The president likes him, but the VA secretary is at odds with his own staff over policy. And the fight is spilling out into the open.
Power Briefing: Key lines from MUELLER indictment of 13 RUSSIANS accused of meddling in U.S. election
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said "there is no allegation in this indictment" that any American knowingly participated.
Также он ответил на вопросы спецкомитета Палаты представителей, на которые ранее отказался отвечать.
The financial noose around Jared Kushner is once again tightening. One month after the NYT reported that the records of Trump's son-in-law at Deutsche Bank were subpoenaed, today Bloomberg reports that now the IRS is getting involved, and now US tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Kushner’s family. The latest instance of following Kushner's money involves gathering information from people who lent money and assembled investors for some Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey, Bloomberg's source said, with some deals dating as far back as 2010. The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department issued the subpoenas within the past year, according to the person. This particular tax inquiry appears unrelated to other investigations that have since burst into public view, and reportedly began before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May to investigate Russian election meddling. In a separate action around that time, U.S. prosecutors in Brooklyn sought information from Kushner Cos. about its use of a foreign visa program. In the tax investigation, it’s unclear whether authorities are looking at Kushner business associates or the company itself. A lawyer for Kushner's company, Charles J. Harder, said that "Kushner Cos. is not under investigation for any tax issues. It has had no contact with anyone at the IRS or Justice Department Tax Division. It has received no subpoenas or audit requests about its taxes. It is not in tax court on any audits. If there is an investigation about others’ taxes, it has nothing to do with Kushner Cos. or its businesses." Well, it has not received them yet: once the DOJ finds malfeasance on the lender side, the borrower's details will be promptly requested too. To be sure, if the IRS really wants dirt, it won't be difficult to find: the Kushner Cos. was embroiled in a criminal tax case more than a decade ago. Jared Kushner’s father, Charles, pleaded guilty in 2004 to lying about political donations, cheating on his taxes and witness intimidation after arranging a videotape of a brother-in-law having sex with a prostitute. Four years later, another top company executive was convicted of conspiracy and aiding the filing of false partnership tax returns. Prosecutors accused him of creating false returns by illegally claiming $6 million in deductions for charitable and political contributions, capital expenditures and gift and entertainment expenses. In all, seven people were convicted of tax charges in the scheme. Kushner Cos. wasn’t accused of wrongdoing. The previously unreported IRS probe is in addition to a probe being conducted by the SEC and Brooklyn prosecutors who issued subpoenas to Kushner Cos. last May, seeking details on its use of the EB-5 program for foreign investors. The EB-5 program offers foreigners green cards and permanent residence in exchange for investing $500,000 in certain U.S. businesses that create at least 10 jobs per investor. Kushner Cos. used the program to build a Trump-branded apartment building in Jersey City and sought to draw on it for another project there. Furthermore, the Brooklyn prosecutors also requested documents from Deutsche Bank related to a retail property that the Kushners bought in 2015 for $296 million. Within a year, that property, formerly the New York Times headquarters, was appraised at $445 million, and the Kushners took out $370 million in loans, including $285 million from Deutsche Bank. The bank sold most of the debt to Wall Street investors. The focus of that inquiry isn’t clear.
Global stocks, bond yields and commodities all jumped higher on Thursday while the dollar plunge continued, as investors suddenly seemed to forget the inflation fears blamed for a brutal market sell-off in recent weeks. Last week's volocaust is a fading, distant memory, and this morning global stocks - albeit without China which is on weekly holiday for the Lunar New Year - continue their relentless surge with the Dow set to open back over 25,000, even as yields rise and the 10Y is fast approaching 3.00%, thanks to a plunging dollar which fell for a firth day, keeping financial condition well lubricated. As a result, global stocks and futures are a sea of green this morning despite growing inflationary noise in the background. Commenting on the overnight price action, one major bank said it can be briefly summarized as: bearish USD, bearish fixed income, bullish equities, bullish oil. As the trader notes, "We’ve definitely been here before – in fact, it was the consensus trade for 2018 until the recent market rout questioned the move." Therefore there’s certainly a sense of déjà vu as the paradoxical moves in markets continue at least until inflation fears hit the next tipping point and launch the next equity market selloff. In the meantime, one can scratch their heads: the bank adds that "the bewildering nature of recent price action has become a somewhat familiar feature of markets lately." One needs just three charts to understand what is going on on most days: futures are up, as they are this morning... ... even if yields are sharply higher, which they also are as the 10Y rises above 2.93%... ... as long as the dollar is tumbling, and financial conditions are looser. As Reuters notes, economists were struggling to explain the turnaround except for the argument that historically it’s not unusual for stocks and bond market borrowing costs to rise in tandem with a rapidly expanding economy. Some just blamed the weather and time of year. They speculated that strong U.S. inflation data on Wednesday that many had predicted could reignite the rout was probably distorted. They also said the looming Chinese New Year may have caused Asian traders to square up. Meanwhile, bond traders increased their expectations for the number of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes to four by the end of next year after yesterday's blistering CPI report. The inflation figures gave rise to debate among investors and traders on the breakdown in correlations to interest rates, as currency investors focused instead on the U.S.’s twin deficits. “For me it’s a clear indication that inflation is not as big a threat as people made it out to be over the past couple of weeks,” said Lukas Daalder, chief investment officer at Robeco in Rotterdam. "The trend behind the market is still very strongly pointed upwards. 2017 was a very momentum-driven market, and if that’s still the case, which after yesterday it appears to be, then we will probably see new highs before too long." Volatility shrank back rapidly too. The VIX index fell all the way back to 18, less than half the 50-point peak touched last week. * * * Whatever the reason, the animal spirits were back. However, should the dollar and yields rise at the same time, run. For now, China is off to enjoy the Lunar New Year and welcome the Year of the Dog, and there’s another celebration in EM FX as the ZAR continues to revel in the resignation of Zuma. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index took its cue from a rally in the truncated Asian session, to advance for a second day - ignoring the growing, $22 billion Bridgewater short of European stocks - as traders assessed earnings from heavyweights including Nestle and Airbus while eyeing rising bond yields that may be approaching a critical level for the direction of equity markets. As a result, the Stoxx 600 climbed 0.4%, heading for a weekly gain of ~2%. Airbus advanced 8.9% in the best performance among single stocks on the gauge after the planemaker struck an optimistic tone in its outlook for 2018, promising earnings growth of 20%. Nestle dropped 2.6% after it posted the weakest sales growth in more than 20 years. Elsewhere, South African exposed Old Mutual (+3.8%) and Anglo American (+3.0%) lead the FTSE 100 as South Africa now eyes life-after Zuma with Ramaphosa now appointed as Preisdent. Miners occupy a bulk of the other outperformers in the UK amid movements in the commodity complex with Antofagasta (+2.9%) also lifted after winning approval for a USD 1.1bln revamp of its Los Pelambres copper mine. In Asia, Australia's ASX 200 (+1.2%) was positive with its biggest movers dictated by earnings releases and as commodity names were underpinned by strength in the complex. Elsewhere, Nikkei 225 (+1.5%) advanced and managed to ignore the latest plunge in the USDJPY, which took out downside stops after Finance Minister Taro Aso said the currency’s strength isn’t abrupt enough to require intervention- as well as a slump in machine orders, while Hang Seng (+1.6%) closed the session as the outperformer in a holiday-shortened session, before it joined mainland China for Lunar New Year celebrations. In FX, it was all about the ongoing dollar weakness, which persisted pushing the Bloomberg Dollar Index down a fifth day. The dollar tumbled though across the board, including to a 15-month low against the yen of 106.18 yen as worries about the U.S. government’s finances seemed to set again after a White House-led spending splurge and recent corporate tax cuts. That also marked a drop of 3.8 percent from its early February peak near 110.50 yen, while the euro and pound both climbed back above the $1.25 and $1.40 thresholds. “The story I hear most frequently from people is it’s the re-emergence of the twin deficits,” said RBC Capital Markets head of currency strategy Adam Cole, in London, of the dollar’s persistent weakness. “There seem to be concerns on the U.S. fiscal position and what that implies for the current account.” The EUR/USD climbed a fifth day, approaching Jan. 25 high of 1.2537, which was the highest since Dec. 2014, while GBP/USD sustains advance over 1.40 on reports of the EU’s softening Brexit stance, set for fourth daily rise. As noted above, the USD/JPY slipped; the yen earlier touched its strongest level since Nov. 2016 versus the dollar on comments from the finance minister dismissing the need for intervention. The South African rand was the biggest gainer versus the dollar among its major peers on news of Jacob Zuma’s resignation; the rand appreciated to its strongest level since Feb. 2015. Looking at the ongoing Brexit drama, UK PM May is reportedly facing a crisis related to the Brexit border deal, after Northern Ireland power sharing discussions were said to have collapsed. Separately the Telegraph reported that the EU will demand the right to raid financial services firms in Britain after Brexit and hand its regulators sweeping new powers, as Brussels moves to shackle the City of London with red tape after the UK leaves the bloc. Finally, in some good news, the BBC reported that EU diplomats have removed a so-called "punishment clause" from a draft text of the arrangement for the Brexit transition period, the BBC understands. However, it was later reported that the EU denied this was the case... In the commodities complex, WTI and Brent crude futures trade in close proximity to recent highs seen in the wake of yesterday’ssmaller than expected build in the DoEs and comments from Saudi with prices also supported by the broad softness in the USD. Inmetals, gold prices have also benefitted from the softer USD, although gains are likely capped by the broad-based risk sentiment inthe market. Elsewhere, copper prices have hit their highest level in 10 days amid this morning’s risk environment, while priceaction was relatively limited during Asia-Pac trade given the closure of the Shanghai Futures Exchange for the Lunar New Year holiday. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.8% to 2,718.50 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.8% to 377.54 MSCI Asia Pacific up 1.4% to 176.14 MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan up 1.3% to 578.63 Nikkei up 1.5% to 21,464.98 Topix up 1% to 1,719.27 Hang Seng Index up 2% to 31,115.43 Shanghai Composite up 0.5% to 3,199.16 Sensex up 0.4% to 34,273.84 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.2% to 5,908.99 Kospi up 1.1% to 2,421.83 German 10Y yield rose 2.4 bps to 0.781% Euro up 0.3% to $1.2492 Italian 10Y yield fell 2.0 bps to 1.795% Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.6 bps to 1.52% Brent futures up 0.2% to $64.49/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,354.33 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.4% to 88.76 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Cyril Ramaphosa faces a tough road ahead as South Africa’s new president after Jacob Zuma’s resignation late Wednesday ended nine years of his scandal-marred administration. Ramaphosa remains acting president until his expected election in parliament later Thursday U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family, according to a person familiar with the matter. Japanese Finance Minister Aso said the yen’s recent move isn’t abrupt enough to warrant intervention causing the yen to climb A report from Politico that the European Union is looking to ease Brexit transition conditions, helped support the pound Merkel vows to ensure Germany maintains balanced budget Japan’s Aso says yen strength isn’t abrupt enough now to intervene Kuroda says BOJ will continue to take best policy for price target Australia Jan jobs 16.0k vs 15.0k est; unempl. rate 5.5% vs 5.5% est Singapore Jan exports -0.3% vs 4.2% est; y/y 13.0% vs 8.9% est Asian stocks traded higher as the region received a tailwind from US where all major indices finished with firm gains and the DJIA posted its best 4-day performance in almost a decade. ASX 200 (+1.2%) was positive with its biggest movers dictated by earnings releases and as commodity names were underpinned by strength in the complex. Elsewhere, Nikkei 225 (+1.5%) advanced and managed to overlook a firmer JPY and slump in machine orders, while Hang Seng (+1.6%) closed the session as the outperformer in a holiday-shortened session, before it joined its mainland counterparts for Lunar New Year celebrations. Finally, 10yr JGBs were relatively flat with early mild pressure seen amid the uptick in riskier assets, although this was later counterbalanced amid the BoJ’s presence in the market for 1yr-10yr JGBs totalling over JPY 1tln. Top Asian News Philippine Central Bank Cuts Reserve Ratio by 1 Point to 19% Abe Said to Be Likely to Nominate BOJ Governor on Friday IDG-Backed China Online Credit-Checking Firm Is Said to Plan IPO Cathay Pacific Supplier Topcast Aviation Is Said to Pursue Sale European bourses trade higher across the board (Eurostoxx 50 +0.6%) in a continuation of the sentiment seen yesterday on Wall Street and overnight in Asia-Pac trade. On a sector basis, consumer staples underperform following lacklustre earnings from Swiss-titan Nestle (-2.2%), with the index heavyweight subsequently leading the SMI to lag its peers in the region. Elsewhere, South African exposed Old Mutual (+3.8%) and Anglo American (+3.0%) lead the FTSE 100 as South Africa now eyes life-after Zuma with Ramaphosa now appointed as Preisdent. Miners occupy a bulk of the other outperformers in the UK amid movements in the commodity complex with Antofagasta (+2.9%) also lifted after winning approval for a USD 1.1bln revamp of its Los Pelambres copper mine. Elsewhere, Standard Life (-4.9%) sits at the bottom of the FSTE 100 after Scottish Widows and Lloyds sent notices to co. to terminate investment management relations. Finally, earnings dominate the state of play in the CAC with Airbus (+9.3%), Schneider Electric (+3.6%) and CapGemini (+2.5%) all lifted by encouraging earnings. Top European news Dalio Causes Stir With $18 Billion Surge in European Short Bets Austrian Bitcoin Scam May Affect Over 10,000 Users, Presse Says In the Age of Brexit, Events Manager RELX Opts for London Base In FX, Japan’s Finance Minister Aso has given the green light for Jpy bulls to charge on, and 106.00 vs the Usd is now within striking distance given little in the way of technical support until 105.85 vs the latest 106.20 low. Moreover, all other G10 rivals are eyeing recent peaks vs the Greenback with Cable just eclipsing the 1.4067 level posted after the BoE’s hawkish policy guidance shift on February 8th, while Eur/Usd almost challenged Fib resistance at 1.2518 ahead of the 1.2537 year to date high before slipping back below 1.2500. Usd/Chf is toppy around the bottom of a 0.9300-0.9230 range, while Nzd/Usd has rebounded above the 0.7400 handle and Aud/Usd is over 0.7950 despite mixed jobs data overnight and ahead of RBA Governor Lowe orates later today. Usd/Cad relatively steady albeit sharply down from Wednesday’s post-US CPI data spike highs and sub-1.2500 amidst ongoing NAFTA uncertainty and awaiting a speech from BoC Deputy Governor Schembri. All this leaves the Dollar Index below 89.00 again and vulnerable against a deeper set-back towards 2018 lows under 88.50, especially as the Usd continues to suffer broader losses with the likes of Usd/Zar sliding towards 11.6400 in wake of the resignation of Zuma as SA President with immediate effect. In the commodities complex, WTI and Brent crude futures trade in close proximity to recent highs seen in the wake of yesterday’s smaller than expected build in the DoEs and comments from Saudi with prices also supported by the broad softness in the USD. In metals, gold prices have also benefitted from the softer USD, although gains are likely capped by the broad-based risk sentiment in the market. Elsewhere, copper prices have hit their highest level in 10 days amid this morning’s risk environment, while price action was relatively limited during Asia-Pac trade given the closure of the Shanghai Futures Exchange for the Lunar New Year holiday. Looking at the day ahead, the January PPI and IP, February empire manufacturing, February Philly Fed PMI, February NAHB housing market index and the latest weekly initial jobless claims readings are all due in the US. In Europe Q4 employment data in France and the December trade balance for the Euro area are due. The ECB’s Mersch and Praet are also slated to speak at an event in Paris. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Empire Manufacturing, est. 18, prior 17.7 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 228,000, prior 221,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.93m, prior 1.92m 8:30am: PPI Final Demand MoM, est. 0.4%, prior -0.1%; Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.2%, prior -0.1% 8:30am: PPI Final Demand YoY, est. 2.4%, prior 2.6%; Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 2.0%, prior 2.3% 8:30am: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook, est. 21.6, prior 22.2 9:15am: Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.9%; Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.25%, prior 0.1% 10am: NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 72, prior 72 4pm: Total Net TIC Flows, prior $33.8b; Net Long-term TIC Flows, prior $57.5b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Happy Boxing Valentine’s Day. My wife went to bed at 7pm last night with the twins to desperately try to catch up on sleep while I watched a rampant Liverpool win 5-0 away from home in Europe on the telly, with Bloomberg TV on my iPad alongside me to catch up with the post CPI rally. A question for long time married readers though is when does romance come back into a marriage after having children? Anyway yesterday was one of those days where having the most important data release ahead of time probably wouldn’t have helped you much. In fact it may have helped you lose money in risk. The well above expectations number for CPI was negative for bonds - as you would have expected - but equities rallied hard (S&P 500 +1.34%) after a large sell off in the minutes following the release (S&P futures slumped c.-1.8%). The price action yesterday perhaps tells us that the normalisation from last week’s vol shock is more powerful for markets for now than the data. However if this inflation trend holds (as has been and still is our expectation) we’re in for some real fun and games in markets in 2018 once the dust settles. To be fair, weaker US retail sales (more details later) may have confused the story somewhat but it was all about inflation. For core, once we added in the extra decimal places the number came in at +0.349% putting clear air over the consensus estimate for just +0.2% and nearly rounding up to 0.4% MoM. In fact that was the largest monthly climb since March 2005 and kept the YoY steady at +1.8% (+1.7% expected). The three-month annualized rate also jumped to the highest since 2011 (+2.9%) and the six-month annualized rate also hit the highest since 2008 (+2.6%). The underlying components appeared to also affirm that inflation was relatively broad-based while there was a similar beat at the headline level (+0.5% mom vs. +0.3% expected). Treasury yields marched higher with 10 year yields +7.3bp higher on the day to 2.903%, but c9bp up from just before the release. 2 and 30yr yields were up 6.1 and 5.1bps on the day. A reminder that yesterday we published a note (link) showing asset prices in the first and second half of the 1960s using our economists’ framework that there are big similarities between the inflection point on inflation in the 1960s and the current day. In terms of US equities, sectors such as Banks (+2.55%), tech (+1.95%) and energy (+1.40%) led the rally. The VIX also swung c7pts intraday to close 5.7pts lower at 19.26. As we said earlier perhaps this current vol normalisation trend held sway yesterday but if inflation continues like this it feels impossible for us to imagine vol settling back down around 10 for a persistent period. We are likely to have some big trading days this year. This morning in Asia, markets are extending on the positive US lead. The Nikkei (+1.21%) and Hang Seng (+1.97%) are up as we type, while the Chinese markets are now closed until the 21st for the lunar New Year holidays. After the bell in the US, Cisco’s share price jumped c7% after guiding to higher than expected sales for the current quarter and plans to boost its share buybacks by $25bn. Elsewhere, the YEN rose for the fourth straight day (+0.4%), partly helped by Japan’s Finance minister Aso prior comments where he noted “the current situation doesn’t warrant special intervention. The Yen isn’t rising or falling abruptly”. Now recapping other markets performance from yesterday. European bourses initially traded lower post the US CPI print, but recovered throughout the day to be up c1%, partly aided by sound corporate results and supportive GDP prints. The Stoxx 600 (+1.07%), DAX (+1.17%) and FTSE (+0.64%) were all up and only the energy sector was in the red within the Stoxx. The VSTOXX fell 20% to 20.71. Over in government bonds, 10y Bunds and Gilts yields rose 0.7bp and 2.1bp respectively, while peripherals partly recovered from the prior day losses with yields down 1-6bp. Turning to currencies, the US dollar index weakened for the third consecutive day (-0.65%), while both the Euro and Sterling gained c0.8%. Elsewhere, the South African Rand was up 2.1% following President Zuma’s resignation. In commodities, WTI oil rebounded 2.38% to $60.60/bbl, in part as the latest EIA report showed US crude stockpiles rose less than expected last week. Precious metals gained c1.6% (Gold +1.59%; Silver +1.67%) and other LME base metals increased as the USD continues to fall (Copper +2.50%; Zinc +2.80%; Aluminium +1.80%). Away from the markets, President Trump said he supports a 25c per gallon increase in federal gasoline and diesel taxes to help pay for upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. So perhaps there is more potential to fund his $1.5bln infrastructure plans, although Republican Senator Grassley noted the tax hike was unlikely to come up for a vote in the Senate and that “he’ll never get it by (Senator) McConnell”. Staying in the US, our economists have been highlighting the upside risks to their growth outlook for some time. Given the recent passage of a bipartisan budget agreement provides for c$300 billion in additional discretionary spending over the next two years, they have now raised their 2018 real GDP growth forecast (Q4/Q4) to 2.9% (+0.3ppt) and the 2019 forecast rises to 2.5% (+0.4ppt). Following on, stronger growth should put further downward pressure on the unemployment rate, which they now expect will trough at 3.2% in 2019, about 1.5ppt below NAIRU. On rates, their views are unchanged and they continue to expect four rate hikes this year and three next year. But recent developments have tilted the balance of risks to the upside. Now turning to some of the Brexit headlines. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson seemed to support the status quo during the Brexit transition period by noting “things will remain as they are”. However, he does make a case for a clean break with the EU – leaving the single market and customs union and pursuing flexibility for the UK to choose which EU rules it wants to keep post Brexit. Elsewhere, he noted “Theresa” was the right PM for the UK to lead Brexit talks while also indicating “let’s not go there” in terms of a potential second referendum on Brexit. On the other side, the EC’s Juncker’s response was quite colourful, he noted some in British politics “are against the truth, pretending that I’m a stupid, stubborn federalist…that I’m in favour of the EU superstate”, but “I’m strictly against (a superstate)….we aren’t the United States of America, we are the EU…”. In Germany, Ms Merkel reiterated that the “black zero” fiscal prudence is the trademark of the CDU and “it will remain so in the future”. She noted that “if the SPD occupy the Finance Ministry in the future, our budget lawmakers will have to be even more careful that they don’t pile on new debt”. Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from yesterday. In the US, the core CPI for January was above market at 0.3% mom (vs. 0.2%) as discussed earlier. Price increases were well spread across the core CPI, but part of the CPI gain was from a 1.7% monthly increase in apparel prices, the biggest increase since 1990. Notably, retail sales missed expectations. In the details, headline retail sales was -0.3% mom (vs. +0.2% expected). Ex auto and gas sales (-0.2% mom vs. +0.3%) and control group sales (0.0% mom vs. +0.4% expected) were also accompanied by downward revisions to December sales. The data certainly suggested a weaker looking consumption profile to the start the year and will likely cause the street to reassess growth forecasts the current quarter. Indeed the Atlanta Fed slashed their Q1 forecast to 3.25% from 4% but be slightly careful as their could have been some post hurricanes payback here. Elsewhere, December business inventories slightly beat at 0.4% mom (vs. 0.3% expected). The Euro area’s 4Q GDP was in line at 0.6% qoq and 2.7% yoy. Across the countries, Germany’s 4Q GDP was also in line and solid at 0.6% qoq while Italy was slightly lower than expected at 0.3% qoq (vs. 0.4%). Elsewhere, the Euro area’s December IP was above market at 0.4% mom (vs. 0.1%), while Germany’s final reading of the January CPI was unrevised at 1.4% yoy. In Sweden the Riksbank left its policy rate at -0.5% and continued to forecast a gradual tightening from the second half of this year. Looking at the day ahead, the January PPI and IP, February empire manufacturing, February Philly Fed PMI, February NAHB housing market index and the latest weekly initial jobless claims readings are all due in the US. In Europe Q4 employment data in France and the December trade balance for the Euro area are due. The ECB’s Mersch and Praet are also slated to speak at an event in Paris. Nestle will report earnings.
The gun-control group Everytown said there has been 18 school shootings this year.
Here's the real story on the strict kosher lifestyle that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner follow.
Update (3 pm ET): More than a week after the Rob Porter domestic violence scandal first broke on the evening of Feb. 6, President Trump has finally weighed in, telling a room full of reporters that he is "totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind". "I am totally opposed to domestic violence. And everybody here knows that. I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said, so now you hear it, but you all know it." And as always, his delivery had that patented Trump touch... WATCH: President Trump: "I am totally opposed to domestic violence. And everybody here knows that. I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said, so now you hear it, but you all know it." pic.twitter.com/8pECavsbyZ — NBC News (@NBCNews) February 14, 2018 ...He left the room without saying anything about the fate of Chief of Staff John Kelly, which is presumably an optimistic sign for the former marine general... * * * It looks like the White House is standing by its man... Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday during an event sponsored by Axios said that, while the White House "could've done a better job" handling the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal, Chief of Staff John Kelly has, all in all, done a "remarkable" job. "John Kelly has done a remarkable job as chief of staff for the president of the United States and I look forward to working with him for many, many months to come," Pence said at an event sponsored by Axios. The vice president added that he would offer his advice on the matte directly to the president. Though, when asked outright if Kelly's explanation that he fired Porter "40 minutes" after learning about the allegations was completely truthful, Pence dodged. Pence also alluded to Kelly's son, who died during combat in Afghanistan. "There are very few Americans or American families that have served this country more honorably nor sacrificed more than the family of John Kelly," he said. Kelly, of course, insisted on Monday that the Porter situation "was all done right." Setting aside all the reports of West Wing staffers (and outside advisers) sharpening their knives at the opportunity to exact revenge on a chief of staff who hasn't been the most popular guy in the West Wing, it's understandable why the administration would want to keep Kelly on. Just imagine how much he knows. Also, as has previously been reported, the Porter issue has raised doubts about other members of the staff whose security clearances haven't been granted on a permanent basis yet. A group that notably includes Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Additionally, Pence reiterated during his remarks that North Korea is the "most oppressive and tyrannical regime" on the planet and that the country must relinquish its nukes before any kind of deal can be struck - though Pence reaffirmed that the US is open to talks.
For a moment yesterday afternoon, it appeared as if White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would weather what will likely be remembered as the 'Rob Porter spousal abuse controversy'. During the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained that there weren't any discrepancies between the initial timeline of events offered by Kelly and a new timeline that FBI Chief Christopher Wray offered during Senate testimony. But this morning, Bloomberg is back with another story about the collection of internal and external advisers to the president whispering in his ear that his well-respected chief of staff must go, despite their ostensibly tight bond. Some of that animosity is directly tied to Kelly's handling of the Porter story, as several senior staffers reportedly told Bloomberg that the former general had asked them to lie on his behalf. There is intense debate within the White House about what steps to take next. Trump himself has recently floated potential Kelly replacements with advisers, according to two of the people. Several White House officials, including some allied with Kelly, no longer believe he can survive the Porter episode. Some senior staff feel he asked them to lie on his behalf. Kelly stuck to his initial story during an interview with CNBC Tuesday, when he reiterated that Porter was gone "40 minutes" after Kelly learned the full extent of the allegations on the evening of Feb. 6. The White House contradicted Kelly by saying Porter officially left the next morning. As we hinted at yesterday, Bloomberg notes that the episode is "likely to focus renewed attention" on other members of the White House staff who don't already have permanent security clearances - a group that includes Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Kushner was famously repeatedly called out for leaving off several meetings with foreign officials - including the then-Russian ambassador to the US - from his disclosure forms, something he blamed on a clerical error. Several candidates have reportedly been floated to replace Kelly. These include OMB Chief Mick Mulvaney, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows. Trump has, in the past, shown a tendency to announce big firings at the end of the work week - a practice picked up, no doubt, from his previous life in the world of business. The president - who hasn't tweeted in a day - has yet to weigh in. Though we imagine we'll hear something definitive soon.
A network analysis of the structure of the president's inner circle suggests some surprising parallels.
В ближайшие два года мы станем свидетелями интереснейшей лоббистской войны между основными титанами американского военно-промышленного комплекса. При этом другие группы влияния также готовы вкладывать миллионы в продвижение своих интересов
The Rob Porter scandal has cast a spotlight on the security clearance process. And that's not good for Kushner.
An email circulated to the Office of Management and Budget in November said existing employees could keep working on interim clearances, but new hires would have to get full clearances.
An odd email sent moments after the inauguration by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, apparently to herself, describes a January 5, 2017 meeting between members of the U.S. intelligence community and President Obama, while Rice and the Obama were knee deep in "unmasking" the Trump team. We also know from recently released text messages between anti-Trump FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that "potus wants to know everything we're doing." In her email, Rice very deliberately notes that President Obama "stressed his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities "by the book". and that Obama "stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective." Rice's "CYA" email to herself is so bizarre in light of the fact that we now know the Trump-Russia investigation was anything but "by the book," that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a letter asking her just what in tarnation she knows. Grassley/Graham release a partially redacted email sent by Susan Rice to herself on Jan. 20, 2017 — 15 minutes after Trump took office — detailing a Jan. 5 Oval Office meeting w Obama about Russian hacking: pic.twitter.com/QRnYTmOfXF — Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) February 12, 2018 “It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation,” the two senators told Rice. Comey In addition to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, VP Joe Biden, Obama and Rice, the fifth participant in the Jan 5, 2017 meeting was none other than former FBI Director James Brien Comey Jr., also known as "Boyscoutish" Jim. What's notable about Comey's attendance in the meeting is that it appears he misled Congress about his contact with President Obama. Previously, Comey contended he only met with the Obama twice, once in 2015 and another “to say goodbye in late 2016,” according the former FBI director’s June 8, 2017, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016,” Comey’s opening statement read. -Daily Caller Comey's prepared statement to congress deliberately omits the January 5 meeting, and qualifies his meetings with Obama as "alone." In other words, since the Jan 5 meeting wasn't "alone," Comey didn't include it - thus, it appears he deliberately mislead Congress about his communications with President Obama. So while the former FBI Director painted a picture of minimal communication between the FBI, DOJ, and the Obama Administration in his briefing to Congress - we now know that they were in virtual lockstep over their efforts to surveil Donald Trump as a candidate, an incoming President, and a sitting President. Obama We also learned in the last week that President Obama was far more "hands on" the FBI investigation than he previously admitted - as revealed in a batch of text messages between anti-Trump FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, in which Page tells Strzok "potus wants to know everything we're doing." JUST IN: FBI lovers' latest text messages: Obama 'wants to know everything' https://t.co/SvQd9K4iDu — Fox News (@FoxNews) February 7, 2018 The message, from Page to Strzok, was among thousands of texts between the lovers reviewed by Fox News. The pair both worked at one point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation. Given this, was the January 5th meeting a huddle to discuss both the FBI's efforts and the unmasking taking place on Susan Rice's request? By the Book? As we noted, Rice's letter to herself was sent a few weeks after Rice and the Obama administration "unmasked" Trump aides after the election and shortly before the inauguration, as exposed by journalist Mike Cernovich on April 2, 2017: The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them. “Unmasking” is the process of identifying individuals whose communications were caught in the dragnet of intelligence gathering. While conducting investigations into terrorism and other related crimes, intelligence analysts incidentally capture conversations about parties not subject to the search warrant. The identities of individuals who are not under investigation are kept confidential, for legal and moral reasons. -Mike Cernovich Two days after the bombshell report, Rice appeared on MSNBC, where she said: “There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,” Rice said. “The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice told Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.... My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. " EXCLUSIVE: Susan Rice says the claim that intelligence was used for political purposes is “absolutely false” Watch: https://t.co/JdbgCtSgEN — MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017 Rice's eventual explanation for the unmasking is that the White House wanted to understand why senior Trump officials held a 2016 meeting with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said. -CNN Rice's unmasking campaign was ostensibly based on the FISA warrant obtained using an unverified dossier and a supporting Yahoo News article using information provided by former UK spy Christopher Steele who assembled the document. Not very "by the book" now, is it? To that end, the letter from Grassley and Graham ask several questions related to the FBI investigation, including one about FISA applications: When did you become aware of any surveillance activities, including FISA applications, undertaken by the FBI in conducting that investigation? At the time you wrote this email to yourself, were you aware of either the October 2016 FISA application for surveillance of Carter Page or the January 2017 renewal? During the meeting, did Mr. Comey or Ms. Yates mention potential press coverage of the Steele dossier? If so, what did they say? During the meeting, did Mr. Comey describe the status of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, or the basis for that status? When and how did you first become aware that the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded Mr. Steele’s efforts? Read the full Grassley / Graham letter here: * * * We look forward to Rice's response on this odd letter. Perhaps she and Comey will be asked to come back to The Hill and explain exactly what in the hell they were up to on January 5th, and why Rice sent herself that bizarre and transparent email.
Omarosa's been fired by Trump -- again. Here are all the reasons why, and how her story conflicts with what has been reported so far.
Even when the FBI recommends against granting a clearance, there’s nothing to prevent a president from simply overriding the system.
Ранее в СМИ ходили слухи о том, что Бэннон сам является сторонником концепции "превосходства белых". Бывший сотрудник Белого дома эти слухи не подтвердил, но и не опроверг, выразив вполне определенные опасения.
Р. Абрамович и Дарья Жукова своевременно объявили о разводе. Почему — своевременно? Я бы хотела вернуться к главной теме Международного экономического форума в Санкт-Петербурге, ознаменовавшегося в 2017 году небывало высокой явкой. Главной темой в кулуарах был один вопрос, и касался он совсем не увеличения потока инвестиций в экономику Российской Федерации.
Попытка унизить – или знак уважения? Востоковеды обсуждают, как именно воспринял Китай тот факт, что сенсационный удар ракетами «Томогавк» по Сирии США предприняли именно в тот момент, когда лидер КНР встречался с Дональдом Трампом. В чем они солидарны – это точно не было случайным совпадением. «Наш президент сообщил о происходящем китайскому лидеру в тот момент, когда удары наносились», – заявил журналистам в пятницу официальный представитель Белого дома, которого цитирует ТАСС. Трамп, принимающий председателя КНР Си Цзиньпина «на своем поле», за ужином просто сообщил китайскому гостю, что «предпринимается эта акция», и пояснил, «что ей предшествовало». Си оказался первым из мировых лидеров, которого Трамп поставил в известность о ракетной атаке на сирийскую базу Шайрат – причем сделал это лично. При этом позиция Пекина известна, и она не менялась. О ней в пятницу напомнил официальный представитель МИД Китая Хуа Чуньин: КНР уважает выбор сирийского народа, сделанный в пользу Башара Асада. Сами американо-китайские переговоры, начатые накануне в поместье Трампа «Мар-а-Лаго» во Флориде, президент США назвал «замечательными». Трамп заявил, что встреча с Си Цзиньпином позволила продвинуть вперед отношения Вашингтона и Пекина. С другой стороны, еще в конце марта Трамп анонсировал встречу с лидером КНР как очень сложную. А накануне прилета Си во Флориду США озвучили список жестких требований к Китаю – как экономических, так и политических. В частности, Вашингтон заранее дал понять, что не откажется от размещения ПРО в Южной Корее, что крайне нервирует Китай. Атака на Сирию, пришедшаяся на финал ужина Трампа и Си, оказалась как нельзя кстати. Демонстрация мощи и создание барьера «Трамп попытался показать, что США сохраняют свои позиции. Вопрос – специально ли к встрече с Си Цзиньпином приурочен этот удар, или были какие-либо иные причины. Это важный вопрос, ответ на который хотелось бы знать», – отметил в беседе с газетой ВЗГЛЯД директор Центра экономических и социальных исследований Китая, замдиректора Института Дальнего Востока РАН Андрей Островский. Трамп специально объявил об атаке именно в период визита Си Цзиньпина, – считает эксперт Центра анализа стратегий и технологий Василий Кашин, указывающий на это в публикации портала Defence.Ru. Президент США «дал понять Си Цзиньпину, кто в доме хозяин, и тем самым диктовать условия на переговорах», – полагает Островский. Таким образом, подчеркивает собеседник, новый американский лидер намерен создать барьер на пути претензий Пекина. Эксперт сравнивает поведение Трампа с поведением Гарри Трумэна – в 1945 году президент США сообщил Сталину о бомбе, сброшенной на Хиросиму. Советский же лидер сделал вид, что не понял, о чем идет речь. Китай, по мнению Кашина, воспримет атаку на Сирию в момент визита Си как преднамеренное унижение. Китайцы «сделают хорошую мину», а «потом отомстят». Такое демонстративное бравирование силой грозит похоронить наметившееся улучшение отношений с Китаем. Но существует мнение, согласно которому Трамп ведет более тонкую игру. Демонстрация уважения и создание безвыходной ситуации «Трамп показал свое уважение к Китаю, сообщив новость именно лидеру Китая, а не лидеру какой-либо из своих стран-союзниц», – полагает профессор факультета мировой экономики и мировой политики НИУ ВШЭ Алексей Маслов. Послание, связанное с бомбардировкой Сирии, связано с политикой Трампа в отношении Азии вообще, а не только по отношению к Ближнему Востоку, отметил востоковед в беседе с газетой ВЗГЛЯД. Маслов отмечает: если немного «отмотать назад», то можно обратить внимание, что буквально неделю назад в интервью газете Financial Times Трамп по сути дела поставил Китай в безвыходную ситуацию. «Он сказал буквально следующее: господин Си должен помочь нам с Северной Кореей, иначе наш ответ будет unilateral – «односторонним», – полагает эксперт. – Сначала был намек на то, что Китай должен сильнее нажать на КНДР. Китай не отреагировал на это более активным образом, как показалось Трампу», – отмечает Маслов. Бомбардировкой Сирии американцы показывают, что нечто подобное может произойти и в регионе Восточной Азии, считает собеседник. «Именно поэтому Трамп первым сообщил эту новость именно Си Цзиньпину», – делает вывод он. С точки зрения собеседника, речь идет сугубо о двусторонних отношениях Вашингтона и Пекина. В данном случае Трамп вообще не принимал во внимание позицию Москвы. Россия вне повестки? «Представление о том, что Трамп пытается вбить клин между Россией и Китаем или «притянуть» Китай к США – несколько упрощенный взгляд», – отмечает Маслов. Для Трампа сегодня российская повестка не очень важна, или как минимум не первостепенна, полагает собеседник. «Более важна сугубо китайская повестка», – считает он. Главный вопрос в отношениях с Китаем, по мнению Маслова, это разделение зон ответственности в мире. Это касается и военной сферы, и торговых отношений. Но, добавляет Маслов, Трамп сделал «несколько несуразных шагов» как во время предвыборной гонки, так и сразу после выборов. «Тогда он в основном озвучивал мнение ультраправых китаистов – своих советников. Они убеждали, что Китай является основной экономической и даже военной угрозой для США. В результате по сути это возвело непреодолимый барьер между Трампом и Си Цзиньпином», – поясняет собеседник. Так было в январе-феврале. Но потом, отмечает Маслов, президент США изменил саму систему подхода к Китаю. Два шага навстречу Китаю Во-первых, китаисты-фундаменталисты были отключены от принятия экспертных решений, указывает Маслов. В основном связи между китайской стороной и Трампом идут через зятя Трампа Джареда Кушнера и вообще семейных связей Трампа, указывает Маслов. По сведениям New York Times, именно Кушнер (который уже достаточно давно налаживает бизнес-контакты с деловыми кругами Китая) был инициатором встречи Трампа и Си во Флориде. Зять нового президента рассматривается в Пекине как прагматик и перспективный партнер. Во-вторых, Трамп, казалось бы, вынужденно, признал идею «одного Китая», отмечает Маслов. Ранее, в рамках демонстрации «жесткости» по отношению к Пекину, Трамп демонстрировал готовность более тесно сотрудничать с Тайванем. Но состоявшийся в феврале первый телефонный разговор лидеров КНР и США стал ходом Трампа навстречу Китаю. «Это был «кивок» в сторону Си Цзиньпина. Но был и показательный момент: после телефонного разговора в американском и китайском пресс-коммюнике имелись расхождения, – отмечает Маслов. – В американском коммюнике было сказано: господин Трамп согласился с политикой «одного Китая» по просьбе Си Цзиньпина. В китайском коммюнике слов «по просьбе» не было. США показали, что они пошли навстречу Китаю». Особых плюсов по итогам встречи Трампа и Си ждать не придется – учитывая реальное состояние отношений Вашингтона и Пекина, считает Андрей Островский. «По логике вещей они не должны договориться ни о чем, – предполагает эксперт. – Ни по корейскому вопросу, ни по Южно-Китайскому, ни по попыткам Трампа ограничить объем экспорта и объем китайских инвестиций в Америку». Но, вне зависимости от итогов встречи, Трамп уже продемонстрировал, «кто в доме хозяин». Впрочем, вряд ли Пекин считает Поднебесную и в целом восточноазиатский регион частью американского «дома». Теги: Китай, Россия и Китай, США и Россия, Си Цзиньпин, Атака на Сирию, Дональд Трамп, США и Китай
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