THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:43 pm

US cities, states defy Trump, still back Paris climate deal.

BONN, Germany (AP) — A group of U.S. states, cities, businesses and universities said Saturday they are still committed to curbing global warming even as U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is walking away from the Paris climate accord.

But the alliance, which has an economy larger than Japan and Germany combined, says it won't be able to achieve the necessary cut in greenhouse gas emissions without some efforts at the federal level.

"It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us," former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany.

Gov. Jerry Brown of California echoed those comments. "In the United States, we have a federal system, and states have real power as do cities. And when cities and states combine together, and then join with powerful corporations, that's how we get stuff done," he said.

His speech was briefly interrupted by anti-coal and anti-fracking protesters, who held up banners and shouted "We're still in! Trump's still out!" The group calling itself "America's Pledge" said states, cities and private groups have been taking considerable steps to reduce emissions by promoting renewable energy use and climate-friendly transportation systems.

"This is a pledge, and it's a pledge that you can cash, because it's real," Brown said. "We are doing real stuff in California." In a report, however, the group said that "we cannot underscore strongly enough the critical nature of federal engagement to achieve the deep decarbonization goals the U.S. must undertake after 2025."

Daniel Firger, one of the report's contributors, said it was intended to show that many in the U.S. aren't prepared to wait for Trump to change his mind on climate change again or wait for the next administration to tackle the issue.

"The good news around Trump's announcement to withdraw is that it has galvanized a groundswell of bottom-up support from all corners of the U.S. economy," Firger told The Associated Press. Cities, regions and businesses in other nations around the world could look to the group for inspiration and support, he said, noting that the lessons learned by local authorities and businesses in the U.S. could be applied elsewhere.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:50 pm

Trump pushes 'America first' during tough trade talk in Asia.

DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump stood before a summit of Asian leaders keen on regional trade pacts and delivered a roaring "America first" message Friday, denouncing China for unfair trade practices just a day after he had heaped praise on President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump told CEOs on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. "I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first."

The president — who pulled the United States out of the Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — said the U.S. would no longer join "large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible."

Instead, he said, the U.S. will pursue one-on-one trade deals with other nations that pledge fair and reciprocal trade. The message stood in sharp contrast to the behind-the-scenes negotiations taking place among other countries at the summit on a successor to TPP.

As for China, Trump said he'd spoken "openly and directly" with Xi about the nation's abusive trade practices and "the enormous trade deficits they have produced with the United States." It was a stark change in tone from the day before, when Trump was Xi's guest of honor during a state visit in Beijing. There, Trump opted for flattering Xi and blaming past U.S. presidents for the trade deficit.

Trump said China's trade surplus, which stood at $223 billion for the first 10 months of the year, was unacceptable. He repeated his language from Thursday, when he said he did "not blame China" or any other country "for taking advantage of the United States on trade."

But Trump added forceful complaints about "the audacious theft of intellectual property," ''massive subsidizing of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises," and American companies being targeted by "state-affiliated actors for economic gain" — without singling China out by name.

U.S. officials have raised similar concerns in the past about China, especially with regard to intellectual property. On Saturday, Trump attended meetings with leaders of the 21-member APEC countries. Later in the day, he was to fly to Hanoi, the capital, to attend a state banquet before formal meetings Sunday with Vietnam's president and prime minister.

In a major breakthrough, trade ministers from 11 nations remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — representing roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy — said Saturday they had reached a deal to proceed with the free-trade pact after it was thrown into doubt when Trump abandoned it.

Behind the scenes, White House officials quietly negotiated with the Kremlin over whether Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would hold a formal meeting on the sidelines in Danang, with the Russians raising expectations for such a session.

As speculation built, the two sides tried to craft the framework of a deal that Trump and Putin could announce in a formal bilateral meeting, according to two administration officials not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Though North Korea and the Ukraine had been discussed, the two sides focused on trying to strike an agreement about a path to resolve Syria's civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, according to officials. But the talks stalled and, just minutes before Air Force One touched down in Vietnam, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the meeting was off.

When asked about the outcome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later snapped at reporters: "Why are you asking me? Ask the Americans." Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that even without a formal meeting, "Both presidents are in town, and their paths will cross one way or another."

That they did Friday night during the summit's welcome gala: The two men, each wearing traditional Vietnamese shifts, shook hands and greeted one another as they stood side-by-side for the group photo of world leaders.

The two men shook hands and spoke briefly again during Saturday's meeting, according to a Fox News videographer who was the only American journalist allowed into the room. Journalists traveling with Trump were not permitted to observe any of the APEC events he participated in.

Trump and Putin were also seen chatting as all leaders walked to an outdoor location for their traditional group photo.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:10 am

Trump: 'I'm with our agencies' on Russian election meddling.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday said he believes U.S. intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But Trump also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is sincere when he says Russia didn't interfere.

"I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said of Putin at a news conference with Vietnam's president in Hanoi. "As to whether I believe it, I'm with our agencies."

He added, "As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies." Top U.S. intelligence officials, including those at the CIA, have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to help the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. A special counsel and multiple Congressional committees are also investigating potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides. That probe has so far led to the indictments of Trump's former campaign chairman and another top aide for financial and other crimes unrelated to the campaign, as well as a guilty plea from a Trump foreign policy adviser.

It's a question that has followed Trump since January, when he said for the first time at a press conference in Trump Tower shortly before taking office that he accepted Russia was behind the election year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.

"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia," Trump said then, quickly adding that "other countries and other people" also hack U.S. interests. But the issue wasn't settled. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday on his way to Hanoi, Trump had said that Putin again vehemently denied the allegations — this time on the sidelines of an economic conference in the seaside city of Danang. Trump danced around questions of whether he believed Putin, but stressed Putin's denials. He also accused Democrats of using the issue to try to sabotage relations between the two countries, putting lives at risk.

"Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe — that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said, arguing that it made no sense for him to belabor the issue.

"I'd rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I'd rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing," he said. Trump also lashed out at the former heads of the nation's intelligence agencies, claiming there were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings. "I mean, give me a break. They're political hacks," Trump said, citing by name James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, John Brennan, the former CIA director and his ousted ex-FBI director James Comey, whom Trump said was "proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker."

In a tweet sent Sunday from Hanoi, Trump bashed the "haters and fools" he said were questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia and accused critics of "playing politics" and hurting the country.

Trump's Saturday comments sparked criticism from lawmakers with ties to the intelligence community. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is his party's top member on the House's intelligence committee, said in a statement that Trump "fools no one" and that the president understands how the Russians intervened in the election through hacking, social media and television coverage of the presidential race.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's presidential nominee in 2008, said in a statement that Trump's faith in Putin's denial was "naive." "There's nothing 'America First' about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community," McCain wrote, referring to Putin's former career in Soviet intelligence. "Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart."

Trump was in Hanoi for a brief state visit. He was traveling to the Philippines later Sunday — the last stop of his five country trip — for a pair of summits. In brief remarks after his arrival at Hanoi's presidential palace, Trump offered Vietnam help negotiating with China on disputes over the South China Sea. Beijing's island-building there has drawn criticism from Washington, which argues the U.S. has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month said China's "provocative actions" challenged international law and norms.

"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know," Trump offered. "I'm a very good mediator and a very good arbitrator. I've done plenty of it from both sides." Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said he preferred to settle the dispute through "peaceful negotiations" and "with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with international law."

Trump also said he hoped to have more help from Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Russia, when it comes to isolating North Korea, in an effort to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "President Xi I think is going to be a tremendous help. I hope Russia likewise will be a tremendous help," Trump said. "I think they can make a big difference."

Earlier, Trump had exchanged schools yard taunts with the country's leader Kim Jong-un. "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Trump tweeted from Vietnam, adding: "Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!"

Asked whether he could really be friends with Kim, Trump said, "I think anything's a possibility. Strange things happen in life." Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times and reached an agreement on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.

Trump's comments made clear that Trump still does not take the meddling seriously and sees little benefit in punishing a nation accused of undermining the most fundamental tenet of American democracy: free and fair elections. They also suggest that Trump is unlikely to work aggressively to try to prevent future meddling despite repeated warnings from senior intelligence officials that Russia is likely to try to interfere again.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:45 pm

Trump Jr.'s WikiLeaks exchange adds intrigue to Russia probe.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's oldest son released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages on Twitter came hours after The Atlantic first reported them Monday. In the exchanges — some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman — WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr. show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak. The messages began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. downplayed the exchanges as he released them. "Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.'s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees. "Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn't say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn't been made public.

In one message dated Oct. 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr. an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story."

Trump Jr. replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with." Two minutes later, Trump Jr. sent another message: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone had tweeted the day before that on Wednesday, "Hillary Clinton is done," referencing WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks Twitter account never responded, but days later WikiLeaks started rolling out Podesta's stolen emails. After the emails were released, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a searchable link of the emails. Trump Jr. tweeted that link two days later, on Oct. 14, 2016, The Atlantic noted.

The rest of the messages are one-sided, with WikiLeaks sending Trump Jr. messages through July 2017. They include praise for his father for mentioning them on the campaign trail, a plea to release Trump's taxes to the site and advice on Election Day that Trump should not concede if he lost. One message suggested Trump encourage Australia to appoint Assange as U.S. ambassador.

In July, the Twitter account messaged Trump Jr. to ask him to give the site emails surrounding a meeting he and other Trump associates held with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. then released them himself.

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation. "The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr. released them. "WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

On Tuesday, former WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he never met anyone in the Trump campaign. Hrafnsson said he could not say whether anyone else on WikiLeaks' team had met with Trump staffers, noting that he stepped away from his full time role with the organization in early 2016, before Trump became the Republican nominee.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says it "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance."

Schiff also pointed to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for Trump's campaign and reached out to WikiLeaks before the election about obtaining emails related to Clinton, according to the company's CEO.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to publicly testify. "There seems to be no reasonable explanation for these messages," Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would call Trump Jr. to publicly testify after the private interview in September. But negotiations over witnesses broke down last month amid disagreements with Democrats on the panel.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are also expecting to interview Trump Jr., but those interviews are expected to be behind closed doors.

For screenshots see link.
https://www.mail.com/int/news/us/8079472-trump-jrs-wikileaks-exchange-adds-intrigue-to-russ.html#.1258-stage-hero1-1
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:57 am

China sending envoy to North Korea following Trump visit.

BEIJING (AP) — Following President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing, China said Wednesday it is sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's International Liaison Department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on outcomes of the party's national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Xinhua said Song would carry out a "visit" in addition to delivering his report, but gave no details about his itinerary or meetings. It also made no mention of Trump's trip to Beijing or the North's weapons programs, although Trump has repeatedly called on Beijing to do more to use its influence to pressure Pyongyang into altering its behavior.

Song would be the first ministerial-level Chinese official to visit North Korea since October 2015, when Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan met with leader Kim Jong Un. Liu delivered a letter to Kim from Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing hopes for a strong relationship, although the respite in frosty ties proved short lived. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang in October of last year.

China's Communist Party and North Korea's ruling Workers' Party have longstanding ties that often supersede formal diplomacy, even while Beijing has long been frustrated with Pyongyang's provocations and unwillingness to reform its economy.

China is also North Korea's largest trading partner and chief source of food and fuel aid, although it says its influence with Kim's regime is often exaggerated by the U.S. and others. While it is enforcing harsh new U.N. sanctions targeting the North's sources of foreign currency, Beijing has called for steps to renew dialogue.

Beijing is also opposed to measures that could bring down Kim's regime, possibly depriving it of a buffer with South Korea and the almost 30,000 U.S. troops stationed there, and leading to a refugee crisis and chaos along its bother with the North.

In Beijing last Thursday, Trump urged Xi to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. China can fix the problem "easily and quickly," Trump said in remarks to journalists alongside Xi. He urged Xi to "hopefully work on it very hard."

"If he works on it hard, it will happen. There's no doubt about it," Trump said. While calling the visit significant, a top Chinese expert on North Korea relations downplayed any connection with Trump's statements in Beijing, saying it fit a pattern of traditional exchanges between the two parties following significant events such as national congresses.

"Representatives are dispatched to brief the other side at a chosen time and chosen level. It is a tradition and it is unnecessary to connect it with Trump's visit to China," said Guo Rui, researcher at the Institute for North Korean and South Korean Studies at Jilin University in northeastern China.

However, he said the visit "shows China's willingness to see a continuous development of the friendly relations between the two sides." "Although the Korean Peninsula situation has been evolving fast with worrisome indications, the two parties are maintaining normal exchanges and that is of significance for stabilizing the bilateral relations and the peninsular situation," Guo said.

North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, detonating what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, and last fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 15.

Since then, there has been a lull in such activity, leading to some hopes in Beijing that Pyongyang might be responding to international pressure and becoming more amenable to talks.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:22 pm

North Korea 'sentences Trump to death' for insulting Kim Jong-un.

Regime-run newspaper says US president is ‘hideous criminal’ after he said North was a ‘cruel dictatorship’ and Kim ‘short and fat’.

North Korea’s state media has criticised Donald Trump for insulting leader Kim Jong-Un, saying the US president deserved the death penalty and calling him a coward for cancelling a visit to the inter-Korean border.

An editorial in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun focused its anger on Trump’s visit to South Korea last week, during which he denounced the North’s “cruel dictatorship” in a speech to legislators in Seoul.

The visit was part of a marathon five-nation Asia tour by the US president aimed largely at galvanising regional opposition to the North’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

“The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership,” the editorial said.

“He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people,” it added.

Since becoming president, Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities.

Towards the end of his Asia tour, he sent a tweet from Hanoi that took the verbal jousting to a new level, taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight.

“Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?” he tweeted.

The members of the ruling Kim dynasty – past and present – enjoy near god-like status in North Korea, which has demonstrated extreme sensitivity to any remark that might be seen as mocking or disrespectful of the leadership.

The editorial also took a dig at Trump’s failure to tour the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas – a traditional stop-off for senior US officials visiting the South.

Trump’s helicopter taking him to the DMZ had turned back after just five minutes due to bad weather – an explanation the newspaper dismissed.

“It wasn’t the weather,” the editorial said: “He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops.”
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:14 pm

Trump's Muslim retweets draw fire from US and abroad.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump retweeted inflammatory videos from a fringe British political group Wednesday that purported to show violence being committed by Muslims, drawing quick condemnation from civil rights groups as well as a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump retweeted videos from Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right British group whose profile was elevated by Trump's attention. May spokesman James Slack said Britain First seeks to divide communities through its use of "hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions." He said "it is wrong for the president to have done this."

But May's office said an invitation for Trump to pay a state visit to Britain was not being withdrawn, amid calls from opposition politicians for the visit to be canceled. The group's tweets read: "VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" and "VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!" and "VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!"

Trump did not offer any explanation for why he retweeted the videos. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders later defended his early-morning posts, saying he wants to "promote strong borders and strong national security."

Asked if the president had a responsibility to verify the content, Sanders said: "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about." Sanders said that May and other world leaders "know that these are real threats."

Britain First is a group that opposes multiculturalism and what it calls the "Islamization" of Britain. It has run candidates in local and national elections, with little success, and has campaigned against the construction and expansion of mosques.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations strongly condemned Trump's tweets. Nihad Awad, the group's executive director, said in a statement that Trump is "clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims."

Awad addressed Trump in his own tweet, saying the council has recorded 3,296 anti-Muslim incidents this year and yet "we haven't heard a peep from you. Some president." The American Civil Liberties Union, in a tweet, said, "Trump's prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn_with today's tweets meant to gin up fear and bias, with statements like 'Islam hates us,' and with every version of the Muslim ban."

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke welcomed the videos, tweeting: "Trump retweets video of crippled white kid in Europe being beaten by migrants, and white people being thrown off a roof and then beaten to death, He's condemned for showing us what the fake news media WON'T. Thank God for Trump! That's why we love him!"

One video from 2013 showed a radical Islamist in Egypt throwing a 9-year-old boy off a roof. The video was filmed in Egypt days after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by Egypt's military. The perpetrators of the roof violence were later sentenced to death for killing the boy and another man.

Another shows a man — said to be a supporter of Syria's al-Qaida affiliate then known as the Nusra Front — smashing a blue and white statue of the Virgin Mary. The video appeared on the internet in October 2013, in the midst of a civil war in Syria, and was reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.

The third video shows two young men fighting near a river bank. It was originally posted to a Dutch viral video site in May 2017 and picked up by Dutch media the following day. Two 16-year-old boys were arrested, according to De Telegraaf, and police removed the video. The boys' religion was not included in any of the reports.

Trump's tweets came two days after he mocked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" during an Oval Office event with Native American veterans, drawing criticism from of Native American war veterans and politicians of both major parties.

It's not the first time Trump has retweeted inflammatory content or posts from controversial Twitter accounts. He has shared messages from accounts that appeared to have ties to white nationalist groups. He has retweeted a conservative Trump supporter who used social media to draw attention to "pizzagate," an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Democrats harbored child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant. He has also retweeted doctored videos, including one that appeared to show him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump offered anti-Muslim commentary, saying he would "strongly consider" closing mosques and insisting that "Islam hates us." As president he has sought to ban travel from majority-Muslim countries. He said earlier this year that "we have to stop radical Islamic terrorism."

After Trump retweeted the videos, Fransen quickly responded on Twitter, saying: "DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!"

Fransen has been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment through leaflets and videos that were distributed during a criminal trial earlier this year. She has separately been charged with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior" in a speech she made in Northern Ireland in August. She is currently free on bail.

She was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment and fined after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Trump's retweets were condemned by Brendan Cox, whose British lawmaker wife Jo Cox was murdered last year by an attacker with far-right views.

Cox tweeted: "Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he's trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself." Trump's tweets were also condemned by TV host Piers Morgan, who tweeted: "Good morning, Mr President @realDonaldTrump - what the hell are you doing retweeting a bunch of unverified videos by Britain First, a bunch of disgustingly racist far-right extremists? Please STOP this madness & undo your retweets."
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Trump's far-right retweets spark calls for axing of UK visit.

LONDON (AP) — Outraged British opposition politicians demanded Wednesday that the government revoke an invitation to U.S. President Donald Trump after he retweeted videos posted by a leader of far-right group Britain First.

The tiny extremist group, meanwhile, appeared delighted at the publicity boost from a leader with almost 44 million Twitter followers. Trump retweeted three videos from the account of deputy Britain First leader Jayda Fransen, purporting to show violence by Muslims.

In response, Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: "@realDonaldTrump you are not welcome in my country and my city." Another Labour legislator, Chuka Umunna, said Trump's invitation to visit Britain "should be withdrawn."

Prime Minister Theresa May announced in January that Trump had accepted an invitation for a state visit to Britain. Almost a year later, no date has been set, and opponents of Trump have vowed to stage large protests if he does come.

May's spokesman, James Slack, said it was "wrong" for the president to have retweeted Britain First. He said the group seeks to divide communities through its use of "hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."

But May's office said the state visit would not be canceled. Founded in 2011, Britain First opposes multiculturalism and what it calls the "Islamization" of Britain. Small but publicity-savvy, it has staged direct-action protests at mosques and is active on social media. The group regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show violence by Muslims, without context or supporting information.

Fransen, 31, was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab during what was billed as a "Christian patrol" in the town of Luton, north of London. She currently faces four unrelated counts of harassment relating to leaflets and videos and a separate charge of hate speech.

Trump's retweets were a major publicity boost for the group, whose own Twitter account is followed by about 24,000 others. Fransen tweeted "God bless you Trump! God bless America!" in capital letters to her followers, whose number grew by several thousand to about 60,000 in the hours after the boost from the president.

British authorities have warned about a growing threat from violent far-right extremism, and recently charged the leader of another white supremacist group with plotting to kill a lawmaker. In June 2016 Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by Thomas Mair, who shouted "Britain first" as he attacked her.

The legislator's widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted Wednesday: "Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself." London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim who has been the target of inaccurate criticism by Trump about his supposedly lax approach to extremist violence, also criticized the president.

"Britain First is a vile, hate-fuelled organization whose views should be condemned, not amplified," Khan said.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:53 am

Trump stokes anti-Muslim sentiment; censured in US, abroad.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stoking the same anti-Islam sentiments he fanned on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump on Wednesday retweeted a string of inflammatory videos from a fringe British political group purporting to show violence being committed by Muslims.

The tweets drew a sharp condemnation from British Prime Minister Theresa May's office, which said it was "wrong for the president to have done this." May spokesman James Slack said the far-right Britain First group seeks to divide through its use of "hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."

Brushing off the criticism in an evening tweet, Trump said May instead of focusing on him should "focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom." Trump had turned away from taxes, North Korea and other issues facing his administration to share the three videos tweeted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the British group. It was not clear what drew him to the videos, though one had been shared by conservative commentator Ann Coulter the day before.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was simply promoting border security and suggested that verifying the content was not a top concern. "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about," she said.

The tweets read: "VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" and "VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!" and "VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!"

Trump made anti-Muslim comments one hallmark of his presidential campaign and has previously retweeted inflammatory posts from controversial Twitter accounts including some with apparent ties to white nationalist groups. As president, he has sought to ban travel to the U.S. from a number of majority-Muslim countries.

His promotion of the videos came two days after he mocked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" during an Oval Office event with Native American veterans, drawing criticism from of Native American war veterans and politicians of both major parties.

Britain First opposes what it calls the "Islamization" of Britain. It has run candidates in local and national elections, with little success, and has campaigned against the construction and expansion of mosques.

Trump's retweets gave a wide platform to the previously obscure group. The videos were each shared more than 10,000 times, and Fransen picked up nearly 10,000 Twitter followers in the hours following Trump's retweets. She thanked him on Twitter, saying "GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP!"

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke also welcomed the videos, tweeting that Trump was being "condemned for showing us what the fake news media WON'T. Thank God for Trump! That's why we love him!" Condemnation from civil rights organizations was swift.

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, said in a statement that Trump is "clearly telling members of his base that they should hate Islam and Muslims." The American Civil Liberties Union, in a tweet, said, "Trump's prejudice against Muslims reveals itself at every turn — with today's tweets meant to gin up fear and bias."

There are about 3.45 million Muslims in the United States, according to an August report from the Pew Research Center. One of the retweeted videos from 2013 showed a radical Islamist in Egypt throwing a 9-year-old boy off a roof. The video was filmed in Egypt days after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by Egypt's military. The perpetrators of the roof violence were later sentenced to death for killing the boy and another man.

Another video shows a man — said to be a supporter of Syria's al-Qaida affiliate then known as the Nusra Front — smashing a blue and white statue of the Virgin Mary. The video appeared on the internet in October 2013, in the midst of the Syrian civil war, and was reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI.

The third video shows one young man attacking another young man on crutches. It was originally posted to a Dutch video site in May 2017 and picked up by Dutch media the following day. Two 16-year-old boys were arrested, according to De Telegraaf, and police removed the video. The boys' religion was not included in any of the reports.

Fransen said in her tweet that a "Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!" But a statement from a spokesman for the Dutch prosecution service Wednesday said the boy was not a migrant and was born and raised in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Embassy in the United States also weighed in with a tweet, writing: "Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law."

Fransen has been charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment through leaflets and videos that were distributed during a criminal trial earlier this year. She has separately been charged with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior" in a speech she made in Northern Ireland in August. She is currently free on bail.

She was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment and fined after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Trump's retweets were condemned by Brendan Cox, whose British lawmaker wife Jo Cox was murdered last year by an attacker with far-right views.

Cox tweeted: "Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he's trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself." The British government rejected calls from opposition lawmakers to revoke Trump's invitation to visit. May announced in January that he had accepted an invitation for a state visit, one of the biggest honors the country can bestow on foreign leaders. Almost a year later, no date has been set, and opponents of Trump have vowed to stage large protests if he does come.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:41 pm

Calls to cancel Trump visit to UK put queen in tough spot.

LONDON (AP) — Growing calls to cancel President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain have put Queen Elizabeth II — who would host the U.S. president — in a difficult position. In Britain's constitutional monarchy, the queen invites foreign leaders to state visits — regarded as a great honor — on the advice of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In this case, it was the prime minister, Theresa May, who extended the invitation to Trump on the queen's behalf just days after Trump assumed office. While no date has yet been set for the visit, both governments say the state visit is still on.

It would be extremely awkward for the queen to rescind the invitation, and there is no indication the Foreign Office wishes her to do so. Instead, a convenient delay is more likely — as suggested in Parliament Thursday.

Labour Party lawmaker Kevin Brennan said the 91-year-old queen has a busy year coming up with the anticipated birth of a new great-grandchild and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May. "Don't those facts alone justify the government announcing a postponement of the state visit by the president of the United States for at least, say, three years?" he asked.

In the meantime, Trump could come to Britain for high level meetings on a trip that is not treated as a state visit, which is an event that follows well-scripted protocol. It begins with the queen and other senior royals greeting the visitors for a ceremonial welcome, typically on Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace.

In Trump's case, he and his wife Melania would typically inspect an honor guard before being taken to the palace in a carriage procession escorted by soldiers on horseback. Gun salutes would be fired by The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at Green Park and the Tower of London.

The highlight of a state visit is usually the banquet held the very first night in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom. The queen usually invites about 150 guests including business leaders, diplomats and cultural figures.

She begins with a toast to the visiting head of state, who replies with a toast to the queen before the formal meal is served. The menu often includes some of the queen's finest wines. Former President Barack Obama made a state visit in 2011 with his wife Michelle. His other visits to Britain were not classified that way.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:31 pm

Moscow mulls next move in escalating media spat with US.

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin voiced dismay Thursday over the withdrawal of a Russian state-funded TV station's credentials in the U.S. and warned of a quick retaliation. A committee that governs Capitol Hill access for broadcast journalists on Wednesday withdrew credentials for Kremlin-funded RT after the company complied earlier this month with a U.S. demand that it register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denounced the move as a violation of media freedom and "extremely hostile act," adding that "we are deeply disappointed." "Such hostile and undemocratic decisions can't be left without an answer," he said in a conference call with reporters. "You don't have to be a soothsayer to forecast an emotional response from our lawmakers regarding the U.S. media."

Senior Russian lawmakers warned that representatives of the U.S. media can lose access to parliament and government agencies as a quid pro quo. Foreign correspondents in Russia can currently access the Russian parliament and some government agencies with their press credentials issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, said the U.S. move was a "challenge to the universal values of freedom of speech." "This is an attack on the foundation of democracy, and we aren't going to tolerate it," he said. "We are considering options for a symmetrical, quid pro quo response to the hostile U.S. actions. They will come soon."

The U.S. move and the Russian threats of retaliation follow the endorsement of a new Russian bill that allowed the government to designate international media outlets as foreign agents in response to the U.S. demand made to the RT TV channel.

The bill, quickly passed by the Russian parliament and signed into law by Putin over the weekend, says that any government- or private-funded foreign news outlets could be declared foreign agents, leaving it to the Justice Ministry to single them out.

The ministry already has notified the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, along with its regional outlets, that they could be designated as foreign agents under the new law.

U.S. intelligence agencies have alleged that RT served as a tool for the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied any interference. Russia's hopes for better relations with the U.S. under President Donald Trump have been shattered amid the Congressional and FBI investigations into alleged ties between Trump campaign in Russia.

Speaking in a TV interview broadcast Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Russia-U.S. relations are in a "horrible" shape, the lowest point since the Cold War times. "Some American politicians are trying to solve their problems and put a pressure on their president by playing the 'Russian card,'" Medvedev said.

He drew a parallel with a hunt for purported communist infiltrators in the 1950s led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy that often involved unfounded accusations and sowed fear, adding that "even then it wasn't about settling scores with their own president."
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:34 am

Officials: Trump might declare Jerusalem the Israeli capital.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, officials say, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East but would be a way to offset a likely decision delaying his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy there.

Trump's announcement is expected next week and follows months of internal deliberations that grew particularly intense in recent days, officials familiar with the talks said Thursday. They described the president as intent on fulfilling his pledge to move the embassy but also mindful that doing so could set back his aim of forging a long-elusive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim part of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual state.

The officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the outlines of Trump's plan emerged from a meeting of his top national security advisers at the White House on Monday. Trump himself was expected to drop by the meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. He ended up staying for at least an hour and grew increasingly animated during the session, according to two officials briefed on what happened.

Trump is likely to issue a waiver on moving the embassy by Monday, officials said, though they cautioned that the president could always decide otherwise. The White House also is considering a possible presidential speech or statement on Jerusalem by Wednesday, according to the officials and an outside administration adviser. Another possibility involves Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to travel to Israel in mid-December, making the Jerusalem announcement during his trip, one official said. Pence said Tuesday that Trump is "actively considering when and how" to move the embassy.

The Trump administration insisted the president hasn't made any decisions on the embassy. White House spokesman Sarah Sanders on Wednesday called an earlier report saying Trump would order an embassy move as "premature."

"No decision on this matter has been made yet," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday. Moving the embassy could spark widespread protest across the Middle East and undermine an Arab-Israeli peace push led by president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump's campaign season promises won him the support of powerful pro-Israel voices in the Republican Party. But as president, he has faced equally forceful lobbying from close U.S. allies such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, who have impressed on him the dangers in abandoning America's carefully balanced position on the holy city.

Under U.S. law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the U.S. must relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem unless the president waives the requirement on national security grounds, something required every six months. If the waiver isn't signed and the embassy doesn't move, the State Department would lose half its funding for its facilities and their security around the world. Republicans have championed embassy security since a 2012 attack on American compounds in Benghazi, Libya.

All presidents since Clinton have issued the waiver, saying Jerusalem's status is a matter for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Trump signed the waiver at the last deadline in June, but the White House made clear he still intended to move the embassy.

Trump's approach appears to thread a fine needle, much like he did with the Iran nuclear deal. After vowing to pull out, Trump in October decertified the agreement as no longer serving America's national interests. But he didn't announce new sanctions or take any other step to immediately revoke the accord.

Now, as then, he faced significant resistance from his top national security advisers. At Monday's White House meeting, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the case that moving the embassy in Israel would pose a grave danger to American diplomats and troops stationed in the Middle East and Muslim nations, the U.S. officials said.

King Abdullah II, who met Pence and Tillerson this week in Washington, made the same argument, telling the vice president and others that any change to the embassy in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal would create unrest and instability throughout the region and drive up anti-American sentiment, according to the officials.

After a lengthy back and forth at the White House meeting, Trump and his inner circle appeared to accept those concerns but insisted that the president had to demonstrate his stated commitment to move the embassy, the officials said. The discussion then turned toward waiving the embassy move for another six months but combining it with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital, which the Israelis have long sought.

Any change in U.S. position is delicate. The State Department recently advised American diplomatic posts in predominantly Muslim nations that an announcement about the embassy and Jerusalem's status is possible next week, and advised them to be vigilant about possible protests, officials said.

Inside the Trump administration, officials said debate now centers on how to make a Jerusalem announcement without affecting Israeli-Palestinian "final status" negotiations. One option under consideration is to include in any such statement a nod to Palestinian aspirations for their capital to be in east Jerusalem.

The U.S. also faces legal constraints. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital without a peace deal could run afoul of U.N. Security Council resolutions that don't recognize Israeli sovereignty over the city. Washington has a veto on the council and could block any effort to declare the U.S. in violation, but any such vote risks being an embarrassment and driving a wedge between the United States and many of its closest allies.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:59 am

Officials: US agrees to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Friday, in a long-awaited move that deepens America's involvement in the military conflict and may further strain relations with Russia.

The new arms include American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles that Ukraine has long sought to boost its defenses against Russian-backed separatists armed with tanks that have rolled through eastern Ukraine during violence that has killed more than 10,000 since 2014. Previously, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with support equipment and training, and has let private companies sell some small arms like rifles.

The officials describing the plan weren't authorized to discuss it publicly and demanded anonymity. The move is likely to become another sore point between Washington and Moscow, as President Donald Trump contends with ongoing questions about whether he's too hesitant to confront the Kremlin. Ukraine accuses Russia of sending the tanks, and the U.S. says Moscow is arming, training and fighting alongside the separatists.

Trump had been considering the plan for some time after the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier this year. President Barack Obama also considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but left office without doing so.

The State Department, responsible for overseeing foreign military sales, would not confirm that anti-tank missiles or other lethal weapons would be sent. But in a statement late Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. had decided to provide "enhanced defensive capabilities" to help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and "deter further aggression."

"U.S. assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself," Nauert said. The White House's National Security Council declined to comment. Russia's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday.

Although the portable Javelin anti-tank missiles can kill, proponents for granting them to Ukraine have long argued they are considered "defensive" because the Ukrainians would use them to defend their territory and deter the Russians, not to attack a foreign country or seize new territory.

Under law, the State Department must tell Congress of planned foreign military sales, triggering a review period in which lawmakers can act to stop the sale. It was unclear whether the administration had formally notified Congress, but lawmakers are unlikely to try to block it given that Democrats and Republicans alike have long called on the government to take the step.

The move comes as the United States and European nations struggle to break a long logjam in the Ukraine-Russia conflict that erupted three years ago when fighting broke out between Russian-backed separatists and government troops in the east. France, Russia and Germany brokered a peace arrangement in 2015 that has lowered violence but not stopped it, and a political settlement outlined in the deal hadn't been fully implemented.

In recent days, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned that violence is up about 60 percent this year. In Europe earlier this month, Tillerson called Russia's involvement the biggest tension point between the former Cold War rivals.

"It stands as the single most difficult obstacle to us renormalizing the relationship with Russia, which we badly would like to do," Tillerson said. The intensified support for Ukraine's military also comes amid early discussions about sending U.N. peacekeepers to eastern Ukraine, to improve security conditions not only for Ukrainians but for special monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who are on the ground in Ukraine.

The U.S. and other nations were cautiously optimistic when Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to send in peacekeepers. But there are major disagreements about how and where the peacekeepers would operate, especially about whether they'd be deployed only on the "line of conflict" between separatists and the government.

Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration had expressed concerns in the past that injecting more weapons into the conflict was unlikely to resolve it, especially considering that Russia is well-equipped to respond to any Ukrainian escalation with an even stronger escalation of its own. Sending lethal weapons to Ukraine also creates the troubling possibility that American arms could kill Russian soldiers, a situation that could thrust the two nuclear-armed nations closer to direct confrontation.

The United States, under Obama, also imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion and annexation of Crimea. The Trump administration has insisted those sanctions will stay in place until Moscow gives up the Crimean Peninsula.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:09 am

Trump Breaks With Bannon, Saying He Has ‘Lost His Mind’.

President Trump excommunicated his onetime chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, from his circle on Wednesday, ending for now a partnership of convenience that transformed American politics while raising questions about the future of the nationalist-populist movement they cultivated together.

The rupture came after Mr. Bannon was quoted in a new book disparaging the president’s children, asserting that Donald Trump Jr. had been “treasonous” in meeting with Russians and calling Ivanka Trump “dumb as a brick.” Mr. Trump, described by his spokeswoman as “furious, disgusted,” fired back by saying that Mr. Bannon had “lost his mind.”    More at link.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/us/politics/trump-bannon.html
...............................................
Trump-Bannon row: White House lawyers issue cease-and-desist order.

US President Donald Trump's lawyers have written to his former strategist Steve Bannon, saying he has violated a non-disclosure agreement.

The cease-and-desist notice accuses Mr Bannon of defaming the president in speaking to author Michael Wolff.

Wolff's forthcoming tell-all book describes the president as being unprepared for the job.

Mr Trump responded by saying Mr Bannon had "lost his mind" after losing his White House position.     More at link.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42563443
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:45 am

House panel subpoenas Bannon in Russia probe showdown.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday refused to answer a broad array of queries from the House Intelligence Committee about his time working for President Donald Trump, provoking a subpoena from the panel's Republican chairman.

The development brought to the forefront questions about White House efforts to control what the former adviser tells Congress about his time in Trump's inner circle — and whether Republicans on Capitol Hill would force the issue.

The congressional subpoena came the same day The New York Times reported that Bannon — a former far-right media executive and recently scorned political adversary of the president's — has been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a federal grand jury.

With the issuance of Mueller's subpoena, Bannon became the highest-ranking person who served in the Trump White House to be called before a grand jury as part of the special counsel's investigation. By itself, the move doesn't confirm that Mueller is presenting evidence to support future criminal charges. But it does show that Mueller is still actively using a grand jury as he probes the actions of Trump, his family and his staff during the campaign, the presidential transition and the early months of the administration.

Congressional officials declined to say whether Bannon disclosed Mueller's subpoena during an all-day, closed-door interview with members of the House Intelligence Committee. The members grilled Bannon as part of the committee's investigation into Russian election inference. Lawmakers also wanted answers about Trump's thinking when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

But Bannon refused to answer questions about that crucial period, prompting the committee's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, to issue the subpoena, said Nunes spokesman Jack Langer. Late Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said Bannon's refusal to answer those questions came at the instruction of the White House.

"This was effectively a gag order by the White House," Schiff said shortly after Bannon's interview concluded. Schiff said the committee plans to call Bannon back for a second interview. A spokeswoman for Bannon did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "no one" had encouraged Bannon not to be transparent during questioning but there's a "process of what that looks like." "As with all congressional inquiries touching upon the White House, Congress must consult with the White House prior to obtaining confidential material. This is part of a judicially recognized process that goes back decades," Sanders told reporters.

A White House official said the president did not seek to formally exert executive privilege over Bannon — a move that would have barred him from answering certain questions. The official said the administration believes it doesn't have to invoke the privilege to keep Bannon from answering questions about his time in the White House. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The House committee had planned to press Bannon on "executive actions" taken by Trump that have drawn interest from congressional investigators prying into ties between Trump's campaign and Russian operatives, said another person, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record about the closed-door session and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Those key elements bear directly on the criminal investigation led by Mueller, who is charged with investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey or by taking other actions to thwart investigators.

The focus on Bannon follows his spectacular fall from power after being quoted in a book saying that he sees the president's son and others as engaging in "treasonous" behavior for taking a meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

In Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," Bannon accuses Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of essentially betraying the nation by meeting with a group of Russian lawyers and lobbyists who they believed were ready to offer "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

More recently, Bannon has said he was not referring to Trump Jr. but rather to Manafort. Wolff stands by his account. After the book's release, Trump quickly disavowed "Sloppy Steve Bannon" and repeatedly argued there was no evidence of collusion between his presidential campaign and operatives tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bannon apologized a few days later but was stripped of his job leading the pro-Trump website Breitbart News.

Bannon last year had largely avoided the scrutiny of congressional investigators, who instead focused much of their energy on trying to secure interviews with top witnesses like Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

But Bannon played a critical role in the campaign, the presidential transition and the White House — all now under scrutiny from congressional investigators.
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