Posts Tagged ‘Fox News Sunday’

Meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump would play ‘key role’ in easing tensions

October 15, 2018

Chinese ambassador to US Cui Tiankai is optimistic about a potential summit between the two leaders, but analysts do not expect a trade war breakthrough

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 11:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 11:36pm
Image result for Cui Tiankai, photos

China’s top envoy to the United States said a meeting between presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump on the sidelines of next month’s G20 summit would play a “key, irreplaceable role” in easing tensions, but analysts were not optimistic about a breakthrough on the trade war.

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai said it was “so clear that such top-level communication [plays] a key role, irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward”.

Over the weekend, Trump’s top economic officials gave mixed signals over whether the two leaders would meet during the G20 gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the end of November. Trump, meanwhile, threatened to impose another round of tariffs on China in a separate interview with 60 Minutes on CBS, which also aired on Sunday.

“I was very honoured to be present at the meetings between the two presidents, both at Mar-a-Lago in April last year, and in Beijing last November,” Cui said in the Fox News interview taped on Friday. “There’s a good mutual understanding and good working relationship between the two. I hope and I’m sure this will continue.”

Xi and Trump’s meeting, if it happens, would be the first direct talks between the two leaders since a trade war between the world’s two largest economies began in July.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal cited officials from both countries as saying that the White House was proceeding with plans for Trump and Xi to meet at the G20 summit, but US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday said no final decision had been made.

Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday also told Fox News that the two leaders would “probably meet at the G20 summit”, though trade negotiations with China had so far been “unsatisfactory”.

Meanwhile, when asked if he wanted to push China’s economy into a depression, the US president told CBS “no”, before comparing the country’s stock market losses since the tariffs began to those in 1929 – the start of the Great Depression in the United States.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Bloomberg quoted Trump as saying in the interview, adding that more tariffs “might” be on the cards.

In his interview, Chinese ambassador Cui admitted he was “confused” as to who in the US administration had the president’s ear on trade issues.

“Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, DC. This is also part of their problem,” Cui said. “They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision. But who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing.”

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” a suggestion by US Vice-President Mike Pence that China was attempting to meddle in US affairs. Pence made the remarks during a fiery speech on October 4, saying Beijing had created “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion – including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

“Whatever we are doing in terms of tariffs, it is just a response to the tariffs the US side has imposed on us. So it’s a response. If the US side could remove all the tariffs, we will drop all the tariffs. So this is tariffs for tariffs. It’s for nothing else,” Cui said.

He added that state-run China Daily was “just learning from American media” when it took out sponsored content in an Iowa newspaper and that it was “normal practice for all the media”.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” Cui said.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2168690/meeting-between-xi-jinping-and-donald-trump-would-play-key-role

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Chinese official finds Trump ‘very confusing’; says US warships at China’s doorstep building tension

October 14, 2018

President Trump’s inner circle is “very confusing” for foreign diplomatic officials in Washington to navigate, China’s U.S. ambassador Cui Tiankai told “Fox News Sunday” in an exclusive wide-ranging interview.

Tiankai added that U.S. warships are “on the offensive” near China, days after a U.S. destroyer nearly collided with a Chinese military vessel in the South China Sea. The Pentagon said the Chinese ship came within 45 yards of the U.S. destroyer, in an intentionally “unsafe” maneuver.

Tiankai’s comments come as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump prepare for a possible meeting at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next month, amid a rapidly escalating trade conflict between the two nations that some have called a new cold war.

Asked by host Chris Wallace whether Trump listens primarily to hardliners like trade director Peter Navarro — who has characterized China as the economic “parasite of the world” — or moderates like chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Tiankai responded simply, “You tell me.”

The envoy added that other ambassadors seemingly have the same issue. President Trump has repeatedly said he tries to avoid “telegraphing” his moves to foreign adversaries.

“Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, D.C., and this is also part of their problem,” Tiankai said. “They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision, but who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing.”

Trump, citing widespread intellectual property theft in China that cuts into the profits of U.S. companies doing business there, placed tariffs on approximately $200 billion of Chinese imports in September, following his imposition of significant tariffs on nearly $35 billion in Chinese goods in July. China quickly retaliated with $60 billion in tariffs of its own.

The White House has bipartisan support for hitting back at Chinese intellectual property theft. In an interview in June, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ordinarily a fierce Trump critic, agreed with the administration’s China policy and said that the country “takes total advantage” of the U.S.

“Not only do they steal our intellectual property, they keep our good companies out, and say the only way you’re going to be able to sell your American products in China … is if you come to China, make them there, and give us the techniques and intellectual property,” Schumer said.

And the president has insisted his tariffs are already having a major impact.

“Their economy has gone down very substantially, and I have a lot more to do if I want to do it,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” last week. “They lived too well for too long and, frankly, I guess they think the Americans are stupid people. Americans are not stupid people. We were led badly when it came to trade.”

WATCH: HAS US ENTERED NEW COLD WAR WITH CHINA?

But in his interview with Fox News, Tiankai denied that China permits or engages in widespread intellectual property theft, and said even the suggestion was an affront to the country’s population.

“I think all of these accusations about how China has developed are groundless and not fair to the Chinese people,” he told Wallace. “You see, China has 1.4 billion people. It would be hard to imagine that one-fifth of the global population could develop and prosper not by relying mainly on their own efforts, but by stealing or forcing some transfer of technology from others — that’s impossible.”

“It’s important to notice who started this trade war. We never want to have a trade war.”

— China’s U.S. ambassador Cui Tiankai

He added: “It’s important to notice who started this trade war. We never want to have a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests.”

Concerns have been raised that China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasurys, might start dumping its holdings as a way to pressure the United States in the trade dispute. But Mnuchin said this possibility didn’t concern him because it would be contrary to Beijing’s economic interests to start dumping its Treasury holdings, and would be “very costly” to China.

Top U.S. officials have warned that the ongoing conflict with China extends beyond trade. In Senate testimony on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that “China, in many ways, represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face.”

He added that “Russia is … fighting to stay relevant after the fall of the Soviet Union,” while “China is fighting tomorrow’s fight…and it affects every sector of our economy.”

Vice President Pence, meanwhile, has accused China of trying to interfere with U.S. elections, including by targeting tariffs toward industries that support Trump and even spreading propaganda in U.S. media outlets.

In response, Tiankai effectively called the U.S. the aggressor in several spheres of influence.

“You see, Chinese media, they are just learning from America media to use all these means, to buy commercial pages from newspapers, to make their views known or to cover what is happening here,” Tiankai said. “This is normal practice for all the media.”

WATCH: HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY WARNS CHINA ENGAGING IN ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN AHEAD OF MIDTERMS

The envoy also said that Chinese warships, which harassed and nearly collided with a U.S. destroyer recently in the disputed South China Sea, had responded appropriately to an intervention on their “doorstep.” Beijing has built up military fortifications on two contested Chinese man-made islands there despite pledging not to do so.

“Where the incident took place, you were right to say it was in South China Sea. So it’s at China’s doorstep,” Tiankai told Wallace. “It’s not Chinese warships that are going to the coast of California, or to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so close to the Chinese islands and it’s so close to the Chinese coast. So who is on the offensive? Who is on the defensive? This is very clear.”

Tiankai said, however, that China would continue to “faithfully” implement sanctions against its longtime ally, North Korea, in order to restore stability to the region. He  said a “coordinated, phased, and step-by-step approach” to North Korean denuclearization is the best approach, mirroring the position of that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

“How can you convince him to give up all the nuclear weapons without any hope that the U.S. would be following a more friendly policy towards him?” Tiankai asked.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Beijing last week, where top Chinese officials vowed to take “all necessary measures” to safeguard their country. They have since said that high-level communications continue between the two countries.

Still, there were signs tensions between China and the U.S. have eased somewhat in recent days. Global stock market indexes bounced back sharply Friday after their recent plunges, on word of the possible presidential meeting.

And reports have emerged that Mnuchin has advised against labeling China a currency manipulator — a status that could trigger penalties. The Chinese currency has been falling in value against the dollar in recent months, raising concerns that Beijing is devaluing its currency to make Chinese goods more competitive against U.S. products.

Mnuchin did not say this weekend what the forthcoming Treasury report, set to come out next week, will conclude about China’s currency practices. In the past, Treasury has placed China on a watch-list but found that Beijing did not meet the threshold to be labeled a currency manipulator.

The Treasury secretary met Thursday with Yi Gang, head of China’s central bank. “I expressed my concerns about the weakness of the currency.” Mnuchin said.

Tiankai told Wallace that China, despite its ongoing spat with the U.S. on a variety of fronts, remains optimistic about November’s planned meeting between Trump and Jinping. Kudlow, the chief White House economic adviser, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the one-on-one between the two leaders will “probably” happen.

“There’s a good mutual understanding and good working relationship between the two,” Tiankai said. “I hope and I’m sure this will continue.”

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

includes videos:

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/chinese-official-finds-trump-very-confusing-says-us-warships-at-chinas-doorstep-building-tension

Mnuchin Outlook for Sustained 3% Growth at Odds With Forecasters

July 29, 2018

The second-quarter surge shows the U.S. economy is “well on the path” for four or five years of sustained annual growth of 3 percent, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — a rosy outlook at odds with that of many economists as well as the U.S. central bank.

“We can only project a couple years in the future, but I think we’re well on this path for several years,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” as President Donald Trump’s economic team fanned out across morning talk shows to cheer-lead the economy.

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Steven Mnuchin

The U.S. economy accelerated in the second quarter to the fastest pace since 2014, the government reported on Friday, allowing Trump to link the increase with his economic policies, including the biggest tax overhaul since the Reagan era and a push for deregulation.

The second quarter may prove as good as it gets for the world’s largest economy, though, and few economists expect it to attain the president’s goal of sustained growth of 3 percent.

Long Expansion

The U.S. expansion, which dates back some nine years, is set to weaken as the impulse from the 2017 tax cuts fades, businesses retrench in the face of foreign tariffs or a strong dollar, and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates further.

The president “deserves the victory lap,” White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on CNN, adding that faster economic growth could continue for a “bunch” of years.

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Larry Kudlow

Mnuchin said that Trump respects the independence of the Fed, despite the president’s recent criticism of the central bank for raising interest rates.

In fact, Mnuchin said it was responsible for the Fed to raise rates as the economy grows faster and inflation rises.

Managing Inflation

“The Fed has been targeting 2 percent inflation, and obviously with 2 percent inflation we have to have at least slightly higher interest rates to manage through that,” he said.

The 4.1 percent uptick in second-quarter gross domestic product was propelled by consumer spending, business investment and a decline in the trade deficit. Yet as the effects fade from the tax cuts, economists expect the pace to moderate, with forecasts showing growth will come in around 3 percent this year before tailing off by 2020 to 1.8 percent.

The International Monetary Fund predicts U.S. growth of 2.9 percent in 2018 and and 2.7 percent next year.

While there’s evidence that tax reforms and cuts are helping to stimulate activity, the strength of consumer spending in the second quarter is unlikely to continue into the second half of the year, Bloomberg economists Carl Riccadonna and Tim Mahedy said in a note.

“Dollar strength will slow exports, and importers will adjust supply lines widening the trade balance,” they wrote. “Furthermore, residential investment looks to remain weak, due in part to last year’s tax reform, and consumer spending will moderate in the second half as the Fed continues to remove policy accommodation.”

Fed’s Outlook

The Trump administration’s official goal is for sustained GDP growth of 3 percent, which would well exceed the average 2.3 percent pace during the expansion that started in July 2009, as well as the Fed’s longer-run expectation of 1.8 percent.

The last time the economy enjoyed a sustained period of above 3 percent growth was in the late 1990s, when GDP was goosed by a technology-driven surge in productivity under then President Bill Clinton.

Trump forecast on Friday that future trade deals would spark further expansion as he pursues a hawkish trade agenda that includes tariffs on steel and aluminum and a threat to slap duties on $500 billion in Chinese imports. Many economists and analysts expect the opposite impact if the U.S. actions trigger a global rise in protectionism.

Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed last week to negotiate lower barriers to transatlantic commerce and put auto tariffs on hold.

While net exports contributed 1.06 percentage points to second-quarter growth, the most since 2013, the boost is probably temporary. The numbers reflected a 9.3 percent gain in shipments abroad, boosted partly by a surge in soybean shipments ahead of China’s retaliatory tariffs.

Few analysts are counting on this component to keep delivering in the face of a strong dollar and tariffs that have been proposed or already implemented. Meanwhile, steady domestic demand from households and businesses means imports will pick up, potentially causing the trade deficit to widen.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-29/mnuchin-says-u-s-could-see-five-years-of-sustained-3-pct-growth

See also:

Steve Mnuchin Says the U.S. Is on a Path for 4 to 5 Years of 3% Growth

http://fortune.com/2018/07/29/steve-mnuchin-us-economy-growth/

G7 critical of U.S. tariffs, fears of trade war loom

June 3, 2018
Image may contain: 2 people, text
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Trump’s announcement that the U.S. is slapping new tariffs on its neighbors and confidants, is driving a wedge between the country’s closest allies, with finance ministers of G7 nations lambasting the White House for undermining open trade, per the AP.

The big picture: Trump’s trade war is extending far beyond China. Last week, the administration announced a decision to impose a 25% percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

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The latest: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Trump slapping new tariffs on Canada was “insulting and unacceptable.”

The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.

Yes, but: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on “Fox News Sunday” brushed aside Trudeau’s concerns, saying that the prime minister is “overreacting” to the new tariffs. “I don’t think our tariffs are anything to do with our friendship and longstanding alliance with Canada,” Kudlow said.

What others they’re saying: The G7 ministers said the Trump administration must abandon the proposed tariffs ahead of next week’s summit with leaders. They also urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to acknowledge their concerns in his address before them, per the AP.

  • Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance and economy minister, said it’s up to the U.S. to rebuild confidence among G7 members and to avoid any escalation or further fallout.

Go deeper: What happened with Trump’s latest trade moves

https://www.axios.com/g7-summit-tariffs-trade-war–a43a8d51-4761-4098-8a28-46ab38968635.html

Larry Kudlow: U.S.-China tariff situation might end with negations and “turn out to be very benign.”

April 8, 2018

On CNN, Larry Kudlow  said the U.S.-China tariff situation might end ina benign way, with great advantage for the U.S. and the world

Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” President Donald Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the U.S.-China tariff situation might end with negations and “turn out to be very benign.”

Image result for Larry Kudlow, photos

Kudlow said, “I think personally we have had to go in and fire a shot across the bow. China’s behavior is 20 years now. It’s more than unfair trade practice. It is illegal trading practices. They are stealing our property rights. They are forcing technology from our companies to be open so they can get it and they have tall trade barriers that president is somewhat right about. This stuff has to stop. No president has had the backbone to take it up publicly before. I think he is exactly right. I say to everybody on this the problem here is China. It is not President Trump. China has been getting away with this for decades. Past American presidents refused to take them on. I think President Trump is doing exactly the right thing. I think it is going to generate very positive results which will grow our American economy. It will help grow China’s economy. It will help grow the world economy.”

He continued, “This last round announced late last week president asked our trade diplomat to consider whether an additional round of tariffs would be necessary or useful. After we made the first round, the Chinese response was unsatisfactory. So the president is trying to get their attention again. The process may include tariffs. I cannot rule that out. It may rest on negotiations. We will see how the president wants to do it. He is pretty good at negotiating and is pretty good at standing his ground.”

Kudlow on FOX News Sunday:

He added, “You’re right. There has been a bump down in farm commodity prices. I’m not totally sure that this is going to last. This process may turn out to be very benign. You have to take certain risks as you go in. We are taking them. We are making our case. Nothing has happened so far.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

U.S. Will Make No Concessions Before North Korea Talks, Pompeo Says

March 11, 2018

Bloomberg

By Anthony Capaccio and  Katia Dmitrieva

 Updated on 
  • CIA chief says Kim can’t conduct nuclear or missile tests
  • Mnuchin says economic sanctions on North Korea are working

The U.S. will make no concessions to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in discussions leading to potential talks between the reclusive leader and President Donald Trump, and during any subsequent negotiations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.

Kim, on the other hand, must stand by the concessions he’s offered, including ceasing nuclear and missile testing, continuing to allow U.S.-South Korean military exercises, and leaving denuclearization “on the table,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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Mike Pompeo

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

“Never before have we had the North Koreans in a position where their economy was at such risk, and where their leadership was under such pressure that they would begin conversations on the terms that Kim Jong Un has conceded to,” Pompeo said.

The discussions with North Korea, should they occur, “will play out over time,” Pompeo said.

Trump may be meeting with Kim in the coming month, in the hopes of winding down the Asian nation’s nuclear weapons program, South Korean officials announced Thursday at the White House.

Stalling Tactic?

It would be an unprecedented meeting by a U.S. president that upends decades of American foreign policy. Some experts have said it could become a stalling tactic by Kim to avoid additional economic sanctions while continuing to develop weaponry.

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” program whether the meeting may not happen, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said, “There’s the possibility. If it does, it’s the North Koreans’ fault. They have not lived up to the promises that they made.” Holding the meeting in Pyongyang is not highly likely, but nothing has been ruled out for a location, he said.

Pompeo said sanctions on North Korea will continue. There’s no question they are having an impact on North Korea’s economy and brought Kim to the negotiating table, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

“Now we have a situation where the president is using diplomacy but we’re not removing the maximum pressure campaign,” Mnuchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The president is going to sit down and see if he can cut a deal.”

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin  at the G20

No ‘Reality Show’

It’s right to pursue a diplomatic approach, but the question is whether Trump is equipped to succeed with a complex and volatile situation that needs seasoned diplomats, said Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for President Barack Obama.

“This is not a real estate deal or a reality show,” Rhodes said on ABC.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also raised concerns about Kim playing Trump because of complicated negotiations a time the State Department has been “decimated” by departures of key staff, and with no U.S. ambassador to South Korea in place.

“When the president succeeds in negotiations like this, the United States succeeds,” Warren said on CNN’s “State of the Union. “But I am very worried that he’s going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of.”

‘Few Months’ Away

Pompeo spoke about Kim in January, saying the leader wouldn’t stop with just one successful arms test and that the country is within months of developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S. North Korea tested a missile in November that analysts say put U.S. soil in range, following other weaponry tests over the years.

It’s still the CIA’s assessment that North Korea is “a few months” away from being able to reach the U.S. with a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile, Pompeo said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Jan. 30 that while the regime has “made some strides,” it hasn’t yet demonstrated having all the components for a strike with nuclear ICBM.

“It’s possible he has them and so we have to place the bet that he might have them, but he hasn’t demonstrated them,” said Selva.

Prior to announcing the meeting, Trump and Kim have traded barbs and threats on the global stage, with Trump calling the North Korean “short and fat” and a “madman.” Kim responded by calling the president a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” Trump also threatened to use military force if necessary to stop North Korea’s nuclear threat, saying the country would be met with “fire and fury.”

Preserving Regime

Pompeo on Sunday repeated his agency’s conclusion about Kim’s personality that in spite of the bombast, “we know a fair amount about him. We know that he is rational in the sense that he responds to stimulus. We’ve seen this.”

Trump vouched for Kim at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington on March 3, saying in a satirical speech to members of the media that, “I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine.”

Still, Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Kim has shown he’s mostly interested in preserving his own regime.

“We’ve seen he’s willing to do nearly anything to do that,” Dempsey said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday. “And this is why this negotiation will be so challenging.”

A key question is whether any U.S.-North Korean talks include reducing the conventional military threat that Kim poses to South Korea as well as denuclearization, with its “thousands of artillery pieces and rockets arrayed along the Demilitarized Zone,” Dempsey said.

“Our negotiators will have to decide, how compartmentalized do we want it to be?” Dempsey said. “Are we trying to bring stability to the Korean Peninsula, which takes you on one path, or are we trying, simply, to denuclearize?” he said. “That will be an important decision.”

— With assistance by Mark Niquette

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-11/no-concessions-before-possible-north-korean-talks-pompeo-says

Related:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that his government did not meddle in the 2016 election is “false.”

March 11, 2018

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CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a Sunday show interview said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that his government did not meddle in the 2016 election is “false.”

“The Russians attempted to interfere in the United States election in 2016,” Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday.”

Pompeo pushed back against Putin’s recent claim that the Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller don’t “represent the interests of the Russian” government. Putin in an interview with NBC News insisted there is no proof the Kremlin ordered or attempted election interference.

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“It was Russians who actually engaged in this,” Pompeo said, clarifying that those individuals had ties to the Kremlin.

Pompeo maintained the CIA’s position that the U.S. intelligence community’s analysis of the election interference does not extend to whether or not Russia’s attempts to meddle impacted the 2016 election.

“The intelligence community has been clear that’s not our role,” Pompeo said.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/377817-pompeo-on-putin-claim-kremlin-was-not-involved-in-meddling-thats

TAGS ROBERT MUELLER MIKE POMPEO

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Mnuchin Says Debt Limit Hike Should Be Linked to Harvey Aid — “We need to help people in Texas and we need to get that done.”

September 3, 2017

Bloomberg

By Laura Litvan and Mark Niquette

September 3, 2017, 9:53 AM EDT September 3, 2017, 10:48 AM EDT
  • White House has asked for almost $8 billion in hurricane aid
  • Relief funding could affect debate on raising debt ceiling

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Congress should combine an initial package of relief for victims of Harvey with a boost in the nation’s debt limit, saying lawmakers need to “put politics aside” to ensure that those trying to recover from the storm get the help they need.

“The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding,” Mnuchin said of the debt-limit increase on “Fox News Sunday.” He said it should be a so-called clean increase in the borrowing authority that doesn’t have any other provisions tied to it. “We need to help people in Texas and we need to get that done.”

President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged Texas Saturday, saying he hopes for a “quick process” to get Congress to approve almost $8 billion in initial Harvey relief. Trump will meet with congressional leaders of both parties this week to discuss the aid package, Mnuchin said.

Image result for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, photos
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (FILE photo)

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan requesting the storm aid, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on Friday stopped short of explicitly asking for the aid to be tied to raising the debt ceiling. But the letter makes clear that the emergency spending will move forward the deadline for raising the limit and conveys the idea that failure to lift it could imperil essential government services at a time when residents in Texas need the help.

The White House disaster aid request includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration. The request is intended primarily to cover funding demands through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Read More: Trump Seeks $7.85 Billion for Harvey, Action on Debt Limit

The efforts to link the two measures is intended to avoid a standoff over the issue that could rattle financial markets. Mnuchin has repeatedly said that it’s “critical” that Congress raise the debt ceiling by Sept. 29.

The House of Representatives plans to vote this week on Trump’s request in initial disaster relief funding but GOP leaders don’t plan to include a U.S. debt-limit increase in that legislation, two GOP congressional aides said before Mulvaney’s letter was sent.

The Senate could attach the increase in U.S. borrowing authority to the hurricane relief package when it considers the legislation, and then send it back to the House. Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor Ryan have indicated whether they would be supportive of that approach.

“Working closely with the President and the House of Representatives, the Senate stands ready to act quickly to provide this much-needed assistance to those impacted communities, and support first responders and volunteers,” McConnell said in a statement late Friday.

The debate over the package will kick-start Congress’s work this fall, as lawmakers also seek to extend the government’s spending authority past the Sept. 30 fiscal year and prevent a government shut down.

Read More: Trump’s Tax-Cut Bid Hits Obstacle: Hurricane Harvey’s Costs

Trump has threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not include his request for $1.6 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a spending bill. Asked about that threat Sunday, Mnuchin said the president’s top priority was the Harvey aid. The White House late last week assured GOP leaders that Trump won’t pick that fight right now, said two people familiar with the conversations.

The administration and Republican leaders in Congress also continue to craft an overhaul of the tax code, which Mnuchin insisted can be completed before year’s end.

“The objective is to get this passed and get it to the president this year,” Mnuchin said of the tax plan. He reiterated the administration’s position that the loss of federal revenues due to cuts in individual and corporate taxes can be offset by increased economic growth. McConnell has insisted that any package be “deficit neutral,” and he has not said higher growth projections could meet his test.

But the costs of Harvey could undercut the political support from some Republicans in Congress for a tax overhaul that would increase the budget deficit.

More than 311,000 Texans had already applied for federal disaster relief funds as of Thursday morning and more than $530 million already has been granted, Vice President Mike Pence said. About 100,000 homes were damaged by the storm, White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that $120 billion was needed to respond to Hurricane Katrina and that he expects the damage from Harvey will require more funding.

— With assistance by Margaret Talev, Erik Wasson, Jennifer Epstein, Justin Sink, and Toluse Olorunnipa

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-03/mnuchin-says-raising-debt-limit-should-be-linked-to-harvey-aid

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Steven Mnuchin says he’s drafting sanctions against North Korea

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he’s drafting new sanctions to put economic pressure on North Korea.

His words came after the isolated Asian nation carried out what is believed to be its most powerful nuclear test yet.

“I am going to draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration that anybody that wants to do trade or business with them would be prevented from doing trade or business with us,” Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday. “People need to cut off North Korea economically. This is unacceptable behavior.”

It’s not yet clear how exactly the U.S. would go about implementing those sanctionseither through unilateral action or in another coordinated international effort.

The U.S. has taken recent steps to pressure those who work with North Korea.

In June, the Treasury moved to block a Chinese bank with alleged illicit financial ties to North Korea from gaining access to the U.S. banking system.

But Mnuchin said Sunday that the U.S. can do more, and plans to work with its allies and China to squeeze North Korea.

“China has a lot of trade with them,” Mnuchin said. “There’s a lot we can do to cut them off economically — much more than we’ve done already.”

China has served as an economic lifeline for North Korea through decades of international sanctions, letting fuel and coal to cross their shared border, providing huge amounts of food aid and allowing its companies to trade with the isolated state.

China, which accounts for over 90% of North Korea’s international trade, recently joined in United Nations sanctions of the rogue nation.

Related: Trump says appeasement ‘will not work’ after N.K. nuclear test

The nuclear weapon test on Sunday was the sixth-ever for North Korea, and the first since Trump took office. The country claimed that it has developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that can fit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Earlier Sunday, Trump called Pyongyang’s words and actions “hostile and dangerous.” He tweeted that South Korea has found that their “talk of appeasement will not work.”

When asked if the U.S. will consider a military response, Mnuchin said Sunday that the administration is “not going to broadcast” its planned course of action.

But he added that Trump has made it clear that “this isn’t the time for just talk.”

–CNN’s Angela Dewan and Taehoon Lee and CNNMoney’s Jethro Mullen and Charles Riley contributed to this report.

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House Intelligence chairman: ‘No evidence of collusion’ between Trump camp, Russia

March 19, 2017
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Sunday said he’s seen no evidence of collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Nunes was asked during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” if he has seen any evidence of any collusion between “Trump world” and Russia to swing the 2016 presidential election.

“I’ll give you a very simple answer: ‘No,’ ” Nunes said.

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“Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning. No evidence of collusion.”Nunes was also asked whether he thinks there are elements inside the intelligence community or FBI leaking information to undercut the Trump presidency.

“It’s pretty clear that that’s happening,” he said.

“There’s even been stories written about it in numerous newspapers talking about how they said they left breadcrumbs around to hurt the Trump administration.”

When pressed again on whether he believes there are people inside these intelligence community leaking information, Nunes said he doesn’t “think so anymore.”

“I think it was largely people maybe who were there, had classified information, who are now no longer there and decided to leak it,” he said.

“Clearly to leak Michael Flynn’s name talking to the Russian ambassador,” Nunes said. “That was clearly designed to hurt Gen. Flynn and the president’s national security adviser.”

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/324685-nunes-says-hes-seen-no-evidence-of-collusion-between-trump-camp-and

China warns Trump against ignoring Beijing’s Taiwan interests — China expects America to listen and obey, as always

December 12, 2016
By Ben Blanchard | BEIJING

China expressed “serious concern” on Monday after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-held stance that Taiwan is part of “one China”, calling it the basis for relations.

Trump’s comments on “Fox News Sunday”, questioning nearly four decades of U.S. policy, came after he prompted a diplomatic protest from China over his decision to accept a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2.

President-elect Donald Trump is interviewed by Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 10, 2016.

China’s Foreign Ministry said cooperation was “out of the question” if Washington could not recognize Beijing’s core interest on Taiwan, indicating it would reject any effort by Trump to use the issue as a bargaining chip in a long list of commercial and security problems facing the two countries.

“China has noted the report and expresses serious concern about it. I want to stress that the Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and involves China’s core interests,” said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

“Upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties. If this basis is interfered with or damaged then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas is out of the question,” Geng told a daily news briefing.

In a separate statement, the ministry cited Foreign Minister Wang Yi as warning during a trip to Switzerland against moves to damage the “one China” principle, having been asked by a reporter about Trump’s call with Tsai.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

“China is paying close attention to developments,” Wang said. “I can clearly say that no matter whether the Tsai Ing-wen authority, any other person in the world, or any other force, if they try and damage the one China principle and harm China’s core interests, in the end they are lifting a rock only to drop it on their feet.”

Despite China’s discontent, it has reached out to Trump.

Spokesman Geng said China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister, had met with Trump advisers, including his pick for national security adviser, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, during a transit in New York on his way to Latin America in recent days.

China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Oct 18, 2014. John Kerry and Barack Obama have always done what China wanted.

“Both sides exchanged views on China-U.S. ties and important issues both are concerned with,” Geng said, without elaborating.

He did not give a precise date for the meeting, and it was unclear if it occurred before or after Trump’s latest remarks on Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

Geng urged the incoming Trump administration to fully recognize the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue and uphold a ‘one China’ policy to “avoid the broader picture of China-U.S. ties being seriously interfered with or damaged”.

“The China-U.S. relationship has global and strategic significance. This not only concerns the happiness of both countries and their people, it concerns the peace, stability, development and prosperity of the Asia Pacific (region) and internationally.”

Trump plans to nominate a long-standing friend of Beijing, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, as the next U.S. ambassador to China. But he is also considering John Bolton, a former Bush administration official who has urged a tougher line on Beijing, for the No. 2 job at the U.S. State Department, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a Wall Street Journal article last January, Bolton said the next U.S. president should take bolder steps to halt China’s military aggressiveness in the South and East China seas.

He said Washington should consider using a “diplomatic ladder of escalation” that could start with receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department and lead to restoring full diplomatic recognition.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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Peace and Freedom Commentary

It has become more and more clear to those working close to U.S. President Donald Trump that he knows what he is doing.

Our own personal opinion is this: Donald Trump entered the political arena because he became sick and tired of watching America’s economy and foreign policy “run  by amateurs. ”

Everyone in Asia knows China always insists upon getting whatever it wants. To our knowledge, China is the only nation on earth that doesn’t much believe in negotiations. The current Chinese regime prefers coercion, threats, economic isolation and harassment to the nicer art of diplomacy.

Vietnam, after “thousands of years” of being the Chinese neighbor that is always treated like a lackey, understands this. Many in Japan are now extremely wary of China since it claimed almost complete ownership of the South China Sea — despite a contrary ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016.

The arbitration court said China’s South China Sea claims were void and never existed in international law. But China doesn’t care much about international law so they continue occupancy of the South China Sea, they have militarized several spots of coral reef and sand that they do not legally own, and they are in a position to deny Japan and others much of their free trade.

So now Mr. Trump is talking about Taiwan. China has insisted for decades that Taiwan is a renegade Chinese province. But anyone who visits Taiwan will see a function democracy with human rights — things unheard of in China.

Taiwan is a de facto foreign country for China.

Anyone who follows China’s lead on the Taiwan issue is ignoring the knowledge that Taiwan is run quite well by the Taiwanese — and they are not eager to give up their prosperity, democracy and human rights to rejoin the criminal regime in Beijing.

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© Johannes EISELE, AFP | This file photo taken on November 14, 2016 shows a copy of the local Chinese magazine Global People with a cover story that translates to “Why did Trump win” at a news stand in Shanghai

While Mr Kerry was U.S. Secretary of State, the world witnessed an ugly resurgence in the Russian superpower directed by Vladimir Putin. President Obama’s inability to enforce his “red line” in Syria resulted in the largest refugees migration since World War II and the total annihilation of the Syrian rebels (plus the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people).   Turkey has almost disappeared as a potential new member of the EU and now holds a very questionable place in NATO. Erdogan says he wants to join the alliance with China and Russia. Iran has become increasingly belligerent to all of its neighbors and has exported terrorism from Libya, through Syria and eastward to Yemen — all after the Iran nuclear deal. Iran seems on a mission to discredited and destabilize the Saudi government.

U.S. Navy sailors taken prisoner by Iran, January 12, 2016

In Asia, while Mr. Kerry was Secretary of State, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand have departed the U.S. sphere of influence and sided with China. China has militarized the South China Sea, breaking a promise the very naive President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry thought they had obtained from China during a Xi Jinping State Visit to the U.S.  North Korea has shown no sign of giving up its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs — despite promised efforts from China. Japan is concerned about their security in the face of a “Rising China.” Japan’s Shinzo Abe was the first foreign head of state to go to American to meet President-elect Donald Trump after his election.

Vietnam is in no way pleased with the “Rising China.” When President Obama went to Vietnam — he ate dinner with Anthony Bourdain and not his Vietnamese hosts.

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L) in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Nguyen Minh — China’s prolonged presence in Vietnamese waters ultimately led to anti-China rioting in Vietnam.
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In this March 16, 2014 file photo, then vice president Jejomar Binay meets with Vietnam's Ambassador Truong Trieu Dong, who expressed his country's support for the arbitration case file by the Philippines against China over the West Philippine Sea. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President)

In this March 16, 2014 file photo, then vice president Jejomar Binay meets with Vietnam’s Ambassador Truong Trieu Dong, who expressed his country’s support for the arbitration case file by the Philippines against China over the West Philippine Sea. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President

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Chinese fishing fleet

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.