Revealed: Trump’s election consultants filmed saying they use bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians

An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News reveals how Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world. Bosses were filmed talking about using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs and sex workers.

Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica – the data company that credits itself with Donald Trump’s presidential victory – have been secretly filmed saying they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers. In an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, the company’s chief executive Alexander Nix said the British firm secretly campaigns in elections across the world. This includes operating through a web of shadowy front companies, or by using sub-contractors. In one exchange, when asked about digging up material on political opponents, Mr Nix said they could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house”, adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well”. In another he said: “We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet.” Offering bribes to public officials is an offence under both the UK Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Cambridge Analytica operates in the UK and is registered in the United States. The admissions were filmed at a series of meetings at London hotels over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018. An undercover reporter for Channel 4 News posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka. Mr Nix told our reporter: “…we’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows, and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you.” Along with Mr Nix, the meetings also included Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global, and the company’s chief data officer, Dr Alex Tayler. Mr Turnbull described how, having obtained damaging material on opponents, Cambridge Analytica can discreetly push it onto social media and the internet. He said: “… we just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then, and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again… like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda’, because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda’, the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?’.” Mr Nix also said: “…Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company… so often we set up, if we are working then we can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists, there’s so many options we can look at. I have lots of experience in this.” In the meetings, the executives boasted that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) had worked in more than two hundred elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina. The company is at the centre of a scandal over its role in the harvesting of more than 50 million Facebook profiles. Chief executive Mr Nix has also been accused of misleading a parliamentary select committee, which is now asking him to provide further information. He has denied the allegations.

Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge academic accused of misusing Facebook is a Russian Agent on the Kremlin’s payroll

Dr Aleksandr “Alex” Kogan, a University lecturer at the Department of Psychology, has been thrust into the limelight after he was banned from Facebook for improper use of data. A multi-organisation investigation lead by revelations from a whistleblower who assisted Kogan at the data-analysis and influence firm Cambridge Analytica has alleged that the Cambridge academic developed tools to analyse and influence the behaviour of Facebook users.

The whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, has reported  that Kogan’s trolls in Russia  were  helped Cambridge Analytical that  influence the outcome of the 2016 US election.

Kogan was born in Moldova, and lived in Moscow until he moved the United States at the age of seven. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and in Hong Kong before joining the University of Cambridge as a lecturer in psychology and psychometrics.

Kogan is also an associate professor at the St Petersburg University – a fact his Cambridge colleagues, aside from the head of the Department of Psychology, were not told, according to The Guardian/Observer. In this position, he received funding from the Russian government to study ‘Stress, health and psychological wellbeing in social networks’. In a CV from 2014, which was previously available on the University’s website, Kogan made no mention of his connection to St Petersburg, or to having received any grants.

Kogan’s company, Global Science Research (GSR), PART OF BANNOS/TRUMPS CAMPAIGN MACHINE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICAL was behind the app, ‘thisisyourdigitallife’, which harvested the data of tens of millions of Facebook users which was then passed on to Cambridge Analytical and the Russian Troll farm. According to Wylie, hundreds of thousands of Facebook users took personality tests with the app. In doing so, users consented to their data being collected for academic use.  The app also collected the personal information of test-takers’ Facebook friends, thus racking up data on tens of millions of users, which was accessible to Cambridge Analytica and used to win Trump the election. This contravened the social network’s ‘platform policy’ which banned the collection of friends’ data for any reasons aside from improving user experience. Nick Bit: I wonder how long before Dr Aleksandr “Alex” Kogan of Russia turns up dead?


Data Firm Tied to Trump Campaign Talked Business With Russians Its called collusion!

Agence France-Presse Getty Images

When the Russia question came up during a hearing at the British Parliament last month, Alexander Nix did not hesitate. We’ve never worked in Russia, said Mr. Nix, head of a data consulting firm that advised the Trump campaign on targeting voters. As far as I’m aware, we’ve never worked for a Russian company, Mr. Nix added I’ve never worked with a Russian organization in Russia or any other country, and we don’t have any relationship with Russia or Russian individuals. But Mr. Nix’s business did have some dealings with Russian interests, according to company documents and interviews. Mr. Nix is a director of SCL Group, a British political and defense contractor, and chief executive of its American offshoot, Cambridge Analytica, which advised the Trump campaign. The firms’ employees, who often overlap, had contact in 2014 and 2015 with executives from Lukoil, the Russian oil giant.

The contacts took place as Cambridge Analytica was building a roster of Republican political clients in the United States and harvesting the Facebook profiles of over 50 million users to develop tools it said could analyze voters behavior. Cambridge Analytica also included extensive questions about Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, in surveys it was carrying out in American focus groups in 2014. It is not clear what or which client  prompted the line of questioning, which asked for views on topics ranging from Mr. Putin’s popularity to Russian expansionism. On two promotional documents obtained by The New York Times, SCL said it did business in Russia. In both documents, the country is highlighted on world maps that specify the location of SCL clients, with one of the maps noting that the clients were for the firms elections division. In a statement, SCL said an employee had done commercial work about 25 years ago for a private company in Russia


President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, left, meeting with Vagit Alekperov. He is the head of Lukoil, an oil giant that was in talks with Cambridge Analytica employees. Credit Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin, via Reuters

Cambridge Analytica has been a political flash point since its role in the Trump campaign attracted scrutiny after the election. While Mr. Nix’s firm turned over some records to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during its investigation of Russian interference, Democrats on the committee want a fuller review. It is imperative to interview a broader range of individuals employed by or linked to Cambridge Analytica, they said in a report this month  Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge Analytica and develop the company’s voter-profiling technology, said Lukoil showed interest in how the company used data to tailor messaging to American voters. I remember being super confused,” said Mr. Wylie, who took part in one of the Lukoil meetings. I kept asking Alexander, Can you explain to me what they want?  he said, referring to Mr. Nix. I’dont understand why Lukoil wants to know about political targeting in America.

We are sending them stuff about political targeting they then come and ask more about political targeting, Mr. Wylie said, adding that Lukoil just didn’t seem to be interested in how the techniques could be used commercially.

A second person familiar with the discussions backed up Mr. Wylie’s account, but spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a confidentiality agreement. Though Lukoil is not state-owned, it depends on Kremlin support, and its chief executive, Vagit Alekperov, has met with Mr. Putin on a number of occasions. Reuters reported last year that Lukoil and other companies received instructions from the state energy ministry on providing news stories favorable to Russian leadership.

Republicans tell Trump: Lay off Mueller _ but they don’t act

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Republicans are telling President Donald Trump in ever blunter terms to lay off his escalating criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia probe. But party leaders are taking no action to protect Mueller, embracing a familiar strategy with the president — simply waiting out the storm. Trump blistered Mueller and his investigation all weekend on Twitter and started in again Monday, questioning the probe’s legitimacy with language no recent president has used for a federal inquiry. “A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted.

Mueller is leading a criminal probe into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had ties to Russia and whether there has been obstruction of justice since then.

Trump was told to cut it out on Sunday by such notable Republicans as Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then on Monday he was told that firing Mueller would be “the stupidest thing the president could do” by Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The White House insists President Trump is not planning on firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Still, some Republicans are alarmed that about the possibility and warning that Mueller’s investigation should be allowed to play out unimpeded. (March 19) Trump added a new lawyer. Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, will join his team later this week. DiGenova has been outspoken in his defense of Trump, talking of a “brazen plot” to exonerate Hillary Clinton in an email investigation and to “frame” Trump with a “falsely created crime.” His sniping is getting more pointed. Trump challenged the probe’s existence over the weekend and strongly suggested political bias on the part of Mueller’s investigators. The tweets ruffled some GOP lawmakers. South Carolina’s Gowdy admonished the president’s lawyers, saying that if Trump is innocent, “act like it.” Trump has fumed to confidants that the Mueller probe is “going to choke the life out of” his presidency if allowed to continue indefinitely, according to an outside adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with the president.

Fox’s Napolitano: McCabe firing could be seen as obstruction of justice

Fox New’s Judge Andrew Napolitano warned Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘s firing on Friday of former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe could be seen as “obstruction of justice.” Napolitano said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” Monday that he viewed McCabe’s firing as “vindictive” and “reckless.” “Andrew McCabe is more likely than not to be a witness against the Attorney General’s boss, the president of the United States,” Napolitano said. “I think that firing him in that environment could very well be determined to diminish his effectiveness as a witness. What’s that called, obstruction of justice.” “I don’t know if Bob Mueller wants to go there, but that’s the argument,” he added. Sessions fired McCabe on Friday night, saying that the former FBI official had made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and wasn’t fully forthcoming with investigators. McCabe said that he was fired to as part of an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference, in which he is likely to be a witness.  McCabe led the FBI in the weeks after President Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey, a reported area of interest in Mueller’s probe.  Napolitano also blasted Trump’s lawyer John Dowd for saying in a statement that he wanted Mueller’s probe to be shut down.

“Going on television, saying, ‘I pray that you shut down shop,’ is not the way a lawyer for an innocent defendant conveys the message on TV,” Napolitano said.

Dowd initially told The Daily Beast that he was making the statement on Mueller’s probe on behalf of the president, but later walked back the remark. Trump once described Napolitano as a “very talented legal mind.”

Turns Out Andrew McCabe Didn’t Lose His Pension After All

Andrew McCabe‘s estimated $1.8 million pension was reportedly lost forever when he was fired. As it turns out, he may just have to wait awhile–but that amount may ultimately be substantially diminished. According to George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, McCabe’s firing late Friday night merely means the former deputy FBI director lost access to early pension recovery at age 50. The standard federal retirement period begins at age 57. Turley notes that under the Federal Employees Retirement System (“FERS”), benefits vest after five years of federal service. McCabe’s benefits, therefore, were not totally lost when he was fired for cause over alleged media leaks–and consequently allegedly lying to federal investigators about those leaks. The FERS system is the primary retirement system for federal civil service employees. FERS replaced the older Civil Service Retirement System in January 1987, but most federal employees hired on or after January 1984 are automatically enrolled in a FERS-based plan. Andrew McCabe began working for the FBI in New York in 1996, where he investigated Russian organized crime. It appears McCabe was attempting to take advantage of the special FERS eligibility program for law enforcement officers. This plan would have allowed McCabe to retire with his full pension after 20 years of creditable service at the age of 50. Instead, McCabe’s FERS benefits won’t be available until the age of 57 at the earliest under more basic FERS rules. To clarify: because McCabe’s benefits vested after five years of service and he continuously paid into the FERS plan while employed by the FBI, McCabe’s benefits are waiting for him when he’s legally allowed to retire. McCabe could also–and likely will–file a request for his pension but it probably wouldn’t be acted on until many years from now. His request would be coded into the system and he’d simply have to wait. Debra Roth, legal affairs columnist for the Federal Times, noted:

If you are not eligible for an immediate annuity at the time of termination, you do not lose your eligibility for a “deferred” annuity just like any other federal worker who leaves federal service short of being fully eligible to collect a retirement annuity. Your annuity will be deferred until you reach the age eligibility to collect a deferred annuity.

As for offers by various Democrats who’ve allowed their hearts to bleed for Republican McCabe? They may not amount to much. McCabe’s attempts at early retirement are conditioned on primary law enforcement employment–he can’t just shuttle around Democratic congressional offices with lattes in hand and expect to take advantage of the perks and privileges offered to federal law enforcement officers.

Additionally, there’s some indication that McCabe could be entirely barred from early retirement due to the nature of his firing. According to 5 U.S.C. §8412(d)(2):

An employee who is separated from the service, except by removal for cause on charges of misconduct or delinquency…after becoming 50 years of age and completing 20 years of service as a law enforcement officer, member of the Capitol Police or Supreme Court Police, firefighter, nuclear materials courier, or customs and border protection officer, or any combination of such service totaling at least 20 years.

This statute suggests McCabe’s options for some form of early retirement have been wholly eliminated because he was fired “for cause.” Instead, McCabe will probably just have to wait it out–and likely lose out on seven years’ worth of pay in the process. Nick Bit: its down right humiliating Trumps gang that can not shoot straight ended up delaying his retirement nothing more!

Trump to hire diGenova, who argued FBI framed president

Trump to hire diGenova, who argued FBI framed president

President Trump is adding a lawyer to his legal team who has endorsed the idea that the Justice Department framed him, according to a report in The New York Times. Trump plans to hire longtime Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova, The Times wrote, citing three people told of the decision. It said he is unlikely to take a lead role on the team, but that he would add an aggressive presence. The president is increasingly signaling he intends to go in a different direction with his legal strategy, and this weekend began attacking by name special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s lawyers previously had advised him not to attack Mueller. Adding diGenova suggest Trump wants to go more on the attack, given diGenova’s past statements arguing investigations of Trump are meritless. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime,” said diGenova, who was previouslya Republican-appointed United States attorney for the District of Columbia. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that the Mueller probe should “never have been started.”

“There was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” Trump tweeted.

On Monday, Trump again called the investigation a witch hunt and claimed it had “massive conflicts of interest.” Trump’s lawyer John Dowd over the weekend also called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down Mueller’s Russia probe. Nick Note:Well is OK to have a witch hunt if your hunting Witches…..

Facebook shares slide after reports of data misuse for TRUMP CAMPAIGN

A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed stock graph in this illustration taken

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s shares fell more than 4 percent in premarket trading after media reports that a political consultancy that worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign gained inappropriate access to data on 50 million Facebook users. The move would knock $23.8 billion off the social network’s market value of $538 billion as of Friday’s close and shares in other social media companies including Twitter Inc and Snap Inc also dipped in early deals in New York. One Wall Street analyst said the reports raised ‘systemic problems’ with Facebook’s business model and a number said it could spur far deeper regulatory scrutiny of the platform. The head of European Parliament said on Monday that EU lawmakers will investigate whether the data misuse has taken place, adding the allegation is an unacceptable violation of citizens’ privacy rights. Facebook was already facing new calls for regulation from U.S. Congress and questions about personal data safeguards after the reports from the New York Times and London’s Observer over the weekend.

The papers reported on Saturday that private information from more than 50 million Facebook users improperly ended up in the hands of data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, and that the information had not been deleted despite Facebook demands dating back to 2015.

“This episode appears likely to create another and potentially more serious public relations ‘black eye’ for the company and could lead to additional regulatory scrutiny,” said Peter Stabler, analyst at Wells Fargo. Nick Note: This information along with Cambridge Analytical data base on EVERY American voter With Fusion GPS analytics  eneded up at the Russian Troll Farm. They targeted Trumps make America great crowd that swung the elections his way. I call this collusion. And their are bodies popping up all over the place who were involved in this…..

McCabe firing: Trump’s ‘great day for democracy’ smacks of dictatorship

(CNN)If the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Friday night felt like something you’d see in a third-world dictatorship, you aren’t alone. It reminded many of authoritarian leaders in other nations who purge those from the government who have not shown absolute loyalty or who have dared to publicly contradict them. In a vacuum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of McCabe approximately 26 hours before he would be eligible for early retirement benefits could turn out to be above reproach. The Justice Department Inspector General’s Michael Horowitz, nominated to this position in 2011 by then President Barack Obama, had reportedly concluded that McCabe had “misled investigators about his role in directing other officials at the FBI” to speak to the media in connection with an ongoing investigation. However, the Inspector General’s report has not yet been publicly released, and McCabe vehemently denies the charges.

Trump is creating a dangerous echo chamber around himself

Trump is creating a dangerous echo chamber around himself And, more importantly, we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the real world where context matters. And what we saw was Donald Trump lead a very public campaign to smear, undermine and ultimately replace McCabe, who was acting as FBI director after Trump fired James Comey, with current FBI director Christopher Wray. Was Trump out to get McCabe because McCabe dared to publicly contradict Trump when he testified before Congress in May?
Just consider this: there was McCabe, only two days after Trump fired Comey, undermining Trump’s claim that Comey had lost the confidence of the rank and file FBI agents. And then McCabe undercut the White House’s assertion that the FBI regarded the investigation into the Russian election as a low priority, with McCabe saying instead it was “highly significant.”
Could it be that Trump wanted McCabe out because, as McCabe put it to The New York Times, his firing “was part of an effort to discredit me as a witness” in the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller? After all, McCabe is in a unique position to corroborate Comey’s claim that Trump had demanded his loyalty when he was FBI director and that Trump had asked Comey to drop his investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has since pled guilty to lying to the FBI.

Lindsey Graham: Mueller Probe ‘Has Absolutely Nothing to Do With’ McCabe, Must Be Able to Continue

Recent remarks from both sides of the aisle have linked the recent termination of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and made it clear that these are totally separate issues. “Let me be clear about this, What Mr. McCabe did has absolutely nothing to do with the Mueller investigation,” Graham told host Jake Tapper. “The dossier, I think, was mishandled by the FBI, I think was inappropriately used and presented to the FISA court. That’s a separate issue than the Mueller investigation…. They’re separate in time, they’re not connected in any way.” In a statement, McCabe had said his termination, days before he was set to retire, “is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day.” He added, “Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.” President Donald Trump and his team have also seemed to link these issues in the wake of McCabe’s firing. Trump attorney John Dowd said in a recent statement:

I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier

Trump himself also tweeted about the investigation over the weekend, referring to Mueller by name when he hadn’t done so in the past. The president said the investigation “never should have been started,” and said it was based on the “Fake Dossier” which was used “for surveillance of my campaign.”

This, of course, ignores the fact that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign began months before they acquired a FISA warrant for Carter Page, and the fact that Page was no longer with the Trump campaign when they began their surveillance of him.

Graham said that not only is Robert Mueller’s investigation separate from the FISA warrant issue and any problems with McCabe and the FBI, but Mueller should continue his investigation and must be able to do so completely unfettered. “I pledge to the American people as a Republican to make sure that Mr. Mueller can continue to do his job without any interference,” he said. “I think he’s doing a good job, and everything  about McCabe and the FBI handling of the dossier has nothing to do with the Russia investigation and Mr. Mueller.” Tapper said that Trump’s tweets seem to indicate that he’s considering having Mueller fired, and asked Graham what he thinks of this. Graham noted that the Special Counsel can only be terminated for good cause, and he sees no reason to fire him. If Trump tried to get rid of Mueller anyway, it would be a serious problem, Graham warned. “As I said before, if he tried to do that, it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation.”

Sen. Flake: Trump Firing Mueller ‘Massive Red Line That Can’t Be Crossed’

Image: Sen. Flake: Trump Firing Mueller 'Massive Red Line That Can't Be Crossed'
(AP) By Cathy Burke | Sunday, 18 Mar 2018

Sen. Jeff Flake on Sunday bluntly warned President Donald Trump not to “go after” special counsel Robert Mueller, calling any ouster amid his Russia investigation “a massive red line that can’t be crossed.” “Don’t go there,” the retiring Arizona Republican demanded in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” insisting Congress would push back. “Once he goes after Mueller, then we’ll take action,” he said. “I think that people see that as a massive red line that can’t be crossed… I would just hope that enough people would prevail on the president now, ‘don’t go there.’” “I hope that the pushback is now to keep the president from going there,” he added.Flake, who may be contemplating his own bid to challenge Trump in 2020, also disputed the president’s declaration that it was “a great day for democracy” when Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired Friday night, less than two days before he was to retire.  “I think it was a horrible day for democracy. To have firings like this happening at the top, from the president and the attorney general does not speak well for what’s going on.”Flake said he would wait for the release of the Justice Department’s inspector general report, which was used as a basis by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire McCabe — and that the Senate Judiciary Committee “will be looking into it.” He said he was surprised, however, “that the president would get so far ahead of this.”  “I’m just puzzled by why the White House is going so hard at this,” he said. “Other than they’re very afraid of what might come out. I don’t know how you can have any other conclusion.”

Schiff: Trump shows pattern of targeting people who corroborate Comey

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that President Trump is firing people who claim they can corroborate former FBI director James Comey on possible obstruction of justice charges. Schiff pointed to the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Friday as the latest example.

“The fact that McCabe and every other of the James Comey associates…who corroborate James Comey on the issue of potential obstruction of justice, every one of them has been targeted by the administration, by the Republicans in Congress and is this because they corroborate James Comey?” Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”

“That’s a question we also have to answer,” Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said. Schiff charged that Trump has targeted Comey’s general counsel James Baker and his chief of staff James Rybicki because they back a possible case that Trump obstructed justice in the FBI investigation of Russian election interference and possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign. Both FBI staffers were removed from their positions by new FBI director Christopher Wray, but the FBI denied reports they were pushed out due to their previous association with Comey. Trump fired Comey last May. Days afterward, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to take over the FBI’s investigation into Russian actions. McCabe, who Sessions fired on Friday for allegedly disclosing unauthorized information to the press and failing to be candid about it with investigators, argued that his firing is an effort to undermine the Mueller investigation. Trump has criticized McCabe for months and celebrated his ouster over the weekend. According to Trump, McCabe was biased and tainted by the Democratic campaign his wife ran in Virginia, where she accepted campaign donations from Clinton allies. Schiff said he is unsure if McCabe’s firing is justified. “His firing may be justified, there is no way for us to know at this point,” Schiff said. “But even though it may have been justified it can also be tainted.”

Democrats hold double-digit lead for 2018 midterm elections

A new NBC News/WSJ poll also shows President Trump’s approval ratings edging up

WASHINGTON — Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage over Republicans in congressional preference for the 2018 midterm elections, even as President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has ticked up, the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds.

 Fifty percent of registered voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, while 40 percent want a GOP-controlled one.

That double-digit lead — typically a sign of strong Democratic performance for the upcoming election — is up from the party’s 6-point edge in January’s NBC/WSJ poll, which was 49 percent to 43 percent, though the change is within the poll’s margin of error.

The survey, which was conducted March 10-14, also shows Democrats holding the early enthusiasm advantage: Sixty percent of Democratic voters say they have a high degree of interest in the upcoming elections (registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale), versus 54 percent of Republicans who say the same thing. In addition, 64 percent of 2016 Clinton voters say they have a high level of interest, compared with 57 percent of 2016 Trump voters. And among independent voters, Democrats lead in congressional preference by 12 points, 48 percent to 36 percent.

Meanwhile, the NBC/WSJ polls finds that Trump’s approval rating stands at 43 percent among all Americans — up four points from January.  Fifty-three percent of adults say they disapprove of the president’s job, down from 57 percent two months ago. The improvement for Trump comes from Republican respondents (who went from 78 percent approve in January to 84 percent this month), white men (52 percent to 59 percent) and independents (33 percent to 45 percent). “Trumpism may well help Donald Trump in his 2020 election, but the buck stops there — which is a flashing red light for Republicans in 2017 or 2018,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the poll with GOP pollster Bill McInturff.

Still, Trump’s overall approval rating at 43 percent is the lowest for any modern president at about 14 months into his job.

“Survey to survey, numbers bounce around. But today’s state of play continues to tell the same story — a president with lower than average job approval starting his second year with a Democratic edge in the midterms,” says McInturff, the Republican pollster.

Also in the poll, the most popular political figures and institutions are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (48 percent positive, 20 percent negative), Planned Parenthood (52 percent positive, 25 percent negative), the “Me Too” Movement (35 percent positive, 18 percent negative) and special counsel Robert Mueller (28 percent positive, 19 percent negative). The most unpopular figures and institutions include House Speaker Paul Ryan (24 percent positive, 37 percent negative), President Trump (37 percent positive, 52 percent negative) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (21 percent positive, 43 percent negative).

Washington Post editorial board warns Trump: No one is above the law, not even the president

The Washington Post editorial board wrote a scathing response to President Trump’s celebration over the the ouster of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, calling Trump a “nasty, small-minded despot.”  Trump took to Twitter early Saturday to celebrate McCabe being fired after over 20 years at the bureau, claiming it was a “great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – a great day for democracy.” 

The Washington Post said in an opinion on Saturday that Trump’s behavior stood out as bullying.  “Mr. Trump acts like a nasty, small-minded despot, not the leader of a democracy more than two centuries old in which rule of law is a sturdy pillar. If there is doubt that the timing of Mr. McCabe’s dismissal was driven by political vengeance, Mr. Trump does everything he can to prove the worst with his own sordid words.”  Trump did not speak like the leader of the United States but as a  tyrant from a “banana republic” like Azerbaijan, Cambodia or Turkey.  “In nations without a strong democratic foundation, tyrants cling to power by belittling perceived enemies and insulting and co-opting other institutions, such as a free press, law enforcement and the military, coercing them into subservience,” the editorial board wrote.  McCabe’s fate at the FBI apparently hung in the balance of a Justice Department inspector general’s report that hasn’t been made public yet.  But the Post argued that Trump is trying to capitalize on that report to silence McCabe’s potential testimony in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the possible obstruction of justice Trump committee when he fired McCabe’s former boss, James Comey.  “Now the president has attempted to discredit, and lauded the punishment of, a potential witness against him, an affront to the integrity and independence of law enforcement,” the Post wrote.  Trump jumped on McCabe with “unseemly ferocity” but contrary to Trump’s tweet, the hardworking men and women of the FBI are far more distinguished for their fairness. “In fact, the hardworking men and women of the FBI, the Justice Department, the intelligence agencies and elsewhere in government come to work every day to uphold the values of a democratic system based on rule of law — a system that is distinguished by the simple principle that everyone is judged fairly, not by grudge or whim, and that no one is above the law, not even the president.” Nick Note: These are words and actions of a man becoming increasing more desperate by the day. This issue is simply did TRUMP do bad things with the Russians. Like money laundering in his NY real estate. And ddi he through Cambridge Analytical and Fusions GPS engage the Russians to interfere in the elections. Including having the Russians gather and release the famous “Hillary emails” Don’t let the blizzard of bullshit they are blowing blind  you to the core issues here

Trump Lawyer Says Special Counsel Inquiry Should Be Ended

A lawyer for President Trump said that Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, should end the special counsel inquiry. Credit Pete Marovich for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A lawyer for President Trump called on the Justice Department on Saturday to end the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, shifting abruptly to a more adversarial stance as the inquiry appeared to be intensifying. The comments by the lawyer, John Dowd, were prompted by the firing late on Friday of the former deputy F.B.I. director Andrew G. McCabe. Mr. Dowd exhorted Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who oversees the special counsel, to end the inquiry and accused the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey of concocting a baseless investigation. “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the F.B.I. Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier,” Mr. Dowd told The Daily Beast.

His remarks capped another round of revelations in recent days that reinvigorated or displayed Mr. Trump’s frustrations with the investigation, which has cast a shadow over his presidency. He was said to be angered over a New York Times report that records from the Trump Organization were subpoenaed, and he celebrated the firing of Mr. McCabe, who was among the first F.B.I. officials to scrutinize possible links between Russia and the Trump team, calling his dismissal a “great day for Democracy” on Twitter.

On Saturday evening, Mr. Trump for the first time posted a tweet that specifically mentioned the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The president again denounced the inquiry he is conducting as a “witch hunt.”  “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” he wrote. “It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign.” Mr. Dowd, by contrast, did not name the special counsel in his statement, but the implication that he believed Mr. Mueller should be fired was unmistakable. Such a move could set off alarms among Republicans in Congress, who have largely stood by as the president repeatedly assailed the Justice Department and the F.B.I. People close to the president were skeptical that Mr. Dowd was acting on his own. Mr. Trump has a history of using advisers to publicly test a message, giving him some distance from it.

Fusion GPS Founder Hauled From the Shadows for the Russia Election Investigation

Glenn R. Simpson, a founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, in November before a closed hearing on Capitol Hill. He has given at least 20 hours of testimony before three congressional committees. Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

WASHINGTON  As investigators circle President Trumps administration over ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Simpson, a 53-year-old Wall Street Journal veteran-turned-master of high-dollar research, has arrived at the biggest story of either of his careers, lurching to the center of the Russia-tinged scandal that clouds the presidency. Mr. Trump knows his work intimately. Mr. Simpson is the man behind an explosive dossier  produced at his firm, Fusion GPS, with a former British spy, Christopher Steele outlining possible connections between the president, his associates and Russian officials. For months, Mr. Simpsons name has ricocheted across the halls of Congress and the airwaves of Fox News, becoming shorthand in conservative circles for purported investigatory overreach and counterconspiracies against the White House. Questions about his research have become central to Republican attempts to discredit not just Fusion but the very existence of inquiries into Mr. Trump, including the efforts of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.Republican leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Mr. Steele, whom Mr. Simpson hired, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with journalists.  Mr. Simpson himself has been hauled before three congressional committees for some 20 hours of questions and answers, placing him among the most significant players in the Trump-Russia affair, if math is the metric. Uncooperative, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said of Mr. Simpsons turn before the Judiciary Committee, which he leads. Fusions task has often translated, roughly, to finding unsavory things about unsavory people, at the behest of not-especially-savory clients. The firm often represents corporations, hedge funds or law firms, providing a sort of public-records forensics that resembles journalism. It leans on its understanding of the news media, and its contacts among reporters, to elevate its clients and squeeze their adversaries.

More notable to some lawmakers is Mr. Simpsons connection to two figures with deep bonds to Russian power, who have long fought for a pet Kremlin cause: Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, and Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, a lawyer known as a formidable Moscow insider.


Christopher Steele, a former British spy, was commissioned by Mr. Simpson to produce a dossier of opposition research during Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. Simpsons Russian source of information was hit with nerve gas and in on life support at a London Hospital. Photo Credit Victoria Jones/Press Association, via Associated Press

The two have worked to turn back the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 American law detested by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, that punishes Russian human rights violators. And together with Mr. Simpson, the trio worked on behalf of a Russian-owned company accused by the United States government of laundering some of the funds stolen in a fraud uncovered by Sergei L. Magnitsky, after whom the act was named. Mr. Simpson had been hired by a law firm, BakerHostetler, representing the company. As part of this work, he compiled damaging allegations against William F. Browder, an American-born financier and Kremlin foe who was the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act. Hes a professional smear campaigner and liar for money, Mr. Browder said of Mr. Simpson. The credibility of anything that he does is in question. The Magnitsky Act was a topic of discussion at an infamous meeting that both Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Akhmetshin attended at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., who had been promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Mr. Simpson was in court with Ms. Veselnitskaya hours before the Trump Tower meeting and saw her again shortly after it, his lawyer, Joshua A. Levy, confirmed. But these contacts were related to Mr. Simpsonâs work on the case for BakerHostetler, Mr. Levy said, and Fusion only learned about the Trump Tower meeting in news reports last year.

 Nick Note: The Fusion GPS data, Cambridge Analytical data, Fact Book data and Republican party polling and voter data ALL ended up at the Russian troll farm. Along with the famous Hillary emails. And none know shit about it… YEA RIGHT!!!!  And the Russians bombed the Make America Great blue collar  districts that won Trump the election….. Amazing coincidence… AND every freeging day the President screams from the roof top of the WHITE HOUSE their was NO NO NO NO collusion………

Cambridge Analytica denies using Facebook data for Trump campaign, says its cooperating with the social network

Facebook's news feed

Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections, insisted on Saturday that it did not misuse or hold data obtained from Facebook users, despite having been sanctioned by the platform for doing so.

On Friday, Facebook announced that it had suspended Cambridge Analytica, suggesting the firm had not been honest about deleting user data sent to it by the makers of a popular psychology test app.

That particular app, called “thisisyourdigitallife,” was itself banned by Facebook back in 2015. However, the social network has accused Cambridge Analytica of holding that data, despite assurances to the contrary. “Several days ago, we received reports that, contrary to the certifications we were given, not all data was deleted,” Facebook said in a blog post. “We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. If true, this is another unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments they made.”

Cambridge Analytica now finds itself in the middle of a political firestorm, amid a roiling debate over ‘information warfare’ that is being used to influence the electoral process. It stands accused of harvesting Facebook user data to profile voters that that were ultimately targeted by the Trump campaign, which spent over $6 million on information obtained by the firm.

“In 2014, we contracted a company led by a seemingly reputable academic at an internationally-renowned institution to undertake a large scale research project in the United States,” Cambridge Analytica said. “This company, Global Science Research (GSR), was contractually committed by us to only obtain data in accordance with the U.K. Data Protection Act and to seek the informed consent of each respondent,” it added.

In a statement, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, one of the most prominent voices in the debate about online political advertising, said the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook spat was indicative of a market that’s “essentially the Wild West” of advertising.

“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” Warner said on Saturday. “This is another strong indication of the need for Congress to quickly pass the Honest Ads Act to bring transparency and accountability to online political advertisements,” the senator added.

The firm, initially funded by a multimillion investment by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer and helmed by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, touted tools using data to identify and sway voters. That approach is now under fire on both sides of the Atlantic.

Despite Facebook’s claims that Cambridge Analytica used the information in the service of Trump’s presidential ambitions, the firm dismissed the notion. Christopher Wylie, one of Cambridge Analytica’s founders who left the firm in 2014, spoke disparagingly about the company in an interview with The New York Times published on Saturday. “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair,” Wylie told the publication. “They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.” Nick Note: we hooked with them years ago in my research. As soon as they realized i was on to them they cut us off. Their are always back doors. For sure they were one of the conduits of info for the Russian Trolls that colluded aided and abetted and won Trump the election.


Warner calls on Congress to protect Mueller after McCabe’s firing

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said on Saturday that all members of Congress need to defend special counsel Robert Mueller, after a report suggested that President Trump’s lawyer wanted Mueller to be fired.

“Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel. Now,” Warner wrote in a tweet.

Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, told the Daily Beast that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should end special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He appeared to compare Mueller to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired on Friday night. His comments come one day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe after an internal watchdog review. Sessions said McCabe gave the media information without authorization and lacked “candor” with investigators.

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss [former FBI Director] James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd told The Daily Beast in a statement, referring to the “Steele dossier” that Republicans say prompted the ongoing Russia investigation.

Dowd initially told the Daily Beast that he was speaking as Trump’s counsel but then walked back his statement to say he was speaking in his personal capacity. McCabe has denied the claims against him and said he was fired to undermine Mueller’s ongoing probe. Prior to being fired, he faced months of criticism for his role in the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton. Trump had accused him of being biased against him, pointing to McCabe’s wife, who ran for office in Virginia as a Democrat in 2015 and had accepted donations from a top Clinton ally.

The White House has denied Trump has any plans to fire Mueller and continues to cooperate in his investigation. Nick Note: see that part in RED above. Don’t buy that shit for a minute. Trump’s working his way up the “FAKE NEWS” food chain. Its all about killing the Mueller investigation.

James Comey warns Trump: The American people will ‘soon’ be able to judge ‘who is honorable and who is not’

James Comey to appear on The View


Former FBI Director James Comey shot a message at President Trump after his former deputy Andrew McCabe was fired, warning that “the American people will hear my story very soon,” “And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” he added in a terse tweet. Comey has a book coming out next month and a planned media tour to go along with it.

Trump, who just last night celebrated McCabe’s ouster as a “great day for democracy,” had just tweeted about hoJamw the “fake news” media was “beside itself” when “McCabe was caught, called out and fired.””How many hundreds of thousands  of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!” Trump said.

The Associated Press also had just reported that McCabe, like Comey, kept personal memos of his interactions with Trump. McCabe served more than two decades in the FBI. He was appointed deputy director by Comey in January 2016. In the past year, he came under fire amid allegations of bias, stemming from a campaign contribution his wife received from a Hillary Clinton ally and his supervision of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server while she was secretary of state. McCabe has rejected reports from the FBI’s Office of Personal Responsibility and Office of Inspector General, cited by Sessions, which concluded he made unauthorized leaks and made disingenuous statements under oath. In a statement late Friday, McCabe said that there has been an effort to “slander” him and accused the push to remove him as being part of the Trump administration’s “ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation,” which is looking at whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Trump has long called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt” and was reportedly come close to demanding his termination in the past. His lawyer, John Dowd, reacted to McCabe’s ouster on Saturday, telling the Daily Beast that it was now time for Mueller to be fired. It was in the aftermath of Comey’s ouster, after he said Trump asked him to lay off the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and asked him for loyalty, that the Washington Post reported Mueller had expanded his investigation to look at possible obstruction of justice. Trump himself teased last summer that there might be “tapes” of his conversations with Comey, but later denied there were any recordings. In response to Trump’s tease, Comey famously said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” while testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017. The former FBI director has made waves since his termination, as it was revealed Comey memorialized several encounters he had with Trump in a series of memos. In one memo, Comey detailed how the president pressured him to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In another, Comey recalled how Trump demanded loyalty from him. A federal judge ruled last month that Comey’s memos would not be released to the public. After McCabe gave private testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in December, reports, which relied on leaks, indicated McCabe said he could corroborate Comey’s description of conversations he had with Trump before he was fired in May of last year. In a previously unpublished interview with Politico, conducted before he was fired late Friday, McCabe predicted that he would be a “significant witness.

Days before Florida bridge collapsed, engineer reported cracks

(CNN)Two days before a bridge crumbled in Miami, killing six people, an engineer for the company that designed it called a Florida Department of Transportation employee, warning of “some cracking.” The state employee was out on assignment that day. The call from W. Denney Pate of FIGG Bridge Engineers was unanswered, and the voice mail he recorded unheard — until Friday. In the voice mail, Pate said the cracking on the north end of the span should be repaired. However, he added, there were no safety concerns on the project near Florida International University. “We’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done,” Pate said. “But from a safety perspective, we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that.” It’s too early to tell whether the bridge failed when construction workers were applying post-tensioning force to strengthen the beams, said Robert Accetta of the National Transportation Safety Board. Accetta said a crack in the bridge “does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.” Sen. Bill Nelson is asking for documents related to the “engineering, design, construction, safety and inspection.”

“In light of the fact that there were multiple agencies and companies involved, we’re going to need a clear understanding of who had what role in this horrible tragedy,” he said in a statement. Nick Note: LOCK THEM LOCK UP! THEM LOCK THEM UP!. Procedure  when damage is discovered is to shut down the highway. LOCK THEM LOCK THEM LOCK THEM UP This is the 3rd bridge these criminals built that failed!

Russia to expel 23 British diplomats, Moscow says, as spy attack dispute escalates

Tit-for-tat expulsions come as Moscow reiterates demand for evidence it was involved in poisoning of former double agent living in US
British police officers stand on duty as members of the Army work in a residential street in Alderholt, southern England, on March 15, 2018, as investigations and operations continue in connection with the poison attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. Photo: AFP 

Russia on Saturday announced it is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.The Russian Foreign Ministry also said in a statement that it is ordering the closure of the British Council, a government organisation for cultural and scientific cooperation, and ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St Petersburg. It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.  The announcement followed on the heels of Britain’s order this week for 23 Russian diplomats to leave Britain because it said Russia was not cooperating in the case of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both found March 4 poisoned by a nerve agent officials claim was developed in Russia. The Skripals remain in critical condition. Britain’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning of the Skripals, without offering any evidence. Putin’s spokesman denounced the claim.

The Russian statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more “unfriendly” moves toward Russia. British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was called to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning to be informed of the moves. “This crisis has arisen as a result of an appalling attack in the United Kingdom, the attempted murder of two people, using a chemical weapon developed in Russia and not declared by Russia at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as Russia was and is obliged to do under the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Bristow insisted after being informed of the expulsions.

House Intel Dem to Trump: ‘Gloat now, but you will be fired soon

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) scolded President Trump for celebrating the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday night, telling him to “gloat now, but you will be fired soon.”

“And it’s not going to be done cowardly, as you’ve done to so many who’ve served you,” Swalwell tweeted Saturday. “There’s a storm gathering, Mr. President, and it’s going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs.”

The Democrat, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, was responding to Trump’s tweet celebrating McCabe’s firing. Swalwell also tweeted on Friday night that McCabe’s firing showed “how guilty people act.” Trump, who had attacked McCable multiple times, called the firing “a great day for democracy.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe on Friday after an internal FBI office found that McCabe wasn’t completely honest with investigators during a review and had made an unauthorized disclosure to the media.

McCabe quickly hit back, saying he was dismissed as part of an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller. McCabe could be a key witness in Mueller’s probe of Russia’s election interference, as he led the FBI in the weeks after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe’s firing took place just two days before he was scheduled to retire and be eligible for his pension. His dismissal puts that pension in jeopardy

House Republican blasts McCabe firing, says Trump’s conduct doesn’t ‘bode well’ for GOP

“I just don’t think this bodes well.”

During a Saturday morning interview on CNN, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) harshly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to fire former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, adding that he doesn’t think it bodes well for his party. “Candidly, it looks like retribution and a bit vindictive,” Dent said. “And I think it’s unfortunate. The man said he’s resigning, and on a Friday night before his 50th birthday, he’s fired to take away his pension? I don’t like the optics of this. I really don’t.”

Dent said he thinks the attorney general made the decision under pressure from President Trump. Trump has repeatedly publicly demanded that Sessions fire McCabe, who is potentially a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president for possible obstruction of justice

“I have to tell you, it looks like the attorney general may have been browbeaten into this,” Dent added. “He’s been publicly humiliated and shamed by the president on multiple occasions, and I just don’t think this bodes well.”

Dent linked McCabe’s firing with his party’s struggles in recent special elections — including the loss of a seat in a deep-red district in his home state last Tuesday.

“We just had a special election on Tuesday. And all this continuing chaos and drama that we’re seeing with the Tillerson firing, the McCabe firing, Stormy Daniels, all this stuff, this is having an impact on Republicans down ballot. If people didn’t get the message on Tuesday, I hope they get it now.”  “This is 5-alarm fire,” Dent added. “We simply just can’t dismiss the election on Tuesday to local events… It’s about these larger issues of this toxic political environment we find ourselves in.”  Nick Note: Trump like most demagogues has the ability to get good men to do bad things. Americans elected a whore monger, Failed businessman who saved his empire by laundering money for Americas biggest enemy the Russians who were under sanctions. Even BillyBob is starting to figure it out. The last 4 elections Trump stumped his candidates all lost! He is not going to make steel great again a pigs ass. He is not going to return manufacturing back to the US.  only to have robots replace people. He did not really give people a tax break. And the tax beak bonanza for billionaires is causing the deficits and national debt to soar. As a direct result the FED is raising rates. And after the sugar high the US economy will enter a recession… Which as he does great evil to avoid impeachment will turn into a depression. He is destroying the economy just like he did in his bushiness. AND he will resign or be impeached.


Dent also questioned the wisdom of Republican attacks on law enforcement agencies, noting that while Trump has “been battling with the FBI and certain elements of the intelligence community for some time,” he doesn’t think it’s “in the interests of the Republican Party.”

“I always had the sense that the rank and file of the FBI had pretty high regard for Mr. Comey,” Dent said. “I don’t know what their relationship was with Mr. McCabe. I hadn’t heard terrible things. I guess the point I’m making is Comey and McCabe seem to have some respect within the FBI by the rank and file, so I’m not sure what the message is that the president is sending there.”

Dent, who is in his seventh term and is not seeking reelection, is the former chair of the House Ethics Committee. In January, he criticized members of his own party — including Trump — for publicy suggesting there’s an anti-Trump cabal within the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, saying, “We need to get behind law enforcement, show some respect here, and move away from these conspiracy theories.”

“I’ve never heard of an administration, a president attacking his own government. But that’s essentially what’s happening,” he said.  “And I think my colleagues ought to cease and desist from some of this rhetoric against our law enforcement officials who are very professional and thorough.”

A Dire Warning from Congressman Duffy: Democrats WILL impeach Trump

Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy believes “absolutely, wholeheartedly” that Democrats will vote to impeach President Trump if they win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

“Democrat candidates might be sketchy about admitting that, especially in more 50-50 seats, but of course they’re going to impeach Donald Trump,” Duffy told News/Talk 1130 WISN’s Dan O’Donnell on Friday. By the way, there aren’t that many Blue Dog Democrats left in Congress. They are radical leftist, socialist Democrats.  They are like Nancy Pelosi. They are far-left people. “That’s who’s winning their primaries, and do you think that the far-left ‘Resist’ movement base of the Democrat Party would accept anything other than impeachment?” House Democrats took two impeachment votes against President Trump in the past few months, gaining support for impeachment by the second vote.  58 Democrats voted to impeach in December, while 66 voted for impeachment the following month. Prominent House Democrats, including California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, have repeatedly called for the President’s impeachment, though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has attempted to downplay such talk.

Duffy strongly believes that Democrats will have no trouble getting the simple majority (218 votes) to trigger impeachment proceedings should the Democratic Party retake control of the House.

Nick Note: It is my opinion that the Democrats Will take the House in the fall elections. I believe they will the moment they put their hand on the bible and are sworn in start Impeachment Proceeding against Trump. AND AND AND Trump will  resign to spare his son and son in law prison and himself criminal liability after impeachment. Resigning will allow Trump to hide his sorted past and keep his wealth.

Parkland Shooting Surveillance Video Shows Deputy Stayed Outside

Parkland shooting surveillance video shows a Florida sheriff’s deputy going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but he then backed away and stayed outside with his handgun drawn. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released the video Thursday showing Deputy Scot Peterson’s actions during the Feb. 14 shooting. It shows him and two staff members rushing in a cart toward the three-story freshman building where the shootings happened. When they arrive, Peterson pulls his weapon and goes forward but then retreats and takes up a position outside the building.During most of the six minutes of shooting, the camera’s view of Peterson is blocked by a light pole but parts of him occasionally appear. He never went inside. There is no sound on the video. About 11 minutes after the 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz began shooting, the video shows a glimpse of Coral Springs police officers who have arrived at the school rushing toward the building. By then, Cruz had fled. He was arrested an hour later about a mile from the school. Sheriff Scott Israel blasted Peterson eight days after the shooting, saying the deputy should have entered the building immediately, “addressed the killer, killed the killer.”The 54-year-old deputy retired rather than accept a suspension. He is still being investigated by internal affairs. Peterson has denied wrongdoing. In a statement issued through his lawyer shortly after his retirement, he said he thought the shots were being fired from outside the school. But in radio transmissions released last week it appears the 32-year veteran deputy knew almost immediately the shots were coming from inside the freshman building.Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, did not return a call and email Thursday seeking comment. John Bostain, an independent police trainer, reviewed the video at the request of The Associated Press. He said it confirms that Peterson should have entered the building: that is an almost-universal response in police training after the 1999 Columbine High and 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings. He said the question is why he didn’t: was it because of Peterson’s individual character or something about the culture in the Broward Sheriff’s Office that made him avoid a deadly force situation.

U.S. sanctions Russians for meddling, but not Putin’s oligarchs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States slapped sanctions on Russian individuals and entities for U.S. election meddling and cyber attacks but put off targeting oligarchs and government officials close to President Vladimir Putin, prompting lawmakers in both parties to say President Donald Trump needs to do much more.With the United States under pressure to act, the steps announced by the U.S. Treasury Department represented the most significant taken against Moscow since Trump assumed office in January 2017.  Along with imposing sanctions on 19 individuals and five entities including Russian intelligence services, the Trump administration publicly blamed Moscow for the first time for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid including nuclear facilities.The United States also joined Britain, Germany and France in demanding that Russia explain a military-grade nerve toxin attack in England on a former Russian double agent, with Trump saying: “It certainly looks like the Russians were behind” the incident.

But congressional critics called the administration’s action a woefully inadequate retaliation for Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. election and other actions.

“The sanctions today are a grievous disappointment and fall far short of what is needed to respond to that attack on our democracy let alone deter Russia’s escalating aggression, which now includes a chemical weapons attack on the soil of our closest ally,” said Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. “Today’s action, using authorities provided by Congress, is an important step by the administration. But more must be done,” Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce added. He later urged Trump to sanction Russia for the poisoning in Britain.

Trump has faced fierce criticism in the United States for doing too little to punish Russia for the election meddling and other actions, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians, an allegation the president denies.

Sixteen of the Russian individuals and entities sanctioned were indicted on Feb. 16 as part of Mueller’s criminal investigation. “They didn’t hit Putin’s power structure and they didn’t team up with Europe,” Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank and a former senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said of the administration’s actions. In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia was preparing retaliatory measures, as U.S.-Russian relations plunged again. Nick Bit: Trump’s Sanctions are a sick joke. He has only taken action against the Troll Workers 13 of them. He has left Putin’s billionaires alone. Many of them investors in Trump properties……..

In a first, US blames Russia for cyberattacks on energy grid

Oliver Nicolaas Ponder | Getty Images

The Trump administration on Thursday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid, marking the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. Beginning in March 2016, or possibly earlier, Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing, according to a U.S. security alert published Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI said in the alert that a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.” The alert did not name facilities or companies targeted. The direct condemnation of Moscow represented an escalation in the Trump administration’s attempts to deter Russia’s aggression in cyberspace, after senior U.S. intelligence officials said in recent weeks the Kremlin believes it can launch hacking operations against the West with impunity. It coincided with a decision Thursday by the U.S. Treasury Department to impose sanctions on 19 Russian people and five groups, including Moscow’s intelligence services, for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and other malicious cyber attacks. Russia in the past has denied it has tried to hack into other countries’ infrastructure, and vowed on Thursday to retaliate for the new sanctions. U.S. security officials have long warned that the United States may be vulnerable to debilitating cyber attacks from hostile adversaries. It was not clear what impact the attacks had on the firms that were targeted. But Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by the U.S. cyber security firm Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. Malicious email campaigns dating back to late 2015 were used to gain entry into organizations in the United States, Turkey and Switzerland, and likely other countries, Symantec said at the time, though it did not name Russia as the culprit. The decision by the United States to publicly attribute hacking attempts of American critical infrastructure was “unprecedented and extraordinary,” said Amit Yoran, a former U.S. official who founded DHS’s Computer Emergency Response Team. “I have never seen anything like this,” said Yoran, now chief executive of the cyber firm Tenable, said. A White House National Security Council spokesman did not respond when asked what specifically prompted the public blaming of Russia. U.S. officials have historically been reluctant to call out such activity in part because the United States also spies on infrastructure in other parts of the world. News of the hacking campaign targeting U.S. power companies first surfaced in June in a confidential alert to industry that described attacks on industrial firms, including nuclear plants, but did not attribute blame. “People sort of suspected Russia was behind it, but today’s statement from the U.S. government carries a lot of weight,” said Ben Read, manager for cyber espionage analysis with cyber security company FireEye Inc. The campaign targeted engineers and technical staff with access to industrial controls, suggesting the hackers were interested in disrupting operations, though FireEye has seen no evidence that they actually took that step, Read said. A former senior DHS official familiar with the government response to the campaign said that Russia’s targeting of infrastructure networks dropped off after the publication in the fall of Symantec’s research and an October government alert, which detailed technical forensics about the hacking attempts but did not name Russia. The official declined to say whether the campaign was still ongoing or provide specifics on which targets were breached, or how close hackers may have gotten to operational control systems. “We did not see them cross into the control networks,” DHS cyber security official Rick Driggers told reporters at a dinner on Thursday evening. Driggers said he was unaware of any cases of control networks being compromised in the United States and that the breaches were limited to business networks. But, he added, “We know that there is intent there.” It was not clear what Russia’s motive was. Many cyber security experts and former U.S. officials say such behavior is generally espionage-oriented with the potential, if needed, for sabotage.

Fragmented banking standards could be the ‘seeds’ of the next financial crisis, expert warns

  • While the U.S. is easing rules on banks, Europe has for the last couple of years toughened them.
  • These opposing moves on regulation are a “bad thing.”


Forcing different standards on banks and other financial services across the globe could spark the next financial crisis, the vice chairman of a prominent U.S. financial services firm said Friday.

While the U.S. is easing rules on banks, Europe has for the last couple of years toughened them. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed new rules to soften regulation introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. But in Europe, brokers were obliged at the start of the year to split their research from their trading operations, in a series of attempts to increase transparency in investment banking. But these opposing moves on regulation are a “bad thing,” Larry Thompson, the vice chairman of DTCC (Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation), an American post-trade financial services company, told CNBC. The firm acts as a clearing house, which is an intermediary institution between buyers and sellers of financial securities. “There should be standards that are cross-nations, there should be harmonization of all of those rules,” he said. When asked if the world would change in that direction, Thompson said “probably not.” Furthermore, when asked if the lack of coordination on banking rules could be the “seeds of the next crisis,” he said: “It could be.” Traditionally, regulations are toughened following a financial crisis and then later eased back. Nick Note: The IDIOTS have stopped stress testing banks. Because their algorithms (the curse of our time) says another recession is impossible. So the banks have dramatically cut their capital. Now new rules will exempt HA HA HA HA HA  “small banks” from Dodd/Frank. So how do they define your small neighborhood bank? One of one quarter trillion in assets. Here is a news flash…. That is NOT SMALL. And here is a reality check… They are already broke!

Stephen Hawking’s final Reddit post is going viral over its ominous warning about robots

 He warned against a looming conflict between robots and humans before his death
AFP/Getty ImagesStephen Hawking died Tuesday at age 76.

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking died Tuesday at the age of 76, and before he departed this world, he left us with warnings that Earth is headed for a “catastrophic ending” in the near future.

This doom will not come from a fiery asteroid or even global warming, but from rising inequality fueled by increasingly smart robots, Hawking said.

“Intelligent future AI will probably develop a drive to survive and acquire more resources as a step toward accomplishing whatever goal it has, because surviving and having more resources will increase its chances of accomplishing that other goal,” he said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything forum in 2015. “This can cause problems for humans whose resources get taken away.” His solution? We should all leave the planet and find new lives in outer space. His dire prediction came as robots and artificial intelligence increasingly take over human jobs, with some 800 million people around the world — including a third of the workforce in the U.S. — predicted to be out of jobs by 2030 because of automation, according to an eight-month study from the McKinsey Global Institute. Though Hawking often warned about the upcoming robot takeover, he noted technology could also produce new solutions. “If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed,” he wrote. “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.”

“There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal,” he said.  He noted Uber as an example: now the company employs hundreds of thousands of drivers around the world, but it is anticipated to replace them with self-driving cars by 2030. Under the tenets of luxury communism, such services would be provided by the state rather than a private company, with profits being used to increase the standard of living for all.Some argue automation will not evolve to meet all of the needs of humans, or that the model of luxury communism isn’t environmentally sustainable. Hawking himself said the future didn’t seem bright for such a model. “So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality,” he said.

Others say some form of shared wealth from automation is inevitable and already coming to fruition. In 2016, Swiss voters rejected an initiative to create a guaranteed minimal income on which to live, a concept that tech magnates like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerburg have both promoted.

Russia will test its ‘unstoppable’ new ‘Satan 2’ nuclear missile

Russia is preparing to carry out tests of the 'Satan 2' nuclear missile which can carry 16 warheads and evade all missile defences, according to the Kremlin

  • Russia is preparing to test its ‘unstoppable’ new nuclear missile dubbed Satan 2 
  • Military says rocket weighs 200 tonnes and can carry up to 16 nuclear warheads 
  • Putin also bragged that it cannot be stopped by any missile defence system
  • Fresh tests come amid heightened tensions with the West over spy poisoning

Russia is preparing to test its ‘unstoppable’ new nuclear missile, the country’s military has announced. General Valery Gerasimov told state news that preparations are underway for tests of the missile, dubbed Satan 2 by NATO, at the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The rocket can carry up to 16 nuclear warheads and President Putin bragged earlier this month that it cannot be stopped by any missile defense system.

The missile was previously tested in December last year, with footage of the launch system shown during Putin's state of the nation address (pictured)

The missile was previously tested in December last year, with footage of the launch system shown during Putin’s state of the nation address. The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the poisoning of a former spy on UK soil with Russian nerve agent.Gerasimov described the exercise as a ‘pop-up test’ to TASS, meaning it will likely test the launch system which ejects the missile from its silo.

Previous test footage used computer animations to show the flight of the missile, suggesting this has not been tested yet. It is not clear if this will form part of the new tests

 Russia announced the fresh tests amid heightened tensions with the West and as Putin warned Britain not to threaten ‘a nuclear power’ Gerasimov’s announcement came on Tuesday, shortly after British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was ‘highly likely’ Russia was behind the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. Mrs May gave the Russian government 24 hours to explain itself, before announcing on Wednesday that she would be expelling 23 Russian diplomats from the UK.

High-level visits from Russians to the UK were also cancelled, and it was announced that the royal family will not be attending the world cup in Russia this summer. Nick Bit: The US has WASTED hundreds of billions on missile defense systems that are useless and rendered obsolete before they are even deployed.  The Pentagon  still  moved ahead with systems knowing that the supersonic missile was a reality……. That’s called making defense contractors great again! This supersonic missile is indeed  unstoppable. By any technology presently under development. AND their is nothing on the drawing board that can stop the SATAN! Here is the good news: coal will be GREAT again and we can all move into a local coal mine when the unstoppable missiles are coming. Its kind like your own black hole in your backyard.

Trump has decided to remove his national security adviser: Washington Post

 National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster speaks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2018.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to replace his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, but the move is not expected to be made immediately, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. Citing five people with knowledge of the plans, the Post said Trump was considering several possible replacements, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.On Tuesday,“I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want,” Trump told reporters after Tillerson was fired. McMaster is not expected to be ousted immediately, the Post reported. Trump is willing to take his time making the change to avoid humiliating McMaster and carefully choose a strong replacement, the Post said. Trump never personally gelled with McMaster and the president recently told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that he wanted McMaster replaced, according to the Post. Trump has complained that McMaster, a three-star Army general, is too rigid and that his briefings go on too long and seem irrelevant, the Post reported. McMaster is Trump’s second national security adviser, succeeding Michael Flynn who was dismissed a year ago for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Saudi will develop a nuclear bomb if Iran does

Sadui Crown Prince warns as he likens Iran’s  regime’s leader to Hitler

Saudi Arabia will rapidly acquire a nuclear weapon if arch-rival Iran develops one, the country’s Crown Prince has warned. Mohammed bin Salman said the Saudis ‘do not want’ nukes but would be forced to develop them should their Shia counterparts acquire them first.  The 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne made the comments in an interview in which he also likened Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler. Saudi Arabia will be forced to rapidly acquire nukes if arch-rival Iran manages to develop the weapon, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said (file image)  ‘Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,’ Salman told CBS in an interview that will air on Sunday. The comment came after he was asked about remarks in which he described Khamenei as ‘the new Hitler of the Middle East’. ‘He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. ‘Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened.  ‘I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.’ Saudi Arabia is already stepping up plans to develop nuclear energy as part of reforms being led by Salman that aim to end the region’s dependence on oil.

Salman likened Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler in the same interview, saying he wants to expand his influence over the Middle East

The United States, South Korea, Russia, France and China are already bidding on a multi-billion dollar tender to build Saudi Arabia’s first two nuclear reactors. The world’s top oil exporter has previously said it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful uses. However, it has not made it clear whether it plans to develop the capacity to enrich uranium in order to produce fuel, or whether it will acquire this from overseas. Enriched uranium can also be used to create nuclear warheads.

Donald Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa files for divorce

Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump’s relationship through the years

Donald Trump Jr.’s wife has filed for divorce. Vanessa Trump married Trump Jr. in 2005. They have five children.The reasons for the divorce filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court were not clear. The divorce was listed as “uncontested,” indicating the split was amicable. Trump Jr., 40, has been traveling extensively while running his father’s business with his brother, Eric. The Trumps issued a joint statement asking for privacy. “After 12 years of marriage, we have decided to go our separate ways. We will always have tremendous respect for each other and our families. We have five beautiful children together and they remain our top priority. We ask for your privacy during this time.” In a 2006 interview with the International Herald Tribune, Vanessa shared how she met her future ex. “I’m at this fashion show,” Vanessa said, recalling the 2003 encounter. “Donald Trump comes up to me with his son: ‘Hi, I’m Donald Trump. I wanted to introduce you to my son Donald Trump Jr.’” The three briefly chatted and then crossed paths again during intermission. “Donald comes back up to me again, ‘I don’t think you’ve met my son Donald Trump Jr.,’” Vanessa said.“Yeah, we just met, five minutes ago,” she replied. Last month, Vanessa, 40, was taken to a hospital after opening an envelope addressed to Trump Jr. containing a white powder. A note accompanying the powder — which was later determined to be corn starch — read “now you get what you deserve,” sources said. A Massachusetts man, Daniel Frisiello, 24, was charged with sending the material. The divorce came on the same day The New York Times reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had served subpoenas on the Trump Organization for any internal documents related to Russia.Mueller has also reportedly been looking into a Trump Tower meeting Trump Jr. held with Russians who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Chemtob said it was possible that Mueller’s investigation into interference in the 2016 election played a role in the timing of the divorce. “(Vanessa) may want to distance herself as much as possible from the investigation,” she said. “If this is going to affect her financially, then separating now would be in her best interest.”  Nick Bit: Its common knowledge that Trump JR is dirty on MANY things and facing serious fines and jail time!

Without Toys R Us, 30,000 jobs, a black hole for toy makers

NEW YORK (AP) — The demise of Toys R Us will have a ripple effect on everything from toy makers to consumers to landlords. The 70-year-old retailer is headed toward shuttering its U.S. operations, jeopardizing the jobs of some 30,000 employees while spelling the end for a chain known to generations of children and parents for its sprawling stores and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot. The closing of the company’s 740 U.S. stores over the coming months will finalize the downfall of the chain that succumbed to heavy debt and relentless trends that undercut its business, from online shopping to mobile games. And it will force toy makers and landlords who depended on the chain to scramble for alternatives. CEO David Brandon told employees Wednesday the company’s plan is to liquidate all of its U.S. stores, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. Brandon said Toys R Us will try to bundle its Canadian business, with about 200 stores, and find a buyer. The company’s U.S. online store would still be running for the next couple of weeks in case there’s a buyer for it. Workers in the U.S. will get paid for the next 60 days if they show up for work, but after that all benefits and pay will be cut, Brandon told employees at the meeting, according to the recording. Some workers will be asked to stay longer to help with the liquidation. It’s likely to also liquidate its businesses in Australia, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain, according to the recording. It’s already shuttering its business in the United Kingdom. That would leave it with stores in Canada, central Europe and Asia, where it could find buyers for those assets. Toys R Us Asia Ltd. has more than 400 retail outlets in Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. It is a Hong Kong-based joint venture with the Fung Group, which owns a 15 percent stake. It also controls Asian sourcing giant Li & Fung, a major supplier to Western retailers like Wal-Mart. Toys R Us had about 60,000 full-time and part-time employees worldwide last year It wasn’t able to compete with a growing Amazon: The toy seller said in bankruptcy filings that Amazon’s low prices were hard to match. And it said its Babies R Us chain lost customers to the online retailer’s convenient subscription service, which let parents receive diapers and baby formula at their doorstep automatically.

Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia

WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. It is the first known instance of the special counsel demanding documents directly related to President Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president. The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mr. Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that oversees Mr. Trump’s business ventures. In the subpoena, delivered in recent weeks, Mr. Mueller ordered the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating, the people said. The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months. Word of the subpoena comes as Mr. Mueller appears to be broadening his investigation to examine the role foreign money may have played in funding Mr. Trump’s political activities. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned witnesses, including an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, about the flow of Emirati money into the United States. Neither White House officials nor Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer representing the Trump Organization, immediately responded to requests for comment. The Trump Organization has typically complied with requests from congressional investigators for documents for their own inquiries into Russian election interference, and there was no indication the company planned to fight Mr. Mueller about it.

The Trump Organization has said that it never had real estate holdings in Russia, but witnesses recently interviewed by Mr. Mueller have been asked about a possible real estate deal in Moscow. In 2015, a longtime business associate of Mr. Trump’s emailed Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, at his Trump Organization account claiming he had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and said that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” for the project in 2015 and discussed it three times with Mr. Cohen. Mr. Mueller could run afoul of a line the president has warned him not to cross. Though it is not clear how much of the subpoena is related to Mr. Trump’s business beyond ties to Russia, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in July that the special counsel would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into his family’s finances beyond any relationship with Russia. The president declined to say how he would respond if he concluded that the special counsel had crossed that line.

Continue reading “Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia”

Global oil demand picks up but still lags rising supply: IEA

LONDON (Reuters) – Global oil demand is expected to pick up this year but supply is growing at a faster pace, leading to a rise in inventories in the first quarter of 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday. The IEA raised its forecast for oil demand this year to 99.3 million barrels per day (bpd) from 97.8 million bpd in 2017. Commercial oil inventories in industrialized OECD nations rose in January for the first time in seven months to 2.871 billion barrels, 53 million barrels above their five-year average, the Paris-based IEA said.  The January increase of 18 million barrels over the December inventory level was roughly half the size of rises normally seen at this time of year, according to the agency, which advises Western governments on energy policy.

Reuters Graphic

But it said Venezuela, where an economic crisis has cut oil production by 50 percent in two years to lows not seen in more than a decade, could still trigger a renewed drawdown in stocks.

“With supply from Venezuela clearly vulnerable to an accelerated decline, without any compensatory change from other producers, it is possible that the Latin American country could be the final element that tips the market decisively into deficit,” the IEA said.

Reuters Graphic

In a bid to drain inventories, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have been implementing a deal to cut output by about 1.8 million bpd from January 2017 until the end of 2018. Assuming no change in OPEC output for the rest of the year, the IEA said it expected a small increase in OECD inventories in the first quarter of 2018 with declines after that. The agency said it expected supply from non-OPEC nations to grow by 1.8 million bpd in 2018 to 97.9 million bpd, led by the United States, where crude output was forecast to rise by 1.3 million bpd during 2018 to more than 11 million bpd by the end of the year.

Reuters Graphic

OPEC crude output fell in February to 32.1 million bpd, led by Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.The IEA raised its estimate for demand for OPEC oil to 32.4 million bpd for 2018 from last month’s forecast of 32.3 million bpd. The agency said the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump decision to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, which has prompted threats of retaliation from major trading partners, posed a risk to global economic growth forecasts. “A slowdown would have strong consequences, particularly for fuel used in the maritime sector and in the trucking industry,” the IEA said. It said growth in world trade had been strong, accelerating from 2.5 percent in 2016 to 4.7 percent in 2017, citing this as the likely reason behind a sturdy 1.8 percent rise in 2017 in global gasoil demand. Nick Bit: Lira liar pants on fire. oil demand is leveling off and wlil drop as the global recession deepens

Atlanta Fed, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan GDP Forecasts Crash

A lower than expected retail sales number Wednesday has many economists revising down their forecast of first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP).

The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow estimate fell to 1.9 percent, down from 2.5 percent just five days ago. At the start of February, the Atlanta Fed’s estimate called for GDP growth above 5 percent.

Economists at JP Morgan lowered their estimate to 2.0 percent, down from 2.5 percent. Goldman Sachs lowered its estimate from 2 percent to 1.8 percent. U.S. retail sales fell for a third consecutive month in February, according to data released Wednesday by the Commerce Department. Economists had forecast a month-over-month gain of 0.3 percent in February. Instead, sales fell by 0.1 percent. The decline was driven by a fall in purchases of big-ticket items such as cars and building materials. Consumer spending appears to have slowed at the start of the year, after growing a 3.8 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter. The slowdown suggests that those who warned the Trump tax cuts could cause the economy to overheat were off-track. If anything, it now appears that the tax cuts will give the economy a needed boost. Nick Bit: As we have been predicing First Quarter GDP will be UNDER 2% growth. A budjet disaster. Remeber the Trump administration predicted 3 to 6 GDP growth. They need over 4% to hlep to get soaring deficits under control. ITA A DISASTER!!! The reson Trump bought in Kudlow is he is a old, desperate, washed up and sold out. Trump needs him to plug GDP of ovoer 3.5% in the OMB budgt estimets. Its a old trick. Trump is in big truble tht is why they want tax cuts HA HA A Phase 2

Trump lawyers have no easy options on interview request

WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel’s office wants to talk to Donald Trump about the firings of James Comey and Michael Flynn, but as the president’s lawyers negotiate the terms and scope of a possible interview, they’re left with no easy options. Balking at an interview, even a narrowly tailored one focused on obstruction of justice questions, risks perpetuating the perception that Trump has something to hide. But agreeing to discuss those matters with Robert Mueller’s team is risky for Trump, whose statements can be unpredictable and inconsistent. Weeks of dialogue between the sides have yet to resolve a question of extraordinary consequence: Will Trump, like many of his aides before him, get grilled by Mueller’s prosecutors? “Obviously this is not just a legal problem, but this is also a political problem,” said Robert Ray, who succeeded Kenneth Starr as the independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. “Life is not that simple. It requires a delicate balance between weighing the important legal issues that are involved but also recognizing the important political consequences as well.” The negotiations have been closely held, but a resolution could arrive soon to avert the prospect of a grand jury subpoena, as happened to President Bill Clinton during Whitewater, or a lengthy court challenge reminiscent of the Watergate era. Mueller’s interest in Trump himself has appeared focused on seminal moments of his administration even amid signs of an expanding, and intensifying, investigation. In the past month alone, Mueller secured the guilty plea of a Dutch lawyer for lying to the FBI, indicted 13 Russians accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election and secured the grand jury testimony of a well-connected Lebanese-American businessman whose statements could open a new front for investigators. Yet Mueller’s office has so far presented the president with more limited questions. Prosecutors trying to establish whether Trump took steps to obstruct justice have conveyed interest in talking with the president about his decision to fire Comey as FBI director last May and about multiple conversations between the two men, including one in which Comey says he was encouraged to end an investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn, people familiar with the investigation say. They’re also interested in the February ouster of Flynn and the events leading up to it — the White House was warned weeks earlier that law enforcement thought he was vulnerable to blackmail — and in Trump’s pressuring of Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation. The White House initially said Trump was acting on the Justice Department’s recommendation when he dismissed Comey, but Trump has said that he’d have done it anyway and was considering “this Russia thing” at the time. And though Trump has denied Comey’s account of his conversation about Flynn, a tweet from his account after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI appeared to suggest for the first time that the White House knew at the time Flynn was ousted that he had misled investigators about his Russian contacts.

It’s impossible to rule out that Mueller’s team won’t seek answers from Trump on the investigation’s other tentacles, making it dangerous for Trump to be interviewed “because there are lots of things that Mueller is looking at that Trump doesn’t know the answer to,” said Solomon Wisenberg, the deputy independent counsel under Starr who questioned Clinton in the Whitewater probe. “This is very dangerous. There’s no question if he were a normal client, you would tell him, don’t go in for an interview,” Wisenberg said.

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Ben Shapiro: 2018 will be ‘very, very ugly’ for GOP

Ben Shapiro: 2018 will be 'very, very ugly' for GOP
© Greg Nash

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said that the results in recent special elections show that 2018 could be “very, very ugly” for the GOP. “In the seven special elections held in 2017, the average shift from 2016 results was D+16. Tonight, it’s D+20. 2018 will be very, very ugly unless something cataclysmic happens for GOP,” Shapiro tweeted on Tuesday night.



The commentator and editor-in-chief of the conservative publication The Daily Wire made the comments during a tight race in the Pennsylvania House special election. President Trump had won the district by nearly 20 points in the 2016 election. He said that factors like a strong economy should mean that public opinion is in favor of Republicans while they’re in control of the government. “Which says that the popularity of the president is a serious factor in Democratic turnout,” Shapiro added.


He also dismissed comments that described Democratic candidate Conor Lamb as a Republican, saying that Lamb’s “a Democrat tailored for the district.” “If Democrats are smart enough to run non-Pelosi types in red districts, that will exacerbate the GOP wipeout,” Shapiro said, referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).



Democrats have pointed to a possible upset by Lamb as an argument to run Democratic candidates in traditionally red districts in an attempt to flip Congress from GOP control. Democrats have to win 24 seats in the 2018 midterms to take control of the House. Nick Bit: The democrats will sweep the fall elections. Trump is desperate. No one is buying the $80 a moth tax break for standard filers. And billions for billionaires as a great thing. People have figured out the FAT CATS are taking the tax Break Bonanza for Billionaires Bucks and running. No real corporate investment in HA HA HA jobs jobs jobs. MOST ALL the windfall has gone to stock buybacks enriching the insiders through their stock options which they are cashing in faster then a Stormy erection! . People taking deductions are getting killed. And except for a Opiod burn out no one is buying making coal,steel and assemble line work as a great thing. What worked for a narrow presidential victory in loser boozer drug user districts in the presidential election will not work this time. Hillary was sleeping. I guarantee you the democrats are no loner sleeping.

Republicans sound alarm as Democrats claim Pennsylvania win

Trump held two events in the district during the campaign, including a rally on Saturday. Last week, he announced tariffs on imported steel that had been expected to appeal to voters in a state known for its steel industry.

CANONSBURG, Pa./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans sounded the alarm on Wednesday after Democrats claimed victory in a Pennsylvania congressional election seen as a referendum on U.S. President Donald Trump’s performance, although the vote tally remained officially too close to call.

In an ominous sign for Trump’s Republicans eight months before national midterm elections, moderate Democrat Conor Lamb led conservative Republican Rick Saccone on Wednesday by a fraction of a percentage point for the House of Representatives seat.

The earliest the election result could be certified is March 26, according to a state official, but the final tally could be unknown for weeks.Republicans have until the results are officially certified to challenge the outcome or pursue a recount. Saccone on Wednesday afternoon sent a fundraising email to supporters saying the “campaign is far from over.”

The election should have been a shoo-in for Republicans in a district that Trump won by almost 20 points in the 2016 presidential election. He campaigned for Saccone, who started the race well ahead of Lamb.

Republican Speaker Paul Ryan called the election a “wakeup call” in a meeting with Republican House members and pushed them to raise more campaign funds. He also urged them to do more to highlight tax cuts approved by the Republican-dominated Congress and signed by Trump.Lamb led Saccone by 627 votes on Wednesday, the state’s unofficial returns showed; Lamb had 49.8 percent of the vote and Saccone 49.6 percent. The patchwork of small towns, farms and Pittsburgh suburbs that make up Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district is so Republican that Democrats did not even field candidates in the previous two House elections..The election, held to replace a Republican who resigned amid a scandal last year, was the latest forceful electoral showing for Democrats, who also won a governor’s race in Virginia and scored a U.S. Senate upset in conservative Alabama. Lamb’s strong showing buoys Democrats nationally as they seek to win control of the House from Republicans in the November elections. Democrats see 118 Republican-held districts in play. If they flip 24 seats, they could reclaim a House majority.

Saccone’s poor performance is worrying for Republicans who were sure that tax cuts they passed last year, the party’s only major legislative achievement under Trump, would be a vote winner.

Nick Note: America will not be great again with Steel, Coal mines or trying to support factory assemble line workers. AND Trump will not be great again. He pulled all the sleazy tricks out of his hat. Including starting a trade war in a desperate attempt to win. AND he is now a proven loser boozer.  bottom line he did not and could not deliver the goods. Watch as he gets more and more desperate and self destructs.. Democratic win in the fall election means Trump get thorn out on his ass AS in impeachment….YOUR FIRED!

Philippines drugs war: Duterte to withdraw from ICC

Image caption Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016 promising a crackdown on drug dealers

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said he plans to withdraw his country from the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it began examining the country’s drugs war. “It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines,” Mr Duterte said. He also condemned “baseless” attacks by the UN. The ICC in February began examining alleged crimes committed during the controversial anti-drugs crackdown. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the court would be looking at reports of extrajudicial killings. She stressed that the examinations by the ICC – based in The Hague – were “not an investigation” but a process of examining information “in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation”.A statement from the Philippine administration said the ICC inquiry was “in violation of due process”.  The president also condemned “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” on him and his administration by the UN. The statement contradicts some of Mr Duterte’s previous comments about the drugs war, including his willingness to “slaughter” drug addicts and dealers. There has been growing international pressure on Mr Duterte about his country’s war on drugs, which has caused the deaths of thousands. Ms Bensouda first said she was “deeply concerned” about reports of extrajudicial killings in October 2016, less than four months after Mr Duterte assumed office on a pledge to crack down on drug dealers.

And last month, as the ICC announced its preliminary inquiry, the UN Human Rights Council questioned the Philippines’ human rights record and called on the country to accept a UN special rapporteur. On Monday, local media reported that the Philippine Senate had filed a resolution saying the country’s withdrawal from international treaties would only be valid with its consent. The country’s constitution states that adoption of an international treaty cannot be revoked without the support of both president and Senate.

Barclays strikes payment deal with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in the UK

LONDON — Barclays has agreed to provide US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase with access to the UK’s Faster Payments Scheme in a first for the bank and for an exchange in the UK. Coinbase is gaining access to the Faster Payment Scheme, the core payment infrastructure used by consumers to move money in the UK. Coinbase’s UK head Zeeshan Feroz confirmed to Business Insider that the company was partnering with Barclays on the deal. “There is no other exchange today that has access to domestic banking,” he said. “UK consumers today have to jump through all sorts of hoops around sending money to European accounts using euros in order to get money in and out.”  Faster Payments will allow Coinbase’s UK customers “to see a vastly improved deposit and withdrawal experience,” Feroz said. The deal represents the first major partnerships between a UK bank and a cryptocurrency exchange. Many traditional lenders are reluctant to work with cryptocurrencies due to their anonymity and potential for use in laundering money. Feroz said Barclays “approached it with the right mindset” and closely scrutinized Coinbase’s compliance processes. An e-money license from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), also announced on Tuesday, helped get the deal done. Thomson Reuters“It’s an approval of the compliance and the KYC processes we have today,” Feroz said of the FCA license. “There’s an element of trust here in a business that is regulated by the FCA.”The UK is Coinbase’s biggest market in Europe and is twice as large as the next biggest, Feroz said. He declined to name the second largest country. Nick Note: As you know i have been urging you to set up an accounts at CoinBase. And start buying bitcoin. After scary swings Bitcoin will establish itself,

One leak and we’ll all drown’: top Chinese lawmaker raises alarm over river of local government debt

NPC Standing Committee member says liabilities have been hidden and vastly underestimated

Yin Zhongqing, who was re-elected on Tuesday as a deputy director of the National People’s Congress’s financial and economic affairs committee, said

Kremlin defies PM’s midnight ultimatum and issues chilling warning

Russia to Britain DO not  ‘threaten a nuclear power’  Putin raises the stakes over nerve agent attack on spy in Salisbury
Theresa May(pictured outside No10 today) has been holding talks with world leaders to lay the groundwork for sanctions if the Kremlin fails to come up with an explanation as to how the nerve agent Novichok was used
Theresa May(pictured outside No10 today) has been holding talks with world leaders to lay the groundwork for sanctions if the Kremlin fails to come up with an explanation as to how the nerve agent Novichok was used
  • Theresa May secured support of Donald Trump for her response to Salisbury
  • She already had the backing of France and Germany to stand up to Moscow 
  • The Kremlin has hit back with dark warnings not to threaten a nuclear power
  • Moscow said it would retaliate if May delivers on threatened ‘punitive’ respons

Russia last night issued a chilling warning to Britain not to threaten a nuclear power as Kremlin officials ignored Theresa May’s midnight deadline to explain how the nerve agent that poisoned a former spy found its way into Britain. As Mrs May prepared to unveil retaliatory measures against Moscow, Vladimir Putin’s officials refused to explain how Sergei Skripal was poisoned with the military-grade chemical weapon. And – in a coded reference to President Putin’s boasts about his nuclear arsenal – Russian officials warned: ‘Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.’ Moscow did not comply with a deadline of midnight last night to answer Britain’s questions about the poisoning outrage in Salisbury ten days ago. This means that – with the backing of the US, Germany and France – Mrs May is now heading toward a showdown with President Putin and his regime. Nick Bit: Russia is out of control. They feel they can do what they want because they have the “video”. Why has Trump not approved even 1 sanction against Russia? Think about IT!

Trump picks controversial figure Haspel as new CIA chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by President Donald Trump on Tuesday to head the CIA, is a controversial figure, backed by many in the U.S. intelligence community but regarded warily by some in Congress for her involvement in the agency’s“black site” detention facilities.Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer.  Haspel was selected as the agency’s new director after the Republican president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chose current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s replacement.U.S. officials said that while Haspel was generally held in high regard at the CIA, her nomination raised the unwelcome prospect of greater congressional and media scrutiny of officers who are more comfortable in the dark than in the spotlight.  When she was named deputy director last year, intelligence officers who served with her and congressional officials said that in 2002, during Republican former President George W. Bush’s administration, she ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand codenamed“Cat’s Eye.” Two suspected members of the al Qaeda militant group were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques at the facility. Three years later, still during Bush’s presidency, she helped carry out an order to destroy videotapes of the waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is considered a form of torture, according to those people.Such facilities are called“black sites” because their existence is unacknowledged by the U.S. government.  Senator Ron Wyden, a Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday he opposed the nominations of both Pompeo and Haspel. “Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director,” Wyden said.“Her nomination must include total transparency about this background, which I called for more than a year ago when she was appointed deputy director. If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.” “Haspel is a particularly controversial choice, given her reported past involvement in torture at CIA black sites. No one responsible for torture should be leading a federal agency, period,” said Rob Berschinski, senior vice president of Human Rights First.“The Senate should use her confirmation process to send a strong signal about where this country stands on correcting the mistakes of the past.”

Russian emigre Nikolai Glushkov found dead in London home

London (CNN)Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian businessman the UK refused to extradite to Russia on fraud charges, has died in his London home, his neighbor Pat Egan told CNN. According to Egan, police knocked on her door in Kingston, southwest London, at 3.30 a.m. local time to ask whether she or her husband had seen or heard anything. In a statement, British police confirmed they were investigating the death of a man in his 60s in southwest London, but did not identify him. Police said the death was being treated as unexplained, adding that the counterterrorism team would lead the investigation “as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had.” “There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury,” police added, referring to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Egan said forensic crews attended the scene, but were not wearing hazmat suits. She added that police removed several bags of evidence. According to the Russian Embassy in London, the UK refused to extradite Glushkov in February 2016 on charges of large-scale fraud and embezzlement during his time as the deputy director of the Russian national airline Aeroflot.The émigré was acquainted with Russians who died in unexplained circumstances in the UK.  Glushkov was questioned as part of a British inquiry into the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, who died a slow and painful death after drinking tea laced with highly radioactive polonium-210 in 2006 in a hotel bar in London. Glushkov told the inquiry that he bumped into Litvinenko in the office of Boris Berezovsky, a powerful oligarch and émigré who was found dead in 2013 on the bathroom floor of his home in Berkshire, on the western outskirts of London. British police said at the time they found no sign of a struggle, suggesting Berezovsky had taken his own life. Glushkov was a friend of Berezovsky and argued publicly that he believed the exiled tycoon had been murdered. Glushkov won notoriety in Russia’s bare-knuckled transition to a market economy in the 1990s, when business, political and criminal interests often collided amid the privatization of state assets. Boris Berezovsky was found dead on the bathroom floor of his home in 2013. Glushkov was formerly an employee of Berezovsky, one of the billionaires who bankrolled the 1996 re-election of President Boris Yeltsin. Berezovsky subsequently fell out with Yeltsin’s successor, President Vladimir Putin, and Glushkov found himself caught up in a politically charged corruption case. In 2000, Glushkov was arrested on charges of embezzling funds from Aeroflot, in which Berezovsky was a shareholder. Glushkov was sentenced in 2004 by the Savelovsky Court of Moscow to three years and three months in prison and released for time served, Russian news agency Tass reported. According to Tass, he received political asylum in the UK in 2010. But Russian courts continued to pursue him. Last year, a Moscow court tried him in absentia for embezzlement from Aeroflot,the Russian court-reporting agency RAPSI reported.

Trump’s Personal Assistant Fired Over Security Issue

Problems related to online gambling and mishandling taxes prevented John McEntee from gaining necessary security clearance


WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired and escorted from the White House on Monday after being denied a security clearance over financial problems in his background, according to senior administration officials and people close to the former aide.  People close to Mr. McEntee said problems related to online gambling and mishandling of his taxes prevented him from gaining the clearance necessary for the role. The Secret Service is investigating Mr. McEntee for those issues, according to a law enforcement official.  White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “We don’t comment on personnel issues.” Mr. McEntee didn’t return a call seeking comment. On Tuesday morning, less than a day after Mr. McEntee’s ouster from the White House, the Trump presidential campaign announced he would join the 2020 effort as a senior adviser for campaign operations. Mr. McEntee, 27 years old, was one of the longest-serving aides to Mr. Trump, dating back to the earliest days of the campaign when some of the only aides around the then-candidate included Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; Stephen Miller, the president’s policy director; White House communications director Hope Hicks, who announced her resignation two weeks ago; and Dan Scavino, who is the White House director of social media. Mr. McEntee had joined the campaign in 2015 a few years after graduating college.



“It’s not going to be great for morale,” one White House official said about Mr. McEntee’s departure. Mr. McEntee was removed from the White House grounds on Monday afternoon without being allowed to collect his belongings, a White House official said. He left without his jacket, a second White House official said.

U.S. Boosts Philippine Military With Drones Amid Militant Threat

The Scan Eagle increases the Philippines’ capability to police its porous maritime borders

A Philippine air force officer explains to U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim, third from left, and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, third from right, one of the six donated ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, during the turn-over ceremonies at the military air base in Manila on Tuesday.
A Philippine air force officer explains to U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim, third from left, and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, third from right, one of the six donated ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, during the turn-over ceremonies at the military air base in Manila on Tuesday. Photo: ted aljibe/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The U.S. military donated six surveillance drones to the Philippines on Tuesday, a gift to a long-time ally whose maverick president has been increasingly hostile to Washington despite American help in battling a violent Islamist insurgency.

While the U.S. routinely donates military equipment to allies, Washington’s relationship with the Philippines has been unusually fraught since Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016. The president aired old grievances, saying the U.S. has taken advantage of its former colony and unfairly criticized his human rights record, including a bloody war on drugs that has left thousands dead. Mr. Duterte has instead built a relationship with China, praising Beijing for promises of investment and donations of weapons and downplaying a dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea. He made little mention of the deployment of a U.S. military drone during a bloody battle last year to reclaim a city held for five months by hundreds of militants allied with Islamic State, but publicly credited China with donating the weapons that killed the militant leaders. Philippine officials have warned that Islamist militants were regrouping and may seek to mount fresh attacks, including against popular vacation spots. Despite Mr. Duterte’s public animosity toward the U.S., the Philippine military retains close ties with the Pentagon, which has provided training and conducted joint exercises with the Philippines for decades. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the donation is “an indication of the Philippines’ and the United States’ goodwill, deep friendship, and genuine commitment to peace,” government media reported. The American ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Y. Kim, said the donation represents “our strong commitment to enhance the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”The U.S. has for years kept a small detachment of special forces in the Philippines and last year launched a new counterterrorism mission in response to a heightened threat from Islamist insurgents, who operate primarily in Muslim-dominated areas in the south.  The Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System, a drone equipped with cameras and other scanners and worth $13.2 million, was officially transferred at a ceremony in the Philippines.  The Scan Eagle also has the capability to support the Philippines in maritime security, the U.S. Embassy said, a key concern for Washington as China continues to fortify artificial islands in the South China Sea to assert its claims to the strategic sealane.

Trump tells people he is selecting Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn

“I don’t know if I could put him in that same position or not. He’s not quite as strong on those tariffs as we want,” Trump said. Kudlow, an economic analyst who informally advised Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, penned an op-ed in the National Review with two others urging the President to rethink his decision on tariffs before he signed them. Kudlow later suggested during a radio interview that the tariffs were “basically gone,” with the exception of China and “a few other countries.”
“Canada is exempt. Mexico is exempt. Australia is exempt. I guarantee you, all of Europe is going to wind up being exempt, and I bet you our allies in Asia will wind up being exempt. China may be the only one,” Kudlow said.
But the President values people who can make the rounds on cable television to defend the administration, as Cohn often did. Nick Bit: If all the countries that supply the majority of steel to the US are exempt from the Tariffs.  Its hard to see how the Tariffs make us Steel HA HA HA HA great AGAIN?
As far as Kudlow, this will end badly! He is a desperate man. And Trump is really good at getting people to kiss his ass and sell out their principals. ASK a shamed Cohen.

Previously withheld UCLA video shows heckling of Mnuchin

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A previously withheld video has been released showing the near-constant heckling of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a moderated talk about the economy at UCLA. The university initially balked at releasing the video, saying that Mnuchin “subsequently withdrew” his agreement for it to be posted online. The video shows audience members hissing at Mnuchin throughout the Feb. 26 event in Los Angeles. The hissing was so loud the secretary barely spoke a sentence without commenting about it. Seven minutes into Mnuchin’s opening remarks, three different women shouted at him and were either carried or escorted out of the room by police after they ignored warnings to stop. They yelled that the U.S. is bullying North Korea and criticized President Donald Trump’s tax legislation.  The decision to withhold the video drew criticism from students, free speech groups and members of the news media. Several organizations, including The Associated Press, filed public-records requests arguing for the video to be released. UCLA agreed to release the video on Friday, saying in a statement only that it had received Mnuchin’s consent to do so. Withholding the video at Mnuchin’s request and choosing to release it only after receiving his consent both are problematic decisions, said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, one of the groups that argued for the release. “This event took place at a public institution and the video was collected by a state body,” Snyder said in a statement Monday. “It’s troubling that the university initially caved to the request of a third party to withhold public records, and even more troubling that when they did eventually release the footage, they claimed to do so because they ‘received consent’ from the Treasury Department.” Mnuchin or any other third party shouldn’t have any control over UCLA under California public records laws, Snyder said. In the video of Mnuchin’s remarks, the secretary at times makes jokes about the relentless hissing while at others he appears irritated. “I normally go speak to people who want to listen to me speak,” Mnuchin quipped. “You guys get to hiss at me. I don’t get to hiss at you.” The hissing came after nearly everything Mnuchin said, including at one point when he spoke of his role to issue sanctions to other countries over human-rights violations. “You’re going to hiss about sanctions?” Mnuchin said. “We shouldn’t have sanctions? You guys are OK with all the oppression and everything going on in the world?”


Marathon Announces Facility in Quebec Has Commenced Bitcoin Mining Operations – Stock soars

Nick Bit: This stock Is one of 4 BItcoin Stocks on out lottery ticket buy list

LOS ANGELES, March 12, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Marathon Patent Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:MARA) (“Marathon” or the “Company”), today announced that it has commenced bitcoin mining at its new facility in Quebec. On February 8, 2018, the Company announced it had purchased 1,400 Bitmain Antminer S9 miners (“Antminer S9s”) and on February 15, 2018 the company announced it had leased 26,700 square feet of data center space in Quebec, Canada. The Company is pleased to announce the completion of its installation and the commencement of operations which are expected to utilize approximately 2.0 MW and deliver approximately 19 Ph/s of ASIC mining capacity. The Antminer S9s are presently mining Bitcoin, but are able to mine other digital assets/cryptocurrency using the SHA256 algorithm. Marathon is seeking to add up to an additional 3.9 MW of power. If successfully completed, this is expected to provide capacity for up to 2,800 additional Antminer S-9s that if acquired, could be located at this facility. Merrick Okamoto, Marathon’s Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, stated, “Today’s announcement represents a milestone for the Company. I’d like to thank everyone that worked so hard to make this day a reality for our shareholders.”

Continue reading “Marathon Announces Facility in Quebec Has Commenced Bitcoin Mining Operations – Stock soars”

Tillerson says several steps needed for U.S. talks with North Korea

ABUJA (Reuters) – Several steps will be necessary to agree the location and scope of talks between the United States and North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday.U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a news conference with Chad’s Foreign Minister Mahamat Zene Cherif (not pictured) in N’Djamena, Chad, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Tillerson has been involved in discussions within the U.S. administration on a possible meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.“There will be several steps necessary to agree on location, agree on the scope of those discussions. It’s very early stages. We’ve not heard anything directly back from North Korea but we expect to hear something directly from them,” he said during a visit to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. He was speaking at the end of a week-long trip to five African countries. Tillerson did not clarify which steps were needed for the talks and declined to comment on potential locations. It would be the first face-to-face encounter between any leaders of the two countries and potentially marks a major breakthrough in easing tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme. Tillerson has cut short his first trip to Africa since becoming the top U.S. diplomat in order to return to Washington on Tuesday, a day ahead of schedule, to deal with urgent work. Nick Bit: I feel a lot better now their is an adult in the room.

137 House Democrats sign letter urging action against Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Over two-thirds of U.S. House of Representatives Democrats urged President Donald Trump to enact sanctions on Russia, the latest push by lawmakers for a response to investigators’ findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.At least 137 of the Democrats in the House signed a letter, seen by Reuters on Monday, “strongly urging” Trump to adhere to a law he signed last summer imposing sanctions on those who do business with Russia’s military and intelligence sectors.  “We strongly urge you to reverse course, follow the letter and spirit of the law, and demonstrate that the security of our country and integrity of elections are sacrosanct,” the letter said.

They said Trump had missed a Jan. 29 deadline to impose sanctions included in the law, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Members of Congress, Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, have been pushing the administration to punish Russia for what House Speaker Paul Ryan described as a “sinister and systematic attack” on the 2016 U.S. campaign, and prevent potential foreign interference in this November’s mid-term elections. Russia has denied seeking to meddle in the U.S. vote. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his associates and Moscow. Probes of the issue, by congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, have shadowed Trump’s first 14 months in office. Separately, the Democratic Senate and House leaders, as well as the top Democrats on the congressional Judiciary committees, released a letter on Monday urging Trump to use every resource available to extradite 13 Russians Mueller indicted last month for 2016 meddling. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the indicted Russian nationals could be prosecuted in Russia if they were found to have broken Russian law. There could be action on Russia sanctions soon. Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, insisted to a Senate hearing last week that the administration is engaged on the issue of election security, and said the Treasury Department would announce sanctions on Russia as soon as this week. Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Thomas

Saudi general tortured to death’ during Ritz-Carlton imprisonment

The report was published shortly before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in the US for meetings with the Trump administration - Credit: AFP PHOTO / Saudi Royal Palace / BANDAR AL-JALOUD
The report was published shortly before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives in the US for meetings with the Trump administration Credit: AFP PHOTO / Saudi Royal Palace / BANDAR AL-JALOUD
More than 200 powerful Saudis were imprisoned in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh – REUTERS

A Saudi general may have been tortured to death and several wealthy businessmen were allegedly abused in captivity at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent crackdown on powerful figures in Saudi Arabia, according to a newspaper report. More than 200 businessmen, princes and government officials were detained in November and imprisoned at the luxury hotel in Riyadh in what the Saudi government said was an anti-corruption drive.  According to the New York Times, some of the powerful detainees may have suffered abuse at the hands of their captors as they were coerced into agreements to hand over billions of dollars to the Saudi government in return for their freedom.  Saudi Arabia has dismissed the allegations of abuse as “absolutely untrue”.  The most dramatic accusation involves Major General Ali al-Qahtani, an aide to a senior Saudi prince seen as a potential rival to the 32-year-old Prince Mohammed, who died in government custody in mid-December.  Sources told the newspaper that the general’s “neck was twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken” and that his body had burn marks which appeared to be the result of electric shocks.

General Qahtani was taken to hospital in November but was reportedly returned to his interrogation after being seen by doctors. The government has not offered an official explanation for how he died.

The general’s death had been widely reported in Arab and Iranian media previously but not in detail. The US report comes shortly before Prince Mohammed, known by his initials “MBS”, is due in Washington for meetings with the Trump administration.  General Qahtani was an aide to Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a former governor of Riyadh who is from a rival line of the Saudi royal family to Prince Mohammed. Prince Turki was himself detained during the November crackdown on allegations of corruption. He was eventually released. A further 16 detainees were allegedly left in need of medical treatment after their abuse. Some reportedly told family members they had been beaten, deprived of sleep, or interrogated with hoods over their heads.  “All allegations of abuse and torture of those investigated during the anti-corruption proceedings are absolutely untrue,” a Saudi official said.

Trump’s hastily passed tax law is error-riddled

After rushing through the bill, Congressional Republicans may have to re-write parts of iT

After years of dishonestly whining that the Affordable Care Act was written in secret and rushed through Congress with insufficient debate, Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration cobbled together their tax legislation in December and rushed it through Congress. Now, it appears, America is paying the price for their shoddy work. Desperate to pass the bill — which contained massive tax cuts for President Trump and the very rich, and tax increases for many poor and middle class families — with only Republican votes, the GOP majority was forced to make deals and amendments on the fly. Indeed, USA Today reported in December that the Senate actually passed its version of the bill with last-minute alterations that were “handwritten into the margins.”

Now, the error-riddled legislation President Trump signed into law may be so problematic that it may need to be re-written, the New York Times reported on Sunday. “Companies and trade groups are pushing the Treasury Department and Congress to fix the law’s consequences some intended and some not, including provisions that disadvantage certain farmers, hurt restaurateurs and retailers and could balloon the tax bills of large multinational corporations,” the paper reported. Even the pro-GOP U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote to the Treasury Department on Thursday raising concerns about ambiguities in the legislation.One problem, known as the “grain glitch,” is that the bill contained a massive deduction for farmers who sell to cooperatives, but offers no such deduction if they sell their crops to independent agribusinesses.  Another drafting error in the bill means that restaurants and retailers who do renovations will have to deduct their costs over 39 years, instead of the intended 15 year period.  Unlike the legislation itself — which was rammed through under the budget reconciliation so as to require only 51 votes in the Senate — any legislative fixes will require some Democratic support. But Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told The Times that his party will demand substantive changes as well: “We’re not just going to sit down and fix the things they did badly because they did it in the dead of night with lobbyists at the table.” As recently as last summer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) published a “flashback” document listing a series of out-of-context newspaper quotes to demonstrate that Obamacare was the result of a “‘secret’ closed door” process. And McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have steadfastly blocked even bipartisan efforts to make technical fixes to that legislation.

Cash is far from dead and use is rising: BIS

LONDON (Reuters) – Even though more people now use cards, mobile phones or even facial recognition technology to pay street performers, buy pizza or donate to church on Sundays, hard cash is showing no signs of dying out, central bankers said. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said cryptocurrencies and the debate around them – such as whether cash will be replaced by virtual substitutes – are part of a broader debate about the nature of money. The payments sector has argued that the use of cash is falling and therefore they don’t need to provide as many ATM machines or bank branches.But in the BIS’ latest quarterly review, researchers took a closer look at whether cash is becoming a relic of the past as some claim.  “Some of the breathless commentary gives the impression that cash in the form of traditional notes and coins is going out of fashion fast,” said Hyun Song Shin, BIS economic adviser and head of research said.

“Despite all the technological improvements in payments in recent years, the use of good old-fashioned cash is still rising in most advanced and emerging market economies.”

Cash in circulation has actually risen in recent years, from 7 percent of GDP in 2000 to 9 percent in 2016, although it has fallen in Sweden and a few other places.

“The resilience of cash as a social institution reminds us of the importance of understanding the economic functions of money, beyond just the innovations in technology,” Shin said. Still, debit and credit card payments are rising as well, from 13 percent of GDP in 2000 to 25 percent in 2016. People hold more cards and are using them for more and smaller transactions, Shin said. Nick Bit: The use of cash is skyrocketing.. don’t let them shit you. Be sure to fill the First National Bank of YOUR Mattress nice and legal like

Deutsche Bank to pay staff 2 billion euros in bonuses for 2017, Even though it lost BILLIONS

FILE PHOTO: Flags with the logo of Deutsche Bank are seen at the headquarters ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting in Frankfurt, Germany May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Deutsche Bank said on Sunday its 2017 bonus pool would be above 2 billion euros ($2.46 billion), as the loss-making bank seeks to retain staff during a major overhaul. But the bank’s top managers are foregoing their annual bonuses for 2017 after coming under fire for awarding big incentive payouts even though Germany’s largest bank lost money last year.

“Variable compensation for the whole bank will be somewhat over 2 billion euros,” Deutsche board member Karl von Rohr told news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

The sacrificing of bonuses for the management board “isn’t because we are of the opinion that we did a bad job,” von Rohr was quoted by DPA as saying. “Rather, we considered it for the best that the board takes responsibility.” A spokeswoman for Deutsche confirmed the information. A bonus pool of just over 2 billion euros is significantly higher than the 546 million euros paid in 2016 but below the 2.4 billion euros awarded the year before. The bank sharply curtailed bonus payments for 2016 following speculation that it would need a state bailout to stay afloat. Deutsche Bank came under fire in January over reports it planned to pay more than 1 billion euros in bonuses despite being pushed to its third consecutive annual loss due to the one-off impact of a U.S. tax reform.

  • DBKGn.DE

With Deutsche still struggling to return to the black under the stewardship of Chief Executive John Cryan, the generous pay awards irked many in Germany as perceptions grow that wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of the super-rich. At the same time, Deutsche Bank is slashing its headcount, having reaffirmed plans to cut 9,000 jobs from 2015 levels, around one in 10 staff globally, with 4,000 expected to go in Germany. In justifying his bonus plans, Cryan said last month Deutsche was making a “one-off investment” to retain staff and that bonuses for 2018 would be closely linked to performance.

The bank will detail executive compensation when it publishes its annual report next Friday.

Nick Bit: they are not paying board members “bonuses”  BUT they will give them other compensation like massive stock options they don’t want you to know about

NYT: Trumps and Kushners discussing business

(CNN)The Trump Organization and Jared Kushner’s family company plan to do business together on a Jersey Shore development known as Pier Village, The New York Times reported. Kushner Companies plans to pay the Trump Organization to manage at least one hotel at the center of the development in Long Branch, the Times reported, citing people briefed on the talks. The Trump Organization, currently being managed by President Donald Trump’s two sons, and Kushner Companies have signed a letter of intent to work together on the hotel, according to the report. The Trump Organization also began managing a Kushner-owned hotel in Livingston, NJ, last year, people briefed on the matter told the Times. CNN previously reported that Trump and Kushner retain financial interests in their respective businesses. The potential deal raises questions about potential conflicts of interest, legal experts told the Times. A deal is not final, and the Kushners are not required by law to inform local officials — who agreed to back the oceanfront development with $20 million in bonds — of any deal, the Times said. Whether or not a deal is reached, Kushner is expected to eventually own 20 percent of the hotel, and he was personally involved in the project early in the presidential campaign, the newspaper reported. The White House declined to comment to the Times, but both companies confirmed their discussions about the hotel at Pier Village, the newspaper reported. Kushner Companies said in a statement to the Times that the Trumps “have zero equity of any type in our properties or businesses” and that the proposed Long Branch deal comes as a result of the company lacking a specialization in the hospitality industry, which caused it to have “a business obligation to seek the most capable resource.”

The Trump Organization disputed that a deal would pose a conflict of interest.
“This is a straight-up business deal,” Eric Danziger, the head of Trump Hotels, told the Times. “If there were something out of the ordinary about the deal, then I think that question is fair,” he said.” Marilyn L. Glynn, who served as general counsel in the Office of Government Ethics during both Republican and Democratic administrations, told the newspaper that deals between the two families do not inherently violate any ethics rule. But, she added, “The concern is that the President might not want to do anything that would upset the Kushner family agreement to do business with his company.”

CNN Exclusive: The more opioids doctors prescribe, the more money they make

In 2014 and 2015, opioid manufacturers paid hundreds of doctors across the country six-figure sums for speaking, consulting and other services. Thousands of other doctors were paid over $25,000 during that time. Physicians who prescribed particularly large amounts of the drugs were the most likely to get paid. “This is the first time we’ve seen this, and it’s really important,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a senior scientist at the Institute for Behavioral Health at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, where he is co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative. “It smells like doctors being bribed to sell narcotics, and that’s very disturbing,” said Kolodny, who is also the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. The Harvard researchers said it’s not clear whether the payments encourage doctors to prescribe a company’s drug or whether pharmaceutical companies seek out and reward doctors who are already high prescribers. “I don’t know if the money is causing the prescribing or the prescribing led to the money, but in either case, it’s potentially a vicious cycle. It’s cementing the idea for these physicians that prescribing this many opioids is creating value,” said Dr. Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  The CNN/Harvard analysis looked at 2014 and 2015, during which time more than 811,000 doctors wrote prescriptions to Medicare patients. Of those, nearly half wrote at least one prescription for opioids.
Fifty-four percent of those doctors — more than 200,000 physicians — received a payment from pharmaceutical companies that make opioids.
Doctors were more likely to get paid by drug companies if they prescribed a lot of opioids — and they were more likely to get paid a lot of money.
Among doctors in the top 25th percentile of opioid prescribers by volume, 72% received payments. Among those in the top fifth percentile, 84% received payments. Among the very biggest prescribers — those in the top 10th of 1% — 95% received payments. Barnett, one of the Harvard researchers who worked with CNN, said pharmaceutical companies pay doctors for a reason. “It’s not like they’re spending this money and just letting it go out into the ether,” he said. “They wouldn’t be spending this money if it weren’t effective.”

Tillerson Cuts Short Africa Trip Amid ‘Pressing Matters’ in U.S.

  • Trip has coincided with announcement on North Korea meeting
  • Tillerson fell ill while in Kenya, canceled some events
Rex Tillerson Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cut short his trip to Africa by about a day to deal with pressing matters in the U.S. Tillerson is ending his trip early to deal with work that needs to be attended to in Washington, D.C., Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein told reporters Monday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He’ll travel to Chad and Nigeria today, as scheduled, but scrapped plans to spend the night in Nigeria, Goldstein said. The five-nation trip to Africa has coincided with two major foreign-policy events: President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and the dramatic announcement on Thursday that the president would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May. Tillerson, 65, fell ill while in Kenya and had to cancel planned events in Nairobi on Saturday. The secretary had gone two days without sleep while working on North Korea and other issues, Goldstein said March 10. Nick Bit:  Its good idea to get the kindergarten teacher back in the classroom in hte White House before they get white paste all over themselves!

Trump Lawyers Are Considering A Challenge To Stop “60 Minutes” From Airing A Stormy Daniels Interview

Anderson Cooper interviewed the adult film performer and director on Thursday. CBS plans to air the interview next Sunday, March 18.

Lawyers associated with President Donald Trump are considering legal action to stop 60 Minutes from airing an interview with Stephanie Clifford, the adult film performer and director who goes by Stormy Daniels, BuzzFeed News has learned.

“We understand from well-placed sources they are preparing to file for a legal injunction to prevent it from airing,” a person informed of the preparations told BuzzFeed News on Saturday evening. It was not immediately clear what legal argument the lawyers would be making to support the considered litigation, and Trump and his legal team often have threatened litigation without following through on those threats in the past. Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney who previously was a longtime lawyer for the Trump Organization, directed questions about the possibility of litigation to Larry Rosen, who Cohen told BuzzFeed News is “my attorney handling this matter.” Rosen — a partner in the firm LaRocca, Hornik, Rosen, Greenberg & Blaha — acknowledged his role in the matter generally but did not comment directly on the possibility of seeking an injunction. BuzzFeed News has learned that CBS plans to air the 60 Minutes interview with Clifford next Sunday, March 18. An action to try to prevent the interview from airing would be the latest in a flurry of developments in a case that began just before the 2016 election when Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 in return for her silence about a sexual relationship she allegedly had with Trump in 2006. At the time, Trump was under intense pressure over comments he’d made about his treatment of women in the run-up to the vote. The Wall Street Journal revealed the payment — and Cohen’s route to making it — in January this year, but its details became public only on March 6 when Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a lawsuit seeking to void what Avenatti now calls the “hush arrangement.” The lawsuit followed a temporary restraining order Cohen obtained in arbitration — on behalf of EC, LLC, the company Cohen set up to facilitate the payment — in late February to keep Clifford from talking about the temporary restraining order, the 2016 payment, or the underlying “confidential information” the payment intended to protect. In the suit, Avenatti alleged that the settlement agreement signed by Cohen and a previous lawyer for Clifford either was never valid because Trump had not signed it or otherwise agreed to its terms, which purport to bind Trump, or should be declared unenforceable because the agreement violates public policy. Avenatti included the settlement agreement as an exhibit to the lawsuit. The next day, Avenatti and Clifford appeared in a photograph with Anderson Cooper, which Avenatti posted to Twitter — including “@60Minutes” in the tweet.

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Medellin, Colombia: ‘Murder Capital’ Becoming Retirees’ Haven

Image: Medellin, Colombia: 'Murder Capital' Becoming Retirees' Haven
A view of Medellin at night in Colombia (Georg Ismar/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Medellin, Colombia, the one-time murder capital of the world, is rapidly becoming a haven for U.S. retirees seeking refuge in a city where the weather is always warm, people are friendly and healthcare options far surpass those offered in the United States. “People still think that Medellin is the murder capital of the world, but it’s not,” former Coral Springs, Florida, high school teacher Cindy Crawford Thomas, who has moved with her husband to the one-time home base of notorious drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, told The Miami Herald.According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Thomases are far from alone. In 2017, 6,704 retirement checks were being sent to Colombia, marking an 85 percent increase from 2010. More checks head to Colombia than to any other Latin American country except for Mexico. There are even more expatriates heading to Colombia who are still too young to receive Social Security, and still others continue to have checks deposited in U.S. bank accounts, so the number of people heading to Colombia is even higher than the Social Security’s figures are showing.The new Medellin is a far different place than it was during Escobar’s days, when his cartel used it as their headquarters. At that time in the 1990s, the city had the highest murder rate in the world. It peaked in 1995 at 225 homicides per 100,000 people. But now, the homicide rate has dropped to about 20 per 100,000 people, putting it below the U.S. cities of St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans and Detroit. In addition, the hospitals in Colombia rank at 22nd among 190 countries, above the United States in 37th place and Canada in 33rd, according to a World Health Organization report from 2000, and permanent residents can be insured through a low-cost state-run healthcare system.Colombia remains a violent place in certain areas, however, and continues to be the world’s top producer of cocaine.  Also, the cost of living remains high, and Medellin is not for everyone, warns Brad Hinkelman, the founder of Casacol, a property development company catering to retirees. “We have people who come to our office who are not suited for living here,” he told The Herald. “They think they are going to live off of their Social Security and live in the Taj Mahal, and we have to kind of bring them down.” Nick Bit: Anyone who goes their even for a visit has a death wish!

Brussels on the Brink: EU’s Hostile Front Against UK Faces Collapse as Italy Election Winners Back Brexit

The EU’s hostile front against the UK in the ongoing Brexit talks faces collapse, as the populists who routed the establishment in the Italian elections insist the bloc must back down and offer a generous and constructive deal. “Great Britain is a friendly country with a long tradition of trading with Italy,” said Matteo Salvini, the populist firebrand who is in line to become prime minister, after his Lega party proved the most popular of the parties making up the centre-right coalition which took first place in the Italian elections. “You made a free choice with Brexit and I very much hope that it will be possible to maintain completely open trade with the EU without any penalties,” he told The Telegraph. Lega’s economics chief, Claudio Borghi, confirmed a Salvini-led government would refuse to go along with the current intransigent strategy, which he believes will damage European economies in the service of German interests.“There will be no blind trust in what Germany wants,” he declared. “Punishment or anything of the kind would be sheer stupidity. We export more to the UK than we import back and we certainly don’t want to hurt our Professor Alberto Bagnai, a Lega senator for the Abbruzzi, voiced similar sentiments, saying: “The EU is becoming more and more of a German empire. We are seeing German bureaucrats taking over the key positions in the EU institutions” — a pointed reference to the recent elevation of Jean-Claude Juncker’s ‘Rasputin’, Martin Selmayr, to the head of the EU bureaucracy, in decidedly dubious circumstances. “We call our movement the ‘Common Sense Revolution’ and it makes no sense at all for the EU to adopt a policy of revenge over Brexit,” he added. The other big winners in the Italian elections, the insurgent Five Star Movement (M5S), is also pressuring Brussels to change tack and adopt a more constructive approach. “We shouldn’t try to punish the British people for choosing Brexit,” insisted part leader Luigi Di Maio. M5S founder and guarantor Beppe Grillo has been even more forthright, cheering the Brexit vote as a well-deserved rebuke to the EU establishment, and saying: “Mediterranean countries, and Italy first among them, should take the same line towards the EU.” While the mainstream media has tended to portray the EU as speaking with one voice on Brexit, Salvini and M5S already have sympathisers in Central and Eastern Europe, with the Hungarians warning that a ‘No Deal’ scenario will hurt the EU more than Britain and that a comprehensive free trade agreement is vitally important. The leader of Poland’s governing party, too, has described two camps within the EU: one favouring a close relationship with the departing UK, and one bent on making an example of the country to discourage other independence movements. Italy’s new government, whatever shape it ultimately takes, may well shift the balance of power in Brussels against the more hostile camp decisively.

Amazon checking accounts could have massive appeal for these Americans

 Experts say the online retail giant may use its brand recognition to lure new customers
Amazon is reportedly thinking about getting into the banking business.

Amazon is already a grocery store, a leader in voice-powered personal assistants, a television and movie production company and will soon become a delivery service. Financial services may be next on its list of industry disruptions. Amazon  is in talks with major banks including JP Morgan Chase   about building a product that would function like a bank account for its customers, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The project is in its early stages, may not come to pass and is intended to appeal to younger consumers and those without bank accounts, the paper reported. Amazon is not planning to become a bank, but will partner with a bank to create new products. Consumers may actually trust Amazon more than they would a bank on its own, said Ryan Tuttle, a senior consumer finance analyst at the market-research firm Euromonitor International. “Amazon is providing name recognition,” he said. Plus, they may not necessarily see it as a bank account, even though it provides many similar services, he added. Amazon ranks No. 7 in the top 10 global brand rankings, according to consumer perception company YouGov BrandIndex. It ranked behind Google  (No. 1), YouTube, Facebook, Samsung. WhatsApp, and Apple’s  iPhone. A financial services company didn’t make the Top 10 list.


Amazon already has expertise in making positive and seamless consumer experiences to perfect the checking account, said Alyson Clarke, a principal analyst at the research firm Forrester. “Most traditional firms fail to truly understand the customer and curate those experiences,” she said.


What’s more, Amazon may include perks for consumers who are subscribers to Prime, he said. One suggestion: Offering the $99 annual Amazon Prime membership at a discounted rate if consumers link their account to an Amazon bank account, instead of a credit card, he said. “There’s a lot of potential,” he said. Consumers, however, seem willing to hand over a lot of personal data in order to get benefits like convenience, Tuttle said. And Amazon already access to a lot of information about consumer behavior through its voice assistant, Alexa.

Fox News host dined with Trump this week

Fox News host dined with Trump this week
© YouTube

President Trump dined with Fox News’s Jesse Watters on Monday night. The dinner is further evidence of the president’s close ties to the cable news network. Trump has often provided one-on-one interviews to Fox News hosts, including Watters, during his presidency. He also reportedly regularly watches the network’s programming and often calls the hosts afterward to discuss segments he did or did not like. And Watters and fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson are among the few Twitter users that Trump follows.  On Thursday night, Watters tweeted a picture of a menu signed by Trump. Former deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka also reportedly joined the men for the dinner, according to the Daily Beast. Trump reportedly told Gorka that he misses himGorka, who is currently a contributor to Fox News and The Hill, left his White House post last year in August shortly after his boss, Stephen Bannon, left.

Tillerson Told of Kim Meeting After Trump’s Announcement

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addresses embassy personnel at U.S. Embassy Djibouti on March 9, 2018. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today during his Africa trip that he spoke with President Trump on his decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un after it was announced by South Korean officials and the administration. Speaking in Djibouti alongside Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Tillerson was asked about his months-long public position that the time was not right for sitting down with North Korea. Trump tweeted in October, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex.” “What changed in the last 24 hours that gave the Trump administration confidence that now is the right time?” a reporter asked Tillerson today. “Can you explain the logic behind starting this process?” “With respect to talks with North Korea versus negotiations — and I think this seems to be something that people continue to struggle with the difference,” Tillerson replied. “My comments have been that we’re — the conditions are not right for negotiations, but we’ve been saying for some time we are open to talks. President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim Jong-un when conditions were right and the time was right. And I think in the president’s judgment, that time has arrived now.” “In terms of the decision to engage between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, that’s a decision the president took himself,” he added. “I spoke to him very early this morning about that decision and we had a good conversation. This is something that he’s had on his mind for quite some time, so it was not a surprise in any way, because I think this has long been something. He’s expressed it openly before about his willingness to meet with Kim Jong-un.” Later, at the White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared to add a condition: “The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea,” she said. The South Koreans said the Trump-Kim meeting is expected by May. Sanders didn’t commit to that time frame today.

Report says radioactive monitors failed at nuclear plant

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A new report says mistakes and mismanagement are to blame for the exposure of workers to radioactive particles at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state. Contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. on Thursday released its evaluation of what went wrong in December during demolition of the nuclear reservation’s highly contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant. The Tri-City Herald reports the study said primary radioactive air monitors used at a highly hazardous Hanford project failed to detect contamination. Then, when the spread of contamination was detected, the report said steps taken to contain it didn’t fully work. At least 11 Hanford workers checked since mid-December inhaled or ingested small amounts of radioactive particles. Private and government vehicles were contaminated with radioactive particles. The sprawling site in southeastern Washington contains more than 50 million gallons of radioactive and toxic wastes in underground storage tanks. It’s owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, which hires private contractors to manage the cleanup work. Hanford was established during World War II and made the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. The 560-square mile site also made most of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal during the Cold War. The report released Thursday said before the December spread of contamination, Hanford officials were relying primarily on continuous air monitors that check for airborne radioactive contamination in near real-time and sound an alarm if workers may be in danger. The monitors had worked in the past, including in June, when alarms sounded and workers were told to shelter in place. But the monitors did not detect airborne contamination in December, possibly because some of the particles that spread were too heavy to stay aloft. Officials had other signs that there might be a problem, including contamination found in monitors that workers wear on their lapels, yet continued to rely on the continuous air monitors. The CH2M report, which is now being reviewed by a Department of Energy panel, listed 42 steps to take in response to its findings, like changes to training for radiological workers.

Trump wrote Putin to personally invite him to 2013 Miss Universe Pageant: report

Trump wrote Putin to personally invite him to 2013 Miss Universe Pageant: report


Multiple people familiar with the letter told The Washington Post that the document has been turned over to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. The letter extended an invitation for Putin to attend the pageant, which Trump owned, and also noted that Trump was looking forward to seeing “beautiful” women on his trip to Russia, according to the report published Friday. During the same month in 2013, Trump tweeted that he was hoping to meet Putin, writing, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?” Putin reportedly planned to attend, but canceled at the last minute and sent a gift and letter to Trump instead. It is unclear if he responded to Trump’s personal letter, or if it was even delivered, the Post reported. The report comes as the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election heats up and congressional panels continue to probe the issue. Special counsel Robert Mueller announced indictments last month against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for interfering in the election. Mueller’s team has reportedly been asking witnesses about Trump’s business dealings in Russia, including his trip to Moscow for the 2013 pageant. The 2013 letter is the first known attempt by Trump to reach out to Putin, the Post reported. It demonstrates Trump’s personal interest in meeting the Russian president, long before he even announced his 2016 campaign. Before the election, Trump repeatedly gave conflicting statements about whether he had ever met Putin in person. He has since met the Russian president several times.

The president said in November that he wasn’t going to “argue” with Putin about whether Russia interfered in the election. “Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said at the time. 

Porn star’s attorney: Cohen used his Trump Organization signature in email

Washington (CNN)A newly obtained email from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney to the lawyer for the porn star who is suing Trump includes Michael Cohen’s autosignature with his full title: executive vice president and special counsel to Donald J. Trump. The email also refers to Cohen’s office being closed. The email, which was exclusively obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” is a response to Stephanie Clifford’s lawyer around the time of a $130,000 payment made just weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair. Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, filed a lawsuit against Trump this week over a nondisclosure agreement she now claims is void regarding the alleged sexual encounter between the two in 2006. The email exchange between the two attorneys consists of Clifford’s attorney at the time asking Cohen, “We good?” Cohen responds: “Yes. It’s Yom Kippur so the office is for all purposes closed. I am in tomorrow but can speak for the next 3 hours via cell if necessary (sic).” Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, provided the email to CNN and said he believes this is further proof that Cohen was acting in his professional capacity as Trump’s attorney in his negotiations and agreement with Clifford, and not on his own behalf. “It appears to be rather innocuous when you look at it. We assert it is not innocuous because if in fact the payment was being made personally by attorney Cohen, he wouldn’t need the office open in order to effectuate the payment,” Avenatti told Anderson Cooper. Cohen has previously said, “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford.” Avenatti said the email exchange happened during a time period when the two sides were discussing payment to Daniels. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Clifford claims that when Trump was running for office and multiple women were coming forward to share stories of their own alleged encounters with the then-Republican presidential candidate, Cohen intervened in an attempt to keep her from coming forward as well. Avenatti also claims Cohen has attempted multiple times to quiet Clifford, as recently as this week. Earlier Friday, CNN reported that Cohen used funds from his own home equity line to make the $130,000 payment to Clifford on Trump’s behalf. “The funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank,” Cohen said in a statement. Cohen also confirmed that he used his Trump Organization email account to communicate details of a payment transfer to Clifford. He added that he regularly used his business email account for personal matters. “I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails. I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate,” he said.

White House appears to backtrack on Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong Un

The Trump administration is sending mixed messages.
Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Amid much fanfare, the White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump had agreed to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to deescalate the spiraling tensions between the two countries, and work to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. The proposal stunned analysts, particularly considering how the two had traded insults over the last year — with Trump famously referring to Kim as “Little Rocket Man.” Conservatives were jubilant at the announcement, which was seen as a major victory. “This is perhaps the biggest foreign policy win that we have seen,” said former White House official and Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka. “And it’s less than a year and a half into his administration.”But on Friday, reporters starting asking the pesky questions of just when and under what circumstances Trump would meet with Kim, and White House officials adopted a distinctly more guarded tone. In the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that North Korea would have to verify that it is denuclearizing before the meeting takes place — which seems to contradict the Trump administration’s initial statement that Trump had already accepted the summit and would meet Kim “as soon as possible.”

“Let’s be clear the United States has made zero concessions,” Sanders said. “This meeting won’t take place without concrete actions that match the promises that have been made by North Korea.” But then the White House appeared to flip again, with an official reportedly telling the Wall Street Journal that “the invitation has been extended and accepted and that stands.”Behind the scenes, an even more haphazard situation is emerging. According to the New York Times, Trump was not scheduled to meet South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong on Thursday, but requested it when he heard Chung was in the White House on unrelated business. Trump summoned Chung and asked him about his recent meeting with Kim on Monday. When Chung told Trump that Kim wanted to meet, Trump immediately said yes and instructed him to go brief the press corps, which he dutifully did that night.

Cohen says Stormy Daniels payment was transferred from his home equity line

Cohen says Stormy Daniels payment was transferred from his home equity line
© Getty

Cohen told ABC News that “the funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank.” The comments came the same day as a report that Cohen used his Trump Organization email to facilitate the payment. Daniels sued Trump this week in an effort to void a 2016 nondisclosure agreement that she says prevents her from speaking publicly about an alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago. Trump allegedly never signed the deal himself, which Daniels’s attorneys say invalidates it. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Cohen arranged the $130,000 payment to Daniels mere weeks before Election Day as part of a deal requiring her to keep silent about the alleged affair. The White House has denied that Trump ever carried on an affair with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Cohen acknowledged last month that he made the payment, but has insisted that it came from his own personal funds and was not tied to Trump’s presidential campaign. NBC News reported earlier Friday that Cohen used his Trump Organization email to negotiate and arrange the payment to Daniels, Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, told NBC News that the fact that Cohen used his Trump Organization email instead of his personal one suggests that the money may have come from a Trump Organization bank account.

Trump Lawyers Seek Deal With Mueller to Speed End of Russia Probe

Legal team aims to use interview with president as leverage in negotiations

President Donald Trump’s legal team is considering telling special counsel Robert Mueller, right, that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations.
President Donald Trump’s legal team is considering telling special counsel Robert Mueller, right, that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations.

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The president’s legal team is considering telling Mr. Mueller that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations, including that the special counsel commit to a date for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation. One idea is to suggest a deadline of 60 days from the date of the interview, the person said. Another consideration for the legal team is reaching an agreement with Mr. Mueller on the scope of his questioning of the president, which they expect to focus largely on his decision to fire former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Flynn, who was forced out of the White House after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his Russian contacts, pleaded guilty in December to lying to investigators about his contacts. Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey as he was investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russia in interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Mueller was appointed to carry on that probe after Mr. Comey was terminated. Mr. Mueller is also investigating whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice when he fired Mr. Comey. The president denies any collusion with the Kremlin and denies obstructing the Russia investigation, which he has called a “witch hunt.” Moscow has said it didn’t meddle in the campaign.​The president’s legal team is under pressure from Mr. Trump to bring about an end to the probe. Mr. Trump has been eager to see the investigation wrap up as quickly as possible, describing it as a distraction that is hurting the country. His lawyers have repeatedly laid out public timelines by which they expected the investigation to end. Those deadlines have come and gone. Tweeting in January, Mr. Trump said of the investigation: “On and on it goes. Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing.” A person familiar with the Trump legal team’s process said that conversations with Mr. Mueller over a possible Trump interview are in the earliest stages.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump hold different views on whether he should testify and under what conditions. One member of the Trump legal team said last month that Mr. Trump’s testimony could set a bad precedent for future presidents, eroding their powers.

If Mr. Trump were to face detailed questions involving dates and times, his legal team may be reluctant to have him participate. As an example, general questions about what the president was thinking when he ordered the firing of Mr. Comey might be acceptable, as opposed to what action he took on a specific date and time.

Wilbur Ross: Tariffs Will Help Bring Back US Steel Industry

Image: Wilbur Ross: Tariffs Will Help Bring Back US Steel Industry
(Getty Images) By Jason Devaney

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross defended the Trump administration’s decision to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum by saying the plan aims to bring back America’s steel industry. Ross penned an opinion piece for Friday’s Wall Street Journal and argued that steel production in the United States has plummeted over the last two decades to the point where something needs to be done.”Since 1998, countless steel mills and aluminum smelters have closed. More than 75,000 steel jobs alone have disappeared,” Ross wrote. “Today, the U.S. has only one steel mill that can produce the advanced alloys used in armored-vehicle plating; one aluminum smelter that makes the high-grade aluminum needed for defense aerospace applications; and one steel mill that makes the materials needed for infrastructure like electrical transformers.”These tariffs aim to reverse this sorry state of affairs.”  The tariffs, which President Donald Trump signed into action Thursday via an executive order, place a 25 percent tax on imported steel and a 10 percent tax on imported aluminum. Canada and Mexico are exempt from the tariffs.Ross conceded that the tariffs will lead to price increases at the consumer level, but those will be small. For example, he said the typical American car payment may go up by $4 per month.  Ross, who founded and sold a steel company in the early 2000s, said national security is at stake because China supplies a chunk of the steel that finds its way to the U.S. Trump and members of his administration claim China ships steel through other countries, a practice known as transshipping.”Unfair trading practices from countries like China have distorted the global steel and aluminum markets. It is time to halt the damage,” Ross wrote. “Countries should take responsibility for their unfair practices and work together to address the underlying problems facing these industries. The U.S. is ready and willing to engage in such efforts.”

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: More countries may be exempted from the tariffs

Treasury Sec. Mnuchin: There may be more countries exempted from the tariffs
Treasury Sec. Mnuchin: There may be more countries exempted from the tariffs

Canada and Mexico may not be the only two countries getting a break from the U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the process will continue to determine whether other countries should be excused from the duties that President Donald Trump announced Thursday. “The president can do exemptions, and my expectation is there may be some other countries that he considers in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley.” Mnuchin said earlier this week he favors the recently adopted tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. However, the tariffs have been controversial, with members of Trump’s own Republican party pushing back on his efforts to level the playing field for American manufacturers. Trump justified the tariffs by saying the imports were posing a threat to national security. Mnuchin said they are all part of the president’s agenda, including the historic tax cuts passed in December, seeking to protect U.S. interests at home and abroad. “This is not a conventional president, and because of that we’re getting results that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen,” he said. “A lot of people said we’d never get tax reform done, a lot of people said the U.S. economy could never grow at 3 percent.” The Treasury chief spoke at the New York Stock Exchange, amid the backdrop of a rallying stock market following Friday’s government report that nonfarm payrolls had jumped 313,000 in February, well above Wall Street expectations. “Anytime we do anything, we have to analyze the risks,” he said. “But if you want to move forward with the agenda for American companies you have to be willing to take certain risks.” Mnuchin also spoke at length about the news breaking overnight that Trump will meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un for talks about nuclear weapons. A year of “maximum pressure” on the Kim government is paying dividends, Mnuchin said. “The president is determined that there won’t be nuclear weapons on the peninsula,” he said. “I think this is a very important move forward that they’re willing to say they will stop the testing and they’re willing to have discussions.”

Former ambassador calls diplomacy “positive” but Trump-Kim Jong Un meeting a “huge gamble”


President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – a stunning shift in the relationship between the two countries. The summit would mark the first time a sitting U.S. president and a leader of North Korea have ever met, and according to South Korea’s national security adviser, denuclearization of the North is on the table. Nicholas Burns served as the U.S. ambassador to NATO and undersecretary of state for political affairs under President George W. Bush. He told “CBS This Morning” that while diplomacy is a “positive” given escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, the top-level meeting remains a “huge gamble” for the United States. “We were on a collision course with North Korea. There was a possibility of a war with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences. So if there’s going to be a period of the next two or three or four months of diplomacy, I think that’s positive,” Burns said. The risks, according to Burns, lie in the North’s history of violating their agreements – as they did under Presidents Clinton and Bush – and in their strengthened position in terms of nuclear capability. Kim Jong Un is “just about, maybe, on the verge of having the capacity to achieve a nuclear weapon that could hit the United States,” Burns said. “He wants legitimacy, he wants sanctions relief. I think he’ll be open, maybe, to negotiating some transparency about his nuclear weapons. I don’t think he’ll give them up. So for the president, our president, this is going to be as difficult as it gets and a major gamble.” Adding to the potential risks is the lack of government experts who understand North Korea, and a “dismantled” State Department. “You have no American ambassador in Seoul [South Korea]. No North Korean expert. Our greatest expert just left last week. So you don’t have a bench, you don’t have the talent you would normally have because President Trump has forsaken the State Department,” Burns said. And if the summit fails? Burns says there’s “nowhere else to go.”  “That then could drive us back towards thinking about a military option to stop the North Koreans from developing a nuclear weapon that could hit the United States. So that’s where the gamble is and there’s no track record here. Kim Jong Un hasn’t met with the Chinese leadership, he’s not met with the South Korean leader much less the American leader.”

The Goldman Sachs era in Trump’s White House is fading away

President Donald Trump and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn affirm their support for each other at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland.
Getty Images President Donald Trump and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn affirm their support for each other at Camp David on January 6, 2018 in Thurmont, Maryland.
Has President Donald Trump’s romance with the Goldman Sachs crowd gone cold? Top economic adviser Gary Cohn is only the latest Goldman figure to head for the White House exits, suggesting the influence of the oh-so-establishment banking powerhouse has been overwhelmed by the more nationalistic voices in the West Wing. Cohn, Goldman’s former president, announced his resignation this week after an unsuccessful effort to block Trump from imposing sweeping new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Trump threw Cohn a laurel on the way out, saying, “He may be a globalist, but I still like him.” But there was plenty of skepticism about Trump’s relationship with the big-name bank from the start. “I think we all knew this was coming to an end someday,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide.  It’s not that Trump’s views have changed, Bennett added, but that “people gave up trying to change him.” Cohn is the fourth high-profile Goldman alumnus to leave the administration. He was preceded earlier this year by Dina Powell, former deputy national security advisor, who is returning to Goldman. In August, onetime chief strategist Steve Bannon said farewell. And in July, after just 11 days as communications director, Anthony Scaramucci was out the door. That leaves Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the last Goldman veteran holding a top administration job. Of course, handing big jobs to Goldman alumni is an Oval Office tradition. The influential bank has produced Treasury secretaries, White House chiefs of staff and top economic advisers in both Republican and Democratic administrations. But Trump’s reliance on Goldman talent was a surprise to some, given his anti-Wall Street, drain-the-swamp campaign rhetoric.

On the campaign trail, Trump suggested Wall Street was getting “away with murder.” He argued that he would not be beholden to bankers, saying that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s ties to the industry meant that she’d never advance financial reform. And he promoted himself as a champion for the “forgotten men and women” left behind in a growing economy. Trump also specifically attacked his opponents over their ties to Goldman, lambasting rival Ted Cruz because the senator’s wife worked for the bank. He slammed Clinton for taking big speaking fees from the firm. “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him,” Trump said of Cruz. “Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.””I think Donald Trump wanted these Goldman people as a way to stroke his own ego. Don’t forget that Goldman never wanted to do business with Donald Trump,” Cohan said. “It was a way for (Trump) to say ‘Ha, ha, now I’ve got some of your best people working for me.'” So far, Trump’s presidency has been good for Goldman and other major banks. Since taking office, Trump’s main legislative achievement was a $1.5 trillion tax cut applauded by Wall Street. Cohn and Mnuchin were deeply involved in that process and Cohn stayed in the administration to work on it, after he was upset by the president’s comments about the racial violence in Charlottesville last August. But Wall Street has been appalled with Trump tariff plans, hastily announced last week without full details and prompting worries of a trade war that could undermine the benefits of the tax cut

Trump may have rushed steel tariffs to cut off debate: GOP Whip John Cornyn

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) walks out of the senate on Capitol Hill. He believes the Trump administration's claim that cheap imports threaten U.S. national security could lead trade partners to use the same argument to tax U.S. exports.
Getty Images Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) walks out of the senate on Capitol Hill. He believes the Trump administration’s claim that cheap imports threaten U.S. national security could lead trade partners to use the same argument to tax U.S. exports.

Two influential Republican senators from energy states said on Friday they were surprised by how quickly President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said the speed at which Trump imposed the tariffs suggests he may have been trying to prevent anyone from talking him out of the action, which has been widely opposed by his own party and the energy industry. Trump on Thursday signed proclamations that will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tax on aluminum. The president exempted Mexico and Canada from the taxes and said it would consider waivers for other countries.Speaking at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, Cornyn and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski warned the taxes could hold back investments in oil and gas infrastructure, alienate allies and water down the benefits of tax cuts and deregulation.  Cornyn connected Trump’s attitude towards trade as president to the “populist impulses” that defined his campaign. “I would hope that we would not treat every country with sort of a one size fits all like we see in this initial tariff on aluminum and steel,” he said. “We want free and fair trade, because that benefits our country, our workforce and our economy,” Cornyn added. “I hope we can be a little more surgical in the approach.” Murkowski, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said the tariffs could impact plans to build out infrastructure that her state long has anticipated. “This is a big deal up north,” Murkowski said. Murkowski said initial estimates suggest the tariffs could raise the cost of a proposed 800-mile pipeline, part of the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project, by hundreds of millions of dollars if not a half-billion dollars. Murkowski said the tariffs send a confusing message to America’s allies. Cornyn said the Trump administration’s rationale for the tariffs — that cheap imports threaten the nation’s national security — establishes a slippery slope that could end in trade partners using the same argument to tax U.S. exports.

What swamp? Lobbyists get ethics waivers to work for Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and his appointees have stocked federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now help regulate the very industries from which they previously collected paychecks, despite Trump’s promises as a candidate to drain the swamp in Washington. A week after his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order that bars former lobbyists, lawyers and others from participating in any matter they worked on for private clients within two years of going to work for the government. But records reviewed by The Associated Press show Trump’s top lawyer, White House counsel Don McGahn, has issued at least 37 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies. Though the waivers were typically issued months ago, the Office of Government Ethics disclosed several more on Wednesday. The White House had previously released more than a dozen waivers granted to its staff. One allows FBI Director Chris Wray “to participate in matters involving a confidential former client.” The three-sentence waiver gives no indication about what Wray’s conflict of interest might be. The FBI declined to comment Thursday. Before returning to the Justice Department last year, Wray represented clients that included big banks and other corporations as a partner at a law firm that paid him $9.2 million a year, according to his financial disclosure statement. Trump’s executive order on ethics supplanted a more stringent set of rules put in place by President Barack Obama in 2009 to avoid conflicts of interests. Nearly 70 waivers were issued to executive branch officials during Obama’s eight years, though those were generally more narrowly focused and offered a fuller legal explanation for why the waiver was granted. Craig Holman, who lobbies in Washington for stricter government ethics and lobbying rules on behalf of the advocacy group Public Citizen, said just five of the waivers under Obama went to former lobbyists, most of whom had worked for nonprofit groups. Although he was initially optimistic when Trump issued his executive order, Holman said Wednesday, “It is now quite evident that the pledge was little more than campaign rhetoric. Not only are key provisions simply ignored and not enforced, when in cases where obvious conflicts of interest are brought into the limelight, the administration readily issues waivers from the ethics rules.” Asked about the waivers, Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said, “In the interests of full transparency and good governance, the posted waivers set forth the policy reasons for granting an exception to the pledge.” An analysis by the AP shows that nearly half of the political appointees hired at the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump have strong industry ties. Of 59 EPA hires tracked by the AP over the last year, about a third worked as registered lobbyists or lawyers for chemical manufacturers, fossil fuel producers or other corporate clients. This is the very type of revolving-door conflicts of interests that Trump promised voters he would eliminate.

Toymakers tumble as Toys ‘R’ Us prepares to liquidate

(Reuters) – Shares of Mattel Inc (MAT.O) and Hasbro Inc (HAS.O), the two largest U.S. toymakers, tumbled on Friday after reports that key customer Toys ‘R’ Us Inc is preparing for potential liquidation, six months after filing for bankruptcy. Mattel’s shares fell 6 percent to $14.96, while those of Hasbro dipped nearly 3 percent to $90.75 in early trading. Jakks Pacific Inc was down 1 percent at $2.33.The toy retailer will liquidate its operations if its negotiations with creditors do not result in a deal that can help the company to emerge from bankruptcy, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter.  “The worst case scenario is that about 10 percent of the sales of each of the toy companies goes away in 2018, with an associated roughly 10 percent hit to earnings,” D.A. Davidson analyst Linda Weiser said. Talks with creditors are continuing and no decision has yet been taken. The company is also considering other options, including a potential sale in bankruptcy if possible, the source told Reuters.


The retailer said in January it would shut about a fifth of its U.S. stores as it tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer. “Mattel’s fundamentals and balance sheet are more vulnerable to a liquidation than Hasbro,” said Barclays analysts, who downgraded Mattel’s stock to “Underweight”.

President Trump plans to meet Kim Jong Un for nuke talks

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump plan to meet in May for nuclear disarmament talks, a whiplash development that would put two leaders who’ve repeatedly insulted, threatened and dismissed each other in the same room, possibly in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. It would have been an unthinkable suggestion just a few months ago, when the insults were at their peak — Trump was a “senile dotard” and Kim was “Little Rocket Man” — and the North was snapping off regular weapons tests in a dogged march toward its goal of a viable nuclear arsenal that can threaten the U.S. mainland. Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who some believe has maneuvered the two leaders to this position, reflected the hope and relief many here feel about the planned summit when he declared Friday that it will be a “historical milestone” that will put the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “really on track.” But there’s also considerable skepticism. North Korea, after all, has made a habit of reaching out, after raising fears during previous crises, with offers of dialogue meant to win aid and concessions. Some speculate that the North is trying to peel Washington away from its ally Seoul, weaken crippling sanctions and buy time for nuclear development. It has also, from the U.S. point of view, repeatedly cheated on past nuclear deals.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Kim Jong Un was surprisingly forward-leaning in talks with a South Korean delegation, and that led to President Trump’s decision to meet with the North Korean leader.  And now the North has landed a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the world’s most powerful country, a nation that North Korea has long sought to draw into talks that it hopes would establish a peace treaty to end the technically still-active Korean War and drive out all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, removing what the North says is a hostile encirclement of its territory by Washington and Seoul. Trump’s hastily reached decision to accept the meeting sent White House staff scrambling. The historic announcement comes during a period of unparalleled tumult in the Trump’s West Wing, with the president’s policy agenda stalled and morale sinking as staff departures proliferate and disrupt efforts to instill more discipline and order.

Rising cross-asset correlation shows more fuel for sell-off

Reuters Graphic

(Reuters) – At a time when volatility in financial markets is creeping up on rising bond yields and fears of U.S trade protectionism, one modern leading indicator of trouble ahead suggests stock market losses could intensify going forward. Cross asset correlations – the degree to which the price of a financial instrument is affected by a change in the price of another asset class – last week hit a near two-year peak, according to a Reuters analysis of weekly price returns on eight major instruments.That still leaves the measure short of highs seen around a handful of major market collapses in the past decade: the initial peak of the Eurozone debt crisis in 2011, 2013’s Federal Reserve driven “taper-tantrum” and the 2008 crash. But since a record Feb 6. fall in the Dow Jones Industrials Index .DJI, it is heading for a 2015 peak which coincided with another slide – China’s stock market crash and devaluation of the yuan, and the resulting brief selloff in stocks and emerging market assets.“During the times of stress when assets are sold off, they are sold off together, partly owing to the fact that previously all the markets were rising together,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy for Mizuho Bank inSingapore.

“High cross-asset correlations validate the start of a sell-off and get accentuated during the sell-off.”


The era of globalisation of financial markets and investment has seen cross-asset correlations in general trend higher. In the past decade, when banks and investors were searching for places to lodge the floods of central bank money pumped into the global economy, that meant a crowding out that prompted analysts to warn of market bubbles. If markets also trend down together, however, it means the big blue-chip investors who have piled money into these markets will need to find places to hide as asset values fall. “If there are no gradual corrections coming, and we do see a lot of highly correlated asset market moves, then the correction phase would also be little bit more brutal,” said Mizuho’s Varathan.

Nonfarm payrolls increase by 313,000 in February vs. 200,000 est.

A mechanics works on mining equipment at the Black Butte coal mine outside Rock Springs, Wyoming.


The economy added 313,000 jobs in February, crushing expectations, while the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, according to a Labor Department report Friday that could help quell inflation fears. An increase in the labor force participation rate to its highest level since September 2017 helped keep the headline unemployment number steady, as the number of those counted as not in the workforce tumbled by 653,000 to just over 95 million.

The total counted as “employed” in the household survey surged by 785,000 to a record 155.2 million.

A separate measure that takes into account those out of the workforce and the underemployed — sometimes referred to as the “real” unemployment rate — held steady at 8.2 percent.

Construction jobs led the way, with 61,000 new positions, followed by retail and professional and business services (50,000 apiece), manufacturing (31,000) and financial activities (28,000). Health care added 19,000 while mining saw 9,000 new jobs. “The jobs streak remains intact, and it’s punctuating what has been a tremendous start to the year,” said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade.

Investors were watching the report closely not only for clues about job growth but also whether wage pressures were continuing to build. Wage growth came in less than expected, rising 0.1 percent for the month and 2.6 percent on an annualized basis. The average work week rose by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours.

Multiple Federal Reserve officials have said recently they see the jobs market at or even beyond full employment. The unemployment rate was last this low in December 2000. However, sustained wage growth has been absent, keeping the Fed on a pace of consistent but gradual rate hikes.

Trump sets steel and aluminum tariffs; Mexico, Canada exempted

 U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation during a White House ceremony to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON/SANTIAGO (Reuters) – President Donald Trump pressed ahead with the imposition of 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminum on Thursday but exempted Canada and Mexico, backtracking from earlier pledges of tariffs on all countries.Describing the dumping of steel and aluminum in the United States as “an assault on our country,” Trump told a news conference that the best outcome would for companies to move here and insisted that domestic production was needed for national security reasons.  “If you don’t want to pay tax, bring your plant to the USA,” he said.Details of the plan came from a briefing by administration officials ahead of Trump’s speech. Other countries can apply for exemptions, according to the administration, although details of when they would be granted were thin.  Trump has offered relief from steel and aluminum tariffs to countries that “treat us fairly on trade,” a gesture aimed at putting pressure on Canada and Mexico to give ground in separate talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which appear to have stalled. Trump has also demanded concessions from the European Union, complaining that it treated American cars unfairly and has threatened to hike tariffs on auto imports from Europe. U.S. stocks extended gains ahead of the announcement, as the Associated Press reported key details. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index was last up 0.3 percent, but the S&P composite 1500 steel index was down 2.7 percent.

Mexico rejected any linkage to NAFTA in robust terms on Thursday. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told Reuters, “Under no circumstance will we be subject to any type of pressure.”

Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne told Reuters his country would not accept any duties or quotas from the United States.

Trump’s unexpected announcement of the tariffs last week roiled stock markets as it raised the prospect of an escalating global trade war. He appeared to have conceded some ground after a campaign by legislators from his own Republican party, industry groups and U.S. allies abroad. The president said he was pleased with progress in the NAFTA talks, although he repeated that he would be willing to terminate the agreement. The talks were launched after Trump took office last year saying that if the pact was not negotiated to better serve American interests, Washington would leave.

Continue reading “Trump sets steel and aluminum tariffs; Mexico, Canada exempted”

Supermarket chain Kroger’s forecast disappoints, profits plunge

 FILE PHOTO: A logo of Kroger is displayed on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
 (Reuters) – Kroger Co’s full-year profit forecast came in largely below estimates as the supermarket chain spends more on its online operations and cuts prices to snatch customers away from Walmart Inc and Inc sending its shares down as much as 7 percent. The company said it would make capital investments $3 billion in 2018, excluding acquisitions and purchases of leased facilities.

Kroger has been revamping its nearly 2,800 supermarkets, bolstering in-store technology, investing in making online ordering smoother and offering delivery options such as curbside pickup.The Cincinnati-based company has also been cutting the fat out of its business. Last month the company sold 800 convenience stores to British gas station operator EG Group for $2.15 billion. The company said it expects full-year 2018 earnings of $1.95 per share to $2.15 per share, largely below the $2.15 analysts were expecting on average, according to Thomson Reuters.


America’s companies have binged on debt; a reckoning looms

The total debt of American non-financial corporations as a percentage of GDP has reached a record high of 73.3%

AMERICA’s companies have been powering ahead for years. Amid growing profits, the recession that began in 2007 seems an increasingly distant memory. Yet the situation has a dark side: companies have binged on debt. For now, as the good times have coincided with a period of record-low interest rates, markets have been untroubled. But a shock could put corporate America into trouble. No matter how it is measured, the debt load looks worrying. When calculated as a percentage of GDP, the total debt of America’s non-financial corporations reached 73.3% in the second quarter of 2017 (the latest available data). This is a record high. Measured against earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), the net debt of non-financial companies in the S&P500 hit a ratio of 1.5 at of the end of 2016, a level not seen since 2003. And it remained nearly as high in 2017

David Tesher of S&P Global Ratings says that retail is the sector in America most at risk. Such companies accumulated high levels of debt after more than a decade of private-equity-sponsored activity. They must also cope with tough competition from e-commerce. Around 50 American retailers filed for bankruptcy in 2017 alone, many due to the debt piled on by their private-equity owners. The most prominent example is Toys R Us, which was acquired by a consortium of private-equity firms in 2005. In the case of Payless ShoeSource, a retailer that also went bankrupt last year, creditors argued in court filings that its private-equity owners should share the blame for its collapse; after much argument, the owners agreed to put more than $20m back into the company. Utilities which have always borrowed heavily, saw their debt rise to a 14-year high of 4.5 times earnings in 2017. How quickly debt levels turn into a problem depends on monetary policy and how the economy fares. In a benign scenario, in which corporate earnings rise across the board, and the Federal Reserve raises interest rates at a slow and predictable pace, companies’ debt ratios may even fall, for now. But if more worrying scenarios—say, a trade war, or significantly faster-than-expected monetary tightening—come to pass, more indebted companies may find their luck running out. A binge, after all, never lasts forever.

Trump upset with Sanders over Stormy Daniels response

Proof Beautiful women are better liars. They have more practice
UGLY Trump spokes person and nasty to! AND not a very good liar!

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is upset with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders over her responses Wednesday regarding his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, a source close to the White House tells CNN. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, filed suit against Trump this week alleging he hadn’t signed a nondisclosure agreement that would have prevented her from discussing their alleged sexual affair. On Wednesday, Sanders told reporters that the arbitration was won “in the President’s favor.” The statement is an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists, and that it directly involves the President. It is the first time the White House has admitted the President was involved in any way with Daniels.

“POTUS is very unhappy,” the source said. “Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”

Trump is upset with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders over her responses Wednesday regarding his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels,This week’s developments are the latest installment in a continuing controversy for the White House involving Daniels, and a distraction from Trump’s attempted rollout of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Just weeks before the 2016 election, Trump’s legal counsel Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 of his own money, which he admitted to in February. Cohen has said the President “vehemently denies” any sexual encounter between the two.Nick Bit:  See the White House is in disarray. The ugly girl was not sure what the lie of the day is i miss HOPE. She was a much better “white liar”

Hope one of Trumps prettiest liars

New Steel Tariffs Would Seriously Hurt US Prosperity, Ex CIA Chief Warns

Former CIA director John Brennan has criticized President Donald Trump’s plans to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and warned that it would seriously hurt America’s future prosperity.

“You show an amazing albeit unsurprising ignorance of how technology, automation, and the attendant evolution of economics and societies have transformed the world,” Brennan said on Twitter Wednesday in apparent response to Trump’s criticism of the trade policies of previous administrations. Several countries have warned the United States of consequences to Trump’s plan to impose a 25 per cent import tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. Brennan, a frequent critic of Trump, was the CIA chief during President Barack Obama’s second term.

It was this tweet by Trump that provoked Brennan: “From Bush 1 to present, our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars. Last year we had a Trade Deficit of almost 800 Billion Dollars. Bad Policies & Leadership”.

Brennan retaliated by saying, “Your simple minded policies–imposition of tariffs–have the potential to seriously damage our future prosperity”. This was the second hot reply that Brennan gave to Trump over his criticism of the previous administration this week. Monday, Trump had accused the Obama Administration of starting an investigation into the Trump Campaign before the Election in November to discredit him “so Crooked H would win.”

“This tweet is a great example of your paranoia, constant misrepresentation of the facts, and increased anxiety and panic (rightly so) about the Mueller investigation,” Brennan retorted on Twitter.

China warns of ‘necessary response’ in event of trade war with U.S.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will respond as necessary in the event of a trade war with the United States, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, while warning that such a war would only harm all sides. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to establish tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum this week, but the White House has said there could be a 30-day exemption for Mexico and Canada and some other countries based on national security. Such a move aims to counter cheap imports, especially from China, that Trump says undermine U.S. industry and jobs.Trump’s administration has faced growing opposition to the tariffs from prominent congressional Republicans and business officials worried about their potential impact on the economy. Trade tension with the United States has jumped to the top of the list of risks facing China this year, Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum this week, and its latest data showed exports surging 44.5 percent in February from a year earlier. Wang, speaking on the sidelines of an annual meeting of China’s parliament, said China and the United States did not have to be rivals, and history showed that trade wars were not the correct way to resolve problems. “Especially given today’s globalization, choosing a trade war is a mistaken prescription. The outcome will only be harmful,” Wang said. “China would have to make a justified and necessary response,” he said.Trump addressed trade with China in tweets on Wednesday, demanding that it lay out plans for reducing its trade surplus with the United States by $1 billion, which appeared to have been raised during a meeting with a top Chinese official last week.  “China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States,” Trump tweeted, without saying where the message had been conveyed.

U.S. trade deficit races to more than nine-year high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. trade deficit increased to a more than nine-year high in January, with the shortfall with China widening sharply, suggesting that President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policies aimed at eradicating the deficit The trade gap continues to widen a year into the Trump presidency. Trump, who claims that the United States is being taken advantage of by its trading partners, has imposed tariffs on imports of some goods and threatened punitive measures on others to shield domestic industries from competition. The protectionist measures have sparked fears of a trade war. “Trump’s economics team is trying to turn back the clock on trade, but we doubt they will succeed as they are interfering with the business decisions made by thousands of American companies over the years,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. “This is a trade war with ourselves.”The United States has been running trade deficits for decades, with the trend worsening over the last 30 years as companies shifted manufacturing to countries like China. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade deficit jumped 5.0 percent to $56.6 billion. That was the highest level since October 2008 and exceeded economists’ expectations of an increase to $55.1 billion. Part of the rise in the trade gap in January reflected higher commodity prices. The politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China surged 16.7 percent to $36.0 billion, the highest since September 2015. The deficit with Canada soared 65 percent to a three-year high of $3.6 billion. China and Canada are the United States’ top trading partners. Trump in late January imposed broad tariffs on imported solar panels and large washing machines. Last week, Trump announced he would slap import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect domestic producers. While these actions may prove politically popular with Trump’s working class political base, especially in states hard-hit by factory closures and import competition, analysts warn they could undercut economic growth.There are fears that the tariffs could jeopardize talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) linking Canada, Mexico and the United States. Trump ordered a renegotiation of the trade pact to offer terms more favorable to Washington.  Worries of a trade war were heightened on Tuesday by the resignation of Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic advisor, spooking financial markets. Stocks on Wall Street were trading lower while prices for U.S. government bonds rose, attracting safe-haven bids. The dollar rose versus a basket of currencies. In January, exports fell 1.3 percent to $200.9 billion, weighed down by a $1.8 billion drop in civilian aircraft. Crude oil exports also declined. But exports of consumer goods rose to a record high and those of motor vehicles, parts and engines were the highest since July 2014. Exports to China tumbled 28.1 percent. Imports were unchanged at $257.5 billion in January amid a $1.3 billion drop in cellphone imports as well as a $0.9 billion decrease in civilian aircraft. Crude oil imports increased by $2.2 billion, reflecting higher prices. Imports from China rose 2.9 percent. Nick Bit: This adds fuel to the fire. They are running around half cocked. Mistakes are being made.

Fed’s Beige Book Notes Price Pressure

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Economic activity in the Southeast continued to grow modestly from early January through mid-February, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s latest Beige Book report on conditions in the six states of the Sixth Federal Reserve District, released on March 7Off-site link

. Among the noteworthy items in the report are signals that inflation could be inching upward in the coming months. Some business contacts said they are able to pass along rising costs in the form of price increases, which has not been common in recent years. Trucking firms, for example, reported some pricing power amid strong demand and tight capacity. And respondents to the Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations survey indicated they expect their unit costs to rise 2 percent over the next year, which would match the Fed’s inflation objective. Inflation has hovered below the Fed’s objective for the past several years. Finally, in another sign of possible upward pressure on prices, a growing number of contacts said they either recently increased wages or plan to do so in the coming months. This was the case among companies across several industries including transportation, retail, finance, construction, and professional and business services. One of the forces pressing wages upward is that firms continue to report a scarcity of qualified workers across skill levels. For instance, contacts in the energy industry indicated that a surge of oil and gas projects along the Gulf Coast exacerbated the shortage of skilled workers in that business. In other sectors of the economy, the Beige Book reports:

  • Travel and tourism contacts said business and leisure travel picked up early in the year. Looking ahead, advanced bookings are healthy across the District through the first quarter of this year.
  • The outlook among most retail contacts remains positive.
  • Reports from residential real estate contacts signaled continued modest growth. Builder reports on construction activity in January compared to one year earlier were mixed. Builders and brokers indicated that home sales were flat to slightly down from a year ago.
  • Meanwhile, many commercial real estate contacts said stronger demand was fueling higher rents, particularly in industrial and warehouse-distribution properties.
  • Manufacturers reported solid overall activity. Contacts are generally optimistic about future demand, suggesting that they expect sales levels to be up over the short to medium term.
  • Transportation firms cited mixed results since the previousOff-site link Beige Book. Ports and trucking companies said business was strong, but rail traffic early in the year was down by double digits compared with the same period a year ago. This decline was mostly because of decreased shipments of grain, nonmetallic minerals (such as sand, limestone, marble, clay, and salt), iron and steel scrap, and metallic ores.
  • Credit remained readily available for most qualified borrowers except for some contacts in energy and commercial real estate industries.
  • Agriculture conditions were mixed in the early part of the year. Drought persisted in much of the Southeast. In Florida, the January forecast for orange crops worsened because of the lingering effects of Hurricane Irma.

Investors staged a near-record exodus from US stocks in February

Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Image

February’s brutally volatile market saw investors flee U.S. stocks in near-record numbers, and they’re only slowly coming back. Funds that focus on domestic equities saw investors withdraw $41.1 billion during the month, according to data from TrimTabs, which said it was the third-most in the market data firm’s records. Global funds went in the other direction, attracting $17.9 billion even though stock markets abroad fared even worse than in the U.S. Outflows were evenly distributed between exchange-traded funds (-$19.6 billion) and mutual funds (-$21.5 billion), TrimTabs reported. As a percent of total assets, the withdrawals represented 0.9 percent of total ETFs dedicated to domestic stocks and 0.3 percent of total domestic mutual funds. The flight came during a month when major averages swooned into correction territory — a 10 percent loss — amid fears that inflation was about to spike and lead to rapid policy tightening from the Fed, and as traders using ETFs to bet against volatility suffered major losses. The Dow industrials fell 4 percent during the month, which followed a January that featured the fastest start ever for the market. The outflows were concentrated in the earlier part of the month, as activity picked up in the final week, with U.S. equity ETFs taking in $6 billion. Stock market losses probably would have been worse had corporations not stepped in to snap up their own shares. Buybacks amounted to $151.1 billion for the month, a new record, pushing the quarterly total to $212.5 billion, well on the way to another record, according to TrimTabs. Overall, investors have pulled $59.7 billion from U.S. equity mutual funds but have added $11.2 billion to ETFs.

Shock Claim: John McCain Associate Wanted Senator to ‘Confront’ Trump with ‘Pee’ Dossier, Make Him Resign

NEW YORK — An extensive New Yorker profile cites a former national-security official claiming that a longtime associate of John McCain sent by the Arizona senator to obtain the infamous anti-Trump dossier hatched a plan whereby McCain would use the document to confront President Donald Trump and get him to resign.

David J. Kramer, a former State Department official and close McCain associate, received a copy of the largely-discredited dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in the document, the Washington Post previously reported. McCain then reportedly passed the dossier directly to FBI Director James Comey. In the magazine profile, released this week and titled, “Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier,” the New Yorker reported on Kramer’s alleged plan for McCain to use the dossier to compel Trump to step down following his 2016 presidential victory.  An attorney for Kramer denied there was such a plan. New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer reports:

The week before Thanksgiving, Wood briefed McCain at the Halifax International Security Forum. McCain was deeply concerned. He asked a former aide, David Kramer, to go to England to meet Steele. Kramer, a Russia expert who had served at the State Department, went over the dossier with Steele for hours.

After Kramer promised to share the document only with McCain, Steele arranged for Kramer to receive a copy in Washington. But a former national-security official who spoke with Kramer at the time told me that one of Kramer’s ideas was to have McCain confront Trump with the evidence, in the hope that Trump would resign. “He would tell Trump, ‘The Russians have got you,’” the former official told me. (A lawyer for Kramer maintains that Kramer never considered getting Trump to resign and never promised to show the dossier only to McCain.) Ultimately, though, McCain and Kramer agreed that McCain should take the dossier to the head of the F.B.I.

Kramer reportedly recently invoked the Fifth Amendment to get out of testifying before the House Intelligence Committee regarding the dossier. The New Yorker profile related that “Steele arranged for Kramer to receive a copy in Washington,” referring to the dossier. The magazine did not report exactly who passed the dossier copy to Kramer. Last month, the Washington Post reported that Kramer received the dossier document directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in the dossier. Those details marked the clearest indication yet that McCain may have known that the dossier originated with Fusion GPS, meaning that he may have knowingly passed on political material to the FBI. It has not been been clear whether McCain was aware of the origins of the dossier when he hand delivered the unsubstantiated document to Comey. According to the Post, Steele originally sought out Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and friend of Steele, for advice prior to the election concerning his alleged research into Trump. The Post cited Wood explaining that Kramer had arranged for Wood to meet McCain in December 2016 on the sidelines of a security conference in Canada. There, Wood described detailing Steele’s claims at the meeting with McCain, telling the Arizona senator that he could arrange for the politician to review the purported research.


Back in Washington, Kramer received a copy of the dossier from Simpson and completed the handoff to McCain. In a private meeting on Dec. 9, McCain gave Comey the dossier — passing along information that Steele had provided to the FBI earlier in the year.

Shortly before Inauguration Day, Comey briefed Trump on the document, alerting him to what the FBI director would later describe to Congress as a report that contained “salacious, unverified” information that was circulating in the media.

The Post’s reporting marks the first public description of McCain’s associate, Kramer, as having received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS. Nick Bit: Put this in your pipe and smoke it. The Document, yellow showers, Whores, bribe, pay offs, collusion and money laundering are all true! Naw while your smoking let me give you something to chew on. Trump will end up resigning over the very claims made in the Dossier!!!

Senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner is visiting Mexico

White House Senior Advisor and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner reads a statment in front of West Wing of the White House after testifying behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election July 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
White House Senior Advisor and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reads a statment in front of West Wing of the White House after testifying behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election July 24, 2017 in Washington, DC


Senior advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, will visit Mexico  and meet President Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican foreign ministry said, after a ratcheting up of tensions over trade and plans for a border wall.

A senior U.S. administration official confirmed Kushner’s visit late on Tuesday, adding that meetings will focus on security, immigration and trade issues. Late last month, Trump and Pena Nieto postponed plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House, after a testy phone call involving the U.S. leader’s push to make Mexico pay for a border wall. Trump has repeatedly insisted Mexico must pay for the wall, a stance Mexican leaders have just as often rejected. Kushner is a top foreign policy advisor as well as the president’s son-in-law but has recently lost access to the most valued U.S. intelligence report, U.S. officials told Reuters last week. Accompanied on his visit by other U.S. diplomats and security officials, the foreign ministry statement said Kushner will also meet Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who has often visited him in the White House — most recently to try to broker a Trump-Pena Nieto meeting. The bilateral relationship was again rocked last weekend as Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs that he later described served as an incentive to reach a favorable re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The tariff announcement came during the latest round of talks to update NAFTA, which wrapped up in the Mexican capital on Monday. Nick Bit: Maybe he can meet with the drugs cartels… they have plenty of cash and maybe they would like a cocaine tower in NYC. He could arrange painting the building snow white!

S. Korean president says talks won’t ease pressure on North

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday downplayed concerns that the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue will be accompanied by an easing of international sanctions and pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program. Moon made the comments in a meeting with political party leaders a day after South Korea announced an agreement with the North to hold a rare summit in April. Senior South Korean officials who met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Monday also said the North expressed a willingness to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties. Conservative opposition leaders expressed concern during Wednesday’s meeting at Seoul’s presidential palace that North Korea could use the talks as a way to reduce the pressure, and also questioned whether the North in genuinely interested in abandoning its nuclear weapons. “The sanctions and pressure on North Korea aren’t maintained by South Korea alone — these are actions based on U.N. Security Council resolutions, and then there are strong unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States,” Moon said, added that the pressure on the North could only be reduced by “substantive progress” on denuclearization. “These international efforts (to pressure the North) cannot be loosened by inter-Korean dialogue. We don’t aim for that to happen and it’s also impossible.” Moon’s presidential national security director, Chung Eui-yong, who led the South Korean delegation that met with Kim, is to leave for the United States on Thursday to brief U.S. officials on the outcome of his trip to the North. Chung told reporters on Tuesday that he received a message from North Korea intended for the United States, but didn’t disclose what it was. Japan has responded cautiously to the South Korean announcement of summit talks, saying Tokyo’s policy of keeping maximum pressure on North Korea is unchanged. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that dialogue for dialogue’s sake is meaningless and that the allies “should fully take into consideration lessons from our past dialogues with the North, none of which achieved denuclearization.” He said Japan is on the same page as the United States, citing U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as saying Washington’s pressure campaign is unchanged, with all options still on the table. China, which is North Korea’s only major ally, cheered the exchanges between the Koreas and called for a return to six-nation talks on denuclearization that it previously hosted. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday that China was “pleased to see the positive outcomes from those exchanges and interactions between the two sides. … We hope the North and South will earnestly implement their consensuses and proceed with the process of reconciliation and cooperation.”

U.S. Considers Broad Curbs on Chinese Imports, Takeovers

President Donald Trump comments on his tariff plans during a news conference.

The Trump administration is considering clamping down on Chinese investments in the U.S. and imposing tariffs on a broad range of its imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property, according to people familiar with the matter. Chinese officials — who have been studying curbs on U.S. products such as soybeans according to past reports — were otherwise largely quiet on the tariff question Wednesday. Under the most severe scenario being weighed, the U.S. could impose tariffs on a wide range of Chinese imports, from shoes and clothing to consumer electronics, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions aren’t public.The Trump administration could combine the tariffs with restrictions on Chinese investments in the U.S., which are reviewed for national-security risks by Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., the people said. The new measures being considered by the administration could go beyond even domestic security considerations. Nick Bit: This trade war Trump is hell bent on starting will come in waves. It is a economic killer as in a depression. Remember these words. He has opened Pandora’s box!!!!

4 Most Shocking Details from Porn Star Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Against Trump

So it happened. The porn star known as Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, sued President Donald Trump alleging that her non-disclosure agreement is invalid because Trump never actually signed it. The lawsuit, by her attorney Michael Avenatti, was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles County on Tuesday. In the lawsuit, Clifford admits on the record that she had a year long affair with Trump after meeting him at Lake Tahoe. She then claims that Trump’s attorney proceeded to try to silence her by paying her “hush” money.” Much of this has already come out in reports. However, there are some additional previously undisclosed sordid details in the lawsuit, that, if true, paint a picture of the dirty tricks that Trump (and his attorney) used in an attempt to to keep Clifford’s story a secret.

#1 Donald Trump apparently used the pseudonym David Dennison. Several times the lawsuit makes reference to Trump (aka David Dennison). In fact, Dennison is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. In the apparent ‘Hush Agreement’ that Clifford signed, in order to disguise the fact that it was Trump involved in the story, Cohen only referred to Trump as “David Dennison” or “DD” and Daniels as “Peggy Peterson” and “PP.” Clifford believed this was so Trump would have plausible deniability about the affair and the pay arrangement.

#2 Trump, through his attorney the ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen, aggressively tried to silence Clifford from coming forward to tell her story. Last week, he even filed a secret arbitration action against her.

Clifford said she wanted to come forward about the affair after watching the Access Hollywood tape during the 2016 election. Clifford claims that Cohen, upon learning of her desire, used bully tactics to try to silence her, including forcing her to write out a “false statement” saying that she had not had a relationship with Trump.

She also claims that on February 27,2018, Cohen initiated a “bogus” arbitration proceeding against her in Los Angeles.  “Put simply, considerable steps have been taken by Mr. Cohen in the last week to silence Ms. Clifford through the use of an improper and procedurally defective arbitration proceeding hidden from public view,” the lawsuit states.

#3 Trump apparently never actually signed the ‘Hush’ agreement. The lawsuit reads, “On or about October 28,2016, only days before the election, two of the parties signed the Hush Agreement – Ms. Clifford and Mr. Cohen (on behalf of EC). Mr Trump, however, did not sign the agreement, thus rendering it legally null and void and of no consequence.” Clifford further asserts that Trump knew of the agreement and purposely did not sign the contract so he could later, if need be, “publicly disavow any knowledge of the Hush agreement, and Ms. Clifford.”

#4 Clifford believes Trump was well-aware of the hush payment. 

The lawsuit cites ethical obligations that require Trump’s attorney to notify his client — Donald Trump– if he engages on legal action on his behest. As such, the lawsuit reasons Trump must have been aware that Cohen was negotiating on his behalf.

The lawsuit reads:

Accordingly, unless Mr. Cohen flagrantly violated his ethical pligations and the most basic rules governing his license to practice law (which is highly unlikely) there can be no doubt that Mr. Trump at all time has been fully aware of the negotiations with Ms. Clifford, the existence of the Hush Agreement, the payment of the $130,000, the use of EC (a company) as a conduit, and the recent attempts to intimidate and silence Ms. Clifford by way of the bogus arbitration proceeding.

Clifford is seeking a declaratory judgement that the non-disclosure agreement is invalid, and unenforceable. Trump, and Michael Cohen have not yet commented about this suit.  We

Law&Crime will update this breaking story with more information as we get it. 

Cohn’s resignation may be a ‘turn for the worse’ in trade: Larry Kudlow

Larry Kudlow
Adam Jeffery | CNBC Larry Kudlo

White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn’s resignation may be a “turn for the worse” in the ongoing trade battles, said Larry Kudlow, CNBC senior contributor. “I wouldn’t necessarily say the cause for freer trade is over,” Kudlow said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money.” “But we’ll see who is appointed. I personally regret this [resignation] very much.” Kudlow said he’s spoken with Cohn in recent days and “personally urged him to stay” in his post as President Donald Trump’s economic advisor. Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president and free trade advocate, announced Tuesday evening that he would leave his post at the White House. The departure date has not yet been set. “I’m quite sorry that this is true,” said Kudlow. He said Cohn’s resignation was “not great” for trade. The news comes as Trump continues to move forward on his proposed steel and aluminum imports, pushing for a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. Cohn and Trump’s advisors did not agree on several important tariff issues. Markets immediately dropped about 1.5 percent after the announcement of Cohn’s resignation. Kudlow, who called Cohn a “powerful force” in Washington, said Trump “tends to have balance” in appointing new people. “I really would suggest to investors: Wait and see. Don’t make any hasty judgments,” he said. “Even when I worked with [former President] Reagan, we had staff changes at the highest levels, and life went on,” he said. “Just don’t panic over this.” The details of the proposed tariffs, including which countries or products would be affected, are still unclear. But last week’s news of the tariffs immediately sparked fears of potential trade wars among investors. Kudlow said blanket tariffs, or tariffs that include all countries, are the problem. A better plan, he said, was to use targeted tariffs where there are problems, such as overcapacity. “And you don’t have to look far on a map,” Kudlow said. “It’s China. To me, targeted tariffs — that might lead to negotiations. And I would have gone after China. I wouldn’t have gone after Canada. I think that is still an error. It’s going to happen, I guess.” “There are other people in the White House who share this view: that trade actions would be okay as long as they’re targeted and presumably temporary in lieu of negotiations,” he said. Nick Bit: Don’t be fooled. This is leading to a trade war with China. I will be a disaster.

Top White House adviser Gary Cohn’s resignation prompts talk of a brain drain around President Donald Trump

 While Trump has tried to dispel perceptions of disarray, multiple officials say he has been urging anxious aides to stay on the job to try to staunch the bleeding

US President Donald Trump once presided over a reality show in which a key cast member exited each week. The same thing seems to be happening in his White House. Trump’s West Wing has descended into a period of unparalleled tumult amid a wave of staff departures – and despite the president’s insistence that it’s a place of “no Chaos, only great Energy!” The latest key figure to announce an exit: Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, who had clashed with Trump over trade policy. Cohn’s departure has sparked internal fears of an even larger exodus, raising concerns in Washington of a coming “brain drain” around the president that will only make it more difficult to advance his already languishing policy agenda. While Trump has publicly tried to dispel perceptions of disarray, multiple White House officials said the president has been pushing anxious aides to stay on the job to try to staunch the bleeding.

“Everyone wants to work in the White House,” Trump insisted during a news conference on Tuesday. “They all want a piece of the Oval Office.”The reality is a far different story.

Vacancies abound in the West Wing and the broader Trump administration – with some jobs never filled by the president and others subject to repeat openings. The job of White House communications director is soon to be empty again after the departure of its fourth occupant, Hope Hicks. “They are left with vacancies atop of vacancies,” said Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks senior-level staff turnover. Her analysis shows the Trump departure rate has reached 40 per cent in just over a year. “That kind of turnover creates a lot of disruption,” she added, noting the loss of institutional knowledge and relationships with agencies and Congress. “You can’t really leave those behind to your successor.” Turnover after a year in office is nothing new, but the Trump administration has churned through staff at a dizzying pace and allies are worried the situation could descend into a free-fall. One White House official said there is concern about a potential “death spiral” in the West Wing – each departure heightening the sense of frenzy and expediting the next. Multiple aides who are considering departing, all speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said they did not have a clue whom the administration could find to fill their roles – adding that their desire to be team players has kept them on the job longer than planned. But a number warned they were nearing a breaking point. “You have situations where people are stretched to take on more than one job,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project.

Continue reading “Top White House adviser Gary Cohn’s resignation prompts talk of a brain drain around President Donald Trump”

Gary Cohn resigns as Trump’s top economic advisor

Gary Cohn plans to resign  

White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn has resigned from President Donald Trump’s administration. The former Goldman Sachs president and free trade advocate Cohn, whose departure date has yet to be announced, decided to quit after Trump announced he would impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. In a prepared statement, Cohn said, “It has been an honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform.” “I am grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the Administration great success in the future,” Cohn said. In his own statement, Trump said, “Gary has been my chief economic advisor and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again.” “He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional members in the Cabinet Room of the White House February 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional members in the Cabinet Room of the White House February 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Cohn clashed with Trump’s protectionist advisors on the issue of tariffs. At a meeting with steel and aluminum executives last Thursday where Trump announced the move, Cohn argued against it, warning about price increases for steel and aluminum products, according to a person in the room. However, White House officials told CNBC earlier Tuesda that if Cohn were to resign it would not be only due to the president’s decision on tariffs. Market watchers saw Cohn’s potential departure as a bad omen for the White House’s economic policy. He helped to shepherd massive tax cuts, the Trump administration’s only major legislative achievement, which the president signed into law in December. Cohn also faced pressure to step down following Trump’s defiant response to violence at a white nationalist rally in August. In an FT interview published that month, Cohn said he faced pressure both to leave Trump’s White House and to stay in it. He even drafted a resignation letter, according to The New York Times. The economic advisor told the FT that the White House “must do better” following Trump’s widely criticized response to violence at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The interview may not have helped his case with the president. The president’s chaotic Trump Tower press conference in which Trump appeared to equate torch-bearing white nationalists with the protesters who demonstrated against them also fueled the possibility of Cohn, who is Jewish, resigning. “Not all” the people participating in the rally were bad, the president told reporters three days after a counterprotester was killed in a car ramming, allegedly by a suspected white supremacist. “Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the K.K.K.,” Cohn told the FT. “I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.” Cohn was Goldman’s no. 2 executive when Trump named him as his top economic advisor. Trump offered the former Goldman Sachs president the key economic post on Dec. 9, despite bashing the firm during the 2016 campaign. Cohn also had been seen as a possible chairman of the Federal Reserve. Nick Bit: Told you so! the Trump White House is out of control. And this trade war will devastate the US economy and make us a fortune.

Self-driving Uber trucks are shuttling goods across Arizona

Uber’s autonomous trucks are making their first runs in Arizona. Time

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what could be a freight transportation revolution that leaves long-haul truckers in the cold. After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed. “The big step for us recently is that we can plan to haul goods in both directions, using Uber Freight to coordinate load pickups and dropoffs with local truckers,” said Alden Woodrow, who leads Uber’s self- driving truck effort. “Keeping trucking local allows these drivers to make money while staying closer to home.” Uber Freight, which launched last May, is an app that matches shippers with loads using technology drawn from Uber’s ride-hailing app. Typically such trucking logistics have been coordinated through phone calls and emails. Uber has been using its self-driving trucks to transport goods in Arizona. (Photo: Gregory Murphy) Uber isn’t alone in its pursuit of self-driving truck technology, with startups such as Embark joining companies such as Tesla and its new Tesla Semi to carve out a slice of a $700 billion industry that moves 70% of all domestic freight, according to the American Trucking Association. Despite the push, the technology behind self-driving trucks remains in its infancy, with hurdles that include government regulations and trucker buy-in. Truck owner-operators make money only when their rigs are on the road, a business model that gives them incentive to drive as long as possible. A truck that makes the long hauls between exits, allowing a driver to sleep in the cab, could increase their profit. But they’d have to trust the technology, as well as fork over what promises to be a considerable investment to make their cabs autonomous.  Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November. Video by Uber Woodrow says Uber’s trucking plans remain in development, but he does not see the company running a fleet of self-driving trucks — which would imply that its technology would be available for purchase from large established shipping companies.  “Today we’re operating our own trucks, but in the future it remains to be seen what happens,” he says. “Trucking is a very large and sophisticated business with a lot of companies in the value chain who are good at what they do. So our desire is to partner.” Uber’s current Arizona pilot program does not feature trucks making end-to-end runs from pick-up to delivery.Instead, Uber’s Volvo trucks — which have Uber truck drivers monitoring matters from the driver’s seat — focus solely on autonomous highway driving.   The way Uber’s trucking program works is that trucks driven by humans arrive at hubs set up at weigh stations near the Arizona border, where their trailers’ loads are switched over to Uber’s Volvos.   These trucks are equipped with hardware, software and an array of sensors developed by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group that help the truck make what amounts to a glorified cruise-control run across the state. Uber ATG also is behind ongoing self-driving car testing in Arizona, Pennsylvania and San Francisco. Nick Bit: Meet the future its here…….. OH NO MOTHER TRUCKER…….. Time to go back to the farm and get wigged out on Opiods like the factory workers…….

Target misses profit target for 3 years Now

Target missed fourth-quarter earnings expectations for a third consecutive year.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Target Corp said on Tuesday it expects profit margins to stabilize in the year ahead even as they are pressured by investments in store and online operations, sending its shares down more 4 percent in afternoon trading.To spur growth, Target is revamping its supply chain, strengthening online delivery services, investing in its own brands and employees, and connecting its online and store shopping experiences for customers, Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell said at an investor meeting at Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis.  Earlier in the day, the retailer reported fourth-quarter profit that missed estimates, gross margins that were at their lowest in 20 years, and gave a disappointing forecast for first-quarter comparable sales. Shares were down 4 percent at $72.10 after earlier sinking more than 5 percent.“2017 was all about putting down a plan, getting the wheels turning in the right direction,” Cornell said. “2018 is about acceleration, leveraging our greatest assets and leaning in to our competitive strength.”  The retailer plans $3 billion of capital expenditure this year to support those investments, remodel stores and strengthen online operations to stay competitive. In February last year, Target said it would reinvest more than $7 billion through 2020.The company said it would introduce free two-day shipping without a membership requirement, following larger rival Walmart Inc , which introduced the feature last year on orders of $35 or more. Target did not say if the free shipping was conditional upon a minimum order of a certain value.  Target said more than half its online order volume was shipped or picked up from stores, a key factor driving online sales growth of 29 percent during the fourth quarter. That made it a fourth straight annual jump in online sales of more than 25 percent in the year through Feb. 3.

Looking forward, the company expects only modest comparable sales growth in the low single digits for the first quarter, with analysts expecting 2.36 percent. It expects adjusted earnings of $1.25 to $1.45 per share, against analyst estimates for $1.40 per share. Profit margins were further eroded by a hike in employee wages in the fourth quarter. In October, the company said it would raise wages for hourly workers to $15 by 2020 and as part of that plan, will raise them to $12 per hour this spring.

Mexico Vows US Steel Tariff Retaliation

Image: Mexico Vows US Steel Tariff Retaliation
Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo (Getty Images)

Mexico would retaliate against President Donald Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs by imposing tariffs of its own on the most “politically sensitive” U.S. goods, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Tuesday. Speaking a day after Trump shot down Mexican and Canadian proposals that the neighboring nations be granted an exemption from the steep U.S. tariffs, Guajardo said Mexico was prepared to fight back, and hit Trump where it hurts.”We would have to target our response at the things they export that are most politically sensitive and hit exactly those goods. We have the ability to respond,” he told Mexican broadcaster Televisa.  He said the Mexican government was currently analyzing which U.S. exports it would tax. “We won’t be making that public until we see exactly what (the Americans) are going to do,” he said. A top Mexican strategist said such tariffs could target exports from states that voted for Trump in 2016, and which he would need to win to secure re-election in 2020. “The key is to get down to details on what’s going to affect Michigan, what’s going to affect Wisconsin, what is Ohio going to do, how will Iowa or Nebraska react,” said Moises Kalach, the head of the strategic council for international business at Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council. “We can say to a given governor, this company exports 90 percent of its production to Mexico, and it’s going to be affected,” he told Televisa.The escalating row comes as the United States, Mexico and Canada renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has linked their economies since 1994, and which Trump has called the worst deal his country has ever signed.  On Monday, Trump moved to hold the trade talks hostage to the tariffs, tweeting: “Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.” Hours later, his top negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, warned as the latest round of NAFTA talks wrapped up in Mexico City that they had been disappointing, yielding deals on just three new chapters out of about 30.Canada, the top source of steel to the U.S. market, has already vowed to take “appropriate, responsive measures” if the Trump administration goes ahead with the tariffs.  Germany, Britain, France and other U.S. allies have also sounded the alarm over the impact the tariffs would have on their trade relationships with the United States.

Investors staged a near-record exodus from US stocks in February

February’s brutally volatile market saw investors flee U.S. stocks in near-record numbers, and they’re only slowly coming back.
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Funds that focus on domestic equities saw investors withdraw $41.1 billion during the month, according to data from TrimTabs, which said it was the third-most in the market data firm’s records. Global funds went in the other direction, attracting $17.9 billion even though stock markets abroad fared even worse than in the U.S. Outflows were evenly distributed between exchange-traded funds (-$19.6 billion) and mutual funds (-$21.5 billion), TrimTabs reported. As a percent of total assets, the withdrawals represented 0.9 percent of total ETFs dedicated to domestic stocks and 0.3 percent of total domestic mutual funds. The flight came during a month when major averages swooned into correction territory — a 10 percent loss — amid fears that inflation was about to spike and lead to rapid policy tightening from the Fed, and as traders using ETFs to bet against volatility suffered major losses. The Dow industrials fell 4 percent during the month, which followed a January that featured the fastest start ever for the market. The outflows were concentrated in the earlier part of the month, as activity picked up in the final week, with U.S. equity ETFs taking in $6 billion.  Stock market losses probably would have been worse had corporations not stepped in to snap up their own shares. Buybacks amounted to $151.1 billion for the month, a new record, pushing the quarterly total to $212.5 billion, well on the way to another record, according to TrimTabs. Even with the downdraft in stocks, the two biggest ETF draws for investor money focused on domestic equities. The iShares Core S&P 500 and the Vanguard S&P 500 funds took in a combined $4.7 billion over the past month, according to FactSet. However, that total was more than offset by the massive $21.3 billion that left the SPDR S&P 500, the most popular ETF.


Overall, investors have pulled $59.7 billion from U.S. equity mutual funds but have added $11.2 billion to ETFs.


Mueller’s Focus on Adviser to Emirates Suggests Broader Investigation

 George Nader, an adviser to the leader of the United Arab Emirates, has been questioned in the special counsel investigation, according to people with knowledge of the discussion

WASHINGTON — George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has hovered on the fringes of international diplomacy for three decades. He was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration, reinvented himself as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and last year was a frequent visitor to President Trump’s White House. Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The investigators have also asked about Mr. Nader’s role in White House policymaking, those people said, suggesting that the special counsel investigation has broadened beyond Russian election meddling to include Emirati influence on the Trump administration. The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era. How much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia is unclear. The examination of the U.A.E. comes amid a flurry of recent activity by Mr. Mueller. Last month, investigators negotiated a plea agreement with Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, and indicted 13 Russians on charges related to a scheme to incite political discord in the United States before the 2016 election. In one example of Mr. Nader’s influential connections, which has not been previously reported, last fall he received a detailed report from a top Trump fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, about a private meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Trump says ‘no chaos’ in WH, but more staff changes could be coming

President Trump on Tuesday claimed there is “no chaos” in the White House, even as he warned of future staff changes that have fueled the notion the West Wing is spiraling out of control.

“The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong!” Trump tweeted just before 8 a.m. “People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”

The message came amid an early morning torrent of tweets from the president touching on topics ranging from oil production, immigration, North Korea, cable news and the Academy Awards. “Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore — except your President (just kidding, of course)!” the president tweeted.


Trump was responding to media that have painted a picture of an enraged president who is sowing chaos among his staff and upending the policy process at the White House.  That atmosphere helped lead to his announcement last week of steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which sent shockwaves throughout Washington and Wall Street. The president ignored the advice of many of his own aides in making the decision and did not have any paperwork to sign because the tariffs had not yet been properly vetted.

NBC News, citing an unnamed source, said Trump had become “unglued” by the time he made the announcement.

Speculation has grown that National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, a vocal opponent of the tariffs, could leave the White House if Trump follows through on his decision.  Several events had reportedly set off the president, including the departure of White House communications director Hope Hicks and a deluge of negative stories about his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Kushner had his security clearance downgraded, limiting his access to the nation’s most closely held secrets, as he faced renewed scrutiny over whether he used his position to help secure loans for his family business. Kushner’s attorneys have denied he acted inappropriately. The president is also reportedly angry over developments in the Russia investigation, which were highlighted Monday by a series of bizarre television interviews by former campaign aide Sam Nunberg. Nunberg caused a headache for Trump and sent tremors across D.C. by claiming the president knew about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr. and publicly threatening to tear up a subpoena request from special counsel Robert Mueller, which he later recanted. Nick Bit: Bullshit!! the White House is in total disarray. And yes Trump is coming unhinged. Stay tuned the rats are jumping shit.


Goldman slams Trump’s tariff plan: It would make the U.S. ‘less competitive’

Steel and aluminum tariffs would leave U.S. economy ‘at a disadvantage,’ Goldman says

Bloomberg Technicians prepare for steel machining on a steam turbine rotor at the Mitsubishi-Hitachi Power Systems America plant in Pooler, Ga.

President Donald Trump’s plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has drawn flak from around the world, with even senior members of his own party rebuking the scheme. Now Goldman Sachs is joining the choir of critics, offering a detailed analysis of why the charges could hit the U.S. economy and hurt some of the country’s biggest allies. “Import tariffs make the U.S. less competitive by raising the prices of raw materials. While upstream producers gain, they are small relative to the downstream industries,” analysts led by the bank’s global head of commodities, Jeff Currie, wrote in the report dated March 5. “A tariff intended to support U.S. industry may end up boosting margins and investment for a small subset of producers while leaving the broader economy at a disadvantage via higher costs,” they added.

Only 140,000 workers are employed in steel production, whereas 6.5 million people work at manufacturers that use the metal.


The Wall Street analysts explained that the tariffs were indeed likely to benefit U.S. steel and aluminum producers but warned that the advantage would be offset by the impact on industries that use those metals, such as car makers, packaging companies and construction businesses. For example, only 140,000 workers are employed in steel production, whereas 6.5 million people work at manufacturers that use the metal, according to Moody’s Investors Service. “Industries that are net consumers of steel and aluminum in the U.S. now face cost disadvantages relative to their international competitors, especially at a time when the labor market is tight and wage inflation is picking up,” the Goldman analysts said.

Goldman estimates that General Motors Co. GM, +0.13% and Ford Motor Co. F, +0.09% each face a $1 billion profit hit if the tariff notion becomes reality because the cost of the steel they need for car production would surge. Trump has made it his mission to end what he sees as unfair trade, arguing that the U.S.’s trade deficit is slowing economic growth and that shrinking it will create jobs. China, in particularly, has been a sore spot for Trump, not helped by data showing the trade deficit with the world’s second largest economy jumped to a record level in 2017. Nick Bit: Trump does not care. He needs the trade smoke because the prosecutor is getting closer and closer to him and his family.

North Korea reportedly willing to hold nuclear talk with US

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has expressed a willingness to discuss nuclear disarmament with the United States and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests during such talks, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday after returning from the North. Kim also agreed to meet with South Korea’s president at a tense border village in late April, presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong said after talks with Kim in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. North Korea’s reported willingness to hold a “candid dialogue” with the United States to discuss denuclearization and establish diplomatic relations follows a year of increased fears of war on the Korean Peninsula, with Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanging fiery rhetoric and crude insults over Kim’s barrage of weapons tests. The Trump administration also pushed through some of the harshest sanctions the already hugely sanctioned North has yet faced. Trump tweeted Tuesday that “possible progress” was being made in the talks with North Korea, and that all sides were making serious efforts. He added: “May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!” There is still skepticism whether the developments will help establish genuine peace between the Koreas, which have a long history of failing to follow through with major rapprochement agreements. The United States has made it clear that it doesn’t want empty talks with North Korea and that all options, including military measures, remain on the table. North Korea told the South Korean envoys that it would not need to keep its nuclear weapons if military threats against it are removed and it receives a credible security guarantee, Chung said. He said the North promised not to use its nuclear and conventional weapons against South Korea Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at South Korea’s Sejong Institute said the agreements “potentially pave the way for meaningful dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang” and could offer an opportunity to stably manage the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs. “Getting North Korea to agree to halt additional nuclear weapons and missile tests while the dialogue goes on is the biggest achievement of the visit to Pyongyang by the South Korean presidential envoys,” he said.  Nick Bit: Don’t be fooled, this is just N.Korea stalling for time.

Trump, Ryan face off in rare public GOP clash over tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a remarkably public confrontation, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican allies of President Donald Trump pleaded with him Monday to back away from his threatened international tariffs, which they fear could spark a dangerous trade war. Trump retorted: “We’re not backing down.” The president said U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico would not be spared from his plans for special import taxes on steel and aluminum, but he held out the possibility of later exempting the longstanding friends if they agree to better terms for the U.S. in talks aimed at revising the North American Free Trade Agreement. “We’ve had a very bad deal with Mexico; we’ve had a very bad deal with Canada. It’s called NAFTA,” he declared. Trump spoke shortly after a spokeswoman for Ryan, a Trump ally, said the GOP leader was “extremely worried” that the proposed tariffs would set off a trade war and urged the White House “to not advance with this plan.” Likewise, Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee circulated a letter opposing Trump’s plan, and GOP congressional leaders suggested they may attempt to prevent the tariffs if the president moves forward.

President Donald Trump says “we’re not backing down” on his push to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum despite criticism from fellow Republicans.

Trump’s pledge to implement tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports has roiled financial markets, angered foreign allies and created unusual alliances for a president who blasted unfavorable trade deals during his 2016 campaign. Union leaders and Democratic lawmakers from Rust Belt states have praised the planned tariffs, joining with advocates within the administration including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. But the president has been opposed internally by Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who warned against penalizing U.S. allies and undercutting the economic benefits of the president’s sweeping tax overhaul. Likewise, the statement from Ryan’s office said, “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy, and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.” Asked about that public rebuke, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Look, we have a great relationship with Speaker Ryan. We’re going to continue to have one, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.” Canada is the United States’ No. 1 foreign supplier of both steel and aluminum. Mexico is the No. 4 supplier of steel and No. 7 for aluminum.


Ex-Trump campaign adviser says he will refuse to comply with Mueller subpoena

Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg said Monday that he won’t comply with a subpoena to appear before the grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. When I got the subpoena it was ridiculous to me. Why should I hand them over every email I’ve had with Steve Bannon or Roger Stone since November. Since November of 2015?” Nunberg said during an interview on MSNBC. Nunberg told The Washington Post that he was summoned to appear before the grand jury on Friday and also received a two-page subpoena for documents tied to President Trump and nine others. “Let him arrest me,” Nunberg told the Post. “Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday.” He also said he was planning on appearing on Bloomberg TV to tear up the subpoena. “I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC. “I think it would be really really funny if they wanted to arrest me because I don’t want to spend 80 hours going over emails with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.” MSNBC’s Katy Tur pressed Nunberg on if anyone from the Trump administration reached out to him and told him not to appear before the grand jury. Nunberg said he made the decision on his own.  Nunberg was an early member of the Trump campaign team, but was fired in 2015 after racist social media posts emerged. Trump later sued him for allegedly violating a confidentiality agreement.

Nunberg said he’s “not a fan” of Trump, adding that the president treated treated him “very badly” during the campaign.

“But here, when I get a subpoena like this, [Trump] is right. It’s a witch hunt,” he said.  Nunberg has previously admitted to making up a story about his time on the Trump campaign. He admitted in November that he fabricated a story about then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) picking up McDonald’s for then-candidate Trump in order to embarrass Christie. The false anecdote was reported in The New Yorker and quickly spread. Christie’s office had denied the episode.

Asked on MSNBC whether he believes Mueller’s team has any information to indicate Trump did something illegal, Nunberg said, “I think they may.”

He said he believes that because of “the way that they asked questions about anything I heard after I was fired from the campaign.” “It insinuated to me that he may have done something,” Nunberg said.

United’s reported plan to replace bonuses with lottery enrages employees

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
United has enraged its employees.

Be extra nice to that United Airlines employee the next time you plan to “Fly the Friendly Skies.” There’s a good chance they’re smiling on the outside, and fuming on the inside after a memo leaked late last week from the airline’s president, Scott Kirby, said the company will be canceling its quarterly bonus program, and replacing it with a drawing for prizes. In the memo, obtained by the Chicago Business Journal, Kirby said the airline’s employees would now be able to enter a so-called “core4 Score Rewards” prize drawing for cash prizes — between $2,000 and $40,000, vacations and luxury cars. Once a quarter, one employee will be awarded $100,000. According to media reports, United UAL, +0.43%   employees who are currently eligible for a bonus can count on about $1,200 extra a year. Employees have apparently taken a dim view of the change, and fury at the company has been simmering awhile, if a petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures, is anything to go by. Of the 500 comments posted on the United Airlines internal communications website for employees — Flying Together — it appears almost all were negative. That was according to an article in Inc. magazine, which said “a number” of employees had directly reached out to the magazine to complain about the bonus switch. Among probably the most jarring details of that lottery, perfect attendance is required from employees to even enter the quarterly drawing. Employees have been reading that as no sick days.

Trump REFUSES to back down over trade war threats despite May voicing ‘grave concern’ and pleading with him to think again

The US president reiterated his determination to act overnight saying America had been 'taken advantage of' for 'many years' and it had to stop

Donald Trump has refused to back down on threats of a trade war despite Theresa May pleading with him to think again. The US president reiterated his determination to act saying America had been ‘taken advantage of’ for ‘many years’ and it had to stop.  The tough line came after the Prime Minister telephoned Mr Trump last night to voice ‘deep concern’ about the escalating rhetoric. Downing Street today insisted it remained confident of striking a post-Brexit trade deal despite the row.  The tit-for-tat began last week when Mr Trump called for 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium to protect domestic producers.  The EU then hit back by suggesting it would hike duty on Harley-Davidson motorbikes, bourbon and American blue jeans. That in turn prompted Mr President to up the ante by threatening to pump up taxes on car imports from Europe.    The row has raised fresh fears about a major international meltdown over trade, as Mr Trump follows through on his pledge to stop America being exploited by other countries. In a phone call with the US leader last night, Mrs May urged him to cool the row and back down on the steel tariffs. ‘The Prime Minister raised our deep concern at the President’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests,’ a No10 spokeswoman said. But soon afterwards Mr Trump tweeted: ‘We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the US for many years.  ‘Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’

IEA sees U.S. oil output surge stealing OPEC share in next five years

HOUSTON/LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. shale oil output is set to surge over the next five years, stealing market share from OPEC producers and moving the United States, once the world’s top oil importer, closer to self sufficiency, the International Energy Agency said on Monday.A landmark deal in 2017 between OPEC and rivals including Russia to curb output to reduce global oversupply improved the outlook for other producers as prices rose sharply throughout the year, the IEA said in Oil 2018, an annual report looking at the next five years. With U.S. supply surging, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will see demand for its crude fall below current production in 2019 and 2020, the report forecast, suggesting a return to oversupply if OPEC output keeps steady.  U.S. oil output hit a record late last year, and is expected to rise by 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to 12.1 million bpd by 2023, as growth from shale fields more than offsets declines in conventional supply. Last year, the IEA forecast U.S. shale production to grow by 1.4 million bpd by 2022 with oil prices of up to $60 a barrel and by up to 3 million barrels with oil at $80 a barrel. Natural gas liquids will add another 1 million bpd to U.S. supply to reach 4.7 million bpd by 2023. “The United States is set to put its stamp on global oil markets for the next five years,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, in a statement.

Birol, speaking at a media briefing at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, said U.S. output forecasts could be revised upward if oil remains above $60 a barrel.

He said he expects shale output to keep rising, regardless of OPEC policies, and said OPEC and other established oil producers need to reconsider their future growth plans in light of“huge growth” from U.S. shale. He also said he expects U.S. export capacity to double over the next five years. With total U.S. liquids production set to reach nearly 17 million bpd in 2023, up from 13.2 million in 2017, the United States will be by far the world’s top oil liquids producer.

Italy election brings back ‘existential threat to eurozone’ — analysts react to Sunday’s vote

 Brace for “tortuous negotiations”, analyst warns
Reuters Northern League party leader Matteo Salvini could lead a potential center-right coalition

Italy’s general election over the weekend showed a surprisingly strong result for the populist, euroskeptic parties, sparking fears the eurozone’s third-largest economy will be stuck with months of political instability. Preliminary results from Sunday’s vote indicated around half of the voters cast their ballot in favor of anti-establishment parties 5 Star Movement and Lega Nord, or Northern League while the mainstream parties suffered a drop in support. The vote points to a hung parliament and political gridlock that could leave Italy in a limbo for months as the parties wrangle over possible coalitions. The inconclusive result sent Italian stocks sharply lower on Monday, with the FTSE MIB Index down 1.3%. Italian 10-year yields TMBMKIT-10Y, +2.19% rose 7 basis points to 2.097%, in a sign investors are dumping the country’s assets. The euro EURUSD, +0.2273%  initially headed lower, but trimmed losses during the European morning session. Analysts braced for tough negotiations ahead and warned the messy result could soon lead to new elections. Here’s a round up of the initial comments: After 2017 ultimately proved benign for eurozone political risk, the unexpected strong performance of the 5 Star Movement (M5S) brings these threats very much back to the forefront. Though M5S officials have toned down anti-euro rhetoric in recent months, the euroscepticism within the bloc could ultimately re-introduce the existential threat to eurozone stability long thought diminished. Forming a government has many challenges, but this result could dent the strong consensus support the euro currently enjoys. Italian bond spreads also have scope to widen modestly from current levels.” “The big take away from these elections has been the extent to which the Italians have fallen out of love with the EU, voting in favour of far right and anti-establishment parties. Sweeping gains by anti-establishment, euroskeptic parties, such as the 5 Star Movement and the Lega Nord highlight the discontent felt by Italians over high levels of immigration and unemployment in Europe’s third-largest economy.

State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter Russian meddling. Credit Pool photo by Lintao Zhang

WASHINGTON — As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy.

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.

The delay is just one symptom of the largely passive response to the Russian interference by President Trump, who has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow and defend democratic institutions. More broadly, the funding lag reflects a deep lack of confidence by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in his department’s ability to execute its historically wide-ranging mission and spend its money wisely. Mr. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter the Russian threat. “If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” Mr. Tillerson said in an interview last month with Fox News. “And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”

Continue reading “State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.”

‘President for Life’? Trump’s Remarks About Xi Find Fans in China

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Saturday,

BEIJING — The comment was made behind closed doors, and appeared to be in jest: President Trump told donors on Saturday that China’s president, Xi Jinping, was now “president for life,” and added: “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll want to give that a shot someday.”The remarks, confirmed by a leading Republican lobbyist who attended the luncheon at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, were first aired by CNN, which obtained an audio recording of his comments. The statement, which drew laughter from those in attendance and was said by a smiling president, according to the lobbyist, was given on a day when Mr. Trump was out for laughs. On Saturday evening, at the annual Gridiron dinner in Washington, Mr. Trump jokingly said of possible talks with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un: “As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine.” Nonetheless, the remarks appeared to be the first comments made by Mr. Trump about China’s decision to scuttle the two terms for its presidency — part of a remarkable consolidation of power around Mr. Xi — and Chinese analysts took it seriously, even if it was done tongue-in-cheek. That Mr. Trump left the impression of a positive endorsement from Mr. Trump was “unexpected” and “matters for China,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of international relations at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

The Trump comments would be especially welcome because Mr. Xi’s step toward dictatorship was a sensitive issue inside China, and one about which public discussion has been barred.

Mr. Trump, an admirer of strongman leadership, has prided himself on his good personal relationship with Mr. Xi, even as Washington differs with Beijing on major issues from trade to North Korea. Mr. Xi accorded Mr. Trump a lavish state visit to Beijing last November that the president has enthused about ever since.

Syrian troops advance with ‘scorched-earth policy’ in Eastern Ghouta

Syrian troops and allied militias have captured a number of villages and towns in a rebel-held region near the capital, in the largest advance since a wide-scale offensive began last month, state media and activists reported Sunday.

Stringer, AFP | Smoke rises from the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of the Syrian capital following fresh air strikes and rocket fire on February 27, 2018.

Syria’s Central Military Media said government forces captured at least six villages and towns along the edge of eastern Ghouta in the advance that began late Saturday. A reporter from the state-run Al-Ikhbariyah TV, who accompanied the troops, broadcast from Nashabiyah, a village on the southeastern edge of eastern Ghouta. The reporter said the Syrian troops had crossed a “moat” and seized around 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles). The advance was backed by intense shelling and airstrikes. Rebel factions said they launched a counteroffensive Sunday, sending fighters behind government lines in a series of attacks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels regained control of at least one town, while fighting continues. The Observatory and the Syrian Civil Defense said civilians fleeing the advancing troops were taking cover in underground shelters.  “It is a scorched-earth policy,” said Ghouta-based activist Nour Adam. “People are moving out because of the relentless bombing.” Eastern Ghouta, home to some 400,000 people, has been under a crippling siege and daily bombardment for months. More than 600 civilians have been killed in the last two weeks alone. Meanwhile, no civilians have exited through a humanitarian corridor set up by Russia and the Syrian government nearly a week ago. Russia has accused the rebels of preventing civilians from leaving, allegations denied by the insurgents. The rebels say the humanitarian corridor is part of government efforts to forcibly displace the population, and have called on government forces to implement a full cease-fire adopted by the U.N. Security Council.

Global oil players flock to Houston as OPEC, U.S shale tensions ease

HOUSTON (Reuters) – The oil industry’s biggest names gather this week at CERAWeek, the largest energy industry get-together in the Americas, at a time when U.S. shale production is booming, global demand is rising and crude prices are at a sweet spot for both big U.S. producers and OPEC. Last year’s decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to restrain output has drained the global glut that occupied much of the conversation at 2017’s gathering. With oil prices LCOc1 up about 15 percent since oil ministers and top executives convened here last year, fears have receded for a slugfest of OPEC vs. U.S. shale. Rising prices have U.S. shale producers pumping more, sending total U.S. output to an all-time record above 10 million barrels per day. This year, the United States could surpass Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.OPEC, meanwhile, has shown no signs of moving to produce more, with output from members at a 10-month low. The cartel’s leaders have even expressed interest in keeping some production curbs in place through 2019.  Oil ministers and their advisers will use the conference to put shale under a microscope, said Dan Yergin, vice chairman of conference organizer IHS Markit and a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian.

“OPEC is still really struggling to understand:‘What is this new oil business called shale?’” said Yergin.“This conference is a field trip for OPEC to a different reality in oil.”

They have scheduled dinners with shale executives and financiers for the second time in two years, underscoring the maturation of a relationship between big petrostates and a once-upstart industry that weathered OPEC’s best efforts to bury it under a supply glut from 2014 to 2016. Shale has emerged stronger from that period with the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield, now producing nearly 3 million barrels of oil per day, triple that of 2009. Presentations will look at shale’s rising role in global markets and the potential for future North American production and export growth. “The Permian is just now coming into its own,” said Randy Foutch, chief executive officer of shale producer Laredo Petroleum Inc (LPI.N), which plans to boost output 10 percent this year.“We no longer have to find oil and gas. We’ve found it, and will pump it.”

OPEC says it wants to encourage moderation by shale companies as well as its own members. Shale firms often use hedges, or financial contracts that lock in a price for future production, to guarantee profits. These contracts protect them should prices slip.

Roger Stone: Mueller Can Only Dig for ‘Process Crime’ on Trump

Image: Roger Stone: Mueller Can Only Dig for 'Process Crime' on Trump

Roger Stone, former confidant to President Trump walks out of the House Intelligence Committee closed door hearing, September 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. FBI special counsel Robert Mueller will attempt to snare President Donald Trump on “some kind of process crime: perjury or obstruction of justice,” former adviser and longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone said Sunday, according to The Hill.

“You cannot underestimate the deep animus of the two-party establishment to Donald Trump, and their resolve to remove him no matter what,” Stone told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable”

Stone said reiterated that there has been a lack of evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mueller’s probe might attempt to snag Trump on “something relating to either the firing of Gen. [Michael] Flynn or the firing of FBI Director [James] Comey./” President Trump reportedly removed Flynn as national security adviser soon after taking office because he lied to the FBI, a charge Flynn pleaded guilty to. Flynn is now cooperating with the Mueller’s investigation. President Trump also fired Comey as FBI director a few months later in 2017, a move that led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel. Comey had been the head of the FBI and leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential Trump campaign collusion.Comey then testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Trump had asked for Comey’s “loyalty” and told the FBI director in another private meeting: “I hope you can let this go.” Stone reiterated a claim Sunday he had made to the House Intelligence Committee that he had not communicated directly with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had released hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.  “I have never spoken to Assange,” Stone told Catsimatidis on Sunday, per The Hill. “I never met with him. I did not speak to him in 2016. I had a limited exchange with the flak for Wikileaks.”

WashPost: Trump Says He Won’t Be Caught Up in Russia Probe

Image: WashPost: Trump Says He Won't Be Caught Up in Russia Probe
President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) By Todd Beamon

President Donald Trump has told aides that he will not be caught up in the investigation into Russia meddling headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, The Washington Post reported Saturday.The Post cited “two advisers” in its dispatch.  However, Trump “thinks the American people are finally starting to conclude that the Democrats, as opposed to his campaign, colluded with the Russians,” according to the report.

Because the Mueller probe has involved a number of his closest aides, the negative reports have caused the president “to lose his cool — especially in the evenings and early mornings, when he often is most isolated,” the advisers told the newspaper.

“Trump seethed with anger,” on Wednesday, they said, after news reports disclosed Attorney General Jeff Sessions dining with deputy Rod Rosenstein and Solicitor General Noel Francisco. See Photos above

Axios, which published the photograph, described the outing as “a show of solidarity” after President Trump slammed Sessions on Twitter for assigning a probe of alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department to the IG and not criminal prosecutors.But in a rare display of defiance, Sessions, a former five-term Republican Alabama senator who was the first in Congress to endorse Trump, said in a statement:

 “As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and the Constitution.”
Nick Bit: Well in a way the President is right. He WILL not be caught up in the probe. Because their ALREADY is enough evidence to indict him. 

NYT: Mueller’s Team Probing UAE Efforts to Buy Influence Through Trump Campaign

Image: NYT: Mueller's Team Probing UAE Efforts to Buy Influence Through Trump Campaign
Robert Mueller (AP) By Todd Beamon

Russia special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a Lebanese-American businessman on whether the United Arab Emirates sought to buy political influence in Washington by directing money toward Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The New York Times reported Saturday.The Times cited “people with knowledge of the discussions,” who identified the executive as George Nader, 58, and whom the report described as “an adviser to the de facto ruler” of the UAE.  Nader, who served as a negotiator on Syria in the Clinton administration, was “a frequent visitor” to the Trump White House last year. He has been interviewed at least twice by Mueller’s team, Axios disclosed in January. The investigators are probing Nader’s role in White House policymaking, according to the Times. However, “how much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia is unclear,” the report said. One possible focus of Mueller’s team is a report Nader received last year from a key Trump fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, about a private meeting with the president in the Oval Office.Broidy, 60, owns a private security company, Circinus, with “hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts” with the UAE, the Times reported.  He “extolled” to President Trump about a paramilitary security force that his company was developing for the country in the meeting. In addition, Broidy lobbied the president to meet privately “in an informal setting” with the UAE’s military commander and “de facto ruler,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, according to the report. He, among other issues, also encouraged Trump to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. A copy of Broidy’s document was provided to the Times “by someone critical of the Emirati influence in Washington” — and his spokesman said it had been stolen through sophisticated hacking.President Trump and Tillerson have been at odds over his backing of a UAE-Saudi blockage of Qatar, where a major U.S. military base is housed, the Times disclosed. The president’s support also defies longstanding American foreign policy. In the White House meetings last year, Nader met with then-chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner. They discussed U.S. policy in the Gulf region ahead of the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia last May, “people familiar with the meetings” told the Times.

As Italy votes, Europe fears populist, euroskeptic gains

ROME (AP) — Italians voted Sunday in one of the most uncertain elections in years and one that could determine if Italy will succumb to the populist, euroskeptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe. The campaign was marked by the prime-time airing of neofascist rhetoric and anti-migrant violence that culminated in a shooting spree last month against six Africans. While the center-right coalition that capitalized on the anti-migrant sentiment led the polls, analysts predict the likeliest outcome is a hung parliament. That will necessitate days and weeks of back-room haggling and horse trading to come up with a coalition government that can win confidence votes in Parliament. Just which parties coalesce from among the three main blocs – the center-right coalition, center-left coalition and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement – will determine Italy’s course. “Basically it is very likely that, at the end of the day, none of these three groups will have an absolute majority and they will be forced to start talking to each other and see how to put together a coalition government,” said Franco Pavoncello, dean of the John Cabot University in Rome.  With unemployment at 10.8 percent and economic growth in the eurozone’s third-largest economy lagging the average, many Italians have all but given up hope for change. Polls indicated a third hadn’t decided or weren’t even sure they would vote.  While European capitals and Brussels were watching the outcome for its effects on policy and markets, some in Italy had more at stake personally. Even the three-time premier Berlusconi vowed in the heat of the campaign to repatriate 600,000 migrants if the center-right wins. “Yes indeed I fear these results because I have arrived here with all my thoughts and dreams,” said Musab Badur, an asylum seeker from Sudan who is living in a Milan shelter. “And I never thought that one day maybe I would have to go back or anything like that.” Nick Bit: the Italians will tnrow the Africans out and end up leaving the EU. This is the first step. The elitist Europeans do not understand the common mans frustration and anger at their clueless immigration policies.

Eric Holder predicts Robert Mueller charges Trump with obstruction of justice

President Trump will face an obstruction of justice charge from special counsel Robert Mueller, former Attorney General Eric Holder predicted.

“You technically have an obstruction of justice case that already exists,” Holder, who served under then-President Obama, said on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” “I’ve known Bob Mueller for 20, 30 years; my guess is he’s just trying to make the case as good as he possibly can. So, I think that we have to be patient in that regard.”

Trump’s critics have speculated about an obstruction charge ever since he fired FBI Director James Comey in the midst of an investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The president said he was frustrated that Russia-related allegations had become “an excuse for having lost an election,” and he was also apparently annoyed that Comey refused to say publicly that Trump himself was not under investigation, although Comey had made such comments in private.

“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” Trump told the New York Times in December 2017.

It’s not the first time that Holder has suggested that an obstruction case could be made, though has stopped short previously of predicting Mueller would bring the charge. But Trump’s defenders maintain that he has the authority to dismiss the FBI director at any time. Trump’s angry at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation due to his own role on the Trump campaign. That decision paved the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller as special counsel after the Comey firing.“I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump said in the New York Times interview. “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”  Holder rejected the compliment. “The difference between me and Jeff Sessions is that I had a president I didn’t have to protect,” he told Maher. He also suggested that Sessions should resign rather than endure Trump’s public criticism. “At some point, though, you would hope that you would have the intestinal fortitude or the pride to simply say, you know, ‘I wanted this job all my life, but it’s not worth it, and I’m not going to take that kind of abuse, and I’m simply going to tell you, you know, go screw yourself, and I’m out,’” Holder said. Maher replied that Sessions is “doing a service to the country” by remaining in office. “If he left, then Trump could appoint someone who would fire Mueller,” he said.

Narco-Terror: More Cartel Bombs Discovered on Another Tourist Ferry in Mexico

The recent discovery of two bombs found attached to another tourist ferry on the island of Cozumel has sparked more fears of narco-terrorism in Mexico. The bomb discoveries come on the heels of a confirmed explosion caused by a bomb that ripped through a tourist passenger ferry last week in Playa del Carmen. A Mexican cartel claimed credit for the initial act of narco-terrorism. The passenger ferry which suffered a detonated bomb blast was from the popular tourism provider, Barcos Caribe, which has been running a Playa del Carmen-Cozumel route since 2015. Breitbart Texas wrote about the previous bombing of the tourist ferry. Confirmation that the blast that struck the Barcos Caribe Ferry last week was caused by an explosive device came from the U.S. Embassy Security Alert which was released on March 1, 2018 and was posted on the embassy’s website. It warned American citizens to exercise caution and said Mexican and United States authorities were continuing to investigate the blast. The Barcos Caribe Ferry blast left 25 injured, including seven Americans—none with life-threatening injuries, as reported by local media. Breitbart Texas also reported that the Cártel de “El Pumba” y “Tata,” a criminal group believed to be aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, had claimed responsibility on a narco-banner which was left on a church property. The narco-banner also threatened the current sitting mayor of Playa del Carmen. According to the security alert issued by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, it reported that on March 1, 2018 that unexploded ordnance was found by Mexican authorities on a tourist ferry that operates between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It further confirms that on February 21, 2018 an explosive device detonated on a tourist ferry in Playa del Carmen resulting in injuries, including injuries to US citizens. Employees of the Government of the United States are prohibited from using all the tourist ferries on this route until further notice. The authorities of Mexico and the United States continue to investigate, the statement said. According to local news reports, the two explosive devices found on the ferry at approximately 5:30 pm on the island of Cozumel were discovered by company personnel who were performing maintenance on the “Caribe II” which is also owned by Barcos Caribes. Nick Bit: you would have to be out of your freeging mind to go to Mexico. Its is a Narco state. Run, ruled and Owned by the DRUG GUYS. Life is wroth nothing their. Why do you think ALL who are capable are leaving leave! It is amazing to me that people would go to a place people are dieing to leave. Literally!


Larry Kudlow: Trump’s tariffs a ‘bad omen’ and could cause ‘major calamity’

 President Donald Trump’s tariffs will damage the economy  and if NAFTA talks break down it could be even worse
Larry Kudlow: Why I told Trump not to do tariffs
Larry Kudlow: Why I told Trump not to do tariffs
  The president announced the U.S. will impose a 25 percent tariff for steel and a 10 percent tariff for aluminum as early as next week.
“it’s a bad omen,” Kudlow said  He’s never been good on trade,” he added.

One big issue is the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which Trump has repeatedly threatened to leave. Both Canada and Mexico make steel, Kudlow pointed out. While the tariffs may annoy them, it could be a different story if NATFA negotiations fall apart, he said. “We’re already hanging by a toenail on NAFTA. If we have to walk out of NAFTA or those negotiations totally break down, then this steel thing turns from a minor irritant to a major calamity for our economy and our stock market. Make no doubt about that,” he warned. Kudlow said he has expressed his anti-tariff views with Trump but this time the protectionists in the administration won. Proponents of the tariffs argue they will help create jobs and boost the economy. Century Aluminum CEO Michael Bless told CNBC earlier Thursday that his company plans to hire 300 people and invest $100 million in its plant in Kentucky, thanks to the new tariffs. However, while there are about 200,000 workers in the U.S. steel, aluminum and iron industries, there are 5.5 million people employed by businesses that use steel, Kudlow said. There are also 154 million Americans who work, and they are going to be affected by price increases on products, thanks to steel price hikes, he said. “In theory, if you raise the tariff by 25 percent, the price can go up by 25 percent,” he said. nick Bit: Trump has done a lot of stupid thing.. But this trade war he is starting takes the cake.

Trump’s tariff talk provokes rarely seen urgency among GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress have learned to ignore President Donald Trump’s policy whims, knowing whatever he says one day on guns, immigration or other complicated issues could very well change by the next. But Trump’s decision to seek steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has provoked rarely seen urgency among Republicans, now scrambling to convince the president that he would spark a trade war that could stall the economy’s recent gains if he doesn’t reverse course. The issue pits Trump’s populist promises to his voters against the party’s free trade orthodoxy and the interests of business leaders. Unlike recent immigration and gun policy changes that require legislation, Trump can alter trade policy by executive action. That intensifies the pressure on Republican lawmakers to change his mind before he gives his final approval for the penalties as early as this coming week.Trump on Saturday showed no sign of backing away, threatening on Twitter to impose a tax on cars made in Europe if the European Union responds to the tariffs by taxing American goods. He also railed about “very stupid” trade deals by earlier administrations and said other countries “laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!”

A trade adviser in the George W. Bush administration who now teaches at Northwestern University says the tariffs President Trump wants to impose would give countries a free pass to apply protection whenever they want. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called Trump after the president’s surprise announcement, and continues to hope the White House will reconsider the decision. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and others have offered the president their own private counsel. Some are appealing to his desire for a robust stock market and warning that the trade penalties could unravel some of the gains they attribute to the tax bill he signed last year.

On trade tariffs, Republicans say the stakes are too high for them to sit back and wait for Trump to change his mind. Indeed, their relentless public condemnation of the tariffs was notably sharper than their typical handling of the president’s policy whims.

Not wise, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. A “big mistake,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn. “Kooky,” said Sasse. Trump, after the White House’s own internal deliberations, proposed a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. That quickly sparked global warnings of retaliation and left the financial markets reeling.

SEC Dropped Inquiry a Month After Firm Aided Kushner Company

Image: SEC Dropped Inquiry a Month After Firm Aided Kushner Company
Jared Kushner (AP)

The Securities and Exchange Commission late last year dropped its inquiry into a financial company that a month earlier had given White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm a $180 million loan. While there’s no evidence that Kushner or any other Trump administration official had a role in the agency’s decision to drop the inquiry into Apollo Global Management, the timing has once again raised potential conflict-of-interest questions about Kushner’s family business and his role as an adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. The SEC detail comes a day after The New York Times reported that Apollo’s loan to the Kushner Cos. followed several meetings at the White House with Kushner.”I suppose the best case for Kushner is that this looks absolutely terrible,” said Rob Weissman, president of Public Citizen.  Apollo said in its 2018 annual report that the SEC had halted its inquiry into how the firm reported the financial results of its private equity funds and other costs and personnel changes. Apollo had previously reported that the Obama administration SEC had subpoenaed it for information related to the issue. Apollo said the company founder who met with Jared Kushner did not discuss with him “a loan, investment, or any other business arrangement or regulatory matter involving Apollo.” It added that the Kushner loan to refinance a Chicago skyscraper went through the “standard approval process” and that the founder was not involved in the decision. ” According to the Times report, Kushner also met with the CEO of Citigroup at the White House early last year. Property records show that Citigroup lent $325 million in March to Kushner Cos. and two partners for a collection of buildings in Brooklyn. Both lenders had important business before the federal government last year, according to lobbying records and regulatory filings. Both Apollo and Citigroup were pushing for tax breaks in the recently passed overhaul, and Citigroup was lobbying for a rollback of some financial crisis regulation. The Kushner family’s biggest holding, a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, is 30 percent unoccupied and has a $1.2 billion mortgage due early next year. That has fueled speculation that the company needs money, and fast.”I’d never seen anybody come in with a business loan exposure, debt exposure like Trump and Kushner,” said Virginia Canter, a former ethics official in the Obama and Clinton White Houses who is now with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Nick Bit: Kushner is a slimy sleaze ball. The really good part is his days in Washington are numbered. AND the 666 Devil building will bankrupt him in the coming real estate crash…..

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Companies projected to use tax cut windfall for record share buybacks, JP Morgan says

Here that sucking sound? Its your money going to Fat Cats by way of the tripling of the deficit. Because corporations are paying less taxes and NOT investing in the economy!


Companies will buy back a record amount of their own shares in 2018, with nearly half the purchases funded with the windfall from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to a J.P. Morgan analysis. Investors should keep an eye on who is doling out the biggest level of buybacks, particularly if the stock market continues to experience turbulence. J.P. Morgan strategists estimate that firms in total will authorize at least $800 billion in buybacks, a whopping 51 percent increase from 2017. Analysts across Wall Street are widely expecting a jump in share repurchases, but J.P. Morgan’s forecast is the most aggressive. Pushing the big increase will be a windfall from the new tax law enactedin December. The legislation cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and levied a one-time tax on profits stored overseas that is expected to lead to a high level of repatriation for the $2.5 trillion in offshore cash. Breaking it down, J.P. Morgan expects companies to dedicate $100 billion generated through tax cuts and resulting stronger earnings plus $200 billion from the repatriation windfall. During the nearly completed fourth-quarter earnings season, companies already have announced a record $151 billion in buybacks. The J.P. Morgan analysis also points out that most of the buybacks will be funded by cash, with companies not using cheap debt as they have during previous rounds. “While it would be more attractive to reinvest internally generated cash-flow into organic growth opportunities via capex and R&D, companies find it difficult to consistently reinvest retained earnings at attractive returns,” the note said. Nick Bit: So much for new factories and high paying jobs and BIG fat pay raises and Bonuses. As i warned buybacks are us. Which do not do squat for the economy…. It just makes the fat cats fatter…. We have been suckered again!!!!

U.S.-based junk bond funds post seventh straight week of outflows

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S.-based junk bond funds posted $703 million of outflows for the week ended Wednesday, their seventh straight week of cash withdrawals, Lipper data showed on Thursday. But higher up in the credit-quality spectrum, U.S.-based investment-grade corporate bond funds attracted $1.37 billion in new cash, a second consecutive week of inflows, Lipper added.U.S.-based equity funds attracted $13.3 billion of net cash for the week ended Wednesday, though the majority of those flows went into U.S.-based exchange-traded funds, Lipper said. U.S.-based equity ETFs attracted $13.6 billion of inflows, while U.S.-based mutual funds posted $295 million of outflows, Lipper said. Overall, U.S.-based domestic funds attracted $9.4 billion of inflows, after three straight weeks of cash withdrawals.  “Investors appeared to be cautiously optimistic ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s testimony to Congress but then became spooked by his, what some people are calling,‘hawkish’ tone,” said Tom Roseen, head of research services at Thomson Reuters Lipper. Jerome Powell gave his first testimony as the Fed chair before Congress on Tuesday. “But from the flows into equity ETFs, we can see that many investors are cheering the idea of a stronger economy and perhaps rotating into those securities that benefit when rates increase – banks and the like – and increasing economic conditions,” Roseen said. Roseen said while domestic ETFs took in money, conventional domestic funds were net redeemers. The average retail investor continued to shun large-cap stocks, while padding the coffers of international equity funds.Indeed, U.S.-based international equities funds attracted $4.2 billion of inflows for the week ended Wednesday, a ninth consecutive week of inflows, according to Lipper data. U.S.-based emerging markets equity funds attracted $1.5 billion of inflows for the week ended Wednesday, their 10th consecutive week of inflows, Lipper added. U.S.-based European equity funds attracted $117 million for the week ended Wednesday, their sixth straight week of inflows, Lipper said.

Trump Cuts Relief Money to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, announced Tuesday that the US Treasury Department has cut a $4.7 billion disaster relief loan available to the US territory by more than half, without explanation. Congress had approved the already meager loan for aid relief in October after Hurricane María ravaged the island in September last year. The storm, and the botched recovery effort that followed, has killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, and caused an estimated $94 billion in damage. Last month the Treasury Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ominously warned in a letter they would be temporarily withholding the aid loan because they did not believe the island’s government was facing a cash shortage. Federal officials said the money would be released through the Community Disaster Loan Program once the island’s central cash balance decreased to a certain level. Even before the storm, the island was already struggling with a major financial crisis to the tune of $74 billion in debt. With the economy in shambles after the hurricane, the suggestion that the island is flush with cash is absurd. The aid cut has put many essential services, especially the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island’s public power utility, at risk of being interrupted. This means that millions of workers on the island may soon lose access to running water and electricity. This would be in addition to the approximately 30 percent of electric customers who have not had service since María made landfall over five months ago. Just two days after the relief cut was announced, two major power plants shut down in the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan, affecting 970,000 customers, exposing the continuing fragility of the electrical system. Similar events have become a regular occurrence; just three weeks ago thousands were left without power after an explosion at a PREPA plant just north of the capital. Both events were the result of repairs of storm damage using old scrap materials and patchwork methods out of desperation. Puerto Rico’s power company is currently running with a $300 million loan that will only sustain operations until the end of the month. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still struggling from the damage from the hurricane. Many people whose houses were severely damaged have received little, if any, aid for home repairs. Entire families are still living with relatives or as refugees in hotels because they don’t have anywhere to go. The recovery “effort” from the beginning has been a series of scandals and backroom dealings which epitomizes the callous indifference of the ruling class to the plight of workers in Puerto Rico. In the immediate aftermath of María, Puerto Ricans struggled to find food and water when the entire island lost electricity, roads became impassable, and fuel for generators ran out. The situation worsened when ports that import about 85 percent of its food supply shut down under the draconian hundred-year-old Jones Act, which the government only reluctantly lifted weeks later. Nick Bit: I guess they are going to have to settle for the paper towels Trump gave them!. I don’t think Puerto Rico will be great again.

Russia’s Gazprom says has started ending gas contracts with Ukraine

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the headquarters of Russian gas giant Gazprom in Moscow, Russia June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) – Russia’s gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Saturday it had started moves to terminate gas supply contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz, though Kiev said there had so far been no impact on supplies through its pipelines to Europe. Gazprom’s announcement marked an escalation in a long-running dispute between Moscow and Kiev, which has left Ukraine struggling to stay warm and which the EU said could threaten gas flows across the continent. The Russian group said on Friday it intended to terminate the contracts after a Stockholm arbitration court ordered it this week to pay more than $2.5 billion to Ukrainian energy firm Naftogaz.Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said on Saturday the group had started a procedure at the same court to make the terminations – though he was sure different arbitrators would handle the new case.  “We have started the procedure of terminating contracts with Ukraine’s Naftogaz,” Medvedev said. Ukraine’s state-owned gas pipeline operator Ukrtransgaz said on Saturday it had had to take additional measures  Ukrtransgaz spokesman Ihor Kravchyshyn said it had faced“a critical situation” as Russia had kept pressure at the point connecting to the Ukrainian pipeline system at a low level – at least 20 percent below that required by transit contracts. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Saturday Ukraine saw an increase in gas supplies from Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, which has fully offset the impact from Gazprom’s decision.Gazprom had intended to resume gas supplies to Ukraine from March for the first time since late 2015 when Kiev started buying gas from Europe to try to cut its energy dependence on Moscow. But the Russian group canceled that plan on Friday.

Lindsey Graham: War with North Korea would be ‘worth it’ in the long run

Lindsey Graham: War with North Korea would be 'worth it' in the long run
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that a war with North Korea would be “worth it” in the long term. Graham made the comments in an interview with CNN. “All the damage that would come from a war would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security,” the senator told CNN. Graham’s remark comes amid reports that the U.S. is prepared for the possibility of a military strike against North Korea.  Korean leaders are pushing diplomacy in the troubled region in the weeks following the Winter Olympics. South Korea’s president told President Trump in a phone call earlier this week that he is planning to send a special envoy to Pyongyang. Graham has in the past repeated a warning that the U.S. is “headed toward a war” with North Korea and praised Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric against the country. He praised the Trump administration for drawing a hard line on North Korean aggression and also told CNN that he is “completely convinced” that Trump rejects a containment policy. “They’ve drawn a red line here and it is to never let North Korea build a nuclear tipped missile to hit America,” he said. A former national security adviser in the Obama administration on Friday pointed out Graham’s comment on Twitter, writing that the senator has “lost his god damn mind.”

FBI Is Reportedly Investigating Ivanka Trump’s Business Deal in Vancouver

American intelligence officials are looking into a business deal in Vancouver in which Ivanka Trump played a key role, according to a CNN report.

Ivanka reportedly played a key role in negotiating a deal for the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, which opened shortly after Donald Trump took office. The Trumps do not own the property but receive fees from licensing the Trump name for the property, a common arrangement in the Trump businesses. It is not clear why this deal has attracted attention from intelligence officials. The company that owns the property is run by Joo Kim Tiah and the project was financed, in part, by his father Tony Tiah Thee Kian, according to reports. They are wealthy Malaysian businessmen who have run afoul of securities laws in their home country, according to a number of reports. Ivanka and Joo Kim worked closely together on the Vancouver property, according to CNN. The deal is said to be worth at least $5 million in royalties and fees to the Trump organization. “The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance,” CNN reports.

Jared, Ivanka, Cohn, Gen. Kelly, McMaster — Palace Intrigue Swamps Donald Trump White House

Washington is buzzing over President Donald Trump’s inner circle, with several reports sparking rumors of departures, dissatisfaction, frustration, and failure in the West Wing.

The New York Times on Friday released a dynamite revelation that President Donald Trump has privately urged Gen. John Kelly to help move his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner out of the administration, despite publicly praising their work at the White House. The president’s son-in-law is the focus of several in-depth reports about his diminished role in the White House. The Washington Post reports that Kushner has become “badly diminished” and “faded” since Gen. John Kelly downgraded his security clearance. Kushner’s business dealings have drawn more scrutiny. The New York Times reported that his family real estate business received two multi-billion dollar loans after they met with Kushner at the White House. The Wall Street Journal suggested that Kushner and his wife Ivanka were becoming political liabilities to the president and should consider resigning their positions in the White House. The Washington Post also reported that foreign officials have looked at ways to manipulate the United States and President Trump through close ties with Kushner. Politico reports that Kushner is now the chief target of congressional Democrats who want to take credit for forcing him out. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is also spending more time investigating Kushner’s business dealings, according to CNN. Ivanka’s post-White House business deals are also under scrutiny, as CNN reported that the FBI is reviewing a deal with Canada. White House deputy communications director Josh Rafell announced his departure from the administration on Wednesday. This is a blow for Jared and Ivanka, as he frequently wrestled with reporters over media coverage of the couple. Former Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn is grumpy after Trump announced his expected tariffs of 25 percent on steel and ten percent on aluminum. The president’s economic adviser fought Trump’s announcement but lost after Trump obstinately moved forward on the project. A Politico story suggests that Cohn is ready to speed up his exit from the White House as a result of Trump’s tariff announcement. NBC released a new story claiming that Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, was preparing to leave the White House within a month, despite officials adamantly denying the story. Rumors swirled for weeks that Gen. John Kelly was going to get fired, after the mess surrounding Staff Secretary Rob Porter’s exit from the White House. Kelly was criticized for allowing Porter to continue working in the West Wing despite questions about his security clearance and abuse allegations from his ex-wives. White House communications director Hope Hicks announced her departure from the administration, prompting a wave of sadness among Trump’s loyal staff. Hicks is the closest adviser to the president and well-loved in the administration. She was also fiercely loyal to Trump’s family, especially Jared and Ivanka.

Trump may have doomed North American free trade deal

President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House March 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House March 1, 2018 in Washington, DC

President Donald Trump’s declaration of broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum complicates North American trade talks and threatens to doom them altogether. Negotiators have been meeting in Mexico this week in the seventh round of talks aimed at revamping and modernizing the 24-year old North American Free Trade Agreement. On Monday, trade representatives from the three countries are expected to comment on their progress. But now NAFTA is caught in the middle of a what could rapidly become an ugly global tit for tat against U.S. trade actions. The European Union has already slapped tariffs on American jeans, bourbon and motorcycles, and other countries have said they could retaliate. “The key question people are asking is whether this is a signal that the administration is sending on all trade relationships,” said Carlos Pascual, senior vice president, IHS Markit. “Clearly, both the U.S. and Mexico have a great deal at stake” in the access they have to each others markets. Pascual, a former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, said the tariffs could now complicate the talks and lengthen them. They had been scheduled for an eighth round, and negotiators were attempting to complete them by the July presidential election in Mexico. “This is more than posturing. It’s a fundamental issue that could strike at the heart of the rationale of the NAFTA agreement,” he said. “I think the process is going to take a lot longer and they will schedule another round.” Goldman Sachs economists said the tariffs could trigger more disruptive trade reactions, including possibly stalling NAFTA negotiations and possible restrictions on Chinese trade and investment. “There is a good chance that this could eventually lead the President to announce he intends to withdraw from NAFTA, but such an announcement does not appear likely in the near term, in our view,” the economists wrote in a note. China is believed to be the target of the tariffs, but Canada is the biggest exporter of both steel and aluminum to the U.S., and Mexico is a major steel exporter. China does not show up at the top of the list of exporters. Canadian officials said they could retaliate, and took issue with Trump using national security as a reason for the tariffs. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday called the tariffs unacceptable and said they would be disruptive to markets on both sides of the border. Hartasánchez said if Mexico is included in the tariffs, it will respond. “If the tariffs affect Mexico, it will definitely change their position. They will react and impose some tariffs as well, and that certainly cannot help when you’re negotiating a free trade agreement,” he said.

Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped millions in steel-related stock last week

Carl Icahn trades on insider information, He should be jailed!

Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports. In a little-noticed SEC filing submitted on February 22, 2018, Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc. Manitowoc is a “is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lifting solutions” and, therefore, heavily dependent on steel to make its products.The filing came just seven days before a White House event where Trump announced his intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports.  Trump’s announcement rattled the markets, with steel-dependent stocks hardest hit. Manitowoc stock plunged, losing about 6 percent of its value. Reuters attributed the drop to the fact that Manitowoc is a “major consumer of steel.” As of 10:20 a.m. Friday, the stock had lost an additional 6 percent, trading at $26.21.Icahn was required to make the disclosure because of the large volume of his sale. The filing reveals that he began systematically selling the stock on February 12, when he was able to sell the stock for $32 to $34. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross publicly released a report on February 16 calling for a 24 percent tariff. But, as the chart in the SEC filing indicates, Icahn started selling his Manitowoc stock on February 12, prior to the public release of that report. Moreover, the sharp drop in steel-related stocks did not occur until Trump announced he would accept the Commerce Department’s recommendations.

Icahn, a billionaire investor with far-flung holdings, is a close associate of Trump — who invoked Icahn’s name repeatedly on the campaign trail. Once in office, Trump installed Icahn as a “special adviser,” although Icahn did not not unwind his business entanglements before accepting the position

Icahn resigned in August, in advance of a New Yorker article which detailed how he used his position in the White House and his connection to Trump to protect his investments:

One day in August, 2016, the financier Carl Icahn made an urgent phone call to the Environmental Protection Agency. Icahn is one of the richest men on Wall Street, and he has thrived, in no small measure, because of a capacity to intimidate. A Texas-based oil refiner in which he had a major stake was losing money because of an obscure environmental rule that Icahn regarded as unduly onerous. Icahn is a voluble critic of any government regulation that constrains his companies. So he wanted to speak with the person in charge of enforcing the policy: a senior official at the E.P.A. named Janet McCabe.

In his resignation letter, Icahn acknowledged discussing regulation of the refining industry with Trump, although he denied seeking to benefit any of his specific holdings. Icahn claimed that, despite being named an adviser, he “had no duties whatsoever.” Nick Bit: Its called cronyism….. Putin Trumps bro does the same thing. Its the half brother of nepotism and it will destroy our democracy and the FREE Enterprise system. You will not like this new world order

Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing whether Jared Kushner’s business talks with foreigners affected Trump White House policies: NBC News

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump (R) delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, September 26, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump (R) delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, September 26, 2017.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is looking into whether business talks that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had with foreigners during the presidential transition ended up affecting White House policies toward those people, NBC News reported Friday. NBC News, citing various sources, said Mueller’s investigators are focusing on Kushner’s discussions with people from Qatar and Turkey, along with individuals from Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates. The investigators want to know whether White House policies were designed to benefit or retaliate against those Kushner had spoken to. The NBC News story noted that the White House last year backed an economic blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the weeks after the collapse of talks that the Kushner Companies had with Qatari officials about their sovereign wealth fund investing in a Kushner building in New York City. Kushner, who became a senior White House advisor to Trump in January 2017, met with a former prime minister of Qatar in December 2016, according to the article. Some top officials in the Qatari government believe the Trump administration’s position on the blockade may have been retaliation pushed by Kushner, who was upset about the deal falling through, NBC News reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter. But the White House has said the blockade was due to Qatar’s alleged support of terrorism. Kushner also had met with the chairman of China’s Anbang Insurance Group during the transition. But that company later decided not to invest in the Kushner Companies’ building at 666 Fifth Avenue. A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer told NBC News in a prepared statement that “time and again, unnamed sources seeking only mischief have misled the media about what the Special Counsel is doing.” “Mr. Kushner’s role in the campaign and transition was to be a point person for completely appropriate contacts from foreign officials and he did not mix his or his former company’s business in those contacts and any claim otherwise is false,” the spokesman said. Mueller’s office declined to comment to NBC News for its story.  Mueller’s probe has expanded to include investigations of consulting work that former Trump campaign officials did for a pro-Russia leader of Ukraine, as well as Kushner’s business dealings.

IMF warns that steel, aluminum tariffs will likely hurt economies

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde
Getty Images International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde

The International Monetary Fund warned on Friday that U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum would likely cause economic damage to the United States and its trading partners, and urged countries to resolve trade disputes without resorting to retaliatory measures. “The import restrictions announced by the U.S. President Donald Trump are likely to cause damage not only outside the U.S., but also to the U.S. economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminum and steel,” the IMF said in a terse statement. Trump said on Thursday he planned to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum products that were designed to safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products and would be formally announced next week. A day later, the European Union raised the possibility of taking countermeasures, France said the duties would be unacceptable and China urged Trump to show restraint. Canada, the biggest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States, said it would retaliate if hit by U.S. tariffs. The IMF did not elaborate on the economic damages. It is currently in the midst of updating its global economic forecasts ahead of April meetings of its 189 member countries. “We are concerned that the measures proposed by the U.S. will, de facto, expand the circumstances where countries use the national-security rationale to justify broad-based import restrictions,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in the statement.

Putin Unveils Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missiles, Drone Submarines for Attacking U.S.

Pentagon says weapons not a surprise and U.S. nuclear forces can deter


Russian President Vladimir Putin, in language suggesting the start of a new Cold War, revealed Russia is building nuclear-powered cruise missiles, drone submarines, and other strategic arms designed to attack the United States. During an annual address, the Russian leader boasted the new cruise missile was tested in December and utilizes small nuclear reactor technology recently developed by Russian weapons designers. Videos shown during the speech showed a model of the new missile and other high-tech arms, including one that simulated a Russian nuclear strike on the United States. “We’ve started the development of new types of strategic weapons that do not use ballistic flight paths on the way to the target,” Putin said. “This means that the missile defense systems are useless as a counter-means and just senseless.” The White House quickly fired back. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the new Russian forces are destabilizing and violate arms agreements. “President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known all along, which Russia has denied: Russia’s been developing destabilizing weapons systems for over a decade, in direct violation of its treaty obligations,” she said. “As the president’s Nuclear Posture review made clear, America is moving forward to modernize our nuclear arsenal and ensure our capabilities are unmatched.” The Pentagon said the new weapons were known to U.S. intelligence and are one reason U.S. nuclear forces are being modernized. “We’re not surprised by the statement,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White. “We need to ensure we have a credible nuclear deterrent, and we are confident that we are prepared to defend this nation no matter what,” she told reporters. Putin also confirmed development of a nuclear-armed, long-range underwater drone. The drone submarine was first reported by the Free Beacon in 2015.The drone can attack aircraft carrier battle groups, shoreline defenses and infrastructure, and also cannot be countered. The drones can be armed with either nuclear or conventional explosive warheads, Putin said. The nuclear propulsion system produced enough thrust and power during flight tests and ground tests and permit “work to create a fundamentally new type of weapon—a strategic nuclear missile equipped with a nuclear power plant,” Putin said. Putin bragged that its new weapons showed the United States that Moscow has rebounded from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia also showed off two variants of hypersonic weapons—ultra-fast missiles that travel at five to ten times the speed of sound.

Europe targets U.S. bourbon, bikes, blue jeans for trade riposte

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe has drawn up a list of U.S. products from bourbon to Harley Davidson motorbikes on which to apply tariffs if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on a plan to impose global duties on aluminum and steel. The European Union is considering applying 25 percent tariffs on $3.5 billion of goods – a third steel, a third industrial goods and a third agricultural – to“rebalance” bilateral trade, EU sources said. “We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans – Levis,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television. Trump said on Thursday the United States would apply duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect domestic producers. The European Commission has said any counter-measures would conform to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Brussels will join other countries in challenging the measures at the WTO and says it will also look into safeguards The EU sees itself as a global counterweight to a protectionism-inclined Trump, sealing a trade deal with Japan, which had been part of a planned trans-Pacific trade alliance Trump withdrew from on his first day in office. Data from European steel association Eurofer shows the United States was the destination of about 15 percent of Europe’s steel exports in 2017. “The planned reduction in U.S. imports accounts for only just shy of 3 percent of global imports in the case of aluminum. The equivalent figure for steel is only roughly 1.5 percent,” said the bank.

JC Penney announces management shakeup and cuts 360 jobs in hopes of saving $25 million a year

People shop at the JCPenney store at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Getty Images People shop at the JCPenney store at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey.

J.C. Penney confirmed Friday it is eliminating 360 jobs, including 130 at corporate headquarters, saying the cuts will save the troubled retailer up to $25 million a year. The company also is shaking up its leadership team. The job-cuts announcement confirmed a report Thursday evening that the company was reducing staff at the Plano, Texas, headquarters. “Just as we conduct a review of our stores and supply chain operations each year, we continually evaluate the productivity of our Home Office structure to ensure that it efficiently aligns with the business,” the company said in an email to CNBC. “Certain positions have been eliminated as a result of this annual assessment.” The company, which reported disappointing fourth-quarter earnings on Friday, also confirmed it is eliminating 230 positions from stores. J.C. Penney’s stock fell more than 10 percent in premarket trading Friday following the earnings report. The company said the annual cost savings generated from the staff cuts will be about $20 million to $25 million. The company also said it is introducing “dedicated omnichannel supervisors” to store management to oversee more of Penney’s web operations and how they interact with its stores. In the home department, the company will assign people to lead the appliances, window coverings, furniture and mattress categories. These are just a few examples of how resources are shifting, Penney said. “As the Company continues to make progress on its strategic framework and implement new processes and organizational efficiencies, it is imperative that we maintain a thoughtful approach to managing expenses, while effectively supporting the needs of the business,” CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement. In the management changes, the company said Mike Amend, executive vice president of Penney’s omnichannel business, is leaving. It said Therace Risch will assume the omnichannel responsibilities as chief information and chief digital officer. In addition, Joe McFarland will become Penney’s chief customer officer and will lead merchandising and store operations. McFarland and Risch will report to Ellison.

Trump: ‘If you don’t have steel, you don’t have a country’

Trump: 'If you don’t have steel, you don’t have a country'
© Getty

President Trump took to Twitter Friday to defend new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, saying “if you don’t have steel, you don’t have a country.”

“We must protect our country and our workers. Our steel industry is in bad shape,” Trump tweeted. “IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!”

Earlier Friday Trump also defended the tariffs, tweeting that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he said. “Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

Trump said Thursday he would announce new tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum from all countries that send metals to the U.S. The move was immediately criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 420 points on the day after Trump’s announcement. Companies also responded to Trump’s announcement, with Toyota and MillerCoors saying the decision would mean they have to raise the prices of their products.

Kushner said to be ‘digging in’ amid troubles

Jared Kushner is willing to do battle with chief of staff John Kelly to preserve his position at the center of the White House, more than a half-dozen sources close to the situation tell The Hill.
 Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been buffeted by a succession of troublesome stories. His security clearance was downgraded after an edict from Kelly. A Washington Post report asserted that officials from at least four foreign nations had mulled how they might try to manipulate him. And The New York Times investigated the circumstances in which large loans were made to his family’s real estate firm after meetings at the White House. “Jared is casting negative headlines that overshadow the president,” said one GOP operative with ties to the White House. “If Jared’s headlines overshadow the president’s positive news, it’s not going to sit well.”

Kushner’s troubles extend to a dwindling number of close allies at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  The shock announcement Wednesday that White House communications director Hope Hicks was leaving deprived him of one such ally. “He and Ivanka were very close to her,” said another source close to the White House. “She was treated like a sibling.” Kushner is also losing his spokesman, Josh Raffel, who will leave soon. Reed Cordish — a Kushner friend who worked in the White House Office of American Innovation — announced his departure last month. Dina Powell, another Kushner ally who served as deputy national security adviser, left earlier this year. Despite all that, confidants of the president cast serious doubt on the idea that Kushner will depart.  One common refrain from Trump World: He’s not going anywhere. Others cast Kushner’s determination in intensely personal terms.  The president’s son-in-law “is digging in,” according to a source in Trump’s orbit.  “Ivanka has made the decision she is not leaving the building and Jared is not going to leave Ivanka in the building alone.” The administration’s official line, viewed with considerable skepticism, is that Kushner’s position has not been weakened at all. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Thursday’s media briefing that Kushner was “still a valued member of the administration, and he is going to continue to focus on the work he’s been doing.” One Republican operative took a particularly fierce line about how much Kushner and his wife have been diminished.   Kelly effectively neutered Jared and Ivanka, rendering them useless,” this source asserted. “With Raffel and Hicks gone, they have zero PR department to spin their side of things. The president threw them to the wolves on the security clearances, now it’s just matter of time before they are gone.”


Trump’s embrace of Russia: The evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture

US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders' summit on November 11, 2017.
Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | Getty Images US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at the APEC leaders’ summit on November 11, 2017.

As Robert Mueller accumulates guilty pleas and cooperating witnesses, President Donald Trump stands behind a final redoubt: Nobody has shown he conspired with Russia in 2016. Whether Mueller ultimately alleges such a crime remains unknown. He now has help from Trump’s former national security advisor, deputy campaign chief and campaign foreign policy advisor — all of whom have admitted felonies. But whatever the special counsel concludes legally about “collusion,” evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture. It shows an American president who has embraced Russian money and illicit favors, while maintaining rhetoric and policies benefiting Russia and undercutting national security officials of his own country. Fmr. FBI Asst. Director: Here’s what’s concerning about Russian indictments   That in-plain-sight reality gets obscured by the Trump news avalanche. So it’s worth reviewing what’s been established so far.

Long before running for president, Trump relied on Russian money

His partners in the Trump Soho project in New York, announced in 2006, included a former official of the Soviet Union and a Russian who confessed to felony fraud involving organized crime. Son Donald Trump Jr. said two years later that money was “pouring in from Russia” for “high-end product.” The same year, a Russian oligarch paid Trump $95 million for a Florida mansion Trump bought in 2004 for less than half that price. Showcasing a family golf course in 2013, Eric Trump told a journalist that Russian financiers provided what American banks would not. (The younger Trump later denied saying so.) Donald Trump openly courted Russian President Vladimir Putin while staging a beauty pageant in Moscow. With help from the same organized-crime-linked felon who collaborated on Trump Soho, Trump sought to develop real estate in the Russian capital while seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump tapped campaign advisors with questionable ties to Moscow

As his 2016 campaign chief, he chose Paul Manafort. A Trump Tower resident since 2006, Manafort had received tens of millions of dollars from Putin allies in Russia and Ukraine. As a top national security advisor, Trump chose Michael Flynn. In December 2015, Flynn got $45,000 from a Russian propaganda arm to attend a dinner with Putin. As a foreign policy adviser, he named Carter Page — identified years earlier by U.S. officials as a potential Russian spy. He also tapped the expertise of a little-known 30-year-old named George Papadopoulos.

Trump embraced Russian campaign help, publicly and privately

Soon after becoming a Trump adviser, Papadopoulos heard from a professor in London that Russians had obtained email “dirt” on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He communicated with the professor repeatedly, trying to bring Trump and Putin together. Weeks later, Donald Trump Jr. arranged a June meeting at Trump Tower to explore a Russian offer of damaging information on Clinton. “I love it,” he had written of Moscow’s outreach. Manafort and Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, joined him. Democratic Party emails that U.S. intelligence officials say Russia stole were released by front groups beginning later that month. Afterward, Trump publicly asked Moscow for more dirt.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said in July. In August, Trump’s friend Roger Stone previewed forthcoming trouble for Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. In October, Podesta’s emails, which U.S. intelligence says Russians also stole, were publicly released.

Trump consistently defends Russia and attacks U.S. officials investigating Russia

Continue reading “Trump’s embrace of Russia: The evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture”

‘Every day is a new adventure’: Trump upends Washington and Wall Street with shifts on trade, guns

President Trump on March 1 announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. “Without steel and aluminum, your country is not the same,” Trump said.
Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum

President Trump whiplashed Washington through 24 hours of chaos and confusion, culminating Thursday with a surprise announcement that he will unilaterally impose steep tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports.

His own aides were stunned. The stock market plunged. It was the moment many of his advisers had long feared would occur when he grew tired of talking points and economic theory and decided to do things his way.

The comments came in the Cabinet Room, where one day earlier, he had left Republicans slack-jawed by appearing to embrace liberal ideas on gun control, even proposing to seize firearms from people without a court order, a change from earlier in the week when he praised the National Rifle Association and called for arming teachers in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Trump often likes to sow misdirection, running the White House like a never-ending reality show where only he knows the plot. But even by his standards, the day-long period that ended Thursday left some senior aides and Republican lawmakers wondering whether the White House had finally come unmoored, detached from any type of methodology that past presidents have relied on to run the country and lead the largest economy in the world.

“There is no standard operating practice with this administration,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “Every day is a new adventure for us.” Navarro and Ross helped prepare the steel and aluminum tariff announcement, inviting executives to the White House without notifying a number of other White House advisers. When The Washington Post reported about Trump’s looming announcement Wednesday evening, many top White House officials were caught off guard, including the press office. Kelly told others in the White House that there was nothing for Trump to sign and that nothing had been reviewed by lawyers, according to a senior administration official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump on tariffs: ‘Trade wars are good, and easy to win’


President Trump sent stock futures and a leading dollar index even lower in early trading Friday as he followed up Thursday’s action on tariffs with this:

‘…trade wars are good, and easy to win.’

President Trump

Stocks ended sharply lower Thursday and Trump’s comments Friday sent stock futures YMH8, -1.10%  , ESH8, -0.77% NQH8, -1.21%  already trading lower, down even more. All three main benchmarks are on track for roughly 2% weekly losses, to break back-to-back weekly wins. The dollar deepened its loss after Trump tweeted, with the ICE U.S. Dollar index DXY, -0.32%  down 0.3% at 89.95 compared to 90.24 late Thursday. Citing what he sees as unfair broader trade deals and steel dumping, Trump told an audience of steel executives including from U.S. Steel X, -3.26%  , Nucor NUE, +0.82%   and Arcelor Mittal MT, -1.14%   on Thursday that tariffs will be imposed at 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum starting next week. Automakers and other manufacturers immediately expressed concern with anticipated higher prices on the materials they need and the likelihood that retaliatory tariffs could follow. On Friday morning, Canada, the European Union, Mexico, China and Brazil had already said they were weighing up countermeasures, according to media reports. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he’ll take the matter to the World Trade Organization and that “we will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures.”

Trump said Thursday that tariffs would be put on imports “for a long period of time.”

The move follows a determination by the Commerce Department that imports threatened national security. While running for president, Trump had often campaigned on creating more U.S. jobs with renegotiated trade pacts. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican representing agricultural state Nebraska, had this to say in response: “You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.” Nick Note: Meet the REAL  Donald Trump. He will destroy the country, The economy and unless you know what to do he will DESTROY YOU!

Trump Attacks Sessions Over Handling of Surveillance Abuse Allegations

Reeling from Trump gun meeting, Republicans mull next steps

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican senators in the U.S. Congress signaled on Thursday that they were hesitant to embrace a call from President Donald Trump for sweeping changes to gun laws, including measures more typically backed by Democrats.U.S. President Donald Trump receives a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bracelet from Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) passes it over during a meeting with bipartisan members of Congress to discuss school and community safety in the wake of the Florida school shootings at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  Trump shocked fellow Republicans on Wednesday when he threw his support behind a broad set of restrictions on gun sales in response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.The White House is expected on Thursday to release a list of policy measures that Trump backs. The president was set to privately discuss the issue with families of mass shooting victims and law enforcement on Thursday.  John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters he believes his modest proposal to improve the background check system for gun buyers is the best way forward with the highest chance of success, rather than the more ambitious approach Trump appeared to back. “I still think it’s the best way forward to get something done and not end up empty-handed,” Cornyn said after meeting with leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democratic member Dianne Feinstein. Cornyn said he hoped to offer his narrowly tailored bill as a “base” for debate on the Senate floor, noting 50 senators have signed up to support it. But Cornyn said the process for considering other measures would be up to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

He voiced support for mandating background checks at gun shows and internet sales, and for raising the age for legally buying rifles to 21 from 18.

He also expressed interest in state laws that allow police to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous, but complained that getting a court order would be too cumbersome.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky (L) asks Senator Marco Rubio if he will continue to accept money from the NRA during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool

Republican Senator Pat Toomey said on MSNBC that he believed the meeting showed Trump wants to get legislation done. “I think there’s an old saying about this president, which is ‘Take him seriously, not necessarily literally,’” Toomey said. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise downplayed Trump’s comments. During the meeting, Trump openly disagreed with Scalise about including an NRA-backed measure allowing people to bring legal, concealed guns across state lines in legislation. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said the group believes the focus should be on making schools more secure, rather than restricting constitutional rights to own guns.

The wild wars within the Trump White House

Hope Hicks with Trump at rally
Hope Hicks on stage with then President-elect Donald Trump during a rally in December, 2016. Photo: Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

After a crazy 24 hours, sources close to President Trump say he is in a bad place — mad as hell about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling. The big picture: Hope Hicks leaving is obviously a huge blow to him. Every time he reads about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his head explodes. The staff is just trying to ride out the storm.Everywhere you look inside this White House, top officials are fighting, fomenting, feuding or fleeing, insiders say in conversations with us.

  • Hope Hicks — without question, the aide (family aside) with whom Trump is closest — resigned one day after she admitted in closed-door Hill testimony that she told white lies for the president.
  • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down on Jared Kushner, stripping his top security clearance, and watching anonymous aides leak about and trash him, while offering no public defense of the president’s son-in-law.
  • Jared, Ivanka and Don Jr. let it be known to friends they are furious with Kelly and his allies.
  • Jared loses his internal P.R. guru, Josh Raffel, when he needs him most.
  • Economic adviser Gary Cohn is at war with trade policy adviser Peter Navarro.
  • Trump is at war with Attorney General Sessions. … N.Y. Times lead story: “Trump Tears Into Sessions Over Russia Investigation.” … WashPost: “Behind the scenes, Trump has derisively referred to Sessions as ‘Mr. Magoo,’ a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling.”
  • Intelligence chiefs use every chance possible to contradict the commander-in-chief on Russia.

Be smart: Trump is in a bad, mad place, feeling ill-served and confined by staff. The people he genuinely enjoys and feels close to are gone (Keith Schiller), leaving (Hope) or getting pounded in the press (Jared).

  • The restraints are almost fully loosened, and what staff sees in private is more public than ever.
  • We have never seen top officials this concerned, defeated.

Trump to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum

WASHINGTON (AP) — Determined to protect vital American industries, President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, dramatically raising the possibility of a trade showdown with China and other key trading partners. Trump summoned steel and aluminum executives to the White House and told them that next week he would levy penalties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. Those tariffs, he said, will remain for “a long period of time.” But it was not immediately clear if the tariffs would exempt certain trading partners.

“What’s been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful. It’s disgraceful,” Trump told them in the Cabinet Room. “You will have protection for the first time in a long while and you’re going to regrow your industries.”

Increased foreign production, especially by China, has driven down prices and hurt U.S. producers, creating a situation the Commerce Department calls a national security threat. Any action to impose tariffs is likely to escalate simmering tensions with China and other U.S. trading partners. Critics of such a move fear that other countries will retaliate or use national security as a pretext to impose trade penalties of their own. They also argue that sanctions on imports will drive up prices and hurt U.S. automakers and other companies that use steel or aluminum. Trump met more than a dozen executives, including representatives from U.S. Steel Corp., Arcelor Mittal, Nucor, JW Aluminum and Century Aluminum. The industry leaders urged Trump to act, saying they had been unfairly hurt by a glut of imports and foreign countries circumventing trade rules.

The Commerce Department had recommended tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports, higher tariffs on imports from specific countries or a quota on imports.

The Trump administration earlier raised duties on Chinese-made washing machines, solar modules and some aluminum and steel products to offset what it said were improper subsidies. Trump last year ordered an investigation into whether aluminum and steel imports posed a threat to national defense. Ross said last month that the imports “threaten to impair our national security,” noting, for example, that only one U.S. company now produces a high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aircraft. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president authority to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds a national security threat. Nick Bit: President dumb shit just did another dumb shot thing. Starting a trade war as we head into a recession. It OK more money for you and me as the economy tanks!


White House meltdown on full display

Washington (CNN)The tumult of the past week has fueled a deep and seething anger within President Donald Trump — not an uncommon emotion for the insolent commander in chief — but one that allies and aides say has escalated as he faces a new gauntlet of problems, including the encroaching Russia investigation. His soothing communications guru is leaving. His obstinate attorney general has turned openly defiant. His son-in-law and senior adviser was stripped of his security clearance at the behest of his chief of staff. His Cabinet secretaries keep spending an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars on luxuries. His most loyal allies in Congress describe his meetings as “surreal.” Allies of Trump’s on Capitol Hill and elsewhere describe a sense of “meltdown” at the White House as the series of unfortunate events unfold. The President, they say, wants to take action to turn the page Morale in the West Wing, already diminished following the domestic abuse scandal involving Trump’s former staff secretary, has taken a downward turn, people inside and outside the building say. Staff departures are being announced on a near-daily basis as aides become fed up with the constant swirl of tension. And policy announcements that would fulfill Trump’s campaign promises — including a long-awaited decision on steel and aluminum tariffs, gun control measures and an elusive immigration fix — have been caught up in the swirl of uncertainty, leading to questions on how Trump will be able to govern amid the chaos. “The morale is terrible,” said Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived former communications director, said on Thursday morning on CNN. “The reason why the morale is terrible is that the rule by fear and intimidation does not work in a civilian environment.”

“People are afraid to talk to each other,” he said.

Inside the White House “Trump can’t function without her. She is that important,” a source close to the White House said. Trump continues to describe the probe as a “witch hunt,” and steams over the issue regularly. His anger is bolstered by the deep sense of uncertainty surrounding who will be caught up next. Mueller’s team has operated largely leak-free, and much of the news from his office has caught the White House off-guard. Nick Bit: You better get use to the idea. Trump is going down. And so will you if your not careful!11