Category Archives: International

Senate Intelligence Committee refutes House Intelligence Committee whitewash report n Russia

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s leaders said Wednesday they believed that the intelligence community’s 2017 assessment of election meddling was correct, breaking with Midnight Run Devin Nunes and compromised Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee who questioned the conclusion that the Russians were trying to help President Donald Trump get elected.

The Republican House Intelligence Committee’s whitewash report now stands alone as a highly partisan attempt to exonerate the Trump campaign, and a glaring failure to perform its constitutional duty of congressional oversight. It may also constitute acting as accessories to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Donald Trump has relied upon the wild conspiracy theories concocted by Rep. Nunes in coordination with the White House, and the House committee’s bogus whitewash report in attacking the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes should immediately be removed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and every Republican member on the committee voted out of office this November.

Politico reports, Senate intelligence leaders: Russians schemed to help Trump:

Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday endorsed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help President Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

It’s a powerful bipartisan endorsement of a conclusion that had been called into question by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who have accused intelligence agencies of failing to employ proper “tradecraft” when they concluded Russia came to support Trump’s candidacy. Instead, it’s the Republicans on the House panel who find themselves isolated in their position in what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the FBI and Justice Department.

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9th Circuit Court of Appeals hears DACA appeal while new arrivals face family-separation policy

A three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Tuesday questioned the government’s rationale for terminating the DACA program that offered a reprieve from deportation to immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, with one judge inquiring whether officials had yet considered re-justifying the decision to make it more legally sound. Appeals court hears arguments on DACA — but offers few clues on how it might rule:

The 9th Circuit is the first appellate court to hear oral arguments on whether the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA, can pass legal muster.

The judges — two appointed by President Barack Obama and one by President Bill Clinton — asked skeptical questions of both sides, and it was difficult to determine how they might rule.

The judges inquired about whether the judiciary could rightly second-guess what the government characterizes as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, and whether the government might — as one lower court judge suggested — consider providing more solid legal reasoning for coming to the decision it did. They also asked about whether the government might have violated the due-process rights of DACA recipients whose lives could be upended.

A federal judge in San Francisco — weighing bids to save DACA from the states of California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota; California’s university system; and individual DACA recipients — had blocked the administration from ending the program, at least temporarily. The ruling was largely based on the judge’s conclusion that the decision to end it was arbitrary and based on flawed legal reasoning.

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A Tale of Two Realities

The relationship between Israel and Palestine is truly a tale of two realities where, over the decades,  people on both sides had their lives prematurely taken from their loved ones. Strong leadership committed to peace and prosperity on both sides for both sides is needed to resolve this dispute as well as the United States leadership returning to the role of Honest Broker instead of its recent overt pro-Israel posture.

On one side you have the Israelis who represent the only vibrant democracy in the region. In this country, everyone, including the Arabs, has equal rights and representation in the Israelis Parliament, the Knesset.

However, the Israelis have a problem trusting their neighbors for good reason. Before it achieved nationhood, its mandate to establish a homeland in Palestine was reduced by roughly two thirds when the British, in the first land for peace deal, called the Palestinian Territories east of the Jordan River Trans Jordan (later just Jordan) and gave it to the Arabs. Not satisfied with two-thirds of the land, the Arabs in the Jewish third of Palestine wanted that too. Giving into Arab protests, the British decided to divide that parcel up in a similar way that they haphazardly partitioned India and Pakistan (whose eastern boundaries would become Bangladesh). This arrangement was doomed to cause future conflict as the future states of Israel and Palestine were born. In the war for independence, Israel, despite the odds, survived increasing its territorial holdings on lands Palestinians abandoned at the leading Arab elites request (thinking they would return after Israel was defeated) or when the Israelis ejected them.  Whatever was left was scooped up by Jordan and Egypt in the occupation nobody seems to remember in the history books. In the later Six Day War in 1967, Israel acquired the remainder of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel offered to return all the captured lands in exchange for peace and the Arab countries rejected the overture. Only later when Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 was the Sinai returned. Gaza was also offered back to Egypt but the Egyptians did not want the headache. Jordan probably felt the same way when it did not insist on the return of the West Bank when it made its peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

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Support Sen. John McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel at CIA

For the past several days the media has been consumed by the story that White House communications special aide Kelly Sadler joked in a staff meeting about Sen. John McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s nominee for the CIA, Gina Haspel: “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.White House official mocked ‘dying’ McCain at internal meeting.

While Kelly Sadler has called the McCain family to apologize privately, she has not been terminated nor has she or the White House publicly apologized for her comment. The Trump White House crossed a new threshold for political debasement this week:

U. S. Senator John McCain

The White House probably thinks it cannot punish Kelly Sadler for her awful comment about John McCain because President Trump has also said nasty things about McCain. It may worry that showing her the door would set a troubling precedent for a president who may one day cross a very similar line.

Welcome to the ongoing degradation of our political discourse. Destination: No end in sight.

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What happened this week is worse than most anything we have seen — worse even, I would argue, than Trump questioning McCain’s war hero status. What’s more, the White House is trying to ignore it, which means the bulldozer is pressing forward.

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Either because the White House is afraid of setting a standard Trump cannot meet or because Trump is demanding it hold the line against the media’s outrage cycle, it is serving notice there are more important things than Sadler’s public accountability: things like confidentiality and politics.

Case in point, Trump blasts the White House leakers as ‘traitors and cowards’:

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Congress attempts a discharge petition for DACA and the DREAMers

There is a move afoot in Congress by a handful of Republicans worried about losing in November to use a discharge petition to force a vote on DACA and the DREAMers that GOP Congressional leadership pushed aside during the continuing resolution (CR) budget battles earlier this year. House Republicans, Defying Leaders, Move to Force Immigration Votes:

More than a dozen House Republicans defied Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Wednesday and moved to force a vote on immigration in the House, aiming to settle the uncertain futures of so-called Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to this country illegally as children.

The group is gathering signatures for a so-called discharge petition, a parliamentary maneuver that could be used to circumvent Mr. Ryan by bringing legislation to the House floor with the support of a majority of members. The party out of power often uses such petitions, but they rarely succeed because a signature from a member of the party in power is seen as a betrayal of leadership.

This time around, 17 Republicans had signed as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We are well aware that the speaker’s preference was not to have this process,” said Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, who introduced the petition Wednesday morning. “I’ve made the argument to the speaker personally that this process actually empowers him.”

If nine more Republicans sign on, along with all House Democrats, the group will be able to revive an immigration debate that had appeared all but dead. Its goal is to force debate on four immigration-related measures, including one of the speaker’s choosing.

Under a little-used rule known as Queen of the Hill, the measure that received the most votes would be adopted, and advance to the Senate, so long as a majority of the House voted in favor. Representative Jeff Denham, Republican of California and the architect of the strategy, said such a rule could be brought up on the first and third Monday of every month. The next opportunity to do so, he said, would be June 11.

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The Trump Swamp: ‘pay to play’ corruption

Over the weekend the New York Times and the Washington Post did some excellent investigative reporting into the shady finances of Donald Trump and his consigliere Michael Cohn. The more we learn about Cohn’s “pay to play” scheme, and the two pending lawsuits challenging Trump’s “pay tp play” scheme under the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the more this feckless GOP-controlled Congress has an obligation to investigate Trump’s tax records and financial dealings as president to “drain the swamp”: this is the most corrupt administration in recent American history.

Steve Benen has a decent short summary, The closer one looks at Trump’s finances, the louder the questions become:

Last summer, Donald Trump sat down with the New York Times, which asked whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have crossed “a red line” if the investigation into the Russia scandal extends to include examinations of the resident’s finances. “I would say yeah. I would say yes,” he replied, adding, “I think that’s a violation.”

Naturally, this generated no shortage of speculation as to why Trump is so concerned about scrutiny of his finances. For that matter, there’s no reason to separate questions about the president’s finances with the Russia scandal – because as Rachel Maddow has explained on her show more than once, there’s an amazing number of people from Russia who’ve purchased Trump properties over the years. (My personal favorite is the story of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the fertilizer king, who purchased a derelict Florida estate from the future president at an extreme markup.)

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