Posts tagged with "Face the Nation"

Trump allowed no transcripts of Putin meetings

January 15, 2019

Talk about wiggle room. It would be hard to judge U.S. President Donald Trump on his initial meeting with  Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2017, because he did not allow any English-speaking note-takers in the room and no formal transcript remains of the discussion, The Wall Street Journal reported on January 13.

What’s more, the Journal said, senior administration officials were never briefed on the tête-a-tête, according to informed sources.

Indeed, when Trump and Putin first met in Germany, it was the Russians who asked to have a note-taker present, according to sources. Telling aides that he wanted to reduce the chance for leaks, the president, in an unconventional move, allowed only then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to be present at the session; and instead had him take notes with the intention of relaying the details to relevant officials afterward, they said.

The president went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep his discussions with Putin from leaking, according to one person familiar with the planning, including preventing any details of the meeting from circulating widely within the government.

“It was very unusual,” the source said.

Unlike most prior administrations, the. Trump White House doesn’t keep records of every meeting between the president and a foreign leader, a former national security official told the Journal—adding that Trump made that call in an effort to build relationships with foreign counterparts. “He does not use traditional diplomatic techniques,” the official said.

“There aren’t records of his meetings like you’d expect,” said one foreign official, adding that the administration also cut back on phone call transcripts since his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia leaked out early in his presidency.

However, Trump said claims that he took extraordinary measures to keep his discussions with Putin secret were ridiculous.“I had a conversation like every president does,” the president said in an interview Saturday on Fox News. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries. I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less.”

In response, House Democrats said they would explore whether President Trump sought to limit documentation of the meetings, in what could be one of their first actions to probe the president since they took control of the House this month.

“Every time Trump meets with Putin, the country is told nothing,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-New York) said in a statement. “We will be holding hearings on the mysteries swirling around Trump’s bizarre relationship with Putin.”

The flurry of media reports on the lack of note-taking came on the heels of a report by The New York Times that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into. Trump after he fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written,” Trump said of The New York Times report in the Fox News interview.

Members of the Trump administration and Republicans dismissed the report. “The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Research contact: @vmsalama

Pence remains obfuscator-in-chief, saying on CBS talker, ‘I would’ speak to Mueller

September 11, 2018

Speaking on CBS-TV’s Face the Nation political talk show on September 9, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he would sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, if asked.

“I would. I would be more than willing to continue to provide any and all support in that,” Pence said during one segment of the show. And we have outside counsel that will advise me accordingly.”

Mueller and his team are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and are probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. On Sunday, Pence told Magaret Brennan during an exclusive interview at the White House that Mueller’s team hasn’t broached the topic of an interview.

“He has not” asked for an interview, Pence said. “Although we’ve provided any and all information, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Mueller has been haggling with President Donald Trump’s legal team over an interview—in-person and/or in writing.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, said last week that the two sides remain at odds over the subject of the interrogation—specifically, whether prosecutors could ask questions about obstruction of justice—as well as the way in which it would be conducted.

Trump has confirmed that  “he’s open” to an interview—under the right conditions. What those conditions would be is unclear, as the president’s team seems to be “moving the goalposts,” depending on the ask from the Mueller probe.

And while Trump has publicly disparaged the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” meant to undermine him, Pence said Sunday the investigation isn’t a “focus” for him or the president.

“It’s just not been my focus, and it’s not the president’s focus,” Pence said, in his ongoing function as obfuscator-in-chief.

“I mean,” the vice president said, “the reason why we’re making the progress that we’re making all across this country, rebuilding our military, restoring America’s strength in the world, seeing the opportunity for peace emerge on the Korean Peninsula.”

As of June 10, President Trump’s approval rating was posted on the Gallup Poll as 40%; with disapproval up to 54%.

Research contact: cobrien@politico.com

Trump whacks Germany’s Merkel and U.S. Democrats, while defending his own immigration stance

June 19, 2018

Fully 56% of the 1,000 U.S. adults polled by Ipsos on behalf of The Daily Beast this week say that it is not “appropriate” to separate children from their parents at the border—and yet President Donald Trump continues to blame his administration’s zero-tolerance policy incorrectly on the Democrats and to assert that Germany’s more open immigration program has led to a rise in crime.

On June 18, the POTUS tweeted, “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up.”

Several minutes later, Trump added, “Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture! We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”

However, according to a report by USA Today, in May, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior actually rebutted the claims that Trump currently is making—noting that the total number of crimes committed in the country in 2017 had fallen 5.1% from the previous year.

Case closed? Far from it: Just weeks later, Interior Minister Horst Seehoffer has turned on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, threatening her leadership.

Although he refuted the crime statistics, Seehoffer has created a so-called “migration masterplan” in the interim, according to the UK news outlet, The Daily Mail. Under his proposal, the German border police would be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union.

Merkel rejects the idea, believing that it would be perceived by the rest of her allies in the European Union as a “Germany First” decision—and that it would further burden such front-line Mediterranean countries as Italy and Greece.

On the other side of the pond, U.S. immigration rights advocates—most of them, Democrats—support Merkel and are fighting Trump’s hard-line “America First” stance.

With more than 2,000 children already torn from their parents’ arms, a contingent of Democratic legislators insisted on inspecting a facility in McAllen, Texas, where the youngsters were being held this week.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), who was part of that group, released a tweet on June 17: “Just left Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen—aka ‘the dog kennel.’ Witnessed loads of kids massed together in large pens of chain-linked fence …. @realDonald Trump, change you shameful policy today! #FamiliesBelongTogether

And even a few Republicans are pushing back. Representative Susan Collins (R-Maine) commented during an appearance on CBS-TV’s Face the Nation on Sunday that, “What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that, if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you. That’s traumatizing to the children, who are innocent victims and it is contrary to our values in this country.”

Former First Lady Laura Bush wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, also on Sunday, in which she said, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And It breaks my heart.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan—who rarely says a word against the administration’s policies—admitted, “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” when asked by a pool of reporters, but blamed the situation on “a court ruling,” according to Time magazine.

Will the Trump administration budge? Not if you listen to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has shown little pity for the plight of the children. He spoke in support of the zero-tolerance policy earlier this month: “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.”

Research contact: gideon.resnick@thedailybeast