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

“WATERED DOWN”? THAT’S WHAT DONALD TRUMP NOW THINKS ABOUT HIS OWN ADMINISTRATION’S TRAVEL BAN PLAN

It seems US President Donald Trump has just got up from a deep slumber of three months to realize that the reworked Travel Ban plan that bears his signature has been watered down to the extent that it is worthless and its original and a much tougher version is needed to be restored. Donald Trump had signed the “watered down” version on March 6. And like his earlier attempt to enforce a nation-wide travel ban plan targeting a particular community, this, too, was stayed by the US courts.

After the London Bridge terror attack on June 3 that left seven dead and dozens injured, Trump has slammed the re-drafted version of his administration’s Travel Ban order an attempt to be “politically correct”, in a series of tweets, he has said that “the US Justice Department should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to the US Supreme Court and the Justice Department should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – and seek much tougher version!”

It raises a pertinent question then – why Donald Trump allowed this watered down version to go through? Did he not study it before putting his signature or was he convinced that the modified version of Travel Ban kept his idea of travel ban intact, as the US courts later concluded?

On March 15, a Hawaii court blocked the Trump Administration’s second attempt to reintroduce the controversial Travel Ban plan saying it was biased and discriminatory. The ban was upheld by a Circuit Court of Appeals on May 25. Trump had signed the new executive order on March 6, weeks after the first futile attempt to ban immigration from some Muslim majority countries.

In the new executive order on Travel Ban, that, according to Trump is a watered down and politically correct version, three months after he signed it, the Trump administration had made some minor changes to the first version of the executive order which was issued on January 27 so that it could evade the courts. For example, the second order excluded Iraq from the list of countries facing the ban, i.e., Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, and featured exemptions for green card holders, permanent US residents and for those already having a US visa.

But the courts weren’t satisfied. Comparing both versions of the Travel Ban executive order, the judge of the Hawaii found “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the executive order and its related predecessor.”

Trump had termed the decision of the Hawaii court an “unprecedented judicial overreach.” When his first Travel Ban executive order was stayed, he had slammed “the opinion of the so-called judge which essentially took law-enforcement away from their country” and claimed that the “decision was ridiculous and would be overturned!” He has continued his tirade against the US judiciary which he finds is rigged and compares it with that of the third world countries.

While alleging the courts to be “slow and political”, he claims that in order to help keep the US safe, his administration is “extreme vetting” people coming into the U.S.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP SECOND US PRESIDENT TO WITHDRAW FROM A GLOBAL CLIMATE DEAL

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

As it was widely expected, US President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a global climate pact to deal with emission of greenhouse gases under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 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, days before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016.

US withdrawing from it 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 glbal greenhouse gas emissions, an analysis from the World Resources Institute says. And the US exit is bound to affect the norms and goals of the Paris accord even if other larger emitters including India, Russia, European Union and China has reiterated their commitment.

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. Trump and his associates would refer to the Paris deal “a bad idea” that would be detrimental for the US economy and therefore for the US jobs. During the recently held G7 Summit in Sicily, Trump behaved on the issue like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it.

During his recent visit to European countries and to the Vatican, European leaders and Pope Francis urged him stay with the climate pact. During the G7 Summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal. But his final decision says he had already made up his mind.

It is the second occasion when the United States has walked out of a global climate deal after endorsing it and on both occasions, it was a decision by a Democrat president that was overturned by his Republican successor.

In 2001, then US President George W Bush, a Republican, had withdrawn from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, that was accepted by his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton. The agreement document was signed by former US vice-president Al Gore but could not be ratified by the US Senate. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was also aimed at reducing emission of greenhouse gases that are chiefly responsible for global warming. Like Trump says about the Paris Accord, Bush would say the same about the Kyoto Protocol that it “would have wrecked the US economy”.

This time also, it is a Republican president who has overturned a decision by his Democrat predecessor Barack Obama. The Republican controlled US Senate would never ratify the deal and therefore the agreement document signed by Barack Obama is considered an executive agreement as a traditional international treaty would require ratification by the US Senate, media reports in the US said. Under the Obama curated deal, the US had agreed to cut its 2005 emission levels by 26 to 28 per cent by 2025. Since the Paris Agreement was not ratified by the US Senate, its many provisions were not binding on the US. And since it is an “executive agreement”, Trump is well within his authority to withdraw from it.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY DONALD TRUMP THINKS GERMANS ARE BAD, VERY BAD

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

According to a report in German publication Der Spiegel, US President Donald Trump has charged Germans for cornering business and jobs in the US. While blasting Germans, Trump said, “The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this”. Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of trade imbalance between Germany and America that is largely tilted in German favour.

In January, he had targeted German carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz comparing their high sale volume in America with low sale volume of Chevrolet in Germany and had threatened to impose 35 per cent import tariff on BMW on its cars imported from its Mexican plant. But it is not only about German carmakers. In fact, data from the Wall Street Journal shows that apart from General Motors, with a market share of 17.1 per cent in April 2017 and Ford with market share of 15.1 per cent, the two largest automakers in the US, most other automakers in the top ten are foreign companies. i.e., Japanese Toyota has a market share of 13.5 per cent, German Chrysler has a market share of 12.4 per followed by Nissan’s 9.9 per cent, Honda’s 9.2 per cent and Hyundai’s 4.2 per cent.

In response to Trump’s criticism, German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Angela Merkel’s deputy, quipped that the US automakers needed to come up with better cars. He termed products of American automakers “worse, weaker and more expensive”, an Associated Press report said.

According to a Reuters report, the US has a trade deficit of $65 billion with Germany, its third largest negative trade balance. The top slot goes to China with which the US has a trade deficit of $349 billion. Japan accounts for $69 billion deficit, coming in at the second spot. And going by Trump’s assessment of Germans in context of running trade deficit, China and Japan should be even bigger headaches for the US economy then.

In fact, according to a Financial Times report, Trump signed an executive order days before Chinese Xi Jinping’s US visit in April 2017 authorizing a study to look into the $500 billion annual trade deficit of the US. The study has a mandate of 90 days to analyze the issue country country-by-country and product-by-product, the report said. Also, Trump tweeted before the meeting that ” it will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses”.

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits…
3:46 AM – 31 Mar 2017
https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/847573220417044480?lang=en

After Trump-Jinping Summit, the Trump Administration hailed it as a historic meeting with a breakthrough trade deal that would cut the US trade deficit with China as China agreed to open its market for certain US companies and product categories. But experts are not satisfied. According to a Forbes report, “the deal might actually increase America’s bulging trade deficit with China”. To support its point of view the Forbes analysis further says, “China over the last decade has been progressively closing off its market, and this trend is now proceeding faster than ever under current supremo Xi Jinping”.

Trump would often talk about “unfair economic ties” with Japan. He blames Japan of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices and went on to the extent to say Japan a “drag on the US economy’. He made the comment days before his White House inauguration on January 20 that drew sharp criticism from Japan.

Trade deficit was one of the central campaign themes of Donald Trump. He, in fact, has blamed trade deficit for slowing down the US economy. When the GDP data came out in April, he tweeted his displeasure, “The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly”.

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.
4:21 PM – 26 Apr 2017
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/857185261029126144

©SantoshChaubey