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.
About the Author(s)
BY THE WAY....just how many Trump tweets did we get on that alleged "Obama is wire tapping me and Trump Towers"..."thingy".
The above Trump tweets from today is designed using Russian propaganda techniques to deflect from his/FOX News/Infowars/Breitbart.com fake news and totally false Trump wire tapping tweets...
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
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
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
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!
BUT WAIT...I heard the formal news media request on the same video played around the world and even Merkel asked which I clearly heard as well....as I sat in office here in Berlin Germany.
So now is Trump no only lying but deaf as well......
White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended President Donald Trump's failure to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel's hand on Friday.
Spicer told Germany's Der Spiegel that Friday's incident was a misunderstanding.
"I do not believe he heard the question," Spicer told the paper.
The press was gathered in the Oval Office Friday to take photos and video of the two world leaders meeting.
Merkel could be heard leaning toward Trump and asking, "Do you want to have a handshake?"
Trump did not shake Merkel's hand, leading some on social media to characterize the action as a rejection of Merkel's request.
Trump did shake hands with her when they first entered the White House.
Gorsuch SCOTUS nomination arose because Republican-controlled Congress blockaded Obama pick. Legal scholars say that's unprecedented.
What is amazing is that many Trump voters complained that under Obama nothing got done in Congress ALL the while the RP blocked every move Obama made...this being one of them creating a total blockade from 2008 onwards...
Remember when on election night 2008 McConnell sworn on national TV Obama would not be reelected????
Seems the Republican voters simply forgot this....
Donald Trump’s White House Is Pushing Kremlin Storyline
I've tracked Russia's global disinformation network for 2 decades. Putin's lie machine now includes the White House.
At least virtually all Presidents since Reagan basically ignored it but strangely not the Trump WH...why is that??
This Trump WH incorporates virtually every single Russian piece of propaganda and disinformation ......Russia fully understand s that this WH absorbs every single conspiracy theory that they place into motion especially the "Deep State"....
This is important. Russia has a serious, sophisticated disinformation strategy. We ignore it at our peril.
Periodic reminder that the only country that has ever invoked NATO Article V—calling others to our collective defense—is the United States.
Appears that Trump has never been told this by his "political minders"....
If Trump's secret agenda were to weaken the US while tearing apart NATO & our closest partnerships (UK, GER), what would he do differently?
.@michaeldweiss on Putin's state. As the saying goes of Russian organised crime, Who do you think organises them?
This is the critical question that Trump himself has yet to answer...all he does is dodge the question of his own personal involvement with Russia....
Nato claims it has proof Russia is trying to topple Angela Merkel
In China debut, Tillerson appears to hand Beijing a diplomatic victory
Even the SecDef Mattis has a "watcher" a former Marine fighter pilot who Mattis staff calls the "commissar"...
Have we now entered the early Hitler/Stalin stages of so called democracy OR what some Europeans are calling the US slide into a "smiling fascism"..??
REMEMBER it has been the Trump WH and even Trump himself who adhere to the conspiracy theory of the "Deep State"...this Trump "watcher system" smacks of a shadow government within a government or WHAT some might call a "Deep State" exactly WHAT Trump accuses the former Obama WH of...
BLUF...this is exactly what Stalin did with his Red Army.......
BUT WAIT...the US is suppose to be a democracy????
Challenge any SWJ reader/commenter to convince me we as a nation state under this Trump WH are not sliding into a "smiling fascism"....
Does the Trump statement repeated all the time..."protecting the homeland" mean including harassing US citizens carrying an accepted globally valid issued form of US ID..the US Passport?
This story is now becoming a standard event...US citizens being hassled by CBP and INS for no apparent reason other than they can do it as there is no oversight on them...and they use Trump's own words as justification....
After a four-day trip to Paris to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday last weekend, Hassan Aden was eager to get back to Alexandria, Virginia — to his wife, his two sons and the law enforcement-focused consulting business he runs there.
On Monday, Aden, a 52-year-old former police chief, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
"Then, 'Wham,'" he told NBC News on Sunday. "Welcome home."
In a long and blistering Facebook post, Aden wrote Saturday that he was detained for 90 minutes because he shared a name with "someone on some watch list."
Aden, who worked as a police officer for 26 years in Alexandria before becoming chief in Greenville, North Carolina, said he had no problem with being stopped and given an extra check — so long as the authorities followed what he described as the proper rules.
"I know how the databases work," he told NBC News. "It doesn't take 1½ hours to check someone out when you have their passport."
Aden wouldn't describe the detention as illegal. But, he said, "an hour and a half becomes unreasonable."
Related: Muhammad Ali's Son Says He Was Again Questioned at Airport
Aden, who grew up in France and Italy and became a citizen 42 years ago, said it was unclear why it took Customs and Border Patrol agents so long to process him.
Citing privacy rules, the agency declined to comment. But in a statement, a spokesperson said that all travelers are subject to inspection and that "they may be "inconvenienced as we work through the arrival process to ensure those entering the country are doing so legitimately and lawfully."
Inside what Aden described as a repurposed storage facility, he said, he pleaded with an agent, telling him that he was a citizen, a lifelong police officer and a retired chief.
The agent, he wrote, "stated that he had no control over the circumstance and that it didn't matter what my occupation was."
While Aden waited, at least two dozen foreign nationals were brought in and quickly released for what he said were "reasonable and appropriate" detentions.
Finally, Aden said, an agent who'd just begun her shift began "aggressively" requesting status updates on his behalf — a move that appeared to win his release.
"She apologized and I was on my way," he wrote.
The event occurred amid mounting legal challenges to the Trump administration's latest travel order and as other U.S. citizens have claimed that they have been detained under dubious circumstances.
Aden said the ordeal left him with a message for the administration.
"The treatment of U.S. citizens and guests to the United States matters," he said, adding: "The country is beginning to feel like it's isolating itself from the rest of the world and its citizens."
And the rule of law still applies in the US..not really since Trump's election...
Another broken Trump promise..actually two broken promises...
1. he stated he would be hiring the smartest and best people he could find
2. he promised to drain the DC swamps....
BUT WAIT...his cabinet is millionaires and billionaires AND now this...which actually has a historically precedence to be found in Nazi Germany under Hitler post Hitler election and his takeover of the government...SAME exact procedure of "watchers" from the Hitler Party......
White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to monitor secretaries’ loyalty to the president
It use to be you served the President for the good of the country but now it is Presidential loyalty over country....
Trump's budget shows he is getting ready to fight Americans in court for land on the border
Trump always failed to tell the US public that the border runs on privately owned lands....who must first allow the wall..
Part of the Trump narrative for his national security theme is the rebuilding of the US military...WHICH he claims was damaged naturally by Obama BUT he tends to ignore Republican damage done to the military under the forced on Obama sequestration process....
REMEMBER he spoke a number of times about "hard power" during the Merkel press conference....
Trump’s Phantom Defense Budget
By Gary Schmitt & James Cunningham
March 19, 2017
The Trump Administration’s first budget blueprint—dubbed a “skinny budget” for its lack of detail—does not begin “the rebuilding of our Nation’s military” as it promises nor does it set the stage for a meaningful restoration of American military might in the coming years. In its construction, it is politically unviable, and it will likely lead to more of the same budgetary uncertainty that has plagued the military for years.
Although President Trump has sold it as a historic increase to the defense budget, in truth, by setting the base budget at $603 billion with an additional $65 billion in war funding, it represents a small increase of maybe 3 percent from anticipated spending levels this year. As has been said by Congressional leaders, that small bump will not enable the Pentagon to live up to the President’s pledge to rebuild the military. Moreover, promising not to increase the deficit, it takes the politically untenable step of offsetting the defense spending increase with cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, such as the Departments of State, Education, and Health and Human Services. It is no surprise then that it received immediate bipartisan criticism and is likely dead on arrival.
Even if the administration and Congress were to come to an agreement, such a compromise would surely mean fewer cuts to domestic and foreign aid programs and therefore an even smaller defense boost, but that would be a best case scenario at this point. More likely is another continuing resolution that keeps funding at current levels and does nothing to address the Budget Control Act’s stranglehold on the budget.
Looking ahead, its devotion to not growing the deficit and the lack of long-term options betray the essential hollowness of the promised rebuild.
At its core, the budget reflects the priorities of its architect, noted deficit hawk and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney. It qualifies that, while rebuilding the military may be a top priority, so too is not growing the deficit. The administration has made clear that it is only willing to increase defense spending if it can make commensurate cuts to non-defense spending, but not to entitlement programs and mandatory spending, which now account for about 70 percent of the federal budget. So, if the administration plans to achieve its goal of rebuilding the military in the coming years, it will have to find more and more discretionary programs to cut.
The problem is, given the fervor with which it slashed budgets this year, the White House will be hard pressed to find another $50 billion in offsets. It likely cannot dip back into the same pot; if the State Department lost another $10.9 billion next year, its operating budget in 2019 would be almost 60 percent less than its current one. Where will Mulvaney turn for offsets then, since the president has said entitlement spending is not to be touched? The new money given to the Pentagon in this year’s budget may, in fact, be the very most the building will get in follow-on years if the administration continues to follow this budgetary path.
Without addressing entitlements or further siphoning discretionary funding, the White House would need more tax revenue to fund a deficit-neutral rebuilding of the military. But little new money would likely be available to offset defense increases next year. Moreover, considering that tax revenue does not finance the entirety of federal spending as is, any new money would be pulled between competing priorities, in particular, interest payments on the debt and other mandatory spending demands. Add to that the administration’s pledge to cut taxes, with its likely reduction in tax revenues at least to start and OMB is left with no recourse but to accept a larger deficit if, in fact, it wants to increase defense spending.
The budget blueprint does not, unlike normal budgets or even “skinny budgets” of new administrations in the past, outline a plan for the coming years or provide much in the way of specifics. But it does reveal a fundamental tension within the administration between those who support rebuilding the US military and those who care more about the deficit. Right now, with the way the budget process is likely to play out, it looks like the deficit hawks are in charge, but their victory is the military’s loss.
For the coming year, the men and women in uniform will be not only deprived of needed resources but also whipsawed by yet another round of budgetary uncertainty, which upsets its planning processes and unnecessarily stresses senior military leaders. The military will continue to struggle with serious readiness shortfalls and a lack of funding for long-term recapitalization efforts.
The administration must realize that it cannot pay to rebuild the US military by cutting discretionary spending. The budgetary contortions it achieved in this year’s blueprint are not replicable going forward; if Trump is serious about rebuilding the military, he must abandon the animating fiction behind this budget, commit to repealing the Budget Control Act, include entitlement spending as part of the budget package, and embark on a serious, multiyear path of steady, increased funding for the armed forces.
One Trump Advisor Really Does Know All About Putin
Man behind Michelle Obama and John Kerry hoaxes at centre of GCHQ row
Wow that Trump "drain the swamp thingy" he promised his voters is going exceptionally well it seems....
Trump lifted Obama lobbyist ban that would've forbidden this. He's not draining the swamp, he's flooding it.
A former top lobbyist for Anthem will be the next head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, according to two reports citing officials familiar with the matter. Makan Delrahim served as one of the healthcare conglomerate’s top lobbyists working on antitrust issues as the company pushed the Justice Department to approve its controversial proposal to merge with Cigna.
Delrahim would head the office that Anthem is pushing to approve the merger, which physicians and consumer groups say could raise healthcare prices and reduce medical coverage for up to 53 million Americans. Delrahim’s impending appointment was first reported by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.
According to federal lobbying records, Anthem paid $370,000 in lobbying fees to Delrahim’s firm, Brownstein Farber, between 2015 and 2016. Those fees paid for the lobbying services of Delrahim and William Moschella. Delrahim had previously served in the Justice Department’s antitrust unit under George W. Bush, and Moschella was also a top Justice Department official during Bush’s presidency. The lobbying records said Delrahim and Moschella were working on “antitrust issues associated with Anthem's proposed acquisition of Cigna.” Lobbying records show Delrahim has also lobbied on antitrust issues for Pfizer, Qualcomm, Ardent Health Services and WMG Acquisitions.
Delrahim was last listed as an Anthem lobbyist five months ago. He is currently serving as President Donald Trump’s deputy White House counsel.
News of Delrahim’s appointment to the nation’s top antitrust job comes weeks after Anthem lawyers told a Delaware judge that they are relying on the Trump administration to settle the antitrust division’s current lawsuit blocking its Cigna merger. Between those court statements and Delrahim’s appointment, President Trump had a personal telephone call with Anthem’s CEO, Joseph Swedish. Anthem gave $100,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee, and after Trump assumed office, the Securities and Exchange Commission helped Anthem quash a shareholder resolution designed to force it to disclose its lobbying expenditures.
In leading the Justice Department's antitrust division, Delrahim will have to contend with Trump's recent ethics executive order. That directive requires appointees to agree to avoid "participat(ing) in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment" and to avoid "participat(ing) in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls."
The polling numbers that were reported German Die Welt in Feb. Russia's trustworthiness was at 21% compared to US 22%.
Russian propaganda media appears to be lending support to the embattled Trump lies of spying on him......
Russian media picks up Trump's narrative: "It was the British, not Russia that spied on USA".
… (I'm in there too)
Russian company that paid Flynn deemed "unsuitable," blacklisted by Pentagon
EU chief Juncker warns against EU-US trade war: Bild am Sonntag
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned in a newspaper interview that a trade war between the United States and Europe would not be good for either.
Asked by Bild am Sonntag newspaper whether Europe could withstand a trade war with the United States, Juncker said: "A trade war would neither be in Europe's nor the USA's interests."
He said it was necessary to take protectionist comments being made by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration seriously and also to be prepared.
On Thursday U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration had no desire to get into trade wars but certain trade relationships needed to be re-examined to make them fairer.
Juncker said he was pleased that he would be meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, adding: "We want to conclude a free trade deal between the EU and Japan this year."
Trump has accused Japan of exploiting a weak yen to give its exports an unfair trade advantage. In similar vein, Trump's top trade adviser has accused Germany of using a "grossly undervalued" euro to gain a competitive advantage.
Trump hasn't yet donated a cent of hotel profits to the Treasury as promised - and won't until at least next year 2018...so he can book the massive earnings in his conflict of interest into tax year 2017....
Well just another Trump promise not fulfilled...basically a lie....
NSA DDIR on Trump's "arrant nonsense...just crazy...belies a complete lack of understanding of...political reality"
Tillerson on the lack of press pool on Asia trip: 'I'm not a big media access person'
So to summarize: Sec of State Tillerson threatened North Korea with escalation to a nuclear war, then took a nap because he was exhausted and missed a state dinner to be given by SK.....
AND this naturally what a SoS does....
The last time I checked both SoS Clinton and Kerry set world records of travelled miles and countries visited and negotiations held..and Tillerson has difficulty in raveling just to Japan and South Korea....
Worrying when US administration blocks a G20 free trade statement. Where is it heading? EU needs to stand up.
This is the signal that will show EU that Trump/Bannon and Narravo are intent in damaging both NATO and EU.....
It is now Trump vs the world...and I am afraid US workers will in fact lose....
This is the sort of conspiracy theories being batted around by the ultra right blog sites....this story is actually a "fake news article".....
There is an interesting concept behind this article...namely the pushing of the idea of bilateral agreements with individual countries...as a way to force those countries to cave to Trump.....
Secondly...Breitbart.com is trying to smear Merkel with the lie of "fake news" which actually this article is a perfect example of....
Merkel Floats Fake News at Trump Presser: TTIP Deal is ‘Bilateral’
by Chris Tomlinson18 Mar 20171,815
In the first joint press conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German leader claimed that a trade deal between the U.S. and the EU would be like a trade deal between two countries.
Trade was the topic of much of the press conference between the two leaders as President Trump has made the subject one of the pillars of his administration. During the press questions, a reporter from German paper Die Welt asked Ms Merkel if she thought that a trade agreement between the EU and the U.S. would be multilateral or bilateral.
Merkel said and agreement like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would be bilateral, indicating that she viewed the European Union as its own country, rather than a federation of countries.
“I believe that the president has clearly set out his philosophy as to what trade agreements have to bring about for the American side as well. I personally don’t think that Germany needs to negotiate and not the European Union.
“We’ve devolved our competences to the European Union, so the European Union, or rather the commission, negotiates on behalf of the member states,” Merkel said outlining that it is the unelected commission of the EU, whose role it is to be at the table for trade deals.
“So that’s not going to prevent us from concluding agreements and indeed this would then qualify as a bilateral agreement between the EU and the United States if we had it,” she added.
“The question is will it benefit both countries or not?” she said.
President Trump has made it clear that he supports bilateral trade deals over multilateral deals that can often involve a dozen or more countries with different values and different economic interests.
One of the president’s first acts after assuming office was to scrap TTIP which, unlike Merkel, he did not believe was bilateral.
The view of Angela Merkel, that of pro-globalisation and of a centralised European Union, is being heavily challenged by countries like Hungary who wish to see reform in the union and more emphasis on the individual countries, than the central EU bureaucracy.
In April France will start the process of electing a new president and anti-mass migration candidate Marine Le Pen has already hit out at Merkel’s philosophy saying that she, like Trump, wants to put her country first and end the experiment of centralised supranational organisations like the EU. A win for Le Pen would likely strike a huge blow for Merkel and her philosophy.
HERE is the separate elements of "this fake news article".....
1. TTIP would have allowed the US to trade with the entire EU and the associated EU trade areas THUS opening THUS a marketplace of 500M consumers....WITHOUT a single tariff system....
2. TTP would have allowed the US to trade with 12 Asian countries with a total of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS without a single tariff
3. TTP would have kept the Chinese out of this trading zone...
4. No single EU member can negotiate a bilateral trade deal...the EU Commission negotiates for all 28 members as a single voice THUS the author fails to understand that in fact such a trade deal is signed by the EU Commission and then ratified by each nation state member.
THUS there is a single name on the deal as well as the US THUS the word bilateral truly fits...
5. While the author quoted Hungary NOTICE Hungary does not do extra deal trades and accepts all EU negotiated trade deals...
So while Trump supports bilateral trade as this author claims....Trump lost trade markets of over 1.8B consumers that US workers could have sold products to.....WITH NO TARIFFS on Us products AND FULL US financial services being allowed into 1.8B consumers....
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States "vast sums" of money for defense.
"There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.
"Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism," von der Leyen said.
She said everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a "modern security concept" that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations.
Trump said on Twitter on Saturday - a day after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington - that Germany "owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"
Trump has urged Germany and other NATO members to accelerate efforts to meet NATO's defense spending target.
Iraqi forces close in on Mosul mosque as residents flee
German defense spending is set to rise by 1.4 billion euros to 38.5 billion euros in 2018 - a figure that is projected to represent 1.26 percent of economic output, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.
In 2016, Germany's defense spending ratio stood at 1.18 percent.
During her trip to Washington, Merkel reiterated Germany's commitment to the 2 percent military spending goal.
I doubt @POTUS knows, but until 2013 US continually reduced its contribution to Europe's defence. Now changed.
Sorry, Mr. President, that’s not how NATO works. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO.
This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.
All NATO countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. So far 5 of 28 NATO countries do.
Those who currently don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing.
But no funds will be paid to the US. They are meant to increase NATO’s overall defense capabilities, given the growing Russian threat.
Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it due to Russian threat.
US does provide large military commitment to NATO. But this is not a favor to Europe. It is vital for our own security.
A strong, united NATO, in which all contribute their fair share to defense, will secure that peace for all Alliance members.
The only time in the history of NATO that Article 5 was triggered to protect a member nation....
Was 9/11 and all 27 NATOs joined Article 5 to defined the US....
YET Trump claims he will not trigger Article 5 until all repay the US.....
Trump is off and running on another conspiracy myth again....the so called "Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and US".....
FOR what exactly...the NATO 2% rule means 2% of GDP is to be invested into military defense.....
Trump is heading into a new set of Bannon/Narravo/Miller driven conspiracy theories....
Donald J. Trump
4 hours ago
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....
Donald J. Trump
4 hours ago
...vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!
Trump's press conference and his actions towards Merkel did not win him a single new friend in Europe outside of the standard far right nationalist populist party leaders...
The Atlantic article from yesterday sums it up .....
Donald and Angela's Awkward Adventure
During a press conference with the German chancellor, President Trump lied about his claims of wiretapping, berated a reporter, and poked at American allies.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
David A. Graham Mar 17, 2017 Global
Early Friday afternoon, President Trump and German Chancellor Merkel held one of the more awkward photo ops in recent memory. Merkel sat, looking like she was trying hard to appear casual. Trump barely bothered, grimacing tightly. When photographers asked for a handshake, Merkel asked Trump if they should shake hands. He either did not hear or pretended not to.
As it turns out, this was only a warm-up for the dual press conference the two leaders held later Friday afternoon, during which Merkel stood beside Trump as he ridiculed a German reporter, lied about his statements on his baseless conspiracy theory that President Obama surveilled him, and refused to back down on claims that have set off a diplomatic incident with the United Kingdom.
The fact that it might be a tense conversation was clear from the two leaders’ opening statements. Trump, during his, once again complained about the cost of NATO. “I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost defense,” he said. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe.”
As for Merkel, she used her own statement to issue a veiled scolding for Trump, who previously said she was “ruining” Germany with a “catastrophic mistake” of an open-door refugee policy. “I've always said it's much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this,” Merkel said.
Perhaps that is so, but there was little talking to each other during the press conference; instead, Trump shot from the hip and Merkel sought to either smooth things over or stay out of the way. It wasn’t an easy task.
Trump got several questions about his continued, inexplicable insistence that President Obama surveilled him prior to the election. He ignored the first, which came from a German reporter, but answered it the second time, when a second German reporter asked if it had been a mistake for Sean Spicer to read a story in the White House briefing room on Thursday that accused the British intelligence agency GCHQ of helping to surveil Trump.
The president started off with an uncomfortable deadpan remark—joke?—about the 2013 revelation that Merkel had been the subject of NSA wiretaps.
“As far as wiretapping I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps,” Trump said, to somewhat incredulous laughter in the room.
“And just to finish your question, we said nothing,” Trump continued. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Trump’s claim of having tendered no opinion was a lie. In a series of March 4 tweets lodging the allegation, and he most certainly did “make an opinion,” calling it “McCarthyism” and “Nixon/Watergate” and calling Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy!” And in pinning the story on Andrew Napolitano, a onetime New Jersey judge who is a Fox legal analyst, Trump implied that it didn’t matter whether he gave a platform to baseless accusations, much less endorsed them, because he hadn’t originated them. The buck doesn’t stop in Trump’s Oval Office.
The problems with this approach became clear with Britain’s fury about the GCHQ accusation. After complaints from U.K. officials, the White House issued a statement saying, “Ambassador Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and [National Security Adviser H.R.] McMaster. Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”
If that explanation was intended to soothe tensions with America’s closest ally, Trump did all he could to throw things back into chaos during the press conference, managing to poke sore spots for both Britain and Germany at the same time.
Trump also berated a German reporter who asked Merkel about Trump’s “isolationism” and then asked the president why he was “scared of adversity in the news.”
“Nice friendly reporter,” he said sarcastically. “I am a trader, I am a fair trader, a trader that wants to see good for everybody worldwide, but I'm not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination, so I don't know what newspaper you're reading, so I guess that would be another example of fake news.”
If the goal of the press conference was to present some sort of unified face on trade, however, that didn’t happen. Merkel offered a platitudinous plea for a “win-win” solution, but Trump was more interested in grievance and competition. “I would say that the negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the United States but hopefully we can even it out,” he said.
American reporters were more interested in finding out about the state of the Republican Party’s attempt to repeal Obamacare. Trump has put his weight behind the bill and met with members of the conservative Republican Study Committee to try to make the case for the bill. The bill looks tenuous at best, beset by criticism from moderate and conservative Republicans alike, but Trump promised a happy ending.
“In the end we’re going to have a great health-care plan,” Trump said, but he didn’t say how, preferring to dwell on the existing law. “Obamacare will fail. It will fold. it will close up very, very soon if something isn't done. I've often said politically the best thing I can do is absolutely nothing. Wait one year and then even the Democrats will say, ‘Please, please, you gotta help us.’”
But Trump offered no indications on what changes were going to be made to the bill to bring more votes into the fold.
During the press conference, the American journalist Mark Halperin asked Merkel a question about whether she thought Trump’s “different style” than past president was good for the world. The chancellor gamely tried to answer.
“For Germany I can say, well people are different, people have different abilities, different traits of character, have different origins, have found their way into politics along different pathways,” she said through a translator. “Which, well, that is diversity, which is good! Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for.”
The fact that Merkel had to work hard to say something diplomatic in response to such a softball question said a great deal about the press conference. But give the chancellor credit for effort—Trump didn’t even bother to try diplomacy.
Alfa Bank says its servers have been hacked to make it look like it is communicating with Trump Org. Has contacted US law enforcement.
Alfa bank has been connecting to this Trump Tower server for 10 minutes every hour
Ahhh yes... that timeless old chestnut. - 'It wasn't me, I must have been hacked'. LOL
Russia's Alfa Bank says hackers created the illusion it was in close contact with the Trump Organization:
Amazingly Alfa Bank "only discovered this excuse" after it became known there was far more intensive research on their server conversations with Trump Tower....
As Alfa Bank attempts to get ahead of this coming debacle by claiming suddenly "they were hacked"
They inadvertently admitted....So, that autumn 2016 news of clandestine comms channel /w Trump Organisation is confirmed by Alfa itself.
Angela Merkel has a PhD in quantum physics.
Donald Trump misspelled "tap."
Not exactly a meeting of the minds.
Further proof that Trump in fact does not get on well with strong women and especially say a Merkel who had been in politics for years.....
So #Trump definitely heard #Merkel asking for a handshake. Why be so pathologically rude in front of cameras?
This one single action on the part of Trump has virtually sealed his image in Germany where over 87% view Trump as a serious danger to Germany....
The second Trump WH misstep with Merkel was having her seated next to Trump's own daughter...there is a media photo now floating in German online media depicting the Merkel look towards the daughter....
That moment when you realize your high level Washington trade discussions are actually an infomercial for a new broach & pendant set.
Mutti wears her well-known "you're so stupid that I'm embarrassed for you" face.
BTW...Mutti in German is an endearment form for mother..regardless of political party most German's highly respect Merkel...
In some aspects you must now ask yourself did in fact the Trump WH want this meeting to fail?
Many in Germany are saying ...yes...as it was clearly apparent to many that Trump does not like Germany nor the EU and NATO.....
Russian elite (63 individuals) invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings:
Trump tries to pass two Muslim Ban EOs and fails...then the Irish PM gives one of the best immigration speeches given in recent times in the US and he was standing next to Trump....
"Irish immigrants were the wretched…believed in the shelter, compassion & oppty of America. We came & BEcame Americans"
AND remember the Irish were handled just like back Americans...with such signs..."Irish not welcomed here...Irish not allowed"..BECAUSE they were Catholic.....not White Protestants....
How was a white nationalist "populist movement" built in the US and how Trump fits into that white nationalist populist movement.....
The Washington Post's @mateagold looks at the Mercers & Bannon - "How a populist power base was funded and built"
REMEMBER it was Bannon himself who claimed he was a "Leninist" wanting to "destroy" the establishment"....AND then changed "destroy" to "deconstruct"...........
BY THE WAY Bannon sits on the Mercer Board......AND massively supported the Brexit Leave campaign....and the Big Data Company Boston Analytics
US billionaire Robert Mercer who bankrolled Leave.eu didn't make $16m after Brexit. His fund made $690m.
Sums up the total failure of the Trump WH and Trump himself...BTW...the German news coverage of Merkel's WH visit are showing Germans that a strong woman leader can overcome the total human failures of even a Trump...this will propel her well into the coming election...as she is now 4 points ahead and this being done by Trump will make that point spread even higher....
GERMANY: Foreign ministry official calls Trump 'small and pathetic' for his behaviour with Angela Merkel at the White House
GERMANY: Foreign ministry official says Trump 'uses rudeness to compensate for his weakness, like Putin'
It is simply amazing that Merkel fact checked Trump in the middle of his comments and answered directly and thoroughly any question place to her WHEN Trump went back to his standard campaign comments in the middle of a very important FP meeting....
WHAT is far more important that many American pundit missed is that this snub by Trump will push Germany to take a large leadership role now inside NATO as her FM is indicating Germany now truly feels Trump wants to damage NATO and destroy the EU....
WHAT s far more serious is just why and how did a so called expert pundit on FOX pass on national TV a serious conspiracy myth about a long time NATO member and deep US ally.....
Just a reminder FoxNews' Judge Andrew Napolitano passed along Russian FSB/ GRU Dezinformatsiya-
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING? Russia is ‘behind’ the White House’s wild claim that GCHQ tapped Donald Trump’s office, say top spies
Mr Trump's press secretary made the accusation at a briefing but the spy agency has blasted the claims as untrue
THE Kremlin was behind the White House’s wild claim that GCHQ spied on Donald Trump, spymasters believe.
An investigation by the Cheltenham-based eavesdropping agency has discovered the accusation was initially made by a Russian fake news blog.
President Vladimir Putin’s henchmen are notorious for the black propaganda trick of spreading untrue but highly damaging claims on the internet.
Believed to have been acting on President Trump’s direct orders, White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeated it on Thursday night during a bizarre news conference having heard it from a TV pundit on US news network Fox News.
The revelation comes after America apparrently issued a grovelling apology to Downing Street yesterday for spreading the false claim that Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama asked GCHQ to snoop on him after his shock election victory In November.
It sparked a full blown diplomatic incident and threatened to put crucial Trans-Atlantic intelligence cooperation at risk.
The furious spy agency issued a very rare public statement to rubbish the unsubstantiated accusation.
An intelligence source told The Sun: “We have identified the site where the claim was first made.
“The whole incident bears all the hallmarks of the Russians. It’s a shame people who should know better fell for it.”
A formal apology for it came overnight via Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor H R McMaster to his opposite number in No10, the PM’s security chief Sir Mark Lyall Grant.
Press secretary Sean Spicer made the claim after hearing it on Fox News
Mr Spicer also rang Britain’s Ambassador in Washington DC Sir Kim Darroch yesterday to promise him the allegation would not be repeated.
Branding the claim “complete and utter nonsense”, a furious GCHQ spokesman said late on Thursday night: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President elect are nonsense.
“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
However, Trump brushed off questions about the claims at a press conference later, saying he “very seldom” regrets anything he tweets.
Trump, speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said “at least we have something in common,” apparently referring to reports during Obama’s presidency that the United States bugged her phone.
WOW...who would have know..just the entire social media open source analysts and key US MSM...
So now we truly have a lying and BSing President ...so again after being branded a lair..which international leader will believe Trump when he says a single thing...
Just in: Official tells CNN DOJ report to Congress does NOT confirm President Trump's wiretapping claim
AND the UK stated the same thing....
WHAT is interesting is that DOJ did not state that other FISA Warrants concerning other issues IE what and who had ties to Russian individuals and or who and what financial ties were with Russia.....
What they stated is that there were no wire taps on Trump Tower and or Trump himself..
Spicer on GCHQ allegations: "I don't think we regret anything"
Trump literally told the reporter to go "ask Fox News" about the false accusation made yesterday of British spying...BY his own spokesperson...
EVEN in the face of being told by the UK that in fact he was spreading "fake news" and basically lying...
Well, FOX just said it CAN'T confirm its analyst's claim
"Taking on US spies is dumb, while egging British spies into a fight is stupid—as the WH just learned, to its pain."
Trump WH clearly yesterday used a Fox news report stating UK spy involvement at the direct request of Obama as the basis of their charges that Trump and Trump Tower was "tapped"....
At the Merkel Trump press conference Trump stated they only repeated what they had heard from FOX so ask FOX about the UK spying fake story.....
Again, the president repeating a claim denied by FBI, his own AG, GOP & Dem leaders of House & Senate Intel Cmtes.
Trump denied Angela Merkel a handshake and it was the most awkward thing ever seen during photoop for foreign visitors....
Merkel asks Trump: “Do you want to have a handshake?”
The U.S. president did not respond.
Photographers: Can we get a handshake?
Merkel (to Trump): Do you want to have a handshake?
Trump: *no response*
Merkel: *makes awkward face*