Trump Tells Duterte of Two U.S. Nuclear Subs in Korean Waters

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

[Reuters]

Reality

BuzzFeed News is reporting that “Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.”

The report goes on to quote officials as saying, “We never talk about subs!”

Trump Praised Philippines President Duterte For Drug War That Has Killed 9,000 People

President Donald Trump opened a brief April phone call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte by commending the strongman’s bloody war on drugs, according to a transcript obtained by The Washington Post and the The Intercept.

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” said Trump. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

Trump then criticized former President Barack Obama, who had spoken out against Duterte’s violent anti-drug offensive that has killed an estimated 9,000 people, including many small-time users and dealers.

“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before,” Trump said, according to the transcript.

A senior Trump administration official told the Post the transcript is accurate, but would not speak on the record about a “leaked” document.

The transcript, provided to the outlets by a source in the Philippines and authenticated by Rappler, a Philippines news outlet that partnered with the Intercept, is further confirmation of Trump’s uncharacteristic friendliness toward autocratic world leaders. It also is likely to raise fears that harsh rhetoric from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on what they call the scourge of drug abuse and addiction may give way to more militant action in the future.

In his call with Trump, Duterte similarly called drugs “the scourge of my nation,” according to the transcript.

White House officials initially characterized the April call as “a very friendly conversation,” during which Trump had invited Duterte to visit Washington. That development reportedly surprised White House staffers and drew widespread condemnation from human rights groups, which have accused Duterte of condoning a lawless drug war that has terrorized the nation with a campaign of extrajudicial killings carried out by vigilantes and police officers. Duterte has seemingly embraced this barbaric depiction, comparing himself with Adolf Hitler on a mission to kill millions of drug addicts.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times in April. “Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the progressive reform of drug laws, called Trump’s remarks “a new low.”

“It fills me with disgust to see the U.S. president congratulate someone who has overseen the massacre of thousands of his own people in the name of the war on drugs,” Collins said in a statement to HuffPost. “The U.S. government should be urging restraint and respect for human rights; instead Trump gives Duterte’s deadly drug war his seal of approval.”

Trump’s support for Duterte’s tactics also mark a significant departure from the policies of Obama’s administration, which had shown a willingness to confront the Philippines president on the issue of drug enforcement. Ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in September, Obama said he’d bring up the drug war during a planned meeting with Duterte, because he believed in the need to “have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms.”

Duterte responded by calling Obama a Taglog phrase for “son of a bitch,” and the meeting was canceled.

Trump and Duterte, during their call, also discussed escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, and expressed concerns about North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, whom Trump called a “madman with nuclear weapons.” Days later, Trump said he’d be “honored” to meet with the North Korean dictator.

Trump and Duterte agreed that China would play a pivotal role in keeping North Korea in check, and warding off the possibility of military action.

“We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all,” said Trump, according to the transcript. “I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.”

Russian Bank Directly Linked to Putin Helped Finance a Trump Hotel

A partner of President Trump’s financed Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto using hundreds of millions of dollars received from the Russian bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, The Wall Street Journal reports. At the time of the deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat on VEB’s supervisory board; Russian experts say the bank is a “vehicle for the Russian government to fund politically important projects,” The Wall Street Journal writes.

Trump’s partner, Russian-Canadian developer Alexander Shnaider, helped finance the hotel after selling his company’s share in a Ukrainian steelmaker for $850 million. The unknown buyer, financed by VEB, was reportedly “an entity acting for the Russian government.”

After Mr. Shnaider and his partner sold their stake in the steelmaker, Mr. Shnaider injected more money into the Trump Toronto project, which was financially troubled. Mr. Shnaider’s lawyer, Symon Zucker, said in an April interview that about $15 million from the asset sale went into the Trump Toronto project. A day later, he wrote in an email: “I am not able to confirm that any funds” from the deal “went into the Toronto project.”

A spokesman for the Trump Organization, the family’s real-estate firm, said Mr. Trump had no involvement in any financial dealings with VEB and that the Trump company “merely licensed its brand and manages the hotel and residences.” VEB didn’t respond to requests for comment. [The Wall Street Journal]

In February, Trump claimed: “To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with [has dealings with Russia].” Trump also directed his lawyers to review his tax returns and release a letter showing limited income from Russian sources over the past decade.

[The Week]

President Trump Meets With Turkish President Amid Tensions

President Donald Trump is welcoming Turkey’s president to the White House for their first face-to-face meeting Tuesday, even as Turkish officials fumed over a U.S. decision to arm the Syrian Kurds.

Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to address the Syrian civil war, the refugee crisis and the fight against the Islamic State group.

Shortly after Erdogan arrived in Washington, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his party members that U.S. cooperation with Syrian Kurds “is not something acceptable” for Turkey.

Turkey is determined to “root out terror,” Yildirim said, if “necessary guarantees for Turkey’s sensitivities and issues pertaining to Turkey’s security are still not given.”

The Trump administration has ramped up efforts to respond to the crisis in Syria, taking unprecedented action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over its use of chemical weapons against civilians.

But with Iran and Russia working to bolster Assad’s government, the Trump administration is turning to regional allies, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for help as it crafts its Syria policy.

Complicating that effort, however, was an announcement by the Trump administration that it plans to arm Kurdish Syrian fighters in the fight against the Islamic State group. Turkey has been pressuring the U.S. to drop support for the Kurdish militants in Syria for years and doesn’t want them spearheading the Raqqa effort.

Turkey considers a Turkish Kurdish group, known as the PKK, a terrorist group because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party inside Turkey. The United States, the European Union and Turkey agree the PKK is a terrorist organization.

Trump’s deal-making skills will be put to the test as he works to assure Erdogan that the decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria will not result in weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Erdogan arrived Monday in Washington, the Turkish flag hanging prominently outside the Blair House, a historic presidential guesthouse across the street from the White House.

The meeting is considered high stakes for the nascent Trump administration as it looks to engage regional allies in delicate security matters while enforcing international standards for human rights.

Trump’s willingness to partner with authoritarian rulers and overlook their shortcomings on democracy and human rights has alarmed U.S. lawmakers of both parties. That puts added pressure on him to get results.

Trump has gone out of his way to foster a good relationship with Erdogan. After a national referendum last month that strengthened Erdogan’s presidential powers, European leaders and rights advocates criticized Turkey for moving closer toward autocratic rule. Trump congratulated Erdogan.

But Erdogan may not be amenable to accepting the U.S. military support for the Kurds in a quid pro quo. Last month, the Turkish military bombed Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, in one case with American forces only about six miles (10 kilometers) away. His government has insisted it may attack Syrian Kurdish fighters again. The U.S., whose forces are sometimes embedded with the Kurds, has much to fear.

Washington is concerned by rising anti-Americanism in Turkey that Erdogan’s government has tolerated since the July coup attempt. The U.S. also has pressed unsuccessfully for the release of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, and other detained U.S. citizens.

[TIME]

Reality

Trump has a property in Turkey, Trump Towers Istanbul, so we can’t be sure if this visit is to benefit the country or his own pocketbook.

Trump Transition Officials Warned Flynn About Contacts with Russian Ambassador

Senior members of President Trump’s transition team warned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn against communicating with Russian Ambassador Sergey KislyakThe Washington Post reported Friday.

The transition officials told Flynn that Kislyak’s conversations were likely being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies and sought to warn Flynn of the risks of talking to the ambassador, even requesting a classified CIA profile of Kislyak from the Obama administration.

Flynn was forced to resign in February amid revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions with Kislyak in the month before Trump took office and failed to disclose the conversations to senior White House officials.

While Flynn has emerged as a central figure in ongoing federal probes of Russian election meddling and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow, the previously undisclosed warnings show early concern among some transition officials over the Trump team’s developing relations with the Kremlin.

The Obama administration, according to The Post, viewed the request for the file on Kislyak as an opportunity to notify the Trump team of the threat posed by Russia.

The request came as U.S. intelligence officials was looking into the possibility of Russian interference in the presidential election. The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report made public in January that the Kremlin had sought to influence the race in favor of Trump.

Since then, the Senate and House intelligence committees have begun investigating the Russians’ efforts, as well as alleged ties between Trump’s aides and Moscow. FBI Director James Comey revealed in March that his agency was conducting its own probe into the matter.

Flynn offered to speak with congressional investigators, but requested immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony. That request, however, was ultimately rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The White House has repeatedly denied that the Trump campaign had any improper communications with Russian officials and that any collusion took place.

The Trump administration has taken a more aggressive tone toward Russia in recent weeks, particularly over the Kremlin’s backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But Trump himself has not taken aim at Russia, and the bulk of his administration’s hardline rhetoric has come from United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump has also cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in the election – a position he reaffirmed this week, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that “it could have been China, could have been a lot of different groups.”

(h/t The Hill)

Trump: I Would Be Honored to Meet Kim Jong-Un

US President Donald Trump has said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in the right circumstances.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would – absolutely. I would be honoured to do it,” he told news organisation Bloomberg on Monday.

The previous day he described Mr Kim as a “pretty smart cookie”.

The comments come amid escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The White House issued a statement following Mr Trump’s remarks, saying North Korea would need to meet many conditions before any meeting between the two leaders could take place.

Spokesman Sean Spicer said Washington wanted to see the North end its provocative behaviour immediately.

“Clearly conditions are not there right now,” he added.

In Sunday’s interview with CBS, President Trump noted Mr Kim had assumed power at a young age, despite dealing with “some very tough people”.

He said he had “no idea” whether Mr Kim was sane.

The North Korean leader had his uncle executed two years after he came to power, and is suspected of ordering the recent killing of his half-brother.

President Trump, asked what he made of the North Korean leader, told CBS: “People are saying: ‘Is he sane?’ I have no idea… but he was a young man of 26 or 27… when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.

“And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

On Saturday North Korea conducted its second failed ballistic missile test in two weeks.

(h/t BBC News)

Trump Called Turkey’s Erdogan to Congratulate Him on Referendum Win

U.S. President Donald Trump called Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on winning a referendum expanding his authority, sources in Erdogan’s palace said on Monday.

Turkey voted on Sunday to switch to a presidential system, greatly increasing Erdogan’s powers. Unofficial results, which the opposition said it would challenge, showed a narrow victory for him with 51.4 percent of votes cast in favour.

(h/t Reuters)

Trump: China Trade to Improve If ‘North Korean Problem’ Solved

U.S. President Donald Trump added public pressure to his efforts to encourage China to rein in North Korea, saying Tuesday that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that such action will help improve the conditions of a trade deal with the U.S.

“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” Trump wrote on Twitter just before 8 a.m. in Washington.

“North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great,” Trump followed up minutes later. “If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

The tweets come after Trump and Xi spent Thursday and Friday meeting at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump has long criticized China for exporting more to the U.S. than it imports and vowed during his campaign to be tough on China in trade negotiations.

(h/t Bloomberg)

President Trump Blames Obama for Syria Chemical Attack

President Donald Trump said that the attack in Syria on Tuesday “crossed a lot of lines for me,” but he did not specify how he would respond to it.

His comments came during a press conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II that began with Trump’s condemning the “heinous actions,” which left at least 72 people dead.

Trump was asked if the attack crossed a red line for him, a reference to then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 threat that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be seen as doing so.

“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines,” he said.

Later, when a reporter noted he seemed reluctant to get involved in the matter, Trump said, “I watched past administrations say we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour … I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other.”

He released a statement on Tuesday saying the attack was “a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”

Today he said, “I think the Obama administration had a responsibility to solve the crisis a long time ago. And when he didn’t cross that line in making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country.”

Trump added, “I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly.”

He said that he is open to changing his stance on issues and that the attack in Syria was an example of how current events have prompted a shift.

“I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way,” Trump said. “It’s already happened, that my attitude towards Syria and [President Bashar al-]Assad has changed very much.”

Later in his remarks, Trump praised Jordan‘s efforts in the fight against ISIS.

“The Middle East and the entire world is faced with one of its gravest threats in many, many years. Since the earliest days of the campaign against ISIS, Jordan has been a staunch ally and partner, and we thank you for that,” he said.

“In King Abdullah, America is blessed with a thoughtful and determined partner. He’s a man who has spent years commanding his country’s special forces. He really knows what is being a soldier is — that I can tell you. And he knows how to fight,” Trump said.

(h/t ABC News)

Reality

Trump can try to put the blame solely on former President Barack Obama but things are not as simple as “if you bad then I bomb,” Syria in particular is a very complicated situation.

Obama could have used military force in Syria as promised after Assad crossed the “red line” and used chemical weapons on his own people, sure that’s a position you could hold. But then you’ll need to explain how you would deal with Russia, which has massive investments such as an important naval base in Tartus, and Iran, who Syria is its closest ally, and are both backing Assad.

Keep in mind, at the time the Obama administration was holding negotiations with Iran to dismantle their nuclear program. If there was no nuclear deal with Iran, then they were ready to have a bomb within two or three months and were ready to walk if America used force in Syria as retaliation. So an alternative solution needed to be found.

So what Assad actually did by crossing Obama’s red line in 2013, is created international pressure for Syria to accept a diplomatic solution. (A much preferred foreign policy.) The agreement left Russia in charge of overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and was in charge of ensuring they wouldn’t be used. Russia, as it seems, did not do such a good job.

This would also ignore Trump’s own missteps. Just a few days prior, the Trump administration mentioned their new policy in the Syrian civil war was to lead from behind. Assad, always one to test his boundaries with both ally and enemy, read this signal loud and clear that he was free to act as he wished.

If Trump did not have such a simplistic view of a very complex situation (which is usually the case with him) then perhaps this attack would have never occurred.

Media

Trump Shifts Course on Egypt, Praising Its Authoritarian Leader

Ever since he seized power in a military takeover nearly four years ago, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt has been barred from the White House. But President Trump made clear on Monday that the period of ostracism was over as he hosted Mr. Sisi and pledged unstinting support for the autocratic ruler.

“We agree on so many things,” Mr. Trump said as he sat beside Mr. Sisi in the Oval Office. “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

In that one moment, Mr. Trump underscored a fundamental shift in American foreign policy since he took office. While his predecessors considered authoritarians like Mr. Sisi to be distasteful and at times shied away from them, Mr. Trump signaled that he sees international relations through a transactional lens. If Egypt can be a partner in the battle against international terrorism, then in Mr. Trump’s calculation, that is more important to the United States than concerns over its brutal suppression of domestic dissent.

Nothing could have made Mr. Sisi happier. He arrived from Cairo with a list of financial, security and political requests, but effectively he got what he really wanted in the six minutes that news media photographers were permitted in the Oval Office to record the visit that President Barack Obama had denied him. The picture of the general-turned-president in the White House, hosted by an American leader lavishing praise on him, was the seal of approval he had long craved, the validation of a strongman on the world’s most prominent stage.

That big hug was just what Mr. Sisi’s government sought, said Eric Trager, a scholar on Egypt at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It wants to see the White House legitimate it, and set it on a new course.”

The scene provided a powerful counterpoint to Mr. Sisi’s many critics, in Egypt and abroad, who know him as the leader of the military takeover that removed an elected president, oversaw a vicious security operation in which hundreds of protesters were gunned down in the streets of Cairo and has cemented his authority by filling prisons with his opponents while strangling the free press.

It was the first visit by an Egyptian president to Washington since 2009, when the guest was the autocratic former president Hosni Mubarak, then in the waning years of his rule — an era now viewed by many Egyptians as a time of relative freedom, prosperity and security. Mr. Mubarak was pushed out in 2011 by a wave of street protests and succeeded, in a democratic election, by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. Taking advantage of popular discontent with Mr. Morsi two years later, the military, led by Mr. Sisi, then a general, took power and Mr. Sisi became president in a pro forma election that awarded him 97 percent of the vote.

Little of that seems to matter to Mr. Trump, though, who has showcased his determination to reshape America’s relationship with a number of Middle Eastern countries, regardless of human rights concerns. In his public remarks on Monday, Mr. Trump made no mention of such issues; aides said he believed discussing them in private might be more effective.

“I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Sisi.

Mr. Sisi responded in kind, sometimes in language mimicking a Trumpian sales pitch. “You will find Egypt and myself always beside you in bringing about an effective strategy in the counterterrorism effort,” he said. He also vowed to support Mr. Trump’s effort to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, calling it an effort to “find a solution to the problem of the century in the deal of the century.”

While Egypt has long been a crucial American ally in the Middle East, Mr. Trump’s admiration for Mr. Sisi seems to mirror in some ways his appreciation for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a fellow tough figure. After their first meeting in September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly when Mr. Trump was running for president, he hailed Mr. Sisi as “a fantastic guy” and spoke admiringly of his iron-fisted methods. “He took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

Mr. Sisi has rejected suggestions that he rules like a dictator. Speaking to The Financial Times in December, he said he was “building love between Egyptians, a wave of respect for the other that will start in Cairo and spread across the region.”

Yet as he was preparing to meet Mr. Trump on Monday, a court in Cairo sentenced 17 people to jail terms of five years each for taking part in street protests in January 2015.

In Rome, the parents of Giulio Regeni, an Italian postgraduate student found dead in Cairo last year, held a news conference to press their longstanding accusations that Egyptian security officials had abducted, tortured and killed their son, probably on suspicion that he was a spy. The family’s lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini, said they had identified two high-ranking Egyptian national security officials said to be implicated in the case, but declined to give further details.

Beyond a shared love for harsh rhetoric warning against the dangers of jihadist Islam, Mr. Trump has striking similarities with Mr. Sisi’s brand of authoritarianism in Egypt, according to Middle East analysts. Both leaders came to power promising splashy projects derided by experts — an expensive extension of the Suez Canal for Mr. Sisi, and a giant wall along the Mexico border for Mr. Trump. In speeches, both leaders have been ridiculed for making exaggerated claims, embracing conspiracy theories and speaking in a limited rhetorical style.

Egyptians also often mock Mr. Sisi for speaking in a rustic form of Arabic that contrasts with the formal version usually favored by national leaders. Mr. Trump has the grammar and vocabulary of a fifth-grade student, one study last year found.

Both leaders are notoriously thin-skinned and project a sense of unfiltered self-regard. In recent months, Mr. Trump branded critics in the “fake news” media as the “enemy of the American people”; last year, in a fit of exasperation, Mr. Sisi told Egyptians, “Please, do not listen to anyone but me!”

Yet in many other ways there are vast differences between their styles. While Mr. Trump wrestles with a hostile media and recalcitrant factions in his Republican party, Mr. Sisi’s government has imprisoned dozens of journalists — fewer only than China and Turkey, according to press freedom groups — while the national Parliament is stuffed with his supporters.

It remains far from clear what the two leaders can offer each other in concrete terms. Mr. Sisi has resisted loud appeals to release Aya Hijazi, an American aid worker imprisoned in Egypt, while Mr. Trump’s White House is considering slashing foreign aid to countries including Egypt’s $1.3 billion in military assistance. The Trump administration also appears to have gone cold on proposals to designate the country’s Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

While human rights advocates criticized Mr. Trump, a lawyer for Ms. Hijazi said her supporters had been working with his administration to highlight her case and those of others held. “We are confident that the case is being prioritized at the highest levels of the United States government,” said the lawyer, Wade McMullen, managing attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, an advocacy center.

One thing Mr. Sisi desperately wants, according to Western officials in Cairo, is for Mr. Trump to reinstate a military financing deal, suspended under Mr. Obama in 2015, allowing Egypt to effectively buy, on credit, the tanks, warplanes and other large-ticket military items it desires. Such a deal would give Mr. Sisi something to bring home to his backers in the military.

But experts say that while a military finance deal might please American defense contractors, it could frustrate American counterterrorism goals by making Egypt less likely to pour resources into smaller weapons that are better suited to battling Islamic State insurgents in Sinai.

“If Trump is really interested in getting the Egyptians to fight radical Islam, giving them more tanks will not help our goals,” said Amy Hawthorne of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington nonprofit that has been sharply critical of Mr. Sisi.

Some experts worry that Mr. Sisi’s hard-knuckled approach to Islamism — banning all forms of political Islam, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as fighting jihadist violence — could ultimately feed a new wellspring of radicalism that could blow back on the United States.

“The authoritarian bargain the U.S. has struck with Egypt might seem to be the right thing, but it never pays off in the long run,” Ms. Hawthorne said. “It’s not just about being on the wrong side of history, but about over-investing in a regime that is fueling radicalization that will ultimately harm U.S. interests.”

(h/t New York Times)

Reality

This isn’t the first time Donald Trump praised other authoritarian leaders while calling the democratically elected officials in Congress and the White House “weak.”

  • After receiving praise from Vladimir Putin, Trump showed lots of love for the authoritarian Russian President in return saying he’ll get along fine with him.
  • Praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on how well he killed all of his uncles in order to take power.
  • In the midst of a brutal civil war where authoritarian Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, Trump was kind enough to give Bashar a grade of ‘A’ for leadership.
  • During the CNN-Telemundo Republican candidates’ debate in February that while Gaddafi was “really bad,” his tactics were effective and we would be so much better off if Gaddafi were in charge.
  • Trump tweeted a quote from former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. When asked about being associated with a fascist Trump responded what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else — it’s a very good quote.
  • And Trump has a history of praising Saddam Hussein in interviews and at rallies.

Gadhafi, Hussein, Bashar, Un, and Putin all have committed atrocities against their own people and were among the world’s worst human rights abusers.

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