Trump throws Giuliani under the bus

[And drives over him a few times.]

Donald Trump has now denied that he directed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf, contradicting his own words to the Ukrainian President in the White House-released transcript of the July 25 call. Trump also contradicted sworn testimony from members of his administration and claims from his own White House acting chief of staff.

“No, I didn’t direct him, but he’s a warrior, Rudy’s a warrior,” Trump added. “Rudy went. He possibly saw something. But you have to understand, Rudy (has) other people that he represents.”

But “My understanding was that the President directed Mr. Giuliani’s participation, and that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the concerns of the President,” was what US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were dealt… So we followed the President’s orders.”

There are reports that Giuliani pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from officials in Ukraine at the same time that he was using his connections there to unearth damaging information about the Bidens. While the deals weren’t consummated, the revelations are important because, first, they undercut Giuliani’s repeated claim that he has no business in Ukraine, and second, they suggest Giuliani was preying on potential clients in Ukraine who were desperate for stronger ties to the United States and his main client, Trump.

Some no-name name, Mark Sandy, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testified earlier this month that he was told US security assistance to Ukraine had been held up because of Trump’s concerns that other countries were not giving enough. How many other excuses will come out?

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said that the aid was withheld to encourage Ukraine to investigate possible interference in the 2016 presidential election on October 17th. Trump said on November 27th in a tweet that “I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country.” Nothing about other countries.

Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House of Representatives, which has been trying to force his appearance since April over Robert Mueller’s findings that suggest Trump obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. Jackson dismissed the President’s claim that McGahn was subject to blanket immunity.

The House Judiciary Committee is setting a deadline of December 6 for Trump to decide whether his attorneys will participate in the committee’s impeachment proceedings against him. The letter to Trump and a separate letter sent to Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia were largely technical, referring to the rules established by the House’s impeachment resolution last month.

But the letter starts the clock for the White House to decide if it will take part in the House’s impeachment proceedings — which Trump and congressional Republicans have claimed are unfair — or wait until a potential Senate trial to make its case directly to Congress.

Trump announced in October that “we’ve come to a very substantial Phase One deal” which reportedly includes getting the Chinese to agree to a numerical amount of US agricultural purchases in exchange for reducing tariffs. Weeks later, they were close to a Phase One deal, but it has yet to materialize. He said last week that we were “potentially very close,” to an agreement.

Meanwhile, the trade war is having an economic impact on both the US and China — as well as globally. Trump is due to hike tariffs on December 15 [in under 3 weeks] on a lot of Chinese consumer goods. Do you think there was ever a “Phase ONE”?

Trump signed a law supporting Hong Kong’s months-long protest movement, handing anti-government demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese city a moral victory and likely complicating trade negotiations with Beijing. The new law will require the US to annually confirm that Hong Kong’s special freedoms are being maintained by Beijing — failure to do so could result in Washington withdrawing the city’s special status, a massive blow to the Hong Kong economy.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the law “seriously interferes in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s domestic politics…. It has seriously violated international law and basic rules of international relations,” the statement added. “Such plainly bullying behavior is firmly opposed by the Chinese government and Chinese people.”

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was “fired for proposing a secret agreement with the White House” involving the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Gallagher was convicted of bringing discredit to the armed services after posing next to a dead ISIS fighter’s body, which is against regulations. He was then demoted in rank — a decision Trump a week ago reversed in a move that angered military officials.

Military officials then moved ahead with the process to review Gallagher’s status in the elite group. Spencer was proposing a review with a secret guarantee that Gallagher would be allowed to keep his status as a Navy SEAL and supposedly was not fired for failing to carry out Trump’s wishes, because Trump had not wanted a review at all.

The Trump administration has moved to substantially cut its contribution to NATO’s collective budget. Previously the US provided some 22% of NATO’s direct funding, which covers the cost of maintaining the NATO headquarters, joint security investments and some combined military operations.

US defense officials are saying that the Trump administration sought to reduce its contribution to about 16%, bringing it in line with Germany’s, which provides 14.8% despite the US having a larger economy. Trump has long slammed NATO allies for not meeting the 2% NATO defense spending target. Member countries have boosted defense spending considerably in recent years, something Trump has claimed credit for.

After quite a few deaths early this year related to vaping where Trump promised to do something about it. Months later and nothing has happened – just like the promises that were dropped for oil, coal, tobacco, firearms, etc. These all have huge lobby groups that mostly support the Republican party.

A long-serving military officer put it bluntly saying “there is a morale problem,” and senior Pentagon officials have privately said they are disturbed by the Trump’s behavior. Dismay in the Pentagon has been building over Trump’s sporadic, impulsive and contradictory decision-making on a range of issues, including his sudden pullback of troops in Syria.

But now there are new and significant worries, as multiple military officials and retired officers say Trump’s intervention into high-profile war crimes cases cannot be ignored. Now senior Pentagon officials believed it would undermine military discipline and order. Trump had upped the ante at a rally by issuing an extraordinary declaration that he took action in the face of “deep state” opposition.

In the “What is he smoking?” department: Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an evangelical Christian, said “You know, Barack Obama doesn’t get to be the President of the United Sates without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.”

Trump recognized Conan, the hero dog who was injured during a raid which led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at the White House on Monday. Conan had received a “medal and a plaque.” Vice President Pence, a dog handler and Melania Trump [who didn’t seemed to be thrilled and who was standing a bit farther to the side] were there. Let’s hope Conan didn’t shake Trump’s paw.

Twitter announced that it would allow users to disable SMS two-factor authentication (2FA) and instead use a physical security key or a one-time code authenticator app. Until now, Twitter users who wanted to use 2FA were required to provide a phone number and enable SMS 2FA. I’m sure Trump doesn’t use 2FA – he may not even know what it is.

About ebraiter
computer guy

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