Posts Tagged ‘Ivanka Trump’

Steve Bannon, Back At Breitbart: “Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency.”

August 19, 2017

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By Harriet Alexander, David Millward Barney Henderson

defiant Steve Bannon declared the Trump presidency he had campaigned for was over as he vowed to carry on the fight after being ousted as the White House chief strategist.

Within hours of leaving his office,  Mr Bannon was back at Breitbart, the right wing website he ran, presiding over the evening news conference.

In interviews he made it clear he was not going quietly as he rounded on those he held responsible for his departure.

 Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” he told the Weekly Standard, a right-wing newspaper   “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency,” he continued.

“But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

He added: “I feel jacked up. Now I’ve got my hands back on my weapons,” he added as he vowed “Bannon the barbarian” would crush the opposition.

“There’s no doubt. I built a —–ng machine at Breitbart.  And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”

His loyalty to Donald Trump remained undimmed.

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,”  he told Bloomberg.

Earlier Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary said Mr Bannon, 63,  had departed “by mutual agreement.”

The White House then issued a statement, saying that the decision was agreed by Mr Bannon and John Kelly, the chief of staff – a sign of Mr Kelly’s grappling to control the chaos, or perhaps simply to avoid Mr Trump having to put his name to the firing of the man who most connects him to his diehard supporters.

Joel Pollack, Breitbart’s  editor at large, tweeted a one-word response to Mr Bannon’s departure: “War”.

Mr Bannon was controversial from the start.

Combative and unapologetic, the former Goldman Sachs financier was employed by Mr Trump as his campaign manager in August 2016, and described at the time as “the most dangerous political operative in America”.

He urged Mr Trump to pursue a populist path, and pressed him to hammer Hillary Clinton as corrupt – reportedly coming up with the “lock her up” chant that reverberated around his rallies.

It was Mr Bannon, with fellow hardliner Stephen Miller, who wrote Mr Trump’s inauguration speech – a dark and foreboding depiction of the “American carnage” that Mr Trump believed he had been elected to stop.

He was often at odds with the “globalist” wing of the White House – Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law; his wife Ivanka Trump; H.R. McMaster, the head of the national security council; and Gary Cohn, director of the national economic council.

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Mr Bannon reportedly referred to them in private as “the New Yorkers” and “the Democrats”, among more printable nicknames, and tried to steer his boss away from them and towards his own nationalist sympathisers.

At first the president thought fondly of his flame-throwing ideologue, who was seen to wield immense behind-the-scenes power inside the White House.

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Gary Cohn

Saturday Night Live depicted him as the grim reaper, playing Mr Trump like a puppet – something that reportedly amused Mr Bannon, but enraged his boss.

His departure had been described as imminent before, but since Charlottesville the drum beat of demise rose to a frenzy.

Mr Trump was reported earlier this week to have not spoken face-to-face with Mr Bannon in over a week, and on Tuesday, at the now infamous press conference in which he defended white supremacists, Mr Trump could only offer a lukewarm endorsement, responding to a question about Mr Bannon’s future with: “We’ll see.”

That press conference sparked condemnation of a president never before seen in the United States – the heads of the military spoke out against their commander-in-chief, and the UN secretary-general voiced concern. Titans of industry who Mr Trump had so assiduously courted on the campaign trail deserted him in droves, leading to the folding of both his business advisory panels.

On Friday the arts council resigned en masse – the first White House agency to do so.

Political condemnation was also snowballing, leading astonished Americans to ask where this could all end.

Bob Corker, a senior Republican loyalist and chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, who was considered for secretary of state, declared that “the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to” in dealing with crises.

And, while Mr Trump sought to shift Thursday from the white supremacists to the future of statues, he was criticised by Rupert Murdoch’s son James, in an email widely circulated.

“I can’t believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists,” he wrote.

Rumblings of discontent from Mr Trump’s staff grew so loud that the White House was forced to release a statement saying that Gary Cohn, Mr Trump’s chief economic adviser, was not quitting.

The Dow Jones suffered its worst day since May on Thursday, but rebounded slightly on the news that Mr Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, was staying put.

Mr Cohn will certainly not be crying over the departure of Mr Bannon. Mr Bannon perhaps sealed his own fate this week by telephoning a reporter with The American Prospect, a Left-wing publication, to contradict his boss – and suggest that he was deciding who was in and who was out in the state department.

“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” said Mr Bannon, directly undermining Mr Trump’s vow to respond if attacked.

Asked about his rivals at the departments of state, defence and treasury, who wanted to keep China on side by avoiding trade wars, Mr Bannon was unrepentant.

“They’re wetting themselves,” he said. “I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in.”

But Mr Bannon may not go quietly.

One of the reasons Mr Trump was said to have delayed dismissing him was fear of “weaponising” Mr Bannon, if he was unleashed from the White House.

A friend of Mr Bannon said he intended to return to Breitbart, adding: “This is now a Democrat White House”.

Bannon ‘in good spirits’

Quoting  a “friend”,  the Wall Street Journal, said Mr Bannon seemed to be in good spirits, following his departure from the White House.

“Steve has always been a gunslinger. This allows him to be a gunslinger again.”

Trump ‘ceding dangerous ground to the media and establishment’

Kristin Tate, a conservative columnist, warns that Donald Trump has ceded dangerous ground to the establishment.

“There is no compromise with the Never-Trumpers and Democrats over the role of chief strategist,” she writes in The Hill, a political website.

” Personnel is policy, and Trump is ceding his ace for a player to be named later. That’s not good enough for the people who made his movement happen.

Bernie: The problem wasn’t Bannon, it was Trump

2:21am

Steve Bannon ‘said he resigned from White House two weeks ago’

1:55am

CNN says ‘Gorka could go’

Citing unnamed “sources”, CNN is saying that Sebastian Gorka, Donald Trump’s deputy assistant, could be the next to go.

Born in the UK to Hungarian parents, British educated Mr Gorka, has also been a controversial figure in the White House.

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Seen as a hardliner, he was openly critical of Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, when he suggested the US could negotiate with North Korea over nuclear weapons.

But Mr Trump is reported to be a fan of Mr Gorka’s combative style and his forthright defence of the administration in his media appearances.

1:15am

Another White House departure

Steve Bannon is not the only senior figure leaving the White House,according to Politico.

George Sifakis, director of the Office of Public Liaison since March, is reportedly on his way out.

A close friend and ally of Reince Preibus, the former White House chief of staff,   Mr Sifakis was an aide to George W Bush.

8:51pm

Nigel Farage says Bannon will be missed

8:22pm

Bannon meets billionaire donor to plot next steps

Axios, the authoritative Washington website, reports that Mr Bannon met with billionaire Republican donor Bob Mercer to plan their next moves.

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They write:

Bob Mercer and Steve Bannon had a five hour meeting Wednesday to plot out next steps, said a source withknowledge of the meeting.

They plotted strategy going forward — both political and media strategy. The meeting was at Mercer’s estate on Long Island. Mercer had dinner the next night at Bedminster with President Trump and a small group of donors. The source said Mercer and Bannon “remain strong supporters of President Trump’s and his agenda.”

 

8:19pm

Democrat leader responds

Steve Bannon’s exit does not erase @realDonaldTrump’s long record of lifting up racist viewpoints & advancing repulsive policies. 

8:03pm

Four down…

Bannon
This January 28 photo shows Donald Trump and his advisers inside the Oval Office. Of the six in the picture, only the president and vice president remain – Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon have all left.

7:48pm

Breitbart’s editor-at-large responds to Steve Bannon’s ouster

Donald Trump sends tough signal to China on unfair IP, tech practices

August 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – The United States in effect served notice on China on Monday (Aug 14) by opening an investigation into unfair trade practices focused on intellectual property (IP) and advanced technology.

But punitive action is still about a year away, and conclusions may also depend on the outcomes of the current international pressure campaign on North Korea led by the US, but in which China has a key role as the Pyongyang regime’s economic lifeline.

While the US administration has not linked trade issues with progress on North Korea, the President has explicitly linked the two. China insists that any action on trade must conform to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, and must not be linked to North Korea, where it says Beijing’s influence is limited.

Mr Trump’s memo directs US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether to launch an investigation – which in turn could give the President authority to take measures under Section 301 of its Trade Act, against China if it finds that country is damaging American interests by stealing IP or unfairly forcing transfer of technology.

For the US, this has long been a major bone of contention with China. A 2017 report of the US’s IP Commission on “The Theft of American Intellectual Property” estimated that in 2015 “anywhere from US$58 billion to US$118 billion of counterfeit and pirated tangible goods may have entered the United States.”

Yet the US business community is not entirely united, analysts say.

“Some see the potential for retaliation the Chinese could take against their commercial or market access issues wholly unrelated to IP” Amy Celico, a former senior director for China at the USTR and currently head of the China team at the consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group, told The Straits Times.

“But other industries feel they are facing an existential threat to their ability to operate in the Chinese market and they agree that something has to happen, the administration has to stand up to China on unfair trade practices.”

Mr Trump told journalists at a brief event where he signed the memo “Washington will turn a blind eye no longer.”

“I’m directing the United States Trade Representative to examine China’s policies, practices, and actions with regard to the forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property.”

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs, we will enforce the rules of fair and reciprocal trade that form the foundation of responsible commerce” he said.

Left unsaid was the question of North Korea. The US has been pressing Beijing which accounts for some 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade, to pull the plug on Pyongyang to force the regime to stop its nuclear missile programme.

On August 11 Mr Trump said “We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that but if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade.”

“Certainly it seems the administration is trying to use every possible tool in dealing with this critical issue of North Korea” Ms Celico said in a phone interview.

“The Chinese have come out quite forcefully as they see it as a stick the administration is using to get China to be more aggressive in dealing with North Korea, and they are disavowing any kind of linkage as destabilising for the bilateral relationship.”

“The problem for President Trump is he’s the one who linked these two issues. Looking into launching an investigation rather than launching an investigation, would seem to be responsive to Chinese pressure.”

Ms Yun Sun, a Fellow at the Stimson Centre in Washington, told The Straits Times: “It’s an investigation at this stage, it could take a year.”

“With the Party Congress coming up President Xi Jinping does not want any major instability in foreign affairs. Also, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are supposed to visit China to pave the way for President Trump’s visit.”

“I think the Chinese will appear to be angry but I don’t see any substantive retaliation on trade” she said.

 

 http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trump-sends-tough-signal-to-china-on-unfair-ip-tech-practices

Why are Nazis In America?

August 14, 2017

The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host didn’t hold back Sunday night.

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This weekend, the nation was fixated on the horrifying display of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group of neo-Nazis held court armed with tiki torches, military cosplay, guns, clubs, and an outrageous sense of entitlement.

These preppy fascists were said to have congregated on the University of Virginia campus to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, but really, most of these whiny brats couldn’t tell you the first thing about the Confederate general. They came to instigate outrage, and violence. And when all was said and done, a suspected white nationalist was arrested for allegedly plowing his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least another 19 people.

“It was truly a weekend of horrifying images. We saw Nazi flags and marchers carrying torches—tiki torches, by the way, because nothing says ‘white nationalist’ like faux Polynesian kitsch,” said John Oliver.

The Last Week Tonight host opened his program Sunday evening by addressing the events in Charlottesville—including President Donald Trump’s rambling, insufficient reaction to the tragedy, with the commander-in-chief refusing to denounce white nationalists, slipping in President Barack Obama’s name, imploring Americans to “cherish our history” (see: Robert E. Lee’s statue), and condemning hate “on many sides.”

“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence—on many sides. On many sides,” declared Trump from his Bedminster golf club.

“Wait… on many sides?!” exclaimed Oliver. “This was a white nationalist rally—you have to call that out by name. There aren’t many instances in modern American politics where you can honestly think, ‘That guy really should have mentioned the Nazis,’ but this is emphatically one of them. It’s like a reverse Godwin’s Law: if you fail to mention Nazism, you lose the argument.”

And, after “having made a wild false equivalence between Nazis and people who oppose Nazis,” Trump attempted to clear his own name, saying, “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

But this rally did have plenty to do with Donald Trump—according to the white nationalists who participated in it. In addition to white nationalists chanting things like “Heil Trump,” David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (whose presidential endorsement candidate Trump famously refused to disavow for several days), was interviewed in Charlottesville by a reporter.

“We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believe in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump,” said Duke.

“I’ve gotta say, David Duke and the Nazis really seem to like Donald Trump, which is weird because Nazis are a lot like cats: If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them,” said Oliver, adding, “And that kind of connection there is something that anyone in their right mind would want to immediately and repeatedly disavow, and it’s not like Trump wasn’t given the opportunity.”

Yes, Trump was repeatedly asked to condemn the white nationalists in Charlottesville, many of whom took to the streets in his honor, as he exited his Bedminster press conference. “How do you respond to white nationalists who say they’re participating in Charlottesville because they support you?” one reporter asked. “Do you want the support of these white nationalist groups who say they support you, Mr. President?”

The questions fell on deaf ears.

“Here’s the problem with that: A non-answer in a moment like this is an answer,” said Oliver. “And look, don’t take that just from me. White nationalists seemed pretty clear about the message Trump had sent to them with his response.”

Indeed, neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer ran a piece on Saturday praising President Trump’s vague speech. “Trump comments were good… He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him,” they wrote.

“And look, maybe Trump will eventually take a second swing at personally condemning the white nationalists. Maybe he has since we’ve taped this show. But even if he does, it’ll be too late. Because his first response is who he is. And the truly infuriating thing is how predictable this was,” offered Oliver.

“It simply doesn’t get easier than disavowing Nazis. It’s as much of a presidential gimme as pardoning a fucking turkey. It is almost impossible to screw it up. But that’s exactly what happened,” the comedian continued. “So there is clearly no point waiting for leadership from our president in moments like this, because it is just not coming, which means we will have to look to one another, because incredibly, in a country where previous presidents have actually had to defeat Nazis, we now have one who cannot even be bothered to fucking condemn them.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/john-oliver-accuses-trump-of-feeding-the-charlottesville-nazis

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‘Why are these Nazis able to come into our city?’ Charlottesville left in shock after day of violence

At the scene where a suspected far-right extremist mowed down anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, local resident Anna Quillom spent Sunday laying dozens of carnations along the street.

“I grew up here but this doesn’t feel like my home anymore. The lid’s come off it,” said Miss Quillom, 36, who runs wine tours in the historic college town. Welling up with tears, she added: “It was the best place in the world, inclusive, everyone cares about each other. Why are these Nazis able to come into our city?”

Nearby, at a makeshift memorial, a sign read “No Place For Hate!” A red shoe, lost by one of the victims, had been stuffed with roses.

 A mourner lays flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of where a car plowed into counter-protesters in Charlottesville
 A mourner lays flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of where a car plowed into counter-protesters in Charlottesville CREDIT: JUSTIN IDE/REUTERS

Charlottesville, a town of 47,000 with a university very much at its heart, was shattered by Saturday’s events when hundreds of racist extremists descended and violence erupted.

In the high street, dotted with book and antique shops, people appeared stunned….

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/13/nazis-able-come-city-charlottesville-left-shock-day-violence/

Trump Pressed to Disavow White-Nationalist Groups After Virginia Attack

August 14, 2017

Charlottesville violence shines a light on groups that have backed the president

Charlottesville residents on Sunday viewed a street memorial for the victim of Saturday's attack on those protesting a white-nationalist demonstration.
Charlottesville residents on Sunday viewed a street memorial for the victim of Saturday’s attack on those protesting a white-nationalist demonstration. PHOTO: SCOTT P. YATES FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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Aug. 13, 2017 7:53 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump, in the wake of deadly weekend violence at a white-supremacy rally in Virginia, is facing pressure to break decisively with such nationalist groups that largely backed his campaign and presidency, or risk a fraying of his fragile governing coalition.

The rally erupted in violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, and a woman was killedwhen a driver allegedly mowed down a group that had gathered to counter messages from the white nationalists, some of whom were self-described Nazi sympathizers. Dozens were injured in the car attack; later, two state troopers monitoring the demonstrations were killed when their helicopter crashed.

The president initially said the altercations came from “many sides” of the event, which leaders from both parties said seemed to improperly spread blame equally between the white nationalists and the counterprotesters.

Then on Sunday the White House issued a statement saying Mr. Trump “condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, said in a tweet Sunday: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.”

White nationalists flocked to Mr. Trump early in his candidacy and even before then, when he became a central figure in falsely questioning whether former President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. During his presidency, such fringe groups have become increasingly vocal.

For example, Mr. Trump’s Saturday comments were cited on the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer as evidence of “no condemnation at all” of such groups by the president.

That dynamic is causing friction between Mr. Trump and many leaders of the Republican Party whom Mr. Trump now needs to advance his agenda in Congress.

“I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) told “Fox News Sunday.”

Pointed condemnations of such groups also came Saturday from GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as Senate conservatives such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

“We should call evil by its name,” Mr. Hatch said on Twitter. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

Other Republicans sought a middle ground between denouncing their party leader and seeming unwilling to single out racists and neo-Nazis.

“I stand with President Trump and leaders from both parties condemning these actions and encourage Americans to stand together in opposition to those who encourage hate or promote violence,” said Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama.

The Virginia clash has also re-focused attention on the White House role of Steve Bannon, who helped steer Mr. Trump’s election victory. Mr. Bannon joined the campaign from Breitbart News, which he once described as a “platform for the alt-right.”

The alt-right is shorthand for the “alternative right,” a loose agglomeration of groups with far-right ideologies, some of which embrace the tenets of white supremacy, while others consider themselves rebels against mainstream Republicans.

Over the past seven months, Mr. Bannon has fallen in and out of favor with the president, advisers to Mr. Trump have said, and in the wake of the Charlottesville episode, some of Mr. Trump’s supporters want to see his influence curtailed.

Anthony Scaramucci, who did a brief stint as White House communications director, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday and decried what he called the “Bannon-bart influence” in the White House, a mashup of Mr. Bannon’s name and the news site he used to run.

“I think the president knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon,” said Mr. Scaramucci.

Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

Throughout history, race has proved the most combustible domestic issue presidents have confronted.

In the modern era, John F. Kennedy faced down Southern insistence on segregated schools, while his successor, Lyndon Johnson, ushered in landmark civil-rights legislation. Mr. Obama, as the first black president, entered office with hopes of bridging the gap between the races only to find divisions hardening over his two terms.

Many white nationalists made themselves known at Mr. Trump’s rallies last year, although some took pains to conceal their affiliation for fear that it would embarrass his campaign. At a convocation of white nationalists in Tennessee last year, various attendees identified themselves as Trump campaign volunteers but said they kept secret their affiliation even from some fellow supporters.

“White nationalists were suspicious of candidate Trump in the early part of his campaign, but they were won over by a steady stream of signaling from the campaign, and later from the administration,” said J.M. Berger, who studies extremist ideologies and is a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague.

Now, though, white nationalist groups are closely watching Mr. Trump’s response to the crisis. They say they weren’t the ones to start the fighting.

Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist website American Renaissance, said that virtually all the violence between such groups were caused by counterprotesters.

“Whenever these confrontations take place, it’s where pro-white groups try to have a rally,” said Mr. Taylor, who said he wasn’t at the Charlottesville demonstration. “You will notice that pro-white groups never make a fuss or demonstrate when other groups have meetings that stand for things they abhor.”

David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, in response to a Trump tweet Saturday calling for unity and condemning “hate,” tweeted in reply: “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

As a candidate, Mr. Trump’s campaign said it didn’t rely on white nationalists to win. “The President has never considered this fringe to be part of his coalition,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide.

But some critics said that, as a candidate, he didn’t denounce such supporters in unequivocal terms. They also said messages from the campaign seemed aimed at a white nationalist audience.

In a CNN interview in early 2016, Mr. Trump was asked about Mr. Duke’s expressions of support. “I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

In subsequent interviews and media appearances, he renounced the support of white supremacists and Mr. Duke in particular.

“David Duke is a bad person who I disavowed on numerous occasions over the years,” Mr. Trump said on MSNBC in March 2016.

Democrats, for their part, saw the Virginia episode as evidence of the Trump-era Republican Party as beholden to extremists.

“The President’s talk of violence ‘on many sides’ ignores the shameful reality of white supremacism in our country today, and continues a disturbing pattern of complacency around such acts of hate,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a statement.

With images from Charlottesville dominating cable TV coverage, Mr. Trump is at a crossroads, Mr. Berger said.

“So the next few days will be crucial,” he said. “President Trump is facing substantial political pressure to make a stronger statement about white nationalist violence.”

Write to Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com

Appeared in the August 14, 2017, print edition as ‘Virginia Clash Tests Trump.’

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Ivanka Trump denounces white supremacy, neo-Nazis after Charlottesville

August 13, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Ivanka Trump speaks during an event with small businesses at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2017

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka weighed in Sunday on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia with an appeal for unity, saying there was “no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”A woman was killed and 19 injured in the university town Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd after a white nationalist protest rally turned violent.

Trump, who has a following among white supremacist groups attracted to his nationalistic rhetoric, has come under fire for blaming the Charlottesville violence on hatred and bigotry “on many sides.”

Ivanka Trump was more pointed in a tweet Sunday calling for unity.

“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” she said.

“We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville”

Jared Kushner reportedly did not include Israel bond holdings in initial financial disclosure

July 15, 2017

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walking down the West Wing Colonnade, Feb. 10, 2017. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Jared Kushner reportedly is disclosing up to $250,000 in Israel bonds that he previously owned but did not include on his initial financial disclosure in March.

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Kushner, who serves as senior adviser to President Donald Trump and is married to his daughter Ivanka, has reported the Israel bond holdings in an amended financial disclosure form that is expected to be publicly available soon, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing “people close to” Kushner. The president’s Jewish son-in-law sold the holdings earlier this year, according to The Journal.

Other additions to the disclosure include an art collection that he and Ivanka Trump own and his ties to the real-estate startup Cadre.

The Journal article also reported on a meeting last month between Trump and technology business leaders organized by Kushner. Among those on hand was the CEO of a small startup, OpenGov, of which Kushner’s brother, Joshua, is a part owner by way of the venture capital firm Thrive. Kushner held a stake in Thrive, but sold it earlier this year to his brother, The Journal reported.

Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told The Journal that OpenGov’s presence at the meeting “seems like a textbook example of cronyism in action.”

However, Matt Lira, Trump’s special assistant for innovation policy and initiatives, told The Journal that it was his idea, not Kushner’s, to invite OpenGov to the event.

https://www.jta.org/2017/07/14/news-opinion/politics/jared-kushner-reportedly-did-not-include-israel-bond-holdings-in-initial-financial-disclosure

If Trump Really Loves America, He’ll Resign

July 15, 2017

Handcuffed by Ego

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Commentary

By John Francis Carey

Donald Trump Jr. “took a meeting” with a Russian government attorney and a group working to defeat Hillary Clinton.

At least, that’s what he thought, according to his email records.

No other facts are relevant.

Republican commentator Charles Krauthammer says it may be bungled collusion but it’s still collusion.

Meanwhile, the healthcare bill is going nowhere fast, there is no tax overhaul plan, and no infrastructure spending plan has been passed and funded.

The stock market is going great but the Wall Street Journal reports that the gains in the stock market haven’t translated very much into the real economy. Manufacturing is still slow, jobs have been made but the future is unclear, retail is not doing well and optimism for the U.S. economy is slipping.

“Hopes for a prolonged period of 3% GDP growth sparked by Trump’s victory have largely vanished,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment survey.

We are in a tough spot in North Korea — maybe on the brink of war. American troops remain involved in wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, along with the occasional bombing in Somalia or someplace else.

The nation needs the full attention of the Commander in Chief.

Trust in any White House policy with regard to Russia is now under assault. China is watching closely as Donald Trump looks more and more to them as a temporary stand-in president under siege and perhaps just hours or days from incapacitation due to lack of public support.

Xi Jinping can watch CNN, too.

Never in the history of the nation has a “resistance movement” dogged a U.S. president from within. Never have the media been so emotionally transfixed upon who said what in the White House, in Air Force One, on the trip and the rest. Never have we seen so many leaks and unnamed sources. Committees of Congress are questioning former Directors of National Security and the FBI, plus a long list of lesser notables. Doubt reigns.

Then, somewhere in the bowels of the FBI, there’s Robert Mueller III, lingering like the hangman.

It sounds like a bad movie. The perfect storm in Washington D.C.

But it’s real: offering three plus years of gridlock — or worse.

Doctor Charles Krauthammer has called Donald Trump “pathological” — and more than once.

Nobody has to have a medical degree to see, watch and judge for themselves.

Donald Trump’s treatment of Jeff Sessions is a lesson in bad behavior and maybe even ego-driven illness.

But there is a way out. There is always a way to do what is in the best interests of the people of the United States. There is always a way to do what’s right for the sake of the nation. There is always gain in uniting the nation and ending the foul stench — of just about anything.

Donald Trump will have to resign. His pride will refuse to entertain the notion, of course.

But the alternatives may sway him.

The best part of the Trump Presidency may be over. Many achievements already won can be maintained under a new Republican President. Maybe a healer can even start the process of moving us past…

If President Trump decides to stay, and fight a war of a 10,000 tweets all the way to impeachment — as his ego will tell him to do — his place in history will be destroyed.

If some sort of medical intervention comes to pass, his legacy, and maybe even his business empire, will be destroyed forever.

Plus, no matter what happens, enemies around the globe will be gloating at the prospect of the U.S. on the brink of ungoverned and ungovernable for the next year or two.

Putin’s evil master plan has already succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

As Trump stands today, to many he’s the rock star of the age that got into the White House in a kind of miracle of populism. The dream of “Making America Great Again” is a good one and could be preserved, and maybe even fulfilled in some ways, if he resigns.

If he stays, ignoring the advice of national solons who tell him he should resign “for the good of the nation,” the historians will rip him to shreds as a selfish, ego driven megalomaniac that really doesn’t or didn’t care if American ever became Great Again. He will be seen as one who only cares about schmoozing with Mrs. Macron in the Eiffel Tower and sending insulting tweets to the Mayor of London.

Now who should lay all this out for Donald Trump? Who can engineer the intervention?

My first thought is for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, two brothers from different mothers.

But more importantly, two men who have worked in the Oval Office to serve the American people.

Two former presidents. Two men in Trump’s same unique club.  They have to make the case to their successor in the Oval Office.

But the only people Donald Trump really trusts are those in his inner circle: Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Ivanka. They got him where he is. They will have to play a role in getting him out.

Otherwise, they will all become a part of a long, painful, ego-fueled national nightmare.

And nobody will be better for it.

In the meantime, we await Mr. Mueller.

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Mr. Carey has written commentary for The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and other newspapers.

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What Robert Mueller Learned From Enron

Robert Mueller, foreground, arriving at the Capitol for a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in June. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

It seems safe to assume that nobody read Donald Trump Jr.’s damning emails with a Kremlin-connected lawyer more closely than Robert Mueller.

Mr. Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, will surely be looking into the now infamous meeting, including the president’s son; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort.

As he does, will Mr. Mueller be able to build a case that goes all the way to the top?

That could depend on what lessons he learned from overseeing the task force that investigated one of the biggest fraud cases in American history: the collapse of the energy giant Enron.

In December 2001, Enron filed what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history. Just weeks later, Mr. Mueller, then the F.B.I. director; Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson; and the assistant attorney general for the criminal division, Michael Chertoff, formed the Enron Task Force, an elite team of F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors assigned to investigate and prosecute crimes related to the Houston-based energy trader. Andrew Weissmann, who recently joined Mr. Mueller’s Russia team, later led the task force.

The Enron team was patient and learned from its investigative and trial mistakes. After its yearslong run, it set a high-water mark for complex, high-profile financial inquiries, successfully indicting and imprisoning almost all of the company’s top executives.

Early on, the Enron team also won a jury conviction of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, Enron’s auditor, on an obstruction-of-justice charge. That experience could prove valuable as the Russia team investigates — among many possible routes — whether President Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director.

Prosecuting the Enron executives went slowly. Not until 2006 did a jury find the former chief executive, Jeffrey K. Skilling, and the former chairman and chief executive, Kenneth L. Lay, guilty. (Mr. Lay died before sentencing.)

The frauds Enron was accused of were audacious. The company had hidden debt in a complex web of off-the-books companies and had faked its profits. Yet prosecutorial success was not inevitable. Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay pleaded ignorance, blaming lower-level employees and arguing they had relied on the advice of their attorneys and auditors. The government did not have damning emails or wiretap evidence from either man. Prosecutors may face a similar challenge with Mr. Trump, who tweets but reportedly does not use email.

The Enron team got off to an auspicious start, with the Department of Justice providing adequate prosecutorial resources. Mr. Mueller helped recruit talented prosecutors and investigators from around the country and then got out of their way.

He and other top Justice Department officials then gave their team political cover. Enron and its executives were particularly close to the Bush family and top Republican officials. Early on, the team interviewed White House officials about their recollections. Republican political operatives voiced displeasure, but the team persisted.

The task force conducted its investigations effectively, flipping lower-level employees to build cases against the top bad actors. The Enron team made aggressive and risky moves. For example, it shocked Houston high society by charging the wife of Andrew Fastow, the chief financial officer, with tax evasion to put pressure on him. It worked. Mr. Fastow began to cooperate with the government. (His wife pleaded guilty.) Every prosecutor knows this strategy works, but for various reasons today, few put in the painstaking work needed to penetrate the sophisticated legal defenses of highly paid executives.

As it proceeded, the task force weathered relentless attacks. First, critics charged it was moving too slowly. Later, white-collar defense lawyers accused the team of intimidating witnesses and overzealously charging executives. The legal establishment particularly criticized the prosecution of Arthur Andersen. The government won at trial in 2002, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict three years later on a narrow issue involving jury instructions.

Despite its successes, the Enron Task Force emerged with a mixed legacy thanks to its trial losses and reversals from higher courts. Among them, the Supreme Court reversed part of the Skilling verdict.

Today, many Justice Department officials have learned the wrong lessons from the Enron experience, accepting the idea that the task force was overzealous. Even Democratic appointees like Mary Jo White, President Obama’s chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Lanny Breuer, his assistant attorney general for the criminal division, came to believe the prosecution of Andersen had been a mistake.

Drawing the wrong lessons has consequences. In subsequent years, the Justice Department did not assign prosecutors to work solely on financial crisis cases. While the Bush Justice Department had acted quickly to create the Enron Task Force, the Obama department allowed plans to create a similar task force, after the banking collapse of 2008, to die amid bureaucratic infighting.

It was no surprise, then, that the Justice Department never put any top bankers from the biggest banks in prison after the financial crisis. Forgetting what went right with the Enron prosecutions has contributed to a problem that still plagues the Justice Department: It has lost the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives from the largest corporations.

Today Mr. Mueller’s team is operating in an even hotter kitchen than the Enron Task Force did. The president has repeatedly called the investigation “a witch hunt,” and rumors abound that he could fire Mr. Mueller any day. A Trump ally, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has grumbled conspiratorially that the former F.B.I. director was the “tip of the deep state spear” aimed at the president.

But the Enron Task Force may have given Mr. Mueller a hide thick enough to protect him from those attacks. More than that, Enron honed skills he’ll need now in the Russia investigation, which may well touch on money laundering, secrecy havens, complex accounting maneuvers, campaign finance violations — and multiple lies.

As I talked with Mr. Mueller’s former Enron Task Force colleagues in recent weeks, it became clear to me that he believes the Enron team was successful — and understands why. That means his special counsel team will probably move more slowly than people anticipate. But it might also shock people with its aggressive investigative and prosecutorial tactics. If Mr. Trump and his advisers committed crimes, Mr. Mueller will find them.

Donald Trump Jr. Arranged Meeting Between Father’s Campaign, Russian Lawyer

July 9, 2017

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has been linked to the Kremlin, met with Paul Manafort, others in June 2016 in New York

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, spoke at Trump Tower in New York on June 5. In June of last year, members of President Donald Trump’s campaign met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin, at a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, spoke at Trump Tower in New York on June 5. In June of last year, members of President Donald Trump’s campaign met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin, at a meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. PHOTO: KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Donald Trump Jr. , the president’s eldest son, arranged a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer who has been linked to the Kremlin, according to Mr. Trump and a lawyer for  Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser who also attended the meeting.

The meeting, in New York, was also attended by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman at the time who resigned about two months later amid reports of his connection to pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine. Investigators are currently examining whether Mr. Manafort’s work for foreign interests violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act and related laws.

Mr. Manafort’s spokesman has said he is taking the “appropriate steps” to respond to guidance from federal authorities about his FARA disclosures.

The Trump aides met with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, on June 9, about a month after Mr. Trump effectively clinched the Republican nomination. The New York Times first reported the meeting on Saturday.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor, and a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department earlier this year is investigating whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia in that effort. Mr. Trump has denied that there was any collusion and has said he doubts the intelligence community’s assessment, saying earlier this week, “No one really knows for sure.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump met face-to-face with Mr. Putin at the Group of 20 leading nations summit, where he told the Russian leader that Americans are upset about Russia’s actions and want them to stop, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mr. Putin denied that Russia played a role, and the leaders opted not to “relitigate” the past, Mr. Tillerson said.

Russia’s account of the exchange differed from that of the Americans. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was also in the meeting in Hamburg, told reporters afterward that said Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Putin’s contention that Russia didn’t interfere in the campaign.

The younger Mr. Trump, who has been charged with running the family company together with his brother, Eric, while his father is in office, in a statement described the sit-down with Ms. Veselnitskaya as a “short introductory meeting” focused on a Russian adoption program that was halted by the Russian government.

“I asked Jared and Paul to stop by,” Donald Trump Jr. said in the statement. “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

He added: “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”

Mr. Kushner disclosed the meeting earlier this year in a required form to obtain a security clearance, according to a statement by his attorney, Jamie Gorelick.  Mr. Kushner initially filed a disclosure that didn’t list any contacts with foreign government officials, but the next day submitted a supplemental disclosure saying that he had engaged in “numerous contacts with foreign officials.” Mr. Kushner has since submitted information about “over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition,” Ms. Gorelick said.

“Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr.,” Ms. Gorelick said. “As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.”

Ivanka Trump, right, and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, arrived in Hamburg on July 6 for the Group of 20 summit. Mr. Kushner, along with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya that was set up by his brother-in-law.

Ivanka Trump, right, and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, arrived in Hamburg on July 6 for the Group of 20 summit. Mr. Kushner, along with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, attended the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya that was set up by his brother-in-law. PHOTO: BERND VON JUTRCZENKA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Two previously disclosed meetings Mr. Kushner held with key Russians—the head of a state-run bank that has faced U.S. sanctions and Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.—had already drawn the interest of agents conducting a counterintelligence investigation to determine the extent of those contacts. Mr. Kushner agreed earlier this year to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee, becoming the first White House official to do so.

Ms. Veselnitskaya counts among her clients state-owned companies and family members of top government officials and her husband previously served as deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region. As a lawyer, she has campaigned against the Magnitsky Act, which targets Russian human-rights abusers, and the Russian accountant for whom the measure was named. Sergei Magnitsky was jailed and died in prison after he uncovered evidence of a large tax-refund fraud.

Ms. Veselnitskaya raised the Magnitsky Act in the meeting at Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The person said the meeting ended shortly afterward. The president didn’t become aware of the meeting until recent weeks, the person said.

In a move seen as retaliation to that law, Mr. Putin in 2012 signed a law banning adoption of Russian children by American families.

In postings on her social media accounts, Ms. Veselnitskaya appeared critical of former President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Last July, she shared an article posted by another page and highlighted the quote, “Liberalism is a f—ing mental disorder.” She has also appeared to cheer some of Mr. Trump’s top achievements, such as the confirmation earlier this year of Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-jr-arranged-meeting-between-fathers-campaign-russian-lawyer-1499558446?mod=e2fb

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See also: Reuters —  Trump Jr., Kushner met with Russian lawyer: New York Times

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-idUSKBN19U019

U.S. Downgrades China on Annual Human Trafficking List — China moved to category including Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria

June 28, 2017

The annual report ranks countries based on how they are confronting the problem

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presented the State Department’s report assessing human trafficking practices on Tuesday that was critical of China.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presented the State Department’s report assessing human trafficking practices on Tuesday that was critical of China. PHOTO: CLIFF OWEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The U.S. stepped up its criticism of China in a global assessment of human trafficking practices released on Tuesday, a move likely to inflame tensions with Beijing.

The State Department report details U.S. concerns in China about state-sponsored forced labor, sex trafficking and China’s treatment of North Korean citizens who are forced laborers there. More broadly, the annual report examines trafficking and ranks countries based on how they are confronting the problem.​

The U.S. estimates there are 20 million trafficking victims globally

China was moved in the report to Tier 3, a category with countries including Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria. In last year’s report China was on the Tier 2 watch list.

Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 category in this year’s report after it was listed last year as part of Tier 3.

“China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking—including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at an event at the State Department.

Mr. Tillerson presented the report at the State Department accompanied by Ivanka Trump, a daughter of President Donald Trump and a presidential assistant.

“Ending human trafficking is a major foreign policy priority of the Trump administration,” Ms. Trump said.

Susan Coppedge, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for trafficking issues, said the decision to downgrade China wasn’t connected to broader efforts to press Beijing on other policy issues.

“The minimum standards that are in the law don’t really allow for consideration of strategic relationships or other factors,” she said.

The year’s assessment covers more than 180 countries and incorporates information from April 2016 through March 2017.

Justifying China’s demotion, the report says Beijing doesn’t meet minimum standards considered necessary to eliminate trafficking and hasn’t made significant efforts to do so.

China’s Foreign Ministry defended Beijing’s efforts to fight human trafficking, saying “the outcomes are for all to see,” and lashed out at Washington over the criticism. “We also oppose U.S. making irresponsible remarks,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing earlier Tuesday. “These issues are faced by countries around the world. No country is immune from this issue.”

Write to Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-downgrades-china-on-annual-trafficking-list-1498576568?mod=e2fb

China Invites Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner to Visit

June 21, 2017

WASHINGTON/BEIJING — China has invited U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to visit Beijing later this year, a White House official said on Tuesday.

China’s overture appeared aimed at deepening engagement with the influential young couple, who played a role in the first summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, which set an improved tone for relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

© AFP/File | Ivanka Trump with her father, US President Donald Trump

Kushner, a senior adviser who entered the White House with no government experience, has been assigned the job of conducting Middle East peace diplomacy and will visit the region this week for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Helping to manage relations with China is another part of his foreign policy portfolio.

At the same time, Kushner has come under heavy scrutiny, with high-profile investigations into alleged contacts between current and former Trump aides and Russian officials.

No further details were available on the Chinese invitation, which was first reported by Bloomberg News and confirmed by a White House official on condition of anonymity. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he had seen reports of the visit but that he was not aware of any details.

Trump railed against China, especially its trade practices, during the presidential campaign. A fence-mending phone call in February was arranged by Kushner and China’s U.S. ambassador, Cui Tiankai, U.S. officials said, after Cui invited Ivanka Trump to the Chinese embassy’s Lunar New Year reception, where her daughter sang in Mandarin.

Kushner helped plan and attended the U.S.-China summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in April.

Trump has since had warm words for Xi, praising him for cooperation with efforts to rein in Beijing’s nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea. But analysts question how long rapprochement can last if North Korea continues its nuclear and missile development in defiance of international pressure.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Richard Chang)