Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Trump repeatedly said in private he wanted US to leave NATO: Report

January 15, 2019

“It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history.”

Some say its time for the U.S. to let Europeans defend Europe.

Image result for trump, macron, Merkel, photos

President Trump on multiple occasions last year talked in private about his desire to withdraw the U.S. from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, according to a new report.

Senior administration officials told the New York Times that they were initially unsure if Trump was sincere when he first tossed out the suggestion in 2017. But since then Trump brought up the idea repeatedly to his national security advisers, including around the time of the NATO summit last July when he was questioning the usefulness of the alliance.

At the time the president was frustrated with European allies he said needed to step up their defense spending. He stirred controversy when he suggested he could “probably” withdraw the U.S. without congressional approval, but ultimately said it was “unnecessary” after allies agreed to contribute more.

Still, the report of Trump broaching a withdrawal on a number of occasions has struck a nerve among national security officials worried that such a move would doom the alliance and please Russia, particularly in the aftermath of two bombshell reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post. The first reported the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump after he fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 and the latter reported the president sought to keep details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin a secret.

Image result for Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, Pictures

German soldiers in Afghanistan

Michele Flournoy, an undersecretary of defense during the Obama administration, said pulling out from the alliance “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests.”

“It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,”  Flournoy told the Times. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

Asked to comment on the report, a White House official cited Trump’s statements from July 2018 where he said the U.S.’ dedication to NATO is “very strong” but otherwise refused to provide further comment to the Times.

Russland Iskander-M Marschflugkörper (picture-alliance/dpa/Tass/Y. Smityuk)

Russian Intermediate range ballistic missile on a mobile launcher

In the event that Trump did try to pull the U.S. out of NATO, the decision would face bipartisan opposition in Congress.

“It’s alarming that the president continues to falsely assert that NATO does not contribute to the overall safety of the United States or the international community,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told the Times. “The Senate knows better and stands ready to defend NATO.”

Last year, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said any move by Trump to withdraw from the NATO alliance would spark unified opposition from Congress that would be historically unprecedented.

“There would be nothing more unifying that any president whether it’s Trump or pick one of the 20 people planning on running in 2020, if they were to actually seriously withdraw from NATO. I think it would create a unifying event unlike anything you’ve seen in U.S. history in terms of actions that we can take,” Tillis, a leading member of the Senate’s NATO Observer Group and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said at a Washington think tank.


See also:

Why Trump Is Getting Away With Foreign-Policy Insanity



Romney vows to oppose Trump’s ‘destructive’ actions in op-ed

January 2, 2019

Trump’s role in the Oval Office is to “demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity” — but the president has failed.

Mitt Romney offered some criticism of President Trump on Tuesday and announced that he will continue to “speak out” against “destructive statements” made by the White House.

Romney, who will be sworn in as Utah’s GOP senator this week, claimed in an opinion piece for The Washington Post that President Trump “has not risen to the mantle of the office.”

“It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination,” Romney wrote in the piece. “After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.”

The 2012 Republican presidential candidate said that Trump’s role in the Oval Office is to “demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity” — but the president has failed.

“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” he said. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

Romney mentions US foreign policy and domestic fiscal concerns as areas of improvement for the president. But he also cites Trump policies that he agrees with, such as cutting taxes and deregulating the economy.

“These are policies mainstream Republicans have promoted for years,” Romney said.

As a result, Romney pledged to oppose policies that are not in the best interest of the country and “speak out” against hatred and destruction.

“I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not,” he wrote.

“I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”


Wall Street Journal Critical of Washington Post Trump Coverage: ‘Undermines the Credibility of the Press’

December 28, 2018

“These reporters can’t even begin a news account of a presidential visit to a military base,” the Wall Street Journal editorial page says

Last Updated: December 27, 2018 @ 6:29 PM


The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page offered a feisty Boxing Day pieceon Wednesday lashing into the Washington Post over coverage of President Trump’s Christmastime visit to the troops.

The Journal focused on this piece by the Post’s Philip Rucker and Paul Sonne, citing the opening two paragraphs and accusing it of needlessly working in unrelated Trump scandals into a piece that did not call for it.

“Can anyone reading those opening two sentences wonder why millions of Americans believe Donald Trump when he tells them that he can’t get a fair shake from the press?” the Journal asked. “The point isn’t to feel sorry for Mr. Trump, whose rhetorical attacks on the press have often been contemptible. The point is that such gratuitously negative reporting undermines the credibility of the press without Mr. Trump having to say a word.”

“These reporters can’t even begin a news account of a presidential visit to a military base without working in a compilation of Mr. Trump’s controversies, contradictions, and failings,” the paper added.

The offending paragraphs were quoted verbatim by the journal:

“President Trump touched down Wednesday in Iraq in his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief, a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State that his own Pentagon and State Department days earlier said remained incomplete.

“The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency.”

The story with the passages cited was subsequently picked up by several local news sites like The Oregonian but no longer appeared to exist in any version of the story on the Post’s own site Thursday morning. A look at the Internet Archive’s WayBackMachine reveals the piece was edited after publication, though the original language cited by the Journal appears to have been removed before being archived.

When asked for comment, reps for the Post told TheWrap: “The story was updated as news developed over the course of the day. It presented facts that were accurate and context that was clearly relevant, as evidenced by the president’s own comments to American troops regarding Syria and U.S. military commanders.

“As for President Trump making the trip after criticism for not previously visiting a war zone, the Wall Street Journal’s own news story makes the same point,” the statement added.

Wall Street Journal editorial chief James Taranto also did not immediately respond to an inquiry from TheWrap about the matter.

Hillary Clinton to girl who lost class president election: I, too, have felt the bitter sting of defeat

December 18, 2018

Hillary Clinton was featured this weekend in the Washington Post for what I suspect was supposed to be a heartwarming story of encouragement. But the two-time failed presidential candidate comes away from this episode looking embittered and self-centered.

An 8-year-old Maryland girl who lost her race to become class president to a boy was surprised when she received a personal letter of consolation from Clinton, who also lost a race to a boy.

“As I know too well, it’s not easy when you stand up and put yourself in contention for a role that’s only been sought by boys,” reads the letter, which Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told the Post was authentic. It continues:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State, speaks during her keynote remarks at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves summit, Friday Nov. 21, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

An 8-year-old Maryland girl who lost her race to become class president to a boy was surprised when she received a personal letter of consolation from Hillary Clinton.

Israel Authorized Sale of Sophisticated Spyware to Saudi Arabia Likely Used in Khashoggi Murder

December 9, 2018

Israel authorized cyber-company NSO to sell surveillance software to Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing two former top U.S. security officials.

According to the sources who spoke with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Israel gained a secret Sunni Arab ally against Iran and an opportunity to gather cyber information on the kingdom. The analyst, who cited American, European and Saudi sources, reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was interested in purchasing Israeli software because he was impressed by Israel’s cyber capabilities.

The two American sources told the Post that the Saudis worked through a Luxembourg-based affiliate of NSO called Q Cyber Technologies. Q Cyber promised the Saudis access to targets in six Middle Eastern countries and directly assisted them in solving problems with the cyber-monitoring systems that they provided, the report said.

Image result for Israel, saudi, flags, pictures

Sources told the Post that the Israeli government authorized the transaction despite certain Israeli officials’ hesitations over granting Arab regimes access to such technology. Three sources said that the Saudis were interested in the Pegasus advanced surveillance program.

Ignatius writes that the lawyer representing NSO and the affiliate company Q Cyber refused to confirm any of the companies’ clients. “They’re a supplier of a product,” the lawyer told the Post. “The customer makes representations that the product will be used in a way that’s lawful in that country. Obviously, there are sometimes abuses,” he added.

In response to an Haaretz query, NSO commented that “the company develops products that are sold only to authorized government entities who are trained for the exclusive goal of investigating and preventing  crime and terror.”

Israel’s Defense Ministry stated that “the Defense Export Control Agency (DECA) strictly provides licenses to security exporters in accordance to the law, the standards and the commitments that the State of Israel is committed to, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities. The Defense Ministry does not provide details about the Israeli government’s policy on giving export licenses or about the licenses themselves for defense and strategic reasons. For this reason, we cannot comment on the question whether the aforementioned license exists.”

Last week, Montreal-based Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz launched a lawsuit against Israeli cyber company NSO, claiming that the company’s software was used to hack his cellphone in order to track conversations with murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Image result for Omar Abdulaziz, photos

Omar Abdulaziz

“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdulaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”

Abdulaziz’s lawsuit against NSO comes a month after a Haaretz investigation revealed that the company negotiated the sale of advanced cyber-attack capabilities with Saudi Arabia.

The Israeli company offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint under investigation by Israel Police.

Jamal Khashoggi speaks at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London, Britain, Sept. 29, 2018.
\ Handout ./ REUTERS

In November, Amnesty International Israel asked the Defense Ministry to revoke cyber firm NSO’s defense export license, saying it had been proven that its software had been used in “a series of egregious human rights violations.” “NSO is out of control,” Amnesty Israel said.

Sources in the Defense Ministry agency that oversees defense exports said it was strict about granting licenses according to the law and that they could not discuss the existence of NSO’s license for security reasons.

Amnesty Israel rejected the response and said it intended to pursue legal action.

In October, the Citizen Lab research group said it had “high confidence” that the Saudi government used NSO’s Pegasus software to eavesdrop on Saudi dissident Abdulaziz. According to the report, ” Once the phone is infected, the customer has full access to a victim’s personal files, such as chats, emails and photos. They can even surreptitiously use the phone’s microphones and cameras to view and eavesdrop on their targets.”

See also:

How a chilling Saudi cyberwar ensnared Jamal Khashoggi

President Donald Trump shows a chart highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Mexico says no deal reached with US on handling of asylum-seekers

November 25, 2018

Mexico’s incoming government says it does not plan to assume the role of “safe third country” for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. after Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is sworn in as president on Dec. 1.

Incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez says in a statement Saturday: “There is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government.”

She said the future government’s principal concern related to the migrants is their well-being in Mexico.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has won support from the president-elect’s team for asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts.

PHOTO: U.S. Military stand in line for a drill near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2018.Ariana Drehsler/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Military stand in line for a drill near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2018.

Citing Mexican officials and senior members of president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s transition team, the newspaper said the agreement would break with long-standing asylum rules and mount a new obstacle to Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States and escape poverty and violence.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to try to eliminate the causes of migration by creating more jobs and improving living conditions in Mexico and Central America.

In exchange, he hopes U.S. President Donald Trump and the Canadian government will agree to help spur economic development in the region.

Outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto has also sought to stem the flow of migrants north by offering jobs to them, and has received backing from the private sector in his efforts.

Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister and the top domestic policy official for Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, told the Washington Post the plan, known as Remain in Mexico, was a “short-term solution.”

“The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate,” Sanchez Cordero said. “Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us.”

The paper said that according to the outlines of the plan, asylum applicants at the border will have to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed, potentially ending the system Trump decries as “catch and release” that has until now generally allowed those seeking refuge to wait on safer U.S. soil.

Alison Leal Parker, U.S. managing director for Human Rights Watch, a legal rights organization, said the policy was “a pathetic attempt by the United States to shirk responsibility. Central Americans have faced serious harm in Mexico.”

The effect, Parker said, would likely “push people fleeing for lives into riskier attempts to find safety, including using criminal human smugglers who will gain power under this new policy.”

There was no immediate comment from the White House on the deal that the Washington Post said took shape last week in Houston during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and top U.S. officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Trump has been seeking to block thousands of Central Americans traveling in caravans from entering the United States, and has ordered that immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico are ineligible for asylum.

That order has been temporary suspended by a U.S. judge.

See also:

Mexico sends mixed signals on plan to host US asylum-seekers, as Trump doubles down

Trump to Replace Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

November 13, 2018

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may be the next cabinet member to be ousted from the Trump administration, according to a new report.

The Washington Post reports that President Trump has shared with advisers that he will boot Nielsen as early as this week, despite opposition from White House chief of staff John Kelly. Kelly is advocating for Nielsen to remain at her post or to delay her departure.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visits the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., last week. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump, who has expressed dissatisfaction with Nielsen’s performance for months, has told aides he is ready for Nielsen to depart the administration as soon as possible, five current and former White House officials told the Post. The officials also said Trump canceled a trip with Nielsen to South Texas this week.

Nielsen, who first assumed her position Dec. 6, has been dissatisfied with her job the past several months, but has been hesitant to leave her post, colleagues said.

But a press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security said that Nielsen is dedicated to carrying out Trump’s priorities and will “continue to do so.”

“The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” Tyler Houlton told the Washington Examiner.

According to the Post, Trump is allegedly difficult to satisfy and grows impatient when Nielsen has attempted to spell out underpinnings of immigration laws after Trump has suggested dramatic action such as cutting back immigration or closing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has told aides he is eyeing several potential candidates to fill Nielsen’s spot, including commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan, and the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration David Pekoske.

“If I were advising the White House I’d encourage them to nominate someone with executive branch experience,” a senior DHS official told the Post. “This will be our fourth secretary in two years. The last thing we want is someone who needs hand-holding.”

Kelly previously served as the head of the agency before he moved over to his post at the White House and pushed for Nielsen to succeed him. Meanwhile, Kelly’s own role at the White House remains uncertain, the Post reports.


Trump is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary, aides say

Schiff wants to probe Trump for targeting CNN, Washington Post

November 12, 2018

A top House Democrat wants to probe President Trump’s attempts to punish media companies who give him negative news coverage.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told “Axios on HBO” that he wants to see if Trump abused his power when he tried to meddle in the affairs of companies associated with The Washington Post and CNN.

Image result for Adam Schiff, photos

In question, Schiff said, was whether the president used “the instrument of state power to punish the press.”

For one, Trump had publicly suggested that Amazon— whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post — was ripping off the US Postal Service.

Schiff told Axios that the president “was secretly meeting with the postmaster [general] in an effort to browbeat the postmaster [general] into raising postal rates on Amazon.”

Former officials additionally told Axios that despite telling Trump that the Postal Service’s financial hardship had nothing to do with Amazon, the president couldn’t be convinced.

“This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post,” Schiff said on “Axios on HBO.”

Trump has also said he’d consider antitrust action against Amazon.

The California Democrat also wanted Congress to investigate whether the president tried to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, as a way to get back at CNN, which he consistently labels as “fake news.”

“We don’t know, for example, whether the effort to hold up the merger of the parent of CNN was a concern over antitrust, or whether this was an effort merely to punish CNN,” Schiff said.

Schiff’s comments come just days after one of the president’s biggest flare-ups with the press. At a Wednesday press conference on the heels of the midterm election, the president became annoyed at CNN’s Jim Acosta for asking about the caravan and the Russia investigation.

“I’ll tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump told Acosta.

The White House later announced it was pulling Acosta’s White House press pass “until further notice,” accusing the CNN reporter of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”

The White House alleged that Acosta had acted brutishly toward an intern who was responsible for handling the press conference’s handheld microphones.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a video clip of the incident in which it looked sped up, making Acosta’s moves more jarring.

The badge suspension didn’t hinder Acosta, who traveled to Paris to cover Trump’s trip there this weekend.

FILED UNDER         

Why Republicans lost the ‘pre-existing conditions’ war (Hint: It’s a myth)

November 10, 2018

For this week’s elections, Democrats spent considerable resources attacking Republicans for trying to tamper with Affordable Care Act rules that require insurers to cover preexisting conditions. Now that voters have handed Democrats control of the House, ObamaCare supporters claim the election confirms what nearly every public opinion poll finds: The ACA’s preexisting-conditions provisions are popular with voters.

By Michael F. Cannon
New York Post


George Soros gave $1M to group that paid for Fusion GPS research

November 1, 2018

Democratic billionaire George Soros has given $1 million to a group which has paid for research from Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous Trump dossier.

The money was given to the Democracy Integrity Project, according to a Soros representative who spoke to the New York Times. Soros is mulling donating even more.

The $1 million figure appears to be newly revealed information. It was reported earlier this year by the Washington Post that Soros had given a grant to the nonprofit group.

Image result for George Soros, photos

George Soros

The Democracy Integrity Project was created after the 2016 election and is dedicated to investigating election interference.

Fusion GPS is known for commissioning ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Published in full by BuzzFeed in January 2017, the dossier contains a collection of salacious and unverified claims about Trump’s potentially compromising ties to Russia.

Soros’ fundraising efforts have made him a favorite target of Republicans claiming he is a secret force seeking to influence politics, among other conspiracy theories.

GOP investigators are concerned about potential surveillance abuse by the government, as the FBI used Steele’s salacious dossier, which was funded in part by Democratic interests, in multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to gain the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.