Tuesday May 22nd, 2018
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
World & National
Trump orders ‘highly classified’ data for Congress on FBI’s ‘tactics’
President Trump ordered his chief of staff Monday to make sure Congress gets “highly classified” information from the Justice Department, intelligence community and FBI — including details that could shed light on whether the FBI had an informant investigate the Trump campaign.
Mr. Trump also officially requested an inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s “tactics” toward the Trump campaign in 2016, and the White House and Justice Department said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to convey the directive.
At a meeting that also included Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Mr. Trump ordered them to play ball with House lawmakers looking into reports that the FBI recruited an informant to try to get information from key campaign officials.
Outing of FBI informant underscores British spy service’s ties to shadowy Trump investigations
Britain’s spy service’s connections to shadowy investigations into Donald Trump have grown stronger with the revelation that academic Stefan Halper was spying on the president’s campaign and doing it on British soil.
Mr. Halper, an American national security scholar whom the U.S. government has awarded contracts for classified projects, spied for the FBI, press reports say. He is a partner in Cambridge Security Initiative, a London consulting firm.
His partner is Sir Richard Dearlove, who directed Britain’s foreign spying operation known as MI6, the country’s CIA, from 1999 to 2004.
Mark Penn turns on Clintons, denounces Mueller probe as ‘deep-state’ quasi-coup
As a former chief pollster and campaign strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn has a long history of railing against special prosecutors and political investigations of the president.
But even though it’s 2018 and the partisan shoe is on the other foot, Mr. Penn hasn’t changed.
In some ways, he’s even harder-line now, publicly turning against the Clintons and accusing Robert S. Mueller of engaging in a “deep-state” quasi-coup on their behalf.
Mr. Penn has had numerous recent appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets, essentially supporting President Trump’s claims about Mr. Mueller seeking to “bring down” the president using “storm trooper tactics.”
US sends powerful warship to Japan amid looming Trump-Kim summit
One of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers arrived in Japan on Tuesday, weeks before the expected summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The USS Milius strengthens defenses against any potential ballistic missile strikes by North Korea. The move is supposed to be a reminder to Pyongyang of the U.S. military might and the pressure it is capable of applying if the meeting fails to lead to denuclearization, Reuters reported.
The warship will “support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region by bringing enhanced missile defense capabilities as a ballistic missile defense platform,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
Carter: Trump Worthy of Nobel Prize If NKorea Negotiations Successful
Former President Jimmy Carter believes President Donald Trump is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize if negotiations with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un are successful, Politico is reporting.
That assessment from Carter, a Nobel laureate himself, came in an interview during Politico's "Off Message" podcast.
"If President Trump is successful in getting a peace treaty that's acceptable to both sides with North Korea, I think he certainly ought to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize," Carter said. "I think it would be a worthy and a momentous accomplishment that no previous president has been able to realize."
China to Cut Import Duty on Cars to 15% After Truce With Trump
China will cut the import duty on passenger cars to 15 percent, boosting auto makers such as BMW AG and Ford Motor Co. just as the immediate threat of a trade war with the U.S. recedes.
The Finance Ministry said Tuesday the levy will be lowered effective July 1 from the current 25 percent that has been in place for more than a decade. Bloomberg News had reported last month that China was weighing proposals to reduce the car import levy to 10 percent or 15 percent.
A reduction in import duty follows a truce between President Donald Trump’s administration and Chinese officials as they seek to defuse tensions and avert an all-out trade war. While the levy reduction could be claimed in some quarters as a concession to Trump and will be a boon to U.S. carmakers such as Tesla Inc., the move will also end up benefiting European and Asian manufacturers from Daimler AG to Toyota Motor Corp.
Trump welcomes first female CIA director, tries to make amends with the agency
President Donald Trump led the swearing-in ceremony for the first female CIA director in the agency’s history on Monday, calling it “a ceremony like few will ever have again.” Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath.
Haspel, a career officer, won Senate confirmation last week after a contentious process that focused on her role in the CIA’s use of overseas prisons to torture suspects in hopes of gleaning information on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Haspel, in her own remarks, noted that it’s been more than 50 years since a career officer has led the agency. She pledged to represent rank-and-file agents. “For me, being director is about doing right by all of you,” she said.
U.S., China Agree on Outline to Settle ZTE Controversy
Deal would lift the sales ban on ZTE and require the Chinese telecom giant to make major management changes
The U.S. and China have agreed on the broad outline of a deal that would save imperiled Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter in both countries, as the two sides move closer to resolving their trade dispute.
The details are still being hammered out, the people said. If completed, the Trump administration would remove the ban on U.S. companies selling components and software to ZTE, a penalty that has threatened to put the company out of business. Instead, ZTE would be forced to make big changes in management, board seats and possibly pay significant fines, the people said.
Beijing has also offered to remove tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. farm products as part of the negotiations, although one person said the White House didn’t offer any quid pro quo. “The White House was meticulous in affirming that the case is a law enforcement matter and not a bargaining chip in negotiations,” the person said.
Watchdog Report to Fault FBI for Clinton Probe Delay
An upcoming report from the Justice Department's internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Hillary Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with findings.
The FBI's timing has been a sore point for Clinton supporters, who say then-director James Comey's announcement of the review less than two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2016, election contributed to her loss. The agency's findings affirming their decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton were disclosed two days before the vote — too late, her supporters say, to undo the damage.
How China acquires ‘the crown jewels’ of U.S. technology
The U.S. government was well aware of China’s aggressive strategy of leveraging private investors to buy up the latest American technology when, early last year, a company called Avatar Integrated Systems showed up at a bankruptcy court in Delaware hoping to buy the California chip-designer ATop Tech.
ATop’s product was potentially groundbreaking — an automated designer capable of making microchips that could power anything from smartphones to high-tech weapons systems. It’s the type of product that a U.S. government report had recently cited as “critical to defense systems and U.S. military strength.” And the source of the money behind the buyer, Avatar, was an eye-opener: Its board chairman and sole officer was a Chinese steel magnate whose Hong Kong-based company was a major shareholder.
Reported CIA Trump Campaign Mole Also Spied in '80 Election
The CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign was responsible for a spying operation in the 1980 presidential election, The Intercept has reported.
According to the outlet, Stefan Halper managed CIA officials — reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush — from inside the Carter administration.
The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about then-President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy to officials for the Ronald Reagan campaign to ensure it knew of any foreign policy decisions Carter was considering, The Intercept reported.
Pence warns that Kim shouldn’t try to ‘play’ Trump at denuclearization summit
As President Trump meets with South Korea’s president Tuesday to strategize for a crucial summit with North Korea, Vice President Mike Pence is warning North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un against trying to “play” Mr. Trump.
Mr. Pence told Fox News that Pyongyang should not try to seek concessions from the U.S. in the planned June 12 denuclearization talks in Singapore.
“It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong-un to think he could play Donald Trump,” Mr Pence said, according to excerpts of an interview made available by Fox.
Mr. Mueller’s fishing pole needs a rest
Satchel Paige, the legendary master of the sinking curve ball and famous doctor of philosophy, had a few wise words that Robert Mueller could use just now: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”
Mr. Mueller seems to be transforming himself from the hunter to the hunted. A mole in the Trump campaign has been exposed as an agent of the FBI despite frantic efforts to keep the scheme a secret. Voices, some of them voices of Democrats, are raised to tell Mr. Mueller that it’s time to put cards on the table, to ring down the curtain, to put up or shut up, choose your cliche.
This can’t be what he bargained for when he accepted the commission of special prosecutor, which is now called “special counsel.” The special prosecutor/counsel expects to finish his great expedition to Lake Collusion and put away his fishing pole by Labor Day. We have the word on that not from Mr. Mueller, or from anyone on his staff of thousand-dollar-an-hour lawyers, but from Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer who has been negotiating with Mr. Mueller about a presidential interview. He said he learned that from Mr. Mueller himself. Waiting any longer than that might improperly influence voters in the midterm congressional elections.
The new art of the deal
In a recent column, I spoke of the two current forms of populism and how they’re challenging the “Liberal International Order,” the governing philosophy that has guided the U.S. use of power in the service of freedom for ourselves and our allies since World War II. The question is, where does President Trump’s form of populism fit into what might be called the new version of the Liberal International Order?
In 1987, Donald Trump wrote “The Art of the Deal.” When he invited me to serve on his Presidential Transition Team, I reread my copy of his book more carefully than I had the first time, and I found some very interesting points in there.
“If you are going to think any way, you might as well think big,” Mr. Trump, the legendary dealmaker, wrote. Well, running for president is certainly a big thought.