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 91 
 on: January 07, 2018, 02:15:09 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Mueller calls back at least one participant in
key meeting with Russians at Trump Tower


By DAVID S. CLOUD | 3:00AM PST — Saturday, January 06 2018

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. — Photographs: Yury Martyanov/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images and Alex Wong/Getty Images.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. — Photographs: Yury Martyanov/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images and Alex Wong/Getty Images.

SPECIAL COUNSEL Robert S. Mueller III has recalled for questioning at least one participant in a controversial meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016, and is looking into President Trump's misleading claim that the discussion focused on adoption, rather than an offer to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Some defense lawyers involved in the case view Mueller's latest push as a sign that investigators are focusing on possible obstruction of justice by Trump and several of his closest advisors for their statements about the politically sensitive meeting, rather than for collusion with the Russians.

Investigators also are exploring the involvement of the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who did not attend the half-hour sit-down on June 9th, 2016, but briefly spoke with two of the participants, a Russian lawyer and a Russian-born Washington lobbyist. Details of the encounter were not previously known.

It occurred at the Trump Tower elevator as the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and the lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were leaving the building and consisted of pleasantries, a person familiar with the episode said. But Mueller's investigators want to know every contact the two visitors had with Trump's family members and inner circle.

Mueller long has sought to nail down details of the unusual gathering at the height of the presidential race between three of Trump's top campaign aides — his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his campaign manager, Paul Manafort — and Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin, plus a Russian language translator, a U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate group, and a British music promoter with Russian business ties who helped bring the group together.

After The New York Times first reported the meeting last July, 13 months after it had occurred, the White House issued a misleading statement while Trump flew back to Washington from the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. It said that Trump Jr. had said he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” and was unrelated to the campaign.

Mueller's team is trying to determine if Trump and others involved in drafting the language aboard Air Force One knew it was inaccurate and whether it was aimed at deceiving federal investigators looking into whether the Trump campaign actively assisted a Russian intelligence operation aimed at interfering in the U.S. campaign.

In August, Trump Jr. released a chain of emails that showed he had agreed to the meeting not to talk about adoptions, but because the music promoter, Rob Goldstone, had assured him that the Russian lawyer had “official documents and information” that would “incriminate” Clinton, “and be very useful to your father.”

Goldstone wrote that the damaging information on Clinton was “part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.”

“If it's what you say, I love it,” Trump Jr. replied.

The meeting between Trump's top campaign aides and the Russians hit the headlines again this week after Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, was quoted describing Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort in scathing terms in a controversial new book.

“Even if you thought that this [meeting] was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad…, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said, according to “Fire and Fury” which was released on Friday.

Bannon speculated that Trump Jr. brought the Russian group upstairs to meet the candidate, a claim that the participants have all denied.

“The chance that Don Jr. did not walk these jumos up to his father's office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero,” Bannon is quoted as telling the author, Michael Wolff, using a Spanish-language slang meaning drunkards.

The book also says that Mark Corallo, then-spokesman for the president's private legal team, quit because he believed the drafting of Trump's statement may have obstructed justice.

“The persistent Trump idea that it is not a crime to lie to the media was regarded by the legal team as at best reckless and, in itself, potentially actionable: an explicit attempt to throw sand into the investigation's gears," Wolff wrote.

"Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome — and privately confiding that that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice — quit."

Corallo, who was the Justice Department spokesman from 2002 to 2005 and now runs a public relations firm, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

In closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last month,Trump Jr. denied that he had communicated directly with his father about the White House statement on adoptions, CNN reported.

The network said Trump Jr. told the committee he had instead coordinated the statement with Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, who was on Air Force One when it was drafted, quoting multiple people familiar with his testimony.

Participants in the meeting have said that the Russian lawyer did not bring any incriminating information on Clinton, and that she shifted the conversation to a discussion of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. law bitterly criticized by the Kremlin that freezes assets of Russian officials responsible for human rights abuses.

Moscow responded to the law by prohibiting U.S. adoptions in Russia, which led to the reference to adoption in Trump Jr.’s initial statement about the meeting.

The Los Angeles Times is not identifying the individual Mueller has asked to return for further questioning as part of an agreement to keep the identity confidential.

Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump is also examining whether he improperly tried to shield his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, from an FBI investigation and then fired FBI Director James B. Comey to block the inquiry.

John Dowd, one of Trump's lawyers, declined to comment during Friday on the direction of Mueller's inquiry. Trump has repeatedly denied wrong-doing and in a tweet on Friday again denounced allegations of collusion with Russia as “a total hoax.”

Mueller has charged four former Trump aides with crimes so far, although none of the charges have specifically included conspiracy to assist the Russian interference.

Manafort and his former deputy, Richard W.Gates III, have pleaded not guilty to a dozen charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering connected to their lobbying work in Ukraine. Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor, both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and are cooperating with prosecutors.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump instructed White House lawyers last March to stop U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions from stepping aside from the Justice Department investigation of Russian meddling, instructions that Sessions disregarded.

Trump's attorneys have argued that, as president, he cannot be charged with obstructing justice because of his legal authority to hire and fire anyone in the executive branch, which includes the Justice Department.

He “cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [Article II of the Constitution] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd told Axios, a news website, last month. Article II details the president's authority over the executive branch.


David Cloud reported from Washington D.C.

• David S. Cloud covers the Pentagon and the military from the Los Angeles Times Washington, D.C., bureau. In his 30-year career, he has also worked at The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, where he was a member of a team of reporters awarded a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks. He is co-author of The Fourth Star, which traces the careers and experiences in Iraq of four U.S. officers.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Representative Devin Nunes plays defense for Trump by going on hard offense against Justice Department


http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-probe-20180106-story.html

 92 
 on: January 07, 2018, 01:24:15 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants




 93 
 on: January 07, 2018, 01:16:27 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

The U.S. Wanted to Discuss Iran. Russia Brought Up Black Lives Matter.

The United Nations Security Council discussed the recent protests in Iran over economic conditions there.

By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ | Friday, January 05, 2018

Javad Safaei of the Iranian delegation and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, during a Security Council meeting on Friday. — Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
Javad Safaei of the Iranian delegation and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, during a Security Council meeting on Friday.
 — Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.


UNITED NATIONS — Efforts by the Trump administration to marshal a muscular international response to Iran's crackdown on anti-government protesters appeared to backfire on Friday, as members of the United Nations Security Council instead used a special session called by the United States to lecture the American ambassador on the proper purpose of the body and to reaffirm support for the Iran nuclear agreement.

It was an afternoon of high diplomatic theater that began with a passionate denunciation of Iran's “oppressive government” by the American ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, and ended with the Iranian ambassador delivering a lengthy history of popular revolt in the United States — from the violent demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 to the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.

In the interim, Council members did, one by one, condemn the Iranian government's response during more than a week of protests. As of Friday, more than 20 people had been killed and hundreds had been arrested. The authorities have blocked access to social media and have blamed foreign “enemies” for instigating the unrest, a common refrain at times of upheaval that in this case the government has provided no evidence to support.

In her remarks, Ms. Haley said that the United States would remain steadfastly behind the Iranian protesters.

“Let there be no doubt whatsoever,” she said, “the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves.”

But there was evidence of a mini-revolt brewing within the Security Council chamber, not only among traditional adversaries like Russia and China, but also among close allies like France and Sweden. Many seemed to fear that the outspoken criticism by the Americans was simply a pretext to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump has long desired to scrap.

It is not precisely clear what Ms. Haley hoped to achieve by convening the session on Friday, which was not previously scheduled. Until the meeting began at 3 p.m., it was not even certain whether Ms. Haley would be able to secure the votes needed to call the session to order.

But even before the session began, France's ambassador, François Delattre, warned against “instrumentalization” of the protests “from the outside.”

Speaking before the Council, he went further.

“We must be wary of any attempt to exploit this crisis for personal ends, which would have a diametrically opposed outcome to that which is wished,” Mr. Delattre said.

The Russian ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, was more blunt. He asked rhetorically why the Security Council had not taken up the issue of Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which were at times also met with a violent police response.

“The real reason for convening today's meeting is not an attempt to protect human rights or promote the interests of the Iranian people, but rather as a veiled attempt to use the current moment to continue to undermine” the Iranian deal, Mr. Nebenzya said.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly excoriated the deal, which was a signature diplomatic achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama. In October, he refused to recertify the deal, though he left it to Congress to legislate changes to it. (None of the other world powers that signed the deal believes that renegotiation is possible.)

Later this month, Mr. Trump will again have to choose whether to continue to waive sanctions, as the deal requires, or chart a more confrontational approach that would further antagonize European allies.

Mr. Trump himself conflated the protests with the Iran nuclear deal this week, arguing that financial benefits received by the Iranian authorities as part of the accord had fueled the corruption that the country's people were now protesting.

At the Security Council on Friday, most members insisted that these two issues were separate.

“It needs to be crystal clear to the international community that the situation in Iran does not belong on the agenda of the Security Council,” said Sacha Sergio Llorenty Solíz, the Bolivian ambassador.

Sweden's representative, Irina Schoulgin Nyoni, concurred: “We have our reservations on the format and timing of this session.”

Such reticence to support the American position is the latest evidence of growing international resistance to the Trump administration's foreign policy priorities, particularly at the United Nations. Last month, a large majority of United Nations members voted for a resolution denouncing the United States' decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American Embassy there.

Ms. Haley had to use her veto to block a similar resolution in the Security Council that was supported by every other member.

On Wednesday, the United States Mission to the United Nations held a cocktail reception for the nine countries that voted against the resolution in the General Assembly, which, aside from Israel, were Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.

In a video message played at the reception, Mr. Trump thanked the attendees for “standing with the United States.”

He said that the vote would “go down as a very important date,” and that their support was “noted and greatly appreciated.”


• Michael Schwirtz is a reporter with The New York Times. Since 2014 he has been a member of the metro desk's investigative team, reporting about brutality and corruption in the New York State prison system and at Rikers Island in New York City. He has covered the New York City Police Department for the metro desk, and from 2006 to 2012 he was a correspondent with The N.Y. Times Moscow bureau.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/world/middleeast/un-iran-protests-debate.html

 94 
 on: January 07, 2018, 01:03:20 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Forget Harry Potter. In D.C., people lined up at midnight
for Michael Wolff's Trump exposé.


“This is a D.C. moment, and I wanted to be a part of it.” This was the scene at Kramerbooks.

By BEN TERRIS and MONICA HESSE | 4:30PM EST — Friday, January 05, 2018

Customers line up at Kramerbooks late Thursday for the midnight sale of Michael Wolff's Trump White House book, “Fire and Fury”. Journalists also turned out in large numbers. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.
Customers line up at Kramerbooks late Thursday for the midnight sale of Michael Wolff's Trump White House book, “Fire and Fury”.
Journalists also turned out in large numbers. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.


THE WIND CHILL hit minus-3 degrees the night Fire and Fury came to town.

But neither polar vortex nor “bomb cyclone” nor gloom of night could keep Washington's political gossipmongers from lining up at Kramerbooks on Thursday night for the midnight sale of Michael Wolff's newly published romp through the Donald Trump White House.

“This is a D.C. moment, and I wanted to be a part of it,” said Steve Dingledine, a fifth-grade teacher from the District who showed up shortly after 11 p.m. and held the pole position in a line that snaked through the Dupont Circle bookstore/cafe. And it was definitely a D.C. moment: Dingledine found himself flanked by a cluster of cameras — the BBC, Fox News, someone conducting interviews in Turkish, and emissaries of various local TV channels. Reporters from BuzzFeed, HuffPost, the Weekly Standard and Vice News hovered nearby.

Dingledine was not fazed. This was not his first D.C. moment.

“Mark Halperin came to my classroom last year to film his show, ‘The Circus’,” he said, laying down his money before tucking his purchase under his arm and exiting into the cold night air.

For days the capital had been captivated by deconstructed versions of Wolff's book: excerpts in New York magazine and British GQ; an essay by the author in the Hollywood Reporter; and the juiciest tidbits (Bannon said what about Don Jr.??) published in The Guardian after its reporters stumbled across a stray early copy in a New England bookstore. High-level White House staffers called around town to find out if they had been mentioned. When Kramerbooks announced it would start selling copies of Wolff's book at midnight — nine hours before the text would be available to download via Kindle — the legendary bookstore started trending on Twitter.

Hours after the first book excerpts appeared online, the book was ranked No.1 in sales on Amazon.com. And even during a week that Trump threatened to jail a former Clinton aide and press a button that would annihilate North Korea, Thursday's White House press briefing was dominated by questions about the book.

A great debate waged over whether “Fire and Fury” was more damning or damnable: Were the anecdotes all accurate? Is it true that President Trump can barely read? Do his staffers really think he's basically an overgrown child? Does it matter if the book turns out just to be mostly true? Does anything matter?

Not up for debate: This has become the biggest must-read Washington book in a generation. The president saw to that when he threatened to sue the author and publisher, which only encouraged them to push up the publication date by four days, from Tuesday of next week to Friday. He had earlier boosted its profile when he sent a cease-and-desist letter to his former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, a major source for the book. And he pushed it over the top just hours before the book hit the shelves by tweeting: “I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist. Look at this guy's past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!”

It could go down as the greatest unintentional marketing campaign in history.


Steve Dingledine, in the white turtleneck, claimed a spot at the front of the Kramerbooks line. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.
Steve Dingledine, in the white turtleneck, claimed a spot at the front of the Kramerbooks line. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.

Cameramen scrambled to find the best angle to capture the slowly-building crowd. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.
Cameramen scrambled to find the best angle to capture the slowly-building crowd. — Photograph: Ben Terris/The Washington Post.

By Friday morning, the city was in full “Fury” mode. Politics & Prose ran out of its 84 copies within 15 minutes of opening, an anticipatory line having formed outside of the Connectict Avenue location. “Some folks came in and wanted six books apiece,” reports owner Bradley Graham. The store limited everyone to two, promptly placed a refill order, and for the rest of the afternoon, the phone was “constantly ringing” with would-be customers.

“It's not as if we haven't had to deal with best-selling books before,” Graham says. But the fervor over this one took him aback.

Call the Barnes & Noble in Potomac Yard, and a clerk will sorrowfully report that their stash of “Fire and Fury” hasn't arrived yet — a delayed shipment, and no, you aren't the first person to ask. Call the one in Bethesda, and get a recorded message: “If you are calling to inquire after the title ‘Fire and Fury’ by Michael Wolff, we regret to inform you that our location does not currently have the book in stock. Nor are we planning to carry it at any time before we close our doors permanently.”

The wonks who had managed to acquire the book began to flaunt it, in some sort of primal, peacocking nerd ritual. “Follow our White House reporter for live copy edits of ‘Fire and Fury’,” tweeted the Weekly Standard, as the reporter in question began to populate his feed with photographs of book pages and his own notes: “I think Wolff means belied, not belayed, here.”

Live copy edits.

This is why they hate us.

The city kept talking.

“We usually buy copies of books about our targets,” Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, responded primly when asked whether the DNC planned to get a copy of the book. “Especially when there are direct quotes from their own staff trashing them.”

“No, I'm a little busy doing my job,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a press briefing on Friday when asked if he planned to read it. But — but — the index says he was mentioned 13 times! “If it's a book with my name in it, an aide puts double-stickies over it,” Mattis said, “So I don't read about myself.”


A book-buyer holds his new copy of “Fire and Fury” after exiting a Washington bookstore on Friday. — Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
A book-buyer holds his new copy of “Fire and Fury” after exiting a Washington bookstore on Friday.
 — Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.


Author Michael Wolff on the set of http://NBC's “Today” show, where he was interviewed on Friday morning. — Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters.
Author Michael Wolff on the set of NBC's “Today” show, where he was interviewed on Friday morning.
 — Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters.


The night before at Kramerbooks, the journalists had come first, of course — looking for a scene but finding only one another and posting up at the bar in wait.

Maeve McGale, a 19-year-old bookstore employee with fading purple hair, swept the floors wondering if anyone would even show on such a frigid night. (Hasn't anyone ever heard of a Kindle?)

“People have been calling about it all day,” she said. “So we've been taking bets in the store about who will actually be here.”

But first came Dingledine. Then a woman named Moira who works in the legal support field, followed by a historian from the University of California at Riverside, who said this president is “off the rails” (historically speaking, of course).

By 11:40 p.m., there were dozens of people in line.

“It's like Harry Potter for adults,” someone said.

“Is it, though?” a woman asked. “I feel like that's giving Michael Wolff too much credit.”

“I have a half-drunk beer and some half-eaten nachos at my table,” a man shouted, seemingly to no one in particular. “But I don't want to lose my spot. I'm here for the party.”

The store had 75 copies to sell. It took 15 minutes for them to sell out.

“We'll have more soon,” a clerk told a gaggle of disappointed would-be shoppers. “Plenty more.”


• Ben Terris is a writer in The Washington Post's Style section with a focus on national politics.

• Monica Hesse is a staff writer for The Washingto Post's Style section, and author of American Fire.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Michael Wolff's ‘Today’ show interview, annotated

 • VIDEO: A list of striking quotes from the new book on Trump

 • Michael Wolff tells a juicy tale in his new Trump book. But should we believe it?

 • New Trump book: Bannon’s ‘treasonous’ claim, Ivanka's presidential ambitions and Melania's first-lady concerns


https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/forget-harry-potter-in-dc-people-lined-up-at-midnight-for-michael-wolffs-trump-expose/2018/01/05/b38a8968-f226-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html

 95 
 on: January 07, 2018, 01:01:19 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Trump is desperate to protect himself. But from what?

His efforts to stymie the Russia probe suggest that
something more than his fragile ego is at stake.


By RUTH MARCUS | 7:50PM EST — Friday, January 05, 2017

President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.
President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.

WHY WAS President Trump so frantic to ensure that his attorney general would shield him against the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election?

For all the unsettling questions swirling about Trump in recent days, this may turn out to be the most important and, for the president, the most ominous. The more information that emerges about Trump's mania to keep Jeff Sessions in control of the investigation and his fury when the attorney general chose to step aside, the more perilous the president's legal situation appears.

In that sense, a report by The New York Times's Michael S. Schmidt may end up being more damaging for Trump than his portrayal in Michael Wolff's new book. If Schmidt's reporting is accurate, three consequences follow:

First, White House counsel Donald McGahn must go, because, at Trump's direction, he improperly pressured Sessions not to step aside from the Russia probe. That Sessions resisted McGahn's lobbying is laudable but irrelevant. The White House counsel represents the office of the presidency. He isn't the president's personal pit bull — his “Roy Cohn,” in Trump's reported lament. Leaning on the attorney general to remain in charge of a criminal investigation that touches on the president is not part of the White House counsel's job description.

Second, Sessions may need to go, because he oversaw or directed a public smear campaign against the sitting FBI director, James B. Comey. Schmidt writes that Sessions “wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting” between a congressional staffer and a Sessions aide seeking dirt on Comey. The Justice Department flatly denies this account. But if it turns out to be true, that conduct is far beyond what is appropriate for the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

Third, the Schmidt report edges Trump himself even closer to having obstructed justice. Whether special counsel Robert S. Mueller III would bring a criminal case on those grounds, there is no doubt that obstructing justice can be the basis for impeachment.

Let's back up. There are two possible explanations for Trump's persistent refusal to acknowledge the reality of Russian meddling and his anger over the resulting criminal investigation. The more benign is that he is so insecure that he cannot tolerate any insinuation that his victory is tainted and his presidency illegitimate. The more worrisome is that Trump knows he or those around him have something to hide.

Schmidt's depiction puts another thumb on the scale of that interpretation. As Schmidt writes, after Sessions's recusal, “the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.”

Which raises the question: Protect him from what?

Perhaps merely the stain of an ongoing criminal investigation; see explanation one, above. Some support for this interpretation comes in the form of Trump's evident disdain for the proper boundaries between a president and his Justice Department. In the most charitable interpretation, Trump felt aggrieved at being investigated for “made-up problems like Russian collusion” and counted on Sessions to make that go away.

But the more persuasive interpretation, based on the totality of the amassed evidence and the new revelations, is that Trump understood Mueller's investigation as an existential threat. The ferocity of his opposition, as underscored by the new report of ordering McGahn to help keep Sessions in place, lends credence to this view. So do other aspects of Trump's conduct: demanding Comey's loyalty; asking him, on the investigation of fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, to “let this go”; drafting a misleading statement about the purpose of Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And, of course, firing Comey, based on the laughable justification that his public statements during the campaign were unfair to Hillary Clinton. Now, with Schmidt's story, we learn that the initial letter that Trump drafted to justify Comey's firing — notwithstanding previous denials by the White House — began by explicitly pointing to the “fabricated and politically motivated” Russian investigation.

The lengths to which Trump seems willing to go to shut down this probe and to hide his tracks suggest that something more than his fragile ego is at stake here.


• Ruth Marcus is a deputy editorial page editor for The Washington Post. She also writes a weekly column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: A list of striking quotes from the new book on Trump

 • Greg Sargent: The case that Trump obstructed justice just got stronger

 • Jennifer Rubin: Why Trump and Sessions are now in a heap of legal trouble


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-desperate-to-protect-himself-but-from-what/2018/01/05/3eeba824-f250-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html

 96 
 on: January 07, 2018, 01:00:53 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The New York Times....

Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump's Struggle
to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation


The special counsel's investigation has uncovered several episodes involving
the president that raise questions about whether he obstructed justice.


By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT | Thursday, January 04, 2018

Jeff Sessions's recusal from the Russia investigation has been a source of friction with President Trump. — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.
Jeff Sessions's recusal from the Russia investigation has been a source of friction with President Trump.
 — Photograph: Tom Brenner/The New York Times.


WASHINGTON — President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House's top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department's investigation into whether Mr. Trump's associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election.

Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president's orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump then asked, “Where's my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy's top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986.

The lobbying of Mr. Sessions is one of several previously unreported episodes that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has learned about as he investigates whether Mr. Trump obstructed the F.B.I.'s Russia inquiry. The events occurred during a two-month period — from when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March until the appointment of Mr. Mueller in May — when Mr. Trump believed he was losing control over the investigation.

Among the other episodes, Mr. Trump described the Russia investigation as “fabricated and politically motivated” in a letter that he intended to send to the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, but that White House aides stopped him from sending. Mr. Mueller has also substantiated claims that Mr. Comey made in a series of memos describing troubling interactions with the president before he was fired in May.


Legal experts said that of the two primary issues that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, appears to be investigating — whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying the president to a possible crime of obstruction. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Legal experts said that of the two primary issues that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, appears to be
investigating — whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between
the Trump campaign and Russia — there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying the president to
a possible crime of obstruction. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


The special counsel has received handwritten notes from Mr. Trump's former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, showing that Mr. Trump talked to Mr. Priebus about how he had called Mr. Comey to urge him to say publicly that he was not under investigation. The president's determination to fire Mr. Comey even led one White House lawyer to take the extraordinary step of misleading Mr. Trump about whether he had the authority to remove him.

The New York Times has also learned that four days before Mr. Comey was fired, one of Mr. Sessions's aides asked a congressional staff member whether he had damaging information about Mr. Comey, part of an apparent effort to undermine the F.B.I. director. It was not clear whether Mr. Mueller's investigators knew about this episode.

Mr. Mueller has also been examining a false statement that the president reportedly dictated on Air Force One in July in response to an article in The Times about a meeting that Trump campaign officials had with Russians in 2016. A new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, by Michael Wolff, says that the president's lawyers believed that the statement was “an explicit attempt to throw sand into the investigation's gears,” and that it led one of Mr. Trump's spokesmen to quit because he believed it was obstruction of justice.

Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer dealing with the special counsel's investigation, declined to comment.

Mr. Trump's lawyers have said the president has fully cooperated with the investigation, and they have expressed confidence that the inquiry will soon be coming to a close. They said that they believed the president would be exonerated, and that they hoped to have that conclusion made public.

Legal experts said that of the two primary issues Mr. Mueller appears to be investigating — whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying the president to a possible crime of obstruction.

But the experts are divided about whether the accumulated evidence is enough for Mr. Mueller to bring an obstruction case. They said it could be difficult to prove that the president, who has broad authority over the executive branch, including the hiring and firing of officials, had corrupt intentions when he took actions like ousting the F.B.I. director. Some experts said the case would be stronger if there was evidence that the president had told witnesses to lie under oath.


Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, argued to Mr. Sessions that he did not need to recuse himself from the Russia investigation until it was further along. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.
Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, argued to Mr. Sessions that he did not need to recuse himself from the Russia
investigation until it was further along. — Photograph: Al Drago/The New York Times.


The accounts of the episodes are based on documents reviewed by The Times, as well as interviews with White House officials and others briefed on the investigation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

Regardless of whether Mr. Mueller believes there is enough evidence to make a case against the president, Mr. Trump's belief that his attorney general should protect him provides an important window into how he governs. Presidents have had close relationships with their attorneys general, but Mr. Trump's obsession with loyalty is particularly unusual, especially given the Justice Department's investigation into him and his associates.


A Lawyer's Gambit

It was late February when Mr. Sessions decided to take the advice of career Justice Department lawyers and recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

The pressure to make that decision public grew days later when The Washington Post reported that Mr. Sessions had met during the presidential campaign with Russia's ambassador to the United States. The disclosure raised questions about whether Mr. Sessions had misled Congress weeks earlier during his confirmation hearing, when he told lawmakers he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

Unaware that Mr. Sessions had already decided to step aside from the inquiry, Democrats began calling for Mr. Sessions to recuse himself — and Mr. Trump told Mr. McGahn to begin a lobbying campaign to stop him.

Mr. McGahn's argument to Mr. Sessions that day was twofold: that he did not need to step aside from the inquiry until it was further along, and that recusing himself would not stop Democrats from saying he had lied. After Mr. Sessions told Mr. McGahn that career Justice Department officials had said he should step aside, Mr. McGahn said he understood and backed down.

Mr. Trump's frustrations with the inquiry erupted again about three weeks later, when Mr. Comey said publicly for the first time that the Justice Department and the F.B.I. were conducting an investigation into links between Mr. Trump's campaign and Russia. Mr. Comey had told Mr. Trump in private that he was not personally under investigation, yet Mr. Comey infuriated Mr. Trump by refusing to answer a question about that at the hearing where he spoke publicly.


James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, refused to answer questions from lawmakers about whether Mr. Trump was under investigation during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. — Photograph: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times.
James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, refused to answer questions from lawmakers about whether Mr. Trump was under investigation
during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. — Photograph: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times.


After that hearing, Mr. Trump began to discuss openly with White House officials his desire to fire Mr. Comey. This unnerved some inside the White House counsel's office, and even led one of Mr. McGahn's deputies to mislead the president about his authority to fire the F.B.I. director.

The lawyer, Uttam Dhillon, was convinced that if Mr. Comey was fired, the Trump presidency could be imperiled, because it would force the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether Mr. Trump was trying to derail the Russia investigation.

Longstanding analysis of presidential power says that the president, as the head of the executive branch, does not need grounds to fire the F.B.I. director. Mr. Dhillon, a veteran Justice Department lawyer before joining the Trump White House, assigned a junior lawyer to examine this issue. That lawyer determined that the F.B.I. director was no different than any other employee in the executive branch, and that there was nothing prohibiting the president from firing him.

But Mr. Dhillon, who had earlier told Mr. Trump that he needed cause to fire Mr. Comey, never corrected the record, withholding the conclusions of his research.

Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, called the episode “extraordinary,” adding that he could not think of a similar one that occurred in past administrations.

“This shows that the president's lawyers don’t trust giving him all the facts because they fear he will make a decision that is not best suited for him,” Mr. Vladeck said.


Searching for Dirt

The attempts to stop Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Comey were successful until May 3rd, when the F.B.I. director once again testified on Capitol Hill. He spent much of the time describing a series of decisions he had made during the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton's personal email account.

Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and questioned his loyalty. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and questioned his loyalty.
 — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


Once again, Mr. Comey refused to answer questions from lawmakers about whether Mr. Trump was under investigation.

White House aides gave updates to Mr. Trump throughout, informing him of Mr. Comey's refusal to publicly clear him. Mr. Trump unloaded on Mr. Sessions, who was at the White House that day. He criticized him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, questioned his loyalty, and said he wanted to get rid of Mr. Comey. He repeated the refrain that the attorneys general for Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Obama had protected the White House.

In an interview with The Times last month, Mr. Trump said he believed that Mr. Holder had protected Mr. Obama.

“When you look at the I.R.S. scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, aah, real problems they had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems,” Mr. Trump said. “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I'll be honest.”

Two days after Mr. Comey's testimony, an aide to Mr. Sessions approached a Capitol Hill staff member asking whether the staffer had any derogatory information about the F.B.I. director. The attorney general wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the episode did not occur. “This did not happen and would not happen,” said the spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores. “Plain and simple.”

Earlier that day, Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had pulled one of Mr. McGahn's deputies aside after a meeting at the Justice Department. Mr. Rosenstein told the aide that top White House and Justice Department lawyers needed to discuss Mr. Comey's future. It is unclear whether this conversation was related to the effort to dig up dirt on Mr. Comey.

Mr. Trump spent the next weekend at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he watched a recording of Mr. Comey's testimony, stewed about the F.B.I. director and discussed the possibility of dismissing him with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller. He had decided he would fire Mr. Comey, and asked Mr. Miller to help put together a letter the president intended to send to Mr. Comey.

In interviews with The Times, White House officials have said the letter contained no references to Russia or the F.B.I.'s investigation. According to two people who have read it, however, the letter's first sentence said the Russia investigation had been “fabricated and politically motivated.”

On Monday, May 8th, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein to discuss firing Mr. Comey, and Mr. Rosenstein agreed to write his own memo outlining why Mr. Comey should be fired. Before writing it, he took a copy of the letter that Mr. Trump and Mr. Miller had drafted during the weekend in Bedminster.

The president fired Mr. Comey the following day.

A week later, The Times reported that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey in February to shut down the federal investigation into Michael T. Flynn, who at the time was the national security adviser. The following day, Mr. Rosenstein announced that he had appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel.

Once again, Mr. Trump erupted at Mr. Sessions upon hearing the news. In an Oval Office meeting, the president said the attorney general had been disloyal for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, and he told Mr. Sessions to resign.

Mr. Sessions sent his resignation letter to the president the following day. But Mr. Trump rejected it, sending it back with a handwritten note at the top.

“Not accepted,” the note said.


Matt Apuzzo and Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed reporting from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York.

• Michael S. Schmidt is an American journalist and correspondent for The New York Times in Washington, D.C. and national security contributor for MSNBC and NBC News.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Paul Manafort Sues Mueller and Asks a Judge to Narrow the Russia Investigation

 • Read Paul Manafort's Lawsuit Against Mueller

 • How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt

 • Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P.

 • Trump Says Russia Inquiry Makes U.S. ‘Look Very Bad’

 • The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

 • Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

 • Following the Links From Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/us/politics/trump-sessions-russia-mcgahn.html

 97 
 on: January 07, 2018, 12:59:47 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from the Los Angeles Times....

Should you read the book ‘Fire and Fury’ about Donald Trump?

By CAROLYN KELLOGG | 11:40AM PST — Friday, January 05 2017

President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office after signing the tax bill on December 22nd, 2017. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.
President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office after signing the tax bill on December 22nd, 2017. — Photograph: Evan Vucci/Associated Press.

THE book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff is the biggest literary sensation in a long time, making headlines since it was leaked earlier this week. President Trump's lawyers tried to block its publication; in response, publisher Henry Holt decided to publish “Fire and Fury” four days early. It officially hit shelves today.

There are many questions about the book, not the least of which is how much is verifiably true. But it seems to me the simplest question is: Should I read it?

Below, I try to guide you to the answer, after spending a few short hours with the ebook.


Do you follow Donald Trump on Twitter?

If you have been reading Donald Trump's tweets, you know that he is inclined to make loaded pronouncements with questionable grammar. So it will come as no surprise that, as Wolff describes it, Trump sees policy briefs as homework to be avoided, and that his White House agenda is driven more by personality than consideration of the issues — and you'll probably be fascinated. Whether you follow Trump on Twitter out of devotion or outrage, the answer is simple: Yes, read it.

Do you like “Empire”, “Dallas” or “All My Children”?

There is definitely a soap-opera element to “Fire and Fury”. Wolff lays out the conflicts between Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus as each tries to be the power behind the Trump White House. Admittedly, this is Beltway drama, so there are no great songs or evil twins, but there is manipulation and betrayal. This would be the case for any White House but more so in this one — portrayed as being unmoored from ideology and policy and driven by the whims of its malleable leader. Does that sound fun to you? Then yes, read it.

Does this passage make your blood pressure rise dangerously?

“Nearly all meetings in the Oval with the president were invariably surrounded and interrupted by a long list of retainers — indeed, everybody strove to be in every meeting. Furtive people skulked around without clear purpose: Bannon invariably found some reason to study papers in the corner and then to have a last word; Priebus kept his eye on Bannon; Kushner kept constant tabs on the whereabouts of the others. Trump liked to keep Hicks, Conway, and, often, his old Apprentice sidekick Omarosa Manigault — now with a confounding White House title — in constant hovering presence. As always, Trump wanted an eager audience, encouraging as many people as possible to make as many attempts as possible to be as close to him as possible.”

If that upsets you — if, say, you have an abiding sense that running the country is a serious business that should be undertaken with humility and duty — then this book will not be good for your health. No, don't read it.


Did you vote for Hillary Clinton?

If you voted for Hillary Clinton, chances are this book will reinforce what you concluded about Donald Trump during the campaign. It intimates that he wasn't prepared for the White House, portraying key staffers, family and even himself as not expecting to win. Once the presidency was his, chaos ensued. Some Clinton fans will take a painful pleasure in seeing just how right they were; others will not be able to bear it. Should you read it? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Are you Gretchen Carlson?

In the opening pages, Wolff recounts a private dinner that took place during the transition at which Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon share thoughts about Trump. Wolff describes Ailes as being dismissed from Fox News after being “accused of sexual harassment … in a move engineered by the liberal sons” of Rupert Murdoch and that Trump “hardly three months later, accused of vastly more louche and abusive behavior, was elected president.” The contrast, especially to the women who accused Ailes of sexual harassment, may seem inaccurate and flip. Do not read.

Do you adore “Real Housewives” or “The Bachelor”?

Who can't resist a good drunken argument, burst of tears or table flip? Wolff, after a long stint at Vanity Fair where he was known for spilling secrets many in New York media preferred to keep quiet, would seem to be the right guy to get and share the juiciest stories of the Trump White House. Sadly, though, the book is not as gossipy as you might hope. I read most of the chapter on Jared and Ivanka (titled “Jarvanka”) and while we briefly eavesdrop on Ivanka at a breakfast meeting at the Four Seasons, the book is lacking nasty moments (except in the words of one aide talking about another) and doesn't have as the outrageous drama of reality TV. Do not read.

Did you vote for Donald Trump?

If you voted for Donald Trump, this book will probably entertain you. It's not surprising, after all, that the man who came from outside Washington D.C. refuses to do things the way Washington typically does. The infighting between his chief aides is also nothing new — it's just shown in close-up. Trump is not portrayed flatteringly, but Wolff isn't attempting to criticize his modes of management and governance — just to share them. If you voted for Trump, yes, read it.

Do you like reading?

Perhaps I'm reading between the lines, but at some points Wolff appears to be exasperated with Trump's resistance to reading. Writing, after all, is Wolff's livelihood, so why shouldn't he be slightly annoyed that the president decided to add more TV screens to his White House bedroom rather than, say, settle down to read a briefing folder or even a good book once in a while? “Trump didn't read. He didn't really even skim. If it was print, it might as well not exist. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate,” Wolff writes. If you like reading, you can enjoy the process of reading this book, but the subject may get under your skin. But heck, you're a reader. So yes, read it.

• Carolyn Kellogg was named book editor of the Los Angeles Times in 2016. She joined the L.A. Times in 2010 as a staff writer in books with an emphasis on digital projects. Her work was recognized with the paper's editorial award. For six years, she served on the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle. Prior to coming to the L.A. Times, she served as editor of LAist.com, web editor of Marketplace and as the web editor of the California Community Foundation. In her spare time, she ran a podcast interviewing authors called Pinky's Paperhaus. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • A big ‘nuclear button’ and Michael Wolff's book: Can it get any worse for Trump?

 • Why believe Michael Wolff? Because, for now, this stuff is too good not to.

 • The juiciest lines from Michael Wolff's upcoming Trump book ‘Fire and Fury

 • Explosive ‘Fire and Fury’ book about the Trump White House goes on sale early

 • Controversial new book on Trump White House prompts president to blast Steve Bannon


http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-fire-and-fury-20180105-story.html

 98 
 on: January 07, 2018, 12:58:51 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

As ‘Fire and Fury’ is published, Europe openly debates: ‘Is Trump still sane?’

The allegations in the book are deepening many in Europe's grave reservations about the American leader.

By RICK NOACK | 10:32AM EST — Friday, January 05, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron with President Donald Trump in Paris on July 14th. — Photograph: Christophe Archambault/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
French President Emmanuel Macron with President Donald Trump in Paris on July 14th. — Photograph: Christophe Archambault/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

BERLIN — European commentary on President Trump is rarely flattering, but the cascading revelations alleged in Michael Wolff's tell-all book “Fire and Fury”, drew an especially fierce response from a horrified continent.

“Is Trump still sane?” asked the Friday lead headline on the site of Germany's most respected conservative paper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The piece was published under the topic “mental health”.

Meanwhile, British readers woke up to The Times of London's main front page headline that also wondered about the president's stability: “Trump's mental health questioned by top aide”.

“Donald Trump's right-hand man openly questioned his fitness to serve and predicted that he would resign to avoid being removed by his own cabinet, according to a book that the US president tried to block yesterday,” wrote the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Times of London.




For its part, France's paper of record, Le Monde, just described the book as “haunting”.

Trump has never been too popular in Western Europe, with approval ratings in many countries hovering in the single or lower double digits. But even though disagreement with Trump has almost become the norm here, some of Friday's public responses to Wolff's book still appeared unprecedented.

The Times of London and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are some of Europe's most renowned news outlets, and both pride themselves with having especially influential readers in business and government in their respective countries  where conservative parties are in power. More so than in the United States, European papers frequently mix traditional reporting and editorials on front pages — often helping to sway public opinion, and by extension governmental strategy, as well.

A degree of skepticism over the mental health fears prominently featured in Europe on Friday is certainly warranted, especially given that my colleagues have pointed out several possible flaws in Wolff's book and previous accusations against the author over alleged inaccuracies in his reporting. Trump himself has pushed back hard against the book, describing it as “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist.” His legal team has also threatened libel charges against Wolff, his publisher and Trump's former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, whose no-holds-barred remarks are prominently featured in the book.

But the fears remain, to the detriment of the world's perception of both Trump and the United States. Some of the United States' closest international allies, including Britain, Germany and France, are now openly debating whether the most powerful man in the world and de facto leader of NATO — an alliance on which their entire military strategies are based — can still be trusted.

“In many European capitals, the prevailing sentiment is helplessness and frustration that Trump won't engage in a rational dialogue,” argued Stephan Bierling, a professor for transatlantic relations in Germany, who said that he had long admired the United States but that his beliefs were now “shaken to the core”.

“Once a relationship is in disorder there is no easy way back. Trump has succeeded at destroying Europeans' trust in himself and the United States more broadly,” according to Bierling. The mental health concerns now raised in Wolff's book and widely debated across Europe, he said, were exacerbating European politicians' existing skepticism of Trump.

German Chancellor Merkel has mostly refrained from directly lashing out at Trump, but she said early last year that the United States was no longer a reliable partner. The White House, however, repeatedly disputed that transatlantic relations were in disarray. In May, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer described Trump-Merkel relations as “fairly unbelievable” in a positive way. “They get along very well,” Spicer said.

Trump himself also praised French President Emmanuel Macron last September, saying that “(he's) respected by the French people, and I can tell you he is respected by the people of the United States.” At the time, Macron told reporters: “The strength that unites our relationship is that we say everything. That doesn't mean we agree on everything, but we do agree on a lot of things.”

But in Germany, Trump's unpredictable outbursts of anger have already played into the hands of those long demanding normalized relations with Russia, despite its annexation of Crimea and election meddling abroad. The chorus of voices demanding an end of sanctions against Russia are growing.

Moscow has had a strong lobby in Berlin for years and doubts over Trump's reliability could now become one of their strongest arguments. Unsubstantiated claims alone would probably not force the German government to turn its back on the United States, but the allegations made in “Fire and Fury” appear to confirm what everyone has long suspected. Already a year ago, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's then-vice chancellor and now-foreign minister called Trump “a threat”. At the time, his remarks found little echo in the United States, even though they expressed a more widespread fear among European government representatives.

Macron, who has established a more extensive working relationship with Trump than the Germans were able to, also voiced an unusually stern warning this week, arguing that Trump's policies could result in a war. Referring to Trump's Iran approach, he said: “The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war.” His remarks came before excerpts from “Fire and Fury” emerged.

In Britain, a country that usually prides itself for having a special relationship with the United States, enthusiasm for that deep interlinking has weakened remarkably over the last year, as well. A scheduled Trump state visit to Britain was delayed and might never happen. And Prime Minister Theresa May publicly rebuked Trump after he retweeted videos shared by a far-right group in the country.

“This isn't a crisis Europeans will simply sit out,” said Bierling, the German transatlantic relations professor.

“Even once Trump is gone, the damage to the transatlantic alliance is almost irreversible now. There is no easy way back,” he said.


• Rick Noack is a foreign affairs reporter for The Washington Post based in Berlin. Previously, he worked for The Post from Washington, D.C. as an Arthur F. Burns Fellow and from London.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • In D.C., people lined up at midnight for Wolff's Trump exposé

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 • Following Trump's trip, Merkel says Europe can't rely on ‘others’. She means the U.S.

 • Most Europeans predict a rocky future for the U.S. and Europe, a new study says


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/05/as-fire-and-fury-is-published-europe-openly-debates-is-trump-still-sane

 99 
 on: January 07, 2018, 12:58:38 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post....

Michael Wolff shows his nuclear button is ‘bigger’
and ‘more powerful’ than Trump's


“We ought to be disturbed.”

By JONATHAN CAPEHART | 9:23AM EST — Friday, January 05, 2018

President Trump listens during a meeting about immigration with Republican senators in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on January 4th. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Trump listens during a meeting about immigration with Republican senators in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on January 4th.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


THE swirl of OMG surrounding Michael Wolff's new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, is unlike anything I've seen in politics. Ever. Sure, we've seen tell-all books and gasp-worthy revelations before from deep inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But Wolff paints such a chaotic portrait of President Trump that we now know that the biggest nuclear button in the West Wing was the one on Wolff's tape recorder.

The New York magazine adaptation of the book, whose publication was moved up to January 5th, went online on Wednesday. And its most damning paragraph (to me, anyway) involves a brutal assessment of the president's abilities, incorporating details from former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.


Quote
As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn't process information in any conventional sense. He didn't read. He didn't really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate. He trusted his own expertise — no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else's. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

That is one of the less salacious details Wolff delivers. The knock-down-drag-out fight between Stephen K. Bannon and Ivanka Trump in the Oval Office took my breath away in its Shakespearean cruelty. But that startling “what a child wants” appraisal of the president took me back to the blistering benediction at the conclusion of an interfaith service I attended last month in San Francisco with the Faith and Politics Institute.

At the outset, Michael Pappas, executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, told the gathered that their custom was free and open expression. That there were no limits on what the assembled clergy could or should say. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco since 1976, embodied that custom with every word of his sermon.


Amos C. Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, after speaking at the Presidio Chapel on December 2nd in San Francisco. — Photograph: Jonathan Capehart/The Washington Post.
Amos C. Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, after speaking at the Presidio Chapel on December 2nd
in San Francisco. — Photograph: Jonathan Capehart/The Washington Post.


Brown recounted the sermon he heard the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. deliver in the City by the Bay decades ago. It was a variation of what would become his famous “I Have a Dream” oration. From that day forward, Brown said, he walked in King's footsteps, followed his example of “inclusion, fairness, justice and peace.” But Brown was troubled about his country.

“I must say to you I cannot leave this podium with much hope,” he said. “I am disturbed about America. I am disturbed about my native land.” Brown turned to the words of H.L. Mencken to thunder blunt judgment upon Trump without mentioning his name. “Celebrated journalist H.L. Mencken … said, as democracy evolves and the common people get their desires, the day will come when the White House will be adorned with the presence of a moron as president.”

This was a paraphrasing of Mencken's oft-cited quote from a 1920 column, “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Invoking Trump's name only once, Brown lamented the state of the nation — its leadership and its people. “I pray as we go down from this place that you will be like me, disturbed about America,” he said in the Presidio Chapel. “We've come to a time and a point when people call right wrong and wrong right. We've come to a point when there is no integrity in the White House. Nobody seems to be very disturbed.

“We've come to the point that we have adopted the mind and the manner and the mystique of that moron that's at 1600 [Pennsylvania] Avenue now when we have refused, refused to hold Donald Trump accountable for his abusiveness, his ignorance, his disrespect for the office and, more importantly, to put this nation in harm's way with his zany behavior,” Brown continued. “So I pray, I hope and I trust that you, too, will be disturbed about America. We ought to be disturbed.”


President Trump speaks about the passage of the tax bill on the South Lawn at the White House on December 20th, 2017. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Trump speaks about the passage of the tax bill on the South Lawn at the White House on December 20th, 2017.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


Brown ended his remarks by citing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, written in the 18th century by famed historian Edward Gibbon. “For Gibbon said, a long time ago, that a nation falls when she refuses to take care of her infrastructure, when leadership is immoral and when there is division in the land,” Brown noted. “We now have all three and it's time for the good folks to get up, roll up their sleeves and in a peaceful, intelligent, loving and persistent way, stand for justice.”

Brown's harsh words last month reflected the anxiety of America then. The Wolff book presents harrowing details that will deepen the concern of the American people. In a piece for the Hollywood Reporter, where he is a columnist, Wolff concludes that “100 percent” of the Trump staffers he talked to in the administration's first year, “came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”

For nearly a year, we have been at the mercy of a man who uses Twitter to bully critics, exhaust the nation and freak out the world. We have seen him degrade the moral authority of the presidency and America's standing in the world. And now we know that the folks slapping smiley faces on Trump and the administration are doing so in full knowledge of the terror they are living in and inflicting on the rest of us.

We ought to be disturbed.


• Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board and writes for the PostPartisan blog.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Opinion | The president threatened nuclear war with an allusion to his sexual prowess. What?!

 • Eugene Robinson: Trump was right to hope he'd lose

 • We already know the alarming truth about Trump. Michael Wolff's book just confirms it.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/01/05/michael-wolff-shows-his-nuclear-button-is-bigger-and-more-powerful-than-trumps

 100 
 on: January 07, 2018, 12:42:10 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Im2Sexy4MyPants

i am sitting here laughing at you for being so stupid
you just dont have a clue what's going on  do you lol?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhahqDnOekk

trump is about to destroy his enemies he has them all by the balls
i will sit back eat some popcorn and crack up as i watch all your stupid lefty hero's  get stomped and jailed
it will be fun to watch them go down the drain starting
with lock her up

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