National Security in the Trump Era: Business as Usual?

National Security in the Trump Era: Business as Usual?

G. Murphy Donovan

Donald Trump has only been in office for a couple of months. Any performance evaluation to date is probably premature. Nonetheless, early on, there are some good and bad omens. The good news is domestic. President Trump seems to be focused on health care reform, the economy, employment, border security, and immigration/alien control.

In contrast, national security and foreign policy initiatives are off to a hoary start.

One national security advisor has already been sacked and President Trump has been horse-collared as a Moscow puppet or stooge. No matter the evidence, insinuations that Russians played a role in the 2016 election is a smear now morphing into a political zombie, a Beltway specter with tenure.

By throwing, General Mike Flynn, erstwhile national security advisor, under the bus, Trump has forfeited the first game of “gotcha” to hostile Democrats and a partisan media. Beyond hasty judgement, the Flynn affair also suggests that team Trump folds at first fright.

President Trump flinched again by allowing his new Attorney General to recuse himself from the Russophobia probe. Flynn and Sessions are just blood in the water now. Trump opponents are circling like sharks.

The Flynn/Sessions casualties confirm what critics already believe about a Putin/Trump “bromance.” The Putin proxy is now tar and feathers to be used by a neo-conservative/ liberal establishment who believe that globalist experiments like the EU, military alliances like NATO, and regime change stunts in Ukraine and elsewhere are beyond reproach or reform.

President Trump may have thus handcuffed himself to “business as usual” on the world stage. Just before the 2016 election, the Obama White House and DOD deployed NATO and American tanks to the Baltics and Poland. New anti-missile missile deployments to Eastern Europe are now part of that mix too.

Yes, German tanks are again in Poland and the Baltics. Clearly designed to annoy the Kremlin, these “symbolic” NATO encroachments are now Trump baggage. 

We say symbolic because, NATO sabre rattling on Russian borders is more than a bit of a strategic mime. Putin says that he could be in Kiev in two weeks, should the need arise. The Russian president is probably correct.

Why would anyone believe West Europeans, who will not pay for NATO, would fight Russians today any more successfully than they fought the Wehrmacht in the last continental war?

Trump’s original campaign instincts were correct. NATO is an expensive Cold War artifact, not unlike the defunct Warsaw Pact. The need to defend defense budgets today is more important than any hedge against real Russian aggression. The long war against the Muslim jihad, still unresolved after 50 years, provides a similar rational for Intelligence spending.

The deep state has deep roots.

Appeasing Muslims, demonizing Israelis and Russians, and fiscal incontinence at home seem to be the three defaults, or inherited, legs of American national security policy and strategy.

NATO is next to useless when it comes to active shooters in a half dozen Muslim small wars. In fact, Schengen Zone vulnerabilities, and Berlin oblivion, are facilitating an ever expanding Islamist threat within Europe itself.  

Take Angela Merkel’s “open borders” policy and subsequent Muslim migrant blitz. No head of state in Europe has done more for terror, fear, appeasement, jihad, Islamic religious fascism, and continental instability than the German chancellor. If Brexit is followed by a “Frexit,” Mrs. Merkel can take a bow.

If the EU is going the way of the Holy Roman Empire, no single individual is more culpable than “Angela.” Indeed, if common sense and culture is at risk in Europe, the angel of death again rides again on a Berlin broomstick.

Muslim admission to Europe now seems to come at the price of another Jewish exit. You would think a German chancellor who walks under the shadow of the Holocaust would know better.                         

In a real world, a stable and prosperous future for Europe is a function of American and Russian forbearance and cooperation. Unfortunately, posturing or histrionics in Brussels and Washington is now more about business and appeasement than a stable European future.

Besides automobiles, the only manufacturing of any consequence left in the West is the defense industry. If the business of national security is now business, it’s a booming business.

The Middle East and Africa are awash with weapons, war, and instability because NATO nations are willing to sponsor sedition and sell the wherewithal to friends and foes alike.

US military exports grew by 54 percent in the Obama era and are expected to rise faster under Trump. America now accounts for 36 percent of world arms exports compared to 12 percent for Russia.

Unfortunately, taking on the American military/industrial establishment at this point might be a bridge too far as it seems to be one of a few manufacturing games left in America. Whilst Defense and Intelligence industries experience explosive growth, the private sector languishes in the doldrums.  

Throwing money at bombs and bullets is hardly new policy in Washington. America already spends more on its military than the next seven countries combined, including China and Russia. The Pentagon spends seven times ($680 billion versus $94 billion) more on defense than does the Kremlin.

Possible explanations for such disparities include waste, fraud, abuse, and incompetence. The truth is probably the Eisenhower prophesy actualized. The military/industrial complex seems to be more about profit than patriotism.

Alas, big spending never meant more capability. The profligate USAF F-35 fighter program alone is illustrative, possibly the biggest budget boondoggle ($1.5 trillion) in all of military history.

If America needs a next-generation fighter that is affordable and operational, the Pentagon might think about giving the next contract to the Kremlin. Russian rockets now shuttle American astronauts in and out of orbit, a dependency that doesn’t get much visibility in national security estimates.

Government debt in the US now stands at 24 trillion dollars, ten times larger than Russian debt. National sovereignty isn’t a virtue if the price is moral bankruptcy or national insolvency. .                          

President Trump Needs a Dog

Obama era national security acolytes, now serving under Trump, are not doing much to help with or clarify American foreign policy or national security futures.

The Ummah provides the best example.

Just days after the Trump inauguration, the newly minted CIA director, Michael Pompeo, flew off to Saudi Arabia to present Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, with a medal for “counterterrorism” efforts (sic). Saudi Arabia is America’s most generous arms customer, indeed the largest buyer worldwide.

CIA and the Crown Prince

The ties that bind America to Arabia are first pecuniary and then political.

Yes, the same Saudi Arabia that produced the 9/11 terrorists, the same House of Saud that finances and arms global Sunni jihad and terror in the Levant and North Africa, and the same Arabia that exports the worst kind of Islamic irredentist theology to the rest of the world gets another azimuth kiss from an American Intelligence nabob.

Irony here is beyond satire. The medal in question is named after George Tenet. Tenet is the CIA director who, with Colin Powell’s help, fabricated the fake intelligence that gave America the ongoing 30 year religious war in Iraq; a war we might add, that reversed the sectarian power poles in Iraq from Sunni to Shia.  

A White House that claims that America is not at war with Isalm, now doubles down with Saudi Sunnis against Shia Yeminis in another proxy religious war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has long denied complicity with Islamism, Sunni terrorism, or wars motivated by a 1400 year old religious schism. Now Riyadh has a CIA medal provided by team Trump to prove it.

Meanwhile over at the National Security Council, newly christened director, H.R McMaster, is apparently laying down a companion party line about Islam with White House staff. General McMaster cautions that terms like “radical Islamic terror” are not helpful. According to the General, “terror is not Islamic.”

Like many millennial era flags, the new national security advisor seems to have succumbed to the Obama thought police. Surely not all Islamists are terrorists, but virtually all terrorists these days are Muslims, Mohammedans who kill in the name of their god, their prophet, and Islam - the “religion of peace.”

“Allah hu akbar” is what an Islamist chants at a beheading, bombing, and other sanguinary rituals. Links between terror and Islam are more real than any links between US Army generals and analytical theology.

Who is McMaster to pontificate on what is or is not Islamic? The national security advisor is not an imam, ayatollah, prophet, priest, or religious scholar. Based on recent sermons, he’s not much of a historian either.  

Over at the Department of Defense, another scholarly warrior seems to be confused about real threats too. The new Secretary of Defense, like Obama era staff officers, shoots from the hip at the “Russian” chimera and personalizes the assessment with trash talk about Vladimir Putin.

At confirmation, General James Mattis rose to every leading question from John McCain, the Senate’s most notorious Kremlin baiter. Mattis swallowed McCain’s practiced political demagoguery hook, line, and sinker.

Mattis also failed to distinguish between a threat that actually kills Americans today and a threat that might. Worse still, General Mattis’ sweeping indictments of “Russians” fails to distinguish between a proud nation and a regime that doesn’t fit the globalist EU/imperial NATO business plan.

NATO began as an allied mutual security pact and the EU began as a modest economic condominium. Both institutions have strayed far from original designs and the world is not safer place because of it. Brussels is now populated by political autocrats and imperial janissaries. Hat tip to a Turk or Ottoman model. 

If sweeping vile assessments of Muslims are unacceptable, why is sweeping slander about Israelis or Russians allowed?  Is selective bigotry at the Pentagon now a military virtue?

Indeed, after leaving the military, Mattis claimed that Israeli “settlements” and “apartheid” made his job at CENTCOM more difficult. The general’s also says that there was “a price to be paid” for backing Israel, a sneer that is vintage David Petraeus.

General Mattis claims that “Russia needs to prove itself.” In contrast, apparently, no Islamic country, especially Arabian, need to prove anything to America, the world, or the new Secretary of Defense.

The sad truth of the European Union today is a tragic combination official Islamic tolerance and official indifference to parallel anti-Semitism. The western migration of fascist Islam comes again at the expense of European Jews.

Mattis also gave the Senate a truncated Russian history tutorial as a closer to his testimony. The self- described student of military history failed to mention the last world war where, without Russian sacrifice, the battle with secular fascism would not have been won. The United States lost less than half a million casualties in WWII. Russia lost more than 20 million souls.

Now that Europe and America are confronted with fascism again, this time religious, General Mattis and other Obama holdovers are still confused or mute about who is a genuine threat in the 21st century.

The best guarantors of civil and human rights are independent, democratic nation states with common cultural and civic values. Monoculture anywhere has always been the enemy of liberty and true diversity everywhere.

All globalist or utopian schemes, now including the EU, have been failures. General Mattis is wrong about NATO too. Sort of nuclear Armageddon, NATO provides little stability for the Mideast, Africa, or anyplace beyond Europe for that matter.

Mattis seems to have misread the Brexit and Frexit graffiti now defacing the walls of the European Union.

Candidate Trump ran on a tougher line with Islamists and a softer line with the Kremlin. Such policies are heresy for the establishment, right and left, in Washington. Any diminution of the Russian threat is a clear and present danger to the DOD budget and legions of Intelligence and defense industry federal contractors.

No big Russian threat, no big funding.

Obama era rear echelon warriors have yet to get the message from Trump or appreciate the angst of “deplorables” in the heartland. Maybe the new commander-in-chief needs to speak louder - or carry a bigger stick

President Trump has few friends in the media, few friends among Obama holdovers, and fewer friends or loyalists midst permanent or deep state government bureaucrats inside the Beltway. Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs voted for Hillary Clinton by a margin of nine to one. Those votes, like California, were votes for a deep state where change is “progressive” - or anathema.

And those who claim that establishment apparatchiks, including the Pentagon, are “non-partisan” are delusional. The only currency in the nation’s capital is politics. The most lucrative politics are found now in the defense and Intelligence bowels of the permanent state.

Obama era military relics are no exceptions to partisanship. Outsiders, critics, and reformers are not welcome in Washington. National security and Intelligence Community leaks now underwrite the anti-democratic, anti-Trump resistance on a daily basis.

Donald Trump is trying to reform or change a federal autocracy that is populated with Clinton and Obama loyalists. For a permanent political elite, weaned by a nanny state, reform is just a turd in the punchbowl.

Willingness to serve in government should never be confused with loyalty, especially inside the Beltway. Harry Truman said it best. If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

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GOP lawmakers are teaming up with Russia-linked parties in Eastern Europe to attack George Soros
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/03/george-soros-russia-republicans-214938 

"We're going to need to bring him in": Senate wants to know more about Paul Manafort's Ukraine dealings.
http://cnn.it/2nkUj2V

FROM one of Russia's main propaganda media outlets....
Sputnik

@SputnikInt
#RUSAL leader's spokesperson confirms #Manafort's business consultation services
http://sptnkne.ws/dS3Y
 

Manafort's plan to 'greatly benefit the Putin Government'
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/manaforts-plan-to-greatly-benefit...

Manafort pledged to bolster legitimacy of governments friendly to Putin and undercut anti-Russian figures.
https://www.apnews.com/122ae0b5848345faa88108a03de40c5a 

Manafort refused salary from Trump campaign - a reminder that when Trump people work “without pay,” they are being paid by somebody else.

BTW...NYTs....wrote an article concerning the coming possible scandals concerning Manafort shortly after the Trump campaign hired him...

WSJ editorial: If Trump "doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President."
https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-presidents-credibility-1490138920 

Trump says it's fake news that he's trying to get security clearances for his kids shortly before getting top security clearance for Ivanka.

OCCRP @OCCRP
Trump’s Ex-Campaign Chief Manafort Accused of Money Laundering in Ukraine
https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/6215-trump-s-ex-campaign-chief-accused-of-money-laundering-in-ukraine 

Paul #Manafort, Former Trump Campaign Chief, Faces New Corruption Allegations in #Ukraine
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/world/europe/paul-manafort-ukraine-allegations-trump.html 

It just keeps on getting deeper and deeper with the WH lies....

Conway on FOX News this AM: Trump "doesn't know" Carter Page, JD Gordon.

Trump said Page advised him.

Gordon worked at Trump's DC policy office.

SO how many more is the Trump WH throwing under the bus in an effort to distance himself from the final phase that actually says he did have direct contact himself with Russians.....

Nice irony that two of Roy Cohn's proteges (Trump and Stone) are now screaming about "McCarthyism":
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/us/roger-stone-donald-trump-russia.html 

Former #NATO commander @stavridisj on US deterrence under #Trump: "Our credibility is shredding in front of us"
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/20/our-credibility-is-shredding-in-front-of-us-former-nato-commander-says.html 

The last US Secretary of State to miss a meeting of NATO foreign ministers was Colin Powell in 2003 during the Iraq war.

It really does appear that the Republican Party...Republican Congressmen...Trump himself...the entire Trump WH and his merry band of white nationalists simply do not fully understand the role of say NSA in the collection and analysis targeting "foreign intelligence operators" inside and outside the US.....

NSA does not need a FISA Warrant and or approved wiretaps BUT yes the FBI does need a FISA warrant for criminal and or CI investigations...

The DIRNSA attempted to explain that over and over to Nunes and other republicans on the HSIC.......

Appears they were utterly tone deaf.....

A European CI Intelligence Officer's take on Trump and Russia.

http://index.hu/belfold/2017/03/21/hungarian_secret_agent_reveals_how_serious_the_russian_threat_is/ 

Roger Stone says claims of Russian collusion in the 2016 US election are "manufactured by the intelligence service"
http://cnn.it/2mNVyV6

Stone himself even admitted via twitter and a TV interview to have had contact with the Russian hacking group and back channel contacts to WikiLeaks.....in his own words...

Stone was also at 19 charged with dirty tricks during the Nixon Watergate period....

Stone is also a long time close friend of Trump....who now apparently "does not remember him so well".....

APPEARS that Congressman Nunes of the HSCI does not even know Stones SO why question him concerning his direct ties to the Russian hacking....

Here's the video: House Intel Chmn Nunes tells @DavidCornDC he's never heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone —via @MSNBC

FOX Insider News is reporting that Nunes will not invite Manafort...Carter Page and Stone to testify before his HSIC EVEN after FBI indicates they are investigating persons in the campaign and or close to the campaign....

BTW...Nunes was a member of the Trump Transition Team thus biased in this matter and should recuse himself as did AG Sessions....

Nunes definitely did not apparently know this....
Stone Jr. got link to Hillary's email leak by Guccifer 2.0 via Twitter DM.
He tweeted 1st & handed over to Assange.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war 

"I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people"

New documents show Trump aide hid payments from Ukraine party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/new-documents-say-trump-aide-hid-pa...

Manafort was "no minimum player in the Trump campaign" as stated by Trump's spokesperson....who would like you to "totally forget Manafort".....

Spicer: Manafort had “very limited role…very limited” time

Not only was he chairman—he was on campaign longer than Bannon @KatyTurNBC notes

QUOTE
By Andrew Roth March 21 at 9:17 AM
KIEV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian lawmaker on Tuesday released new financial documents allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman to President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan.
The new documents may revive questions about the ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014. He is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.
Manafort, who worked for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions for nearly a decade, resigned from Trump’s campaign in August after his name surfaced in connection with secret payments totaling $12.7 million by Yanukovych’s party. Manafort has denied receiving those payments, listed in the party’s so-called “black ledger.”
UNQUOTE

Maybe Trump should stop tweeting and seriously pay much more attention to Russian stated goals...coming from inside Russia....this article from the Russian Council should be reread a number of times.....

Development "depend on the implementation of foreign policy goals in Russia’s immediate geographical surroundings"
http://russiancouncil.ru/en/inner/?i...3#top-content#

By The Way...Trump's ties to Russia have really nothing to do with spying AND everything to do about money which he needs and still needs to just fund his 650M USD debt servicing...

IMPORTANT READ in understanding he amazing amount of Russian black money being generated by Russian oligarchs MANY whom have invested in Trump properties...

OCCRP @OCCRP
Behind the Laundromat are three Russian businessmen whose firms took in enormous sums. Read about them here:
https://www.occrp.org/en/laundromat/the-russian-laundromat-superusers-revealed/ 

BTW...Trump does have deep Russian financial ties....that somehow are getting overlooked...maybe not after yesterday's FBI statements...

REMEMBER Trump openly and publicly stated he has had no contacts with Russians...period...end of story...flat out no contacts and or no calls in the LAST TEN years....he has a tweet on it BTW.....

BUT WAIT....this Russian Billionaire oligarch is claiming he talks to Trump and his immediate family AND sees them all the time and comes and goes from Trump Tower as well on a regular basis......

NO contact in the last TEN years...really????

Article from Forbes....

https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/site...

OLD Russian saying..."where there is a Russian oligarch there is corruption and black money to be found"....

BTW...same saying under the Communists....

Deleted..double

One Trump adviser dismisses the internal White House mess and says the only fight that matters "is the one inside Trump's head."

That fight, the adviser said, is between Trump's instinct to never back down, which is now bumping into his fear of failure.

Comment to this is....

Wow, I feel so much better now.

OK, actually, not really.

Historical comparisons fail here. In the early 1950s, Democrats washed their hands of the pro-Moscow Left.

Today's GOP is not equally wise.

Republicans today just better hope there isn't a VENONA 2.0 lurking out there...

Or a lot of them will go to jail.

BUT WAIT...it simply just keeps on getting worse.......

Ivanka Trump is getting a White House office, access to classified info despite not being staffer
http://nydn.us/2nY418y

Many were against the Clinton email issue due to security concerns .....

BUT this is totally insane and goes against all those government and contractors who had to have a reason for their clearances...namely a government job....Or a reason to handled classified materials....

SHE has neither so WHY?

NINE staffers had been fired due to their failing the required FBI security checks.....BUT Trump's daughter????

Honest Republican conservative test: Imagine if Clinton had won, given Chelsea a West Wing office and a clearance??

Would you have raised hell?

Tillerson will skip NATO meeting, head to Russia. The perfect news headline after yesterday's Russian political bloodbath
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/rex-tillerson-to-go-to-russia-but-will-skip-nato-meeting-next-month/2017/03/21/84205a6c-0de4-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.e05e95652cd0 

AND the European perception will be what again?????

So is anyone willing to publicly state the DoS and SoS at functioning at all?

HOPE the US does not need Article V triggered any time soon as they did for 9/11????

Ukrainian social media Trump comment in English from today.....

Truth: I think therefore I am

Trumpism: I believe therefore I am right

Putinism: I deny therefore I did

Perfect example of the "altered state of truth reality" we are getting from Trump and his surrogates.....

President Trump‏
Verified account
 @POTUS
FBI Director Comey: fmr. DNI Clapper "right" to say no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump Campaign. #ComeyHearing

IF anyone honestly took the time to fully listen to the FULL FIVE hours of statements and answers made by the DIRs of FBI/NSA...AND then reread the their written transcripts...Trump would not be tweeting the above.

Their summation was simple...there is enough "circumstantial evidence to warrant a full blown investigation and that investigation continues as we are speaking here in front of Congress"...END of story......

BUT it appears that Trump is totally oblivious to that simple fact.......

IF Trump had been listening to Clapper more intently instead of tweeting he would have heard both Clapper and yesterday Rogers state...."our job is not to judge about collusion"....that is the job for the FBI...we simply deliver them our concrete validated intelligence as we are not the judicial system...."legal collusion determination is the responsibility of the FBI"...

Trump cannot get right the difference between the USG IC and the US judicial system of which FBI and DoJ are part and parcel of....

THAT is the core failure of the right wing conspiracy theorists when they talk about the "Deep State"....as does this Trump WH talk about all the time.

REMEMBER there are a large number of people in State and Federal prisons today even murders that were convicted on "circumstantial evidence"..BUT the Republicans want you not "ignore" that term when it comes to Trump and his WH merry band of white nationalists....

AND remember Clinton was actually impeached by the Republicans based only on his definition of what was "sex" which was in the end consensual....

AND why did the Republican House chase a Clinton land deal where he in fact lost money on his investment and so declared it in his taxes YET Trump refuses to release his tax records and refuses to separate himself from his company in the form of a blind trust...and continues to profit from his government positon and the use of his personal company properties?

SO if we take the check list that any State/Federal prosecutor would use to file charges in any court here we go....AND that is why Comfy remained with his version of "collusion with Russia".....really just another term for "treason"....

Prosecutor Check List:

1. Does the evidence show that the Russian government was behind the hacking of DNC/Clinton aides? YES

2. Did the US IC conclude that Russia intervened in 2016 in order to help Trump & defeat Clinton? YES

3. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively encourage/praise illegal Russian hacking of Clinton or Democratic candidates? YES

4. Did Trump and his surrogates privately communicate with anyone (ex Guccifer 2/WikiLeaks) working w/ Russian gov/hackers? YES

5. Did Trump and or his surrogates have advance knowledge of the release of Dem emails/docs illegally hacked by Russia? YES

6. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively propagate & distort docs illegally hacked & released by Russia using intermediaries? YES

7. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively promote/distribute Russian-gov funded fake news to hurt Democrats in the election? YES

8. Did Trump and or his surrogates directly communicate with & then fail to disclose meetings with Russian gov officials? YES

9. When asked about possible communications w/ Russian gov officials, did Trump and or his surrogates lie about it, repeatedly? YES

10. Has Trump and or his surrogates produced ANY evidence they used mtgs w Russians to strongly object to Russian hacking in 2016? NO

11. Did Trump and or his surrogates say that Russia-friendly policy changes would be strongly considered if Trump won? YES

12. Did Trump and or his surrogates order changes to the Republican platform that favor Russia over Ukraine and then lied about it. YES

13. Goes to Point 12....Is there evidence Trumpland took Russia-friendly policy steps before & after election & tried to hide it? YES

14. Did Trump or any of his surrogates dramatically change their own policy positions in pro-Russia directions during campaign? YES

15. Did Trump and any of his surrogates actively praise Russia/Putin or regurgitate Russian propaganda to undermine current existing US foreign policy? YES

16. Did Trump and or his surrogates echo Russian attacks on US officials/IC & actively create confusion/doubt on Russia findings? YES

17. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively use far right echo chambers which were passing and or using Russian fake news as part of their talking points. YES

18. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively pressure US IC & Congress to try and mislead the public on Trump/Russia connections? YES

18. Does Trump and or his surrogates or Cabinet members have a significant & material financial interest in enacting Russia-friendly policies? YES

19. Did Trump and or his surrogates actually know that WikiLeaks was a front for the Russian Intelligence Services. YES

20. Did Trump and or his surrogates actively have contact with members of the FBI and knew that the FBI was about to conduct a second review of Clinton emails. YES

21. Why did Russian government officials including Putin openly state that the US/Russian relations improvement under Trump would lead to an immediate lifting of Russian sanctions. How did they come to that conclusion?

22. Has Trump adhered to protecting his tweets as official WH records under the required laws? Why did he delete several if he knew they were to be protected and archived?

BLUF......
SO is there any SWJ reader and or commenter who does not believe that a lot of Americans are currently in State and Federal prison on FAR less "circumstantial evidence"??????

They are there on actually on far...far...far less....

AND the Republican Party is now placing "power" over the interests of the US and US democracy it appears....

REMEMBER this "Republican war on the US democracy started with a "sex act between consensual adults"....

BTW..

If any middle of the road thinking jury panel heard the governments answers to these prosecution questions Trump and a number of his surrogates would be in fact convicted and in jail....

We heard the start of those questions and some answers yesterday AND this FBI supported by the USG IC CI investigation "ain't going to go away" any time soon....

But the current Republican definition of the rule of law sees "holding on to power" over the actual rule of law.....as being FAR more important...

REMEMBER Manafort.....EVEN the Trump WH and his spokesperson is trying badly to distance themselves from him by claiming yesterday he played a minimum role...AFTER the FBI/NSA briefing from yesterday

BUT WAIT...he ran the entire election campaign the last five months and into the election before being let go because of increasing media reports of his ties to Russia and Ukraine.....

Manafort sought for questioning – in D.C. and Kiev
http://politi.co/2mnfd28

Key takeaway from the FBI/NSA briefing yesterday that Trump and his merry band of twitters yesterday FULLY overlooked as it did not fit their tweets....

Comey: "An unauthorized disclosure of a FISA is extraordinary and we are taking it very seriously."

Did he just confirm existence of FISA?

Even the existence of a single FISA should worry Trump and his merry band as a FISA requires submitting even evidence of wrongdoing either of CI nature or of a criminal nature to warrant an actual issuance under the FISA Court

"Tillerson intends to miss what would have been his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies.

He claims to have to be in DC for the Chinese visit...BUT he and or DoS did not even suggest an alternative meeting date BEFORE he heads to Russia which is his plan BEFORE ever meeting with NATO......

REMEMBER the ethics fence between Tillerson and Exxon is only for one year.

Imagine Exxon drilling next year as part of the sanctions roll-off coming soon. More important than NATO. Will make billions.

Exxon had a 500m USd oil drilling deal with Russia that was hit specifically by the Russian sanctions....if it is pulled then Exxon and Tillerson will literally earn MILLIONS...the 500M deal would then be an estimated 1.2-1.5B USDs worth....

REMEMBER the FBI Directors response to possible Russian enjoying Tillerson being SoS....NO COMMENT as he has the deepest and most intensive ties to Russia of anyone in the WH including Trump and was awarded the Russian "Medal of Friendship"...

AND he heads to Moscow before any visit to NATO creating and supporting the perception of the Trump statement...NATO is obsolete.....

NOTE
RepSchiff: After what Russia did, the only reason for Tillerson to skip NATO & go to Moscow would be to hand Putin back his Order of Friendship

Strange is it not.....??????

Five hours of hearings--and not one GOPer expresses an iota of outrage over Russia/Putin attacking a US election.

This is surprising.

Rep. Himes: Russia intervened FOR A SPECIFIC PARTY. Not the Democrats, by the way. Right?

Comey: Yup.

Loyalty to Party over the loyalty to Nation and they call themsleves Americans?????

Nunes has lost all credibility too. Not only didn't focus on Russia during his own comm hearing, but repeats "don't take Trump literally"

THINK about this for a moment......

The house is on fire, Trump is running around with a box of matches, and the GOP demands to know who called the fire department......

Some deep state. FBI started taking possible treason allegations seriously before Trump even became the nominee - and kept its mouth shut.

Asked if Kislyak's role at the embassy was intelligence-gathering, Comey says he can't discuss it in an open setting.

Comey confirms Wikileaks served as front for Russian hacks of Democratic National Committee

There are two stories here: FBI investigating Trump and, inevitably, what Trump is trying to do to obstruct that investigation.

President Trump‏Verifizierter Account @POTUS · 3 Std.Vor 3 Stunden
FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.

Trump lies again and again today after the FBI/NSA briefing

BUT WAIT...Obama was still very much the President and Comfy his DIR FBI.......

PART of the Trump problem during the transition phase was that he assumed with his election he in fact was automatically President not President elect.......

BIG differnece.....

THINK this helps the global image of the US OR helps formulate a coherent FP??????

An annual Africa trade meeting was held with no Africans. Visas for all 100 African delegates were denied by the US.

https://www.indy100.com/article/africa-trade-meeting-african-visa-denied...

GREAT Trump trade move as both EU and China are highly engaged in African trade and it is growing..AND Trump decides to not be part of it....

This sums up the FBI and NSA public briefing today and it goes to the heart of Trump's lying and disinformation tweets.....

WHAT IS HE HIDING???????

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/sunday/so-what-is-trump-hidin...

So, What Is Trump Hiding?

By HEDRICK SMITH
MARCH 18, 2017

In his short White House tenure, President Trump has already set a record for histrionic tantrums against the media — whether attacking CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times or MSNBC for revealing his 2005 tax return, as he did last week. He’s actually pursuing a well-worn path of American presidents blaming the press for their problems.

Five decades of reporting have taught me that whenever a president starts screeching about the media, it’s a sure sign he’s in hot water and fearing revelations about some policy disaster, damaging mendacity or political villainy. Even popular presidents with reputations for charming the press occasionally stoop to blaming the press for quagmires of their own making.

John F. Kennedy, for example.

In September 1963, with the Vietnam War escalating and the pro-American authoritarian regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem besieged by popular protests, President Kennedy used a private meeting with The New York Times’s publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, and James Reston, the Washington bureau chief, to charge that David Halberstam, the Times correspondent in Saigon, was undermining the American war effort and to pressure the publisher to pull Mr. Halberstam out of Vietnam. President Kennedy was particularly angered by a stream of front-page articles by Mr. Halberstam graphically describing battlefield defeats and the self-immolations of Buddhist monks.

What the president did not know was that The Times was already planning to replace Mr. Halberstam because the editors feared that Vietnamese secret police had marked him for assassination. Because I covered Vietnam policy in Washington, I had been told to get ready to replace Mr. Halberstam.
Continue reading the main story

But after the meeting, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Reston postponed my transfer indefinitely. The Times, they said, could not bow to pressure from a president trying to change our news coverage. Two months later, after the Diem regime was overthrown, I was sent to Saigon to replace Mr. Halberstam.

President Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, intensified this adversarial strategy. He regularly railed against the press for what he and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara condemned as biased news coverage that challenged the administration’s line that we were winning the Vietnam War, which Mr. Johnson had expanded with air attacks on North Vietnam. When in December 1966 the Times correspondent Harrison Salisbury went to Hanoi and began filing dispatches about the civilian casualties and destruction caused by the American bombing, the administration all but accused Mr. Salisbury of treason.

The Pentagon insisted that American attacks were carried out with pinpoint precision, civilian casualties were extremely rare, and Mr. Salisbury had become a tool of Hanoi’s propaganda effort. But within months, Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach admitted privately to several reporters in Washington that American air raids were in fact hitting civilian-populated areas of Hanoi, Haiphong and other cities.

During the administration of the next president, Richard M. Nixon, charge and countercharge against the media escalated still further. The Nixon White House even compiled a political “enemies list” including more than 50 in journalism. To combat leaks over war policy, the White House and the F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover, ordered the wiretapping of four reporters, including me, and 14 government officials.

In 1971, my colleague Neil Sheehan obtained Secretary McNamara’s secret Pentagon history of the war, documenting chronic deception of the American people by a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations. When The Times published our articles based on the Pentagon Papers, the Nixon administration went to court to stop publication. The Times was temporarily blocked but other papers picked up the story.

Infuriated, President Nixon insisted that someone “has to go to jail” for the leak. But very quickly, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the media, and The Times rolled out a book-length volume of articles over 10 days that would forever alter and deepen our understanding of the Vietnam War.

Today, the issues are different, of course — questions about Mr. Trump’s peculiarly warm embrace of Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, and Russian intelligence agencies meddling in the 2016 elections on Mr. Trump’s behalf. But the clash of powerful institutions is similar.

Mr. Trump’s attack on the media for publishing leaks from the F.B.I. and domestic intelligence agencies succeeded for a few days in diverting public attention from his Russian connections. He and his White House Rasputin, Stephen K. Bannon, may also reckon that by savaging the press, they can intimidate Congress into softening its investigation into the Trump-Russia link.

But the focus has swung back on the central question: What is the president hiding? If his campaign is innocent of illicit Russian connections, why not welcome the investigation and clear the air? If, as Mr. Trump said last month, his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was simply “doing his job” in talking with the Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak about American sanctions against Moscow, why did Mr. Flynn lie about it?

FYI: NDAA signed by POTUS mid-DEC orders DoS to debunk Russian propaganda & disinformation.

Nothing has been done.

The first contact with Team Trump that consequently led Cohen to make trips to airfields to meet with Rybolovlev.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/3/17/1644558/-Confirmed-Rybolovlev-s-...

AND there are no Russian connections within the Trump family....

Spicer calls Flynn a "volunteer" on Trump campaign and says Manafort played "minimal role"

This is Orwellian. We all saw Flynn speak at Republican convention, became National Security Advisor.

Flynn was sold as the personal national security advisor to Trump during the entire campaing.....

Putin "hated Hillary Clinton so much...he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much" per Comey

CJR
✔ @CJR Get familiar with Russia Today with our past article on the Kremlin's propaganda outlet:
http://cjr.bz/2neFaQP

European newsrooms are forming a united front against fake news
http://buff.ly/2neIDPb

FBI Director Comey refuses to confirm that potentially classified information published by the press is genuine

Nunes needs to recuse himself if he is going to supply evidence about Republican Platform Change.

He has previously stated that it was Trump that wanted the anti Ukraine section placed into the RP platform.....

Did Russia engage in hybrid warfare?

Comey:I would say multifaceted campaign to undermine our democracy to hurt 1 candidate & help the other

Donald J. Trump‏Verifizierter Account @realDonaldTrump · 7 Std.vor 7 Stunden
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Donald J. Trump‏Verifizierter Account @realDonaldTrump · 7 Std.Vor 7 Stunden
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!

This is critical.

GOP wants collusion to be narrowly defined, "hard evidence" of agreement w/ Russia.

Comey says clearly lesser acts count.

Legally the definition of "collusion" is what the Dir FBI correctly states it is...

ALSO any government offical who holds a security clearance would in fact lose it under the FBI definition as they are the holder of the clearance keys....

Turner: 'You said Russia's goal was to put a cloud over the US elections.

Your (Comey's) statements put a cloud over this election'

Trump is watching the briefing live and has heard a number of times Comfy STATE the direct opposite......

Trump continues to lie and lie and lie....

President Trump‏Verifizierter Account
@POTUS
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.

Dir Comey: confirms FBi "is investigating the Russian govts efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election" & links to Trump's camp

House intelligence panel chairman says there was no wiretap on Trump Tower:
http://reut.rs/2nDuMTt

FBI Director Comey says has no evidence of Trump wiretap claim: http://reut.rs/2mIG8kf

Trump is watching the briefing live and has heard a number of times Comfy STATE the direct opposite......

Trump continues to lie and lie and lie....

President Trump‏Verifizierter Account
@POTUS
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.

Dir Comey: confirms FBi "is investigating the Russian govts efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election" & links to Trump's camp

House intelligence panel chairman says there was no wiretap on Trump Tower:
http://reut.rs/2nDuMTt

FBI Director Comey says has no evidence of Trump wiretap claim: http://reut.rs/2mIG8kf

REMEMBER the Missing in Action DoS and SoS and it is not deliberate????

"Is it of benefit to Putin to have Tillerson as Secretary of State?" - Jackie Speier

FBI, NSA: No Comment

REMEMBER Exxon has a 500M USD deal being held up by Russian sanctions....end value of the deal 1.2B USDs...

Comey confirms FBI investigation of contacts between Trump camp and the Russian government.
http://bit.ly/2nee3oV

The FBI has done some serious homework on Russian disinformation tactics....

Comey: The Russians unusually loud in their intrusions. Almost as if they didn't care we knew.

100% correct. 2016 op was a very unsubtle kombinatsiya of provocation & Active Measures. Putin wanted us to know.

SO for a US President to constantly deny Russian invovlement smacks of MISSING IN ACTION.....

Trump and his merry band of white nationalists simply do get it.....

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-20/trump-s-lecture-to-ge...

Punishing Germany on Defense Is a Losing Strategy

March 20, 2017 11:44 AM EDT

By
Leonid Bershidsky

After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump has again usurped the agenda with a couple of outrageously ignorant tweets. Germany, he claimed "owes vast sums of money to NATO" and that the U.S. "must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany."

A straight answer to these claims is that they are absurd: Germany owes the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nothing. NATO has a budget, to which members contribute in accordance with a cost-sharing arrangement, and Germany's contribution, paid each year without fail, is the second highest after the U.S., at 14 percent of the total. And none of that money goes to the U.S. anyhow.

But the straight answer is as beside the point as Trump's comments: It doesn't address Germany's real national security agenda and what the country is doing to implement it.

Germany is not promising to raise its military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product -- the NATO requirement -- until 20124 -- the year Trump will leave office if he serves two terms. There are two reasons for that: The magic 2 percent number makes little practical sense, and Germany's national security interests don't all fit into the NATO framework.

Despite the low share of military expenditure in GDP, Germany is the second biggest contributor, after the U.S., of troops to NATO's two current major deployments -- the Resolute Support mission to train Afghan security forces and the Kosovo force. It has also supplied the manpower for the new reassurance program for the three Baltic states. Germany contributes 5.1 percent of the alliance's total military spending, a number comparable to the U.K.'s 6.7 percent, though the U.K. meets the 2 percent commitment and Germany doesn't.

Would Germany, and NATO as a whole, be more secure if Germany spent a bigger share of its budget on the military? Probably not. Even now, there are major efficiency problems with the spending, especially in the area of procurement. Besides, after a number of reforms, the Bundeswehr is not designed as a massive standing army but rather as a slim rapid response force.

Writing for Germany's Institute for International Politics and Security in 2014, Christian Moelling called the 2 percent commitment an "illusion," explaining that, to make European security more efficient, nation states needed more cooperation and coordination, not more outlay. Germany, he suggested, could serve as an "enabler" of such a coordination effort, a "framework nation" that would bring together smaller countries, helping them specialize in certain areas of military expertise.

This is a politically difficult idea: A European army project based on the German one would have euroskeptics up in arms across the continent. But the German government is doing its best to achieve efficiency with bilateral procurement and maintenance deals -- on submarines with Norway, on transport aircraft with France, on drones with Italy and France. There are also attempts to form joint units by working closely with the Czech Republic and Romania, as well as a nearly concluded broad military cooperation deal with the U.K.

These efforts are more complex than merely allocating more euros to defense, and it's probably pointless to try to explain them to Trump, who tends to think in money terms. But increased security is not a direct function of outlay. Russia, talked up as one of the biggest military threats to the West, had a defense budget of $66 billion last year, and, having completed a major rearmament program, it's cutting that to $49 billion this year. That's only slightly more than Germany's $41.6 billion 2016 defense spending.

Russia is considered to be scarier than Germany militarily because it's more prone to take risks, get involved in conflicts and tolerate losses, not because it spends much more. Answering Trump's tweets, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said:

A sensible security policy is not determined by the number of tanks, raising military spending to crazy heights and running arms races. A sensible security policy means crisis prevention, stabilizing weak states, economic development and the struggle against hunger, climate change and water shortages.

Gabriel has argued before that the tens of billions of euros Germany spends on accepting and trying to integrate asylum seekers are a security investment, too -- part of mopping up after controversial Western military efforts in the Middle East. Modern Germany has far more appetite for increasing its soft power than for growing its military might: In the past, the opposite approach didn't pay off.

The U.S. often sees Germany narrowly as a NATO member. It does, however, have national security interests of its own, described in a white book the government put out last year -- only the third edition since the end of the Cold War. It gives the U.S. its dues as Germany's most important ally, but it also talks of a multipolar world in which states and non-state actors conduct hybrid wars and in which terrorism is the number one threat. NATO is not designed to fight terror -- it still concentrates on Russia as a major adversary. The German White Book considers Russia a "challenge" but notes that "sustainable security and prosperity for Europe will not last without solid cooperation with Russia."

Outside NATO, Germany is a bigger contributor than the U.K., not to mention the U.S., to United Nations policing and peacekeeping missions. In Europe, only France and Spain provide more UN blue helmets.

In other words, though the U.S. nuclear deterrent has provided important security guarantees to Germany, its national security interests do not align 100 percent with those of NATO or the U.S. Despite that, Merkel has reaffirmed Germany's NATO commitments and moved toward meeting them as fast as she could under the imperative of a deficit-free budget -- her party's major promise to voters. Trump doesn't appear to appreciate that, but he has no leverage to force Merkel or her successors to do more. What he'll get instead will be polite assurances that the commitments are still in place as Germany keeps its own advice on what it should do to stay safe. That's how cracks emerge in the most solid of alliances.

You cannot get any blunter than this....remember the Republican Intel Committee Nunes served on Trump's transition team.....and he is not biased??

Schiff: If anyone associated w/ the Trump camp aided or abetted Russia, it would represent one of the most shocking betrayals in history.

Former chief of Russia operations at the CIA, @StevenLHall1, calls for independent investigation into Trump and Russia. via @washingtonpost

WHAT the heck is Nunes up to.....

Why are you revealing to a suspect he is under investigation @DevinNunes ! Stop obstructing justice! Resign!

Huh? Devin Nunes says of "people working at the White House now," none are under intel investigation or surveillance "but one."

NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg in DC this week. Meeting scheduled with Mattis but not Trump.

"GCHQ wiretapped Trump" is a proven Kremlin fabrication -- why does @FoxNews still use "the Judge" for anything?

http://observer.com/2017/03/donald-trump-wiretapping-kremlin-disinformation/ 

Actually a very valid point unless FOX News is the Russian propaganda media in disguise....

The Trump WH and Trump himself wants us all to forget that the Russia hacking was ongoing in JUN 2016 NOT NOV 2016......

Russian propaganda works on the Russian 6Ds Principle....

Distort....Deflect.....Dismiss....Dismay ALL designed to create Doubt and Distrust.....

HOW many of the Russian propaganda 6Ds Principles is Trump using in the following tweets.....ALL of them......

Donald J. Trump‏
Verified account
 @realDonaldTrump 1h
1 hour ago
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!

THIS BTW is not exactly WHAT Clapper in fact publicly stated..another Trump twisting the "truth".

Donald J. Trump‏
Verified account
 @realDonaldTrump 1h
1 hour ago
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

AGAIN Trump wants us to forget the Russian hacking occurred in JUN 2016.....

Donald J. Trump‏
Verified account
 @realDonaldTrump 1h
1 hour ago
The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

"McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence."

Notice anything about the stream of Trump tweets accusing Obama of wire tapping him and his Trump Tower????