Trumpin puhdistukset ja linjamuutokset

Vielä yksi aiheesta. Eli: oikea tapa seurata näitä Trumpin hallintoon kohdistuvia lööppejä on seurata Lawfare-päätoimittaja Wittesin twitteriä.

Aina kun "baby cannon" puhuu (ja muuta kommenttia kuin BOOM ei koskaa ole), niin jotain on tapahtunut. :uzi:

Näin tälläkin kertaa:

Muoks: Lööpeistä puheenollen, tässä ilmeisesti päivän NYT -etusivu. Aika raflaava...

Viimeksi muokattu:


Mikähän mökä tulisi jos Suomessa esitettäisiin pahan paikan sattuessa - tai sitä ennakoitaessa itärajalle piikkilankaa.
Tällaisesta puhuttiin NL:n hajoamisen yhteydessä kyllä kun Venäjän talous lahti raketoimaan väärään suuntaan kapitalismin myötä. Hurjimmat visioivat rajalle kk-tornejakin.


Trump ohitti edeltävät presidentit hallinnon sulkemisen keston suhteen sillä 22 päivää kestänyt sulku ohitti vuonna 1995 syntyneen edellisen ennätyksen.
At midnight on Saturday, the shutdown entered its 22nd day, which makes it the longest gap in American government funding ever.
That beats the previous record, under President Bill Clinton in 1995, of 21 days.

In total, there have been 21 gaps in government funding since 1976, though the level of shutdown has varied. The current federal shutdown is a partial one, as many agencies were already funded through this fiscal year, which ends in September.

The roots of today’s dysfunction date back to some critical decisions starting in the 1970s. Here’s a look at why the American government has lurched into crisis over the budget so often since then.

Before the 1970s, the federal government would in some cases spend money without prior congressional approval, said Jim Broussard, the director of the Center for Political History at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.

A 1974 law reorganized the budgeting process, shifting power from the executive branch to Congress. Tense disagreements quickly emerged.

In 1977, the House of Representatives and the Senate fought over whether Medicaid should be used to pay for abortions. That led to three separate instances in which the government could not provide funding for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education and Welfare. The shutdowns added up to a total of 28 days that year.

Another gap in funding the following year, when President Jimmy Carter took issue with a costly public works bill and defense spending, lasted 17 days.

Two legal opinions issued by the United States attorney general, Benjamin R. Civiletti, in 1980 and 1981, made shutdowns much more severe.

Until that point, most agencies could continue to operate even if funding bills hadn’t been passed, with the understanding that money would eventually be approved.

But Mr. Civiletti argued that it was illegal for the government to spend money without congressional appropriations. The few exceptions included work by federal employees to protect life and property, he wrote.

That, in turn, prompted an increased frequency of small shutdowns as politicians struggled with deadlines, said Roy T. Meyers, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has written about the history of shutdowns.

In November 1981, President Ronald Reagan, in a fight with Congress over $8.5 billion in budget cuts he wanted, ordered the furlough of 241,000 government employees. It was the first time a shutdown of that size was ordered.

A congressional subcommittee estimated that the two-day shutdown cost taxpayers between $80 million and $90 million, including administrative costs, such as figuring out who could and couldn’t work and paying workers who didn’t work.

Shutdowns that included furloughs in 1984, 1986 and 1990 cost taxpayers at least $128 million, according to government estimates.

The longest previous shutdown came in 1995. At issue was a long-term budget backed by Republicans, who won control of both the House and the Senate halfway through Mr. Clinton’s first term.

Their plan limited spending for Medicare and turned Medicaid and most other welfare programs over to the states. House Republicans, in particular, were keen on using a shutdown to get Mr. Clinton to sign their bill.

A five-day shutdown in November was followed by the record-breaker — 21 days — starting in mid-December. That conflagration helped pave the way for the 2013 shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The 2013 shutdown lasted for 16 days and ended amid dire warnings from the Treasury Department that it was about to run out of money. Having failed in their bid to defund Obamacare, Republicans leaders eventually worked with their Democratic counterparts on a plan to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

“We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” Mr. Obama said at the time.


Trump on agressiivisesti peitellyt hänen ja Putinin välisten keskustelujen sisältöä omalta henkilökunnaltaankin. Keskusteluista ei ole saatavilla edes salaisia tietoja ja virkamiesten on täytynyt luottaa tiedustelutietoon venäläisten reaktioista. Trump jopa takavarikoi tulkin tekemät muistiinpanot Hampurissa 2017 käytyjen keskustelujen jälkeen.
President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is thought to be in the final stages of an investigation that has focused largely on whether Trump or his associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The new details about Trump’s continued secrecy underscore the extent to which little is known about his communications with Putin since becoming president.

After this story was published online, Trump said in an interview late Saturday with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that he did not take particular steps to conceal his private meetings with Putin and attacked The Washington Post and its owner Jeffrey P. Bezos.

He said he talked with Putin about Israel, among other subjects. “Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without offering specifics.

When Pirro asked if he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.”

Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

Trump’s secrecy surrounding Putin “is not only unusual by historical standards, it is outrageous,” said Strobe Talbott, a former deputy secretary of state now at the Brookings Institution, who participated in more than a dozen meetings between President Bill Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. “It handicaps the U.S. government — the experts and advisers and Cabinet officers who are there to serve [the president] — and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump.”

A White House spokesman disputed that characterization and said that the Trump administration has sought to “improve the relationship with Russia” after the Obama administration “pursued a flawed ‘reset’ policy that sought engagement for the sake of engagement.”

The Trump administration “has imposed significant new sanctions in response to Russian malign activities,” said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that Tillerson in 2017 “gave a fulsome readout of the meeting immediately afterward to other U.S. officials in a private setting, as well as a readout to the press.”

Trump allies said the president thinks the presence of subordinates impairs his ability to establish a rapport with Putin and that his desire for secrecy may also be driven by embarrassing leaks that occurred early in his presidency.

The meeting in Hamburg happened several months after The Washington Post and other news organizations revealed details about what Trump had told senior Russian officials during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump disclosed classified information about a terrorism plot, called former FBI director James B. Comey a “nut job” and said that firing Comey had removed “great pressure” on his relationship with Russia.

The White House launched internal leak hunts after that and other episodes and sharply curtailed the distribution within the National Security Council of memos on the president’s interactions with foreign leaders.

“Over time it got harder and harder, I think, because of a sense from Trump himself that the leaks of the call transcripts were harmful to him,” said a former administration official.

Senior Democratic lawmakers describe the cloak of secrecy surrounding Trump’s meetings with Putin as unprecedented and disturbing.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview that his panel will form an investigative subcommittee whose targets will include seeking State Department records of Trump’s encounters with Putin, including a closed-door meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki last summer.

“It’s been several months since Helsinki and we still don’t know what went on in that meeting,” Engel said. “It’s appalling. It just makes you want to scratch your head.”

The concerns have been compounded by actions and positions Trump has taken as president that are seen as favorable to the Kremlin. He has dismissed Russia’s election interference as a “hoax,” suggested that Russia was entitled to annex Crimea, repeatedly attacked NATO allies, resisted efforts to impose sanctions on Moscow, and begun to pull U.S. forces out of Syria — a move that critics see as effectively ceding ground to Russia.

At the same time, Trump’s decision to fire Comey and other attempts to contain the ongoing Russia investigation led the bureau in May 2017 to launch a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was seeking to help Russia and if so, why, a step first reported by the New York Times.

It is not clear whether Trump has taken notes from interpreters on other occasions, but several officials said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president’s two-hour meeting in Helsinki. Unlike in Hamburg, Trump allowed no Cabinet officials or any aides to be in the room for that conversation.

Trump also had other private conversations with Putin at meetings of global leaders outside the presence of aides. He spoke at length with Putin at a banquet at the same 2017 global conference in Hamburg, where only Putin’s interpreter was present. Trump also had a brief conversation with Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last month.

Trump generally has allowed aides to listen to his phone conversations with Putin, although Russia has often been first to disclose those calls when they occur and release statements characterizing them in broad terms favorable to the Kremlin.

In an email, Tillerson said that he “was present for the entirety of the two presidents’ official bilateral meeting in Hamburg,” but he declined to discuss the meeting and did not respond to questions about whether Trump had instructed the interpreter to remain silent or had taken the interpreter’s notes.

In a news conference afterward, Tillerson said that the Trump-Putin meeting lasted more than two hours, covered the war in Syria and other subjects, and that Trump had “pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement” in election interference. “President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson refused to say during the news conference whether Trump had rejected Putin’s claim or indicated that he believed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered.

Tillerson’s account is at odds with the only detail that other administration officials were able to get from the interpreter, officials said. Though the interpreter refused to discuss the meeting, officials said, he conceded that Putin had denied any Russian involvement in the U.S. election and that Trump responded by saying, “I believe you.”

Senior Trump administration officials said that White House officials including then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster were never able to obtain a comprehensive account of the meeting, even from Tillerson.

“We were frustrated because we didn’t get a readout,” a former senior administration official said. “The State Department and [National Security Council] were never comfortable” with Trump’s interactions with Putin, the official said. “God only knows what they were going to talk about or agree to.”

Because of the absence of any reliable record of Trump’s conversations with Putin, officials at times have had to rely on reports by U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the reaction in the Kremlin.

Previous presidents and senior advisers have often studied such reports to assess whether they had accomplished their objectives in meetings as well as to gain insights for future conversations.

U.S. intelligence agencies have been reluctant to call attention to such reports during Trump’s presidency because they have at times included comments by foreign officials disparaging the president or his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former senior administration official said.

“There was more of a reticence in the intelligence community going after those kinds of communications and reporting them,” said a former administration official who worked in the White House. “The feedback tended not to be positive.”

The interpreter at Hamburg revealed the restrictions that Trump had imposed when he was approached by administration officials at the hotel where the U.S. delegation was staying, officials said.

Among the officials who asked for details from the meeting were Fiona Hill, the senior Russia adviser at the NSC, and John Heffern, who was then serving at State as the acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from the interpreter. Heffern, who retired from State in 2017, declined to comment.

Through a spokesman, Hill declined a request for an interview.

There are conflicting accounts of the purpose of the conversation with the interpreter, with some officials saying that Hill was among those briefed by Tillerson and that she was merely seeking more nuanced information from the interpreter.

Others said the aim was to get a more meaningful readout than the scant information furnished by Tillerson. “I recall Fiona reporting that to me,” one former official said. A second former official present in Hamburg said that Tillerson “didn’t offer a briefing or call the ambassador or anybody together. He didn’t brief senior staff,” although he “gave a readout to the press.”

A similar issue arose in Helsinki, the setting for the first formal U.S.-Russia summit since Trump became president. Hill, national security adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials took part in a preliminary meeting that included Trump, Putin and other senior Russian officials.

But Trump and Putin then met for two hours in private, accompanied only by their interpreters. Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, could be seen emerging from the meeting with pages of notes.

Alarmed by the secrecy of Trump’s meeting with Putin, several lawmakers subsequently sought to compel Gross to testify before Congress about what she witnessed. Others argued that forcing her to do so would violate the impartial role that interpreters play in diplomacy. Gross was not forced to testify. She was identified when members of Congress sought to speak with her. The interpreter in Hamburg has not been identified.

During a joint news conference with Putin afterward, Trump acknowledged discussing Syria policy and other subjects but also lashed out at the media and federal investigators, and he seemed to reject the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies by saying that he was persuaded by Putin’s “powerful” denial of election interference.

Previous presidents have required senior aides to attend meetings with adversaries including the Russian president largely to ensure that there are not misunderstandings and that others in the administration are able to follow up on any agreements or plans. Detailed notes that Talbot took of Clinton’s meetings with Yeltsin are among hundreds of documents declassified and released last year.
Viimeyön uutispommi jenkeissä on ollut New York Timesin uutinen, että FBI avasi tutkimuksen Trumpia kohtaan Comeyn erottamisen yhteydessä, ja että tutkimus kattaa FBI:n molemmat haarat, sekä rikosoikeuden, että vakoilun. Siitä, onko tutkimushaara yhä auki, tai löytyikö mitään, ei ole tietoa.
Edustajainhuoneen tiedusteluvaliokunnan demaripuheenjohtaja vahvistaa, että tutkimuksia on tehty sekä Trumpin kampanjan että Trumpin ollessa kohteena, ja että tutkimukset jatkuvat, ja että tutkittavaa tuntuu tulevan koko ajan lisää. Lisäksi viittaus Trumpin taloustietojen tarpeellisuuteen selvityksissä, eli kohta varmaan lähtevät vaatimaan Trumpin verotietoja esiin.



Kysyttäessä onko hän koskaan työskennellyt Venäjän hyväksi Trump ei vastannut kieltävästi vaan väisti sanomalla kysymyksen olleen loukkaavin koskaan häneltä kysytty.
President Donald Trump avoided giving a direct answer when asked if he currently is or has ever worked for Russia after a published report said federal law enforcement officials were so concerned about his behavior after he fired James Comey from the FBI that they began investigating whether Trump had been working for the U.S. adversary against American interests.

Trump said it was the "most insulting" question he'd ever been asked.

The New York Times report Friday cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

Trump responded to the report Saturday during a telephone interview broadcast on Fox News Channel after host Jeanine Pirro, who is also a personal friend of the president, asked whether he is currently or has ever worked for Russia.

"I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," Trump said. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written, and if you read the article you'll see that they found absolutely nothing."

Trump never answered Pirro's question directly, but went on to say that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has.

"If you ask the folks in Russia, I've been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other ... probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents."

The Times reported that FBI agents and some top officials became suspicious of Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign but didn't open an investigation at that time because they weren't sure how to approach such a sensitive and important probe, according to the unnamed officials. But Trump's behavior in the days around Comey's May 2017 firing as FBI director, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Comey's ousting to the Russia investigation, helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation, according to the newspaper.

In the inquiry, counterintelligence investigators sought to evaluate whether Trump was a potential threat to national security. They also sought to determine whether Trump was deliberately working for Russia or had unintentionally been influenced by Moscow.

Trump tweeted early Saturday that the report showed that the FBI leadership "opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof" after he had fired Comey.

Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed special counsel soon after Comey's firing. The overall investigation is looking into Russian election interference and whether Trump's campaign coordinated with the Russians, as well as possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The Times says it's unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence angle.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing."

Trump has also repeatedly and vociferously denied collusion with the Russians.
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Trump on agressiivisesti peitellyt hänen ja Putinin välisten keskustelujen sisältöä omalta henkilökunnaltaankin. Keskusteluista ei ole saatavilla edes salaisia tietoja ja virkamiesten on täytynyt luottaa tiedustelutietoon venäläisten reaktioista. Trump jopa takavarikoi tulkin tekemät muistiinpanot Hampurissa 2017 käytyjen keskustelujen jälkeen.
Edustajainhuoneen tiedusteluvaliokunnan uusi demaripuheenjohtaja Schiff väläyttelee asiaan palaamista. Mielenkiintoista sinällään, että kääntäjän paperit salattiin myös edustajainhuoneen republikaanijästenten silloin johtaman valiokunnan toimesta...



Presidentin tutkiminen uhkana kansalliselle turvallisuudelle herättää monia hyvin vaikeita kysymyksiä. Vaikein lienee jos presidentti johtaa ulkopolitiikkaa voiko hän olla uhka kansalliselle turvallisuudelle? Jos FBI:llä on todisteita siitä että presidentti toimii vieraan valtion hyväksi tieten tai hyödyllisenä idioottina eikö tällainen toiminta ole uhka kansalliselle turvallisuudelle? Kysymyksiin ei liene oikeita vastauksia sillä näin poikkeuksellisia tapahtumia/tekoja ei ole FBI:ltä tai presidentiltä aiemmin nähty eikä juridisia koukeroita siten ole selvitetty. Toisaalta yksityiskohdat FBI:n toimista eivät ole tiedossa ja niiden tultua tietoon kyseessä voi olla järisyttävä ylilyönti tai tavanomainen byrokraattinen toimi. Alla kaksi oikeustieteilijän pohdintaa asiasta.

The New York Times has reported that, in the wake of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation into the president. At one level, of course, this is not surprising—John Bellinger identified Donald Trump as a potential danger to U.S. national security in 2015, and Benjamin Wittes followed up in 2016 and 2017. There is a lot of information in the public record, much of it recounted in the Times article, about the president’s unusual behavior with respect to Russia. But, of course, on another level it is terribly shocking—and just plain terrible—that the president has behaved as he has, and that the FBI is investigating him.

Although I find the president’s behavior shocking, I am not shocked, or at least not surprised, at the FBI’s investigative response. The idea that the original and overarching FBI investigation concerned Russia, “period, full stop,” as Jim Baker apparently testified to Congress, and that the investigation then evolved to include the Trump campaign and eventually the president himself, is the expected sequence of events. The Russians have been engaged in election interference of one sort or another for years—even before Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin offered money to Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election. So one would expect the FBI to be investigating the Russians in connection with the 2016 election and then to follow the evidence where it led.

The opposite sequence, in which a criminal investigation of Trump or the Trump organization led to the Russians, would have been more unusual, but even that would not be totally unprecedented. Sometimes a criminal investigation morphs into a counterintelligence investigation.

But the idea that a counterintelligence investigation or other FBI counterintelligence work involving Russian election interference evolved to include the Trump campaign is hardly news. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment order of Special Counsel Robert Mueller directs Mueller to continue the investigation cited by Comey in his March 2017 congressional testimony and specifically includes “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” Here is the relevant excerpt from Comey’s testimony:

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.​
And the Times story regarding the counterintelligence investigation into the president says explicitly that Mueller “took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it.”

The Times story also says that the criminal and counterintelligence aspects of the investigation into the president—that is, whether his effort to end the Russia investigation was a crime, a national security concern or both—were melded together. This, too, would be expected. As an example of how criminal and counterintelligence elements of a case often overlap, consider the FBI investigation of Aldrich Ames: The bureau’s work necessarily involved a counterintelligence element as it tried to find the Russian mole in the CIA, but Ames ultimately pleaded guilty to criminal charges under the Espionage Act. Likewise, any effort by Ames to obstruct the investigation into finding the mole in the CIA would have both constituted the crime of obstruction of justice and raised a counterintelligence concern, because such an effort, if successful, would leave the mole in place and allow the Russians continued access to CIA information.

The combined/merged approach is in keeping with the FBI’s Attorney General Guidelines and the bureau’s approach to investigations following the lowering of the “wall” between its criminal and counterintelligence functions after 9/11, as Wittes’s Lawfare piece in response to the Times story explains (citing my book):

The Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations are explicit in providing that “all of the FBI's legal authorities are available for deployment in all cases” in order to “protect the public from crimes and threats to the national security and to further the United States’ foreign intelligence objectives.” As David Kris explains in his landmark treatise on national security investigations, “these three strands of authority are now explicitly braided.” As a result, as the guidelines make clear, the FBI’s “information gathering activities” need not be “differentially labeled” as law enforcement, counterintelligence, or affirmative foreign intelligence, and its personnel need not be “segregated from each other based on the subject areas in which they operate.” The guidelines further explain that, “n many cases, a single investigation will be supportable as an exercise of a number of these authorities—i.e., as an investigation of a federal crime or crimes, as an investigation of a threat to the national security, and/or as a collection of foreign intelligence.” There are separate investigative missions, and there are a variety of different authorities, but there is only one FBI.

That language from the Attorney General’s Guidelines provides the background for how to understand what was going on here. While it is shocking that the FBI was investigating the president, it is not really surprising given that the president has done and has provoked so much that is itself shocking.

Nor am I outraged by the FBI’s actions. For several reasons, I think the FBI effectively could not avoid investigating the president under the circumstances presented in May 2017. That is true for at least six reasons:

First, as the Times story explains, the president said and did things in the 2016 campaign that were bizarre and suspicious:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.​
Second, there is the Steele dossier, which was first publicly revealed in January 2017, but was in the FBI’s hands before then. People argue about the extent to which the Steele dossier has held up; the best and most recent assessment that I have seen, here, is that it has held up quite well. But in any event, the document was properly taken seriously then given Steele’s history as a former British MI-6 officer and reliable informant (as documented in the Carter Page FISA applications).

Third, consider the investigations into Carter Page (regarding which the first FISA application was filed in October 2016) and others in the Trump campaign, as recounted in this separate Times story. There was a lot of justifiable investigative activity into the campaign and campaign officials and their relationship with Russia and the Russian government. I won’t belabor all of that here.

Fourth, as the Times reports, there was Trump’s behavior with Comey in January or February 2017, asking for the loyalty pledge and asking him to drop the investigationof former national security adviser Michael Flynn (but not formally ordering him to do so, and with awareness that it would continue).

Fifth, the president fired Comey in May 2017, and there is an account in the Times story about how he wanted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to include a reference to the Russia investigation as a justification for firing Comey (a request that Rosenstein apparently refused). Regardless of whether this is or is not something that could be the gravamen of a crime, given one’s views of Article II power, it’s obviously of concern from a counterintelligence perspective that Trump had removed the head of the agency investigating Russia, especially after trying and failing in private to extract a loyalty pledge and termination of the Flynn investigation.

Sixth, there is the Lester Holt interview on May 11, 2017, in which Trump explained his thinking about firing Comey by saying, “you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” He said other things about how the investigation would continue, as his supporters correctly have pointed out, but the linkage between the Comey firing and the Russia investigation is here.

And then, albeit apparently just after the decision to open the investigation was made, the Times reported on May 19 about how, earlier that month, the president in the Oval Office with the Russians said that Comey was a “nut job” and that firing him removed “great pressure because of Russia” that was on Trump.

Given those facts and others, it seems to me that the FBI was not merely justified, but actually compelled, to investigate the president. Such a decision is very sensitive; it has to be done very carefully; there are serious concerns about the security establishment investigating an elected official. It is a horrendous situation and terribly fraught. It is shocking, even if not surprising. There is no good outcome available. But at some point, the choice is either to pursue the investigation or to let it go, and I cannot see how the FBI could have let it go. Pursuing the investigation seems to me to have been the least worst option available.

I should add, parenthetically, that I am not entirely sure from the Times article exactly what the FBI did, administratively, when it began to focus on the president individually. The FBI’s internal procedures, including procedures governing files, are quite complex. Books have been written on the subject. My focus here is much more simple-minded and doesn’t depend primarily on the form in which the investigation was documented, whether it involved a separate investigative file or a sub-file, a separate investigation or a part of the larger one. Nor am I overly concerned, at least for now, about whether the investigation or sub-investigation’s denomination was criminal or counterintelligence.The fundamental questions, I think, are whether the agency must or should follow the evidence if it leads to the president’s conduct, whether the evidence here was sufficient for that to occur, whether the FBI conducted the investigation properly, and the like.

A lot of hard Article II questions are available here, along the lines of those presented in U.S. v. Nixon, but I do not believe that many of them are actually presented. This is separate from whether the situation is fraught and dangerous and the like, as discussed above—it clearly is, and the case presents grave and terrible risk no matter what is done (or not done).

Let’s begin with the assumption that, as the president’s lawyers put it, he “could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.” Even if this is true, as a matter of Article II power, the fact is that he did not do so. In such circumstances, the FBI was right to continue. The president’s inaction probably stems at least in part from a concern that taking strong action would have created a major political problem, and perhaps even provoked a political remedy, e.g., impeachment. This places the FBI’s actions in context of a larger political system of checks and balances. Whatever Trump’s motives, however, in the absence of definitive action by the president, the FBI could and should not, of its own accord, have treated the president, and perhaps those close to him, as a denied area, immune from investigation despite the facts.

The New York Times reported on Jan. 11 that the FBI “began investigating whether President Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests” soon after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. In other words, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the president.

The Times reports that my friend and former colleague, former FBI General Counsel James Baker, said during testimony to House investigators in October 2018 that “Not only would [firing Comey] be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security.” The Times paraphrases Baker’s testimony as follows: “If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau’s effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved.”

If the story is accurate, then what the FBI did was unprecedented and possibly—I emphasize possibly, since many relevant facts are not included in the Times reporting—an overstep, or at least imprudent. The reason the FBI step might have been imprudent is that it was premised on an inversion of the normal assumptions of Article II of the Constitution.

The FBI defines its counterintelligence responsibilities as follows: “As the country’s lead counterintelligence agency, the FBI is responsible for detecting and lawfully countering actions of foreign intelligence services and organizations that employ human and technical means to gather information about the U.S. that adversely affects our national interests’” (emphasis added). The FBI sees its counterintelligence missionas “identifying and neutralizing ongoing national security threats” (emphasis added). And indeed, this seems to be the FBI’s theory, according to the Times: The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of the president because, after Trump fired Comey, the FBI feared that Trump was a threat to the national security interests of the United States.

There is an unobjectionable sense in which the president can obviously be caught up in a counterintelligence investigation. We have known that Trump has been at least peripherally connected to one ever since Comey’s March 20, 2017 testimony, and especially since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that he was appointing Robert Mueller to conduct a counterintelligence investigation concerning:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).​
As David Kris notes, we have long understood that this counterintelligence investigation would sweep up Trump’s relationship with Russia, and might include the question whether Trump might be compromised by the Russians. But the Times suggests that the FBI—at least after Comey was fired—took this investigation in a different direction, at least as a formal matter, based on the premise that the president was a threat to the national security interests of the United States.

It is not unusual for a president to make controversial policy decisions that could, in some quarters, be viewed as causing harm to the national security interests of the United States. For example, many saw George W. Bush’s decisions in the war on terrorism, or Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran and Cuba, as harming U.S. national security. Many believe that most of Trump’s foreign policy constitutes a similar threat—his attacks on allies and international institutions, his lies and erratic behavior, and the like. But the FBI obviously would not open a counterintelligence investigation for these matters.

They would not do so because these actions—and indeed the very determination of the U.S. interest in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy—are presidential prerogatives. The Supreme Court has often affirmed, many times since United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., that it is the president himself, not the executive branch, who possesses “the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power … as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations—a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress.” Moreover, the president has plenary control within the executive branch of the intelligence power and classified information, which is defined, by the president, in terms of harm to national security. In short, the president is the person constitutionally charged with determining what constitutes the national security interest and national security threats for the executive branch, which is where the FBI is located.

Because the president determines the U.S. national security interest and threats against it, at least for the executive branch, there is an argument that it makes no sense for the FBI to open a counterintelligence case against the president premised on his being a threat to the national security. The president defines what a national security threat is, and thus any action by him cannot be such a threat, at least not for purposes of opening a counterintelligence investigation.

On this view of the presidency, the perverse and very controversial steps Trump has taken toward Russia as president—his disclosure of classified information to the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office; his firing of Comey because of the Russia investigation; his persistent refusal to acknowledge what his director of national intelligence described as Russia’s “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy”; and more—are all part of his ultimate discretion to conduct foreign policy and U.S. intelligence operations. Those actions, therefore, cannot pose a threat to a national security as a justification for a counterintelligence investigation. That may sound like an extreme conclusion, but I might follow from Article II, and I think (as I explain below) that not accepting this conclusion leads to equally if not more problematic consequences.

But first: This analysis raises the hard question of what executive branch officials are supposed to do if they have evidentiary reasons to believe the president of the United States is a Manchurian candidate in the sense of being an actual agent of a foreign power seeking to undermine the U.S. government. That is what a lot of Americans think of Trump, and it appears to be what the FBI suspected. Let’s stipulate for purposes of argument that Putin has compromising information on Trump, and that the FBI has Trump on tape unambiguously pledging fealty to Putin and promising to serve as his agent in carrying out a number of concrete orders from the Russian president to damage U.S. intelligence operations (for example, by exposing U.S. spies and U.S. intelligence operations). In this situation (as Chuck Rosenberg asked me in a great episode of the Lawfare Podcast), could the FBI seek a FISA warrant premised on the claim that the president was an agent of a foreign power?

The answer based on the analysis above may be “no,” at least to this extent: the FBI cannot act in a way that is legally premised on second-guessing the president’s national security bona fides. On this view, the FBI can fully investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 election, including matters involving the president, as it has been doing for a while now. But it cannot cross the line of taking investigative steps premised on the president’s threat to national security. The Constitution leaves crossing that line up to Congress and the American people.

I am not sure this analysis or this conclusion is right—as I note, the situation in unprecedented in many ways. But I am confident that there is an important Article II question lurking here, and I suspect this question is what underlies what the Times twice said was a controversy among former FBI and Justice Department officials about the appropriateness of the FBI’s step.

In this light, the question arises: What turned on the step the FBI took? Did the bureau need to take that step? Was the FBI empowered to do something more and different by opening up a counterintelligence investigation against the president? Did it do so for a practical reason called for by the investigation, in order to ensure that it better understood what happened in 2016? Or was it just a formal bureaucratic step on which nothing of substance turned? This was a question that I raised on the podcast. None of my colleagues could say that anything at all of substance turned on the designation. (It was later suggested to me that the FBI’s step might have enabled enhanced investigative steps against the president; the matter is unclear.) If it is true that nothing of substance turned on the designation, then in one sense the step was meaningless, and the FBI was able to proceed to investigate the president’s connections to Russia and the 2016 election as before. But in another sense the step, even if legally available, was imprudent, for at least two reasons.

First, presidents and their delegates all the time engage in controversial contacts with foreign leaders and with their intelligence agents that sharply change the direction of U.S. foreign policy concerning matters that some critics believe shows undue fealty towards a foreign power. Think of some critics’ view of Nixon’s opening with China or, again, of Obama’s with Iran and Cuba. Or imagine that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is elected in 2020 and brings controversial foreign policy views to the presidency.

One danger in the what the FBI apparently did is that it implies that the unelected domestic intelligence bureaucracy holds itself as the ultimate arbiter—over and above the elected president who is the constitutional face of U.S. intelligence and national security authority—about what actions do and don’t serve the national security interests of the United States. It further suggests that the FBI claims the authority to take this step on the basis of the president’s exercise of another clear presidential prerogative—the firing of the FBI director in connection with the Russia investigation, which the Times says was the final predicate for the FBI’s action. And it took this step did without any formal guidance on the books for applying counterintelligence rules to the president, akin to the special counsel regulations. Beyond the organizational and legal questions raised by these steps, if the FBI can open up a secret counterintelligence investigation of the president based on its belief that his actions threaten national security, it would chill controversial presidential foreign policy actions that the Constitution says are solely the president’s decisions to make, for better and worse.

Second, as my Lawfare colleague Matt Tait noted, “[Y]ou’d much rather live in a country where elected branches are a check on the national security establishment than the other way around.” I do not doubt the integrity of the contemporary FBI; quite the contrary. But at one time, under J. Edgar Hoover, it secretly collected intelligence information on the president and other elected officials and used that secret information to influence the behavior of those officials. This is an ever-present danger with any intelligence bureaucracy in a democracy. A second adverse effect of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the president is that it gives credence to these types of concerns about the contemporary FBI—especially if the FBI opened a counterintelligence file on the president and did not notify him, as I suspect happened in the Trump case.

In light of these implications, the question is whether the FBI’s step outlined in the Times’s story achieved any affirmative investigative goal. If it did not—if the investigation of Trump could have proceeded as a component of the Russia investigation without the FBI purporting to determine that the president is a national security threat—then this step strikes me as deeply imprudent. To be sure, the Times story also suggested that the decision was made in the confused and uncertain days after the Comey firing, and that it is “unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter,” whatever that means. (Recall that the events described in the Times story occurred before Mueller was appointed, at about the same time that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in conversations with Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, reportedly suggested “that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.”) I hope that there is less to this story than meets the eye: that the story highlights a minor procedural step in a time of perceived crisis that was quickly deemed unnecessary or inappropriate and was reversed or dropped, and that the Times is now making it into a bigger deal than it was and is.

The Times story raises other hard questions. For example, what would happen if Trump, once he learned about the counterintelligence investigation of him, ordered it to cease on the grounds that he deemed it contrary to the national security interests of the United States? Would the FBI cease its investigation, or would it deem the president’s order, like its interpretation of the Comey firing, as further evidence of the president’s threat to the national security interests of the United States? Perhaps the official ordered to end the investigation would at that point resign, or would continue with the investigation until fired by the president. But these questions highlight the fraught position the FBI adopted in opening a counterintelligence investigation of the president based on its leadership’s judgment that he is a threat to the national security.

There are also hard questions on the other side. What exactly is the FBI supposed to do if it stumbles onto unambiguous evidence that the president is compromised, and acting on behalf of a foreign power, and has pledged to that foreign power to blow U.S. assets? As I noted above, I don’t think there is a problem if the FBI, to the president’s knowledge, investigates the president’s actions as a collateral component of a broader counterintelligence investigation of a foreign operation. This has been happening for a while and I see no objection to the Mueller investigation as described in Rosenstein’s order. The dangerous point comes if the FBI opens an investigation of the president, unbeknownst to him, based on its perception of his threat to national security. The line between these two things might be fudgable and the FBI might be able to collect all, or almost all, the information it needs without crossing the line. But it might also be that in some circumstances the only thing the FBI can do is to report what it stumbled upon to Congress and the American people and let them decide what to do.

As David Kris said at the end of the podcast, and I paraphrase here, there is no elegant or satisfying solution to the problem of a president about whom plausible questions are raised concerning his ultimate loyalty to the United States. I also agree with David that the conundrum the FBI found itself in in the spring of 2017 was almost entirely attributable to the president’s norm-defying (to put it mildly) behavior. But there is more at stake than just this president. As I have noted many times, one of President Trump’s most nefarious skills is to act in norm-busting ways that cause people and institutions to respond to him in norm-busting ways. If indeed the FBI took the unprecedented step of opening a counterintelligence investigation directed at the president premised on his threat to national security, I hope the bureau had much stronger evidence for doing so than the Times story provided—and I hope that something of investigative substance actually turned on it. Otherwise, the step strikes me as deeply imprudent.


ELSO 3.0


Palkanmaksu loppui, joten kokit jäivät kotiin. Lopputulema:

Trump tarjoili jalkapalloilijoille kynttilänvalossa pikaruokaa hopeisilta tarjottimilta – ”Meillä on pitsaa, 300 hampurilaista ja paljon, paljon ranskalaisia perunoita”


Valkoisessa talossa turvauduttiin pikaruokaan hallinnon sulun takia. Presidentti kertoi maksaneensa tarjoilut omasta pussistaan.

Tarjolla oli Trumpin mukaan ”mahtavaa amerikkalaista ruokaa”. (KUVA: Saul Loeb / AFP)
Anne Viljamaa HS
Julkaistu: 15.1. 6:32 , Päivitetty: 15.1. 7:22

Yhdysvaltain presidentti Donald Trump tarjoili maanantaina amerikkalaisen jalkapallon yliopistosarjan mestarijoukkueelle Clemson Tigersille Valkoisessa talossa harvemmin nähdyn illallisen.

Hopeisille tarjottimille oli kasattu suuri määrä McDonald´sin, Burger Kingin ja Wendy´s-ketjun hampurilaisia sekä muuta pikaruokaa, kertoo uutistoimisto Reuters.

Trump turvautui pikaruokaan, koska Valkoisen talon kokit pysyttelivät kotona Yhdysvaltojen julkista alaa koskevan hallinnon sulun takia.

Työntekijät eivät saa palkkaa, koska Trump ja kongressi eivät ole päässeet sopuun maan budjetista. Syy tähän on kiista Meksikon ja Yhdysvaltain välisestä muurista, jonka Trump haluaa rajalle rakennuttaa mutta demokraattien edustajat eivät.

Presidentti Donald Trump tarjoamiensa herkkujen äärellä Valkoisessa talossa maanantaina. (KUVA: Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports)

Trump ylisti maanantaina pikaruokalistaansa ”mahtavaksi amerikkalaiseksi ruuaksi”, Reuters kertoo.

”Meillä on pitsaa, 300 hampurilaista ja paljon, paljon ranskalaisia perunoita, kaikki meidän lempiruokaamme”, Trump totesi toimittajille.

”Täällä on joitakin hyvin kookkaita ihmisiä, jotka pitävät syömisestä. Joten arvelen, että meillä on hauskaa”, Trump totesi brittiläisen The Guardian -lehden mukaan.

Yhdysvaltalaisen uutiskanavan CNN:n mukaan Trump kertoi maksaneensa tarjoilut omasta pussistaan.

Trumpin vieraina oli amerikkalaisen jalkapallon yliopistosarjan mestarijoukkueen Clemson Tigersin pelaajia. (KUVA: Saul Loeb / AFP)


New York Timesin mukaan Trump on useampaan otteeseen puhunut halustaan erota NATO:sta, Trump on kertonut virkamiehille ettei ymmärrä NATO:n tarkoitusta. Putin ei suurempaa lahjaa voisi saada kuin USA:n lähdön puolustusliitosta.
There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.

Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.

A move to withdraw from the alliance, in place since 1949, “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an under secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.

“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,” Ms. Flournoy said in an interview. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, said an American withdrawal from the alliance would be “a geopolitical mistake of epic proportion.”

“Even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin,” Admiral Stavridis said.

Senior Trump administration officials discussed the internal and highly sensitive efforts to preserve the military alliance on condition of anonymity.

After the White House was asked for comment on Monday, a senior administration official pointed to Mr. Trump’s remarks in July when he called the United States’ commitment to NATO “very strong” and the alliance “very important.” The official declined to comment further.

American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.

Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said. With a weakened NATO, they said, Mr. Putin would have more freedom to behave as he wishes, setting up Russia as a counterweight to Europe and the United States.

An American withdrawal from the alliance would accomplish all that Mr. Putin has been trying to put into motion, the officials said — essentially, doing the Russian leader’s hardest and most critical work for him.

When Mr. Trump first raised the possibility of leaving the alliance, senior administration officials were unsure if he was serious. He has returned to the idea several times, officials said increasing their worries.

Mr. Trump’s dislike of alliances abroad and American commitments to international organizations is no secret.

The president has repeatedly and publicly challenged or withdrawn from a number of military and economic partnerships, from the Paris climate accord to an Asia-Pacific trade pact. He has questioned the United States’ military alliance with South Korea and Japan, and he has announced a withdrawal of American troops from Syria without first consulting allies in the American-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State.

NATO had planned to hold a leaders meeting in Washington to mark its 70th anniversary in April, akin to the 50-year celebration that was hosted by President Bill Clinton in 1999. But this year’s meeting has been downgraded to a foreign ministers gathering, as some diplomats feared that Mr. Trump could use a Washington summit meeting to renew his attacks on the alliance.

Leaders are now scheduled to meet at the end of 2019, but not in Washington.

Mr. Trump’s threats to withdraw had sent officials scrambling to prevent the annual gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels last July from turning into a disaster.

Senior national security officials had already pushed the military alliance’s ambassadors to complete a formal agreement on several NATO goals — including shared defenses against Russia — before the summit meeting even began, to shield it from Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Trump upended the proceedings anyway. One meeting, on July 12, was ostensibly supposed to be about Ukraine and Georgia — two non-NATO members with aspirations to join the alliance.

Accepted protocol dictates that alliance members do not discuss internal business in front of nonmembers. But as is frequently the case, Mr. Trump did not adhere to the established norms, according to several American and European officials who were in the room.

He complained that European governments were not spending enough on the shared costs of defense, leaving the United States to carry an outsize burden. He expressed frustration that European leaders would not, on the spot, pledge to spend more. And he appeared not to grasp the details when several tried to explain to him that spending levels were set by parliaments in individual countries, the American and European officials said.

Then, at another leaders gathering at the same summit meeting, Mr. Trump appeared to be taken by surprise by Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general.

Backing Mr. Trump’s position, Mr. Stoltenberg pushed allies to increase their spending and praised the United States for leading by example — including by increasing its military spending in Europe. At that, according to one official who was in the room, Mr. Trump whipped his head around and glared at American officials behind him, surprised by Mr. Stoltenberg’s remarks and betraying ignorance of his administration’s own spending plans.

Mr. Trump appeared especially annoyed, officials in the meeting said, with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and her country’s military spending of 1 percent of its gross domestic product.

By comparison, the United States’ military spending is about 4 percent of G.D.P., and Mr. Trump has railed against allies for not meeting the NATO spending goal of 2 percent of economic output. At the summit meeting, he surprised the leaders by demanding 4 percent — a move that would essentially put the goal out of reach for many alliance members. He also threatened that the United States would “go its own way” in 2019 if military spending from other NATO countries did not rise.
During the middle of a speech by Ms. Merkel, Mr. Trump again broke protocol by getting up and leaving, sending ripples of shock across the room, according to American and European officials who were there. But before he left, the president walked behind Ms. Merkel and interrupted her speech to call her a great leader. Startled and relieved that Mr. Trump had not continued his berating of the leaders, the people in the room clapped.
In the end, the NATO leaders publicly papered over their differences to present a unified front. But both European leaders and American officials emerged from the two days in Brussels shaken and worried that Mr. Trump would renew his threat to withdraw from the alliance.

Mr. Trump’s skepticism of NATO appears to be a core belief, administration officials said, akin to his desire to expropriate Iraq’s oil. While officials have explained multiple times why the United States cannot take Iraq’s oil, Mr. Trump returns to the issue every few months.

Similarly, just when officials think the issue of NATO membership has been settled, Mr. Trump again brings up his desire to leave the alliance.

Any move by Mr. Trump against NATO would most likely invite a response by Congress. American policy toward Russia is the one area where congressional Republicans have consistently bucked Mr. Trump, including with new sanctions on Moscow and by criticizing his warm July 16 news conference with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

Members of NATO may withdraw after a notification period of a year, under Article 13 of the Washington Treaty. Such a delay would give Congress time to try blocking any attempt by Mr. Trump to leave.
“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,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who is among the lawmakers who support legislation to stop Mr. Trump from withdrawing from the military alliance. “The Senate knows better and stands ready to defend NATO.”

NATO’s popularity with the public continues to be strong. But the alliance has become a more partisan issue, with Democrats showing strong enthusiasm and Republican support softening, according to a survey by the Ronald Reagan Institute.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, Washington’s ambassador to NATO and a former Republican senator, has sought to build support for the alliance in Congress, including helping to organize a bipartisan group of backers.

But even if Congress moved to block a withdrawal, a statement by Mr. Trump that he wanted to leave would greatly damage NATO. Allies feeling threatened by Russia already have extreme doubts about whether Mr. Trump would order troops to come to their aid.

In his resignation letter last month, Mr. Mattis specifically cited his own commitment to America’s alliances in an implicit criticism of Mr. Trump’s principles. Mr. Mattis originally said he would stay through the next NATO meeting at the end of February, but Mr. Trump pushed him out before the new year.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan is believed to support the alliance. But he has also pointedly said he thinks that the Pentagon should not be “the Department of No” to the president.

European and American officials said the presence of Mr. Mattis, a former top NATO commander, had reassured allies that a senior Trump administration official had their back. His exit from the Pentagon has increased worries among some European diplomats that the safety blanket has now been lost.
New York Timesin mukaan Trump on useampaan otteeseen puhunut halustaan erota NATO:sta, Trump on kertonut virkamiehille ettei ymmärrä NATO:n tarkoitusta. Putin ei suurempaa lahjaa voisi saada kuin USA:n lähdön puolustusliitosta.
Fox News arvioi NYT-vuodon olevan Trumpin hallinnon aikuisten tapa estää Trumpia tekemästä impulsiivisia päätöksiä. Toisin sanoen, ovat aidosti huolissaan, että Trump voisi pikaistuksissaan erota NATO:sta, joten vuosivat tämän "ennaltaehkäisevästi" ulos.

Aides leak tale of trying to stop Trump from leaving NATO

By Howard Kurtz | Fox News
Howard Kurtz: Why pundits think Trump’s NATO blasts are all about Russia and Putin
'MediaBuzz' host Howard Kurtz weighs in on the leaks to the New York Times that former and current White House advisers have allegedly attempted to stop President Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO, which could be seen as a positive play for Russia and Putin.
There is no longer any question that some of the top officials surrounding President Trump are trying to restrain him from certain dramatic decisions, especially on foreign policy.
And that one of their preferred methods is making sure that the press finds out about these efforts.

One view would be that these are "deep state" operators trying to rein in a president who wants to be disruptive — although they often include his own top appointees.
Another view would be that these are the so-called adults in the room, people far more knowledgeable than Trump, especially on military matters.
Clearly, "the generals" have left — Jim Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster — along with the likes of Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn and Jeff Sessions. (William Barr, Trump's nominee to succeed Sessions, tried to reassure senators at his confirmation hearing yesterday that he would protect the integrity of the Mueller probe.)
But even those tapped by Trump as more in step with his agenda are sometimes acting as a brake on his hit-the-gas approach.
That much is clear yesterday's head-turning piece in The New York Times:
"Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States."
The ubiquitous "senior administration officials" told the paper that "several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set."
This is stunning because the 70-year-old alliance has strong bipartisan support and is widely viewed as having helped both America and Europe win the Cold War and deter communist aggression.
But it's also worth noting that whatever venting he's done behind the scenes, Trump hasn't actually proposed such a drastic step.
And yet there's enough continuing concern that highly placed officials, or their intermediaries, were involved in this leak.
At the time, "Mr. Trump's national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington's influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades."
The key word is Russia because many anti-Trump pundits are jumping on this story as evidence that Trump is doing Vladimir Putin's bidding. The only question, as they see it, is whether the president is merely soft on the Kremlin or Putin has something damaging on him. There is no evidence, obviously, of the latter.
It's no secret that Trump has repeatedly disparaged NATO and called out Angela Merkel and other leaders at its meetings. Since he tends to view global alliances mainly in financial terms, the president has complained that member countries aren't contributing enough to joint defense and relying on the United States to carry them.
And it's well known that Trump isn't a fan of treaties and trade deals, having withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The White House did not deny the story, but a senior official pointed the Times to Trump’s July comments calling the alliance "very important" and the U.S. commitment to NATO "very strong."
Still, according to the story, "when Mr. Trump first raised the possibility of leaving the alliance, senior administration officials were unsure if he was serious. He has returned to the idea several times, officials said increasing their worries."
Congress would probably block any attempt to withdraw America from NATO, but the story itself is undoubtedly making leaders in London, Paris, Berlin and other western capitals pretty nervous.
Any serious effort to bail on NATO would be as big a bombshell as Brexit. And that's why the story was leaked to Trump's least favorite newspaper.




Mitä enemmän aikaa menee, päiviä kuluu ja maailma makaa raiteillaan, sitä vahvemmin on fiilis, että tässä kusetetaan nyt kaikkia. Trump, putin, Xi, vatikaani, britit, saksa, kaikki hengaa keskenään samojen tyyppien kanssa. Trumppi kuivattamassa suota ja blahblah. Sikäli kun p2 loosia, vatikaania ja vapaamuurareita ei tuhota kokonaan, valta pysyy samoilla tahoilla kun ennenkin.

Kaikkia vakoillaan, uutiset on ihan sekoilua ja kuraa. Ihmiset sekoilevat ilmastonmuutoshysterioissa ja salaliitoissa. Ja hallinto on kiinni, verotus, sotiminen ja valtapelit jatkuu kuitenkin aina vaan.