Nuclear Weapons

The Pronk Pops Show 1122, August 9, 2018, Story 1: President Trump For Criminal Justice and Prison Reform and First Step Act — Good Policy and Fiscally Sound — Videos — Story 2: Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis On Establishing United States Space Force Plan As Sixth Military Service — Space Arms Race — Videos — Story 3: Attorney General Jeff Session on Importance of Religious Liberty — Videos –Story 4: U.S. vs. China Trade Dispute — Who Will Cry Uncle First? — China — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump For Criminal Justice and Prison Reform — Good Policy and Fiscally Sound — Videos

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BREAKING 🔴 President Trump URGENT Speech at IMPORTANT Roundtable in Bedminster, NJ August 9, 2018

Pastor says he faced backlash over meeting with Trump

Published on Aug 3, 2018

Trump pushes for prison reform bill

Published on May 18, 2018

Trump takes on prison reform

Published on Jan 12, 2018

Van Jones is teaming up with the White House on prison reform

Trump, Congress try to breathe life into long-delayed criminal justice reform package

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The Pronk Pops Show 1112, July 23, 2018, Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes — Story 2: Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos — Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

Posted on July 23, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, Afghanistan, American History, Applications, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Benghazi, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, British Pound, Budgetary Policy, Business, Central Intelligence Agency, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Currencies, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Egypt, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Euro, European Union, Fast and Furious, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, France, Freedom of Speech, Germany, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hardware, Hate Speech, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Investments, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, James Comey, Jordan, Killing, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Lying, Media, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Public Corruption, Public Relations, Qatar, Radio, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Republican Candidates For President 2016, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Saudi Arabia, Scandals, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Servers, Software, Syria, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, Transportation, Treason, U.S. Space Program, Unemployment, United Kingdom, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

 

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Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes

Sanders: Trump won’t stand for empty threats against America

Trump no nonsense approach on Iran is the right strategy: Gen. Jack Keane

Secretary Pompeo remarks on “Supporting Iranian Voices” – Speech only

Iran feeling the strain from Obama’s deal?

Trump weighs in after Iran threatens the ‘mother of all wars’ | In The News

US not afraid to sanction top Iran leaders: Pompeo

U.S. Pushes Confrontation with Iran: Trump Warns of “Consequences,” Pompeo Likens Leaders to “Mafia”

Scott Adams – President Trump’s All-Caps Tweet to Iran

 

Just tough Trump tweeting? US ratchets up Iran pressure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s explosive twitter threat to Iran’s leader comes as his administration is ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change.

No one is predicting imminent war. But Trump’s bellicose, all-caps challenge addressed to President Hassan Rouhani followed a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he accused Iran’s leadership of massive corruption and widespread rights abuses and urged Iranians to rise up in protest.

Trump’s tweet doesn’t appear to have been prompted by any notable shift in rhetoric from Iran.

It could have been an impulsive reaction to reports from Tehran quoting Rouhani as giving the U.S. an oft-repeated reminder that conflict with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.” Yet animosity directed at the Iranian leadership is an established part of the administration’s broader foreign policy.

The White House says President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet shows he’s not going to tolerate critical rhetoric from Iran, but claims the U.S. leader isn’t escalating tensions between the two countries. (July 23)

Iran publicly shrugged off Trump’s late Sunday message — “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday: COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones_for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, “None at all.”

Tehran is already aware of what is coming from the administration as consequences of Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord take shape.

As Pompeo noted in his speech to Iranian-Americans and others in California on Sunday, the centerpiece will be the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions; the first batch will go back into force on Aug. 4 targeting the Iranian automotive sector and trade in gold and other metals. A more significant set of sanctions that will hit Iran’s oil industry and central bank by punishing countries and companies that do business with them will resume on Nov. 4.

Pompeo also slammed Iran’s political, judicial and military officials, accusing several by name of participating in rampant corruption, and called its religious leaders “hypocritical holy men” who amassed wealth while allowing their people to suffer. He said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms,” and he hailed the “proud Iranian people (for) not staying silent about their government’s many abuses.”

“The United States under President Trump will not stay silent either,” he said.

He was right. True to form, Trump did not stay silent. But the White House blamed Rouhani for inciting the war of words with his comment that “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

“WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!,” Trump wrote.

Reaction from Congress, particularly Democrats, was swift and critical.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged that Iran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East pose a threat but suggested it wouldn’t be solved through a tweet from Trump.

“Sadly, after pulling us out of the nuclear deal with Europe and Iran, there doesn’t seem to be strategy for how to move forward to fight Iran’s activities,” she said.

And Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, called the Twitter blast from the White House “another warning sign that Trump is blundering toward war with Iran.”

Trump’s National Security Council pushed back:

“Our differences are with the Iranian regime’s actions and, in particular, with the actions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not the Iranian people. The Trump administration’s Iran policy seeks to address the totality of these threats and malign activities and to bring about a change in the Iranian regime’s behavior.”

“If anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. She added that Trump has been “very clear about what he’s not going to allow to take place.”

Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate long-standing disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the U.S.

In the case of North Korea, the verbal war cooled quickly and gradually led to the high-profile summit and denuclearization talks. Still there has been little tangible progress in a global push to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons program since the historic Trump-Kim Jong Un summit on June 12.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, David Rising in Dubai, Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire contributed.

___

This story has been corrected to correct Trump tweet: ‘Likes’ of which, not ‘like.’

https://apnews.com/33bbdee2506645859222e0f5252b288f/White-House-blames-Iran-for-war-of-words-with-Trump

 

Story 2: President Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos —

Trump may revoke security clearances for Obama-era officials

Rand Paul urges Trump to pull security clearances

Ex-CIA chief Brennan: Trump’s comments nothing short of treasonous

Rand Paul SHUTS DOWN Trump’s Critics & DESTROYS Obama’s Former CIA John Brennan

Scott Adams – The Newest Reason to Love Rand Paul

Clapper On President Donald Trump Revoking Security Clearance: Very Petty | Hardball | MSNBC

What’s Needed Desperately: Operation Wrath of Trump

Trump looking into revoking security clearances for Brennan, other top Obama officials

President Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of several top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, accusing them of having “politicized” or “monetized” their public service.

She made the announcement at Monday’s press briefing, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called on the president to specifically revoke Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance.

Sanders said Trump is considering it — and also looking into the clearances for other former officials and Trump critics: former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden (who also worked under President George W. Bush).

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on the political fallout from the IG report and the Mueller investigation.

Sanders said Trump is “exploring mechanisms” to remove the security clearances “because [the former officials] politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.”

Sanders added that their clearances effectively give “inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

“When you have the highest level of security clearance … when you have the nation’s secrets at hand, and go out and make false [statements], the president feels that’s something to be very concerned with,” Sanders said.

According McCabe’s spokesperson Melissa Schwartz, however, his security clearance had already been deactivated when he was fired.

“Andrew McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps…,” Schwartz tweeted Monday.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey’s, tweeted Monday afternoon that he texted the former FBI director, who told him he doesn’t have a security clearance to revoke.

When asked whether former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden might have their security clearances revoked, Sanders said she did not have any further information.

FILE - In this June 7, 2017, file photo, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCabe drafted a memo on the firing of his onetime boss, ex-director James Comey. That’s according to a person familiar with the memo, who insisted on anonymity to discuss a secret document that has been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. The person said the memo concerned a conversation McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Rosenstein’s preparations for Comey’s firing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump is looking into revoking former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s security clearance, but McCabe’s spokesman said that clearance had already been deactivated.  (AP)

The topic came into the spotlight Monday morning, with Paul’s tweets against the former CIA director.

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?” Paul tweeted early Monday.

Brennan joined NBC News and MSNBC in February as a contributor and senior national security and intelligence analyst. A spokesperson for the networks did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Paul’s tweet, which did not list any specific allegations.

The Kentucky Republican, who last week jumped to Trump’s defense as the president faced bipartisan criticism over his summit and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed up the original tweet by saying:

“Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!”

Paul’s tweets come as fellow congressional Republicans push for Brennan to testify on Capitol Hill regarding the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

The former CIA director has been a consistent and harsh critic of the president, blasting his performance with Putin in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”

But Brennan is not the only former intelligence official to take to the media world. In April, Comey began a media blitz promoting his new memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” while Hayden and Rice also frequently make media appearances.

On Twitter, just minutes after the announcement from the White House brieifing, Hayden responded in a tweet to several journalists that a loss of security clearance would not have an “effect” on him.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” Hayden tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/23/trump-looking-into-revoking-security-clearances-for-brennan-other-top-obama-officials.html

 

 

Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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FISA Applications Confirm: The FBI Relied on the Unverified Steele Dossier

One-time advisor of Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

A salacious Clinton-campaign product was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.

What ‘Verify’ Means
Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.” (See House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes March 1, 2018, letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, embedded here.) The point is to assure the court that the FBI has corroborated the allegations in the warrant application in the usual way.

A hypothetical shows how this works. Let’s say that X, an informant, tells the FBI in Washington that Y, a person in St. Louis, told him that Z, the suspect, is plotting to rob the bank.

X’s story is unverified; he doesn’t know anything firsthand about Z — he only knows what Y has told him. Obviously, then, the FBI does not instantly run to court and seek a warrant against Z. Instead, the bureau sends an investigative “lead” from headquarters in Washington to the FBI field office in St. Louis. FBI agents in St. Louis then go find and interview Y. Based on that interview, the FBI gathers supporting information (perhaps physical surveillance of Z, scrutiny of available documents and records about Z, etc.). Only then, after debriefing the witness with competent knowledge, do the Justice Department and FBI seek a warrant against Z from the court. In the application, they explain to the judge that they have verified X’s information by interviewing Y and then corroborating Y’s version of events. In fact, if they get solid enough information about Z from Y, there may be no reason even to mention X, whose tip to the FBI was sheer hearsay.

But that is not what happened with the Carter Page FISA warrants.

Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court? No, they were not.

The FBI presented the court with allegations posited by Steele. He is in the position of X in our hypothetical. He is not the source of any of the relevant information on which the court was asked to rely for its probable-cause finding that Page was a clandestine agent of Russia. In this context, source means a reliable witness who saw or heard some occurrence on which the court is being asked to base its ruling.

Steele has not been in Russia for about 20 years. In connection with the dossier allegations, he was merely the purveyor of information from the actual sources — unidentified Russians who themselves relied on hearsay information from other sources (sometimes double and triple hearsay, very attenuated from the supposed original source).

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

There Is No Reason to Believe the Redactions Corroborate Steele
I have been making this point for months. When I made it again in a Fox and Friends interview on Sunday morning, critics asked how I could say such a thing when the warrants are pervasively redacted — how could I be so sure, given all we concededly don’t know, that the redactions do not corroborate Steele?

The critics’ tunnel vision on the redactions ignores the months of hearings and reporting on this core question, which I’ve continuously detailed. Here, for example, is what two senior Judiciary Committee senators, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham, wrote in a classified memo early this year after reviewing FISA applications (the memo was finally declassified and publicized over the objections of the FBI):

The bulk of the [first Carter Page FISA] application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.

The senators went on to recount the concession by former FBI director James Comey that the bureau had relied on the credibility of Steele (who had previously assisted the bureau in another investigation), not the verification of Steele’s sources. In June 2017 testimony, Comey described information in the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

Moreover, the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.”

I freely acknowledge that we do not know what the redactions say. But we have been very well informed about what they do not say. They do not verify the allegations in the Steele dossier. I have no doubt that they have a great deal to say about Russia and its nefarious anti-American operations. But the FBI has been taking incoming fire for months about failing to corroborate Steele. No institution in America guards its reputation more zealously than does the FBI. If Steele had been corroborated, rest assured that the bureau would not be suffering in silence.

When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable.

Plus, do you really think the FBI and Justice Department wanted to use the Steele dossier? Of course they didn’t. They undoubtedly believed Steele’s allegations (the applications say as much). That is no surprise given how much their top echelons loathed Donald Trump. But they were also well aware of the dossier’s significant legal problems — the suspect sourcing, the multiple hearsay. If they had solid evidence that verified Steele’s allegations, they would have used that evidence as their probable cause showing against Page. Instead, they used the dossier because, as McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, without it they would have had no chance of persuading a judge that Page was a clandestine agent.

Whatever is in the redactions cannot change that.

There Is No Vicarious Credibility
To repeat what we’ve long said here, there is no vicarious credibility in investigations. When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable — i.e., they were in a position to see or hear the relevant facts, and they are worthy of belief. It is not sufficient to show that the agent who assembles the source information is credible.

The vast majority of our investigators are honorable people who would never lie to a judge. But that is irrelevant because, in assessing probable cause, the judge is not being asked to rely on the honesty of the agent. The agent, after all, is under oath and supervised by a chain of command at the FBI and the Justice Department; the judge will generally assume that the agent is honestly and accurately describing the information he has gotten from various sources.

The judge’s main task is not to determine if the agent is credible. It is to weigh the reliability of the agent’s sources. Are the sources’ claims supported by enough evidence that the court should approve a highly intrusive warrant against an American citizen?

Here, Steele was in the position of an investigative agent relaying information. He was not a source (or informant) who saw or heard relevant facts. Even if we assume for argument’s sake that Steele is honest and reliable, that would tell us nothing about who his sources are, whether they were really in a position to see or hear the things they report, and whether they have a history of providing accurate information. Those are the questions the FBI must answer in order to vet and confirm factual allegations before presenting them to the FISA court. That was not done; the FBI relied on Steele’s reputation to vouch for his source’s claims.

The FISA Judges
In my public comments Sunday morning, I observed that the newly disclosed FISA applications are so shoddy that the judges who approved them ought to be asked some hard questions. I’ve gotten flak for that, no doubt because President Trump tweeted part of what I said. I stand by it. Still, some elaboration, which a short TV segment does not allow for, is in order.

I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as myFBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence. I explained that if the bureau believed the information in a document like the dossier, it would pick out the seven or eight most critical facts and scrub them as only the FBI can — interview the relevant witnesses, grab the documents, scrutinize the records, connect the dots. Whatever application eventually got filed in the FISA court would not even allude en passant to Christopher Steele or his dossier. The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong.

I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.

Well, guess what? No one knows that better than experienced federal judges, who deal with a steady diet of warrant applications. It is basic. Much of my bewilderment, in fact, stems from the certainty that if I had been so daft as to try to get a warrant based on the good reputation of one of my FBI case agents, with no corroboration of his or her sources, just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.

That’s why I said it.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/carter-page-fisa-applications-fbi-steele-dossier/

 

 

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Trump: I’m not pro-Russia, I just want our country safe

The Ingraham Angle with Jason Chaffetz July 20,2018 Full Show

President Trump invites Putin for a US visit this fall

Senate Votes 98 – 0 to Reject Putin Proposal Interview Americans

See intel chief stunned by Trump’s invite to Putin

Trump invites Putin to the White House

Trump is inviting Putin to the White House

US Diplomat Reacts: Would Donald Trump Give Fmr. US Diplomat To Putin? | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

The Matt Couch Show 07-19-18 Senate Votes 98-0 opposing former Administration being quesitoned by Russia

McFaul: Putin Used The Same Tactics In Russia, ‘In The United States’ | Meet The Press | NBC News

Here’s what’s in the Senate’s new Russia sanctions

PBS NewsHour

Published on Jun 15, 2017

The Senate overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against both Iran and Russia on Thursday. While the overall bill is aimed at Iran’s missile program, an amendment expands sanctions on Russia for meddling in last year’s election, and another amendment affects the president’s ability to roll back sanctions. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to take a closer look at the details.

White House: Trump ‘disagrees’ with Putin’s request to question Americans

 

The White House on Thursday backed off a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to question U.S. citizens over alleged crimes in Russia after initially indicating President Trump would consider the matter.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

The White House response comes after almost 24 hours of criticism from Democrats, Republicans and former diplomats that added to the hailstorm of criticism Trump has received over his meeting with Putin in Helsinki earlier this week.It also marks the third time in as many days where Trump or the White House has walked back or clarified comments the president made in relation to his meeting with Putin that frustrated or flabbergasted lawmakers.

Trump on Tuesday had to reiterate his confidence in the U.S intelligence community’s assessment that Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential election after casting doubt on that conclusion the day before.

On Wednesday, Trump appeared to say “no” to questions about whether Russia still posed a threat to the U.S., prompting the White House to clarify hours after that the president was trying to say “no” to taking additional questions.

Sanders’s statement on Thursday was issued less than an hour before the Senate, in a rare display of bipartisan unity, passed, 98-0, a resolution that warns Trump against handing over former U.S. diplomats to Russia.

Putin suggested during Monday’s meeting with Trump that he would let U.S. law enforcement travel to Russia and observe the questioning of 12 Russian intelligence officials indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in exchange for Russian authorities being allowed to question U.S. citizens “who have something to do with illegal actions in the territory of Russia,” including Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

Trump initially called it an “incredible offer” at Monday’s joint press conference with Putin. His comments gained more widespread attention among lawmakers on Wednesday, when Sanders said at a press briefing that the president would discuss Putin’s offer with his team.

However, the president appeared to be increasingly on an island in his consideration of Putin’s proposal.

In an interview shortly before the White House reversal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bluntly shut down any consideration of Putin’s request.

“Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” he said, one day after the State Department called the request “absurd.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray chuckled when asked about the potential quid pro quo during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday night.

“I never want to say never about anything, but it’s certainly not high on our list of investigative techniques,” Wray said, prompting laughter and cheers in the room.

On Thursday, Democrats, former diplomats and some Republicans seemed confounded that the White House would even consider the idea.

Multiple lawmakers and ex-diplomats acknowledged it was unlikely the U.S. government would make its own citizens available to Russians for questioning, but warned that the appearance of considering the offer sends a troubling message.

“I challenge you to find one member of the House and the Senate that believes this is a good idea,” Graham added.

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called it “dangerous” to even entertain Putin’s offer.

A group of House Democrats wrote to the president on Thursday, urging him to denounce the “preposterous offer” and saying it “defies belief” that the U.S. government would allow Russian investigators to conduct business on American soil.

“Certainly that would be a pretty phenomenal scene watching McFaul being put onto a plane to go interview in Moscow, or any Americans for that matter,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.

“I can’t imagine that ever happening,” he added. “So I don’t think it is worth speculating on.”

McFaul has been outspoken in the past 24 hours, urging the president to walk back yet another statement in the aftermath of his meeting with the Russian president and warning it damages his credibility in the diplomatic community.

“The president of the United States needs to come out and categorically denounce it. It’s crazy. Maybe he doesn’t understand it,” McFaul said Thursday morning on MSNBC.

“I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but now he needs to correct the record and stand up strong,” McFaul added. “What the president doesn’t understand, he looks weak in the eyes of Putin when he doesn’t push back on elementary things like that.”

Updated at 3:31 p.m. Olivia Beavers contributed.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/397907-white-house-trump-disagrees-with-putins-request-to-question-americans

Trump ‘disagrees’ with Putin offer to interview Americans

ZEKE MILLER, KEN THOMAS and LISA MASCARO

,

Trump invites Putin to Washington, rejects his request to interrogate Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia

JUL 19, 2018 
Trump invites Putin to Washington, rejects his request to interrogate Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia
At their news conference Monday in Helsinki, President Trump expressed interest in a proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin to let Russian officials interrogate a former U.S. ambassador. Thursday, the White House disowned the idea. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

President Trump, after coming under fire for even considering the idea, on Thursday decided not to allow Russia to interrogate a former U.S. ambassador and other Americans, as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed during their summit in Helsinki.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

As Trump tried for a third straight day to answer critics, by taking a tougher line with Putin than he did when they met Monday, he also extended an olive branch — inviting Putin to Washington. Sanders said discussions are underway for a visit in the fall, just weeks before midterm elections.

Putin had floated the idea of the interrogations as part of a swap: He would allow 12 Russian operatives indicted last week in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Moscow’s election interference to be questioned, but by Russian officials with U.S. investigators present — and only if the U.S. gave Russia access to a dozen Americans it accuses of crimes, including the former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama, Michael McFaul.

In her statement, Sanders expressed hope that despite Trump’s belated rejection of Putin’s request, he “will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

Trump, as he stood beside Putin at their summit, had labeled the Russian leader’s proposal an “incredible offer.” On Wednesday, Sanders confirmed that the president was considering the idea, provoking broad outrage across Washington.

Yet the State Department on Wednesday dismissed Russia’s allegations against McFaul and the others as “absurd.” Republicans as well as Democrats objected that Trump hadn’t immediately rejected Putin’s request, signaling that agreeing to such a proposal could be a red line for Congress.

“Under no circumstances should #Putin officials ever be allowed to come into the U.S. & ‘question’ Americans on their list,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote in a tweet Thursday, hours before the White House announced Trump’s decision.

That decision came just after Trump met at the White House with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. Pompeo had strongly opposed the idea of allowing Russia access to the Americans, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network on Thursday, “That’s not going to happen.”

Even after the announcement, in a rebuke of the president, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 98-0 for a resolution opposing the “making available of current and former diplomats, officials, and members of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin.”

Afterward, McFaul tweeted, “Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you all for your support.”

The new dispute between Trump and Putin over the issue came as the two leaders otherwise offered remarkably similar takes on their summit, both insisting that it was a success and attacking American media and Trump investigators for standing in the way of U.S.-Russia cooperation.

Early Thursday, Trump tweeted that the summit “was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media.”

Trump claimed that the media “are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin.” He went so far as to say that the media badly wants “a confrontation that could lead to war.”

Putin, in his first public comments about the summit, told Russian diplomats in a speech Thursday that relations with the United States had been “in some ways worse than during the Cold War” but their meeting put the two nations on “the path to positive change.”

“It is important that at last a full-scale meeting took place that allowed talking directly, and it was generally successful,” Putin said, according to Russian state news agencies.

However, there are “forces in the United States that are ready to sacrifice Russian-American relations for their ambitions in the domestic political struggle,” Putin added.

That seemed clearly an echo of Trump’s own complaints about the political cloud over his presidency: the special counsel’s investigation of Russia’s election interference and possible Trump campaign complicity.

Both leaders have claimed that their private, two-hour conversation yielded agreements in various policy areas, though by Thursday, the White House, State and Defense departments had been unable to provide details, with many officials professing to be in the dark themselves.

Even the director of national intelligence, former Sen. Dan Coats, acknowledged that he doesn’t know what took place between the two presidents, and said he opposed their meeting alone.

“That is the president’s prerogative,” Coats said. “I would have suggested a different way.”” He did not rule out the “risk” that the Russians recorded the conversation.

Coats, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, also said that he “wished” Trump hadn’t initially accepted Putin’s denial of election interference. After the joint Trump-Putin news conference, Coats immediately issued an unusual statement of his own; at Aspen he said he wanted “to correct the record.”

He expressed some satisfaction with Trump’s subsequent statement on Tuesday that he accepted the intelligence community’s findings that Russia undermined the election campaign, but said he wished the president hadn’t added that “others” might have been involved as well.

Before news of Trump’s invitation to Putin, in a pair of tweets early Thursday he stated that he looks forward “to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.” He listed stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyberattacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace and North Korea.

“They can ALL be solved!” he wrote.

Neither country has offered any specifics about particular agreements or future plans for bilateral collaboration. Some congressional Democrats have suggested subpoenaing the American translator — only the presidents’ respective interpreters were in the room for their initial meeting — to solve the mystery of what they discussed.

Republicans, who on the whole have been obsequious toward Trump, were quick to criticize him after he stood beside Putin and accepted the Russian’s denial of election interference over the unanimous conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

While some Republicans eased up on Trump following his subsequent reversal and acceptance of his government’s intelligence findings, party leaders suggested they would consider additional sanctions on Russia amid ongoing concerns that it is attempting to interfere with the looming 2018 midterm elections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he has directed two Senate committees to offer recommendations for measures “that could respond to or deter Russian malign behavior.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray, also speaking at the Aspen conference, an annual gathering of national security experts in Colorado, reiterated his belief in the conclusions about Russian election interference and even hinted that he has considered resigning.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, speaking at the same conference, also acknowledged that she “agrees with” the U.S. intelligence findings.

But she dismissed the idea that Putin, who acknowledged Monday that he wanted Trump to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, did so on her boss’ behalf — as the intelligence agencies have concluded.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempt to interfere in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular political party,” Nielsen said.

While Cabinet officials are wary of angering Trump, Republicans appear to be walking a political tightrope, responding to a potential national security issue but careful not to upset the president or his most loyal supporters, whose turnout will be critical to Republicans’ chances in November.

A new CBS News poll Thursday showed that only about a third of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of relations with Russia, but 68% of Republicans approve, illustrating the bind that GOP elected officials are in.

Special correspondent Sabra Ayres in Moscow contributed to this report.

 

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-putin-07192018-story.html

Trump plans to invite Putin to Washington this fall

President Donald Trump asked his national security adviser to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday afternoon.

The statement comes after Trump teased a second meeting with Putin on Twitter earlier in the day. Sanders says the president tasked National Security Adviser John Bolton with extending an invitation to the Russian leader.

“In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs. President Trump asked @AmbJohnBolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway,” Sanders said in a tweet.

Trump wrote online Thursday that he is looking forward to a second sitdown with Putin, insisting that his much-criticized bilateral meeting with him on Monday was in fact a “great success” that the media have unfairly covered negatively.

“The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more,” the president wrote on Twitter. “There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”

If Putin receives an invitation and accepts it, the trip would likely mark his first visit to the White House in more than a decade. Putin last visited the White House in the early 2000s, when former President George W. Bush was in office.

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said she would not object to Trump meeting again with Putin but recommended that a member of the administration accompany him to take notes, unlike the meeting earlier this week.

“I’m not saying anything against the president. But I would say we just have to be cautious because what’s to stop Putin from saying: ‘Oh yeah he agreed to all this stuff,’” she said in an interview Thursday.

The president has faced a tidal wave of criticism since his meeting Monday with Putin in Finland, where he told reporters at a bilateral news conference that he saw no reason why Russia would be to blame for a 2016 campaign of cyberattacks intended to impact the outcome of that year’s U.S. presidential election. That Trump would accept Putin’s denial that Russia was involved over the word of his own intelligence agencies prompted a bipartisan backlash that has yet to ebb.

Outrage over Trump’s comment was so strong that the president took the rare step Tuesday of admitting a mistake, telling reporters that he had meant to say he saw no reason why Russia “wouldn’t” have been to blame for the 2016 election meddling, the opposite of what he had said a day earlier.

But Trump has since returned to his defiant stance, insisting that the media have unfairly painted his Finland meeting with Putin as something less than a total success. Earlier Monday, he wrote online that the media want to see a “major confrontation” with Russia, even one “that could lead to war.”

“They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin. We are doing MUCH better than any other country!” he wrote.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/19/trump-russia-putin-second-meeting-732358

 

 

Story 2: President Trump and Republican Party Failure to Cut Government Spending and Balance The Budget and Failure To Support Federal Reserve’s Increase in Interest Rates Will Adversely Impact Economic Growth of U.S. Economy Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — Recession in 2019? — Videos

What Would Happen If USA Stopped Paying Its Debt?

Trump opposed to more rate hikes, Here’s what that means for the market

CNBC Television

Published on Jul 19, 2018

Fed Chairman Powell expects gradual rate hikes

Published on Jul 17, 2018

Fed Chairman Powell expects gradual rate hikes

ARIRANG NEWS

Published on Jul 17, 2018

Fed lifts interest rates

Financial Times

Published on Jun 13, 2018

PETER SCHIFF – Increasing Short Term Interest Rates Will End Up With Recession

 

Interest Rates Are About to Shoot Through The Roof – Peter Schiff

How the Federal Reserve raising interest rates will affect you

The Fed’s timing behind raising interest rates

Fox Business

Published on Mar 15, 2017

What does a Trump presidency mean for the Fed?

CNNMoney

Published on Nov 14, 2016

Stockman: Trade Wars + the Fed’s QT + Spiking Deficit = Major Recession Ahead

David Stockman Blame the Fed. for USA Trade Deficit

We created a catastrophe for fiscal 2019: David Stockman

Which Countries Will Survive Economic Crisis? Mike Maloney

What Is The Timeframe For US Dollar Collapse? Mike Maloney

Could USA Default On Its Debt? Mike Maloney

Carmen Reinhart: Financial Repression Requires A Captive Audience | McAlvany Commentary

Financial Repression, The War on Cash & The War on Gold

FINANCIAL REPRESSION For Dummies PODCAST w/ Gordon T Long

Trump Blasts Powell’s Rate Hikes, Trespassing on Fed’s Independence

 Updated on 
  • President says he’s ‘not thrilled’ by higher borrowing costs
  • Comments break with 20 years of avoiding public views on rates
Kathleen Gaffney oEaton Vance and Bloomberg’s Vince Cignarella react to President Trump’s comments on the Fed.

“I’m not thrilled” the Fed is raising borrowing costs and potentially slowing the economy, he said in an interview with CNBC broadcast Thursday. “I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.”

The dollar relinquished gains from earlier in the day and Treasury yields dropped following the president’s remarks.

“I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best,” Trump said.

The Fed has raised interest rates five times since Trump took office in January 2017, with two of those coming this year under Chairman Jerome Powell, the president’s pick to replace Janet Yellen. In the interview, Trump called Powell a “very good man.”

Personal compliments aside, Trump aimed his complaints at a government agency that enjoys a degree of independence from politics because its funding isn’t subject to congressional appropriations.

Powell, nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate with broad bipartisan support, has a four-year term as chairman that ends in 2022. According to the Federal Reserve Act, a Fed chairman can only be removed from office before his or her term ends “for cause,” which isn’t defined.

Central Banks Want Freedom, Politicians Want Control: QuickTake

Most developed-world central banks are given a degree of independence from governments so monetary policy doesn’t succumb to the whims of politicians. In emerging markets such as Turkey, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has felt no such restraint.

“This is such a risky thing for the Fed, and for the president, and for central bank independence,” said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Now, even if the Fed pauses its rate-hike campaign for valid economic reasons, it could look politicized. There will be many “who see that as the Fed yielding to a combative president,” Conti-Brown said.

Wharton Fed Historian Says Trump’s Criticism of Rate Hikes Is Risky

Wharton Fed Historian Peter Conti-Brown says Trump’s criticism of the Fed is risky.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Powell addressed Congress this week and told lawmakers that “for now — the best way forward is to keep gradually raising the federal funds rate.” Fed officials have penciled in two more hikes this year. The probability investors assigned to a Fed rate hike in September was little changed near 90 percent after the president’s remarks, while the probability of a December hike was also holding near 65 percent, according to trading in federal funds futures.

Long Tradition

Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith declined to comment. Powell last week told American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program that the Fed has “a long tradition here of conducting policy in a particular way, and that way is independent of all political concerns.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in an emailed statement that the president “respects the independence of the Fed,” adding that his views on rates “are well known and his comments today are a reiteration of those long-held positions.”

Trump’s remarks come as the U.S. economy enjoys its second-longest economic expansion on record which has seen unemployment fall close to the lowest levels in 50 years. While the Fed has raised rates, they remain low on a historical basis.

The current target range for its policy benchmark is 1.75 percent and 2 percent. Subtracting inflation, the rate is slightly negative in real terms and still “accommodative” for growth and borrowing, as the Fed said in its June statement.

Indeed, overall financial conditions in the U.S. are largely unchanged since Trump took office in January 2017 despite the Fed’s gradual tightening campaign, and looser than they were on average in 2016, according to a Goldman Sachs index.

It wasn’t the first time in history the Fed has faced pressure from a U.S. president. But the past three administrations under Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have refrained from publicly commenting on policy decisions.

“The Fed’s independence from short-term political pressures is critical to enabling it to take the longer-run perspective that is essential for achieving its legislated dual mandate for jobs and price stability,” said Donald Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Trump Hated Low Interest Rates. Then He Became President

It’s long been speculated that the taboo of commenting on U.S. monetary policy could change under Trump, who slammed the Fed during his election campaign and has demonstrated repeatedly his willingness to flout the conventions and sensibilities of establishment Washington.

While it’s been many years, the White House has also been known to exert other forms of pressure. In December 1965, Lyndon Johnson famously summoned Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin to his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, to confront him over Martin’s decision to lift rates. Martin held his ground.

The same couldn’t be said for Arthur Burns under Richard Nixon. Oval Office tapes later revealed that Nixon demanded Burns goose the economy with low rates ahead of the 1972 election. When Burns didn’t immediately cooperate, the White House planted a false story in the press that Burns was seeking a big pay raise, according to a book by Nixon speech writer William Safire. Eventually Burns relented, aiding Nixon but also helping to feed runaway inflation that dogged the U.S. economy for nearly a decade.

The last known example of U.S. presidential strong-arming came when George H. W. Bush was fighting for re-election. Bush’s White House pushed Alan Greenspan behind the scenes on rates and openly called on the Fed to lower its benchmark in June 1992. Greenspan did lower rates 13 times over 1991-92, but slowed the pace of cuts in the latter year, much to the White House’s annoyance.

— With assistance by Benjamin Purvis, Rich Miller, and Justin Sink

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-19/trump-trespasses-on-fed-independence-blasting-powell-rate-hikes

Who Is Buying US Treasuries?

  BY    0   0

The Japanese and Chinese aren’t buying US Treasuries. In fact, both countries reduced their holdings in April.

According to the US Treasury Department, the Japanese disposed of $12.3 billion in US debt. Meanwhile, Chinese Treasury holdings fell by $5.8 billion.

This could be a troubling development for the US government as it scrambles to fund its massive deficits and ever-growing debt.

Earlier this year, we asked the question: who is going to buy all of this US debt? The US Treasury Department plans to auction off around $1.4 trillion in Treasuries this year. And it won’t end there. The department expects that pace of borrowing to continue over the next several years. That’s a lot of bonds. Who will buy them? Because the biggest purchasers of US debt aren’t in a buying mood. In fact, they appear to be selling.

The Japanese rank as the second-largest holder of US Treasuries, but they’ve been systematically selling. Over the past six months, the Japanese have shed $63 billion in US debt. Since July 2016, they have reduced Treasury holdings by $123 billion.

The Chinese haven’t been dumping Treasuries at the same rate as the Japanese – at least not until recently – but they haven’t been buying either. China’s holdings have remained within the same range since August 2017.

But as the trade war between the US and China continues to intensify, China could use its holdings of US debt as a weapon. The Chinese can’t out-tariff Trump. The US imports far more products than the Chinese. But China does have an ace up its sleeve. They could start more aggressively selling US Treasuries. If China starts dumping large amounts of debt on the market, interest rates will likely soar and the dollar would plunge.

As Wolf Street noted, you can more clearly see that Japan and China are less eager to service US debt when you look at it in terms of the percentage of the US gross national debt.

There are two reasons for the steady decline.

  1. The US gross national debt has soared.
  2. The holdings of China and Japan have fallen over the past two years.

The Federal Reserve is another big player in the US Treasury market. The central bank holds about $2.39 trillion on federal debt, much of it purchased over the last decade through its QE programs. But the Fed isn’t buying right now either. Its Treasury holdings fell by $70 billion from the beginning of its QE unwind last fall through April.

And on an interesting side-note, the Russians cut its Treasury holdings in half in April, selling off $47.4 billion of its $96.1 billion in US debt.

As Wolf Street points out, the Russians don’t hold very much US debt, so their sell-off isn’t particularly meaningful in the big scheme of things. But imagine if China or Japan were to hold a similar fire sale. That would be headline news – and not the good kind.

So, if the big three – China, Japan and the Fed – aren’t buying US bonds, who is?

According to Wolf Street, “Mostly American institutional and individual investors, directly and indirectly, through bond funds, pension funds, and other ways.”

The question is how much of the load can these investors absorb? And how high will interest rates have to climb in order to keep them buying? Keep in mind, rising interest rates don’t just impact bond yields. On the flip-side, debtors are paying more to service their debts. That means leveraged companies and consumers with massive credit card balances. That’s not good news in a world drowning in debt.

The bottom line is interest rates will most likely continue to rise. It’s a simple supply and demand calculation. The Treasury Department has to sell more than a trillion dollars in bonds. Nobody wants to buy. Interest rates will go up to entice more buyers into the market. The Sovereign Man summed up the implications in an article last winter. It’s worth repeating.

Make no mistake: higher interest rates will have an enormous impact on just about EVERYTHING. Many major asset prices tend to fall when interest rates rise. Rising rates mean that it costs more money for companies to borrow, reducing their leverage and overall profitability. So stock prices typically fall. It’s also important to note that, over the last several years when interest rates were basically ZERO, companies borrowed vast sums of money at almost no cost to buy back their own stock. They were essentially using record low interest rates to artificially inflate their share prices. Those days are rapidly coming to an end.”

https://schiffgold.com/key-gold-news/who-is-buying-us-treasuries/

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1105, Story 1: President Trump Chooses An Outstanding Nominee for Supreme Court Justice — Brett Kavanaugh — Hate America Democrats (HAD) and Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers Had Nervous Breakdown Over Right-Wing Extremist?– Videos — Story 2: President Trump Flies To Europe for 7 Days for NATO Summit in Brussells and Meeting With Prime Minister May in England and Russian President Putin — Time To Step Up Military Spending of NATO Member Countries — Videos — Story 3: Will Prime Minister May Remain in Office? Brixit Breaks May — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Chooses An Outstanding Nominee for Supreme Court Justice — Brett Kavanaugh — Hate America Democrats (HAD) and Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers Had Hysterical Nervous Breakdown — Panicking Petulent Progressive Propaganda of Big Lie Media — Videos

Trump names Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court pick

Outside Supreme Court, senators and activists react to Trump pick

Chuck Schumer RAILS Against Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice Nominee

President Trump announces Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee

Hannity: Left will take extreme measures to malign Kavanaugh

Who is Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s SCOTUS pick?

“They’re PANICKING over Brett Kavanaugh??” Ben REACTS to the Left’s SCOTUS Meltdown

Chuck Schumer’s Reaction To Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Will Have You Speechless

How will Democrats and Republicans react to Trump’s SCOTUS nominee?

‘There is no one more qualified or deserving’: Trump picks federal judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Anthony Kennedy’s Supreme Court seat, setting up ferocious battle with Dems to get him nominated

  • Trump: ‘Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law’ 
  • Kavanaugh, 53, was a front-runner for the nomination ever since Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27
  • He served as staff secretary to President George W. Bush at the White House
  • Also played a leading role in drafting Ken Starr’s report on President Bill Clinton
  • Served 10 years on the federal bench, giving Democrats ample material to sift throuh for a deep look into his written opinions
  • Kavanaugh and wife Ashely have two daughters; his all-American look was said to appeal to Trump
  • Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to be worried Kavanaugh will be tough to confirm because of his voluminous paper trail

President Donald Trump named Washington, D.C. federal judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

‘Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,’ Trump said in his announcement.

‘There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving,’ the president added.

Video playing bottom right…

President Trump named Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Trump called Brett Kavanaugh 'one of the sharpest legal minds of our time.' Kavanaugh was joined by his family, wife Ashley, and daughters Margaret and Liza, at the announcement

Melania Trump sat next to Judge Kavanaugh's parents during the announcement

Judge Kavanaugh watches with his family as Trump signs a document confirming him as his nominee for the bench

Judge Kavanaugh watches with his family as Trump signs a document confirming him as his nominee for the bench

Judge Kavanaugh's parents sitting next to first lady Melania Trump

He called Kavanaugh ‘one of the sharpest legal minds of our time’ and urged the Senate to confirm his pick quickly.

The announcement was a family affair. Kavanaugh was joined by his wife Ashley, and daughters Margaret and Liza. His parents were at the White House, seated in the audience next to first lady Melania Trump.

‘Mr. President, I am grateful to you, and I’m humbled by your confidence in me,’ Kavanaugh said. ‘Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing liberty. I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill his seat on the Supreme Court.’

In his remarks, Kavanaugh touted his strong record with women throughout his career, noting he’s hired a majority of female law clerks and that Elena Kagan, who is now on the Supreme Court, hired him to teach at Harvard.

Kavanaugh also paid tribute to his parents, who were both lawyers.

‘My mom was a trail blazer,’ he said, noting she went to law school when he was 10 years old and became a prosecutor. ‘The president introduced me tonight as Judge Kavanaugh but, to me, that title will always belong to my mom.’

His remarks were filled with stories about his family and his appreciation of them.

He noted both is daughters love sports and joked his young daughter Liza ‘loves sports and she loves to talk.’ He then gave her a high five.

He added that he’s coached both of his daughters’ basketball teams, where he’s called ‘Coach K.’

He and his wife met when they both worked at the Bush White House and their first date was September 10, 2001 – the night before the terrorist attacks.

‘Ashley was a source of strength for President Bush and everyone in this building,’ he said of the aftermath. ‘I thank God every day for my family.’

Kavanaugh’s remarks were filled with light-hearted stories like the above, making the audience laugh and showing his all-American appeal that Trump was said to be looking for his pick. His talk was focused on the personable with little conversation on his judicial record.

Judge Kavanaugh's remarks were filled with light-hearted stories about his family

Judge Kavanaugh will replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh speaks after his nomination

But he did make an appeal to the Senate that will confirm him.

‘I will tell each Senator that I revere the constitution,’ he said.

‘My judicial philosophy is straight forward – a judge must be independent and interpret the law, not make the law,’ he said. ‘A judge must interpret the constitution as written.’

‘If confirmed by the Senate I will strive to keep an open mind in every case,’ Kavanaugh noted. ‘And I will always strive to preserve the constitution in the United States.’

Kavanaugh was a front-runner for the nomination ever since Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27.

Trump, in his announcement, indicated he wanted a judge that followed his successful first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

The president noted Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, clerked for Kennedy. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh also went to the same high school.

Gorsuch’s confirmation is considered one of the major successes of the Trump administration.

But Kavanaugh’s long record – 12 years as a judge, nearly 300 written opinions, a multitude of scholarly articles, a paperwork trail from his time in the Bush White House, and thousands of documents from when he served on the Starr investigation – has raised concerns Democrats will have an embarrassment of riches to use in questions during confirmation hearings, leading to a lengthened process and a tough confirmation vote.

As he did with Gorsuch barely 10 days after taking office last year, the president introduced Kavanaugh to a packed East Room at the White House and challenged the U.S. Senate to confirm his nominee without delay.

The Gorsuch nomination was seen as an even political swap for the deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, one rock-ribbed conservative for another.

Replacing Kennedy, often seen as a ‘swing vote’ on tight 5-4 decisions with enormous societal implications, with a conservative nominee is a far weightier exercise.

President Donald Trump is naming Washington D.C. federal judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

President Donald Trump is naming Washington D.C. federal judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

This is Trump's second nomination to the Supreme Court since he became president

Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Seated (L-R): Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Standing (L-R): Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch

Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Seated (L-R): Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Standing (L-R): Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch

The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s paper trail makes his confirmation harder but ensures he’ll be reliably conservative

July 10 at 9:45 AM

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Brett Kavanaugh is no David Souter.

President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court made a name for himself as a partisan warrior when he worked for Ken Starr and has proved his reliability as a consistently conservative judge over a dozen years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Trump that Kavanaugh’s lengthy paper trail over a quarter of a century in the public arena would make it harder to confirm him through the narrowly divided Senate than two of the other finalists being considered.

But the same track record that could cause headaches in the next several weeks is exactly what made Kavanaugh so appealing to leaders of the Republican legal establishment, including Federalist Society chief Leonard Leo and White House counsel Don McGahn, who wanted someone they feel confident they can count on for the next generation.

Kavanaugh, who has long been active in the Federalist Society, fits that bill. He was one of Starr’s top bulldogs as the independent counsel investigated Bill Clinton and at times advocated internally for an even more aggressive approach against the Democratic president. Kavanaugh was a lead author of the Starr Report and has acknowledged writing portions that laid out grounds for  impeachment.

He was deeply involved in the exploration of Clinton White House lawyer Vince Foster’s suicide, which Trump suggested in 2016 might have been a murder. Kavanaugh even appeared before the Supreme Court in a bid to subpoena notes taken by a lawyer whom Foster spoke with shortly before he died.

Kavanaugh represented the American relatives of Elián González pro bono as they tried to prevent the boy from being sent back to Cuba, a cause celebre on the right in 1999 and 2000.

He helped defend Jeb Bush’s school voucher plan in the Florida courts and then worked on George W. Bush’s legal team during the 2000 recount. Then he got a job in the White House Counsel’s Office under Alberto Gonzales, helping pick Bush’s judicial nominees. From there, he was promoted to staff secretary, which gave him more direct access to the president and control of the paper flow into the Oval Office.

Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the appeals court in 2003, but Democrats held up his confirmation for three years because of his polarizing work for Starr. At the time, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called him the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics” because he seemed to be in the thick of every controversial legal fight that gripped the capital. Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed in 2006 as part of a larger deal on nominations by a vote of 57 to 36.

Since joining the court, Kavanaugh has written about 300 opinions —  including key decisions on guns, abortion and regulation. He ruled that the way the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is structured makes it unconstitutional, for instance, and has routinely taken the side of big business in disputes with government.

George H.W. Bush nominated Souter for the Supreme Court in 1990 at the recommendation of then-White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu. Souter was on the New Hampshire Supreme Court but hadn’t ruled on hot-button issues, so he emerged as a consistently liberal vote once on the high court. No one who knows Kavanaugh doubts that he will pull the court to the right if confirmed.

Based on Kavanaugh’s votes on the D.C. Circuit, a political scientist at Emory University calculates that there is a 55 percent chance that he will be further to the right than Clarence Thomas and an 81 percent chance that he will be to the right of Chief Justice John Roberts:

Tom Clark@tom_s_clark

Wondering how is? I just estimated preferences from all voting by DC Circuit judges on en banc cases Ih/t Mike Giles). I estimate he is the fifth most conservative of the 47 judges for whom I have data.

McConnell recognizes that Kavanaugh’s nomination presents a target-rich environment for Democrats, who have dozens of potential avenues of attack because there are so many cases and episodes to choose from. Even though Kavanaugh is likely to ultimately make it through the Senate, there are enough unpopular positions he has staked out that most of the Democrats from red states should not have that hard of a time finding palatable justifications to oppose his nomination. (It’s always possible they’ll vote for him anyway if he already has the votes to get confirmed.)

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings also ensure that some of the darkest chapters of the Bush era will be re-litigated, including the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

— Importantly for Trump, though, Kavanaugh’s views on executive power have evolved significantly since he worked for Starr. In a 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review, Kavanaugh noted that the Starr team he worked on operated under a “badly flawed” law, “particularly the extent to which it allowed civil suits against presidents to proceed while the President is in office.”

More recently, Kavanaugh has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office, Michael Kranish and Ann E. Marimow report. “Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation’s chief executive should be exempt from ‘time-consuming and distracting’ lawsuits and investigations, which ‘would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.’ If a president were truly malevolent, Kavanaugh wrote, he could always be impeached.”

— Neil Gorsuch, who also served in the Bush administration, was pushed by legal activists on the right last year because he too was a known commodity and had been consistently conservative as a circuit court judge. He helped the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004 as a volunteer lawyer in Ohio. When he was interviewing for a senior job at the Justice Department, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman emailed a top White House official to put in a good word. “He is a true loyalist,” Mehlman wrote of his former roommate.

Meet Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

President Trump announced July 9 that Brett M. Kavanaugh will be the Supreme Court nominee to fill Justice Kennedy’s vacant seat.

GET TO KNOW KAVANAUGH:

— He is just 53 years old. An avid runner, Kavanaugh could realistically spend four decades on the Supreme Court. He finished the Boston Marathon in 3:59:45 in 2010 and 4:08:36 in 2015.

— He has an elite pedigree. His father ran a cosmetics trade association here for decades. His mother was a high school teacher who became a lawyer and then a judge. Kavanaugh attended Yale for both undergrad and law school after attending Georgetown Preparatory School. Gorsuch, whose mom ran the Environmental Protection Agency, was a classmate at the elite private high school in Washington. The two then clerked for Kennedy at the same time.

Kavanaugh also clerked in San Francisco for Judge Alex Kozinski on the Ninth Circuit, who retired in December after 15 women alleged that he had subjected them to inappropriate sexual behavior.

The D.C. Circuit, where he serves now, is considered the second most important court in the land, only after the Supreme Court. Current justices John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas were each elevated from there.

— Kavanaugh identifies as an originalist. “A judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent,” he said last night. (Note the difference between being “informed” by precedent and being bound by it. Those are two very different things.)

— Trump called Kavanaugh to tell him on Sunday night and informed Kennedy of his decision on Monday, per a senior White House official. “Kavanaugh’s link to the Bush political dynasty gave Trump pause during the search process, and he peppered associates with questions about whether ‘my base’ would embrace him,” Robert Costa, Robert Barnes and Felicia Sonmez report. “But ultimately, prodded by top advisers and veteran Republicans, Trump decided that Kavanaugh’s lengthy conservative judicial record made up for any lingering concerns about how some of his core supporters would view the pick.”

— As Kavanaugh praised the president during his speech in the East Room, you could see why he fared so well during his interview with Trump. “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said, as the president smiled.

— With Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, Kavanaugh went out of his way to emphasize his relationships with women. He laid it on thick: “My mom was a trailblazer,” he said. “When I was 10, she went to law school and became a prosecutor. My introduction to law came at our dinner table when she practiced her closing arguments. Her trademark line was ‘Use your common sense. What rings true, what rings false?’ That’s good advice for a juror — and for a son.”

  • “For the past 11 years, I have taught hundreds of students, primarily at Harvard Law School. … I remain grateful to the dean who hired me, Justice Elena Kagan.”
  • “I am proud that a majority of my law clerks have been women.”
  • “I have two spirited daughters, Margaret and Liza. Margaret loves sports, and she loves to read. Liza loves sports, and she loves to talk. I have tried to create bonds with my daughters like my dad created with me. … For the past seven years, I have coached my daughters’ basketball teams. The girls on the team call me Coach K.”
  • Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, was Bush 43’s longtime personal secretary: “Our first date was on September 10, 2001. The next morning I was a few steps behind her as the Secret Service shouted at all of us to sprint out the front gates of the White House, because there was an inbound plane. In the difficult weeks that followed, Ashley was a source of strength for President Bush and for everyone in this building.”

— Fun fact: The president’s big reveal preempted another reality TV show: “The Bachelorette” paused during Trump’s speech for a special report, and then ABC went back after Trump gave a metaphorical rose to Kavanaugh.

 “Not since Warren Harding in 1921 nominated former President William Howard Taft to be chief justice has the country been presented with a high court nominee so completely shaped by the needs and mores of the executive branch as Brett Kavanaugh,” Garrett Epps, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Baltimore, notes in The Atlantic. “Though Kavanaugh served as Kennedy’s law clerk during the October 1993 term, the contrast between the two men could hardly be more complete. Kennedy’s roots lay in his days of small-town private practice; he made his way to the bench from private practice, and, as a judge, he was conservative but independent. Kavanaugh has been the creature and servant of political power all his days. It would be the height of folly to expect that, having attained his lifetime’s ambition of a seat on the Supreme Court, he will become anything else.”

As President Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court, senators and activists demonstrated outside the Supreme Court building in Washington.

THE CONFIRMATION BATTLE AHEAD:

— Because Kavanaugh is already so well known on Capitol Hill, the partisan battle lines are mostly drawn:

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): “I will lift heaven and Earth to see that he is confirmed.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.”

— Every Democratic senator who was invited to attend the announcement at the White House declined, including Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.). Incidentally, so did Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who says she supports abortion rights and could be pivotal. On the other side, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller — the most vulnerable Republican up for reelection in 2018 — proudly sat in the front row.

— Americans for Prosperity, which is part of the Koch network, announced plans to spend “seven figures” on paid advertising and “grassroots engagement” in support of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The GOP-aligned Judicial Crisis Network separately says it will spend $1.4 million on TV ads in the next week touting Kavanaugh in Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia.

— A good illustration of how Republicans are likely to fall in line: Kavanaugh ruled in 2015 that “the Government’s metadata collection program is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment.” If a Democratic nominee wrote that, there is no doubt that the libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would come out swinging against his or her nomination. Instead, Rand tweeted last night he has an “open mind,” and GOP aides say privately that they don’t think he’ll pose any kind of a problem.

Watch Brett Kavanaugh’s full acceptance speech after Trump nomination

 

Story 2: President Trump Flies To Europe for 7 Days for NATO Summit in Brussells and Meeting With Prime Minister May in England and Russian President Putin — Time To Step Up Military Spending of NATO Member Countries — Videos

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

Trump pushes NATO allies to keep spending commitments

Trump to NATO members: Pay up

NATO contributions country-by-country

Trump takes on NATO over defense spending

President Trump Pressure NATO Allies Ahead of Summit – ENN 2018-07-10

NATO vs BRICS – What’s The Difference & How Do They Compare?

How many NATO member states are there?

 

Trump takes shots at NATO, May but praises Putin as he prepares to meet with alliance leaders

Philip Rucker, Michael Birnbaum and William BoothWashington Post

President Donald Trump signaled he was ready for a transatlantic brawl Tuesday as he embarked on a consequential week of international diplomacy, taking aim at vulnerable British Prime Minister Theresa May and suggesting that meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be easier than talking with Western allies at the NATO summit here.

Leaders converged on Brussels fearful of what the combative U.S. president might say or do to rupture the liberal world order, with some European diplomats privately predicting calamity.

As he departed Washington on Tuesday, Trump stoked the deep divisions in May’s government to undermine the leader of America’s closest historic ally on the eve of the NATO meeting. Asked if May should remain in power, Trump said, “That’s up to the people,” while also complimenting her top rival, Boris Johnson.

Some of Europe’s counters to Trump, including May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arrive with heavy domestic political baggage of their own, making them vulnerable in negotiations with Trump as they seek to protect the Western alliance from his impulses on defense spending and trade.

Trump has long prized his instincts for taking advantage of an adversary’s weaknesses, and referred to the “turmoil” confronting May at home in remarks to reporters.

The prime minister faces a rebellion from advocates of a hard break from the European Union, who say she has been waffling, and is in danger of losing control. Johnson, a potential successor to May, resigned Monday as foreign secretary and reportedly savaged her Brexit plan as “a big turd.”

Trump praised him in personal terms: “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me and very supportive. And maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him.”

Trump’s seven-day journey begins in Brussels and will take him to England for his first visit there as president, to Scotland for a weekend respite at his private golf course and finally to Helsinki for his tête-à-tête with Putin. European leaders are as concerned about what concessions he might make to Putin – such as recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine – as they are about the chaos he could create at the NATO summit.

May plans to roll out the red carpet for Trump and first lady Melania Trump at a gala supper Thursday at Blenheim Palace, former prime minister Winston’s Churchill’s boyhood home, and at a luncheon Friday at Chequers, the prime minister’s country estate. She also secured him an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

It was a startling gambit for Trump to risk offending his host by showering Johnson with praise while May faces threats of a revolt – even a no-confidence vote – by her own Conservative party over how she is handling Brexit.

“Trump goes after the weak people. He smells who is weak and who is strong, and he gets on well with the strong ones,” said Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House, a prominent think tank in London.

To her critics, May is forever making compromises to carry out Brexit, even though she herself voted against leaving the European bloc. She has not helped her image by endlessly kicking the can down the road and delaying decisions.

Alternatively, Johnson could be seen as strong by Trump because he pushed for Brexit, he won – and when he didn’t get what he wanted, he quit. In a leaked audiotape, Johnson also praised Trump as the consummate dealmaker. “Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard,” Johnson said. “There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere.”

Trump seizing on perceptions of weakness in the diplomatic arena is in keeping with how he dealt with rival developers and other adversaries in real estate deals, according to Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio.

“There are certain fail-safe bully tactics that can be employed when you’re the stronger, bigger kid,” D’Antonio said. “He is willing to be extreme and seek the upper hand, especially with people that he perceives to be polite and well-mannered.”

That impulse may be strongest this week with Merkel, who has been a stalwart against Trump’s disruptions in Europe but whose standing took a blow last month when she confronted the most serious leadership challenge in her 13-year rule of Germany.

Trump loathes Germany’s trade imbalance with the United States and feels the country is free-riding off the U.S. security umbrella. He also has long criticized Merkel for her 2015 decision to admit more than 1 million asylum seekers from Syria and elsewhere, warning that they were a proverbial Trojan horse who could destroy Europe’s way of life.

Trump has tried to spotlight any signs of Merkel’s political troubles, tweeting last month that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition.”

In Brussels, Merkel will defend her decision to raise defense spending more slowly than Trump’s goal and seek to maintain the 35,000 U.S. troops deployed to Germany, which Trump has threatened to pull back.

But Merkel has actually benefited at home from Trump’s attacks, since the U.S. president is deeply unpopular among the German electorate, as he is with voters across much of western Europe.

Other sometimes-adversaries of Trump will be in Brussels as well, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, creating the potential to extend disagreements that upended last month’s Group of Seven leaders summit in Quebec. Trump left that gathering without signing the perfunctory joint statement among the leaders that his aides had endorsed, and he proceeded to trash its host, Trudeau, as “weak” and “dishonest.”

Ahead of the NATO meetings that begin here Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tried to strike an optimistic note and play down the simmering disputes.

“Our summit comes at a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond and I would not be surprised if we have robust discussions at the summit, including on defense spending,” Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday. “Different views are normal among friends and allies, but I am confident that we will agree on the fundamentals.”

But European Council President Donald Tusk was more direct in anticipating that Trump may have designs on sowing discord, delivering a stinging warning to the visiting Americans president.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies,” Tusk said. “After all, you don’t have that many.”

As he departed the White House, Trump offered a rebuttal.

“Well, we do have a lot of allies,” he told reporters before boarding Marine One. “But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union. We lost $151 billion last year on trade. And on top of that, we spend at least 70 percent for NATO. And, frankly, it helps them a lot more than it helps us. So we’ll see what happens. We have a long, beautiful week.”

This story first appeared in the Washington Post.

Story 3: Will Prime Minister May Remain in Office? Brixit Breaks May — Videos

Try not to smirk too much, Boris: Johnson poses for picture of himself signing his lengthy resignation letter as he accuses May of letting ‘Brexit dream die’… and Jacob Rees-Mogg says he will make a ‘brilliant’ Prime Minister

  • Boris Johnson accused Theresa May of ‘suffocating’ Brexit as he sensationally resigned as Foreign Secretary
  • He declared war on the PM’s Chequers’s plan and said negotiators had ‘white flags fluttering above them’
  • But he came under fire after posing up for resignation photos which showed him signing the letter to the PM
  • Lib Dem MP Layla Moran called him a ‘poundshop Churchill impressionist’ and accused him of ‘running away’ 
  • Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg backed Mr Johnson and said he would make a ‘brilliant’ Prime Minister  

Theresa May is fighting for her political life today after Boris Johnson accused her of killing Brexit and his allies backed him to be a ‘brilliant’ PM.

Mr Johnson used his decision to quit as Foreign Secretary to declare war on her Chequers plan for leaving the EU.

Warning that the UK was heading for colonial status, he said the Brexit dream was ‘dying – suffocated by self-doubt’.

He claimed Mrs May was sending negotiators ‘into battle with the white flags fluttering above them’ and surrendering control to Brussels. Following a chaotic day of resignations and rumours, Downing Street is now braced for a potential leadership challenge.

Boris also faced criticism in many quarters for taking the time to stage the photos of himself signing the resignation letter and was branded a ‘poundshop Churchill’.

In a reference to his decision to resign only after David Davis had quit as Brexit Secretary on Sunday night, one May loyalist said: ‘There’s not much honour in being second over the top.’

Mrs May also swiftly reshuffled her cabinet, bringing in Jeremy Hunt from Health to replace Boris as Foreign Secretary and Dominic Raab to replace Mr Davis.

But, in a significant intervention, Jacob Rees-Mogg last night backed Mr Johnson, saying he would make a ‘brilliant’ prime minister. 

The former Foreign Secretary declared war on the PM's Chequers plan, but came under fire after he posed up for resignation photos as he sensationally quit the CabinetThe former Foreign Secretary declared war on the PM’s Chequers plan, but came under fire after he posed up for resignation photos as he sensationally quit the Cabinet

Theresa May was fighting for her political life last night after Boris Johnson said the Brexit dream was ‘dying – suffocated by self-doubt’ in his resignation letter

Boris Johnson writing his resignation letter

Who’s in and who’s out of PM’s cabinet after the Chequers rebellion

  • Jeremy Hunt leaves Health to replace Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.
  • Matt Hancock promoted from Culture to be Health Secretary.
  • Dominic Raab leaves Housing to replace David Davis as Brexit Secretary.
  • Chris Heaton-Harris promoted to junior Brexit minister, replacing Steve Baker who followed his bossDavid Davis out of the door.
  • Kit Malthouse, an ally of Boris’ when he was Mayor of London, becomes Housing Minister.
  • Attorney General Jeremy Wright replaces Matt Hancock at Culture.
  • Barrister Geoffrey Cox replaces Wright as Attorney General.

Slamming the photos, Ms Moran, a leading member of the anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, said: ‘This staged resignation photograph is pathetic. This man is a poundshop Churchill impressionist. Its just very sad.

‘But Boris is doing what he does best: when the going gets tough he runs away like a coward.

‘He did it over Heathrow and he’s done it today. Rather than fight for the country he yet again cares only for his own self interest.

‘But at least he will have a little memento of the day his dreams came crashing down around him.’

Labour’s David Lammy said: ‘The fact that Boris Johnson arranged for a photoshoot of himself signing his resignation letter for the front pages tells us everything we need to know about him.

‘Self-obsessed, vain egomaniac devoid of substance caring only about himself and advancing his career. Good riddance.’

Sam Macrory, an ally of Nick Clegg, said: ‘We all know that Boris Johnson’s decision to quit is absolutely not about one man and his personal ambitions, but I’m struggling to think of another time where a Secretary of State called in the photographers to record the moment a resignation letter was signed.’

Gavin Sinclair said: ‘This sums up Boris – has a senior minister ever called in a photographer before resigning…and just before the PM’s statement to the Commons?!’

And Jon David Ellis criticised Mr Johnson’s behaviour in the aftermath of the Novichok poisonings, saying: ‘Boris literally posed with his resignation letter. Hours after a British citizen died from a foreign agent he chooses self image over basic dignity.’

More than 80 MPs attended a meeting of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which Mr Rees-Mogg leads, in order to attack Mrs May’s Chequers plan. ‘This has got to be killed and it’s got to be killed before recess [in two weeks’ time],’ said one attendee.

Another Eurosceptic confirmed MPs were writing to the Tory 1922 Committee backbench group to trigger a no- confidence motion.

Boris Johnson's resignation letter to Mrs May in which he said the Brexit 'dream' was being 'suffocated by needless self-doubt'

Boris Johnson’s resignation letter to Mrs May in which he said the Brexit ‘dream’ was being ‘suffocated by needless self-doubt’

Boris Johnson leaves Carlton Gardens after his resignation
Mr Johnson (pictured) claimed Mrs May was sending negotiators ‘into battle with the white flags fluttering above them’Mr Johnson (pictured) claimed Mrs May was sending negotiators ‘into battle with the white flags fluttering above them’
The departed Foreign Secretary came under fire after he posed for pictures while signing his resignation letter 

Two more MPs quit top team in anger over Brexit

Two more Conservative MPs resigned from the Government last night.

Both parliamentary private secretaries, they said they were stepping down because of their concern over the direction of Brexit negotiations.

Chris Green, PPS to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, announced his departure from the position following last night’s 1922 Committee meeting with the Prime Minister.

Conor Burns, who was Boris Johnson’s PPS at the Foreign Office, also announced his resignation.

Mr Green’s constituency Bolton West voted 55.6 per cent Leave in the 2016 referendum and Mr Burns’ constituency Bournemouth West voted 57.7 per cent Leave.

Although the role of a PPS is often described as a ministerial ‘bag carrier’, it shows growing discontent within the Party and heightens speculation of a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership.

One said: ‘It’s over now. She’s done. It would be good if it were done quickly. I want to know who will be standing against her. We need to establish a new government because this offer is indefensible’.

One MP told the 1922 Committee that Mrs May had orchestrated a ‘Remain coup’ at Chequers on Friday. All four ‘great offices of state’ are now held by those who campaigned for Remain.

Friends of Mr Johnson, whose aide Conor Burns also resigned, were tight-lipped last night about his next move. But his resignation letter offered no support for Mrs May and, unlike Mr Davis, he did not urge MPs to back her.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid was among those to praise Mr Johnson yesterday, saying he would miss his ‘Reaganesque optimism and passion for global Britain’. On a day of turmoil at Westminster:

  • Eurosceptic MPs said more ministers would resign unless Mrs May backs down and abandons her Chequers plan;
  • It was rumoured the Eurosceptics are close to gathering the 48 names needed to force a vote of confidence in Mrs May;
  • Mr Davis stepped up his attack on Mrs May’s tactics, saying ‘we are giving too much away too easily – and that is a dangerous strategy’;
  • Steve Baker, who quit as Brexit minister, said the Establishment was trying to block Brexit;
  • Jeremy Hunt took over as Foreign Secretary, while Matt Hancock succeeded him as Health and Social Care Secretary;
  • Mr Davis’s former chief of staff Dominic Raab replaced him as Brexit Secretary;
  • Downing Street was forced to deny that Mrs May will offer ‘preferential’ access to the UK jobs market to EU citizens;
  • No 10 admitted that the customs arrangements signed off at Chequers may not be fully ready before the next election in 2022;
  • Mrs May told Tory MPs they had a duty to stick together to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street.

In the Commons yesterday Mrs May paid tribute to both Mr Davis and Mr Johnson, who she said had displayed ‘passion’ for the Brexit cause. But in her reply to Mr Johnson’s attack last night, the PM noted that he had initially backed the plan at Chequers last week, reportedly choosing to toast her success with champagne.

Mrs May said she was ‘sorry – and a little surprised’ to receive his resignation ‘after the productive discussion we had at Chequers’.

One of her allies said: ‘For all the flowery language in his letter, what is conspicuous by its absence is anything resembling an alternative plan.

‘He moans about all these things but there is no sense of how he might achieve a different outcome. That is the difference.’

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said Mr Johnson will make an excellent Prime Minister after more than 80 MPs attended a meeting of the pro-Brexit European Research Group that he leads

How could Theresa May be ousted as Tory leader?

Theresa May faces a mortal threat to her leadership of the Conservative Party and Government.

A Tory leadership contest can be called in one of two ways – if Mrs May resigns or if MPs force and win a vote of no confidence in her.

Calling votes of no confidence is the responsibility of the chairman of the 1922 Committee, which includes all backbench Tory MPs.

Chairman Graham Brady is obliged to call a vote if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write to him calling for one – currently 48 MPs.

The process is secret and only Mr Brady knows how many letters he has received.

The procedure was last used in 2003 when Iain Duncan Smith was ousted as Tory leader.

If Mrs May is ousted, any MP is eligible to stand.

Conservative MPs will then hold a series of ballots to whittle the list of contenders down to two, with the last place candidate dropping out in each round.

The final two candidates are then offered to the Tory membership at large for an election.

Addressing the 1922 Committee, the Prime Minister acknowledged the controversy the Chequers deal had caused, but told MPs: ‘To lead is to decide.’ Outside the meeting, her supporters claimed she was in a better position following the resignations.

‘She is strengthened by all of this – it helps her,’ said Solicitor General Robert Buckland. ‘She has made decisions and the consequences are that some people feel they cannot be bound by collective responsibility, respect to them for resigning, but she has shown leadership.

‘This idea she is some sort of vacillator who cannot make her mind up and wants to keep everybody in the tent – no – she is showing leadership.’

Tory MP James Heappey said there was ‘huge support’ for Mrs May at the 1922 Committee. He said Brexiteers seeking to depose her ‘can do their worst, but it won’t be enough’.

In the Commons pro-Remain Tories, including Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, backed Mrs May. But the Prime Minister faced direct challenges from a string of Eurosceptic Tories.

Mr Rees-Mogg said her Brexit promises ‘have been watered down to the point that we are, or would be, in a semi-suspended state of membership of the European Union’.

He said the Cabinet resignations ‘really undermine the credibility of what was agreed at Chequers’.

Andrea Jenkyns, who quit the government to speak out on Brexit last month, said she would be writing a letter of no-confidence in Mrs May.

She said Mrs May’s premiership ‘is over… there’s a feeling we need a PM who believes in Brexit’.

Senior Conservative Sir Bernard Jenkin warned there had been a ‘massive haemorrhage of trust’ as a result of the direction the PM was taking and said it ‘may well come’ to a vote over her leadership.

In the Commons, Peter Bone accused Mrs May of betrayal. Mr Bone, who faced cries of ‘shame’, told the PM that activists in his Wellingborough constituency were questioning why they were still campaigning for the party.

Mrs May replied: ‘This is not a betrayal. We will end free movement. We will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

‘We will stop sending vast sums of money to the European Union every year.’

In full: Boris Johnson’s damning resignation letter to Theresa May

Dear Theresa

It is more than two years since the British people voted to leave the European Union on an unambiguous and categorical promise that if they did so they would be taking back control of their democracy.

They were told that they would be able to manage their own immigration policy, repatriate the sums of UK cash currently spent by the EU, and, above all, that they would be able to pass laws independently and in the interests of the people of this country.

Brexit should be about opportunity and hope. It should be a chance to do things differently, to be more nimble and dynamic, and to maximise the particular advantages of the UK as an open, outward-looking global economy.

That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.

We have postponed crucial decisions – including the preparations for no deal, as I argued in my letter to you of last November – with the result that we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.

It now seems that the opening bid of our negotiations involves accepting that we are not actually going to be able to make our own laws. Indeed we seem to have gone backwards since the last Chequers meeting in February, when I described my frustrations, as Mayor of London, in trying to protect cyclists from juggernauts. We had wanted to lower the cabin windows to improve visibility; and even though such designs were already on the market, and even though there had been a horrific spate of deaths, mainly of female cyclists, we were told that we had to wait for the EU to legislate on the matter.

So at the previous Chequers session, we thrashed out an elaborate procedure for divergence from EU rules. But even that seems to have been taken of the table and there is in fact no easy UK right of initiative. Yet if Brexit is to mean anything, it must surely give ministers and Parliament the chance to do things differently to protect the public. If a country cannot pass a law to save the lives of female cyclists – when that proposal is supported at every level of UK Government – then I don’t see how that country can truly be called independent.

It is also also clear that by surrendering control over our rulebook for goods and agrifoods (and much else besides) we will make it much more difficult to do free trade deals. And then there is the further impediment of having to argue for an impractical and undeliverable customs arrangement unlike any other in existence

Conversely, the British Government has spent decades arguing against this or that EU directive, on the grounds that it was too burdensome or ill-thought out. We are now in the ludicrous position of asserting that we must accept huge amounts of precisely such EU law, without changing an iota, because it is essential for our economic health – and when we no longer have any ability to influence these laws as they are made.

In that respect we are truly headed for the status of colony – and many will struggle to see the economic or political advantages of that particular arrangement.

It is also clear that by surrendering control over our rulebook for goods and agrifoods (and much else besides) we will make it much more difficult to do free trade deals. And then there is the further impediment of having to argue for an impractical and undeliverable customs arrangement unlike any other in existence.

What is even more disturbing is that this is our opening bid. This is already how we see the end state for the UK – before the other side has made its counter-offer. It is as though we are sending our vanguard into battle with the white flags fluttering above them. Indeed, I was concerned, looking at Friday’s document, that there might be further concessions on immigration, or that we might end up effectively paying for access to the single market.

On Friday I acknowledged that my side of the argument were too few to prevail, and congratulated you on at least reaching a Cabinet decision on the way forward. As I said then, the Government now has a song to sing. The trouble is that I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat. We must have collective responsibility. Since I cannot in all conscience champion these proposals, I have sadly concluded that I must go.

I am proud to have served as Foreign Secretary in your Government. As I step down I would like first to thank the patient officers of the Metropolitan Police who have looked after me and my family, at times in demanding circumstances.

I am proud too of the extraordinary men and women of our diplomatic service. Over the last few months they have shown how many friends this country has around the world, as 28 governments expelled Russian spies in an unprecedented protest at the attempted assassination of the Skripals. They have organised a highly successful Commonwealth summit and secured record international support for this Government’s campaign for 12 years of quality education for every girl, and much more besides. As I leave office, the FCO now has the largest and by far the most effective diplomatic network of any country in Europe – a continent which we will never leave.

THE RT HON BORIS JOHNSON MP

In full: Theresa May’s withering reply to Boris Johnson’s resignation letter

Dear Boris,

Thank you for your letter relinquishing the office of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

I am sorry – and a little surprised – to receive it after the productive discussions we had at Chequers on Friday, and the comprehensive and detailed proposal which we agreed as a Cabinet. It is a proposal which will honour the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our general election manifesto to leave the single market and the customs union. It will mean that we take back control of our borders, our laws, and our money – ending the freedom of movement, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom, and ending the days of sending vast sums of taxpayers’ money to the European Union. We will be able to spend that money on our priorities instead – such as the £20 billion increase we have announced for the NHS budget, which means that we will soon be spending an extra £394 million a week on our National Health Service.

As I outlined at Chequers, the agreement we reached requires the full, collective support of Her Majesty’s Government. During the EU referendum campaign, collective responsibility on EU policy was temporarily suspended. As we developed our policy on Brexit, I have allowed Cabinet colleagues considerable latitude to express their individual views. But the agreement we reached on Friday marks the point where that is no longer the case, and if you are not able to provide the support we need to secure this deal in the interests of the United Kingdom, it is right that you should step down.

As you do so, I would like to place on record my appreciation of the service you have given to our country, and to the Conservative Party, as Mayor of London and as Foreign Secretary – not least for the passion that you have demonstrated in promoting a Global Britain to the world as we leave the European Union.

Yours ever,

Theresa May

May makes Jeremy Hunt Foreign Secretary after facing down rebel MPs and telling them they’ll make CORBYN PM as she AVOIDS a no confidence vote

Jeremy Hunt – Britain’s longest ever serving Health Secretary – was promoted to head the Foreign Office after Boris Johnson’s shock resignation.

Theresa May moved to reshuffle her frontbench team after a day of high political drama which threatened to bring her premiership crashing down.

Earlier she faced down her critics at a crunch meeting with her MPs – known as the 1922 committee – in Parliament, warning them they risk handing the keys of No10 to Jeremy Corbyn if they oust her.

Mr Johnson’s departure fuelled feverish discussion about whether mutinous Tory MPs will move to topple Mrs May by sending in letters of no confidence.

Jeremy Hunt is the new Foreign Secretary

Matt Hancock is the new Health Secretary

Jeremy Hunt (left) has been appointed Foreign Secretary while Matt Hancock (right) replaces him as Health Secretary

Theresa May is battling to hang on as PM

Theresa May is battling to hang on as PM

Theresa May’s premiership is hanging in the balance after David Davis and Boris Johnson quit in a shock double cabinet resignation.

Here are the odds, via bookmakers Ladbrokes, on who will be the next PM:

Michael Gove (Environment Secretary) – 9/2

Has buried the hatchet with Mr Johnson after brutally ending his Tory leadership campaign in the wake of David Cameron’s resignation.

Thought to be less concerned with short term concessions that Mr Johnson, but focused on ensuring the UK is free from Brussels rules in the longer term.

Jeremy Corbyn (Labour leader) – 5/1

The labour leader will be hoping to capitalise on Brexit disarray in the Cabinet to seize power himself in an election

Sajid Javid (Home Secretary) – 5/1

Brought in to replace Amber Rudd after she resigned amid the Windrush scandal, Mr Javid was seen as a reluctant Remainer in the referendum.

Many thought the former high-flying banker would plump for the Leave campaign, but he eventually claimed to have been won over by the economic case. He is likely to focus be guided by evidence about trade calculations in discussions over how closely aligned the UK should be with the EU.

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Tory backbencher) – 6/1

A leading Tory backbencher, he is chairman of the European Research Group – the powerful group of backbench Brexit backing Tory MPs.

Boris Johnson (ex Foreign Secretary)- 8/1

The Brexit champion in the Cabinet until today, has been agitating for a more robust approach and previously played down the problems of leaving with no deal.

He is unhappy with plans for a tight customs arrangement with Brussels – warning that it could effectively mean being lashed to the EU indefinitely. Said to have bluntly dismissed concerns from pro-EU companies by saying ‘f*** business’.

Andrea Leadsom (Commons leader) – 12/1

A leading Brexiteer who ran for the leadership last year before pulling out allowing Theresa May to be crowned.

Jeremy Hunt (Health Secretary)  – 14/1

A Remainer in the referendum campaign, Mr Hunt has since embraced the Brexiteer arguments – with speculation that he is positioning for a tilt at the top job should Mrs May be abruptly ousted. He has been heavily

Dominic Raab (Brexit Secretary) – 16/1

The new Brexit Secretary, Mr Raab is a leading Brexiteer who has been brought into the Cabinet after David Davis’ shock resignation.

David Davis (ex Brexit Secretary) – 25/1

A long-time Eurosceptic and veteran of the 1990s Maastricht battles, brought back by Mrs May in 2016 to oversee the day-to-day negotiations.

He has plunged her Government into chaos after sensationally quitting last night.

He has said the government will be seeking a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ deal from the EU.

But the PM has insisted that she will stay on and fight if a leadership contest is triggered.

The promotion of Mr Hunt – a Remainer who now says he would back Brexit – comes weeks after he secured a £20billion a year funding boost for the NHS to mark its 70th birthday.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock will move to head up the health service, attorney general Jeremy Wright has become the new Culture Secretary while Brexiteer Geoffrey Cox is being made Attorney General in the shake-up.

Earlier this year Mr Hunt fended off efforts by the PM to move him from the health brief to become Business Secretary – telling her he was determined to stay on and finish the job he had set himself as Health Secretary.

It came hours after Mrs May promoted Brexiteer Tory MP Dominic Raab to the post of Brexit Secretary as Mr Davis’ replacement.

Unlike his predecessor, Mr Hunt backed Remain in the EU referendum – but he has said he would now vote for Brexit because he has grown fed up with the ‘arrogance’ of Brussels.

The PM moved to shore up her support among the Tory backbenches by defending her Brexit plans in the Commons chamber and a packed meeting of the parliamentary party which took place immediately afterwards.

She warned mutinous Tories threatening to mount a revolt to out her that they risk letting a hard left Corbyn- led Government.

And she was given a reprieve tonight with news she will not face an immediate vote of no confidence.

The rare bright spot for the PM came as she issued a defiant message at a stormy session of the Tory 1922 committee in Parliament, with her premiership hanging by a thread.

Mrs May told the gathering that ‘to lead is to decide’ and raised the prospect of the Labour leader imposing a left-wing revolution on the country.

And in a boost for the embattled PM, the chairman of the powerful 1922, Sir Graham Brady, is said to have confirmed at the session tonight that currently he has not received the 48 letters from MPs that would trigger a no-confidence vote.

After the meeting, solicitor general Robert Buckland told journalists that Mrs May had received strong support from the party rank-and-file.

He said: ‘She talked about Jeremy Corbyn, she talked about the alternative being to deliver the country to the sort of Government people didn’t vote for and any Conservative voter would be repelled by.’

Mr Buckland insisted Mrs May could emerge strengthened from the furore, comparing the turbulent events to the crises which faced German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her early years in office.

He said: ‘I think she is strengthened by all of this, I think it helps her.

‘The most striking remark she said was “to lead is to decide”.’

Tory MP Geoffrey Cox – a Brexiteer who has been promoted to Attorney General in today’s reshuffle  – said many Eurosceptics inside the meeting urged the PM to stay on and lead them through Brexit.

He said: ‘I regret Boris and David have gone, but I think they were wrong – they should have stuck in and make this deal successful.’

He said the third way deal Mrs May has put forward represents a ‘giant step’ on the road to Brexit.’

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory MP and leader of the European Research Group – the powerful group of backbench Tory MPs – said the PM must ditch her Chequers plan.

He said: ‘You see that those supporting Remain two years ago are supporting quasi Remain now…the key question for today is does the rather bad Chequers deal go ahead.’

And he warned that if the Tory party splits along the two wings of Brexiteers vs Remainers – the fault will lie squarely with Downing Street.

He said: ‘If the Government plans to get the Chequers deal through on the back of Labour Party votes then that would be the most divisive thing it could do.

‘And it would be a split coming from the top, not from the members of Conservative party across the country.’

‘I can’t put my name to this’: How Boris finally quit after being asked to put his name to article DEFENDING Chequers Brexit summit deal

Boris Johnson’s dramatic resignation came after he refused to put his name to a Downing Street-drafted article supporting the Chequers agreement, it emerged last night.

Mr Johnson, who quit the Government yesterday, had appeared to have fallen into the line with the negotiating strategy announced on Friday evening – despite apparently referring to it as a ‘t**d’.

He was even said to have congratulated the PM at dinner for securing Cabinet agreement. But on Saturday he refused to sign off a joint newspaper article with the Remain-backing Chancellor Philip Hammond – a long term Remainer – supporting the deal.

A friend said Mr Johnson took one look at the article and said: ‘I can’t put my name to this.’ A text drafted by No 10 was passed to the Treasury, then sent on to the FCO on Saturday. But seeing the consequences of the deal in black and white made him realise he would have to quit, allies revealed.

Boris Johnson refused to put his name to a Downing Street-drafted article with Chancellor Philip Hammond supporting the Chequers agreement

‘At that point he knew it was indefensible,’ the friend said.

On Sunday a series of articles purporting to be written by Cabinet ministers supporting the deal were placed in newspapers. Both Mr Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis were conspicuous by their absence.

By yesterday, according to allies, Mr Johnson was ‘racked with doubt’ about whether to stay in the Cabinet at all and concluded he simply couldn’t improve the deal from inside government.

He telephoned Downing Street yesterday lunchtime and told them he planned to announce his resignation in the evening.

But No 10 refused to allow him that luxury and – in a clear attempt to spike his guns – made the unusual decision to announce his departure in a short statement at 3pm, before Mr Johnson had even finished composing his resignation letter.

It emerged hours later, warning that the UK was heading for a ‘Semi-Brexit’ as a ‘colony’ of Brussels and that the dream of the Leave campaign – to take back control of our democracy – was ‘dying’.

In her icy reply last night, the Prime Minister said she was ‘a little surprised’ to see Mr Johnson departing the Government after the Cabinet signed off on her deal at Chequers on Friday. She suggested he was going back on his word.

But after Mr Davis quit the Government at midnight, speculation quickly swirled around Westminster that Mr Johnson would follow. The rumours soon reached fever pitch when he failed to attend a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee at 1pm to discuss the Salisbury poisonings.

He had also been expected to host, but was notably absent from, the Western Balkans Summit in London’s Docklands yesterday afternoon, involving ministers from several EU states.

Allies of the Foreign Secretary insisted last night that neither this, nor leadership ambitions, was ultimately a factor in his decision to leave Indeed, when his resignation letter was finally released, it was a vivid deconstruction of the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy. Savaging the PM’s Chequers deal, he said vast swathes of the economy would be ‘locked in’ to Brussels rules but with no influence over them.

He also launched a scathing attack on the PM personally, accusing her of being ‘suffocated by needless self doubt’ and of running up the white flag to Brussels.

And he warned this ‘disturbing’ opening bid could be followed by further concessions on immigration and money ‘for access to the single market’.

Unlike Mr Davis – who notably backed Mrs May staying in office in interviews yesterday – Mr Johnson made no such offers of support.

Mr Johnson wrote: ‘Brexit should be about opportunity and hope. It should be a chance to do things differently, to be more nimble and dynamic, and to maximise the particular advantages of the UK as an open, outward-looking global economy. That dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt.’

Mr Johnson said the failure to prepare for ‘no deal’ means ‘we appear to be heading for a semi-Brexit, with large parts of the economy still locked in the EU system, but with no UK control over that system.’

And he condemned Mrs May’s customs proposals, the Facilitated Customs Arrangement, calling it an ‘impractical and undeliverable customs arrangement unlike any other in existence.’ In his letter, Mr Johnson accepted that on Friday he had congratulated the PM on ‘at least reaching a Cabinet decision on the way forward’. He then added: ‘As I said then, the Government now has a song to sing. The trouble is I have practised the words over the weekend and find that they stick in the throat.’

Last Thursday night, David Cameron made an extraordinary appeal to Mr Johnson not to resign.

The former prime minister, acting with the blessing of Mrs May, met for drinks with his fellow Old Etonian at a London club just hours before the make-or-break summit.

Last Wednesday other pro-Leave cabinet ministers met Mr Johnson in the Foreign Office as details of Mrs May’s proposals leaked out. Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Michael Gove and David Davis – as well as Gavin Williamson discussed the plan. A similar group met the next day to plan tactics for Chequers in an attempt to push an alternative plan.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5935751/Jacob-Rees-Mogg-says-former-Foreign-Secretary-make-excellent-Prime-Minister.html

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1091, June 12, 2018, Story 1: Stopping A Nuclear Arms Race in Far East and Middle East By Starting The Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in The Korean Peninsula — Trump and Kim Momentous Beginning In Stopping Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorist Nuclear Attacks  — Videos — Story 2: U.S. Maximum Pressure on China’s Unfair Trade Barriers, Subsidies and Tariffs and Chinese Communist Maximum Pressure on North Korea To Dismantle Nuclear Weapons and Missiles — Videos

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Story 1: Stopping A Nuclear Arms Race in Far East and Middle East By Starting The Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in The Korean Peninsula — Trump and Kim Momentous Beginning In Stopping Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorist Nuclear Attack  — Videos

I’ve studied nuclear war for 35 years — you should be worried. | Brian Toon | TEDxMileHigh

Trump: We want to denuclearize the entire peninsula

Trump: Sometimes I felt foolish for North Korea rhetoric

Woolsey: Trump keeps the North Koreans off balance

Ingraham: Pride, bitterness, refusal to give peace a chance

What does “denuclearization” mean?

Gen. Jack Keane on Kim Jong Un’s denuclearization promise

Tucker Carlson Tonight 6.12 .2018 | Tucker Carlson Fox News June 12, 2018 Breaking News

Breaking down the fallout from the Trump-Kim summit

Trump Leaves Singapore After Summit with Kim

The historic Trump-Kim Singapore summit, in about 2 minutes

President Donald Trump Holds Press Conference After Historic Summit With Kim Jong Un | TIME

South Koreans weigh in on the Trump-Kim summit

Trump celebrates historic summit with NoKo’s Kim Jong Un

Trump celebrates historic summit with NoKo’s Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un commits to ‘complete denuclearization’

Gorka: Singapore summit went beyond all expectations

Trump and Kim hold surprise document signing during summit

Hannity: Obvious that White House felt good after Kim meeting

Hannity: Trump’s peace through strength strategy works

Dr. Sue Mi Terry on Trump, Kim signing historic document

Lt. Col. Davis: Great play by Trump to suspend SoKo drills

Amb. Vershbow: Summit won’t advance denuclearization process

Tara Maller on the problems with the Trump-Kim agreement

‘I do trust him’: Trump reflects on Kim meeting

Ben Shapiro criticizes Trump’s praise of Kim Jong Un

2018 United States–North Korea Singapore Summit: History Made, World Focus and Media Reaction

Gen. Keane: Summit is getting off on the right foot

Kurtz: The hypocrisy in the Trump-Kim coverage

Steyn: Kim-Trump meeting is ‘upside down summit’

This Video Will Change Your Perception of North Korea

Trump arrives in Singapore for summit with North Korea

What to know about North Korea and its weapons programs

With the Trump-Kim summit about to get underway in Singapore here is what we know about the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs.

Who is in charge of North Korea’s military?
Kim Jong Un is the 33-year-old “Supreme Leader” of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly known as North Korea. He is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. He inherited his position as North Korea’s leader following the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011. North Korea is the world’s only hereditary communist dictatorship: Kim Jong Un’s grandfather was the founder of North Korea.

How large is North Korea’s military?
The Pentagon estimates that North Korea’s army has more than 1 million soldiers, making it the fourth largest army in the world. Some 4 to 5 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people serve on active military duty and another 25 to 30 percent of the population serve in some reserve military capacity.

What is the DMZ?
DMZ stands for the Demilitarized Zone that divides North Korea and South Korea. The 2.5-mile-wide DMZ stretches for 160 miles along the Korean Peninsula and is a buffer zone created by the 1953 Armistice that halted the Korean War. While the zone itself is demilitarized, the areas beyond it on both sides of the border are some of the most militarized in the world. Panmunjom is the Joint Security Area where occasional meetings are held by representatives of North Korea and the United Nations Command.

Is the North Korean military a threat?
Most of North Korea’s military equipment dates to the Cold War-era and was obtained from the Soviet Union and China. But the large size of its military poses a continual standing threat to South Korea, since 70 percent of its ground forces half its air and navy forces are stationed within 60 miles of the DMZ. And North Korea has been working for the last decade to develop a nuclear weapons program and long-range ballistic missile program.

What is a ballistic missile?
A ballistic missile uses propulsion to launch it into an upward trajectory and then it falls to the earth on its own toward a target using gravity. The use of ballistic to describe these missiles comes from the physics term “ballistic trajectory” that describes the boosted launch and fall to earth by gravity.

What does ICBM stand for?
ICBM stands for intercontinental ballistic missile, a guided missile capable of traveling more than 3,418 miles to deliver a nuclear warhead. ICBMs are usually multi-stage rockets used to boost a payload into a sub-orbital trajectory. At that point, the nuclear warhead inside the payload would re-enter the atmosphere using a guidance system to strike its intended target.

Does North Korea have an ICBM?
Yes. In 2017 North Korea conducted three ICBM tests, the first time they had demonstrated that long range missile capability. The first two tests on July 4 and July 28 were carried out using a new two-stage missile similar to the KN-17 missile that had achieved a high altitude when tested in mid-May. prior to these launches there had been little indication that nation was close to testing this type of missile. The third missile test in November was with a new larger type of ICBM that North Korea called the Hwasong 15. That missile reached an altitude of 2,800 miles, the highest missile test to date, and traveled for 50 minutes, the longest duration flight ever conducted by North Korea.

How many missiles does North Korea possess?
The Pentagon estimates that North Korea has about 200 launchers that can be used to fire short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. It estimates North Korea has fewer than 100 launchers for various versions of the SCUD missile that can travel from 200 to 600 miles. And fewer than 50 launchers for its medium-range No Dong missile that can travel 800 miles. The Pentagon estimates North Korea also has fewer than 50 launchers for intermediate range missiles like the Musudan and KN-11 that can travel up to 2,000 miles.

Can North Korean missiles reach the United States?
Yes. According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korea’s recently tested ICBM can traveled 2,800 miles into space. Experts fear that if they angled the trajectory of that missile, it could potentially travel as far as Washington, D.C., or New York.

Why are North Korea’s missile launches a provocation?
Over the past decade North Korea has continued to conduct missile tests and launches in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions barring it from conducting a ballistic missile program.

Does North Korea have nuclear weapons?
Yes. North Korea has a small arsenal of small nuclear weapons as proven by its six nuclear tests. As of last summer, U.S. intelligence believes that North Korea has enough nuclear fissile material for as many as 60 nuclear weapons based on the amount of enriched uranium and separated plutonium it possesses.

Does North Korea have miniaturized nuclear warheads?
No, but it is working toward its stated goal of placing a nuclear warhead small enough to be placed atop an ICBM that could target the United States. In September, 2017 North Korea conducted it’s largest underground nuclear test to date that it claimed was a hydrogen bomb. U.S. intelligence later confirmed that was likely the case.

Where are the closest American troops?
There are 28,500 American troops permanently stationed in South Korea as part of the U.S. security commitment to South Korea after the Korean War. There are there also 54,000 American troops in Japan, the largest number of American forces in Japan are stationed on the island of Okinawa.

What other countries in the region have nuclear weapons?
North Korea is bordered by Russia and China, both which have nuclear weapons arsenals. Russia currently has 1,796 nuclear warheads, a legacy from the Soviet Union’s Cold War arsenal. China does not make available information about its nuclear weapons program, but various think tanks estimate it has 260 nuclear warheads. The Pentagon believes China has between 75 and 100 nuclear-capable ICBMs.

Can the United States defend against a North Korean missile attack?
The United States has a layered missile defense system designed to track and intercept a missile launch from North Korea. It includes missile interceptors aboard Navy ships in the Pacific and large ground-based interceptors located in Alaska and California. However, the viability of the large interceptors has been routinely questioned since they became operational nearly a decade ago. In late May, the Missile Defense Agency successfully tested an interceptor that targeted an ICBM test missile fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.

What is THAAD?
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is a missile defense shield designed to intercept short and medium range missiles. In April, the United States deployed THAAD to South Korea for the first time, a long-planned move agreed to last summer after a series of North Korean missile tests. The United States has also placed the THAAD system in Guam, which could be the maximum reach for some of North Korea’s long-range missiles.

ABC News’ Jack Arnholz and Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/north-korea-weapons-programs/story?id=45971921

BAN THE BOMB 

What nuclear weapons does North Korea have and has Kim Jong-un agreed to ‘complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’?

In a joint text issued by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader had committed to a ‘complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’

KIM Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, had previously threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the West and its allies but has now committed to a denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula after the Singapore summit

The North Korean dictator had accelerated the country’s nuclear weapons programme under his rule but he has now met with US President Donald Trump and agreed to the removal of nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula.

 A North Korea test launch of a Hwasong-12 missile

REUTERS
6
A North Korea test launch of a Hwasong-12 missile

What is the latest on the nuclear situation in North Korea?

On April 21, 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the reclusive nation is suspending long-range nuclear missile tests and shutting its test site.

At the Singapore summit on June 11 between Trump and Kim the two leaders agreed to start the denuclearisation “very quickly”.

Trump said the meeting had gone “better than anyone could have expected”.

He told reporters: “It is a tremendous honour, and I have no doubt we will have a terrific relationship.”

Kim said: “The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we’ve overcome all of them, and we are here today”, to which Trump replied “that’s true”.

Kim added: “There were moments when we covered our ears and eyes, but we have overcome them to arrive here.”

After a working lunch, the two leaders signed an unspecified agreement, with Trump promising they would start the denuclearisation process “very, very quickly”.

“We are going to sign this historic agreement,” says Kim. “The world will see a major change.”

In the agreement, Kim committed to “complete denuclearisation of Korean Peninsula”.

 Satellite images show activity at a North Korea nuke site

PLANET/ QUARTZ
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Satellite images show activity at a North Korea nuke site

What nuclear weapons does North Korea have?

In July 2017, North Korea successfully launched the country’s first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), which had the capability of reaching US territory.

The Pentagon, the US military headquarters, believes North Korea has around 200 missile launchers across the country, which can be used to fire short and medium-range missiles.

The most likely target of such a missile launch would be South Korea, Japan, Australia and possibly US territories in the Pacific Ocean.

Revised estimates suggest the total number of missiles the rogue state has is believed to be between 13 and 21.

And the regime is estimated to have at least four nuclear warheads.

Satellite images of Jong-un’s main missile test site in August 2017 revealed North Korea’s weapons were more powerful than initially thought.

On November 28, 2017, North Korea launched ICBM Hwasong-15 – which is a new nuclear missile capable of hitting anywhere on the planet.

 Trump and Kim have agreed to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Trump and Kim have agreed to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula

READ MORE: Could World War 3 happen? How North Korea and Kim Jong-un could cause a nuclear apocalypse


Why have tensions between North Korea and the US escalated?

Here’s how the relationship between the US President and North Korean leader has changed since the beginning of 2017:

2018

2017

 North Korea parades nukes through the street at parades marking 105 years since the state’s founder Kim Il-sung was born

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
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North Korea parades nukes through the street at parades marking 105 years since the state’s founder Kim Il-sung was born

Could North Korea launch a nuclear strike on the UK?

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said North Korea’s missiles can “threaten everywhere in the world”.

The pariah state claimed a nuclear test in September 2017 – its most powerful yet – was a sophisticated 120 kiloton hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried on a missile.

The regime has successfully tested two Hwasong-14 long-range rockets over the Pacific Ocean causing significant concern for Japan – a crucial American ally.

The intercontinental ballistic missile is said to have a potential range of more than 10,000 kilometres or 6,200 miles.

If that were true, London would fall within its strike zone. The UK capital is 5,388 miles from Pyongyang.

100 kiloton H-bomb blast on central London would dwarf the US nukes dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Experts say 130,000 people would be killed instantly and all brick and concrete buildings within a mile of the epicentre would be destroyed.

Former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon had previously warned that Britain is at risk from North Korea’s long-range nuclear missile programme as some cities are closer than American targets.

 Relations are improving between the North and South

REUTERS
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Relations are improving between the North and Southhttps://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2497570/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-kim-jong-un-denuclearisation-trump-singapore/

Trump and Kim Jong-un sign ‘historic document’: What the joint statement says in full

  • The statement was signed by the two leaders after they met in Singapore 
  • In the document President Trump gave security guarantees to North Korea
  • Kim Jong-un committed to ‘complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’

After their historic meeting in SingaporeDonald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a ‘historic document’. 

In the statement, the US president committed to ‘provide security guarantees’ to North Korean while Kim Jong-un declared his ‘unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’. 

Reaction to the joint statement was greeted with cheers by people in South Korea watching the events unfold.

China, North Korea’s backer, said the two nations were ‘creating a new history’.

Here is the full text of the statement the two leaders issued:

Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new US-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump sign the statement after their meeting in Singapore 

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump sign the statement after their meeting in Singapore

Convinced that the establishment of new US-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

President Trump shows off a signed copy of the statement with his and Kim Jong-un's signatures on the bottom

President Trump shows off a signed copy of the statement with his and Kim Jong-un’s signatures on the bottom

Having acknowledged that the US-DPRK summit – the first in history – was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in the joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US-DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and the security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

DONALD J. TRUMP President of the United States of America

KIM JONG UN Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

June 12, 2018 Sentosa Island Singapore

How the world reacted to the historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un

The meeting and the joint statement issued by the two adversaries, who until recently were trading insults, has been warming welcomed around the world.

South Koreans watching on television at train stations and other public places broke out into applause while a one-page extra edition of a Japanese newspaper was snapped up commuters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: ‘Hopes for peace on the long-divided Korean Peninsula, however, remain tempered by the many failed attempts in the past.

‘The United States and North Korea have been in a state of antagonism for more than half a century.

South Koreans watching the summit on television begin clapping as they watch the meeting of the two leaders in Singapore 

South Koreans watching the summit on television begin clapping as they watch the meeting of the two leaders in Singapore

‘Today, that the two countries’ highest leaders can sit together and have equal talks, has important and positive meaning, and is creating a new history.’

An editorial in the official English-language China Daily emphasized China’s role in bringing Trump and Kim together. It called on them to maintain the positive momentum.

‘This would not only reward all those who have spared no efforts in their attempts to make their meeting a reality, it would also enable both to hail it as a success,’ the editorial read.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says his country will reopen its embassy in Pyongyang.

The two countries were embroiled in a diplomatic row after the killing of Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un’s half brother, in 2017.

At a train station in Seoul, the South Korean capital, people cheered and applauded as televisions screens broadcast the Trump-Kim handshake live.

Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri, printed a special edition in both Japanese and English that was distributed for free in major cities 90 minutes after the meeting began.

World reaction to the meeting of Trump and Kim has been warm, with China emphasising its role in bringing then together

Passers-by outside a Tokyo train station snapped up 500 copies in a flash, excited to have a souvenir of the historic event.

They generally welcomed the meeting as a good first step but wondered if any progress would be made on the fate of Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

‘My biggest concern is the abduction issue, then the nuclear and missile,’ said 70-year-old retiree Tomoaki Kenmotsu.

‘I have no idea how much the abduction issue is being taken up at the summit, but I hope it will be a good start for that issue too.’

The hard work remains to come, said Momoko Shimada, a 20-year-old student: ‘After the handshake and political show will be the real action. I believe that won’t be easy.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5833839/Trump-Kim-Jong-sign-historic-document-joint-statement-says-full.html

‘We’re ready to write a new chapter between our two nations’: Trump declares victory, boasting that he TRUSTS Kim Jong-un and persuaded him to sign a ‘very comprehensive’ agreement for ‘complete denuclearization’ after nearly 5 HOURS of meetings

  • Donald Trump told reporters in Singapore that he expects Kim Jong-un to uphold his part of a landmark agreement that requires him to destroy his entire nuclear weapons and missile programs
  • Trump said he addressed human rights with the North Korean dictator and said economic sanctions will remain as long as Pyongyang is a major abuser
  • Sanctions relief also depends on Kim’s follow-through on denuclearization
  • ‘Our eyes are wide open, but peace is always worth the effort, especially in this case,’ Trump declared, saying he had been up for more than 25 hours to oversee the negotiations
  • Trump said joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises will end and called them ‘provocative’ to the North, but hs spun that decision as an economic one, not as a negotiated concession
  • The press conference began with the playing of a video, first in Korean and then in English, that Trump said his delegation showed Kim on an iPad to encourage him to choose the right path 
  • Trump said he spotted inviting-looking beaches in the footage, and said: ‘Look at that beach, wouldn’t that make a great condo? … Think of it from a real estate perspective!’ 
  • Trump called Kim’s stockpile ‘a very substantial arsenal’ but predicted he would be tearing it up
  • He said ‘we’re much further along than I would have thought,’ and projected a time when the two nations have exchanged ambassadors and he has personally visited Pyongyang and invited Kim to the White House
  • In an interview taped before the summit, Trump told ABC News of his North Korean adversary that ‘I think he trusts me, and I trust him’

 

Trump, Kim claim big summit success, but details are scant

Claiming success at their whirlwind summit, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Singapore Tuesday, praising their face-to-face progress toward ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. Yet Trump faced pointed questions at home about whether he got little and gave away much — including an agreement to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea.

Meeting with staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim had come together for an unprecedented U.S.-North Korea meeting that seemed unthinkable months earlier when the two nations traded insults and nuclear threats. The gathering of the two unpredictable leaders marked a striking gamble by the American president to grant Kim long-sought recognition on the world stage in hopes of ending the North’s nuclear program.

Both leaders expressed optimism throughout roughly five hours of talks, with Trump thanking Kim afterward “for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people.” Kim, for his part, said the leaders had “decided to leave the past behind” and promised: “The world will see a major change.”

Soon, Kim was on a plane headed home, while a clearly ebullient Trump held forth for more than an hour before the press on what he styled as a historic achievement to avert the prospect of nuclear war. Along the way, Trump tossed out pronouncements on U.S. alliances, human rights, and the nature of the accord that he and Kim had signed.

Then he was off to Guam on the way back to the U.S.

The details of how and when the North would denuclearize appear yet to be determined, as are the nature of the unspecified “protections” Trump is pledging to Kim and his government.

During his press conference, Trump acknowledged that denuclearization won’t happen overnight. But he contended, “Once you start the process it means it’s pretty much over,” an analysis that has proven faulty in the past despite inspection efforts.

Light on specifics, the Singapore accord largely amounts to an agreement to continue discussions, echoing previous public statements and commitments. It does not, for instance, include an agreement to take steps toward ending the technical state of warfare between the U.S. and North Korea.

Nor does it include a striking concession by Trump, who told reporters he would freeze U.S. military “war games” with ally South Korea while negotiations between the U.S. and the North continue. Trump cast that decision as a cost-saving measure, but also called the exercises “inappropriate” while talks continue. North Korea has long objected to the drills as a security threat.

It was unclear whether South Korea was aware of Trump’s decision before he announced it publicly. U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement Tuesday it was unaware of any policy change. Trump phoned South Korean President Moon Jae-in after leaving Singapore to brief him on the discussions.

Trump also said he’d obtained a separate concession from Kim to demolish a missile engine testing site, though it was just one site of many connected to the nuclear program.

As Trump took a victory lap on the world stage, experts and allies struggled to account for what Trump and Kim had agreed to — and whether this agreement could actually be the first of its kind not to be broken by the North Koreans.

North Korea is believed to possess more than 50 nuclear warheads, with its atomic program spread across more than 100 sites constructed over decades to evade international inspections. Trump insisted that strong verification of denuclearization would be included in a final agreement, saying it was a detail his team would begin sorting out with the North Koreans next week.

The agreement’s language on North Korea’s nuclear program was similar to what the leaders of North and South Korea came up with at their own summit in April. Trump and Kim referred back to the so-called Panmunjom Declaration, which contained a weak commitment to denuclearization but no specifics on how to achieve it.

Between handshakes, a White House invitation, and even an impromptu tour of “The Beast,” the famed U.S. presidential limousine known for its high-tech fortifications, Trump sought to build a personal connection with Kim and said they have a “very good” relationship.

The U.S. president brushed off questions about his public embrace of the autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He added that Otto Warmbier, an American who died last year just days after his release from imprisonment in North Korea, “did not die in vain” because his death helped bring about the nuclear talks.

In the run-up to Tuesday’s historic face-to-face with Kim, Trump has appeared unconcerned about the implications of feting an authoritarian leader accused by the U.S. of ordering the public assassination of his half brother with a nerve agent, executing his uncle by firing squad and presiding over a notorious gulag estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.

In their joint statement, the two leaders promised to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula. Trump has dangled the prospect of economic investment in the North as a sweetener for giving up its nuclear weapons. The longtime property developer-turned-politician later mused about the potential value of condos on the country’s beachfront real estate.

The formal document-signing, which also included an agreement to work to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action from the Korean War, followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.

Ahead of the meeting Trump had predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. But in the hours before the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart Singapore earlier than expected — Tuesday evening — raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

Aware that the eyes of the world were on a moment many people never expected to see, Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a “science fiction movie.”

Critics of the summit leapt at the leaders’ handshake and the moonlight stroll Kim took Monday night along the glittering Singapore waterfront, saying it was further evidence that Trump was helping legitimize Kim on the world stage.

“It’s a huge win for Kim Jong Un, who now — if nothing else — has the prestige and propaganda coup of meeting one on one with the president, while armed with a nuclear deterrent,” said Michael Kovrig, a northeast Asia specialist at the International Crisis Group in Washington.

Trump responded that he embracing diplomacy with Kim in hopes of saving as many as 30 million lives.

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions for years as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pompeo held firm to Trump’s position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes — and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

https://apnews.com/2d80cb7d512c49978e69853a7daa4d5c/Trump,-Kim-claim-big-summit-success,-but-details-are-scant

Trump and Kim agree to more talks but fail to produce nuclear disarmament plan

Trump and Kim agree to more talks but fail to produce nuclear disarmament plan
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump sign an agreement resulting from their historic June 12 summit on Sentosa island in Singapore. (Handout / Getty Images)

President Trump wrapped up his improbable summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, vowing to “start a new history” with the nuclear-armed nation after signing a vaguely worded agreement that contained no concrete plan for disarmament.

Later, at a 65-minute news conference, Trump said he had agreed to North Korea’s longtime demands to stop joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea. The war games have been a mainstay of the U.S. alliance with Seoul for decades.

Trump said halting the drills would save “a lot of money” and he called them “provocative,” the complaint North Korea often made. He also said he hopes eventually to withdraw the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, although not as part of the current agreement with Kim.

In only the second full solo news conference of his presidency, Trump said he had been awake for 25 hours — he turns 72 on Thursday — but that he was bullish about his day of diplomacy with the young autocrat from Pyongyang.

He lavished praise on Kim as a “great talent,” denied concerns about treating him as an equal and painted a rosy picture of North Korea’s potential future — one laid out in a bizarre, propaganda-style video that the White House had prepared for the North Korean leader.

Asked why he trusted a ruler who had murdered family members and jailed thousands of political prisoners, Trump lauded Kim for taking over the regime at age 26, when his father died in 2011, and being “able to run it, and run it tough.”

While Trump repeatedly portrayed his two-page agreement with Kim as “comprehensive,” it contained little new except a commitment by both sides to continue diplomatic engagement, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leading the U.S. side in future talks.
That is no small achievement considering that the two leaders were threatening each other with nuclear war last summer. But it was far less than the ambitious arms control deal Trump hoped to gain when he agreed to the summit in March.
The document instead reiterated the same vague North Korean commitment to denuclearize that Kim made after he met South Korea’s president in April, but it offered no specifics of how or when any disarmament might take place.
“We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” Trump said, adding it would “take a long time” to wind down the nuclear weapons program. Until recently, Trump had demanded Pyongyang quickly dismantle its vast nuclear infrastructure.
A person familiar with the working-level talks that set the final stage for Tuesday’s summit said the U.S. team had pushed for a commitment from Kim to denuclearize by 2020, when the next U.S. presidential election will be underway.
North Korea’s representatives balked at the demand for a deadline, the person said.
The signed agreement, which was released by the White House, says North Korea will “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” It does not offer the pledge of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” that Pompeo had insisted was the U.S. objective.
A verifiable and permanent disarmament agreement would require North Korea to let international inspectors in to collect records, monitor sites and ensure it does not cheat. Pyongyang expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors nearly a decade ago and Tuesday’s agreement does not mention bringing them back.
The agreement was weaker than the pledge North Korea made in 2005, during an ultimately unsuccessful bout of nuclear diplomacy, when it committed itself to “abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.”
The regime instead tested its first nuclear device the following year. It has conducted five underground tests since then, most recently in September. It is believed to have assembled at least two dozen warheads.
In a largely symbolic U.S. gain, North Korea committed itself to the “immediate repatriation” of any remains it had identified of U.S. soldiers and prisoners of war from the Korean War, which ended 65 years ago. Trump said families had implored him for help on that painful issue.
Tuesday’s agreement does not mention North Korea’s gruesome record of human rights abuses, including a vast internal gulag of prison camps. Asked if he had raised the problem with Kim, Trump said they had discussed it “relatively briefly” because their talks chiefly focused on nuclear weapons.
He suggested that human rights in North Korea, which the U.N. has accused of “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” did not differ greatly from other nations.
“I believe it’s a rough situation over there, there’s no question about it,” he said. “It’s rough in a lot of places by the way.”

But Trump suggested that negative publicity about the death last year of Otto Warmbier, a college student from Ohio who was returned home in a coma from a North Korean prison, had helped pave the way for the diplomatic thaw.

“Otto did not die in vain,” Trump said. “He had a lot to do with us being here today.”

Trump denied that he was lending legitimacy to the oppressive leader of a long-marginalized regime by standing shoulder to shoulder with him. He said sitting at the table with Kim wasn’t a concession.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to make the world a safer place,” he said. “All I can say is they want to make a deal. That’s what I do. My whole life has been deals I’m great at it.”

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in heralded the agreement, saying, “It will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on Earth.”

Moon’s statement did not address Trump’s decision to cancel joint military exercises, a crucial part of the close military alliance that emerged from the 1950-’53 Korean War. The exercises involve life-fire drills, bomber flyovers, computer simulations and other operations.

It was not clear if Trump had told Moon of his decision. A defense ministry spokesman said officials were still seeking the “exact meaning and intention” about the exercises, South Korean media reported.

Independent analysts praised the continued diplomacy with North Korea but most found little to like in the agreement and Trump’s concession on military exercises.

“It doesn’t say anything,” Joseph Yun, a former senior U.S. diplomat and special representative for North Korea policy, said on CNN.

Olivia Enos, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, said the decision to suspend military exercises was “concerning” because they help project U.S. strength in the region.

“The joint military exercises … is about more than just countering the North Korean threat,” she said.

Ellen Tauscher, a former member of Congress from California who served as undersecretary of State for arms control in the Obama administration, tweeted that Trump was “conned” by Kim.

“China has to be thrilled with Kim’s haul in Singapore,” Tauscher said. She said Trump had agreed to end valuable military exercises in exchange “for promises by a lying despot of ‘denuclearization’ in [a] bilateral, unverifiable agreement.”

Abraham M. Denmark, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for East Asia, said Trump gave up the exercises “for little new and nothing in return.”

“Kim got a huge propaganda win and a metric ton of legitimacy,” he said on Twitter. “The silver lining is that dialogue will continue, and where there is diplomacy there is hope.”

Others also expressed hope. Nuclear disarmament “can and will come, if we focus on transforming a relationship that has been deeply hostile, unremittingly hostile,” said John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University in Seoul and an expert on the Koreas and China.

To convince Kim to eventually give up his nuclear weapons, Trump said he played for him on an iPad a U.S. government-produced video that looked like a Hollywood movie trailer about an action hero.

“When a man is presented with a chance that may never be repeated, what will he choose?” a narrator said in the video, which was played at the press conference. “The world will be watching, listening, anticipating, hoping. Will this leader choose to advance his country … be the hero of his people?”

7:15 a.m.: This article was updated with quotes from analysts.

3:50 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the news conference.

3:34 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the news conference.

This article was originally published at 2:02 a.m.

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-trump-summit-react-20180612-story.html

Today’s Nuclear North Korea Is Yesterday’s China: Lessons From History

North Korea’s recent successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests have put Pyongyang on the cusp of having the means to credibly threaten the continental United States with a nuclear strike. The Trump administration has vowed to “not allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path” but so far has not put forth specific new policies to stop Pyongyang. Since the latest test, several senior administration officials have stepped up their rhetoric, labeling the DPRK as the most urgent threat facing the United States and stating that it is “unimaginable” to allow North Korea to have the capability to attack the U.S. mainland.

As U.S. policymakers ponder how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, it is important to remember that we are not in uncharted territory. The United States found itself in a similar situation more than 50 years ago, when faced with the prospect of Maoist China going nuclear. Then as now, experts questioned if rational decision makers were behind the nuclear controls of a reclusive communist state and military options — no matter how risky — were seriously considered. Despite initially having great fears about the prospect of a nuclear China, both the Kennedy and the Johnson administrations came to realize that China’s modest nuclear arsenal failed to alter the underlying balance of power in East Asia or undermine the confidence of U.S. allies in the credibility of Washington’s security guarantees. And even though nuclear-armed China continued to champion global revolutionary causes and provide direct military assistance to North Vietnam against the United States, Chinese rhetoric on nuclear weapons gradually moderated and began to show evidence of calculated restraint vis-à-vis the United States.

A Rogue China   

n December of 1960, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warned that, “[China’s] arrogant self-confidence, revolutionary fervor, and distorted view of the world may lead [Beijing] to miscalculate risks. This danger would be heightened if Communist China achieved a nuclear weapons capability.” Revolutionary fervor aside, the same assessment could be written about North Korea today. North Korea continues to be one of the most isolated regimes in the world, run by the mercurial Kim Jong-un. In addition, the country engages in kidnappings and assassinations, hurls utterly bizarre imprecations against the United States, and regularly threatens preemptive nuclear strikes against South Korea. When observing North Korea from afar it is easy to mistake it for an exceptional case of obdurate despotism.

As the NIE suggests, however, the same rogue state description fit the profile of China in the 1960s. Throughout the decade, Chinese leaders routinely dismissed the dangers of nuclear war and would stress the inevitable victory of the “people’s war” against U.S. imperialism and Soviet revisionism. At the same time, Chinese leaders greatly exaggerated the capabilities of their own nuclear program and downplayed the risks posed by potential counter force strikes against the Chinese mainland.

In reality, China’s belligerent rhetoric was a strategic bluff to compensate for the great disparity between China and the two superpowers in nuclear capabilities. When looking today at uncannily similar boasts by North Korean state press that their country is now “a strong nuclear power state” and has “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world” it is important to remember that North Korea continues to have a small nuclear arsenal, has no second strike capability, and will never be able to shift the military power balance in the region on its own. North Korean saber rattling is a screen to deflect from the regime’s weakness and fear of the future.

North Korea’s Nuclear Doctrine

The DPRK does not have a publicly available official nuclear doctrine, which leaves analysts the sole option of piecing together a strategy from open-source statements. Kim Jong-un has spoken about the importance of breaking the “nuclear monopoly” held by the United States. Pyongyang has stated that it has a “no first use” policy and that it is in favor of complete global disarmament. Despite the “no first use” language, North Korea has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in preventive strikes against either the United States or South Korea. Since pulling out of the Six Party Talks, North Korea has effectively rejected efforts to denuclearize the North Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s commentary on nuclear weapons closely parallels China’s official positions on nuclear weapons during the 1960s. Following China’s first nuclear test in 1964, Beijing also stressed three points: China’s goal for developing nuclear weapons was “to break the superpower monopoly;” China holds a “no first use” policy; and that China supports the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Despite the cautious public stance, China was vehemently opposed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) and did not moderate its hostile position toward nonproliferation until its nuclear program reached a more mature stage in the 1970s. China’s record suggests that North Korea is purposely adopting a hostile stance to compensate for the overall weakness of the North Korean arsenal.

Dealing with North Korea Effectively  

As William Burr and Jeffrey T. Richelson document in Whether to “Strangle the Baby in the Cradle”: The United States and the Chinese Nuclear Program, 1960-64, John F. Kennedy viewed a potential Chinese nuclear test as “likely to be historically the most significant and worst event of the 1960s.” The Kennedy Administration was so concerned about the specter of a nuclear China that every measure from direct U.S. strikes to parachuting Chinese Nationalist commandos from Taiwan was considered. Kennedy even authorized officials to approach America’s archrival, the Soviet Union, regarding joint preventive action against China.

Kennedy was hardly alone in his fears that a nuclear China was the greatest threat to world peace. As the Cultural Revolution unfolded, the U.S. Navy was concerned that China would quickly gain submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) technology and would launch them in a way to fake a Soviet strike, triggering a global nuclear war. (See Lyle J. Goldstein in When China Was a ‘Rogue State’: The Impact of China’s Nuclear Weapons Program on US-China Relations during the 1960s.)  To counter this putative threat, the Navy recommended the sinking of China’s first missile-armed submarine on its maiden voyage. Not only did these fears border on paranoia, they greatly exaggerated China’s technological capabilities. In the case of SLBMs, China would not test its first submarine-launched missile until 1982. The press was also highly critical of Mao possessing nuclear weapons and called for military action to curtail Beijing’s nuclear ambitions.

Kennedy’s fears over the prospect of China going nuclear were not shared by everyone in government. The State Department’s Policy Planning Council produced an influential study that questioned the consequence of China’s nuclear test. The study argued that the Chinese nuclear arsenal could not pose a major threat to the United States and would hardly alter the balance of power in the region. Moreover, China’s nuclear arsenal was vulnerable to a U.S. counter force strike. Hence, a nuclear China would not feel emboldened to further challenge the United States. Although initially controversial, proponents of this view eventually won out in the Johnson administration.

The report acknowledged that there could be some adverse political ramifications of a Chinese nuclear test (i.e., proliferation), but they could be addressed by U.S. reassurances to its allies. Indeed, even though in the wake of China’s first nuclear test Japan expressed a strong desire to develop its own bomb, the Johnson administration was able to provide security reassurances combined with diplomatic pressure to dissuade Tokyo from going down the nuclear path. In the subsequent years, the United States applied similar pressure to block Taiwan and South Korea from going forward with their own nuclear weapons programs.

If China’s nuclear program did not pose a serious threat to the United States in the 1960s, then there is even less reason to fear North Korea’s today. Even with improvements in North Korean missile capabilities, the United States and its allies still enjoy an overwhelming military and economic advantage over the North. Just as during the 1960s, the United States simply needs to be public and credible in its reassurances to its regional allies and partners. Any North Korean effort to split the U.S.-ROK alliance will fail if the United States continues to provide a broad security guarantee to South Korea. As long as the Trump administration continues to offer its public support to Japan, Tokyo too will feel that there is no need for drastic action.

Lastly the United States needs to forcefully come out against the linkage of the North Korean nuclear question with unrelated issues in the U.S.-China relationship to address Taiwanese concerns that Washington will trade away the de facto independence of the island in exchange for Chinese assistance in reigning in North Korea. It has become clear that either due to a lack of leverage or deliberate unwillingness, Beijing will not apply the necessary level of pressure to compel Pyongyang to reverse course. The United States should not fall into the trap of expanding the scope of talks in the hope of eliciting additional Chinese cooperation on North Korea.

Conclusion

After the 1964 Chinese nuclear test, President Johnson used trade controls and extra intelligence monitoring to slow down the pace of China’s nuclear development. Despite continued apprehension, the U.S. learned to live with China’s nuclear program. This was made possible in large part due to swift and credible U.S. reassurances to key regional allies such as Japan. Over time, as Chinese leaders decided to shift strategies and pursue greater engagement with the Western world, China’s nuclear positions underwent a gradual evolution. North Korea is not China, but a similar policy of strategic patience combined with robust security assurances to South Korea and Japan is the best bet for getting North Korea back to the negotiating table. The alternative is untenable.

Yevgen Sautin is a Gates Scholar at Cambridge University working on a Ph.D. in modern Chinese history.

https://thediplomat.com/2017/08/todays-nuclear-north-korea-is-yesterdays-china-lessons-from-history/

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018, Story 1: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Compromised National Security By Emails To Clinton’s Emailer Server Account — Hacked By Several Countries Including Russia Providing Real Leverage or Blackmail of Clinton and Obama — Spy or Mole In Trump Campaign To Provide Early Warning That Russians Gave Trump The Compromising Leverage/Blackmail — None Sent Nor Received by Trump — Obama Knew Everything DOJ, FBI, CIA, and NSA Were Doing! — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Demands Investigation and Meets With Deputy Attorney General and FBI Director — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Participates in Swearing In of First Women C.I.A. Director, Gina Haspel — Videos — Story 4: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Outlines Strategy with Strongest Sanctions Against Iran — Videos

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Story 1: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Compromised National Security By Emails To Clinton’s Emailer Server Account — Hacked By Several Countries Including Russia Providing Real Leverage or Blackmail of Clinton and Obama — Spy or Mole In Trump Campaign To Provide Early Warning That Russians Gave Trump The Compromising Leverage/Blackmail — None Sent Nor Received by Trump — Obama Knew Everything DOJ, FBI, CIA, and NSA Were Doing! — Videos

 

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Did Obama lie about his knowledge of Clinton’s server?

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DOJ reportedly reopens Hillary Clinton email investigation

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State Department’s Report ‘Really Hurts’ Hillary Clinton | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Whistleblower: Clinton emails include classified info

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Jason Chaffetz Digs in on Comey at Start of Capitol Hearing: ‘We Are Mystified and Confused’:

James Comey takes fire for Clinton email recommendation

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Story 2: President Trump Demands Investigation and Meets With Deputy Attorney General and FBI Director — Videos —

Trump demands that the DOJ look into reports of informant

 

Trump demands DOJ probe into FBI surveillance allegations

 

Story 3: President Trump Attends Swearing In of First Women C.I.A. Director, Gina Haspel — Videos

Gina Haspel sworn-in as first female CIA director

President Donald Trump: Gina Haspel Will Never Back Down | CNBC

President Donald Trump Attends Swearing-In Of New CIA Director Gina Haspel | NBC News

Trump CIA pick tells lawmakers: ‘My moral compass is strong’

Trump Swears In Gina Haspel as C.I.A. Director, Praising Agency as the ‘Most Elite’ in the World

Image
Gina Haspel was sworn in on Monday as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump praised Gina Haspel on Monday as she was sworn in as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, congratulating her on becoming the first woman to lead what he called “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet.”

But even as Ms. Haspel took over as C.I.A. director, conservatives and some Trump allies were accusing her of being part of the “deep state” conspiracy that the president repeatedly claims has been conducting a “witch hunt” against him.

Publicly and privately, Trump supporters have been raising questions about Ms. Haspel’s loyalty to the president, and urging — without providing any evidence — an examination of what she knew about the intelligence community’s efforts to connect Trump to Russia.

In particular, they have questioned whether Ms. Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the spy agency who was the C.I.A.’s station chief in London, knew of the F.B.I.’s highly secretive interview of an Australian diplomat in London, and was aware that the bureau used an informant to gather information there from Trump associates about possible Russian coordination with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

“Who was the CIA London Station Chief in 2016?”Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist with a large Twitter following, asked in a tweet last week. “Gina Haspel.”

In a letter last week, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, asked Ms. Haspel if the C.I.A. had been involved in spying on Mr. Trump or if the agency had cooperated with foreign intelligence services to monitor Mr. Trump in the years before he officially became a candidate.

It is unclear how much Ms. Haspel knew about the F.B.I.’s activities, which were part of a counterintelligence operation that the bureau called “Crossfire Hurricane,” or when she was made aware of them. But it is standard procedure for the station chief in a major city to be briefed on any major bureau activities in her territory.

“Anything that affects the intelligence community, you would first get the agency’s concurrence through the chief of station,” said Eugene Casey, a former agent who spent more than five years overseas for the F.B.I.

An American official said on Monday that Ms. Haspel was not fully briefed at the time on the F.B.I.’s use of an informant in London to gather information about Trump associates or on its plan to interview the Australian diplomat. The existence of the bureau’s Russia investigation was one of the most closely held secrets in the F.B.I. and the Justice Department.

But just the possibility that Ms. Haspel knew of the informant in the Russia inquiry is enough for some conspiracy theorists to accuse Ms. Haspel of being part of the anti-Trump intelligence bureaucracy they believe is arrayed against the president and his agenda.

Frank Gaffney Jr., of the Center for Security Policy, was particularly angry at the comments Ms. Haspel made during her confirmation hearing about whether she would follow a presidential order she considered immoral (she said she would not).

He also complained that Ms. Haspel, whose nomination was supported by a cross-section of former intelligence officials, was “being strongly recommended for that job by men who have used the C.I.A. and/or other elements of the intelligence community as deep state weapons to try to destroy him, his campaign and his administration.”

For Mr. Trump, the conspiracy theories connected to Ms. Haspel underscore an awkward reality: If the deep state Russia allegations are true, then many of the president’s own intelligence officials are in the same position as her.

In addition to Ms. Haspel, who served in senior C.I.A. positions under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, many of Mr. Trump’s other senior intelligence officials have played roles in parts of the Russia investigation.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the Russia investigation, appointed the special counsel in the case and has defended the investigation. Dana Boente, whom Mr. Trump appointed to be the top lawyer at the F.B.I., signed one of the secret warrants for a wiretap on a Trump associate. And Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, has fought to maintain the independence of the Russia investigation and has said it is not a witch hunt.

Just hours before his visit to the C.I.A. on Monday, Mr. Trump lashed out against Mr. Brennan, quoting a Fox News contributor who says Mr. Brennan “is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community. He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the….

Mr. Trump used the power of his Twitter account to amplify remarks from Dan Bongino, a conservative commentator, who alleged on Fox that Mr. Brennan used an intelligence dossier to begin an illegitimate investigation of the Trump campaign.

“This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation,” the president tweeted to his 52 million followers, quoting Mr. Bongino’s television appearance.

The Monday morning tweets by the president followed a weekend in which he angrily complained about reports that the investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia relied in part on confidential informants. Mr. Trump again assailed the investigation as a “Witch Hunt” and demanded that the F.B.I. or the Justice Department investigate whether his campaign was subject to improper surveillance.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Mr. Trump wrote on Sunday.

The president repeated that demand on Monday in an email from his re-election campaign, urging his political supporters to sign a petition calling for a Justice Department investigation.

THIS COULD BE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SCANDAL IN AMERICAN HISTORY,” Mr. Trump wrote in the email from the Trump Make America Great Again campaign committee. “I need you to sign your name right this second to join me in demanding this abuse of power gets investigated.”

Mr. Rosenstein said on Sunday that the department’s inspector general would look into the questions raised by the president. But it is unclear whether that will satisfy Mr. Trump, who has said it was “disgraceful” to hand investigation of the Russia inquiry to an inspector general who was “Obama’s guy.”

The president is scheduled to meet with Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, at the White House on Monday afternoon, officials said.

Despite the president’s relentless assault on what he perceives as the intelligence community’s improper actions as part of the investigations into his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump praised Ms. Haspel and the agency she is about to lead.

Mr. Trump’s brief remarks were strikingly different from those he delivered on his first visit to the agency the day after his inauguration, when he stood in front of a memorial to fallen intelligence officers and delivered a political diatribe against the news media, Democrats and others who questioned the size of his inaugural crowd.

On Monday, Mr. Trump lauded the “exceptional men and women of this agency,” adding: “I see what you do. I understand what you do and it’s incredible.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/us/politics/trump-haspel-cia.html

 

Story 4: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Outlines Strategy with Strongest Sanctions Against Iran — Videos

Pompeo: Iran to face “strongest sanctions in history”

Pompeo outlines new Iran strategy after US exit from deal

WATCH: Secy. of State Pompeo discusses Iran at Heritage Foundation

Pompeo adviser: US requirements for Iran are realistic

 

 

Mike Pompeo threatens Iran with ‘strongest sanctions in history’ after nuclear deal withdrawal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a steep list of demands that he said should be included in a nuclear treaty with Iran to replace the Obama-era deal, threatening “the strongest sanctions in history” if Iran doesn’t change course.

Key points:

  • Mike Pompeo gives first major speech as Secretary of State and threatens “toughest sanctions in history” on Iran
  • Submits 12 demands to the Middle East nation which would ensure it “has no possible path to a nuclear weapon”
  • Mr Pompeo warns punishment against European businesses which continue to trade with Iran

Following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, the United States will ensure “Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon, ever,” Mr Pompeo said.

As he called for a better agreement to constrain Iran’s activities, he said the US would “apply unprecedented financial pressure” to bring Tehran back to the table.

“These will end up being the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete,” Mr Pompeo said at the conservative Heritage Foundation, his first major policy speech since taking over as top diplomat.

The Secretary of State’s list of 12 requirements included many that Iran is highly unlikely to consider.

He said Iran must “stop enrichment” of uranium, which was allowed within strict limitations under the 2015 deal. Iran must also allow nuclear “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country,” Mr Pompeo said, alluding to military sites that were off-limits under the 2015 deal except under specific circumstances.

To that end, he also said Iran must declare all previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon, reopening an issue that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has already deemed a closed matter.

Mr Pompeo also demanded that Iran cease from a range of activities throughout the Middle East that have long drawn the ire of the US and its allies. He said Iran must end support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, “withdraw all forces” from Syria, halt support for its ally Hezbollah and stop threatening Israel.

Iran must also “release all US citizens” missing in Iran or being held on “spurious charges,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Pompeo offered Iran a series of dramatic potential US concessions if it agrees to make “major changes.”

Under a new agreement, the US would be willing to lift all sanctions, restore full diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, and even support the modernization of its economy, Mr Pompeo said.

“It is America’s hope that our labours toward peace and security will bear fruit for the long-suffering people of Iran,” he said.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Mr Pompeo’s speech came after Mr Trump earlier this month infuriated US allies in Europe by withdrawing from the 2015 deal brokered by President Barack Obama, Iran and world powers. Europeans allies had pleaded with Mr Trump not to scuttle that deal and are now scrambling to keep the deal alive even without the US.

Mr Pompeo called that 2015 agreement a “loser deal”.

But the Trump administration has held out hope that those same allies will put aside that frustration and work with the US to ramp pressure back up on Iran through sanctions in a bid to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table for a stronger deal.

Pompeo said he understood that Trump’s decision “will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends.” But he warned them that the US planned to follow through with threats to punish European companies that continue doing business with Iran that is allowed under the deal but will violate reimposed US sanctions.

“I know our allies in Europe may try to keep the old nuclear deal going with Tehran. That is their decision to make,” Pompeo said. “They know where we stand.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-22/mike-pompeo-threatens-iran-with-tough-sanctions/9784784

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The Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018, Story 1: Investigate, Indict, Arrest, and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspirators To Subvert Trump Presidency: Clinton, Obama, Jarrett, Rice, Rhodes, Power, Clapper, Brennan, Lynch, Yates, Carlin, Comey, McCabe, Preistap, Strzok, Page and Accomplices — Betrayed Their Oath of Office To Preserve, Protect and Defend The United States Constitution, The American People and Election Process — Videos — Story 2: Secret Surveillance Spying Security State (S5) Abolishes Fourth Amendment With  National Security Agency and National Security Letters — Congress Does Nothing Fearing Secret Surveillance Spying Security State Disclosures By United States Intelligence Community (IC) — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Attacks MS-13 As Animals — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers Defend MS -13 — All Humans Are Animals — MS-16 Members Are Violent Thugs — Videos

Posted on May 18, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, Addiction, American History, Applications, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, Communications, Computers, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Desertion, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Fiscal Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hardware, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Investments, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Islam, Israel, James Comey, Killing, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Middle East, Mike Pence, Movies, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Republican Candidates For President 2016, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Science, Security, Senator Jeff Sessions, Servers, Sexual Harrasment, Social Networking, Social Science, Software, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, United Kingdom, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Investigate, Indict, Arrest, and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspirators To Subvert Trump Presidency: Clinton, Obama, Jarrett, Rice, Rhodes, Power, Clapper, Brennan, Holder, Lynch, Yates, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page and Accomplices — Betrayed Their Oath of Office To Preserve, Protect and Defend The United States Constitution, The American People and Election Process — Videos —

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Trump: Report that Obama FBI spied on campaign could be ‘bigger than Watergate’

President Trump on Thursday touted a report saying the FBI under former President Obama spied on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential race, saying that the revelation could be “bigger than Watergate.”

“Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN IMBEDDED INFORMANT,'” the president tweeted in reference to a National Review report published last week.

“Andrew McCarthy says, ‘There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.’ If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

The report alleges that Obama-led agencies used their surveillance powers to monitor the Trump campaign.

This is not the first time that the Obama administration has been accused of spying on the Trump campaign.

Last year, Trump accused the former president of wiretapping Trump Tower shortly before the 2016 election.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped,’ in Trump Tower just before victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” the president tweeted in March 2017.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer later walked back the president’s claim, saying he did not mean that Obama literally wiretapped Trump Tower.

“The president used the word ‘wiretap’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities during that,” Spicer said. “There is no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 elections.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/388101-trump-report-that-obama-fbi-spied-on-campaign-could-be-bigger-than

10 Key Takeaways From The New York Times’ Error-Ridden Defense Of FBI Spying On Trump Campaign

It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to leakers’ fears about information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.
Mollie Hemingway

By 

The New York Times published an article yesterday confirming the United States’ intelligence apparatus was used to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Here are a few quick takeaways.

1. FBI Officials Admit They Spied On Trump Campaign

The New York Times‘ story, headlined “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation,” is a dry and gentle account of the FBI’s launch of extensive surveillance of affiliates of the Trump campaign. Whereas FBI officials and media enablers had previously downplayed claims that the Trump campaign had been surveiled, in this story we learn that it was more widespread than previously acknowledged:

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said…

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.

This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, “The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.”

The story says the FBI was worried that if it came out they were spying on Trump campaign it would “only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.” It is easy to understand how learning that the FBI was spying on one’s presidential campaign might reinforce claims of election-rigging.

2. Terrified About Looming Inspector General Report

People leak for a variety of reasons, including to inoculate themselves as much as they can. For example, only when the secret funders of Fusion GPS’s Russia-Trump-collusion dossier were about to be revealed was their identity leaked to friendly reporters in the Washington Post. In October of 2017 it was finally reported that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee secretly paid for the Russia dossier, hiding the arrangement by funneling the money through a law firm.

The friendly reporters at the Washington Postwrote the story gently, full of reassuring quotes to downplay its significance. The information only came about because House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes subpoenaed the bank records of Fusion GPS, over the objections of Democrats on the committee. Even in this Times story, Clinton’s secret funding was not mentioned.

Likewise, the admissions in this New York Times story are coming out now, years after selective leaks to compliant reporters, just before an inspector general report detailing some of these actions is slated to be released this month. In fact, the Wall Street Journalreported that people mentioned in the report are beginning to get previews of what it alleges. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

By working with friendly reporters, these leaking FBI officials can ensure the first story about their unprecedented spying on political opponents will downplay that spying and even attempt to justify it. Of note is the story’s claim that very few people even knew about the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, which means the leakers for this story come from a relatively small pool of people.

3. Still No Evidence of Collusion With Russia

In paragraph 69 of the lengthy story, The New York Times takes itself to task for burying the lede in its October 31, 2016, story about the FBI not finding any proof of involvement with Russian election meddling.

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

It is somewhat funny, then, to read what The New York Times buries in paragraph 70 of the story:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

No evidence of collusion after two years of investigation with unlimited resources? You don’t say! What could that mean?

4. Four Trump Affiliates Spied On

Thanks to the work of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans already learned that the FBI had secured a wiretap on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. That wiretap, which was renewed three times, was already controversial because it was secured in part through using the secretly funded opposition research document created by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The secret court that grants the wiretap was not told about Hillary Clinton or the DNC when the government applied for the wiretap or its renewals.

Now we learn that it wasn’t just Page, but that the government was going after four campaign affiliates including the former campaign manager, the top foreign policy advisor, and a low-level advisor whose drunken claim supposedly launched the investigation into the campaign. The bureau says Trump’s top foreign policy advisor and future national security advisor — a published critic of Russia — was surveiled because he spoke at an event in Russia sponsored by Russia Today, a government-sponsored media outlet.

5. Wiretaps, National Security Letters, and At Least One Spy

The surveillance didn’t just include wiretaps, but also national security letters and at least one government informant to spy on the campaign.:

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

This paragraph is noteworthy for the way it describes spying on the campaign — “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos” — before suggesting that might not be spying. The definition of spying is to secretly collect information, so it’s not really in dispute whether a government informant fits the bill.

Despite two years of investigation and surveillance, none of these men have been charged with anything even approaching treasonous collusion with Russia to steal a U.S. election.

6. More Leaks About a Top-Secret Government Informant

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently subpoenaed information from the FBI and Department of Justice. They did not publicly reveal what information they sought, but the Department of Justice responded by claiming that they were being extorted by congressional oversight. Then they leaked that they couldn’t share the information because it would jeopardize the life of a government informant. They also waged a public relations battle against HPSCI Chairman Nunes and committee staff.

But far from holding the information close to the vest, the government has repeatedly leaked information about this informant, and even that it was information about an informant that was being sought by Congress. From leaks of personally identifying information to the Washington Post, we’ve learned that this source works with the FBI and CIA, and is a U.S. citizen.

In The New York Times, additional information about a government informant leaked, including that the source met with Papadopoulos and Page to collect information. The information on an alleged source in the Trump campaign is so sensitive they can’t give it to Congress, but they can leak it to friendly press outlets like the Post and Times. It’s an odd posture for the Justice Department to take.

It is unknown at this point whether the informants were specifically sent by a U.S. agency or global partner, or whether the sources voluntarily provided information to the U.S. government.

7. Ignorance of Basic Facts

One thing that is surprising about the story is how many errors it contains. The problems begin in the second sentence, which claims Peter Strzok and another FBI agent were sent to London. The New York Times reports that “[t]heir assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling.”

Of course, it was previously reported that Strzok had a meeting with the Australian ambassador. He describes the embassy where the meeting took place as the longest continually staffed embassy in London. The ambassador was previously reported to have had some information about a Trump advisor saying he’d heard that Russia had Clinton’s emails.

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page ‘had previously been recruited by Russian spies.’

It’s also inaccurate to say this was “election meddling,” necessarily. Clinton had deleted 30,000 emails that were housed on her private server even though she was being investigated for mishandling classified information. This could be viewed as destruction of evidence. She claimed the emails had to do with yoga.

FBI Director James Comey specifically downplayed for the public the bureau’s belief that foreign countries had access to these emails. There is no evidence that Russia or any other country had these emails, and they were not released during the campaign. To describe this legitimate national security threat as “election meddling” is insufficient to the very problem for which Clinton was being investigated.

The story claims, “News organizations did not publish Mr. Steele’s reports or reveal the F.B.I.’s interest in them until after Election Day.” That’s demonstrably untrue. Here’s an October 31, 2016, story headlined “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” It is sourced entirely to Steele. In September, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff took a meeting with Steele then published “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin” on September 23, 2016. That story was even used in the Foreign Intelligence Service Act application against Page.

The New York Times writes, “Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. ‘I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,’ Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.”

There are multiple problems with this claim. For one, Strzok wrote that text in all caps with obvious eagerness. As the Wall Street Journal noted months ago, “Mr. Strzok emphasized the seriousness with which he viewed the allegations in a message to Ms. Page on Aug. 11, just a few days before the ‘insurance’ text. ‘OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS,’ he texted.”

For another, Strzok repeatedly talked about how important and time-sensitive he felt the investigation was. As Andrew McCarthy highlighted in his deep look at some of these texts, as Strzok prepared for his morning flight to London, he compared the investigations of Clinton and Trump by writing, “And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.”

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page “had previously been recruited by Russian spies.” In fact, while Russian agents had tried to recruit him, they failed to do so, and Page spoke at length with the FBI about the attempt before the agents were arrested or kicked out of the country.

The New York Times falsely reported that “Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them.” Comey has told multiple journalists that he specifically did not brief Trump on the Steele reports. He didn’t tell Trump there were reports, or who funded them. He didn’t tell him about the claims in the reports that the campaign was compromised. He only told him that there was a rumor Trump had paid prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed that the Obamas had once slept in.

The story also repeats long-debunked claims about the Republican platform and Ukraine.

8. Insurance: How Does It Work?

The story reminds readers that Strzok once texted Page “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” The article says Trump thought this “insurance policy” referred to a plan to respond to the unlikely event of a Trump victory. It goes on:

But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

It’s worth asking whether reporters understand how insurance works. As reader Matt noted, “The fundament intent of Insurance is ‘Indemnification.’ Restoring back to original condition prior to loss. Trump was the peril, MSM the adjuster & his impeachment, the policy limits.”

The article’s repeated claims that the FBI didn’t think Trump would win do not counter the notion that an “insurance policy” investigation was in the extremely rare case he might win. People don’t insure their property against fire damage because they expect it to happen so much as they can’t afford to fix things if it does happen.

9. Eavesdropping, Not Spying, And Other Friendly Claims

The story could not be friendlier to the FBI sources who are admitting what they did against the Trump campaign. A few examples:

“[P]rosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page,” The New York Timeswrites, making the wiretapped spying on an American citizen sound almost downright pleasant. When Comey briefs Trump only on the rumor about the prostitutes and urination, we’re told “he feared making this conversation a ‘J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,’ with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.” Reporters don’t ask, much less answer, why someone fearing a J. Edgar Hoover-type situation would go out of his way to create an extreme caricature of a J. Edgar Hoover situation.

The story also claimed, “they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department,” before using controversial political appointee Sally Yates to claim that there was nothing worrisome. In fact, the subtext of the entire story is that the FBI showed good judgment in its handling of the spying in 2016. Unfortunately, the on-the-record source used to substantiate this claim is Yates.

Yates, who was in the news for claiming with a straight face that she thought Flynn had committed a Logan Act violation, is quoted as saying, “Folks are very, very careful and serious about that [FISA] process. I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.” If Yates, who had to be fired for refusing to do her job under Trump, tells you things are on the up and up, apparently you can take it to the bank.

10. Affirms Fears of Politicized Intelligence

This New York Times story may have been designed to inoculate the FBI against revelations coming out of the inspector general report, but the net result was to affirm the fears of many Americans who are worried that the U.S. government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies abused their powers to surveil and target Americans simply for their political views and affiliations. The gathered information has been leaked to media for years, leading to damaged reputations, and the launch of limitless probes, but not any reason to believe that Trump colluded with Russia to steal an election.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation

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Days after the F.B.I. closed its investigation into Hillary Clinton in 2016, agents began scrutinizing the presidential campaign of her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.

Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.

The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.

The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau. Days after they closed their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, agents began scrutinizing the campaign of her Republican rival. The two cases have become inextricably linked in one of the most consequential periods in the history of the F.B.I.

 

[Read our briefing on secret government code names]

This month, the Justice Department inspector general is expected to release the findings of its lengthy review of the F.B.I.’s conduct in the Clinton case. The results are certain to renew debate over decisions by the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, to publicly chastise Mrs. Clinton in a news conference, and then announce the reopening of the investigation days before Election Day. Mrs. Clinton has said those actions buried her presidential hopes.

Those decisions stand in contrast to the F.B.I.’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane. Not only did agents in that case fall back to their typical policy of silence, but interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the F.B.I. was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, which might have sped up the investigation but risked revealing the existence of the case. Top officials quickly became convinced that they would not solve the case before Election Day, which made them only more hesitant to act. When agents did take bold investigative steps, like interviewing the ambassador, they were shrouded in secrecy.

Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too “tasty” to resist sharing. “I’m not worried about our side,” he wrote.

Only about five Justice Department officials knew the full scope of the case, officials said, not the dozen or more who might normally be briefed on a major national security case.

The facts, had they surfaced, might have devastated the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump’s future national security adviser was under investigation, as was his campaign chairman. One adviser appeared to have Russian intelligence contacts. Another was suspected of being a Russian agent himself.

In the Clinton case, Mr. Comey has said he erred on the side of transparency. But in the face of questions from Congress about the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. declined to tip its hand. And when The New York Times tried to assess the state of the investigation in October 2016, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions, resulting in a story that significantly played down the case.

Mr. Comey has said it is unfair to compare the Clinton case, which was winding down in the summer of 2016, with the Russia case, which was in its earliest stages. He said he did not make political considerations about who would benefit from each decision.

But underpinning both cases was one political calculation: that Mrs. Clinton would win and Mr. Trump would lose. Agents feared being seen as withholding information or going too easy on her. And they worried that any overt actions against Mr. Trump’s campaign would only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.

The F.B.I. now faces those very criticisms and more. Mr. Trump says he is the victim of a politicized F.B.I. He says senior agents tried to rig the election by declining to prosecute Mrs. Clinton, then drummed up the Russia investigation to undermine his presidency. He has declared that a deeply rooted cabal — including his own appointees — is working against him.

That argument is the heart of Mr. Trump’s grievances with the federal investigation. In the face of bipartisan support for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Trump and his allies have made a priority of questioning how the investigation was conducted in late 2016 and trying to discredit it.

“It’s a witch hunt,” Mr. Trump said last month on Fox News. “And they know that, and I’ve been able to message it.”

Congressional Republicans, led by Representative Devin Nunes of California, have begun to dig into F.B.I. files, looking for evidence that could undermine the investigation. Much remains unknown and classified. But those who saw the investigation up close, and many of those who have reviewed case files in the past year, say that far from gunning for Mr. Trump, the F.B.I. could actually have done more in the final months of 2016 to scrutinize his campaign’s Russia ties.

“I never saw anything that resembled a witch hunt or suggested that the bureau’s approach to the investigation was politically driven,” said Mary McCord, a 20-year Justice Department veteran and the top national security prosecutor during much of the investigation’s first nine months.

Crossfire Hurricane spawned a case that has brought charges against former Trump campaign officials and more than a dozen Russians. But in the final months of 2016, agents faced great uncertainty — about the facts, and how to respond.

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A Trump campaign rally in August 2016 in Texas. Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

Anxiety at the Bureau

Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. “I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,” Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.

The mood in early meetings was anxious, former officials recalled. Agents had just closed the Clinton investigation, and they braced for months of Republican-led hearings over why she was not charged. Crossfire Hurricane was built around the same core of agents and analysts who had investigated Mrs. Clinton. None was eager to re-enter presidential politics, former officials said, especially when agents did not know what would come of the Australian information.

The question they confronted still persists: Was anyone in the Trump campaign tied to Russian efforts to undermine the election?

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. Each was scrutinized because of his obvious or suspected Russian ties.

 

[Here are the key themes, dates and characters in the Russia investigation]

Mr. Flynn, a top adviser, was paid $45,000 by the Russian government’s media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Manafort, the campaign chairman, had lobbied for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and worked with an associate who has been identified as having connections to Russian intelligence.

Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, was well known to the F.B.I. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the campaign.

Lastly, there was Mr. Papadopoulos, the young and inexperienced campaign aide whose wine-fueled conversation with the Australian ambassador set off the investigation. Before hacked Democratic emails appeared online, he had seemed to know that Russia had political dirt on Mrs. Clinton. But even if the F.B.I. had wanted to read his emails or intercept his calls, that evidence was not enough to allow it. Many months passed, former officials said, before the F.B.I. uncovered emails linking Mr. Papadopoulos to a Russian intelligence operation.

Mr. Trump was not under investigation, but his actions perplexed the agents. Days after the stolen Democratic emails became public, he called on Russia to uncover more. Then news broke that Mr. Trump’s campaign had pushed to change the Republican platform’s stance on Ukraine in ways favorable to Russia.

The F.B.I.’s thinking crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey showing that the Russian government was behind an attack on the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation. The Crossfire Hurricane team was part of that group but largely operated independently, three officials said.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said that after studying the investigation as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he saw no evidence of political motivation in the opening of the investigation.

“There was a growing body of evidence that a foreign government was attempting to interfere in both the process and the debate surrounding our elections, and their job is to investigate counterintelligence,” he said in an interview. “That’s what they did.”

Andrew G. McCabe in December in Washington. Mr. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty, giving ammunition for Mr. Trump’s claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted.CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Abounding Criticism

Looking back, some inside the F.B.I. and the Justice Department say that Mr. Comey should have seen the political storm coming and better sheltered the bureau. They question why he consolidated the Clinton and Trump investigations at headquarters, rather than in a field office. And they say he should not have relied on the same team for both cases. That put a bull’s-eye on the heart of the F.B.I. Any misstep in either investigation made both cases, and the entire bureau, vulnerable to criticism.

And there were missteps. Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty about his conversations with reporters about Mrs. Clinton. That gave ammunition for Mr. Trump’s claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted. And Mr. Strzok and Lisa Page, an F.B.I. lawyer, exchanged texts criticizing Mr. Trump, allowing the president to point to evidence of bias when they became public.

The messages were unsparing. They questioned Mr. Trump’s intelligence, believed he promoted intolerance and feared he would damage the bureau.

The inspector general’s upcoming report is expected to criticize those messages for giving the appearance of bias. It is not clear, however, whether inspectors found evidence supporting Mr. Trump’s assertion that agents tried to protect Mrs. Clinton, a claim the F.B.I. has adamantly denied.

Mr. Rubio, who has reviewed many of the texts and case files, said he saw no signs that the F.B.I. wanted to undermine Mr. Trump. “There might have been individual agents that had views that, in hindsight, have been problematic for those agents,” Mr. Rubio said. “But whether that was a systemic effort, I’ve seen no evidence of it.”

Mr. Trump’s daily Twitter posts, though, offer sound-bite-sized accusations — witch hunt, hoax, deep state, rigged system — that fan the flames of conspiracy. Capitol Hill allies reliably echo those comments.

“It’s like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.

The Kremlin in Moscow. Two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, senior American intelligence officials told him that Russia had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win.CreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Cautious Intelligence Gathering

Counterintelligence investigations can take years, but if the Russian government had influence over the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. wanted to know quickly. One option was the most direct: interview the campaign officials about their Russian contacts.

That was discussed but not acted on, two former officials said, because interviewing witnesses or subpoenaing documents might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what F.B.I. officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race.

“You do not take actions that will unnecessarily impact an election,” Sally Q. Yates, the former deputy attorney general, said in an interview. She would not discuss details, but added, “Folks were very careful to make sure that actions that were being taken in connection with that investigation did not become public.”

Mr. Comey was briefed regularly on the Russia investigation, but one official said those briefings focused mostly on hacking and election interference. The Crossfire Hurricane team did not present many crucial decisions for Mr. Comey to make.

Top officials became convinced that there was almost no chance they would answer the question of collusion before Election Day. And that made agents even more cautious.

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

Looking back, some at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. now believe that agents could have been more aggressive. They ultimately interviewed Mr. Papadopoulos in January 2017 and managed to keep it a secret, suggesting they could have done so much earlier.

“There is always a high degree of caution before taking overt steps in a counterintelligence investigation,” said Ms. McCord, who would not discuss details of the case. “And that could have worked to the president’s benefit here.”

Such tactical discussions are reflected in one of Mr. Strzok’s most controversial texts, sent on Aug. 15, 2016, after a meeting in Mr. McCabe’s office.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected,” Mr. Strzok wrote, “but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Mr. Trump says that message revealed a secret F.B.I. plan to respond to his election. “‘We’ll go to Phase 2 and we’ll get this guy out of office,’” he told The Wall Street Journal. “This is the F.B.I. we’re talking about — that is treason.”

But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

Mr. Strzok had similarly argued for a more aggressive path during the Clinton investigation, according to four current and former officials. He opposed the Justice Department’s decision to offer Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers immunity and negotiate access to her hard drives, the officials said. Mr. Strzok favored using search warrants or subpoenas instead.

In both cases, his argument lost.

As agents tried to corroborate information from the retired British spy Christopher Steele, reporters began calling the F.B.I., asking whether the accusations in his reports were accurate.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

Policy and Tradition

The F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team.

Mr. Steele was gathering information about Mr. Trump as a private investigator for Fusion GPS, a firm paid by Democrats. But he was also considered highly credible, having helped agents unravel complicated cases.

In October, agents flew to Europe to interview him. But Mr. Steele had become frustrated by the F.B.I.’s slow response. He began sharing his findings in September and October with journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, according to congressional testimony.

So as agents tried to corroborate Mr. Steele’s information, reporters began calling the bureau, asking about his findings. If the F.B.I. was working against Mr. Trump, as he asserts, this was an opportunity to push embarrassing information into the news media shortly before the election.

That did not happen. Most news organizations did not publish Mr. Steele’s reports or reveal the F.B.I.’s interest in them until after Election Day.

Congress was also increasingly asking questions. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had briefed top lawmakers that summer about Russian election interference and intelligence that Moscow supported the Trump campaign — a finding that would not become public for months. Lawmakers clamored for information from Mr. Comey, who refused to answer public questions.

Many Democrats see rueful irony in this moment. Mr. Comey, after all, broke with policy and twice publicly discussed the Clinton investigation. Yet he refused repeated requests to discuss the Trump investigation.

Mr. Comey has said he regrets his decision to chastise Mrs. Clinton as “extremely careless,” even as he announced that she should not be charged. But he stands by his decision to alert Congress, days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reopening the Clinton inquiry.

The result, though, is that Mr. Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Mrs. Clinton’s case, but hewed closely to the rules for Mr. Trump. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that alone proves Mr. Trump’s claims of unfairness to be “both deeply at odds with the facts, and damaging to our democracy.”

Carter Page in December 2016. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.CreditPavel Golovkin/Associated Press

Spying in Question

Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page’s inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said. That warning even made its way back to Russian intelligence, leaving agents suspecting that Mr. Page had reported their efforts to Moscow.

Relying on F.B.I. information and Mr. Steele’s, prosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign.

That warrant has become deeply contentious and is crucial to Republican arguments that intelligence agencies improperly used Democratic research to help justify spying on the Trump campaign. The inspector general is reviewing that claim.

Ms. Yates, the deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, signed the first warrant application. But subsequent filings were approved by members of Mr. Trump’s own administration: the acting attorney general, Dana J. Boente, and then Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

“Folks are very, very careful and serious about that process,” Ms. Yates said. “I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.”

After months of investigation, Mr. Papadopoulos remained largely a puzzle. And agents were nearly ready to close their investigation of Mr. Flynn, according to three current and former officials. (Mr. Flynn rekindled the F.B.I.’s interest in November 2016 by signing an op-ed article that appeared to be written on behalf of the Turkish government, and then making phone calls to the Russian ambassador that December.)

In late October, in response to questions from The Times, law enforcement officials acknowledged the investigation but urged restraint. They said they had scrutinized some of Mr. Trump’s advisers but had found no proof of any involvement with Russian hacking. The resulting article, on Oct. 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no “conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts. But the article’s tone and headline — “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” — gave an air of finality to an investigation that was just beginning.

Democrats say that article pre-emptively exonerated Mr. Trump, dousing chances to raise questions about the campaign’s Russian ties before Election Day.

Just as the F.B.I. has been criticized for its handling of the Trump investigation, so too has The Times.

For Mr. Steele, it dashed his confidence in American law enforcement. “He didn’t know what was happening inside the F.B.I.,” Glenn R. Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, testified this year. “And there was a concern that the F.B.I. was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people.”

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, in January 2017. He assured Mr. Trump, who at the time was the president-elect, that the bureau intended to protect him as Mr. Steele’s reports were about to be published by news outlets.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

Assurances Amid Doubt

Two weeks before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, senior American intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Russian hacking and deception. They reported that Mr. Putin had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win.

Then Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them. Mr. Comey has said he feared making this conversation a “J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,” with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.

In a contemporaneous memo, Mr. Comey wrote that he assured Mr. Trump that the F.B.I. intended to protect him on this point. “I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook,” Mr. Comey wrote of Mr. Steele’s documents. “I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the F.B.I. had the material.”

Mr. Trump was not convinced — either by the Russia briefing or by Mr. Comey’s assurances. He made up his mind before Mr. Comey even walked in the door. Hours earlier, Mr. Trump told The Times that stories about Russian election interference were being pushed by his adversaries to distract from his victory.

And he debuted what would quickly become a favorite phrase: “This is a political witch hunt.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated that news organizations did not report on the findings of the retired British spy Christopher Steele about links between Trump campaign officials and Russia. While most news organizations whose reporters met with Mr. Steele did not publish such reports before the 2016 election, Mother Jones magazine did.

Reporting was contributed by Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg.

Follow Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT and @npfandos.

A version of this art

The Russia Investigation Is Complicated. Here’s What It All Means.

The special counsel is investigating events that span years and cross international borders.

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Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

THE BASICS

  • Russia carried out a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 American presidential election, denigrating Hillary Clinton and boosting Donald J. Trump, according to American intelligence agencies. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia personally ordered it.

  • The F.B.I., citing four Trump campaign aides’ ties to Russia, opened a counterintelligence investigation in the summer of 2016 to determine whether Trump associates aided Russia’s election interference.

  • Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, was appointed the special counsel in May 2017 to take over the investigation. The inquiry has expanded to examine whether President Trump tried to obstruct the investigation itself.

  • Nineteen people — including four Trump associates — and three companies have been indicted in the case. Five have pleaded guilty; 13 are Russians accused of meddling in the election. [See a breakdown of the charges here.]


THE MAJOR FOCUSES OF THE INVESTIGATION

Interference

Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential race and sow discord by spreading inflammatory messages on social media and stealing emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee, which were then strategically released to undermine the Clinton campaign.

Coordination

Investigators are examining what Mr. Trump’s aides and associates knew about Russia’s meddling, particularly the release of thousands of stolen Democratic emails, and whether any of them aided Moscow’s effort.

Obstruction

Mr. Mueller is investigating an array of the president’s actions — including the firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey — to determine whether Mr. Trump sought to impede the investigation into Russia’s actions.

Foreign Influence

Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates ran afoul of American lobbying or anti-corruption laws. Two aides to the Trump campaign, including its onetime chairman, were charged with financial crimes related to their work as advisers to a pro-Russia former president of Ukraine.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/us/politics/russia-investigation-guide.html

National security letter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Green herb with a few tiny yellow-white flowers
Three small white and yellow flowers before green-leaf background
A National security letter issued to the Internet Archive demanding information about a user

A national security letter (NSL) is an administrative subpoena issued by the United States government to gather information for national security purposes.[citation needed] NSLs do not require prior approval from a judge. The Stored Communications ActFair Credit Reporting Act, and Right to Financial Privacy Act authorize the United States government to seek such information that is “relevant” to authorized national security investigations. By law, NSLs can request only non-content information, for example, transactional records and phone numbers dialed, but never the content of telephone calls or e-mails.[1]

NSLs typically contain a nondisclosure requirement forbidding the recipient of an NSL from disclosing that the FBI had requested the information.[2] The nondisclosure provision must be authorized by the Director of the FBI, and only after he or she certifies “that otherwise there may result a danger to the national security of the United States, interference with a criminal, counterterrorism, or counterintelligence investigation, interference with diplomatic relations, or danger to the life or physical safety of any person.”[3] Even then, the recipient of the NSL may still challenge the nondisclosure provision in federal court.[4]

The constitutionality of such nondisclosure provisions has been repeatedly challenged. The requirement was initially ruled to be unconstitutional as an infringement of free speech in the Doe v. Gonzales case, but that decision was later vacated in 2008 by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals after it held the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act gave the recipient of an NSL that included a nondisclosure provision the right to challenge the nondisclosure provision in federal court. In March 2013, a judge in the Northern District of California held the nondisclosure provision in an NSL was unconstitutional. But on August 24, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. On remand, the district court held the “NSLs were issued in full compliance with the procedural and substantive requirements suggested by the Second Circuit in John Doe, Inc. v. Mukasey, 549 F.3d 861 (2d Cir. 2008), which had held that the 2006 NSL law could be constitutionally applied” … and “the NSL law, as amended [by the USA FREEDOM ACT of 2015], was constitutional.” The two petitioners then appealed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling, holding that NSLs are constitutional, and stated, “the nondisclosure requirement does not run afoul of the First Amendment.” Under Seal v. Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General, Nos. 16-16067, 16-16081, and 16-16082, July 17, 2017.

History

The oldest NSL provisions were created in 1978 as a little-used investigative tool in terrorism and espionage investigations to obtain financial records. Under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA), part of the Financial Institutions Regulatory and Interest Rate Control Act of 1978), the FBI could obtain the records only if the FBI could first demonstrate the person was a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Compliance by the recipient of the NSL was voluntary, and states’ consumer privacy laws often allowed financial institutions to reject the requests.[5] In 1986, Congress amended RFPA to allow the government to request disclosure of the requested information. In 1986, Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), part of the Stored Communications Act), which created provisions similar to the RFPA that allowed the FBI to issue NSLs. Still, neither RFPA or ECPA act included penalties for not complying with the NSL. A 1993 amendment removed the restriction regarding “foreign powers” and allowed the use of NSLs to request information concerning persons who are not the direct subject of the investigation.

In 2001, section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the use of the NSLs. In March 2006, the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act allowed for judicial review of an NSL. A federal judge could repeal or modify an NSL if the court found the request for information was “unreasonable, oppressive, or otherwise unlawful.” The nondisclosure provision the government could include in an NSL was also weakened. The court could repeal the nondisclosure provision if it found it had been made in bad faith. Other amendments allowed the recipient of an NSL to inform their attorney about the request and the government had to rely on the courts to enforce compliance with an NSL.

Patriot Act

Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act (2001) allowed the use of the NSLs when seeking information “relevant” in authorized national security investigations to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. The act also provided the Department of Defense when conducting a law enforcement investigation, counterintelligence inquiry, or security determination. The Central Intelligence Agency has also allegedly issued NSLs.[6] The Patriot Act reauthorization statutes passed during the 109th Congress added potential penalties for failure to comply with an NSL or disclosing an NSL if the NSL included a nondisclosure provision.

Contentious aspects

Two contentious aspects of NSLs are the nondisclosure provision and judicial oversight when the FBI issues an NSL. When the Director of the FBI (or his designee) authorizes the inclusion of a nondisclosure provision in an NSL, the recipient may face criminal prosecution if it reveals the contents of the NSL or that it was received. The purpose of a nondisclosure provision is to prevent the recipient of an NSL from compromising both the current FBI investigation involving a specific person and future investigations as well (see 18 U.S.C. 2709), which could fetter the Government’s efforts to address national security threats.[7] An NSL recipient (later revealed to be Nicholas Merrill[8][9]) writing in The Washington Post said,

“[L]iving under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case…from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been.”[7]

Like other administrative subpoenas, NSLs do not require judicial approval. For NSLs, that is because the U.S. Supreme Court has held the types of information the FBI obtains with NSLs provide no constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy. Because a person has already provided the information to a third party, e.g., their telephone company, they no longer have a reasonable expectation of privacy to the information, and therefore there is no Fourth Amendment requirement to obtain a judge’s approval to obtain the information.[10] Nonetheless, the recipient of the NSL may still challenge the nondisclosure provision in federal court.[11]

The media reported in 2007 that a government audit found the FBI had violated the rules more than 1,000 times in an audit of 10% of its national investigations between 2002 and 2007.[12] Twenty such incidents involved requests by agents for information not permitted under the law. A subsequent report in 2014 by the Justice Department Office of Inspector General concluded the FBI had corrected its practices and that NSLs complied federal statutes.

According to 2,500 pages of documents the FBI provided to the Electronic Frontier Foundation in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the FBI had used NSLs to obtain information about individuals who were the subject of an FBI terrorism or counterintelligence investigation and information from telecommunications companies about individuals with whom the subject of the investigation had communicated. According to a September 9, 2007, New York Times report,

“In many cases, the target of a[n FBI] national security letter whose records are being sought is not necessarily the actual subject of a terrorism investigation. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI must assert only that the records gathered through the letter are considered relevant to a terrorism [or counterintelligence] investigation.”[13]

In April 2008, the