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The Pronk Pops Show 1379, January 16, 2020, Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: President Trump Signs Phase One Trade Agreement With Communist China — Will It Be Fully Enforceable? — Time Will Tell — Videos — Story 2: President Trump’s  United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) Bill Passes Senate — On It Way For President Trump’s Signature  — Big Win For Trump and American People — Videos — Story 3: REDS (Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist) Show Trial In House is Over — An American Fair Trial Begins Next Tuesday in Senate — Acquittal of President Trump Expected In 30 Days or Less —  Videos — Story 4: Capitalism vs. Socialism or Trump vs. Sanders Not Lying Loser Warren — Capitalism and Trump Winners — Videos

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Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to ChinaSee the source image

See the source imageSee the source image

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Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: President Trump Signs Phase One Trade Agreement With Communist China — Will It Be Fully Enforceable? — Time Will Tell — Videos

Trump speaks before signing “Phase One” of China trade deal

Larry Kudlow breaks down the implications of the US-China trade deal

Trump signs phase one of US-China trade deal

Trump signs partial trade deal with China l ABC News

Mnuchin: US won’t lift China tariffs until phase two of trade deal

Jamie Dimon praises Trump economy, China trade deal in exclusive interview

US Trade Rep. Lighthizer on historic ‘phase-one’ China trade deal

Wilbur Ross: China trade deal, USMCA total $2 trillion in trade

 

Donald Trump signs ‘phase one’ of trade deal with China which ends escalation of his trade war—and complains about the ‘impeachment hoax’ at White House ceremony with Xi Jinping’s deputy looking on

  • Donald Trump took a victory lap as he signed a trade deal with China at the White House – as his impeachment sped ahead at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue
  • He touted his economy and launched attack after attack on his enemies at packed East Room ceremony, railing against the ‘impeachment hoax’
  • Trump has vowed that he would ink a trade deal with China for more than two years and imposed steep tariffs to bring Beijing to the table
  • Signing is for ‘phase one’ and the White House promises more segments in the future
  • Xi Jinping didn’t come for the signing but sent a lower-level official, vice-premier Liu He and Trump said he will go back to China soon to ‘reciprocate’
  • It’s unclear what he’s reciprocating for, since Xi didn’t come 
  • East Room press credentials didn’t have a date printed on them, suggesting the White House wasn’t confident the event would happen on schedule
  • President urged House members in the audience to leave early if they needed to cast a vote on sending impeachment articles to the Senate 

Donald Trump took a victory lap on Wednesday as he signed a trade deal with China at the White House as his impeachment sped towards the Senate on Capitol Hill.

He boasted to an audience of dignitaries that a new trade deal with China will bring ‘a future of fair and reciprocal trade,’ then complained about the ‘impeachment hoax,’ and praised a string of Republican senators who he needs to vote for his acquittal.

The president has long complained about a massive trade deficit between Washington and Beijing. He pledged during the 2016 campaign to come down hard on China.

‘We are righting the wrongs of the past,’ he said Wednesday, observing that ‘our negotiations were tough, honest, open and respectful.’

‘This is the biggest deal anyone’s ever seen,’ he said, because ‘China has 1.5 billion people.’

The president spent nearly a half-hour acknowledging business leaders and lawmakers who crowded into the East Room to watch. And he noted that some House members might have to leave early in order to vote on a motion to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

Some of the congressmen may have a vote—it’s on the impeachment hoax—so if you want, you go out and vote. … It’s not going to matter becausae it’s gone very well. But I’d rather have you voting than sitting here listening to me introduce you, okay?’ he said with a grin.

‘They have a hoax going on over there. Let’s take care of it.’

Trump was not accompanied by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent Vice Premier Liu He in his place. Xi’s absence left some with the impression that Washington wants the deal more than Beijing does.

Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to China

Done deal: Donald Trump and Liu He sign the phase one trade deal which calls a halt to escalations in the U.S.-China trade deal and is claimed to mean up to $50 billion in agricultural sales to China

Signed, sealed, delivered: China's vice-premier Liu He and Donald Trump show their signatures in the completed phase one trade deal

Signed, sealed, delivered: China’s vice-premier Liu He and Donald Trump show their signatures in the completed phase one trade deal

East room ceremony: Donald Trump hosted the Chinese vice-premier Liu He in the East Wing in front of an audience of Republican senators and Congressmen and figures from the American business world - almost all of whom he named

East room ceremony: Donald Trump hosted the Chinese vice-premier Liu He in the East Wing in front of an audience of Republican senators and Congressmen and figures from the American business world – almost all of whom he named

President Donald Trump stood alongside China's vice premier Liu He, not its president Xi Jinping, when he signed a landmark trade deal on Wednesday

President Donald Trump stood alongside China’s vice premier Liu He, not its president Xi Jinping, when he signed a landmark trade deal on Wednesday

Awkward exchange: Donald Trump moved to shake hands with China's vice-premier Liu He, who extended his left hand instead

Awkward exchange: Donald Trump moved to shake hands with China’s vice-premier Liu He, who extended his left hand instead

Unusual handshake: After Liu He extended his left hand, Donald Trump grasped two of his fingers in an attempt to shake his hand

The president announced that he will ‘be going back to China in the not-too-distant future to reciprocate,’ but it’s unclear what he would be reciprocating for.

Vice President Mike Pence said the deal would guarantee $40-50 billion in Chinese purchases of American agriculture products.

And Trump said China will stop forcing American companies to share proprietary technologies with Chinese partners. ‘You don’t have to give up anything anymore. Just be strong,’ he said to business leaders in the room.

The White House’s guests included top executives from UPS, Boeing, AIG, JP Morgan Chase, Mastercard, VISA, Citibank, Honeywell, Dow Chemical, eBay and Ford Motor Company; casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who aims to see markets opened to him in China; television commentator Lou Dobbs; and Trump’s ambassador in Beijing, Terry Branstad.

Second time lucky: After Liu He spoke through a translator, the two succeeded in shaking hands

Second time lucky: After Liu He spoke through a translator, the two succeeded in shaking hands

Trump acknowledged lawmakers and businessmen in the East Room including casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson

Trump acknowledged lawmakers and businessmen in the East Room including casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson

Chinese representative: President Xi Jinping sent vice-premier Liu He, who spoke through a translator (left)

Chinese representative: President Xi Jinping sent vice-premier Liu He, who spoke through a translator (left)

Packed: The East Room was fool for the invited audience of business leaders, White House aides and congressional Republicans

Packed: The East Room was fool for the invited audience of business leaders, White House aides and congressional Republicans

Everyone gets a mention: Chuck Grassley, the Iowa senator was asked to stand, while Trump claimed that Grassley had 'made [James] Comey choke like a dog'

Official delegation:Donald Trump is flanked by as Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer

First daughter: Ivanka Trump was followed into the East Room by Robert O'Brien, the National Security Advisor

Branstad, a longtime Iowa governor before coming to Washington, got the job because of his deep ties to global agriculture.

While Wall Street will carefully examine the fine print, the trade deal will allow businesses around the globe to breathe a sigh of relief.

After a nearly two-year battle, the signing could give Trump an election-year boost as well. Still, tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports remain in place, leaving many Americans to foot the bill.

Reporters covering the East Room event on Wednesday wore White House credentials with no date printed on them. That unusual feature suggests Trump’s trade negotiators weren’t certain whether the event would happen as scheduled.

Journalists shoot shoulder-to-shoulder, including a contingent of dozens from Chinese media outlets.

The ‘phase one’ agreement—which includes pledges from China to beef up purchases of American crops and other exports—also comes just as Trump faces an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, giving him a victory to trumpet at least in the short term.

As he is about the face an impeachment trial, President Donald Trump will be able to tout a trade deal with China

It's unclear which country will get the better end of the deal, but Trump has trumpeted every development that is favorable to the United States

It’s unclear which country will get the better end of the deal, but Trump has trumpeted every development that is favorable to the United States

China-US trade has diminished in both directions since Trump began venting about an imbalance of hundreds of billions of dollars wach year

The easing of US-China trade frictions has boosted stock markets worldwide in recent weeks, as it takes the threat of new tariffs off the table for now.

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump’s negotiating stance led to a ‘fully enforceable deal’ which could bring additional tariffs.

If China fails to abide by the agreement, ‘the president has the ability to put on additional tariffs,’ Mnuchin said on CNBC Wednesday as part of a media blitz promoting the new pact.

However, the most difficult issues remain to be dealt with in ‘phase two’ negotiations, including massive subsidies for state industry and forced technology transfer.

But Mnuchin said the deal puts pressure on Beijing to stay at the negotiating table and make further commitments, including on cyber-security and other services to win relief from the tariffs that remain in place.

‘In phase two there will be additional roll backs,’ Mnuchin said. ‘This gives China a big incentive to get back to the table and agree to the additional issues that are still unresolved.’

Still, elements of the deal the administration has touted as achievements effectively take the relationship between the two powers back to where it was before Trump took office.

The US-China phase-one deal is essentially a trade truce, with large state-directed purchases attached,’ economist Mary Lovely said in an analysis.

Even so, ‘The truce is good news for the U.S. and the world economy.’

Still, the trade expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, cautioned that ‘we will continue to see the impact of this in slower investment and higher business costs.’

U.S. officials have said they will release details of the agreement set to be signed at a White House ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

After announcing the deal December 13, the U.S. canceled a damaging round of new tariffs that were due to kick in two days later and promised to slash in half the 15 percent tariffs on $120 billion imposed September 1 on consumer goods like clothing.

Mnuchin dismissed a Bloomberg report that the initial agreement could include provisions to roll back more tariffs on China after the election.

‘The tariffs will stay in place until there is a phase two. If the president gets phase two quickly, he will consider releasing tariffs. If not, there won’t be any tariff relief,’ Mnuchin said Tuesday on Bloomberg TV.

‘It has nothing to do with the election or anything else.’

Washington said Beijing agreed to import, over two years, $200 billion of U.S. products above the levels in 2017, before Trump launched his offensive.

Trump has repeatedly touted the trade pact as a boon for American farmers, saying China will buy $40 to $50 billion in agricultural goods.

U.S. farmers were hit hard by the tariff war—notably on soybeans which saw exports to China plunge to just $3 billion from more than $12 billion in 2017. The Trump administration paid out $28 billion in aid to farmers in the last two years.

But many economists question whether they have the capacity to meet that demand.

And Lovely raised a question about the wisdom on relying so heavily on the Chinese market.

‘It also means Chinese retaliation could be reinstated, dampening farmers’ willingness to invest to meet the very hard export targets in the deal.’

U.S. and Chinese officials say the agreement includes protections for intellectual property and addresses financial services and foreign exchange while including a pr.ovision for dispute resolution, which Mnuchin said will be binding for the first time.

Trump in August formally accused China of manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in trade and offset the impact of the tariffs.

The label, which had no real practical impact, was removed earlier this week.

The deal also restores a twice-yearly dialogue process that previous administrations conducted regularly but that Trump scrapped.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7889301/US-China-set-sign-vital-trade-truce.html

 

U.S. and China tiptoe around holes in new trade agreement

by Reuters
Thursday, 16 January 2020 00:46 GMT

By Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The United States and China signed an initial trade deal on Wednesday that will roll back some tariffs and boost Chinese purchases of U.S. products, defusing an 18-month row between the world’s two largest economies but leaving a number of sore spots unresolved.

Beijing and Washington touted the “Phase 1” agreement as a step forward after months of start-and-stop talks, and investors greeted the news with relief. Even so, there was skepticism the U.S.-China trade relationship was now firmly on the mend.

The deal fails to address structural economic issues that led to the trade conflict, does not fully eliminate the tariffs that have slowed the global economy, and sets hard-to-achieve purchase targets, analysts and industry leaders said.

While acknowledging the need for further negotiations with China to solve a host of other problems, President Donald Trump hailed the agreement as a win for the U.S. economy and his administration’s trade policies.

“Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families,” Trump said in rambling remarks at the White House alongside U.S. and Chinese officials.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He read a letter from President Xi Jinping in which the Chinese leader praised the deal as a sign the two countries could resolve their differences with dialogue.

The centerpiece of the deal is a pledge by China to purchase at least an additional $200 billion worth of U.S. farm products and other goods and services over two years, above a baseline of $186 billion in purchases in 2017, the White House said.

Commitments include $54 billion in additional energy purchases, $78 billion in additional manufacturing purchases, $32 billion more in farm products, and $38 billion in services, according to a deal document released by the White House.

Liu said Chinese companies would buy $40 billion in U.S. agricultural products annually over the next two years “based on market conditions.” Beijing had balked at committing to buy set amounts of U.S. farm goods earlier, and has inked new soybean contracts with Brazil since the trade war started.

Key world stock market indexes climbed to record highs on hopes the deal would reduce tensions, before closing below those highs, while oil prices slid on doubts the pact will spur world economic growth and boost crude demand.

Soybean futures, which traded 0.4% lower throughout much of the deal signing ceremony, sank even further after Liu’s remarks, a sign that farmers and traders were dubious about the purchase goals.

The deal does not end retaliatory tariffs on American farm exports, makes farmers “increasingly reliant” on Chinese state-controlled purchases, and does not address “big structural changes,” Michelle Erickson-Jones, a wheat farmer and spokeswoman for Farmers for Free Trade, said in a statement.

Trump and his economic advisers had pledged to attack Beijing’s long-standing practice of propping up state-owned companies and flooding international markets with low-priced goods as the trade war heated up.

Although the deal could be a boost to U.S. farmers, automakers and heavy equipment manufacturers, some analysts question https://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL4N29J26S China’s ability to divert imports from other trading partners to the United States.

“I find a radical shift in Chinese spending unlikely. I have low expectations for meeting stated goals,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group in Minneapolis. “But I do think the whole negotiation has moved the football forward for both the U.S. and China.”

Trump, who has embraced an “America First” policy aimed at rebalancing global trade in favor of U.S. companies and workers, said China had pledged action to confront the problem of pirated or counterfeited goods and said the deal included strong protection of intellectual property rights.

U.S. Speaker of the House of Representative Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s China strategy had “inflicted deep, long-term damage to American agriculture and rattled our economy in exchange for more of the promises that Beijing has been breaking for years,” in a statement.

Earlier, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News the agreement would add 0.5 percentage point to U.S. gross domestic product growth in both 2020 and 2021.

Aviation industry sources said Boeing Co was expected to win a major order for wide-body jets from China, including its 787 or 777-9 models, or a mixture of both. Such a deal could ease pressure on the 787 Dreamliner, which has suffered from a broad downturn in demand for large jets, forcing the planemaker to trim production late last year.

CCTV, China’s state-run television outlet, said the deal would satisfy China’s increasingly demanding consumers by supplying products like dairy, poultry, beef, pork, and processed meat from the United States.

TARIFFS TO STAY

The Phase 1 deal, reached in December, canceled planned U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made cellphones, toys and laptop computers and halved the tariff rate to 7.5% on about $120 billion worth of other Chinese goods, including flat-panel televisions, Bluetooth headphones and footwear.

But it will leave in place 25% tariffs on a $250-billion array of Chinese industrial goods and components used by U.S. manufacturers, and China’s retaliatory tariffs on over $100 billion in U.S. goods.

Market turmoil and reduced investment tied to the trade war cut global growth in 2019 to its lowest rate since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said in October.

Tariffs on Chinese imports have cost U.S. companies $46 billion. Evidence is mounting that tariffs have raised input costs for U.S. manufacturers, eroding their competitiveness.

Diesel engine maker Cummins Inc said on Tuesday the deal will leave it paying $150 million in tariffs for engines and castings that it produces in China. It urged the parties to take steps to eliminate all the tariffs.

Trump, who has been touting the Phase 1 deal as a pillar of his 2020 re-election campaign, said he would agree to remove the remaining tariffs once the two sides had negotiated a “Phase 2” agreement.

“They will all come off as soon as we finish Phase 2,” said Trump, who added that he would visit China in the not-too-distant future.

Trump added that those negotiations would start soon, though in a Fox Business Network interview that aired on Wednesday evening, Vice President Mike Pence said: “We’ve already begun discussions on a Phase 2 deal.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Andrea Shalal and Dave Lawder Additional reporting by Echo Wang, Lisa Lambert, Susan Heavey Lisa Lambert and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Tim Aeppel in New York, Mark Weinraub in Chicago, Se Young Lee and Stella Qui in Beijing and Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by Heather Timmons; Editing by Paul Simao, Leslie Adler and Richard Chang)

http://news.trust.org/item/20200115222233-ea7xk

Story 2: President Trump’s  United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) Bill Passes Senate  89 to 10 Vote– On It Way For President Trump’s Signature  — Big Win For Trump and American People — Videos —

Senate passes USMCA trade deal

U.S. Senate passes USMCA trade agreement

Donald Trump’s USMCA trade pact finally passes through both houses of Congress as he touts China truce as ‘one of the greatest trade deals ever made’ but Democrats’ impeachment overshadows everything

  • NAFTA replacement will go to Trump’s Oval Office desk for his signature
  • President has pushed the plan for months but it languished in Democrat-run House of Representatives
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it on the agenda a day after her caucus impeached the president
  • That sent it to the Senate, which will try the impeachment cases beginning next week
  • Trump inked a major trade deal with China on Wednesday but even that has been overshadowed by impeachment 

Donald Trump tried to nudge the news cycle away from impeachment on Thursday as his long-languishing U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement finally passed in the Senate.

The final tally was 89-10. Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two of the presidential primary front-runners, took different approaches. Warren voted yes, Sanders no.

The vote was a rare moment of bipartisanship, a blipp on senators’ radar as they prepared for weeks of wrangling during Trump’s impeachment trial.

The president said farmers in America are ‘really happy’ with both the USMCA and a broad trade truce he signed Wednesday with China. 

Impeachment politics also overshadowed the House’s vote to green-light the USMCA, which came just one day after Democrats led a vote to charge Trump with two constitutional crimes.

The U.S. Senate passed the U.S> Mexico Canada Agreement on Thursday just before launching full bore into impeachment procedures

President Donald Trump got a double trade victory after his deal with China on Wednesday but all eyes were on the impeachment ceremonies

President Donald Trump got a double trade victory after his deal with China on Wednesday but all eyes were on the impeachment ceremonies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) had to wait to put the USMCA on the Senate floor for a vote until the House passed it; Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the trade treaty for months

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center) had to wait to put the USMCA on the Senate floor for a vote until the House passed it; Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the trade treaty for months

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the pact as a ‘major win for the Trump administration, a major win for those of us who are already ready to move past this season of toxic political noise.’ 

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called the USMCA ‘a major achievement for President Trump and a bipartisan deal for the American people.’

Democrats scrambled to take credit for upgrading the USMCA’s environmental and worker-protection clauses. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden claimed he and his colleagues gave the plan ‘a trade enforcement regime with real teeth.’

He also praised Trump’s chief negotiator Robert Lighthizer as ‘the hardest working man in the trade business.

Trump blamed the current trade pact with Canada and Mexico, the Bill Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement, for sending millions of manufacturing jobs to low-wage plants south of the U.S. border. His administration secured changes that aim to have more cars produced where workers earn an average of at least $16 an hour. 

Pelosi held onto the USMCA until she could deny Trump a positivev news cycle, letting impeachment overshadow it completely

It also secured changes that require Mexico to change its laws to make it easier for workers to form independent unions, which should improve worker conditions and wages and reduce the incentive for U.S. companies to relocate their plants.

While the administration completed its negotiations with Canada and Mexico more than a year ago, Democrats in the House insisted on changes to the pact that they say make it more likely Mexico will follow through on its commitments.

As part of those negotiations, the administration agreed to drop a provision that offered expensive biologic drugs—made from living cells—10 years of protection from cheaper knockoff competition.

The biggest holdouts are environmental groups, which continue to oppose the measure because it doesn´t address climate change. Indeed, they contend the agreement would contribute to rising temperatures.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., marveled Wednesday at how leaders of organized labor and farm groups in his state appeared together to support the pact.

‘They both agree that this USMCA trade agreement is a step forward, an improvement over the original NAFTA,’ Durbin said. ‘I think we´ve added to this process by making it truly bipartisan.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7895471/Trumps-USMCA-trade-pact-finally-passes-China-deal-signing-impeachment-overshadows-all.html

 

Congress

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

The vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement occurred after the Senate voted to waive budget restrictions. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., argued on the floor, as he did in the Budget Committee, that the bill included appropriations that violate budget rules.

The Democrat-controlled House approved the bill on Dec. 19 with a bipartisan vote of 385-41. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House Democrats had negotiated several changes to the USMCA to make it acceptable.

Key changes for Democrats included enforcement of labor provisions they believe will make it more difficult and expensive for U.S. manufacturers, particularly auto makers, to shift production to Mexico. The changes won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, but other unions such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers oppose it.

The pact also would give technology companies provisions to address e-commerce, which did not exist when NAFTA was negotiated. A chapter based on Section 230 of a 1996 telecommunications law (PL 104-104) gives companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter immunity from liability for user content posted on their platforms.

Trump is expected to tout the vote in his reelection campaign as a promise kept. In 2016, he vowed either to revamp the 1994 trade agreement or to withdraw the U.S. from the pact. As president, Trump caused anxiety among businesses large and small and his base of farm support with threats to pull out of NAFTA if Canada and Mexico did not make concessions.

Business groups say congressional approval of the USMCA implementing bill makes it less likely Trump will try to upend a trade agreement negotiated and renamed by his administration.

The bill now goes to Trump for signing, but the Canadian Parliament still must ratify the USMCA before the agreement can take effect. Mexico has already approved the new pact.

The implementing legislation provides the framework and mechanisms the Trump administration will use to enforce labor rights and environmental standards with a focus on Mexico. For example, an interagency task force on labor will be established 90 days after the bill takes effect.

The USMCA will replace NAFTA, an agreement credited with building the three nations into a $1.2 trillion-a-year trading bloc and blamed for contributing to the loss of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to low-wage Mexico.

Trump campaigned against NAFTA as the “worst trade deal ever made.”

In committee reviews, floor comments and statements, several senators cited the absence of environmental provisions addressing climate change as one reason for voting against the implementing bill.

Environmental concern

It seemed unlikely the administration would have pursued climate change, not only because of Trump’s skepticism of the science behind it, but also because a trade-negotiating objective Congress approved in 2015 says trade agreements are not to establish obligations for the U.S. regarding greenhouse gas emissions. The language is part of a customs enforcement law that added several negotiating guidelines to the Trade Promotion Authority statute, which sets the ground rules for trade deals sent to Congress for approval.

Democratic presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Michael Bennet of Colorado voted for the pact. Sanders, another candidate, said in a written statement that it should be rewritten because it does not guarantee that companies will stop shifting jobs to Mexico.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the USMCA will increase U.S. government revenue by $2.97 billion from fiscal 2020 to 2029 due to higher expected duty revenue on car and truck parts that do not meet stricter rules.

Some vehicles and parts would no longer qualify for duty-free treatment because they don’t meet new requirements that 75 percent of content in cars and auto parts come from North America and that 40 percent of car content and 45 percent of truck content be made by workers earning $16 an hour.

The CBO also estimates that the agreement would reduce the federal deficit by $3 billion over a 10-year period. The agency estimates that appropriations not subject to emergency status would total $833 million in outlays from fiscal 2020 to 2029.

Under the USMCA, U.S. dairy, poultry and egg products would gain greater access to Canadian markets, and Canada will adopt a new quality-grading system for U.S. wheat.

Canada also will end pricing schemes the U.S. dairy industry says keep Canadian skim milk powder prices at artificially lower levels, giving domestic producers an edge in sales to Canadian cheese-makers over U.S. high-protein ultrafiltered milk.

The International Trade Commission, an independent agency, said the trade agreement, “if fully implemented and enforced,” over several years would increase real GDP by $68.2 billion, or 0.35 percent, and would add 176,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

House Democrats’ negotiations with the Trump administration in 2019 resulted in the removal of provisions that would have given pharmaceutical companies a 10-year pricing monopoly on biologic drugs in Mexico and Canada. The U.S. has 12-year pricing exclusivity for biologics, and Democrats worried that keeping the provisions in the USMCA would prevent future Congresses from reducing the U.S. timeframe to less than 10 years.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/senate-passes-usmca-trump-win-trade-ahead-impeachment-trial

Story 3: REDS (Radical Extremist Democrat Socialist) Show Trial In House is Over — An American Fair Trial Begins Next Tuesday in Senate — Acquittal of President Trump Expected In 30 Days or Less As Hoax Exposed — Trump Goes On Offense — Videos

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Trump Impeachment Trial Begins as Senators Are Sworn In

House managers read charges as watchdog faults president’s hold on Ukraine aid and Kyiv probes whether U.S. envoy was tailed

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial against President Trump. PHOTO: SENATE TELEVISION/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday with Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the senators, who pledged to deliver impartial justice, and the formal reading of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Hours before the senators took their oath, the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency, determined that Mr. Trump’s administration violated the law when it withheld aid to Ukraine, an issue at the heart of the impeachment case against the president.

Democrats allege that Mr. Trump, a Republican, improperly withheld the aid to pressure Kyiv to launch investigations that would help him politically in the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing, calling the case against him a “big hoax” on Thursday. He is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

The GAO wrote that the White House Office of Management and Budget improperly froze Ukraine funding over the summer for policy reasons. It was later released after pressure from Congress. A spokeswoman for OMB said it disagreed with the GAO finding.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities opened a criminal probe into whether U.S. citizens placed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under surveillance, as text messages suggest, before she was removed from her post last year by Mr. Trump. The information came to light after House Democrats released documents Tuesday showing that an associate of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was sent text messages about tracking Marie Yovanovitch in Ukraine.

Democratic and GOP lawmakers continued to wrangle on Thursday over whether new witnesses and evidence will be allowed in the trial. Those issues aren’t expected to be decided until well after the trial begins in earnest on Tuesday.

“If any of my colleagues had doubts about the case for witnesses and documents in a Senate trial, the stunning revelations this week should put those to rest,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s Democratic leader.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said it wasn’t the Senate’s job to shore up the case the House built in what he called a “slapdash inquiry.” The Senate won’t “redo their homework and rerun the investigation,” he said

Chief Justice Roberts and Senators Sworn In for Impeachment Trial

Chief Justice Roberts and Senators Sworn In for Impeachment Trial
The impeachment trial of President Trump opened in the U.S. Senate as Chief Justice John Roberts and senators were sworn in. Photo: Associated Press

Mr. McConnell is set to release his plans for a trial framework on Tuesday, but Senate Republicans and White House officials said the contents of the resolution have largely been settled. Republicans briefed on the resolution have said they expect it to include a guaranteed vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents, as requested by some moderate Republicans.

GOP leaders believe they can keep Republicans united to block any efforts by Democrats to subpoena witnesses at the outset of the trial, according to people familiar with their plans. A vote on witnesses would be held later, after the House managers and Mr. Trump’s legal team present their cases, a process expected to stretch over two weeks.

A guaranteed vote to dismiss the charges won’t be built into the trial rules, according to these people. The White House and Senate Republicans are discussing holding a vote on a motion to dismiss after Democrats present their case but before Mr. Trump’s team addresses the Senate, according to an administration official.

At least two-thirds of the senators would have to vote to convict Mr. Trump to remove him from office.

By noon on Thursday, the fighting over the scope of the Senate trial took a pause. Every senator was seated at his or her desk, a rare sight during the ordinary legislative business, when it is common to see senators delivering speeches to an empty chamber. Senators typically don’t sit in their assigned seats even during roll call votes, preferring to stroll around and chitchat.

As they waited for the formal “exhibition” of articles, some senators scrolled on their cellphones or talked quietly to each other.

At 12:05 p.m., House managers, who will act as prosecutors during the trial, arrived at the ornate doors of the Senate. They walked in two-by-two, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.). Freshman Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D., Texas) trailed as the seventh. A Democratic aide said the order was chosen according to seniority.

All managers carried large blue folders containing their own copy of the articles of impeachment passed by the House last month and the resolution passed on Wednesday authorizing them as managers.

Silence fell and phones disappeared as the sergeant at arms warned senators to keep quiet “on pain of imprisonment.” Then Mr. Schiff, the lead manager, began reading the articles aloud from the well of the Senate.

“Resolved, that Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said.

The House managers make their way to the Senate before the reading of the two articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.. PHOTO: ALYSSA SCHUKAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The senators watched, with stony faces, as Mr. Schiff spoke. Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) stifled a cough. Next to her, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) sat motionless with her hands folded in her lap. Sens. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) scribbled notes.

At 12:22, when Mr. Schiff had finished, the managers departed. They briefly huddled outside the chamber, once again got in order, and marched back toward the House side of the Capitol.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Chief Justice Roberts was escorted into the Senate by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).

Everyone in the chamber rose. The only sound was the scratching of reporters’ pens.Then Chief Justice Roberts spoke: “Senators, I attend the Senate in conformity with your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the President of the United States. I am now prepared to take the oath.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), the Senate’s president pro tempore, asked him to raise his right hand, place his left hand on the Bible, and swore him in.

Chief Justice Roberts then administered an oath to senators, who will act as the jury. “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?”

“I do,” the senators said.

Senators were then called in alphabetical order to the Senate clerk’s desk to sign their names in an oath book. As the lawmakers waited to sign, there were flashes of bipartisan bonhomie. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) warmly shook Mr. Grassley’s hand. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) patted the shoulder of Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), and the two shared a laugh with Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.). Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) gave Mr. Portman’s arm a squeeze.

All of the senators were present for the swearing-in except for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), who is at home with a family member facing a medical issue, according to his office. He plans to be sworn in next week, before the trial begins in earnest.

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment

Senate Officially Accepts Articles of Impeachment
The Senate accepted the articles of impeachment against President Trump, marking the official start of the trial. Photo: Associated Press

After the swearing-in, the Senate formally notified the White House of the pending trial and summoned Mr. Trump, who will be given until Saturday evening to reply.

Mr. McConnell also said the House has until Saturday at 5 p.m. to file a trial brief with the secretary of the Senate, and Mr. Trump has until noon on Monday to do so. The deadline for the House’s rebuttal is noon on Tuesday. The Senate trial was then adjourned until Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Although historic, Thursday entailed mostly pomp and circumstance. The trial won’t get under way substantively until the Senate reconvenes after the holiday weekend.

All 100 senators agreed on rules for the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial’s initial phase. There is no such bipartisan agreement now, and while Mr. McConnell says all 53 Republicans in his caucus are united on the path forward, he hasn’t released the text of his resolution laying out the procedures agreed upon by GOP senators.

In 1999, a resolution dealing with witnesses passed a few weeks into the trial, along party lines. Three witnesses, including Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom Mr. Clinton admitted an inappropriate relationship, were deposed privately in the presence of a senator from each party. Excerpts were shown by video during the trial.

There are 15 senators now serving who also voted in the Clinton impeachment trial, including Messrs. McConnell and Schumer.

“I remember the solemnity of this, when you see the chief justice sitting in the chair with his august robes, when you hear your name called and you hear the charges, your hair sort of stands on end,” Mr. Schumer said in a recent interview.

Throughout the trial, all senators will be expected to be present and seated at their assigned desks. They won’t be allowed to talk.

Any deliberations among senators likely will be held in closed session, meaning that no press or cameras will be allowed. The rest of the trial will be open.

“It is a solemn feeling when you’re sitting in the seat, and you’re listening closely to what’s going on,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R., Ind.).

Mr. Braun said he and other senators are worried about the precedent being set. “Many senators have on their minds: Is this the new dynamic? Having two impeachments within 20 years of one another?” he said. “I don’t think anybody likes that feeling.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/senators-to-be-sworn-in-as-trump-impeachment-trial-begins-11579177831

 

Constitutional Law Prof. Stuns Dems on Impeachment: ‘It’s YOUR Abuse of Power’

WATCH: Jonathan Turley’s full opening statement | Trump impeachment hearings

Republican Witness Jonathan Turley: ‘This Is Not How You Impeach An American President’ | NBC News

WATCH: Republican counsel’s full questioning of legal experts | Trump impeachment hearings

Jonathan Turley On His Impeachment Testimony

NPR’s Rachel Martin speaks with constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley about his testimony on Wednesday

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she is instructing her committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment to remove President Trump from office. She framed her decision as a historic moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

NANCY PELOSI: The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when he says and acts upon the belief, Article II says I can do whatever I want. No. His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.

MARTIN: Pelosi says the impeachment process has shown the public how the president has abused his power. Yesterday, four constitutional experts laid out the standards for and against impeachment in front of the House Judiciary Committee. One of them was Jonathan Turley. He’s a law professor at George Washington University. We spoke with him earlier today.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, first of all, my testimony, I said, as I did in the Clinton impeachment, that a president could be impeached for a noncriminal act and that President Trump could be impeached for abuse of power. You just have to prove it. He can also be impeached for obstruction of Congress.

The problem with the obstruction of Congress claim, in my view, is that it’s based on a very short period of investigation. This is one of the shortest we’ve had. It depends how you count the days between this and the Johnson impeachment, but it’s a very short period of investigation.

And what Congress is saying is that if the president invokes executive privilege or immunities and goes to court, he can be impeached for that – that he has to just turn over the information to Congress. Now, that’s a position that was maintained during the Nixon impeachment. In fact, it was the basis of the third article of impeachment. I’ve always disagreed with it. It’s not that you can’t impeach a president for withholding documents and witnesses. You can, and President Trump could well be the next one to be impeached on those grounds.

MARTIN: Mmm hmm.

TURLEY: What I was telling Congress is that they’ve burned two months. They should have gone to court over people like John – I’m sorry, subpoenaed and gone to court over people like John Bolton and gotten a court order. That would make it a stronger case.

MARTIN: So let’s talk about what you just laid out here. I mean, you are saying that because the White House has refused to allow certain people to come and testify, refused to hand over certain documents that the committees have requested and is fighting this in court, you’re saying that that process should be allowed to play out, that Congress is making an impeachment argument that is weak because they’re not waiting for the courts to weigh in?

TURLEY: I’m saying that this case could be much stronger. No one has really explained why they have to have a vote by the end of December rather than…

MARTIN: Well, isn’t the case about election interference? I mean, isn’t that the answer, that the central query here is about the interference of U.S. elections and 2020’s coming right up?

TURLEY: Well, 2020 is coming right up. But the problem is that when you look at how fast this has unfolded, the record remains thin. It remains conflicted. You have about 12 witnesses. You have other witnesses with direct evidence. And more importantly, you have a lot of defenses that have not been fully addressed. It’s not a fully developed record.

And all I’m saying is that before you give that record to the Senate, you should deal with some of those conflicts and some of those gaps. And this is an example of one of those, that I think the president could very well be impeached and removed for obstruction based on these acts. But by the way, that record is – conflicts in other respects. We had 12 witnesses. Many of those witnesses correctly appeared before Congress. They did so against the wishes of the president, but they remain in federal employment. They have not been disciplined. And does that…

MARTIN: But you’re saying their testimony is insufficient to prove obstruction or abuse of power.

TURLEY: Well, it’s insufficient because there remain conflicts. You know, part of the problems I have with the arguments made by my esteemed colleagues on the panel is that they kept on using the terms inference and circumstantial evidence. Those actually can be used in an impeachment, but it’s problematic if there’s information out there you can still get. This is not a question of the unknowable. This is using the peripheral. This is using information that could be strengthened. That’s what I’m arguing.

MARTIN: Although they pointed to the Mueller report as evidence of obstruction. Presumably, you don’t believe that the Mueller report conclusions are true then.

TURLEY: Well, I never said I didn’t think they were true, but the obstruction claim was rejected by the Department of Justice – not just Attorney General Bill Barr, but by Rod Rosenstein, who is a respected deputy attorney general. And I agree with their decision on that.

MARTIN: All right. Jonathan Turley, one of the constitutional scholars testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. Thank you.

TURLEY: Thank you.

https://www.npr.org/2019/12/05/784994918/jonathan-turley-on-his-impeachment-testimony

Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

Joe Biden Brags about getting Ukranian Prosecutor Fired

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.

William Russo, a spokesman for Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden did not respond to email messages Monday seeking comment. The phone number at Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC in Washington was no longer in service on Monday.

The timing of Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s appointment to Burisma’s board has been highlighted in the past, by The New York Times in December 2015 and in a 2016 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor’s probe of Burisma and his son’s role. They noted that:

  • Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
  • Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
  • Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.

President Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

According to Schweizer’s book, Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.

But the Ukrainian investigation and Joe Biden’s effort to fire the prosecutor overseeing it has escaped without much public debate.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases, and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clintonwas running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin — began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.”

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said.

Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office, confirmed to me in an interview that part of the Burisma investigation was reopened in 2018, after Joe Biden made his remarks. “We were able to start this case again,” Kholodnytskyi said.

But he said the separate Ukrainian police agency that investigates corruption has dragged its feet in gathering evidence. “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Ukraine is in the middle of a hard-fought presidential election, is a frequent target of intelligence operations by neighboring Russia and suffers from rampant political corruption nationwide. Thus, many Americans might take the restart of the Burisma case with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.

The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.

As for Joe Biden’s intervention in getting Lutsenko’s predecessor fired in the midst of the Burisma investigation, Lutsenko suggested that was a matter to discuss with Attorney General Barr: “Of course, I would be happy to have a conversation with him about this issue.”

As the now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case.

Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/436816-joe-bidens-2020-ukrainian-nightmare-a-closed-probe-is-revived

 

 

Solomon: These once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden’s Ukraine story

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine.

He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.

There’s just one problem.

Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.

The memos raise troubling questions:

1.)   If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) since the summer of 2018, fearing it might be evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws. First, they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. attorney in New York, who, they say, showed no interest. Then, the Ukrainians reached out to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, told Trump in July that he plans to launch his own wide-ranging investigation into what happened with the Bidens and Burisma.

“I’m knowledgeable about the situation,” Zelensky told Trump, asking the American president to forward any evidence he might know about. “The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

Biden has faced scrutiny since December 2015, when the New York Times published a story noting that Burisma hired Hunter Biden just weeks after the vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee U.S.-Ukraine relations. That story also alerted Biden’s office that Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin had an active investigation of Burisma and its founder.

Documents I obtained this year detail an effort to change the narrative after the Times story about Hunter Biden, with the help of the Obama State Department.

Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, texted a colleague two days after the Times story about a strategy to counter the “new wave of scrutiny” and stated that he and Hunter Biden had just met at the State Department. The text suggested there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum.”

I have sued the State Department for any records related to that meeting. The reason is simple: There is both a public interest and an ethics question to knowing if Hunter Biden and his team sought State’s assistance while his father was vice president.

The controversy ignited anew earlier this year when I disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 videotaped speech that, as vice president in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, to pressure Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin.

At the time, Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma. Shokin told me he was making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that Biden and his partner, Archer, collected from Burisma through their American firm. Documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirm the payments, which in many months totaled more than $166,000.  

Some media outlets have reported that, at the time Joe Biden forced the firing in March 2016, there were no open investigations. Those reports are wrong. A British-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was closed down in early 2015 on a technicality when a deadline for documents was not met. But the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office still had two open inquiries in March 2016, according to the official case file provided me. One of those cases involved taxes; the other, allegations of corruption. Burisma announced the cases against it were not closed and settled until January 2017.

After I first reported it in a column, the New York Times and ABC News published similar stories confirming my reporting.

Joe Biden has since responded that he forced Shokin’s firing over concerns about corruption and ineptitude, which he claims were widely shared by Western allies, and that it had nothing to do with the Burisma investigation.

Some of the new documents I obtained call that claim into question.

In a newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court, Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.

“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.

Shokin certainly would have reason to hold a grudge over his firing. But his account is supported by documents from Burisma’s legal team in America, which appeared to be moving into Ukraine with intensity as Biden’s effort to fire Shokin picked up steam.

Burisma’s own accounting records show that it paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who both served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Just days before Biden forced Shokin’s firing, Painter met with the No. 2 official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and asked to meet officials in Kiev around the same time that Joe Biden visited there. Ukrainian embassy employee Oksana Shulyar emailed Painter afterward: “With regards to the meetings in Kiev, I suggest that you wait until the next week when there is an expected vote of the government’s reshuffle.”

Ukraine’s Washington embassy confirmed the conversations between Shulyar and Painter but said the reference to a shakeup in Ukrainian government was not specifically referring to Shokin’s firing or anything to do with Burisma.

Painter then asked one of the Ukraine embassy’s workers to open the door for meetings with Ukraine’s prosecutors about the Burisma investigation, the memos show. Eventually, Blue Star would pay that Ukrainian official money for his help with the prosecutor’s office.

At the time, Blue Star worked in concert with an American criminal defense lawyer, John Buretta, who was hired by Burisma to help address the case in Ukraine. The case was settled in January 2017 for a few million dollars in fines for alleged tax issues.

Buretta, Painter, Tramontano, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s campaign have not responded to numerous calls and emails seeking comment.

On March 29, 2016, the day Shokin’s firing was announced, Buretta asked to speak with Yuriy Sevruk, the prosecutor named to temporarily replace Shokin, but was turned down, the memos show.

Blue Star, using the Ukrainian embassy worker it had hired, eventually scored a meeting with Sevruk on April 6, 2016, a week after Shokin’s firing. Buretta, Tramontano and Painter attended that meeting in Kiev, according to Blue Star’s memos.

Sevruk memorialized the meeting in a government memo that the general prosecutor’s office provided to me, stating that the three Americans offered an apology for the “false” narrative that had been provided by U.S. officials about Shokin being corrupt and inept.

“They realized that the information disseminated in the U.S. was incorrect and that they would facilitate my visit to the U.S. for the purpose of delivering the true information to the State Department management,” the memo stated.

The memo also quoted the Americans as saying they knew Shokin pursued an aggressive corruption investigation against Burisma’s owner, only to be thwarted by British allies: “These individuals noted that they had been aware that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had implemented all required steps for prosecution … and that he was released by the British court due to the underperformance of the British law enforcement agencies.”

The memo provides a vastly different portrayal of Shokin than Biden’s. And its contents are partially backed by subsequent emails from Blue Star and Buretta that confirm the offer to bring Ukrainian authorities to meet the Obama administration in Washington.

For instance, Tramontano wrote the Ukrainian prosecution team on April 16, 2016, saying U.S. Justice Department officials, including top international prosecutor Bruce Swartz, might be willing to meet. “The reforms are not known to the US Justice Department and it would be useful for the Prosecutor General to meet officials in the US and share this information directly,” she wrote.

Buretta sent a similar email to the Ukrainians, writing that “I think you would find it productive to meet with DOJ officials in Washington” and providing contact information for Swartz. “I would be happy to help,” added Buretta, a former senior DOJ official.

Burisma, Buretta and Blue Star continued throughout 2016 to try to resolve the open issues in Ukraine, and memos recount various contacts with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kiev seeking help in getting the Burisma case resolved.

Just days before Trump took office, Burisma announced it had resolved all of its legal issues. And Buretta gave an interview in Ukraine about how he helped navigate the issues.

 Today, two questions remain.

One is whether it was ethically improper or even illegal for Biden to intervene to fire the prosecutor handling Burisma’s case, given his son’s interests. That is one that requires more investigation and the expertise of lawyers.

The second is whether Biden has given the American people an honest accounting of what happened. The new documents I obtained raise serious doubts about his story’s credibility. And that’s an issue that needs to be resolved by voters.

https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/463307-solomon-these-once-secret-memos-cast-doubt-on-joe-bidens-ukraine-story

The full Trump-Ukraine
impeachment timeline

The House of Representatives is engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump. It is focused on his efforts to secure specific investigations in Ukraine that carried political benefits for him — including aides allegedly tying those investigations to official U.S. government concessions.

Below is a timeline of relevant events.

The timeline is sortable. “Trump” refers to events in which Trump himself was involved. “Quid pro quo” is events that involve government concessions being tied to investigations. “Ukraine” tracks what Ukrainian officials were doing, while “Giuliani” does the same for Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and “Biden” tracks every event in which Joe or Hunter Biden were invoked.

How much detail would you like?

Key events An in-depth look Everything

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All topics Trump Ukraine Quid pro quo Biden Giuliani

Unrest in Ukraine

2014-2016

February 22, 2014

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is ousted from power during a popular uprising in the country. He flees to Russia. After his ouster, Ukrainian officials begin a wide-ranging investigation into corruption in the country.

March 7, 2014

Lev Parnas, eventually an associate of former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, has his first known interaction with Donald Trump at a golf tournament in Florida.

March 1, 2014

Russia invades the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, annexing it.

May 13, 2014

KEY EVENT Hunter Biden, a son of then-U.S. Vice President Joe Bidenjoins the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. It is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, one of several subjects of the Ukrainian corruption probe.

May 25, 2014

Petro Poroshenko is elected president of Ukraine.

February 10, 2015

Viktor Shokin becomes Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

Early 2015

Top State Department aide George Kent raises concerns about Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, as he later testifies. Biden’s office turns him away and explains that the vice president does not have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue at a time when his other son, Beau Biden, is dealing with cancer, according to Kent’s testimony.

September 24, 2015

Then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt blasts Shokin in a speech in Odessa, Ukraine. He points to a “glaring problem” that threatens the good work regional leaders are doing: “the failure of the institution of the prosecutor general of Ukraine to successfully fight internal corruption.” He adds: “The United States stands behind those who challenge these bad actors.”

October 8, 2015

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland testifies to the Senate that Shokin’s “office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.”

December 8, 2015

KEY EVENT In Kyiv, Biden tells Ukrainian leaders to fire Shokin or lose more than $1 billion in loan guarantees. Biden joins many Western leaders in urging Shokin’s ouster.

February 10, 2016

The International Monetary Fund threatens to halt a bailout program for Ukraine unless the country addresses its corruption issues.

February 11, 2016

Biden speaks with Poroshenko by phone and emphasizes the urgency of rooting out corruption.

February 18, 2016

Biden speaks with Poroshenko again.

March 28, 2016

Paul Manafort is hired as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman, where he is chiefly in charge of securing delegates at the Republican National Convention. Manafort formerly worked for Yanukovych‘s Party of Regions in Ukraine.

March 29, 2016

Shokin is ousted from his position by Ukraine’s parliament.

April 14, 2016

Biden and Poroshenko speak again.

May 12, 2016

Yuri Lutsenko becomes Ukraine’s new prosecutor general, replacing Shokin.

May 13, 2016

The White House says it “welcomes” Lutsenko‘s appointment and the addition of an independent counsel in Lutsenko’s office, and declares it will guarantee the $1 billion in loans.

June 3, 2016

The U.S. government guarantees the loan.

June 20, 2016

Manafort becomes the head of Trump’s campaign after campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is fired.

August 14, 2016

Ukrainian officials reveal the existence of a handwritten “black ledger” suggesting Manafort had received millions in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych‘s party. These payments will ultimately be part of criminal charges filed against Manafort in the United States.

August 19, 2016

Manafort is forced out of Trump’s campaign.

November 8, 2016

KEY EVENT Trump is elected president, defeating Hillary Clinton.

Seeds of a conspiracy theory

2017-April 2019

January 11, 2017

KEY EVENT Politico reports Ukrainian officials “helped Clinton‘s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers” during the campaign. It said they were also trying to make amends after questioning Trump’s fitness for office and disseminating the Manafort documents. The article notes, however, that there is no indication of an effort originating within the leadership of the Ukrainian government itself.

January 12, 2017

Ukraine’s probes of Burisma are finalized and closed, according to the company, though Lutsenko later tells Bloomberg that one sale of an oil storage terminal will still be investigated.

February 6, 2017

Trump and Poroshenko speak by phone, during which time they “discussedplans for an in-person meeting in the future,” according to the White House.

April 21, 2017

Trump for the first time floats a conspiracy theory that Ukraine might have played a role in falsely fingering Russia for its 2016 election interference. “[The Democrats] get hacked, and the FBI goes to see them, and they won’t let the FBI see their server,” Trump tells AP, adding, “They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based. That’s what I heard. I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian.”

April 28, 2017

Trump again brings up the conspiracy theory in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

June 8, 2017

Giuliani, who would later become Trump’s personal lawyer, meets with Poroshenko and Lutsenko, according to a later-released House investigation.

June 9, 2017

Lutsenko’s office joins in an existing investigation into the black ledger, which had been under the control of an independent anti-corruption bureau. Critics allege the effort is intended to stifle the investigation.

June 14, 2017

European reports indicate Poroshenko will meet with Trump in the White House.

June 20, 2017

Poroshenko visits the White House to meet with Vice President Pence, but receives only a brief audience with Trump.

July 25, 2017

Trump tweets about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign” and asks: “So where is the investigation A.G.” — referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

December 20, 2017

The Trump administration approves the sale of lethal arms to Ukraine for the first time.

January 23, 2018

KEY EVENT At an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden describes his pressure campaign in Ukraine. “I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’ ” Biden says. “Well, son of a b—-. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Early April

Ukrainian officials close their Manafort probes and have also decide to stop assisting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III‘s Russia investigation out of concern that doing so would harm their relationship with Trump’s administration and jeopardize military assistance, according to the New York Times.

April 19, 2018

KEY EVENT The Washington Post reports Trump has hired Giuliani as his personal lawyer, initially focused on seeing out the Russia investigation.

April 2018

Two Soviet-born business associates of GiulianiParnas and Igor Fruman, attend an event for a pro-Trump super PAC at Trump’s Washington hotel. While speaking with Trump, they badmouth U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and Trump immediately suggests she be fired, according to Parnas.

April 30, 2018

Poroshenko announces the first shipment of Javelins from the United States have arrived.

May 1, 2018

Parnas and Fruman meet Trump at the White House, according to later-deleted Facebook photos.

May 4, 2018

Three Democratic senators — Robert Menendez (N.J.), Richard J. Durbin(Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) — write to Lutsenko, urging him to continue working with Mueller.

May 9, 2018

Parnas posts a photo of him and his business partner David Correia meetingwith Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) in Sessions’s Capitol Hill office. The two men commit to raise $20,000 for Sessions, according to their later indictments.

May 9, 2018

That same day, Pete Sessions writes to the State Department seeking the dismissal of Yovanovitch. Sessions says he has “received notice of concrete evidence” that she had “spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration.”

May 17, 2018

Parnas and Fruman contribute $325,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action through a newly formed business named Global Energy Producers, which is supposedly a liquefied natural gas company. In their later indictments, prosecutors will say the funds actually came from a $1.26 million private lending transaction that occurred two days earlier.

May 21, 2018

Parnas posts a picture on Facebook showing him and Fruman at breakfast with Donald Trump Jr. in Beverly Hills, Calif.

December 5, 2018

Giuliani meets with former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to a lobbying database. They talk about “security issues, including the escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the US assistance to our country,” according to a Ukrainian report.

Late 2018

Giuliani speaks with Shokin, according to a later-revealed complaint from an anonymous whistleblower.

January

Giuliani and Lutsenko meet in New York, as Bloomberg News later reports.

Mid-February

Giuliani again meets with Lutsenko, this time in Warsaw, according to the whistleblower.

February 1, 2019

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov tells Yovanovitch that the country is worried about being wrapped up in U.S. political campaigns, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony. He cites the Manafort situation and both the Bidens and Trump’s conspiracy theory involving Ukraine’s role in 2016 election interference.

March 6, 2019

Yovanovitch gives a speech in Ukraine in which she targets Lutsenko. “To ensure the integrity of anticorruption institutions, the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor must be replaced,” she says. “Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases.”

March 20, 2019

In an interview with pro-Trump journalist John SolomonLutsenko alleges that Yovanovitch gave him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute.” The State Department calls the claim an “outright fabrication,” but Trump promotes the story in a tweet. It is later revealed that Parnas facilitated the interview.The whistleblower later notes that Lutsenko was working for the incumbent, Poroshenko, who had been trailing challenger Volodymyr Zelensky in the upcoming March 31 election. Zelensky had pledged to replace Lutsenko. Yovanovitch later speculates, in congressional testimony, that Lutsenko was hoping Trump would endorse Poroshenko.

March 24, 2019

Trump Jr. attacks Yovanovitch on Twitter, saying: “We need more ⁦[Germany Ambassador] @RichardGrenell‘s and less of these jokers as ambassadors.”

March 26, 2019

Giuliani speaks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to State Department emails.

March 29, 2019

Giuliani speaks with Pompeo again, according to the State Department emails. The call lasts about four minutes.

March 31, 2019

The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election is held. Poroshenko and Zelensky head to a runoff.

April 1, 2019

After speaking with Lutsenko, Solomon reports that a probe into Joe Biden’s push to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor is underway. Lutsenko tells Solomon that he wants to present his evidence to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mid-April

Hunter Biden‘s term as a Burisma board member ends.

April 18, 2019

Lutsenko retracts his claim that Yovanovitch gave him a list of people not to prosecute.

April 18, 2019

Separately, Mueller releases his report on the Russia investigation. Mueller finds no illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but says he decided not to reach a firm conclusion on potential obstruction of justice by Trump. William Barr later opts not to accuse Trump of obstruction, despite extensive evidence laid out in the Mueller report.

April 21, 2019

KEY EVENT Zelensky, a former TV comedian, is elected president of Ukraine with 73 percent of the vote.

Ahead of a Trump phone call with Zelensky, Vindman writes talking points that indicate Trump should bring up “corruption” with the president-elect, according to Vindman’s later testimony, and a White House readout is drafted declaring Trump did so, according to Washington Post reporting. But Trump does not mention corruption on the call, according to a transcript released later by the White House.

April 23, 2019

Giuliani tweets about a Ukrainian investigation into alleged foreign collusion by the Democrats. “Now Ukraine is investigating Hillary campaign and DNC conspiracy with foreign operatives including Ukrainian and others to affect 2016 election,” he says. “And there’s no [former FBI director James B.]Comey to fix the result.”

April 24, 2019

Foreign Service Director General Carol Perez speaks with Yovanovitch at 1 a.m. and urges her to come back to Washington immediately, according to Yovanovitch’s testimony. “I was like, what? What happened?” Yovanovitch would later testify. “And she said, ‘I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.’ ” Once home, she says she meets with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informs her that her time as ambassador is being curtailed. “He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the Summer of 2018,″ Yovanovitch says in her testimony. “He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.”

April 25, 2019

In an interview with Fox News, Trump addresses the suggestion that Ukraine interfered in 2016. “I would imagine [William Barr] would want to see this,” he says. “People have been saying this whole — the concept of Ukraine, they have been talking about it actually for a long time.”

April 25, 2019

Joe Biden announces his presidential campaign.

The anti-Biden effort becomes public

May-June 2019

May 1, 2019

KEY EVENT The New York Times publishes a story tying Joe Biden’s pressure campaign in Ukraine to Shokin having investigated Burisma, portraying it as a potential liability in his 2020 campaign.

May 7, 2019

Bloomberg News casts doubt on the Times report, citing Ukrainian officials who say the Burisma investigation had long been dormant when Joe Biden applied pressure on Ukraine’s government.

May 7, 2019

KEY EVENT It is reported that Yovanovitch has been recalled by the State Department, two months before her scheduled departure date. Democrats allege a “political hit job” aimed at creating a pretext to remove her.

May 7, 2019

Zelensky holds a meeting with top advisers that is supposed to be about energy policy. According to AP, though, most of the three-hour meeting winds up being devoted to how to navigate Giuliani‘s efforts and avoid being wrapped up in U.S. politics.

May 9, 2019

KEY EVENT Giuliani tells the New York Times that he will travel to Ukraine to push for investigations related to the Bidens and the 2016 election “because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

May 11, 2019

Giuliani cancels his Ukraine trip, acceding to the pressure.

May 11, 2019

Separately, Lutsenko and Zelensky meet for two hours, according to the whistleblower, with Lutsenko requesting to stay in his position.

Early May

Former Ukrainian prosecutor Kostiantyn H. Kulyk tells the Times that Yovanovitch had thwarted his efforts to deliver damaging information about the Bidens to the FBI by denying his visa request.

May 13, 2019

William Barr announces a probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, which Trump and his congressional allies had pushed for by alleging a coup attempt. He appoints U.S. attorney John Durham to lead it.

Mid-May

The whistleblower is told that officials, including Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, had spoken with Giuliani to “contain the damage” he was doing, according to their complaint.

Mid-May

Parnas and Fruman, the Giuliani associates, travel to Ukraine and meet with Sergey Shefir, who later became an aide to Zelensky, and Ivan Bakanov, who is now the head of Ukraine’s secret police. Parnas’s lawyer later claimsParnas told Ukrainian officials that they had to announce the investigations of the Bidens or else Vice President Pence would skip Zelensky’s inauguration and the United States would freeze aid to Ukraine.

Mid-May

Trump tells Pence not to attend Zelensky‘s inauguration, according to the whistleblower. Instead, Energy Secretary Rick Perry attends. The whistleblower says it was “made clear” to them that “the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky ‘chose to act’ in office.”

May 14, 2019

Giuliani tells a Ukrainian journalist that Yovanovitch was “removed . . . because she was part of the efforts against the president.”

May 16, 2019

Lutsenko says there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens.

May 19, 2019

KEY EVENT In an interview with Fox News, Trump explicitly references Biden’s efforts in Ukraine. “Biden, he calls them and says, ‘Don’t you dare persecute, if you don’t fire this prosecutor’ — The prosecutor was after his son,” Trump says. “Then he said, ‘If you fire the prosecutor, you’ll be okay. And if you don’t fire the prosecutor, ‘We’re not giving you $2 billion in loan guarantees,’ or whatever he was supposed to give. Can you imagine if I did that?” Trump makes the allegation even though there was no evidence the investigation focused on any actions by the Bidens.

May 20, 2019

KEY EVENT Zelensky is inaugurated as president of Ukraine. Shortly after his inauguration, Giuliani meets with Lutsenko allies who made the allegations included in Solomon’s reporting.

May 23, 2019

The administration notifies Congress that it intends to release hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Ukraine.

May 23, 2019

At a White House meeting with Trump and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyPerrySondland and Volker—who later dub themselves the “three amigos” — debrief the president on Zelensky’s inauguration and their views of the new Ukrainian leader. Trump is skeptical, telling them that Ukraine is “not serious about reform” and “tried to take him down,” according to later testimony from Sondland. Trump puts them in charge of a back-channel diplomacy effort in Ukraine, according to the later testimony of Kent, instructing them to “talk with Rudy” as they did so.

May 28, 2019

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. meets with Pompeo, who encourages him to become the top diplomat to Ukraine — also known as a chargé d’affaires. Despite reservations, which he later recounts in his testimony, including about Giuliani, Taylor takes the job, effectively replacing Yovanovitch.

May 29, 2019

Trump sends Zelensky a congratulatory letter inviting him to a White House meeting.

Some time in May

Giuliani meets with a top Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, in Paris, according to Kholodnytsky. Kholodnytsky, who had clashed with Yovanovitch, has declined to comment on what he and Giuliani discussed, but he said the Burisma investigation should be reopened.

June 13, 2019

KEY EVENT In an interview with ABC News, Trump says he might accept electoral assistance from a foreign government, if offered. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump says. “If somebody called from a country, Norway — ‘We have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.” The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission subsequently points out on Twitter that this would be illegal.

June 18, 2019

The Department of Defense publicly announces $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.

June 19, 2019

Trump begins asking questions about the military aid after seeing news reports, according to the testimony of Office of Management and Budget official Mark Sandy.

June 19, 2019

In an interview with Fox News, Trump again links Ukraine and the effort to hack the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election — a link that the whistleblower and later reporting show does not exist.

June 21, 2019

Giuliani tweets that Zelensky is “still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko.”

June 27, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that Zelensky needs to make clear to Trump that he is not impeding “investigations,” as Taylor will later testify.

June 28, 2019

SondlandVolkerTaylor and Perry participate in a call ahead of a planned call with Zelensky. According to Taylor, before Zelensky is added to the call, Sondland expresses a desire to keep regular interagency officials off the call. Sondland says he does not want anyone monitoring or transcribing the call, according to Taylor. Also on the call, Volker tells the participants that he intends to be explicit with Zelensky during an upcoming meeting in Toronto about what Zelensky needs to do to secure a White House meeting, according to Taylor. But Volker does not say specifically what he will request.

On the call, it is “made clear that some action on a Burisma/Biden investigation was a precondition for an Oval Office meeting,” Taylor tells one of his aides, David Holmes, according to Holmes’s later testimony.

Internal discord and a presidential call

July-August 2019

July 3, 2019

Aid to Ukraine is put on hold, according to three administration officials. Word of the hold is not widely known until later in the month.

July 10, 2019

KEY EVENT Top Ukrainian defense official Oleksandr Danyliuk meets with SondlandVolkerPerry and White House national security adviser John Bolton in Washington. (Taylor says top Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak was also present.) According to Vindman’s testimony and the testimony of fellow NSC aide Fiona Hill, Bolton cuts the meeting short when Sondland begins requesting specific investigations in exchange for a meeting between Trump and Zelensky. Sondland also states that he coordinated the quid pro quo with Mulvaney, according to Vindman and Hill.

According to Vindman, Sondland in a later meeting emphasizes “the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma,” and Vindman and Hill both reprimand him for his “inappropriate” requests. Vindman contacts NSC lawyers, according to his testimony, and Hill contacts NSC lawyer John Eisenberg, according to her testimony. According to Taylor, Vindman and Hill tell him later that Bolton said they should have nothing to do with domestic politics and that Hill should “brief the lawyers.” Bolton decries the arrangement as a “drug deal,” according to Hill.

July 10, 2019

Taylor meets in Ukraine with Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Bohdan, and foreign policy adviser Vadym Prystaiko. According to Taylor, they tell him Giuliani had told them a phone call between Trump and Zelensky was unlikely to happen. Taylor relays their disappointment to U.S. officials.

July 12, 2019

Axios reports that Trump and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coatsare at odds, with Trump telling confidants that he wants to remove Coats from his position.

July 18, 2019

KEY EVENT Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine is communicated to the State and Defense departments. Members of Congress are told that the hold is part of an “interagency delay.” Taylor later says an Office of Management and Budget official did not explain why, but said that the decision was relayed through Mulvaney.

July 19, 2019

Volker texts Sondland about the upcoming Zelensky call with Trump. “Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation,” Volker says.

July 19, 2019

Volker texts Giuliani to connect him with Yermak. Giuliani would later say on Fox News that the State Department had asked for his help. “I didn’t know Mr. Yermak on July 19,” Giuliani said. “You see it right there, 2019 at 4:48 in the afternoon I got a call from Volker. Volker said ‘Would you meet with him? It would be helpful to us. We really want you to do it.’ ” Giuliani added: “They basically knew everything I was doing.”

July 19, 2019

Vindman and Hill inform Taylor that they are not aware of an official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, but that Mulvaney is skeptical of the country, according to Taylor’s testimony.

July 20, 2019

Taylor confronts Volker about Hill‘s claim that Volker met with Giuliani, according to Taylor, and Volker does not respond.

July 20, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that he encouraged Zelensky to tell Trump that he would “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to “investigations,” according to Taylor.

July 20, 2019

Danyliuk tells Taylor that Zelensky does not want to be used as a pawn for a U.S. reelection campaign, also according to Taylor.

July 21, 2019

Taylor relays that concern to Sondland via text. “President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously,” he writes, “not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”

July 22, 2019

Shokin alleges to The Post that he was removed as prosecutor general over the Biden issue. “I will answer that the activities of Burisma, the involvement of his son, Hunter Biden, and the [prosecutor general’s office] investigators on his tail, are the only — I emphasize, the only — motives for organizing my resignation,” he says. Other Ukrainian officials have said this is untrue.

July 22, 2019

Yermak and Giuliani schedule a meeting in early August, according to Giuliani.

July 23, 2019

The OMB reiterates that aid to Ukraine is suspended.

July 24, 2019

Mueller testifies before Congress about his report and its findings.

July 25, 2019

KEY EVENT Before a scheduled call between Trump and ZelenskyVolkertexts with Yermak and again expresses the importance of Zelensky saying he will launch investigations. For the first time on-record, he also ties this to a potential White House meeting for Zelensky. “Heard from White House-assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker says.

That message followed outreach from Sondland who, about half an hour prior, had left Volker a message. Sondland had spoken with Trump that morning and would later testify that he believed Volker’s text to Yermak was a message that he had “likely” received from Trump on that call.

July 25, 2019

KEY EVENT Trump and Zelensky speak. As we later find out from a rough transcript released by the White House, Trump repeatedly notes how “good” the United States is to Ukraine and then proceeds to ask Zelensky to open two investigations. One investigation involves CrowdStrike, an Internet security company that probed the Democratic National Committee hack in 2016, and the other involves the Bidens and Burisma.

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump says before floating the CrowdStrike investigation.

He later adds: “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. . . . It sounds horrible to me.”

Trump repeatedly suggests William Barr will be involved in working with the Ukrainian government on the investigation. Zelensky tells Trump that his yet-to-be-named new prosecutor general “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue” — apparently referring to Burisma.

Trump says Yovanovitch “was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.” When Zelensky thanks Trump for previously warning him about Yovanovitch, Trump responds: “Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

The Post would later report that at least four national security officials raised concerns about Trump’s Ukraine efforts with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after the Zelensky call. Eisenberg moves a transcript of the call to a classified server that is generally reserved for sensitive national security information, according to multiple witnesses, though Vindman and Morrison said not for nefarious reasons.

July 25, 2019

After the call, Yermak texts Volker back, saying: “Phone call went well. President Trump proposed to choose any convenient dates. President Zelenskiy chose 20,21,22 September for the White House Visit.”

July 25, 2019

State Department staff circulate emails indicating the Ukrainian embassy is asking about U.S. military assistance and appears to be aware of the “situation” involving the aid, according to later testimony by State Department official Laura Cooper.

July 26, 2019

Volker and Sondland travel to Kyiv and meet with Zelensky and other politicians. There, the whistleblower writes, they “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky. Zelensky tells Volker and Taylor that he was happy with the call and asks about the Oval Office meeting Trump offered in the May 29 letter, according to Taylor’s later testimony.

July 26, 2019

KEY EVENT Holmes, while in Ukraine with Sondland, overhears a phone call between Trump and Sondland, in which Trump inquires about investigations, according to Taylor’s and Holmes’s later testimonies. Sondland later tells Holmes that Trump doesn’t care about Ukraine as a country and that he just wants the investigations, according to Taylor and Holmes. Sondland later says he doesn’t recall mentioning Biden but otherwise doesn’t contradict their testimony.

Days following July 25

The whistleblower writes: “I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

The whistleblower claims to have been told by White House officials that they were directed by White House lawyers to move the transcript from the normal documentation archive and to “a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature” — a move one official called an “act of abuse.”

In an appendix, the whistleblower adds that officials said “this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

July 28, 2019

Trump announces that Coats will resign in August.

July 31, 2019

Trump holds a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The call is first reported by the Russians; the White House does not confirm it until late in the evening. The Russians, in a much more substantial readout than the United States, claim Trump and Putin spoke about restoring full diplomatic relations one day.

Early August

Mulvaney asks acting OMB director Russell Vought for an update on the legal rationale for withholding the Ukraine aid and how much longer it could be delayed, according to Washington Post reporting.

August 2, 2019

Giuliani travels to Madrid, where he meets with YermakParnas is also in the meeting, according to YermakAccording to the New York Times, the meeting involves Giuliani encouraging Zelensky‘s government to investigate Hunter Biden.

August 3, 2019

Zelensky says he plans to travel to the United States in September to meet with Trump in Washington.

August 8, 2019

Trump announces Joseph Maguire will take Coats‘s job as director of national intelligence, in an acting capacity. In doing so, he bypasses Sue Gordon, who had been Coats’s No. 2 at the directorate of national intelligence and who was a career intelligence official with bipartisan support. Gordon would later resign.

August 8, 2019

Giuliani tells Fox News that Durham, the Justice Department official investigating the Russia probe’s origins, is “spending a lot of time in Europe” to investigate what happened in Ukraine.

August 9, 2019

Trump says of Zelensky: “I think he’s going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House. And we look forward to seeing him. He’s already been invited to the White House, and he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine. And I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

August 9, 2019

Volker and Sondland text with one another about a statement Ukraine might be asked to issue about the investigations. Sondland also indicates that Trump “really wants the deliverable.” Volker and Sondland consult Giulianiabout what the statement should say.

August 10, 2019

Yermak emphasizes that Ukraine would like to lock down a date for Zelensky‘s visit before making the statement. “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things,” Yermak says. “Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit.”

August 11, 2019

Sondland emails top State Department aides Ulrich BrechbuhlLisa Kenna and says, “Kurt & I negotiated a statement from Ze to be delivered for our review in a day or two. The contents will hopefully make the boss happy enough to authorize an invitation. Ze plans to have a big presser on the openness subject (including specifics) next week.” Kenna responds, “I’ll pass to S. Thank you.”

August 12, 2019

KEY EVENT The whistleblower files a complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson will later determine the complaint to be credible and a matter of “urgent concern,” which would trigger a legally required disclosure to the House and Senate intelligence committees.

August 13, 2019

Volker and Sondland text about what language should be included in Ukraine’s statement.

August 15, 2019

Coats and Gordon officially leave their positions.

August 16, 2019

Volker tells Taylor via text that Yermak asked the U.S. government to submit an official request for the Burisma investigation, according to Taylor’s later testimony. Taylor gives Volker a deputy assistant attorney general to contact regarding whether such a request would be proper.

August 17, 2019

Sondland asks Volker if “we still want Ze[lensky] to give us an unequivocal draft with 2016 and Boresma [sic]?” Volker responds, “That’s the clear message so far …”

August 21, 2019

Taylor asks Brechbuhl whether there is an official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, according to Taylor, and Brechbuhl says there is not.

August 22, 2019

NSC aide Tim Morrison tells Taylor it “remains to be seen” whether U.S. policy toward Ukraine has changed, according to Taylor, and says the “president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”

August 22, 2019

Sondland emails Pompeo and Kenna, saying “Should we block time in Warsaw for a short pull-aside for Potus to meet Zelensky? I would ask Zelensky to look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine’s new justice folks are in place ([in] mid-Sept[ember), that Ze should be able to move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to Potus and to the US. Hopefully, that will break the logjam.” Pompeo replies, “Yes.”

Questions swirl around withheld aid

Early September 2019

August 27, 2019

Bolton meets with Zelensky in Kyiv. According to Taylor, the withheld military aid is not discussed.

August 28, 2019

KEY EVENT Politico posts a story about the Trump administration withholding $250 million in military aid from Ukraine, the first time it has been reported publicly. (Before this point, it was not clear Ukraine even knew the aid was being withheld.)

August 29, 2019

Yermak texts Volker a link to the story and says: “Need to talk with you.” Volker responds: “Hi Andrey — absolutely. When is good for you?” Yermak also contacts Taylor to express his deep concern, according to Taylor, and Taylor says he is “embarrassed” that he has no explanation.

August 29, 2019

Taylor writes a cable to Pompeo, at Bolton‘s urging, decrying the “folly” of withholding the funds at a time when Russia is breathing down Ukraine’s neck.

Late August

Lawmakers raise concerns about Ukraine aid being withheld, citing its importance to defend the former Soviet republic from Russia.

August 30, 2019

Sondland tells Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that Trump was withholding the Ukraine military aid to “get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 — if President Trump has that confidence, then he’ll release the military spending,” according to Johnson’s later recollection.

August 31, 2019

Johnson tries to get Trump to release the military aid. He later says Trump explained that part of the reason for the delay was his concern about Ukraine’s role in 2016 election interference. “I didn’t succeed,” Johnson explains later. “But the president was very consistent on why he was considering it. Again, it was corruption, overall, generalized — but yeah, no doubt about it, what happened in 2016 — what happened in 2016, as relates? What was the truth about that?”

September 1, 2019

KEY EVENT Sondland tells Yermak at a meeting in Warsaw that the military aid would not arrive until Zelensky promises to pursue the Burisma investigation, as Taylor, Kent, Morrison and Sondland later confirm. Sondland says in clarified testimony that he “presumed” the two issues were connected “in the absence of any [other] credible explanation.” But he emphasizes that Trump did not directly convey it to him and later explicitly denied a quid pro quo.

September 1, 2019

Taylor tells Kent that Sondland had told Yermak that “POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to [a] microphone and say ‘investigations,’ ‘Biden,’ and ‘Clinton,’ ” according to Kent’s later testimony.

September 1, 2019

Zelensky and Pence also meet in Warsaw for a ceremony commemorating World War II. (Trump had originally been slated to attend the ceremony but remained in the United States to monitor Hurricane Dorian.) Taylor informs Danyliuk before the meeting that if the military aid is not released by the end of the month, the funds would expire because that is the end of the fiscal year, according to Taylor.

At the meeting, Pence tells Zelensky he will talk to Trump about the military aid, according to a readout from Morrison that Taylor says he received. Pence also says Trump wants Europe to do more to support Ukraine and that he wants Ukraine to do more to root out corruption, according to Morrison’s readout, as relayed by Taylor.

September 1, 2019

KEY EVENT Taylor texts Sondlandasking: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland responds, “Call me.” The two speak, according to Taylor, and Sondland explains that Trump wants Zelensky to say publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and the conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s alleged role in the 2016 election interference. Sondland tells Taylor that he regrets not telling Ukrainian officials that “everything” relied on their announcement of the investigations — both a meeting and military aid — according to Taylor.

September 2, 2019

Pence says he did not discuss Biden with Zelensky, but that he did suggest that aid was conditioned on rooting out corruption. “As President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption,” Pence said. “The president wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine.”

September 2, 2019

Danyliuk expresses concern to Morrison that U.S. officials are not able to provide answers about the withheld military aid, according to Taylor, and Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk raises similar concerns with Taylor.

September 5, 2019

Johnson and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) meet in Ukraine with Zelensky, with Taylor hosting the meeting. Zelensky’s first question is about the military aid, according to Taylor. Murphy later tells NBC’s Chuck Todd that Zelensky had expressed concerns about Giuliani‘s overtures.

September 5, 2019

KEY EVENT The Post’s editorial board writes that it had been “reliably told” that Trump was “attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”

September 7, 2019

Trump tells Sondland that he is not asking for a “quid pro quo” but insists Zelensky make the announcement about the two investigations, according Morrison’s testimony and Taylor’s testimony about his conversations with Morrison. Morrison informs NSC lawyers about the call, according to both of them.

September 8, 2019

Sondland tells Taylor that Trump is adamant that Zelensky “clear things up and do it in public,” according to Taylor. Sondland also tells Taylor that he told Zelensky and Yermak that it wasn’t a quid pro quo, but that if they didn’t “clear things up” publicly, there would be a “stalemate,” according to Taylor.

Sondland also explains to Taylor that Trump is a businessman, and that before a businessman signs a check, he expects someone who owes him something to pay up, according to Taylor. (Taylor said Volker had said something similar.)

September 8, 2019

Taylor texts Volker and Sondland, saying: “The nightmare is they give the interview and don’t get the security assistance. The Russians love it. (And I quit.)”

September 9, 2019

Taylor texts Sondland again about the idea that the military aid is being withheld in some kind of quid pro quo. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor says.

Sondland speaks with Trump via phone and, during which Trump tells him something similar to, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,” according to Sondland’s testimony.

Sondland then responds to Taylor‘s text, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.” (Sondland will later explain that he was simply relaying Trump’s denial, rather than vouching for it.)

A whistleblower, a transcript and impeachment

Sept. 9-present

September 9, 2019

The Democrat-controlled House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees announce an investigation into Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine and the administration’s decision to halt aid.

Atkinson notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees that a whistleblower has filed a complaint, but he does not reveal its contents or substance.

September 10, 2019

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) writes to Maguire demanding Congress receive the complaint.

September 10, 2019

Trump announces on Twitter that Bolton has resigned. Trump says it came at his request; Bolton quickly counters by saying he offered first.

September 11, 2019

KEY EVENT The Trump administration releases the Ukraine aid it had been withholding. Taylor informs Zelensky and Prystaiko.

September 12, 2019

Taylor becomes worried that Zelensky will announce the investigations in a planned CNN interview he learned about from Sondland, as he later testifies. He tries to confirm with Danyliuk that Zelensky won’t do such an interview, and Danyliuk confirms. Taylor asks the same question of Yermak, whom he later describes as being “uncomfortable” with the question. But Danyliuk again confirms there would be no CNN interview, Taylor later testifies.

September 13, 2019

Schiff subpoenas Maguire to compel him to disclose the whistleblower complaint. According to Schiff, the DNI’s office, in a letter from counsel, indicates the whistleblower complaint is being withheld because of confidential and potentially privileged communications by people outside the intelligence community. It is assumed that this refers to Trump.

September 17, 2019

Maguire says he will not testify or hand over the whistleblower complaint. Schiff says Maguire told him he couldn’t “because he is being instructed not to, that this involved a higher authority, someone above.”

September 18, 2019

The Post reports that the complaint involves Trump’s communications with a foreign leader and some kind of “promise” that was made.

September 18, 2019

Pence holds a call with Zelensky, which U.S. officials tell The Post was somewhat perfunctory. During Vindman’s later public testimony, though, Pence’s office says the call is classified and can’t be discussed in an open setting.

Around Sept. 18 or 19

Zelensky cancels a planned CNN interview, according to the network.

September 19, 2019

Atkinson briefs Congress in a closed-door session, telling them the complaint involved multiple events and not a single communication. The Post reports the complaint involves Ukraine.

September 19, 2019

Giuliani appears on CNN and denies any wrongdoing by Trump. But he also suggests it would be okay if Trump withheld aid in exchange for Ukraine investigating the Bidens. “The reality is the president of the United States has every right to say to another leader of a foreign country, ‘You got to straighten up before we give you a lot of money,’ ” Giuliani says. “It is perfectly appropriate for [Trump] to ask a foreign government to investigate this massive crime that was made by a former vice president.”

September 23, 2019

Trump suggests aid to Ukraine may have been withheld over “corruption” issues — without citing the Bidens. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” Trump said. “. . . So it’s very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption.”

September 24, 2019

Trump confirms he withheld the funding but suggests it was because other European countries should pay for Ukraine’s military aid. Trump later says he will release a transcript of his phone call with Zelensky.

September 24, 2019

KEY EVENT House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announces her supportfor a formal impeachment inquiry for the first time, setting that process in motion.

September 25, 2019

KEY EVENT The White House releases a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, including the details described above.

September 25, 2019

Trump meets with Zelensky at the United Nations. Zelensky maintains he didn’t feel “pressure” to pursue investigations and that he didn’t interfere in his country’s law enforcement process. “We have an independent country and independent [prosecutor general],” he says. “I can’t push anyone. That is the answer. I didn’t call somebody or the new [prosecutor general]. I didn’t ask him. I didn’t push him.”

Zelensky also pointedly notes that, despite repeated invitations, Trump has never actually identified a date for a White House visit.

September 26, 2019

KEY EVENT The White House declassifies the whistleblower complaint, and Schiff releases it. The complaint focuses on Trump’s call with Zelensky but also alleges an effort to cover it up and alludes to substantial concern within the administration about Trump’s actions.

At a hearing later that day, Schiff paraphrases the Trump-Zelensky call, prompting criticism from Republicans.

September 26, 2019

Maguire testifies to the House Intelligence Committee that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel downgraded the inspector general’s determination that the whistleblower complaint was of “urgent concern,” which eliminated the requirement that it be shared with Congress. Democrats allege a conflict of interest, noting that the complaint names William Barr — the head of the Justice Department — as being potentially involved.

September 27, 2019

Volker abruptly resigns.

September 27, 2019

More than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials sign a statement supporting House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

September 28, 2019

A top Pompeo aide, Michael McKinley, rallies support for a State Department statement strongly defending Yovanovitch, according to his testimony, but department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus informs McKinley that Pompeo decides against releasing such a statement — in part to “not draw undue attention to her.”

October 1, 2019

Pompeo sends House Democrats a letter declaring that five State Department employees who had been summoned for depositions would not appear. Pompeo calls the inquiry “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”

October 2, 2019

The New York Times reports — and The Post confirms — that the whistleblowerhad approached a staffer for Schiff‘s committee early in the process, contradicting some of Schiff’s claims.

October 2, 2019

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick shares with Congress documents that had been sent to the State Department that include conspiracy theories about the Bidens. Giuliani indicates he was responsible for some of the materials, which were apparently sent to State from the White House.

October 3, 2019

Volker submits to a deposition, sharing text messages (as described above) with TaylorSondlandGiuliani and Yermak. He says he never had a quid pro quo communicated to him.

October 3, 2019

“Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?” Trump is asked by a reporter.

“Well,” he replies, “I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens.  It’s a very simple answer.”

He tells reporters that he also thinks China should launch an investigation involving the Bidens. “And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump says.

October 3, 2019

Kent confronts State officials about the claims in Pompeo‘s letter, calling them inaccurate, according to his later testimony. He tells one official whose name is redacted: “I said, well, you say that the career foreign services are being intimidated. . . . And I asked him, about whom are you speaking? And he said, you’re asking me to reveal confidential information. And I said, no, I’m not. There are only two career Foreign Service officers who subject to this process. I’m one of them. I’m the only one working at the Department of State, and the other one is Ambassador Yovanovitch, who is teaching at Georgetown.”

October 3, 2019

The State Department informs Congress that it has approved the sale of 150 Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine — a type of weaponry Zelensky mentioned on the July 25 call with Trump — at a cost of $39.2 million.

October 6, 2019

Lawyers for the whistleblower indicate they are representing a second whistleblower — this one with firsthand knowledge of some of the key events. They say the second whistleblower has spoken with Atkinson.

October 8, 2019

After blocking Sondland‘s testimony, White House counsel Pat Cipolloneinforms Congress that the White House will not cooperate with any facet of its impeachment inquiry, making curious arguments about the lack of “due process.”

October 10, 2019

Giuliani‘s two Soviet-born business associates, Parnas and Fruman, are arrested shortly before they are set to leave the country. They are indicted on campaign finance charges, with the Southern District of New York accusing them of funneling foreign money into U.S. politics to influence U.S.-Ukraine relations.

October 10, 2019

McKinley resigns over Pompeo‘s alleged failure to support State Department officials ensnared in the Ukraine controversy.

October 11, 2019

Yovanovitch testifies to Congress, alleging a politicized effort to remove her as ambassador to Ukraine.

October 12, 2019

The Post reports Sondland will tell Congress that his Sept. 9 text message stating there was no quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine was based on assurances from Trump and that he is not certain Trump’s denial was accurate. Trump and his allies had hailed Sondland’s text as proof there was no quid pro quo.

October 14, 2019

Hill testifies.

October 15, 2019

Kent testifies.

October 16, 2019

McKinley testifies and explains his resignation. “I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” McKinley says. “I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.”

October 17, 2019

Sondland testifies, saying any pressure he applied on Ukraine to investigate Burisma came before he knew the case involved the Bidens. (He claims this despite Giuliani‘s efforts and the Bidens’ proximity to them being in the news by early May.) Sondland says he is making that distinction “because I believe I testified that it would be improper” to push for such political investigations. Asked whether it would be illegal, Sondland says: “I’m not a lawyer, but I assume so.”

October 17, 2019

Trump announces Perry will resign by the end of the year.

October 17, 2019

KEY EVENT Mulvaney in a news conference momentarily confirms a quid pro quo with Ukraine. “[Did Trump] also mention to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server?” Mulvaney said. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money. . . . The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate.” Mulvaney later issues a statement trying to reverse course, saying there actually was no connection.

October 22, 2019

Taylor testifies.

October 23, 2019

Cooper testifies, but not before the proceedings are delayed for five hours as House Republicans storm the secure room where the depositions are being held. The Republicans expressed concern about the secrecy of the process.

October 29, 2019

Vindman testifies.

October 30, 2019

State Department officials Catherine Croft and Christopher Andersontestify separately, describing the dim view of Ukraine taken by Trump and those around him.

October 30, 2019

In his confirmation hearing to become ambassador to Russia, Sullivan says he was aware of a “smear” campaign against Yovanovitch and that he believed Giuliani was a part of it. He also says it was appropriate to remove Yovanovitch, though, because Trump had lost confidence in her.

October 31, 2019

Morrison testifies, corroborating Taylor‘s testimony that Sondlandcommunicated a quid pro quo to Ukraine. Morrison says he raised concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, but that he did not think it contained anything illegal.

October 31, 2019

The House votes to formalize its impeachment inquiry and open up its hearings, amid GOP criticism that the process was too secretive. No House Republicans vote in favor of the inquiry, and two Democrats vote against it.

November 4, 2019

The House releases the first of the closed-door deposition transcripts, from Yovanovitch and McKinley.

November 4, 2019

Sondland clarifies his testimony to acknowledge he communicated the quid pro quo to Ukraine on July 10, but that he was acting on what he presumed to be the case rather than a direct order from Trump.

November 5, 2019

The House releases Sondland’s and Volker’s depositions, including the clarification.

November 6, 2019

The House releases Taylor’s deposition.

November 7, 2019

The House releases Kent’s deposition.

November 8, 2019

The House releases Vindman’s and Hill’s depositions.

November 8, 2019

Bolton‘s lawyer tells Congress in a letter that his client was “part of many relevant meetings and conversations” pertaining to the impeachment inquiry that aren’t yet public, but reinforces that Bolton will appear only if ordered to by a judge.

November 10, 2019

Parnas‘s lawyer discloses the quid pro quo he allegedly communicated to Ukrainian officials in May.

November 13, 2019

Taylor and Kent testify in an open hearing.

November 15, 2019

Yovanovitch testifies in an open hearing, during which Trump tweets an attack on her. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he said. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him. It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors.” Democrats accuse Trump of witness intimidation.

Holmes testifies in a closed deposition.

November 19, 2019

Vindman, Williams, Volker and Morrison testify in two consecutive open hearings.

November 20, 2019

Sondland testifies in an open hearing, in which he says top administration officials including Pence and Pompeo were aware of the quid pro quo and that it was clear Giuliani was acting on Trump’s wishes when he pushed for it. Sondland’s testimony is followed by Hale and Cooper in their own hearing.

November 21, 2019

Hill and Holmes round out the public impeachment hearings. Hill criticizes efforts by Republicans to draw an equivalence between Russia’s interference in 2016 and the actions of Ukrainians during the campaign. Holmes notes that the pressure felt by Ukraine during its interactions with Trump since Zelensky’s inauguration is on-going, given that Ukraine still seeks to demonstrate that it maintains the U.S.’ support.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/politics/trump-impeachment-timeline/

Moscow Trials

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The Moscow Trials were a series of show trials held in the Soviet Union at the instigation of Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938 against Trotskyists and members of Right Opposition of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. There were three Moscow Trials: the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center (ZinovievKamenev Trial, aka “Trial of the Sixteen,” 1936), the Case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center (PyatakovRadek Trial, 1937), and the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” (BukharinRykov Trial, aka “Trial of the Twenty-One,” 1938). The defendants of these were Old Bolshevik party leaders and top officials of the Soviet secret police. Most defendants were charged under Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code with conspiring with the Western powers to assassinate Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union, and restore capitalism.

The Moscow Trials led to the execution of many of the defendants. They are generally seen as part of Stalin’s Great Purge, an attempt to rid the party of current or prior oppositionists, especially but not exclusively Trotskyists, and any leading Bolshevik cadre from the time of the Russian Revolution or earlier, who might even potentially become a figurehead for the growing discontent in the Soviet populace resulting from Stalin’s mismanagement of the economy.[1] Stalin’s hasty industrialization during the period of the First Five Year Plan and the brutality of the forced agricultural collectivization had led to an acute economic and political crisis in 1928-33, a part of the global problem known as the Great Depression, and to enormous suffering on the part of the Soviet workers and peasants. Stalin was acutely conscious of this fact and took steps to prevent it taking the form of an opposition inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to his increasingly totalitarian rule.[1]

Contents

Background

Grigory ZinovievLev Kamenev, and Joseph Stalin formed a ruling triumvirate in early 1923[2] after Vladimir Lenin had become incapacitated from a stroke. In the context of the series of defeats of communist revolutions abroad (crucially the German revolutions of 1919 but also later the Chinese Revolution of 1927) which left the Russian Revolution increasingly isolated in a backward country, the triumvirate was able to effect the marginalization of Leon Trotsky in an internal party political conflict over the issue of Stalin’s theory of Socialism in One Country. It was Trotsky who most clearly represented the wing of the CPSU leadership which claimed that the survival of the revolution depended on the spread of communism to the advanced European economies especially Germany. This was expressed in his theory of permanent revolution.[3]

A few years later, Zinoviev and Kamenev joined the United Front in an alliance with Trotsky which favored Trotskyism and opposed Stalin specifically.[4] Consequently, Stalin allied with Nikolai Bukharin and defeated Trotsky in a power struggle. Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929 and Kamenev and Zinoviev temporarily lost their membership in the Communist Party. Zinoviev and Kamenev, in 1932, were found to be complicit in the Ryutin Affair and again were temporarily expelled from the Communist Party. In December 1934, Sergei Kirov was assassinated and, subsequently 15 defendants were found guilty of direct, or indirect, involvement in the crime and were executed.[5] Zinoviev and Kamenev were found to be morally complicit in Kirov’s murder and were sentenced to prison terms of ten and five years, respectively.[6]

Both Kamenev and Zinoviev had been secretly tried in 1935 but it appears that Stalin decided that, with suitable confessions, their fate could be used for propaganda purposes. Genrikh Yagoda oversaw the interrogation proceedings.

Anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center

Conspiracy and investigation

In December 1935, the original case surrounding Zinoviev began to widen into what was called the Trotsky-Zinoviev Center.[7] Stalin allegedly received reports that correspondences from Trotsky were found among the possessions of one of those arrested in the widened probe.[8] Consequently, Stalin stressed the importance of the investigation and ordered Nikolai Yezhov to take over the case and ascertain if Trotsky was involved.[8] The central office of NKVD that was headed by Genrikh Yagoda was shocked when it was known that Yezhov (at that time a mere party functionary)[a][9] has discovered the conspiracy,[9] due to the fact that they (NKVD) had no relations to the case.[9] This would have led to inevitable conclusion about unprofessionalism of the NKVD leaders who completely missed the existence of the conspiratorial Trotskyist center.[9] In June 1936, Yagoda reiterated his belief to Stalin that there was no link between Trotsky and Zinoviev, but Stalin promptly rebuked him.[10] Bewilderment was strengthened by the fact that both Zinoviev and Kamenev for a long time were under constant operational surveillance and after the murder of Kirov were held in custody.[9] A key role in investigating played a chief of the Secret-political department of the NKVD Main Directory of State Security (a predecessor of KGB), State Security Commissar of the 2nd Class Georgiy Molchanov.[9]

The basis of the scenario was laid in confession testimonies of three arrested: NKVD agent Valentin Olberg (ru:Ольберг, Валентин Павлович) who was teaching at the Gorky Pedagogic Institute and two former participants of the internal party opposition and Soviet statesmen Isaak Rejngold and Richard Pikel.[9] Wherein Rejngold firmly believed that participating in the case fabrication about mythical conspiracy he executes the party’s task.[9] In relation to their composition, the testimonies looked standard conspiratorial activity, murder of Kirov, preparation to assassination attempts against the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, seizure of power in the Soviet Union with the aim of “restoration of capitalism”.[9]

In July 1936, Zinoviev and Kamenev were brought to Moscow from an unspecified prison.[10] They were interrogated and denied being part of any Trotsky-led conspiracy.[11] Yezhov appealed to Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s devotion to the Soviet Union as old Bolsheviks and advised them that Trotsky was fomenting anti-Soviet sentiment amongst the proletariat in the world. Throughout spring and summer of 1936 the investigators were requesting from the arrested “to lay down arms in front the party” exerting a continuous pressure on them.[9] Furthermore, this loss of support, in the event of a war with Germany or Japan, could have disastrous ramifications for the Soviet Union.[12] To Kamenev specifically, Yezhov showed him evidence that his son was subject to an investigation that could result in his son’s execution.[13] According to one witness, at the beginning of the summer the central heating was turned on in Zinoviev’s and Kamenev’s cells. This was very unpleasant for both prisoners but particularly Zinoviev who was asthmatic and couldn’t tolerate the artificially increased temperatures.[9] Finally the exhausted prisoners agreed to a deal with Stalin who promised them, on the behalf of Politburo, their lives in exchange for participation in the anti-Trotskyist spectacle.[9] Kamenev and Zinoviev agreed to confess on condition that they receive a direct guarantee from the entire Politburo that their lives and those of their families and followers would be spared. When they were taken to the supposed Politburo meeting, they were met by only Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov.[13] Stalin explained that they were the “commission” authorized by the Politburo, and Stalin agreed to their conditions in order to gain their desired confessions.[14] After that the future defendants were given some medical treatment and food.[9]

The Trial (aka Trial of the Sixteen)

The trial was held from August 19 to August 24, 1936 in the small October Hall of the House of the Unions (chosen instead of the larger Hall of Columns, used for earlier trials)[15] and there were 16 defendants.[16]

The main charge was forming a terror organization with the purpose of killing Joseph Stalin and other members of the Soviet government. They were tried by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, with Vasili Ulrikh presiding. The Prosecutor General was Andrei Vyshinsky, a former member of the Mensheviks who in 1917 had signed an order to arrest Lenin.[17]

Defendant Ivan Nikitich Smirnov was blamed by his co-defendants for being the leader of the Center which planned Kirov’s assassination. He, however, had been in prison since January 1933 and refused to confess.[18]

Another defendant, the Old Bolshevik Eduard Holtzman, was accused at the Trial of the 16 of conspiring with Trotsky in Copenhagen at the Hotel Bristol in 1932, where Trotsky was giving a public lecture. A week after the trial it was revealed by a Danish Social Democratic newspaper that the hotel had been demolished in 1917.[19]

All the defendants were sentenced to death and were subsequently shot in the cellars of Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.[citation needed]

The full list of defendants is as follows:

  1. Grigory Zinoviev
  2. Lev Kamenev
  3. Grigory Yevdokimov
  4. Ivan Bakayev
  5. Sergei Mrachkovsky, a hero of the Russian Civil War in Siberia and the Russian Far East
  6. Vagarshak Arutyunovich Ter-Vaganyan, leader of the Armenian Communist Party
  7. Ivan Nikitich SmirnovPeople’s Commissar for communications
  8. Yefim Dreitzer
  9. Isak Reingold
  10. Richard Pickel
  11. Eduard Holtzman
  12. Fritz David
  13. Valentin Olberg
  14. Konon Berman-Yurin
  15. Moissei Lurye
  16. Nathan Lurye

Parallel anti-Soviet Trotskyist Center

Prosecutor General Vyshinskiy (centre), reading the indictment, in 1937

The second trial occurred between January 23 and January 30, 1937.[20]

This second trial involved 17 lesser figures including Karl RadekYuri Pyatakov and Grigory SokolnikovAlexander Beloborodov was also arrested and intended to be tried along with Radek, but did not make the confession required of him, and so he was not produced in court. Thirteen of the defendants were eventually executed by shooting. The rest received sentences in labour camps.[21][22] Radek was spared as he implicated others, including Nikolai BukharinAlexei Rykov, and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, setting the stage for the Trial of Military and Trial of the Twenty One.

Radek provided the pretext for the purge on a massive scale with his testimony that there was a “third organization separate from the cadres which had passed through [Trotsky’s] school”[23] as well as “semi-Trotskyites, quarter-Trotskyites, one-eighth-Trotskyites, people who helped us, not knowing of the terrorist organization but sympathizing with us, people who from liberalism, from a Fronde against the Party, gave us this help.”[24]

By the third organization, he meant the last remaining former opposition group called Rightists led by Bukharin, whom he implicated by saying: “I feel guilty of one thing more: even after admitting my guilt and exposing the organisation, I stubbornly refused to give evidence about Bukharin. I knew that Bukharin’s situation was just as hopeless as my own, because our guilt, if not juridically, then in essence, was the same. But we are close friends, and intellectual friendship is stronger than other friendships. I knew that Bukharin was in the same state of upheaval as myself. That is why I did not want to deliver him bound hand and foot to the People’s Commissariat of Home Affairs. Just as in relation to our other cadres, I wanted Bukharin himself to lay down his arms.”[23]

At the time, many Western observers who attended the trials said that they were fair and that the guilt of the accused had been established. They based this assessment on the confessions of the accused, which were freely given in open court, without any apparent evidence that they had been extracted by torture or drugging. Joseph E. Davies, the U.S. ambassador, wrote in Mission to Moscow:

In view of the character of the accused, their long terms of service, their recognized distinction in their profession, their long-continued loyalty to the Communist cause, it is scarcely credible that their brother officers … should have acquiesced in their execution, unless they were convinced that these men had been guilty of some offense.[*] It is generally accepted by members of the Diplomatic Corps that the accused must have been guilty of an offense which in the Soviet Union would merit the death penalty.


* The Bukharin trial six months later developed evidence which, if true, more than justified this action. Undoubtedly those facts were all full known to the military court at this time.[25]

Trial of the Generals and the Tukhachevsky Affair

The Tukhachevsky Affair was a secret trial before a military tribunal of a group of Red Army generals, including Mikhail Tukhachevsky, in June 1937.

It featured the same type of frame-up of the defendants and it is traditionally considered one of the key trials of the Great PurgeMikhail Tukhachevsky and the senior military officers Iona YakirIeronim UborevichRobert EidemanAugust KorkVitovt PutnaBoris Feldman, and Vitaly Primakov were accused of anti-Communist conspiracy and sentenced to death; they were executed on the night of June 11/12, immediately after the verdict delivered by a Special Session of the Supreme Court of the USSR. This trial triggered a massive purge of the Red Army.

Trial of the Twenty-One

The third show trial, in March 1938, known as The Trial of the Twenty-One, tied together all the loose threads from earlier trials. It included 21 defendants alleged to belong to the so-called “Bloc of Rightists and Trotskyites”:

  1. Nikolai Bukharin – Marxist theoretician, former head of Communist International and member of Politburo
  2. Alexei Rykov – former premier and member of Politburo
  3. Nikolai Krestinsky – former member of Politburo and ambassador to Germany
  4. Christian Rakovsky – former ambassador to Great Britain and France
  5. Genrikh Yagoda – former head of NKVD
  6. Arkady Rosengolts – former People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade
  7. Vladimir Ivanov – former People’s Commissar for Timber Industry
  8. Mikhail Alexandrovich Chernov – former People’s Commissar for Agriculture
  9. Grigori Grinko – former People’s Commissar for Finance
  10. Isaac Zelensky – former Secretary of Central Committee
  11. Sergei Bessonov
  12. Akmal Ikramov – Uzbek leader
  13. Fayzulla Khodzhayev – Uzbek leader
  14. Vasily Sharangovich – former first secretary in Belorussia
  15. Prokopy Zubarev
  16. Pavel Bulanov – NKVD officer
  17. Lev Levin – Kremlin doctor
  18. Dmitry Pletnyov – Kremlin doctor
  19. Ignaty Kazakov – Kremlin doctor
  20. Venyamin Maximov-Dikovsky
  21. Pyotr Kryuchkov

The fact that Yagoda was one of the accused showed the speed at which the purges were consuming its own. Meant to be the culmination of previous trials, it now alleged that Bukharin and others had conspired to assassinate Lenin and Stalin numerous times after 1918 and had murdered Soviet writer Maxim Gorky by poison in 1936. The group also stood accused of espionage. Bukharin and others were claimed to have plotted the overthrow and territorial partition of the Soviet Union in collusion with agents of the German and Japanese governments, among other preposterous charges.

Even sympathetic observers who had stomached the earlier trials found it hard to swallow the new charges as they became ever more absurd, and the purge had now expanded to include virtually every living Old Bolshevik leader except Stalin.

The preparation for this trial was delayed in its early stages due to the reluctance of some party members to denounce their comrades. It was at this time that Stalin personally intervened to speed up the process and replaced Yagoda with Yezhov. Stalin also observed some of the trial in person from a hidden chamber in the courtroom. On the first day of the trial, Krestinsky caused a sensation when he repudiated his written confession and pleaded not guilty to all the charges. However, he changed his plea the next day after “special measures”, which dislocated his left shoulder among other things.[26]

Anastas Mikoyan and Vyacheslav Molotov later claimed that Bukharin was never tortured, but it is now known that his interrogators were given the order, “beating permitted,” and were under great pressure to extract confessions out of the “star” defendant. Bukharin held out for three months, but threats to his young wife and infant son, combined with “methods of physical influence” wore him down. But when he read his confession, amended and corrected personally by Stalin, he withdrew his whole confession. The examination started all over again, with a double team of interrogators.[27]

Bukharin’s confession in particular became the subject of much debate among Western observers, inspiring Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon and a philosophical essay by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in Humanism and Terror among others. His confessions were somewhat different from others in that, while he pleaded guilty to general charges, he denied knowledge of any specific crimes. Some astute observers noted that he would allow only what was in his written confession and refused to go any further. The fact that he was allowed to write in prison (he wrote four book-length manuscripts including an autobiographical novel, How It All Began, a philosophical treatise, and a collection of poems – all of which were found in Stalin’s archive and published in the 1990s) suggests that some kind of deal was reached as a condition for his confession. He also wrote a series of emotional letters to Stalin, protesting his innocence and professing his love for Stalin, which contrasts with his critical opinion of Stalin and his policies as expressed to others and with his conduct in the trial.

There are several possible interpretations of Bukharin’s motivation (besides coercion) in the trial. Koestler and others viewed it as a true believer’s last service to the Party (while preserving a modicum of personal honor), whereas Bukharin’s biographers Stephen Cohen and Robert Tucker saw traces of Aesopian language, with which Bukharin sought to turn the tables and conduct a trial of Stalinism (while still keeping his part of the bargain to save his family). Bukharin himself speaks of his “peculiar duality of mind” in his last plea, which led to “semi-paralysis of the will” and Hegelian “unhappy consciousness“.

The result was a curious mix of fulsome confessions and subtle criticisms of the trial. After disproving several charges against him (one observer noted that he proceeded to demolish, or rather showed he could very easily demolish, the whole case[28]), Bukharin said that “the confession of the accused is not essential. The confession of the accused is a medieval principle of jurisprudence”, his point being that the trial was solely based on coerced confessions. He finished his last plea with “the monstrousness of my crime is immeasurable, especially in the new stage of the struggle of the U.S.S.R. May this trial be the last severe lesson, and may the great might of the U.S.S.R. become clear to all.”[29]

Romain Rolland and others wrote to Stalin seeking clemency for Bukharin, but all the leading defendants were executed except Rakovsky and two others (they were killed in prison in 1941). Despite the promise to spare his family, Bukharin’s wife, Anna Larina, was sent to a labor camp, but she survived.

Aftermath

Communist Party leaders in most Western countries denounced criticism of the trials as capitalist attempts to subvert Communism.[30]

A number of American communists and progressive “fellow travellers” outside of the Soviet Union signed a Statement of American Progressives on the Moscow Trials. These included Langston Hughes[31] and Stuart Davis,[32] who would later express regrets.

Some contemporary observers who thought the trials were inherently fair cite the statements of Molotov, who while conceding that some of the confessions contain unlikely statements, said there may have been several reasons or motives for this – one being that the handful who made doubtful confessions were trying to undermine the Soviet Union and its government by making dubious statements in their confessions to cast doubts on their trial. Molotov postulated that a defendant might invent a story that he collaborated with foreign agents and party members to undermine the government so that those members would falsely come under suspicion, while the false foreign collaboration charge would be believed as well. Thus, the Soviet government was in his view the victim of false confessions. Nonetheless, he said the evidence of mostly out-of-power Communist officials conspiring to make a power grab during a moment of weakness in the upcoming war truly existed.[citation needed] This defense collapsed after the release of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech to the Twentieth Congress.

In Britain, the lawyer and Labour MP Denis Nowell Pritt, for example, wrote: “Once again the more faint-hearted socialists are beset with doubts and anxieties,” but “once again we can feel confident that when the smoke has rolled away from the battlefield of controversy it will be realized that the charge was true, the confessions correct and the prosecution fairly conducted”, while socialist thinker Beatrice Webb “was pleased that Stalin had ‘cut out the dead wood'”.[33] Communist Party leader Harry Pollitt, in the Daily Worker of March 12, 1936, told the world that “the trials in Moscow represent a new triumph in the history of progress”. The article was ironically illustrated by a photograph of Stalin with Yezhov, himself shortly to vanish and his photographs airbrushed from history by NKVD archivists.[34]

In the United States, left-wing advocates such as Corliss Lamont and Lillian Hellman also denounced criticism of the Moscow trials, signing An Open Letter To American Liberals in support of the trials for the March 1937 issue of Soviet Russia Today.[35] In the political atmosphere of the 1930s, the accusation that there was a conspiracy to destroy the Soviet Union was not incredible, and few outside observers were aware of the events inside the Communist Party that had led to the purge and the trials.

However, the Moscow trials were generally viewed negatively by most Western observers including many liberals. The New York Times noted the absurdity in an editorial on March 1, 1938: “It is as if twenty years after Yorktown somebody in power at Washington found it necessary for the safety of the State to send to the scaffold Thomas Jefferson, Madison, John Adams, Hamilton, Jay and most of their associates. The charge against them would be that they conspired to hand over the United States to George III.”[36]

For Bertram Wolfe, the outcome of the Bukharin trial marked his break with Stalinism.[37]

In May 1937, the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, commonly known as the Dewey Commission, was set up in the United States by supporters of Trotsky, to establish the truth about the trials. The commission was headed by the noted American philosopher and educator John Dewey, who led a delegation to Mexico, where Trotsky lived, to interview him and hold hearings from April 10 to April 17, 1937. The hearings were conducted to investigate the allegations against Trotsky who publicly stated in advance of them that if the commission found him guilty as charged he would hand himself over to the Soviet authorities. They brought to light evidence which established that some of the specific charges made at the trials could not be true.

The Dewey Commission published its findings in the form of a 422-page book titled Not Guilty. Its conclusions asserted the innocence of all those condemned in the Moscow Trials. In its summary the commission wrote: “Independent of extrinsic evidence, the Commission finds:

  • That the conduct of the Moscow Trials was such as to convince any unprejudiced person that no attempt was made to ascertain the truth.
  • That while confessions are necessarily entitled to the most serious consideration, the confessions themselves contain such inherent improbabilities as to convince the Commission that they do not represent the truth, irrespective of any means used to obtain them.”
  • That Trotsky never instructed any of the accused or witnesses in the Moscow trials to enter into agreements with foreign powers against the Soviet Union [and] that Trotsky never recommended, plotted, or attempted the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.

The commission concluded: “We therefore find the Moscow Trials to be frame-ups.”

For example, in Moscow, Pyatakov had testified that he had flown to Oslo in December 1935 to “receive terrorist instructions” from Trotsky. The Dewey Commission established that no such flight had taken place.

In Britain, the trials were also subject to criticism. A group called the British Provisional Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky was set up. In 1936, the Committee published an open letter in the Manchester Guardian calling for an international inquiry into the Trials. The letter was signed by several notable figures, including H. N. BrailsfordHarry WicksConrad NoelFrank Horrabin and Eleanor Rathbone.[38][39] The Committee also supported the Dewey Commission. Emrys Hughes, the British MP, also attacked the Moscow Trials as unjust in his newspaper Forward.[38]

Legacy

All of the surviving members of the Lenin-era party leadership except Stalin and Trotsky, were tried. By the end of the final trial Stalin had arrested and executed almost every important living Bolshevik from the Revolution. Of 1,966 delegates to the party congress in 1934, 1,108 were arrested. Of 139 members of the Central Committee, 98 were arrested. Three out of five Soviet marshals (Alexander Ilyich YegorovVasily BlyukherTukhachevsky) and several thousands of the Red Army officers were arrested or shot. The key defendant, Leon Trotsky, was living in exile abroad, but he still did not survive Stalin’s desire to have him dead and was assassinated by a Soviet agent in Mexico in 1940.

While Khrushchev’s Secret Speech denounced Stalin’s personality cult and purges as early as 1956, rehabilitation of Old Bolsheviks proceeded at a slow pace. Nikolai Bukharin and 19 other co-defendants were officially completely rehabilitated in February 1988. Yagoda, who was deeply involved in the great purge as the head of NKVD, was not included. In May 1988, rehabilitation of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek, and co-defendants was announced.

After the death of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev repudiated the trials in a speech to the Twentieth Congress of the Russian Communist Party:

The commission has become acquainted with a large quantity of materials in the NKVD archives and with other documents and has established many facts pertaining to the fabrication of cases against Communists, to glaring abuses of Socialist legality which resulted in the death of innocent people. It became apparent that many party, Government and economic activists who were branded in 1937–38 as ‘enemies,’ were actually never enemies, spies, wreckers, etc., but were always honest Communists … They were only so stigmatized and often, no longer able to bear barbaric tortures, they charged themselves (at the order of the investigative judges – falsifiers) with all kinds of grave and unlikely crimes.[40]

It is now known that the confessions were given only after great psychological pressure and torture had been applied to the defendants. From the accounts of former GPU officer Alexander Orlov and others the methods used to extract the confessions are known: repeated beatings, torture, making prisoners stand or go without sleep for days on end, and threats to arrest and execute the prisoners’ families. For example, Kamenev’s teenage son was arrested and charged with terrorism. After months of such interrogation, the defendants were driven to despair and exhaustion.[41]

In January 1989, the official newspaper Pravda reported that 25,000 persons had been posthumously rehabilitated.

The trials in literature

See also

Notes

References…

Bibliography

Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Conquest, Robert (1990). The Great Terror: A Reassessment. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505580-2.
  • Leno, Matthew L. (2010). The Kirov Murder and Soviet History. New Haven: Yale University Press ISBN 978-0-300-11236-8.
  • Orlov, Alexander (1953). The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes. Random House, Inc.
  • Redman, Joseph, The British Stalinists and the Moscow Trials. Labour Review Vol. 3 No. 2, March–April 1958
  • Rogovin, Vadim Z. (1998). 1937: Stalin’s Year of Terror. Oak Park, MI: Mehring Books, Inc. ISBN 0-929087-77-1.
  • Snyder, Timothy (2010). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00239-9.
  • Tucker, Robert C. (1973). Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879–1929: A Study in History and Personality. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-05487-X.
  • Wolfe, Bertram David (1990). Breaking with Communism: The Intellectual Odyssey of Bertram D. Wolfe. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 0-8179-8881-5.

Further reading

  • Getty, J. Arch and Naumov, Oleg V. (2010). The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932–1939. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10407-3.
  • Goldman, Wendy Z. (2011). Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin’s Russia. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-19196-8.

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The Pronk Pops Show 1316, September 10, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Fires National Security John Bolton — Videos — Story 2: United States Fiscal Year 2019 Budgetary Deficit Exceeds $1,000,000,000,000,000 — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Burdening Future Generation of American Citizens — Tax, Spend, Borrow — Videos — Story 3: United States F-15s and F-35s Bombs ISIS Infested Island in Iraq — Videos — Story 4: Israeli Air Force Bombs Pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah Militia Base in Syria — Videos — Story 5: Remembering The Prescient and Wisdom of Ron Paul on Limited Government and the Neoconservatives — Videos

Posted on September 10, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Afghanistan, American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, China, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drugs, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Drugs, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Investments, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Israel, Language, Law, Legal Drugs, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Mexico, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, MIssiles, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Russia, Scandals, Security, Senate, South Korea, Spying, Subversion, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Syria, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

 

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Story 1: President Trump Fires National Security John Bolton —  Trump’s Non interventionist vs. Bolton’s Interventionist Foreign Policy — Videos

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‘I don’t think it will change a whole lot’ – Ron Paul on Bolton’s resignation

John Bolton fired as national security adviser

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Graham reveals Trump’s possible Bolton replacements

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Condoleezza Rice ‘relieved’ after cancellation of Taliban talks

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Ingraham: Boltin’ from the White House

President Trump fires John Bolton – analysis and reaction

Trump’s White House Denies Chaos In The Wake Of John Bolton’s Chaotic Exit | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Intel Chair Schiff: Bolton Should Have Never Been National Security Advisor | The Last Word | MSNBC

Trump: John Bolton Was Clashing With People In My Admin | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Hannity: Mob reports fake news, possibly put people’s lives in danger

John Bolton objection on Taliban peace talks @ Camp David last straw Trump tweets you’re Fired

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Bolton and Trump Have Been Disagreeing for Quite Some Time, Ret. Gen. Kimmitt Says

Trump Fires National Security Adviser John Bolton | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

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Is Trump’s Foreign Policy Non-Interventionist? Not So Fast

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Ousted National Security advisor John Bolton calls Donald Trump a LIAR for claiming he was fired and insists he resigned, amid claims the pair clashed over president’s plan to host the Taliban at Camp David

  • Trump fired Bolton by tweet just before noon Tuesday in a dramatic and unexpected move
  • He said he ‘disagreed strongly’ with Bolton ‘as did others in the administration’ 
  • Bolton tweeted minutes later, apparently from somewhere on the White House computer network, that Trump blew him off when he tried to resign
  • Other names in the mix: Mick Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair, hostage affairs envoy Robert O’Brien and senior Pompeo adviser Brian Hook
  • President had clashed with Bolton about Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela, and most recently on peace talks with the Taliban
  • Bolton, 70, had been Trump’s top national security aide since April 2018 after the president dispensed with three-star Army general H.R. McMaster
  • He texted ‘I resigned’ to a Fox News Channel host, who read it aloud on the air
  • Shakeup comes just two weeks before the United National General Assembly, where Trump will speak
  • One leading candidate to replace Bolton is Ric Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany 

Donald Trump said Tuesday he had ordered his national security advisor, John Bolton, to resign. But the ousted aide quickly insisted he quit first, then called the president’s version of events untrue.

The drama unfolded after months of deteriorating relations between Trump and his hawkish senior aide.

Trump tweeted just before noon that he had asked Bolton for his resignation and thanked him for ‘his services,’ but Bolton quickly shoved back, texting a Fox News Channel host live on air that ‘I resigned,’ then later texting NBC News that the president had never asked him to quit.

‘I offered to resign last night,’ Bolton told NBC in the text message. ‘He never asked for it, directly or indirectly. I slept on it, and resigned this morning.’

Bolton was photographed outside the West Wing on Tuesday morning just before 9:00, standing on the spot where a U.S. Marine is stationed whenever the president is at work – suggesting that Trump was still in the White House residence and didn’t meet with him.

After Trump announced Bolton’s departure, federal agents were seen at his Washington, D.C. home, removing government property including computer equipment and a shredder.

His abrupt departure and its ugly public aftermath was reportedly set off by the two disagreeing over Trump’s plan to host Taliban representatives at Camp David for peace talks last weekend, days before the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Trump publicly announced the cancellation of the previously unreported peace talk plan on Saturday evening; Bolton’s had strongly opposed dealing with the Taliban face-to-face.

The two had already fallen out over Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela; Bolton previously refused to go on television to defend Trump’s Afghanistan and Russia policies during last month’s G7 summit in France.

 

Over and out: How John Bolton resigns to Donald Trump in a letter which he said was his own initiative but which the president tweeted that he had demanded

Donald Trump and John Bolton became locked in a Twitter war of words over the national security adviser's departure, with Bolton saying he tried to quit and Trump saying he told him to resign; Bolton is pictured Tuesday morning outside the West Wing of the White House at 8:45 a.m.

Donald Trump and John Bolton became locked in a Twitter war of words over the national security adviser’s departure, with Bolton saying he tried to quit and Trump saying he told him to resign; Bolton is pictured Tuesday morning outside the West Wing of the White House at 8:45 a.m.

Federal agents were seen Tuesday at Bolton's home in Washington, D.C., removing equipment and other government property a few hours after he was fired; the gear included a shredder, a multifunction printer and other computer equipment

Federal agents were seen Tuesday at Bolton’s home in Washington, D.C., removing equipment and other government property a few hours after he was fired; the gear included a shredder, a multifunction printer and other computer equipment

This woman was seen carrying a black satchel down Bolton's driveway as agents removed other government property from his home

This woman was seen carrying a black satchel down Bolton’s driveway as agents removed other government property from his home

'I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,' the president said in a tweet. He had been Trump's top national security aide since April 2018, when they were photographed together in the Cabinet Room of the White House

‘I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,’ the president said in a tweet. He had been Trump’s top national security aide since April 2018, when they were photographed together in the Cabinet Room of the White House

They spoke Monday before Trump left for a political rally in North Carolina, accoding to a White House official. Bolton claimed Tuesday that the conversation did not focus on a Taliban-related falling-out.

But he sent the White House a two sentence resignation letter Tuesday morning, and Trump tweeted his departure at 11:58 a.m., an hour and a half before Bolton was due to stand beside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin for a rare White House press briefing about a raft of new anti-terrorism sanctions.

A leading candidate to replace Bolton is Ric Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany; G.renell was an early Trump backer and is seen as 'one of the most reliably hard-charging diplomats' in the administration, according to a State Department source

A leading candidate to replace Bolton is Ric Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany; G.renell was an early Trump backer and is seen as ‘one of the most reliably hard-charging diplomats’ in the administration, according to a State Department source

The two Cabinet members smiled broadly when they were asked if they had been ‘blindsided’ by the sudden departure. ‘I’m never surprised,’ Pompeo grinned.

The president offered no public hint of who might get the job next.

Charles Kupperman, Bolton’s deputy, became acting national security adviser on Tuesday. Bolton said in January that Kupperman ‘has been an advisor to me for more than thirty years.’ That, a White House aide said Tuesday, suggests Trump will quickly sweep him out as part of a National Security Council housecleaning.

Kupperman was already scheduled to be out of the White House in two weeks for an unspecified surgery.

Two White House officials said Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell quickly emerged as a leading candidate to be Trump’s fourth national security adviser in less than three years. One source said the president brought his name up to members of his senior staff shortly after tweeting about Bolton’s dismissal.

Grenell was an early Trump backer and is the administration’s highest ranking openly gay official. A source close to Grenell said Tuesday that he knows ‘how to deliver in a tough post.’ A State Department official speculated that the president might choose him because ‘one of the most reliably hard-charging diplomats’ in the U.S. foreign service.

A different White House official cautioned that since Grenell was Bolton’s chief spokesman at the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, he could be seen as ‘fruit from the poisoned tree.’

Bolton was barely three hours away from getting the axe as he checked his phone in front of the West Wing's north doors; he stood where a U.S. Marine is normally positioned whenever the president is in the West Wing, suggesting Trump was still in the residence and didn't meet iwth Bolton before he fired him

Bolton was barely three hours away from getting the axe as he checked his phone in front of the West Wing’s north doors; he stood where a U.S. Marine is normally positioned whenever the president is in the West Wing, suggesting Trump was still in the residence and didn’t meet iwth Bolton before he fired him

Robert Blair, another potential Bolton successor, is a senior adviser to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Blair was in charge of national security programs for the White House Budget Office when Mulvaney was its director.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Blair was in the mix. He did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Bloomberg News reported that other possible replacements for Bolton ‘discussed by Trump associates’ include Robert O’Brien, the president’s envoy for hostage affairs, and senior Pompeo adviser Brian Hook.

A White House aide said Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has expressed a preference for Hook.

It’s unclear what Bolton’s next career move will be.

A Fox News Chanel producer on Tuesday called it ‘unlikely’ that the network will hire him as an on-air pundit.

A source at the Gatestone Institute, an Israel-friendly think tank where he was chairman before coming to the White House, said Tuesday that Bolton was still expected to deliver a previously scheduled luncheon speech to its members on September 18 in New York.

President Trump wasted no time discussing with senior West Wing staff who might be Bolton's replacement, according to White House officials

President Trump wasted no time discussing with senior West Wing staff who might be Bolton’s replacement, according to White House officials

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he and Bolton had different in significant ways on foreign policy, but refused during a White House briefing to get into specifics

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he and Bolton had different in significant ways on foreign policy, but refused during a White House briefing to get into specifics

Trump started the mad scramble with a pair of late morning tweets on Tuesday.

‘I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,’ the president said in a tweet two minutes before midday, and an hour and a half before Bolton was scheduled to participate in a briefing to reporters at the White House.

‘I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,’ Trump tweeted.

Pompeo told reporters during the afternoon briefing that ‘there were many times where Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed, that’s to be sure.’

He added that the administration’s policies were the president’s, not Bolton’s. ‘I don’t think any leader around the world should make any assumption that, because some one of us departs, that President Trump’s foreign policy would change in a material way,’ he said.

In his own tweet sent a few minutes after Trump’s, apparently from somewhere on the White House’s own computer network, Bolton said the president blew him off when he tried to resign Monday night. He tweeted: ‘I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow’.’

The squabbling versions of Bolton’s departure came after White House reporters were told that he,  Pompeo and Mnuchin would brief them at 1: 30 p.m.

Bolton was seen as a war hawk who favored military intervention around the globe – a view that was at odds with Trump’s insistence that America’s troops should stop being ‘the world’s policemen.’

He clashed repeatedly with Pompeo over foreign policy and was recently sidelined during internal White House discussions about how to handle conflicts with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bolton opposed Trump’s proposals for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan, and was a leading detractor inside the White House of the Camp David peace summit Trump planned and later canceled.

The president called it off after a Taliban suicide bombing attack in Kabul killed 12 people, including an American soldier.

Battle of the tweets: John Bolton tweeted that he tried to quit before he was fired – and did so from the White House's own network

Battle of the tweets: John Bolton tweeted that he tried to quit before he was fired – and did so from the White House’s own network

Tensions between Bolton and Pompeo ramped up in recent weeks. The two men – the top foreign policy advisers to the president – rarely spoke outside of formal meetings, CNN has reported.

Bolton was also in periodic clashes with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. 

Bolton, 70, entered the administration in April 2018 after Trump dispensed with his second national security adviser, three-star Army general H.R. McMaster.

He had been a prominent Fox News contributor with aggressive views on the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and on pressuring NATO members to increase their defense spending.

Trump sometimes joked about Bolton’s image as a warmonger, reportedly saying in one Oval Office meeting that ‘John has never seen a war he doesn’t like.’

But in recent months there had been whispers that Trump was losing patience with him.

When Trump went to South Korea at the end of June and crossed into the DMZ to meet Kim Jong-un, the first sitting president to meet a North Korean leader in the separation zone between the two countries, Bolton was in Mongolia.

TRUMP’S HIGH-PROFILE DEPARTURE LOUNGE

Here are just some of the top officials who have left Trump’s administration and when their departures were announced

2017

Inauguration Day was January 20

January 31: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates 

February 13: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

March 30: Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh 

April 9: Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland

May 9: FBI Director James Comey 

May 30: Communications Director Michael Dubke 

July 21: Press Secretary Sean Spicer 

July 28: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus 

July 31: Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci 

August 18: Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

August 25: National security aide Sebastian Gorka 

September 1: Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller

September 29: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price 

December 8: Deputy National Security adviser Dina Powell 

December 13: Communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman

2018

February 7: Staff Secretary Rob Porter 

February 28: Communications Director Hope Hicks 

March 6: Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn 

March 12: Special assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee

March 13: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 

March 22: National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster 

March 28: Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin 

April 10: Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert 

April 11: Deputy National Security Adviser Nadia Schadlow 

April 12: Deputy National Security adviser Ricky Waddell 

May 2:  White House attorney Ty Cobb

June 5: Communications aide Kelly Sadler 

 July 5: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt

August 29: White House Counsel Don McGahn

October 9: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley

November 7: Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

December 9: Chief of Staff John Kelly

December 15: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

December 20: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

2019

March 8: Communications Director Bill Shine 

April 8: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

June 13: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders 

June 18: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan

June 25: Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner John Sanders 

July 12: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta 

July 28: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats 

August 6: Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman 

August 8: Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Sue Gordon

August 29: President’s personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout

September 5: Lead Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt

September 10: National Security Advisor, John Bolton

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7448735/Donald-Trump-FIRES-National-Security-Advisor-John-Bolton.html

By Shannon Pettypiece, Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander and Adam Edelman

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he had fired national security adviser John Bolton after a string of disagreements, removing one of the most hawkish voices in Trump’s inner circle on a number of issues, including Taliban negotiations and China trade talks.

Trump announced on Twitter that he had asked for Bolton’s resignation on Monday night, saying he had “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.”

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump said on Twitter.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.

25.4K people are talking about this

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that Trump had asked for Bolton’s resignation on Monday night, and that it was delivered on Tuesday. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump and Bolton had not spoken on Tuesday.

Bolton himself said in a tweet that he had offered to resign Monday night, and that the president had said in response that they would “talk about it tomorrow.”

“I offered to resign last night,” Bolton told NBC News via text. “He never asked for it, directly or indirectly. I slept on it, and resigned this morning.” He denied reports that he and Trump had gotten into a heated argument Monday night over the president’s plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David.

Some National Security Council officials were caught off guard by Bolton’s firing, learning about it only when it flashed on TV screens.

Reports over the weekend that Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence disagreed with Trump’s Camp David plan was the last straw for Bolton, according to two people familiar with the matter. On Monday, Pence tweeted that the stories were fake but Bolton did not — and that, according to the officials, upset Trump.

One person familiar with the breakdown between the two men said Trump didn’t want Bolton attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York with him later this month.

Asked if the disagreement over the Taliban talks led to Bolton’s dismissal, Grisham said “that there was no final straw.”

“There were several issues,” he said. “They had policy disagreements.”

But speaking on the condition of anonymity, one official said Afghanistan “broke open the bottom of the bag” in a relationship that had been eroding. Another official confirmed that sharp disagreement over the Afghanistan deal was the final issue that ruptured the relationship.

Bolton, known as a fierce infighter, had few loyal allies internally. He had clashed with many senior members of the administration at times, including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

But he could also build alliances when needed. He worked closely with Pence on multiple issues, including efforts to replace Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, and aligned with Pompeo on encouraging a hard-line stance on China, said a former administration official.

He was one of the loudest hawks inside the West Wing, perpetually skeptical of the country’s adversaries and unafraid of the prospect of military conflict. Few others in the upper ranks of the administration were as deeply versed in the nuances of foreign policy, a void that Pompeo will now have an outsize role in filling — particularly when it comes to Iran, China and Venezuela, said the former official.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

Most recently, the two had sparred over Trump’s desire to have leaders of the Taliban visit Camp David in the days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to finalize peace talks. The idea was strongly opposed by Bolton, even as officials at the State Department argued it could move the parties closer to an agreement, officials said.

Bolton had been deeply skeptical of negotiations with the Taliban. U.S. negotiators have been working under the president’s demand that a drawdown occur before November 2020, when he’s up for re-election.

Asked if he had been startled by Bolton’s quick exit, Pompeo told reporters he had not. “I’m never surprised. And I don’t mean that on just this issue,” he said.

Bolton’s departure could pave the way for a more flexible approach by the Trump administration on North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Afghanistan, former U.S. officials and two current U.S. officials said.

Bolton had pushed Trump to take a harder line on other regimes he has deemed untrustworthy. Trump, on the other hand, campaigned on the promise to get the U.S. out of conflicts.

While Bolton had previously pushed for striking Iran in an effort at regime change, Trump has indicated he would like to sit down with Iranian officials, and that regime change is off the table; Pompeo confirmed Tuesday that the president is likely to speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when the U.N. General Assembly meets in New York. “The president has made it very clear, he’s prepared to meet with no preconditions,” said Pompeo.

Some officials in the administration had also grown frustrated with Bolton’s stance on Venezuela, in which he pushed for the imposition of harsh sanctions on the Maduro regime and opposed renewing a waiver to allow the energy company Chevron to keep operating in the country.

When asked earlier about his differences with Bolton, Trump indicated he didn’t have a problem with his national security adviser giving an opinion that diverged from his own.

“I have some hawks,” the president said in a “Meet the Press” interview this summer. “Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, OK? But that doesn’t matter, because I want both sides.”

Bolton has had his fair share of detractors in Congress. Many of those critics praised his departure — with even some who held a favorable view of him said the change could be a positive one.

“I like John Bolton, I think he sees the world for what it is. I’ve always had a similar view of threats that we face,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “But the personal relationship between the president and national security adviser is important. I think the view that there’s some public discussions about Bolton being on the other side of meeting with the Taliban probably was a bridge too far.”

But Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Bolton’s departure was a “huge loss” for the country.

“His view was not always the same as everybody else in the room, that’s why you wanted him there,” Romney told reporters. “The fact that he was a contrarian from time to time is an asset, not a liability.”

This is the third national security adviser that Trump will have to replace. His first, Michael Flynn, was in court for a status hearing on Tuesday before his sentencing for lying to U.S. officials. Flynn’s successor, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said he was retiring after repeated disagreements with Trump.

It is unclear what will now happen with the team of foreign policy experts Bolton had built over more than a year — a state of affairs adding yet more instability to the national security ranks under Trump’s presidency.

Trump named Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and undersecretary of state for international security, to the post in a tweet in March 2018. At the time of his appointment, Bolton said in a Fox News interview that he was taken off guard.

Trump said Tuesday that he would name a new national security adviser next week. Gidley said Tuesday afternoon that deputy national security adviser Charlie Kupperman would replace Bolton as the acting national security adviser.

Hours before Trump announced his departure, Bolton sent a final public warning on Iran.

“Now that we’re two weeks from #UNGA, you can be sure #Iran is working overtime on deception,” Bolton wrote in a tweet. “Let’s review the greatest hits, starting with the most recent. #Iran denied the Adrian Darya-1 was headed to #Syria, then confirmed today its oil was offloaded there. #IranWebOfLies”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-fires-national-security-adviser-john-bolton-n1051986

Nonintervention: America’s Founding Foreign Policy

by 

On the Fourth of July, 1821, John Quincy Adams delivered one of the most remarkable speeches in U.S. history. Having gone down in history with the title “In Search of Monsters of Destroy,” Adams’s speech summarized the founding foreign policy of the United States.

Adams pointed out that there are lots of bad things that happen around the world. Brutal dictatorships. Tyranny. Civil wars. Revolutions. Wars between nations. Poverty. Famines.

Notwithstanding the death and destruction such “monsters” produced in foreign countries, however, the U.S. government would not go abroad to slay them. That was the founding foreign policy of the United States, a policy of nonintervention.

That’s not to say that the United States was unwilling to offer any assistance to people who were suffering in foreign lands. Private Americans were free to offer their support, either personally or with financial donations. Equally important, the United States had a founding immigration policy of open borders, which meant that anyone who was willing and able to escape the monstrous conditions in his homeland and emigrate to the United States was assured that he would never be forcibly repatriated to his country.

In his speech, Adams also issued a profound admonition. He said that if America were ever to abandon its founding foreign policy of nonintervention, she would inevitably acquire the characteristics of a “dictatress.”

What are the characteristics of a dictator or a dictatress? Dictatorships wield omnipotent powers, such as the powers to incarcerate, torture, and kill people with impunity or to arbitrarily seize and keep their money or property.

Nonintervention and open immigration were not the only policies that made the United States such an unusual country. There was also no income taxation or IRS. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or farm subsidies. No Federal Reserve System of paper (i.e., fiat) money. No drug laws. Hardly any economic regulations, including minimum-wage laws, price controls, or rent controls. No Pentagon or military-industrial complex. No CIA. No NSA. No FBI. No Homeland Security. No public (i.e., government) schooling systems. No sanctions or embargoes. No war on terrorism. No torture. No indefinite detention. No travel restrictions. The American people didn’t even use passports.

We know there was slavery and some lesser violations of the principles of liberty, such as tariffs. But if we set those exceptions aside and consider the overall founding principles of the United States, it is impossible to reach but one conclusion: It was the most unusual political and economic system that had ever existed in the history of mankind.

It was that unusual system that defined an American. It was that unusual system that caused Americans to believe that they were the freest people in history. It was that unusual system that the French were honoring when they gifted the Statue of Liberty to the American people.

The shift away from freedom

Things started to shift in the late 1890s. Government programs such as Social Security, government health care, public schooling, and progressive income taxation, which were originating among socialists in Germany, began percolating within American society.

At the same time, some Americans were advocating a turn towards empire. Looking to the examples set by the British Empire, the French Empire, the Spanish Empire, and others, such Americans were arguing that it was time for the United States to travel the imperialist road as well. The key to national greatness, they argued, was for the United States to acquire colonies, just like other empires in history.

The great turning point with respect to foreign policy came in 1898 in the Spanish-American War, which, insofar as the United States was concerned, involved a combination of interventionism and empire.

The war originated as a fight for independence by colonies of the Spanish Empire, including Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. That war did not involve the United States. Certainly Spain had not attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. It was purely a war between a foreign empire and its overseas colonies.

But the U.S. government decided to intervene in the conflict by coming to the assistance of the rebelling colonies. The intervention constituted an abandonment of the founding foreign policy of nonintervention that Adams had summarized a half-century before in his Fourth of July speech to Congress. The U.S. government had decided to intervene in the Spanish-American War to slay the monster of the Spanish Empire.

 While independence was the goal of the Spanish colonies, that was not the goal of the U.S. government. The goal of the U.S. government was to replace the Spanish Empire as the owner and controller of its colonies.

That’s why U.S. troops stayed in Cuba after the war was over — to ensure U.S. control over the island. In fact, that is how the United States ended up with its foreign military base at Guantanamo Bay — by forcing a compliant administration in Cuba to lease it at a nominal price to the United States in perpetuity.

 While the Cuban people deeply resented what had happened, they didn’t resort to a war for independence from the United States, as they had done against Spain. It was different with the Filipino people, however. Having prevailed against Spain in their war for independence, they weren’t about to settle for being a colony of the United States. Thus, they continued their war for independence, only this time against the United States, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives lost at the hands of U.S. forces. In the end, the U.S. government prevailed. The Philippines, along with Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam, remained under the control of a foreign power, albeit the United States rather than Spain.

America had turned towards both empire and intervention, which made it easier for Woodrow Wilson to convince Americans to intervene in World War I twenty years later. Wilson argued that U.S. intervention into the European conflict would have two extremely positive effects: One, U.S. intervention would bring an end to war in Europe, something that had besieged that part of the world for centuries, and, two, it would make the entire world safe for democracy.

Securing a declaration of war from Congress, the U.S. government proceeded to intervene in World War I on the side of Great Britain and others and against Germany. The intervention was a clear abandonment of the founding foreign policy of the United States. The U.S. government under Wilson was going abroad in search of monsters to destroy — precisely the opposite of what Adams had described nearly 100 years before as America’s founding foreign policy of nonintervention.

Meanwhile, America was shifting in a different direction domestically as well. The progressive income tax, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve System came into existence in the 1910s. In the 1930s, gold coins, which under the U.S. Constitution had been the official money of the American people for more than a century, were nationalized and seized, with any American caught owning them being subject to federal felony prosecution. Irredeemable federal notes and bills were made the official money of the country.

The adoption of Social Security, an idea that had originated among German socialists, heralded the advent of the welfare state in America, a way of life in which the government forcibly takes money from one group of people and gives it to another group of people. At the same time, America was moving towards a regulated, controlled, and managed economy, as reflected by Franklin Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act; minimum-wage laws; maximum-hours laws; and economic, financial, and banking regulations.

World War II

 It did not take long for Americans to realize that U.S. intervention in World War I was a total dis-aster, one that had sacrificed tens of thousands of American troops, many of whom had been forced to fight through conscription. The U.S. intervention not only failed to end all war and make the world safe for democracy, it actually laid the political and economic conditions that gave rise to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Thus, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to intervening in World War II. They had had enough of intervention in Europe’s unending conflicts.

But Franklin Roosevelt, like Wilson before him, had other ideas. He was bound and determined to embroil the United States in the European war, this time certain that intervention would prove to be a positive thing for the United States.

Americans, of course, are taught that World War II was a great victory for the United States because Nazi Germany was defeated. They are also taught, however, to ignore the other consequences of the war.

For example, the Poles never considered the defeat of the Nazis to be a victory. Recall that the Poles were the reason that Great Britain had entered the conflict in the first place. Having issued a guarantee to Poland, England declared war on Germany with the intent of freeing the Poles from Nazi tyranny. While victory in the war did, in fact, free the Poles from Nazi tyranny, it also left them under the control of the communist regime of the Soviet Union (which had been America’s World War II partner and ally), for the next 45 years. From the standpoint of the Poles, there was no difference between Nazi tyranny and communist tyranny, which is why they never celebrated World War II as a victory.

It was the same with the rest of Eastern Europe and, for that matter, East Germany. At the end of the war and for the next 45 years, they had to live under the iron fist of brutal communist rule.

But there is something important to understand about all this: In the midst of the war, Roosevelt actually agreed to deliver those nations into the clutches of Soviet communist leader Joseph Stalin, whom he affectionately referred to as “Uncle Joe,” notwithstanding the fact that Stalin had killed many more people than Hitler.

And then here is the irony: After the Soviets insisted on maintaining postwar control over the nations that Roosevelt had delivered into their clutches, Harry Truman and other U.S. officials used that control to convince Americans that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy, based in Moscow, to conquer the United States and the rest of the world.

The national-security state

The aftermath of America’s intervention into World War II produced a monumental change in America’s governmental structure, one that entailed the destruction of a limited-government republic and the adoption of what is known as a “national-security state.”

What is a national-security state? It is a type of governmental structure that is inherent to totalitarian regimes. It is characterized by a massive, permanent, generously funded military establishment; a highly secret intelligence agency with omnipotent powers, including assassination; and a massive surveillance operation to secretly monitor and keep track of both citizens and foreigners.

North Korea is a national-security state. So is Russia. And Cuba. And Egypt. And post–World War II United States. That’s what the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are all about.

In his Farewell Address in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower referred to this new governmental apparatus as “the military-industrial complex.” At the same time, he issued one of the most dramatic warnings in U.S. history, one that rivaled that of John Quincy Adams in 1821. Ike told Americans that this governmental apparatus that was new to the United States posed a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.

President Truman and other U.S. officials told Americans that it was necessary to adopt this totalitarian-like governmental structure in order to prevent America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, from conquering the United States in what became known as the Cold War. It was never made clear how the Soviet Union was going to do that, especially since the entire nation had been devastated by the war and then had continued its socialist economic system, which inevitably makes a nation weaker, not stronger.

Nonetheless, the Soviet Union was converted into America’s post–World War II official enemy, and Americans were made to believe that the communists were coming to get them. Truman clearly understood that in order to get Americans to accept the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state, he had to “scare the hell” out of the American people.

There is something important to keep in mind here. Intervention, empire, and a national-security state are different concepts. It is possible for a nation to be a national-security state without having a foreign policy of intervention and empire. North Korea is an example.

But after World War II, the United States went in all three directions. It became a national-security state and almost immediately it began intervening in foreign countries, under the guise of fighting the communists. That’s how the U.S. intervention in the Korean War, which was always just a civil war, was justified — to prevent an eventual communist takeover of the United States. It was also how U.S, intervention in the Vietnam War, which also was just a civil war, was justified — to keep the dominoes from falling to the Reds, with the final domino being the United States.

But it wasn’t just intervention that characterized Cold War America. It was also empire, not by following the old British Empire model but rather by following the model of empire established by the Soviets in Eastern Europe, where the Soviets installed regimes ruled by locals who would follow orders from the Soviets.

That’s what the U.S. coups in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and others were all about — the destruction of independent regimes, even democratically elected ones, and the installation of local dictatorships that would follow orders from the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, budgets were soaring throughout the Cold War for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

 New enemies 

In 1991 the Cold War suddenly and unexpectedly came to an end with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from East Germany and Eastern Europe, and the normalization of relations between Russia and the West. The justification for America’s national-security state way of life had come to an end.

The Pentagon and the CIA were not ready, however, to go quietly into the night and permit the restoration of a limited-government republic to our land. Almost immediately, they initiated a series of interventions in the Middle East that were virtually certain to produce “blowback” in the form of terrorist retaliation: The Persian Gulf intervention, followed by 11 years of brutal sanctions on Iraq, which killed tens of thousands of Iraqi children every year. UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s infamous declaration that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the sanctions was “worth it.” The stationing of UN troops near the holiest lands in the Muslim religion, knowing full well how that would be perceived by people of Muslim faith. They also continued America’s unconditional financial and military support to the Israeli government.

All that interventionism produced the inevitable terrorist retaliation, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center; the attack on the USS Cole, the U.S. warship that was passing near Yemen; the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa; and then the 9/11 attacks.

Refusing to acknowledge that such attacks were the inevitable result of U.S. intervention in the Middle East and insisting instead that they were motivated by foreign hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” U.S. officials doubled down with post–9/11 regime-change invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Those two interventions produced nothing but massive death, destruction, and suffering, not to mention the rise of ISIS, which was then used as a justification for intervening in Syria’s revolution, which U.S. officials had encouraged as part of their foreign policy of intervention in the Middle East. There was also the Libya regime-change operation, which, in combination with the Syrian and Iraqi interventions, produced a massive refugee crisis for Europe.

Meanwhile, what Adams predicted in 1821 has come to pass. The federal government has become a dictatress. How else to describe a regime that wields the omnipotent power to assassinate its own people or simply take them into military custody and hold them indefinitely as “enemy combatants” and torture them for as long as officials want? How else to describe a regime that wields the omnipotent power to seize people’s money and other assets under the so-called drug war without ever charging them with a crime?

The good news is that there is a solution to all this mayhem, death, destruction, and loss of liberty, if Americans can only gather the will to embrace it. That solution is two-fold: to restore America’s founding principles of a noninterventionist foreign policy and America’s founding principle of a limited-government republic. If American people were to do that, they could lead the world out of the statist morass in which it finds itself.

This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of FFF’s monthly journal, Future of Freedom.

Nonintervention: America’s Founding Foreign Policy

About Ben Friedman

Ben Friedman is a research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute. He co-edited two books, Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy is Failing and How to Fix It (Cato 2010), and U.S. Military Innovation Since the Cold War: Creation Without Destruction (Routledge, 2012).

Mike German, Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, interviewed Friedman on August 4, 2014. Read an edited transcript of the full interview here.

Part 1: Fear, Risk, and Vulnerability

Ben Friedman discusses fear management in national security, arguing that overrating the threat of terrorism creates costs to society, both financial and to our civil liberties. Political entrepreneurs exploit this overwrought fear, Friedman argues, which cramps democratic debate. He asserts that public policy should be driven by risk rather than vulnerability

Part 2: Scoping the Intelligence/National Security Enterprise

Ben Friedman estimates that homeland and national security spending approaches a trillion dollars annually, including wars and veterans’ expenses. Citing research by Steve Pinker that shows that the world is less violent than previous eras, Friedman argues that the U.S. is actually quite safe, which makes such exorbitant spending unnecessary.

Part 3: Politization of Intelligence

Ben Friedman explains the difficulty of completely divorcing intelligence agencies from political influences. He disputes contemporary statements by intelligence officials that suggest the world today is more dangerous than previous generations.

Part 4: Threat Inflation

Ben Friedman points to the work of Sherman Kent, a former CIA analyst, who suggested that the CIA is driven primarily by the need to be right. Friedman suggests that the different voices in threat analysis could provide dissents that might temper the agencies; tendencies toward threat inflation.

Part 5: Secret Government is Stupid Government

Ben Friedman argues that excessive secrecy in government stifles debate, which leads to ill-considered policies. Friedman finds Congress less willing to conduct effective oversight of national security actions for a variety of reasons.

Part 6: Primacy vs. Restraint

Ben Friedman describes the debate over U.S. grand strategy, pitting realists who argue for a restrained foreign policy against a bi-partisan primacy consensus that advocates for interventionist policies. Friedman says the primacy view gets us in “avoidable fights,” and incurs unaccounted costs to society. Moreover, there is little social science evidence to support that U.S. power projection is making us safer.

Part 7: Tools of Democratic Control

Ben Friedman describes the robust tools Congress has to conduct oversight, but suggests its failure to assert its power in national security issues has led to malfunction of constitutional balances. Friedman also feels the press has generally performed poorly in checking abuse, though he cites exceptions such as Dana Priest’s coverage of secret CIA detention sites.

Part 8: No Cabinet of Doves

Ben Friedman discusses President Obama’s habit of selecting foreign policy hawks for leadership positions in the national security and intelligence community. Friedman laments that while many academic researchers support a restrained foreign policy, few such advocates find positions in government.

RECOMMENDED READING:

https://www.brennancenter.org/about-ben-friedman

Foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration

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The stated aims of the foreign policy of the Donald Trump administration include a focus on security, by fighting terrorists abroad and strengthening border defenses and immigration controls; an expansion of the U.S. military; an “America First” approach to trade; and diplomacy whereby “old enemies become friends”.[1] The foreign policy positions expressed by Trump during his presidential campaign changed frequently, making it “difficult to glean a political agenda, or even a set of clear, core policy values ahead of his presidency.”[2] During his presidential inauguration speech, Trump said that during his presidency the U.S. would “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.” He also stated that his administration would “seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,” and that he understands the “right of all nations to put their own interests first.”[3]

During the 2016 election campaign, Trump “repeatedly defined American global interests almost purely in economic terms,” with the nation’s “roles as a peacekeeper, as a provider of a nuclear deterrent against adversaries like North Korea, as an advocate of human rights and as a guarantor of allies’ borders” being “quickly reduced to questions of economic benefit to the United States.”[4] He also repeatedly called for allied countries, including Germany, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, to compensate the United States for helping protect their nations,[5] and suggested that his willingness to defend a country might depend on how much that country was willing to “pay us to save them.”[6] Trump and his advisors continued this theme throughout the presidency, emphasizing their view that other countries need to increase their financial commitment to their own defense or compensate the United States for providing it.[7]

Trump also supported a robust national defense during the 2016 election[8][9][10] and in his first budget proposal as president in March 2017, Trump proposed a $54 billion (10%) increase in defense spending, to a total of $639 billion for fiscal year 2018. He said the increase would be needed to fight terrorism, improve troop readiness, and build new ships and planes and would be paid for by deep cuts to other agencies, including a 28% cut from the State Department budget. He also requested an additional $30 billion for the Defense Department for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.[11]

As a presidential candidate, Trump emphasized a “get-tough” approach toward suspected terrorists. He called for the resumption of waterboarding “and much worse”.[12][13] He repeatedly expressed support for the use of torture by the U.S. for the purpose of trying to get information from suspected terrorists, and said the law should be changed to allow waterboarding and other forms of torture.[12][14] However, after his election, Trump stated that he would defer to the views of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who opposed waterboarding and torture.[15]

Upon taking office, Trump relied more on his White House advisors rather than the State Department to advise him on international relations. He initially chose former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson did not have previous government or diplomatic experience, but due to ExxonMobil’s international activities he had experience and contacts in many other countries, particularly Russia.[16] In many cases Trump has given important foreign policy assignments to advisors within the White House, particularly former chief political strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Jared Kushner.[17] Trump has made significant decisions, such as a proposed travel ban from certain countries and a counter-terrorism strike in Yemen, which was made without any input from the State Department.[18][19] Budget cuts and reliance on advisors led to media reports that the State Department has been noticeably “sidelined” during the administration.[17][18] The State Department normally has two deputy secretaries of state and six undersecretaries, regarded as senior posts;[20][21] by March 2017 no nominations had been submitted for any of those positions.[22]

An August 2017 Pew Research Poll found that 15 percent of all Americans, and 31 percent of Republicans, said they agreed with President Trump on “nearly all issues”.[23] By the closing months of 2017, a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs think tank found that President Trump’s most passionate supporters solidly supported his core views on foreign policy, but Republicans with less favorable views of the president are far less enthusiastic and their attitudes more closely match with the overall population.[24]

Contents

Americas

On March 3, 2019, National Security Advisor John Bolton invoked the Monroe Doctrine in describing the Trump administration’s policy in the Americas, saying “In this administration, we’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine…It’s been the objective of American presidents going back to [President] Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”[25][26]

Argentina

President Trump and Argentine President Mauricio Macri, April 2017

President Trump hosted President Macri in Washington, D.C. in April 2017. They met at the White House on April 27 to talk about trade.[27] When the ARA San Juan submarine went missing on November 15, 2017 during a routine patrol in the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, President Trump offered the help of the United States to find the submarine.

Brazil

President Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, March 2019

The two countries re-approached with the victory of the right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. On the first official visit of the Brazilian president to the United States in March 2019, Trump announced Brazil as Major non-NATO ally. In May, the U.S. government, through Kimberly Breier, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, announced formal support for Brazil’s entry into the OECD.[28][29][30][31][32]

Canada

President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, February 2017

President Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February 2017 at the White House. Trudeau was the third world leader that Trump hosted since his election as president, after the United Kingdom’s Theresa May and Japan’s Shinzo Abe.[33] At the meeting Trump claimed that he viewed the United States’ relationship with Canada as being different from its relationship with Mexico, and said he only foresaw minor adjustments to the Canadian side of NAFTA.[34] At the meeting Trump and Trudeau also discussed increased cooperation at the Canada–United States border, combating opioid abuse, clean energy, and establishing a joint council to promote women in business.[35]

In April 2017 the Trump administration took action on the longstanding Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute, raising the possibility of a trade war. Following Trump’s comment that Canada’s lumber trade practices are unfair, the Commerce Department announced plans to impose a retroactive duty of 30-40% on Canadian wood shipments to the United States. Canada’s minister for trade said, “Canada will not be deterred and will vigorously defend our industry.”[36] The Canadian dollar fell to a 14-month low on the announcement.[37]

On June 20, 2019, Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met and held “positive” talks at the White House on topics regarding ratifying the USMCA, the detentions of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and Canadian nationals Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, confronting China, and tariff negotiations. Trump called Trudeau a “friend” and, following Trudeau’s trip, both Canadian and U.S. officials and media generally considered the talks constructive and helped thaw relations between the two allies, which had noticeably chilled in the early years of Trump’s presidency.[38]

Caribbean

During a summer 2017 meeting about immigration, Trump objected to receiving immigrants from Haiti, reportedly saying “they all have AIDS.” The White House denied the report.[39] During a meeting with congressional leaders on January 11, 2018, Trump complained about the number of immigrants from Haiti, saying “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out.”[40] He then referred to Haiti and El Salvador, as well as unspecified African nations, as “shithole countries”, although specific facts and details about these remarks were disputed.[40]

Cuba

During the campaign, Trump expressed his opposition to the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba achieved in July 2015.[41] Trump said that he would only restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba if the Cuban regime met his demands to restore political freedoms and free political prisoners.[41] This represented a shift from his position expressed in September 2015 when he said that the opening with Cuba was “fine. But we should have made a better deal.”[41] Trump also said that he opposed the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil to remain in the country legally and apply for residency.[42]

On June 16, 2017, President Trump announced that he was cancelling the Obama administration’s previous deals with Cuba, while also expressing hope that a new deal could be negotiated between Cuba and the United States.[43][44]

On November 1, 2018, National Security Advisor John R. Bolton gave a speech in Miami in which he named Cuba as one of three countries that make up a “troika of tyranny.”[45]

Greenland

In August 2019, Trump expressed interest in buying the territory of Greenland from the country Denmark. In reaction, Greenland’s foreign ministry declared that the territory was not for sale.[46] Citing Denmark’s reluctance to discuss the purchase, days later Trump canceled a scheduled September trip to Copenhagen.[47]

Mexico

During the campaign[

During the campaign Trump emphasized U.S. border security and illegal immigration as signature issues.[48] He stated, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. …. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. Their rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”[9] He also talked about drugs and infectious diseases “pouring across the border”.[49]

In campaign speeches Trump repeatedly pledged to build a wall along the U.S.’s southern border, saying that Mexico would pay for its construction through increased border-crossing fees and NAFTA tariffs.[50][51][52] Trump said his proposed wall would be “a real wall. Not a toy wall like we have now.”[53] After a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on August 31, 2016, Trump said that they “didn’t discuss” who would pay for the border wall.[54] Nieto contradicted that later that day, saying that he at the start of the meeting “made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall”.[55] Later that day, Trump reiterated his position that Mexico will pay to build an “impenetrable” wall on the Southern border.[56]

Trump also vowed to impose tariffs — in the range of 15 to 35 percent — on companies that move their operations to Mexico.[57] He specifically criticized the Ford Motor Co.Carrier Corporation, and Mondelez International.[58][57][59] And he condemned the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that if elected president, “We will either renegotiate it, or we will break it.”[60][61]

The Trump administration

President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, July 2017

Trump’s rhetoric as a candidate and as president “cranked up the tension in US-Mexico relations to a high not seen in decades”.[62] On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order calling for “immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border”.[63] He also reiterated that Mexico will eventually pay for the wall. Mexican President Peña Nieto had been scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on January 31. However, on January 26 Peña Nieto called off the visit, not citing a reason. The two leaders spoke by telephone on January 27. In statements afterward they acknowledged their differences on the issue and said they intend to work them out, as well as other issues such as security and trade.[64]

According to a poll regarding the Trump Administration by the National Research Inc and The Polling Company more Americans agree that legal immigration is at the right levels but want illegal immigration curbed. The 1,201 that were polled believe that President Trump’s focus on illegals has cut those crossing United States borders without approval.[65] It has been reported that the appeal of President Trump’s anti-NAFTA messages has been dominant among working-class white families in the United States. These families do not have the capability to provide for the kind of education their children need in order to successfully live in this modern day economy.[66]

Polls also show 5 percent of Mexicans trust President Trump’s decisions and role in international affairs. The survey by the Pew Research Center said 93 percent of Mexicans had “no confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing regarding world affairs.[67]” The president’s decision for a wall along the Mexican border had a proposed 2018 budget that included a request for $1.6 billion to begin construction. A November 2017 Quinnipiac University Poll found that 64% of voters oppose building the wall and data showed only 33% supported the idea.[68]

Funding for the border wall remained a divisive topic well into 2019, with a partial government shutdown beginning in December 2018 after Trump refused to sign a budget bill that didn’t have appropriated funding for the border wall.

Nicaragua

Over the course of the civil unrest in Nicaragua that started in April 2018, the Trump administration has placed numerous sanctions and condemnations against President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista Government for human rights abuses. The first set of sanctions took place in early July 2018 when under Magnitsky, three top Sandinista officials had their visas revoked.[69] More sanctions and condemnations rolled in after U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton named Nicaragua as part of a troika of tyranny,[70] including on November 27, 2018 when President Trump issued an executive order targeting the First Lady and Vice President of Nicaragua and her aide Néstor Moncada Lau,[71][72] and later on December 20, 2018 when President Trump signed then-Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen‘s Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) into law.[73][74] On April 17, 2019, shortly before the one-year anniversary of the unrest, the Trump Administration announced sanctions on the Nicaraguan bank BANCORP and on Laureano Ortega Murillo, who is one of Ortega’s sons.[75]

Peru

Trump with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on February 24, 2017

President Trump hosted President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in February 2017 to discuss issues in Latin America. Trump has expressed gratitude for Peru’s close relations with the United States in protecting interests in Latin America, such as sanctions against Venezuela and corruption probes. Kuczynski brought up a minor purchase of military equipment from the United States for Peru.
Kuczynski later recalled that Trump privately mentioned to Kuczynski that “You don’t look a day over 90.” Kuczynski was 79 at the time.[76]

Venezuela

Trump delivers remarks to the Venezuelan American community in Miami, Florida, February 18, 2019

In August 2017 following months of protests in Venezuela against President Nicolás Maduro and the election of a Constituent Assembly which consolidated Maduro’s power,[77] the Trump administration described the Venezuelan government as a “dictatorship”.[78] President Trump further stated on 11 August 2017, days after the Constituent National Assembly was sworn in, that “Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying” and that the United States had “many options for Venezuela”, including a possible “military option”.[78] At the time, Trump’s advisers, including then-United States National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, strongly recommended to President Trump to not pursue a military option in Venezuela, explaining that Latin American governments were against foreign intervention in the region, though Trump raised some questions about the option.[79] However, when meeting with Latin American leaders during the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump discussed possible United States military intervention in Venezuela, to which they all denied the offer.[79]

Following these discussions, the Trump administration instead pursued targeted sanctions against officials within the Venezuelan government.[79]

On January 23, 2019, during the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, Venezuela broke ties with the United States following Trump’s announcement of recognizing Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the interim President of Venezuela.[80] On February 18, 2019 Trump warned members of Venezuela’s military to renounce loyalty to Nicolás Maduro.[81] The U.S. continued to show support for Juan Guaidó during the attempted April 30 uprising.

Venezuela is one of the three countries condemned in John Bolton’s “Troika of Tyranny” speech in Miami.[82]

Asia

Afghanistan

On August 21, 2017, President Trump stated that he wanted to expand the American presence in Afghanistan, without giving details on how.[83] Trump did not formulate any deadlines or specific purposes to be met, only stating that a U.S. withdrawal was no option now because it would play into the hands of terrorists and put at risk the safety of the U.S. and its allies.[84] Trump did say that presently 20 U.S.-designated terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, this statement contradicted the official U.S. government list, which only lists 13 such organizations there, according to The Washington Post.[85] Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid condemned Trump’s speech: “It looks like America does not want to put an end to its longest war and instead of realizing the realities, is still arrogant on its might and force”.[85]

On September 19, 2017, the Trump administration deployed another 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. This added to the approximately 11,000 U.S. troops already serving in Afghanistan, bringing the total to at least 14,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country.[86]

China and Taiwan

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping with their spouses, April 2017

During the campaign Trump accused the People’s Republic of China of currency manipulation.[87] He pledged to carry out “swift, robust and unequivocal” action against Chinese piracy, counterfeit American goods, and theft of U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property. He also condemned China’s “illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards.”[87] In January 2016, Trump proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States to give “American workers a level playing field.”[88][89] He dismissed possible Chinese reactions, such as sales of U.S. bonds or instituting a trade war, as unlikely and unimportant.[90][91]

On 2 December 2016, as president-elect, he accepted a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. That was the first such contact with Taiwan by a U.S. president-elect or president since 1979 and provoked the People’s Republic of China to lodge a diplomatic protest (“stern representations”).[92][93] Trump suggested he didn’t feel bound by America’s traditional ‘one China’ policy but considered it open to negotiation.[93]

At his confirmation hearing in January 2017, Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson expressed strong opposition to the Chinese practice since 2014 of building artificial islands in the South China Sea as a way of claiming sovereignty over it, saying China should be blocked from accessing the islands. Portions of the South China Sea are claimed as territorial waters by multiple nations including China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.[94] On 23 January 2017, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “It’s a question of if [the Spratly Islands] are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”[95]

On 4 February, on a visit to Japan, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reaffirmed Washington’s commitment under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan to defending Japan, including the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by China.[96]

On 9 February, Trump reaffirmed American commitment to the One-China policy in a telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The call was described as cordial and as “putting an end to the extended chill” in the relationship between the two countries.[97]

The relations significantly deteriorated in 2018 and in 2019 when Trump launched a trade war against China, banned US companies from selling equipment to Huawei, increased visa restrictions on Chinese nationality students and scholars and designated China as a “currency manipulator“.[98][99][100][101]

India

President Trump greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House, June 2017

During the campaign Trump spoke favorably of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed a desire for a closer alliance with India.[102] He told a campaign rally of Indian-Americans that under his administration, relations with India would be “the best ever”.[103] Trump and Modi met at the White House in June 2017, reaffirming the strong partnership between the two nations, especially in defense, maritime security and counterterrorism.[104]

Japan

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, February 2017

During the campaign Trump accused Japan of unfair trade practices, “taking our jobs”, and of currency manipulation. He suggested Japan should pay the U.S. for its military presence in Japan, and at one point suggested that Japan should develop nuclear weapons to defend itself against North Korea.[105]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe met with President-elect Trump at Trump Tower shortly after his election – the first foreign leader to do so. He said Trump was “a leader in whom I can have confidence”. However, after the meeting Trump continued to complain about Japan’s currency and its auto industry.[105]

In January 2017 President Trump formally renounced the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which Japan would have been a key player, but left open the option of bilateral trade negotiations.[106]

During a visit to Japan in January 2017, Defense Secretary Mattis reaffirmed that the U.S. was committed to the defense of Japan.[105]

In February 2017 Abe met with Trump in Washington, followed by a Florida golf excursion. Trump promised to strengthen ties between the two nations and said the U.S. is committed to the security of Japan, saying that the alliance between the two countries is “the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region”.[106]

North Korea

President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, June 2018

During the campaign Trump said that he would be willing to meet North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, whom he described as a “maniac” who also deserves credit for being able to overcome his rivals in order to succeed his father.[107][108] He indicated that he did not want to get involved in any conflict between North and South Korea, an attitude which resulted in an editorial in the North Korean state media that hailed him as a “wise politician” and a “far-sighted presidential candidate” who could be good for North Korea.[109] In the wake of the January 2016 North Korean nuclear test Trump advocated placing greater pressure on China to rein in its ally North Korea.[110][111] During the campaign and the early months of his presidency, he said he hoped that China would help to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and missile tests.[112]

Tension between the two countries increased in April 2017. Speaking in advance of a visit from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, President Trump told the Financial Times, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”[113] On April 8, 2017, the US Navy said the USS Carl Vinson strike group was sailing to the Western Pacific from Singapore, and two days later, President Trump told Fox Business: “We are sending an armada, very powerful” towards the Korean peninsula.[114] His comment, and its apparent confirmation by Defense Department officials, “fueled a war frenzy at major newspapers and networks” and led to the North Korean government warning of a possible thermonuclear war.[114] However, on April 18 the Pentagon clarified that the strike group had instead headed south for scheduled training exercises with the Australian navy but would be arriving at the Korean peninsula the following week.[115][116] Meanwhile, on April 16 Vice President Mike Pence visited South Korea, viewed the Demilitarized Zone which separates North from South Korea, and warned that the U.S. “era of strategic patience” toward North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs is over. He added that “all options are on the table.”[112] The same day the North Korean government launched a missile test, which failed but which Pence described as a provocation.[117] Trump continued to express the hope that China would help to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.[112]

In July 2017 North Korea tested two long-range missiles, identified by Western observers as intercontinental ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.[118][119] In August Trump significantly escalated his rhetoric against North Korea, saying that further provocation against the U.S. will be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”[120] In response Kim threatened to direct its next missile test toward Guam. Trump doubled down on his “fire and fury” warning, saying that “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough” and adding that if North Korea took steps to attack Guam, “Things will happen to them like they never thought possible.”[121] North Korea continued its missile tests, and in late August the regime launched a ballistic missile which traveled over northern Japan before coming down in the Pacific Ocean.[122] In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the United States were “forced to defend itself or its allies”; he repeated his recent nickname for Kim Jong-Un as “Rocket Man”.[123]

In March 2018 a South Korean delegation to the White House gave Trump a message from Kim, suggesting a meeting between Kim and Trump.[124] The South Koreans said Kim was willing to talk about his nuclear and missile programs. Trump immediately accepted the invitation to meet “at a place and time to be determined.”[125] On May 10 it was announced that the meeting would take place on June 12 in Singapore.[126] As a gesture of good will, Kim freed three U.S. citizens being held in North Korean prisons.[127] However, as the time neared, North Korean officials failed to meet with their American counterparts to plan the meeting.[128] On May 24 Trump called off the meeting, citing what he perceived as “tremendous anger and open hostility” in North Korea’s most recent statement.[128] A few days later planning for the meeting was resumed.

On June 12, 2018, after several rounds of preliminary staff-level meetings, Trump and Kim met at a hotel in Singapore.[129] They talked one-on-one with only interpreters present, then had a working lunch along with staff and advisors.[130] They signed a joint statement agreeing to new peaceful relations, security guarantees for North Korea, reaffirmation of North Korea’s promise to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, recovery of soldiers’ remains, and follow-up negotiations between high-level officials.[131] At a follow-up press conference, Trump announced that the U.S. will stop holding joint military exercises with South Korea, calling them “provocative”.[132]

In June 2019, President Trump stepped into North Korean territory, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to do so since the Korean War

A January 2019 American intelligence community assessment found that North Korea was unlikely to relinquish its nuclear arsenal, directly contradicting a core tenet of Trump’s stated foreign policy.[133]

In late February 2019, President Trump met with Chairman Kim Jong-un at a summit in Hanoi for talks. On February 28, the White House announced that the summit was called off after negotiations with the North Koreans failed to reach an agreement.[134]

Following the 2019 G20 Osaka summit, Trump arranged for a meeting with Chairman Kim at the Korean Demilitarized Zone alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The one-day trilateral summit at the DMZ was held on June 30, in which Trump became the first U.S. president to step foot on North Korean soil while in office. Trump and Kim also pledged to jump-start negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program after talks collapsed during the February 2019 Hanoi summit.[135]

South Korea

Trump with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul, November 7, 2017

Pakistan

During the campaign, Trump said Pakistan is “the most dangerous country in the world” and should denuclearize.[136] But according to the Pakistan government, in a cordial post-election telephone conversation with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Trump lavished praise on Pakistan and its “fantastic” people, said he would love to visit the country, and offered to help Pakistan solve any outstanding problems.[137] After taking office, President Trump indicated that Pakistan will be among the countries whose citizens will have to go through an “extreme vetting” process before entering the United States.[138] On July 2, 2019, State Department designated Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist militant group that aims to separate Balochistan from Pakistan, as a terrorist organization.[139]

Philippines

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte with President Trump in Manila, November 13, 2017

U.S.-Philippines relations had taken a turn for the worse with the election of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2016. Duterte expressed strong hostility toward then-President Obama and threatened to sever the long-standing ties between the two countries due to the latter’s criticism on the issue of human rights in Duterte’s policy on the War on Drugs. On December 2, 2016, President-elect Trump accepted a congratulatory call from Duterte. A statement from the Trump team said the two leaders “noted the long history of friendship and cooperation between the two nations, and agreed that the two governments would continue to work together closely on matters of shared interest and concern”. Duterte claimed afterward that Trump had praised Duterte’s controversial “war on drugs” which has killed thousands of people without trial, and that Trump said the Philippines are “doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way.”[140]

Europe[

France

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, April 2018

In their first telephone call, President Trump told French President François Hollande that he “loved France” and that there was “no more beautiful country than France”.[141] However, in his 2017 CPAC speech, President Trump said, “France is no longer France” due to terrorism.[141][142] In response, President Hollande said allies should not criticize each other,[142] and he invited him to visit Disneyland Paris.[141]

In advance of the 2017 French presidential election Trump was reported to have expressed support for Marine Le Pen, calling her the “strongest candidate”, although he did not explicitly endorse her.[143] However, when meeting with newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron in Brussels in May 2017 he said to Macron “you were my guy”, stating that media reports had been wrong.[144]

Trump honored the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron to attend the annual Bastille Day Military Parade on 14 July 2017 in Paris.[145]

Germany

President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, March 2017

During the campaign Trump was critical of German chancellor Angela Merkel and her handling of the European migrant crisis, saying “Everyone thought she was a really great leader and now she’s turned out to be this catastrophic leader. And she’ll be out if they don’t have a revolution.”[146] In July 2016, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated that he was concerned about what he sees as Trump’s contradictory promises to “make America strong again” while simultaneously reducing involvement overseas.[147] Steinmeier said that Trump’s proposed policies “would be dangerous not only for the United States, but for Europe and the rest of the world as well”.[147]

After becoming president, Trump met with Merkel at the White House on March 17, 2017. The meeting was described as “awkward”; Trump failed to shake hands with Merkel for a photo op, and he made a joke about wiretapping which fell flat.[148][149] The two “politely disagreed on everything from immigration to free trade and the value of seeking multinational agreements.”[150] The next day Trump tweeted, “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”[7][151] He also tried to get Merkel to talk about bilateral trade issues, but she pointed out that EU members only negotiate as a unit.[152]

In May 2017 at a meeting with European leaders in Brussels, Trump denounced Germany concerning the trade deficit as “bad, very bad”, adding “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible. We will stop this.” He has threatened to impose a 35% tax on German car imports.[152] A few days later Merkel suggested that Germany and Europe can no longer fully rely on the United States; and saying “we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands”, also hinting to the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. However she underlined the importance of friendly relations with the United States, the United Kingdom as well as Russia.[153]

Holy See

President Trump and Pope Francis in Vatican City, May 2017

On May 24, 2017, Pope Francis met with Trump in Vatican City where they discussed the contributions of Catholics to the United States and to the world. Trump and the Pope discussed issues of mutual concern including how religious communities can combat human suffering in crisis regions, such as SyriaLibya, and ISIL-controlled territory. Trump and Pope Francis also discussed terrorism and the radicalization of young people.

The Vatican’s secretary of statePietro Parolin, raised the issue of climate change in the meeting and encouraged Trump to remain in the Paris Agreement.[154]

Hungary

The Trump administration’s approach towards Viktor Orbán‘s “illiberal”[155] right-wing government has been supportive, but, according to The Guardian, “ineffective” in advancing American interests.[156]

Italy

President Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, April 2017

Italy was the first European country to be visited by President Trump. He went to Italy in May 2017, during his first presidential trip outside the U.S..[157] During his trip to Italy, Trump held a bilateral meeting with Pope Francis;[158] and met Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Gentiloni was also hosted by Trump at the White House in April 2017, a few weeks before Trump took part in the 43rd G7 summit held in Italy.[159] Trump has often stated that Italy is a “key ally of America in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea and a strategic partner in the War on Terrorism.”[160]

Poland

President Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda, July 2017

During the Trump administration, Poland and the United States continued to exhibit warm military, diplomatic, and economic bilateral relations. This was bolstered by the broadly shared neo-nationalist values between President Donald Trump and President of Poland Andrzej Duda along with Poland’s desire for strengthened military ties with the United States in order to counter Russian influence in Europe, particularly following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.[161]

In July 2017, in his second foreign trip, President Donald Trump visited Poland where he met with the President Andrzej Duda. President Trump and President Duda then held a joint press conference in the Royal Castle, Warsaw. President Trump thanked the Polish people and President Duda for the warm welcome he received in Warsaw.[162] In Warsaw‘s Krasinski Square Trump said, “Our freedom, our civilization and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture and memory… Poland is in our heart and Poland is in that fight.”[163] He also said: “Our strong alliance with Poland and NATO remains critical to deterring conflict and ensuring that war between great powers never again ravages Europe, and that the world will be a safer and better place. America is committed to maintaining peace and security in Central and Eastern Europe“.[162] Trump says the U.S. stands firmly behind NATO’s Article 5, which says an attack against one member is attack against all.[163] Trump described Poland as a long-time U.S. ally that is “an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.”[164] He also attended in the Three Seas Initiative summit 2017 in Warsaw. People on the Krasinski Square greeted the President Trump, chanting repeatedly “Donald Trump” and “USA”. Thousands of Polish people greeted Trump on the route from the Royal Castle to the Marriott Hotel and from the Marriott to Warsaw Chopin AirportRazem, a Polish left-wing political party, organized a protest against Trump. Protesters were dressed as handmaids from Margaret Atwood‘s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, as a symbol of women’s rights being endangered both in Poland and the United States.[165] [166] [167] [168]

An F-35B Lightning II flies over the White House during Andrzej Duda’s June 2019 trip

In June 2019, during a trip to the United States to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland’s membership in NATO and the 30th anniversary of communism’s downfall in the country, President Andrzej Duda visited the White House where he and President Trump signed a joint defense agreement to increase military cooperation. According to the agreement, which Trump called a “statement” on the relationship between the two countries, Poland will pay for an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to be stationed in Poland on a rotational basis. The force will be apportioned from the 52,000-strong contingent of U.S. forces in Germany and will include special operations troops, drones and other military hardware. In a separate deal, Poland ordered 32 F-35 fighter jets from the U.S.; Trump celebrated the agreement with two F-35 jets conducting flybys over the White House in a rare U.S. military display.[169][170] Also on that day, Polish state-owned natural gas company PGNiG signed an agreement with U.S. company Venture Global LNG to buy 1.5 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas per year as part of an initiative to seek alternative supplies of gas other than Russia’s Gazprom. The deal is seen as part of the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” economic policy, in which the U.S. slashes domestic regulations on energy production to boost oil and gas exports to allies and trade partners, such as Poland, serving as an alternative to Russian gas pipelines.[171]

Russia

During the campaign

Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly over a series of years.[172] During the campaign his praise blossomed into what many observers termed a “bromance“.[172] In particular, Trump praised Putin as a “strong leader” and said that he expected to “get along very well” with Putin. Trump often described Putin as “a better leader” than Obama.[172] Putin praised Trump as “a very bright and talented man, no doubt about that,” and Trump claimed Putin called him a “genius,” a mischaracterization based on an incorrect translation.[173][174][175] When asked about allegations that Putin has killed journalists and political opponents, Trump brushed them off, implying that the United States has done the same thing.[172][176]

During the campaign, Trump hinted that he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting the sanctions on Russia that were imposed after Russia began military invention in an attempt to undermine the new, pro-Western Ukrainian government.[177] He suggested that the “people of Crimea… would rather be with Russia.[178] It has been suggested that these policies were influenced by advisors who were sympathetic to Russian influence in Ukraine, including Paul ManafortCarter Page, and Henry Kissinger.[179] Manafort in particular was strongly connected to Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president of Ukraine who was deposed in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution.[180][181][182]

Trump has also said that Russia could help the United States in fighting the ISIS terror organization.[183]

The Trump administration

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 2017

On February 6, 2017, talking to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, Trump questioned the veracity of O’Reilly′s claim that ″within 24 hours of you on the phone with the Russian leader, the pro-Russian forces step[ed] up the violence in Ukraine″. He said he ″respected″ Putin and dismissed O’Reilly′s statement that Putin was a ″killer″,[184][185] which prompted CNN to opine that Trump had “appeared to equate U.S. actions with the authoritarian regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”[186]

On February 16, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Bonn, Germany; Tillerson told the press afterwards, “As we search for new common ground, we expect Russia to honor its commitment to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in Ukraine”.[187] Sergey Lavrov said the meeting was productive, and added that Moscow was ready to work with Washington on all issues as soon as Donald Trump’s foreign policy team was fully formed.[188] On the same day Secretary of Defense James Mattis, declared that the United States was not currently prepared to collaborate with Russia on military matters, including future anti-ISIL US operations.[189]

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News reported in June 2017 that during the early weeks of the Trump administration, State Department employees were told to develop proposals to lift the sanctions which had been imposed on Russia after its military incursions into Ukraine and its interference in the November election. No action or return would be expected from Russia in return for removing the sanctions.[190] The proposals were dropped after resistance from State Department employees and a realization that such an action would look bad politically in light of the investigations into a Russia connection to the Trump campaign. A former State Department who retired in February said, “What was troubling about these stories is that suddenly I was hearing that we were preparing to rescind sanctions in exchange for, well, nothing.”[191]

According to a poll conducted by the SSRS, approximately 70% of Americans find that the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the US should be able to look into President Donald Trump’s finances. 60% of those polled view this as a serious matter that should be fully investigated, and it was recorded that 38% view it as a way to discredit the Presidency of Donald Trump.[192] In an approximate two-to-one margin, those polled disapprove of the way the President is dealing the Russian investigation.

As president, Trump has continued to advocate for U.S.-Russia cooperation against the Islamic State terror organization. At his first direct meeting and encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he approved a collaborative plan for a limited cease-fire in the Syrian civil war.[193]

Trump and Putin met in a summit in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. The two leaders spoke one-on-one for two hours, with no aides or other people present except for two translators.[194] There was no definite agenda, and no definite agreements were announced. After a joint press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Trump drew harsh bipartisan criticism in the United States for appearing to side with Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, rather than accepting the findings of the United States intelligence community.[195][196] Universally condemned by Democrats, his comments were also strongly criticized by many congressional Republicans and most media commentators, even those who normally support him.[197][198]

On May 3, 2019, President Trump held an hour and a half-long phone call with President Putin from the White House. The Russian Embassy stated that the pair discussed “shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.” Trump called the conversation “positive” and tweeted there was “Tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia,” and later relayed to reporters Putin’s assurances that Russia isn’t seeking to “get involved” with the ongoing 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, despite Trump’s national security advisors saying otherwise. They also discussed North Korean missile activity, with Putin briefing Trump on the April 25 meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Trump and Putin agreed on the importance of denuclearization and normalization of relations on the Korean peninsula. The Mueller Report, a report on the results of a domestic U.S. investigation into Russian contacts between President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, was also discussed.[199]

During the 2019 G7 summit in France, President Trump unilaterally advocated for Russia’s membership to G7 to be reinstated and said he intended to invite Vladimir Putin to the 2020 G7 summit, set to be held in the U.S. Trump also shifted some blame for Russia’s 2014 Crimea annexation to his predecessor President Barack Obama, saying Obama “was pure and simply outsmarted.” “It could have been stopped…but President Obama was unable to stop it, and it’s too bad,” he added.[200]

Ukraine

President Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, June 2017

Speaking to the Yalta European Strategy conference in September 2015, Trump criticized Germany and other European countries for not doing enough to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, saying, Ukrainians are “not being treated right.”[201] However early in the campaign Trump opposed U.S. involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, describing Crimea as “Europe’s problem;” in a rally in July 2016 he implied that such involvement could have led to World War III and criticized Germany and other European countries for not doing more to support Ukraine.[202][203] Later in the campaign, however, he stated that he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory.[204][178] In February 2017 Trump explained that Crimea was taken by Russia by force and asked whether Obama was too soft on Russia.[205]

In August 2015 Trump stated he had no opinion about Ukrainian membership in NATO, saying that both membership and non-membership would be “great.”[201][206]

United Kingdom

President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, August 2019

During the campaign, Trump stated his support for British voters voting to leave the European Union[207] In an interview with Piers Morgan in May 2016, Trump said that UK withdrawal would make no difference to a potential bilateral trade deal between the United Kingdom and the United States if he became president.[208]

On January 27, 2017 Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the first foreign leader to visit him at the White House. In the meeting Trump reiterated his support for both countries’ involvement in NATO.[33]

In March 2017 White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeated a false claim from Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano claiming that the British GCHQ had wiretapped Trump Tower. This drew an angry response from the British, and eventually resulted in an apology from Spicer and the U.S. National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster.[209]

In November 2017, Trump re-tweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of the British far-right party Britain First.[210][211] Theresa May’s spokesperson condemned Trump, saying “The British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents — decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the President to have done this.”[210] Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called Trump “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our country”.[211]

Trump and the Prince of Wales inspect the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards in the Garden at Buckingham Palace, June 2019

In June 2019, President Trump made a second state visit to the UK on behalf of invitation by Queen Elizabeth II.[212]

On July 7, weeks after President Trump’s second visit to the UK, leaked diplomatic cables revealed candid and unflattering assessments UK Ambassador Kim Darroch made regarding Trump and his administration since 2017, including calling Trump’s presidency “diplomatically clumsy and inept” and stating that the president “radiates insecurity,” along with suggesting that unproven claims of Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner being indebted “to shady Russian moneymen” could “not be ruled out”.[213] Trump subsequently tweeted that Darroch was “not liked or well thought of within the US” and that “we will no longer deal with him” and showed dismay at Prime Minister Theresa May’s support of Darroch amidst the diplomatic row. On July 10, Darroch tendered his resignation, writing that “the current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like”. A spokesman for the prime minister said that it was an ambassador’s job to provide “an honest and unvarnished view” of the U.S. administration.[214]

Middle East and North Africa

Egypt[edit]

Trump greets Egyptian President Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi, April 2017

During the campaign, Trump described the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as a “fantastic guy,” praising his handling of various political events in Egypt, such as a massive uprising in late June 2013 in Egypt against former President Mohamed Morsi, which was followed by Morsi being removed from office by el-Sisi on July 3, 2013.[215] Trump said that there was a “good feeling between [them]”.[215] In April 2017, Trump welcomed el-Sisi to the White House, saying “We are very much behind President Sisi – he has done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation” and assuring el-Sisi that “you have a great ally in the US and in me.”[216] In contrast, Sisi was never invited to the White House during the Obama administration, which criticized post-Morsi authorities in Egypt, as well as Egypt’s human rights record.[216]

Iran[

During the campaign Trump maintained that “Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East and on the road to nuclear weapons.”[217] He opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or “Iran nuclear deal”) that was negotiated with the United States, Iran, and five other world powers in 2015, calling it “terrible” and saying that the Obama administration negotiated the agreement “from desperation.”[218] At one point he said that despite opposing the content of the deal, he would attempt to enforce it rather than abrogate it.[219] However, in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March 2016, Trump said that his “number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”[220]

The Trump administration officially put Iran “on notice” following their ballistic missile tests on January 29, 2017, just days after taking office.[221]

After the late January missile tests by Iran, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities on February 3, which it said were “initial steps”, with Trump’s then-National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn adding that ″the days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.″[222][223][224]

The administration boasted that Trump personally lobbied dozens of European officials against doing business with Iran during the May 2017 Brussels summit; this likely violated the terms of the JCPOA, which expressly states that the U.S. may not pursue “any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” The Trump administration certified in July 2017 that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement.[225]

On May 18, 2018, Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.[226]

Contradicting the administration’s previous statements, a January 2019 U.S. intelligence community assessment concluded that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons.[133]

The Trump administration designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist group in April 2019.[227]

On May 20, 2019, amid a period of high tensions with Iran, Trump said: “We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen” in Iran.[228] On May 24, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared an “emergency” over Iran, allowing for the U.S. to sell around $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, without any congressional review, in the “national security interest of the United States”.[229] On May 28, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran was abiding by the main terms of the Iran nuclear deal, although questions were raised on certified that how many advanced centrifuges Iran was allowed to have, as that was only loosely defined in the deal.[230]

Iraq, Syria, and the Islamic State

Iraq

Trump greets Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, March 2017

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly advocated that the United States should “take the oil” from Iraq as “spoils of war”, a decision which technically would require an invasion and occupation of the country.[231][232] Trump’s statements caused criticism and controversy, as most legal experts agreed that the action would be an illegal war crime under the Geneva Conventions and because many believed that it would increase support for Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East.[233][234] Trump defended his statements by claiming that they would recoup the cost of U.S. military assistance to Iraq and prevent Iraqi oil infrastructure from falling under ISIL control.[235] Trump reiterated his support for seizing other nations’ oil after taking office as President. In January 2017, he said that the United States “should have kept the oil” after the Iraq invasion and “maybe we’ll have another chance”.[236] Axios reported in 2018 that, as president, Trump had twice brought the issue up with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, causing consternation among his advisers.[237][238] National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is reported to have told Trump “We can’t do this and you shouldn’t talk about it. Because talking about it is just bad … It’s bad for America’s reputation, it’ll spook allies, it scares everybody,” while Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis publicly stated that the United States did not intend “to seize anybody’s oil.”[239]

In January 2017, President Trump issued an executive order banning the entry of all Iraqi citizens, as well as citizens of six other countries. After sharp criticism, public protests as well as lawsuits against the executive order, Trump relaxed the travel restrictions somewhat and dropped Iraq from the list of non-entry countries in March 2017.[240][241][242]

Syria

In July 2017, on the advice of then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, Trump ordered a “phasing out” of the CIA’s support for anti-Assad Syrian rebels during the Syrian Civil War.[243][244]

Responses to chemical weapons in Syria

President Trump addresses the nation after authorizing missile strikes in response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in Syria

On 7 April 2017, Trump ordered the United States Navy to launch cruise missiles at Shayrat Air Base in response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack. The response had wide international support[245] and was highly praised by the majority of Republicans as well as Democratic senators.[246] The move drew criticism from Russia, whom the United States had warned in advance about the attack. Although Russian anti-missile defenses such as S-300’s failed to deter the missile attack, Russian forces suffered minimal damage, as the United States had deliberately avoided striking areas of the base used by Russia.[247] Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev criticized the strike as “good news for terrorists”.[248]

In response to the Douma chemical attack in Syria, in April 2018, Trump announced missile strikes against the Assad regime targeting alleged chemical weapons compounds; the strikes were carried out along with the United Kingdom and France.[249]

Announcing troop withdrawal from Syria in December 2018, Trump stated on Twitter that defeating ISIL was “my only reason” for a military presence in Syria,[250] seemingly disregarding the previous missions to respond to Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Responses to the Islamic State

During the campaign

During the 2015 presidential campaign, Trump frequently changed his positions on how to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[251]

In June 2015, when asked how he would deal with Iraq’s condemnation of strikes on their oil fields, Trump replied that Iraq is a corrupt country that is not deserving of his respect[252] and that he would “bomb the hell” out of Iraqi oil fields controlled by ISIL.[252][253]

After formally announcing his candidacy on June 16, 2015, Trump’s first interview was with Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor the following day.[252] He suggested a hands-off approach to the Syrian Civil War:[252] “Iran and Russia are protecting Syria and it’s sort of amazing that we’re in there fighting ISIS in Syria so we’re helping the head of Syria Bashar al-Assad who is not supposed to be our friend although he looks a lot better than some of our so-called friends.”[252] Instead of fighting ISIL in Syria, Trump suggested “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.”[252]

In a Republican primary debate on November 10, 2015, Trump said he “got to know Vladimir Putin very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes‘, we were stable mates, we did well that night.” Trump said he approved of the Russian military intervention in Syria, stating: “If Putin wants to knock the hell out of ISIS, I’m all for it 100 percent and I can’t understand how anybody would be against that … He’s going in and we can go in and everybody should go in.”[254] During his speech at the Oklahoma State Fair, Trump accused his opponents of wanting to “start World War III over Syria.”[255]

In the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks committed by ISIL, Trump reiterated his position on ISIL, as he had stated the day before the attack that he would “bomb the shit out of ’em”[256] and that he would “blow up the [oil] pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, and you know what, you’ll get Exxon to come in there in two months… and I’d take the oil.”[257] Trump said that, to combat ISIL, “I would find you a proper general. I would find a Patton or a MacArthur. I would hit them so hard your head would spin.”[252] Trump said in an interview with Anderson Cooper the day of the Paris attacks: “There is no Iraq. Their leaders are corrupt.”[256] In the March 11, 2016 CNN Republican presidential debate, he said he would send ground troops to fight ISIL, saying: “We really have no choice. We have to knock out ISIS.”[258]

In a 2015 interview, Trump stated “You have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. … When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.” When pressed on what “take out” meant, Trump said the U.S. should “wipe out their homes” and “where they came from.”[259] Critics noted that the intentional targeting of non-combatants is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and other aspects of the international law of war.[260] Jonathan Russell, head of policy for the anti-radicalization think tank Quilliam, warned that Trump’s “anti-Muslim rhetoric” helps ISIL’s “narrative”, saying “Trump will contribute to Islamist radicalization as his comments will make Muslims feel unwelcome in America.”[261]

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIL control, saying that the United States is “not going to benefit” from dislodging ISIL from the Iraqi city. Trump repeatedly asserted that U.S. and Iraqi military leaders should have used “the element of surprise” to attack Mosul rather than announcing plans beforehand. He also said that U.S. military planners were “a group of losers” for not doing so.[262][263] Some U.S. military officials openly rebuked Trump’s comments, saying that “it is nearly impossible to move tens of thousands of troops into position without alerting the enemy” and asserting that it was vital to warn civilians of impending military action.[262]

The Trump administration

Trump meets with Bahrain‘s king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on May 21, 2017

With the arrival of the Trump administration, a change in policy was instituted regarding the disclosure of troop levels abroad as well as the timing of any additional deployments to the Middle East, following through on his campaign promises to utilize the “element of surprise.” By April 2017, according to the LA Times,[264] there had been two non-disclosed troop deployments in the month of March: a deployment of 400 U.S. Marines to northern Syria and 300 U.S. Army paratroopers to the area around Mosul, Iraq. By 2 April 2017, the U.S. troop level, or “force management level” — the number of full-time troops deployed, was around 5,200 in Iraq and 500 in Syria, with about 1,000 more troops there on a temporary basis.[264]

The Syria deployment put more conventional U.S. troops on the front that, until then, had primarily used special operations units. The 400 Marines were part of the 11th MEU from the Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines. They manned an artillery battery whilst additional infantrymen from the unit provided security and resupplies were handled by part of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element.[265]

In August 2017, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett H. McGurk stated that the Trump administration had “dramatically accelerated” the U.S.–led campaign against ISIL, citing estimates that almost one-third of the territory taken from ISIL “has been won in the last six months.” McGurk favorably cited “steps President Trump has taken, including delegating decision–making authority from the White House to commanders in the field.”[266]

Some right-wing populist media figures who supported Trump during the election criticized his apparent policy reversal on the Middle East after the increased anti-ISIL commitment.[267][268][269][270] Ann Coulter stated that Trump “campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast” arguing that it was one of the reasons many voted for him.[267]

Withdrawal from Syria and ISIL insurgency

On December 11, 2018, anti-ISIL envoy Brett McGurk indicated in a press briefing that the war against ISIL in Syria was not over, stating, “It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now.”[271] On December 17, 2018, James Jeffrey, the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement, stated in an address to the Atlantic Council that the United States would remain in Syria “a very long time.”[272]

On December 19, Trump, declaring “we have won against ISIS,” unilaterally announced a “total” withdrawal of the 2,000-2,500 U.S. troops in Syria. The announcement was made on Twitter and the decision was apparently made without prior consultation with Congress, military commanders and civilian advisors. Although no timetable was provided at the time, press secretary Sarah Sanders indicated that the withdrawal had been ordered to begin. The Pentagon and State Department tried to change Trump’s mind on the decision, with several of his congressional and political allies expressing concerns about the sudden move, specifically that it would “hand control of the region” to Russia and Iran, and “abandon” America’s Kurdish allies.[273][274] Brian Kilmeade of the Fox & Friends news program, which Trump himself often watches, sharply criticized Trump’s decision as “totally irresponsible,” adding “nobody thinks ISIS is defeated” and that the president had “blindsided” the Pentagon and State Department.[275]

Immediately after Trump’s announcement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis unsuccessfully tried persuading Trump to reconsider, then informed the president on December 20 he would resign from his post.[276] Mattis asked to continue in his position through February to continue defending “the Department’s interests” at Congressional and NATO meetings while Trump selected a successor.[277] Two days later, McGurk announced he was also exiting as a consequence of Trump’s decision. (McGurk had previously said he would leave in February, but as the result of the Syria withdrawal and Mattis’ departure, he moved his own departure earlier to December 31.) [278] In response, President Trump wrote that he did not know McGurk and questioned if McGurk was a “grandstander”.[279][280]

On December 23, Trump announced on Twitter that Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would become Acting Secretary of Defense effective January 1, thereby replacing Mattis two months’ earlier than Mattis’ requested resignation date.[281] On 30 December Senator Lindsey Graham, a known Congressional confidant of the president that hours after the announcement of a withdrawal said it was “a stain on the honor of the United States,” said that while he agrees that it’s possible to reduce the American footprint in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, the US must keep troops in Syria to ensure ISIL can’t regroup and that he and a group of generals will urge the President to reconsider his withdrawal plans during a luncheon later that day.[282] One week after his announcement, Trump asserted he would not approve any extension of the American deployment in Syria.[283] On January 6, 2019, national security advisor John Bolton added conditions to the pullout, announcing America would remain in Syria until ISIL is eradicated and until Turkey guarantees it would not strike America’s Kurdish allies.[284]

On 22 February 2019, the administration stated that instead of the initially announced “total” pullout, 400 residual U.S. troops would remain in Syria indefinitely post-withdrawal to serve as a contingency force. About 200 of those would be a part of a larger multinational “observer force”.[285] These several hundred troops may be in various parts of the country.[286] Press secretary Sarah Sanders initially characterized the troops as “peacekeepers“, although a senior administration official later disputed that label as the term technically implied restricted rules of engagement. The shift from a total to a partial withdrawal came after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford strongly vouched for it as French and British allies declined to remain in Syria unless America did. After the announcement, The New York Times quoted officials as describing a “surreal atmosphere” at the Pentagon among military leaders overseeing Syrian policy.[287] A bipartisan group of members of Congress wrote Trump a letter on 22 February endorsing a “small American stabilizing force” in Syria. Trump responded by writing directly on the letter, “I agree 100%. ALL is being done.”[286]

On February 28, while speaking to troops at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska during a refueling stop from Hanoi, Trump asserted that the Islamic State had lost “100 percent” of its territory that it once controlled in Syria. The assertion was technically erroneous as the Syrian Democratic Forces‘s final battle against ISIL was still ongoing, and the terror group still held virtual territory in the Syrian Desert. Trump had been eager to announce ISIL’s defeat since late 2018 due to the SDF’s multi-year campaign, which deprived the jihadists of swathes of territory, culminating into a final assault, akin to Tora Bora in 2001.[288] ISIL continued to hold the town of Al-Baghuz Fawqani, where, on 4 March, the U.S.-backed battle there resulted in the surrender of 500 people, including some ISIL fighters.[289]

On March 22, 2019, in response to developments in the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, where ISIL had put up stubborn resistance to U.S.-backed forces there, Trump showed reporters two maps comparing the extents of the Islamic State’s occupation of Syria and Iraq, stating “Here’s ISIS on Election Day. Here’s ISIS right now.” The “election day” map was actually from 2014, when the occupation was at its peak, and just as the U.S.-led coalition had begun pushing back against ISIL.[290] The battle concluded on March 23, the next day, with the U.S.-backed SDF militia’s victory over ISIL. Trump administration officials and allies cautiously hailed the territorial collapse of the extremist group in Syria while stressing the need to keep a presence in Syria to keep up pressure and to stop a territorial resurgence of the terror group that retained global reach and offshoots in various countries.[291]

Israel and Israeli–Palestinian conflict

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Yad Vashem, May 2017

Trump and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, May 3, 2017

During the campaign

Trump has been critical of the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel, stating that “Israel has been totally mistreated.”[292]

Early in the campaign Trump said that an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord would depend very much upon Israel, saying “A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.”[293] He also said that as a condition of peace, the Palestinian National Authority must recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and “stop the terror, stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred.”[294] At one point during the campaign, Trump said that he would not take sides in any Israeli-Palestinian agreement in order to be a neutral negotiator in the peace talks, but he also added that he was “totally pro-Israel.”[295]

During the campaign he broke with long-standing bipartisan U.S. policy that Israel should stop building additional Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a precursor to negotiations with the Palestinians, saying that the Israelis “have to keep going” and “I don’t think there should be a pause.”[296]

Early in the campaign Trump refused to say whether he supports Israel’s position that Jerusalem is its undivided capital.[293] But he later said on multiple occasions that if elected president he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he described as the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.”[297][298] He repeated this pledge after a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2016[299]

Candidate Trump promised AIPAC that as president he would veto any United Nations-imposed Israel-Palestine peace agreement.[300] He added that “The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.”[300]

The Trump administration

President Trump, joined by Benjamin Netanyahu behind, signs the proclamation recognizing Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, March 25, 2019

In February 2017, President Trump said that he could live with either a two-state solution or a one-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[301] This represented a break with the previous bipartisan foreign policy consensus of support for the two-state solution.[301] On May 22, 2017, Trump was the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, during his first foreign trip, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican, and Belgium.[302] On December 6, 2017, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite objections from Palestinian leaders. Trump added that he would initiate the process of establishing a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.[303]

Trump has previously said that he would not take sides in any Israeli-Palestinian agreement in order to be a neutral negotiator in the peace talks, although he also added that he was “totally pro-Israel.”[295] In December 2015, Trump told the Associated Press that an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord would depend very much upon Israel, remarking: “I have a real question as to whether or not both sides want to” come to a peace accord. “A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.”[293]

Trump has vowed that as president he will veto a United Nations-imposed Israel-Palestine peace agreement, stating: “When I’m president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the U.N. to impose its will on the Jewish state. It will be vetoed 100 percent.”[300] He added that “The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.”[300]

Trump has criticized the Palestinian National Authority for the absence of peace, saying: “the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. …[and they] have to stop the terror, stop the attacks, stop the teaching of hatred… They have to stop the teaching of children to aspire to grow up as terrorists, which is a real problem. Of course, the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is also a major sticking point, with the current Palestinian leadership repeatedly refusing to meet that basic condition.”[294]

Libya

The Trump administration has continued the Obama administration’s counter-Islamic State operations in Libya.[304]

Saudi Arabia

President Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia sign a Joint Strategic Vision Statement for the United States and Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017

During the campaign, Trump called for Saudi Arabia to pay for the costs of American troops stationed there.[305] He has argued that regional allies of the United States, such as Saudi Arabia should provide troops in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Trump said he would halt oil imports from Saudi Arabia unless the Saudi government provide ground troops to defeat ISIL.[306]

In March 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved the resumption on the sale of guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, a move that had been halted late in the Obama administration because of criticisms of the Saudi government’s approach to civilian casualties in the Yemeni Civil War.[307]

Turkey

President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, May 2017

During the campaign, Trump praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his handling of the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey[4] When asked if Erdoğan was exploiting the coup attempt to purge his political enemies, Trump did not call for the Turkish leader to observe the rule of law, or offer other cautions for restraint. He said that the United States had to “fix our own mess” before trying to change the behavior of other countries.[4]

Trump also stated during the campaign that he believed he could persuade Erdoğan to step up efforts against ISIL.[4] When asked how he would solve the problem of Turkish attacks on Kurds who are fighting ISIL, Trump said “Meetings.”[4]

Trump has threatened Turkey with economic sanctions over its detention of the evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson. On August 1, 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers.[308]

Yemen

Sub-Saharan Africa

Trump welcoming Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his wife on August 27, 2018

The Trump administration has been accused of generally ignoring Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. By October 2017, senior diplomatic positions relating to the continent were still vacant, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa. U.S. military operations in the region continued, but there were no clear statement of objectives or guidance for the Africa Command at the time, headed by General Thomas Waldhauser.[309] Alan Patterson would later serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa from December 2017 to October 2018 and Tibor P. Nagy would become Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs on July 23, 2018.[310][311]

During a summer 2017 meeting about immigration, Trump reportedly said that Nigerians, once they came to the United States, would never “go back to their huts”. The White House strongly denied the claim.[39] In a meeting with congressional leaders on January 11, 2018, Trump asked during a discussion of immigration from Africa why America would want people from “all these shithole countries”, suggesting that it would be better to receive immigrants from countries like Norway. The comment was condemned as racist by many foreign leaders and a UN spokesman. The African Union said it was “alarmed” by the comment, which “flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.”[40] African ambassadors in Washington planned to meet the following week to discuss a response. They expressed dismay that it took something like this to bring attention to Africa when the continent has so many other issues, such as famine and civil war, that Washington ignores.[312]

South Africa

On August 23, 2018, Trump publicly instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate South African farm attacks,[313] an instruction which was widely described in mainstream media as the administration advocating for an unfounded white genocide conspiracy theory.[314][315][316][317] Trump had apparently gotten his information from a Tucker Carlson segment on Fox News.[318] The media roundly berated the move, with New York magazine claiming Trump was attempting to “change the conversation — to one about “white genocide” in South Africa”,[319] Esquire reported that the “President of the United States is now openly promoting an international racist conspiracy theory as the official foreign policy of the United States“.[320] According to the SPLC, Trump had “tweeted out his intention to put the full force of the U.S. State Department behind a white nationalist conspiracy theory”.[321]

Causing “angry reaction in South Africa”, many politicians responded critically including former US Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, RSA Deputy President David Mabuza and Julius Malema MP, who responded to Trump, declaring “there is no white genocide in South Africa”,[322] and that the US President’s intervention into their ongoing land reform issues “only made them more determined… to expropriate our land without compensation”.[323][324] Trump had previously caused controversy around the topic as a presidential candidate in 2016, when he republished content from a social media account named “WhiteGenocideTM”.[325][326]

Oceania

Australia

President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York City, May 2017

A report in the Washington Post on February 2, 2017 claimed that Trump berated Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and hung up 35 minutes earlier than planned over a refugee resettlement deal that President Obama had made with Australia where the United States agreed to take 1,250 refugees from camps in Nauru and Manus Island.[327] It was also claimed that Trump suggested Turnbull was attempting to export the next Boston bombers to the United States.[328] Later that same day, Trump explained that although he respected Australia, they were “terribly taking advantage” of the United States.[329] Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey met with Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon the next day and Sean Spicer described the call as “cordial”. Reuters described the call as “acrimonious” and the Washington Post said that it was Trump’s “worst call by far” with a foreign leader.[330][331] Notwithstanding the disagreement regarding the resettlement of the refugees Vice President Mike Pence, while on a visit to Australia in April 2017, stated the United States will abide by the deal. The decision was seen as a positive sign of commitment by the Australian Prime Minister.[332]

International organizations

European Union

President Trump with Jean-Claude Juncker (left) and Donald Tusk (right) in Brussels, before the start of their bilateral meeting, May 2017

During the campaign, Trump said of the European Union, “the reason that it got together was like a consortium so that it could compete with the United States.”[333] U.S. foreign-policy experts such as Strobe Talbott and Amie Kreppel noted that this was incorrect, pointing out that while the EU was established in part to rebuild the European economies after World War II, it was not created specifically to compete with the United States. In fact the United States sanctioned the EU’s creation to foster peace, prevent another catastrophic war, and create a “strong European market to consume American-made goods to help fuel American economic growth.”[334]

NATO

President Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, April 2017

During the campaign, Trump called for a “rethink” of American involvement in NATO, stating that the United States pays too much to ensure the security of allies, stating that “NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money”.[335] Later in the same interview, he stated that the U.S. should not “decrease its role” in NATO but rather should decrease U.S. spending in regards to the organization.[336]

In a July 2016 interview, Trump “explicitly raised new questions about his commitment to automatically defend NATO allies,” questioning whether he, as president, would automatically extend security guarantees to NATO members.[4] Asked about a prospective Russia attack on NATO’s Baltic members, Trump stated that he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”[4] This would represent a sharp break with U.S. foreign traditions.[4][337]

As president, Trump said in a February 2017 speech that the United States strongly supports NATO, but continued to insist that NATO members aren’t paying their fair share as part of the alliance.[338] In May 2017 he visited the new NATO headquarters in Brussels to help dedicate a memorial there for the September 11, 2001 attacks. In his prepared remarks he prompted NATO to do more to fight terrorism and to add limiting immigration to its tasks. In the speech he did not explicitly reaffirm US commitment to Article V, which obligates all NATO members to respond to an attack against any one member. White House spokesperson Sean Spicer later reaffirmed America’s commitment to joint defense.[339] With regard to the alliance’s enacted guideline that members should spend a minimum of 2 percent of their national GDP for defense by 2024, Trump said that “Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying for their defense”. He also claimed that “many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.”[339][340] Media fact-checkers observed that, while most members of the alliance indeed had yet to reach the 2 percent target for their national defense spending in 2017, technically they are not in arrears and they “do not owe anything” to the United States or to NATO.[340][341]

In early April 2019, during a trip to the U.S. to hail NATO’s 70th anniversary, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg affirmed that the NATO alliance remained “strong” and downplayed the severity of the disputes and uncertainties that emerged during the Trump administration. On April 2, Stoltenberg and Trump had a positive meeting at the White House, where Trump praised NATO for increased defense spending. Trump said he and Stoltenberg are “both committed to ensuring that NATO can address the full range of threats facing the alliance today.” During a speech to Congress on April 3, Stoltenberg acknowledged that “there are differences,” noting disputes over trade, energy, climate change policy, the Iran nuclear agreement and burden sharing among NATO allies – all issues raised by Trump. Noting that NATO members are on track to increase defense spending by up to $100 billion, Stoltenberg said that “this has been the clear message from President Trump and this message is having a real impact.”[342]

United Nations

Trump and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

During the campaign, Trump criticized the United Nations, saying that it was weak, incompetent, and “not a friend of democracy… freedom… the United States… Israel”.[343] Upon taking office, Trump appointed Nikki Haley as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Trade policy

When announcing his candidacy in June 2015, Trump said that his experience as a negotiator in private business would enhance his ability to negotiate better international trade deals as President.[51][344] Trump identifies himself as a “free trader,”[88] but has been widely described as a “protectionist“.[345][346][347][348][349] Trump has described supporters of international trade as “blood suckers.”[350]

Trump’s views on trade have upended the traditional Republican policies favoring free trade.[345][87] Binyamin Appelbaum, reporting for the New York Times, has summarized Trump’s proposals as breaking with 200 years of economics orthodoxy.[89][351] American economic writer Bruce Bartlett argued that Trump’s protectionist views have roots in the Whig Party program of the 1830s. He noted that many Americans were sympathetic to these views, while saying this was nonetheless not a good justification to adopt them.[352] Canadian writer Lawrence Solomon describes Trump’s position on trade as similar to that as of pre-Reagan Republican presidents, such as Herbert Hoover (who signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act) and Richard Nixon (who ran on a protectionist platform).[353]

A January 2019 intelligence community assessment concluded that Trump’s trade policies and unilateralism had “damaged” traditional alliances and induced foreign partners to seek new relationships.[133]

NAFTA and USMCA

During the campaign, Trump condemned the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that if elected president, “We will either renegotiate it, or we will break it.”[60][61]

During his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after becoming President, Trump stated that he viewed the Canadian situation different than Mexico, and only envisioned minor changes for Canada, with much larger ones for Mexico.[34]

In September 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to replace NAFTA with the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). NAFTA will remain in force, pending the ratification of the USMCA.[354]

Trade with China

During the campaign, Trump proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the United States to give “American workers a level playing field.”[88][89] According to an analysis by Capital Economics, Trump’s proposed tariff may hurt U.S. consumers by driving U.S. retail price of Chinese made goods up 10 percent, because of few alternative suppliers in key product classes that China sells to the U.S.[355] The goods trade deficit with China in 2015 was $367.2 billion.[356] The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported in December 2014 that “Growth in the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 eliminated or displaced 3.2 million U.S. jobs, 2.4 million (three-fourths) of which were in manufacturing.” EPI reported these losses were distributed across all 50 states.[357]

Trump has pledged “swift, robust and unequivocal” action against Chinese piracy, counterfeit American goods, and theft of U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property; and has condemned China’s “illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards.”[87] In a May 2016 campaign speech, Trump responded to concerns regarding a potential trade war with “We’re losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?”[91]

Trade with Mexico

During the campaign, Trump vowed to impose tariffs — in the range of 15 to 35 percent — on companies that move their operations to Mexico.[57] He specifically criticized the Ford Motor Co.,[89] Carrier Corporation,[89] and Mondelez International.[89][57][59]

After taking office, White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted that Trump was considering imposing a 20% tariff on Mexican imports to the United States as one of several options that would pay for his proposed border wall.[358] The Mexican government has stated that if unilateral tariffs were imposed on Mexico, it would consider retaliating by imposing tariffs on goods Mexico imports from the United States.[359]

Trans-Pacific Partnership

During the campaign, Trump opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying “The deal is insanity. That deal should not be supported and it should not be allowed to happen … We are giving away what ultimately is going to be a back door for China.”[360] On January 23, 2017 Trump withdrew from the trade deal citing the need to protect American workers from competition by workers in low-wage countries.[361]

World Trade Organization

Trump has called the World Trade Organization (WTO) a “disaster”.[362] When informed that tariffs in the range of 15 to 35 percent would be contrary to the rules of the WTO, he answered “even better. Then we’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out.”[57]

Nuclear policy

During the campaign, Trump said that the U.S.’s control is getting weaker and that its nuclear arsenal is old and does not work.[363]

When asked at March 2016 campaign town hall with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews whether he would rule out the use of nuclear weapons, Trump answered that the option of using nuclear weapons should never be taken off the table.[364][365][366]

Nuclear proliferation

During the campaign, Trump expressed support for South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia having nuclear weapons if they would be unwilling to pay the United States for security.[367][368][369][370] He also deemed it inevitable, “It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time. They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely.”[367] Trump’s tentative support for nuclear proliferation was in contradiction to decades of bipartisan U.S. consensus on the issue.[371]

Pakistani nuclear arsenal

During the campaign, Trump was critical of Pakistan, comparing it to North Korea, calling it “probably the most dangerous country” in the world, and claiming that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons posed a “serious problem.” He has advocated improving relations with India as a supposed “check” to Pakistan. He has said that his government will fully cooperate with India in doing so.[372]

Further reading

See also

Notes and references …

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

Story 2: United States Fiscal Year 2019 Budgetary Deficit Exceeds $1,000,000,000,000,000 — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Burdening Future Generation of American Citizens — Tax, Spend, Borrow — Videos

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Government watchdog says federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion next year

What Does a $1 Trillion Budget Deficit Mean for U.S. Economy, Markets?

Deficit surpasses $1 trillion: CBO

The federal deficit surpassed $1 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday.

The deficit presently stands at $1.068 trillion, though it is likely to be reduced in September as quarterly tax payments are paid.

The deficit as of Monday was running $168 billion ahead of the deficit in the last fiscal year at this time.

While mandatory spending such as Social Security and Medicare drive the deficit, it has shot up under President Trump‘s watch following the GOP tax cut bill and a series of bipartisan agreements to raise spending on both defense and domestic priorities.

The CBO has called the nation’s fiscal path “unsustainable,” noting that payments on interest alone were on track to overtake both defense and domestic spending by 2046.

Recent concerns over a possible economic downturn or recession have further exacerbated concerns about the nation’s fiscal situation, which tends to worsen when the economy slides.

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/460603-deficit-surpasses-1-trillion-cbo

 

Story 3: United States F-15s and F-35s Bombs ISIS Infested Island in Iraq — Videos

U.S. AIR FORCE USES F-15S AND F-35S TO BOMB ISIS ISLAND

US bombs ISIS-‘infested island’ in Iraq, new video shows

US drops 40 tons of bombs on IS-‘infested’ island in Iraq

Updated 

The U.S.-led coalition says American warplanes have dropped 36,000 kilograms (40 tons) of bombs on an Island in the Tigris River “infested” with members of the Islamic State group.

The coalition said F15 and F35 warplanes took part in the bombing on Qanus Island in the central province of Salaheddine, north of the capital Baghdad.

Tuesday’s attack is part of operations carried out by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition against IS, which was defeated in Iraq in 2017.

OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III

@OIRSpox

VIDEO: Here’s what it looks like when @USAFCENT and jets drop 36,000 Kg of bombs on a Daesh infested island. 🛩💥 هكذا تبدوا الجزيرة الموبوءة بداعش بعد أن أسقطت عليها الطائرات المقاتلة -15 و -35 36,000 كغم من الذخيرة

Story 3: Israeli Air Force Bombs Pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah Militia Base in Syria — Videos

Syrian official blames Israel, US for strike on base near Iraq border

Official quoted by state TV and Hezbollah claims base was under construction and deserted, but activists say at least 18 people killed, including Iranian and Iran-backed fighters

Iraqi Shiite fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces secure the border area with Syria in al-Qaim in Iraq's Anbar province, opposite Al-Bukamal in Syria's Deir Ezzor region, on November 12, 2018. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)

Iraqi Shiite fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces secure the border area with Syria in al-Qaim in Iraq’s Anbar province, opposite Al-Bukamal in Syria’s Deir Ezzor region, on November 12, 2018. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)

A Syrian security official blamed Israel and the US for an attack on a base belonging to a pro-Iranian Shiite militia in Syria near the border with Iraq on Monday.

The pre-dawn attack targeted a base known as the Imam Ali compound in the al-Bukamal region of eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq. A London-based observer said at least 18 people were killed, including Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters.

Israel reportedly believes the base was a key element in Tehran’s effort to develop a so-called “land bridge” that would allow the Islamic Republic to easily move weapons, fighters, and war materiel from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The base belonged to the Popular Mobilization Force, an umbrella group of Iraqi Shiite militias, which are funded in large part by Iran.

A Syria-based official for the Iraqi militia claimed that Israel was behind the attack, adding that four missiles fired by warplanes hit a post manned by Iranian gunmen and members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said there were no Iraqi casualties in the strike, which he said hit about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from the Iraqi border.

A Syrian security official cited by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said the Israeli planes targeted a military camp that was being set up by the Syrian army and its allies. It said the structure was deserted at the time and the strike did not cause any casualties, contrary to other reports.

The official claimed the planes used Jordanian airspace and were “aided” by American forces stationed at the Tanf garrison, near Syria’s eastern border with Jordan.

Members of the Maghawir al-Thawra Syrian opposition group receive firearms training from US Army Special Forces soldiers at the al-Tanf military outpost in southern Syria on October 22, 2018. (AP/Lolita Baldor)

“We hold the Americans and Israelis responsible for these acts of aggression which cross the red lines,” said the official, who was not named.

Hezbollah military media also quoted the security source in Syria accusing Israel of launching the attack, although there was no official statement from Damascus.

Pro-Iranian news outlets also attributed the bombardment to the Israel Defense Forces.

Neither Israel nor the US-led coalition, which carries out air strikes in the area against jihadist sleeper cells, commented on the incident.

Israel, which has vowed to keep weakening Iran so long as it continues to develop weapons that threaten the Jewish state, has launched attacks against a variety of targets, and has reportedly stepped up its campaign against Iran-backed forces in Iraq in recent months.

Early Tuesday, fresh blasts were reported at storehouses used by the PMF near the Iraq city of Hit in Anbar Province, some 200 kilometers from Al-Bukamal.

The al-Bukamal compound was first publicly identified as an Iranian-controlled base earlier this month by Fox News, citing unnamed Western intelligence sources.

According to satellite images released by a private Israeli intelligence firm, at least eight storehouses in the compound were destroyed.

“If indeed it is an Iranian base, it is probable that the strike is part of the struggle with Tehran to prevent its effort of establishing the land corridor to its allies in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon,” the Israeli satellite imagery analysis company ImageSat International wrote.

Satellite image showing the aftermath of an overnight airstrike on an alleged Iranian military base in Syria’s Albu Kamal region, near the Iraqi border, on September 9, 2019. (ImageSat International)

Shortly after the strike, members of a Shiite militia in Syria fired a number of rockets toward Mount Hermon on the Israeli Golan Heights from the outskirts of Damascus, according to the Israeli military.

The projectiles fell short of the border and landed inside Syrian territory.

The highly irregular reprisal attack by a pro-Iranian militia appeared to indicate that Tehran saw the strike as a serious blow to its efforts in the region.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the airstrikes began late Sunday and continued after midnight, killing 18 Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters and also causing extensive damage.

The Sound and Pictures, a local activist collective in eastern Syria, gave a higher death toll, saying 21 fighters were killed and 36 wounded. The collective said the strikes targeted positions belonging to Iranian militias and those of the PMF.

Satellite image showing the construction of a new Iranian military base in Iraq’s Albukamal Al-Qaim region, near the Syrian border (ImageSat International via Fox News)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to ImageSat, the eight storehouses that were destroyed in the strike appeared to be either newly built or still in the process of being built. Several other structures remained intact following the strike.

The Israeli intelligence firm said that the storehouses appeared to have been holding ammunition and weaponry when they were attacked.

Since mid-July, at least five arms depots and training camps in Iraq belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces have been targeted in apparent attacks.

The PMF has blamed both Israel and the US for the recent string of blasts and drone sightings at its bases.

The Pentagon, which is mindful of not alienating Iraq’s leadership and jeopardizing its military presence in the country, has pointedly distanced itself from the mysterious explosions.

Plumes of smoke rise after an explosion at a military base southwest of Baghdad, Iraq, on August 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)

Anonymous US officials recently said the IDF was behind at least some strikes on Iran-linked sites outside of Baghdad.

According to the Fox News report, once completed, the al-Bukamal base could house thousands of soldiers and storage facilities for advanced weapons. The US cable network said the base’s construction is being overseen by Iran’s powerful Quds Force and its commander Qassem Soleimani.

Satellite photos of the base, released by ImageSat International last week, showed what appeared to be five recently constructed buildings that can store precision-guided missiles.

Satellite image showing the construction of a new Iranian military base in Iraq’s Albukamal Al-Qaim region, near the Syrian border (ImageSat International via Fox News)

Israel views Iran as its greatest threat, and has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes in Syria in recent years aimed primarily at preventing the transfers of sophisticated weapons, including guided missiles, to the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The PMF was established in 2014 from mostly Shiite paramilitary groups and volunteers to fight the Islamic State jihadist organization and is now formally part of Iraq’s armed forces.

But the US and Israel fear some units are an extension of Iran and have been equipped with precision-guided missiles that could reach Israel.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-official-blames-israel-us-for-strike-on-base-near-iraq-border/

Airstrikes kill 18 pro-Iran fighters in eastern Syria

Israel does not comment on attack but says militia fired rockets towards its territory

Israeli soldiers stand near artillery units deployed near the Israeli-Lebanon border
 Israeli soldiers stand near artillery units deployed near the Lebanon border as tension between Israel and Hezbollah continues to escalate. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

Unclaimed airstrikes in eastern Syria have killed 18 Iranian and pro-Iran fighters, according to a war monitoring group, as tensions around Tehran’s military presence in the region intensify.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes in and around the town of Abu Kamal began late on Sunday and continued after midnight, targeting bases, arms depots and vehicles.

Suspicion is likely to fall on Israel, which has conducted hundreds of bombing raids in the country, often against Iranian military assets and personnel. It accuses Tehran of using Syria, which neighbours Israel, as a base to attack it.

The Israel Defence Forces did not comment on whether it was behind the attack. Later on Monday the Israeli military said an Iranian-backed Shia militia on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had fired “a number of rockets” towards Israel. All failed to hit Israeli territory, it said. It was not clear if the attempted rocket attacks against Israel were a response to the bombing raid.

Separately, Iran’s main proxy force in Lebanon, Hezbollah, claimed it had shot down an Israeli drone that crossed the border, a week after the bitter enemies traded fire for the first time in years.

The unmanned aircraft was flying near the southern Lebanese town of Ramyah, the Iranian-backed group said, adding that it fighters had removed the wreckage.

Asked about the downed drone in Lebanon, Israel’s military confirmed it had lost a drone but said it “fell inside Lebanon territory during a routine mission”. An army spokesperson did not say what had caused the crash, adding that the drone was “standard size, nothing too big … There is no concern information could be taken from it.”

Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged brief but intense fire on 1 September, the fiercest bout since the 2006 war. It began when a Hezbollah squad fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military vehicle at the frontier, to which Israel immediately responded with heavy shelling and helicopter strikes on the area.

That flare-up was also sparked by claims of Israeli drone use in Lebanon. Days earlier, Hezbollah had accused Israel of attempting to attack it with two drones in its stronghold of southern Beirut. Those drones, about which Israel would not comment, were suspected of targeting equipment for making precision guidance missiles.

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, blamed Israel for the alleged drone attack and promised to retaliate. He also vowed his fighters would target Israeli drones that entered Lebanon’s airspace in the future.

The two adversaries fought a deadly month-long conflict in 2006 that killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and roughly 160 in Israel. Since then incidents of hostile action have been rare but the renewed violence has raised fears of the potential for another conflict.

It has targeted Hezbollah in Syria, whose forces entered the civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad, but has largely refrained from attacks on Lebanese soil, fearing it may lead to reprisal strikes.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said last month that Iran had “no immunity, anywhere”. He added: “We will act, and currently are acting, against them, wherever it is necessary.”

A crisis between Iran and the US over a collapsing nuclear deal, hefty sanctions imposed by Washington, and Iran’s support for Shia militia in Iraq have raised fears of an escalating conflict in the Middle East.

Story 5: Remembering The Prescient and Wisdom of Ron Paul on Limited Government and the Neoconservatives — Videos

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Neoconservatism

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Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon when labelling its adherents) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among liberal hawks who became disenchanted with the increasingly pacifist foreign policy of the Democratic Party, and the growing New Left and counterculture, in particular the Vietnam protests. Some also began to question their liberal beliefs regarding domestic policies such as the Great Society.

Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and American national interest in international affairs, including peace through strength (by means of military force), and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.[1][2]

Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s as neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administration of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[3] Prominent neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration included Paul WolfowitzElliott AbramsRichard Perle, and Paul Bremer. While not identifying as neoconservatives, senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel and the promotion of American influence in the Middle East.

Historically speaking, the term “neoconservative” refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist left to the camp of American conservatism during the 1960s and 1970s.[4] The movement had its intellectual roots in the Jewish monthly review magazine Commentary, edited by Norman Podhoretz and published by the American Jewish Committee.[5][6] They spoke out against the New Left and in that way helped define the movement.[7][8]

Contents

Terminology

The term “neoconservative” was popularized in the United States during 1973 by the socialist leader Michael Harrington, who used the term to define Daniel BellDaniel Patrick Moynihan, and Irving Kristol, whose ideologies differed from Harrington’s.[9]

The “neoconservative” label was used by Irving Kristol in his 1979 article “Confessions of a True, Self-Confessed ‘Neoconservative'”.[10] His ideas have been influential since the 1950s, when he co-founded and edited the magazine Encounter.[11]

Another source was Norman Podhoretz, editor of the magazine Commentary from 1960 to 1995. By 1982, Podhoretz was terming himself a neoconservative in The New York Times Magazine article titled “The Neoconservative Anguish over Reagan’s Foreign Policy”.[12][13]

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the neoconservatives considered that liberalism had failed and “no longer knew what it was talking about”, according to E. J. Dionne.[14]

Seymour Lipset asserts that the term “neoconservative” was used originally by socialists to criticize the politics of Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA).[15] Jonah Goldberg argues that the term is ideological criticism against proponents of modern American liberalism who had become slightly more conservative[10][16] (both Lipset and Goldberg are frequently described as neoconservatives). In a book-length study for Harvard University Press, historian Justin Vaisse writes that Lipset and Goldberg are in error, as “neoconservative” was used by socialist Michael Harrington to describe three men – noted above – who were not in SDUSA, and neoconservatism is a definable political movement.[17]

The term “neoconservative” was the subject of increased media coverage during the presidency of George W. Bush,[18][19] with particular emphasis on a perceived neoconservative influence on American foreign policy, as part of the Bush Doctrine.[20]

History

Senator Henry M. Jackson, inspiration for neoconservative foreign policy during the 1970s

Through the 1950s and early 1960s, the future neoconservatives had endorsed the civil rights movementracial integration and Martin Luther King Jr.[21] From the 1950s to the 1960s, there was general endorsement among liberals for military action to prevent a communist victory in Vietnam.[22]

Neoconservatism was initiated by the repudiation of the Cold War and the “new politics” of the American New Left, which Norman Podhoretz said was too close to the counterculture and too alienated from the majority of the population; Black Power, which accused white liberals and Northern Jews of hypocrisy on integration and of supporting settler colonialism in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; and “anti-anticommunism“, which during the late 1960s included substantial endorsement of Marxist–Leninist politics. Many were particularly alarmed by what they claimed were antisemitic sentiments from Black Power advocates.[23] Irving Kristol edited the journal The Public Interest (1965–2005), featuring economists and political scientists, which emphasized ways that government planning in the liberal state had produced unintended harmful consequences.[24] Many early neoconservative political figures were disillusioned Democratic politicians and intellectuals, such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations in the Reagan administration.

A substantial number of neoconservatives were originally moderate socialists associated with the right-wing of the Socialist Party of America (SP) and its successor, Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA). Max Shachtman, a former Trotskyist theorist who developed a strong antipathy towards the New Left, had numerous devotees among SDUSA with strong links to George Meany‘s AFL-CIO. Following Shachtman and Meany, this faction led the SP to oppose immediate withdrawal from the Vietnam War, and oppose George McGovern in the Democratic primary race and, to some extent, the general election. They also chose to cease their own party-building and concentrated on working within the Democratic Party, eventually influencing it through the Democratic Leadership Council.[25] Thus the Socialist Party dissolved in 1972, and SDUSA emerged that year. (Most of the left-wing of the party, led by Michael Harrington, immediately abandoned SDUSA.)[26][27] SDUSA leaders associated with neoconservatism include Carl GershmanPenn KembleJoshua Muravchik and Bayard Rustin.[28][29][30][31]

Norman Podhoretz’s magazine Commentary of the American Jewish Committee, originally a journal of liberalism, became a major publication for neoconservatives during the 1970s. Commentary published an article by Jeane Kirkpatrick, an early and prototypical neoconservative, albeit not a New Yorker.

New York Intellectuals

Many neoconservatives had been Jewish intellectuals in New York City during the 1930s. They were on the political left, but strongly opposed Stalinism and some were Trotskyists. During the Cold War they continued to oppose Stalinism and to endorse democracy. The great majority became liberal Democrats.[32][33]

Rejecting the American New Left and McGovern’s New Politics

As the policies of the New Left made the Democrats increasingly leftist, these intellectuals became disillusioned with President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s Great Society domestic programs. The influential 1970 bestseller The Real Majority by Ben Wattenberg expressed that the “real majority” of the electorate endorsed economic interventionism, but also social conservatism; and warned Democrats it could be disastrous to adopt liberal positions on certain social and crime issues.[34]

The neoconservatives rejected the countercultural New Left and what they considered anti-Americanism in the non-interventionism of the activism against the Vietnam War. After the anti-war faction took control of the party during 1972 and nominated George McGovern, the Democrats among them endorsed Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson instead for his unsuccessful 1972 and 1976 campaigns for president. Among those who worked for Jackson were incipient neoconservatives Paul WolfowitzDoug Feith, and Richard Perle.[35] During the late 1970s, neoconservatives tended to endorse Ronald Reagan, the Republican who promised to confront Soviet expansionism. Neoconservatives organized in the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation to counter the liberal establishment.[36]

In another (2004) article, Michael Lind also wrote:[37]

Neoconservatism … originated in the 1970s as a movement of anti-Soviet liberals and social democrats in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey and Henry (‘Scoop’) Jackson, many of whom preferred to call themselves ‘paleoliberals.’ [After the end of the Cold War] … many ‘paleoliberals’ drifted back to the Democratic center … Today’s neocons are a shrunken remnant of the original broad neocon coalition. Nevertheless, the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent. The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists.

Leo Strauss and his students

C. Bradley Thompson, a professor at Clemson University, claims that most influential neoconservatives refer explicitly to the theoretical ideas in the philosophy of Leo Strauss (1899–1973),[38] although there are several writers who claim that in doing so they may draw upon meaning that Strauss himself did not endorse. Eugene Sheppard notes: “Much scholarship tends to understand Strauss as an inspirational founder of American neoconservatism”.[39] Strauss was a refugee from Nazi Germany who taught at the New School for Social Research in New York (1939–1949) and the University of Chicago (1949–1958).[40]

Strauss asserted that “the crisis of the West consists in the West’s having become uncertain of its purpose”. His solution was a restoration of the vital ideas and faith that in the past had sustained the moral purpose of the West. The Greek classics (classical republican and modern republican), political philosophy and the Judeo-Christian heritage are the essentials of the Great Tradition in Strauss’s work.[41][42] Strauss emphasized the spirit of the Greek classics and Thomas G. West (1991) argues that for Strauss the American Founding Fathers were correct in their understanding of the classics in their principles of justice.

For Strauss, political community is defined by convictions about justice and happiness rather than by sovereignty and force. A classical liberal, he repudiated the philosophy of John Locke as a bridge to 20th-century historicism and nihilism and instead defended liberal democracy as closer to the spirit of the classics than other modern regimes.[43] For Strauss, the American awareness of ineradicable evil in human nature and hence the need for morality, was a beneficial outgrowth of the pre-modern Western tradition.[44] O’Neill (2009) notes that Strauss wrote little about American topics, but his students wrote a great deal and that Strauss’s influence caused his students to reject historicism and positivism as morally relativist positions.[45] They instead promoted a so-called Aristotelian perspective on America that produced a qualified defense of its liberal constitutionalism.[46] Strauss’s emphasis on moral clarity led the Straussians to develop an approach to international relations that Catherine and Michael Zuckert (2008) call Straussian Wilsonianism (or Straussian idealism), the defense of liberal democracy in the face of its vulnerability.[45][47]

Strauss influenced The Weekly Standard editor William KristolWilliam BennettRobert BorkNewt GingrichAntonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as well as military strategist Paul Wolfowitz.[48][49]

Jeane Kirkpatrick

A theory of neoconservative foreign policy during the final years of the Cold War was articulated by Jeane Kirkpatrick in “Dictatorships and Double Standards“,[50] published in Commentary Magazine during November 1979. Kirkpatrick criticized the foreign policy of Jimmy Carter, which endorsed detente with the Soviet Union. She later served the Reagan Administration as Ambassador to the United Nations.[51]

Skepticism towards democracy promotion

In “Dictatorships and Double Standards”, Kirkpatrick distinguished between authoritarian regimes and the totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union. She suggested that in some countries democracy was not tenable and the United States had a choice between endorsing authoritarian governments, which might evolve into democracies, or Marxist–Leninist regimes, which she argued had never been ended once they achieved totalitarian control. In such tragic circumstances, she argued that allying with authoritarian governments might be prudent. Kirkpatrick argued that by demanding rapid liberalization in traditionally autocratic countries, the Carter administration had delivered those countries to Marxist–Leninists that were even more repressive. She further accused the Carter administration of a “double standard” and of never having applied its rhetoric on the necessity of liberalization to communist governments. The essay compares traditional autocracies and Communist regimes:

[Traditional autocrats] do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations. Because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to ordinary people who, growing up in the society, learn to cope.

[Revolutionary Communist regimes] claim jurisdiction over the whole life of the society and make demands for change that so violate internalized values and habits that inhabitants flee by the tens of thousands.

Kirkpatrick concluded that while the United States should encourage liberalization and democracy in autocratic countries, it should not do so when the government risks violent overthrow and should expect gradual change rather than immediate transformation.[52] She wrote: “No idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime and anywhere, under any circumstances … Decades, if not centuries, are normally required for people to acquire the necessary disciplines and habits. In Britain, the road [to democratic government] took seven centuries to traverse. … The speed with which armies collapse, bureaucracies abdicate, and social structures dissolve once the autocrat is removed frequently surprises American policymakers”.[53]

1990s

During the 1990s, neoconservatives were once again opposed to the foreign policy establishment, both during the Republican Administration of President George H. W. Bush and that of his Democratic successor, President Bill Clinton. Many critics charged that the neoconservatives lost their influence as a result of the end of the Soviet Union.[54]

After the decision of George H. W. Bush to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Iraq War during 1991, many neoconservatives considered this policy and the decision not to endorse indigenous dissident groups such as the Kurds and Shiites in their 1991–1992 resistance to Hussein as a betrayal of democratic principles.[55][56][57][58][59]

Some of those same targets of criticism would later become fierce advocates of neoconservative policies. During 1992, referring to the first Iraq War, then United States Secretary of Defense and future Vice President Richard Cheney said:

I would guess if we had gone in there, I would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.

And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam [Hussein] worth? And the answer is not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.[60]

Within a few years of the Gulf War in Iraq, many neoconservatives were endorsing the ouster of Saddam Hussein. On 19 February 1998, an open letter to President Clinton was published, signed by dozens of pundits, many identified with neoconservatism and later related groups such as the Project for the New American Century, urging decisive action to remove Saddam from power.[61]

Neoconservatives were also members of the so-called “blue team“, which argued for a confrontational policy toward the People’s Republic of China and strong military and diplomatic endorsement for the Republic of China (also known as Formosa or Taiwan).

During the late 1990s, Irving Kristol and other writers in neoconservative magazines began touting anti-Darwinist views as an endorsement of intelligent design. Since these neoconservatives were largely of secular origin, a few commentators have speculated that this – along with endorsement of religion generally – may have been a case of a “noble lie“, intended to protect public morality, or even tactical politics, to attract religious endorsers.[62]

2000s

Administration of George W. Bush

The Bush campaign and the early Bush administration did not exhibit strong endorsement of neoconservative principles. As a presidential candidate, Bush had argued for a restrained foreign policy, stating his opposition to the idea of nation-building[63] and an early foreign policy confrontation with China was managed without the vociferousness suggested by some neoconservatives.[64] Also early in the administration, some neoconservatives criticized Bush’s administration as insufficiently supportive of Israel and suggested Bush’s foreign policies were not substantially different from those of President Clinton.[65]

During November 2010, former U.S. President George W. Bush (here with the former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak at Camp David in 2002) wrote in his memoir Decision Points that Mubarak endorsed the administration’s position that Iraq had WMDs before the war with the country, but kept it private for fear of “inciting the Arab street[66]

Bush’s policies changed dramatically immediately after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

During Bush’s State of the Union speech of January 2002, he named Iraq, Iran and North Korea as states that “constitute an axis of evil” and “pose a grave and growing danger”. Bush suggested the possibility of preemptive war: “I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons”.[67][68]

Some major defense and national-security persons have been quite critical of what they believed was a neoconservative influence in getting the United States to go to war against Iraq.[69]

Former Nebraska Republican U.S. senator and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who has been critical of the Bush administration’s adoption of neoconservative ideology, in his book America: Our Next Chapter wrote:

So why did we invade Iraq? I believe it was the triumph of the so-called neo-conservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence that took America into this war of choice. … They obviously made a convincing case to a president with very limited national security and foreign policy experience, who keenly felt the burden of leading the nation in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Bush Doctrine

President Bush meets with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his staff at the Pentagon, 14 August 2006

The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war was stated explicitly in the National Security Council (NSC) text “National Security Strategy of the United States”. published 20 September 2002: “We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed … even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. … The United States will, if necessary, act preemptively”.[70]

The choice not to use the word “preventive” in the 2002 National Security Strategy and instead use the word “preemptive” was largely in anticipation of the widely perceived illegality of preventive attacks in international law via both Charter Law and Customary Law.[71]

Policy analysts noted that the Bush Doctrine as stated in the 2002 NSC document had a strong resemblance to recommendations presented originally in a controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft written during 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz, during the first Bush administration.[72]

The Bush Doctrine was greeted with accolades by many neoconservatives. When asked whether he agreed with the Bush Doctrine, Max Boot said he did and that “I think [Bush is] exactly right to say we can’t sit back and wait for the next terrorist strike on Manhattan. We have to go out and stop the terrorists overseas. We have to play the role of the global policeman. … But I also argue that we ought to go further”.[73] Discussing the significance of the Bush Doctrine, neoconservative writer William Kristol claimed: “The world is a mess. And, I think, it’s very much to Bush’s credit that he’s gotten serious about dealing with it. … The danger is not that we’re going to do too much. The danger is that we’re going to do too little”.[74]

2008 presidential election and aftermath

President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain at the White House, March 5, 2008, after McCain became the Republican presumptive presidential nominee.

John McCain, who was the Republican candidate for the 2008 United States presidential election, endorsed continuing the second Iraq War, “the issue that is most clearly identified with the neoconservatives”. The New York Times reported further that his foreign policy views combined elements of neoconservatism and the main competing conservative opinion, pragmatism, also known as realism:[75]

Among [McCain’s advisers] are several prominent neoconservatives, including Robert Kagan … [and] Max Boot…

‘It may be too strong a term to say a fight is going on over John McCain’s soul,’ said Lawrence Eagleburger … who is a member of the pragmatist camp, … [but he] said, “there is no question that a lot of my far right friends have now decided that since you can’t beat him, let’s persuade him to slide over as best we can on these critical issues.

Barack Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination during 2008 by attacking his opponents, especially Hillary Clinton, for originally endorsing Bush’s Iraq-war policies. Obama maintained a selection of prominent military officials from the Bush Administration including Robert Gates (Bush’s Defense Secretary) and David Petraeus (Bush’s ranking general in Iraq).

2010s

By 2010, U.S. forces had switched from combat to a training role in Iraq and they left in 2011.[76] The neocons had little influence in the Obama White House,[77][78] and neo-conservatives have lost much influence in the Republican party since the rise of Tea Party Movement.

Several neoconservatives played a major role in the Stop Trump movement in 2016, in opposition to the Republican presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, due to his criticism of interventionist foreign policies, as well as their perception of him as an “authoritarian” figure.[79] Since Trump took office, some neoconservatives have joined his administration, such as Elliott Abrams.[80] Neoconservatives have supported the Trump administration’s hawkish approach towards Iran[81] and Venezuela,[82] while opposing the administration’s withdrawal of troops from Syria[83] and diplomatic outreach to North Korea.[84]

Evolution of opinions

Usage and general views

During the early 1970s, Socialist Michael Harrington was one of the first to use “neoconservative” in its modern meaning. He characterized neoconservatives as former leftists – whom he derided as “socialists for Nixon” – who had become more conservative.[9] These people tended to remain endorsers of social democracy, but distinguished themselves by allying with the Nixon administration with respect to foreign policy, especially by their endorsement of the Vietnam War and opposition to the Soviet Union. They still endorsed the welfare state, but not necessarily in its contemporary form.

External video
 Booknotes interview with Irving Kristol on Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea, 1995C-SPAN

Irving Kristol remarked that a neoconservative is a “liberal mugged by reality“, one who became more conservative after seeing the results of liberal policies. Kristol also distinguished three specific aspects of neoconservatism from previous types of conservatism: neo-conservatives had a forward-looking attitude from their liberal heritage, rather than the reactionary and dour attitude of previous conservatives; they had a meliorative attitude, proposing alternate reforms rather than simply attacking social liberal reforms; and they took philosophical ideas and ideologies very seriously.[85]

During January 2009 at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term in office, Jonathan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and prominent critic of Neoconservatism, proposed the following as the “main characteristics of neoconservatism”: “a tendency to see the world in binary good/evil terms”, a “low tolerance for diplomacy”, a “readiness to use military force”, an “emphasis on US unilateral action”, a “disdain for multilateral organizations” and a “focus on the Middle East”.[86]

Opinions concerning foreign policy

International relations theory
Terra.png International relations portal

In foreign policy, the neoconservatives’ main concern is to prevent the development of a new rival. Defense Planning Guidance, a document prepared during 1992 by Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, is regarded by Distinguished Professor of the Humanities John McGowan at the University of North Carolina as the “quintessential statement of neoconservative thought”. The report says:[87]

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

According to Lead Editor of e-International Relations Stephen McGlinchey: “Neo-conservatism is something of a chimera in modern politics. For its opponents it is a distinct political ideology that emphasizes the blending of military power with Wilsonian idealism, yet for its supporters it is more of a ‘persuasion’ that individuals of many types drift into and out of. Regardless of which is more correct, it is now widely accepted that the neo-conservative impulse has been visible in modern American foreign policy and that it has left a distinct impact”.[88]

Neoconservatives claim the “conviction that communism was a monstrous evil and a potent danger”.[89] They endorse social welfare programs that were rejected by libertarians and paleoconservatives.[citation needed]

Neoconservatism first developed during the late 1960s as an effort to oppose the radical cultural changes occurring within the United States. Irving Kristol wrote: “If there is any one thing that neoconservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the counterculture“.[90] Norman Podhoretz agreed: “Revulsion against the counterculture accounted for more converts to neoconservatism than any other single factor”.[91] Neoconservatives began to emphasize foreign issues during the mid-1970s.[92]

Donald Rumsfeld and Victoria Nuland at the NATO–Ukraine consultations in Vilnius, Lithuania, 24 October 2005

In 1979, an early study by liberal Peter Steinfels concentrated on the ideas of Irving KristolDaniel Patrick Moynihan and Daniel Bell. He noted that the stress on foreign affairs “emerged after the New Left and the counterculture had dissolved as convincing foils for neoconservatism … The essential source of their anxiety is not military or geopolitical or to be found overseas at all; it is domestic and cultural and ideological”.[93]

Neoconservative foreign policy is a descendant of so-called Wilsonian idealism. Neoconservatives endorse democracy promotion by the U.S. and other democracies, based on the claim that they think that human rights belong to everyone. They criticized the United Nations and detente with the Soviet Union. On domestic policy, they endorse a welfare state, like European and Canadian conservatives and unlike American conservatives. According to Norman Podhoretz, “‘the neo-conservatives dissociated themselves from the wholesale opposition to the welfare state which had marked American conservatism since the days of the New Deal’ and … while neoconservatives supported ‘setting certain limits’ to the welfare state, those limits did not involve ‘issues of principle, such as the legitimate size and role of the central government in the American constitutional order’ but were to be ‘determined by practical considerations'”.[94]

In April 2006, Robert K