Friday, December 21, 2018

10:11 AM 12/21/2018 - Trump Crisis

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I have to say, for the sake of fairness and the correct approach to the understanding of the present state of the Trump Crisis that it, in all likelihood, could not have been handled differently by the FBI and the IC. It is like an abscess which had to ripen before been drained. All possible connections and contacts had to be traced, the groundwork for the legal interventions had to be laid down. However, the opposite side of this coin is the crisis itself which, hypothetically, could have been easily and constitutionally prevented. This dilemma might be for the good legal minds to entertain. 

M.N.

12.21.18


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6:33 AM 12/21/2018 - The Russian Lessons – С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок: Trump’s withdrawal from Syria
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‘The base’ isn’t enough to save Trump or the GOP
US court sentences mob Razhden Pitersky to 45 years’ imprisonment
Putin Had a Bad 2018; Next Year Will Be Worse (Op-ed)
Judge Doubts FBI's Reasons for Hiding Gag Order Records
Trump's band of 'my generals' is disbanding
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis leaving Pentagon
Trump Says Defense Secretary James Mattis Will Retire In February
Document: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns
Comey says House Republicans are ‘shameful’ after interview – Brinkwire
Judge Sullivan said Michael Flynn betrayed America. But did he commit 'treason'?
Ethics officials said Whitaker should recuse from the Mueller probe, but his advisers told him not to, officials say
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6:33 AM 12/21/2018 - The Russian Lessons – С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок: Trump’s withdrawal from Syria

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Trump Investigations.


Russian Lessons – С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок: Trump’s withdrawal from Syria

с паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок — Викисловарь

Translate this pageДавай, Таткин, давай! ― послышались ободряющие голоса. ― С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок! Они у нас, гады, без денег все брали, а мы как-никак …‎Русский · ‎Семантические свойства

С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок – Translation into English …

Translations in context of “С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок” in Russian-English from Reverso Context: С паршивой овцы хоть шерсти клок.
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‘The base’ isn’t enough to save Trump or the GOP

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

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Remember the old saw about the salesman who loses money on every sale, but thinks he can make up the shortfall by selling in volume?
That’s what comes to mind every time I hear people say that President Trump is being shrewd by pandering to his base.
Consider last week’s remarkable Oval Office meeting between Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Trump. There is photo evidence, but no audio, to suggest that Vice President Mike Pence was also in the room. What was supposed to be a brief photo-op turned into a dramatic confrontation when the president invited television cameras to stay for the conversation.
As always happens after one of these political reality show spectacles, the chattering classes set out to score the bout. According to conventional rules, Pelosi and Schumer came out the winners. They got Trump to admit that if there’s a government shutdown over border wall funding, it will be all his doing. Just before the meeting, congressional Republicans were pre-spinning a “Schumer shutdown.” Pelosi solidified her claim to the House leadership, while Trump made future bipartisan deals with the Democrats – something he reportedly wants – less likely.
According to The Los Angeles Times’ Eli Stokols, even Trump realized he was taken when it was over: He “stormed out” of the meeting and threw a folder of briefing papers across the room.
Yet there was a loud contrarian analysis that said Trump came out a winner. Why? Because his base loves this stuff.
“If you are a supporter of the president’s policies,” wrote the Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis – no Trump booster himself – “this was an especially welcome display, a rare example of a president publicly fighting for his policy goal: a border wall.”
Across Fox News opinion shows and right-wing talk radio, the view that Trump won was nearly unanimous.
Even Yahoo News’ Matt Bai, a decidedly left-leaning observer, excoriated liberals for not understanding that “Trump knows that every time he flouts the staid convention of the office, every time he does the thing that seems inappropriate among the political set, he’s winning with the chunk of the electorate he still has.”
Sure. The problem is that chunk is not a majority.
Bai’s larger observation – that Trump is so embattled he can’t afford to lose his hard-core supporters – is a good one in the context of gaming out how Trump can survive impeachment. When looking at what advances this administration’s agenda or is good for the Republican Party, however, “his base loves it” doesn’t score any points.
Worse, it’s self-fulfilling prophecy. As he sheds the mostly suburban voters who gave him his margin of victory in 2016, of course he clings more tightly to those who celebrate the behaviors that are bleeding the GOP of support. They’re the only ones left. Proclaiming that “his base loves it” may be an explanation, but it’s no excuse. And it misses the point if you care about the GOP’s long-term viability or even Trump’s re-election prospects. He’s going to need more voters than his amen chorus.
Last month’s midterms showed what a national election looks like when only Trump enablers feel highly motivated to vote Republican. The GOP lost Orange County, Calif., the ancestral home of the conservative movement. New England now has more GOP governors than Republican members of Congress. In Iowa, the GOP lost all of its House races save for uber-Trumpy Steve King’s. A party in which only bigoted goons like King can thrive by fueling white resentment is destined for the dustbin of history.
The irony here is that Trump’s base will forgive him for nearly anything. He easily could have used the wall as leverage to gain Democratic support for mandating that all employers use E-Verify to confirm a prospective employee has legal immigration status. This is what serious immigration hawks have implored him to do – and he’d get credit for being the great deal-maker he claims to be.
But the larger irony is that his base-service led him to (this week’s) predicament: shutdown or back down.
Most presidents try to expand their coalition while holding onto their base. Trump has shrunk his coalition and laid the foundation for future shrinkage by forcing his party to endorse this behavior. Trump will be gone soon enough, but at this rate the party of Trump will be a rump party.
Email <a href="mailto:goldbergcolumn@gmail.com">goldbergcolumn@gmail.com</a>, Twitter @JonahNRO. (c) 2018 Tribune Content Agency LLC.
US court sentences mob Razhden Pitersky to 45 years’ imprisonment

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

He was found guilty of abduction, fraud, extortion, money laundering and links to organized criminal groups.
Judge Loretta Presca sentenced mob Razhden Shulai (Razhden Pitersky) to 45 years in prison. Kommersant cites the report on the website of the Prosecutor's Office of the Southern District of New York.
Also, the court confiscated property worth more than 2.16 million dollars and ordered to pay another 550 thousand dollars compensation for the damage. Also, after being released from prison, he will be under special police supervision for three years. By that time he will be 86 years old, he is unlikely to want to commit any new crimes.
Razhden Shulai was detained in June 2017 during a large-scale operation of the FBI and the prosecutor's office of New York. The thief in law was arrested in his own home, located on the banks of the Hudson River in New Jersey. In New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Nevada, more than thirty representatives of the Russian mafia headed by Shulai were detected. Most of the participants of the organized criminal group were detained, five are wanted.
According to the US attorney’s office, Razhden Pitersky’s gang was involved in some crimes, from cigarette smuggling, bank card fraud (skimming) and cargo theft to racketeering, drug and arms trafficking and murder.
The verdict to the mob could have been passed last week, but his case was postponed indefinitely. However, in spite of a large number of materials the judge review the documents in a short time.  
It was reported that federal Manhattan prosecutor Jeffrey Berman sent a new judge, Lorette Presque, to Sentencing Submission, which describes Shulai as the leader of a large and dangerous criminal syndicate who deserves 25 years in prison. In particular, he explains to her the term ‘thief in law.’ This Russian phrase, according to the prosecutor, means “the crime lord,” which can be compared to the “Godfather” in the Italian mafia.
Earlier, a jury recognized thief in law Razhden Shulai and one of his assistants - titled boxer Avtandil Khurtsidze - guilty of criminal conspiracy, extortion, theft, marketing of stolen goods and fraud. The charges ranged from 20 to 65 years in prison.
In September of this year, the ex-world boxing champion in the middleweight category according to the WBO and 2011 IBO world champion, Khurtsidze, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Putin Had a Bad 2018; Next Year Will Be Worse (Op-ed)

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

At his annual press conference on Thursday, a beatific Vladimir Putin said his re-election victory and the football World Cup held in Russia were the highlights of 2018. That’s a remarkably upbeat assessment of a year that was by no means one of the Russian president’s best.
He won another term in March with 77 percent of the vote, but, as in every election in the Putin era, researchers have found statistical evidence of vote rigging. Although the fraud worked for Putin, it failed to produce results in a series of gubernatorial elections this year. Even though the Kremlin managed to reassert control over key regions such as the Maritime Territory in the Far East, voters are finding it easier to resist manipulation and cheating.
The discontent developed in large part because of Putin’s decision to raise the retirement age to 63 from 55 for women and to 65 from 60 for men, a step that successive Russian governments haven’t had the courage to take since the Soviet Union’s collapse. The president made the change with all the accumulated skill of his 18 years in power, letting the government announce the move during the early dopamine rush of the World Cup, letting critics lay out their arguments and then making some token concessions. Still, that didn’t help: His popularity dropped sharply from the levels he had enjoyed since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014; it hasn’t recovered.
Of course, any politician would be happy with an approval rating above 60 percent, but there are more worrying signs for Putin. In a late November poll by Levada Center, the last independent nationwide polling organization in Russia, 61 percent of Russians said Putin is fully responsible for the nation’s problems. That’s the highest percentage since polling began; in March 2014, only 52 percent said Putin was fully responsible.
Putin is no longer immune from criticism, especially to young Russians who haven’t known any other ruler. The recent rebellion of some Russian rappers, including those previously loyal to Putin and his causes, and the prevalence of young people at rallies held by the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny cause alarm in the Kremlin. When the Russian president was asked at the news conference whether he was afraid of losing young people, he said they needed to be patiently convinced of the attractiveness of the conservative values he preaches. That hasn’t worked very well, so far.
The World Cup wasn’t a high point of the year for Putin alone; many Russians suddenly discovered that their country could open up to the world and throw off the constant fug of petty oppression. Smiling, lenient cops, multicolored, festive crowds, round-the-clock parties and a national team that played better than expected, gave people reason to feel happy for a while. But the comedown was inevitable; during the final game, Pyotr Verzilov, the producer of the politicized punk band Pussy Riot, and several young women rushed onto the field wearing police uniforms to draw attention to the other Russian reality: In September, Verzilov was poisoned after a court hearing; doctors in Berlin, where he was flown for treatment, managed to save him.
The perpetrators were never caught, but the use of poison by Putin’s Russia was the subject of much discussion in 2018 after the unsuccessful attack on the former spy Sergey Skripal in the U.K. That set off a series of uncomfortable revelations about the aggressive but awkward activities of Russian military intelligence, formerly known as the GRU. 
All of this dark stuff, plus revelations of Russia’s use of mercenaries in a number of countries from Ukraine to the Central African Republic, have made it difficult for Putin to play the international statesman. His meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki in July went worse than anybody could have expected; whatever was discussed, the blowback in the U.S. was so harsh that Trump had to give up on making any deals with Putin. Hopes of finding new inroads into Europe through relatively pro-Russian populist parties have failed — even the right-winger Matteo Salvini in Italy, who had called for lifting European Union sanctions against Russia, didn’t do anything for Putin after coming to power.
The Russian president’s only successes in Europe this year have to do with natural gas exports. One was Germany’s steadfast refusal to cancel the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project despite U.S. pressure and the objections of Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine. Germany badly needs more Russian gas to attain its environmental goals. The Turkish Stream pipeline, meant to supply Turkey and parts of southern Europe, recently made landfall in Turkey. If the pipelines come on stream in the next few years, they will be one of the few reasons for Russians to be grateful to Putin after he’s gone. But if they’re derailed by sanctions, they, too, will be part of his destructive legacy.
U.S. sanctions, meanwhile, got worse for Russia, and though the Trump administration intends to lift restrictions on Rusal, Russia’s biggest aluminum manufacturer, more punitive measures are likely to follow as a result of the Democrats’ victory in the American midterm elections in November. 
Putin also has been unable to convert Russian military success in Syria into political gains. Even if the U.S. pulls out its small force, a political settlement in favor of Putin’s ally Bashar Assad would be difficult. A deal wouldn’t be in the interests of Turkey, which also is heavily involved in Syria, and Germany and France, which are expected to cough up the funding for the country’s post-war restoration. Talks will drag on into next year, with uncertain results.
Nor does Putin have a strong grip on Libya and Venezuela, which are strategically important to the Russian oil sector. The Kremlin has made inroads in both, cultivating current and potential strongmen, but the situation in both countries is volatile. Remaining a force there while fighting on all the other foreign fronts will be a huge challenge of Putin’s remaining years in office.
Ukraine, in particular, is a front on which Putin can’t seem to win. The Kremlin failed to prevent a split in the Orthodox Church caused by Kiev’s desire for spiritual independence from Moscow. Ukrainians in general haven’t warmed to Russia despite their country’s economic and military troubles, and they’re integrating more and more into the West. The next president of Ukraine, who will be elected in 2019, will find it hard to be accommodating toward Putin, even tactically.
Given Russia’s stagnant, inefficient, corruption-ridden economy and a population that’s likely to refuse to tighten belts any further, Putin can’t feel confident enough at home to take too many risks abroad. He might be tempted to try to regain popularity by stirring up trouble, but he’ll likely fight the temptation because, the second time around, it could have the opposite effect. His trusty propaganda machine cannot mask Russians’ dissatisfaction with economic conditions. At the news conference, Putin touted 0.5 percent growth in inflation-adjusted incomes this year, though, in reality, official data for the first 11 months show them down 0.1 percent. 
Next year will be tough. Without the emotional highs of re-election and a major sporting event, Putin will face a hard struggle against a completely alienated West, even as he tries to maintain a foothold in the Middle East and Africa and keep finances at home stable enough to withstand shocks from sanctions and he deals with a weakening oil price. With no spectacular achievements on the horizon, the autocrat’s fading appeal won’t be easy to restore, and factions within the regime preparing for the post-Putin era are likely to become bolder and more visible.
Judge Doubts FBI's Reasons for Hiding Gag Order Records

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Courthouse News Service.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge on Thursday doubted the government’s reasons for hiding the names of companies allowed to disclose that federal investigators made them turn over customers’ information without a warrant.
“I simply do not understand your argument for why you should be able to redact the names of these companies,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria told a U.S. government attorney in court Thursday.
The Justice Department is fighting a lawsuit demanding a list of internet and telecom companies freed from gag orders issued with national security letters (NSLs). The letters are secret government demands directing companies to hand over data on private citizens for national security reasons and without court review.
In 2013, a federal judge declared the use of gag orders with national security letters unconstitutional, but Congress passed a law in 2015 creating new requirements for periodically reviewing the non-disclosure directives. With those changes, the Ninth Circuit found last year that the use of gag orders for this surveillance tool does not violate the First Amendment. A request for an en banc rehearing in that case is still pending.
In court on Thursday, Justice Department lawyer Julia Heiman argued that unmasking companies who were cleared to talk about receiving the letters would reveal sensitive information about law enforcement techniques.
“What’s revealing about aggregating this information – more than 700 incidents – is it shows which companies have received more or less NSLs,” Heiman said.
Chhabria rejected that argument, noting the list would only show how many gag orders were dissolved for each company, not how many demands for customer data each received.
“What possible value could that have to anybody in terms of providing a window into law enforcement techniques?” the judge asked.
Hieman insisted the government has other compelling reasons to prevent the disclosure, but said she could not share them in public.
Chhabria granted her request to submit a declaration under seal, but warned that he would unseal it if he found no compelling reason to keep it secret.
“I’m highly skeptical that it’s going to help their cause, but maybe there’s something I haven’t thought about,” Chhabria said.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties watchdog, sued the government to obtain the gag order records in June 2017. EFF is also seeking guidance documents, memos and other records on the FBI’s procedures for adhering to the new requirements for national security letters.
EFF attorney Aaron Mackey said getting that information will help demonstrate whether the government is complying with its obligation to periodically review gag orders.
“EFF has long been concerned about [national security letters] because they are restraints on speech,” Mackey said.
EFF also represented two companies in a separate lawsuit challenging the gag orders, which the Ninth Circuit rejected last year. The appeals court found a reformed process for the non-disclosure orders withstood the “strict scrutiny” requirement for prior restraints on speech.
Reforms passed in 2015 allow companies to disclose a range of how many national security letters they receive, such as 0-499, but companies may not disclose the exact number of letters received or details on the type of information sought by the FBI.
Getting a list of companies who had gag orders terminated will shed light on how many businesses are speaking up about the use of this government surveillance tool, Mackey argued.
“We’re trying to understand to what extent is this actually happening and people are actually speaking about it as Congress intended,” Mackey said.
The 2015 reforms also enable companies to challenge the gag orders in court, but EFF has argued the government should bear the burden of going to court before restricting someone’s First Amendment rights.
Under FBI procedures adopted in line with the USA Freedom Act of 2015, the bureau must review the need to keep gag orders in place at three intervals: when each letter is issued, three years after each issuance, and when an investigation is closed.
Despite those requirements, Mackey said the FBI can still keep gag orders in place for as long as it wants.
“We think they’re still problematic and violate the First Amendment,” he said.

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Trump's band of 'my generals' is disbanding

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s band of “my generals” is disbanding.
A political novice, Trump took office nearly two years ago gushing about the retired military leaders who had agreed to serve in his administration: retired four-star Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis as defense secretary, and John Kelly, another retired four-star Marine general, heading the Department of Homeland Security.
In the White House, Trump installed retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
“I see my generals, generals who are going to keep us so safe,” Trump said hours after he’d been sworn into office in January 2017. “They’re going to have a lot of problems, the other side.”
He went on to describe the generals as “central casting. If I’m doing a movie, I pick you, Gen. Mattis, who’s doing really well.”
Here’s a look at Trump’s generals:
MICHAEL FLYNN
Flynn was first among the generals to leave the administration.
Just weeks into his new job, he was fired by Trump for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about conversations with Russian government officials.
Flynn has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between members of Trump’s presidential campaign, on which Flynn served, and Russia.
Flynn pleaded guilty to the federal crime of lying to the FBI and had been scheduled to be sentenced this week. Prosecutors even cited his extensive cooperation in recommending that he receive between zero and six months in prison as punishment. But the presiding judge abruptly postponed Tuesday’s sentencing after telling the court he was disgusted by Flynn’s crime of lying to the FBI and raised the unexpected prospect of sending the retired Army lieutenant general to prison after all.
__
JOHN KELLY
As homeland security secretary, Kelly’s efforts to combat illegal crossings at the Mexico border eventually caught the eye of Trump, who had campaigned on keeping people from entering the U.S. illegally. Trump often praised Kelly during public appearances and ultimately looked Kelly’s way after tiring of Reince Priebus as chief of staff.
But things between Trump and Kelly quickly soured, with reports of Trump bristling at the orderly processes the general imposed on the freewheeling president and White House operations at large.
Not politically savvy, Kelly didn’t help himself, either. He publicly questioned Trump’s understanding of immigration, clashed with a Democratic congresswoman and mishandled the case of a White House official whose ex-wives accused him of domestic violence during their marriages, among other missteps.
Speculation abounded that Kelly would be fired or resign. Over the summer, Kelly told senior aides he had agreed to Trump’s request to stick around through 2020. But Trump announced this month that Kelly, in fact, would leave at the end of December.
__
JIM MATTIS
As the administration began, Trump openly gushed about his respect for Mattis, repeatedly calling him “Mad Dog,” even though Mattis dislikes the nickname.
But the two quickly clashed on major policy decisions. Mattis disagreed with Trump’s assertion during the campaign that torture worked, and the secretary voiced support for NATO and similar alliances that Trump repeatedly criticized.
The two also were initially divided on the future of the Afghanistan war, with Trump complaining about its cost and arguing for withdrawal. Mattis and others ultimately persuaded Trump to pour additional resources and troops into the conflict to press toward a resolution.
Further, Trump chafed at the Pentagon’s slow response to his order to ban transgender people from military service, an effort now stalled by multiple legal challenges.
More recently, Trump disregarded Mattis’ choice of Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The current chairman, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, is set to retire in October. Trump instead tapped Gen. Mark Milley, the chief of the Army.
Mattis has deliberately kept a low public profile, striving not to make headlines that would incur Trump’s ire. But he told Trump in a letter Thursday that he was leaving because “you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”
Trump tweeted that Mattis is retiring at the end of February “with distinction.”
___
H.R. McMASTER
McMaster succeeded Flynn as national security adviser in February 2017.
Trump announced the pick from a sofa in the ornate living room of his Palm Beach, Florida, estate, praising the then-active-duty Army lieutenant general as a man of “tremendous talent and tremendous experience.” McMaster had commanded troops in both U.S. wars in Iraq and was a prominent military strategist.
But he failed to develop a personal rapport with Trump, who was said to be bored by McMaster’s long-winded briefing style.
McMaster’s influence in high-level decision-making began to wane after Trump increasingly began to rely on advice from Kelly and Mattis, who had pushed for McMaster’s ouster. His fate appeared sealed after Trump dumped his first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, a McMaster ally, in March.
Soon after, Trump announced he was replacing McMaster with John Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador and Fox News commentator.
The White House said McMaster’s exit had been under discussion for some time and said no single incident was to blame, but the public friction between Trump and McMaster had been growing.
One instance involved a telephone call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. McMaster had briefed Trump before the call and his team had drafted instructions telling Trump not to congratulate Putin on his recent re-election victory.
Trump congratulated Putin anyway.
___
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis leaving Pentagon

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

CLOSE
Lasting this long in the Trump White House is a feat in it of itself, but a new report claims Defense Secretary James Mattis may have fallen out of favor with the president. Nathan Rousseau Smith has the story. Buzz60
President Donald Trump (left) is pictured speaking with Defense Secretary James Mattis (right) during a Cabinet meeting in the White House.(Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Thursday that he is stepping down, citing disagreements with President Donald Trump ranging from Syria to global alliances and sparking deep anxiety among lawmakers about national security.
The announcement of Mattis' retirement on Feb. 28 capped a turbulent series of events in which Trump abruptly gave notice Wednesday that 2,000 troops would be withdrawn from Syria, the prospect of a partial government shutdown drew closer and financial markets plunged. 
Bipartisan expressions of dismay erupted on Capitol Hill on news of Mattis' resignation. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of "plunging the country into chaos" following Mattis' announcement and amid the uncertainty over whether the government would partially shut down.
In his resignation letter, Mattis, 68, acknowledged his differences with Trump over the need for alliances and bluntly told him that he should choose a different chief for the Defense Department.
“Because you have the right to have a secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is time for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote.
Mattis made plain his differences with Trump over the need to keep the U.S. engaged with allies and partners in dealing with world crises. It was a pointed reference to Trump’s regular disparagement of U.S. allies who he blames for not paying what he believes is their fair share of the burden of defense. In particular, Trump has criticized member countries of NATO, an alliance that Mattis reveres.
"General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations," Trump tweeted. "A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!"
Trump did not mention his disputes with Mattis, who had urged retention of U.S. troops in Syria.
Republicans expressed deep anxiety about Mattis' departure. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., retweeted the Mattis letter, and said it "makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation." Rubio called for greater "oversight" of Trump administration policies.
In the resignation letter, Mattis also took a swipe at Trump’s tweet Thursday in which he defended his decision to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria. America, Trump tweeted, should not act as the world’s “policeman.”
“Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world,” Mattis wrote. “Instead, we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.”
Mattis also pointed to the need to confront China and Russia, noting that his views were influenced by more than 40 years in uniform.
"My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues," Mattis wrote.
Trump and Mattis met Thursday to discuss his future and agreed on a separation, officials said. 
An official said Trump and Mattis “had a difference of opinion about Syria,” but officials disputed the idea that was the proximate cause of Mattis’ decision. The two have had disagreements for a long time now, officials said. 
“I don’t know if there was a specific event,” an official said. “But things change.”
“There were things he obviously didn’t agree with the president on,” one official said of Mattis.
Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, played down the significance of Mattis’ departure, telling CNN that it is “very normal at this point in an administration to have turnover.”
Miller said Trump has a “fabulous” relationship with Mattis but that “this president got elected to get our foreign policy back on the right track after years of being adrift.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted Thursday that Mattis' resignation represents a "national security crisis."
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who was critical of Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria, said Mattis was giving Trump advice he "needs to hear." 
Trump was overjoyed when he nominated Mattis, frequently describing him as “Mad Dog” and announcing his appointment at a post-election political rally. Mattis detests the nickname and prefers "Chaos," as some in the military call him.
At the opening of his administration, Trump referred to "his generals," retired brass who held senior positions in his administration. They included Mattis, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who served as secretary of Homeland Security and later chief of staff, Army lieutenant generals H.R. McMaster and Michael Flynn, who served as national security advisers. They are all gone, or soon to depart.
Officials said Trump hopes to nominate a successor as soon as possible.
Read Mattis' resignation letter below.
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Trump Says Defense Secretary James Mattis Will Retire In February

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President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general who was one of Trump’s first Cabinet picks, would be retiring at the end of February.
Mattis, who served more than four decades in the military and headed the U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, won Senate confirmation as defense secretary on Jan. 20, 2017, shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
The Pentagon chief, nicknamed “Mad Dog Mattis” during his time as a Marine, echoed Trump’s call for strengthening the military and beefing up its combat readiness. The budget bill the president signed into law in February earmarked $700 billion for the Defense Department this fiscal year ― a more than 15 percent increase over the previous year and the biggest hike in military spendingsince 2002.
Mattis’ resignation letter addressed to Trump indicates his final day in office will be Feb. 28.
“I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance, he wrote. 
“Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.”
In the unusual letter, Mattis also wrote that he and Trump had differing views on Russian and Chinese authoritarianism: “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
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News of Mattis’ departure comes in the wake of reports that the White House had been discussing who might replace him, a topic that was first reported by The Washington Post in early September.
Some of the top names that were reportedly under consideration included four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Treasury Department official David McCormick and former Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri.
Trump denied that he had been looking to replace Mattis, telling reporters that he was “very happy” with him.
That assurance came ahead of the release of a book by acclaimed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward, which reported that Mattis once told staffers that Trump has the understanding of a “fifth- or sixth-grader.” Mattis has denied having said that.
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A major split between Trump and Mattis concerned Russian President Vladimir Putin. The defense secretary has characterized Putin as trying to undermine NATO and assaulting Western democracies while violating international norms.
“[Putin’s] actions are designed not to challenge our arms at this point, but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals,” Mattis told U.S. Naval War College graduates at a commencement ceremony in June.
Trump, in contrast, has praised Putin’s leadership skills and recently roiled U.S. allies by calling for Russia’s reinstatement to the Group of Seven major industrial nations. Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
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Mattis had also argued that the U.S. should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal unless Tehran was found not to be abiding by the multi-nation agreement. Iran was following the pact’s rules, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the use of nuclear energy and has verified Iranian compliance with the accord multiple times since 2015.
Trump went on to pull out of the deal in May, claiming that it had been poorly negotiated during the Obama administration. 
His most prominent moment in the public spotlight occurred in April when he handled briefings on Trump’s decision to conduct targeted airstrikes against Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad’s regime in that nation’s civil war.
Even then, Mattis’ recommendation that congressional approval be sought for the strikes put him at odds with the president. Trump overruled the defense secretary and unilaterally ordered the military assault.
Reince Priebus lasted barely six months as White House chief of staff, and Sean Spicer had a similarly short tenure as press secretary.
White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, who also served in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, is expected to leave his post in July, Politico reported.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Alabama. He is from Arkansas.
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Comey says House Republicans are ‘shameful’ after interview – Brinkwire

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WASHINGTON — Former FBI Director James Comey had harsh words for House Republicans on Monday, saying their silence in response to President Donald Trump’s attacks on the Justice Department is “shameful.”
Comey said Republicans “have to have the courage to stand up and speak the truth, not be cowed by mean tweets or fear of their base.”
He was on Capitol Hill for a second closed-door interview with two Republican-led committees investigating what they say was bias at the Justice Department before the 2016 presidential election. Republicans argue department officials conspired against Trump as they started an investigation into his ties to Russia and cleared Democrat Hillary Clinton in a separate probe of her email use. Democrats have called the GOP investigation “nonsense.”
Comey, who led both investigations, mocked the congressional probe, saying the questions were about “Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier” – two favorite subjects of Republicans who insist there was bias in the department. The dossier was Democratic-funded opposition research on Trump’s ties to Russia compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
“This while the president of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country. How does that make any sense at all?” Comey asked.
Trump has repeatedly gone after the FBI for bias as his campaign has been under investigation. He has called special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation a “hoax.” On Sunday, he called his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, a “rat” because he has cooperated with prosecutors.
Comey said Trump “is calling a witness who is cooperating with his own Justice Department a rat – say that again to yourself at home, and remind yourself where we have ended up.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded Monday night on Twitter, writing: “Republicans should stand up to Comey and his tremendous corruption. … The President did the country a service by firing him and exposing him for the shameless fraud he is.”
The House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees are wrapping up a yearlong investigation into the department’s decisions before Democrats take the majority in January. Comey first testified Dec. 7.
A transcript released after Comey’s first interview showed a heavy focus on the Clinton email probe. A transcript of the second interview will also be released.
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Judge Sullivan said Michael Flynn betrayed America. But did he commit 'treason'?

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Ethics officials said Whitaker should recuse from the Mueller probe, but his advisers told him not to, officials say

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Acting AG Matthew Whitaker cleared to oversee Trump-Russia investigation, source says

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Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will not recuse himself from overseeing the Russia probe, despite mounting pressure from Democrats who cite his “hostility” toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation.
A source familiar with the matter told Fox News on Thursday that Whitaker met with Justice Department ethics officials this week, who told him he was not precluded from overseeing Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.
Whitaker, who served as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions until Sessions was fired, has faced extreme pressure from Democrats to recuse himself to ensure that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues in that role.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the probe due to his work on the Trump campaign in 2016, turning control to Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017. Sessions, whose resignation was requested in early November, had been criticized by Trump throughout his tenure at the Justice Department due to the decision to recuse himself from the investigation.
Whitaker’s new role includes oversight of the Russia investigation, along with the agency’s other federal investigations, including the New York prosecutors’ look into the finances of Trump and his former aides.
But Democrats and 18 state attorneys general blasted Whitaker’s appointment, pointing to his past comments in the media about the investigation.
In an op-ed Whitaker wrote last year, he argued that Rosenstein should “order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing the special counsel.”
“If he doesn’t, then Mueller’s investigation will eventually start to look like a political fishing expedition,” Whitaker wrote. This would not only be out of character for a respected figure like Mueller, but also could be damaging to the President of the United States and his family—and by extension, to the country.”
Separately, in a June 2017 CNN appearance, Whitaker said that he could “see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds almost to a halt.”
Last month, though, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion supporting Whitaker’s appointment, which remains temporary.
Earlier this month, Trump appointed William Barr, who served as attorney general under the late former President George H.W. Bush, to replace Sessions. Barr is awaiting Senate confirmation. Barr has criticized Mueller as well, specifically the lack of "balance" in the team of special counsel prosecutors. The majority of investigators appointed to the special counsel's office made significant political donations to Democratic candidates and causes, with a majority also registered as Democratic voters.
But according to a Wall Street Journal report this week, Barr also sent a 20-page memo to the Justice Department calling Mueller's Russia probe "legally unsupportable" and "potentially disastrous," specifically referring any inquiries into obstruction of justice. Barr reportedly wrote that line of inquiry was "fatally misconceived."
A date for Barr's Senate confirmation hearing has yet to be set.
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Ежегодная большая пресс-конференция Путина. Онлайн Как президент отвечал на вопросы — и какими они были - Meduza

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