Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|11:52 AM 12/1/2017 The Operation Silk Road (or iz zis zi Zilk Rod?). The same movie, Part Three (Obama Trump Zilk) The World News and Times | The World News and Times|
|Erdogan Allowed Turkish Banks to Help Iran Make Illegal Payments, Witness Says — 2nd Update – Fox Business|
|6:51 AM 12/1/2017 Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry New York Times|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry – New York Times Donald Trumps petty antics are caving in on him For California attorney general, suing Trump again and again is a team sport – LA Daily News Major new Donald Trump-Russia bombshell breaks involving several key Republican … Continue reading“6:51 AM 12/1/2017 – Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry – New York Times”
|The curious case of Jared Kushner and the Israel lobby|
Even before he assumed office, Donald Trump had appointed Jared Kushner to be his point-person on US relations with the Middle East. The latter was specifically charged with forging an Israel-Palestine peace plan, which Trump, in typical flamboyant fashion, called “the ultimate deal“.
Leaders throughout the region and analysts who’ve devoted much of their lives to pursuing this goal were stunned that the US had charged a young man with no previous experience except negotiating commercial real estate deals with resolving one of the world’s most intractable problems.
Kushner’s Middle East policy
Since Kushner, whose family has made significant donations to Israeli settlements, was already known to be heavily pro-Israel in his approach, he determined that the Saudis were the key to unlock the Arab part of the equation.
So he’s made three visits to the Saudi kingdom in the past year. He brought his father-in-law on the latter’s first foreign trip as president to visit King Salman and the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
The goal was to flatter and cultivate the Saudi royals, expecting them to “bring along” the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world towards that “ultimate” peace deal. This was an astonishing turn in US relations because, though the Saudis are nominal allies, the two countries have had a contentious relationship going all the way back to 9/11.
This is in part because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and wealthy Saudi patrons heavily financed Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. The Trump-Kushner “pivot” toward Saudi Arabia accords with a similar Israeli embrace of the House of Saud due to the two states common enemy: Iran.
In this and other ways, Kushner is placing US Middle East policy in lock-step with Israel. That certainly leaves the Palestinians, among others, out in the cold.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and other royals walking in front of Jared Kushner during an arrival ceremony at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh 20 May 2017 (AFP)
Violating Logan Act
Many analysts who study the region question whether the US putting all its eggs in the Saudi basket is wise considering the unpopularity of the autocratic-theocratic regime both in the region and the world.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported a new development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation: did Jared Kushner violate the Logan Act after he lobbied UN Security Council members to sabotage a resolution denouncing Israeli settlements.
The act dates back to the earliest days of the republic. In 1799, America was in its infancy and it was extremely sensitive about foreign meddling in its affairs. The great powers of that day were only too eager to interfere with the domestic and foreign affairs of weaker states if it was in their interest.
For that reason, American legislators passed the Logan Act which prohibited private citizens from becoming agents of foreign states in trying to influence US foreign policy.
The Act, as it was implemented, became something of a double-edged sword as it enabled the political party in power to target anyone in the opposition who exercised his right to lobby for a particular policy regarding various foreign states.
Eventually, virtually everyone realised that a weapon you used against an opponent could be wielded against you once you were out of power. So the Act fell into limbo. Only one individual was ever charged with violating it and he was never prosecuted.
Harming US interests
But news that Kushner was under suspicion of violating the Act raised interesting issues. Though many US politicians have been accused of being shills for Israel and the Israel lobby holds sway over an enormous number of legislators, and though numerous Americans have been convicted of spying on Israel’s behalf, no one has ever been convicted of harming the interests of the US for Israel’s sake.
In fact, the rallying cry of the lobby is that there is no difference between Israeli and US interests. In other words, when you work on behalf of Israel’s interests, you’re also advancing America’s. Of course, this is utter nonsense. It turns both countries into awkwardly conjoined Siamese twins.
That’s certainly what Kushner did in this case: Netanyahu, who initiated the request for Trump’s intervention in the UN affair, wanted to fend off the resolution at all costs. It was originally put forward by Egypt.
Because Israel has tremendous leverage over the Egyptian military-led government regarding intelligence-sharing on Sinai Islamists, and because of Israeli attacks in Sinai which have killed militants on Egypt’s behalf, the Israeli leader was able to persuade Egyptt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to back off.
But this strategy failed because four other member states stepped forward and sponsored it. Then Netanyahu sought to lobby the Russians and Chinese, who also were unmoved. Running out of cards to play, Netanyahu turned to Trump’s right-hand man, Kushner.
Then Trump’s camp began working the phones.
Palestinians protested at Jared Kushner’s visit in Ramallah (AFP)
Crossing the line
It was clear from Netanyahu on down, and including Trump, that the goal was to destroy the resolution which had the tacit support of the Obama administration.
Though the US in the end abstained, the Obama administration clearly did nothing to stop the resolution – meaning it tacitly supported it. In the past, it had actually vetoed virtually identitcal Security Council proposals.
So, the abstention was quite a bold move for the US. Therefore, Kushner’s intervention to kill the resolution crossed the line from using his First Amendment right to speak freely about government policy into subverting official US foreign policy. This is legal ground which has yet to be plowed.
Including the Logan Act in a list of charges against Kushner would not only be novel, it would put the Israel lobby on notice that it had crossed a red line. And that once you cross that line you’re actually engaging in criminal behaviour. That would be a first. A shocking shot across the bow that would set the lobby reeling.
However, it is doubtful that Mueller would make the Logan Act a key element of his legal strategy. When you’re pursuing a president of the United States, you don’t want to dabble in untried or esoteric legal theory.
But including a Logan Act violation would be the equivalent of mood music, setting the tone for the overall indictment. In other words, we’re talking about high crimes and misdemeanors here, and not run-of-the-mill charges.
Much like a spy who betrays his country, Kushner acted against the best interest of the United States. That’s certainly an impeachable offence when and if it comes round to Trump himself.
What Kushner did is to violate a cardinal rule of American life: he showed dual loyalty. This is a canard that anti-Semites used to throw around against Jews. But today, given the eagle-clawed grip the Israel lobby holds over aspects of American politics, dual loyalty is once again a claim raised (and this time validly) against American Jews like Kushner, who put the interests of Israel above those of their native country.
As the guiding force behind the Trump Middle East peace plan, an indictment by the special counsel against Kushner would significantly damage this effort. That might mean that a plan which is already derided by the Palestinians as hopelessly biased in Israel’s favour, might die at birth.
– Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog, devoted to exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state. His work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to the essay collection devoted to the 2006 Lebanon war, A Time to Speak Out (Verso) and has another essay in the upcoming collection, Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield).
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: US presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner (REUTERS)
|The curious case of Jared Kushner and the Israel lobby – Middle East Eye|
|Flynn Indictment Shows He Committed a More Serious Offense Than Lying to the FBI|
On Friday morning, special counsel Robert Mueller announced that he had indicted Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s short-lived national security adviser (who had led the “lock her up” cheers at the last Republican convention), on two counts of lying to the FBI and soon after that Flynn pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington as part of a cooperation deal with Mueller. This means that both Trump’s top campaign official, Paul Manafort, and his top national security campaign aide now stand accused of criminal activity.
Mueller released a two-page “information” document detailing the two counts. The first was no shocker: that Flynn had lied to FBI agents about a conversation he had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, in December 2016, during the presidential transition. Flynn told the agents that he had not asked Kislyak to restrain Russia’s response to sanctions President Barack Obama was imposing on Moscow for its underhanded meddling in the 2016 campaign. He also told the agents that he did not recall that Kislyak had said that Moscow would indeed moderate its response as a result of his request. But according to Mueller, Flynn had made the request and knew Moscow had done what he asked.
It has been previously reported that there was evidencemost likely intelligence interceptssuggesting Flynn had lied about this interaction with Kislyak. On the day of that conversation, when it appeared Russia would indeed not be responding harshly to the Obama sanctions, Trump tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart.”
The other count expands the story. It notes that on December 22, 2016, Flynn had asked Kislyak to delay or vote against a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territories, but that Flynn denied doing so when interviewed by the FBI. Israel was fighting hard against the resolution and requested that the Obama administration veto the measure. At the time, Trump publicly sided with the Israeli government. The resolution was approved on December 23, with the United States abstaining.
Israeli officials, it was known, had reached out to Trump transition team officials prior to the vote in an effort to delay the vote or block the resolution. Those Trump officials included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Stephen Bannon, then Trump’s chief strategist. Mueller’s indictment discloses that Flynn was part of this endeavor and took concrete steps to thwart the foreign policy of the Obama administration in its final month. (Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Mueller was investigating Kushner’s conversation with Israeli officials about this matter. The newspaper noted that a 1799 law called the Logan Act prohibits Americans from communicating with foreign officials to influence an overseas governments actions related to a conflict with the United States. No one has ever been successfully prosecuted under this law.)
This part of the indictment shows that prior to Trump’s inauguration, Flynn went beyond attempting to establish a modus vivendi with Moscow. He was secretly asking Kislyak for a favor. (Moscow did not oblige him in this instance.)
That is quite a picture. On October 7, 2016, the US intelligence community released a statement declaring that Russia was behind the hack-and-dump operation that targeted Democrats in order to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. (That statement also suggested that Russia had explored penetrating US vote-counting systems.) About two months earlier, Trump and Flynn had received an intelligence briefing that included information about Russia’s clandestine efforts to subvert the election. Yet during the transition, Flynn, as Trump’s representative, was covertly trying to enlist Moscow’s assistance to undermine existing US policy.
For Moscow, this requestand Flynn’s subsequent plea for a light response to Obama’s sanctionscertainly could be read as an encouraging sign and a signal that Trump was not upset about Vladimir Putin’s intervention in the campaign. Flynn was sending a clear message to Putin’s man in Washington that he and Trump were more interested in partnering with Russia than in holding it accountableor preventing Putin from future attacks on elections in the United States or elsewhere.
That might not have been illegal. But as bad as it is to lie to the FBI, countenancing Russia’s assault on American democracy is a far graver offense.
|Timeline: What Flynn copped to and what he didn’t – Washington Post|
|trump and silk road group – Google Search|
Metro US–Nov 9, 2017
Two of Trump’s partners have been investigated for money laundering. In 2011, The Trump Organization struck a deal with Silk Road Group to build a Trump Tower in the former Soviet country of Georgia. Silk Road Group paid Trump $950,000 to license his name for developments there. Three years later …
South China Morning Post–Nov 30, 2017
His company, Shimao Group, recently bought the Landscape Map of the Silk Road from a private collector and donated it to the Palace Museum in … When US President Donald Trump visited Beijing in November, President Xi took him on a visit to the museum’s “relic museum” and the map was one of the …
CNBC–Oct 21, 2017
The New Yorker’s article regarding Trump’s business with the Silk Road Group is completely untrue, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, the group’s U.S. executive, tells CNBC. “The BTA Bank-Silk Road relationship ended in 2008. … The deal with Mr. Trump and Trump Organization was signed in 2011,” he says.
The Diplomat–Nov 30, 2017
Chinese President Xi Jinping initially mooted the idea of the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in … Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has played into China’s hands. Trump’s …
|China Pushes Its New Silk Road In Post Trump Asia|
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|Trump and Silk Road – Google Search|
|Donald Trump begins shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic|
Now that even Donald Trump knows he’s hosed in the Russia scandal, the big question has been how he’s going to plot his endgame. In the month since the arrests of his associates began, and in the week since top adviser Michael Flynn decided to cut a plea deal against him, Trump has gone off the deep end on Twitter and in his public remarks. Now he’s moving beyond words and taking action, but that action looks a lot like shuffling the deck chairs as his ship sinks.
On Thursday, it leaked to the media that Trump is planning to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Once that happens, Trump will promote CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been on the job for less than a year, to Secretary of State. Then he’ll promote Senator Tom Cotton, who is less than halfway through his first term, to CIA Director. Then the Republican Governor of Arkansas will appoint someone to replace Tom Cotton.
What does all of this accomplish? Literally nothing. Trump will be going from one comically unqualified Secretary of State to another. On top of it, he appointed Pompeo to run the CIA in the hope that Pompeo would misuse the position to sabotage the Trump-Russia investigation, and that hasn’t worked. It’s unlikely that Cotton will have any greater success in that regard. The only thing Trump will gain here is the satisfaction of getting to fire Tillerson, who committed the crime of calling Trump a “moron” behind his back.
So this is how Donald Trump is using the limited time and dwindling political capital he has left. He’s not using it to try to save himself. Instead, as his Trump-Russia scandal prepares to completely sink him, he’s focused on settling internal scores with an ally who made an out-of-turn remark while frustrated one day. He’s sunk.
The post Donald Trump begins shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic appeared first on Palmer Report.
|Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to the FBI – New York Times|
|8:10 AM 12/1/2017 Sen. Cotton or Dir. Silk, you still gotta serve somebody Trump Investigations Report|
“My luck to wear cotton, my luck to wear silk”
8:10 AM 12/1/2017 – Is Sen. Cotton one of the “Russian dolls”? This is a very reasonable question to ask. Who will provide THE DEFINITIVE ANSWER?!
Another good question is: Will Sen. Cotton be able to be transformed into a “Director Silk”? “Not to be seen and not to be heard” from, just about, and strictly on as needed basis. I guess, it all depends on taste and comfort level: some like to wear silk, some – cotton, and still some – leather or furs. But never polyester. Never fakes. However, before “you shall know the truth”, it can make you very free, and in many different respects.
By the way, Sen. Burr (probably, among the many puzzled others), is long in the thrall of Sen. Cotton’s likings for beards. Is this like some kind of a “smell test”?
(See the videotapes with his jokes on this subject at one of the Trump – Russia Investigation Senate Hearings.)
“Within the intelligence community, Cotton is viewed as a political grandstander who might lack the experience to lead a workforce largely older and more experienced than he is. It’s also a post, some said, that has left many of its occupants politically bruised no matter how much experience they have brought to Langley.”
Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
|you shall know the truth cia – Google Search|
|10:49 AM 11/30/2017 Pompeo has also chafed at the restrictions inherent in running the C.I.A., where he has been expected to be neither seen nor heard.|
Pompeo has also chafed at the restrictions inherent in running the C.I.A., where he has been expected to be neither seen nor heard. I think part of it is he has signaled his frustrations with his current job, which would make the transition much easier, the second State Department staffer said. He is already a … Continue reading“10:49 AM 11/30/2017 – Pompeo has also chafed at the restrictions inherent in running the C.I.A., where he has been expected to be neither seen nor heard.”
|Cotton to CIA? The move would say a lot about how the GOP star views his partys future – The Washington Post|
A 40-year-old icon among conservatives, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) seems to have limitless potential in the Senate. Not yet finished with his third year in the upper chamber, Cotton is an in-demand figure on Sunday talk shows for his hard-line policy views.
Cotton seems poised for a presidential campaign at any point in the next decade or beyond, holding a safe Republican seat. Yet Cotton might be willing to chuck it all and move into President Trump’s inner circle as CIA director if a much-rumored shake-up of the national security team occurs.
Such a risky move would speak volumes, in two key ways, about how Cotton views his future. He falls in the camp of some young and ambitious politicians who hold in derision the dysfunctional nature of the plodding Senate. The possible move also shows that some Republicans believe Trump has fundamentally shifted their party going forward, and that planting a flag in the camp of the former reality-TV star is a better long-term bet than staying in the orbit of traditional conservative orthodoxy.
|White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA – The Washington Post|
The White House has readied a plan to oust embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has become one of the most personally loyal and politically savvy members of President Trump’s national security team, two administration officials confirmed Thursday.
The plan, hatched by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, is expected to be set in motion over the next few weeks, and it has broad support within Trump’s inner circle, the officials said. But it was unclear whether Trump had signed off on the plan yet; the president has been known to change his mind about personnel and other matters before finalizing decisions with public announcements.
Under the plan, Pompeo would probably be replaced at the CIA by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of Trump’s most steadfast defenders and a confidant to some leading members of the foreign policy team, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not publicly announced the moves.
|Sen. Cotton – Google Search|
Arkansas Online–3 hours ago
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is weighing whether to make U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday. Both stories relied on statements from unnamed administration officials. In Arkansas …
New York Times Report: Senator Tom Cotton Could Be Named CIA …
<a href=”http://5newsonline.com” rel=”nofollow”>5newsonline.com</a>–20 hours ago
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be …
Highly Cited–New York Times–11 hours ago
Cotton to CIA? The move would say a lot about how the GOP star …
In-Depth–Washington Post–12 hours ago
Who is Tom Cotton?
Featured–4029tv–19 hours ago
Do Not Let Tom Cotton Anywhere Near the CIA
In-Depth–Slate Magazine–15 hours ago
|Alex Younger – Google Search|
The Times–12 hours ago
This speaker — recognised by many in the audience as Alex Younger, the head of MI6 — told Nato ambassadors that the Kremlin “exemplified” the modern threats faced by this country and its allies. Russia’s aim was to divide the West, sowing uncertainty and ambiguity. Familiar boundaries had become …
|MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times – Google Search|
The Times–12 hours ago
|MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times|
|MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times|
|Cotton cements his rise under Trump – Politico|
|“It Was Just the Two of Them: Could Obama Be Questioned About Trump and Flynn? – Vanity Fair|
|Tillerson’s fall could turn State into a hawk’s nest – Washington Post|