Yesterday’s news was supposed to all about the testimony of US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland. He was expected to present evidence connecting the president to the privatized diplomatic strategy regarding the Ukraine.
As I predicted, his testimony was about trying to distance himself from any culpability in an effort to tie US aid to political intelligence benefiting the incumbent for the 2020 presidential campaign.
The million dollar campaign donor was shocked– mind you shocked– to discover that former Vice President Joe Biden was the intended target of any evidence about corruption. Which is a bunch of hooey, since Trump’s intentions were widely reported in the press–although not the fact that the resources of the US government was involved wasn’t known.
And then the administration’s clown circus came to town.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney:
- Confessed to the Ukraine quid pro quo in front of TV cameras
- Walked that statement back hours later, blaming media bias
- Announced the Trump’s Doral resort in Florida as the location for next year’s G7
- Declared Climate Change would not be on the agenda at the G7
- “We do that all the time with foreign policy,” Mulvaney responded when ABC News reporter Jon Karl pointed out that withholding funding from Ukraine “unless the investigation into the Democrats’ server happens” is a “quid pro quo.”
- “Get over it,” Mulvaney added later. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy. … That is going to happen. Elections have consequences.”
Apparently Mulvaney shares Trump’s delusion about the personal interests of the president being the same as the policy interests of the United States.
- Officials close to Trump were infuriated by Mulvaney’s comments during his news conference that essentially acknowledged a quid pro quo under which Ukraine would receive aid in exchange for helping with a Justice Department investigation that might benefit Trump’s campaign.
- One Trump adviser said Mulvaney did “far more damage” than Sondland’s testimony, calling it “totally inexplicable.”
- “He literally said the thing the president and everyone else said did not happen,” the adviser said
- Mulvaney issued a statement Thursday afternoon, accusing the media of “misconstruing” his earlier remarks to the press at the White House “to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump.”
- White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who came to the White House briefing room to make the announcement, was asked repeatedly by reporters how the selection of Trump Doral for next year’s summit, which will take place June 10 to 12, was appropriate and how the president would not profit from the selection…
- …Mulvaney responded that Trump Doral would host the summit “at cost,” which, he said, meant it was millions of dollars cheaper — about half the cost — of another site that had been under consideration…
- …The Democrat who heads the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, said in a statement, “The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption. He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain. The Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption.”
- The Trump National Doral Miami provides Trump “more revenue than any other hotel or golf club,” The Washington Post reports. “Since 2015, however, the 643-room club’s revenue and profits have nose-dived, according to figures that the Trump Organization provided to Miami-Dade County last year.” According to a Trump Organization tax consultant, in fact, Trump Doral was “severely underperforming” other area resorts.
- And now this “severely underperforming” resort will get massive international media exposure as it hosts world leaders—eight of them in a hotel with two presidential suites. (Reminder: “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.”)
- The summit will fill the property at a time of year when it has been less than 40% full in recent years, thanks in large part to Miami’s hot, sticky weather, but also presumably to that whole “severely underperforming” thing. The international media exposure could backlash, though, if the G-7 guests are met with the same kind of disgusting health code violations that have plagued the resort.
- The climate crisis will not be formally discussed at the G7 summit in June next year, Donald Trump’s acting White House chief of staff said on Thursday.
- “Climate change will not be on the agenda,” Mick Mulvaney told reporters, without elaborating…
- …From weakening regulation on vehicle emissions to blocking warnings about how coastal parks could flood and withdrawing funding for conservation programs, the Trump administration is accused of consistently ignoring, burying and undermining climate science.
- The White House’s stance is likely to be widely criticized, possibly even by members of the president’s own party. Florida is on the frontline of the climate crisis, facing ever stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels. While the state’s elected leaders had long denied climate science, they have recently started to change their tune. In August, the Republican senator Marco Rubio wrote that “climate change is a real problem”
Vice President Mike Pence announced that he and Turkish President Erdogan agreed to a “ceasefire” halting Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, launched after President Donald Trump effectively gave Turkey the go ahead on a phone call with Erdogan earlier this month.
- The deal appears to secure Turkey most of its military objectives
- Kurdish forces are expected to cede a vast swath of territory
- The Turkish government says the agreement is not a ceasefire, only a “pause” on operations
- It’s significant that Putin and Erdogan are meeting that day after the “pause” supposedly ends
- In exchange, the Trump administration agreed not to implement new sanctions
- Armed forces aligned with Turkey have already violated the “pause”
The president indicated Erdogan will be visiting the US soon, as he was telling the press the deal an “amazing outcome,” saying
- “I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdoğan. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because, frankly, he’s a hell of a leader, and he’s a tough man,” Trump told reporters while traveling in Texas.
The Turkish President has a different take on it:
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday warned the United States that it would pay a price for the letter send by President Donald Trump that warned him that history “will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen” in northern Syria.
- The letter, which also advised Erdoğan to not “be a tough guy” or “a fool,” was widely ridiculed in the media for sounding childish. Erdoğan, however, said on Friday that he took the president’s letter as a serious insult to his stature as a world leader.
- As reported by the BBC’s Jon Sopel, Erdoğan called out the president’s letter for being out of line with standard diplomatic protocol, and he suggested his country would not forget how the president showed them such little respect.
- “When the time comes necessary steps will be taken,” the Turkish president said, according to Sopel.