Trump tries to help Saudis

As Kevin Drum notes, this is pretty disgusting:

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

Trump and Erdogan also recently discussed another option to relieve tensions — the release of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was sentenced in May to 32 months in prison by a U.S. federal judge for his role in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, two people familiar with the discussion said. Erdogan has criticized the case against Atilla as a political attack aimed at undermining his government.

Erdogan has wanted to extradite Gulen for years because he claims Gulen was behind the attempted coup against Erdogan, but the US hasn’t complied because there is no real evidence, Now the Trump administration would be willing to give up this long time resident of the US to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia after they killed another long time US resident. And, as KD notes, this isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has been willing to give up Gulen:

A year ago the Wall Street Journal passed along a remarkable story about Michael Flynn, the crackpot National Security Advisor appointed by Donald Trump in late 2016 and then fired in early 2017. According to the Journal, Flynn and his son met in 2016 with some associates of Erdoğan who proposed to pay the Flynns $15 million to secretly kidnap Gulen and fly him to Turkey. This was in September, while Flynn was a top campaign surrogate for Trump. A second meeting was held in December, after Flynn had already been appointed NSA.

Now it seems there is pushback from the deep state:

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, where he had come to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

The Trump administration really wants to work with the Saudis, after all Jared Kushner is best friends with the prince, even if it means sacrificing a US resident or two, we’ll see what other Republicans say.

Trump again blames the victims and gets stuff wrong

There was a devastating wildfire in Paradise California:

 The flames burned down more than 6,700 buildings, almost all of them homes, making it California’s most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began. There were 35 people still missing.

Sheriff’s deputies recovered human remains from at least five homes as they went house-to-house in Paradise canvassing for the missing. It was unclear if the remains were in addition to the nine fatalities already reported by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

So what does President Trump tweet?

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

That’s both offensive as hell and, this being Trump, wrong:

“Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims,” the Pasadena Firefighters Assn. said on Twitter.

Experts have also said forest management was not a factor in California’s two most destructive fires: the Camp, which burned more than 6,000 structures this week in Paradise, and the Tubbs fire last year in wine country.

Forest thinning would not have stopped the Camp or the Tubbs. Fueled by dry grass growing amid scattered pine and oak trees, the Camp tore across land thinned by flames just 10 years ago. The Tubbs burned grassy oak woodlands, not timber land.

Fuck Trump.

Words have consequences

When asked if soldiers would fire on immigrants, Donald Trump answered that he hoped not but he said he told the military that if anyone threw rocks they should consider it a rifle. It seems the Nigerian army was listening:

The Nigerian Army on Friday shared a clip of President Donald Trump saying US troops would open fire on rock-throwing migrants to justify firing on and killing Shia protesters earlier in the week.

Nigerian troops fired on a group of roughly 1000 Shia protesters on Monday, killing over 40 people, according to Amnesty International and leaders of the march. Nigeria’s military has repeatedly been decried for ongoing human rights abuses, but the US government has continued to sell it warplanes and other military equipment.

John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, on Friday said the video was released as a response to Amnesty International’s condemnation of Monday’s incident, The New York Times reports.

“We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?” he said. “What are they then saying? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.”

Trump now says he didn’t mean the military would shoot anyone:

 “They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested,” he added. “There are going to be problems. I didn’t say shoot. I didn’t say shoot.”

As usual, I don’t know if he’s so stupid or if he thinks we all are–of course it could be both.

In related news, it seems the Army doesn’t consider the caravan much of a threat:

According to military planning documents, about 20 percent of the roughly 7,000 migrants traveling through Mexico are likely to complete the journey. The unclassified report was obtained and published by Newsweek on Thursday. If the military’s assessment is accurate, it would mean the United States is positioning five soldiers on the border for every one caravan member expected to arrive there.

‘‘Based on historic trends, it is assessed that only a small percentage of the migrants will likely reach the border,’’ the report says. It was prepared by US Army North, a component of US Northern Command, which oversees the mission dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot.

The President has decided that out and out racism will help Republicans next Tuesday. I certainly hope he’s wrong.

Hate week

This caps off a horrible week:

 Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a crowded Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others, authorities said.

The week started with news of bombs being sent to Donald Trump’s enemies:

 

a pipe bomb delivered via mail to an estate in Bedford, New York, belonging to billionaire liberal activist George Soros.
That same day, Sayoc, still under the radar of law enforcement, retweeted a post saying, ‘‘The world is waking up to the horrors of George Soros.’’

Additional packages followed, delivered the next day for Clinton and Obama and after that to the cable network CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Vice President Joe Biden — and other Democratic targets of conservative ire.

In the middle of the bombs, a racist tried to bomb a church:

A white man with a history of violence and mental illness was recorded on surveillance video apparently trying to get inside a predominantly black church in Kentucky before he went to a grocery store and fatally shot two African-Americans, police said.

It was a horrible week but there have indications for a while:

‘‘Prior to the election of President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic harassment and attacks were rare and unexpected, even for Jewish Americans who were prominently situated in the public eye. Following his election, anti-Semitism has become normalized and harassment is a daily occurrence,’’ the report says.

The New York City-based ADL has commissioned other studies of online hate, including a report in May that estimated about 3 million Twitter users posted or reposted at least 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets in English over a 12-month period ending Jan. 28. An earlier report said anti-Semitic incidents in the United States the previous year had reached the highest tally it has counted in more than two decades.

And it didn’t stop President Trump from ramping up the Xenophobia:

 The Trump administration is planning to dispatch 800 more troops to the border at the direction of a president who has declared illegal immigration a ‘‘national emergency’’ and has been stoking fears about it ahead of the fast-approaching midterms just as he did before his own election.

He threatens to close the border, Republicans call a caravan of people seeking asylum an invasion, and obviously stupid conspiracy theories are now believed and acted on. It’s a depressing and frightening time.

Trump administration is still kidnapping children

Officially the Trump administration’s policy of taking children from their parents is no more, but:

But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

Is it even crazier and worse? Of course it is, this is the Trump administration:

But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

Is it even stupider and inane? Of course it is, this is the Trump administration:

He agreed to represent Noehmi and her family, and at the summer’s end he went with them to court to represent them in removal proceedings. There, a judge granted Noehmi and her relatives more time to apply for asylum. Toward the end of the hearing, Delgado brought up Helen.

“Judge, this case doesn’t stop here,” Delgado said. “What about the little child lost in the system?”

The judge looked confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, where is Helen, the five-year-old?”

The judge, Delgado recalled, seemed startled. Both he and the government prosecutor had no idea that Helen existed, let alone where she was being held.

Is there a glaring moment of hypocrisy? Of course, this is the Trump administration:

Soon after, the shelter sent a small black backpack that Helen had left behind. It held Helen’s legal paperwork, including the document that the five-year-old had been told to sign, withdrawing her request to see a judge. The backpack also held Helen’s colored sketch of Lady Liberty. Beneath the statue’s image, a lesson summary, in Spanish, read, “Objective: That the students draw one of the most representative symbols of the United States.”

This is the US under Donald Trump.

The Trump administration is both cruel and incompetent

Here’s another example that shows what the Trump administration is all about:

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown at the border this spring was troubled from the outset by planning shortfalls, widespread communication failures and administrative indifference to the separation of small children from their parents, according to an unpublished report by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog.

The DHS Office of Inspector General’s review found at least 860 migrant children were left in Border Patrol holding cells longer than the 72-hour limit mandated by U.S. courts, with one minor confined for 12 days and another for 25.

The investigators describe a poorly coordinated interagency process that left distraught parents with little or no knowledge of their children’s whereabouts. In other instances, U.S. officials were forced to share minors’ files on Microsoft Word documents sent as email attachments because the government’s internal systems couldn’t communicate.

Based on observations conducted by DHS inspectors at multiple facilities along the border in late June, agents separated children too young to talk from their parents in a way that courted disaster, the report says.

“Border Patrol does not provide pre-verbal children with wrist bracelets or other means of identification, nor does Border Patrol fingerprint or photograph most children during processing to ensure that they can be easily linked with the proper file,” the report said.

On June 23, three days after the executive order halting the separations, DHS announced it had developed a “central database” with HHS containing location information for separated parents and minors that both departments could access to reunite families. The inspector general found no evidence of such a database, the report said.

Remember that there was no surge in illegal immigration, this was all caused by policies of the Trump administration and they didn’t plan for it. And then they lied about it when taken to task. So, not only was the family separation policy unnecessarily cruel it was also badly administered. This is the Trump administration in a nutshell.

Trump’s Labor Day

Next Monday the country celebrates labor, this is the way President Trump does it:

President Donald Trump has told Congress he is canceling a pay raise that most civilian federal employees were due to receive in January, citing budgetary constraints.

Last year, his administration passed a tax cut that has mainly gone to the rich and now he uses that as an excuse to get rid of pay increases (and since there is this thing called inflation, that means there’s basically a pay cut). Happy Labor Day.

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