mayor of Istanbul on Sunday, pitting former prime minister and ruling AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim against opposition challenger Ekrem Imamoglu, who was stripped of his narrow victory in the March 31 ballot.

And finally…The U.K. is poised to generate more energy from low-carbon sources than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear plants provided 48% of the nation’s power in the first five months of this year. The U.K. has gone without burning coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, for the equivalent of 80 days so far in 2019, including one stretch of 18 days in a row.

–With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Daniel Ten Kate.

https://news.yahoo.com/did-trump-just-blink-bluff-100815556.html

Trump says Iran made ‘big mistake’ by taking down US drone

today

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, June 20, 2019, in Washington. Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” by shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz but suggested it was a foolish error rather than an intentional escalation of the tensions that have led to rising fears of open military conflict.

Asked about a U.S. response, the president said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out.”

The downing of the huge, unmanned aircraft , which Iran portrayed as a deliberate defense of its territory rather than a mistake, was a stark reminder of the risk of military conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces as the Trump administration combines a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran with a buildup of American forces in the region.

The drone — which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 — entered Iranian airspace “despite repeated radio warnings” and was shot down by Iran, acting under the U.N. Charter which allows self-defense action “if an armed attack occurs,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general.

Donald Trump is playing down Iran's downing of an American drone, saying that it might have been a mistake executed by someone just being "loose and stupid." He said it was a "new wrinkle" in escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. (June 20)

Trump, who has said he wants to avoid war and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, appeared to play down the significance of the shootdown.

He cast it as “a new wrinkle … a new fly in the ointment.” Yet he also said that “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of U.S. Central Command air forces in the region, took a more pointed view of the shootdown in an area where Trump has blamed Iran for attacking shipping vessels.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce,” he said.

The Trump administration has been putting increasing economic pressure on Iran for more than a year. It reinstated punishing sanctions following Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of an international agreement intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from earlier sanctions.

The other world powers who remain signed on to the nuclear deal have set a meeting to discuss the U.S. withdrawal and Iran’s announced plans to increase its uranium stockpile for June 28, a date far enough in the future to perhaps allow tensions to cool.

Citing Iranian threats, the U.S. recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

The first U.S. reaction was Trump’s Thursday morning tweet of six forceful words: “Iran made a very big mistake.”

But later, while meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said, “I would imagine it was a general or somebody that made a mistake in shooting that drone down.

He said the American drone was unarmed and unmanned and “clearly over international waters.” It would have “made a big, big difference” if someone had been inside, he said.

“I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Taking issue with the U.S. version of where the attack occurred, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that his country had retrieved sections of the military drone “in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.” He said, “We don’t seek war but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.”

U.S. Gen. Guastella disputed that contention, telling reporters that the aircraft was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest Iranian territory and flying at high altitude when struck by a surface-to-air missile. The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

One U.S. official said there was a second American aircraft in the area that was able to get video and imagery of the drone when it was shot down.

Congressional leaders came to the White House for an hour-long briefing in the Situation Room late Thursday with top national security officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Army Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump has said he’ll nominate as Pentagon chief.

The Senate’s top Democrat called the downing of the American drone “deeply concerning” and accused the administration of not having an Iran strategy and keeping Congress and the rest of the nation in the dark.

“The president needs to explain to the American people why he’s driving us toward another endless conflict in the Middle East,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t think Trump wanted war with Iran and the American people have “no appetite” for it either. She said the U.S. needs to be “strong and strategic” about protecting its interests but “cannot be reckless.”

Talking tougher, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Iran a “murderous regime” and said, “If they’re itching for a fight they’re going to get one.”

“We’re a lot closer today than we were yesterday, and only God knows what tomorrow brings,” said Graham, a Trump ally who talked with the president by telephone.

The senator also focused on the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying its leaders have refused to negotiate after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international agreement to limit Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

Graham said it’s imperative that the U.S. clearly tell the Iranians that any attempt to increase uranium enrichment will be seen as a “hostile act against the United States and our allies in Israel and will not go unanswered.”

Another factor: This all comes as Trump is launching his re-election campaign. He ran for president promising to bring American troops home from the Middle East and Afghanistan and has repeatedly said he wants to keep America out of “endless wars.”

Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for President George W. Bush, cautioned against thinking about politics when weighing any response to Iran.

“I suspect a successful limited counter-strike, such as taking out the missile battery that fired at the drone or the sinking of an unmanned Iranian vessel, would be seen as a well-calibrated show of resolve and discipline,” Fleischer said in an interview. He added that “if we do nothing, Iran may strike again thinking it has impunity.”

https://apnews.com/84ad15edb7324472bb867852059a0a7a

Iran shoots down US surveillance drone, heightening tensions

29 minutes ago

In this Oct. 24, 2018, photo released by the U.S. Air Force, members of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prepare to launch an RQ-4 Global Hawk at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk on Thursday, June 20, 2019, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. (Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan/U.S. Air Force via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, marking the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The two countries disputed the circumstances leading up to an Iranian surface-to-air missile bringing down the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.

Iran said the drone “violated” its territorial airspace, while the U.S. called the missile fire “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace over the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake!”

Trump later appeared to play down the incident, telling reporters in the Oval Office that he had a feeling that “a general or somebody” being “loose and stupid” made a mistake in shooting down the drone.

AP Graphic

The incident immediately heightened the crisis already gripping the wider region, which is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t offer it a new deal.

Citing unspecified Iranian threats, the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.

The paramilitary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami. (Sepahnews via AP)

The drone took off from the southern Persian Gulf and collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near Iran’s border with Pakistan, the Guard said in comments that appeared aimed at showing it could track the aircraft.

The U.S. military has not commented on the mission of the remotely piloted aircraft that can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time.

Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone — a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Iranian state TV later broadcast video it described as the moment the Guard launched the surface-to-air missile that struck the U.S. drone. Chants of “God is great!” could be heard as a fireball appeared in the darkened sky.

Typically, militaries worldwide call out to errant aircraft entering their airspace before firing. It’s unclear whether Iran gave any warning before opening fire. The U.S. military says Iran fired on and missed another drone last week near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves.

The U.S. has been worried about international shipping through the strategic waterway since tankers were damaged in May and June in what Washington has blamed on limpet mines from Iran, although Tehran denied involvement.. On Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Navy showed fragments of mines that it said bore “a striking resemblance” to those seen in Iran

The RQ-4 Global Hawk was at least 34 kilometers from Iranian territory when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the U.S. Central Command. He said it was an attempt to disrupt U.S. efforts to monitor the Persian Gulf region.

But Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.”

“Borders are our red line,” the Revolutionary Guard general said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said the drone entered Iranian airspace, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted it would take its case to the U.N. He later tweeted that Iran retrieved parts of the drone in its territorial waters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged caution, warning any war between Iran and the U.S. would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged support for U.S. efforts to halt what he called escalating Iranian provocations.

“In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern and urged all parties to “avoid any action that could inflame the situation,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

America stations some RQ-4 Global Hawks at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE, near the capital of Abu Dhabi. Associated Press journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The U.S. military occasionally publishes images from there of the drones, which have a distinctive hump-shaped front and an engine atop the fuselage.

Iran has claimed to have shot down U.S. drones before. In the most famous incident, in December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. Iran later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.

Elsewhere in the region Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a rocket at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq, a city in the kingdom’s Jizan province. The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying it caused no damage or casualties.

The Yemeni rebel Al-Masirah satellite news channel earlier said the Houthis targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom’s border with Yemen, with a cruise missile.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.

https://apnews.com/e4316eb989d5499c9828350de8524963

 

 

Story 2: Federal Reserve Board Votes To Keep Federal Funds Target Range of 2.25% to 2.5% Waiting For July 2019 Jobs Report and Second Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Number — Videos

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Trump slams Fed over interest rate policy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks to media following interest rate decision – 06/19/2019

Sen. Tillis Says Fed Made Mistake in December, Defers to Trump on Powell Demotion

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Discount Rate and Federal Funds Rate

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Trump expected Powell to be a ‘cheap-money’ Fed chairman

S&P 500 closes at new record as Wall Street bets Fed will lower rates, Dow surges nearly 250 points

VIDEO02:12
The S&P 500 just closed at a record high — Here’s what four experts say to watch

Stocks rallied on Thursday, led by strong gains in tech and energy shares, as Wall Street cheered the possibility that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next month.

The S&P 500 surged 1% to 2,954.18, a record close. The broad index also hit an intraday record of 2,958.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 249.17 points higher at 26,753.17. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8% to end the day at 8,051.34.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below 2% for the first time since November 2016. Investors cheered the decline in the benchmark for mortgage rates and corporate bonds.

The energy sector rose more than 2% to lead all 11 S&P 500 sectors higher as oil prices jumped. Tech gained 1.4% after shares of Oracle surged more than 8% on stronger-than-forecast earnings. General Electric’s 2.8% rise pushed the industrials sector up more than 1.6% on the day.

“Markets are based on numbers and perception. If the perception is rates are getting cut, that’s going to drive markets higher,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “UBS’ stance up until yesterday was we wouldn’t see any rate cuts this year. Now we see a much larger chance of a 50-basis-point cut.”

The Fed said Wednesday it stands ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks as they took stock of intensifying trade tensions and growing concerns about inflation. Most Fed policymakers slashed their rate outlook for the rest of the calendar year by approximately half a percentage point in the previous session, while Chairman Jerome Powell said others agree the case for lower rates is building.

Policymakers also dropped “patient” from the Fed’s statement and acknowledged that inflation is “running below” its 2% objective.

Market participants viewed the overall tone from the U.S. central bank as more dovish than expected. Traders are now pricing in a 100% chance of a rate cutnext month, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

With Thursday’s gains, the market has now erased the steep losses recorded by the major indexes in May, which were sparked by trade fears. The S&P 500 and Dow both fell more than 6% while the Nasdaq lost 7.9% last month. The three indexes were up more than 7% for June.

China and the U.S. hiked tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods in May. Stocks turned around this month as traders bet the rising trade tensions, coupled with weaker economic data, would lead the Fed to ease its monetary policy stance.

The Fed’s message on Wednesday sent the 10-year Treasury yield to as low as 1.974% before ending the day around 2.02%. The yield stood at 2.8% in January.

“The FOMC reinforced the market’s conviction,” said Steve Blitz, chief U.S. economist at TS Lombard, in a note. “Barring a dramatic turnaround in the data, the next move is a cut – perhaps even a 50bp reduction.”

The dollar also took a hit against other major currencies. The dollar index dropped 0.5% to 96.65, led by a 0.6% slide in the euro. The yen and Canadian dollar also rose against the U.S. currency.

Energy shares got a boost from higher oil prices. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) climbed 2.2% as shares of Exxon Mobil gained 1.7%. Oil prices surged 5.4% after a U.S. official said a drone was shot down over Iranian airspace.

Meanwhile, Slack shares surged more than 40% in their first day of trading. The stock closed above $38 after setting a reference price of $26.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/20/stock-market-dow-futures-higher-after-fed-raises-rate-cut-hopes.html

Federal Open Market Committee

About the FOMC

Recent FOMC press conference

June 19, 2019

FOMC Transcripts and other historical materials

The term “monetary policy” refers to the actions undertaken by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve, to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 gave the Federal Reserve responsibility for setting monetary policy.

The Federal Reserve controls the three tools of monetary policy–open market operationsthe discount rate, and reserve requirements. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for the discount rate and reserve requirements, and the Federal Open Market Committee is responsible for open market operations. Using the three tools, the Federal Reserve influences the demand for, and supply of, balances that depository institutions hold at Federal Reserve Banks and in this way alters the federal funds rate. The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions lend balances at the Federal Reserve to other depository institutions overnight.

Changes in the federal funds rate trigger a chain of events that affect other short-term interest rates, foreign exchange rates, long-term interest rates, the amount of money and credit, and, ultimately, a range of economic variables, including employment, output, and prices of goods and services.

Structure of the FOMC

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) consists of twelve members–the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of Banks, one Bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Nonvoting Reserve Bank presidents attend the meetings of the Committee, participate in the discussions, and contribute to the Committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options.

The FOMC holds eight regularly scheduled meetings per year. At these meetings, the Committee reviews economic and financial conditions, determines the appropriate stance of monetary policy, and assesses the risks to its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth.

For more detail on the FOMC and monetary policy, see section 2 of the brochure on the structure of the Federal Reserve Systemand chapter 2 of Purposes & Functions of the Federal Reserve System. FOMC Rules and Authorizations are also available online.

2019 Committee Members

Alternate Members

Federal Reserve Bank Rotation on the FOMC

Committee membership changes at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

2020 2021 2022
Members New York
Cleveland
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
Alternate
Members
New York
Chicago
Richmond
Atlanta
San Francisco
New York
Cleveland
Boston
St. Louis
Kansas City
New York
Chicago
Philadelphia
Dallas
Minneapolis

 †For the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the First Vice President is the alternate for the President. Return to table

For additional information, please use the FOMC FOIA request form.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomc.htm

 

Fed holds rates steady, but opens the door for a rate cut in the future

The action sets up a possible confrontation between Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump, who has been pressuring the Fed to cut rates. Just Tuesday, Trump said “let’s see what he does” at the Fed meeting when asked if he still wants to demote Powell.

At the post-statement news conference, Powell was asked about his future as chairman. “I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he said.

The strong majority for this month’s decision contrasted with a sharp difference of opinion on what happens next.

The committee provided an important nod to those worried about slower growth: It dropped the word “patient” in  describing its approach to policy. The characterization was a key part of the Fed “pivot” earlier this year that signaled to the market a more dovish approach to rates.

“The Fed didn’t surprise investors with the decision to maintain rates, but the split vote tells us that a cut is on the way and it’s increasingly likely that will be in July, as bond markets have been hoping,” said Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Asset Management.

“This was probably the compromise decision — it wasn’t shocking and should offer some reassurance,” Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, said in a note. “The FOMC will still want to closely monitor the stress fractures from the bond market, middling housing and auto sales numbers, and an increasingly uncertain global economic landscape in the coming months.”

The statement also changed wording to concede that inflation is “running below” the Fed’s 2% objective. In their forecast for headline inflation this year, officials slashed the estimate to 1.5% from March’s 1.8%. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, is likely now to be 1.8% from March’s 2%, according to the quarterly summary of economic projections also released Wednesday.

‘In light of these uncertainties’

The committee changed language from its May statement to indicate that economic activity is “rising at a moderate rate,” a downgrade from “solid.”

In their baseline scenario, FOMC members said they still expect “sustained expansion of economic activity” and a move toward 2% inflation, but realize that “uncertainties about this outlook have increased.”

“In light of these uncertainties and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will closely monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective,” the statement said. The “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” language mirrors a statement from Powell in early June.

Very reasonable to think Fed will cut rates twice this year: Strategist

The committee characterized the labor market as “strong” with “solid” jobs growth, despite May’s disappointing nonfarm payrolls growth of 75,000. The statement further said that household spending “appears to have picked up from earlier in the year.”

The changes came amid what appeared to be little consensus among the committee about where rates go next.

Divided Fed

According to the “dot plot” of individual members’ expectations, eight members favor one cut this year while the same number voted in favor of the status quo and one still wants a rate hike. Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari have led the public discussion about the potential for rate cuts, while other members have been less firm.

Into 2020, the Fed consensus was a bit stronger, with nine members wanting a cut to a funds rate around 2.1%. The direction changes, though, in 2021, with indications of an increase of about a quarter-point, culminating in an expected long-run value of 2.5%. The funds rate most recently was trading at 2.37%.

Traders in the thin and volatile funds market had been pricing in a 26% chance of a cut at this week’s meeting. Later in the year, though, the probability for a July easing rose to 82.5% and the chances of a second cut in December were most recently at 60.4%. The market expects a third cut to come around March of 2020.

While the statement language offered some significant changes, estimates in the summary of economic projections, other than inflation, moved little from March. GDP growth is still expected to be 2.1% for the year – it was 3.1% in the first quarter, and the Atlanta Fed is forecasting a 2% gain in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is now expected to hold at a 50-year low of 3.6%, against the March forecast of 3.7%.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/19/fed-decision-fed-leaves-rates-unchanged.html

10-year Treasury yield drops below 2% for first time since November 2016

Federal funds rate

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Federal Funds Rate compared to U.S. Treasury interest rates

2 to 10 year treasury yield spread

Inflation (blue) compared to federal funds rate (red)

Quarterly gross domestic product compared to Federal Funds Rate.

Federal Funds Rate and Treasury interest rates from 2002-2019

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate. The target rate is chosen in part to influence the money supply in the U.S. economy[3]

Contents

Mechanism

Financial institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accountsNOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007–2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjustments in the interest rate on reserves.[5] The target rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[6] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[7]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[8]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of 19 December 2018 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 2.25–2.50%.[9] This represents the ninth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.[10]

The last full cycle of rate increases occurred between June 2004 and June 2006 as rates steadily rose from 1.00% to 5.25%. The target rate remained at 5.25% for over a year, until the Federal Reserve began lowering rates in September 2007. The last cycle of easing monetary policy through the rate was conducted from September 2007 to December 2008 as the target rate fell from 5.25% to a range of 0.00–0.25%. Between December 2008 and December 2015 the target rate remained at 0.00–0.25%, the lowest rate in the Federal Reserve’s history, as a reaction to the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[11]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, the price of borrowed funds – the federal funds rate – falls. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the federal funds rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, the interest rate will normally rise.[12]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[13] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the federal funds rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[14][15]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [16][17][18]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[19][20][21]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[22]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[23]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25–0.50[24]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50–0.75[25]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75–1.00[26]
  • Jun 14, 2017 — 1.00–1.25[27]
  • Dec 13, 2017 — 1.25–1.50[28]
  • Mar 21, 2018 — 1.50–1.75[29]
  • Jun 13, 2018 — 1.75–2.00[30]
  • Sep 26, 2018 — 2.00–2.25[9]
  • Dec 19, 2018 — 2.25–2.50[31]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and housing fell.[32]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments outside the United States less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions(PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. August 24, 2011. p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. January 30, 2008. Archived from the original on April 13, 2001. Retrieved January 30, 2008.
  4. ^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Stefan Homburg (2017) A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics, Oxford University Press, ISBN978-0-19-880753-7.
  6. ^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  7. ^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s”(PDF)Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  8. ^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  9. Jump up to:ab “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement” (Press release). Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  10. ^ Tankersley, Jim (March 21, 2018). “Fed Raises Interest Rates for Sixth Time Since Financial Crisis”The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. ^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012.
  12. ^ David Waring (February 19, 2008). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  13. ^ “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  14. ^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. ^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. ^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. ^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. ^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. ^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. ^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  21. ^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  22. ^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  23. ^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  24. ^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  25. ^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. Archived from the original on December 15, 2016.
  26. ^ Cox, Jeff (March 15, 2017). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”CNBC. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  27. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 14, 2017.
  28. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 13, 2017.
  29. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. March 21, 2018.
  30. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. June 13, 2018.
  31. ^ “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 19, 2018.
  32. ^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  33. ^ Peter S. Goodman, Keith Bradsher and Neil Gough (March 16, 2017). “The Fed Acts. Workers in Mexico and Merchants in Malaysia Suffer”The New York Times. Retrieved March 18,2017Rising interest rates in the United States are driving money out of many developing countries, straining governments and pinching consumers around the globe.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

The Impact of an Inverted Yield Curve

The term yield curve refers to the relationship between the short- and long-term interest rates of fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury. An inverted yield curve occurs when short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates.

From an economic perspective, an inverted yield curve is a noteworthy event. Below, we explain this rare phenomenon, discuss its impact on consumers and investors, and tell you how to adjust your portfolio to account for it.

Interest Rates and Yield Curves

Typically, short-term interest rates are lower than long-term rates, so the yield curve slopes upwards, reflecting higher yields for longer-term investments. This is referred to as a normal yield curve. When the spread between short-term and long-term interest rates narrows, the yield curve begins to flatten. A flat yield curve is often seen during the transition from a normal yield curve to an inverted one.

Normal Yield Curve

Figure 1 – A normal yield curve

What Does an Inverted Yield Curve Suggest?

Historically, an inverted yield curve has been viewed as an indicator of a pending economic recession. When short-term interest rates exceed long-term rates, market sentiment suggests that the long-term outlook is poor and that the yields offered by long-term fixed income will continue to fall.

More recently, this viewpoint has been called into question, as foreign purchases of securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have created a high and sustained level of demand for products backed by U.S. government debt. When investors are aggressively seeking debt instruments, the debtor can offer lower interest rates. When this occurs, many argue that it is the laws of supply and demand, rather than impending economic doom and gloom, that enable lenders to attract buyers without having to pay higher interest rates.

Inverted Yield Curve

Figure 2 – An inverted yield curve: note the inverse relationship between yield and maturity

Inverted yield curves have been relatively rare, due in large part to longer-than-average periods between recessions since the early 1990s. For example, the economic expansions that began in March 1991, November 2001 and June 2009 were three of the four longest economic expansions since World War II. During these long periods, the question often arises as to whether an inverted yield curve can happen again.

Economic cycles, regardless of their length, have historically transitioned from growth to recession and back again. Inverted yield curves are an essential element of these cycles, preceding every recession since 1956. Considering the consistency of this pattern, an inverted yield will likely form again if the current expansion fades to recession.

Upward sloping yield curves are a natural extension of the higher risks associated with long maturities. In a growing economy, investors also demand higher yields at the long end of the curve to compensate for the opportunity cost of investing in bonds versus other asset classes, and to maintain an acceptable spread over inflation rates.

As the economic cycle begins to slow, perhaps due to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Bank, the upward slope of the yield curve tends to flatten as short-term rates increase and longer yields stay stable or decline slightly. In this environment, investors see long-term yields as an acceptable substitute for the potential of lower returns in equities and other asset classes, which tend to increase bond prices and reduce yields.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Consumers

In addition to its impact on investors, an inverted yield curve also has an impact on consumers. For example, homebuyers financing their properties with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) have interest-rate schedules that are periodically updated based on short-term interest rates. When short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, payments on ARMs tend to rise. When this occurs, fixed-rate loans may be more attractive than adjustable-rate loans.

Lines of credit are affected in a similar manner. In both cases, consumers must dedicate a larger portion of their incomes toward servicing existing debt. This reduces expendable income and has a negative effect on the economy as a whole.

The Formation of an Inverted Yield Curve

As concerns of an impending recession increase, investors tend to buy long Treasury bonds based on the premise that they offer a safe harbor from falling equities markets, provide preservation of capital and have potential for appreciation in value as interest rates decline. As a result of the rotation to long maturities, yields can fall below short-term rates, forming an inverted yield curve. Since 1956, equities have peaked six times after the start of an inversion, and the economy has fallen into recession within seven to 24 months.

As of 2017, the most recent inverted yield curve first appeared in August 2006, as the Fed raised short-term interest rates in response to overheating equity, real estate and mortgage markets. The inversion of the yield curve preceded the peak of the Standard & Poor’s 500 in October 2007 by 14 months and the official start of the recession in December 2007 by 16 months. However, a growing number of 2018 economic outlooks from investment firms are suggesting that an inverted yield curve could be on the horizon, citing the narrowing spread between short- and long-dated Treasuries.

If history is any precedent, the current business cycle will progress, and slowing in the economy may eventually become evident. If concerns of the next recession rise to the point where investors see the purchase of long-dated Treasuries as the best option for their portfolios, there is a high likelihood that the next inverted yield curve will take shape.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Fixed-Income Investors

A yield curve inversion has the greatest impact on fixed-income investors. In normal circumstances, long-term investments have higher yields; because investors are risking their money for longer periods of time, they are rewarded with higher payouts. An inverted curve eliminates the risk premium for long-term investments, allowing investors to get better returns with short-term investments.

When the spread between U.S. Treasuries (a risk-free investment) and higher-risk corporate alternatives is at historical lows, it is often an easy decision to invest in lower-risk vehicles. In such cases, purchasing a Treasury-backed security provides a yield similar to the yield on junk bondscorporate bondsreal estate investment trusts (REITs) and other debt instruments, but without the risk inherent in these vehicles. Money market funds and certificates of deposit (CDs) may also be attractive – particularly when a one-year CD is paying yields comparable to those on a 10-year Treasury bond.

Inverted Yield Curve Impact on Equity Investors

When the yield curve becomes inverted, profit margins fall for companies that borrow cash at short-term rates and lend at long-term rates, such as community banks. Likewise, hedge funds are often forced to take on increased risk in order to achieve their desired level of returns.

In fact, a bad bet on Russian interest rates is largely credited for the demise of Long-Term Capital Management, a well-known hedge fund run by bond trader John Meriwether.

Despite their consequences for some parties, yield-curve inversions tend to have less impact on consumer staples and healthcare companies, which are not interest-rate dependent. This relationship becomes clear when an inverted yield curve precedes a recession. When this occurs, investors tend to turn to defensive stocks, such as those in the food, oil and tobacco industries, which are often less affected by downturns in the economy.

The Bottom Line

While experts question whether or not an inverted yield curve remains a strong indicator of pending economic recession, keep in mind that history is littered with portfolios that were devastated when investors blindly followed predictions about how “it’s different this time.” Most recently, shortsighted equity investors spouting this mantra participated in the “tech wreck,” snapping up shares in tech companies at inflated prices even though these firms had no hope of ever making a profit.

If you want to be a smart investor, ignore the noise. Instead of spending time and effort trying to figure out what the future will bring, construct your portfolio based on long-term thinking and long-term convictions – not short-term market movements.

For your short-term income needs, do the obvious: choose the investment with the highest yield, but keep in mind that inversions are an anomaly and they don’t last forever. When the inversion ends, adjust your portfolio accordingly.

Story 3: Creepy, Sleepy, Dopey, Joey Biden in Praise of Civility of Democrat Segregationist Senators Eastland (Mississippi) and Talmadge (Georgia) Who Got Things Done — Radical Extremist Democrats (REDS) Attack Biden — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers and Big Lie Media Playing Identity Politics and Divide and Conquer — Videos —

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

Biden’s ties to segregationist senator spark campaign tension

SUSAN WALSH / AP

Joe Biden was a freshman senator, the youngest member of the august body, when he reached out to an older colleague for help on one of his early legislative proposals: The courts were ordering racially segregated school districts to bus children to create more integrated classrooms, a practice Biden opposed and wanted to change.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attemptingto bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The recipient of Biden’s entreaty was Sen. James Eastland, at the time a well-known segregationist who had called blacks “an inferior race” and once vowed to prevent blacks and whites from eating together in Washington. The exchange, revealed in a series of letters, offers a new glimpse into an old relationship that erupted this week as a major controversy for Biden’s presidential campaign.Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he “had to put up with.” He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that “the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.”

But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies.

The letters were provided Thursday to the Washington Post by the University of Mississippi, which houses Eastland’s archived papers. They were reported in April by CNN.

Biden’s campaign late Thursday issued a statement saying that “the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.”

“Plain and simple. Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,” the statement said.

The controversy over Biden’s comments this week have continued to reverberate at a crucial time in the campaign, with matters of race dominating the political discussion ahead of several prominent gatherings, including the first presidential debate next week and a multicandidate event before black voters in South Carolina on Friday. It has emerged as a complex political problem for Biden, who has been trying to campaign as a civil rights champion while explaining past views that are out of step with today’s Democratic base.

Biden’s Wednesday remarks sparked one of the sharpest intra-Democrat exchanges of the campaign, when Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of his black 2020 rivals, criticized both Biden’s work with segregationists and the language that he used in describing it.

On Wednesday, Biden called Booker. Biden’s campaign also distributed talking points to supporters, emphasizing that Eastland and Talmadge “were people who he fundamentally disagreed with on the issue of civil rights.”

Late Thursday, the former vice president met with a small group that included black members of Congress, one of the participants said.

Divisions also emerged in Biden’s campaign over how he should handle such situations. Aides alternately argued that he simply misspoke in telling the anecdote, that he shouldn’t be telling it at all or that his remarks demonstrate his ability to work with those with whom he disagrees and the words were being purposefully twisted for political gain.

The letters show that Biden’s courtship of Eastland started in 1972, before he had taken office, and that he wrote to the older senator listing his top six committee assignment requests, with Foreign Relations and Judiciary at the top. A few weeks later, Biden thanked Eastland, writing that he was “flattered and grateful” for his help. He also referred to the December 1972 car crash that killed his wife and daughter and injured his two sons.

“Despite my preoccupation with family matters at this time, I intend to place the highest priority on attending to my committee responsibilities,” Biden wrote.

Biden supporters have repeatedly pointed to his efforts on civil rights issues to cast him as a champion of equality. Not only did he share an eight-year partnership with the first black president, he also worked alongside black leaders throughout his career on extending the Voting Rights Act, amending the Fair Housing Act and creating the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.et in the debate over the merits of busing as a solution to greater integration, Biden’s avowed stance against it put him at odds with some civil rights leaders.

 

 

It was in that context that he courted the support of Eastland — at the time the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as other senators.

In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices.

“My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,” he wrote to Eastland. “It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.”

“I believe there is growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing,” he added. The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration.

 

“That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,” Biden wrote. “The Supreme Court seems to have recognized that busing simply cannot be justified in cases where state and local officials intended no discrimination.”

In later letters to Eastland, Biden continued pushing his legislation.

“I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,” Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland.

“Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,” Biden wrote on Aug 22, 1978. “Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.”

After Biden’s remarks at the Wednesday night fund-raiser, advisers played down his comments about Eastland as a garbled rendition of a familiar Biden anecdote. In particular, they sought to excuse Biden for saying that Eastland didn’t refer to him as “boy” — an insult leveled at black men — but as “son.”

“He just misspoke,” said one Biden adviser. “The way Biden usually tells the story, he says Eastland didn’t call him ‘senator,’ he called him ‘son,’ ” the adviser said. “Eastland called him ‘boy’ and ‘son’ also. This was Eastland’s way of diminishing young senators.”

In the campaign statement Thursday, Biden’s national press secretary, Jamal Brown, said Biden’s “strong support for equal housing, equal education and equal job opportunities were clear to all Delawareans in the 1970s.”

Biden sought to ensure that black students received “the resources necessary to deliver the quality education they deserved,” he said.

Brown added that throughout his public life, Biden “fought the institutional problems that created de facto segregated school systems and neighborhoods in the first place: redlining, school lines drawn to keep races and classes separate and housing patterns and discrimination.”

Almost the entire Democratic field is set to attend a fish fry Friday night hosted by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a leading black figure in the state and one who has remained supportive of Biden.

It would be the first public appearance Biden is making with the same Democratic presidential hopefuls who have heaped criticism on him for the comment.

In demanding an apology, Booker said Wednesday that Biden’s “relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.”

Asked about Booker’s remarks by reporters, Biden declined to offer an apology and instead demanded one from Booker. The two men later spoke privately.

“Cory shared directly what he said publicly — including helping Vice President Biden understand why the word ‘boy’ is painful to so many,” said Sabrina Singh, a Booker campaign spokeswoman. “Cory believes that Vice President Biden should take responsibility for what he said and apologize to those who were hurt.”

Biden’s campaign would not elaborate on the call, but it is clear the topic could linger over the coming days.

Biden has scheduled a sit-down interview with MSNBC, his campaign has been sending out talking points to surrogates, and some black supporters are eager to hear the former vice president offer a fuller explanation.

“I think he’s got to address it head on and show people what his line of thinking was,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina who is close with Biden’s team. “I don’t think they need to get off course with their strategy. I just think they have to address it as it comes up and move on.”

Other Biden supporters, however, think he’s taking just the right approach and standing by his long-held beliefs.

I encouraged campaign staff that I know to say: ‘Don’t back off on this. This is precisely why you’re the right guy in the right place at the right time.’ And I was glad to see that he didn’t,” said Dave O’Brien, a longtime Biden supporter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“You know that some of the other issues, he’s got to evolve with the times, which he has,” O’Brien added. “But there are points where you need to make a stand, so I was very glad to see him not back off on this issue.”

https://www.inquirer.com/politics/nation/joe-biden-james-eastland-segregation-democratic-primary-20190621.htmlPosted: June 20, 2019 – 10:59 PM

Biden not apologizing for remarks on segregationist senators

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Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks at the Poor People’s Moral Action Congress presidential forum in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden refused calls to apologize Wednesday for saying that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists with whom he disagreed.

His rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, including the two major black candidates in the contest, roundly criticized Biden’s comments. But Biden didn’t back down and was particularly defiant in the face of criticism from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the former vice president should apologize for his remarks.

Biden countered that it was Booker who should apologize because the senator “should know better” than to question his commitment to civil rights.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden said. “I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career.”

Speaking on CNN, Booker responded: “I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson.”

The firestorm is quickly becoming one of the most intense disputes of the Democratic presidential primary, underscoring the hazards for Biden as he tries to turn his decades of Washington experience into an advantage. Instead, he’s infuriating Democrats who say he’s out of step with the diverse party of the 21st century and potentially undermining his argument that he’s the most electable candidate in the race.

The controversy began at a New York fundraiser Tuesday when Biden pointed to long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly a generation ago than under today’s “broken” hyperpartisanship.

“We didn’t agree on much of anything,” Biden said of the two men, who were prominent senators when Biden was elected in 1972. Biden described Talmadge as “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” and said Eastland called him “son,” though not “boy,” a reference to the racist way many whites addressed black men at the time.

Yet even in that Senate, Biden said, “At least there was some civility. We got things done.”

A pile on from Biden’s rivals quickly ensued. Booker said he was disappointed by Biden’s remarks.

“I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together,” said Booker, who is African American.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democratic presidential candidate and a white man who is married to a black woman, tweeted: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a black presidential candidate, said Biden was “coddling” segregationists in a way that “suggests to me that he doesn’t understand … the dark history of our country” — a characterization Biden’s campaign rejects.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another 2020 candidate, said, “For the vice president to somehow say that what we’re seeing in this country today is a function of partisanship or a lack of bipartisanship completely ignores the legacy of slavery and the active suppression of African Americans and communities of color right now.”

The tumult comes at a crucial point in the campaign. Biden is still recovering from controversy he sparked earlier this month when he angered many Democrats by saying he didn’t support federal taxpayer money supporting abortion. He later reversed his position.

He’s among the more than 20 candidates who will descend on South Carolina this weekend to make their case to black voters at a series of Democratic events.

Meanwhile, most Democratic White House hopefuls will again gather in Miami next week for the first presidential debate of the primary season. Biden will almost certainly come under fire there for his comments this week.

He sought to defuse the tension on Wednesday by saying he was trying to argue that leaders sometimes have to work with people they disagree with to achieve goals, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act.

“The point I’m making is you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like the people in terms of their views,” he said Wednesday. “But you just simply make the case and you beat them without changing the system.”

He has received support from some black leaders. Cedric Richmond, Biden’s campaign co-chairman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, said Biden’s opponents deliberately ignored the full context of his argument for a more functional government.

“Maybe there’s a better way to say it, but we have to work with people, and that’s a fact,” Richmond said, noting he dealt recently with President Donald Trump to pass a long-sought criminal justice overhaul. “I question (Trump’s) racial sensitivity, a whole bunch of things about his character … but we worked together.”

Likewise, Richmond said, Biden mentioned Jim Crow-era senators to emphasize the depths of disagreements elected officials sometimes navigate. “If he gets elected president, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate” to overcome filibusters, Richmond noted. “He could be less genuine and say, ‘We’re just going to do all these things.’ But we already have a president like that. (Biden) knows we have to build consensus.”

Biden also drew a qualified defense from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black senator from his party. Scott said that Biden “should have used a different group of senators” to make his point but that his remarks “have nothing to do with his position on race” issues. Scott said the reaction reflects an intense environment for Democrats in which the desire to defeat Trump means “anything the front-runner says that is off by a little bit” will be magnified.

https://apnews.com/5b57473cfcda44e4b35c8a40759a26fc

The gloves come off in the Democratic primary

This was the week that the battle for the nomination got real.

The tenor of the Democratic presidential primary has verged on courteous from the start: To the extent that Democrats went after Joe Biden, it was usually not by name. And Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren kept their rivalry decidedly civil.

This week, with the first debates of the election season days away, the gentility came to an end.

Biden’s remarks at a New York fundraiser that “at least there was some civility” when he worked with segregationists in the Senate unleashed a torrent of criticism from his rivals and the left. And a story in POLITICO about centrists coming around to Warren as an “anybody but Bernie” alternative set off Sanders and his allies.

“We knew the primary wouldn’t be all puppies and rainbows forever,” said Ben LaBolt, a former adviser to Barack Obama. “And as the debates approach you can see a new dynamic emerging.”

The reaction from Biden’s rivals to his comments was fierce.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose wife is African American, noted that one of the segregationists Biden invoked, James Eastland of Mississippi, would have outlawed his marriage. Sen. Cory Booker, who is black, took offense that Biden seemed to make light of Eastland calling him “son” but not “boy.”

“You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys’,” Booker said.

Booker called on Biden to apologize but Biden took a different path. Outside a fundraiser Wednesday night, a defiant Biden said he had nothing to be sorry for and that it’s Booker who should apologize for questioning someone without “a racist bone in my body.”

“He knows better,” Biden said.

The crossfire marked some of the most direct and intense exchanges so far of the 2020 primary campaign. And it signals that with less than a week until the first televised debate, the field is done tiptoeing around.

“Running for president is no tea party. It’s a battle. And it is customary for candidates to begin to engage at this stage. The polite preliminaries are over,” said Democratic strategist and former Obama hand David Axelrod. “And since there is generally broad agreement on issues, if not solutions, the disputes necessarily turn on other things.”

In a separate episode, Sanders dispatched a tweet that was viewed as a sideswipe of Warren.

“The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly ‘anybody but Bernie,’” Sanders wrote on Twitter, sharing a POLITICO storyheadlined: “Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee.”

Sanders faced his own backlash over the remark.

“If we had a multi-party parliament, it’d be pretty normal for Sanders and Warren to campaign against each other for leadership in a Social Democratic Party. That said, I still find this move pretty dissapointing [sic] and unnecessary. Draw contrasts if you want, but not like this,” tweeted Waleed Shadid, communications director of the progressive group Justice Democrats.

Shadid later noted that Sanders on CNN said his remark was targeted at the moderate think tank Third Way, and not Warren.

Still, the escalating tensions come as Warren is gaining on Sanders in polls. She leapfrogged him in recent surveys in Nevada and California. And a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Warren and Sanders virtually tied for second, with Warren, at 15 percent, gaining five points in one month. Biden still led the field at 32 percent.

“Biden’s numbers have held up higher than expected and a number of challengers are going after his gaffes more aggressively than before,” LaBolt said. “Warren has begun eating into Bernie’s numbers and he is trying to fend her off.”

Still, one Democratic veteran of the 2016 campaign, ex-Sanders adviser Mark Longabaugh, said the current tangles are nothing like what he experienced in that campaign. There’s plenty of time for it to get there, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“I don’t know if the gloves are off. I think the gloves may be getting a little loose — pulling out the fingertips to take the gloves off.” Longabaugh said. “Having been through the 2015-16 experience, I gotta tell ya, that was much more combative than anything you’ve seen in this race — not anything close.”

Not far from anyone’s mind are the first debates in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday next week.

“While this type of engagement is expected,” LaBolt said, “candidates should be careful not to cross any lines that could significantly damage potential nominees for the general.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/20/2020-election-democratic-primary-1373202

 

 

Part 2– Story 4: President Trump Pushes All The Right Buttons in 2020 Stump Speech in Orlando, Florida –Send Them Home — Lock Them Up — Four More Years — Videos

TRUMP 2020: President Trump Re-Election Campaign Rally – FULL SPEECH

What To Take Away From President Trump’s Re-Election Rally In Florida

FOX and Friends *6/19/19 | URGENT!TRUMP BREAKING News June 19, 2019

Orlando Fl Trump Rally CROWD FOOTAGE June 18th 2019

Trump slams Obamacare at 2020 reelection rally

President Trump’s 2020 campaign kicks off with a rally in Orlando, Florida

Trump mocks Hillary at explosive re-election campaign rally

Trump campaign kickoff rally was “like we were throwing back the clock to four years ago”

WATCH: Vice President Mike Pence Speaks at President Trump’s Reelection Rally

WATCH: Donald Trump Jr. Delivers EXPLOSIVE Speech at Reelection Rally

LIVE 🔴 President Trump Rally in Orlando, Florida – June 18, 2019 – TRUMP 2020 RE-ELECTION RALLY

News Now Stream 2 6/18/19 (FNN)

Rep. Matt Gaetz: Trump’s Campaign Is An Inclusive Movement

FULL RALLY: President Trump Holds MASSIVE Rally in Orlando, FL

Trump supporters call speech ‘fantastic’

Anti-Trump Protesters Gather Outside Trump’s 2020 Kickoff Rally in Orlando

The Ingraham Angle 6/18/19 | Laura Ingraham Fox News June 18, 2019

Sean Hannity 6/18/19 | Fox News Today June 18 2019

Tucker Carlson Tonight 6/18/19 | Fox News Today June 18 2019

With Florida rally, Trump aims for a 2020 campaign ‘reset’

Trump to launch 2020 re-election bid in Florida

Orlando preps for huge crowds for Trump rally

Crowds grow for Trump rally in Orlando

People are lining up for President Trump’s event on Tuesday

THE PRESIDENT IS BACK: President Trump Returns From MASSIVE Orlando Rally

The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider?

President Trump is running for reelection as an outsider candidate. But it’s a knotty challenge for someone who holds the world’s most powerful office.

Trump’s speech in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, which officially launched his 2020 bid, was rife with rhetoric portraying himself — and by extension his supporters — as victims of nefarious elites.

The president said that he and his allies were besieged by a “permanent political class” and “an unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests.”

“Our patriotic movement has been under assault from the very first day,” Trump insisted at one point. Moments before, he told the crowd, “the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently.”

It’s the kind of language that makes Democrats roll their eyes. Trump, they note, is a billionaire property developer, born into wealth, who won the presidency on his first attempt — yet he portrays himself as the tribune of “the forgotten men and women of our country” whom he invoked in his January 2017 inaugural address.

But Trump’s unconventionality might, in itself, help him retain some kind of outsider cachet in a way that is unusual for an incumbent president.

“For any other president, yes, it is a challenge,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2016 presidential primaries.

“But Trump is unlike any other president. Trump has been at war with the establishment since the moment he set foot in the White House,” he said.

It is certainly true that Trump was viewed with suspicion by the Republican Party from the time he began his presidential run — and that his language and attitudes are viewed with distaste by much of the Beltway political class.

But dislike for Trump’s personal antics is hardly confined to D.C. elites.

A Pew Research Center poll in March showed pluralities of the public believing that he was not “trustworthy,” “even-tempered” or “well-informed.”

For all Trump’s supposed concern with less affluent Americans, 56 percent of the respondents in the Pew poll said they did not believe he cared about “people like me,” whereas just 40 percent said he did care.

The GOP has largely made peace with him, with former rivals including Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) becoming enthusiastic supporters, congressional dissenters such as former Rep. Mark Sanford(R-S.C.) having been defeated in primaries and Trump now in firm control of the party apparatus.

Skeptics also point to both policies and personnel — from the steep cut in the corporate tax rate in 2017 to the 16-month run of the ethically challenged Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency — as evidence that the swamp has remained undrained under Trump.

But Trump allies are insistent that the president’s feel for the cultural mores of blue-collar America remains a potent and underrated political weapon.

“He is certainly an outsider to the political establishment. They still don’t get him and he is not coming around to their way of thinking,” said Barry Bennett, who worked as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. “He may live inside the gates but he does not live inside the establishment. … I don’t know anyone who believes he has become some kind of Georgetown socialite.”

Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump friend, insisted, “I have never ever met anyone, any Trump supporter, who believes anything else besides the fact that he’s an outsider.”

There is clearly a political dividend to be gained if Trump can hold onto his outsider image.

In the recent past, voters in presidential elections have often chosen the candidate seen as less steeped in the ways of Washington.

Former President Obama won election twice as a change agent, initially winning the White House as the first black president and then securing a second term over GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the personification of a genteel Republican establishment.

Former President George W. Bush had only a tenuous claim to outsider status, given he was the son of a president — yet his campaign was able to paint then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as a creature of Washington in the 2004 presidential election.

Before that, former President Clinton used his down-home Arkansas image as a weapon against an incumbent president, Bush’s father, George H.W Bush, and then won a second term over another GOP establishment favorite, then-Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.).

Independent observers acknowledge that Trump’s style, divisive though it is, could help him be seen as much more of a disruptor even than these recent predecessors.

“It’s almost impossible for an incumbent to run as an outsider, but Trump has held onto that credential,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications. “He is parlaying that into how he sees himself — running against the Democrats, the media, the elites.”

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that Trump’s outsider image could be especially useful if Democrats pick former Vice President Joe Biden as their nominee.

Biden, in their telling, is much easier to brand as a creature of Washington given his decades in the Senate. There will be a different challenge if Democrats instead choose one of Biden’s rivals who is a fresher face on the national political scene, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sen Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); or more radical, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.).

Trump, billionaire Manhattanite though he may be, has long used the idea that he is sneered at by a snobbish elite to his own advantage.

On Tuesday, he told his supporters that Democrats “want to destroy you.”

It was a stark and visceral remark even by Trump’s standards.

But, after his 2016 victory, even his critics can’t be so sure it won’t work.

https://thehill.com/homenews/the-memo/449436-the-memo-can-trump-run-as-an-outsider

A Second Term for What?

Trump can’t win by relitigating 2016 and playing only to his base.

President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign on June 18.PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

President Trump announced his campaign for a second term at a rally in Orlando on Tuesday evening that recounted his first-term record and 2016 victory before thousands of rapturous supporters. The only thing missing was an agenda for 2020.

The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile.

Donald Trump Launches Campaign

The President is also right that his opponents have refused to recognize the legitimacy of his election. House Democrats may still try to impeach him for not obstructing an investigation into what wasn’t a conspiracy with Russia. His sense of “grievance,” to quote the media meme about his speech, on that point is entirely justified.

Yet Mr. Trump is asking for four more years, and his preoccupation with vindicating 2016 won’t resonate much beyond his core supporters. Most voters have moved on from 2016, which is why a majority opposes impeachment in every poll. They don’t much care about Mr. Trump’s greatest hits about Hillary Clinton, who alas for the President will not be on the ballot in 2020. They want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

This is all the more important given the way his first term has evolved on policy. One paradox is that his main policy successes have come from pursuing a conventional conservative agenda. The failures have been on the issues like trade and immigration that are the most identified with Trumpian disruption.

The economy’s renewed growth spurt came from tax reform, deregulation, liberating energy production and ending the anti-business harassment of the Obama years. His remaking of the judiciary and rebuilding of the military unite Republicans of all stripes. Criminal justice reform was the result of years of spade work on the right and left.

Mr. Trump deserves credit for pursuing all of this despite often ferocious opposition that might have intimidated a different GOP President. That’s true in particular of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, where U.S. Democratic and media opinion is aligned with Europe’s elites.

On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. He must now confront the asylum crisis at the border with no help from Democrats. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.

The other paradox of the Trump Presidency is his low approval rating despite a stronger economy. The polls show his approval rating on the economy is above 50% but his overall approval is 44.3% in the Real Clear Politics average. The difference is best explained by Mr. Trump’s polarizing behavior, which has alienated in particular college-educated voters and Republican women. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, Mr. Trump is underwater with white college-educated women by a remarkable 20 percentage points.

Mr. Trump may figure he can persuade some of those skeptics by making the Democratic nominee even more unpopular than he is. If the Democrats oblige by nominating Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, that might be possible. But that is making a bet on the other party’s mistake, and a re-election campaign is typically a referendum on the incumbent.

Which is all the more reason to offer voters something more for a second term. He could put Democrats on the spot for high housing prices and homelessness by talking about restrictive zoning for elites and high property taxes. He could offer to reform higher education by making schools responsible for some of the debt of students who can’t repay loans, or invigorate vocational education to help young people who can’t go to college.

He could package health-care proposals to expand choice, reduce prices and make insurance portable; his administration has already proposed some of them. He could advance his theme of “draining the swamp” by offering ideas to reform the civil service. We’d include entitlement reform, but then Mr. Trump has shown no interest and we don’t believe in political miracles.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and Mr. Trump won’t win as a policy wonk in any case. But Mr. Trump also won’t win by relitigating the 2016 election or playing only to his political base. He needs more than he offered voters on Tuesday night.

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda

Opinion: Countering Trump With Reliability, Not Bold Agenda
A Fox News poll has found that Democrats prefer a “steady” candidate to a “big agenda” candidate. But going up against the scale of Donald Trump will be tough, so how do frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren compare? Image: Getty

‘This election is about you. Your family, your future & the fate of YOUR country’: Trump lays it on the line at 20,000-strong Orlando rally as he kicks off 2020 re-election campaign with his entire family and obligatory digs at ‘Crooked Hillary’

  • The president spent the first half-hour of a Tuesday night rally hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton 
  • Trump said his team wondered if it should hold the rally in a venue which can hold 20,000 people
  • ‘Not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests… Congratulations!’ the president said to cheers
  • The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism when she wound up an arena of supporters
  • Husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming, ‘CNN Sucks!’ 
  • ‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. We’re going to fight like hell,’ Eric said 
  •  Donald Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours
  • ‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said, claiming the ex-VP has four-person crowds 

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

‘The Democrats don’t care about Russia, they only care about their own political power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I’ve ever known or worked with,’ he argued. ‘But they are really going after you. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us, it’s about you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.’

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on stage to formally kick off his re-election bid with a campaign rally in Orlando. He kicked off first official 2020 rally by claiming 120,000 people submitted requests to attend
First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump's first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended - with his audience chanting 'Lock her Up!' in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

First lady Melania Trump speaks as Trump looks on. Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton

Trump's campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Trump’s campaign turned the area outside the arena that can seat 20,000 people into a festival-like atmosphere with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time

Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donald Trump Jr. arrive at a rally for US President Donald Trump

FLOTUS Melania introduces her husband at Trump 2020 rally

The president said, ‘They wanted to deny you the future you demanded and the future that America deserved and that now America is getting. Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable, it’s not going to happen. Not gonna happen.’

Trump claimed that Democrats as a party would use the ‘power of the law to punish their opponents’ if they’re handed the reigns to the country.

‘Imagine if we had a Democrat president and a Democrat Congress in 2020. They would shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents – which they’re trying to do now anyway – they’ll always be trying to shield themselves,’ he claimed. ‘They will strip Americans of their Constitutional rights while flooding the country with illegal immigrants in the hopes it will expand their political base and they’ll get votes someplace down the future. That’s what it’s about.’

Broad attacks on the Democratic Party and ‘radical socialism’ were the most stringent assaults that Trump would levy all night.

He said, ‘More than 120 Democrats in Congress have also signed up to support “Crazy Bernie Sanders” socialist government takeover of health care.

‘He seems not to be doing too well lately,’ the president said as an aside. ‘They want to end Medicare as we know it and terminate the private health insurance of 180 million Americans who love their health insurance. America will never be a socialist country.’

It was his only mention at the rally of one of his most formidable opponents. Former Democratic President Joe Biden was also a footnote in the speech, earning two mentions, as a part of the ‘Obama-Biden’ duo that Trump said ruined American foreign policy and drove down the nation’s economy.

‘Remember the statement from the previous administration? Would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing? Well, tell “Sleepy Joe” that we found the magic wand. That’s a sleepy guy,’ the president added.

Trump outlined his vision tweeting: ‘Don’t ever forget – this election is about YOU. It is about YOUR family, YOUR future, & the fate of YOUR COUNTRY. We begin our campaign with the best record, the best results, the best agenda, & the only positive VISION for our Country’s future! #Trump2020’

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

The Trumps said their family has been under attack since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015. Jared Kushner, left, Ivanka Trump arrive for the official launch of the Trump 2020 campaign

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president. Kimberly Guilfoyle, left, and Donald Trump Jr. pictured

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, watch as President Donald Trump speaks at his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center

Trump rails against Democrats, Mueller and ‘fake news’ at 2020 rally
Trump’s first official campaign rally of 2020 opened much the way his 2016 candidacy ended – with his audience chanting ‘Lock her Up!’ in a slam on former Democratic opponent Clinton.

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, invited the criticism first. She wound up an arena of supporters with a claim that the media was saying Clinton was going to be the 45th President of the United States days before the election. ‘They have always been wrong,’ she declared.

Attacks on the media as ‘fake news’ and ‘dishonest’ from Lara and her husband Eric, who spoke after her, had a crowd of more than 20,000 screaming ‘CNN Sucks!’ minutes later.

The Trumps said their family has been under attack from one group or another since the family patriarch declared his candidacy for president in 2015.

‘He loves this country and we, as a family, love this country. And guys we are going to fight like hell – our family is going to fight like hell for this country. We will never ever stop fighting, and we will never ever, ever stop winning,’ the president’s son said. ‘And guys, we love you very much. We’re all going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in Florida. So we’re going to see you.’

Donald Trump Jr. channeled his attacks to his father’s current opponents, mocking Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited in the heat and rain for hours, and days in some cases, to see the sitting president.

‘I don’t know about you, but I look around this room and when Joe Biden’s putting about seven people in an audience, I’m saying, “I think they may be a little wrong with the polling.” But what they hell do I know?’ he said.

National polls show Biden beating Trump in a general election. A Quinnipiac University survey that came out Tuesday found that the former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41, the newly-released poll showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told DailyMail.com inside the rally that Quinnipiac is ‘c**p’ in response to the latest poll showing bad news in a critical swing state for the controversial president.

Trump had already warned the public that this official launch of 2020 campaign would be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

US First Lady Melania Trump greets US Vice President Mike Pence. Trump set the tone for the monster rally in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Lara Trump takes to the stage before her father-in-law United States President Donald Trump arrives on stage to announce his candidacy for a second presidential term at the Amway Center

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at the rally. He mocked Joe Biden before the rowdy crowd that waited for hours

Trump attacks Democrats at his Orlando rally
Don Jr. brushed off the threat from Biden, 76, as he campaigned for his father, 73, on Tuesday in Orlando. He called Biden and his competitors a ‘clown show’ and gave the Democrat a new nickname. ‘Sloppy Joe,’ he called him, as he hit Biden for flip-flopping.

‘He gets up on the stump. It’s so stupid,’ he said. ‘To his group of about four people in the audience, “Government has failed you.” Usually, as he’s groping someone. It ain’t pretty, but there’s something off with that guy.’

The president’s son said he agrees that government is broken and it’s a problem. ‘The problem is Joe, you’ve been in government for almost 50 years. If government failed you, maybe you’re the problem Joe Biden,’ he said. ‘It’s not rocket science.’

Trump warned the public that the campaign rally would be ‘wild,’ and Don Jr. helped him deliver on the pledge.

He mocked Biden’s pledge to cure cancer, asking, ‘Why the hell didn’t you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?’

Don Jr. blamed the media for giving Biden a pass. ‘Why did not one of them say, “Well, Joe, how exactly are you going to do that?” And why didn’t you do that in the last eight years as vice president and the prior 40 years in government and the Senate?’

His father later claimed that he’d cure cancer in remarks that followed. ‘We will push onward with new medical frontiers. We will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases, including cancer and others and we’re getting closer all the time,’ he said.

Attacks on Clinton and media were a common theme throughout the night, with Trump pausing and waiting for his supporters to cheer, ‘CNN SUCKS!’ and ‘Lock her Up!’ as he talked about the former secretary of state’s acid-washed emails and her loss to him in the last election.

‘It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of our election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did,’ he complained.

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Trump meets fans after stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Miami International Airport in Miami

Vice President Mike Pence, escorted in by Karen Pence, speaks before Trump takes the stage on Tuesday evening

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

A man holds up a sign as the crowd waits for US President Donald Trump to arrive at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign

Melania's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham speaks with White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway at the campaign rally

President Trump said as he opened the event that he could feel the ‘magic’ in Orlando – a play on the name of the city’s professional basketball team.

He spoke to supporters in the same arena that the team plays in, which is a venue that can hold roughly 20,000 people.

‘You know, I said, “This is a very big arena for a Tuesday night.” I said, “You know, if we have about three or four empty seats, the fake news will say – headlines: he didn’t fill up the arena.” So I said maybe we shouldn’t take the chance, maybe we shouldn’t go to Orlando, maybe we should go someplace else,’ Trump said in his opening remarks. ‘I said, “No, I think we’ll go to Orlando.” And, not only did we fill it up, but we had 120,000 requests. That means you folks have come out very, very good.’

Supporters camped out in tents for more than 30 hours to save their places at the front of a massive line that would ensure them floor seats at Tuesday evening’s show.

Saundra Kiczenski, a Michigan native who works in retail, waited from 7am on Monday. She said she’d been to rallies in support of the president in 15 states. She spent Monday night on the pavement in a sleeping bag.

‘I took the hotel pillow and slept on the ground,’ she told DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon as she waited to get in.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he tweeted on Tuesday morning.

A cover band with aging rockers who call themselves ‘The Guzzlers’ revved up the crowd under a beating sun at a ‘festival’ the campaign held in an outdoor parking lot, where vendors sold a captive and cramped group sodas, snow cones and Trump umbrellas.

Sweltering heat that topped 87 degrees soon turned to pouring rain, giving the umbrellas a dual purpose for supporters like Richard Snowden who chose to remain.

A resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Snowden said he’d be ‘remiss’ to have skipped the kickoff. He told DailyMail.com from the comfort of a party-style tent his group had pitched that he’d attended 54 rallies since Trump announced his candidacy for office in 2015.

But even Snowden called himself a pragmatist and said of the president’s reelection odds, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk.’

‘The incumbency will help. He won’t catch them flat-footed this time,’ he observed, as he waited for the rally to begin. ‘And he won’t have the dislike of Hillary working in his favor,’ he said in remarks that proved to prescient.

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he'd be appearing at in the evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

 

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

The US President and First Lady Melania Trump are pictured stepping off Air Force One upon arrival at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida Tuesday

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport

Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport in Orlando

Special advisor to the US president Jared Kushner and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, and Michael Boulos and Tiffany Trump, right, wait for the arrival of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Orlando International Airport on Tuesday

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be 'wild,' after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Donald Trump is putting an advisory on his Orlando rally, saying the official launch of 2020 campaign will be ‘wild,’ after supporters camped out in tents to save their places in line like they were waiting in line for a free concert with Rihanna

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line hours before the arena doors open for a campaign rally Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

Determined: The early start was an attempt by the fanatical Trump backers to be at the front of the crowd for the campaign kick-off

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7156179/Trumps-2020-kickoff-features-media-bashing-attacks-Joe-Biden-old-foe-Hillary-Clinton.html

 

Trump, in 2020 campaign mode, calls Democrats ‘radical’

today

President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term.

Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and an “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.

He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and saying Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”

“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out “radical” and “unhinged” to describe the rival party.

Trump has long railed against the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report .

President Donald Trump officially kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally. "We're going to keep it better than ever before," he declared. (June 18)

The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.

Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump had raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours for his reelection.

In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.

Thousands of Trump supporters began gathering outside the arena on Monday.

“Trump has been the best president we’ve ever had,” said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching outside the rally.

Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors.

Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it “a defining moment in American history.” He said that in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”

He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since.

Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with “Make America Great Again” or upgrade his slogan. His new one — “Keep America Great” — was greeted with boisterous cheers.

Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.

The president underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.

Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”

Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered “an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.”

But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe his version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.Critics have pointed out his constant promotion for his golf courses, both at home and abroad, and note that this daughter, White House senior aide Ivanka Trump, made $4 million last year from her stake in the president’s Washington hotel, which has become a favored destination for foreign nationals looking to curry favor with the administration.

Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: a political rebel.

Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.

Near the rally’s end, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and “many diseases,” including eradicating AIDS in America.

https://apnews.com/947182a691e6498ca4488e9fc8f9e4b5

President Trump spent a Tuesday night rally he’d advertised as a 2020 kickoff hammering his old foe Hillary Clinton for acid washing her emails and failing to deliver on her pledge to beat him, while Democrats vying for the party’s nomination now escaped his wrath.

Noting that he’s under constant media scrutiny, Trump said that he’d be sent to the slammer if he ordered aides to destroy potential evidence.

‘But, can you imagine if I got a subpoena, think of this, if I got a subpoena for emails, if I deleted one email like a love note to Melania, it’s the electric chair for Trump,’ he claimed in a campaign speech in Orlando.

Trump said subpoenas he’s receiving are not about Democratic claims that his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

 

A sunshine state of mind! Melania and Donald Trump gaze lovingly at one another as they leave the White House hand-in-hand and head to Florida for the president’s 2020 rally

  • Trump, 73, and Melania, 49, departed the White House together on Tuesday to fly to Florida
  • The President will be officially launching his 2020 campaign with a rally at the Amway Center
  • The first lady wore a summery $2,290 white eyelet Andrew Gin dress with a pair of red and white polka-dot heels
  • She grinned at her husband as they walked hand-in-hand to Marine One
  • Melania is not expected to speak at the event, which will include an estimated 20,000 people

Donald and Melania Trump had a rare romantic public moment on Tuesday as the two left the White House for Orlando, Florida.

The President and first lady walked hand-in-hand across the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on their way to Trump’s 2020 campaign kickoff rally.

Cameras caught the couple sharing a warm smile as they held onto each other, Trump, 73, dressed in a navy suit and red tie and his 49-year-old wife took advantage of the June heat in a $2,290 summery white eyelet dress from Andrew Gin, and red polka-dot heels.

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

All smiles: Donald and Melania Trump held hands and beamed at one another as they walked across the White House lawn to begin their trip to Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn't wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

Ready to get away! The 49-year-old first lady couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she and the president strolled across the South Lawn

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida+19

On their way: They appeared to be in good spirits as they set out for Orlando, Florida

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania's hands in both of his own+19

Hands on: At one point, Trump clasped one of Melania’s hands in both of his own

The couple isn’t typically much for PDA but shared an intimate smile as they walked passed photographers.

They held each other’s hands, with Trump stopping at one point in order to clasp Melania’s left hand in both of his own.

Melania beat the heat, which is hovering in the mid-to-high 80s in Washington, D.C. today, in a breezy but figure-flaunting white sleeveless dress, which featured a seasonally appropriate eyelet patter with floral cutouts on the top.

She accessorized with a pair of dark sunglasses and red and white pointy-toe pumps. while wearing her brown hair blown out around her shoulders.

The couple, who married in 2005, celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary in January, just one year less than he was married to his first wife Ivana.

The couple grinned as they boarded Marine One and then switched planes for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s+19

Hot out here: Melania wore a summery white eyelet dress for the occasion, as temperatures soared into the high 80s

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses+19

Protection: She shielded her eyes behind a pair of sunglasses

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps+19

High heels: On her feet were a pair of red polka dot pointy-toe pumps

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done+19

Ready to go: The well-coiffed first lady had her hair and nails done

They’re flying down not to Mar-a-Lago but Orlando, where Trump is kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign at the Amway Center in front of an estimated 20,000 people.

Trump’s campaign is transforming the area outside the arena to have a festival-like atmosphere, with music and food trucks to help supporters pass the time.

The most coveted positions are not seats at all, but standing positions near the front of the stage. Backers of the president in that area are likely to get a handshake, a selfie or Trump’s autograph at the event that formally marks the beginning of his campaign for a second term.

All of Trump’s children and his wife Melania will be with him at the event, sources told DailyMail.com, as will the Mike Pence, the president’s running mate and the nation’s vice president.

The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said, but given the president’s tendency to call on people to speak, she could end up addressing the crowd.

Donald Trump, Jr., on the other hand is expected to give remarks before the rally.

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress+19

It will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat+19

Beat the heat: Melania kept breezy in the lightweight dress, which will likely also serve her well in the Florida heat

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said+19

Staying behind: The first lady does not plan to make formal remarks on Tuesday night, her office said

Change of plan? The couple's 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them+19

Change of plan? The couple’s 13-year-old son Barron is also expected to be at the rally, but was not seen traveling with them

Family affair: Trump's adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there+19

Family affair: Trump’s adult children — Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Tiffany — are also expected to be there

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews+19

Melania continued to smile at her husband as they switched planes at Joint Base Andrews

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together+19

See ya! Trump waved goodbye as they boarded the plane together

The president’s eldest son is a frequent presence at campaign events — with and without his father — and often serves as a warm-up act for the president’s supporters. He’s also campaigned and raised money for other Republican candidates since his father entered politics.

His girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, is also scheduled to be at the rally. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s reelection campaign.

Senior advisers and family members to the president Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also expected to be at the rally.

It’s unclear if Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, will be in Orlando. She serves as a senior adviser to the president’s campaign, but is also pregnant with the couple’s second child. She made a state trip to the UK in early June.

It will be 13-year-old Barron Trump’s first appearance at a campaign rally since his father took office.

Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany, who has been less involved than her older siblings in her father’s campaigns and administration, will also be there.

Orlando Trump supporters stakeout spots ahead of rally

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign+19

Waiting for him: The rally will mark the official launch of 2020 campaign

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday+19

Patience: Supporters waited in line hours before the arena doors opened on Tuesday

Patriotic colors: Trump supporters came in red white and blue for the campaign kick-off

Wild: The Republican incumbent set the tone in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour

President Trump release his 2020 campaign ad for re-election

The Republican incumbent set the tone for the monster rally in Florida he’d be appearing at this evening in a morning tweet that bashed the media and compared the scene outside the Amway Center to a rock tour.

‘The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high. Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!’ he said.

Trump had apparently dropped a claim that ‘thousands’ turned up on Monday, with about 250 people camping overnight. But the numbers grew steadily as temperatures soared in Orlando Tuesday, reaching 87 degrees before an hour-long downpour that soaked a waiting crowd.

A new Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing Florida to Democratic nemesis Joe Biden. The former vice president would beat Trump by nine points, 50 – 41 per cent, the newly-released survey showed.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would win by a similar margin, 48 – 42, while other top Democrats would perform in the poll’s margin of error

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7155853/Melania-Trump-smiles-warmly-husband-depart-Orlando-campaign-kickoff-rally.html

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1254, May 9, 2019, Story 1: North Korea Launches Short-Range Missile — Linkages — Trump Imposes 25% Tariff on All Communist China Exports to United States — Videos — Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Terrorist Attack on U.S. Bases — CIA Meeting — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Says Former Secretary of State John Kerry Should Be Prosecuted Under The Logan Act — Long Overdue — Videos — Story 4: No Constitutional Crisis — A Failure To Prosecute In Timely Manner The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy — Videos

Posted on May 11, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, China, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Coal, Congress, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Eating, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Energy, Environment, European History, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Islamic Republic of Iran, James Comey, Killing, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Middle East, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, MIssiles, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Qatar, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Robert S. Mueller III, Russia, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Trade Policy, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: North Korea Launches Short-Range Missile — Communist Chinese Linkages — Trump Imposes 25% Tariff on All Communist China Exports to United States — Videos

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North Korea Launches New Missiles

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security WriterMay 9, 2019, at 9:39 a.m.

The short-range missile launch is the second this week and further strains U.S.-led efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula

 

 

The Associated Press

A North Korean rocket takes off during a missile test on Saturday. North Korea launched two short-range missiles in a separate missile test on Thursday.THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORTH KOREA ON THURSDAY launched two short-range missiles, marking the second weapons test in less than a week and further straining U.S.-led efforts toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean joint chiefs of staff announced the launch in a statement, saying the missiles were fired from the northwest city of Kusong and traveled roughly 260 miles to the east. American negotiators are currently in South Korea for discussions on how to break the impasse following two high-level summits between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that failed to secure any lasting changes.

The launch comes less than a week after North Korea fired several short-range missiles on Saturday, the first such weapons test since November 2017. Trump has previously cited North Korea’s lull in missile and nuclear tests as evidence that his outreach to the Hermit Kingdom was proving successful.

North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday defended Saturday’s launch as a “routine and self-defensive military drill.” A spokesman said the test was “nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of [the] situation in the region.” In a separate statement, North Korean state media reported that the missiles did not threaten the U.S., South Korea or Japan and dropped into North Korean-controlled waters.

Analysts say the missile trajectory and the distance it traveled were not indicative of ballistic weapons.

The North Korean statement condemned the continuation of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the region, which Kim has repeatedly condemned as provocative “war games.”

Neither the White House nor Trump immediately commented on the launch on Thursday. The president tweeted shortly after the Saturday launch that he believes Kim “realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it,” adding “he also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me.”

The launch likely challenges the patience of Washington and Seoul at a contentious time as the two powers struggle to determine how to proceed in denuclearization talks while North Korea seeks to increase its leverage.

Cartoons on North Korea

Kim traveled to eastern Russia last month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss how the two countries could cooperate, representing their first face-to-face meeting and a North Korean leader’s first trip to the country in almost a decade.

Kim and Trump’s meeting in Vietnam in February – their second – ended at an impasse over American insistence that North Korea agree to denuclearize and Pyongyang’s demands that the U.S. provide sanctions relief first.

Earlier this week the Pentagon announced it had ceased efforts to recover the remains of American war dead, citing an inability to contact their North Korean counterparts. That arrangement had been one of the most highly touted results of Trump’s meetings with Kim.

In a phone call on Tuesday following Saturday’s launch, Trump reportedly encouraged South Korean President Moon Jae-in to continue providing food aid to the North – a crisis both South Korea and the United States say Pyongyang has manufactured – saying it is “timely and will be a positive move,” according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The White House readout of that call did not include the detail. As of Thursday morning, those shipments were still set to proceed.

The recent launches come at a particularly awkward time for Moon, who has made peace on the peninsula a cornerstone of his administration. On Tuesday, he touted his administration’s achievements in an op-ed published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writing that “the sounds of gunfire have disappeared in the air, on the sea and on the ground around the Korean Peninsula.”

And just hours before his defense ministry confirmed Thursday’s missile test, Moon’s official Twitter account posted a picture of his meeting with Kim as the two officials smiled, with the quotation, “peace has become a part of everyday life.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-05-09/north-korea-launches-new-missiles

U.S. seizes North Korean ship suspected of violating U.N. sanctions

The 17,000-ton freighter, called the Wise Honest, was stopped in Indonesia last year after it was found to be carrying coal.
Image: The North Korean ship, "Wise Honest."

The North Korean ship, “Wise Honest.”Department of Justice

The U.S. has seized a North Korean freighter that was caught shipping coal in violation of U.N. sanctions, the Justice Department revealed Thursday.

The 17,000-ton cargo ship, called the Wise Honest, was stopped in Indonesia last year after it was found to be carrying coal. The ship’s captain was charged with violating Indonesian law, and last July, the U.S. filed an action to seize the ship, according to court papers.

Federal prosecutors said the seizure marks the first time the U.S. has taken possession of a North Korean ship for violating international sanctions.

“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The North Korean ship, "Wise Honest."
The North Korean ship, “Wise Honest.”Department of Justice

The Wise Honest, North Korea’s second-largest ship for carrying bulk cargo, was on its way to American Samoa, U.S. officials said.

On Thursday, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to give the U.S. ownership of the vessel through a civil forfeiture action — the same thing prosecutors do when they seek to take ownership of planes or boats used by drug smugglers. The Justice Department says the U.S. is entitled to take this action because payments to maintain and equip the vessel were made through American banks.

“Our office uncovered North Korea’s scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest,” said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea’s capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion.”

The announcement of the seizure came just hours after North Korea launched suspected short-range missiles — the second such weapons test in a week. But Berman said the effort to take control of the Wise Honest had been in the works for some time and was not spurred by North Korea’s overnight actions.

The Justice Department said the Korea Songi Shipping Company used the Wise Honest from at least November 2016 through April 2018 — and broke American law by paying U.S. dollars to “unwitting” banks for several improvements, equipment purchases and service expenditures for the vessel.

The March 2018 cargo shipment yielded payments totaling more than $750,000, the Justice Department said.

Berman declined comment when asked if the heavy machinery shipped back to North Korea was used in the country’s weapons program.

The seizure follows a report in March by a U.N. panel of experts that found North Korea is successfully evading United Nations sanctions through elaborate smuggling and deceptive tactics, allowing the regime to import oil and ship coal to China and other countries.

The sanctions are designed to deprive Pyongyang of cash for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and force the regime to abandon its arsenal. The Trump administration has led international efforts to tighten sanctions against North Korea, vowing to impose “maximum pressure” to persuade North Korea agree to relinquish its weapons in return for an end to sanctions.

“These violations render the latest United Nations sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on the import of petroleum products and coal oil” by North Korea imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 2017, according to the U.N. report. “These transfers have increased in scope, scale and sophistication,” it said.

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Despite U.S. warnings to keep up the economic pressure on North Korea, the regime has not suffered a spike in fuel prices in recent months, a sign that analysts say shows the country is able to secure enough fuel to keep its economy afloat.

North Korea has adapted to sanctions over the years and now employs increasingly sophisticated methods, the U.N. panel found in its March report. Pyongyang used to alter sections of shipping documents but now creates entirely fake registration and other papers that enable it to smuggle illicit cargo through ports around the world.

The regime also steals the identities of other ships and spoofs the location of vessels on the global electronic tracking system for ships, according to the U.N. panel.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/u-s-seeks-seize-north-korean-ship-suspected-violating-u-n1003811

Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Terrorist Attack on U.S. Bases — CIA Meeting — Videos

John Bolton Holds ‘Highly Unusual’ Meeting At CIA | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Trump’s top intelligence and military advisers held unusual meeting at CIA on Iran, officials say

Current and former officials said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters.
Image: National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks to reporters at the White House on May 1, 2019.

National security adviser John Bolton, outside the White House last week, has long advocated for regime change in Iran.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Story 3: President Trump Says Former Secretary of State John Kerry Should Be Prosecuted Under The Logan Act — Long Overdue — Videos

Keane: John Kerry is undermining Trump’s foreign policy

Gutfeld: Did John Kerry violate the Logan Act?

John Kerry Hits Back at Trump Call for Logan Act Prosecution: ‘Simply Wrong, End of Story’

 

Trump says John Kerry ‘should be prosecuted’ for Iran contacts

President Trump on Thursday accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of breaking the law by meeting with Iranian officials last year — and went so far as to say he should be prosecuted under the Logan Act.

“You know John Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

TRUMP AND KERRY TRADE BARBS OVER EX-SECRETARY OF STATE’S MEETINGS WITH IRANIAN REGIME

“But my people don’t want to do anything, only the Democrats do that kind of stuff. If it were the opposite way, they’d prosecute him under the Logan Act,” he said.

Trump appears to be partially referring to a reported meeting between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the beginning of 2018, part of what the Boston Globecalled “an aggressive yet stealthy” mission to put pressure on the Trump administration to keep the Iran nuclear deal.

Such a push was unsuccessful as Trump would announce the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) just a few months later.

But Trump has repeatedly accused Kerry of being in violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the U.S. government without authorization. No one has ever been successfully prosecuted under the law, however.

In September, Kerry acknowledged meeting with Zarif “three or four times” since leaving office, admitting to discussing the scrapped nuclear deal, among other issues.

CLINTON SLAMS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ‘MAXIMUM PRESSURE’ CAMPAIGN 

“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” Kerry said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

On Thursday, Trump indicated he believes the contact between Kerry and Tehran to be ongoing, accusing Kerry of having “many meetings and many phone calls and he’s telling them what to do — that is a total violation of the Logan Act.”

A spokesman for Kerry pushed back on Trump’s remarks, calling them “simply wrong, end of story.”

“He’s wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and sadly he’s been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe. Secretary Kerry helped negotiate a nuclear agreement that worked to solve an intractable problem,” the spokesman said.

“The world supported it then and supports it still. We’d hope the President would focus on solving foreign policy problems for America instead of attacking his predecessors for theater.”

Trump’s remarks came as the administration imposed sanctions on Tehran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors this week, the latest pressure the administration is putting on Iran’s already fragile economy.

Iran, meanwhile, announced that it will keep excess uranium instead of selling it as required by the nuclear deal. It also issued an ultimatum to Europe that it will enrich its stockpile in 60 days unless new terms to the deal are negotiated.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-kerry-prosecuted-iran

Story 4: No Constitutional Crisis — A Failure To Prosecute In Timely Manner The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy — Videos

Gaetz: I don’t think Democrats know what ‘crisis’ means

Nancy Pelosi Declares Donald Trump Has ‘Triggered A Constitutional Crisis’ | Hallie Jackson | MSNBC

Jerrold Nadler On Holding Barr In Contempt: We Are In A ‘Constitutional Crisis’ | Deadline | MSNBC

Rep. Al Green Declares Constitutional Crisis Requiring Impeachment

What’s a real constitutional crisis?

Pelosi agrees US faces constitutional crisis

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she agreed with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler‘s (D-N.Y.) assertion that the U.S. is currently facing a “constitutional crisis” after the panel voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

“Yes, I do agree with Chairman Nadler,” Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol, “because the administration has decided that they’re not going to honor their oath of office.”

Yet Pelosi said even a constitutional crisis is not grounds to launch impeachment hearings against the president before Nadler and the heads of the other investigative committees are able to gather more evidence — and convince more voters — that such a step is necessary.

“This is very methodical, it’s very Constitution-based, it’s very law-based, it’s very factually based,” she said. “It’s not about pressure, it’s about patriotism.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after the Judiciary Committee voted along strict party lines to hold Barr in contempt for his refusal to comply with the panel’s subpoenas seeking an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it,” Nadler told reporters after the vote.

“Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government,” he added. “We must resist this.”

Pelosi declined to say when the full House will vote on the contempt measure, suggesting Democrats are eyeing similar contempt resolutions targeting other administrative officials and packaging them all together before bringing it to the floor. She did not name names.

“In terms of timing, when we’re ready, we’ll come to the floor. And we’ll just see, because there might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we want to deal with at the same time,” Pelosi said.

“[Nadler] wants to do it as soon as possible, and so do we.”

The contempt resolution against Barr will have no immediate practical effect, as the Justice Department is highly unlikely to take action against the attorney general. But it escalates the already heightened tensions between the Democratically led House, which is seeking to delve deeper into Mueller’s findings, and a White House and Republicans in Congress fighting to put a lid on the years-long investigation.

The release of Mueller’s report has fueled a small but vocal group of liberals on and off of Capitol Hill clamoring to impeach Trump. Pelosi has consistently tamped down that effort, citing the lack of public support. On Thursday, she amplified that message, noting that the ouster of President Nixon took months of investigations to bring voters on board.

“Impeachment is one of the most divisive things that you can do, dividing a country,” she said. “Unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people.”

But Pelosi has also adopted a new framing for the debate in recent days, arguing that Trump, by stonewalling Congress’s oversight efforts, is building the case for “self-impeachment.”

“As I said yesterday, the president is almost self-impeaching because he is, everyday, demonstrating more obstruction of justice, and disrespect for Congress’s legitimate role to subpoena,” Pelosi said. But for the impeachment advocates, she delivered a warning.

“We won’t go any faster than the facts take us, or any slower than the facts take us,” she said.

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/442889-pelosi-i-do-agree-we-are-in-a-constitutional-crisis

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1183, December 6, 2018, Story 1: The Smoking Gun Email Chain of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Videos — Story 2: Time Running Out For $25 Billion of Federal Funding of Wall — Trump Should Not Sign Any Bills Without Inclusion of Wall Funding of $25 Billion — Shut Government Down — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions — Videos — Story 4: United States Net Oil Exporter — First Time Since 1949 — Videos

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Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy

See the source imageSee the source image

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See the source image

Story 1: The Smoking Gun Email Chain of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Videos —

Sean Hannity 12/6/18 – Hannity Fox News December 6, 2018

Sean Hannity Fox News 12/6/18 Breaking Fox News December 6, 2018

Hannity 12/06/18 1AM | December 06, 2018 Breaking News

FBI email chain may provide most damning evidence of FISA abuses yet

12/5/2018

By John Solomon
Opinion Contributor

Just before Thanksgiving, House Republicans amended the list of documents they’d like President Trump to declassify in the Russia investigation. With little fanfare or explanation, the lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), added a string of emails between the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to their wish list.

Sources tell me the targeted documents may provide the most damning evidence to date of potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), evidence that has been kept from the majority of members of Congress for more than two years.

The email exchanges included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division, and they occurred in early to mid-October, before the FBI successfully secured a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured.

The FBI fired Steele on Nov. 1, 2016 — two weeks after securing the warrant — on the grounds that he had unauthorized contacts with the news media.

But the FBI withheld from the American public and Congress, until months later, that Steele had been paid to find his dirt on Trump by a firm doing political opposition research for the Democratic Party and for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that Steele himself harbored hatred for Trump.

If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.

That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent.

We now know the FBI used an article from Yahoo News as independent corroboration for the Steele dossier when, in fact, Steele had talked to the news outlet.

If the FBI knew Steele had that media contact before it submitted the article, it likely would be guilty of circular intelligence reporting, a forbidden tactic in which two pieces of evidence are portrayed as independent corroboration when, in fact, they originated from the same source.

These issues are why the FBI email chain, kept from most members of Congress for the past two years, suddenly landed on the declassification list.

The addition to the list also comes at a sensitive time, as House Republicans prepare on Friday to question Comey, who signed off on the FISA warrant while remaining an outlier in the intelligence community about the Steele dossier.

Most intelligence officials, such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have embraced the concerns laid out in the Steele dossier of possible — but still unproven — collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yet, 10 months after the probe started and a month after Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia probe, Comey cast doubt on the the Steele dossier, calling it “unverified” and “salacious” in sworn testimony before Congress.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page further corroborated Comey’s concerns in recent testimony before House lawmakers, revealing that the FBI had not corroborated the collusion charges by May 2017, despite nine months of exhaustive counterintelligence investigation.

Lawmakers now want to question Comey about whether the information in the October email string contributed to the former FBI director’s assessment.

The question long has lingered about when the doubts inside the FBI first surfaced about the allegations in the Steele dossier.

Sources tell me the email chain provides the most direct evidence that the bureau, and possibly the DOJ, had reasons to doubt the Steele dossier before the FISA warrant was secured.

Sources say the specifics of the email chain remain classified, but its general sentiments about the Steele dossier and the media contacts have been discussed in nonclassified settings.

“If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled,” one knowledgeable source told me.

Congressional investigators also have growing evidence that some evidence inserted into the fourth and final application for the FISA — a document signed by current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — was suspect.

Nunes hinted as much himself in comments he made on Sean Hannity’s Fox News TV show on Nov. 20, when he disclosed the FBI email string was added to the declassification request. The release of the documents will “give finality to everyone who wants to know what their government did to a political campaign” and verify that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia during the election, Nunes said.

As more of the secret evidence used to justify the Russia probe becomes public, an increasingly dark portrait of the FBI’s conduct emerges.

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI’s own document shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to “stop” the Republican from becoming president.

If ever there were grounds to investigate the investigators, these facts provide the justification.

Director Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein likely hold the answers, as do the still-classified documents. It’s time all three be put under a public microscope.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/419901-fbi-email-chain-may-provide-most-damning-evidence-of-fisa-abuses-yet

 

FBI Knew Steele Dossier Was Bogus Before Using In FISA Application: Solomon

A string of emails quietly requested by House Republicans for declassification by President Trump may be the smoking gun that the FBI and DOJ committed egregious abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), according to The Hill‘s John Solomon.

The email exchanges – kept from Congressional investigators for over two years, “included then-FBI Director James Comey, key FBI investigators in the Russia probe and lawyers in the DOJ’s national security division,” according to the report – and took place in early to mid-October of 2016, prior to the FBI successfully securing a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The email exchanges show the FBI was aware — before it secured the now-infamous warrant — that there were intelligence community concerns about the reliability of the main evidence used to support it: the Christopher Steele dossier.

The exchanges also indicate FBI officials were aware that Steele, the former MI6 British intelligence operative then working as a confidential human source for the bureau, had contacts with news media reporters before the FISA warrant was secured. –The Hill

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Two weeks after the FBI secured the FISA warrant using the Steele Dossier, Steele was fired by the FBI on November 1, 2016 for inappropriate communications with the news media.

Also withheld from both Congress and the general public until months later is the fact that Steele had been paid by Fusion GPS – an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton and the DNC to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Moreover, Steele absolutely hated Donald Trump.

And as Solomon notes; “If the FBI knew of his media contacts and the concerns about the reliability of his dossier before seeking the warrant, it would constitute a serious breach of FISA regulations and the trust that the FISA court places in the FBI.”

That’s because the FBI has an obligation to certify to the court before it approves FISA warrants that its evidence is verified, and to alert the judges to any flaws in its evidence or information that suggest the target might be innocent. –The Hill

The FBI, however, went to extreme lengths to convince the FISA judge that Steele (“Source #1”), was reliable when they could not verify the unsubstantiated claims in his dossier – while also having to explain why they still trusted his information after having terminated Steele’s contract over inappropriate disclosures he made to the media.

“Not withstanding Source1’s reason for conducting the research into Candidate1’s ties to Russia, based on Source1’s previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby Source1 provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes Source 1s reporting herein to be credible

Chuck Ross@ChuckRossDC

On top of that, Bill Priestap told Congress that corroboration of the dossier was in its “infancy” when FISAs were being granted. An FBI unit found dossier was only “minimally” corroborated.

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Of course, none of this mattered to the FBI – which painted Carter Page in the most criminal light possible, as intended, in order to convince the FISA judge to grant the warrant.In order to reinforce their argument, the FBI presented various claims from the dossier as facts, such as “The FBI learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials” – when in fact that was simply another unverified claim from the dossier.

It flat out accuses Page of being a Russian spy who was recruited by the Kremlin, which sought to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law,” the application reads.

Paul Sperry@paulsperry_

ALERT: The declassified FBI warrant application attests to secret FISA court that “THE FBI LEARNED that Page met with at least two Russian officials during the trip,”as if FBI learned this independently,when in fact it’s clear it relied on Clinton-paid dossier for the information

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Chuck Ross@ChuckRossDC

FBI represented to a federal judge that investigators knew for certain that Carter Page met w/ Igor Sechin and Diveykin. Except, the FISA app acknowledges this intel came from Steele dossier. And FBI has acknowledged dossier was not verifieid. http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/21/doj-release-carter-page-fisa/ 

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Another approach used to beef up the FISA application’s curb appeal was circular evidence, via the inclusion of a letter from Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to former FBI Director James Comey, citing information Reid got from John Brennan, which was in turn from the Clinton-funded dossier.

Meanwhile – current and former members of the US intelligence community continue to hinge their theories of Trump-Russia collusion on the Steele Dossier, despite Comey admitting that it was “salacious” and “unverified” during sworn testimony.

Most intelligence officials, such as former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have embraced the concerns laid out in the Steele dossier of possible — but still unproven — collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Yet, 10 months after the probe started and a month after Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia probe, Comey cast doubt on the the Steele dossier, calling it “unverified” and “salacious” in sworn testimony before Congress.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page further corroborated Comey’s concerns in recent testimony before House lawmakers, revealing that the FBI had not corroborated the collusion charges by May 2017, despite nine months of exhaustive counterintelligence investigation. –The Hill

Congressional investigators now want to question Comey about the October email string and whether it contributed to his assessment. According to Solomon, the newly requested email chain “provides the most direct evidence that the bureau, and possibly the DOJ, had reasons to doubt the Steele dossier before the FISA warrant was secured.”

“If these documents are released, the American public will have clear and convincing evidence to see the FISA warrant that escalated the Russia probe just before Election Day was flawed and the judges [were] misled,” one source told Solomon.

What’s more, House GOP investigators now have a growing pile of evidence that some of the information inserted into a fourth and final application for the FISA – signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was suspect – as evidence by hints by House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Fox News‘s Sean Hannity TV show November 20. Nunes said that the declassification of the requested documents will “give finality to everyone who wants to know what their government did to a political campaign.”

As Solomon bluntly puts it:

The bureau, under a Democratic-controlled Justice Department, sought a warrant to spy on the duly nominated GOP candidate for president in the final weeks of the 2016 election, based on evidence that was generated under a contract paid by his political opponent.

That evidence, the Steele dossier, was not fully vetted by the bureau and was deemed unverified months after the warrant was issued.

At least one news article was used in the FISA warrant to bolster the dossier as independent corroboration when, it fact, it was traced to a news organization that had been in contact with Steele, creating a high likelihood it was circular intelligence reporting.

And the entire warrant, the FBI’s own document shows, was being rushed to approval by two agents who hated Trump and stated in their own texts that they wanted to “stop” the Republican from becoming president.

No wonder Comey wanted a public testimony – where he wouldn’t have to discuss any of this.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-06/fbi-knew-steele-dossier-was-bogus-using-fisa-application-solomon

Obama Political Spying Scandal: Trump Associates Were Not the First Targets

(Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)

This list includes Dennis Kucinich and investigative journalists.In 2011, Dennis Kucinich was still a Democratic congressman from Ohio. But he was not walking in lockstep with President Obama — at least not on Libya. True to his anti-war leanings, Kucinich was a staunch opponent of Obama’s unauthorized war against the Qaddafi regime.

Kucinich’s very public efforts included trying to broker negotiations between the administration and the Qaddafi regime, to whom the White House was turning a deaf ear. It was in that context that he took a call in his Washington office from Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the ruler’s son and confidant. Four years later, as he recalled in a recent opinion piece, Kucinich learned that the call had been recorded and leaked to the Washington Times.

To be sure, it is not a solid case. Kucinich is now a commentator at Fox News, on whose website he explains his side of the story, and on whose programming ardently pro-Trump contributors are a staple — including contributors who have been sympathetic to the new president’s claim that he was monitored by his predecessor. The gist of Kucinich’s piece is to “vouch for the fact that extracurricular surveillance does occur.” The express point is to counter the ridicule heaped on Trump’s claim that he personally was wiretapped at Trump Tower.

As we’ve repeatedly noted (see, e.g., herehere, and here), there is no known support for Trump’s narrow claim (made in a series of March 4 tweets). Yet, there is now overwhelming evidence that the Obama administration monitored Trump associates and campaign and transition officials. There were, moreover, leaks of classified information to the media — particularly in the case of Trump’s original national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose telephone communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. were unlawfully disclosed to the Washington Post.

The answer is no.

In an important analysis published by Tablet magazine, Lee Smith considers the likely abuse of foreign-intelligence-collection authority by the Obama administration in connection with negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The White House knew there would be vigorous Israeli opposition to the Iran deal — just as there was ardent American opposition to the highly objectionable pact. Notwithstanding that Israel is an important ally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., became surveillance targets — agents of a foreign power, treated no differently under the law than such operatives of hostile foreign powers. Fair enough — it is simply a fact that allies occasionally spy on each other. Obviously, their interests sometimes diverge.

But there was something different about this monitoring initiative. It was not targeted merely at Israeli officials plotting their opposition strategy. The Wall Street Journal, Smith notes, reported in late December 2015 that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of [the Israeli officials’] private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism — activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And — with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access — terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

Do you really think the Obama administration, which turned the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department into process cudgels for beating Obama detractors, would be above that sort of thing?

At her website, Sharyl Attkisson provides a very useful “Obama-era Surveillance Timeline” — with “surveillance” broadly construed to encompass many varieties of government power to collect and coerce the production of information. Attkisson notes, for example:

‐The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, a politicized initiative that stymied the groups’ ability to contest Obama’s reelection in 2012.

‐The administration’s targeting of journalists, including (a) attorney general Eric Holder’s approval of the seizure of personal and business phone records of Associated Press reporters en masse (i.e., not a particularized search targeting a specific journalist suspected of wrongdoing); and (b) Holder’s approval of a warrant targeting the e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a leak investigation — based on an application in which the government represented to a federal court that the journalist could be guilty of a felony violation of the Espionage Act in connection with a leak of classified information (in addition to purportedly being a “flight risk”).

‐The administration’s 2011 loosening of minimization procedures to enable more-liberal scrutiny of communications of American citizens incidentally swept up in foreign-intelligence gathering

‐The CIA’s accessing of Senate Intelligence Committee computers and staff e-mails — which CIA director John Brennan initially denied, then apologized for after it was confirmed by an inspector-general report.

‐The investigation of Trump associate Carter Page, including a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant based on the claim that Page was a Russian agent, which would have authorized monitoring of Page’s communications — including any with Trump, then the Republican nominee for president.

‐The criminal leaking to the media of former Trump national-security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

‐The “unmasking” of identities of Americans (connected to Trump) at the behest of Obama national-security adviser Susan Rice, a White House staffer and Obama confidant.

Ms. Attkisson also has her own story to tell. Formerly at CBS News, she was one of the few journalists at mainstream outlets who aggressively reported on the Fast and Furious scandal and the Benghazi massacre. In the latter, we recall, Rice and other Obama officials falsely told the public that the attack, which resulted in the killing of four Americans including the U.S. ambassador, grew out of spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim video (rather than being a coordinated jihadist strike). The Obama administration later used its criminal-prosecution authority to trump up a case against its chosen scapegoat: the video producer.

Attkisson’s reporting prompted internal administration complaints that she was “out of control.”

As a tale of political spying intrigue, Dennis Kucinich’s story would not be worth telling. But can it so easily be dismissed after the spying on American critics of the Iran deal?

Based on examinations by two forensic experts, Attkisson and CBS eventually reported that her personal and work computers were “accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions.” Was this “unknown party” the government? The experts say it was a highly advanced intruder, which “used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity.” Moreover, one computer was infiltrated remotely by the use of “new spy software proprietary to a federal agency.”

It is a good bet that the National Security Agency was monitoring the communications of Qaddafi’s son and other regime figures in 2011. If so, it is likely that then-congressman Kucinich was lawfully intercepted “incidentally.” It is also entirely possible, however, that the Libyans themselves were recording their conversations with prominent Americans and that the Kucinich–Qaddafi call was found after the regime fell.

The Washington Times reporters did not reveal to Kucinich how they had gotten the tape, but the paper’s related stories had referred to “secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.” Moreover, if the Obama administration had been behind a vindictive leak against Kucinich, one might have expected the leak to have happened in 2011, during Kucinich’s prominent opposition to the Libya war, rather than four years later, when the regime had long been toppled and Kucinich had retired from Congress.

On the other hand, Kucinich recounts that the recording is very clear on both ends (one might expect a Libyan recording would be distinctly clearer on the Libyan end). The Washington Timesalso does not seem the most natural destination for a secret disclosure from Libya. Furthermore, Kucinich explains, he made routine FOIA requests regarding information pertinent to him before leaving Congress in 2012. Although he did not learn of the recording until 2015, these FOIA requests would have covered his communication with Qaddafi, he adds. Kucinich says that some of the intelligence agencies have failed to respond.

On its own, Dennis Kucinich’s story would not be worth telling — not as a tale of political spying intrigue. But can it so easily be dismissed after the spying on American critics of the Iran deal? The measures taken to make “incidental” monitoring of Americans easier, its fruits far more widely disseminated and, inevitably, criminally leaked? The shocking abuse of IRS processes to collect information on, and procedurally persecute, Barack Obama’s political adversaries? Fast and Furious — the use of government police powers to create a political anti-gun narrative, then the contemptuous cover-up when it went horribly wrong, resulting in a Border Patrol officer’s death? The scandalous Benghazi cover-up — including a bogus prosecution of a pathetic video producer to help prop up the fraud? The monitoring of Trump associates and members of his campaign and transition staffs — the unmasking, the intentional wide dissemination of raw intelligence, the willful felony publication of classified information?

There is considerably more evidence that the Obama administration grossly abused its awesome intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement powers than that Russian meddling had a meaningful impact on the 2016 election. And these abuses of power certainly did not start with the targeting of Donald Trump’s campaign.

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

Editor’s Note: This piece has been emended since its initial posting.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/04/barack-obama-spying-journalists-dennis-kucinich-sharyl-attkisson-donald-trump-campaign-transition/

Could the President Spy on His Political Opponents?

Under the government’s current interpretation of the law, unfortunately, the answer is yes.

he controversy continues over President Trump’s Twitter storm accusing President Obama of wiretapping him. On Monday, members of Congress peppered FBI Director James Comey with questions about the claims, who once again dismissed them as lacking support. Even Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who originally defended Trump’s claims, has defected. “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” the congressman said last week at a news conference. None of these statements seem to have affected President Trump, however, who continues to stand by his accusations.

But regardless of whether these claims turn out to be completely false, which is all but certain now, they do raise a question that shouldn’t be casually dismissed: Could President Obama’s administration have surveiled his political opponents under its interpretation of the law? Could President Trump’s administration now do the same?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes. And that should make Republicans and Democrats nervous enough to work together to reform our surveillance laws.

Many have dismissed President Trump’s accusations as the unsubstantiated ramblings of a Twitter addict with little understanding of how our intelligence laws work. These may be fair criticisms—today the president cannot simply order the intelligence agencies to wiretap his domestic political opponents. But many of our surveillance authorities have been interpreted so broadly that they put vast amounts of Americans’ data easily within the president’s reach. Without significant reform, exploiting this immense pool of data may one day prove irresistible. Thus, whether President Trump’s accusations are true or not, the potential for White House officials to abuse our spying laws for political purposes is real.

It is important to remember that surveilling political opponents in the name of security is something of an American pastime. In the 1960s, the FBI targeted political activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., claiming they posed “national security” threats. Cesar Chavez, the prominent labor and civil-rights activist, was similarly tracked for years because of his supposed communist ties.

In response to many of these types of abuses, Congress created the Church Committee to investigate surveillance practices. The widespread crimes and abuse they uncovered led to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978. But recent disclosures demonstrate that the law did not go far enough. Moreover, passage of the Patriot Act in 2001 and other laws have undercut the protections in FISA, further opening the door to biased, unjustified, or politically motivated spying. There are jarringly few protections against these abuses.

The result: if the president wanted to surveil his critics, he could exploit at least three national security authorities.

Section 702 of FISA

Section 702 of FISA was passed at the request of the Bush administration and extended at the request of the Obama administration with bipartisan support. Now the Trump administration is reportedly pushing for reauthorization of this law when it is set to expire in 2017, with the nominee for the director of national intelligence calling it the “crown jewels” of the intelligence community. FBI Director Comey once again defended the controversial program.

While Section 702 was passed to protect against international terrorism, its tentacles reach much farther. Under the law, the government collects emails and phone calls—without a warrant—of nearly 100,000 foreign “targets.” These include their conversations with people in the United States. These targets can include journalists, human-rights workers, and other individuals who have no connection to terrorism or criminal activity, and whose only offense may be discussing information related to “foreign affairs”—a nebulous term.

Over 250 million internet communications alone are collected under Section 702 annually. While the government refuses to disclose how many Americans have been swept up in this dragnet, analysis of leaked documents suggests that at least half those communications contain information about a U.S. citizen or resident. If that’s accurate, the Trump administration will collect over 125 million internet communications that contain information about someone in the United States. Given that much of the data collected under Section 702 is stored for five years or longer, it means the government likely has access to hundreds of millions of stored emails and phone calls.

Once collected, the government asserts that they can mine this information to scrutinize the activities of Americans—opening the door to political abuse. For example, if the intelligence agencies under President Obama had wanted to search through Section 702 data for information about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on the argument that McConnell might possess information about “foreign affairs,” no technological barrier or explicit provision in Section 702 would have stopped them. Under current procedures, no court would have needed to approve this and Senator McConnell would not need to be notified that he had been the subject of such a search.

Under the government’s current interpretation of the law, this information could then be used as the basis for a criminal prosecution, criminal investigation, civil action, or additional surveillance.

Executive Order (EO) 12333

Under Executive Order 12333, the government engages in the bulk collection of communications and data—with no approval from a court or any other independent judicial body. This surveillance primarily takes place abroad. While the government is not supposed to target Americans under EO 12333, this spying likely results in the collection of information of millions of Americans. We know, for example, that the government reportedly relied on EO 12333 to steal data transmitted between certain Yahoo and Google data centers; to capture the content of all phone calls to, from, and within the Bahamas and other countries; and to collect millions of text messages from individuals around the world.

Under EO 12333, the government can target foreigners for “foreign intelligence” purposes, which, similar to Section 702, is a category so broad that it easily encompasses individuals who have no nexus to a national-security threat. As a result of recent NSA procedures, agencies across the federal government now have the right to request access to the raw information collected under EO 12333, which can contain the information of both Americans and foreigners.

While NSA officials have said there are procedures that limit the ability of the NSA to search through electronic surveillance captured under EO 12333 for information about Americans, those procedures are largely secret and can be modified purely at the discretion of the president. Moreover, the government has taken the position that information collected under the executive order can be used to prosecute Americans for certain ordinary domestic crimes—even though it was collected without a warrant.

In practice, this means that if the president decided to unilaterally change EO 12333 procedures to allow him to search for information for purposes unrelated to national security, he would have broad latitude to do so under the government’s current legal interpretations. In addition, it means that if the government stumbles across information related to these individuals in the trove of data they collect, they may assert the right to use it as the basis to prosecute or further investigate these individuals, without ever notifying them. This creates a bizarre incentive for any ill-intentioned president: the more information collected under EO 12333 in the name of security, the more information that can be mined for other purposes.

“Traditional” FISA

Although FISA was passed with the admirable goal of halting many of the surveillance abuses of the 1960s, this statutory scheme is not nearly as protective as a warrant. Specifically, unlike an ordinary warrant or wiretapping order, a traditional FISA order does not require the government to believe that its spying will produce evidence of a crime, and the secrecy surrounding the FISA court undermines effective oversight. For these reasons, the ACLU has long cautioned that FISA authorities are prone to abuse.

Under FISA, when the government seeks to conduct electronic surveillance, it must submit an application to the secret intelligence court demonstrating that there is probable cause that its individual target is a “foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” and it must identify the particular phone line or communications facility used by the target. The terms “foreign power or agent of a foreign power” are broadly defined. They include foreign government officials, foreign political organizations not substantially composed of U.S. citizens or green-card holders, and foreign individuals engaged in terrorism. While this authority is certainly narrower than EO 12333 or Section 702, it too leaves room for abuse.

For example, under traditional FISA, the government would have the authority to surveil virtually any foreign government official—including that official’s entirely legal conversations with individuals in the United States. These communications can be retained or disseminated under procedures that are more lenient than those that apply to federal wiretaps. For instance, in the wiretapping context, the government is supposed to immediately purge communications that are considered irrelevant. FISA, by contrast, permits retention, analysis, and dissemination of Americans’ information for years, regardless of whether there is any evidence of criminal activity.

The Potential for Abuse Is Real, No Matter What the Intel Community Says

The intelligence agencies would argue that these authorities do not permit the government to deliberately “target” Americans—at least not without a warrant—mitigating constitutional concerns. But that explanation only tells half the story. The reality is that these authorities are used to vacuum up large amounts of Americans’ data, do not prevent the government from knowingly capturing the communications that Americans have with tens of thousands of foreign “targets,” and, in some cases, routinely collect purely domestic communications. Moreover, once Americans’ information is collected, there are inadequate safeguards to ensure that such data is not inappropriately used.  

The fact that our intelligence-gathering laws leave room for politically motivated surveillance should give us pause. And it’s not enough for President Trump or members of Congress to simply express outrage that the private communications of political leaders could have been surveilled. With the expiration of Section 702 looming, they have the opportunity to push for a complete overhaul of our surveillance authorities, and ensure that they are brought fully in line with the requirements of our Constitution.  

In other words, President Trump should match his action to his tweets, and demand that Section 702 and other authorities be reformed.

Neema Singh Guliani is a legislative counsel at the ACLU focusing on surveillance, privacy, and national-security issues. Prior to the ACLU, she worked at the Department of Homeland Security and as an investigative counsel with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/could-the-president-spy-on-his-political-opponents/

Story 2: Time Running Out For Federal $25 Billion Funding Appropriation $25 Billion of for Trump’s  Wall — Videos

Pelosi takes hard line on paying for Trump’s border wall

an hour ago
Nancy Pelosi

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meets with reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday rejected the idea of paying for President Donald Trump’s border wall in exchange for helping hundreds of thousands of young immigrants avoid deportation.

Funding for the wall — a top Trump priority — and legal protections for so-called Dreamers, a key Democratic goal, should not be linked, Pelosi said.

“They’re two different subjects,” she said.

Her comments came as the House and Senate approved a stopgap bill Thursday to keep the government funded through Dec. 21. The measure, approved by voice votes in near-empty chambers, now goes to the White House.

Trump has promised to sign the two-week extension to allow for ceremonies this week honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30. But he wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for his proposed wall, something Democrats have rejected. Trump is set to meet Tuesday at the White House with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Pelosi, who is seeking to become House speaker in January, said the lame-duck Congress should now pass a half-dozen government funding bills that key committees have already agreed on, along with a separate measure funding the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border. Funding for the homeland agency should address border security and does not necessarily include a wall, Pelosi said.

Most Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive,” Pelosi said, noting that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it, an idea Mexican leaders have repeatedly rejected.

Even if Mexico did pay for the wall, “it’s immoral still,” Pelosi said.

Protecting borders “is a responsibility we honor, but we do so by honoring our values as well,” she added.

Schumer said Thursday that a bipartisan Senate plan for $1.6 billion in border security funding does not include money for the 30-foot-high (9-meter-high) concrete wall Trump has envisioned. The money “can only be used for fencing” and technology that experts say is appropriate and makes sense as a security feature, Schumer said.

If Republicans object to the proposal because of pressure from Trump, Schumer said lawmakers should follow Pelosi’s advice and approve six appropriations bills and a separate measure extending current funding for Homeland Security.

Either option would avert a partial government shutdown, which lawmakers from both parties oppose, he said.

“The one and only way we approach a shutdown is if President Trump refuses both of our proposals and demands $5 billion or more for a border wall,” Schumer said. He called the wall “a nonstarter” for Democrats, who face increasing pressure from outside groups and liberal lawmakers to resist Trump’s continued push for the barrier, which Trump says is needed to stop an “invasion” of Central American migrants and others from crossing into the country illegally.

Schumer called the spat over the wall unnecessary, noting that the administration has not spent more than $1 billion approved for border security in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. “The idea that they haven’t spent last year’s money and they’re demanding such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all,” he said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby said he prefers to include Homeland Security in an omnibus package containing seven unresolved spending bills for the current budget year.

“I believe the best route is to keep all seven together and pass them,” the Alabama Republican told reporters Thursday. Lawmakers have “made a lot of progress” in recent weeks on the seven spending bills. “I’d like to conclude it,’” he said.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Republican leadership, said the key question is whether Trump will sign a bill without funding for the wall.

“It doesn’t matter how much appetite there is for a shutdown anywhere else, if he is willing to have a shutdown over this issue,” Blunt said. “He has given every indication that he would.”

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Padmananda Rama contributed to this story.

https://apnews.com/e3fd315c66554c22bfdf97710e0df711

 

Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Bar as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who served under former President George H.W. Bush, is the leading candidate for the job as a permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The Washington Post reported earlier on Thursday that President Donald Trump could choose his nominee for attorney general in coming days, and that Trump had told advisers he plans to nominate Barr.

Sessions departed from the role last month, and Trump named Matthew Whitaker as the government’s top lawyer on an interim basis. With the current session of Congress set to soon end, anyone Trump nominates may have to wait until well into 2019 for confirmation.

Barr has worked in the private sector since serving as attorney general from 1991 to 1993, retiring from Verizon Communications (VZ.N) in 2008.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert, Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot

Story 3: President Trump Will Nominate Former U.S. Attorney General William Bar as Permanent Replacement for Former AG Jeff Sessions — Videos

Trump eyeing Bush 41 attorney general to replace Sessions

President Trump To Tap Former Attorney General William Barr To Head Justice Department

William P. Barr

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Bill Barr
William Barr, official photo as Attorney General.jpg
77th United States Attorney General
In office
November 26, 1991 – January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Dick Thornburgh
Succeeded by Janet Reno
25th United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
May 1990 – November 26, 1991
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Donald B. Ayer
Succeeded by George J. Terwilliger III
United States Assistant Attorney Generalfor the Office of Legal Counsel
In office
April 1989 – May 1990
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Douglas Kmiec
Succeeded by J. Michael Luttig
Personal details
Born
William Pelham Barr

May 23, 1950 (age 68)
New York CityNew York, U.S.

Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Christine Moynihan
Children 3
Education Columbia University (BAMA)
George Washington University(JD)

William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950) is an American attorney who served as the 77th Attorney General of the United States. He is a Republican and served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.

 

Early life, education, and career

Barr was born in New York City. The son of Columbia University faculty members Mary and Donald Barr, he grew up on the Upper West Side, attended the Corpus Christi School and Horace Mann School. He received his B.A. degree in government in 1971 and his M.A. degree in government and Chinese studies in 1973, both from Columbia University. He received his J.D. degree with highest honors in 1977 from the George Washington University Law School.[1]

Barr with President Ronald Reaganin 1983

From 1973-77, he was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Barr was a law clerk to Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1977 through 1978. He served on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House from 1982 to 1983. He was also in private practice for nine years with the Washington law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.[2]

Department of Justice

Barr and Dan Quayle watch as President George H. W. Bush signs the Civil Rights Commission Reauthorization Act in the Rose Garden of the White House in 1991

During 1989, at the beginning of his administration, President George H. W. Bush appointed Barr to the U.S. Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, an office which functions as the legal advisor for the President and executive agencies. Barr was known as a strong defender of Presidential power and wrote advisory opinions justifying the U.S. invasion of Panama and arrest of Manuel Noriega, and a controversial opinion that the F.B.I. could enter onto foreign soil without the consent of the host government to apprehend fugitives wanted by the United States government for terrorism or drug-trafficking.[3]

During May 1990, Barr was appointed Deputy Attorney General, the official responsible for day-to-day management of the Department. According to media reports, Barr was generally praised for his professional management of the Department.[4]

Acting Attorney General of the United States

During August 1991, when then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh resigned to campaign for the Senate, Barr was named Acting Attorney General.[5] Three days after Barr accepted that position, 121 Cuban inmates, awaiting deportation to Cuba as extremely violent criminals, seized 9 hostages at the Talladega federal prison. He directed the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to assault the prison, which resulted in rescuing all hostages without loss of life.[6]

Nomination and confirmation

It was reported that President Bush was impressed with Barr’s management of the hostage crisis, and weeks later, President Bush nominated him as Attorney General.[7]

Barr’s two-day confirmation hearing was “unusually placid” and he received a good reception from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.[8] Asked whether he thought a constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion, Barr responded that he believed the constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a “legitimate issue for state legislators”.[8] Committee Chairman, Senator Joe Biden, though disagreeing with Barr, responded that it was the “first candid answer” he had heard from a nominee on a question that witnesses would normally evade.[9] Barr was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Biden hailed Barr as “a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you.”[9]

Attorney General of the United States

Tenure

Analysis

The media described Barr as staunchly conservative.[10] The New York Times described the “central theme” of his tenure to be: “his contention that violent crime can be reduced only by expanding Federal and state prisons to jail habitual violent offenders.”[10] At the same time, reporters consistently described Barr as affable with a dry, self-deprecating wit.[11]

Subsequent career

After his tenure at the Department of Justice, Barr spent more than 14 years as a senior corporate executive. At the end of 2008 he retired from Verizon Communications, having served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of GTE Corporation from 1994 until that company merged with Bell Atlantic to become Verizon. During his corporate tenure, Barr directed a successful litigation campaign by the local telephone industry to achieve deregulation by scuttling a series of FCC rules, personally arguing several cases in the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court.[12] Barr currently serves with several corporate boards.[citation needed]

In his adopted home state of Virginia, Barr was appointed during 1994 by then-Governor George Allen to co-chair a commission to reform the criminal justice system and abolish parole in the state.[13] He served on the Board of Visitors of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg from 1997 to 2005.[14]

He became an independent director of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) in July 2009.

In 2009, Barr was of counsel to Kirkland & Ellis and joined the firm in 2017.[15]

On December 6, 2018, it was reported that President Donald Trump was considering Barr to be Attorney General.[16][17]

Policy positions

Immigration

As deputy attorney general, Barr successfully challenged a proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services to allow people with HIV/AIDS into the United States.[18] He also advocated the use of Guantanamo Bay to prevent Haitian refugees and HIV infected peoples from claiming asylum in the United States.[19]

Crime and security

Social issues

Barr has stated that he believed the constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a “legitimate issue for state legislators”.[8]

Health care reform

Energy and environment

Executive power

Personal life

Barr is an avid bagpiper, an avocation he began at age 8, and has played competitively in Scotland with a major American pipe band; he was a member for some time of the City of Washington Pipe Band.[20]

Barr is a Roman Catholic. He married Christine Moynihan in June 1973, and they have three grown daughters. He is a resident of Virginia.[citation needed]

References … 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_P._Barr

Story 4: United States Net Oil Exporter — First Time Since 1949 — Videos

See the source image

See the source image

OPEC set to curb oil supply? | DW News

The US Is Making Its Mark On The Global Oil Market, But How Long Will It Last?

Study: US Could Be a Net Energy Exporter

Analysts: OPEC Meeting in Vienna to Result in Less Production

The U.S. Just Became a Net Oil Exporter for the First Time in 75 Years

 Updated on 
  • Crude, refined products exports exceed imports in weekly data
  • Shale boom has boosted U.S. crude oil shipments to record
Oil Analyst Sankey Sees OPEC Cuts Stabilizing Market Short-Term
Paul Sankey, analyst at Mizuho, examines what production cuts from OPEC+ can mean to the global oil market.

America turned into a net oil exporter last week, breaking 75 years of continued dependence on foreign oil and marking a pivotal — even if likely brief — moment toward what U.S. President Donald Trump has branded as “energy independence.”

The shift to net exports is the dramatic result of an unprecedented boom in American oil production, with thousands of wells pumping from the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico to the Bakken in North Dakota to the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.

While the country has been heading in that direction for years, this week’s dramatic shift came as data showed a sharp drop in imports and a jump in exports to a record high. Given the volatility in weekly data, the U.S. will likely remain a small net importer most of the time.

“We are becoming the dominant energy power in the world,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “But, because the change is gradual over time, I don’t think it’s going to cause a huge revolution, but you do have to think that OPEC is going to have to take that into account when they think about cutting.”

The shale revolution has transformed oil wildcatters into billionaires and the U.S. into the world’s largest petroleum producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. The power of OPEC has been diminished, undercutting one of the major geopolitical forces of the last half century. The cartel and its allies are meeting in Vienna this week, trying to make a tough choice to cut output and support prices, risking the loss of more market share to the U.S.

American Oil Renaissance

U.S. net imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products

Sources: 1918-1948 courtesy of Michael Lynch and adapted from American Petroleum Institute’s ‘Petroleum Facts and Figures 1959’; for 1949-2017 U.S. EIA ‘Monthly Energy Review’. 2018 and 2019 are forecast from the EIA.

The U.S. sold overseas last week a net 211,000 barrels a day of crude and refined products such as gasoline and diesel, compared to net imports of about 3 million barrels a day on average so far in 2018, and an annual peak of more than 12 million barrels a day in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA said the U.S. has been a net oil importer in weekly data going back to 1991 and monthly data starting in 1973. Oil historians that have compiled even older annual data using statistics from the American Petroleum Institute said the country has been a net oil importer since 1949, when Harry Truman was at the White House.

On paper, the shift to net oil imports means that the U.S. is today energy independent, achieving a rhetorical aspiration for generations of American politicians, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush. Yet, it’s a paper tiger achievement: In reality, the U.S. remains exposed to global energy prices, still affected by the old geopolitics of the Middle East.

U.S. crude exports are poised to rise even further, with new pipelines from the Permian in the works and at least nine terminals planned that will be capable of loading supertankers. The only facility currently able to load the largest ships, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, is on pace to load more oil in December than it has in any other month.

The massive Permian may be even bigger than previously thought. The Delaware Basin, the less drilled part of the field, holds more than twice the amount of crude as its sister, the Midland Basin, the U.S. Geological Service said Thursday.

While the net balance shows the U.S. is selling more petroleum than buying, American refiners continue to buy millions of barrels each day of overseas crude and fuel. The U.S. imports more than 7 million barrels a day of crude from all over the globe to help feed its refineries, which consume more than 17 million barrels each day. In turn, the U.S. has become the world’s top fuel supplier.

“The U.S. is now a major player in the export market,” said Brian Kessens, who helps manage $16 billion at Tortoise in Leawood, Kansas. “We continue to re-tool our export infrastructure along the Gulf Coast to expand capacity, and you continue to see strong demand globally for crude oil.”

— With assistance by Jessica Summers

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-06/u-s-becomes-a-net-oil-exporter-for-the-first-time-in-75-years

 

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