Scaramucci: Trump’s Actions After McCain’s Death a ‘Slap’ to Veterans

Image: Scaramucci: Trump's Actions After McCain's Death a 'Slap' to Veterans

By Sandy Fitzgerald . Ex-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said Thursday he wasn’t surprised by President Donald Trump’s behavior following the death of Sen. John McCain last weekend, but he is “disappointed” and considers it a “slap” to other veterans.”I disagree with it,” Scaramucci told CNN’s “New Day.” “John McCain was a veteran. He served the country with distinction, he’s a war hero and — whether he was captured or not doesn’t really make a difference, he is a war hero — and you have to honor him the way you would honor other veterans.”

He said he is happy the decision to put the flag at the White House back at half-staff was made, after the flag initially was raised back to full staff shortly after the Arizona Republican’s death. “I put my flag at half-staff, and others should too,” said Scaramucci. “The White House shouldn’t…forget about Sen. McCain. Sometimes the symbolism coming out of the Oval Office and the White House is for all Americans.”

Trump was widely criticized on Monday after the White House flags went back to full staff, less than 48 hours after McCain died. Trump also refused to answer questions from reporters about McCain during White House events Monday.

However, later in the day, Trump issued a proclamation about the flags, and expressed respect for the late senator’s service.

Ex-ambassador: How Trump has treated Canada is ‘the definition of insanity’

US-Mexico deal without Canada is a folly and will harm the United States, says former ambassador to Canada
US-Mexico deal without Canada is a folly and will harm the United States, says former ambassador to Canada 9 Hours Ago | 04:29
 

President Donald Trump risks seriously damaging the relationship between Canada and the U.S. as he pushes toward a new North American Free Trade Agreement, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman told CNBC on Friday. “The definition of insanity, just listening to the president there, is how the president has been treating Canada all this time. You know, this is our best trading partner in the world,” Heyman said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” After being sidelined from talks for more than two months, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland rushed to Washington, D.C., Wednesday, following Monday’s preliminary deal between the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration gave Canada a Friday deadline to hash out its differences with the U.S. and join a preliminary, new trade agreement, which serves as a start to replace the 1994 NAFTA among the three nations. The Trump administration’s deadline passed with no agreement. In a news conference late Friday afternoon, Freeland said the two parties will continue to work toward a deal, maintaining that “we’re not there yet” on an agreement. “We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach,” Freeland told reporters. “With goodwill and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there.” Her comments followed reports from The Toronto Star that Trump privately said he would not make any compromises in trade talks with Canada. Trump later confirmed he had made the comments, writing in a tweet, “At least Canada knows where I stand!” With an economy 10 times the size of Canada’s, the U.S. clearly has all the leverage in these trade negotiations, said Heyman, who served under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. should use it.

“The U.S. has all the leverage in the world, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. When you take your best friend, your greatest ally in the world, and start squeezing them, you can win, but I will tell you, the relationship will be damaged much longer than it will take the ink to dry on a new NAFTA deal,” said Heyman.

As for Mexico’s role in all of this, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza, who served under President George W. Bush from 2002 to 2009, said he didn’t feel the southern neighbor was really at fault. “I wouldn’t say [Mexico] threw Canada under the bus. I think what happened Monday was there was a narrowing of issues, a consensus reached on issues that were particularly difficult in the context of the U.S. and Mexico,” Garza said during the same “Squawk on the Street” interview as Heyman. Heyman said a trilateral agreement is the only possible option, and that parties will likely reach some sort of negotiation, but U.S.-Canada relations may be damaged in the process. “You look at this, and it’s not just trade. They were with us in 9/11, like no other country. They were on our side in Afghanistan. They helped diplomats come out of Iran,” Heyman said. “Canada’s there, they are going to negotiate that out, but I don’t think [Trump’s] been treating them too well,” he added. The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

US, Canada fail to reach a deal on rewriting NAFTA

(CNN)The fate of NAFTA became uncertain Friday when the United States and Canada failed to come to an agreement on rewriting the three-nation trade pact.But negotiations will resume on  Wednesday. “We know a win-win-win agreement is within reach and that’s what we’re working towards,” said Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland at a press conference Friday. The US Trade Representative’s office said talks with Canada would continue and that President Donald Trump has formally notified Congress of the trade deal he struck with Mexico earlier this week. “Today the President notified the Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico — and Canada, if it is willing — 90 days from now. The agreement is the most advanced and high-standard trade agreement in the world,” the statement said. Talks came to a head on Friday as officials rushed to beat a US-imposed deadline that would allow them to sign the deal before Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office on December 1. The United States and Mexico announced a preliminary bilateral deal on Monday after resolving an issue over auto manufacturing. Canadian officials rejoined the talks this week. Officials from both the US and Canadian negotiating teams confirmed Friday that they will continue working towards a trilateral deal, and that good progress has been made over the past year at revamping the 24-year-old trade deal “The government of Canada will not sign an agreement unless it’s good for Canada and good for Canadians,” Freeland said Friday.At issue is  Canadian concessions on agriculture. Trump has said he wants Canada to end its steep tariffs on US dairy products, claiming they hurt US farmers. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to protect his country’s dairy industry.

NAFTA talks: Canada voices optimism as it rejoins negotiations

During Friday’s negotiations, Canadian officials reportedly brought up remarks made by President Trump on Thursday during an off-the-record conversation with Bloomberg News . The Toronto Star reported that Trump said he would not make any compromises at all in the talks with Canada.
The deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms,” he reportedly said. During an event in North Carolina on Friday, Trump said he would move ahead with a bilateral agreement with Mexico.
“If we don’t make a deal with Canada, that’s just fine. I say, affectionately, we’ll just have to tariff those cars coming in.” “That’s a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States,” he added. When asked about Trump’s comments on Friday, Freeland said that her negotiating counterpart is US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and not President Trump.
“This week, and from the beginning of negotiations, Ambassador Lighthizer and his team have been negotiating in good faith and with good will,” she said.

The Oil Export Boom Houston-Galveston exports exceed imports for the first time.

The Houston Ship Channel in Deer Park, Texas.
The Houston Ship Channel in Deer Park, Texas. Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press
 

When George W. Bush signed legislation in 2007 to subsidize and mandate the production of biofuels, he cited the urgent need to liberate America from “long-term” dependence on “oil from foreign lands.” Turns out there was an easier, much less expensive way: drill, baby, drill. The Energy Information Administration announced this month that the port district of Houston-Galveston began exporting more crude oil than it imported for the first time. Houston-Galveston exports in April surpassed imports by 15,000 barrels a day, and by May the difference had grown to 470,000 barrels a day. That port district handles more than half of all U.S. crude exports, which hit a record of two million barrels a day in May. The export boom is testament to U.S. ingenuity that has driven rapid advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, especially in shale rock. The breakthroughs have lowered drilling costs and put Texas’s Permian Basin at the center of an oil-and-gas drilling revolution that will next year see the state producing more oil than either Iraq or Iran. Washington also gets credit for removing regulatory hurdles like the oil export ban. Republican leaders in Congress took flak in 2015 for agreeing to extend green-energy subsidies for a few years in return for Barack Obama’s signature on a statutory end to the 40-year-old export ban. Some conservative pressure groups derided the policy trade as a sellout while liberals complained that ending the ban would serve Big Oil. The real beneficiaries are workers, investors and the overall economy, as well as greater flexibility in foreign policy as the U.S. is less vulnerable to authoritarian oil exporters. The U.S. is unlikely to be a net oil exporter soon, since American refineries require heavy crude from abroad. Shale drillers produce lighter grades. But the gap between imports and exports shrank in 2017 to a 24-year low of 6.8 million barrels a day from more than nine million in 2012. The lesson is that American invention and entrepreneurship remain indomitable—when government gets out of the way.

Trump Says Mueller Investigation Is ‘Illegal’, Trump-Appointed Judge Says He’s Wrong

Trump Mueller meeting after June 12 Giuliani

President Donald Trump expressed his feelings about facts on Thursday in comments to Bloomberg, including that he views special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia probe as “illegal.”

“I view it differently. I view it as an illegal investigation,” the president said, citing unnamed “great scholars.” “There should never have been a special counsel,” he added. Of course, this is not news in the sense that Trump often refers to the Russia investigation as a RIGGED and ILLEGAL WITCH HUNT, but it is news in the sense that Trump has repeated a claim that has been debunked a number of times already by federal judges, in light of their rulings. Indeed, even a judge that Trump appointed in 2017 has ruled against a challenge of Mueller’s authority brought before the court by alleged troll farm Concord Management and Consulting, LLC. You may recall that Dabney L. Friedrich informed Concord that their challenge of Mueller’s authority was a losing one. Just over two weeks ago, Friedrich explained at length why Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was proper and that he had the power to prosecute Concord. All of this argumentation centered on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution and whether Mueller is an “inferior officer” or “principal officer.” The difference is important because principal officers are to be nominated by the president of the United States “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Inferior officers, on the other hand, have different rules: “Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such Inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” Friedrich, along with other judges, have consistently held that Mueller is an “inferior officer.” Friedrich also stated that the (acting Head of Department) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein‘s memo empowering Mueller as special counsel “does not limit the Special Counsel to investigating individuals and entities that are part of the Russian government.”

“Rather, the Special Counsel may investigate the Russian government’s interference ‘efforts,’ which involved non-governmental third parties,” the judge said. That’s not all. Mueller’s authority is quite broad and has been from the beginning:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confined by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

  1. (i)  any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
  2. (ii)  any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
  3. (iii)  any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

(c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters [emphasis ours].

In any case, Friedrich is not the only judge to rule this way. Everyone who has challenged Mueller’s authority up to now has lost, though it is worth mentioning that both Concord and ex-Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller both have active appeals of rulings against them.

NYT: Trump tried to buy, bury decades of dirt from National Enquirer

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump sought to buy all the dirt on him collected by the tabloid National Enquirer and its parent company American Media Inc., according to a new report. Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen devised a plan to purchase potentially damaging stories about Trump from AMI, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing several of Trump’s associates. The plan was never finalized, according to the Times. Lawyers for Trump and Cohen declined to comment to the newspaper, as did AMI. The information gathered on Trump dating back to the 1980s includes older stories and notes about Trump’s marital woes, lawsuits and tips about alleged affairs, among other things, according to the Times. Last week, Jerry George, the former Los Angeles Bureau Chief for the National Enquirer, told CNN’s Erica Hill on “Erin Burnett OutFront” that American Media head David Pecker kept a safe in which he held “particularly sensitive story files,” including source agreements and contracts. The Associated Press first reported on the safe.

Last month, CNN published a secret tape of Cohen in September 2016 discussing with Trump a plan to buy the rights from AMI to Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair Trump had with her years earlier. AMI had bought the rights to McDougal’s story for $150,000 in August 2016 in a “catch and kill” tactic, in which a publication takes ownership of a story but doesn’t publish it.
In the recording, Cohen says, “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” likely a reference to Pecker. Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight criminal counts, including tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations. The counts were tied to his work for Trump, including payments Cohen made or helped orchestrate that were designed to silence women who claimed affairs with the then-candidate.
In court, Cohen said, “I and the CEO of a media company, at the request of the candidate, worked together” to squelch stories, effectively implicating Trump himself. According to the court filing, Cohen and Pecker worked to suppress potentially damaging claims against candidate Trump.
Trump has repeatedly denied McDougal’s allegations, as well as a similar allegation of an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, and the White House has said he has done “nothing wrong” regarding the hush money payments.

Report: Trump Team Preparing Mueller Probe ‘Counter-Report’

Image: Report: Trump Team Preparing Mueller Probe 'Counter-Report'
Special counsel Robert Mueller (J. Scot

President Donald Trump’s legal team is putting together a “counter-report” in an effort to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, The Daily Beast reported Thursday. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told the news outlet part of the report would examine if the “initiation of the investigation was . . . legitimate or not.” Giuliani said the “counter-report” has been in the works since late July, and Trump “knows it is part of our [legal] strategy, and he’s happy with it,” The Daily Beast reported. He also acknowledged the entire process could be derailed by developments in the Mueller investigation. “It may all be for naught, because they may subpoena [the president], and then we’d have to turn our attention to fighting the subpoena,” Giuliani said.Giuliani said the report will be in two sections.

  1. One will seek to question the legitimacy of the Mueller probe generally by alleging “possible conflicts” of interest by federal law enforcement authorities.
  2. The other section will respond to allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russian government agents to sway the 2016 election, and obstruction of justice allegations stemming from, among other things, the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the news outlet reported.

Giuliani told The Daily Beast the task is a challenge since they do not know what Mueller’s report will look like. “Since we have to guess what it is, [our report so far] is quite voluminous,” he said, adding that he’ll spend the Labor Day weekend “paring it down” and he was editing the document created by the “whole team.” “It’ll be our report, put out on . . . personal stationary, and it would be in response to their report,” the former New York City mayor told The Daily Beast, adding: “We may have to use it in court, or [send to] Congress.” He also told the news outlet everything in the report is already available to the public. “I don’t think there’s anything in it that isn’t publicly available in some form or another,” he said. “There is no [secret] grand jury material here . . .” Giuliani told The Daily Beast he expects a preliminary draft will be “in pretty good shape by next week.”

Labor Day gas prices hit 4-year high — and probably won’t drop much after the holiday

A customer pumps gasoline into his car at a service station in San Francisco.
Getty Images A customer pumps gasoline into his car at a service station in San Francisco.

The summer driving season will end much like it began, with American motorists paying the highest price at the gasoline pump in four years. Gas prices have barely budged this summer, with the national average for regular gasoline hovering around $2.85 a gallon since mid-June. That’s down slightly from a high of nearly $3 at the end of May, but it’s still about 43 cents a gallon more than drivers paid at this time last year. Analysts warn that Americans shouldn’t expect much relief beyond Labor Day “I’m expecting towards the latter half of September gasoline prices will come off 10 cents a gallon,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “I think that they will be a little bit more elevated than in previous years.” Analyst say that’s largely due to looming U.S. sanctions on Iran, the world’s fifth biggest oil producer. The Trump administration is pressuring oil buyers to stop importing crude from Iran by November, right around the time gasoline costs usually fall. The prospect of losing the Iranian barrels is supporting the oil price, which accounts for about half of the cost of gasoline. To be sure, it’s not uncommon for Americans to pay as much or more for gasoline on Labor Day weekend as they paid on Memorial Day. What’s different this summer is just how little the cost has fluctuated. “It’s been a flatline,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service. “It’s been like watching grass grow in terms of watching the national numbers. We haven’t even seen much regional volatility.” Gasoline prices have swung just 13 cents from peak to trough between June and August, according to GasBuddy. That’s the smallest change in the nation average since the summer of 2010. The culprit behind the sleepy summer is a rangebound oil market, analysts say. U.S. crude oil has been stuck between about $65 and $75 a barrel over the last three months. Luckily for drivers, U.S. crude didn’t stick around $75 long enough to boost gas above $3 a gallon, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. But it also hasn’t lingered at the bottom of the range long enough to send gasoline prices much lower. “Most stories that have pushed the price of oil up or down are counter-balanced within a few days or a week,” he said. “There hasn’t been a breakout either way.”

Oil market being kept afloat on headlines, says expert
Oil market being kept afloat on headlines, says expert 8:24 AM ET Tue, 28 Aug 2018 | 02:42
Looming U.S. sanctions on Iran and continued strong demand have put a floor under oil prices. Meanwhile, gains have been capped by rising output from the United States and a pledge by OPEC, Russia and other producers to pump more oil.

Trump tweets out early-morning attacks on CNN, books, baselessly claims NBC News ‘fudged’ his Comey interview

President Trump went on an early-morning Twitter tirade against his favorite media punching bags Thursday, first claiming that CNN’s “hatred and extreme bias” against him has “made them unable to function,” and suggesting that AT&T fire Jeff Zucker (“Little Jeff Z”) because “his ratings suck.” Trump then said NBC News was actually “the worst,” predicting that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack “is about to be fired (?) for incompetence” — the rumors are actually that he’s in trouble due to Matt Lauer’s sexual misconduct and other #MeToo scandals — and made a curious, apparently unsubstantiated claim that NBC News “fudged” the interview where Trump admitted on national TV that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation.

Trump concluded by throwing “fake books” into the media bonfire and declaring that all media are the “Enemy of the People!” NBC News political director Chuck Todd seems to be subtweeting the president here, and suggesting you avert your eyes in embarrassment.

Certainly, taking the occasional break from the Twitter machine is good for everybody’s mental health. Peter Weber

Argentina’s Peso Plunges to Record Low

President Mauricio Macri announced request to speed up $50 billion IMF bailout, spooking investors
A man protests the policies of Argentine President Mauricio Macri outside a currency exchange office in Buenos Aires Wednesday, as the peso lost 7.5% against the dollar.
A man protests the policies of Argentine President Mauricio Macri outside a currency exchange office in Buenos Aires Wednesday, as the peso lost 7.5% against the dollar. Photo: Natacha

Argentina’s peso fell to a record low against the dollar Wednesday after President Mauricio Macri said that he has asked the International Monetary Fund to speed up delivery of a $50 billion bailout package.

The financing would allow the government to bolster public confidence and return to a growth path, Mr. Macri argued in a televised address. His announcement spooked investors, who pushed the currency to a fresh low against the dollar. The market is concerned that there might be something the government knows that they don’t know regarding their finances,” said Jorge Mariscal, emerging markets chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. The Argentine peso lost 7.5% against the dollar Wednesday and has fallen nearly 50% over the past year as risk-averse investors flee developing countries with high external funding needs. Turkey and Argentina’s currencies have seen some of the most selling, on concerns that higher U.S. yields will pressure countries that have borrowed heavily in dollars in recent years.

“Argentina has performed worse than Turkey this year on the dollar [debt] side, which is astonishing when they’ve done everything that an orthodox economist would ask them to do,” said Jim Barrineau, head of emerging market debt at Schroders.

Argentina has used its foreign currency reserve to finance its deficit rather than to shore up the peso. The government has also raised interest rates to 45% to try to slow the currency’s fall and turned to the IMF for a loan large enough to meet three years of financing needs. The fall in the currency was spurred by the stigma liquidity facilities have carried since the last banking crisis, said Ed Al-Hussainy, a senior analyst with the global rates and currency team at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, which holds more Argentine hard currency debt than its benchmarks. “We knew they had obtained $50 billion over three years, we knew they were going to use it, but the moment they requested this little acceleration, the stigma attached to it suddenly triggered the selloff,” he said.  If inflation rises faster than wages, Moody’s said, Argentine citizens will struggle to make their debt payments. Nick Note: Do not let them shit you. If you got a retirement account with with a company or Fidelity Or Black Rock or any of the retirement pool operators you are screwed. They are chock full of WORTHLESS Argentinian debt.. And throw in worthless Venezuelan debt and to be sure your broke in your retirement chock full of soon to be shit Brazilian debt.