Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

Trump-Pelosi brawl sends Congress back to the drawing board on spending

December 12, 2018

President Trump’s threat to shut down the government over border wall money left lawmakers scrambling on Tuesday for a deal to fund the remaining 25 percent of the government before a Dec. 21 deadline.

“We’ve got ten days. I think something will break between now and then but I could be wrong,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala. He spoke soon after Trump, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi made it clear in a public feud at the White House that a deal was nowhere in sight.

“There are a lot of proposals floating around,” Shelby said. “A lot of them are just thoughts today.”

By Susan Ferrechio
Washington Examiner

Senate Minority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Pelosi, D-Calif., said they told the president they could agree to extend temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security until next year, when House Democrats are in the majority. Their only other option was a deal that keeps border security funding at $1.6 billion, which is below the $5 billion Trump wants to complete a wall along the Mexican border.

But Trump told Pelosi and Schumer he’d be “proud” to shut down portions of the government and take the blame if he can’t get $5 billion.

During a closed-door lunch with Republicans Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence described the meeting between Trump and the Democrats as “memorable.” But it also creates a real puzzle for lawmakers who want to figure out a deal over the next 10 days and go home.

“Does it cause a wider breach or does it cause some people to go home and say we’ve got to get this done?” Shelby wondered about Trump’s open battle with Democrats. “Sometimes an impasse brings us together, sometimes it drives us apart.”

The impasse leaves Republicans with few options. If no deal emerges, they could pass a temporary spending bill, but there is no guarantee the president would sign it. And if Trump refused to sign it, a supermajority in both Republican-held chambers would be needed to override his veto.

“I would think it would be difficult for a Republican majority to override a Republican president and probably unwarranted,” Shelby said about that idea.

Republican leaders have always been eager to avoid a shutdown or any threat of one, even if Trump is willing to take the blame.

“I hope that’s not where we end up,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “One thing I think is pretty clear no matter who precipitates the government shutdown, the American people don’t like it and I hope that will be avoided and that both sides will understand that’s not a great way to end what has, in my view, been the most successful Congress right-of-center in decades.”

Some red-state Republicans backed Trump’s shutdown comments, arguing the American public wants border security and a wall can provide it by stopping the influx of illegal immigrants pouring across.

“If you talk to the people in my state, they want border security,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., told the Washington Examiner. “They know it’s a national security issue. The president has been serious about this. It’s time to get that done.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Trump’s funding request “imminently reasonable” and said Democrats’ “arrogance toward Trump needs to come to an end.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said he is opposed to shutting down the government, but said Democrats need to recognize that Trump won’t give up the fight this time.

“I don’t think the president is bluffing,” Kennedy said. “It’s up to the Democrats to understand that illegal immigration is illegal.”

A shutdown is likely to rattle the nerves of many Republicans. The party is still spooked by the 2013 government shutdown triggered by House conservatives who were trying to defund Obamacare.

Polls following that shutdown showed the public overwhelmingly blamed Republicans, although the party then picked up 13 House seats in November and took over the Senate majority. Still, GOP leaders don’t seem to like that option.

“Shutting down the government doesn’t solve any problems, all it does is delay confronting the same problem that you shut the government down for,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. “My experience has been that shutdowns don’t help anybody.”



Trump, Pelosi, Schumer have extraordinary exchange over border wall

December 11, 2018


President Trump Tuesday sparred with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over the president’s demand to fund a border wall, threatening a government shutdown if he does not get the money he has requested.

Watch the exchange in the video above.

Trump: China to ‘Reduce and Remove’ Tariffs on American Cars

December 3, 2018

‘China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,’ president says

Image result for tesla car, photos

SHANGHAI—China agreed to cut tariffs on American cars, President Trump said on Twitter.

The announcement came after a weekend dinner between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires at which the U.S. postponed its threat to increase tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

U.S. cars, which are now set at 40%.

Donald J. Trump


China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.

23.1K people are talking about this

In July, China reduced tariffs on U.S. cars from 25% to 15%, but days later tacked on a 25% additional retaliatory duty in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

Over the weekend, the U.S. and China agreed to a truce in their tit-for-tat trade war, and Trump said he would not impose new tariffs or raise current ones on Jan. 1, as he had threatened to do.

Sunday’s move, which was not immediately confirmed by Chinese officials, would not have a huge impact on U.S. automakers.

In 2017, the U.S. exported about 250,000 new and used autos to China, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, worth about $10.5 billion. By comparison, Americans bought more than 17 million vehicles last year, according to Automotive News.


In Pardoning Saudi Arabia, Trump Gives Guidance to Autocrats

November 21, 2018

President Trump has long viewed foreign policy as a series of business deals, stripped of values and idealism. But his 633-word statement on Tuesday about the brutal killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi showed the extent to which he believes that raw, mercantilist calculations should guide the United States’ decisions about the Middle East and the wider world.

Mr. Trump made clear that he sees alliances as transactional, based on which foreign partners buy the most weapons. American jobs outweigh American values. And all countries act abhorrently, so an American president should never hold friends to different standards than enemies.

Tuesday’s message could become something of a blueprint for foreign leaders — a guide to how they might increase their standing in the eyes of the American president as well as how far they can go in crushing domestic critics without raising American ire.

It was also a revealing meditation on the role that Mr. Trump believes facts should play in political decision-making. The C.I.A. concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, American officials said last week. But on Tuesday, the president dismissed not only that assessment but also the very process of seeking the truth, implying that it did not really matter anyway. (“Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Mr. Trump wrote of Prince Mohammed.) Instead, the decisions of a president should be guided by what is best for the economy and the United States’ security.

BY  Mark Mazzetti and Ben Hubbard
The New York Times

Image result for Donald Trump, in saudi Arabia, photos

Mr. Trump’s words dealt a blow to Turkey, an American ally and fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that has demanded that Saudi Arabia be punished for killing Mr. Khashoggi last month inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. But Mr. Trump’s message was warmly welcomed by other American allies in the Middle East who value close ties with Washington but want to be left to rule as they wish.

“Trump will be viewed as a very courageous president who stuck to his guns and went against the Washington consensus,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political scientist from the United Arab Emirates. “Big thank you, Mr. President, from this part of the world. This firm stance will never be forgotten by Riyadh and the other Arab Gulf capitals, and will be reciprocated handsomely on many issues.”

Tuesday’s statement also echoed the president’s past attempts to draw an equivalence between nations that use murder as a tool of power. During an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News weeks after taking office, Mr. Trump played down President Vladimir V. Putin’s history of ordering extrajudicial killings — comparing it to American history and saying that the United States was better off in the long run being Russia’s friend rather than foe.

Similarly, Mr. Trump largely absolved Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for civilian casualties and the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen by pinning the blame for the war there on Iran. “The world is a very dangerous place!” the statement began.

It was a succinct summation of Mr. Trump’s view of the Middle East, where his top priorities remain protecting Israel, fighting terrorism and pushing back against Iran, which he considers the engine behind instability in Lebanon and the wars in Yemen and Syria. Since Mr. Trump’s election, Saudi Arabia successfully pitched itself to Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, as the Middle Eastern ally with both the standing and the cash to help with all these issues.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” Mr. Trump said.

Those who had hoped that Washington would take a stronger stand for accountability over the killing of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi, if only to deter other dictators from taking such steps against their own critics, were sorely disappointed.CreditBulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In some parts of the statement, Mr. Trump went further than Saudi officials have in describing the relationship and the killing. Saudi Arabia still has no formal relations with Israel, despite Mr. Trump’s praise of Saudi Arabia as serving Israel’s interests. And Mr. Trump said that Saudi representatives had called Mr. Khashoggi “an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” an accusation that no Saudi official has leveled publicly. Prince Khalid bin Salman, Prince Mohammed’s younger brother and the Saudi ambassador to the United States, even called Mr. Khashoggi a “friend” after the dissident disappeared but before he was confirmed dead.

Hours after the White House released Mr. Trump’s statement, he added during a lengthy news conference on the South Lawn that Saudi Arabia’s stranglehold on global oil prices gave the kingdom enormous leverage over his decisions. Push Prince Mohammed too far, he suggested, and Saudi Arabia could cut oil production — leading to oil prices of $150 a barrel.

The president’s critics on Capitol Hill reacted angrily, saying that Mr. Trump ceded American authority on human rights issues to get more arms deals for defense companies.

“I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First,” Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky wrote on Twitter.

The Khashoggi statement could further strain American relations with Turkey, a NATO ally, which had already soured over trade issues, Turkey’s detention of an American pastor and the United States’ support for a Kurdish militia in Syria that Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey sees himself as a rival to Prince Mohammed to be the rightful leader of the Islamic world, and the Turkish security services have continually leaked lurid details from their investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing to implicate Saudi Arabia and damage Prince Mohammed’s reputation. Mr. Erdogan himself has heavily hinted that he holds Prince Mohammed responsible, though without directly naming the young prince.

In his statement, Mr. Trump clearly took the prince’s side in that rivalry, risking further isolating Mr. Erdogan.

Around the world, reactions largely broke down between those who wish that the United States and its Western allies would stay out of how they run their countries and those who believe that the United States should show moral leadership and stand up for international norms.

“It is a terrible reminder of how precarious the leadership situation in the United States and Saudi Arabia is in terms of adhering to the rule of law and to common decency and ethics,” said Rami G. Khouri, a journalist in residence at the American University of Beirut and a senior fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. “The message is that we are now in the era of strongmen or mafia rule that is gradually dominating the region.”

Indeed, some in the Middle East twisted Mr. Trump’s assertion that the world is a dangerous place to implicate him in the dangers.

Wael Ghonim


The world is a dangerous place when its led by demagoguery leaders who manipulate truth.

They lie, they know they are lying, & they know that we know they are lying.

RIP My dear friend @JKhashoggi, I hope your death show everyone their true-selves and what they stand for.

267 people are talking about this

“The world is a dangerous place when its led by demagoguery leaders who manipulate truth,” Wael Ghonim, the internet activist who rose to prominence during the Egyptian uprising in 2011, wrote on Twitter.

“They lie, they know they are lying, & they know that we know they are lying.”

Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, and Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon. Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Istanbul.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Cynical Blueprint for Autocrats.

Macron thanks Trump for his ‘solidarity’ in warm welcome after Twitter slam

November 10, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron amicably welcomed President Trump to the French presidential palace on Saturday morning, smiling and shaking hands hours after Trump blasted him on Twitter.

“So thanks very much, Donald, for being here. This is our pleasure. And our people are very proud to have you here,” Macron told Trump after the men entered the Élysée Palace.

“I want to thank you here today for your solidarity 100 years ago, and your constant solidarity for precisely our people,” Macron said.

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron wave for the cameras outside the Élysée Palace in Paris on 10 November 2018.
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron are meeting for bilateral talks in Paris. EPA photo

President Donald Trump is holding talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris, ahead of events marking the end of World War One.

In a courtyard, the men waved to media gathered in the rain. A smiling Macron and straight-faced Trump ignored shouted questions about Trump’s Friday night tweet accusing Macron of making “very insulting” remarks about needing a pan-European military force.

Trump’s pointed rebuke was not directly discussed during brief remarks to a small group of reporters inside the building, with the leaders mentioning events commemorating the centennial of World War I’s end and issues including trade and terrorism.

Without directly addressing Trump’s criticism, Macron responded to a question about the tweet by expressing interest in increased burden sharing among North Atlantic Treaty Organization members, a major emphasis for Trump.

“It’s unfair to have the European security today being assured just by the United States, and we need a much better burden sharing… When President Trump has to protect or to defend one of the states of the United States, he doesn’t ask France or Germany, or another government of Europe to finance it,” Macron said.

Trump also side-stepped his tweeted slam, saying he and Macron “have become very good friends over the last couple of years” and “have much in common.”

“We’re getting along from the standpoint of fairness, and I want it to be fair. We want to help Europe but it has to be fair. Right now, the burden sharing has been largely on the United States, as the president will say, and he understands that. And he understands that the United States can only do so much, in fairness to the United States,” Trump said.

Trump’s rebuke of Macron on Twitter, moments after landing on French soil, injected unexpected acrimony into a once-close relationship between the men. He was responding to Macron’s proposal in an interview to create a “true European army” because “we have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

Trump tweeted: “President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”

The weekend’s events also were thrown into question by rainy weather, with uncertainty about the fate of Trump’s planned visit to a military cemetery on Saturday afternoon near the Belleau Woods battlefield, more than an hour from Paris.

Trump will be in Paris for fewer than 48 hours. His schedule includes a Saturday evening dinner hosted by Macron for visiting world leaders, and a Sunday lunch with fellow heads of state and government.

Trump will participate in an Armistice Day event at the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday and give a Veterans Day address at Suresnes American Cemetery on the outskirts of Paris.

Trump’s possible interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the most prominent areas of intrigue. A proposed meeting was announced last month by national security adviser John Bolton, before Bolton and Trump downplayed possible talks.

The meeting with Putin was scrapped in an apparent nod to Macron, who feared a distracting second Trump-Putin summit similar to the politically explosive July meeting in Helsinki. But some experts believe a Putin meeting might still happen.

Macron’s suggestion of a European military was premised on Trump’s proposed termination of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which bans short and mid-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

“When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” Macron in an interview this week.

See also:

Armistice Day: Trump blasts Macron hours before Paris meeting

Trump and Macron discuss European security before WWI Centennial

November 10, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron is defending his push for more robust European defense in a meeting with President Donald Trump.

As the two men met at the French presidential palace Saturday, Macron called Trump “my good friend” and even appeared to tap him on the thigh. The two men have had an up-and-down relationship.

Their meeting got off to a tense start after Trump called it “insulting” that Macron wants a European army. Macron defended the idea, saying “It’s unfair to have European security today being assured by the U.S.”

“That’s why I believe we need more European capacities and more defense to take this part of the burden,” he said. He says the states in the U.S. don’t ask France or Germany or other countries to finance their armies.


Trump: I sent weapons to Ukraine, Obama ‘sent pillows and blankets’

October 15, 2018

President Trump claims his administration has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor’s, arguing that former President Obama allowed Russia to annex Ukraine and only offered them “pillows and blankets.”

“I’m the one that gave Ukraine offensive weapons and tank killers. Obama didn’t. You know what he sent? He sent pillows and blankets. I’m the one — and he’s the one that gave away a part of Ukraine where Russia,” Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS.

Image result for donald trump, , photos

“I’m the one that gave Ukraine offensive weapons and tank killers. Obama didn’t. You know what he sent? He sent pillows and blankets,” Trump said.

Trump received a great deal of criticism for failing to denounce Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election while standing on the same stage as Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July.

“I think I’m very tough with him personally. I had a meeting with him. The two of us. It was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting,” Trump told “60 Minutes.”

Trump said he believes that Russia tried to “meddle” in the 2016 election, but stopped short of directly answering other questions regarding Putin’s regime, like alleged contracted hits on Russian dissidents. He did concede, however, that Putin “probably” is involved in poisonings and assassinations of his political rivals.

Republicans Rally Around Kavanaugh Nomination — Mitch McConnell calls the allegations a “smear campaign”

September 25, 2018

McConnell, Trump reiterate support for high-court pick after a new allegation emerges

Protestors rallied against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Protestors rallied against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, D.C., on Monday. PHOTO: DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—Republicans rallied around embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, vowing Monday to push his confirmation through the Senate even as a new allegation of sexual misconduct emerged days before a hearing on an earlier assault claim.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) took to the Senate floor to call the allegations a “smear campaign” and promise a vote on the Senate floor to confirm the judge “in the near future.” President Trump, in New York for a United Nations meeting Monday, reiterated his support for his second Supreme Court pick, saying, “I am with him all the way.”

The judge and his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, also took part in a Fox News interview Monday evening, using the forum to combat depictions of him as a predatory high school and college student, telling the network that he was a virgin into his 20s.

“We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault,” he said. “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.”

Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school during the 1980s. Judge Kavanaugh again denied the accusation but didn’t question why Dr. Ford hadn’t raised the issue publicly before now—something President Trump has done.

“I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place,” Judge Kavanaugh said. “But what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or at any time in my life.”

He said he wasn’t worried about losing Mr. Trump’s backing. The president called him on Monday, he said, and told him “he’s standing by me.”

White House officials cast Judge Kavanaugh’s Fox interview as part of a weeklong campaign to build momentum for his nomination that has been losing ground in public opinion. They plan to deploy high-ranking female officials in TV appearances, including press secretary Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, a White House official said Monday.

A WSJ/NBC survey released last week found that 38% of registered voters oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, up from 29% in a Journal/NBC poll last month. Some 34% said they support his nomination, which is about the same as in last month’s poll. More than a quarter of voters say they don’t know enough to have an opinion

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee renewed their call for postponing a hearing scheduled for Thursday that will feature testimony from Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.

Judge Kavanaugh, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), said he “will not be intimidated into withdrawing” his name from consideration for the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

A letter from Dr. Ford to Mr. Grassley was also released Monday in which she agrees to appear before the committee despite death threats and being tailed while driving. “While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions. I ask for fair and respectful treatment,” she wrote, saying also that Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged actions “have had a lasting impact on my life.”

Democrats are also urging Mr. Grassley to investigate allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who told the New Yorker in an article published Sunday that she recalled Judge Kavanaugh exposing himself to her at a drunken party when they were both students at Yale University in the 1980s.

Her allegations couldn’t be independently verified by The Wall Street Journal. Ms. Ramirez’s attorney declined to comment on Monday.

While some people cited in the article backed up parts of Ms. Ramirez’s account, others disputed it and Mr. Kavanaugh denied it. GOP lawmakers and aides said Monday that without stronger corroboration, Ms. Ramirez’s account wouldn’t derail Judge Kavanaugh, although a GOP aide said the Judiciary Committee reached out to Ms. Ramirez’s attorney after the allegations surfaced and hadn’t received a response.

How Ford’s Kavanaugh Allegation Came to Light

An allegation of decades-old sexual misconduct is threatening Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains how the allegation came to light at the 11th hour. Photo: AP

Democrats said the Federal Bureau of Investigation could provide answers that politicians could not in questioning witnesses at the Senate hearing. The White House and the GOP have opposed having the FBI look further into the allegations.

“There is only one way to get to the bottom of these allegations against Judge Kavanaugh and prevent the nation from being thrown into further turmoil: an independent background check investigation by the FBI,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Monday.

The typical FBI background check—even for the most sensitive government positions—doesn’t take into account much information before a nominee was 18, aside from verifying basic biographical information such as birthplace and birth date, according to people familiar with the process.

For a high-profile nominee, the background check typically takes a couple of weeks, and previous administrations made sure it was complete before the president announced a nominee. Judge Kavanaugh had several previous background checks when he held sensitive positions at the White House and was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The White House could ask the FBI to reopen its review of Judge Kavanaugh. When President George H.W. Bush in 1991 learned of sexual-harassment allegations against now-Justice Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill, a professor who formerly worked for him, he made such a request. The FBI investigation took three days. The White House described the results as finding the charges unfounded, and Justice Thomas was confirmed.

While the GOP rallied behind its president’s nominee, Senate Republicans said it wasn’t clear if there will be enough support to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, with undecided Republican senators—including Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona—waiting to assess his performance on Thursday. Republicans have a 51-49 Senate majority, so Judge Kavanaugh can afford no more than one defection, assuming all Democrats vote against him.

Meanwhile, unease was growing over the effect the ugly, high-profile fight may have on November’s elections. In their effort to retain control of the House after the midterms, Republicans have been specifically courting women, who hold less favorable views of Judge Kavanaugh than men, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

“It’s very difficult at the moment to assess,” said Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.), who is retiring from a swing district. “There are many women who have been mistreated, so there’s an understandable sensitivity on this issue,” he said. “At the same time, many women have husbands and sons and allowing an allegation without corroboration from 30 plus years ago to destroy one’s reputation and career” alarms both men and women, he said.

The new allegation from Ms. Ramirez surfaced just as lawyers for Dr. Ford, a 51-year-old psychology professor at Palo Alto University, reached an agreement with Judiciary Committee Republicans to appear at a hearing Thursday.

Some details are still being negotiated, including the rounds of questions, after days of wrangling and partisan positioning, but it appeared set to happen as of Monday evening.

Democrats plan to go beyond Dr. Ford’s specific allegation to press Judge Kavanaugh, 53, on his teenage drinking habits. Dr. Ford has said she believes he was drunk when he pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothing when she was 15 and he was 17.

Republicans are insisting that outside lawyers, in addition to senators, be allowed to question the two witnesses. Dr. Ford’s lawyers have said this would create an inappropriate trial atmosphere.

Republican lawmakers and White House officials say privately they are worried about the optics of the 11 male GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee questioning a woman who is alleging she was sexually assaulted.

 What we are witnessing is the total collapse of the traditional confirmation process for a Supreme Court nominee. 

—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.)

Write to Natalie Andrews at and Kristina Peterson at

Appeared in the September 25, 2018, print edition as ‘GOP Forges Ahead on Court Pick.’

Revolution and financial crisis will wrack US says Bannon

September 5, 2018

America is heading for a revolution which will “cut like a scythe through grass”, Donald Trump’s former chief advisor Steve Bannon predicts in a revealing new film.

The man credited with putting Trump in the White House warns in a documentary that premiered at the Venice film festival Wednesday that “if you don’t allow for some way to spread the wealth, there will be a revolution in this country.”

“We are going to have another financial crisis — anyone who is smart sees it’s coming,” Bannon told Errol Morris in a series of long interviews for “American Dharma”.

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The film was shown in Venice as critics reeled from “22 July”, a harrowing reconstruction of the 2011 attacks in Norway carried out by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, in which 77 people were slaughtered.

“I believe you need radical restructuring,” Bannon declared. “It can’t be a pillow fight. You need killers to get change.

“That is why Trump is president,” he told Morris, who won an Oscar for his confessional film “The Fog of War” about the architect of the Vietnam war, Robert McNamara.

“It was clear as daylight that someone like Trump was coming,” Bannon added.

The political strategist claimed a “superstitious” Trump was heading for a crushing defeat in the 2016 election when he took the reins of the campaign.

– Black arts and “jujutsu” –

He admitted he relied on some PR “jujutsu” to rescue Trump after the leak of his “grab them by the pussy” remarks to Billy Bush threatened to sink the campaign.

This included bringing women who had accused Bill Clinton of rape and sexual impropriety to a crucial television debate.

But Bannon refused to say whether he had a hand in the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton’s emails minutes after the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump’s remarks was released.

Bannon, in Venice for the film premiere, said he didn’t know Trump before the campaign, but saw his potential.

The then-head of the right-wing news website Breitbart said he had simplified the campaign to a series of populist slogans: “Build the wall” (with Mexico), destroy the Islamic State, confront China and “get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan”.

He urged the president to “drop the hammer” as soon as got into office with a flurry of executive orders including the hugely divisive “Muslim ban”.

“If you hit the media with five things at a time, three will go through. They can only handle so much,” he said.

– Told Trump not to sack Comey –

Bannon revealed that Trump could be naive — “he thought the New York Times would wish him well when he won” — and fired FBI chief James Comey against his advice.

“Sacking Comey was a mistake. The institution of the FBI is going to bleed you out after that.”

He added: “From the beginning there has been a nullification project against the 2016 election. It is not the Deep State, it is there on the surface.”

With a wry smile, Bannon denied penning Trump’s highly-contentious “American carnage” inauguration speech. “No, he wrote that himself.”

Nor was Trump corrupt, he insisted. The multiple financial scandals he has been embroiled in “is just the real estate business”.

But the former Goldman Sachs financier said he won the election for the billionaire property tycoon by portraying Clinton as “the head of a corrupt, creaking elite and Trump the agent of change like Obama.”

Clinton lost because “she walked into the trap — she campaigned against me and Breitbart. If she preaches identity politics and we preach jobs and hope, you have it,” he said.

– Modern ‘serfs’ –

Bannon admitted that he is a product of the same “scientific-engineering-management-financial elite” he blames for bleeding the American “common man” of hope and jobs.

But he was now “on a mission to turn the Republican Party into a workers’ party. You may have better food and clothing than an 18th-century Russian serf, but you are the same. They have you hung up on credit card debt… and their algorithms control your life.”

He is also helping what he calls the “patriotic right” in Europe, claiming that “Brexit wouldn’t have happened — Nigel Farage said — without Breitbart in London.”

“Neo-Nazis are an invention of the oppositional media, they are totally meaningless. The left-wing media is giving the neo-Nazis a platform,” he argued.

Bannon said he is not bitter about being sacked by Trump in August 2017 in the fall-out from protests over a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I didn?t take it personally,” he said. “It was the order of things” — part of his belief in dharma, the Hindu concept of duty and destiny that order the Universe.

After Trump’s election, Bannon said, he was “just another advisor in the White House (but one) with a big bark.”


Trump, France’s Macron discuss Iran, Middle East and trade

August 11, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron and they discussed trade, Iran and the Middle East, the White House said.

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FILE PHOTO – French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump talk during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

“Had a very good phone call with @EmmanuelMacron, President of France. Discussed various subjects, in particular Security and Trade,” Trump, who is vacationing at his New Jersey golf club, said on Twitter.

The two leaders discussed “a broad range of trade and security issues, including the situation in Iran and the broader Middle East,” the White House said in a statement.

The Elysee Palace said in a brief statement the two leaders discussed Syria, Iran and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but did not mention trade.

Trump and Macron last met at a NATO summit in Brussels in July, where the U.S. president chastised members of the alliance that have not met its defense spending targets.

At the summit, Macron said France would met the NATO goal of spending 2.0 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. Trump caused an uproar when he pressed alliance members to reach the target by January.

On trade, the United States and the European Union are embroiled in a spat after Trump imposed tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from France and other countries. The EU responded with retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods.

Trump had also threatened to impose tariffs on EU auto imports but reached an agreement to hold off on taking action after meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House last month.

Macron and Trump are at odds over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. Trump tweeted this week that companies doing business in Iran will be barred from doing business in the United States.

Among large European companies that have suspended plans to invest in Iran after the U.S. action are France’s oil major Total and its big carmakers PSA and Renault.

In the Middle East, France opposed Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.


Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington and Nicolas Delame in Paris; editing by Clive McKeef