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The Pronk Pops 1110, July 18, 2018, Story 1: Mass Hysteria of Big Lie Media — Pathetic Progressive Propaganda Peddling Meddling Mischief– Blaming Russians for Their Lying Lunatic Leftist Loses — “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Videos — Story 2: More Obama Globalist Propaganda — Takes A Lying Politician To Know One — Obama Keeps On Lying — Obama The Appeaser Did Not Stop China and Russian Interventions in The United States — Unindicted Co-conspirator Obama Lead The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy! — Videos

Posted on July 18, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Currencies, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, James Comey, Killing, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, Mike Pompeo, National Interest, News, Nixon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Radio, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Scandals, Senate, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1110, July 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1109, July 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1108, July 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1107, July 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1106, July 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1105, July 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1104, July 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1103, July 5, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1102, JUly 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1101, July 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1100, June 28, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1099, June 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1098, June 25, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1097, June 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1096, June 20, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1095, June 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1094, June 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1093, June 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1092, June 13, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1091, June 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1090, June 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1088, June 6, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1087, June 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1086, May 31, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1085, May 30, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1084, May 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1083, May 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1082, May 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1081, May 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1078, May 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1077, May 15, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1075, May 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1073, May 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1072, May 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1071, May 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1069, May 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1068, April 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1067, April 25, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1066, April 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1065, April 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1064, April 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1063, April 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1062, April 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1061, April 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1060, April 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1059, April 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1058, April 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1057, April 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1056, April 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1055, April 2, 2018

 

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Story 1: Mass Hysteria of Big Lie Media — Pathetic Progressive Propaganda Peddling Meddling Mischief– Blaming Russians for Their Lying Lunatic Leftist Loses — “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Videos —

YouTube Debate: Would You Meet with Iran/Syria/North Korea?

Obama on meeting anti-US leaders

Tucker: The main reason Trump’s Russia critics hate him

Bruce: Americans know Trump loves the US

Analyzing the media coverage of the Trump-Putin summit

‘Special Report’ panel on fallout from Trump-Putin summit

Rand Paul sides with Trump over US intel

Sen. Rand Paul on John Brennan, the Mueller Investigation, and Diplomacy – July 18, 2018

Sen. Rand Paul Discusses Trump-Putin Meeting with Neil Cavuto – July 16, 2018

Mark Levin on media freakout over Trump-Putin summit

RUSH: What’s really behind this hysteria over Trump-Putin meeting? (July 17 2018)

Tomi Lahren slams selective outrage from the left on Russia

Ann Coulter Responds to the Trump-Putin Summit

Dr. Sebastian Gorka sounds off about the Helsinki hysteria

Dr. Gorka on the left’s reaction to the Trump-Putin summit

Hannity: Worst 24 hours in history of mainstream media

Trump Capitulates And Reads Incongruous Apologia, Still Distrusts Intel Fantasy of Russian Collusion

Ignore Leftie News Sockpuppets: Trump Was Magnificent With Putin in Helsinki, We’re Lucky He’s POTUS

Irin Burnett: How stupid does Trump think we are?

‘Sounds Like Collusion’: Hannity Rips Media for ‘Double Standard’

Ingraham: Trump Committed ‘Unforced Error,’ But Critics Should Look at His Actions Against Russia

Trump: Witch hunt drove a phony wedge between US, Russia

Anderson Cooper: Disgraceful performance by Trump during Putin meeting

John King on Trump: Never seen a president surrender to Russia

President Donald Trump Accused of Committing Treason | Good Morning Britain

Schumer: Possibility that Putin has damaging info on Trump

‘Nothing Short of Treasonous’: Former CIA Director Brennan Blasts Trump After Appearance With Putin

Aspects of Collective Behavior: Fads, Mass Hysteria, and Riots | Behavior | MCAT | Khan Academy

 

Mass Hysteria

by Mike Mish Shedlock

The mass hysteria following Trump’s meeting with Putin is likely to last for days. Most are outraged. Few see the light.

My article Congratulations to President Trump for an Excellent Summit with Putin spawned numerous some I could not tell if they were sarcastic or not.

For example, reader Brian stated ” There is zero doubt now that Putin stole the election from Hillary. So much so that she MUST be given the nomination again in 2020. All potential challengers must step aside. To refuse her the 2020 nomination would be evidence of traitorous activities with Putin.”‘

I congratulated Brian for brilliant sarcasm but he piled on. It now seems he was serious.

Mainstream media, the Left an the Right were in general condemnation.

Numerous cries of treason emerged from the Left and the Right (see the above link)

It Happened – No Trial Necessary

A friend I highly respect commented “There is simply no question that they did it. You can legitimately claim that it’s not important or that there has been no tie to Trump shown. On the Russians’ side, they can say, screw off, we were pursuing our interests. But you can’t take the view it did not happen. It happened.

There is a question who did it. Indictments are just that, not proof.

The US fabricated evidence to start the Vietnam war and the US fabricated WMD talk on the second war in Iraq. US intelligence had no idea the Berlin Wall was about to fall. The US meddled in Russia supporting a drunk named Yeltsin because we erroneously thought we could control him.

They Are All Liars

It’s a mystery why anyone would believe these proven liars. That does not mean I believe Putin either. They are all capable liars.

Let’s step back from the absurd points of view to reality.

US Meddling

The US tries to influence elections in other countries and has a history of assisting the forcible overthrow of governments we don’t like.

  • Vietnam
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Drone policy

All of the above are massive disasters of US meddling. They are all actions of war, non-declared, and illegal.

I cannot and do not condone such actions even if they were legal.

911 and ISIS resulted from US meddling. The migration crisis in the EU is a direct consequence of US meddling. The Iranian revolution was a direct consequence of US meddling.

Now we are pissing and moaning that Russia spent a few million dollars on Tweets to steal the election. Please be serious.

Let’s Assume

Let’s assume for one second the DNC hack was Russia-based.

Is there a reason to not be thankful for evidence that Hillary conspired to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination?

Pity Hillary?

We are supposed to pity Hillary?

The outrage from the Right is amazing.

It’s pretty obvious Senator John McCain wanted her to win. Neither faced a war or military intervention they disapproved of.

Common Sense

Let’s move on to a common sense position from Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept.

Greenwald vs. Joe Cirincione

​GLENN GREENWALD: In 2007, during the Democratic presidential debate, Barack Obama was asked whether he would meet with the leaders of North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Iran without preconditions. He said he would. Hillary Clinton said she wouldn’t, because it would be used as a propaganda tool for repressive dictators. And liberals celebrated Obama. It was one of his greatest moments and one of the things that I think helped him to win the Democratic nomination, based on the theory that it’s always better to meet with leaders, even if they’re repressive, than to isolate them or to ignore them. In 1987, when President Reagan decided that he wanted to meet with Soviet leaders, the far right took out ads against him that sounded very much just like what we just heard from Joe, accusing him of being a useful idiot to Soviet and Kremlin propaganda, of legitimizing Russian aggression and domestic repression at home.

GLENN GREENWALD: It is true that Putin is an authoritarian and is domestically repressive. That’s true of many of the closest allies of the United States, as well, who are even far more repressive, including ones that fund most of the think tanks in D.C., such as the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. And I think the most important issue is the one that we just heard, which is that 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are in the hands of two countries—the United States and Russia—and having them speak and get along is much better than having them isolate one another and increase the risk of not just intentional conflict, but misperception and miscommunication, as well.

JOE CIRINCIONE: Right. Let’s be clear. Glenn, there’s nothing wrong with meeting. I agree with you. Leaders should meet, and we should be negotiating with our foes, with those people we disagree with. We’re better off when we do that. And the kind of attacks you saw on Barack Obama were absolutely uncalled for, and you’re right to condemn those.

JOE CIRINCIONE: What I’m worried about is this president meeting with this leader of Russia and what they’re going to do. That’s what’s so wrong about this summit coming now, when you have Donald Trump, who just attacked the NATO alliance, who calls our European allies foes, who turns a blind eye to what his director of national intelligence called the warning lights that are blinking red. About what? About Russian interference in our elections. So you just had a leader of Russia, Putin, a skilled tactician, a skilled strategist, interfere in a U.S. election. To what? To help elect Donald Trump.

GLENN GREENWALD: I think this kind of rhetoric is so unbelievably unhinged, the idea that the phishing links sent to John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee are the greatest threat to American democracy in decades. People are now talking about it as though it’s on par with 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, that the lights are blinking red, in terms of the threat level. This is lunacy, this kind of talk. I spent years reading through the most top-secret documents of the NSA, and I can tell you that not only do they send phishing links to Russian agencies of every type continuously on a daily basis, but do far more aggressive interference in the cybersecurity of every single country than Russia is accused of having done during the 2016 election. To characterize this as some kind of grave existential threat to American democracy is exactly the kind of rhetoric that we heard throughout the Bush-Cheney administration about what al-Qaeda was like.

JOE CIRINCIONE: Why does Donald Trump feel that he has to meet alone with Putin? What is going on there? I mean, that—when Ronald Reagan met with Gorbachev at Reykjavik, at least he had George Shultz with him. The two of them, you know, were meeting with Gorbachev and his foreign minister at the time. This is—it’s deeply disturbing. It makes you feel that Trump is hiding something, that he is either trying to make a deal with Putin, reporting something to Putin. I tell you, I know U.S. intelligence officials—I’m probably going right into Glenn’s wheelhouse here. But U.S. intelligence officials are concerned about what Donald Trump might be revealing to the Russian leader, the way he revealed classified information to the Russian foreign minister when he met privately with him in the Oval Office at the beginning of his term. No, I don’t like it one bit.

GLENN GREENWALD: I continue to be incredibly frustrated by the claim that we hear over and over, and that we just heard from Joe, that Donald Trump does everything that Vladimir Putin wants, and that if he were a paid agent of the Russian government, there’d be—he would be doing nothing different. I just went through the entire list of actions that Donald Trump has taken and statements that he has made that are legitimately adverse to the interest of the Russian government, that Barack Obama specifically refused to do, despite bipartisan demands that he do them, exactly because he didn’t want to provoke more tensions between the United States and Russia. Sending lethal arms to Ukraine, bordering Russia, is a really serious adverse action against the interest of the Russian government. Bombing the Assad regime is, as well. Denouncing one of the most critical projects that the Russian government has, which is the pipeline to sell huge amounts of gas and oil to Germany, is, as well. So is expelling Russian diplomats and imposing serious sanctions on oligarchs that are close to the Putin regime. You can go down the list, over and over and over, in the 18 months that he’s been in office, and see all the things that Donald Trump has done that is adverse, in serious ways, to the interests of Vladimir Putin, including ones that President Obama refused to do. So, this film, this movie fairytale, that I know is really exciting—it’s like international intrigue and blackmail, like the Russians have something over Trump; it’s like a Manchurian candidate; it’s from like the 1970s thrillers that we all watched—is inane—you know, with all due respect to Joe. I mean, it’s—but it’s in the climate, because it’s so contrary to what it is that we’re seeing. Now, this idea of meeting alone with Vladimir Putin, the only way that you would find that concerning is if you believed all that.

JOE CIRINCIONE: So, Trump knew that this indictment was coming down, before he went to Europe, and still he never says a word about it. What he does is continue his attacks on our alliances, i.e. he continues his attacks on our free press, he continues his attacks on FBI agents who were just doing their job, and supports this 10-hour show hearing that the House of Representatives had. It’s really unbelievable that Trump is doing these things and never says one word about it. He still has not said a word about those indictments.

GLENN GREENWALD: That’s because the reality is—and I don’t know if Donald Trump knows this or doesn’t know this, has stumbled into the truth or what—but the reality is that what the Russians did in 2016 is absolutely not aberrational or unusual in any way. The United—I’m sorry to say this, but it’s absolutely true. The United States and Russia have been interfering in one another’s domestic politics for since at least the end of World War II, to say nothing of what they do in far more extreme ways to the internal politics of other countries. Noam Chomsky was on this very program several months ago, and he talked about how the entire world is laughing at this indignation from the United States—”How dare you interfere in our democracy!”—when the United States not only has continuously in the past done, but continues to do far more extreme interference in the internal politics of all kinds of countries, including Russia.

GLENN GREENWALDThe United States funds oppositional groups inside Russia. The United States sent advisers and all kinds of operatives to try and elect Boris Yeltsin in the mid-1990s, because they perceived, accurately, that he was a drunk who would serve the interests of the United States more than other candidates who might have won. The United States interferes in Russian politics, and they interfere in their cyber systems, and they invade their email systems, and they invade all kinds of communications all the time. And so, to treat this as though it’s some kind of aberrational event, I think, is really kind of naive.

GLENN GREENWALD: It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton in 2016 who lost this election. The entire Democratic Party has collapsed as a national political force over the last decade. They’ve lost control of the Senate and of the House and of multiple statehouses and governorships. They’re decimated as a national political force. And the reason is exactly what Joe said. They become the party of international globalization. They’re associated with Silicon Valley and Wall Street billionaires and corporate interests, and have almost no connection to the working class. And that is a much harder conversation to have about why the Democrats have lost elections than just blaming a foreign villain and saying it’s because Vladimir Putin ran some fake Facebook ads and did some phishing emails. And I think that until we put this in perspective, about what Russia did in 2016 and the reality that the U.S. does that sort of thing all the time to Russia and so many other countries, we’re going to just not have the conversation that we need to be having about what these international institutions, that are so sacred—NATO and free trade and international trade organizations—have done to people all over the world, and the reason they’re turning to demagogues and right-wing extremists because of what these institutions have done to them. That’s the conversation we need to be having, but we’re not having, because we’re evading it by blaming everything on Vladimir Putin. And that, to me, is even more dangerous for our long-term prospects than this belligerence that’s in the air about how we ought to look at Moscow.

Indictments and First Year Law

Mish: I now wish to return to a statement my friend made regarding the idea “No question Russia did it“.

From Glenn Greenwald

As far as the indictments from Mueller are concerned, it’s certainly the most specific accounting yet that we’ve gotten of what the U.S. government claims the Russian government did in 2016. But it’s extremely important to remember what every first-year law student will tell you, which is that an indictment is nothing more than the assertions of a prosecutor unaccompanied by evidence. The evidence won’t be presented until a trial or until Robert Mueller actually issues a report to Congress. And so, I would certainly hope that we are not at the point, which I think we seem to be at, where we are now back to believing that when the CIA makes statements and assertions and accusations, or when prosecutors make statements and assertions and accusations, unaccompanied by evidence that we can actually evaluate, that we’re simply going to believe those accusations on faith, especially when the accusations come from George W. Bush’s former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who repeatedly lied to Congress about Iraq and a whole variety of other issues. So, I think there we need some skepticism. But even if the Russians did everything that Robert Mueller claims in that indictment that they did, in the scheme of what the U.S. and the Russians do to one another and other countries, I think to say that this is somehow something that we should treat as a grave threat, that should mean that we don’t talk to them or that we treat them as an enemy, is really irrational and really quite dangerous.

Mish – Six Questions

  1. Is this a trial or a witch hunt?
  2. Do we need to see the evidence or do we believe known liars?
  3. Is Trump guilty of treason? Before we even see proof Putin was involved?
  4. Is the CIA incapable of fabricating evidence?
  5. Even if Russia interfered in the election, why should anyone have expected otherwise?
  6. Has everyone forgotten the US lies on WMDs already?

Irrational and Dangerous

I don’t know about you, but I have no reason to believe known liars and hypocrites.

I disagree with Trump all the time, in fact, more often than not.

The amount of venom on Trump over this is staggering.

Adding a missing word, I stand by my previous statement: “Nearly every political action that generates this much complete nonsense and hysteria from the Left and Right is worthy of immense praise.”

If you disagree please provide examples. The only two I can come up with are Pearl Harbor and 911. In both, the US was directly attacked.

For rebuttal purposes I offer Vietnam, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Iran, WWI, treatment of Japanese-American citizens in WWII, and McCarthyism.

Greenwald accurately assesses the situation as “really irrational and really quite dangerous.”

Indeed.

And if indictments and accusations were crimes, we wouldn’t need a jury.

 

How the left’s tactic of mass hysteria against Trump is playing out with the general public

By Rick Moran

Donald Trump has yet to be inaugurated, he has yet to make any specific proposals for legislation, has yet to issue any executive orders, and has yet to even comment on many of the cultural issues that divide America.

That lack of specificity has played directly into the hands of his opponents on the left.  Into the void, the left has substituted mass hysteria about what Trump might do rather than reasoned argument against the positions he took during the campaign.

The left in America doesn’t have that luxury – at least, not officially.  But there is little doubt that their attempts to massively exaggerate the danger of a Trump presidency to certain minority groups has found a mainstream media compliant, even eager in their efforts to conciously aid in spreading propaganda, hyperbole, even lies in the cause of opposing Trump.

How is the left’s campaign to convince large numbers of people that their freedoms, even their lives are in danger going?

Not bad at all.

Huffington Post asked 14 women who never participated in a demonstration before why they were going to take part in the Women’s March on Washington later this week.  Here are some of the answers:

I’m attending the march with my partner because I’m gay, scared and I want to be a part of history. The day after the election, three young white men came up to her and started yelling “Trump!” I went to a few of the protests in New York City and posted about it on Facebook, and I got horrible backlash, mostly from men I don’t know. I’ve also had extended family comment on some of my political posts. One went on a rant cursing all over my page. But I’m not going to make myself small to make others feel comfortable.

I actually have been to a march before, but not really by choice. When I was 15, I attended a Christian high school that was very pro-life and I did the March for Life. I was really afraid of hell and I had some sense that I was queer, so I was absolutely terrified. I went to the march because I felt like God would love me if I did. I remember holding up a big sign with all these photoshopped images of dead fetuses. It was traumatic.

What is this young, gay woman so scared of?  During the campaign, a gay Republican wrote on op-ed in the gay publication The Blade and put it simply:

The fact is that any honest look at Trump’s record and views on gay rights shows that most of the attacks by gay Democrats on his views are simply incorrect.

In fact, the attacks on Trump’s record on gay rights are dishonest.  Trump has been a social liberal most of his life, although he has trimmed some of those views to satisfy culturally conservative Republican voters.  He has been a passionate supporter of anti-discrimination laws against gays since 2000 and became the first GOP nominee to acknowledge the LGBT community in his acceptance speech.  He has come out strongly against violence directed at gays.  Again, what does this woman have to fear from a Trump presidency?

I’m going to take the bus in for the day. So far, I’m going alone, but I’m trying to convince my mother and some friends to come with me. Either way, I feel like I have to march because I’m frightened. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I don’t wear the hijab, but I think a lot about why my reaction would be if I saw someone else being harassed. I’m a protector and I worry about how defensive I would get.

I’m very excited not only for this first march, but to be part of a movement. I’m not just a woman. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I represent a lot of different groups and to me, this is about sending a message about civil rights on a broader scale.

There has been some highly publicized incidents of morons making idiots of themselves by harassing or even attacking Muslims – just as there have been morons making idiots of themselves attacking Trump supporters.  We don’t see mass hysteria among Trump supporters because the media really don’t care if they’re attacked or harassed.  But Trump’s election has clearly generated strong feelings against one’s political opponents, and the press have been willing partners in promoting the hate.

Sidney: I feel like it’s my obligation to support my wife and to be a man who stands up for women in these times. We’re taking alarming steps back in the fight for women’s rights and equality. I don’t want our side to falter. We need to stand up against belligerent cynicism and misguided machismo.

What legal “steps back” for women have there been under Trump?  None, of course, because he hasn’t even taken office yet.  But there has been a constant babble for the last several years that has implied that all men are rapists, or could be rapists, and any expression of masculinity threatens women.  This is an example of what could happen under a Trump presidency – that is, if Trump is as evil and misogynistic as the left says he is.

I am a 38-year-old mother of four and I will be flying to D.C. for the march with my sister, mother and niece. This election has brought out a fierceness in me that I didn’t know I had, mostly because of my children and my health. My kids are biracial (Korean and white) and are being raised in a small, mostly Republican farm community. My daughter has come home from school telling me that the kids there were afraid for her that Trump would “send her back to where she came from.” That really jarred me.

I’m also a breast cancer survivor. A lot of the women in my family are breast cancer survivors. We’ve always made it a point to get together and do breast cancer walks, but we have never done anything political. This feels big. I fear the day when [Republicans] do away with the Affordable Care Act, and my preexisting condition makes me ineligible for insurance.

Another example of someone getting hysterical over absolutely nothing.  It is very likely that the Obamacare requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions will remain in any replacement legislation.  Few Republicans have come out in favor of repealing that requirement.  But the left has ginned up fear and terror among sick people that they will all lose their insurance when Obamacare is repealed.

Mass hysteria is a kind of delusion that fits well with people who consider themselves “victims.”  This virulent form of Trump hate is easy to promote, given that so many Americans are comfortable with the “victim” label and can’t imagine life without it.  But the reality is, even if you’re a Trump-hater like me, a reasonable person would give the new president a chance to prove his detractors right or wrong.

Unfortunately, reason left the building in November.

Donald Trump has yet to be inaugurated, he has yet to make any specific proposals for legislation, has yet to issue any executive orders, and has yet to even comment on many of the cultural issues that divide America.

That lack of specificity has played directly into the hands of his opponents on the left.  Into the void, the left has substituted mass hysteria about what Trump might do rather than reasoned argument against the positions he took during the campaign.

As a political tactic, generating mass hysteria against an opponent has been wildly successful in history.  The two largest purveyors of mass hysteria – Nazi Germany and Communist Russia – used the ploy to convince large majorities of their populations of a clear and present danger in society, be it the Jews or “counterrevolutionaries.”  In this, they were ably aided by a captive media, where the state controlled all information disseminated to the public.

The left in America doesn’t have that luxury – at least, not officially.  But there is little doubt that their attempts to massively exaggerate the danger of a Trump presidency to certain minority groups has found a mainstream media compliant, even eager in their efforts to conciously aid in spreading propaganda, hyperbole, even lies in the cause of opposing Trump.

How is the left’s campaign to convince large numbers of people that their freedoms, even their lives are in danger going?

Not bad at all.

Huffington Post asked 14 women who never participated in a demonstration before why they were going to take part in the Women’s March on Washington later this week.  Here are some of the answers:

I’m attending the march with my partner because I’m gay, scared and I want to be a part of history. The day after the election, three young white men came up to her and started yelling “Trump!” I went to a few of the protests in New York City and posted about it on Facebook, and I got horrible backlash, mostly from men I don’t know. I’ve also had extended family comment on some of my political posts. One went on a rant cursing all over my page. But I’m not going to make myself small to make others feel comfortable.

I actually have been to a march before, but not really by choice. When I was 15, I attended a Christian high school that was very pro-life and I did the March for Life. I was really afraid of hell and I had some sense that I was queer, so I was absolutely terrified. I went to the march because I felt like God would love me if I did. I remember holding up a big sign with all these photoshopped images of dead fetuses. It was traumatic.

What is this young, gay woman so scared of?  During the campaign, a gay Republican wrote on op-ed in the gay publication The Blade and put it simply:

The fact is that any honest look at Trump’s record and views on gay rights shows that most of the attacks by gay Democrats on his views are simply incorrect.

In fact, the attacks on Trump’s record on gay rights are dishonest.  Trump has been a social liberal most of his life, although he has trimmed some of those views to satisfy culturally conservative Republican voters.  He has been a passionate supporter of anti-discrimination laws against gays since 2000 and became the first GOP nominee to acknowledge the LGBT community in his acceptance speech.  He has come out strongly against violence directed at gays.  Again, what does this woman have to fear from a Trump presidency?

I’m going to take the bus in for the day. So far, I’m going alone, but I’m trying to convince my mother and some friends to come with me. Either way, I feel like I have to march because I’m frightened. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I don’t wear the hijab, but I think a lot about why my reaction would be if I saw someone else being harassed. I’m a protector and I worry about how defensive I would get.

I’m very excited not only for this first march, but to be part of a movement. I’m not just a woman. I’m black. I’m Muslim. I represent a lot of different groups and to me, this is about sending a message about civil rights on a broader scale.

There has been some highly publicized incidents of morons making idiots of themselves by harassing or even attacking Muslims – just as there have been morons making idiots of themselves attacking Trump supporters.  We don’t see mass hysteria among Trump supporters because the media really don’t care if they’re attacked or harassed.  But Trump’s election has clearly generated strong feelings against one’s political opponents, and the press have been willing partners in promoting the hate.

Sidney: I feel like it’s my obligation to support my wife and to be a man who stands up for women in these times. We’re taking alarming steps back in the fight for women’s rights and equality. I don’t want our side to falter. We need to stand up against belligerent cynicism and misguided machismo.

What legal “steps back” for women have there been under Trump?  None, of course, because he hasn’t even taken office yet.  But there has been a constant babble for the last several years that has implied that all men are rapists, or could be rapists, and any expression of masculinity threatens women.  This is an example of what could happen under a Trump presidency – that is, if Trump is as evil and misogynistic as the left says he is.

I am a 38-year-old mother of four and I will be flying to D.C. for the march with my sister, mother and niece. This election has brought out a fierceness in me that I didn’t know I had, mostly because of my children and my health. My kids are biracial (Korean and white) and are being raised in a small, mostly Republican farm community. My daughter has come home from school telling me that the kids there were afraid for her that Trump would “send her back to where she came from.” That really jarred me.

I’m also a breast cancer survivor. A lot of the women in my family are breast cancer survivors. We’ve always made it a point to get together and do breast cancer walks, but we have never done anything political. This feels big. I fear the day when [Republicans] do away with the Affordable Care Act, and my preexisting condition makes me ineligible for insurance.

Another example of someone getting hysterical over absolutely nothing.  It is very likely that the Obamacare requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions will remain in any replacement legislation.  Few Republicans have come out in favor of repealing that requirement.  But the left has ginned up fear and terror among sick people that they will all lose their insurance when Obamacare is repealed.

Mass hysteria is a kind of delusion that fits well with people who consider themselves “victims.”  This virulent form of Trump hate is easy to promote, given that so many Americans are comfortable with the “victim” label and can’t imagine life without it.  But the reality is, even if you’re a Trump-hater like me, a reasonable person would give the new president a chance to prove his detractors right or wrong.

Unfortunately, reason left the building in November.

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/01/how_the_tactic_of_mass_hysteria_against_trump_is_playing_out_with_the_general_public.html#ixzz5Le2TkIzK

 

Interfering In Democratic Elections: Russia Against The U.S., But U.S. Against The World

Doug Bandow

 2,806 views #ForeignAffairs

The Cold War finally and dramatically ended almost 30 years ago when the Berlin Wall fell, soon followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union. But despite the election of Donald Trump, the U.S. and Russia have descended into what increasingly looks like a Little Cold War with Moscow’s decision to expel 755 U.S. diplomats.

The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.President Vladimir Putin on July 30, 2017 said the United States would have to cut 755 diplomatic staff in Russia. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Indeed, paranoia seems more intense in Washington than Moscow. Democrats and Republicans alike have convinced themselves that Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation, a shadow of the old U.S.S.R., threaten the combined colossus of America and Europe.

Both parties also are angry over Moscow’s apparent interference with the 2016 election. By an almost unanimous vote frenzied legislators voted to tighten sanctions and end the president’s discretion to relax the penalties. Yet Russia’s most rabid critics, such as Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, also are among the most enthusiastic supporters of American intervention overseas, including meddling in other nations’ elections.

Russia behaved badly, but hacking emails which put a candidate in a poor light is much different than manipulating election results. The latter would be extremely serious, threatening a genuinely vital American interest, in free and fair elections. For that reason the controversy should act as Thomas Jefferson’s famous “fire bell in the night” and force states in particular to improve election security. Imagine the constitutional crisis if Moscow had changed the election outcome.

Of course, hacking the campaign still was illegal and improper. Nevertheless, it didn’t undermine the election process. After all, revealing hidden truths about one of the candidates actually increased voter knowledge. The method was wrong, but the result was positive. In fact, Ukraine engaged in a more limited and less intrusive effort on behalf of Hillary Clinton, mostly researching and disseminating embarrassing information about the Trump campaign.

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In any case, Russia’s presumed Clinton hack seems minor compared to attempts by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recently invested heavily to win Washington’s support against Qatar, creating the spectacle of countries which have financed terrorism accusing a neighbor of financing terrorism.

Israel’s political influence is legendary. There may be no more powerful lobby, domestic or foreign, with a greater stranglehold over policy. Simply attempting to debate the issue is politically dangerous for Israel’s critics. Turkey and Greece routinely battle each other. Other countries hire lobbyists, some permanently. That’s no surprise: the U.S. imposes itself on other nations, which understandably seek to turn that power to their advantage or forestall its use against them.

Most striking about the ongoing controversy is how U.S. policymakers appear oblivious to the fact that America has routinely interfered in other nations’ elections. Washington is understandably outraged that someone else would interfere with Americans’ sacred right to choose their own government. However, the same officials believe that they have a sacred right to interfere with the right of others to choose their own governments. Sadly, Russia’s efforts really were not “unprecedented,” as claimed by Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy Vladimir Korolev (L) watch a terrestrial globe while visiting Russia’s Navy Headquarters during Navy Day in Saint Petersburg on July 30, 2017. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Some of America’s foreign interventions have been dramatic and violent. Washington backed the 1973 ouster of Chilean President Salvador Allende. Thankfully years of brutal repression passed into history as the country returned to democracy. But the U.S. continues to pay the price of its support for the coup which overthrew Iran’s elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossedegh in 1953. The victorious Shah ruled for a quarter century, but then was overthrown by an Islamic revolution, the consequences of which continue to roil the Middle East and U.S. policy.

More common has been more mundane electoral interference—closer to the Russian model. Indeed, Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University identified 81 instances between 1946 and 2000 in which Washington attempted to influence other nations’ elections. (In contrast, the Soviet Union did so less than half as often, 36 times.) Levin does not include in this number coups and other post-election “remedies,” such as in Chile and Iran.

During the Cold War America’s focus was containing communism. Explained Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment: “The U.S. didn’t want to see left-wing governments elected and so it did engage fairly often in trying to influence elections in other countries.”  However, attitudes in Washington haven’t changed much. In 2014 the U.S. backed a street putsch against the elected Ukrainian president and then American officials shamelessly plotted to get their favored candidate appointed prime minister.

The U.S. uses numerous tools to advance its interests. Explained Nina Agrawal of the Los Angeles Times: “These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.”

It’s not clear how much impact Washington’s efforts had: Levin figured the vote increase for U.S.-backed candidates averaged three percent. The consequences often didn’t seem to satisfy Washington; in almost half of the cases America intervened at least a second time in the same country’s electoral affairs.

Ironically, given the outrage directed at Moscow today, in 1996 Washington did what it could to ensure the reelection of Boris Yeltsin over the communist opposition. The U.S. backed a $10.2 billion IMF loan, an ill-disguised bribe were used by the Yeltsin government for social spending before the election. Americans also went over to Russia to help. Time magazine placed Boris Yeltsin on the cover holding an American flag; the article was entitled “Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.”

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris, France, Friday, June 2, 2006.  (Photographer: Caroline Blumberg/Bloomberg News.)

However, America’s election interventions started decades before. Levin pointed to the 1948 Italian poll, into which the U.S. “threw everything, including the kitchen sink.” The U.S. provided money for pork barrel projects, experts to run the campaign, and cash for campaign expenses, as well as threatened to cut aid if the Communists triumphed. CIA case officer F. Mark Wyatt remembered: “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets.” Washington didn’t stop then: it intervened in seven subsequent Italian elections. Japan came in second with five separate interventions. Israel, Laos, and Sri Lanka shared third place at four times.

Not all meddling was tied to the Cold War. After the overthrow of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the U.S. supported opponents, including military officers, against popular (and elected) demagogue Jean-Bertrande Aristide. Ironically, President Bill Clinton later threatened to invade if the military did not yield control back to Aristide.

In 1990 the U.S. mimicked Russia’s apparent efforts last year by leaking information on alleged corruption by Sandinista leader (and again now president) Daniel Ortega to German newspapers. The winning opposition candidate used the information to her advantage. Also in 1990 Washington provided aid, money and training to Vaclav Havel’s party in that nation’s first free election since the takeover by Nazi Germany decades before.

Two years ago Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to influence the debate over the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran. But the U.S. preceded his meddling by a couple of decades. In 1996 the Clinton Administration supported Shimon Peres against Netanyahu, hosting a peace conference and White House summit in advance of Israel’s vote. Three years later Clinton administration political strategists decamped to Israel to assist Ehud Barak against Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (Photo: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

In 2000 Washington backed opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica against Slobodan Milosevic, America’s beta noire in the Balkans. The U.S. provided money and communications equipment to the opposition, which Levin figured was critical for Kostunica’s victory. The U.S. subsequently turned against Kostunica for being too independent, and used “pro-democracy” financial aid to help his opponents.

There’s no authoritative list of countries in which Washington intervened in elections, since the form of involvement varied widely. However, according to Levin and Michael Brenner of the University of Pittsburgh, countries suffering from America’s malign attention included: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic,  Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malta, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Yugoslavia.

When Washington admits to its role, it claims to be nonpartisan. For instance, in Russia the U.S. would did nothing wrong, wrote Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, since Washington would merely “help fund some of the country’s leading nongovernmental organizations.” However, groups backed by the West typically lean toward the West and rarely look disinterested to the governments they criticize.

In fact, U.S.-backed organizations participated in the “color revolutions” and Arab Spring. Joseph Thomas of the Thai journal The New Atlas said of their activities: such groups “as well as myriad fronts around the world … fund, support and direct, are openly dedicated to manipulating foreign elections, creating U.S.-friendly opposition movements and even overthrowing governments that impede U.S. interests worldwide.”

Washington’s objective is clear, and it is not democracy in the abstract. American groups such as the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute choose who and how to help. Complained my colleague Ted Galen Carpenter: “The reality is that they fund and help train political factions that are deemed friendly to the United States, and specifically to Washington’s foreign policy.” In one Balkan nation a friend informedme that the ambassador forbade officials from even meeting with democratically elected parliamentarians deemed too nationalist and insufficiently pro-EU. America was never very interested in supporting “color revolutions” against its allies, irrespective of how tyrannical.

At least Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) acknowledged the appearance problem caused by promiscuous American election interference: “we live in a big glass house and there are a lot of rocks to throw.”

President George W. Bush makes remarks at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, emphasizing his push for democratic changes in the Middle East 06 November, 2003, in Washington, DC. (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, there is an obvious logic to U.S. behavior. American officials want to secure the U.S. from foreign interference while helping advance Washington’s international interests by supporting friendly politicians, movements, and parties in as many foreign states as possible. However, such dramatic inconsistency has become even more embarrassing with all the sanctimonious rhetoric regarding Russia’s conduct emanating from Washington.

The Trump administration should make the security of America’s elections a priority. Russia should know that any future attempt to interfere in U.S. elections would result in serious retaliation. However, Washington should begin with a pledge to stay out of other nations’ elections. Let people in a democracy make their own choices and select their own leaders. After all, if that policy is appropriate for America, it should be right for the world’s other democracies as well.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/08/01/interfering-in-democratic-elections-russia-against-the-u-s-but-u-s-against-the-world/#28358d7e6644

 

Database Tracks History Of U.S. Meddling In Foreign Elections

NPR’s Ari Shapiro talks to Carnegie Mellon University researcher Dov Levin about his historical database that tracks U.S. involvement in meddling with foreign elections over the years.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This is hardly the first time a country has tried to influence the outcome of another country’s election. The U.S. has done it, too, by one expert’s count, more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. That expert is Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. I asked him to tell me about one election where U.S. intervention likely made a difference in the outcome.

DOV LEVIN: One example of that was our intervention in Serbia, Yugoslavia in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milosevic was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power there due to his tendency, you know, to disrupts the Balkans and his human rights violations.

So we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica. And we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. And according to my estimate, that assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win.

SHAPIRO: How often are these interventions public versus covert?

LEVIN: Well, it’s – basically there’s about – one-third of them are public, and two-third of them are covert. In other words, they’re not known to the voters in the target before the election.

SHAPIRO: Your count does not include coups, attempts at regime change. It sounds like depending on the definitions, the tally could actually be much higher.

LEVIN: Well, you’re right. I don’t count and discount covert coup d’etats like the United States did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. I only took when the United States is trying directly to influence an election for one of the sides. Other types of interventions – I don’t discuss. But if we would include those, then of course the number could be larger, yeah.

SHAPIRO: How often do other countries like Russia, for example, try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the United States?

LEVIN: Well, for my dataset, the United States is the most common user of this technique. Russia or the Soviet Union since 1945 has used it half as much. My estimate has been 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know also that the Chinese have used this technique and the Venezuelans when the late Hugo Chavez was still in power in Venezuela and other countries.

SHAPIRO: The U.S. is arguably more vocal than any other country about trying to promote democracy and democratic values around the world. Does this strike you as conflicting with that message?

LEVIN: It depends upon if we are assisting pro-democratic side – could be like in the case of Slobodan Milosevic that I talked about earlier. I believe that that could be helpful for democracy. If it helps less-nicer candidates or parties, then naturally it can be less helpful.

SHAPIRO: Obviously your examination of 20th century attempts to influence elections does not involve hacking because computers were not widespread until recently.

LEVIN: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: In your view, is technology – the way that we saw in the November election – dramatically changing the game? Or is this just the latest evolution of an effort that has always used whatever tools are available?

LEVIN: I would say it’s more the latter. I mean the Russians or the Soviets before unfrequently did these type of intervention, just, you know, without the cyber-hacking tools – you know, the old style people meeting in the park in secret giving out and getting information and things like that, so to speak.

SHAPIRO: Dov Levin is with the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University. Thanks for joining us.

LEVIN: Thank you very much.

https://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506625913/database-tracks-history-of-u-s-meddling-in-foreign-elections

 

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President Obama delivers the Nelson Mandela Lecture in South Africa

REPLAY – Former US president Barack Obama honours Nelson Mandela on the centerary of his birth

Obama sounds off on “lying politicians” in speech

‘Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly’: Key moments from Obama’s Mandela lecture

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Obama made a rare public appearance to deliver a biting critique of Trump’s worldview — without saying his name

Obama

President Barack Obama delivered a speech in honor of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday in South Africa on Tuesday.

 Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

  • Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered a sharp rebuke of his successor’s worldview.
  • Obama delivered the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in South Africa, slamming “strongman politics” and the rejection of intellectualism he feels is permeating today’s political culture.
  • Obama did not once say President Donald Trump’s name during the address, but his words represented a biting critique of the current president’s political philosophy.
  • Obama concluded his speech by encouraging young people to stay politically active and have faith in democracy despite how “slow” and “frustrating” it can be at times.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered a sharp rebuke of his successor’s worldview as he delivered the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in South Africa, slamming “strongman politics” and the rejection of intellectualism he feels is permeating today’s political culture.

Obama did not once say President Donald Trump’s name during the address, held one day before what would’ve been Mandela’s 100th birthday. But his target was clear as he offered a biting critique of the current president’s political philosophy.

The former president used the speech as an opportunity to outline what he views as troubling trends in the political arena.

—CBS News (@CBSNews) July 17, 2018 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed” style=”box-sizing: border-box; margin: 20px 0px;”>

CBS News

@CBSNews

Obama: “Strong man politics are ascendant suddenly. Whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained the form of it. But those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.” https://cbsn.ws/2JvKIhe 

“Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly,” Obama said. “Whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it. But those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”

‘The free press is under attack’

As Trump on Tuesday again used Twitter to denounce “Fake News,” a phrase he typically employs in response to negative coverage of his actions or rhetoric, Obama said that “the free press is under attack.”

Obama also urged people to reject xenophobia and “rabid nationalism,” warning that history shows countries that embrace “doctrines of tribal, racial, or religious superiority” eventually “find themselves consumed by civil war or external war.”

—CBS News (@CBSNews) July 17, 2018 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js ” data-e2e-name=”embed-container” data-media-container=”embed” style=”box-sizing: border-box; margin: 20px 0px;”>

CBS News

@CBSNews

“The fact that countries which rely on rabid nationalism and xenophobia and doctrines of religious or racial superiority… Eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil or external war,” Obama says during keynote speech https://cbsn.ws/2JvKIhe 

“You can be proud of your heritage without denigrating those of a different heritage,” Obama added.

Obama’s speech came after Trump’s high-profile visit to Europe, which Trump claimed was losing its “culture” because of immigration policies.

“These people who are so intent on putting people down and puffing themselves up, they’re small-hearted,” Obama said. “There’s something they’re just afraid of.”

‘You have to believe in facts’

In addition to warning against the dangers of excessive nationalism, the former president expressed concern over the apparent rejection of objective truth among leaders.

“You have to believe in facts. Without facts, there’s no basis for cooperation,” Obama said, adding: “Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up.”

An analysis from The Washington Post in May found that Trump had made at least 3,001 false or misleading claims so far as president.

Obama concluded his speech by encouraging young people to stay politically active and to have faith in democracy despite how “slow” and “frustrating” it can be at times.

“Keep believing. Keep marching. Keep building. Keep raising your voice. Every generation has the opportunity to remake the world,” Obama said. “Mandela said, ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ Now is a good time to be aroused.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-speech-in-south-africa-trump-transcript-2018-7?r=UK&IR=T

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1109, Story 1: Trump’s Misspoke Clarification — Hate America Democrats (HAD) and Warmongering Neocons Hysterical Breakdown Over Trump/Putin Peace Summit Success — Peace Through Strength — The Trump Russian Collusion Lie Dead — Mueller is Done — Move Along — Getting to Know You —  Videos — Story 2: U.S. Economy and Employment Improving — Federal Reserve Will Increase Fed Funds Target Rate — Rising Interest Rates — Videos

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Story 1: Trump’s Misspoke Clarification — Hate America Democrats (HAD) and Warmongering Neocons Hysterical Breakdown Over Trump/Putin Peace Summit Success — Peace Through Strength — The Trump Russian Collusion Lie Dead — Mueller is Done — Move Along — Getting to Know You —  Videos —

Trump on election hacking: Don’t see why it would be Russia

Trump describes how he misspoke about Russian interference

Trump claims he misspoke about Russia, immediately contradicts himself

The Five Tackles Trump Russia Fallout:Saying Whether You Believe US Intel or Putin Not a Hard Answer

Gloria Borger: Trump looked like he was in a hostage tape

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

‘Tucker’ preview: Trump on ‘bad people’ Brennan, FBI lovers

The world watches as Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki

Rand Paul sides with Trump over US intel

Trump on Putin summit: We came to a lot of good conclusions

Chris Wallace interviews Russian President Vladimir Putin

Chris Wallace confronts Putin with Mueller indictment

Getting to Know You from The King and I

Trump corrects his quote, says misspoke on Russian meddling

WASHINGTON (AP) — Blistered by bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, President Donald Trump sought Tuesday to “clarify” his public undermining of American intelligence agencies, saying he had misspoken when he said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

“The sentence should have been, ’I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia” instead of “why it would,” Trump said, in a rare admission of error by the bombastic U.S. leader. His comment came — amid rising rebuke by his own party — about 27 hours after his original, widely reported statement, which he made at a Monday summit in Helsinki standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said Tuesday. But he added, as he usually does, “It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”

Moments earlier, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a public reassurance to U.S. allies in NATO and Europe with whom Trump clashed during his frenzied Europe trip last week.

“The European countries are our friends, and the Russians are not,” McConnell said.

A day after U.S. President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump is going back on comments he made during their joint press conference. (July 17)

The scripted cleanup dealt with only the latest of Trump’s problematic statements during his week-long trip, in which he sent the NATO alliance into emergency session and assailed British Prime Minister Theresa May as she was hosting him for an official visit.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump was trying to “squirm away” from his comments alongside Putin. “It’s 24 hours too late and in the wrong place,” he said.

Trump still maintained that his meetings with NATO allies went well and his summit with Putin “even better.”

This reference to diplomatic success carried an edge, too, since the barrage of criticism and insults he delivered in Brussels and London was hardly well-received.

And the reaction back home has been immediate and visceral, among fellow Republicans as well as usual Trump critics. “Shameful,” ″disgraceful,” ″weak,” were a few of the comments. Makes the U.S. “look like a pushover,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

On Capitol Hill, top Republican leaders said they were open to slapping fresh sanctions on Russia but showed no signs of acting any time soon.

In the Senate, Schumer called for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials to appear before Congress and tell exactly what happened during Trump’s two-hour private session with Putin.

Schumer also urged the Senate to take up legislation to boost security for U.S. elections and to revive a measure passed earlier by the Judiciary Committee to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

But minority Democrats have few tools to push their priorities.

In the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi planned a vote Tuesday in support of the intelligence committee’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Senators had floated a similar idea earlier, but The No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said sanctions may be preferable to a nonbinding resolution that amounts to “just some messaging exercise.”

Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the first step was to get Pompeo to appear, “hopefully” next week.

Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki was his first time sharing the international stage with a man he has described as an important U.S. competitor — but whom he has also praised a strong, effective leader.

His remarks, siding with a foe on foreign soil over his own government, was a stark illustration of Trump’s willingness to upend decades of U.S. foreign policy and rattle Western allies in service of his political concerns. A wary and robust stance toward Russia has been a bedrock of his party’s world view. But Trump made clear he feels that any acknowledgement of Russia’s election involvement would undermine the legitimacy of his election.

Standing alongside Putin, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said. That’s the part he corrected on Tuesday.

His Monday statement drew a quick rebuttal from his director of national Intelligence, Dan Coats.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said.

After his walkback on Tuesday, Trump said his administration will “move aggressively” to repel efforts to interfere in American elections.

“We are doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said. “And we have a lot of power.”

Fellow GOP politicians have generally stuck with Trump during a year and a half of turmoil, but he was assailed as seldom before as he returned home Monday night from what he had hoped would be a proud summit with Putin.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona was most outspoken, declaring that Trump made a “conscious choice to defend a tyrant” and achieved “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul emerged as one of the president’s few defenders from his own party. He defended Trump’s skepticism to CBS News Tuesday citing the president’s experience on the receiving end of “partisan investigations.”

Back at the White House, Paul’s comments drew a presidential tweet of gratitude. “Thank you @RandPaul, you really get it!” Trump tweeted.

In all, Trump’s remarks amounted to an unprecedented embrace of a man who for years has been isolated by the U.S. and Western allies for actions in Ukraine, Syria and beyond. And it came at the end of an extraordinary trip to Europe in which Trump had already berated allies, questioned the value of the NATO alliance and demeaned leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May.

In Helsinki, Putin said he had indeed wanted Trump to win the election — a revelation that might have made more headlines if not for Trump’s performance — but had taken no action to make it happen.

“Yes, I wanted him to win because he spoke of normalization of Russian-U.S. ties,” Putin said. “Isn’t it natural to feel sympathy to a person who wanted to develop relations with our country? It’s normal.”

___

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Darlene Superville in Washington, and Jill Colvin, Jonathan Lemire, and Vladimir Isachenkov in Helsinki contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/bf62711854b6482c88a611391db05a7d/Trump-returns-from-summit-with-Putin-to-forceful-criticism

Video Montage: Cable News Sees the Apocalypse in Trump/Putin Summit

Within mere hours of President Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin concluding, cable news had worked themselves into a frenzy that suggested the sky itself must be falling.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper appeared hardest hit by the summit. While many of his colleagues were behaving as though a fire had been lit beneath their feet, Cooper spent the 2 p.m. Eastern hour sulking, sighing at length about how “disgraceful” the President’s performance had been. “I just personally think today is just an incredibly depressing moment in our time, in our history, as an American,” he huffed.

Insert laugh track here,” quipped CNN International anchor Christiane Amanpour, whose home country arrested over 3,000 people for offensive social media posts last year. “It is an absolute disgrace; it is a parody of a disgrace,” she added.

Over at MSNBC, Russia conspiracies were plentiful. LA Times White House Reporter Eli Stokols reflected that President Trump’s past week abroad in Europe had made “Hillary Clinton seem all the more prescient,” in regards to her criticism of Trump’s stance towards Russia during the 2016 election.

Former CIA Director and MSNBC contributor John Brennan called into Andrea Mitchell Reports shortly after the press conference had ended, to opine that Vladimir Putin had become “the master puppeteer of Donald Trump.” Deadline: White House host Nicolle Wallace echoed this sentiment when she asked panelists on her show, “If Vladimir Putin picked our president, does anything else matter?

It should go without saying that President Trump’s decision to send lethal ordinance to Ukraine back in 2017 was not a popular topic of discussion on afternoon cable news; nor were the new sanctions against Russia that the administration recently added on top of former President Obama’s existing measures.

The video montage below captures some of the most absurd hand-wringing that occurred on CNN and MSNBC in the hours following the summit:

Story 2:  Fed Chairman Powell Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee — U.S. Economy and Employment Improving — Federal Reserve Will Increase Fed Funds Target Rate — Rising Interest Rates — Uncertainty Increasing Over Trade War With China and European Union Impact on Economic Growth —  Videos —

LIVE: Jerome Powell testifies before Senate Banking Committee – July 17, 2018

Fed’s Powell Sees Gradual Rate Hikes as Best Path ‘For Now’

Analyst: Fed Chair Powell won’t deliver clear message on Capitol Hill | In The News

Yield Curve Inversion!? Flattening Yield Curve Explained

Introduction to the yield curve | Stocks and bonds | Finance & Capital Markets | Khan Academy

071818 — “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy” (EventID=108580)

Powell backs more rate hikes as economy growing ‘considerably stronger’

Powell: Best way forward to gradually raise interest rates

Powell: Best way forward to gradually raise interest rates  

The U.S. economy is running at a fast enough pace to justify continued interest rate increases, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday.

Powell is delivering his semiannual testimony to Congress this week, starting with an appearance Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

In remarks he provided ahead of a question-and-answer session, Powell painted a largely positive picture of the economy, which he said is expanding at an increasing pace and is being boosted by aggressive fiscal policy on Capitol Hill.

“Overall, we see the risk of the economy unexpectedly weakening as roughly balanced with the possibility of the economy growing faster than we currently anticipate,” Powell said.

“The unemployment rate is low and expected to fall further. Americans who want jobs have a good chance of finding them,” he added.

Powell spoke as the central bank is in the process of gradually raising interest rates. The policymaking Federal Open Market Committee has hiked the Fed’s benchmark rate twice this year in quarter-point increments, and is expected to approve two more increases before the end of the year.

Fed's Powell: Important to get housing finance off governmental balance sheet

Fed’s Powell: Important to get housing finance off governmental balance sheet  

Though the economy grew at just a 2 percent pace in the first quarter, Powell said growth in the second quarter was “considerably stronger than the first.”

“Robust job gains, rising after-tax incomes, and optimism among households have lifted consumer spending in recent months. Investment by businesses has continued to grow at a healthy rate,” he said. “Good economic performance in other countries has supported U.S. exports and manufacturing. And while housing construction has not increased this year, it is up noticeably from where it stood a few years ago.”

Inflation is running around the Fed’s 2 percent target for the first time in several years, while the unemployment rate is at 4 percent and consistent with a level that most economists consider near to full employment. Powell said wages are growing faster than a year ago but not enough to stoke inflation fears.

Powell made brief mention of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and its global competitors, saying only that it is “difficult to predict” what the ramifications will be on the economy.

However, the “upbeat tone” from the testimony likely means the trade issues won’t keep the Fed from hiking rates, said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/17/powell-backs-more-rate-hikes-as-economy-growing-considerably-stronger.html

July 17, 2018

Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

Chairman Jerome H. Powell

Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Chairman Powell submitted identical remarks to the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, on July 18, 2018.

Good morning. Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Brown, and other members of the Committee, I am happy to present the Federal Reserve’s semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.

Let me start by saying that my colleagues and I strongly support the goals the Congress has set for monetary policy–maximum employment and price stability. We also support clear and open communication about the policies we undertake to achieve these goals. We owe you, and the public in general, clear explanations of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Monetary policy affects everyone and should be a mystery to no one. For the past three years, we have been gradually returning interest rates and the Fed’s securities holdings to more normal levels as the economy strengthens. We believe this is the best way we can help set conditions in which Americans who want a job can find one, and in which inflation remains low and stable.

I will review the current economic situation and outlook and then turn to monetary policy.

Current Economic Situation and Outlook
Since I last testified here in February, the job market has continued to strengthen and inflation has moved up. In the most recent data, inflation was a little above 2 percent, the level that the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, thinks will best achieve our price stability and employment objectives over the longer run. The latest figure was boosted by a significant increase in gasoline and other energy prices.

An average of 215,000 net new jobs were created each month in the first half of this year. That number is somewhat higher than the monthly average for 2017. It is also a good deal higher than the average number of people who enter the work force each month on net. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point over the first half of the year to 4.0 percent in June, near the lowest level of the past two decades. In addition, the share of the population that either has a job or has looked for one in the past month–the labor force participation rate–has not changed much since late 2013. This development is another sign of labor market strength. Part of what has kept the participation rate stable is that more working-age people have started looking for a job, which has helped make up for the large number of baby boomers who are retiring and leaving the labor force.

Another piece of good news is that the robust conditions in the labor market are being felt by many different groups. For example, the unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics have fallen sharply over the past few years and are now near their lowest levels since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting data for these groups in 1972. Groups with higher unemployment rates have tended to benefit the most as the job market has strengthened. But jobless rates for these groups are still higher than those for whites. And while three-fourths of whites responded in a recent Federal Reserve survey that they were doing at least okay financially in 2017, only two-thirds of African Americans and Hispanics responded that way.

Incoming data show that, alongside the strong job market, the U.S. economy has grown at a solid pace so far this year. The value of goods and services produced in the economy–or gross domestic product–rose at a moderate annual rate of 2 percent in the first quarter after adjusting for inflation. However, the latest data suggest that economic growth in the second quarter was considerably stronger than in the first. The solid pace of growth so far this year is based on several factors. Robust job gains, rising after-tax incomes, and optimism among households have lifted consumer spending in recent months. Investment by businesses has continued to grow at a healthy rate. Good economic performance in other countries has supported U.S. exports and manufacturing. And while housing construction has not increased this year, it is up noticeably from where it stood a few years ago.

I will turn now to inflation. After several years in which inflation ran below our 2 percent objective, the recent data are encouraging. The price index for personal consumption expenditures, which is an overall measure of prices paid by consumers, increased 2.3 percent over the 12 months ending in May. That number is up from 1.5 percent a year ago. Overall inflation increased partly because of higher oil prices, which caused a sharp rise in gasoline and other energy prices paid by consumers. Because energy prices move up and down a great deal, we also look at core inflation. Core inflation excludes energy and food prices and generally is a better indicator of future overall inflation. Core inflation was 2.0 percent for the 12 months ending in May, compared with 1.5 percent a year ago. We will continue to keep a close eye on inflation with the goal of keeping it near 2 percent.

Looking ahead, my colleagues on the FOMC and I expect that, with appropriate monetary policy, the job market will remain strong and inflation will stay near 2 percent over the next several years. This judgment reflects several factors. First, interest rates, and financial conditions more broadly, remain favorable to growth. Second, our financial system is much stronger than before the crisis and is in a good position to meet the credit needs of households and businesses. Third, federal tax and spending policies likely will continue to support the expansion. And, fourth, the outlook for economic growth abroad remains solid despite greater uncertainties in several parts of the world. What I have just described is what we see as the most likely path for the economy. Of course, the economic outcomes we experience often turn out to be a good deal stronger or weaker than our best forecast. For example, it is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome of current discussions over trade policy as well as the size and timing of the economic effects of the recent changes in fiscal policy. Overall, we see the risk of the economy unexpectedly weakening as roughly balanced with the possibility of the economy growing faster than we currently anticipate.

Monetary Policy
Over the first half of 2018 the FOMC has continued to gradually reduce monetary policy accommodation. In other words, we have continued to dial back the extra boost that was needed to help the economy recover from the financial crisis and recession. Specifically, we raised the target range for the federal funds rate by 1/4 percentage point at both our March and June meetings, bringing the target to its current range of 1-3/4 to 2 percent. In addition, last October we started gradually reducing the Federal Reserve’s holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. That process has been running smoothly. Our policies reflect the strong performance of the economy and are intended to help make sure that this trend continues. The payment of interest on balances held by banks in their accounts at the Federal Reserve has played a key role in carrying out these policies, as the current Monetary Policy Report explains. Payment of interest on these balances is our principal tool for keeping the federal funds rate in the FOMC’s target range. This tool has made it possible for us to gradually return interest rates to a more normal level without disrupting financial markets and the economy.

As I mentioned, after many years of running below our longer-run objective of 2 percent, inflation has recently moved close to that level. Our challenge will be to keep it there. Many factors affect inflation–some temporary and others longer lasting. Inflation will at times be above 2 percent and at other times below. We say that the 2 percent objective is “symmetric” because the FOMC would be concerned if inflation were running persistently above or below our objective.

The unemployment rate is low and expected to fall further. Americans who want jobs have a good chance of finding them. Moreover, wages are growing a little faster than they did a few years ago. That said, they still are not rising as fast as in the years before the crisis. One explanation could be that productivity growth has been low in recent years. On a brighter note, moderate wage growth also tells us that the job market is not causing high inflation.

With a strong job market, inflation close to our objective, and the risks to the outlook roughly balanced, the FOMC believes that–for now–the best way forward is to keep gradually raising the federal funds rate. We are aware that, on the one hand, raising interest rates too slowly may lead to high inflation or financial market excesses. On the other hand, if we raise rates too rapidly, the economy could weaken and inflation could run persistently below our objective. The Committee will continue to weigh a wide range of relevant information when deciding what monetary policy will be appropriate. As always, our actions will depend on the economic outlook, which may change as we receive new data.

For guideposts on appropriate policy, the FOMC routinely looks at monetary policy rules that recommend a level for the federal funds rate based on the current rates of inflation and unemployment. The July Monetary Policy Report gives an update on monetary policy rules and their role in our policy discussions. I continue to find these rules helpful, although using them requires careful judgment.

Thank you. I will now be happy to take your questions.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/testimony/powell20180717a.htm

ource: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US) 

Release: H.15 Selected Interest Rates 

Units:  Percent, Not Seasonally Adjusted

Frequency:  Monthly

Averages of daily figures.

The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions trade federal funds (balances held at Federal Reserve Banks) with each other overnight. When a depository institution has surplus balances in its reserve account, it lends to other banks in need of larger balances. In simpler terms, a bank with excess cash, which is often referred to as liquidity, will lend to another bank that needs to quickly raise liquidity. (1) The rate that the borrowing institution pays to the lending institution is determined between the two banks; the weighted average rate for all of these types of negotiations is called the effective federal funds rate.(2) The effective federal funds rate is essentially determined by the market but is influenced by the Federal Reserve through open market operations to reach the federal funds rate target.(2)
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets eight times a year to determine the federal funds target rate. As previously stated, this rate influences the effective federal funds rate through open market operations or by buying and selling of government bonds (government debt).(2) More specifically, the Federal Reserve decreases liquidity by selling government bonds, thereby raising the federal funds rate because banks have less liquidity to trade with other banks. Similarly, the Federal Reserve can increase liquidity by buying government bonds, decreasing the federal funds rate because banks have excess liquidity for trade. Whether the Federal Reserve wants to buy or sell bonds depends on the state of the economy. If the FOMC believes the economy is growing too fast and inflation pressures are inconsistent with the dual mandate of the Federal Reserve, the Committee may set a higher federal funds rate target to temper economic activity. In the opposing scenario, the FOMC may set a lower federal funds rate target to spur greater economic activity. Therefore, the FOMC must observe the current state of the economy to determine the best course of monetary policy that will maximize economic growth while adhering to the dual mandate set forth by Congress. In making its monetary policy decisions, the FOMC considers a wealth of economic data, such as: trends in prices and wages, employment, consumer spending and income, business investments, and foreign exchange markets.
The federal funds rate is the central interest rate in the U.S. financial market. It influences other interest rates such as the prime rate, which is the rate banks charge their customers with higher credit ratings. Additionally, the federal funds rate indirectly influences longer- term interest rates such as mortgages, loans, and savings, all of which are very important to consumer wealth and confidence.(2)
References
(1) Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “Federal funds.” Fedpoints, August 2007.
(2) Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “Monetary Policy”. http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/default.htm.

Suggested Citation:

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Effective Federal Funds Rate [FEDFUNDS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FEDFUNDS, July 19, 2018.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FEDFUNDS

Federal funds rate

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

Federal Funds Rate compared to inflation

Quarterly gross domestic product compared to Federal Funds Rate.

Federal funds rate and capacity utilization in manufacturing.

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

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

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

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

Mechanism

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

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

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

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

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

Applications

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

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

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

Comparison with LIBOR

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

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

Predictions by the market

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

Historical rates

As of 21 March 2018 the target range for the Federal Funds Rate is 1.50–1.75%.[9] This represents the sixth increase in the target rate since tightening began in December 2015.[10]

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

Federal funds rate history and recessions.jpg

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, price normally falls. The price here is the interest rate (cost of money) and specifically refers to the Federal Funds Rate. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the Fed Funds Rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, price (or in this case interest rates) will normally rise.[12]

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

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

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

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and housing fell.[29]

International effects

A low federal funds rate makes investments in developing countries such as China or Mexico more attractive. A high federal funds rate makes investments outside the United States less attractive. The long period of a very low federal funds rate from 2009 forward resulted in an increase in investment in developing countries. As the United States began to return to a higher rate in 2013 investments in the United States became more attractive and the rate of investment in developing countries began to fall. The rate also affects the value of currency, a higher rate increasing the value of the U.S. dollar and decreasing the value of currencies such as the Mexican peso.[30]

See also

References

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

 

Federal Open Market Committee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), a committee within the Federal Reserve System (the Fed), is charged under the United States law with overseeing the nation’s open market operations (e.g., the Fed’s buying and selling of United States Treasury securities).[1] This Federal Reserve committee makes key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the United States money supply.[2]

The FOMC is the principal organ of United States national monetary policy. The Committee sets monetary policy by specifying the short-term objective for the Fed’s open market operations, which is usually a target level for the federal funds rate (the rate that commercial banks charge between themselves for overnight loans).

The FOMC also directs operations undertaken by the Federal Reserve System in foreign exchange markets, although any intervention in foreign exchange markets is coordinated with the U.S. Treasury, which has responsibility for formulating U.S. policies regarding the exchange value of the dollar.

Membership

The Committee consists of the seven members of the Federal Reserve Board, the president of the New York Fed, and four of the other eleven regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents, serving one year terms. The Federal Open Market Committee was formed by the Banking Act of 1933 (codified at 12 U.S.C. § 263), and did not include voting rights for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The Banking Act of 1935 revised these protocols to include the Board of Governors and to closely resemble the present-day FOMC, and was amended in 1942 to give the current structure of twelve voting members.[3]

Four of the Federal Reserve Bank presidents serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. The rotating seats are filled from the following four groups of banks, one bank president from each group: Boston, Philadelphia, and Richmond; Cleveland and Chicago; Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas; and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco. The New York President always has a voting membership.

All of the Reserve Bank presidents, even those who are not currently voting members of the FOMC, attend Committee meetings, participate in discussions, and contribute to the Committee’s assessment of the economy and policy options. The Committee meets eight times a year, approximately once every six weeks.

Meetings

Modern-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Eccles Building, Washington, D.C.

By law, the FOMC must meet at least four times each year in Washington, D.C. Since 1981, eight regularly scheduled meetings have been held each year at intervals of five to eight weeks. If circumstances require consultation or consideration of an action between these regular meetings, members may be called on to participate in a special meeting or a telephone conference, or to vote on a proposed action by proxy. At each regularly scheduled meeting, the Committee votes on the policy to be carried out during the interval between meetings.

Attendance at meetings is restricted because of the confidential nature of the information discussed and is limited to Committee members, nonmember Reserve Bank presidents, staff officers, the Manager of the System Open Market Account, and a small number of Board and Reserve Bank staff.[4]

Decision-making process

Before each regularly scheduled meeting of the FOMC, System staff prepare written reports on past and prospective economic and financial developments that are sent to Committee members and to nonmember Reserve Bank presidents. Reports prepared by the Manager of the System Open Market Account on operations in the domestic open market and in foreign currencies since the last regular meeting are also distributed. At the meeting itself, staff officers present oral reports on the current and prospective business situation, on conditions in financial markets, and on international financial developments.

In its discussions, the Committee considers factors such as trends in prices and wages, employment and production, consumer income and spending, residential and commercial construction, business investment and inventories, foreign exchange markets, interest rates, money and credit aggregates, and fiscal policy. The Manager of the System Open Market Account also reports on account transactions since the previous meeting.

After these reports, the Committee members and other Reserve Bank presidents turn to policy. Typically, each participant expresses his or her own views on the state of the economy and prospects for the future and on the appropriate direction for monetary policy. Then each makes a more explicit recommendation on policy for the coming intermeeting period (and for the longer run, if under consideration).[4]

Consensus

Finally, the Committee must reach a consensus regarding the appropriate course for policy, which is incorporated in a directive to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York—the Bank that executes transactions for the System Open Market Account. The directive is cast in terms designed to provide guidance to the Manager in the conduct of day-to-day open market operations. The directive sets forth the Committee’s objectives for long-run growth of certain key monetary and credit aggregates.[4]

It also sets forth operating guidelines for the degree of ease or restraint to be sought in reserve conditions and expectations with regard to short-term rates of growth in the monetary aggregates. Policy is implemented with emphasis on supplying reserves in a manner consistent with these objectives and with the nation’s broader economic objectives.[4]

Congressional oversight

Under the Federal Reserve Act, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System must appear before Congressional hearings at least twice per year regarding “the efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the Board and the Federal Open Market Committee with respect to the conduct of monetary policy”. The statute requires that the Chairman appear before the House Committee on Financial Services in February and July of odd-numbered years, and before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in February and July of even-numbered years.[5]

Interest rate targeting

The committee’s practice of interest rate targeting has been criticized by some commentators who argue that it may risk an inflationary bias.

Possible alternative rules that enjoy some support among economists include the traditional monetarist formula of targeting stable growth in an appropriately chosen monetary aggregate, and inflation targeting, now practiced by many central banks. Under inflationary pressure in 1979, the Fed temporarily abandoned interest rate targeting in favor of targeting non-borrowed reserves. It concluded, however, that this approach led to increased volatility in interest rates and monetary growth, and reversed itself in 1982.[6][7][8]

Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke sympathetically as a Governor in 2003 of the inflation targeting approach. He explained that even a central bank like the Fed, which does not orient its monetary policies around an explicit, published inflation target, nonetheless takes account of its goal of low and stable inflation in formulating its interest rate targets. Bernanke summed up his overall assessment of inflation targeting as follows:

Inflation targeting, at least in its best-practice form, consists of two parts: a policy framework of constrained discretion and a communication strategy that attempts to focus expectations and explain the policy framework to the public. Together, these two elements promote both price stability and well-anchored inflation expectations; the latter in turn facilitates more effective stabilization of output and employment. Thus, a well-conceived and well-executed strategy of inflation targeting can deliver good results with respect to output and employment as well as inflation.

Although communication plays several important roles in inflation targeting, perhaps the most important is focusing and anchoring expectations. Clearly there are limits to what talk can achieve; ultimately, talk must be backed up by action, in the form of successful policies. Likewise, for a successful and credible central bank like the Federal Reserve, the immediate benefits of adopting a more explicit communication strategy may be modest. Nevertheless, making the investment now in greater transparency about the central bank’s objectives, plans, and assessments of the economy could pay increasing dividends in the future.[9]

In keeping with his 2003 speech as Governor, Bernanke as Chairman has attempted to promote greater transparency in Fed communications. The Fed now publicly indicates the range within which it would like to see future inflation.

Current members

The 2018 Members of the FOMC:[1]

Members
Alternate Members

Federal Reserve Bank Rotation on the FOMC
Committee membership changes at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the year.

2019 Members – New York, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City

2019 Alternate Members – New York†, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis

(Note: For the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the First Vice President is the alternate for the President.)

See also

References

  1. Jump up to:a b “What is the FOMC and when does it meet?”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  2. Jump up^ O’Sullivan, ArthurSheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 418. ISBN 0-13-063085-3.
  3. Jump up^ Arthur J. Rolnick; David E. Runkle (March 1, 1999). David Fettig, ed. “The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book: A better mirror than crystal ball – The Beige Book: An analysis of the purpose and value of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book”. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d “The Federal Open Market Committee”. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. January 14, 2011.
  5. Jump up^ See 12 U.S.C. § 225b(a).
  6. Jump up^ Allen, Larry (October 15, 2009). The encyclopedia of money. ABC-CLIO. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-59884-251-7. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  7. Jump up^ Thomas Mayer (1993). The Political Economy of American Monetary Policy. Cambridge University Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-521-44651-8. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  8. Jump up^ Wood, John H. (2008). A History of Macroeconomic Policy in the United States. Taylor & Francis. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-415-77718-6. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  9. Jump up^ Ben S. Bernanke (March 25, 2003). A Perspective on Inflation Targeting (Speech). Annual Washington Policy Conference of the National Association for Business Economics. Washington D.C.

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The Pronk Pops Show 1108, July 16, 2018, Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: Arrogant, Biased, Corrupt, Deceptive, Evasive FBI Agent Peter Strzok Unindicted Co-conspirator of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Congressional Circus Coverup — Attorney General Sessions Must Appoint A Second Special Counsel To Investigate The Conspiracy or Resign and President Trump Should Accept Resignation — Part 2 of 2 — Videos — Story 2: Mueller Indicts 12 Russians Before Summit Meeting — No Americans Colluded With Russians and No Votes Changed– Timing Suspect Given Trump Meeting With Russian President Putin — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Meets President Putin — Joint Press Conference Criticized By Big Lie Media,  Hate America Democrats and Neocons — Progressive Propaganda — yack yack yack don’t talk back — Videos — Story 4: Budget Busting Fiscal Year 2018 Deficit Should Hit $800,000,000,000!

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Pronk Pops Show 1082, May 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1081, May 22, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1055, April 2, 2018

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Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: Arrogant, Biased, Corrupt, Deceptive, Evasive FBI Agent Peter Strzok Unindicted Co-conspirator of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Congressional Circus Cover-up — Attorney General Sessions Must Appoint A Second Special Counsel To Investigate The Conspiracy or Resign and President Trump Should Accept Resignation — Part 2 of 2 — Videos —

Joe diGenova describes “Brazen Plot To Exonerate Hillary Clinton”

Published on Jan 21, 2018

Congress Exposes FBI Coup Against Trump

Published on Jun 20, 2018

Why a second special counsel is needed to investigate DOJ, FBI

WATCH: House Republicans hold news briefing regarding special counsel

Dershowitz reacts to Strzok hearing, Russia indictments

The fieriest moments from Peter Strzok’s hearing

Ingraham: Trump-hating FBI investigator ‘Strzok out’

Rudy Giuliani: Strzok’s defense is ridiculous, pathetic

Mueller didn’t want to ask Strzok if he was bias: Rep. Gaetz

Gowdy: Strzok is the only one who doesn’t think he’s biased

Hannity: Strzok was at the heart of the deep state

Dershowitz on Strzok testimony: A disaster, everybody looked terrible

Bruce Ohr gave parts of Russia dossier to DOJ, FBI: Rep. Jordan

Giuliani on possibility FBI had multiple versions of dossier

FBI’s Peter Strzok denies that bias impacted his work

Rep. Goodlatte Opening Statement at FBI’s Strzok Hearing July 12, 2018

OUT OF ORDER FIGHT! When Andy Biggs,(R)AZ Blasts Strvok

I DON’T GIVE A DAMN!!!” Peter Strzok Hearing GOES OFF THE RAILS During Trey Gowdy’s Questioning

Complete exchange between Rep. Trey Gowdy and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter

Strzok

“Let’s See What’ll You Do In Prison With That Smile?”, Matt Gaetz DEMOLISHES Smirking Strzok

Gowdy’s question prompts procedural debate at Strzok hearing

Rep. Trey Gowdy questions FBI’s Peter Strzok in fierce grilling

Mike Johnson Corners Peter Strzok – BODY LANGUAGE OF A LIAR!

Jim Jordan on Strzok’s revelations about Bruce Ohr

Jim Jordan vs FBI Agent Peter Strzok in HEATED Exchange at Congress Hearing on Anti-Trump Texts

Mark Meadows questions Peter Strzok 7/12/18

7-12-18 Mark Meadows (R-NC) Questions Strzok

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Rep. Louie Gohmert gets personal in heated exchange with Peter Strzok

Louie Gohmert vs Peter Strzok EXPLOSIVE Exchange at House Oversight Hearing about anti-Trump Texts

FBI agent Peter Strzok say political bias did not impact investigations

Wounded Marine Vet: ‘Disgraceful’ & ‘Disgusting’ for Dem Rep to Suggest Strzok Deserves Purple Heart

Republicans Picked The Wrong FBI Agent To Mess With (VIDEO)

Peter Strzok Holds His Own As Republicans Try To Put On Show At Hearing | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

“Trump Will Put You In Jail”, Trey Gowdy BRUTALLY DESTROYS FBI And Peter Strzok In An Awesome Speech

WATCH: Dems Bring Posters to Strzok Hearing to Show Guilty Pleas in Mueller Probe

Closing Statement From Hearing of Crooked FBI Agent Peter Strzok

Goodlatte: Lisa Page ‘apparently has something to hide’

Texts show Peter Strzok’s friendship with federal judge

Shapiro Mocks Democrats Celebrating Peter Strzok

Scott Adams Gives You a Hot Take On Peter Stzrok Testimony To Congress So Far

Scott Adams – Peter Strzok’s Body Language and Theresa May

How Rosenstein, Strzok have similar testimony behaviors

Strzok Strikes Comedy Parody Gold: Think Percy Dovetonsils Meets Vincent D’Onofrio Meets Paul Lynde

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Paul Lynde’s – Hollywood Squares – BEST-1-LINERS Part 1

FBI Director James Comey’s full statement on Clinton email investigation

 

FBI agent defiantly rejects bias charges at chaotic hearing

Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

,

Associated Press

An embattled FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages exposed the Justice Department to claims of institutional bias launched a vigorous defense Thursday at an extraordinary congressional hearing that devolved into shouting matches, finger pointing and veiled references to personal transgressions.

Peter Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after the discovery of derogatory text messages he traded with an FBI lawyer. He told lawmakers the texts in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election reflected personal views that he had never acted on, angrily rejecting Republican allegations that he had set out to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.

“At no time, in any of those texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said.

The hearing brought a defiant Strzok face-to-face with Republican lawmakers who for months have held up his texts as the embodiment of anti-Trump bias within the FBI. In breaking his months-long silence, Strzok vigorously defended his handling of two hugely sensitive investigations in which he played a leading role: inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s email use and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

He insisted the FBI had good cause two years ago to start investigating whether the Trump campaign was working with the Kremlin amid allegations of what he described as a Russian offer of assistance to a Trump campaign associate. He characterized the anti-Trump text messages as personal communications that he never envisioned becoming public and denied that they had swayed his actions.

Strzok insisted under aggressive questioning that a much-discussed August 2016 text in which he said “we’ll stop” a Trump presidency followed Trump’s denigration of the family of a dead U.S. service member. He said the text, written late at night and off-the-cuff, reflected his belief that the American public would not stomach such “horrible, disgusting behavior” by the Republican presidential candidate.

But, he added in a raised voice and emphatic tone, “It was in no way — unequivocally — any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So, I take great offense, and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn’t.”

Plus, he said, both investigations were handled by large teams.

“They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them,” Strzok said. “That is who we are as the FBI. And the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn’t happen.”

Some Democrats applauded after he finished speaking.

Republican members of the House judiciary and oversight committees grilled Strzok as they argued that text messages he exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page colored the outcome of the Clinton investigation and undercut the ongoing Russia probe. Strzok, a seasoned counterintelligence agent, helped lead both investigations but has since been reassigned to human resources.

“Agent Strzok had Hillary Clinton winning the White House before he finished investigating her,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him. That is bias. Agent Strzok may not see it but the rest of the country does, and it is not what we want, expect or deserve from any law enforcement officer much less the FBI.”

The hearing was punctuated by chaos and open yelling as Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte said Strzok needed to answer Republicans’ questions and suggested they might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Democrats objected to Goodlatte’s repeated attempts to get Strzok to answer. Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed without calling the panel into recess.

In his opening statement, Strzok said he has never allowed personal opinions to infect his work, that he knew information during the campaign that had the potential to damage Trump but never contemplated leaking it and that the focus put on him by Congress is misguided and plays into “our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

Strzok acknowledged that while his text message criticism was “blunt,” it was not directed at one person or political party and included jabs not only at Trump but also at Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” he said.

He said he was one of the few people during the 2016 election who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with people in the Trump orbit, and that that information could have derailed Trump’s election chances. “But,” he said, “the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.”

Although Strzok has said through his lawyer that he was eager to tell his side of the story, he made clear his exasperation at being the focal point of a congressional hearing at a time when Russian election interference has been successfully “sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions.”

“I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” Strzok said. “As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.”

The contentious hearing follows hours of closed-door questioning last week. It also reflects an effort to shift attention away from the content of Strzok’s texts and onto what he says is the more pressing issue: the Russians’ “grave attack” on American democracy and continuing efforts to divide the country.

Republicans eager for ways to discredit Mueller’s investigation have for months held up the texts from Strzok and Page to support allegations of anti-Trump bias within federal law enforcement.

The Justice Department’s inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton. And many Democrats say actions taken by law enforcement during the campaign season, including announcing a reopening of the investigation into Clinton just days before the election, actually wound up harming the Democratic candidate and aiding the Republican candidate, Trump.

FBI Director Chris Wray says employees who were singled out for criticism in the report have been referred to internal disciplinary officials. Strzok’s lawyer has said he was escorted from the FBI building as the disciplinary process winds its way through the system.

Page is expected to speak to lawmakers at a private meeting Friday.

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day in Washington contributed to this report.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/fbi-agent-never-tainted-political-bias-080213902–politics.html

7 key moments from Peter Strzok’s wild hearing

July 12 at 6:21 PM
The fieriest moments from Peter Strzok’s hearing

The House hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok devolved into personal attacks, partisan exchanges and a perjury accusation. Here’s a look at the biggest moments.

This post has been updated.

FBI agent Peter Strzok had his moment on an extremely hot seat Thursday morning in a contentious hearing that quickly devolved into angry yelling, interjections and parliamentary maneuvering.

Appearing before a joint session of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Strzok sought to explain his anti-Trump text messages at a time when he was the lead agent on the FBI’s then-nascent Russia investigation in 2016. He was removed from the investigation in 2017 after those text messages with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were discovered. Republicans including President Trump have seized upon Strzok’s texts — which included allusions to stopping Trump — as evidence of a biased and even corrupt law enforcement investigation.

Here are the key moments from the hearing.

1. The contempt threat

 3:07
Goodlatte cites subpoena as Strzok refuses to answer question

FBI agent Peter Strzok refused to answer a question about the Russia probe on July 12, sparking Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to attempt to force an answer. 

It didn’t take long for the hearing to explode. After the opening statements, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) lodged his first question: How many people did Strzok interview during the first eight days of the FBI’s Russia investigation, between July 31 and Aug. 8, 2016?

Strzok, as he previewed in his opening statement, said he had been advised by the FBI’s lawyers that he was not to address specifics of what is still an ongoing investigation. (The investigation was handed over to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in mid-2017.) Republicans quickly objected and threatened to hold Strzok in contempt. Democrats noted that it was unusual that Strzok be asked to disclose such details in a public setting.

Strzok said he didn’t have to answer the question because, despite being subpoenaed by the committee, he had previously said he would speak voluntarily.

“Mr. Chairman, I do not believe I am here under subpoena,” Strzok said. “I believe I am here voluntarily. … Based on that, I will not answer that question.”

Democrats argued that a witness such as Strzok would not be expected to publicly disclose sensitive information like the blueprint for a hydrogen bomb. Another moved to adjourn the hearing less than an hour after it began.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) finally said that Strzok would be recalled to the committee after the day’s hearing so that it could determine whether to hold him in contempt. But the tone was set.

2. Strzok’s angry retort: ‘It is deeply destructive’

 3:00
Strzok: Accusation of bias ‘deeply corrodes’ the FBI

FBI agent Peter Strzok explained the context of his text messages about Trump on July 12, and said his personal beliefs never factored into his actions. 

After more than 20 minutes of maneuvering and posturing following the subpoena discussion, Gowdy ended his interrogation of Strzok and Strzok was given the floor to respond. In a minutes-long retort, he called Gowdy’s and his Republican allies’ allegations of bias and improper actions “deeply destructive.”

He said that his text messages critical of Trump shortly after the investigation began were in response to Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail — and not a reflection of his investigative intent. He pointed in particular to Trump’s attacks on the Khans, a Gold Star family who spoke at the Democratic National Convention around that time.

“My presumption [was] based on that horrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States,” he said. “It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So I take great offense . . . ”

Strzok concluded the accusation against him and the line of questioning “deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.” Some in the room applauded.

3. A perjury accusation — and a very personal attack

 9:43
Rep. Gohmert launches personal attacks against Peter Strzok

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) attacked FBI agent Peter Strzok on personal grounds, and then tried to refuse him the opportunity to respond on July 12. 

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) seized upon Strzok’s contention that his texts didn’t demonstrate personal “bias” and said that argument amounted to him lying. When Democrats noted that Gohmert was basically accusing Strzok of perjury — given he made that claim under oath — Gohmert was unbowed.

Then he got personal — very personal.

“When I see you looking with a little smirk, I wonder how many times did you look so innocently into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert began. The hearing room erupted, with someone shouting “insane asylum” and someone else asserting that Gohmert needed medication.

In response, Strzok acknowledged “hurting” someone he described as a “family member.”

“The fact that you would question whether or not that was the sort of look,” he told Gohmert, “goes more to a discussion about your character.”

4. The transcript threat

 3:54
Democrats demand release of Strzok’s closed-door interview transcript

Democrats demanded that Republicans show them a rule that prohibits releasing the transcript from Peter Strzok’s closed-door interview, or they will release it.

One of the subplots here has been Democrats’ push to release the transcript of Strzok’s previous, closed-door testimony. They argue that it has been selectively leaked and described to impugn him.

So at one point early in the hearing, Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said he intended to release the transcript himself — and asked whether there was any reason he couldn’t. Goodlatte stressed that it was the committee’s practice and that there was an agreement to keep closed-door hearings private while an investigation is ongoing.

Cicilline’s response: “We intend to release this transcript unless someone presents some rule that prevents us from doing it, and we’ll give you till 5 this afternoon to present that,” he said. “Otherwise we intend to release the transcript.”

Eventually Cicilline got some backup from GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), who happens to be the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

It’s worth noting that Goodlatte’s justification — that the committee’s investigation is ongoing — was the same one Strzok offered for not answering questions about the special counsel’s Russia probe. In the latter case, apparently, Republicans don’t think it applies.

Aaron Blake

@AaronBlake

The contrast here is pretty stark:

GOP in one breath threatens Strzok with contempt if he doesn’t detail Russia investigation, which is ongoing.

Then it says it won’t release transcript of Strzok’s initial testimony … because its investigation is ongoing.

5. Making him read his own texts

 3:21
Rep. Issa directs Peter Strzok to read his text messages aloud

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on July 12 asked FBI agent Peter Strzok to read aloud from some of his text messages turned over to the House Russia investigation. 

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) took his five minutes to force Strzok to read some of his own texts — including ones that used vulgarities.

While reading one in which he used the f-word while talking about Trump, Strzok paused and asked how he should handle it, then finished. Then Issa asked him to read it again.

“Sir, was that not intelligible?” Strzok said. “You just want to hear — for me to repeat it.”

“Please,” Issa said.

“Okay, sir. Sure,” Strzok shot back snidely. “Happy to indulge you.”

6. A Democrat says Strzok should get a Purple Heart

The difference between the lines of questioning between Republicans and Democrats was, as usual, stark. While Republicans badgered Strzok and tried to catch him off-guard, Democrats mostly used their time to argue for the importance of the Mueller investigation.

But some Democrats decided to go further than that and to make Strzok a martyr — or even a hero. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) went the furthest.

“Mr. Strzok, if I could give you a Purple Heart, I would,” Cohen said when he began his questioning.

To recap, Strzok was removed from the Mueller investigation and harshly criticized by an inspector general. It is generally agreed that his text messages were problematic, regardless of if you think this reflects corruption and bias in all law enforcement or the Mueller probe.

7. ‘This is not Benghazi’

 2:11
Democrat erupts at Gowdy: ‘This is not Benghazi!’

As Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-N.C.) grilled FBI agent Peter Strzok on July 12, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) interjected and yelled at him to “leave it alone.” 

Democratic patience with the GOP’s treatment of Strzok quickly wore thin. Gowdy, in his role as head of the Oversight Committee, repeatedly afforded himself the chance to try to get under Strzok’s skin.

And toward the end of the hearing, the whole thing boiled over. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) yelled at Gowdy during one interrogation of Strzok, telling him to “leave it alone.”

“This is not Benghazi,” she said, referring to the years-long investigation Gowdy led into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, which Democrats contend that probe devolved into a witch hunt against Hillary Clinton.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/07/12/3-key-moments-from-peter-strzoks-wild-hearing/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.518d74885981

Peter Strzok

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Peter Strzok
Strzok1.png
Born 1969/1970 (age 47–48) [1]
Education Georgetown University (BSMA)[2]

Peter Strzok (/strʌk/, pronounced “struck”) (born 1969/1970) is a United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent.[3][4] Strzok was the Chief of the Counterespionage Section and led the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server.[5][4][6] Strzok rose to become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division. He also led the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[4][7][8][9]

In June and July 2017, Strzok worked on Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel investigation into any links or coordination between Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign and the Russian government.[10][7][9] Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia investigation when he became aware of criticisms of Trump contained in personal text messages exchanged between Strzok and a colleague.[11][12] The revelation of the text messages led to accusations by Republican congressmen and conservative media that Strzok was involved in a conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency; conservatives used the text messages as part of a campaign to discredit Mueller’s investigation. The Department of Justice, led by Republican Jeff Sessions, has defended Mueller’s response to the text messages.[13][10] A February 2018 comprehensive review by The Wall Street Journal of Strzok’s messages showed that “texts critical of Mr. Trump represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 messages, which stretch across 384 pages and show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump”.[14] After the release of the DOJ-OIG report, which revealed further anti-Trump texts from Strzok, he agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.[15]

Early life and education

For high school, Strzok attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Minnesota, graduating in 1987.[16] He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in 1991 as well as a master’s degree in 2013.[17] He is married to Melissa Hodgman, an associate director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[18][19][20] His father was a longtime member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[21] Like his father, Strzok served as an officer in the United States Army before joining the FBI in the 1990s as an intelligence research specialist.[8][22]

FBI

As of 2018, Strzok has a career of 22 years at the FBI.[23] He notably was the lead agent in FBI’s “Operation Ghost Stories” against Andrey Bezrukov and Yelena Vavilova, a Russian spy couple who were part of the Illegals Program, a network of Russian sleeper agents who were arrested in 2010.[24] By July 2015, Strzok was serving as the section chief of the Counterespionage Section, a subordinate section of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.[4] He led a team of a dozen investigators during the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server and assisted in the drafting of public statements for then-FBI Director James Comey.[25] He changed the description of Clinton’s actions from “grossly negligent”, which could be a criminal offense, to “extremely careless”.[4] The draft was reviewed and corrected by several people and its creation was a team process. In his statement to Congress, Comey said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges based on available evidence.[4] Later, when additional emails were discovered a few days before the election, Strzok supported reopening the Clinton investigation.[26] He then co-wrote the letter[27] that Comey used to inform Congress, which “reignited the email controversy in the final days” and “played a key role in a controversial FBI decision that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”[26]

Due to his acknowledged expertise and reliability, Strzok rose to the position of Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, and as the number two official within that division oversaw investigations involving Russia and China.[10][28][8] In that capacity, he led the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections,[4][29] and examined both the Donald Trump–Russia dossier and the Russian role in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak.[30][3][25] He also oversaw the bureau’s interviews with then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; Flynn later pled guilty to lying during those interviews.[31]

In July 2017, Strzok became the top FBI agent working for Robert Mueller‘s 2017 Special Counsel investigation looking into any links or coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.[32][33] He served in that position until August 2017, at which time he began working in the Human Resources Branch.[34][35] According to The New York Times, Strzok was “considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators,”[22] as well as “one of the Bureau’s top experts on Russia” according to CNN.[4] Strzok left the investigation in late July 2017 after the discovery of personal text messages sent to a colleague.[36] At the request of Republicans in Congress, the Justice Department (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) began an inquiry in January 2017 into how the FBI handled investigations related to the election, and the IG announced it would issue a report by March or April 2018.[22][37] The report was eventually released on June 14, 2018, after several delays.

On June 15, 2018, the day after this IG report was published, Strzok was escorted from FBI headquarters as part of the bureau’s internal conduct investigations.[38] The move put Strzok on notice that the bureau intends to fire him, though he has appeal rights that could delay such action.[39] On June 21, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Strzok had lost his security clearance.[40]

Text messages

During the IG’s investigation, thousands of text messages exchanged using FBI-issued cell phones between Strzok and Lisa Page, a trial attorney on Mueller’s team, were examined.[41][42][41][42] The texts were sent between August 15, 2015 and December 1, 2016. At the request of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the DOJ turned over 375 of these text messages to the House Judiciary Committee.[41][42][43] Some of the texts disparaged then-presidential candidate Donald Trump,[41][42][44][45] Chelsea Clinton, Attorney General in the Obama administration Eric Holder, former Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley, and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders.[46][47][1] Strzok called Trump an “idiot” in August 2015 and texted “God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0” after a Republican debate in March 2016.[41][42][48] In their messages, Strzok and Page also advocated for creating a Special Counsel to investigate the Hillary Clinton email controversy, and discussed suggesting former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald be considered for such a probe.[49] Devlin Barrett from The Washington Post alleged Strzok and Page had been using the backdrop of discussing the Clinton investigation as a cover for their personal communications during an affair.[50] Upon learning of the text messages, Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation.[22] Messages released in January 2018 showed that Strzok was hesitant to join the Mueller investigation, with Page encouraging him not to.[51]

Strzok’s colleagues and a former Trump administration official said that Strzok had never shown any political bias.[52][44] An associate of his says the political parts of the text messages were especially related to Trump’s criticism of the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton emails.[52] According to FBI guidelines, agents are allowed to have and express political opinions as individuals. Former FBI and DOJ officials told The Hill that it was not uncommon for agents like Strzok to hold political opinions and still conduct an impartial investigation.[53] Several agents asserted that Mueller had removed Strzok to protect the integrity of the special counsel’s Russia investigation.[54] Strzok was not punished following his reassignment.[55] Defenders of Strzok and Page in the FBI said no professional misconduct between them occurred.[44]

The decision by the DOJ to publicize the private messages in December 2017 was controversial. Statements by DOJ spokeswomen revealed that some reporters had copies of the texts even before the DOJ invited the press to review them, but the DOJ did not authorize the pre-release. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have asked for a review of the circumstances under which the texts were leaked to select press outlets.[56]

The Office of Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation published on June 14, 2018, criticized Strzok’s text messages for creating the appearance of impropriety.[57] However, the report concluded that there was no evidence of bias in the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.[57] The report revealed additional texts hostile to Donald Trump by Strzok. In early August 2016, after Page asked Strzok, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”, Strzok responded: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”[58] Many Democrats noted that the FBI’s actions during 2016 presidential campaign, such as reopening the Clinton email investigation on the eve of the election and elements within the FBI telling the New York Times that there was no clear link between the Trump campaign and Russia, ended up harming the Clinton campaign and benefitting the Trump campaign.[58]

At a July 12, 2018, public congressional hearing, Strzok denied that the personal beliefs expressed in the text messages impacted his work for the FBI.[57] Strzok explained that a “We’ll stop Trump” text message was written late at night and off-the-cuff shortly after Trump denigrated the immigrant family of a fallen American war hero, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, and that the message reflected Strzok’s belief that Americans would not vote for a candidate who engaged in such “horrible, disgusting behavior”.[57] Strzok said the message “was in no way – unequivocally – any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate.”[57] Strzok added that he knew of information during the 2016 presidential campaign that could have damaged Trump but that he never contemplated leaking it.[57] Strzok also said that he criticized politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in his “blunt” text messages.[57] Strzok’s said that the investigation into him and the Republicans’ related rhetoric was misguided and played into “our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”[57]

Reactions

Strzok’s personal messages to Lisa Page have been used by Republicans to attack the impartiality of Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the election. Conservative media outlets and Republicans have used the text messages as part of an aggressive campaign to discredit the Mueller investigation and protect President Trump. Other Republicans have defended Mueller and his work, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who said that he would only fire Mueller if there was actual cause under DOJ regulations, and that no such cause existed. Rosenstein also praised Mueller for removing Strzok from the Russian investigation.[13]

Republican allegations

In late January 2018, a number of congressional Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, asserted that they had evidence that pointed towards FBI agents working clandestinely to undermine the Trump presidency; they asserted that Strzok and Page were in a “secret society” against Trump.[59] Fox News amplified these claims.[60] Congressional Republicans refused to release the evidence behind the assertion, but ABC News obtained a copy of the message that Republicans were referring to and noted that the message that refers to a “secret society” may have been made in jest.[59] The day after his assertion that these messages demonstrated “corruption at the highest levels of the FBI” and after a copy of the messages were revealed by ABC News, Johnson walked back his comments and said that there was a “real possibility” that the messages were made in jest.[61]

In February 2018, Johnson speculated that a text message between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raised questions about “the type and extent of President Obama’s personal involvement” in the Clinton emails investigation.[62] Fox News reiterated, without scrutiny, Ron Johnson’s speculative claim that text messages between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page suggested that President Barack Obama was deeply involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.[60] Fox News spokeswoman Carly Shanahan did not answer an inquiry from CNN about whether Fox News reached out to Obama for comment.[60] Johnson’s claim was covered by various pro-Trump websites, such as Drudge ReportBreitbartInfoWars and The Gateway Pundit, before President Trump himself tweeted “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!”[60] Other news outlets reported that the text messages were sent in September 2016, months after the Clinton emails investigation had concluded, and three days before Obama would confront Russian President Vladimir Putin about interference in the 2016 election at the G20 Hangzhou summit.[60][63] Associates of Strzok and Page told The Wall Street Journal the texts were about the FBI’s investigation into Russian electoral interference.[62] Fox News continued to report the story even after these news outlets had provided this context for the messages.[60]

Fox News commentary

While referring to Strzok’s messages, some commentators on the Fox News Channel intensified their anti-Mueller rhetoric. Jesse Watters said that Mueller’s investigation now amounted to a coup against President Trump, if “the investigation was weaponized to destroy his presidency for partisan political purposes”.[64][65][66][67][68] Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said that the FBI and DOJ were working clandestinely to destroy the Trump presidency, and called for a “war” against the “deep state”.[69] One guest on Fox’s talk and news show Outnumbered, Kevin Jackson, speculated that Strzok’s messages were evidence of a plot by FBI agents to make “an assassination attempt or whatever” against President Trump, which other Fox hosts quickly contradicted and said was not “credible”.[70] Fox News figures referred to the investigation as “corrupt”, “crooked” and “illegitimate”, and likened the FBI to the KGB, the brutal Soviet-era spy organization.[64] Political scientists and experts on coups rejected that Mueller’s investigation amounted to a coup.[64]

See also

References

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

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Feds Collect Record Individual Income Taxes Through June; Still Run $607B Deficit

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 12, 2018 | 10:48 PM EDT

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government collected a record $1,305,490,000,000 in individual income taxes through the first nine months of fiscal 2018 (October 2017 through June 2018), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

Despite the record individual income tax collections, the federal government still ran a deficit of $607,099,000,000 over those same nine months, according to the Treasury statement.

The approximately $1,305,490,000,000 in individual income taxes that the Treasury collected in October through June of this fiscal year was $71,815,310,000 more (in constant June 2018 dollars) than the $1,233,674,690,000 (in constant June 2018 dollars) in individual income taxes that the Treasury collected in October through June of fiscal 2017—which was the previous record.

Although the federal government collected record individual income taxes in the first nine months of this fiscal year, overall federal tax collections were lower in the first nine months of this fiscal year than they were in any of the previous five fiscal years—including 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In October through June of this fiscal year, the Treasury collected $2,540,804,000,000 in total taxes. That was down $39,029,250,000 from the $2,579,833,250,000 in total taxes the Treasury collected in the first nine months of fiscal 2017.

Corporation income tax collections have also been declining in this fiscal year. In the first nine months of fiscal 2018, the Treasury collected $161,708,000,000 in corporation income. That is $67,964,050,000 less (in constant June 2018 dollars) than the $229,672,050,000 in corporation income taxes (in constant June 2018 dollars) that the Treasury collected in the first eight months of fiscal 2017.

The federal government ran a deficit of $607,099,000,000 during the first nine months of fiscal 2018, because while collecting its $2,540,804,000,000 in total taxes, it spent $3,147,903,000,000.

The $2,540,804,000,000 in total tax collections through June included the record $1,305,490,000,000 in individual income taxes; the $161,708,000,000 in corporation income taxes; $847,062,000,000 in social insurance and retirement payroll taxes; $36,998,000,000 in unemployment insurance taxes; $3,312,000,000 in other retirement taxes; $63,039,000,000 in excise taxes, $16,978,000,000 in estate and gift taxes, $28,318,000,000 in customs duties; and $77,899,000,000 in miscellaneous receipts.

Including the current month of July, there are three more months in this fiscal year.

Tax amounts were put in constant June 2018 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/feds-collect-record-individual-income-taxes-through-june-still-run

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1107, Story 1: Arrogant, Biased, Corrupt, Deceptive, Evasive FBI Agent Peter Strzok Unindicted Co-conspirator of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Attorney General Sessions Must Appoint A Second Special Counsel To Investigate The Conspiracy or Resign and President Trump Should Accept Resignation — Part 1 of 2 — Videos

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Story 1: Arrogant, Biased, Corrupt, Deceptive, Evasive FBI Agent Peter Strzok Unindicted Co-conspirator of The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Attorney General Sessions Must Appoint A Second Special Counsel To Investigate The Conspiracy or Resign and President Trump Should Accept Resignation — Part 1 of 2 — Videos

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FBI agent defiantly rejects bias charges at chaotic hearing

Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

,

Associated Press

An embattled FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages exposed the Justice Department to claims of institutional bias launched a vigorous defense Thursday at an extraordinary congressional hearing that devolved into shouting matches, finger pointing and veiled references to personal transgressions.

Peter Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after the discovery of derogatory text messages he traded with an FBI lawyer. He told lawmakers the texts in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election reflected personal views that he had never acted on, angrily rejecting Republican allegations that he had set out to stop Donald Trump from becoming president.

“At no time, in any of those texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said.

The hearing brought a defiant Strzok face-to-face with Republican lawmakers who for months have held up his texts as the embodiment of anti-Trump bias within the FBI. In breaking his months-long silence, Strzok vigorously defended his handling of two hugely sensitive investigations in which he played a leading role: inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s email use and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

He insisted the FBI had good cause two years ago to start investigating whether the Trump campaign was working with the Kremlin amid allegations of what he described as a Russian offer of assistance to a Trump campaign associate. He characterized the anti-Trump text messages as personal communications that he never envisioned becoming public and denied that they had swayed his actions.

Strzok insisted under aggressive questioning that a much-discussed August 2016 text in which he said “we’ll stop” a Trump presidency followed Trump’s denigration of the family of a dead U.S. service member. He said the text, written late at night and off-the-cuff, reflected his belief that the American public would not stomach such “horrible, disgusting behavior” by the Republican presidential candidate.

But, he added in a raised voice and emphatic tone, “It was in no way — unequivocally — any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So, I take great offense, and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn’t.”

Plus, he said, both investigations were handled by large teams.

“They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them,” Strzok said. “That is who we are as the FBI. And the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn’t happen.”

Some Democrats applauded after he finished speaking.

Republican members of the House judiciary and oversight committees grilled Strzok as they argued that text messages he exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page colored the outcome of the Clinton investigation and undercut the ongoing Russia probe. Strzok, a seasoned counterintelligence agent, helped lead both investigations but has since been reassigned to human resources.

“Agent Strzok had Hillary Clinton winning the White House before he finished investigating her,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him. That is bias. Agent Strzok may not see it but the rest of the country does, and it is not what we want, expect or deserve from any law enforcement officer much less the FBI.”

The hearing was punctuated by chaos and open yelling as Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte said Strzok needed to answer Republicans’ questions and suggested they might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Democrats objected to Goodlatte’s repeated attempts to get Strzok to answer. Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed without calling the panel into recess.

In his opening statement, Strzok said he has never allowed personal opinions to infect his work, that he knew information during the campaign that had the potential to damage Trump but never contemplated leaking it and that the focus put on him by Congress is misguided and plays into “our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

Strzok acknowledged that while his text message criticism was “blunt,” it was not directed at one person or political party and included jabs not only at Trump but also at Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” he said.

He said he was one of the few people during the 2016 election who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with people in the Trump orbit, and that that information could have derailed Trump’s election chances. “But,” he said, “the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.”

Although Strzok has said through his lawyer that he was eager to tell his side of the story, he made clear his exasperation at being the focal point of a congressional hearing at a time when Russian election interference has been successfully “sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions.”

“I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” Strzok said. “As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.”

The contentious hearing follows hours of closed-door questioning last week. It also reflects an effort to shift attention away from the content of Strzok’s texts and onto what he says is the more pressing issue: the Russians’ “grave attack” on American democracy and continuing efforts to divide the country.

Republicans eager for ways to discredit Mueller’s investigation have for months held up the texts from Strzok and Page to support allegations of anti-Trump bias within federal law enforcement.

The Justice Department’s inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton. And many Democrats say actions taken by law enforcement during the campaign season, including announcing a reopening of the investigation into Clinton just days before the election, actually wound up harming the Democratic candidate and aiding the Republican candidate, Trump.

FBI Director Chris Wray says employees who were singled out for criticism in the report have been referred to internal disciplinary officials. Strzok’s lawyer has said he was escorted from the FBI building as the disciplinary process winds its way through the system.

Page is expected to speak to lawmakers at a private meeting Friday.

___

Associated Press writer Chad Day in Washington contributed to this report.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/fbi-agent-never-tainted-political-bias-080213902–politics.html

7 key moments from Peter Strzok’s wild hearing

July 12 at 6:21 PM
The fieriest moments from Peter Strzok’s hearing

The House hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok devolved into personal attacks, partisan exchanges and a perjury accusation. Here’s a look at the biggest moments.

This post has been updated.

FBI agent Peter Strzok had his moment on an extremely hot seat Thursday morning in a contentious hearing that quickly devolved into angry yelling, interjections and parliamentary maneuvering.

Appearing before a joint session of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Strzok sought to explain his anti-Trump text messages at a time when he was the lead agent on the FBI’s then-nascent Russia investigation in 2016. He was removed from the investigation in 2017 after those text messages with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were discovered. Republicans including President Trump have seized upon Strzok’s texts — which included allusions to stopping Trump — as evidence of a biased and even corrupt law enforcement investigation.

Here are the key moments from the hearing.

1. The contempt threat

 3:07
Goodlatte cites subpoena as Strzok refuses to answer question

FBI agent Peter Strzok refused to answer a question about the Russia probe on July 12, sparking Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to attempt to force an answer. 

It didn’t take long for the hearing to explode. After the opening statements, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) lodged his first question: How many people did Strzok interview during the first eight days of the FBI’s Russia investigation, between July 31 and Aug. 8, 2016?

Strzok, as he previewed in his opening statement, said he had been advised by the FBI’s lawyers that he was not to address specifics of what is still an ongoing investigation. (The investigation was handed over to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in mid-2017.) Republicans quickly objected and threatened to hold Strzok in contempt. Democrats noted that it was unusual that Strzok be asked to disclose such details in a public setting.

Strzok said he didn’t have to answer the question because, despite being subpoenaed by the committee, he had previously said he would speak voluntarily.

“Mr. Chairman, I do not believe I am here under subpoena,” Strzok said. “I believe I am here voluntarily. … Based on that, I will not answer that question.”

Democrats argued that a witness such as Strzok would not be expected to publicly disclose sensitive information like the blueprint for a hydrogen bomb. Another moved to adjourn the hearing less than an hour after it began.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) finally said that Strzok would be recalled to the committee after the day’s hearing so that it could determine whether to hold him in contempt. But the tone was set.

2. Strzok’s angry retort: ‘It is deeply destructive’

 3:00
Strzok: Accusation of bias ‘deeply corrodes’ the FBI

FBI agent Peter Strzok explained the context of his text messages about Trump on July 12, and said his personal beliefs never factored into his actions. 

After more than 20 minutes of maneuvering and posturing following the subpoena discussion, Gowdy ended his interrogation of Strzok and Strzok was given the floor to respond. In a minutes-long retort, he called Gowdy’s and his Republican allies’ allegations of bias and improper actions “deeply destructive.”

He said that his text messages critical of Trump shortly after the investigation began were in response to Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail — and not a reflection of his investigative intent. He pointed in particular to Trump’s attacks on the Khans, a Gold Star family who spoke at the Democratic National Convention around that time.

“My presumption [was] based on that horrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States,” he said. “It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So I take great offense . . . ”

Strzok concluded the accusation against him and the line of questioning “deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.” Some in the room applauded.

3. A perjury accusation — and a very personal attack

 9:43
Rep. Gohmert launches personal attacks against Peter Strzok

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) attacked FBI agent Peter Strzok on personal grounds, and then tried to refuse him the opportunity to respond on July 12. 

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) seized upon Strzok’s contention that his texts didn’t demonstrate personal “bias” and said that argument amounted to him lying. When Democrats noted that Gohmert was basically accusing Strzok of perjury — given he made that claim under oath — Gohmert was unbowed.

Then he got personal — very personal.

“When I see you looking with a little smirk, I wonder how many times did you look so innocently into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert began. The hearing room erupted, with someone shouting “insane asylum” and someone else asserting that Gohmert needed medication.

In response, Strzok acknowledged “hurting” someone he described as a “family member.”

“The fact that you would question whether or not that was the sort of look,” he told Gohmert, “goes more to a discussion about your character.”

4. The transcript threat

 3:54
Democrats demand release of Strzok’s closed-door interview transcript

Democrats demanded that Republicans show them a rule that prohibits releasing the transcript from Peter Strzok’s closed-door interview, or they will release it.

One of the subplots here has been Democrats’ push to release the transcript of Strzok’s previous, closed-door testimony. They argue that it has been selectively leaked and described to impugn him.

So at one point early in the hearing, Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said he intended to release the transcript himself — and asked whether there was any reason he couldn’t. Goodlatte stressed that it was the committee’s practice and that there was an agreement to keep closed-door hearings private while an investigation is ongoing.

Cicilline’s response: “We intend to release this transcript unless someone presents some rule that prevents us from doing it, and we’ll give you till 5 this afternoon to present that,” he said. “Otherwise we intend to release the transcript.”

Eventually Cicilline got some backup from GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), who happens to be the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

It’s worth noting that Goodlatte’s justification — that the committee’s investigation is ongoing — was the same one Strzok offered for not answering questions about the special counsel’s Russia probe. In the latter case, apparently, Republicans don’t think it applies.

Aaron Blake

@AaronBlake

The contrast here is pretty stark:

GOP in one breath threatens Strzok with contempt if he doesn’t detail Russia investigation, which is ongoing.

Then it says it won’t release transcript of Strzok’s initial testimony … because its investigation is ongoing.

5. Making him read his own texts

 3:21
Rep. Issa directs Peter Strzok to read his text messages aloud

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on July 12 asked FBI agent Peter Strzok to read aloud from some of his text messages turned over to the House Russia investigation. 

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) took his five minutes to force Strzok to read some of his own texts — including ones that used vulgarities.

While reading one in which he used the f-word while talking about Trump, Strzok paused and asked how he should handle it, then finished. Then Issa asked him to read it again.

“Sir, was that not intelligible?” Strzok said. “You just want to hear — for me to repeat it.”

“Please,” Issa said.

“Okay, sir. Sure,” Strzok shot back snidely. “Happy to indulge you.”

6. A Democrat says Strzok should get a Purple Heart

The difference between the lines of questioning between Republicans and Democrats was, as usual, stark. While Republicans badgered Strzok and tried to catch him off-guard, Democrats mostly used their time to argue for the importance of the Mueller investigation.

But some Democrats decided to go further than that and to make Strzok a martyr — or even a hero. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) went the furthest.

“Mr. Strzok, if I could give you a Purple Heart, I would,” Cohen said when he began his questioning.

To recap, Strzok was removed from the Mueller investigation and harshly criticized by an inspector general. It is generally agreed that his text messages were problematic, regardless of if you think this reflects corruption and bias in all law enforcement or the Mueller probe.

7. ‘This is not Benghazi’

 2:11
Democrat erupts at Gowdy: ‘This is not Benghazi!’

As Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-N.C.) grilled FBI agent Peter Strzok on July 12, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) interjected and yelled at him to “leave it alone.” 

Democratic patience with the GOP’s treatment of Strzok quickly wore thin. Gowdy, in his role as head of the Oversight Committee, repeatedly afforded himself the chance to try to get under Strzok’s skin.

And toward the end of the hearing, the whole thing boiled over. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) yelled at Gowdy during one interrogation of Strzok, telling him to “leave it alone.”

“This is not Benghazi,” she said, referring to the years-long investigation Gowdy led into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, which Democrats contend that probe devolved into a witch hunt against Hillary Clinton.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/07/12/3-key-moments-from-peter-strzoks-wild-hearing/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.518d74885981

Peter Strzok

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Peter Strzok
Strzok1.png
Born 1969/1970 (age 47–48) [1]
Education Georgetown University (BSMA)[2]

Peter Strzok (/strʌk/, pronounced “struck”) (born 1969/1970) is a United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent.[3][4] Strzok was the Chief of the Counterespionage Section and led the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server.[5][4][6] Strzok rose to become the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, the second-highest position in that division. He also led the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[4][7][8][9]

In June and July 2017, Strzok worked on Robert Mueller‘s Special Counsel investigation into any links or coordination between Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign and the Russian government.[10][7][9] Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia investigation when he became aware of criticisms of Trump contained in personal text messages exchanged between Strzok and a colleague.[11][12] The revelation of the text messages led to accusations by Republican congressmen and conservative media that Strzok was involved in a conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency; conservatives used the text messages as part of a campaign to discredit Mueller’s investigation. The Department of Justice, led by Republican Jeff Sessions, has defended Mueller’s response to the text messages.[13][10] A February 2018 comprehensive review by The Wall Street Journal of Strzok’s messages showed that “texts critical of Mr. Trump represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 messages, which stretch across 384 pages and show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump”.[14] After the release of the DOJ-OIG report, which revealed further anti-Trump texts from Strzok, he agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.[15]

Early life and education

For high school, Strzok attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Minnesota, graduating in 1987.[16] He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in 1991 as well as a master’s degree in 2013.[17] He is married to Melissa Hodgman, an associate director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[18][19][20] His father was a longtime member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[21] Like his father, Strzok served as an officer in the United States Army before joining the FBI in the 1990s as an intelligence research specialist.[8][22]

FBI

As of 2018, Strzok has a career of 22 years at the FBI.[23] He notably was the lead agent in FBI’s “Operation Ghost Stories” against Andrey Bezrukov and Yelena Vavilova, a Russian spy couple who were part of the Illegals Program, a network of Russian sleeper agents who were arrested in 2010.[24] By July 2015, Strzok was serving as the section chief of the Counterespionage Section, a subordinate section of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.[4] He led a team of a dozen investigators during the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server and assisted in the drafting of public statements for then-FBI Director James Comey.[25] He changed the description of Clinton’s actions from “grossly negligent”, which could be a criminal offense, to “extremely careless”.[4] The draft was reviewed and corrected by several people and its creation was a team process. In his statement to Congress, Comey said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges based on available evidence.[4] Later, when additional emails were discovered a few days before the election, Strzok supported reopening the Clinton investigation.[26] He then co-wrote the letter[27] that Comey used to inform Congress, which “reignited the email controversy in the final days” and “played a key role in a controversial FBI decision that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”[26]

Due to his acknowledged expertise and reliability, Strzok rose to the position of Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, and as the number two official within that division oversaw investigations involving Russia and China.[10][28][8] In that capacity, he led the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections,[4][29] and examined both the Donald Trump–Russia dossier and the Russian role in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak.[30][3][25] He also oversaw the bureau’s interviews with then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; Flynn later pled guilty to lying during those interviews.[31]

In July 2017, Strzok became the top FBI agent working for Robert Mueller‘s 2017 Special Counsel investigation looking into any links or coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.[32][33] He served in that position until August 2017, at which time he began working in the Human Resources Branch.[34][35] According to The New York Times, Strzok was “considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators,”[22] as well as “one of the Bureau’s top experts on Russia” according to CNN.[4] Strzok left the investigation in late July 2017 after the discovery of personal text messages sent to a colleague.[36] At the request of Republicans in Congress, the Justice Department (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) began an inquiry in January 2017 into how the FBI handled investigations related to the election, and the IG announced it would issue a report by March or April 2018.[22][37] The report was eventually released on June 14, 2018, after several delays.

On June 15, 2018, the day after this IG report was published, Strzok was escorted from FBI headquarters as part of the bureau’s internal conduct investigations.[38] The move put Strzok on notice that the bureau intends to fire him, though he has appeal rights that could delay such action.[39] On June 21, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Strzok had lost his security clearance.[40]

Text messages

During the IG’s investigation, thousands of text messages exchanged using FBI-issued cell phones between Strzok and Lisa Page, a trial attorney on Mueller’s team, were examined.[41][42][41][42] The texts were sent between August 15, 2015 and December 1, 2016. At the request of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the DOJ turned over 375 of these text messages to the House Judiciary Committee.[41][42][43] Some of the texts disparaged then-presidential candidate Donald Trump,[41][42][44][45] Chelsea Clinton, Attorney General in the Obama administration Eric Holder, former Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley, and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders.[46][47][1] Strzok called Trump an “idiot” in August 2015 and texted “God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0” after a Republican debate in March 2016.[41][42][48] In their messages, Strzok and Page also advocated for creating a Special Counsel to investigate the Hillary Clinton email controversy, and discussed suggesting former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald be considered for such a probe.[49] Devlin Barrett from The Washington Post alleged Strzok and Page had been using the backdrop of discussing the Clinton investigation as a cover for their personal communications during an affair.[50] Upon learning of the text messages, Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation.[22] Messages released in January 2018 showed that Strzok was hesitant to join the Mueller investigation, with Page encouraging him not to.[51]

Strzok’s colleagues and a former Trump administration official said that Strzok had never shown any political bias.[52][44] An associate of his says the political parts of the text messages were especially related to Trump’s criticism of the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton emails.[52] According to FBI guidelines, agents are allowed to have and express political opinions as individuals. Former FBI and DOJ officials told The Hill that it was not uncommon for agents like Strzok to hold political opinions and still conduct an impartial investigation.[53] Several agents asserted that Mueller had removed Strzok to protect the integrity of the special counsel’s Russia investigation.[54] Strzok was not punished following his reassignment.[55] Defenders of Strzok and Page in the FBI said no professional misconduct between them occurred.[44]

The decision by the DOJ to publicize the private messages in December 2017 was controversial. Statements by DOJ spokeswomen revealed that some reporters had copies of the texts even before the DOJ invited the press to review them, but the DOJ did not authorize the pre-release. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have asked for a review of the circumstances under which the texts were leaked to select press outlets.[56]

The Office of Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation published on June 14, 2018, criticized Strzok’s text messages for creating the appearance of impropriety.[57] However, the report concluded that there was no evidence of bias in the FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.[57] The report revealed additional texts hostile to Donald Trump by Strzok. In early August 2016, after Page asked Strzok, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”, Strzok responded: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”[58] Many Democrats noted that the FBI’s actions during 2016 presidential campaign, such as reopening the Clinton email investigation on the eve of the election and elements within the FBI telling the New York Times that there was no clear link between the Trump campaign and Russia, ended up harming the Clinton campaign and benefitting the Trump campaign.[58]

At a July 12, 2018, public congressional hearing, Strzok denied that the personal beliefs expressed in the text messages impacted his work for the FBI.[57] Strzok explained that a “We’ll stop Trump” text message was written late at night and off-the-cuff shortly after Trump denigrated the immigrant family of a fallen American war hero, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, and that the message reflected Strzok’s belief that Americans would not vote for a candidate who engaged in such “horrible, disgusting behavior”.[57] Strzok said the message “was in no way – unequivocally – any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate.”[57] Strzok added that he knew of information during the 2016 presidential campaign that could have damaged Trump but that he never contemplated leaking it.[57] Strzok also said that he criticized politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in his “blunt” text messages.[57] Strzok’s said that the investigation into him and the Republicans’ related rhetoric was misguided and played into “our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”[57]

Reactions

Strzok’s personal messages to Lisa Page have been used by Republicans to attack the impartiality of Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the election. Conservative media outlets and Republicans have used the text messages as part of an aggressive campaign to discredit the Mueller investigation and protect President Trump. Other Republicans have defended Mueller and his work, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who said that he would only fire Mueller if there was actual cause under DOJ regulations, and that no such cause existed. Rosenstein also praised Mueller for removing Strzok from the Russian investigation.[13]

Republican allegations

In late January 2018, a number of congressional Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson, asserted that they had evidence that pointed towards FBI agents working clandestinely to undermine the Trump presidency; they asserted that Strzok and Page were in a “secret society” against Trump.[59] Fox News amplified these claims.[60] Congressional Republicans refused to release the evidence behind the assertion, but ABC News obtained a copy of the message that Republicans were referring to and noted that the message that refers to a “secret society” may have been made in jest.[59] The day after his assertion that these messages demonstrated “corruption at the highest levels of the FBI” and after a copy of the messages were revealed by ABC News, Johnson walked back his comments and said that there was a “real possibility” that the messages were made in jest.[61]

In February 2018, Johnson speculated that a text message between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page raised questions about “the type and extent of President Obama’s personal involvement” in the Clinton emails investigation.[62] Fox News reiterated, without scrutiny, Ron Johnson’s speculative claim that text messages between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page suggested that President Barack Obama was deeply involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.[60] Fox News spokeswoman Carly Shanahan did not answer an inquiry from CNN about whether Fox News reached out to Obama for comment.[60] Johnson’s claim was covered by various pro-Trump websites, such as Drudge ReportBreitbartInfoWars and The Gateway Pundit, before President Trump himself tweeted “NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!”[60] Other news outlets reported that the text messages were sent in September 2016, months after the Clinton emails investigation had concluded, and three days before Obama would confront Russian President Vladimir Putin about interference in the 2016 election at the G20 Hangzhou summit.[60][63] Associates of Strzok and Page told The Wall Street Journal the texts were about the FBI’s investigation into Russian electoral interference.[62] Fox News continued to report the story even after these news outlets had provided this context for the messages.[60]

Fox News commentary

While referring to Strzok’s messages, some commentators on the Fox News Channel intensified their anti-Mueller rhetoric. Jesse Watters said that Mueller’s investigation now amounted to a coup against President Trump, if “the investigation was weaponized to destroy his presidency for partisan political purposes”.[64][65][66][67][68] Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said that the FBI and DOJ were working clandestinely to destroy the Trump presidency, and called for a “war” against the “deep state”.[69] One guest on Fox’s talk and news show Outnumbered, Kevin Jackson, speculated that Strzok’s messages were evidence of a plot by FBI agents to make “an assassination attempt or whatever” against President Trump, which other Fox hosts quickly contradicted and said was not “credible”.[70] Fox News figures referred to the investigation as “corrupt”, “crooked” and “illegitimate”, and likened the FBI to the KGB, the brutal Soviet-era spy organization.[64] Political scientists and experts on coups rejected that Mueller’s investigation amounted to a coup.[64]

See also

References

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

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1106, July 11, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Is Right: “Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” — Germany Is Dependent Upon Russia For Natural Gas — Buy American LNG And Eliminate Some of The U.S. Trade Deficit With The European Union, Germany and China! — U.S. LNG Competes With Russian Natural Gas — World Economic Boom Fueled By Natural Gas and LNG — Free and Fair Trade Is A Winner — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Increases The Pressure on China To Eliminate Trade Deficits and Unfair Trade Practices or Face Higher Tariffs On Many Chinese Exports To United States — Videos

Posted on July 11, 2018. Filed under: Addiction, American History, Autos, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, British Pound, Budgetary Policy, Business, Canada, China, Climate Change, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Currencies, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Euro, European History, European Union, Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, France, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Germany, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Impeachment, Independence, Investments, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Language, Law, Life, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Media, Medicare, Middle East, MIssiles, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Netherlands, News, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, President Trump, Prime Minister, Progressives, Qatar, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rifles, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Social Security, South America, Spying, Success, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Transportation, Trucks, U.S. Dollar, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Vessels, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1106, July 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1105, July 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1104, July 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1103, July 5, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1102, JUly 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1101, July 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1100, June 28, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1099, June 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1098, June 25, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1097, June 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1096, June 20, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1095, June 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1094, June 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1093, June 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1092, June 13, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1091, June 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1090, June 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1088, June 6, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1087, June 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1086, May 31, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1085, May 30, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1084, May 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1083, May 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1082, May 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1081, May 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1078, May 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1077, May 15, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1075, May 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1073, May 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1072, May 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1071, May 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1069, May 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1068, April 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1067, April 25, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1066, April 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1065, April 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1064, April 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1063, April 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1062, April 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1061, April 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1060, April 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1059, April 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1058, April 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1057, April 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1056, April 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1055, April 2, 2018

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Story 1: President Trump Is Right: “Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.” — Germany Is Dependent Upon Russia For Natural Gas — Buy American LNG And Eliminate Some U.S. Trade Deficit With European Union and China! — Compete With Russian Natural Gas — World Economic Boom Fueled By Natural Gas and LNG — Free and Fair Trade Is A Winner — Videos

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‘Germany is a captive of Russia’: Trump dresses down NATO’s secretary general and threatens Berlin over its lagging defense spending and energy partnership with Putin’s government

  • Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday morning after the leader asked him about Vladimir Putin
  • ‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia,’ Trump charged. ‘I think its a very bad thing for NATO’
  • Merkel told press that her country is ‘independent’ after Trump’s tongue-lashing 
  • President Trump has berated America’s European allies for failing to meet their defense spending obligations to NATO
  • The complaints come full circle this week at the NATO leaders’ summit 
  • On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk hit back at Trump, telling him, ‘America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe’
  • Tusk said: ‘America appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many’  
  • President Trump tweeted minutes later: NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!’
  • He told reporters as he prepared to board Marine One that America has plenty of allies and put new pressure on NATO nations to increase their defense spending 

Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday for defending Germany‘s energy partnership with Russia and threatened Berlin with U.S. action over the deal that he said is wholly inappropriate.

Trump fumed that ‘Germany is a captive of Russia’ and said the U.S. would ‘have to do something’ in light of the pipeline deal that’s funneling billions of dollars to Moscow.

‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia,’ he charged. ‘I think its a very bad thing for NATO, and I don’t think it should have happened.’

Stoltenberg reminded him that the U.S. and Europe are ‘stronger together than apart’ and that has been proven by two World Wars and the alliance’s dealings with Russia.

The confrontation stunned the leaders’ senior advisers, including Trump’s secretaries of defense and state. A press aide demanded the media leave the room as Trump pushed Stoltenberg to explain how the U.S. is supposed to protect Germany when it’s opening its front door to Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump unleashed his fury on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday for defending Germany’s energy partnership with Russia after Stoltenberg reminded him that the U.S. and Europe are ‘stronger together than apart

Stoltenberg inadvertently whipped the U.S. president into a frenzy at an internationally-broadcast breakfast by asking Trump about his upcoming meeting with Putin. Trump responded with a tirade on Germany and its weaknesses and griped, again, about lagging contributions from members of the NATO alliance.

Trump gave Stoltenberg an earful with media present, telling the visibly startled NATO chief, ‘We’re protecting Germany. We’re protecting France. We’re protecting everybody, and yet, we’re paying a lot of money to protect.’

Trump said that past presidents did not confront America’s allies because they did not want to meddle in their affairs or they were blind to the problem.

‘I think that these countries have to step it up — not over a 10-year-period — they have to step it up immediately,’ Trump demanded. ‘Germany is a rich country. They talk about they’re gonna increase it a tiny bit by 2030. Well, they could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem.’

The United States’ more than 4 percent GDP contribution to the security group compared to its European allies is ‘very unfair’ to the American taxpayer, he said in a familiar complaint.

‘I don’t think it’s fair to the United States, so we’re going to have to do something, because we’re not gonna put up with it. We can’t put up with it, and it’s inappropriate,’ Trump on Wednesday proclaimed. ‘So we have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country that we’re supposed to be protecting you against.’

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2018. Still, it’s significantly more than the next closest country. Germany’s spending on defense as a percentage of GDP was on par with a handful of other NATO nations at 1.24 percent, putting it at the mid-to-lower end of the pack.

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation's GDP in 2018. Still, it's significantly more than the next closest country - and nearly three times as much as Germany

A new NATO report actually puts the U.S. contribution at 3.5 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2018. Still, it’s significantly more than the next closest country – and nearly three times as much as Germany

TERSE TALKS: Trump fumed that 'Germany is a captive of Russia' and said the U.S. would 'have to do something' about a gas deal that's funneling billions into Moscow's economy

U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Trump began his Wednesday morning rant by telling Stoltenberg that it’s ‘very sad’ when Germany, France and ‘numerous of the countries go out and then make a pipeline deal with Russia’ and then expect the U.S. to foot the bill for their security.

‘So we’re supposed to protect you against Russia but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that’s very inappropriate,’ Trump said. ‘And the former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas.’

Trump informed Stoltenberg that ‘Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas’ when the deal is fully realized.

‘So you tell me is that appropriate?’ he said. ‘I mean I’ve been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should never have never been allowed to have happened.’

Now, he said, ‘Germany is totally controlled by Russia…And you tell me if that’s appropriate, because I think it’s not. And I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO, and I don’t think it should have happened, and I think we have to talk to Germany about it.’

Merkel told press in German as she arrived at NATO that her country makes ‘independent decisions,’ according to a translation of her remarks on NATO’s blue arrival carpet by AFP.

‘I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being occupied by the Soviet Union,’ said Merkel, who was born and raised in East Germany, in her native tougue.

She touched on her nation’s communist history, saying. ‘I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.’

The White House said after the president’s remarks went wide that he would hold private talks in the afternoon on the sidelines of the summit with Merkel and then meet separately with France’s president.

Trump told Stoltenberg that the alliance must confront Germany over its gas deal with Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen her on Wednesday during her Cabinet meeting in Berlin. She'll see Trump later today at NATO

Trump said last week at a rally that he told Merkel in an undated conversation that he couldn't commit to protecting Germany from Putin's army

In bringing up the gas deal on Wednesday, Trump returned to an issue he had raised before his trip in an attempt to put Germany on the defensive while simultaneously pushing back on the narrative that it is the U.S. that is cozying up to Moscow.

For much of the past year, it has been Trump who has been under attack for resisting sanctions imposed on Russia for its election interference. His frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his repeated attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe have also been the subject of national and international scrutiny.

But in Brussels, it was Trump who hammered Merkel for taking part in a deal that would give Germany direct access to Russian energy supplies and cut out Eastern European nations fearful of Moscow’s leverage

In March, Germany reached a deal to allow Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom to run its Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its waters. The $11 billion deal immediately outraged Eastern European allies.

Russia has used its oil and gas to pressure and punish its neighbors. In a shock move, the parties announced the deal a day after Germany joined UK in protesting the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Great Britain.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the Alliance's headquarters ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels

She will continue talking to Trump after everyone else has gone home as she is hosting the U.S. President in Britain for a two-day visit

The pipeline will send Russian oil and gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Poland and other Eastern European countries fear the pipeline could leave them vulnerable to Russian pressure.

In May, a State Department official weighed in against the project. Deputy Assistant Secretary Sandra Oudkirk said the pipeline could allow Russia to exert ‘malign influence’ in Europe. But the pipeline company said the project wouldn’t be used to blackmail other countries.

Stoltenberg unequivocally said at a news conference that followed his meeting with Trump that the pipeline deal is ‘a national decision’ and ‘it’s not for NATO to decide.’

‘It’s not for NATO to solve this issue,’ he asserted.

Trump bashed Germany over the pipeline issue at a campaign rally last Thursday in Montana, where he also raised the ally’s defense spending.

‘They go out and make a gas deal, oil and gas, from Russia, where they pay billions and billions of dollars to Russia. They want to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia,’ Trump said then.

He said at the rally that he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he could not ensure her nation’s security as a result.

U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels on Wednesday

Trump informed Stoltenberg that 'Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas' when the deal is fully realized

Former Secretary of State John Kerry blasted Trump for his display.

‘I’ve never seen a president say anything as strange or counterproductive as President Trump’s harangue against NATO and Germany,’ Kerry said in a statement. ‘It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America,’ the former top diplomat said.

 Then Kerry, a 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said of Trump: ‘He is steadily destroying our reputation in the world. He is undermining our interests. He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom.

House Speaker Paul Ryan invoked a bygone rule usually cited when members of one party refrain from attacking a president of the other.

‘I subscribe to the view that we should not be criticizing our president while he’s overseas,’ Ryan said.

‘NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been,’ Ryan said in defense of the organization Trump went after.

Germany’s defense minister told CNBC after Trump’s assault on her country on Wednesday that two weeks ago she had occasion to visit the United States and was reassured by her conversations with American lawmakers of the strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

‘The president is as the president is. We know him and we can cope with that,’ Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen told CNBC from outside of NATO’s headquarters. ‘This rhetoric also leads us to remember that a lot is at stake.’

Von der Leyen said that generations that came of age after WWII have taken peace for granted. ‘Now, we have to fight for democracy. We have to secure our international order, our peace architecture,’ she said.

It was Trump who had arrived in Brussels on the defense on Tuesday after the EU Council’s head berated him at an off-site event that was attached to the NATO summit.

Trump had signaled in early morning tweets on Tuesday that foreign leaders could expect a reckoning when he sees them this week over the ‘unfair’ burden on the U.S. taxpayer to carry the cost of Europe’s protection.

He was met with an immediate brush-back from European Council chief Donald Tusk, who said at a signing of a joint declaration between the Brussels-based security alliance and the body of EU nations that Trump should be more careful with his taunts.

‘America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China,’ he said in remarks that were addressed to Trump.  ‘And I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security.’

Then, in the toughest challenge yet to the U.S. president, Tusk said: ‘America: appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many.’

U.S. President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that European leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit and faced an immediate brush-back from European Council President Donald Tusk

U.S. President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that European leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit and faced an immediate brush-back from European Council President Donald Tusk

Trump signaled in early morning tweets that foreign leaders can expect a reckoning when he sees them this week in Brussels at the NATO summit over the 'unfair' burden on the U.S. taxpayer to pay for Europe's protection. He's seen here in May of 2017 at a working dinner at last year's NATO gathering

Trump fired back minutes later as he left the White House en route to NATO.

‘We do have a lot of allies. But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘We lost $151 billion last year on trade, and on top of that we spend at least 70 per cent for NATO, and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us. So we’ll see what happens.

Trump had invited the challenge in the lead-up to the alliance’s summertime summit by pillorying NATO member nations in almost-day tirades.

Just prior to Tusk’s comments on Tuesday, Trump complained that the United States is bearing the brunt of the 29-nation security alliance’s costs and said that it’s not fair to Americans, especially when the U.S. is getting hosed in economic markets.

‘The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,’ he griped. ‘On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!’

After Tusk’s slap at him — which the EU Council leader also tweeted at Trump — the president doubled down on his position, saying, ‘NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!’

Trump woke up early on Tuesday chagrined about the United States' trade relationship with allies that are part of the Brussels-based security and their lacking contributions to NATO's defense fund

Tusk fired back at Trump from NATO's new headquarter city of Brussels: 'America: appreciate your allies. After all you don’t have that many'

Tusk had acknowledged in his remarks that European countries need to step up their contributions.

‘Everyone expects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped,’ he said.

The EU Council chief assessed that ‘money is important’ yet said that ‘genuine solidarity is even more important.’

‘Speaking about solidarity, I want to dispel the American president’s argument which says that the U.S. alone protects Europe against our enemies, and threat the U.S. is almost alone in this struggle,’ he said in a repudiation of Trump’s statements.

Tusk argued that Europe ‘was first to respond on a large scale’ when terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11. He further noted that European soldiers have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Afghanistan.

But Trump refused to climb down from his position as he spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning local time from the White House’s South Lawn.

‘NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little,’ he said. ‘But we will work it out and all countries will be happy.’

He acknowledged that the relationship between the U.S. and many of its traditional allies had soured in the nearly 18 months since he took office. He said a meeting next week with the Russian president may be the ‘easiest’ leg of his four-nation visit to Europe.

Trump refused to climb down from his position as he spoke to reporters on Tuesday morning local time from the White House's South Lawn. 'NATO has not treated us fairly...We pay far too much and they pay far too little'

Trump had invited the challenge in the lead-up to the alliance's summertime summit by pillorying NATO member nations in almost-day tirades

With Trump in the air, it was his NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison who was left to do the talking for him at a news conference where Trump’s flattery of Putin and his disagreements with Merkel and Tusk came up.

Hutchison told reporters that Trump backs Article 5 of NATO’s charter, which specifies that an attack on one is an attack on all.

‘He is committed to Article 5 protection just as it is in he NATO charter,’ she told press who arrived at the NATO summit in advance of the U.S. president.

She also stressed that ‘the importance of unity in NATO is what makes us different’ from other alliances that the U.S. and Europe are a part of.

‘I will say that in all of the disagreements that have happened between President Trump and the United States’ position and the EU,’ Hutchsion said, ‘our allies in NATO have remained steadfastly focused on the NATO issues, and we are in agreement, we are in unity on our security issues, and we are an alliance that has performed better, increasing our capabilities.’

Hutchison said that while Trump is hard on Germany, he believes he is ‘pulling them toward us, not away from us.’

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (second from left) arrives for a NATO summit in Brussels with her entourage

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrive at the Alliance's headquarters ahead of the NATO summit

At a news conference just before Hutchison’s, Stoltenberg had thanked Trump for the push as he informally kicking off the 2018 summit.

‘It is clearly having an impact,’ he said. ‘We estimate that European allies and Canada will add an extra $266 billion USD to defense between now and 2024. This is significant.’

Stoltenberg said that eight countries are on track to hit their contribution targets this year compared to three in 2014.

At the presser he said he was confident that leaders would be able to put their differences over trade aside as they have done in the past, because NATO has a good story to tell.

When it comes to defense spending, he said, it is true that the burden sharing has not been fairly distributed. That is why Canada and European nations that are part of the alliance are stepping up their donations.

‘I would not be surprised if we had robust discussions at the summit, including on defense spending,’ he said. ‘Different views are common between friends and allies.’

Just how robust they would get, even he did not seem to have imagined. The NATO secretary general was pummeled in his Wednesday morning breakfast by a fired-up Trump.

Trump indicated Tuesday that he was chagrined about the United States’ trade relationship with allies that are part of the Brussels-based security organization NATO and intended to make their contributions to its defense fund the focal point of his conversations in Belgium.

The president directly linked the the trade discrepancies that inspired his heavy metal tariffs in tweets that contradicted his NATO ambassador's assessment a day prior that the policies should be evaluated separately from one another. He's pictured here talking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June at the G7 summit

Just 16 countries are on track to meet the agreed upon spending obligation of 2 percent GDP, the United States has said, in accordance with a 2014 pact. That’s roughly half of NATO’s 29 members.

In tweets on Monday, President Trump berated the rest for relying on America for protection while at the same time running massive trade deficits with the U.S.

The president directly linked the trade discrepancies that inspired his heavy tariffs on metal imports to Western security in tweets that contradicted his NATO ambassador’s assessment a day prior that the policies should be evaluated separately from one another.

‘NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitments,’ Trump said. ‘On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!’

The president put trade on the table in talks that begin Wednesday in Brussels with the tweets that he continued to send even after he had departed the U.S. for Belgium.

His trip to Brussels was proving to be a repeat of the testy confrontation he had with leaders from allied nations in June at the G7 summit in Charlevoix.

He butted heads with them on trade in Canada, also, complaining in conversations that NATO is ‘much too costly for the U.S’ and almost as bad as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In Belgium, he was due to come face-to-face with Canada’s Justin Trudeau for the first time since senior aides to Trump accused the prime minister of trying to sabotage the American president’s Singapore summit.

He was also assured to have an uncomfortable encounter with Germany’s long-running chancellor, Merkel.

He put on the table in talks that begin Wednesday in Brussels with the tweets that kicked off a day that was supposed to be focused on his Supreme Court appointment on Monday

TRUMP’S AGENDA IN BRUSSELS

President Trump arrives in Brussels on Tuesday evening local time July 10.

He begins his Wednesday with a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg. His secretaries of defense and state and his national security adviser will also participate in the conversation.

Trump will next meet with the United States’ Brussels missions’ staff and families, as is customary for a U.S. president when visiting foreign countries.

Later on Wednesday he will attend an opening ceremony at the NATO headquarters. There, he will meet privately with unknown heads of government.

He will attend a working dinner that evening with fellow leaders.

Wednesday morning leaders will participate in meeting with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine.

An Afghan strategy session follows.

Trump departs Belgium on Wednesday afternoon for London, where he has a working visit with Prime Minister Theresa May and an audience with the queen before a weekend in Scotland.

He caps his trip to Europe with a stop in Helsinki, Finland, for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He will also likely to be pressed on a decision to conclude his trip to Europe with a tacked-on stop in Finland to negotiate with NATO nemesis and Russian head of state Putin.

The president who has groused since he was a candidate about NATO burden sharing was expected to put pressure of his own on member nations in Brussels to meet the soft goal of 2 percent GDP for defense spending. The guideline was agreed to by the group years before he took office.

‘The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%,’ Trump harped in a message on Monday.

He has singled out Germany as a violator incessantly. His defense secretary recently put a microscope on spending by the contribution-abiding U.K. in a new twist of the knife, as well.

Trump hammered Germany at a Thursday evening rally, in Montana, where he claimed that he told Merkel that he believes Europe is benefited more by the security alliance because of its proximity to Russia than the U.S.

He repeated the charge in tweets on Monday in which he again brought up the EU’s trade deficit with the United States.

A day prior, Hutchison, had insisted on Fox News that trade and security were not related and should not be a subject of NATO talks.

‘One thing I will say is that in all of the disagreements that we have seen at the G7 and with allies with whom we are now having trade talks and negotiations and tariffs, that has not come up in the NATO context,’ she stated. ‘Our diplomats are professional and they are staying on our NATO issues, where we are 100 percent allied.’

An outside view of the NATO building is seen at the NATO's new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The security organization has its annual summit in Belgium this week

An outside view of the NATO building is seen at the NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The security organization has its annual summit in Belgium this week

She said prior to the summit that Russia’s ‘malign activities’ and a ‘rising China’ would be the foremost topics.

The president on Friday slapped $34 billion in tariffs on China that were aimed at reducing a trade deficit with the country that the U.S. has also accused of rampant and intentional intellectual property violations. He said Tuesday that he intends to hit Beijing with $200 billion more in penalties.

He is also said to have told France’s Macron that the EU is worse than China on trade in some ways when they met in Canada last month.

The rift over trade and the president’s planned talks with Putin set the stage for more tension in Belgium.

Hucthison pointed out on Sunday that Trump’s way of doing business had been effective, though, pointing to increased contributions to NATO since he took office.

‘NATO really is making progress and they are doing it really at President Trump’s insistence, and I think that it’s very clear, and he’s been very direct about the Europeans needing to do more for their own security,’ she said. ‘Every ally is now increasing defense spending.’

Trump’s liaison to NATO said, ‘We’ve had the largest increase in defense spending since the Cold War. And in the year and a half since President Trump has been in office, it has doubled since 2014.

‘So, I think he is making an impact and I think that the Europeans, including Chancellor Merkel just recently who has said we are going to do more,’ she said. ‘We need to do more, it’s the right thing to do and she is encouraging her Bundestag, her parliament, to increase the defense budget so that we will be more fit for purpose in NATO for the fights that we want to deter.’

A day prior, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hucthison, had insisted on Fox News that trade and security were not related and should not be a subject of NATO talks

Merkel said last month in a speech to parliament that she anticipates ‘very difficult’ talks in Brussels in a reference to the increasingly complicated relationship between Germany and the United States in the era of Donald Trump.

‘It is no secret that the transatlantic alliance is under strain at the moment but we are convinced that the alliance remains central to our common security,’ the European leader stated.

Trump hit back at her on Thursday evening, saying in remarks at a campaign event for a U.S. Senate candidate that Europe is killing America on trade and paying Russia billions for oil and gas all while complaining that it needs protection from Putin and his military.

‘We’re paying anywhere from 70- to 90-percent to protect Europe. And that’s fine. Of course, they kill us on trade. They kill us on other things,’ he proclaimed. ‘So they want to protect against Russia, yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia and we’re the schmucks paying for the whole thing.’

The president said he told Merkel in an undated conversation that he couldn’t commit to protecting Germany from Putin’s army.

‘Putin is fine. He’s fine. We’re all people,’ he said. ‘Will I be prepared? I’ve been preparing for this stuff all my life.’

Hutchison said Sunday that she does not agree with the president’s assessment of Putin. She said Trump is right, however, to engage with the former KGB spy who has personally been accused by the U.S. of directing a scheme to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

‘We should be talking to Vladimir Putin and many of our allied nations do as well,’ she said. ‘But it is to try to bring them in the tent instead of just constantly seeing them do these things that are attempting to disrupt us, but will not.’

She claimed on Tuesday at a news conference that Trump was saying at his rally that he was ‘not certain’ that Germany could pay out more money to NATO, not that he was unclear about the United States’ continued ability to protect the ally from Russia. Trump promptly contradicted her Wednesday when he indicated that’s exactly what he meant during his breakfast with Stoltenberg.

Germany’s defense minister, von der Leyen, said Wednesday on CNBC that Trump is right that Germany needs to increase its defense contribution — and said that it has.

The German official said her country also backs Trump’s summit next week with Putin.

‘It is good that he talking to President Putin,’ she said. ‘We have a lot of issues with Russia without question, but it’s good to be in a dialogue.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5941337/Germany-captive-Russia-Trump-dresses-NATOs-secretary-general-Brussels.html

The LNG supply chain

What is LNG ?

LNG, which stands for Liquefied Natural Gas, is natural gas that has been converted to a liquid state by cooling to below -163°C. In this form, it occupies 600 times less space than before cooling, while retaining the same calorific value. This makes transport much easier.

Setting up a LNG chain requires investment in several types of facility:

– Exploration, to detect deposits of natural gas (which are generally discovered during oil exploration operations) and extraction/production

– Storage then liquefaction, to convert the natural gas from “gaseous” to “liquid” form in which it can be transported by tanker

– Transportation by special vessels called LNG tankers

– Storage then regasification, to restore the natural gas to its gaseous form, in which it can be transmitted through pipelines for consumption by end customers.

The differents steps of a LNG supply chain

 

The history of LNG

Natural gas liquefaction was developed in the 19th century by the British chemist and physicist Michael Faraday, who experimented with liquefying several gases, including natural gas. The first liquefaction plant was built in the United States in 1917. The first commercial operation began in 1941, again in the US. In January 1959, a former World War II cargo ship was converted into a tanker, the Methane Pioneer, to carry LNG between Lake Charles (Louisiana, USA) and Canvey Island (UK). Long-distance LNG transportation had become a reality. The 7 deliveries made in the following 14 months suffered only minor technical problems. Following this success, the British Gas Council decided to set up a commercial route between Venezuela and Canvey Island. In 1964, the UK became the first LNG importer, and Algeria the first exporter. Subsequently, several countries became interested in this new supply technique, including France, which built its first LNG terminal at Le Havre in 1965 (dismantled in 1989). The terminals of Fos-Tonkin (1972), Montoir-de-Bretagne (1980), Fos-Cavaou (2010) and Dunkerque (2016) are all part of the strategy to diversify national and European natural gas supplies.

sharelngimports

Share of LNG among the total of natural gas imports in France in 2014

Worldwide, there are currently 26 liquefaction terminals in 16 countries, and 95 regasification terminals in 33 countries. Furthermore, there are plans for several both liquefaction and regasification terminals: if some of these projects  will never be built, other are under construction.

 

The LNG supply chain

A LNG supply chain is made up of 4 interdependent segments: exploration/production, liquefaction, transportation and regasification. Each of these segments has its own specific industrial processes and involves specific rules and participants.

1. Exploration – production

At the heart of this essential activity, specialists analyse geological structure to identify areas that may contain hydrocarbons. They carry out special tests, such as seismic analysis, to confirm their initial assessments. Drilling is undertaken when there is a high probability of discovering gas (or oil). If the well is viable (after a series of tests, measurements and additional drilling), it can go into production.

2. Liquefaction

The natural gas extracted from the deposit is filtered and purified, so as not to damage equipment during the conversion from gas to liquid, and in order to meet the specifications of the importing regions. This means that the liquefaction process produces a natural gas with a methane content close to 100%. Liquefaction plants often consist of several installations arranged in parallel, called “liquefaction trains”. The liquefaction process reduces the volume of gas by a factor of around 600, in other words 1 cubic metre of LNG at -163°C has the same energy content as 600 cubic metres of “gaseous” gas at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. The density of LNG is around 45% that of water.

3. LNG transportation

LNG tankers are double-hulled ships specially designed to prevent hull leaks and ruptures in the event of accident. The LNG is stored in tanks (generally 4 to 5 per tanker) at a temperature of -163°C and at atmospheric pressure. There are currently 3 types of LNG carrier, each corresponding to a different tank design: membrane tanks, spherical tanks and IHI Prismatic tanks. In 2009, carriers with membrane tanks accounted for more than 60% of world LNG transportation capacity, and more than 85% of orders. This is so far the only technology which allows the construction of large capacity carriers such as the Q-flex (210,000 cu. m.) and Q-max (260,000 cu. m.) vessels.

Chaine-GNL-31

 

Interior of a membrane type tank in an LNG carrier (Source: GTT)

 

4. Storage and regasification

Once received and offloaded, the liquefied natural gas is returned to cryogenic storage tanks – usually varying in capacity from 100,000 to 160,000 cubic meters, depending on the site – where it is kept at a temperature of -163°C prior to regasification. Regasification consists of gradually warming the gas back up to a temperature of over 0°C. It is done under high pressures of 60 to 100 bar, usually in a series of seawater percolation heat exchangers, the most energy efficient technique when water of the right quality is available. An alternative method is to burn some of the gas to provide heat. On its way out of the terminal, the gas undergoes any treatment processes needed to bring its characteristics in line with regulatory and end-user requirements. Its heating value, for example, may be tweaked by altering nitrogen, butane or propane content or blending it with other gases.

 

Exporting and importing countries

image1

The LNG importing countries can be divided into 2 markets: the Atlantic Basin and the Pacific Basin. The Pacific Basin comprises countries along the Pacific and in South Asia (including India). The Atlantic Basin covers Europe, North and West Africa and the Atlantic coast of the American continent.

The Pacific Basin market emerged in the 1990s, at a time when demand in some Asian countries increased significantly (mainly Japan and South Korea). LNG represented an alternative to oil, and the goal was to maintain security of supply even at relatively high cost. The Atlantic Basin market emerged later in the 1990s, for reasons of security of supply and also in anticipation of a fall in some countries’ domestic reserves.

We can note that there are less and less exporting countries. Thus, in 2015 there were 17 exporting countries whereas there were 19 in 2014.

LNG exports (Source: IGU “2016 World LNG Report”)

 

In contrast to the declining number of exporters, the number of importers is growing. In 2015, there were 34 LNG importing countries. Although it tends to import lower LNG quatities, Japan remains the world’s biggest LNG importer, followed by South Korea. The reason is that those countries – just like a great part of Asia-Pacific region –  are extremely dependent on LNG for their gas consumption.

LNG imports (Source: IGU “2016 World LNG Report”)

 

https://www.gasinfocus.com/en/focus/the-lng-supply-chain/

 

Trump and Merkel clash at fraught NATO summit

Damon WAKE

,

AFP

US President Donald Trump traded barbs with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a tense NATO summit Wednesday after he accused Berlin of being “captive” to Russia and demanded it immediately step up defence spending.

The two-day meet in Brussels is shaping up as the alliance’s most difficult in years, with Europe and the US engaged in a bitter trade spat and Trump demanding that NATO allies “reimburse” Washington for defending the continent.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

European alliance members were braced for criticism from Trump on defence spending, but his blistering attack on Germany at a breakfast meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg took the summit by surprise.

“Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia,” Trump said, taking particular aim at the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which he has previously criticised.

“Everybody’s talking about it all over the world, they’re saying we’re paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you’re paying billions of dollars to Russia.”

Video: Trump Attends NATO Summit Amid Tense Relations With Allies

For more news videos visit Yahoo View.  

Merkel ramped up the febrile atmosphere of the summit with a sharp reply on arriving at NATO HQ.

“I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union,” she said.

“I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions.”

The pair later met for a one-on-one meeting and while Trump insisted they had a “very very good relationship”, their frosty body language suggested otherwise.

Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an “exchange of views” with Trump.

– ‘Step it up’ –

Trump has long complained that European NATO members do not pay enough for their own defence, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

NATO allies agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to move towards spending two percent of GDP on defence by 2024. But Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, spends just 1.24 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for the US.

“These countries have to step it up — not over a 10 year period, they have to step it up immediately,” Trump said.

“We’re protecting Germany, France and everybody… this has been going on for decades,” Trump said. “We can’t put up with it and it’s inappropriate.”

Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in “very direct language” but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO’s resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.

NATO officials and diplomats will try to promote an image of unity at the summit in the face of growing unease about the threat from Russia, but with the row between Merkel and Trump it may prove difficult to paper over the cracks.

The mercurial tycoon said before leaving Washington that his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday “may be the easiest” part of his European tour, which also includes a trip to Britain, where the government is in crisis over Brexit.

– ‘Appreciate your allies’ –

Trump ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks, explicitly linking NATO with the transatlantic trade row by saying the EU shut out US business while expecting America to defend it.

EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to “appreciate your allies” and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

European diplomats fear a repeat of last month’s divisive G7 in Canada, when Trump clashed with his Western allies before meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a summit and praising him as “very talented”.

There have been fears that Trump, keen to be seen to make a breakthrough with the Kremlin strongman, might make concessions in his meeting with Putin that would weaken Western unity over issues such as Ukraine and Syria.

US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison urged allies to look beyond Trump’s rhetoric and focus on the summit declaration for the alliance’s future work — which the US is expected to back.

And she said she expected Trump to recommit to one of the founding articles of NATO — Article 5 — which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-slams-captive-germany-nato-summit-081237901.html

NATO Funding and Burdensharing
May 19, 2017 (IN10704)
|
Related Author
Paul Belkin
|
Paul Belkin, Analyst in European Affairs (pbelkin@crs.loc.gov, 7-0220)
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with NATO heads of state and government in Brussels on May 25, 2017.
This will be the President’s first collective meeting with his counterparts from NATO’s other 27 member states.
President Trump is expected to continue to strongly urge NATO members to increase defense spending and enhance
military capabilities.

For numerous reasons—not least the United States’ status as the world’s preeminent military power—U.S. defense
spending levels long have been significantly higher than those of any other NATO ally. Since NATO’s founding,
successive U.S. Administrations have characterized a steadfast U.S. commitment to NATO as essential to advancing a
key U.S. security interest: peace and stability in Europe. Nevertheless, the relative imbalance in defense spending and
military capabilities within NATO has long fueled concerns about burdensharing and European allies’ reliance on U.S.
defense guarantees.

NATO members contribute to the alliance financially in various ways. The most fundamental way is by funding, in
members’ individual national defense budgets, the deployment of their respective armed forces to support NATO
missions.

NATO member states also fund NATO’s annual budget of about $2.5 billion. National contributions fund the day-to-day
operations of NATO headquarters, as well as some collective NATO military assets and infrastructure. The U.S. share
of these so-called common-funded budgets is currently about 22%, followed by Germany (15%), France (11%), and the
United Kingdom (UK; 10%).

Defense Spending Targets
As signatories of NATO’s founding North Atlantic Treaty, member states commit to “maintain and develop their
individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack” (Article 3) and, in the case of an armed attack against one or
more allies, to take “such action as [they] deem necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the
security of the North Atlantic area” (Article 5). However, decisions about individual national contributions to specific
NATO missions are essentially voluntary.

In 2006, NATO members agreed informally to aim to allocate at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) to their
national defense budgets annually and to devote at least 20% of national defense expenditure to research and
development and procurement. These targets were formalized at NATO’s 2014 Wales Summit, when the allies pledged
to “halt any decline in defence expenditure” and to “aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade.” The 2%
and 20% spending targets are intended to guide national defense spending by individual NATO members; they do not
refer to contributions made directly to NATO.

Most analysts agree that the 2% spending figure “does not represent any type of critical threshold or ‘tipping point’ in
terms of defence capabilities.” The target is considered politically and symbolically important, however. NATO does
not impose sanctions on countries that fail to meet the target.

In 2016, 5 allies met or exceeded the 2% target (Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK, and the United States); 10 allies met
or exceeded the 20% target (France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, the UK, and the
United States); and 3 allies met both targets (Poland, the UK, and the United States).

NATO figures for 2015 indicate that if every ally were to have met the 2% benchmark, the aggregate sum of NATO
members’ national defense budgets would have increased by about $100 billion (from $891 billion to $989 billion).
Although most analysts agree that such an increase could benefit the alliance significantly, many stress that how
additional resources are invested is equally, if not more, important. Critics note, for example, that an ally spending less
than 2% of GDP on defense could have more modern, effective military capabilities than an ally that meets the 2%
target but allocates most of that funding to personnel costs and relatively little to procurement and modernization.
Defense Spending Trends and Future Prospects
NATO and U.S. officials say they are encouraged that many allies have bolstered their defense budgets in recent years,
largely in response to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. According to NATO, in 2016, 23 allies increased defense
spending compared to 2015, in real terms. NATO officials expect at least three more allies (Latvia, Lithuania, and
Romania) to meet the 2% guideline in 2017 or 2018. Other allied governments, including France and Germany, have
reiterated their commitment to meeting the 2% target by 2024.
Nevertheless, ongoing fiscal challenges facing many European governments and broad public skepticism of military
action could impede some allies’ plans to increase defense spending. To help stretch existing defense resources, NATO
and U.S. leaders have called for more progress on allied defense cooperation initiatives, including the joint acquisition
of shared capabilities.

U.S. Policy and Considerations for Congress
U.S. calls for increased allied defense spending are not new, but the Trump Administration has approached the issue
more stridently than its predecessors. Defense Secretary James Mattis’s suggestion in February 2017 that the United
States could moderate its commitment to NATO if spending increases are not forthcoming caused particular concern
within the alliance, given that past U.S. Administrations had never linked spending levels to the U.S. commitment to
NATO to this degree.

Trump Administration officials have acknowledged the upward trend in allied defense spending but also have indicated
that they will continue to seek more specific commitments to achieve NATO targets.
U.S. concerns about defense spending and burdensharing raise several broader policy questions related to the nature and
scope of U.S. commitments to NATO and the appropriate U.S. military presence in Europe that could be of interest to
Congress, including the following:
How does NATO membership advance U.S. national security interests? Some analysts argue that a robust U.S.
commitment to NATO and force presence in Europe continues to advance key U.S. national security interests,
especially given recent Russian aggression in Europe. Others contend that the U.S. commitment to European security
could be scaled back to ensure greater European contributions.

Is the 2% defense spending target the best means to enhance allied military capabilities? Some analysts argue that
NATO should focus more on ensuring more effective defense spending than on increasing aggregate defense spending,
including through pooling and sharing of defense resources. Others counter that effective defense cooperation requires
minimum defense spending levels.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IN10704.pdf

NATO

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
NATO OTAN landscape logo.svg

Logo
Flag of NATO.svg

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (orthographic projection).svg

Member states of NATO
Abbreviation NATO, OTAN
Formation 4 April 1949; 69 years ago
Type Military alliance
Headquarters BrusselsBelgium
Membership
Official language
English
French[1]
Jens Stoltenberg
Air Chief MarshalStuart PeachRoyal Air Force
General Curtis ScaparrottiUnited States Army
Général Denis MercierFrench Air Force
Expenses (2017) US$946 billion[2]
Website NATO.int

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO /ˈnt/FrenchOrganisation du Traité de l’Atlantique NordOTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The alliance is based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.[3][4] NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO Headquarters are located in HarenBrusselsBelgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near MonsBelgium.

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War galvanized the organization’s member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US Supreme Commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact which formed in 1955. Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defense against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of France from NATO’s military structure in 1966 for 30 years. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1989, the organization conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999 during the breakup of Yugoslavia.[5] Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks,[6] after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations[7] and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times following incidents in the Iraq WarSyrian Civil War, and annexation of Crimea.

Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 29. The most recent member state to be added to NATO is Montenegro on 5 June 2017. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and HerzegovinaGeorgiaMacedonia and Ukraine as aspiring members.[8] An additional 21 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.[9] Members’ defense spending is supposed to amount to at least 2% of GDP by 2024.[10]

History

Beginnings

Eleven men in suits stand around a large desk at which another man is signing a document.

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed by US President Harry S. Truman in Washington, on 4 April 1949 and was ratified by the United States in August 1949.

The Treaty of Brussels was a mutual defence treaty against the Soviet threat at the start of the Cold War. It was signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom. It was the precursor to NATO. The Soviet threat became immediate with the Berlin Blockade in 1948, leading to the creation of a multinational defence organization, the Western Union Defence Organisation, in September 1948.[11] However, the parties were too weak militarily to counter the Soviet Armed Forces. In addition, the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’état by the Communists had overthrown a democratic government and British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevinreiterated that the best way to prevent another Czechoslovakia was to evolve a joint Western military strategy. He got a receptive hearing in the United States, especially considering American anxiety over Italy (and the Italian Communist Party).[12]

In 1948, European leaders met with US defence, military and diplomatic officials at the Pentagon, under US Secretary of State George C. Marshall‘s orders, exploring a framework for a new and unprecedented association.[13] Talks for a new military alliance resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed by US President Harry S. Truman in Washington on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.[14] The first NATO Secretary GeneralLord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[15] Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949. The creation of NATO can be seen as the primary institutional consequence of a school of thought called Atlanticism which stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation.[16]

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently, they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some overseas departments of France.[17]

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting US practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAG) codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries.[18] Fabrique Nationale de Herstal‘s FAL, which used the 7.62mm NATO cartridge, was adopted by 75 countries, including many outside of NATO.[19] Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.[20]

Cold War

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans.[21] Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed to direct forces in Europe, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951.[22] In September 1950, the NATO Military Committee called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon. The Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia.[23][24] Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post.[25]

Two soldiers crouch under a tree while a tank sits on a road in front of them.

The German Bundeswehr provided the largest element of the allied land forces guarding the frontier in Central Europe.

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.[26] Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving American, British, Greek, Italian and Turkish naval forces.[27]

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure.[22] While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.[28][29]

A 1952 US postage stampcommemorating the third anniversary of NATO. Stamps honoring the organization were issued by many member countries.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.[30] The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. This gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons as existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard LangeForeign Affairs Minister of Norway at the time.[31] A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion.[32] One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter PunchOperation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.[33]

French withdrawal

A map of France with red and blue markings indicating air force bases as of 1966.

Map of the NATO air bases in France before Charles de Gaulle‘s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command

NATO’s unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle‘s presidency of France.[34] De Gaulle protested against the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK.[35]

Considering the response to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defence force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO–Warsaw Pact war.[36] In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command,[37] and later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the air force bases that it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command.[38] In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk was later quoted as asking de Gaulle whether his order included “the bodies of American soldiers in France’s cemeteries?”[39] This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from Rocquencourt, near Paris, to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967.[40] France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Warsaw Pact attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between US and French officials, the Lemnitzer–Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO’s command structure should East-West hostilities break out.[41]

When de Gaulle announced his decision to withdraw from the integrated NATO command, President Lyndon Johnson suggested that when de Gaulle “comes rushing down like a locomotive on the track, why the Germans and ourselves, we just stand aside and let him go on by, then we are back together again.”[42] The vision came true. France announced their return to full participation at the 2009 Strasbourg–Kehl summit.[43]

Détente and escalation

Two older men in suits sit next to each other, while a third stands behind leaning in to listen to the right man talk. US President Richard Nixon talked with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1973.

Détente led to many high level meetings between leaders from both NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Wim van Eekelen, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, greeting US soldiers arriving as they are deployed to NATO bases (1987).

During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action. On 1 July 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as US forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged. In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.[44]

A map of Europe showing several countries on the left in blue, while ones on the right are in red. Other unaffiliated countries are in white.

During the Cold War, most of Europe was divided between two alliances. Members of NATO are shown in blue, with members of the Warsaw Pact in red, unaffiliated countries are in grey. Yugoslavia, although communist, had left the Soviet sphere in 1948, while Albania was only a Warsaw Pact member until 1968.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of US GLCM cruise missiles and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy.[45] Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war.[46] This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.

The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980[citation needed]. The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty specifies that collective self-defence is only applicable to attacks on member state territories north of the Tropic of Cancer.[47] On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance; Spain’s membership was confirmed by referendum in 1986. At the peak of the Cold War, 16 member nations maintained an approximate strength of 5,252,800 active military, including as many as 435,000 forward deployed US forces, under a command structure that reached a peak of 78 headquarters, organized into four echelons.[48]

After the Cold War

The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO and caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and their focus on the continent of Europe. This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent that continued after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.[49] At that time, European countries accounted for 34 percent of NATO’s military spending; by 2012, this had fallen to 21 percent.[50] NATO also began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Central and Eastern European nations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.

Two men in suits sit signing documents at a large table in front of their country's flags. Two others stand outside watching them.

Reforms made under Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Warsaw Pact.

The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and there are diverging views on whether negotiators gave commitments regarding further NATO expansion east.[51] Jack Matlock, American ambassador to the Soviet Union during its final years, said that the West gave a “clear commitment” not to expand, and declassified documents indicate that Soviet negotiators were given the impression that NATO membership was off the table for countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.[52] Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the West German foreign minister at that time, said in a conversation with Eduard Shevardnadze that “[f]or us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.”[52] In 1996, Gorbachev wrote in his Memoirs, that “during the negotiations on the unification of Germany they gave assurances that NATO would not extend its zone of operation to the east,”[53] and repeated this view in an interview in 2008.[54] According to Robert Zoellick, a State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception, and no formal commitment regarding enlargement was made.[55]

As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy resulted in a major reform of France’s military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the NATO Military Command Structure, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.[41][56]

Enlargement and reform

A pale yellow building with square columns with three flags hanging in front and soldiers and dignitaries saluting them.

The NATO flag being raised in a ceremony marking Croatia‘s joining of the alliance in 2009.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1998, the NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which each did in 1999. Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Central and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. At that time, the decision was criticised in the US by many military, political and academic leaders as a “a policy error of historic proportions.”[57] According to George F. Kennan, an American diplomat and an advocate of the containment policy, this decision “may be expected to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”[58]

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished. In 1997, NATO reached agreement on a significant downsizing of its command structure from 65 headquarters to just 20.[59] The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit on 21 November, the first summit in a former Comecon country. On 19 June 2003, a further restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.[60] In March 2004, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing jet fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Eight multinational jet fighters are based in Lithuania, the number of which was increased from four in 2014.[61] Also at the 2004 Istanbul summit, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.[62]

Two older Caucasian men in black suits and red ties sit facing each other in a room with green, white, and gold trimmed walls.

Meetings between the government of Viktor Yushchenko and NATO leaders led to the Intensified Dialogue programme.

The 2006 Riga summit was held in Riga, Latvia, and highlighted the issue of energy security. It was the first NATO summit to be held in a country that had been part of the Soviet Union. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they could eventually become members.[63] The issue of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO prompted harsh criticism from Russia, as did NATO plans for a missile defence system. Studies for this system began in 2002, with negotiations centered on anti-ballistic missiles being stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. Though NATO leaders gave assurances that the system was not targeting Russia, both presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev criticized it as a threat.[64]

In 2009, US President Barack Obama proposed using the ship-based Aegis Combat System, though this plan still includes stations being built in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Poland.[65] NATO will also maintain the “status quo” in its nuclear deterrent in Europe by upgrading the targeting capabilities of the “tactical” B61 nuclear bombs stationed there and deploying them on the stealthier Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.[66][67] Following the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, NATO committed to forming a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.[68][69]

The Russian intervention in Crimea in 2014 lead to strong condemnation by NATO nations, and Poland invoked Article 4 meetings.[70] At the subsequent 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO’s member states reaffirmed their pledge to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their gross domestic products on defence by 2024.[71] In 2015, five of its 28 members met that goal.[72][73][74] On 15 June 2016, NATO officially recognized cyberwarfare as an operational domain of war, just like land, sea and aerial warfare. This means that any cyber attack on NATO members can trigger Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.[75] Montenegro became the 29th and newest member of NATO on 5 June 2017, amid strong objections from Russia.[76][77]

Military operations

Early operations

No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.[78]

Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention

A fighter jet with AV marked on its tail takes off from a mountain runway.

NATO planes engaged in aerial bombardments during Operation Deliberate Force after the Srebrenica massacre.

The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 until October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctionsagainst the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.[79]

On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War, the United Nations Protection Force called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Bosnian Serb military command outpost near Goražde by two US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction.[80] This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April.[81][82] On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces.[83] A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.[84]

NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995.[84] As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, named IFOR. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller SFOR, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations were then passed onto European Union Force Althea.[85] Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.[86]

Kosovo intervention

Three trucks of soldiers idle on a country road in front of trees and red roofed houses. The rear truck has KFOR painted on is back.

German KFOR soldiers patrol southern Kosovo in 1999

In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević‘s Serbian-led crackdown on KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO,[87] which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999.[88] Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.[89]

Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted UN resolution 1244, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR’s mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence.[89][90] In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.[91] As of 1 December 2013, 4,882 KFOR soldiers, representing 31 countries, continue to operate in the area.[92]

The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the UN Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.[93] The US/UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post-Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.[94]

War in Afghanistan

A monumental green copper statue of a woman with a torch stands on an island in front of a mainland where a massive plume of gray smoke billows amongst skyscrapers.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke its collective defence article for the first time.

The September 11 attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization’s history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.[95] The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea which is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, as well as enhancing the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.[96]

The alliance showed unity: On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes troops from 42 countries. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area.[97]

A general hands a NATO flag from a soldier on the left to one on the right.

ISAF General David M. Rodriguezat an Italian change of command in Herat.

ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Talibanal Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan,[98] and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country.[99]

On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a US-led anti-terrorism coalition.[100] Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, in 2011 France allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts.[101] During its 2012 Chicago Summit, NATO endorsed a plan to end the Afghanistan war and to remove the NATO-led ISAF Forces by the end of December 2014.[102] ISAF was disestablished in December 2014 and replaced by the follow-on training Resolute Support Mission

Iraq training mission

In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the US led MNF-I.[103] The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO’s North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the US-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who was also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.[104]

Turkey invoked the first Article 4 meetings in 2003 at the start of the Iraq War. Turkey also invoked this article twice in 2012 during the Syrian Civil War, after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria,[105]and again in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.[106]

Gulf of Aden anti-piracy

A tall plume of black smoke rises from the blue ocean waters next to a large gray battleship and a small black inflatable boat.

USS Farragut destroying a Somali pirate skiff in March 2010

Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in SomaliaRussiaChina and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well.[107][108] The operation seeks to dissuade and interrupt pirate attacks, protect vessels, and abetting to increase the general level of security in the region.[109]

Libya intervention

During the Libyan Civil War, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards, beginning with Opération Harmattan by the French Air Force on March 19.

On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1,[110] and additional ships and submarines from NATO members.[111] They would “monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries“.[110]

Pieces of a destroyed tank, notably the gun turret, lie on a sandy landscape.

Libyan Army Palmaria howitzersdestroyed by the French Air Force near Benghazi in March 2011

On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained with the coalition’s forces.[112][113] NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.[114] By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations,[115] resulting in a confrontation between US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict.[116][117][118] In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO.[119] The German foreign ministry pointed to “a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations” and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.[120]

While the mission was extended into September, Norway that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August.[121] Earlier that week it was reported Danish air fighters were running out of bombs.[122][123] The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country’s operations in the conflict were not sustainable.[124] By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.[125][126] A report from the organization Human Rights Watch in May 2012 identified at least 72 civilians killed in the campaign.[127] Following a coup d’état attempt in October 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested technical advice and trainers from NATO to assist with ongoing security issues.[128]

Participating countries

Map of NATO affiliations in Europe Map of NATO partnerships globally
A map of Europe with countries in blue, cyan, orange, and yellow based on their NATO affiliation. A world map with countries in blue, cyan, orange, yellow, purple, and green, based on their NATO affiliation.

Members

Twelve men in black suits stand talking in small groups under a backdrop with the words Lisbonne and Lisboa.

NATO organizes regular summits for leaders of their members states and partnerships.

NATO has twenty-nine members, mainly in Europe and North America. Some of these countries also have territory on multiple continents, which can be covered only as far south as the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, which defines NATO’s “area of responsibility” under Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies such as the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty.[129][130]French Algeria was however covered until their independence on 3 July 1962.[131] Twelve of these twenty-nine are original members who joined in 1949, while the other seventeen joined in one of seven enlargement rounds.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, France pursued a military strategy of independence from NATO under a policy dubbed “Gaullo-Mitterrandism”.[citation needed] Nicolas Sarkozy negotiated the return of France to the integrated military command and the Defence Planning Committee in 2009, the latter being disbanded the following year. France remains the only NATO member outside the Nuclear Planning Group and unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, will not commit its nuclear-armed submarines to the alliance.[41][56] Few members spend more than two percent of their gross domestic product on defence,[132] with the United States accounting for three quarters of NATO defense spending.[133]

Enlargement