Advertisements

Daily Recap — December 3

Trump vs Macron

.

 

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the Trump presidency has been the unapologetic tone in which the president has proclaimed and end to business as usual with our so-called European allies. And that’s because business as usual has not been on the side of the American people.

NATO’s failure to own up to its own defense spending responsibilities combined with a general use of the American taxpayer as an ever reliable piggybank have made President Trump’s tough love not only justified, but critically necessary if our historically successful alliance is to maintain viability. Every president going back to Carter has hinted at the need for our European allies to step up in its end of the bargain, but little has been offered beyond passing statements. That is, until now.

Prior to Trump assuming office, very few NATO countries managed to meet the meager 2% of GDP they all agreed to spend on defense — only 3 of 27, to be exact: the United Kingdom, Poland, and Estonia. Today that number is eight, and commitments are in place to take it up to 18 within four years, a total increase in alliance defense spending of $400 billion.

While these numbers are relatively small within the context of overall NATO spending over the last couple decades, they represent a sea change that even Trump’s enemies can’t deny, though bless their hearts, they’ve tried. Many point to an agreement under the Obama administration in 2014 that promised to increase NATO spending in response to Putin’s annexation of Crimea. The problem with that, of course, is NATO has promised to increase spending many times in the past, only to leave the U.S. holding the bill once more. Any objective observer must acknowledge that the current increase in spending levels had next to zero chance of happening without the hell-raising of the current administration.

.

A Pointed Exchange

.

Today, the president directed his hell-raising at one target in particular, former best friend and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a scene straight out of the Twilight Zone, Trump defended NATO from what he called “insulting” and “nasty” comments from Macron. In a recent interview with The Economist, Macron said the world is “currently experiencing the brain death of NATO” and that the alliance needed to “wake up” and begin thinking of itself as a geopolitical power. Macron also warned of waning support for the alliance on the part of the United States.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the comments, saying she did not share his view and called the statement “drastic.”

“NATO serves a great purpose,” Trump told reporters with an impressively straight face. “I think that’s very insulting.” Trump said he was “very surprised” by the comments and called them “very disrespectful.”

“It’s a tough statement. When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries,” Trump said, adding that Macron’s statement was “very dangerous.”

“Nobody needs NATO more than France,” he said.

Okay, he has a point there.

 President Trump further seized on the occasion to get some more digs in on Macron and the chronically surrendering country he leads, making sure to let the world know that the recent French taxes on American businesses just aren’t gonna fly:

“You have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all. They’re starting to tax other people’s products, so therefore we go and tax them, which is taking place right now on technology and we’re doing their wines and everything else,” Trump said.

“You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.”

Yesterday the White House proposed tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in French goods in response to France’s digital services tax, saying an investigation found that the tax discriminated against U.S. companies.

Trump and Macron later had a tense meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit, with Trump at one point telling Macron he could send him some “ISIS fighters” if he wanted them.

“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you,” Trump said with a slight smile, clearly enjoying himself. “You can take every one you want.”

“Let’s be serious,” Macron replied sternly, reasoning that most ISIS fighters came from Syria, Iraq and Iran and disputing Trump’s common claim that ISIS had been completely defeated on the battlefield. Trump has (justifiably) complained that European countries have been unwilling to accept ISIS fighters the U.S. had captured.

Macron insisted that the number of European ISIS fighters was a “tiny” part of the overall problem of addressing destabilization in the region before reiterating that ISIS had not been totally defeated, implying that Trump’s priorities were skewed.

“I think the No. 1 priority, because it’s not finished, is it to get rid of ISIS,” Macron said, as if he’s any sort of authority on what it takes to defeat jihadists.

.

Big Picture

.

This is President Trump at his absolute best. There is still a long way to go in terms reversing the status quo with NATO, but the groundwork has been laid and leaders like Emmanuel Macron are finally starting to get the message.

This is not the typical American president and business as usual will not suffice. Keep up the pressure, Mr. President. Never apologize for putting the American taxpayer first.

.

.

.

.

.

.

One More Beating for the Impeachment Horse

.

.

One the eve of the “next phase” in the Dims’ ongoing impeachment crusade, the House Intelligence Committee has released a report regurgitating all the talking points and disingenuous arguments and implications of the last two months. While the report doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, it is nonetheless a report seeking to impeach a sitting POTUS, therefore we must at least scan its contents.

The Schiff Crew once again accused President Trump of misusing his office to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations that he believed would help his reelection bid. The report also makes the case that Trump obstructed Congress by stonewalling the committee’s requests for testimony and documents.

All in all, the report is the culmination of a two-month investigation into Trump’s handling of Ukraine, including the infamous July 25 phone call with the country’s new president and the decision to withhold military assistance from the country.

Since I know you love yourselves far too much to read this 300 page monstrosity, I’ll cover the key points here.

.

SIGNIFICANT MISCONDUCT

.

The report states that lawmakers uncovered “significant misconduct” by the president toward Ukraine that broadly placed his own personal interests above those of the nation.

It asserts that the president “subverted” national security by withholding critical military aid to Ukraine, removing an anti-corruption “champion” from her post as ambassador, and by using “hand-picked” agents to pressure the new Ukrainian president to investigate Democrats, including Joe Biden and his crack enthusiast son, Hunter.

It alleges that Trump conditioned White House meetings on the investigations, and asked Ukraine’s president to do him a favor during the July 25 conversation.

Adam Schiff, who shouldn’t qualify for a low level security clearance much less the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee, called the push on Ukraine the “act of a president unbound,” with Trump “determined to use his vast official powers to secure his reelection.”

In a rebuttal to the report, Republicans said Democrats have no evidence of impeachable offenses by Trump, only proof that he “holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine.”

The Republican rebuttal is an indicator of what their defense will be should this nonsense make its way to Senate for an actual trial, and it’s a pretty good defense indeed. A demonstrably true one, in fact, even if the president did attempt to leverage his foreign policy powers to launch an investigation into Biden.

.

NO OTHER PRESIDENT

.

The Dim report describes a concerted and unprecedented effort by Trump and his lawyers to obstruct the House investigation, and to encourage others to do so as well.

The White House told witnesses not to testify and executive branch agencies not to provide any records. Deadlines were missed, subpoenas ignored and combative tweets about “a COUP” greeted Congress in place of conciliatory niceties.

The orders were followed to varying degrees. Not a single document was produced by the White House or government agencies despite 71 demands or requests for documents, the report says. And many administration officials who refused to testify cited the White House directives, though several “courageous individuals” came forward to “tell the truth,” according to the report.

Predictably, the report asserts that Trump’s obstruction was OMG WORSE THAN NIXON, who agreed to let his staff testify voluntarily in the Watergate investigation, or President Bill Clinton, who provided written responses to 81 interrogatories.

What the report doesn’t say is the president has every right to exert executive privilege over whatever the hell he pleases, and the actions of previous presidents are irrelevant. The very reason executive privilege exists is to protect a president from politically motivated congressman screwing up their ability to govern effectively. If Schiff is offended by the president’s invoking of constitutional powers, well, that’s just too bad. I don’t seem to remember him being nearly as bothered by the Obama administration’s withholding of documents and witnesses related to the Fast and Furious operation, and that scandal actually got people killed.

Schiff is nothing if not a political hack.

.

CALL LOGS

.

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who has had the unenviable task of dealing with all this nonsense since Trump was elected, makes a surprise cameo in the report thanks to call records Dims obtained from AT&T and Verizon.

Author’s note: That’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of what AT&T and Verizon provide to the government. #ButTheseAreMinorDetails.

Those records show Nunes had a series of calls with Rudy Giuliani, as well as with Giuliani’s now-indicted associate Lev Parnas. One conversation with Parnas on April 12 lasted eight minutes, according to logs contained in the report.

In addition to Giuliani and Nunes, phone logs revealed frequent contact between Giuliani and the Office of Management and Budget as well as interactions involving Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and John Solomon, whose work has been covered here extensively. 

Giuliani also had multiple connections with a National Security Council official who formerly served on Nunes’ staff. The connection between Nunes and some of the players in the investigation has led Dims to create a narrative that Nunes should recuse himself from anything to do with the Ukraine investigation. This is likely their way of combatting the calls for Schiff to testify in the Senate as a fact witness. The implication is that if Schiff gets called, so will Nunes.

Schiff, said he was going to reserve comment on Nunes until a later date, explaining that their investigation is focused on the president’s conduct. “The allegations are concerning,” he said, but it may be up to others to investigate. Nunes has not released an official statement as of this writing.

The point of including the phone logs in the report was to imply a conspiracy between the aforementioned men, not only to orchestrate illicit investigations but to use friendly journalists to push disinformation on “enemy” bureaucrats such as former Ambassador Marie Yavonavich. There is no concrete evidence of that, mind you, but there is enough information to create the narrative, which is all Dims are looking to do along with their partners in the media.

.

THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES….SIGH

.

As the Intelligence Committee hands over the report to Judiciary, Schiff made clear that his panel’s work is far from finished. He said in a preface to the report that “there remain unanswered questions, and our investigation must continue.”

Democrats have said they are moving quickly because they believe the evidence is overwhelming and they are concerned about further misconduct by Trump. But they have been under some pressure from the far left AOC crowd to keep digging before a final impeachment vote.

Schiff said today that his panel is still looking into some related matters, including whether an effort to influence Ukraine started earlier than first understood. He has said the committee may still call witnesses and could send addendums to the report.

Have at it, Adam. It’s your funeral. The public is already tired of this failed soap opera.

.

THE THREE AMIGOS (AND RUDY)

.

The report dedicates a section to a trio of government officials who called themselves the “three amigos:” Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former special envoy Kurt Volker. The three amigos, along with Giuliani, were put in charge of Ukraine policy by President Trump.

But that didn’t mean the president listened to their assessment of the country. In May, the three told Trump that the new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was “committed to doing the right things,” including fighting corruption. According to the report, Trump reacted negatively. However it fails to provide proper context for the response, as it very well could have been an “I’ve heard this one before” situation, which would be understandable given the circumstances.

Trump reportedly said the country was “a terrible place, all corrupt, terrible people.” His words echoed Giuliani’s, and the amigos “saw the writing on the wall,” according to Sondland’s testimony, realizing they needed to work with Giuliani on Ukraine or nothing would happen. How on Earth this implies an impeachable offense is anyone’s guess.

Volker and Sondland both testified publicly and said they were dismayed they had to work with Trump’s personal attorney on diplomacy. But that was the way it was, they argued, so they followed orders.

And guess what — their opinion of the arrangement is about as relevant as Schiff’s, which is to say not at all. The president runs foreign policy. It doesn’t matter how it looks or if some folks this it’s unwise. He is within his constitutional authority to do it.

This is one giant waste of time and taxpayer money.

.

Big Picture

.

Refer to my last sentence.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I Hate to Say I Told You So, But…

.

.

I told you so.

It’s now being reported that AG Barr is not treating the upcoming IG report as the Gospel and is outwardly disagreeing with some of its (alleged) central findings. And most importantly, Barr is reportedly telling folks in DC that the IG report will not be the last word on the matter.

Barr has long been a skeptic of the Russia probe, and particularly the FBI’s tactics to investigate Trump campaign associates. And now it’s being reported by leftwing and rightwing outlets alike that Barr believes questions remain about some of the intelligence and other information the FBI used to pursue the investigation. Multiple outlets report that the sources of this information are people high within the DoJ.
.
That view stands in contrast to what is expected from IG Horowitz’s report, due to be released next Monday, which is expected to conclude that the FBI’s investigation was legally predicated, despite errors and potential wrongdoing by some lower-level FBI employees involved in it.
.
“The inspector general’s investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice,” said Kerri Kupec, Justice Department spokeswoman. “His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves. Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the inspector general’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters.”
.
The conflict between Barr and the DoJ should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Back in 2017, before he became attorney general, Barr told The Failing New York Times that he thought the Justice Department had more reason to investigate the Clinton Foundation — along with Uranium One — than it did to investigate President Trump. “I have long believed that the predicate for investigating the uranium deal, as well as the foundation, is far stronger than any basis for investigating so-called ‘collusion,’ ” he told the Times.
.
This guy gets it.
.
After initial internal briefings as attorney general earlier this year, Barr told other Justice officials he had information that bolstered some of his qualms about the department’s handling of the Russia probe, though it’s not clear where he obtained that information.
Barr is very “woke” when it comes to the Fake News, and is well known for questioning the prevailing media narratives of the day.
.

It’s this skepticism and hunger for the actual truth that led Barr to appoint federal prosecutor John Durham earlier this year to conduct what he said was a “broader investigation,” which is reviewing actions by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that provided information to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Durham’s work is expected to continue into next year. While that timeline is decidedly frustrating for those of us who would like to see real justice, it’s worth noting that Durham will be finishing at the best possible time for President Trump’s electoral chances.
.
It’s not uncommon for attorneys general to disagree with inspector general conclusions, and at times they have made those disputes clear in responses appended to their watchdogs’ reports. However, multiple reputable outlets are reporting that Barr will forego a formal rebuttal to the IG report and will instead allow the Durham investigation to speak for itself.
.
This is important because Horowitz’s jurisdiction extends only to the Justice Department and its agencies, including the FBI, and the inspector general investigators didn’t speak to intelligence agency employees. His report is expected to measure the FBI’s conduct based on current Justice Department standards. The threshold of evidence needed to open a counterintelligence investigation is relatively low, and Barr has suggested that the department may need to tighten procedures for counterintelligence investigations that involve political campaigns.
.
.

Big Picture

.

Real News Revolt is being vindicated in our big picture analysis of where exactly things stand in terms of investigating the origins of the Russia hoax. IG Horowitz will almost certainly provide some important information, but his report will come nowhere close to answering the most critical questions.

While I understand the general frustration of the Trump base when it comes to lack of accountability for the Swamp, we are very fortunate to have an attorney general who shares our desire to investigate this matter properly. Today’s reports have given me more confidence than I’ve had at any other point this year, and it’s a good feeling. I cannot guarantee what will come of all this when everything is said and done, but I can say with high confidence that what Barr is doing is more than lip service.

As the impeachment crusade implodes under the weight of its own desperation, the real show is just beginning.

.

.

.

.

Donations

If you feel that I’ve earned a donation, please click the box below. If you would like to pay more than $1, simply increase the number of donations in the area provided. I’m profoundly grateful for any support you can offer. Thank you so much and keep fighting the good fight! Venmo: @trey-vaught

$1.00

 

Advertisements
Categories Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close