Posts Tagged ‘U.S. politics’

Who do you trust? Trump’s attacks take a toll on his own credibility, as well as the media’s

September 4, 2018

Who do you trust? Trump’s attacks take a toll on his own credibility, as well as the media’s
SEP 04, 2018 | 3:00 AM

Who do you trust? Trump’s attacks take a toll on his own credibility, as well as the media’s

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President Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., on Thursday, where he once again attacked the news media. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

Who do you trust?

As President Trump stokes the fires of doubt with attacks on much of the media as “fake news” and “enemies of the people,” the nature of the news bubbles into which Americans have sorted themselves has taken on increased importance.

Trump’s attacks on the media cause some to worry about violence: An Encino man was arrested last week, for example, and charged with threatening to shoot employees at the Boston Globe after that newspaper published a widely publicized editorial critical of the president’s press-bashing.

So far, however, the more consequential impact has been on politics, as Trump seeks to undermine the credibility of those he sees as critics and erode agreement over what’s factual, even as his own credibility has suffered.

New data from a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll this summer show how far the erosion of trust has gone: Of nine major sources of news, none were “mostly” or “completely” trusted by more than one-third of voters. The trust that does exist was heavily polarized along party lines, with Trump trailing the pack.

For media organizations that hold themselves out as nonpartisan, “having trust sink below 50% is concerning,” said Margaret Gatz, a psychology professor at USC and a senior scientist at its Center for Economic and Social Research, which conducted the study.

“It is difficult to project how trust can be recovered,” she said.

Not all of that — or even most — is Trump’s doing: Trust in the news media, and most other U.S. institutions, has declined slowly and steadily for decades. But levels of trust in the media nosedived during the 2016 campaign year, according to surveys by Gallup and other nonpartisan polling organizations. That was especially true among Republicans, likely reflecting Trump’s attacks on the press.

What Trump’s attacks haven’t done is improve the administration’s own credibility.

Just 1 in 5 voters said they mostly or completely trusted information from the Trump administration, the USC poll found. That rating was significantly worse than voters gave some of Trump’s frequent targets, including CNN, MSNBC and national newspapers.

That’s also only about half as many voters as the share that approves of Trump’s job performance, evidence that many of those who support him do so even though they don’t believe much of what he says. Independent fact-checkers have cataloged thousands of false statements that Trump has made since taking office, some of which may stem from ignorance or wishful thinking, others of which appear to be intentional lies.

“The trust number for the president is beyond belief,” said Robert M. Shrum, the longtime Democratic political consultant who directs USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, which cosponsored the poll. “I don’t think any other American president would ever have had that number.”

The poll gave people a list of nine sources of information — MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, public television, National Public Radio, national newspapers, regional and local newspapers, the Trump administration and the respondent’s member of Congress. For each, the poll asked respondents to say how much they “trust that source to give you unbiased and truthful information.”

The poll also asked people what emotions they frequently feel when they follow news about Trump and his administration.

Of the nine news sources, the Trump administration was by far the least trusted. It was the only source in which a majority, 55%, said they had no trust.

Those who do mostly or completely trust Trump get at least one big emotional benefit, however. They were the least likely to report that they felt confused by the welter of news stories about the administration.

The administration has sought to give supporters a consistent, and relatively simple, narrative — that all the many investigations and news events of the last 19 months reflect a “deep state” conspiracy to bring down Trump. The poll results suggest that approach works, but only with Trump’s relatively small hard core.

The poll provides a portrait of that core support: Mostly men (56%), overwhelmingly white (80%), they tend to be older than average and are more likely to live in the Midwest or South, least likely in the West.

They also, not surprisingly, overlap heavily with those who strongly trust Fox News. Of the people who say they mostly or completely trust Trump, about 3 in 5 give that same level of trust to Fox.

The reverse holds true to a lesser extent — among those who trust Fox, about half trust Trump, too. Those who trust Fox, but not Trump, include a significant number of nonwhite voters without college educations.

Local newspapers receive the most widespread trust, reflecting the lower level of polarization around local news. Only about 1 in 7 voters said they had no trust in their local or regional newspaper.

But the endorsement was fairly tepid. About half of those polled said they “somewhat” trust their local newspapers while a third said they mostly or completely trusted them.

Among nationally oriented media, the results showed strong amounts of polarization. About 25% of voters said they mostly or completely trusted MSNBC or Fox, for example, with only a fairly small number trusting both. About 60% declined to give strong levels of trust to either of those outlets.

CNN, NPR, public television and national newspapers got strong levels of trust from a slightly larger share of the public — about 3 in 10 — with trust much higher among Democratic voters than Republicans. Almost 1 in 5 people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 said they had “complete trust” in NPR, with another third saying they “mostly” trust the radio network — one of the most positive ratings the poll found.

The ratings for each of the news sources show slightly different patterns in who trusts whom. Mostly, though, the poll shows voters divided into two broad groups — those who trust Trump and Fox and those who trust what conservatives deride as the “mainstream media.”

Individual members of Congress scored highest as a source that people trust “somewhat,” with 54% giving that rating.

Asked what emotions they feel when they hear news about Trump from their most trusted or preferred source of news, those who mostly trusted Trump or Fox were more likely to say that the news made them feel positive about the administration — hopeful, satisfied or pleased.

Those who mostly trusted one of the other media sources tended to say the news from their most trusted sources made them feel disgusted, worried or outraged.

Seven in ten of those who have high levels of trust in either MSNBC or CNN, for example, said they frequently felt “disgusted” when hearing news about Trump.

Political strategists have long said that anger and other negative emotions motivate people to vote, and the survey bore that out. People who said they were likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress this year were significantly more likely than Republican voters to say that the news they heard made them more likely to vote.

The poll also provided evidence of a continuing paradox in U.S. politics: Even as voters increasingly sort themselves into opposing camps with separate news sources, they profess to not like it. Almost 6 in 10 Republican voters and just under half of Democratic voters said they were tired of partisan coverage.

This USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll was conducted July 16 to Aug. 16, using the probability-based Understanding America Study panel of the USC Center for Economic and Social Research. The poll surveyed 5,044 adults, including 2,459 likely to vote in November’s midterm elections. It was overseen by the center’s survey director, Jill Darling, and conducted along with USC’s Jesse Unruh Institute. Results were weighted to reflect the known demographics of the American population. The margin of error for all likely midterm voters is 2 percentage points in either direction.

David Lauter is the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau chief. He began writing news in Washington in 1981 and since then has covered Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and four U.S. presidential campaigns. He lived in Los Angeles from 1995 to 2011, where he was The Times’ deputy Foreign editor, deputy Metro editor and then assistant managing editor responsible for California coverage.


What are the US Democrats’ big ideas?

May 20, 2018

One of the ongoing criticisms of Democrats since Barack Obama moved out of the White House is that the party has been defined by what it opposes, instead of what it wants to do.

They’re not Donald Trump. They’re against travel bans, border walls, trade wars, financial and environmental deregulation, corporate tax cuts and repeal of the Obamacare health insurance system.

But what are they for? What are their ideas?


May 20, 2018

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appear together at a news conference.

Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

Those are the kind of questions the speakers at the Center for American Progress’ “Ideas Conference” held in a Washington hotel were tasked with answering.

A long list of Democratic politicians – some up for re-election in the mid-term contests this year; others possibly angling for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination – took the stage in panels and set-piece speeches. Many offered variations on the a-word – “alternatives”.

“We’re not going to win if we spend all our time bemoaning that he’s there,” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said of Mr Trump’s White House occupancy. “He’s there. And we have to offer an alternative.

“People ask how come you’re not offering alternatives,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said at the conference. “And I say we are.”

More from Anthony:

But are they? After a day of statements and speeches, there were a lot of broad-brush strokes. A lot of paeans to the forgotten working class, celebrations of women activists and candidates, a lot of talk about action and exactly how bad things are right now.

Here’s a look at some of the proposals and priorities offered by Democratic politicians in Washington last week.

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Minimum wage and ‘freeloader fees’

Sherrod Brown, who is both up for re-election this year and considered a possible presidential contender, spent most of his time talking about how to appeal to a traditional Democratic demographic that, at least in the Midwest, helped deliver the White House to Mr Trump in 2016 – the working class.

“I think workers in my state are looking for somebody in elected office to talk about the dignity of work, to talk about whose side they are on,” he said.

He pushed what he calls a “corporate freeloader fee” – imposing a penalty on companies with more than $100,000 in payroll taxes that do not pay their workers high enough wages to keep them off public assistance programmes.

Sherrod Brown speaks at a congressional committee hearing.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionOhio Senator Sherrod Brown has said corporations that pay low wages should be penalised

Mr Brown and other Democrats also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.15 an hour level, which was set in 2009. Some states have passed much higher minimum-wage levels.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said the federal government should guarantee Americans a job if they want one, which he said was not a “radical idea”.

“Why not invest on the front-end with secure jobs so that you’re not seeing negative impacts that come with low-employment or unemployment like foreclosures and evictions?” he asked.

It’s an idea that has also gained support from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, although neither discussed specifics during their appearances.

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Expanding public schooling

Education was also a recurring theme for conference speakers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explained how he implemented a tax on wealthy residents to pay for universal pre-kindergarten schooling. He said it wasn’t a “conventional wisdom” position at the time, but that progressives should propose and advocate ambitious policies.

“When we are bold and clear and sharp, people get it,” Mr de Blasio said. “People feel it.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (Center-R), along with Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina (L), First Lady Chirlane McCray (C), and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (R), visits Pre-K classes at Home Sweet Home Children's School in Queens on the first day of NYC public schools, September 4, 2014
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on a tour of pre-kindergarten classes in 2014. Getty Images

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, elected last November, said he was pushing for his state to provide both universal kindergarten and free tuition for the first two years of college.

“We need to set a new standard for education,” he said. “Who said that public education should be a right for everybody between [the ages of] five and 18, but not for those either before five or after 18?”

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Ethics, reform and oversight

Democrats’ views of Mr Trump’s rise to the White House and his performance there have seeped into some of their policy proposals as well, and a few of them were mentioned on the stage last week.

Congressman Ted Lieu of Oregon, who is one of the more outspoken Trump critics on television and Twitter, plugged his series of Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Acts. One would require the president to reimburse the government for expenses incurred when he visits his private business properties.

Another would prohibit administration officials from taking non-commercial air travel – a response to a series of controversies surrounding the use of private and government jets by Trump cabinet secretaries.

Ms Klobuchar plugged her Honest Ads Act, which would require online advertisements – such as those on Facebook and Google – to comply with the same disclosure obligations as those on television, print and radio.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading voices of the progressive movement, aimed her criticism at the American political system of allowing politicians to draw congressional district maps that favour their own re-elections.

“Democrats believe in a fair fight, and making sure that districts aren’t drawn to cut out one party or the other is a critical first step,” she said.

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‘Dismantling the oligarchy’

Mr Sanders, who mounted a surprisingly strong challenge against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, was slated to give a speech on criminal justice reform.

Instead, he launched into a sweeping condemnation of US income inequality that sounded a lot like a campaign stump speech.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (L) speaks as House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) (R) listens during a meeting with President Donald Trump at the Cabinet Room of the White House February 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Amy Klobuchar wants Congress to pass legislation on internet political ads

After rattling off a list of policy ideas he said he was sure other politicians had spoken about, he insisted nothing could be done unless the US addresses structural economic imbalances.

“The oligarchy in this country, whose greed is insatiable, is destroying… our vision for America and is moving us to a government of the few, by the few and for the few,” he said.

He called for increased taxes on the wealthy and, in particular, a “substantial” increase of the estate tax, “not only to bring in needed revenue but to help dismantle the oligarchy”.

Presentational grey line

Guns, the environment and healthcare

New firearm regulations were a hot topic of discussion among Democrats following the Parkland high school shooting three months ago – and they may be again after the latest incident in Santa Fe, Texas.

At the Ideas Conference, however, the gun debate was mostly limited to one afternoon panel that included Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Parkland student Ryan Deitsch.

The conversation was light on concrete proposals, instead focusing on what Mr Murphy identified as a changing political attitude towards gun control.

“Republicans know that everything is different right now, and they know that they are fundamentally mispositioned on this issue, and they know that it may actually cost them for the first time ever in the midterm election of 2018,” he said.

Sandy Hook Senator: ‘This happens nowhere else’

After the Obamacare repeal battles of 2017, the topic of healthcare reform has also been less of a priority for Democrats. Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, in a late afternoon speech, essentially implored his party to keep talking about the issue in the coming months.

“Our healthcare system is a reflection of who we are,” he said. “We are judged not by how we treat each other in times in ease, but how we care for a neighbour in their time of deepest need – when we are broke, when we are sick, when we are helpless, desperate or more vulnerable than we can ever imagine.”

The environment and climate change was another topic that saw limited widespread discussion outside of a panel specifically dedicated to it.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee touted a state ballot measure in November that would impose the first-ever direct carbon fee in the US, setting up a billion-dollar fund to subsidise clean energy jobs and handle pollution remediation, particularly in poorer communities.

“Climate change will no longer be on the back burner,” Mr Inslee said. “Every Democrat running needs to make it a central message. The American people are with us.”

Last week in Washington, Democrats offered plenty of suggested messages to run on. Over the coming months, as the party chooses its nominees for the forthcoming mid-term elections, Democratic voters will have the opportunity to decide which ones – if any – should be central.

Adelson Backs Mitch McConnell, Refuses to Side With Steve Bannon on Dumping Establishment Republicans

November 14, 2017
 NOVEMBER 14, 2017 09:22


The Adelsons are supporting Mitch McConnell, according to a spokesman.

Sheldon Adelson speaks during an inteview

Sheldon Adelson speaks during an inteview. (photo credit:REUTERS/TYRONE SIU)

WASHINGTON — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, will not back Steve Bannon’s planned challenges to establishment Republican senators.

“The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,” Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman told Politico on Monday, referring to Adelson and his wife, Miriam. “They are supporting Mitch McConnell,” the Kentucky senator who is the Senate majority leader, “100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.”

Bannon, President Donald Trump’s strategic adviser from January to August, had praised Adelson lavishly at a gala dinner Sunday organized by the Zionist Organization of America, one of an array of right-wing pro-Israel groups heavily backed by Adelson. Adelson was not present at the dinner.

Bannon, has since returned to his old job, helming Breitbart News.

He is still close to the president, and has vowed to mount primary challenges to all but one incumbent Republican in the 2018 midterm elections, as well as to establishment picks in the 25 races where Republicans will challenge Democrats. Eight Republicans are up for reelection. Bannon’s exception among the incumbents is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The announcement comes as Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in a special election next month for Alabama’s Senate seat, is engulfed in allegations he sexually assaulted teenagers nearly 40 years ago when he was in his 30s. Bannon had backed Moore against McConnell’s pick, Sen. Luther Strange.

Jewish leaders whom Adelson is close to last month excoriated McConnell when his former aides mounted a campaign against Bannon, alleging that he was an antisemite and a bigot.


Book “All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump” — “Left-wing groups met with Al-Qaeda and ISIS to plot Trump’s destruction” — Radical Left are joining forces in an attempted coup d’tat to overturn the will of the people.”

October 30, 2017
 – The Washington Times – Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monday will be noisy as more details on the Russia collusion probe emerge. But wait. “All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump” by veteran investigative journalist Edward Kleinalso arrives Monday, making a detailed case that the notorious “deep state” is indeed up and running against President Trump and his administration.

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“In America, you are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to overthrow the democratically elected president of the United States and inflict irreparable damage on our country. That, however, is what Donald Trump’s enemies on the Left and Right are doing. Through a variety of underhanded tactics — lies, leaks, obstruction, and violence — they are working to delegitimize President Trump and drive him from office before he can drain the swamp and take away their power,” writes Mr. Klein, former editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine.

This is his 14th book, following “Guilty As Sin” and “Unlikable: The Problem with Hillary” — one centered on Hillary Clinton’s email woes, the other on her failed 2016 campaign. Now the author dwells upon Mr. Trump’s challenges, which appear to be unprecedented.

“With ferocity not seen since the Civil War, the Washington establishment and the radical Left are joining forces in an attempted coup d’tat to overturn the will of the people and return power to the political and media elites who have never been more unhinged,” says publisher Regnery Books, adding the new book reveals that “left-wing groups met with Al-Qaeda and ISIS to plot Trump’s destruction,” this according to an FBI investigation. Find the book here

Anti-Trump protesters "March for Truth"


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Klein says U.S. radicals traveled overseas to meet with representatives of the Islamic State in their effort to end Trump’s presidency….


• Murmurs and asides to


US left wing groups travelled to Germany for the G20 Summit last July to meet with Al qaeda and ISIS leaders and plot the destruction of President Trump, secret FBI investigation reveals

  • Bestselling author Edward Klein is set to release his latest book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump
  • Klein makes the shocking revelation that an FBI investigation discovered collusion between American anarchists and ISIS and Al-Qaeda 
  • ‘This is the greatest challenge to law enforcement since the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party,’ the FBI report declared
  • It reveals the FBI sent a task force to Germany to report on radical groups that planned to protest President Trump’s attendance at this year’s G20 Summit
  • The investigation determined that U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and took part in the violence 
  • There was also evidence that three key leaders of an Oakland group met in Hamburg with a leader of the Al-Qaeda 
  • The foreign terrorists were helping them acquire the weapons they are seeking, primarily bomb-making equipment and toxic chemicals and gasses

Edward Klein is the former editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine and the author of numerous bestsellers including his fourth book on the Clintons, Guilty as Sin, in 2016. His latest book is All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump will be released October 30, 2017

A secret FBI investigation of the violent ‘resistance’ movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al qaeda, according to a confidential ‘Informational Report’ by FBI field offices.

‘There is clearly overwhelming evidence that there are growing ties between All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trumpand the Islamic State, as well as several [ISIS] offshoots and splinter groups,’ stated the FBI field report, which was delivered to Acting Director Andrew McCabe on July 11, 2017, and which is being published for the first time in my new book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump.

The FBI report on efforts by Islamic terrorists to recruit followers among violent U.S. groups like Antifa corroborates President Trump’s controversial claim, following last summer’s deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left-wing anarchist groups are just as dangerous as right-wing white supremacists.

A secret FBI investigation of the violent 'resistance' movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al Qaeda (Pictured above are the protests in Charlottesville, VA) 

A secret FBI investigation of the violent ‘resistance’ movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al Qaeda (Pictured above are the protests in Charlottesville, VA)

‘This is the greatest challenge to law enforcement since the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party,’ the FBI report declared.

Last summer, the FBI dispatched a task force to Europe to report on massive demonstrations planned by radical groups, such as the German contingent Antifaschistische Aktion, to protest President Trump’s attendance at a meeting of leaders and central bank governors of the G20 group of major industrialized countries

‘Task force covered G20 meeting in Hamburg, studied intel from local authorities, Interpol, and other assets, determined that as assumed U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and took place in the violence,’ the FBI’s summary stated.

‘There is also evidence of meetings between these individuals and associates of ISIS. There is an urgent need to closely surveil the identified individuals.’

The agents sent by the FBI paid particular attention to a group of anarchists from Oakland, a major port city that lies adjacent to the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, the scene of several violent protests.

It reveals the FBI sent a task force to Germany to report on radical groups that planned to protest President Trump's attendance at this year's G20 Summit (pictured) and found U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and met with terrorists

It reveals the FBI sent a task force to Germany to report on radical groups that planned to protest President Trump’s attendance at this year’s G20 Summit (pictured) and found U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and met with terrorists

‘While there has been military progress in Iraq against the Islamic State, their influence in Europe and throughout the world is clearly growing,’ the report said.

‘Now that the bureau has determined they have followers in the radical U.S. resistance movement in the United States, it is clear there will be additional violence in the attacks on law enforcement and U.S. institutions, including banks.

‘Ties between three key leaders of the Oakland group [names redacted] met in Hamburg with a leader of the AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and the AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb],’ the report continued. ‘The leader from AQAP is an Egyptian-born male [name redacted] who is known to be in charge of finances and recruiting for the group.

The FBI field report was delivered to Acting Director Andrew McCabe in July

The FBI field report was delivered to Acting Director Andrew McCabe in July

‘There is evidence from informants that he is helping the Oakland group acquire the weapons they are seeking, primarily bomb making equipment and toxic chemicals and gasses.

‘One of the men from Oakland traveled to Syria to meet with ISIS; the purpose was for training in tactics, but was thought to be primarily a bonding visit to discuss possible massive disruptive attacks in the U.S.

‘While in Hamburg, several of the Oakland-based criminals were photographed throwing Molotov cocktails and wielding iron bars, which have been their weapons of choice, though they are almost certainly on the verge of upping the caliber of their weaponry for use in the U.S.

‘Despite having their faces covered by masks, they were positively identified.

‘This group and their connections with the radical Islamic groups must be disrupted and destroyed.

The FBI dispatched a task force to Europe to report on massive demonstrations planned by radical groups, such as the German contingent Antifaschistische Aktion

The FBI dispatched a task force to Europe to report on massive demonstrations planned by radical groups, such as the German contingent Antifaschistische Aktion

Mounted policemen ride through a group of protesters sitting on the ground, in Hamburg, Germany, during the G20 Summit in July 

Mounted policemen ride through a group of protesters sitting on the ground, in Hamburg, Germany, during the G20 Summit in July

‘Action has been taken with the appropriate agencies to see that these named individuals will be identified when they return to the United States. It has not been determined if they will be detained or surveilled.…

‘Making some sort of common cause with Americans who are determined to commit violence against the U.S. makes them potentially very useful to radical Islam.’

Ed Klein's latest book is All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump will be released October 30, 2017

Ed Klein’s latest book is All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump will be released October 30, 2017

Before he was fired as director of the FBI, James Comey collected intelligence on the connections between Middle Eastern jihadis, European radicals, and the American anarchists who are part of the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ movement.

‘The Americans communicate with the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations on websites, and they use those websites to download instructions on making weapons,’ said an FBI source who had access to Comey’s intelligence reports.

‘As the Trump administration has demonstrated it’s serious about destroying the Islamic State, and depriving ISIS of territory in Iraq and Syria, the alliance between the American radicals and ISIS has grown even closer. The Internet chatter between the Americans and the Islamists is astronomical.

‘The FBI is really playing catchup ball, because the Obama administration refused to give the bureau the resources it needed to effectively infiltrate and surveil the radical groups on college campuses,’ the source continued.

‘Any talk of a connection between radical Islam—a phrase the Obama people wouldn’t even use—and American extremists was pretty much laughed off. [Former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would have blown a gasket if she heard that the FBI was surveilling so-called college political organizations.

‘All that has changed under the Trump administration. Everyone’s aware that the resistance movement, with its effort to get rid of Trump by any means necessary, has created fertile soil for ISIS and al Qaeda to establish a beachhead in America.’

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Partisanship Is Breaking Both Parties — Full Text

September 29, 2017

Republicans fail again on health care, while Democrats refuse to get serious about taxes.

Republicans announce their tax-reform plan, Sept. 27.
Republicans announce their tax-reform plan, Sept. 27. PHOTO: © BILL CLARK/CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY/NEWSCOM VIA ZUMA PRESS

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal

The subject is realism. It involves seeing clearly your moment in time and where you are within it. We have a heck of a time with this. Our dreams, hungers and illusions get in the way.

But I’ve never seen such a lack of reality among our two great political parties in Congress.

Their own survival as parties requires bipartisanship—concrete achievements and progress. They have to work together and produce! Nobody likes them. The biggest “party” in America is those who call themselves independent. Gallup has the Democrats’ and Republicans’ favorability each at about 40%. Both parties are internally riven, warring and ideologically divided. Neither is as sure as it’s been in the past of its philosophical reason for being. Both have to prove they have a purpose. Otherwise they will in time go down, and it may not take that long.

Both parties go forward as if they are operating in a pre-2016 reality. But the election, now almost a year ago, should have changed so many assumptions. For instance, when the Republican nominee promised not to cut entitlements, his crowds—Republicans, Democrats and independents—cheered.

Health-care reform this week went down, again. The Republicans did not have the votes in the Senate, again. How they tried to get the bills through suggests they are living in a dream. The dream was that once they held the House, the Senate and the White House, they would be able to call the shots, crush the foe, bully their way through. They thought they would finally be able to do what the Democrats did when President Obama and the Democratic Congress bullied through Obamacare.

That was a mistake. What the Democrats did shouldn’t be emulated.

Sen. John McCain, who basically killed the two Republican bills, did it based on a central insight as to the facts of the moment and the issue: The path to a new health-care law runs through the Democrats. The path to a bill better than ObamaCare—and it would have to be bad indeed to be worse than ObamaCare—runs through the Democrats. Changing one-sixth of the American economy cannot be successfully done without them. The American people will never accept a health-care law that is not backed by both parties. That means regular order—hearings, debate, negotiations—as Mr. McCain has said.

The Republicans failed because they tried to do what Mr. Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid did, passing ObamaCare on a party-line vote. But bills that make great changes in how Americans live, such as Social Security and Medicare, must always have broad, two-party support. The Democrats pushed ObamaCare without fully understanding what the bill even contained. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” said Mrs. Pelosi, mindlessly and in a way accurately: They were content to let regulators and administrators figure out the implications of everything.

But fierce pushback followed—the tea party uprising grew; the Democrats lost the House in 2010. Then came the failure in 2013 of the website on which the entire program depended, the admission by one of its architects that it was marketed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter,” and the revelation that the central promise—“If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”—was a lie.

The bill failed on its own terms, and it is still the law of the land. When Republicans tried to replace it, they tried to do just what the Democrats did—hold party-line votes on bills that few in the electorate fully understood. The difference is the electorate had previously been scalded. They’re not in a trusting mood.

Health care is experienced now as a fully national issue, and there are signs America is tilting left on it. (A bipartisan health-care bill might help blunt the coming movement for single payer.)

Democrats have to be part of fixing ObamaCare. And though they should be in a weak position, having lost the congressional majorities and the White House, they’re holding strong cards. The Republicans have crashed and burned twice, and there’s no reason to think they’ll magically succeed next time.

Health-care reform will have to come from both parties or it will not be accepted by America. It will have to be a compromise that comes from both parties or it will not pass the Kimmel test, the nonsensical but powerful showbiz bar such a bill must now clear. That means it will be more liberal than the Republicans want, and more expensive.

The Democrats will be hellish in negotiations. They will not call it “repeal and replace”; they’ll call it “repair and reinforce.” They’ll be demanding. And this is unjust. They caused the problem in the first place! They should be feeling chastened; they should be desperate to create a fix. Instead they’ve been amusing themselves watching the hapless Republicans blow it again. They should amuse themselves less.

Now the Republicans turn to tax reform. Again they move from a weakened position. They’re going forward without the momentum of victory, without the confidence of recently demonstrated skill. As he unveiled the plan this week, Speaker Paul Ryan wore a weirdly triumphant smile. “Today,” he said, “we are taking the next step to liberate Americans from our broken tax code.” He compared this moment to 1986, when Ronald Reagan won tax reform. But that was another world—a broadly popular president, both parties strong, each working, however reluctantly, with the other.

As strange as Mr. Ryan’s enacting of a happy warrior’s joy was the Democrats’ response. They reverted to their own antique playbook, taking potshots, being unserious. The Republican plan is “a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “It seems that President Trump and Republicans have designed their plan to be cheered in the country clubs and the corporate boardrooms.” It should be called “wealth-fare.” Sen. Bernie Sanders said the plan is “morally repugnant and bad economic policy.”

But the tax code is too big and too complicated, as Mr. Ryan said. It would do the country good to see it improved.

Both parties are breaking and broken. They both need a win. They could recover some of their standing with a bipartisan victory. It would show America the two-party system itself can win and produce something needed. This would reinforce the position of both parties. It would suggest they’re needed!

If they can’t produce something big together, more Americans will become certain they are not.

Meanwhile, thousands of K Street tax lobbyists will be crawling the halls trying to affect the shape of the bill for their clients.

Everyone is acting as if they don’t know what time it is, or what position they themselves are in.

America is in trouble, with huge problems. The people need improvements in health care, in the tax code. They’re desperate for is a sense that improvement is actually possible.

This is no time for Democrats to be small, tatty and cheap, to do the old class warfare, to issue one-liners instead of thoughts. They should wake up and get serious.

It’s weird to see everyone going through the old motions, dream-like.

Political Divisions in U.S. Are Widening, Long-Lasting, Poll Shows

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

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

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.

Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

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.

Image result for Gary Cohn, shirt too tight, photos

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


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


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.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, suit and beard

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.


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.


Nigel Farage says Bannon will be missed


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.

Image result for Bob Mercer, photos

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.”



Democrat leader responds

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


Four down…

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.


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

After String of Defeats, Democrats Stuck on Nasy in Trump Era — Stonewalling Trump Agenda, Death Threats, Shooting Republican Congressmen Turning The Public Against Democrats?

June 25, 2017


© AFP/File / by Michael Mathes | Some Democrats have begun urging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the icon atop the party’s hierarchy, to step aside and allow new blood into leadership

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Frozen out of power in Washington and having lost a string of congressional races this year, Democrats are struggling to craft winning strategies to convert disillusionment with President Donald Trump into victory in 2018’s midterm elections.The party fielded a hodgepodge of candidates in four special elections in recent months, including a banjo-strumming cowboy poet in Montana. Most recently Democrats nominated a young novice in Georgia, where the party, judging it had its best pick-up opportunity, threw millions of dollars into the race.

Yet each time, Republicans beat back the advances. And Democratic lawmakers, strategists and party officials have been left scratching their heads about how to turn it around and launch a viable bid to reclaim Congress next year.

“They’re definitely licking their wounds,” Kerwin Swint, professor and chair of the political science department at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, told AFP.

Debate has swirled among Democrats about what strategy to deploy: going all in with a nationwide anti-Trump agenda, or tailoring individual races to local economic issues in a bid to repair fraying connections between the Democratic Party and the common voter.

The Georgia race showed “the effectiveness of Trump’s staying power” despite the scandals rocking the White House, Swint said.

“Democrats should not focus their campaigns about him, they should be about jobs,” he added. “They need a much more focused economic pitch.”

At the same time, Zac Petkanas, who directed Hillary Clinton’s rapid-response operation during her 2016 presidential campaign, said Republicans should not see their four congressional victories as a sign all is well in Trumpworld.

In a normal political environment, the races in Georgia, Kansas, Montana and South Carolina — to fill seats vacated by congressmen who joined Trump’s cabinet — would be blowouts for Republicans, given the overwhelming, ruby-red nature of the districts, Petkanas said in a telephone interview.

Instead, they were all within seven percentage points.

Trump and Republican lawmakers have gloated over the wins, “but I think in private they’re actually very scared,” he said.

“They are in for the races of their lives, and they know it.”

– ‘Unique opportunity’ –

As Democrats seek to regroup, they are hobbled by a glaring omission: no clear party protagonist has emerged as a potential challenger to Trump in 2020.

Absent such a standard-bearer, some Democrats have begun urging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the icon atop the party’s hierarchy, to step aside and allow new blood into leadership.

“I don’t think people in the Beltway are realizing just how toxic the Democratic Party brand is in so much of the country,” congressman Tim Ryan, who unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi for the leadership position last year, told CNN in a blunt postmortem after the June 20 loss in Georgia.

The California congresswoman pushed back tensely against her party’s rebels, insisting she has brought unity to the Democrats.

“My decision about how long I stay is not up to them,” Pelosi, who is 77, told reporters.

Asked about the Democrats’ doldrums and Pelosi’s future role, Trump quipped that it would be “very sad for Republicans” if the congresswoman — a favorite target of Republicans — stepped down.

“I’d like to keep her right where she is, because our record is extraordinary against her,” he told Fox on Friday.

The party in presidential power traditionally fares poorly during US midterm elections. In 2010, two years into Barack Obama’s first term as president, Democrats got hammered, losing 63 seats and control of the 435-member House of Representatives.

Democrats now need to gain 24 seats to reclaim the House, and analysts say there are several dozen Republican-held seats in play.

In a memo this past week, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Lujan described at least 71 districts that are more competitive than the four contested so far this year.

“We have a unique opportunity to flip control of the House of Representatives in 2018,” he wrote.

One reason Lujan is banking on victory: the Republican health care bill.

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan, which would repeal much of Obama’s signature health care reforms.

It has had a frosty reception. Democrats are counting on voters revolting against any lawmaker who supports legislation that could leave millions of Americans without health insurance.

“A lot will depend on where Trump’s approval rating is next year, and health care will obviously mold that climate,” Professor Swint said.

by Michael Mathes

30 GOP Congressmen Have Been Attacked or Threatened Since May

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) / Getty


Washington Free Beacon
June 22, 2017 3:16 pm

A total of 30 Republican members of Congress have either been attacked or revealed that they were the victim of a death threat since the beginning of May.

May 8: Wendi Wright, 35, was arrested after stalking Rep. David Kustoff (Tenn.) and trying to run him off the road. After pulling over, Wright “began to scream and strike the windows on Kustoff’s car and even reached inside the vehicle.”

May 9: Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett needed heavy security at a town hall after receiving a series of death threats in May that police “deemed to be credible and real.”

“This is how we’re going to kill your wife,” one message said. Others detailed how they would kill his children, and even his dog.

May 12: A town hall participant accosted North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, shoving fake dollar bills into his suit jacket. A Kramer supporter grabbed the same man by the neck. Both men were ejected by law enforcement, but neither were charged.

May 12: A Tucson, Ariz. school district employee was arrested by the FBI for sending several death threats to Arizona Rep. Martha McSally. The man threatened to shoot McSally and told her to “be careful” because her days “were numbered.”

May 21: Florida Rep. Ted Yoho described his office getting vandalized by protesters. One female constituent left a voicemail on an office answering machine, promising, “Next time I see you, I’m going to beat your f**king ass.”

June 14: Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Reps. Steve Scalise (La.), Kevin Brady (Texas), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Mike Bishop (Mich.), Mike Conaway (Texas), Roger Williams (Texas), John Moolenaar (Mich.), Gary Palmer (Ala.), Chuck Fleischmann (Tenn.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Barry Loudermilk (Ga.), Mark Walker (N.C.), Steve Pearce (N.M.), Brad Wenstrup (Ohio), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Trent Kelly (Miss.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), and Joe Barton (Texas) were attacked by a gunman during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.

Scalise, the House majority whip, was shot in the hip, and remains in the hospital. Four others were injured, including a staffer for Williams and two Capitol Police officers assigned to Scalise.

The same day, New York Rep. Claudia Tenney received an email reading, “One down, 216 to go.”

June 17: Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner revealed that she had gotten five death threats in the weeks leading up to the Scalise shooting. Wagner said that protesters had been “vandalizing my home, showing up with masks and gravestones, and laying down on my driveway and drawing chalk outlines of dead bodies. Picketing my church at 8 and 10 o’clock Mass.”

June 22: An Ohio man was arrested for leaving a voicemail threatening the life and family of Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio).

“We’re coming to get every goddamn one of you and your families. Maybe the next one taken down will be your daughter. Huh? Or your wife. Or even you,” the man said.

The same day, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz played a threatening voicemail he had received on “Fox & Friends.”

“I suggest you prepare for the battle motherf**ker, and the apocalypse,” the caller yelled. “Because we are going to hunt your ass down, wrap a rope around your neck, and hang you from a lamppost.”


US House to vote on Obamacare repeal bill on Thursday

May 4, 2017

The Republican majority of the House of Representatives believes it has enough votes to pass the repeal to the Senate. The bill allows states to opt out of a requirement to charge the healthy and sick the same rates.

USA Kapitol in Washington (Getty Images/AFP/S. Loeb)

Republicans in the US House of Representatives believe they have enough votes to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, through to the Senate. A vote in the House is expected on Thursday.

“We will be voting on the health care bill tomorrow (Thursday) because we have enough votes,” said Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, adding: “It’s a good bill.”

An earlier version of an attempted repeal died in the House in March after moderates and conservatives did not approve of the provisions that would do away with the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The big change with this new repeal is it allows states to opt out of forcing insurers to charge healthy and sick patients the same rate for health coverage.

The vote is expected to fall along party lines. No Democrats support the measure.

“House Republicans are going to tattoo this moral monstrosity to their foreheads, and the American people will hold them accountable,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

While Republicans (GOP) hold a majority of the seats in the House, there are some who are unsure as to whether they should support the measure or not. The GOP can afford 22 defectors. An AP report said 19 Republicans opposed the bill.

Make or break for Republicans

US President Donald Trump, a Republican who railed against the Affordable Care Act during his presidential campaign, worked with House Republicans over the previous days to sway undecided representatives to vote for the measure. Republicans have urged the repeal of Obamacare since it became law. It is considered a make-or-break vote for Republicans.

Billy Long, a Republican representative from Missouri, was initially apprehensive about the bill, even while speaking with Trump, who is looking for his first major legislative victory since taking office in January.

“The president said, ‘Billy we really need you. We need you, man.’ I said, ‘you don’t have me,'” said Long, who eventually agreed to vote for the repeal after Trump promised to add a supplemental $8 billion (7.3 billion euros) that covers health costs for people in “high-risk pools.”

Uncertainty for insurance companies, patients

It is not clear whether the repeal will pass through the Senate, should the bill make it through the House.

Insurance companies such as Anthem Inc. and Aetna are uncertain about the future of their companies with the vote hanging in the balance. Aetna announced Wednesday said it would leave the Affordable Care Act individual insurance market in Virginia next year due to “growing uncertainty” and expected losses this year.

Congressional analysts said 24 million Americans would lose health insurance under the GOP-backed bill by 2026. The American Medical Association (AMA), AARP and other consumer groups oppose the measure. The AMA said in a statement the changes sought by Long and other uncertain Republicans “tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill – that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result.”

kbd/bw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Obama points finger at Putin over US election hacks

December 17, 2016


© Presidencia del Peru / AFP | This handout picture shows US President Barack Obama with Russian President Vladimir Putin Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima in November 2016.


Latest update : 2016-12-17

President Barack Obama on Friday strongly suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorized the computer hacks that American intelligence officials say were aimed at helping Republican Donald Trump win the Nov. 8 election.

But with only a month left in office, during a somber press conference before leaving for a family holiday in Hawaii, Obama spoke despairingly about the “nasty” state of U.S. politics, saying the chasm between Democrats and Republicans has made it possible for Russia to cause mischief.

Obama said he has “great confidence” in intelligence reports he has seen showing that Russians hacked into emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee and to John Podesta, who was campaign chairman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.


The leaked emails revealed details of paid speeches Clinton gave to Wall Street, party infighting and comments from top aides to Clinton who were shocked about the extent of her use of a private server to send emails while secretary of state.

The leaks led to embarrassing media coverage and prompted some party officials to resign. Obama, who campaigned vigorously for Clinton, said she was treated unfairly and found the media coverage of her troubling.

“This happened at the highest levels of the Russian government,” Obama said when asked whether Putin was personally involved in the hacks. He added that “not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin.”

Obama said he warned Putin in September to stop meddling in American political campaigns, telling his Russian counterpart to “cut it out” during a face-to-face encounter in China at a Group of 20 meeting. Obama said he did not believe that U.S. electronic voting systems were tampered with.

Obama, however, stopped short of directly blaming Putin and said he also wanted to give U.S. intelligence officials more time to produce a report that is due before he leaves office on Jan. 20 and Trump is sworn in as his successor.

Retaliation for Cyber attacks

Obama called Russia a smaller and weaker country than the United States that “does not produce anything that others want to buy, except oil and gas and arms.”

The comments underscored what Obama called the “sadly deteriorated” relationship between Washington and Moscow, which are also at odds over Russia’s role in Syria’s civil war and its aggressive actions in Ukraine.

Russia has denied U.S. accusations that it was behind the hacks. Two senior government officials told Reuters that the Federal Bureau of Investigation backs the CIA’s view that Russia indeed intervened to help Trump win the presidential election.

Trump has maintained that he won the election fairly and has bristled at suggestions that Moscow influenced the outcome. But at one point during the heated presidential campaign, he publicly encouraged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails.

Trump spoke glowingly in the campaign about Putin, and since winning the election he has named top aides who have ties to Russia, including his nominee for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Rex Tillerson.

Obama left open the door to U.S. retaliation against Russia to discourage further cyber attacks – countermeasures that may be up to Trump to implement.

Obama said he has had “cordial” discussions with Trump since the election and has stressed that he would do everything he can to ensure a smooth transition. But the outgoing president also criticized Trump’s fellow Republicans broadly.

Referencing polls showing that more than one-third of Republicans approve of Putin, who used to lead the KGB spy agency, Obama said that conservative icon “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.”

“In some cases, you have voters and elected officials who have more confidence and faith in a foreign adversary than they have in their neighbors,” Obama said.

China and Syria

Adding to the gloomy tone of Obama’s remarks, he addressed two other difficult foreign policy issues that will outlast his time in the White House.

Obama warned about the economic and geopolitical consequences of any breakdown in the U.S.-China relationship, and said Trump should think carefully about the diplomatic repercussions if he decides to “upend” longstanding U.S. diplomatic norms.

Trump angered China earlier this month when he took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen – the first call of its kind since 1979 when President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Taiwan as part of “one China.”

Obama also condemned attacks on Syrian civilians trying to flee the city of Aleppo, blaming President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Russia and Iran for “atrocities.”

Obama defended his decision to keep U.S. troops out of Syria and avoid military intervention, although he acknowledged the protracted anguish has weighed on him.

“Everything else was tempting because we wanted to do something and it sounded like the right thing to do, but it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap,” he said.


Obama says he may comment ‘as citizen’ on Trump’s presidency — Former presidents tend to leave the political fray and avoid commenting on their successors for fear of damaging democracy or ‘poisoning the well’

November 21, 2016

BBC News

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.

Mr Obama and Mr Trump met at the White House two days after the election. AP Photo

US President Barack Obama has said he may speak out after leaving office if he feels his successor Donald Trump is threatening core American values.

By convention, former presidents tend to leave the political fray and avoid commenting on their successors.

Mr Obama said he would give Mr Trump time to outline his vision but added that, as a private citizen, he might speak out on certain issues.

Mr Trump spent the weekend interviewing candidates for top jobs in his cabinet.

“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off,” Mr Obama said at a forum in Lima, Peru.

But, he added, if an issue “goes to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes”.

The president described himself as an “American citizen who cares deeply about our country”.

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of the Apec Summit in Lima, Peru November 20, 2016.

Mr Obama spoke at a news conference at the Apec Summit in Lima, Peru. Reuters photo

Speaking at a news conference to mark the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, Mr Obama reiterated that he would extend to Mr Trump’s incoming administration the same professional courtesy shown to his team by his predecessor George W Bush.

Mr Bush has refrained since leaving office from commenting on Mr Obama’s presidency. “I don’t think it does any good,” he told CNN in 2013, after Mr Obama was elected for a second time.

“It’s a hard job. He’s got plenty on his agenda. It’s difficult. A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that’s mine.”

More on the US election

Mr Bush’s stance falls in line with tradition. US presidents tend to avoid criticising predecessors or successors. Mr Obama was clear that he would not weigh in on Mr Trump’s decisions while he was still in office.

But his suggestion that, as a private citizen, he would seek to defend “core values” comes amid mounting concern among civil rights groups and others about Mr Trump’s political appointments.

The president-elect’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was previously the head of Breitbart, a website accused of promoting racism and anti-Semitism. And Mr Trump’s national security adviser, Gen Michael Flynn, has previously likened Islam to a “cancer” spreading through the US.

Mr Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, lost the chance to become a federal judge in 1986 because of allegedly racist remarks.

Mr Obama said he believed the intense responsibility of the presidency would force Mr Trump to moderate some of the more extreme policy positions he had advocated during his campaign.

On Sunday the incoming president indicated he had made more selections after a weekend of interviews at his golf resort in New Jersey, saying: “We really had some great meetings, and you’ll be hearing about them soon.”

Mr Trump has confirmed he is considering retired Marine Corps Gen James Mattis for the role of defence secretary, calling him “very impressive” in a tweet. He also met former critic Mitt Romney, who is now being considered for secretary of state.

Mr Trump also says that his wife, Melania, and their 10-year-old son Barron will not move into the White House straight away. They would move “very soon, right after he finishes school”, he said. The US school year runs from late August or early September until late May or June.

‘Smarter message’

Mr Obama, meanwhile, said his first priority after leaving office was to take his wife, Michelle, on holiday, and “get some rest, spend time with my girls and do some writing, do some thinking”.

Asked about the failure of the Democratic party’s campaign under Hillary Clinton, Mr Obama criticised the “micro-targeting” of “particular, discrete groups”, arguing there should have been an effort to reach out to the entire country.

Mrs Clinton has been criticised for focusing her energy on certain demographics, including Latinos and women, who were believed to support her, at the expense of a more inclusive campaign.

That approach “is not going to win you the broad mandate that you need”, Mr Obama said, adding that the party needed a “smarter message”.