Trump

August 21, 2019
The Hill
Iceland’s prime minister will not be in town for Pence’s visit

Iceland's prime minister will not be in town for Pence's visit

Iceland Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said she won’t be in town during Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit to the country next month due to previous scheduling arrangements she made around the same time.

Jakobsdottir cited the Council of Nordic Trade Unions conference in Malmo, Sweden, where she is scheduled to deliver a keynote address the day before Pence is set to arrive in Iceland, as reason for her absence.

“The fact is that I was very long ago asked to give the keynote speech at the annual conference of the Nordic trades unions movement and, as everybody knows, I have made workplace matters a personal issue,” she said in an interview with Icelandic publication RUV released on Wednesday.

“It is also a fact that this visit that was organized by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has been bouncing a lot around the calendar so that it has been very difficult to organize oneself around it,” Jakobsdottir continued.

As the local publication notes, Pence is scheduled to discuss the country’s “strategic geographical position in relation to the Arctic” and NATO efforts during the upcoming visit.

When pressed by the publication about whether Jakobsdottir’s decision to skip the coming visit was to rebuff the Trump administration in any way in light of recent tensions that have arisen between Trump and Denmark, Jakobsdottir said, “Absolutely not.”

“On the one hand, we have many projects to attend to. I had a good meeting with Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, earlier this year and also had a discussion with Donald Trump at the NATO meeting last year,” she continued.

“I can promise everyone that when Mike Pence comes here – and I am working on the assumption that the date is now firm – that he will meet a top-ranking team of Icelandic leaders,” she added.

Tensions between Trump and Denmark emerged earlier this week following reports that Trump had talked about possibly purchasing Greenland.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea “absurd,” saying, “Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant.”

In response to Frederiksen’s reaction, Trump canceled a visit he had scheduled to Denmark next month, saying in a tweet on Tuesday: “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”

“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” he also tweeted.    Source

July 29, 2019
newyorker.com
Trump’s Message to U.S. Intelligence Officials: Be Loyal or Leave

This past Wednesday, during Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Ratcliffe, a Republican from Texas who was previously a federal prosecutor, accused the former special counsel of illegally smearing President Trump. Ratcliffe demanded to know why Mueller had stated in Volume II of his report—which investigated whether the President had obstructed justice—that, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” His voice rising, Ratcliffe said that the sentence “was not authorized under the law to be written” and violated a “bedrock principle of our justice system.” He urged Americans to ignore the “Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle” who cited it. Fact checkers found Ratcliffe’s claims to be false, but he ended his appearance with a dramatic flourish. “I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not,” Ratcliffe said, his voice rising. “But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report puts him.”

In a Sunday-morning interview on Fox News, Ratcliffe again demonstrated his support for the President, declaring that “it was a great week for Donald Trump.” The congressman claimed that Mueller did “not have a command” of what was in the report, which, he said, had been written by “Hillary Clinton’s de-facto legal team.” He said that Trump deserved a presumption of innocence, then added, “What I do know, as a former federal prosecutor, is that it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama Administration.” Ratcliffe then praised an unprecedented review that Attorney General William Barr is conducting of the work of the F.B.I. and key intelligence agencies in the launch of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation, saying, “Bill Barr has earned my trust already and the trust of the American people.”

Six hours later, Trump nominated Ratcliffe to be the most powerful intelligence official in the country, replacing Dan Coats, who is stepping down as the director of National Intelligence. Sources told the Times that Trump enjoyed watching Ratcliffe aggressively question Mueller, but denied that this was the reason the Texas congressman got the job. The Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, disagreed, issuing a statement that said, “It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”

In any event, the dynamic at work is clear. Coats, a leader of the Republican establishment, repeatedly contradicted Trump regarding the threat posed by Russia, and also publicly questioned Trump’s optimistic assessments of North Korea’s willingness to give up its nuclear weapons and the extent to which isishas been eradicated. A Trump loyalist who echoes the President’s narratives is now set to take Coats’s job.

Most important, Ratcliffe is a full-throated backer of Trump’s practice of trafficking in conspiracy theories for political gain; he has joined the President’s effort to claim that it wasn’t the myriad contacts between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials that led to Mueller investigation but, rather, that the inquiry was part of a “deep state” conspiracy. Ratcliffe has repeatedly claimedthat Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, colluded with Russia and that a cabal of C.I.A. and F.B.I. officials, working with foreign intelligence services, carried out a global conspiracy to entrap Trump aides.

A senior intelligence official recently told me that Barr is personally convinced that there was something nefarious in how the F.B.I. started its investigation in 2016. (The official called the claims of an international plot “preposterous” and pointed out that the Senate Intelligence Committee found them meritless.) If such a plot existed, it would be the largest intelligence scandal in American history; if the Attorney General has clear evidence of it, he should disclose it publicly.

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence—one of the officials whom Barr is reportedly investigating—declined to comment on the Attorney General’s probe and said in an e-mail that it is the President’s prerogative to nominate whom he wishes. But he added that the nomination of a Trump loyalist to replace Coats sends a clear message to members of the intelligence community: “Obviously, the President wants someone in this position whose first priority is loyalty to Donald Trump.”

Clapper also expressed concern about the effect that appointing Ratcliffe could have on intelligence officials whose job it is to present apolitical information to policymakers. “I worry about the people in the Intelligence Community, and the impact of being directed to write intelligence analyses that comport with the Presidents’ world view, and not their best judgement as to the facts,” he wrote. “Over time, this could be very dangerous to the country. ‘Truth to power’ is a crucial, rock-bed tenet of US intelligence, and Dan Coats upheld that.”

Senator Angus King, a Maine Independent who caucuses with the Democrats and serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to comment on Ratcliffe. But he, too, warned of the dangers of politicizing intelligence. “We have gotten in trouble in this country in the past when we have cherry-picked intelligence for political purposes or to suit the needs of the President,” he told the Times. “That is the worst thing that can happen.”     Source

32total visits,1visits today