Nel's New Day

May 26, 2017

DDT: Week Eighteen, More GOP Losses

Good news for investors, albeit temporary, is the announcement from U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta that President Obama’s order, the fiduciary rule, will go into effect on June 9 instead of another postponement from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Stock companies and brokers hate the rule that requires them to act in the best interest of their customers. Acosta’s decision caused several stocks to drop because of the industry’s disappointment in not being able to push more expensive products to benefit themselves.

Another failure for DDT: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate its nation-wide Muslim ban, ruling 10-3  that DDT’s executive order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The Maryland court order blocking the ban remains in place.

The Supreme Court has determined that two North Carolina GOP lawmakers used racial demographics to design two congressional districts. Elena Kagan, author of the majority opinion, described District 12 (below) as “snakelike.” The vote of 5-3 was opposed by John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Alito.

AG Jeff Sessions also had to pull back on his official definition of “sanctuary cities” and acknowledged that the federal government has very limited ability to revoke funding. As a judge had earlier ruled, the law only requires governments to share information about immigrants’ citizenship or legal status—nothing else.

Another fight that DDT may lose is a request from the Office of Government Ethics to release all the waivers DDT has provided to former lobbyists hired in the White House or federal agencies so that they can work with former issues they had been involved with or clients. DDT’s executive order stated that he would follow President Obama’s practices to prohibit lobbyists from representing their former clients and issues without waivers, but he told Walter Shaub, the head of the Ethics section, that he won’t sent copies of the waivers. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has refused to provide the waivers.

Mulvaney also has a money problem because taxes are coming in “slower than expected,” meaning that the government could have fewer months before running out of cash. The current projection is October 2, even if some payments are suspended. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged a House committee to raise the debt limit before summer recess. The House Freedom Caucus opposed any increase in the debt limit without further cuts to the budget, meaning that Ryan may have to turn to Democrats.

DDT was elected partly because he promised jobs and used Carrier as one of his examples, saying it was a “100 percent chance” he would save the jobs that might move if he were elected. Carrier just announced that it was cutting 622 workers from its Indianapolis factory.

Loose lips sink ships—or in some cases, submarines. Pentagon officials are extremely upset because DDT told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on April 29 that two nuclear submarines had been moved towards North Korea. Aircraft carriers don’t need to hide because the U.S. uses them as a show of force, but submarines are hidden as a means of strategic deterrence. According to the Philippine transcript of the call, DDT also told Duterte he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” and “keep up [the] good work; you are doing an amazing job.” Duterte has supported the extrajudicial killing of 9,000 people in less than a year, wants to “slaughter” millions of drug addicts just like Adolf Hitler “massacred” millions of Jewish people, and put his country under martial law. Today Duterte “joked” about his soldiers raping women.

Another leak keeping the U.S. out of the intelligence loop is the naming of Salman Abedi as the recent bomber in Manchester by “U.S. officials.” The UK press kept the name secret because the UK government and Greater Manchester police wanted to make their investigation more effective, but the U.S. ruined the investigators’ plans. Police briefly stopped sharing information about the investigation with anyone in the U.S. until Secretary of State Rex Tillerson apologized. UK Prime Minister announced that she will “make clear” that leaking of sensitive information must stop. That’s at least three big intelligence mistakes in less than a month.

Last week Turkish security guards attacked protesters standing across the street from the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. while President Recep Erdogan watched from his car. Local police reported that Turkish guards savagely attacked protesters with Erdogan guards shown on video kicking and choking protesters. Yet Turkey criticized “the inability of U.S. authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program” and demanded that the U.S. conduct a “full investigation of this diplomatic incident and provide the necessary explanation.” Turkey is also furious with the U.S. over DDT’s decision to arm Kurds to fight ISIS in Syria, maintaining that they are an affiliate of a terrorist organization.

Erdogan has indefinitely extended his dictated “state of emergency,” mandated after last year’s failed coup, until the country achieves “welfare and peace.” The decree permits him to make law without the Parliament of the courts.

DDT’s need to hire a private lawyer reflects the seriousness of the Russian investigation. His choice, New Yorker Marc Kasowitz, is known as a litigator and not a criminal defense lawyer with no background in constitutional cases. His experience with DDT is in civil cases, several of which he has lost—for example, DDT suing an author who claimed that DDT isn’t a billionaire, women accusing him of sexual misconduct, and students at Trump University. Kasowitz also represents Russia’s largest state-owned bank, OJSC Sberbank, which is currently in an open U.S. federal court case.

In other Russia news:

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee that he believes Russia “brazenly” interfered in last year’s presidential election and that he knew of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials. The interactions were enough for the FBI to investigate a possibility a collusion between the campaign and Moscow. Brennan informed eight senior congressional members last summer–long before the election–that Russia was working to elect DDT as present. He also briefed both President Obama and DDT in January that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered an “influence campaign” targeting the presidential election.

Another revelation is that DDT asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia. Both refused DDT’s requests. In their failure to understand the independence of intelligence agencies, senior White House officials asked if they could ask Comey to stop his investigation of Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security adviser.

After refusing to submit subpoenaed materials and pleading the Fifth Amendment, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was found to have lied in his interview for a 2016 security clearance renewal, according to a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Flynn told investigators that he was paid by “U.S. companies” when a Russian media propaganda arm, RT, paid him to travel to Russia. The Fifth Amendment, however, does not protect Flynn from incriminatory documents; he could be convicted of criminal charges for withholding any documents. Flynn had discussed a back channel of communication with Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in order to skip the U.S. national security bureaucracy—like DDT meeting Russian officials in the Oval Office with only Russian media present. During the presidential race, Russian officials bragged that they could use Flynn to influence DDT, causing intelligence officials to try to curb information given Flynn after DDT’s election.

AG Jeff Sessions also failed to disclose his meetings with the Russians when he applied for his security clearance. His excuse was that he was a senator at the time, but a legal expert differs with that opinion. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions testified that he “did not have communication” with the Russians during the campaign and asserted the same lie in an official questionnaire. Later Republicans let him cover himself by amending his testimony. Sessions canceled appearances before two congressional committees this week. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) is now spreading lies about the Sessions’ stories being wrong. In advising DDT to fire James Comey, Sessions also violated two oaths to recuse himself from issues dealing with Hillary Clinton’s emails and with the Russian investigation.

Also under investigation for deliberately manipulating the election through hacking or distributing hacked materials are Republican operative and DDT adviser Roger Stone.

DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the latest to be caught up in the FBI investigation about Russian collusion. He has been declared a “person of interest” in his relationship with Flynn and his contacts with the Russians. One of his past meetings, not reported on his security clearance forms, was with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russian-owned development bank Vnesheconombank that is sanctioned by the United States for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. DDT put Kushner in charge of an extensive number of presidential duties including peace in the Middle East, the opioid solution, a $1 trillion infrastructure plans, recreation of government IT, and the reform of Veterans Affairs. Kushner left DDT’s world visit to return with his wife, Ivanka, to Washington yesterday when the news about his status broke.

 

Earlier, it was reported that Flynn discussed a back channel of communication with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The world now knows that in December Kushner may have been with Flynn in suggesting that DDT’s transition team and the Russian government use Russia’s diplomatic facilities in this secret communication. Kushner also had far more meetings with Russia officials than earlier reported. (The above graphic is a few weeks old; people may have been added since then.)

In another Kushner “oops,” Jared and his wife, Ivanka Trump, failed to disclose their multimillion-dollar art collection in public financial disclosures. By now, however, that seems like a minor problem for them.

If you question that DDT could be suffering from dementia, you need to read this article.

October 12, 2012

Republicans Weaken Nation’s Security

During the past decade, the GOP has had serious problems with leaking national security. One was the Valerie Plame affair: the Bush administration exposed a CIA operative to punish her husband because he didn’t say what George W. Bush wanted. More than damaging one couple, this “leak” damaged past intelligence gathering and future intelligence assets.

During the Obama administration, the Republicans have falsely blamed the president and his staff for deliberately revealing classified information. The latest leak, however, can’t be blamed on the Democrats because it happened on C-SPAN. And it was done during an attempt to embarrass the president.

The confusion surrounding the death of four men, including the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, was whether the attack was because of an anti-Muslim film or because of terrorism. Disturbed by the current administration’s refusal to declare terrorism until an investigation could be carried out, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) set up hearings in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to show how weak President Obama is in foreign affairs and the country’s security. The plan backfired when it blew the cover of a Libyan CIA base.

After State Department officials showed a commercial satellite of the U.S. compound during a committee meeting, Rep. John Chaffetz (R-UT) called out, “Point of order! Point of order! We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.” When a State Department official tried to shut him up by saying that the photo was from a commercial satellite, Chaffetz declaimed, “I totally object to the use of that photo. I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”

If that wasn’t enough to alert everyone that the commercial satellite photo might reveal U.S. secret intelligence, Issa said, “I would direct that that chart be taken down. In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.” Technology must not be Issa’s strong suit; it was already part of the record on C-SPAN.

Not content to stay quiet, Chaffetz added,  “I believe that the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate. The activities there could cost lives.” The public testimony that the Republicans insisted on eliciting was even more damning. Under questioning, State Department officials disclosed that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex and that it was under control of the “other government agency.” They were also forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.” Still not satisfied with keeping any leftover intelligence under wraps, Issa said publicly that agency in control was not the FBI.

The end result was that the Republicans on the committee both scolded the State Department officials for not revealing information and not concealing intelligence. Republicans are determined to embarrass the administration, but they succeeded only in showing that the CIA may have let down the victims.

Issa finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi. It’s a bit late: the briefing is already on C-SPAN.

In trying to show that a similar disaster had not happened in the history of the county, the Republicans also show their ignorance. U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens is the eighth U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty since 1950. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and  Bush Jr. have all had attacks on embassies under their watch.  Seven different attacks in which people died happened under George W. Bush.

Republicans also tried to embarrass the administration by claiming that the State Department had turned down requests for funding at the Libyan Embassy. Regional Security officer of Libya, Eric Nordstrom, testified to that several times. He has also testified that he  that having more agents would not have prevented the assault. He also said he had sought mainly to prevent any reduction in staff, rather than have a big increase.  

The people who should be embarrassed about their position are the Republicans in Congress. They have spent the past two years slashing the budget for embassy security. Every House Republican voted for the Paul Ryan Budget that cut funding to the State Department by 20 percent, $400 million. This cut includes funding for embassy security.

When Chaffetz was asked if he voted to cut nearly $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget, he said, “Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have–think about this–15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.”

Ryan, Issa, and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program, well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security”–a charge Republicans rejected.

Instead of trying to create jobs, the Republicans will use any means at their disposal in their sole goal to tear down the Democrats—even the result is weakening the country.

Aside:  Last night  Paul Ryan managed to tell 24 myths during the 40 of the 90 minutes that he spoke.

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