Trump on tour (part 2)

And what a tour it was. This past week was probably the biggest [and craziest] week in this administration.

Trump defiantly defended his meeting with dictator Vladimir Poutine, saying his encounter with the Russian leader went “even better” than his summit with NATO leaders last week. Was he in the same country as Poutine?

Trump tweeted “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!” What money raising? Kickbacks? Russia paying the US?

Trump also tweeted ” I had a great meeting with NATO. They have paid $33 Billion more and will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me. NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia). The media only says I was rude to leaders, never mentions the money!” Except the other NATO leaders did not agree to “paying” anything or even increasing their military spending budget.

While NATO’s European members and Canada have added an additional $41 billion in defense spending since Trump took office, many NATO members began increasing their defense spending prior to his taking office since it was agreed in 2014 [when President Obama was in charge] to increase spending.

House Speaker Paul Ryan contradicted several comments Trump made during his Helsinki news conference including saying that “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, giving his support to the US intelligence community and saying “I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends.”

Sen. John McCain said Trump’s comments were “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover” and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”

Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, “Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin.” I don’t think you can clarify. Whatever has been said won’t change.

Other Republicans criticized Trump. Those who are Trump allies didn’t go after him directly but used a more neutral-ish phrases like “missed opportunity”. Obviously the Democrats pounced on this major blunder.

One Senator who is siding with Trump is Rand Paul. His career in politics could be over after his next election.

Trump tried to fix the mess but you can’t fix the damage that has been done even by saying “As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.'” This after many times how he said he had little confidence in them and the Department of Justice.

A day after that infamous news conference, Trump attempted to clean up the controversy when he said he had misspoken during the news conference and affirmed that he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” But judging from his previous comments about them over the last 18 months, no one really believes him. He’s digging a bigger hole.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said during a meeting with congressional members at the White House, before couching his comments with: “Could be other people also; there’s a lot of people out there.” So, he is still unsure if it was the Russians then.

Trump said he doesn’t believe Russia is still targeting the United States, contradicting U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow is continuing its attempts to meddle in U.S. elections, but “Simpleton” Sanders later said his remark was misunderstood by the press.

Under intense political pressure, Trump went further in laying the blame on Poutine for the cyberespionage assault on the 2016 election than he had before in an interview. When asked if Poutine was responsible Trump replied “I would, because he’s in charge of the country.” Hmmm. “The” country and not “his” country. Is Poutine in charge of the US?

Trump’s hesitation to criticize Poutine will only add to growing questions — that were once whispered in Washington but now are being openly discussed — about whether the Russian government really does have compromising information on Trump.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump tweeted. Ummmm. Which intelligence? The community or as in IQ. I don’t think either approved.

Trump’s behavior raises questions about how top intelligence officials can remain in their posts after being so spectacularly thrown under the bus.

At a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was stunned when a woman from NBC interviewing him announced in front of the audience and him that Poutine was invited to Washington for a visit in the fall. Obviously he didn’t know. “Say that again,” Coats said, doing a double take and laughing in disbelief at the absurdity of the latest episode in the Russia saga.

The reaction by Coats will surely make Trump upset as to embarrass him. Doesn’t the administration tell some of the most important people when there is a major visit?

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told a newspaper – not saying the United States but the administration.

Even late night talk show hosts went after Trump including quotes like:

  • Jimmy Kimmel said Trump met with his “KGBFF, Vladimir Putin.”
  • Seth Meyers said “Seriously, Trump gushes over Putin like a flustered 12-year-old who just met Mickey at Disneyland.”
  • When some reporters had criticized Trump’s comments Stephen Colbert said “Those are the worst reviews I’ve seen since Titanic … And I don’t mean the movie.”

Hillary Clinton tweeted “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?” Later on she tweeted “Well, now we know.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton famously called out Trump, implying that he would be Putin’s “puppet.”

Among the newspapers’ comments from around the world:

  • London’s Daily mirror used the headline “Putin’s Poodle”.
  • A Finnish paper said ” Trump 0 – Putin 1″.
  • Swedish newspaper HBL went with “Putin: Trump is my favorite”.
  • Paris’ Le Monde topped its front page with: “Donald Trump, best of allies with Poutine.”
  • The New York Post went with a headline of “See No Evil” with “Prez gives big Bear hug to wicked BFF Vlad, jabs US intel.”
  • The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch, declared the news conference “a personal and national embarrassment,” asserting that Trump had “projected weakness.”

Russia announced it was ready to pursue agreements reached by Poutine and Trump “in the sphere of international security,” though the White House and Pentagon would not confirm any agreements had been made or offer any details. Trump and Putin met for about two hours during their summit in Helsinki with only translators present. It is still not clear what the two men discussed or agreed to during their meeting.

When asked what he and Poutine discussed in their meeting, Trump said Syria, Israel, North Korea and Iran. Nothing about any military agreements. Then, later, Trump claimed that “I let him know we can’t have this. We’re not going to have it. And that’s the way it’s going to be.” Problem is that the meeting was private [except for the translator]. So there is no way of knowing if he said this or anything else.

After 12 Russians government hackers were indicted, Trump continues to say that he believes Poutine over his own Department of Justice. Isn’t that almost treason? Not surprisingly the Russian government laughed at the indictments, but of note, they used very similar phrases that Trump has used in supporting Russia.

When asked in an ABC interview whether he would ask Poutine for the 12 indicted to be sent to the US, Trump said “I haven’t thought of that.” Seriously?

Trump tweeted “These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn’t Obama do something about it?  Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why. Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn’t want to report the truth, as usual!” Let’s see. President Obama’s term was winding down and the hacking wasn’t known yet. That first line sounds almost like an admission that the hacking happened by Russia.

The White House said it was entertaining a proposal raised by Poutine to interrogate 11 Americans in exchange for assistance in the ongoing US investigation into election interference, putting the White House at odds with the State Department.

The Americans wanted for questioning by Moscow include Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, and American-born British citizen financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow. Russia claimed Browder never paid any taxes in Russia or the US. So throwing Americans under the bus to help Russia.

Then later, the administration finally rejected the Russian proposal.

Not surprising, the White House had rejected calls to cancel the summit after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were charged with hacking into Democrats’ computer networks and emails during the 2016 presidential race. [Why would they – it was the Democrats who were hacked and Trump doesn’t believe it was the Russians anyways.]

Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, parrot [and sometimes White House press secretary], claims all along that the administration believed Russian hacked the 2016 elections. [Please stop laughing. OK?] She also blamed previous administrations for doing nothing. But, there was no clear indication that there was any hacking [by Russia] prior to the 2016 election.

Ahead of his “meeting” with Poutine, Trump said “We have 90% of the nuclear – and that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.” Hmmm. By one interpretation, Trump would rather have many countries with nuclear weapons then.

Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election, saying Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it agrees with Trump’s comment that relations between the two countries have never been worse as a result of “US foolishness” and the “witch hunt.”

Not surprising, two Republican senators that aren’t fans of Trump, Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake weren’t happy with Trump siding with the Russians against Americans – aside from the Democrats. Former CIA Director John Brennan just tweeted a strongly worded reaction to Trump’s news conference, saying it “was nothing short of treasonous.”

Time and time again over his nearly 18 months in office, Trump has resisted saying anything bad about Poutine. His critics say that’s particularly odd given that Russia conducted a broad and deep attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election – which Trump has denied. In fact, Trump has praised Poutine 11 times – so far.

A video released by the Russian government touting his country’s potential future weaponry and its supposed ability to strike Florida filled Trump with rage.

Poutine says the “so-called Russian interference” in the US 2016 presidential election was brought up by Trump during their summit in Helsinki. Hmmmm. Doesn’t that sound staged?

Three reasons why Trump wanted a private [as it turns out] 90 minute meeting with Poutine:

  • Trump requested alone time to better personally assess Poutine and develop a leader-to-leader relationship.
  • Trump has previously expressed anger at leaks coming from his meetings with foreign leaders and told aides he doesn’t want sensitive information leaking from his meeting with Poutine.
  • Trump doesn’t want aides, who may take a harder line on Russia, undercutting or interrupting him in his conversation with Poutine.

You know the summit between Trump and Poutine could be interesting when the temperature in Helsinki hit 30 degrees Celsius (That’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Helsinki averages around one 30°C day every decade, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Poutine, and his endorsement of Poutine over his own intelligence services, has fed outrage and concern about Trump’s motivations, as well as what transpired during the closed-door session. Those concerns are now yielding calls in Congress for Trump’s translator to appear before lawmakers.

Trump went after just about every former heads of all the intelligence agencies, blaming them for allowing the hack, etc.

Trump claims that those politicians who are against him are being pushed by the [fake] media to do so.

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, who was one of the two reporters who broke the Watergate scandal which eventually led to the downfall of President Nixon, says that the US has never seen Democrats and Republicans so openly question “the loyalty of the President” to the country. He said even with Nixon, the country didn’t see this behavior.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that other countries, such as Mexico, have been more successful in doing so. He says that Mexico “is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate.” Of course he has no real proof.

Trump doesn’t seem to care about the Royal protocols but most likely he didn’t read up on protocols – like he generally doesn’t read anything prior to any meeting:

  • He walked in front of the Queen when reviewing the honor guard.
  • He had her wait 10 minutes [he arrived late]. Protocol is to show up early when meeting the Queen.
  • He told the London paper, The Daily Mail, about what she supposedly said about Brexit to him in private.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed the suggestion Trump gave her last week that he claimed she found “too brutal.” “He told me to sue the EU,” May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “Not go into negotiations, sue them.”

As if Trump doesn’t have enough, Trump has wrongly claimed that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II reviewed her honor guard for the first time in 70 years during his visit to the United Kingdom last week. The Queen — who has been on the throne for 66 years, not 70 — regularly reviews a guard of honor from the Household Division.

In April last year it was widely reported that Trump requested a ride down to London’s Buckingham Palace in one of the Queen’s gold-plated carriages. The US Embassy and the British security services talked him out of that one — anticipating the fierce protests.

Noticed that none of the royal family other than The Queen met Trump. None seem to like him. Prince Harry’s new wife, American Meghan Markle, called Trump “misogynistic and divisive.” When President Obama came to London 2 years earlier, all the [top] royals came to meet Obama including Prince George.

Trump tweeted “So funny! I just checked out Fake News CNN, for the first time in a long time (they are dying in the ratings), to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy). They didn’t!” Not true. It was on CNN’s front page of their web site as well as internationally. This was when Trump refused to take the reporter’s question which the next one went to Fox News.

Then the White House canceled national security adviser John Bolton’s appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” after Trump’s tense exchange with Acosta at the press conference.

Trump named the European Union, Russia and China as foes to the United States during an interview at his golf club in Scotland. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” He says this cowardly after leaving London and the NATO meetings.

Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly made a recording of his conversation between himself and Trump discussing payments to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who has alleged an affair with Trump. The recording — which was made shortly before the presidential election — was seized during an FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April. This contradicts Trump’s claim that he didn’t know her.

In August 2016, McDougal signed an agreement with American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, Men’s Journal and several other publications. She believed at the time the contract was a work agreement that would allow her to be photographed for and write pieces that would run in the companies’ publications.

McDougal later realized she could face a financial penalty for speaking to the media about her story. AMI never released anything of hers which effectively kept her quiet about talking about the affair.

In April, she reached a settlement with AMI that allows her to discuss the alleged affair. The publisher of AMI is a good friend of Trump. Did Trump ask AMI to pay on his behalf? Trump could now be investigated for using campaign money [if that’s where it came from] for other reasons.

New York is a “one-party” consent state, meaning that as long as one participant in the conversation gives permission to record, it is legal. There has been some hints that Cohen could be willing to seek a cooperation agreement with the US attorney’s office.

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Of course did he comment about the “break” in from April? Probably not. And it wasn’t a “break in” but warrants were issued. He never heard of a lawyer taping conversations? And I think he did something wrong.

Trump has waived privilege on the recording. The recording had been deemed privileged by a former federal judge, known as a special master, adding that Trump’s lawyers asked the special master to withdraw the privilege. This gives the government access to the recording as part of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York investigation into Cohen. That part is a bit surprising.

Even with all that has happened in the past month [Scott Pruitt’s “resignation”, NATO, Helsinki, Supreme Court nomination], there has only been 4 White House press briefings.

Why did it take so long? It took a good part of a week before it was announced that a 42-year old United States Secret Service agent [protecting national security adviser John Bolton] died after suffering a stroke while supporting Trump’s trip to Scotland over the weekend. As of this time, no acknowledgement or even a condolence tweet from Bolton [or Trump].

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About ebraiter
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