HOW CAN DONALD TRUMP BE THE GREATEST PERSON ON EARTH?

Now we don’t need to wait for controversies to tail US President Donald Trump when most of them are his own creation. And they are aplenty – even if it is just six months for Trump in the White House – he brought presidential order to block people from Muslim majority countries in the US; he withdrew the US from global trade and climate deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris Climate Deal; he has tried hard but has failed so far in repealing his predecessor Barack Obama’s healthcare act; he has cracked down on immigrants and introduced an immigration bill this week to slash down the number of legal immigrants; and his campaign pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.

The 45th US President is writing the newest chapters of the book on few controversial US Presidents so far. A CNN analysis few days back, in fact, had found a term to describe Trump – The Most Un-presidential President. Ever since Trump’s inauguration, his popularity has been rapidly coming down and new survey has found 61 per cent of registered American voters disapproving his way of governance.

Now another major US publication, The Washington Post, that has already done its series of revelations and expose on Trump’s misadventures and has been in Trump’s firing line of his vitriolic wit and tweets, has come out with another bombshell. The Post has released leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone conversations with his Mexican and Australian counterparts. And like said, they are so un-presidential that the White House did not release them in first place.

When we go through the entire transcript, we can easily look into the mind of Donald Trump, that why he is so – someone who believes he is the greatest person on the earth and then goes on to boast it.

There is no denying to this established fact that the US President is the most powerful person on the earth – but he is certainly not the greatest one. That is a human virtue that doesn’t need the power corridors of the White House. By virtue of being the US President, Donald Trump, indeed could have been the most powerful person in the world. But the irony is, he is not even the most powerful one in America, owing to the spate of controversies around him and his family. The robust system of checks and balances in the US administration cannot allow him to be so. What can be a better testimony to this than his failed attempts to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare act that he so vehemently detests or wide criticism in the US that his travel ban plan from Muslim majority nations attracted.

The transcript shows him fighting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull like some small time, factional politician and not the President of the United States of America, an office that is most powerful in the world and is also supposed to be the most dignified one. But how can it be dignified when its inhabitants are not.

This one ‘I am the greatest person on the earth’ is a perfect example of it. While discussing with his Australian counterpart an already agreed deal to take in Nauru and Manus islands refugees who were trying to enter Australian through sea route but were caught and imprisoned, he can be seen using un-parliamentary words not just for human lives but also for his predecessor Barack Obama who had signed the deal with Australia. Trump declares the deals signed by Obama stupid and rotten.

Portions of this Trump-Turnbull conversation were leaked earlier which had created tension between the US and Australia. Reportedly, after the 20-minute conversation had ended, Trump had described Turnbull, who is considered a moderate, a brawler and not a shrinking poppy, something that Trump had expected before the call.

But what shocks is the utter disregard for human lives that Trump has. During the course of conversation with Turnbull on January 28, Trump says, “I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.”

Even if Turnbull assures that they are not bad people but economic refugees and Australia has full knowledge of their backgrounds, Trump keeps on repeating his scorn for the refugees as if he is not hearing what Turnbull is saying, “I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.”

©SantoshChaubey

TIME COVER CATCHES DONALD TRUMP JR ‘RED HANDED’

Time magazine has put Donald Trump Jr. on its cover page with an aptly curated tag – ‘red-handed’ and the Twitter handle of the magazine has tweeted an interesting video about it.

The video highlights words like ‘Russia – Clinton – private and confidential – info – Trump Jr. writing I love it – very high level and ultra-sensitive information’ – from Trump Jr. email conversation to on possibility of getting damaging information about Hillary Clinton that he himself had tweeted after the New York Times story about his meeting with a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connection in June 2016 that promised compromising and sensitive information about the democratic rival of his father Donald Trump Sr.

While releasing the email chain, Trump Jr. had claimed that he was doing so in order to be totally transparent. Trump Sr. appreciated it saying his son Donald did a good job and he was open, transparent and innocent. Trump Sr. then went on to add his routine line about the ongoing FBI probe into Russian meddling into last year’s US presidential election – ‘this is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!’

But the New York Times immediately hit back saying that Trump Jr. was forced to do so as he was aware that the Times was going to release the email conversation. Trump Jr. act has brought a storm in America as it has effectively shut down all those tall claims by Donald Trump, his family and his associates that the whole story about Russian collusion was fake and phony and they had nothing to do with Russians.

Both, Trump Sr. and Trump Jr. used to claim in past that there could not be a bigger lie than the alleged Russian help for the Trump campaign. But the email conversation clearly proves that the Trump campaign team was in touch with Russians irrespective of the fact the email chain doesn’t prove that the Trump team indeed colluded with the Russians. And it has changed the whole discourse about the affair in the American political and media circles with experts even asking if Donald Trump Jr. can go to jail for it.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP TO MEET SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT AMID GROWING FRUSTATION WITH CHINA ON NORTH KOREA

The article originally appeared on India Today.

US President Donald Trump is scheduled to host South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on June 29 and 30. It is the first bilateral summit between two close allies after both countries got new presidents. Trump took oath in January while Moon was elected only last month after mid-term polls necessitated by the impeachment of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The meeting is expected to be eclipsed by three issues, North Korea, China and the deployment of US missile defense system in South Korea.

If the Trump administration had termed the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to America in April historic, the expectation that China will exert its influence to rein in North Korea was one of the major factors apart from some trade deals signed that Trump said would help American businesses and would create jobs. China is the only big market for North Korea and it accounts for over two-thirds of total North Korean trade.

But that expectation has become frustration in just two months. Donald Trump has realized that China will not help in reining in North Korea which reflected in his tweet last week, “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” But what belies this line that “he knows that China at least tried” is the fact* that out of growing frustration over the Chinese inaction on North Korea and bilateral ties, Trump is thinking to take punitive action by imposing tariff on imports like Chinese steel.

North Korea has already conducted almost a dozen missile tests this year and is preparing to conduct another nuclear test aimed at producing nuclear weapons. The threat from the rogue state has reached to new heights under the present dictator Kim Jong-un so much so that the US had to deploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defense system, inviting strong Chinese protests which sees the presence of the system on the Korean peninsula, in its backyard, breach of its sovereignty and a security threat. China has been lashing out at the US and South Korea for it.

And the optics of its deployment has also been a thorny issue for Trump as well as for Moon. While Trump has demanded South Korea pay $1 billion for THAAD deployment, Moon has termed the system which went live last month a total failure of democracy.

While campaigning, Moon who is seen as a liberal having soft approach towards China, South Korea’s largest trading partner, and having a conciliatory tone towards North Korea, had promised to review the THAAD agreement by his predecessor. Moon, in fact, ordered a probe last month after it emerged that four more missile launchers were added to the THAAD system in South Korea. South Korea maintains that the US asked only for land and support infrastructure for THAAD deployment and all other cost was to be borne by the US only.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP SAYS HE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION, HIS LAWYER CLARIFIES HE ISN’T

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

While appearing on several talks shows on Sunday, Jay Sekulow, a lawyer from US President Donald Trump’s legal team, denied that Trump was under investigation for firing former FBI director James Comey.

In a tweet yesterday, Trump appeared to confirm that that he was being investigated for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The Post reported that Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in last year’s US presidential election and possible links with the Trump campaign, has expanded his inquiry to probe whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI chief.

Trump said he was being investigated by the man who, in the first place, told him to fire James Comey. Trump’s tweet could be targeting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe into Russia’s intervention into the last year’s presidential polls.

Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice’s chief counsel, tried to downplay the content of the tweet and defended Trump’s firing of Comey as a constitutional act.

On CNN’s “State of the Union”, he said that the tweet in question was Trump’s response to the Washington Post story that claimed that Trump was under a possible obstruction of justice probe after firing James Comey. Sekulow added that the confirmatory tone of Trump’s tweet was due to Twitter’s word limit, “There’s a limitation on Twitter, as we all know. The President’s response was as it related to the Washington Post report. He cannot in a Twitter statement include all of that in there. That’s it. Simple explanation.”

He reiterated his claims on NBC’s “Meet the Press” saying that Donald Trump “was not and had not been under investigation for obstruction.” He said that “Donald Trump was not afraid of the investigation — there was no investigation” and defended Trump’s tweet in question saying that “Donald Trump is responding to what he’s seeing in the media in a way in which he thinks is appropriate to talk to those people that put him in office.”

“There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the president is under investigation,” he told on CBS’ “Face the Nation” programme. Questioning veracity of the Washington Post story, Sekulow asserted that the President could not be under investigation for doing something that the Department of Justice asked him to do. In this case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had written to Trump to fire James Comey. Sekulow asserted that “the president could not be investigated, or certainly could not be found liable for engaging in an activity he clearly had power to do under the constitution.”

James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified this month that Trump had told him to ease off on his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links. Comey said he believed Trump’s advice to be a direction and thus felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP CONFIRMS HE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FIRING JAMES COMEY

The article originally appeared on India Today.

United States President Donald Trump today appeared to confirm a Washington Post report that he is being investigated for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The Post, this week, reported that Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in last year’s US presidential election and possible links with the Trump campaign, has expanded his inquiry to probe whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI chief.

In his tweet today, Trump seemingly confirmed the report and reiterated his charge linking his presidential campaign with Russia is nothing but a political witch-hunt.

Trump said he was being investigated by the man who, in the first place, told him to fire James Comey. Trump’s tweet could be targeting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe into Russia’s intervention into the last year’s presidential polls.

Rosenstein had written to Trump recommending Comey’s firing.

In an attempt to sound upbeat and to downplay the new developments in a controversy that has now reached the Oval Office, Trump also said that “despite the phony witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great.”

Even yesterday, Trump had termed the alleged links between Russia and his campaign as a phony story.

Notably, James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified this month that Trump had told him to ease off on his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links.

Comey said he believed Trump’s advice to be a direction and thus felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath but Mueller’s reported investigation into the president’s actions means that Trump will have to live with the ghost of another probe reaching to the White House.

Trump had expressed the same outrage when Mueller, a former FBI director from 2001 to 2013, was appointed last month by the US Department of Justice to probe Russian meddling.

While accusing the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration of indulging in illegal acts, Trump had said that “there was never a special counsel appointed to oversee the acts of his Democrat predecessors”.

He had likened the appointment of the special counsel with the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”. “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed”, Trump had tweeted.

©SantoshChaubey

SARCASTIC PUTIN OFFERS FIRED FBI CHIEF JAMES COMEY POLITICAL ASYLUM

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared fired FBI chief James Comey’s act of leaking information to media to that of a human rights activist. “Comey’s leak of information to the media was more in line with an activist than an intelligence chief,” USA Today* quoted him saying. Putin said this while holding his annual ‘Direct Line’ Q&A call-in session yesterday.

Comparing James Comey to Edward Snowden, a sarcastic Putin said Russia was ready to grant asylum to Comey in case he is prosecuted for those leaks, “It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend. How, in that case, does he differ from Edward Snowden?,” The Guardian** wrote quoting him. Edward Snowden, who is facing espionage charges in the US, is a whistleblower and former CIA contractor who leaked US intelligence documents of mass surveillance and was given political asylum by Russia.

Putin added that since Comey’s acts are more like an activist than an intelligence chief, if the latter feels pressured in the US or if he is prosecuted, Russia would be happy to grant him political asylum.

In his testimony, former FBI chief James Comey had said that he intentionally leaked memo on his conversation with Trump to build pressure to appoint special counsel in the case. Comey’s strategy worked after the US Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US presidential election.

©SantoshChaubey

FOR TRUMP, ITS WITCH-HUNT AGAIN

After terming appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US election a political witch-hunt, US President Donald Trump has turned his ire once again at the former FBI director and his opponents for the ‘obstruction of justice’ investigation. While terming the attempts to link his team with Russian meddling phony, he blamed his opponents for building the case for ‘obstruction of justice’ on similar hollow grounds and repeated again that the whole case against him is the ‘single greatest witch hunt in the American political history’.

The Washington Post reported last night that Mueller had expanded his scope of investigation on Russian meddling to take into account a possible obstruction of justice by Donald Trump after former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified that Trump had told him to let his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links, go. Comey said that he had taken Trump’s advice as a direction and felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath but Mueller’s investigation says Trump will have to live with ghost of another probe reaching to the White House after the Russian meddling investigation.

This is not the first time that Trump has questioned Robert Mueller. He felt the same sense of political witch-hunt when Mueller was appointed last month. Accusing the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration of indulging in illegal acts, Trump had said, “There was never a special counsel appointed to oversee the acts of his Democrat predecessors”. He has likened the appointment of the Special Counsel with the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”. “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed”, Trump had tweeted.

Mueller headed the FBI from 2001 to 2013, a period that witnessed a Republican President in George Bush and a Democrat President in Barack Obama. Mueller has earned the reputation of being a hard taskmaster and an honest, tough and resolute person. He is known as someone who doesn’t toe the line and instead stands for principles as he did when he had threatened to resign if the then US President George Bush went ahead with his domestic surveillance plans without approval of the US Department of Justice.

©SantoshChaubey

FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON LAUNCHES WEBSITE AND INVITES US CLIMATE SCIENTISTS TO MAKE FRANCE THEIR HOMELAND

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Taking his criticism of US President Donald Trump’s stand on climate change to the next level, French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a website inviting US scientists and research scholars to live in France and do research there on climate change. Earlier this month, after the US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, he had assured the US scientists that France was like a second homeland for them.

The website ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ (www.makeourplanetgreatagain.fr), an apparent dig at Donald Trump’s favourite slogan ‘Make America Great Again (#MAGA), says it is an initiative of President of France Emmanuel Macron who launched it to invite American scientists to “come work in France after facing the climatic skepticism of the new government of the United States.”

Macron says “he wants to make our planet great again” and appeals to the scientists that “the planet needs their innovative skills” and asks “if they you IN to change (literally) our daily lives and make our planet great again?” While terming the US decision unfortunate, he says “it has only reinforced our determination. Don’t let it weaken yours. We are ONE planet and together, we can make a difference.”

On June 1, US President Donald Trump had pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a global climate pact to deal with emission of greenhouse gases. 195 countries signed the agreement document in December 2015 and 147 countries have ratified it so far and the agreement came into effect on November 4, 2016. Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President.

After Trump’s announcement, according to France 24*, while slamming Trump for making a historic mistake, Macron said the US scientists and entrepreneurs “disappointed” by Trump’s decision “will find in France a second homeland: I call on them, come and work here with us.”

It was unprecedented when he chose to address the world in English from Elysee Place, the official residence of the French president, after Trump’s no to Paris Accord. It was, in fact, a first for a French president, The Telegraph** said. Also, the press release sent to French journalists from the Elysee Palace on the website launch was in English, again “an unprecedented move by a French president”, the France 24 report said.

Macron, in fact, had released a video statement in English on Twitter on February 10, while he was campaigning for the French presidential polls, calling the US scientists and entrepreneurs working on climate change to relocate to France after Trump had decided to curtail the climate change research budget.

US withdrawing from the Paris Accord is certainly a bad news as the country is the second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases. China, the European Union and the US account for more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions, an analysis from the World Resources Institute says. The US exit is bound to affect the norms and goals of the Paris Accord even if other large emitters including India, Russia, European Union and China have reiterated their commitment.

©SantoshChaubey

IN HIS FIRST REACTION AFTER COMEY’S TESTIMONY, TRUMP CLAIMS VIDICATION AND TERMS FIRED FBI CHIEF A LEAKER

US President Donald Trump has reacted on former FBI chief James Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In a tweet, he has said that Comey’s testimony completely vindicates him and he didn’t forget to add that Comey, who he fired last month, is a leaker.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Press Secretary of the White House, rebutted Comey’s claims saying President Trump was not a liar. Trump’s private lawyer Marc Kasowitz released a statement after Comey’s testimony ended which said that President never said to Comey that “he needs loyalty, he expects loyalty”. Kasowitz statement further said that the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey “let Michael Flynn go”, Trump’s former National Security Adviser. Flynn was forced to resign in February after it emerged that he had misled the US Vice-President Mike Pence on his communication with the Russian Ambassador.

Fired FBI chief James Comey in his hours long testimony yesterday had termed Trump a liar some five times, had said that Trump had asked him for loyalty, had directed Comey to drop investigations on Flynn and had said that he intentionally leaked memo on his conversation with Trump to build pressure to appoint special counsel in the case. Comey’s strategy worked after the US Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US presidential election.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP TARGETS LONDON MAYOR SADIQ KHAN AGAIN

Even British prime minister Theresa May who desisted from following the world leadership in condemning US President Donald Trump when he pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord has criticised Trump for taking on London Mayor Sadiq Khan. According to a report in Bloomberg, May said “Sadiq Khan was doing a good job and it was wrong to say anything else.” The role Khan is playing in the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack that left seven dead and scores of injured has been widely praised.

May’s support for Sadiq Khan came even if there are reports that a political fight is brewing between May and Khan as the latter has blamed May of compromising London’s security with funding cuts. Khan’s accusations on May have come just three days before the UK polls and may affect May’s election campaign. The fact that she has downsized the UK police’s headcount by 20,000 will only add to her woes after three terror attacks the UK has seen in three months.

Trump had criticised Sadiq Khan quoting him out of context. While speaking out his mind about ‘security of his people’ after the London Bridge terror incident, he said that “we must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse” and mocked Khan by saying that “Mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed” even if the attack left at least 7 dead and 48 wounded. He also used the London Bridge terror attack to push his political agenda on his administration’s Travel Ban plan and extreme vetting measures for people visiting the US.

Trump was panned widely for his misplaced comment. Khan had made “no reason to be alarmed” comment in the context of the heavy police presence that London is expected to see in the terror aftermath but Trump didn’t care to cross checks before shooting his mouth.

It seems the commendations for Khan and the criticism of Trump were not enough to rein in Trump’s flow of tweets who has again targeted the London mayor by saying that Sadiq Khan’s excuse was pathetic and he had to think fast on his on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. Trump has also accused media for being biased toward Khan.

People had thought that Donald Trump would have some rethinking on his comments on the London Mayor after he was widely panned for his poor in taste, un-presidential and ill informed tweet about London’s mayor and even if the doesn’t withdraw his tweet, he will not go beyond it. But in a totally Trumpian style, he is there again, shooting his mouth again, even if the US Embassy in London has praised the way Khan handled the London terror aftermath. Maybe the response of Khan’s office that “the Mayor had more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet” left Trump’s ego hurt.

©SantoshChaubey