Washington Post: Kushner Tried To Set Up Secret Communications Channel With Russians

Hotline_VHS_coverThe Washington Post released a bombshell story on Friday that alleges that senior White House aide (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner met withSergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington to set up a private communications channel with the Kremlin.  The channel reportedly was sought for secret and secure and direct communications with the Russians.  Once again, there is nothing on its face unlawful about either the meeting or the desire for a secure communications line. However, the allegation (if true) would deepen the unease over the associations between the Trump camp and the Russians.  The increasing number of meetings has raised questions over why Trump officials were so solicitous to the Russians — a concern that reached its apex with Trump’s bizarre decision to entertain Kislyak and the Russian Foreign Minister in the Oval Office the day after firing former FBI Director James Comey.

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Trump Reportedly Denounced Germans At EU Meeting As “Bad, Very Bad” and Threatened To Curtail German Car Sales — White House Partially Denies Story [UPDATED]

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedPresident Donald Trump is being widely quoted by European allies as making a rather disturbing statements about Germany to EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk.   German news magazine Der Spiegel is quoting multiple sources that Trump went off on Germany over the trade surplus and said that “The Germans are evil, very evil.”  (Other translations have “bad, very bad”).  If true, it would not exactly be a diplomatic or even comprehensible approach. Trump also reportedly said that he would end the German car sales in the United States behind the surplus.  Der Spiegel is a widely respected publication.  However, this would be as big a story if the statement was not made.  The article describes almost open hostility and shock toward Trump. If the statement was not made (and Juncker has not denied it), it would be evidence of an open effort by top European diplomats to portray Trump as unhinged and unstable.  The White House, of course, should be able to confirm or deny the story.  I truly hope that this is a fake news story because the alternative would be unnerving. [Update: The White House denies that Trump made the statement]  However, the White House does not deny the car statement and only says that Trump was referring to “bad” trade policies.  That would be a considerable “lost in translation” moment.

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“They Just Blabbermouth It”: British Police Cut Off Sharing Intelligence With Trump Administration on Manchester Bombing [UPDATED]

loose-lips-sink-shipsWe previously discussed the alarming breach of an intelligence sharing agreement with the U.K. after U.S. officials released details given to them from British intelligence on the Manchester bombing, including the identity of the bomber.  Now, British police have stopped sharing information with U.S. authorities after a series of leaks to American media.  In the meantime, after Trump’s rational odd denial that he mentioned Israel in his giving highly classified intelligence to the Russians, Israel has acknowledged it was indeed their intelligence and they had to implement a “fix” and “clarify” their position with the U.S. on intelligence sharing after Trump’s disclosure. Update:  Trump denounced the leaking of the information.   Some have noted that the statement was rather belated and others have noted that it is equally ironic (given Trump’s personal disclosure of the highly classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians).  Nevertheless, Trump is right to call for the FBI to investigate the leaking of the shared intelligence.

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White Owners Of Mexican Food Truck Shut Down After Being Accused Of Cultural Appropriation

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Photo: Ernesto Andrade

Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly thought that they had realized their dream when they opened Kooks Burritos in Portland Oregon.  They were even more excited when the local newspaper Williamette Week decided to do a feature article on their new business.  The two women recounted how they watched Mexican women making tortillas on a trip to Baja California and adopted what they saw.  That admission however led to furious accusations that the two white women were guilty of “cultural appropriation.”  They eventually shutdown their food truck.

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Trump Administration Accused Of Leaking British Intelligence On Manchester Investigation

Royal_Coat_of_Arms_of_the_United_Kingdom_(HM_Government).svgMi5_crest_and_logotype.svgThis week President Donald Trump again made headlines in denying that he ever mentioned Israel in his giving highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians.  (The problem is that no one suggested that he had and the later statement appeared to reaffirm to the world that Israel was the source of the human intelligence from a spy inside ISIS.  News accounts suggested that Israel might have been the source but no one suggested that Trump said it was Israel to the Russians).  Now the Trump Administration is accused of leaking British intelligence to U.S. media in the aftermath of the massacre in Manchester.  The British were reportedly irate and made a formal complaint over the violation of core protocols and protections for intelligence sharing.  This is a very serious complaint and further undermines the core relationships that we rely on in the sharing of national security information. It should result in an immediate congressional investigation to determine what happened.

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“You Are A Good Man”: Trump Praised Philippine President Duterte For His Blood-Soaked Crackdown On Drugs

We have previously discussed the worrisome affinity that President Donald Trump has appeared to show toward authoritarian figures like Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Now the Department of Foreign Affairs has reportedly released a transcript of the call between Trump and its blood-soaked president Rodrigo Duterte.  The transcript shows Trump heaping praise on Duterte specifically for his crackdown on drugs — the very program that has made him an international pariah over its extrajudicial murders of suspects. Thousands have been reported murdered under Duterte’s reign of terror for criminal suspects.  The White House has not denied the accuracy of the transcript.  Duterte is now threatening to remove any semblance of a democratic system and declare martial law over the entire island.

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Commerce Secretary Praises Lack Of Protesters In Saudi Arabia . . . Where Protests Are Illegal

It appears that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has found relief from the pesky protesters of Western democracies.  He gave an almost breathless account of how he didn’t spot nary one protester in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, just tranquil silence of the Saudis.  It could be that the Trump Administration found a country unanimously and enthusiastically supportive of its policies. It could also be that protests are generally unlawful in the Kingdom.  The Saudis however are famous for public demonstrations of a different kind from beheadings to the image above of festive hangings.

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