All posts by MPolitics

Trump: ‘Nothing Funny’ about Jokes Aimed at Him

Can U.S. President Donald Trump laugh at a joke at his own expense?

Not if it’s coming from NBC’s satirical Saturday Night Live show and Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin, who has periodically contorted his face and snarled his way to fame mocking the 45th president.

On Saturday night Baldwin was jabbing at Trump again, a day after Trump declared a national emergency to divert money in the government’s budget to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border without congressional authorization.

“You all see why I gotta fake this emergency, right? I have to because I want to,” Baldwin said as the sketch show opened. “It’s really simple.

We have a problem. Drugs are coming into this country through no wall.”

But Baldwin as Trump said, “Wall works, wall makes safe. You don’t have to be smart to understand that  in fact it’s even easier to understand if you’re not that smart.”

The fake president mimicked Trump’s singsong voice during part of his Friday news conference announcing the national emergency.

“I’ll immediately be sued and the ruling will not go in my favor and then it will end up in the Supreme Court and then I’ll call my buddy [Brett] Kavanaugh (a justice appointed by Trump) and I’ll say, It’s time to repay the Donny,’ and he’ll say, new phone, who dis?'” Baldwin joked.

But by then, Baldwin-as-Trump said, a report by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating links between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, “will be released, crumbling my house of cards and I can plead insanity and do a few months in the puzzle factory and my personal hell of playing president will finally be over.”

The show also lampooned the results of Trump’s recent annual physical exam.

“I’m still standing 6-7, 185 pounds — shredded,” Baldwin said, although Trump actually is several centimeters shorter and weighs more than 110 kilograms, defined by U.S. health standards as obese.

Trump gave the sketch and the show a thumbs down.

“Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC!” Trump said on Twitter. “Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”

“THE RIGGED AND CORRUPT MEDIA IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” he tweeted minutes later.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump’s National Emergency Declaration Rocks Washington

Washington has been plunged into a power struggle between the executive and legislative branches of government — one that America’s third branch, the courts, ultimately may resolve. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration aims to jumpstart wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border that Congress did not authorize.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Nauert Withdraws From Consideration for UN Post

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Saturday said she has withdrawn her name from consideration for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In December, President Donald Trump had announced he was picking Nauert to fill the vacancy caused when Nikki Haley stepped down from that position, leaving at the end of 2018.

Media reports said late Saturday Nauert has withdrawn due to complications surrounding her employment of a nanny who was in the country legally, but not legally allowed to work. 

According to The Washington Post, the nanny had worked for the Nauerts for 10 years and was paid in cash, but she had not paid taxes.  When the family discovered that taxes had not been paid, The Post reported, the Nauerts demanded that the tax bill be paid. 

Earlier Saturday, before news of the the nanny complication emerged, Nauert said, in a statement, “I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary (Mike) Pompeo for the trust they placed in me for considering me for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. However, the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration.

“Serving in the Administration for the past two years has been one of the highest honors of my life and I will always be grateful to the President, the Secretary, and my colleagues at the State Department for their support,” Nauert said in a statement released by the State Department Saturday.

In the statement, Secretary of State Pompeo praised Nauert for performing her duties with “unequalled excellence,” and wished her the best “in whatever role she finds herself.” 

In nominating Nauert, Trump said she was “very talented, very smart, very quick. And I think she’s going to be respected by all.”

 

Broadcast journalist

Nauert joined the State Department in April 2017 after a career in broadcast journalism, first serving under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then under Pompeo. In addition to serving as spokesperson, Nauert also served as acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs from March to October of this year. 

 

She came to State from Fox News, where she co-anchored Fox and Friends, the morning program that Trump says he watches regularly. The president’s other recent hires from Fox News include White House communications chief Bill Shine and national security adviser John Bolton. 

 

Nauert likely would have faced tough questioning during her Senate confirmation hearings about her apparent lack of diplomatic or policymaking experience. 

 

The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller said Nauert had a different profile from past U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations. 

 

“I think Heather Nauert is smart. She is a quick study. She will learn the brief. But, I think it [the U.S. ambassador job] is not going to be what it was under Nikki Haley, which was a serious competitor under a vacuum at the NSC [National Security Council] and at the State Department under Tillerson.” 

 

Miller, who advised several secretaries of state under Republican and Democratic administrations, said Haley took advantage of the “empty space” created by media-averse Tillerson to stake out positions on a whole range of foreign policy issues, and that was not likely going to be the case with Nauert. 

Smaller role seen

 

“Heather Nauert is not going to be a big-time player in the deliberations on substance in the administration,” he said. “I doubt, on an issue like Syria, unless it pertains to the U.N., that the president is going to call her up and say, ‘What do you think?’ ” 

 

Both Trump and Pompeo have been highly critical of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, with Pompeo noting in a Brussels speech earlier this week that “multilateralism has become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.” 

 

During Nauert’s twice-weekly briefings at the State Department and her own trips, she has shown a passion for human rights issues. While serving with Tillerson, Nauert took trips on her own initiative, visiting Myanmar and Bangladesh last year to meet with Rohingya refugees. 

 

She also visited Israel and strongly defended Trump’s controversial decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 

 

Nauert is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Mount Vernon College in Washington. The 48-year-old is a wife and mother of two young sons, and was born in Rockford, Ill. 

 

Steve Herman at the White House, and Cindy Saine and Nike Ching at the State Department contributed to this report.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Gone in a New York Minute: How the Amazon Deal Fell Apart

In early November, word began to leak that Amazon was serious about choosing New York to build a giant new campus. The city was eager to lure the company and its thousands of high-paying tech jobs, offering billions in tax incentives and lighting the Empire State Building in Amazon orange.

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo got in on the action: “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” he joked at the time.

Then Amazon made it official: It chose the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens to build a $2.5 billion campus that could house 25,000 workers, in addition to new offices planned for northern Virginia. Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Democrats who have been political adversaries for years, trumpeted the decision as a major coup after edging out more than 230 other proposals.

But what they didn’t expect was the protests, the hostile public hearings and the disparaging tweets that would come in the next three months, eventually leading to Amazon’s dramatic Valentine’s Day breakup with New York.

Immediately after Amazon’s Nov. 12 announcement, criticism started to pour in. The deal included $1.5 billion in special tax breaks and grants for the company, but a closer look at the total package revealed it to be worth at least $2.8 billion. Some of the same politicians who had signed a letter to woo Amazon were now balking at the tax incentives.

“Offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong,” said New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris and New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrats who represent the Long Island City area, in a joint statement.

The next day, CEO Jeff Bezos was on the cover of The New York Post in a cartoon-like illustration, hanging out of a helicopter, holding money bags in each hand, with cash billowing above the skyline. “QUEENS RANSOM,” the headline screamed. The New York Times editorial board, meanwhile, called the deal a “bad bargain” for the city: “We won’t know for 10 years whether the promised 25,000 jobs will materialize,” it said.

Anti-Amazon rallies were planned for the next week. Protesters stormed a New York Amazon bookstore on the day after Thanksgiving and then went to a rally on the steps of a courthouse near the site of the new headquarters in the pouring rain. Some held cardboard boxes with Amazon’s smile logo turned upside down.

In this Nov. 14, 2018 file photo, protesters hold up anti-Amazon signs during a coalition rally and press conference of elected officials, community organizations and unions opposing Amazon headquarters getting subsidies to locate in New York.

They had a long list of grievances: the deal was done secretively; Amazon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, didn’t need nearly $3 billion in tax incentives; rising rents could push people out of the neighborhood; and the company was opposed to unionization.

The helipad kept coming up, too: Amazon, in its deal with the city, was promised it could build a spot to land a helicopter on or near the new offices.

At the first public hearing in December, which turned into a hostile, three-hour interrogation of two Amazon executives by city lawmakers, the helipad was mentioned more than a dozen times. The image of high-paid executives buzzing by a nearby low-income housing project became a symbol of corporate greed.

Queens residents soon found postcards from Amazon in their mailboxes, trumpeting the benefits of the project. Gianaris sent his own version, calling the company “Scamazon” and urging people to call Bezos and tell him to stay in Seattle.

At a second city council hearing in January, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, Brian Huseman, subtly suggested that perhaps the company’s decision to come to New York could be reversed.

“We want to invest in a community that wants us,” he said.

Then came a sign that Amazon’s opponents might actually succeed in derailing the deal: In early February, Gianaris was tapped for a seat on a little-known state panel that often has to approve state funding for big economic development projects. That meant if Amazon’s deal went before the board, Gianaris could kill it.

“I’m not looking to negotiate a better deal,” Gianaris said at the time. “I am against the deal that has been proposed.”

Cuomo had the power to block Gianaris’ appointment, but he didn’t indicate whether he would take that step.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s own doubts about the project started to show. On Feb. 8, The Washington Post reported that the company was having second thoughts about the Queens location.

On Wednesday, Cuomo brokered a meeting with four top Amazon executives and the leaders of three unions critical of the deal. The union leaders walked away with the impression that the parties had an agreed upon framework for further negotiations, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union.

“We had a good conversation. We talked about next steps. We shook hands,” Appelbaum said.

An Amazon representative did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The final blow landed Thursday, when Amazon announced on a blog post that it was backing out, surprising the mayor, who had spoken to an Amazon executive Monday night and received “no indication” that the company would bail.

Amazon still expected the deal to be approved, according to a source familiar with Amazon’s thinking, but that the constant criticism from politicians didn’t make sense for the company to grow there.

“I was flabbergasted,” De Blasio said. “Why on earth after all of the effort we all put in would you simply walk away?”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

First Republican Takes Steps to Challenge Trump in Primaries

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said Friday that he was launching a presidential exploratory committee, making him the first Republican to take steps to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump for the party’s nomination in 2020.

Trump’s popularity among Republicans remains high in his third year in office. While he is not expected to face significant hurdles in his bid for a second nomination, it is rare for an incumbent president to face a notable primary challenge, with the last being George H.W. Bush.

Weld, 73, is not well-known nationally but is well-respected among officials in the GOP establishment.

He was first elected governor of Massachusetts in 1990, defeating a conservative Democratic candidate. Weld became one of the state’s more popular governors, being elected twice by comfortable margins.

While in office, he followed traditional Republican fiscal policies of trying to keep taxes and government spending low, but embraced liberal positions on abortion and gay rights. 

Nation in ‘grave peril’

In announcing his presidential aspirations Friday in Bedford, N.H., Weld said the country was in “grave peril” and described Trump as a “schoolyard bully.”

“I encourage those of you who are watching the current administration nervously, but saying nothing, to stand up and speak out when lines are crossed in dangerous ways,” Weld said.

Weld said Trump was “a president whose priorities are skewed to the promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.”

Asked to comment on Weld’s campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded: “Who?”

Weld tried to win a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in 1996 but lost to John Kerry. He later moved to New York and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2005.

In 2016, Weld joined the Libertarian Party, serving as running mate to the party’s 2016 candidate, Gary Johnson. The duo received about 4.5 million votes, or a little more than 3 percent of the national popular vote. Weld returned to the Republican Party this year, saying it was the best place from which to challenge Trump.

Several other Republicans are also reportedly considering challenging Trump in the primaries, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. More than a dozen Democrats have already announced their intentions to run in the Democratic primaries or are reported to be considering candidacies.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

AP FACT CHECK: Trump Declares Emergency With Faulty Claims

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency at the southern border while acknowledging that rapid construction of a wall is not a necessity, but rather his preference. In justifying the extraordinary step, he brushed aside his administration’s conclusions that drugs come into the country primarily at official points of entry, not over remote territory that a barrier could seal off.

Trump invoked what his aides called the “common authority” of presidents to take unilateral action through the declaration of a national emergency. But there’s nothing common about a president taking command of billions of dollars without the approval of Congress to pay for a campaign promise.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said, raising questions about why he sees an emergency unfolding today. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

At a Rose Garden news conference, Trump also claimed progress on wall construction that hasn’t occurred.

A look at some of his comments:

TRUMP: “I’ve built a lot of wall. I have a lot of money, and I’ve built a lot of wall.”

THE FACTS: He’s built no new miles of wall, lacking the money. His new construction to date has replaced existing barriers.

This month marks the start of construction of 14 miles (22 kilometers) of fencing in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the first lengthening of barrier in his presidency. That’s from money approved by Congress a year ago, most of which was for renovating existing barrier.

Money approved by Congress in the new deal to avert another government shutdown would cover about 55 more miles (88 km).

He has often portrayed his wall, falsely, as largely complete, to a point where “Finish the wall” has become his rallying cry, replacing “Build the wall.” That masks a distinct lack of progress in physically sealing the border — a frustration that is now prompting him to find money outside the normal channels of congressional appropriation. Trump inherited about 650 miles (1,050 km) of physical border barrier from previous administrations.

TRUMP, on past presidents declaring national emergencies: “There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it; nobody cares.I guess they weren’t very exciting.But nobody cares. … And the people that say we create precedent — well, what do you have? Fifty-six? There are a lot of times — well, that’s creating precedent.And many of those are far less important than having a border.”

THE FACTS: Those declarations were rarely as consequential, and that’s precisely why they were mostly uncontroversial. He’s roughly correct about the numbers. But past declarations did not involve the unilateral spending of substantial sums of money that Congress — which holds the power of the purse — did not approve.

Emergency declarations by Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were overwhelmingly for the purpose of addressing crises that emerged abroad. Many blocked foreign interests or terrorist-linked entities from access to funds. Some prohibited certain imports from or investments in countries associated with human rights abuses.

Trump’s number resembles findings from the Brennan Center for Justice, which has tracked 58 emergency declarations back to 1978.

“It’s extremely rare for a president to declare a national emergency in a bid to fund domestic construction projects, particularly one that Congress has explicitly refused to fund,” said Andrew Boyle, an attorney in the national security program at the center. “The ones that former presidents declared are of a different sort.”

Obama declared a national emergency in July 2011 to impose sanctions on transnational criminal groups, blocking any American property interests and freezing their assets, authorizing financial sanctions against anyone aiding them and barring their members from entering the United States. It authorized sanctions against criminal cartels in Mexico, Japan, Italy and Eastern Europe. It did not direct billions in spending by the U.S. treasury.

TRUMP: “And a big majority of the big drugs — the big drug loads — don’t go through ports of entry.They can’t go through ports of entry.You can’t take big loads because you have people — we have some very capable people; the Border Patrol, law enforcement — looking.

TRUMP: “We have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country, much of it coming from the southern border.When you look and when you listen to politicians — in particular, certain Democrats — they say it all comes through the port of entry. It’s wrong.It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie.”

THE FACTS: His own administration says illicit drugs come mainly through ports of entry. He has persistently contradicted his officials — never mind Democrats — on this point. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report that the most common trafficking technique by transnational criminal organizations is to hide drugs in passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. at official crossings. They also use buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing smuggling methods that would not be choked off by a border wall.

“Only a small percentage” of heroin seized by U.S. authorities comes across on territory between ports of entry, the agency says, and the same is true of drugs generally. The great majority of heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine and fentanyl is seized at ports of entry. Marijuana is one exception; significant quantities are seized between entry ports.

Even if a wall could stop all drugs from Mexico, America’s drug problem would be far from over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 40 percent of opioid deaths in 2016 involved prescription painkillers. Those drugs are made by pharmaceutical companies. Some feed the addiction of people who have prescriptions; others are stolen and sold on the black market. Moreover, illicit versions of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have come to the U.S. from China, not Mexico.

TRUMP: “Take a look at our federal prison population. See how many of them, percentage-wise, are illegal aliens. Just see. Go ahead and see. ”

THE FACTS: About 40 percent of the people who entered federal prison in 2014 were foreigners, according to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics. The vast majority of the foreigners (20,842 of 28,821) were being held for immigration violations, not violent or property crimes. It’s not clear how many were in the country illegally. The federal prison population is not a solid yardstick of immigrant crime because it represents only 10 percent of the overall prison population of the U.S. Most people convicted of crimes are in state prison.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Anti-Semitic Tweet Highlights Fissures Within the Democratic Party  

The Democratic party is not a monolith or a rubber stamp for any idea or policy position. That’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s oft-repeated way of describing the party she leads. But lately, a handful of House Democratic freshman have tested that approach to its limits, revealing cracks between the party’s traditional support of Israel and progressives’ vocal advocacy for Palestinians. 

Newcomer Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a Somali-American, drew widespread condemnation for a tweet last Sunday implying Congressional support for Israel has been bought by money from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobbying group that supports the U.S.-Israel relationship. 

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar tweeted late Sunday, asserting that politicians’ support of Israel is driven by money.

She touched off a firestorm of complaints from Democratic and Republican leaders alike, including Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Omar’s comment invoked offensive tropes about money or “Benjamins”  a reference to $100 bills — that are often used against Jewish people. Her remark was magnified because the freshman holds a coveted seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“It’s shocking to hear a member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.’ I fully expect that when we disagree on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we will debate policy on the merits and never question members’ motives or resort to personal attacks,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York said in a statement this week that reflects many of his colleagues’ reactions to the tweet.

“Criticism of American policy toward any country is fair game, but this must be done on policy grounds.” 

Omar apologized for her remarks Monday, tweeting “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.” But she went on to say that AIPAC continues to be an issue of concern, although the highly influential  organization does not make campaign contributions. 

During a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed Omar’s apology as “lame” and called on her to resign. Omar replied by calling the president a hypocrite who has “trafficked in hate your whole life  against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more.”

The weeklong dust-up underscored growing divisions within a Democratic Party that for decades provided unalloyed support to the state of Israel but that now must adjust to skepticism within its ranks about the Israeli government and that country’s policies towards the Palestinians. Trump and other Republican leaders are attempting to use their insistence on unqualified support for Israel as a litmus test to drive a wedge through the Democrats, according to media reports.

Omar, 37, was born in Mogadishu and spent her formative years in Somalia. She and her family were resettled as refugees in the United States in 1995, after the start of the Somalia civil war, and subsequently moved to Minneapolis, where she learned English and went to school. She studied political science and international affairs at North Dakota State University, before launching a career in politics. She won a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016 — which made her the first Somali-American elected to legislative office in the U.S. Then last November, she won an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Omar and Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, became the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress.

Omar has been accused of anti-Semitic language in previous tweets expressing support for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a movement that aims to end international support for Israel because of what the group calls “oppression of Palestinians.” Each time, Omar has apologized and said the controversy was an opportunity for her to learn. 

This week, Omar declined requests to speak with the media following her apology on social media for her “Benjamins” comment. But she showed no signs of backing down from courting controversy on Wednesday, when she challenged U.S. Special Representative to Venezuela Elliott Abrams on his human rights record during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. 

During the contentious exchange, Omar mistakenly referred to Abrams as “Mr. Adams” and told him she did not understand why “this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.” 

Omar is one of several high-profile Democratic freshman members of Congress who have publicly voiced their support for the BDS.

​Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from a heavily Democratic district in New York, has condemned “the occupation of Palestine.” Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, is currently seeking support for a congressional delegation trip or CODEL to Palestine later this year. AIPAC has a long history of organizing yearly congressional CODELs to Israel so that members can learn more about the situation on the ground. 

Rep. Brian Babin, a Republican from Texas, urged Democratic leaders in a letter sent Thursday to “please deny Rep. Tlaib’s request to sponsor and lead a CODEL to Palestinian territories and exercise your authority as chair to deny your consent to any member of your committee who seeks your approval to participate in such a misadventure.” 

Last month, 22 Senate Democrats voted against legislation that would facilitate penalties against American companies that boycott Israel. Six of those votes were from Senate Democrats who are running for president.  

Republicans see the growing support for Palestine on the part of younger, more progressive members of Congress as a possible opportunity to divide Democratic voters ahead of next year’s presidential nomination contest. 

A January 2018 Pew Research Center poll shows the partisan divide over Israel is at its widest point in four decades and that Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than with Palestinians has dropped from 38 percent to 27 percent since 2001. 

The House Republican leadership unexpectedly added a provision to unrelated legislation Wednesday condemning anti-Semitic language, forcing Democrats to go on the record against Omar’s remarks. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called the vote a defining moment in Congress and for the country. 

“Amid the troubling rise of anti-Semitism, including attacks on synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, it is our duty as a nation to stand firmly against intolerance and division,” McCarthy said in a statement. The provision passed unanimously, 424 to 0 vote. 

McCarthy has also faced criticism about comments invoking stereotypes about Jews. In a now deleted tweet just before the 2018 midterm elections, McCarthy accused three leading Jewish Democratic donors of trying “to buy this election.” 

Leadership in both parties will have to step carefully in the coming months, as a high-stakes 2020 presidential race heats up. Both sides will be looking for divisive tweets and off-the cuff remarks to run in campaign ads, firing up the more committed voters at the extreme ends of the parties who tend to show up at polls in early primary contests. 

Pelosi faces a tough dilemma. For the first time in decades of polling, the majority of Democrats identify themselves as liberal. The handful of progressive new House members are forcing policy discussions on a range of issues  from U.S. support of Israel to climate change to taxation rates  that is commanding media attention in a new way.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US Judge Issues Gag Order in Trial of Former Trump Adviser Roger Stone

A U.S. judge on Friday limited the ability of people involved in the trial of Roger

Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, from speaking publicly about the case in a way that may influence the outcome.

The order by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman prohibits lawyers involved in the case from speaking with news media, and prohibits other participants, like Stone himself, from making statements that may affect the case when they are near the courthouse.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Transatlantic Rift Laid Bare as US Rebukes EU Allies Over Iran Deal

The United States has called on Europe to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Washington pulled out of last year.

At a two-day conference in Warsaw, attended by more than 60 nations Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused European allies of trying to break American sanctions against what he called “Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the security, peace and freedom they deserve,” Pence said at a news conference.

​Pompeo adds pressure

Also attending the conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said global pressure was mounting on Tehran.

“No country spoke out and denied any of the basic facts that we all have laid out about Iran, the threat it poses, the nature of regime. It was unanimous,” Pompeo said.

Unanimous, perhaps, among those countries attending the conference. Some U.S. allies, however, were notable for their absence, including the foreign ministers of France and Germany. Britain’s representative left the summit early.

All three allies have voiced strong support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and have launched a payment system to bypass U.S. sanctions on Tehran in an attempt to keep the agreement alive.

 

WATCH: U.S. Rebukes EU Allies Over Iran Deal

US-European divide

Warsaw-based analyst Piotr Buras of the European Council on Foreign Relations says summit host Poland and some other European states appear closer to Washington’s approach and the United States sees an opportunity.

“I have the feeling that the Trump administration doesn’t care much about Europe’s unity, or even more perhaps it really tries to exploit some divisions within Europe, or even deepen them,” he said.

Jonathan Eyal of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute argued Washington’s approach is in fact aimed at bridging transatlantic divides with European allies.

“The United States is willing to re-engage with them on a Middle East policy, especially on a very sensitive issue like the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran where the gulf between Europe and the U.S. is very big,” he sad. “And secondly it is also another attempt by the State Department to remind the White House that the friends in Europe are irreplaceable when it comes to most of America’s foreign policy objectives.”

The summit was attended by Israel and several Sunni Gulf states. Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon declined to take part. Iran, which did not attend the meeting, dismissed it as “dead on arrival.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!