Trump hints at a softer stance on Huawei in a bizarre ‘6G’ tweet

President Donald Trump sent a pair of bizarre tweets Thursday morning mentioning a “6G” wireless network and seemingly hinting that he could take a softer stance on Chinese telecom company Huawei.

The tweets rang as odd because 6G technology doesn’t exist. U.S. telecom companies are barely on the cusp of 5G wireless networks, and they’re facing stiff competition to build it before Chinese companies.

Trump doesn’t name China or Huawei, but that’s likely what he’s referencing. Chinese companies are at the forefront of 5G technology, and the Trump administration resumed trade talks with Chinese negotiators Thursday. Both nations face a March 1 deadline to reach a deal, although Trump has indicated he could back off of it.

Meanwhile, Trump has reportedly been preparing an executive order to ban Huawei and ZTE from operating in the U.S., which would grant U.S. companies a little more cushion to build their own 5G networks. Now it seems Trump could be reconsidering a ban on Chinese telecoms.

It’s unclear whether a potential ban on Huawei and ZTE would factor into negotiations, but such an executive order would likely invite some bad blood between the world’s two largest economies.

The U.S. and other countries have long feared Huawei’s equipment could be used for spying.

TPG Telecom dropped plans to use Huawei equipment in Australia, which banned the use of Huawei’s equipment. New Zealand and Japan have similar prohibitions in place. The U.K. hasn’t made a decision either way, but the Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank, warned earlier this month that allowing Huawei equipment could be “naive” and “irresponsible.”

Germany has considered similar measures, but said earlier this month that it isn’t ready to ban Huawei and that it will allow all 5G equipment vendors in the country.

U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon are still activating fledgling 5G networks in select cities, and T-Mobile and Sprint plan to launch theirs later this year. Most experts think it will take until at least 2020 for 5G to become widespread.

Samsung just announced the first phone that will run on the faster network, but it won’t launch until the second quarter of this year.

Trump’s reference to nonexistent “6G” might just be an indication he wants technology to be running full speed ahead, but it’s not something that anyone will be able to use in the near future.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

[CNBC]

Reality

At the time of this tweet there is no white paper on 6G. Trump is showing again his complete lack of understanding of technology.

Trump warns Europe he will free ISIS fighters if allies won’t prosecute them

President Donald Trump threatened Sunday to release hundreds of Islamic State fighters being held in Syria if allies in Europe don’t agree to take custody of the militants.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,” Trump said in a late-night tweet. “The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”

Trump, who intends to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, said the likely destination for the militants would be European countries. “The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go,” Trump said.

During the civil war in Syria, hundreds of militants flooded into the country, many coming from Europe to join ISIS’ ranks. It’s unclear how many of the militants Trump is referring to are actually European citizens.

Trump’s comments come as global leaders wrap up three days of security talks in Munich, where the conflict in Syria was among the agenda items.

James Jeffrey, the U.S.’s special representative on Syria issues, said in Munich that the U.S. will leave northeastern Syria, but the troop pullout will not be abrupt.

“It will be an orderly step-by-step withdraw,”Jeffrey said without offering a timeline.

In December, Trump called for a complete withdraw of U.S. forces in the country. And on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated that the U.S. still plans to wind down the mission in Syria.

Still, the U.S. said it intends to keep its coalition together and wants allies to play a larger role in the broader campaign to root out ISIS elements.

Jeffrey said there are hundreds of ISIS cells scattered throughout the region. U.S. air power will remain ready to respond when needed, he said.

Trump has essentially declared victory over the group, which has been forced out of all its former strongholds in Iraq and Syria. But there remain concerns that ISIS could regroup if the U.S. pulls out. Trump said the time has come for other countries to pick up the slack.

“We do so much, and spend so much – Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!,” Trump tweeted.

[Stars and Stripes]

Reality

Trump promised in the campaign he had a secret plan to defeat ISIS in 90 days. Instead:

1. 90 days came and went.

2. Said you’ll have a plan soon.

3. Your plan was to give the generals 90 days to formulate a plan.

4. Their plan was Obama’s strategy.

5. You take credit for #winning.

Trump cited Putin to push back on North Korea long-range missile reports

Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe wrote in his new book that President Trump did not believe U.S. intelligence reports about North Korean missile advances because of claims he’d heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Washington Post reported that McCabe’s book, “The Threat,” details an instance in July 2017 where Trump did not believe information in an Oval Office briefing that North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. 

McCabe wrote that Trump called the launch of the long-range missile a “hoax,” telling officials he knew North Korea did not have the ability to launch that type of missile “because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”

Asked for comment, the White House pointed to a statement earlier Thursday from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that said McCabe “has no credibility and is an embarrassment to the men and women of the FBI and our great country.”

Those remarks came in response to an interview in which McCabe revealed he opened a probe into whether Trump obstructed justice when the president fired James Comey as FBI chief in 2017 amid the Russia investigation.

Trump ripped McCabe on Thursday morning, tweeting that the former FBI official “pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel’ when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax.”

McCabe was fired last year after an internal watchdog report found he had a “lack of candor” with investigators looking into FBI leaks about its probe into the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential race.

The former deputy director’s account of the 2017 meeting is the latest instance calling into question Trump’s relationship with Putin. Democrats and critics of the president have repeatedly chastised Trump for his friendly rhetoric toward Russia and the Putin.

Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has so far implicated six former Trump associates. The president has repeatedly decried the investigation as a “witch hunt,” and denied colluding with Russia.

The president’s defenders have argued that Trump has been tougher on Russia than past administrations, pointing to various sanctions.

[The Hill]

Donald Trump praises ‘economic rocket’ North Korea with summit announcement

In a pair of tweets, Mr Trump said his representatives had just left North Korea after a “productive meeting” about the February 27-28 summit which he revealed would held in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!” he tweeted.

“North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse. He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is.”

The President also appeared to reference his previous mocking of Mr Kim as the “Little Rocket Man”. 

The President had previously announced Vietnam as the summit location, but the city had not been identified. 

It will be the pair’s second summit, the first coming last June in Singapore. Mr Kim pledged then to work toward the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula, without providing a clear timetable or roadmap.

[ABC]

Trump blasts intel chiefs as ‘passive and naive’

President Trump on Wednesday blasted top intelligence leaders for being “wrong” about their new assessment on Iran’s nuclear developments.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning in a pair of tweets.

The president, who claimed Iran has recently tested rockets, also mocked the intelligence leaders in his administration, suggesting they “should go back to school.”

The two tweets came a day after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel offered testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that seemed to contradict things the president has said. 

Coats testified that the intelligence community found that Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities, basing his remarks on an intelligence assessment. 

“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” the assessment reads.

The assessment warns that Iranian officials are threatening to begin building up the country’s nuclear capabilities if Tehran “does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected” from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an Obama-era deal that Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.

The president, who bashed the agreement as “the worst deal ever” and “defective at its core,” claimed that if the deal remained in place, Iran “will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

The officials also contradicted Trump on several other issues, testifying that ISIS remains a threat to the United States despite Trump’s repeated comments that they have been defeated. 

And Coats said the intelligence community believes North Korea won’t be willing to fully denuclearize because nuclear weapons are viewed as key to the state’s survival — a statement that undermines Trump’s previous claims that Pyongyang is “no longer a nuclear threat.”

Their testimony received heavy attention in the media for its contrast with Trump’s comments.

[The Hill]

All Of The Made-Up, Nonsensical, Hypocritical Highlights From Trump’s Cabinet Meeting

President Donald Trump ranted about immigrants, attractive generals, the difficulty of being president and more on Wednesday in his first televised appearance of the year.

In a rambling and often disjointed conversation, the president led reporters and members of his Cabinet through his thinking on issues ranging from immigration to military strategy to the very role of the presidency.

Here are some of the standout moments from the over 90-minute meeting:

Trump claimed there are more than 30 million undocumented immigrants.

That number is about three times greater than experts’ estimates. Pew Research Center estimated there were 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. as of 2016.

He said Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, then said he would have been a good general.

In one extended rant, Trump put forth his theory that Afghanistan was responsible for turning the Soviet Union into Russia, shared his thoughts on military strategy to fight terrorism and then claimed he would have been a good general. Trump avoided the draft five times.

Trump said he works too hard, despite taking more vacation days than any other president in recent history.

Former President Barack Obama was harshly criticized for taking vacation days ― including by Trump. But Trump has far surpassed Obama in the number of days he’s spent golfing during his presidency.

He repeated a number he made up for what unauthorized immigration costs the U.S.

Trump has a long history of spouting greatly inflated or invented numbers for how much illegal immigration costs the U.S. During his presidential campaign, he often claimed it cost $100 billion. That number has risen steadily over the years, unattached to any apparent research or reports, as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump has documented.

Trump summed up the deadly, devastating and years-long conflict in Syria with a minimizing statement.

After abruptly announcing plans in December to withdraw all American troops from war-torn Syria, Trump backpedaled somewhat on Wednesday, saying it might take longer than previously expected. “We’re talking about sand and death,” he said. “That’s what we’re talking about.”

The president commented on the physical attractiveness of a group of generals he once met with at the Pentagon.

This one pretty much speaks for itself, but “computer boards,” anyone?

He complained about being ‘all alone’ over the holidays, ‘except for all of the guys out on the lawn with machine guns.’

Trump threatened to take unilateral action on a number of his top priorities and then seemed to taunt, ‘Wouldn’t that be scary?’

[Huffington Post]

Trump Hits Back At ‘Failed Generals’ Who Were ‘Unable To Do The Job’ Over Syria Withdrawal

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism about the sudden announcement from a week and a half ago about plans to remove U.S. troops from Syria and that ISIS was defeated. This decision reportedly came despite advice from military and intelligence leadership and eventually led to the protest resignation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump apparently felt the need to clear the air and defend his position via a short series of tweets that explained his process as a simple fulfillment of his campaign promise. And, as his is wont, he included some not-so-subtle digs at his detractors.

Trump tweeted:

Following the announced plans to withdrawal, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for the planned withdrawal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Senate ally to the White House, notably was vocal in pushing back on this plan, though his rhetoric has softened more recently.

Trump’s dig at “some failed generals” is certainly a dig at Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in a recent interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, spared little criticism for a president who he sees as “immoral.”

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump’s plan to fight ISIS was actually Obama’s plan, just on a faster timeline.

Trump: I may be forced to seal southern border, cut off aid to Central America

President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the nation’s southern border if Congress doesn’t fund his border wall.

“We build the wall or,” Trump wrote in a string of tweets. ” … close the southern border.”

Mick Mulvaney, the incoming White House chief of staff, told reporters on Friday the president is “absolutely” willing to shut down the southern border, despite the enormous cost to the country.

“All options are on the table,” Mulvaney said. “Listen, it’s the only way we can get the Democrats’ attention.”

Trump also said he would cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where violence and crime have motivated thousands of people to flee and seek asylum in the United States. He also said another migrant caravan is heading toward the U.S.

Trump’s string of tweeted threats comes as the partial government shutdown reaches its first full week amid a spending bill feud between Congress and the president.

Trump refused to sign a short-term funding bill last week that would have pushed the spending fight to February, insisting that Congress allocate billions for the border wall.

In a second tweet, the president claimed that building the wall would be a “profit making operation.” The president also complained about Mexico stealing American jobs and undermining the auto industry and said Central America’s violence-riddled Northern Triangle countries were “taking advantage of the U.S. for years.”

The San Diego Union Tribune reported on Thursday that another caravan of migrants from Honduras was forming, with as many as 15,000 migrants undergoing the lengthy asylum request process, potentially adding to the backlog of asylum-seekers who are currently in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Friday on CBS that the president was willing to negotiate the amount of border funding Congress gives him.

“I’m not going to negotiate in the press, but the president has been willing to negotiate on this point,” she said. “And the Democrats have not been willing to do anything. And that’s the sad part, they care more about keeping our borders open than keeping our government open.”

On Fox News, Mulvaney said the administration had already offered Democrats a number “less than” $5 billion in negotiation, but Democrats had held firm to their offer of $1.3 billion dollars in border funding.

[NBC News]

Trump Downplays US Envoy Brett McGurk Quitting Over Syria Pullout: ‘A Nothing Event’

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Saturday night that he doesn’t even know Brett McGurk, the US envoy who resigned over Trump’s planned Syria pullout. He also downplayed reports that McGurk quit over Syria, claiming he was supposed to leave anyhow.

In an email announcing his resignation to his colleagues and obtained byThe New York Times, McGurk called the recent decision by the president “a shock” and “a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us.”

McGurk added: “I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.”

Yet, in an attempt to rewrite the narrative of McGurk’s exit, Trump claimed he did not even know McGurk and insisted that the Obama appointee was supposed to leave in February anyhow.

“Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015,” Trump wrote. “Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander?”

The president then blamed the media for stirring the pot: “The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”

[Mediaite]

Trump Orders Big Troop Reduction in Afghanistan

A day after a contested decision to pull American military forces from Syria, officials said Thursday that President Trump has ordered the start of a reduction of American forces in Afghanistan.

More than 7,000 American troops will begin to return home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, a U.S. official said. The move will come as the first stage of a phased drawdown and the start of a conclusion to the 17-year war that officials say could take at least many months. There now are more than 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump announced Wednesday that he would pull all of the more than 2,000 American troops from Syria.

Taken together, the Syria withdrawal and the likely Afghan drawdown represent a dramatic shift in the U.S. approach to military engagement in hot spots around the world, reflecting Mr. Trump’s aversion to long-running military entanglements with their high costs and American casualties.

“I think it shows how serious the president is about wanting to come out of conflicts,” a senior U.S. official said of how the Syria decision affects his thinking on Afghanistan. “I think he wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close.”

The shifts may have proven too drastic for some in the administration. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis submitted a letter expressing his intent to leave, saying, “you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”

Mr. Mattis’s unexpected departure raises questions about whether Mr. Trump’s plans will proceed as he directed.

The plans for troop withdrawals also reflect Mr. Trump’s campaign promises and his “America First” approach to overseas involvements. In a Twitter message on Thursday, he wrote, “Time to come home & rebuild.”

In both the Afghan and Syrian conflicts, Mr. Trump earlier this year voiced an interest in bringing troops home within the year or less, moves that were widely opposed within the U.S. national security establishment.

But Mr. Trump’s impatience has deepened, and in recent days, the debate has grown more pointed, according to those familiar with the discussions. The Pentagon over the last weekend fended off a push by Mr. Trump to start bringing troops home from Afghanistan starting in January, officials said.

Mr. Trump’s decision on Syria, like earlier foreign-policy decisions including his decision to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, was made without a formal consultative process within his cabinet, officials and lawmakers said, cementing his inclination to make key national security decisions on his own or in small groups that include national security adviser John Bolton and a few others. He also apprised few international leaders of his intentions.

The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command declined to comment on the Afghanistan plans. The move to reduce U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and Africa comes alongside a new national security strategy that designates geopolitical competitors such as Russia and China greater threats than terrorists or failed states.

Mr. Trump’s decision on Syria was widely criticized by Democrats and Republican alike in Congress and national security experts across the government, an outcome that also is likely to greet his decision on Afghanistan.

[Wall Stree Journal]

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