Really, what does Putin have on Trump?

The intelligence community strikes back:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.


According to nearly a dozen people who either attended the meeting with the president-elect or were later briefed on it, the four primary intelligence officials described the streams of intelligence that convinced them of Mr. Putin’s role in the election interference.

They included stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee that had been seen in Russian military intelligence networks by the British, Dutch and American intelligence services. Officers of the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the G.R.U. had plotted with groups like WikiLeaks on how to release the email stash.

And ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role.

That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration, as the Russia investigation intensified.

So, Trump was shown almost incontrovertible evidence before his inauguration and yet he still continuously questions it. It really makes one wonder what Putin has on him.

And this makes one think about it even more:

At this week’s summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an “incredible offer” — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.

One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out the Kremlin’s request to question McFaul and other Americans. Asked during the daily press briefing whether Trump is open to the idea of having McFaul questioned by Russia, Sanders said President Trump is “going to meet with his team” to discuss the offer.

There are a bunch of comebacks here, including this one from John Kerry:

The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn’t be under consideration, period. Full stop,” adding that the proposal is “not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous.

This is what happens when you don’t prepare for a summit–you say stupid things because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or, at least, you can claim that so people are a bit less likely to wonder what Putin has on him.

President Trump: traitor or just Russian apologist?

President Trump thinks both the US and Russia are to blame for bad relations:

Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago — a long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia. And we’re getting together. And we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping — because we have to do it. Ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore.

And he believes both Putin and the US intelligence agencies:

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.

I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.

Ok, I have to admit I’m not sure if he’s saying that he trusts them both or squirrel.

For fun Putin implied that Trump wants to help prop up oil and gas prices:

If I may, I’d throw in some two cents. We talked to Mr. President, including this subject as well. We are aware of the stance of President Trump. And I think that we, as a major oil and gas power — and the United States, as a major oil and gas power as well — we could work together on regulation of international markets, because neither of us is actually interested in the plummeting of the prices.

Trump wanted to go to war in Venezuala

Well, this is scary:

As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “military option” to remove Maduro from power.

But shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, according to the U.S. official.

Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos, the same three people said and Politico reported in February.

Trump probably believes the US would be greeted as liberators.

Trump doesn’t care about the law

I posted a week ago that ICE and CBP don’t care too much about following the law. Donald Trump shows where this attitude comes from in a series of tweets:

We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents..

So he’s saying the US should stop following the law to uphold Law and Order? Interesting. A later tweet:

Hiring manythousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be disfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally.

He again suggests the US should do something illegal and throws in a lie–if people come to the border to ask for asylum they’re not illegal. This is part of his political correctness, anything he does is fine while anything he doesn’t like is illegal.

And now we hear the demands

The Trump administration has changed the policy to make it so they ‘fully enforce’ the immigration law so that every ‘illegal’ immigrant (even if they’re asking for asylum which makes them legal) is jailed even if they are separated from their children. They’re basically kidnapping children–do they plan to start strictly enforcing our speed limits the same way?

Anyway, kidnappers have demands and here are the administration’s demands:

On Monday, new reporting continued to reveal the realities of the Trump administration policy of forcibly separating children from their adult guardians who cross the border without U.S. citizenship. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are both on record endorsing the practice as a means of deterring undocumented immigrants from entering the country.

And they have very specific demands:

Q Thank you, Sarah. If the administration is, as it says, not using the children as pawns in this situation, then why not just have Congress pass legislation that narrowly deals with this family separation issue, and sign it, and then deal with the other aspects of the immigration system that the President wants to overhaul at a different time?

MS. SANDERS: Once again, we want to fix the entire system. We don’t want to just tinker with it. The President is tired of watching people kick it down the road and not take responsibility and not fix the problems that we have.

By the way, forcibly separating children from their parents is catastrophic:

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from their parents.

Their heart rate goes up. Their body releases a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones can start killing off dendrites – the little branches in brain cells that transmit messages. In time, the stress can start killing off neurons and – especially in young children – wreaking dramatic and long-term damage, both psychologically and to the physical structure of the brain.

President Trump goes on and on about immigrants committing crimes, it turns out he’s helping to make criminals:

Research on aboriginal children in Australia who were removed from their families also showed long-lasting effects. They were nearly twice as likely to be arrested or criminally charged as adults, 60 percent more likely to have alcohol-abuse problems and more than twice as likely to struggle with gambling.

Trump’s Inhumanity

The United States has treated immigrants horribly for as long as the nation has existed.

During the Depression, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (actual US citizens) were deported. The US famously allowed very few Jews fleeing Nazi Germany including the SS St Louis incident where a boat of 900 was turned back to Europe with 250 eventually being killed by the Nazis. Then there’s Operation Wetback which deported up to a million people (given the name, I don’t think I need to say why it was a problem).

So, immigration and degradation go together in the US (including during the Obama administration) and yet the Trump administration has actually succeeded in making it even more inhumane:

The Trump administration’s policy of splitting up families is creating a burgeoning population of dislocated and frightened children, held in makeshift detention centers near the border, including one in a former Walmart, or scattered in shelters and foster homes across the country. As the children and parents experience the fallout of forced separation by US authorities, advocates are struggling to get even basic information about the location and status of these detainees.

The Trump administration says parents are separated from their children because of their misdemeanor offense of crossing into the border illegally, which requires them to be taken into federal custody where children cannot join them. But once parents have served their time for that minor federal offense, they still can face months in ICE detention, often with no idea where their children are.

“Can you tell us any other time when someone goes to jail for a misdemeanor, gets out, and still doesn’t get their child back?” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the ACLU who is suing the government on behalf of separated parents. “They’re keeping the child for months and months and months.”

And this being the Trump administration, it’s not working:

The Trump administration’s tactic of using child separations as a deterrent does not appear to be having a major effect on the flow of immigrants to South Texas. Dozens of migrants are still being picked up each day after rafting across the Rio Grande, many with children in tow. On Wednesday, 72 men and women as young as 18 and as old as 56 shuffled into a US district courtroom in McAllen, the clanking sound of their shackled ankles and wrists reverberating in the otherwise hushed room.

and the workers don’t know what they’re doing:

In late May, separated parents in McAllen were given a number to call HHS and try to locate their children. It was the wrong number. Last week, parents were given a handwritten note telling them to call ICE — not HHS — if they wanted information about how to reunite with their children. But parents did not have access to phones at the time, rendering the number useless.

and don’t understand about symbolism:

Aleman-Bendiks, the public defender, said several of her clients have told her their children were taken from them by Border Patrol agents who said they were going to give them a bath. As the hours passed, it dawned on the mothers the kids were not coming back.

Now they’re putting the parents into federal jails:

Although Seattle is some 1,500 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the debate over family separations hit closer to home for the Evergreen State after dozens of undocumented immigrants were transferred last week to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Most of them were from Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, she said, but there were also people from as far away as Eritrea. Many spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence and political persecution, Jayapal said.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking. And I’ve been doing immigration-rights work for almost two decades. I am not new to these stories,” Jayapal told The Washington Post on Sunday. “I will tell you there was not a dry eye in the house. … Some of them heard their children screaming for them in the next room. Not a single one of them had been allowed to say goodbye or explain to them what was happening.”

Here’s an important point:

Ferguson said Washington state officials were looking into whether they had grounds to sue the federal government to halt the family separations. Last Thursday, he and Inslee sent a letter to several top immigration officials — including acting U.S. attorney Annette Hayes — demanding answers to questions about the women seeking asylum who were being transferred to the detention center in SeaTac.

“Where are their children and who is caring for them?” the letter asked. “Why are these women being held in prison while their asylum claims are resolved?”

That’s because the ‘right of asylum‘ is part of both international and US law:

The United States is obliged to recognize valid claims for asylum under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. As defined by these agreements, a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality (or place of habitual residence if stateless) who, owing to a fear of persecution on account of a protected ground, is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the state. Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinion and membership of a particular social group. The signatories to these agreements are further obliged not to return or “refoul” refugees to the place where they would face persecution.

This commitment was codified and expanded with the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980 by the United States Congress. Besides reiterating the definitions of the 1951 Convention and its Protocol, the Refugee Act provided for the establishment of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help refugees begin their lives in the U.S. The structure and procedures evolved and by 2004, federal handling of refugee affairs was led by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State, working with the ORR at HHS. Asylum claims are mainly the responsibility of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Oh but, who cares about the law?

Trump will pardon convicted felon D’Souza

Donald Trump has tweeted that he will pardon convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza:

Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!

Let’s go back and see what D’Souza was convicted of:

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.

and what he said at the time:

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said, according to Newsday. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

and let’s remember how he did it:

Evidence disclosed in pre-trial motions indicated that two of the illegal donations were routed through D’Souza’s mistress, Denise Joseph, and her husband, Louis Joseph.

In 2012, D’ Souza resigned from his post as president of evangelical King’s College in New York following reports that he attended a South Carolina conference on Christian values accompanied by Denise Joseph and introduced her as his fiancee despite the fact that he was still married at the time to another woman.

I can see why Trump pardoned him, he probably reminds him of himself.

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