Posts Tagged ‘Bob Corker’

Khashoggi Crisis Widens Trump Rift With Congress on Saudi Arabia

October 18, 2018

Distrust of Riyadh in Washington dates to Sept. 11 attacks

Lawmakers warn they may act over president’s objections
.

President Donald Trump is facing increased pressure from Congress over his handling of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, exposing a widening rift between the White House and Capitol Hill over the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Image result for Lindsey Graham, photos

Lawmakers from Trump’s own party, including the president’s ally Senator Lindsey Graham, are openly voicing their discontent and threatening to sanction the Saudi government over the objections of the president, who has sought to build a closer relationship with Riyadh.

The stark differences underscore that Saudi Arabia enjoys far greater respect in the Oval Office than in the Capitol. Many lawmakers harbor a distrust of the kingdom dating back to its connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Its bloody involvement in Yemen’s civil war and interference in Lebanese politics have cost it further U.S. support.

The Trump administration, meanwhile — led by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — has drawn ever closer to the Saudis as it fashions a strategy in the Mideast that revolves around the kingdom.

“There are a number of constituencies in Congress that are hostile to Saudi Arabia,” said Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. U.S. lawmakers have complained about the kingdom’s egregious human rights record, its suppression of religious freedom and civilian deaths in the Yemen war.

QuickTake: All About the Saudi Prince Now Being Called Brutal

“The Khashoggi case provides a central rallying point for all of these people to criticize the Saudis and the president’s relationship with them,” he said.

Should Congress act against Saudi Arabia despite Trump’s reservations, it would mark yet another defeat in Washington for the kingdom. Just two years ago, Congress passed legislation allowing Saudi Arabia to be sued for its involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. Though the Saudi government wasn’t found to have had a formal role in the attacks, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, a fact not forgotten by lawmakers or the American public.

Tortured, Dismembered

Turkish officials have said that Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Instanbul shortly after he arrived Oct. 2 to retrieve a document related to his wedding. A team of 15 Saudi agents arrived in Instanbul and left the same day of Khashoggi’s visit, according to reports by the New York Times and Washington Post.

John Kennedy  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S. can condemn Saudi Arabia’s conduct “without blowing up the Middle East and without destroying our ability to talk with them,” Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, said Wednesday. “Our foreign policy has to be anchored in values.”

U.S. options include expelling Saudi diplomats, securing a United Nations resolution criticizing the kingdom’s behavior, curtailing arms sales or enacting sanctions on Saudi officials, Kennedy said. Trump opposes canceling a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom that he said Wednesday would create 500,000 U.S. jobs.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is one of Trump’s most stalwart allies in Congress, called Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “toxic” and a “wrecking ball” in an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Tuesday.

“Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it,” Graham said.

Middle East Linchpin

Trump chose Saudi Arabia for his first overseas trip as president and he has rejected the idea of reassessing the U.S.-Saudi relationship over Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Trump administration has made Saudi Arabia a linchpin of its Middle East policy, which seeks to isolate Iran financially and diplomatically. The Saudis have been a key partner in that effort, and Trump has defended the kingdom even as it engaged in a crackdown on members of the royal family and pursued the war in Yemen.

Trump and his Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have placed inordinate weight on Saudi Arabian denials that the kingdom is responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, and the president has sought to downplay the affair. Trump has repeatedly noted that Khashoggi was not a U.S. citizen and on Monday floated the notion that “rogue killers” may have murdered him. Trump admitted in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday that the idea had been suggested to him by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Trump lamented in the same interview that the Saudis were considered “guilty until proven innocent.” On Wednesday, he called them a U.S. “ally.”

“They are a tremendous purchaser of not only military equipment but other things,” he said.

After meeting with Saudi Arabian leaders including Prince Mohammed in Riyadh on Tuesday, Pompeo issued a statement underscoring their denials.

“My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials,” Pompeo said.

“It’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships — financial relationships between U.S. and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, things we work on together all across the world,” Pompeo told reporters aboard his plane Wednesday after it left Turkey. “The Saudis have been great partners in working alongside us.”

Not Buying It

Congress isn’t buying it, and Trump may soon face a second overwhelming vote to impose sanctions on a country with which the president has sought to improve relations. Last year, veto-proof majorities in Congress approved sanctions on Russia to punish its 2016 election interference, over Trump’s objections.

“This is not rogue killers,” Graham said Tuesday on Fox News radio. “This is a rogue crown prince.”

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that “there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels” if Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has said he’ll seek a vote to block future arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, tweeted Wednesday “The Khashoggi murder and actions in Yemen are both part of a pattern of immoral and reckless behavior by Saudi Arabia.” Young penned an op-ed with Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in the Washington Post last month to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for contributing to the war in Yemen.

A bipartisan group of senators also invoked the 2016 Magnitsky Act in a letter to Trump, giving the administration 120 days to respond to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a decision on potential sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations.

Read more: What is the Magnitsky act? : QuickTake

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, called Wednesday for an international investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and criticized Trump for focusing on arms sales to Riyadh.

“It’s always important to see arms sales as a means to a larger end, not as the end in themselves,” he said on CNN.

Democrats have been even more direct in their criticism, with some insinuating that Trump’s approach to the Saudis is driven by his financial interests. Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that he has no holdings in Saudi Arabia.

Chuck Schumer

@SenSchumer

Fascinating to watch what @realDonaldTrump will allow the Saudis to do. Whether it’s killing Yemeni school children, or ‘accidentally’ murdering a reporter in their own consulate, it seems like they can do no wrong. I wonder why?

— With assistance by Steven T. Dennis, and Jennifer Epstein

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-18/khashoggi-crisis-widens-trump-rift-with-congress-on-saudi-arabia

Advertisements

U.S. weapons makers “express concern” over Trump’s Saudi Arabia deals — Khashoggi case strains U.S.-Saudi relations

October 13, 2018

Major U.S. defense contractors have expressed concern to the Trump administration that lawmakers angered by the disappearance of a Saudi journalist in Turkey will block further arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Friday.

Turkish reports that journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of Riyadh, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and removed have hardened resistance in the U.S. Congress to selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, already a sore point for many lawmakers concerned about the Saudi role in Yemen’s civil war.

Saudi Arabia rejects the allegations in Turkey as baseless.

Related image

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had spoken of  “moderate Islam” and had touted man social reforms — Here with President Donald Trump in the White House on March 14, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was wary of halting arms sales to Riyadh because of Khashoggi as it would just shift its weapons purchases to Russia and China.

Saudi Arabia, where Trump last year announced a $110 billion arms package, has been a centerpiece of his overhaul of weapons export policy in which he has gone further than any of his predecessors in acting as a weapons salesman. However, critics say the new approach gives too much weight to business interests versus human rights concerns.

The senior U.S. official declined to identify the companies that had contacted the administration over their Saudi arms deals. Defense contractors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Co (RTN.N) have been the most active U.S. defense companies with potential sales to Saudi Arabia since Trump announced the package as part of his “Buy American” agenda to create jobs at home.

In Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike are alarmed by the disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post. He entered the consulate on Oct. 2 to collect documents for his planned marriage. Saudi officials say Khashoggi left the building shortly afterwards, but his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said he never re-appeared.

Even before Khashoggi’s unexplained disappearance, Democratic lawmakers had “holds” for months on at least four military equipment deals, largely because of Saudi attacks that killed Yemeni civilians.

“This makes it more likely they’ll expand holds to include systems that aren’t necessarily controversial by themselves. It’s a major concern,” the senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

About $19 billion in deals have been officially notified to Congress, according to government records, making it unlikely that they can be halted. These include training packages for Saudi troops and pilots and the THAAD anti-missile system that could cost as much as $15 billion.

One lobbyist for a defense company who spoke on condition of anonymity said worries about a potential across-the-board blockage of Saudi sales by Congress had surfaced in recent days, a development that would hurt a range of contractors.

A second U.S. official said there were also current holds in place on training sales for the Saudi government.

Under U.S. law, major foreign military sales can be blocked by Congress. An informal U.S. review process lets key lawmakers use a practice known as a “hold” to stall deals if they have concerns such as whether the weapons being supplied would be used to kill civilians.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia, threatened on Thursday to introduce a resolution of disapproval for any Saudi military deal that came up.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Thursday he recently told a defense contractor not to push for a deal with the Saudis, even before the Khashoggi case.

“With this, I can assure it won’t happen for a while,” Corker said.

While details of all the previously blocked Saudi deals were not immediately available, one was the planned sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of high-tech munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Since 2015, Gulf Arab states have fought to restore a government in Yemen driven out by the Houthis, Shi’ite Muslim fighters Yemen’s neighbors view as agents of Iran. The war has killed more than 10,000 people and created the world’s most urgent humanitarian emergency.

Senator Robert Menendez, the top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat, said the Trump administration had not satisfied concerns he first raised in June about the sale to members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen of Raytheon’s precision-guided munitions.

Khashoggi case strains U.S.-Saudi relations

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Mike Stone and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; editing by Bill Rigby and Grant McCool

Reuters

See also:

Saudi Arabia Can Win Islam’s War of Ideas (From March 15, 2018)

Saudi Arabia Can Win Islam’s War of Ideas

Trump’s not gonna let a little murder get in the way of Saudi arms deal

October 12, 2018
The president sees no reason to stop doing business with Mohammed bin Salman, despite a credible allegation that Saudi Arabia killed and dismembered a journalist last week.
“We already have the charts printed up an everything.”
By Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images.

A new report in The Washington Post, citing U.S. intelligence intercepts, appears to confirm what is looking increasingly likely: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the operation to lure journalist Jamal Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, and had him murdered. Turkish security officials told The New York Times that they believe he was “dismembered . . . with a bone saw” by a 15-person team, dispatched from Saudi Arabia to make the vociferous critic of Salman’s government disappear. It is, in other words, not a good look for the so-called “reformer” prince, whose country has denied killing Khashoggi, but is not trying particularly hard to be convincing. Nor is it a good look for Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, who don’t seem eager to terminate a chummy relationship with the crown prince over a credible murder allegation. At least not just yet.

For those who need a quick refresher on the Kushner-M.B.S. bromance, the two first bonded over lunch at the White House back in March 2017, with the Boy Prince of New Jersey subsequently persuading his father-in-law to visit Riyadh for his first trip abroad as president. From there, it was basically a buddy comedy for the ages, with Kushner championing M.B.S. when the young prince was battling with his cousin to become his father’s heir; supporting his move to blockade Qatar and tacitly supporting his brutal war in Yemen; having back-slapping dinners with the prince in D.C. and the Saudi capital; and reportedly giving M.B.S. the names of disloyal Saudi royals who were later rounded up and imprisoned (Kushner denies this). Perhaps most significant, the two struck a deal for a $110 billion weapons sale—not a bad inducement if you’re trying to get the future king’s blessing for your Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Salman’s financial ties to Trump run deep, too. In March, the prince’s entourage almost single-handedly boosted revenue at Trump’s New York hotel by 13 percent. Presumably, Kushner and M.B.S. had discussed plans to get a boys trip on the calendar in between work and family commitments.

So the news that Saudi Arabia likely murdered a journalist who spoke critically of the crown prince’s regime has put Kushner in, as the Times puts it, an “extremely awkward position”! At first, Kushner and the White House chose to stay silent on the matter, like friends of Brett Kavanaugh refusing to dignify allegations of their pal being a fall-down drunk with a sexual-predator problem. But as the evidence kept piling up, it was clear they had to at least feign some level of concern, which apparently involved calling up M.B.S. and being like, “Hey, did you kill this guy? Nope? O.K., works for us!”

On Tuesday, the White House said, Mr. Kushner and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, spoke to Prince Mohammed by phone about Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called him.

“In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process,” said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Meanwhile, Kushner’s father-in-law suggested Wednesday night that he thought the Saudis probably didkill Khashoggi, expressing less anger about the situation than he did when Nordstrom dropped his daughters’s clothing line. “It would not be a positive,” he told Fox News. “I would not be happy at all.” But while the smallest perceived slights generally result in the president vowing to destroy another country—for instance, threatening to economically cripple Ecuador for promoting breastfeeding—he apparently sees no reason to stop doing business with the kingdom:

. . . The president expressed reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia by cutting off arms sales, as some in Washington were proposing. “I think that would be hurting us,” he said. “We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country.”

Also on Thursday, Trump made his disregard for Khashoggi’s death even more obvious, telling reporters: “Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen, is that right? He’s a permanent resident, O.K. . . . As to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country . . . that would not be acceptable to me.” Incidentally, many say the deal is not worth anywhere near $110 billion, though accuracy has never been the president’s forte (that would be cozying up to autocrats who flout democratic values and human rights).

Business execs worry about optics of appearing chummy with murderous despot

On the one hand, there’s a lot of money to be made as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledges to open up Saudi Arabia to foreign investment. On the other, there’s that whole possible plot to murder a journalist business:

Since Turkish officials blamed Saudi Arabia for the October 2 disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, foreign investors have begun re-examining their relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their participation in his plans to overhaul his country’s economy.

“The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul raises fresh questions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reputation as a reformer and political developments pose a growing threat to the economic outlook,” said Jason Tuvey, an economist at Capital Economics.

It marks a moment for executives to choose whether they want to be associated with Prince Mohammed, said Karen Young, resident scholar at the  American Enterprise Institute , the Washington think tank. “For high-profile C.E.O.s, this is not a good moment for photo ops,” she said.

One opportunity for photo-ops will come later this month, when Saudi Arabia hosts the Future Investment Initiative, an event that has been dubbed “Davos in the Desert.” While The New York Timeshas said it will no longer serve as a media sponsor, advisory board member Arianna Huffington no longer plans to attend, and L.A. Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong has dropped out as a speaker, Wall Street appears to be in the “weighing the pros and cons” phase. As of Thursday afternoon, C.E.O.s from Blackstone, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, and Bridgewater were all still listed as speakers, as was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trump is still mad at the Fed

On Thursday, Donald Trump spent a second consecutive day bashing the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, which he blames for the market falling more than 1,300 points in two days. As New York’s Josh Barro points out, if Trump had idea how any of this works, he would actually blame himself for the Fed raising rates, given that 1) he literally hired a Fed chair, Jerome Powell, who is known for favoring higher interest rates; 2) he used fiscal policy to stoke an already strong economy, which typically pushes inflation up, at which point people like Powell raise rates to fight that inflation; 3) he put Powell in a position of basically having to raise rates so as not to look like Trump’s puppet because, as the president may or may not be aware, the Fed is supposed to be an independent government agency that doesn‘t cater to the whims of any idiot living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (As for the two-day market decline, the blame finger is also pointing squarely in the direction of Big Orange and his trade war with China.)

But Trump doesn’t understand how any of this works, so on Thursday, instead of blaming himself, he said: “The Fed is out of control. I think what they’re doing is wrong,” adding for some unintentional humor that the rates are “not necessary in my opinion and I think I know about it better than they do.” That critique came less than 24 hours after he told reporters, “The Fed is going wild. I mean, I don’t know what their problem is but they are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous. The problem in my opinion is Treasuries and the Fed. The Fed is going loco and there is no reason for them to do it and I’m not happy about it.”

But if you thought the president was simply interfering with monetary policy because he wants to be able to tout the stock market’s gains in the run-up to the midterms, you thought wrong! Naturally, he also has his own bottom line on the brain:

Trump on Thursday also indicated that the Fed’s policies were harming him personally. Trump owes more than $300 million to Deutsche Bank AG of debt with interest rates that rise or fall depending on Fed policy. Higher interest rates could increase his debt payments considerably.

Meanwhile, White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, commenting on the president’s obvious attack on the Fed’s strategy, somehow had this to say: “He has never attacked the Fed’s plan or strategy. He has never interfered with that. He is giving his opinion, and it’s an informed opinion.”

President threatens to expose private citizen

In what has now become a regularly scheduled feature of the administration, on Thursday the president of the United States seemingly threatened to reveal the kind of dirt on someone that the National Enquirer used to buy and bury about him. Per CNBC:

Discussing the various leaks coming out of his administration that have been turned into multiple news stories and a few salacious books, Trump responded sharply when an interviewer on Fox & Friends suggested that [Gary] Cohn, along with former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was one of the sources.

“I was very good to both of them. It could have been [them leaking]. A lot of people have said that,” the president said. “Gary Cohn, I could tell stories about him like you wouldn’t believe.”

Cohn who has claimed Fear “does not accurately portray my experience at the White House,” did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Treasury staff should probably lay low for a while

Or at least gird itself for an all-caps rage tweet filled with inexplicable capitalization and charges of being paid by China and/or the Democrats:

The U.S. Treasury Department’s staff has advised Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China isn’t manipulating the yuan as the Trump administration prepares to issue a closely watched report on foreign currencies, according to two people familiar with the matter. . . . President Donald Trump has publicly and privately pressured Mnuchin to declare China a currency manipulator, but Treasury staff haven’t found grounds to do so, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Formally accusing China of manipulating the renminbi wouldn’t trigger any sanctions or retribution, but the move would heighten tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/10/trumps-not-gonna-let-a-little-murder-get-in-the-way-of-his-dollar110-billion-arms-deal

Elsehwhere!

Gundlach Says Trump Is “Crazy Like a Fox” to Blame Fed for Sell-Off (Bloomberg

Billionaire Auto Magnate Sues Daughter for $398 Million (Bloomberg)

S.E.C., Tesla submit approval of settlement to court (N.Y.P.)

Uber Wants to Be the Next Cash-Burning Unicorn to Sell Bonds (Barron’s)

Buyer of Banksy Painting That Self-Destructed Plans to Keep It (Bloomberg)

Nixon’s Grandson May Become a Trump Aide on China, Sources Say (Bloomberg)

Facebook purges more than 800 accounts pushing political messages for profit (Washington Post)

Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland sentenced to six years in prison (N.Y.P.)

Wells Fargo: Market “tailspin” could last another one to two weeks (CNBC)

Kanye West to Donald Trump: “Time Is a Myth” and Other S–t That Made No Sense (The Slot)

Daughter of woman whose “emotional support” squirrel got her kicked off flight says she’s “upset and angry” (N.Y.D.N.)

Trump can’t let the Saudis get away with murder

October 12, 2018

In the face of mounting evidence that the Saudi government is behind the disappearance and likely murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump has to make it plain that he’s not the junior partner is the US-Saudi alliance.

Trump on Thursday seemed to rule out the most obvious response, saying that halting arms sales to Riyadh “is not acceptable to me.” As he explained the night before, he thinks that hurts Americans more than the Saudis.

OK, but he’s got to find some way to make Riyadh feel some hurt.

New York Post
Editorial

Yes, Saudi Arabia has been a US ally since President Franklin Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz on his way home from the Yalta conference in 1945. More, Riyadh is now a key part of the anti-Iran alliance.

But the relationship remains strained by Saudi funding of extremism around the globe, and the fact that nearly all the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

Hopes had been high that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was bringing real change with his economic and political reforms. Yet he’s already raised nerves by spending the past year purging his critics.

And an extrajudicial murder in another country is a whole new level — “a game-changer,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham put it.

Trump must make Riyadh understand that such behavior is unacceptable from a US ally. If he won’t stop the arm sales, his advisers need to find some other sanction — combined with private threats of more severe action.

The president said Thursday he’s waiting “for more information.” Fine, but Congress may force his hand. Four senators from both parties have written Trump, triggering a probe under the Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act — which may quickly lead to sanctions on MBS and his inner circle.

Meanwhile, major foreign investors have already started re-evaluating their relationship with the kingdom and MBS.

Trump needs to take the lead — and send a clear message that he’s the one in control.

https://nypost.com/2018/10/11/trump-cant-let-the-saudis-get-away-with-murder/

Turkey Says Recordings Are Evidence of Saudi Journalist’s Killing

October 12, 2018

Ankara has shared with U.S. officials what it calls graphic audio and video proving Jamal Khashoggi died in Saudi consulate

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shown in 2012, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, shown in 2012, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. PHOTO: ALI HAIDER/EPA-EFE/REX/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK
.

The Turkish government has what it describes as audio and video recordings purporting to show that Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and has shared the evidence with U.S. officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Turkish officials may release the evidence in coming days, these people said, adding the recordings have been described by those who have reviewed them as evidence of a killing. The audio evidence is particularly graphic, according to these people.

“Turkish investigators have sound from inside the consulate which makes it clear they killed him,” one of the people said.

Saudi Arabia says it had nothing to do with the journalist’s disappearance.

The disclosure of the new evidence concerning Mr. Khashoggi came as the Trump administration said it was awaiting a determination regarding the well-known writer and columnist’s fate, but also as Republican and Democratic pressure intensified pressure on the White House to prepare for a “severe” response.

President Trump, for a second day, expressed concern Thursday over reports that Mr. Khashoggi is dead and that the Saudi government has been implicated by Turkey. But he said he wouldn’t favor a halt in arms sales to Saudi Arabia should an investigation implicate Riyadh, although he would be open to other actions.

Mr. Khashoggi, a prolific writer, was one of the best-known voices in the region, contributing columns and commentary to outlets including the BBC, Al Jazeera and the Washington Post and building a Twitter following of nearly 2 million.

What We Know About the Missing Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

What We Know About the Missing Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the Saudi Consulate on Oct.2. Photo: Getty Images

He advocated on behalf of expanded democratic governance among the regimes of the Middle East and, in particular, maintained that Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood should be included in choices available to the region’s citizens. Saudi officials classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

Mr. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. His fiancée, a Turkish woman, accompanied him to the consulate and waited outside for him, but said he never came out. Saudi Arabia denies he was taken into custody.

“We don’t like it, we don’t like it a little bit,” Mr. Trump said.

“What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened,” he added. “Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I doubt it.”

The State Department said that Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, has left the U.S. to report back to Riyadh, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday. She said the U.S. has requested an update on Mr. Khashoggi’s case when he returns, and said the U.S. didn’t direct him to leave.

The White House said on Wednesday that the Trump administration has requested transparency from the Saudis in its investigation behind Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. In Turkey, the pro-government Sabah newspaper said that Turkey had agreed to a joint investigation with Saudi Arabia of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkish officials were conferring with counterparts in Washington on how and when to release the purported audio and video, the people familiar with the matter said.

Turkish officials said the Trump administration was concerned about possible backlash from Saudi Arabia and had asked Turkey for time to privately pressure Riyadh for information, these people said. The White House declined to comment.

One of the people familiar with the matter said that Turkish investigators had shared purported audio from inside the consulate with senior editors of Turkish media. This person said the audio was clear and detailed.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner—also his son-in-law—continued working to defuse tensions with the Saudi leadership, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The two men spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman about Mr. Khashoggi on Tuesday, followed by a call between Prince Mohammed and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to the White House.

Efforts to get Turkish intelligence officials to cooperate also are under way, and the person familiar with the discussions said it was in Turkey’s best interest to work with the U.S. on Mr. Khashoggi’s case in light of the recent deterioration in ties with Ankara, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told reporters Thursday that the White House would be under “immense pressure” to punish Saudi Arabia if an investigation determines Riyadh is responsible for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, as Turkish officials have indicated.

Image result for Bob Corker, photos

Bob Corker

“If it turns out to be what we all think it is today, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels,” Mr. Corker said. “They will be under immense pressure—immense pressure—if it’s determined that Saudi Arabia was involved to sanction, very severely, the people who’ve been involved in this.”

Mr. Corker said a finding that the Saudis are responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing would change the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Some Republicans suggested they would be open to blocking arms sales, even though Mr. Trump has indicated that could cost American jobs.

“Arms sales are certainly going to be, I think, a huge concern if there is [Saudi responsibility] that is irrefutable,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) said Thursday.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision this week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to trigger an sanctions determination investigation was the first time such an action had been pursued.

“That’s a pretty powerful statement and I expect that it will be a serious investigation because all the signs lead to some serious concerns about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,” he said.

According to a congressional official, the review of potential human rights violation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act will be conducted by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, with assistance from the State Department.

Senators, led by Messrs. Corker and Menendez, requested in a letter Wednesday that the president initiate an investigation under the Magnitsky law.

Under the law, the president, upon receiving such a letter, must determine within 120 days whether a foreign national is behind an extrajudicial killing, torture or other human-rights violation of someone exercising freedom of expression, and if so, put sanctions on the violator.

Asked about congressional reaction to the case, Ms. Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, suggested that the congressional action was premature.

“I think they’re jumping to conclusions,” adding, “We don’t have the facts of the case.”

Appeared in the October 12, 2018, print edition as ‘Turkey Says Recordings Are Evidence Of Killing.’

Includes video:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-says-saudi-journalists-killing-was-recorded-1539314057

Lindsey Graham Warns Saudi Arabia of “Heavy Price” if Jamal Khashoggi Allegations Prove True

October 9, 2018

Image result for lindsey graham, photos

Lindsey Graham

Saudi Arabia will pay a “heavy price” if allegations that the kingdom killed a prominent journalist prove true, said a senior Republican senator on Monday.

Jamal Khashoggi, journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, has been missing since he entered the consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Image result for Jamal Khashoggi, photos

On his Twitter account, Lindsey Graham said Riyadh must provide “honest answers,” adding that his position is shared by fellow Senators Bob Corker, a Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Democrat.

“We agree if there was any truth to the allegations of wrongdoing by the Saudi government it would be devastating to the U.S.-Saudi relationship and there will be a heavy price to be paid — economically and otherwise,” Graham tweeted.

Image result for Ben Cardin, photos

Ben Cardin

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the Saudi Consulate to prove whether or not Khashoggi exited the building after entering, saying the consulate officials “can’t get away with [simply] saying ‘he left the building’.”

Image result for saudi crown prince, photos

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

Turkish police investigating the case said in a statement Saturday that 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and entered the consulate while Khashoggi was inside.

“Our country’s values should be and must be a cornerstone of our foreign policy with foes and allies alike,” said Graham.

https://www.dailysabah.com/americas/2018/10/08/saudis-will-pay-heavy-price-if-wp-journalist-khashoggi-killed-us-senator-warns

See also:

U.S. Senators Warn Saudis of Consequences Over Khashoggi’s Fate

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-08/senators-warn-saudis-of-consequences-over-critic-who-disappeared

Friend of Dr. Ford Felt Pressure to Revisit Statement

October 5, 2018

At issue is statement to committee that she knew nothing about alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh. FBI found Ford friend with an unusual connection to the FBI itself.

.
Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee PHOTO: POOL/GETTY IMAGES
.

A friend of Christine Blasey Ford told FBI investigators that she felt pressured by Dr. Ford’s allies to revisit her initial statement that she knew nothing about an alleged sexual assault by a teenage Brett Kavanaugh, which she later updated to say that she believed but couldn’t corroborate Dr. Ford’s account, according to people familiar with the matter.

Leland Keyser, who Dr. Ford has said was present at the gathering where she was allegedly assaulted in the 1980s, told investigators that Monica McLean, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and a friend of Dr. Ford’s, had urged her to clarify her statement, the people said.

The statement to the FBI offers a glimpse into how Dr. Ford’s allies were working behind the scenes to lobby old classmates to bolster their versions of the alleged incident, as were Judge Kavanaugh’s.

Judge Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination will be debated in the Senate Friday, has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.

On Thursday, a day after sending to the White House the report on its investigation into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the FBI sent the White House and Senate an additional package of information that included text messages from Ms. McLean to Ms. Keyser, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ms. McLean’s lawyer, David Laufman, said in a statement: “Any notion or claim that Ms. McLean pressured Leland Keyser to alter Ms. Keyser’s account of what she recalled concerning the alleged incident between Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is absolutely false.”

Ms. Keyser’s lawyer on Sept. 23 said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had no recollection of attending a party with Judge Kavanaugh, whom she said she didn’t know. That same day, however, she told the Washington Post that she believed Dr. Ford. On Sept. 29, two days after Dr. Ford and the judge testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Keyser’s attorney sent a letter to the panel saying his client wasn’t refuting Dr. Ford’s account and that she believed it but couldn’t corroborate it.

A person close to the former classmates said it was her understanding that mutual friends of Dr. Ford and Ms. Keyser, including Ms. McLean, had contacted Ms. Keyser after her initial statement to warn her that her statement was being used by Republicans to rebut the allegation against Judge Kavanaugh. The friends told Ms. Keyser that if she had intended to say she didn’t remember the party—not that it had never happened—that she should clarify her statement, the person said, adding that the friends hadn’t “pressured” Ms. Keyser.

Judge Kavanaugh and his allies also lobbied former classmates to defend him. Ahead of a Sept. 23 New Yorker article about an allegation by Deborah Ramirez that Judge Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her in their freshman year at Yale, a former classmate, Karen Yarasavage, said she had gotten a call from “Brett’s guy” and that “Brett asked me to go on record,” according to a memo about the conversation by another former classmate. Ms. Yarasavage is quoted anonymously in the New Yorker piece, the memo said. The judge denied the claim that he exposed himself.

Judge Kavanaugh, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday, said he had been “subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations” and that his youth had been “ridiculously distorted.”

If confirmed, he wrote, he would “keep an open mind in every case, and always strive to preserve the Constitution.”

Ms. Keyser’s interview with the FBI—which is subject to perjury laws—may influence the Senate debate on the judge’s confirmation. Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who has said he would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, told reporters earlier Thursday that he found the most significant interviews in the FBI report to be those from people close to Dr. Ford who wanted to corroborate her account and were “sympathetic in wishing they could, but they could not.”

Howard Walsh, a lawyer for Ms. Keyser, declined to comment.

The FBI declined to comment on the investigation.

There is no indication Dr. Ford and her legal team were involved in any effort to discuss Ms. Keyser’s statement with her, according to people familiar with the matter. The FBI didn’t interview Dr. Ford for its investigation, which her lawyers late Wednesday said wasn’t appropriately comprehensive and “cannot be called an investigation.”

Attorneys for Dr. Ford declined to comment for this article.

In his testimony last week, Judge Kavanaugh sought to use Ms. Keyser’s initial statement to undercut his accuser. “Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a long-time friend of hers,” he said. “Refuted.”

Two days later, Ms. Keyser’s lawyer said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account.” Mr. Walsh added: “However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”

In her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Dr. Ford said she had never told Ms. Keyser about her assault. “She didn’t know about the event. She was downstairs during the event and I did not share it with her,” Dr. Ford said.

Dr. Ford also said she didn’t “expect” that Ms. Keyser would remember the evening, calling it a “very unremarkable party.” She added: “Leland has significant health challenges, and I’m happy that she’s focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs, and she let me know that she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her, and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good wishes, and et cetera.”

This is Ms. McLean’s second appearance in the weekslong drama around Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. On Wednesday, she issued a statement rejecting an assertion that Dr. Ford had coached her on how to take a polygraph test. The assertion was made by a former boyfriend of Dr. Ford in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com, Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Sadie Gurman at sadie.gurman@wsj.com

Appeared in the October 5, 2018, print edition as ‘Ford Friend Felt Pressure to Revisit View.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/friend-of-dr-ford-felt-pressure-to-revisit-statement-1538715152

Related:

*****************************************

See also:

The Unexpected FBI Background of Christine Ford’s Friend

On Oct. 2, 2018, Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford—who has publicly accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while in high school—with a request for material evidence in three specific areas. The first request pertained to “notes from therapy sessions in which Dr. Ford discussed the alleged assault.”

In his letter, Grassley noted that some of these notes have already been provided to The Washington Post, thereby invalidating Ford’s attorneys’ claims of “private, highly sensitive information” as the reason for not providing the evidence.

Grassley’s second request relates to previously requested audio and video recordings made in conjunction with the polygraph examination of Ford. Grassley also made a request for any and all materials relating to Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh that were provided to “any reporter or anyone else at a media organization.”

Grassley’s second request regarding information related to the polygraph exam appears particularly noteworthy. Grassley noted that the Judiciary Committee has received a “sworn statement from a longtime boyfriend of Dr. Ford’s, stating that he personally witnessed Dr. Ford coaching a friend on polygraph examinations.”

Ford had been specifically questioned under oath by career sex-crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell regarding any discussions or tips given or received in regard to a polygraph. From her testimony:

MITCHELL: Have you ever had discussions with anyone, beside your attorneys, on how to take a polygraph?

FORD: Never.

MITCHELL: And I don’t just mean countermeasures, but I mean just any sort of tips, or anything like that.

FORD: No. I was scared of the test itself, but was comfortable that I could tell the information, and the test would reveal whatever it was going to reveal. I didn’t expect it to be as long as it was going to be, so it was a little bit stressful.

MITCHELL: Had—have you ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test?

FORD: Never.

The sworn statement sent to the Judiciary Committee by the ex-boyfriend of Ford was obtained by Fox News. In the letter there is a specific reference to preparation for a polygraph exam:

“Dr. Ford lived with Monica L. Mclean, who I had understood to be her life-long best friend. During that time, it was my understanding that McLean was interviewing for jobs with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I witnessed Dr. Ford help McLean prepare for a potential polygraph exam. Dr. Ford explained in detail what to expect, how polygraphs worked and helped McLean become familiar and less nervous about the exam.”

McLean issued a brief statement to ABC News disputing this allegation:

“I have NEVER had Christine Blasey Ford, or anybody else, prepare me, or provide any other type of assistance whatsoever in connection with any polygraph exam I have taken at anytime.”

Worth noting is that Ford’s boyfriend, whose name was redacted, made his statement under penalty of perjury to the Senate Judiciary Committee. McLean’s statement was sent to ABC News—as opposed to the Senate Judiciary—and is not subject to any penalty if proven false.

As the Fox News article points out, Mclean was one of seventeen signatories to a letter of support for Ford from Holton-Arms School.

An article posted by the Conservative Treehouse contains an amazing bit of sleuthing on the background of McLean:

According to her LinkedIn background, Ms. Monica Lee McLean, was a 24-year employee of the Department of Justice and FBI from 1992 to 2016.  According to public records Ms. McLean worked in both Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY.

In a 2000 Los Angeles FBI declaration Ms. McLean describes herself as a Special Agent of the FBI, Associate Division Counsel, in the Los Angeles Division Legal Unit.

Sometime between 2000 and 2003, McLean transferred to the Southern District of New York (SDNY), FBI New York Field Office; where she shows up on various reports, including media reports, as a spokesperson for the FBI.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms. McLean retired from the FBI in 2016, after 24 years of work.

The article notes that McLean’s current address is listed as being in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and lists a 2016 article which includes a photograph of McLean at the Teller Wines Expo in Rehoboth Beach on April 2, 2016. This means that Ford may have written her letter while visiting McLean, who worked for the FBI and the Department of Justice for 24 years until her retirement in 2016.

All internet references to McLean appear to have vanished from 2010 onward.

As specified by the Conservative Treehouse, the location of Rehoboth Beach is particularly significant as can be seen from Ford’s testimony:

MITCHELL: The second is the letter that you wrote to Senator Feinstein, dated the—July 30th of this year.

FORD: Yes.

MITCHELL: Did you write the letter yourself?

FORD: I did.

MITCHELL: And I—since it’s dated July 30th, did you write it on that date?

FORD: I believe so. I—it sounds right. I was in Rehoboth, Delaware, at the time. I could look into my calendar and try to figure that out. It seemed…

MITCHELL: Was it written on or about that date?

FORD: Yes, yes. I traveled, I think, the 26th of July to Rehoboth, Delaware. So that makes sense, because I wrote it from there.

Recall comments made in testimony by Ford regarding who she’d confided in:

MITCHELL: Who advised you to contact senators or The New York Times?

FORD: Beach friends…

An Aug. 11, 2009, release by the Southern District of New York lists Jim Margolin and Monica McLean as FBI Public Information Office contacts. Additionally, a 2009 CNN article describes McLean as the spokeswoman for the FBI’s New York office.

Media references to McLean appear to suddenly dry up after 2009. Any references to her work history disappear from this date until her retirement in 2016. References to her former spokesperson partner at the FBI, Margolin, continue to this day—including his statements in relation to the Prevezon case and former personal attorney to Donald Trump, Michael Cohen.

Russian holding company Prevezon, which was accused of money laundering, was represented by Russian Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who hired the law firm BakerHostetler for legal representation in the case. BakerHostetler then hired Fusion GPS—best known for producing the controversial “Steele dossier“–to uncover information regarding financier Bill Browder.

The Prevezon Case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York (SDNY) which granted permission for a “Significant Public Benefit Parole” document on Sept. 25, 2015, to Natalia Veselnitskaya, allowing her entry into the United States.

Veselnitskaya is best known for her June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower with members of the Trump campaign including Donald Trump Jr. Veselnitskaya reportedly met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson before and after the meeting at Trump Tower.

Request for Identity of FBI Agent

The lawyers representing Ford—Michael Bromwich and Katz—sent a letterto FBI Director Christopher Wray and FBI General Counsel Dana Boente on Oct. 2. In their letter they noted something peculiar:

We have repeatedly asked you to identify the Supervisory Special Agent responsible for this investigation, so that we could contact him or her directly. We have received no response.

There might be good reason for not providing the identity of the FBI Supervisory Agent to Ford’s lawyers.

Bromwich’s selection as the most recent addition to Ford’s legal team may be specifically related to his long-standing ties into the FBI and DOJ. He is the attorney for former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and is uniquely positioned to benefit from McCabe’s remaining contacts within the FBI.

Bromwich was also closely affiliated with prosecutors within the SDNY—where McLean served as a spokeswoman.

For an excellent timeline of events see Senator Grassley’s Oct. 2, 2018, letterto other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The timeline begins following Grassley’s signatory page.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

 

https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-unexpected-fbi-background-of-christine-fords-friend_2678247.html

Senators to review FBI report on allegations against Brett Kavanaugh Thursday

October 4, 2018

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor at almost 10 p.m. Wednesday night, announced that senators will review the new FBI report into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s background Thursday, including allegations made against the judge by Christine Blasey Ford.

McConnell filed a motion that will kick off the process towards a final vote.

McConnell filed cloture on the nomination, which is a motion to bring debate to a close. The senate will hold a cloture vote on Friday, and if it passes, it’s likely the senate will hold a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation sometime Saturday.

ABC News Politics

@ABCPolitics

NEW: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Senate will receive tonight the results of the FBI’s supplemental background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, files procedural motion to advance nomination. https://abcn.ws/2O1XuLr 

If they don’t have the votes to cut off debate on Friday, it cannot move forward to a final vote.

All 100 senators will be able to access the report Thursday morning in rotating time blocks, starting at 8 a.m.

Speaking on the senate floor, McConnell said there will be “plenty of time” for senators to review the material before the Friday cloture vote.

Senators are not expected to receive a full report of everything the FBI investigated in their week-long investigation — rather, they are expected to receive interview summaries without any conclusions drawn by the FBI, Republican Sen. Bob Corker told reporters after a closed-door GOP lunch on Capitol Hill. As is protocol, the FBI does not make conclusions in a background investigation.

“My understanding is that they’re just going to send us the raw data” from the interviews, said Corker, who announced he would vote for Kavanaugh last week. Senators from both parties will then have a chance to ask an FBI official any questions they have.

The summaries will be made available to senators in a secured room, Corker said.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2018.J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2018.

The only people who will be able to access the summaries will be the senators and senior Judiciary Committee staff.

According to McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the FBI’s report on the allegations are not expected to be made public. But there is a growing call — from both Democrats and Republicans — to have some version made public.

“I know yesterday [McConnell] said that was not going to be the case, but I have a feeling they’re probably trying to figure out some way of disseminating this,” Corker said.

Sen. Chris Coons, the Democrat from Delaware who worked with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake to stoke calls for an FBI report, said he didn’t think details of confidential witness interviews should be made public due to an expectation of privacy, but that a summary of rough topics and the number of interviewees should be made available.

“I do think, in the interest of transparency, it would be appropriate for the FBI or the Senate to release that,” Coons said.

Many democrats have also expressed complaints that the report will be incomplete and not credible because the FBI didn’t interview Ford and Kavanaugh.

PHOTO: Sen. Bob Corker speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, Oct. 3, 2018, in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Sen. Bob Corker speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, Oct. 3, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying the lack of interviews, including with witnesses identified by Kavanaugh’s second accuser Deborah Ramirez, “raises serious concerns that this is not a credible investigation and begs the question: What other restrictions has the White House placed on the FBI?”

According to Ford’s lawyers, they’ve had no contact with anyone involved in the investigation, despite multiple requests. The FBI has also not contacted Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh’s third accuser.

The White House specifically requested FBI interviews with four people: Kavanaugh’s high school friends Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth; Leland Keyser, who Dr. Christine Blasey Ford identified as at the gathering where she was assaulted; and Ramirez, whose lawyers provided a list of more than 20 additional witnesses to interview.

McConnell, who has fervently supported Kavanaugh from the beginning, vowed earlier this week that, despite Democrats’ complaints, the Senate would vote by the end of the week.

“They’ll read it as quickly as they can and that’ll not be used as another reason for delay, I’ll tell you that,” McConnell said Tuesday. “We’ll have an FBI report this week, and we’ll have a vote this week.”

“It’s time to put this embarrassing spectacle behind us,” he added on Wednesday morning.

ABC News’ Trish Turner and Ali Rogin contributed to this report.

Includes videos:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/senators-await-fbi-report/story?id=58269043

Grassley Says He Won’t Delay Kavanaugh Hearing As Moderate Republicans Fall In Line

September 19, 2018

Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing. 

Image result for Chuck Grassley, photos

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

But Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting after saying that the confirmation hearing, initially scheduled for Thursday, should be delayed said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Here’s the Hill:

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Aaron Blake

@AaronBlake

Smyth’s statement is being cast as a denial. It’s more nuanced than that.

“I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct…”

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-19/grassley-says-he-wont-delay-kavanaugh-hearing-moderate-republicans-fall-line

US officials ‘working diligently’ to undermine Trump presidency

September 6, 2018

A senior official has claimed in an op-ed that they are part of “the resistance inside the Trump administration.” The op-ed, published anonymously by The New York Times, has stoked the embers in a tumultuous White House.

    
US President Donald Trump

Senior officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration are actively undermining parts of his presidency, according to a senior White House official who wrote an op-ed for The New York Times.

“President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader,” said the author of the op-ed. “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”

“The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

The newspaper’s opinion desk noted that it had taken an extraordinary step by publishing an anonymous op-ed. However, it said that its editors believed it was “the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

Dictators over allies

The op-ed’s author lamented “a two-track presidency” in which senior officials tried “to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”

One example offered was Trump’s “preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.” The author added that Trump displayed “little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.”

Indeed, Trump has continuously criticized US allies, including NATO member states and EU countries such as Germany. The criticism has encompassed matters spanning everything from trade to defense.

‘Gutless’

Shortly after The New York Times published the op-ed, Trump lashed out at the author and called the newspaper “dishonest.”

“They don’t like Donald Trump and I don’t like them,” Trump said. “So if the failing New York Times has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous — meaning gutless — a gutless editorial – we’re doing a great job.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the op-ed “pathetic, reckless and selfish,” urging the author to “resign.”

DW’s US correspondent Michael Knigge said that one of the likely consequences “will be a frantic White House search for people involved.”

Michael Knigge

@kniggem

This raises many questions:

Who is the senior official?

How advanced were discussions about invoking 25th amendment?

Who was involved in the discussions?

How many officials are part of the alleged “quiet resistance”?

Why did the senior official decide to come forward now?

Michael Knigge

@kniggem

One of the likely consequences of the NY Times op-ed & the Woodward book will be a frantic WH search for people involved. Ironically, for the people working in the WH this could mean that the title the Woodward book could come true: “Fear: Trump in the White House.

‘Breakdown’

The op-ed was published on the heels of a tell-all book by famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodwardthat appeared to shed light on the Trump administration’s “nervous breakdown,” with staff constantly seeking to prevent the president from taking bad policy decisions. The op-ed showed that those efforts may have gone deeper than even Woodward noted in the book.

Read more: Opinion: Bob Woodward’s new Donald Trump book no game-changer

ls/kl (AFP, Reuters)

https://www.dw.com/en/us-officials-working-diligently-to-undermine-trump-presidency/a-45376640

Related:

See The New York Times article:

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html