President Trump Committed a Royal Faux Pas During His Visit With the Queen

The internet is up in arms over a breach in royal etiquette President Donald Trump committed during his visit with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday.

The internet is up in arms over a breach in royal etiquette President Donald Trump committed during his visit with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday.

The awkward interaction amounted to a minor faux pas on Trump’s part, as it is considered rude to turn your back to the Queen, according to the BBC, or to walk ahead of her. Trump was reportedly also 12 minutes late to their appointment to have tea, although some have contested that assertion.

[TIME]

Trump Kicks Off NATO Summit With Breakfast Rant: ‘Germany Is A Captive Of Russia’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday kicked off what is shaping up to be a contentious NATO summit by lashing out at Germany, saying the country is “captive to Russia” because of a gas pipeline deal.

In a bilateral breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in front of reporters, Trump immediately launched into a tirade about the pipeline.

“It’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” he said.

“If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia, because they supply ― they got rid of their coal plants, got rid of their nuclear, they’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia,” he added. “I think it’s something NATO has to look at.”

“Germany is totally controlled by Russia, cause they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline,” he said.

Trump’s comments referred to Berlin’s support for the construction of the $12 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas across the Baltic Sea into the European continent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the project is merely commercial, but the U.S. and other European Union members believe the pipeline could be a geopolitical incursion by Russia.

Stoltenberg responded by emphasizing NATO’s unity.

“NATO is an an alliance of 29 nations and sometimes there are differences and different views and also some disagreements, and the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany is one issue where allies disagree,” said Stoltenberg.

Trump is in Brussels for the NATO summit on Wednesday and Thursday, then will spend Friday and the weekend on a working visit to the UK, then will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

There are concerns that Trump will alienate NATO members ― traditional allies of the U.S. ― while cozying up to Putin.

Ahead of the NATO summit, Trump sent letters to allies Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium blasting them for not spending enough on defense ― an oft-repeated criticism of the alliance. Meanwhile, he told reporters on Tuesday that his meeting with Putin “may be the easiest of them all.”

Trump’s continued downplaying of Russian election interference has also deviated from broader international attitudes.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!,” he tweeted last month before tearing into the FBI and its former director James Comey. The U.S. intelligence community, backed by a Republican-led Senate panel, has definitively concluded that Kremlin meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

Trump also called Putin “fine” in a fiery speech last week in which he also attacked European allies.

Back in the U.S., the Senate on Tuesday voted 97-2 on a motion of support for NATO.

“Unfortunately, this motion has become necessary because some of our closest allies have come to question the US commitment to collective self-defense. President Trump has at times called the alliance ‘obsolete.’ Our allies are starting to wonder whether they can rely on the United States to come to their defense in a crisis,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who authored the nonbinding motion.

[Huffington Post]

Media

Trump Says He Will Revisit DACA Decision If Lawmakers Don’t Act

President Trump said Tuesday that he would revisit his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program if lawmakers are unable to pass legislation on the matter in the next six months.

“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!” he wrote on Twitter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning that the Trump administration would rescind the Obama-era program, which shielded certain young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The administration said, however, that DACA would be phased out over the next six months, a delay intended to give lawmakers time to pass legislation addressing the issue.

Trump defended the decision to rescind the program earlier Tuesday, saying that the six-month delay would give lawmakers “a window” to act.

“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful democratic process,” he said.

Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already expressed support for the DREAM Act, which would grant young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children reprieve from deportation. The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001.

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump’s reasoning for kicking DACA over to Congress was that the president does not have the legal authority to unilaterally enact prosecutorial discretion (which he does). But what Trump is saying now is that if Congress doesn’t act within his time frame then he will unilaterally enact prosecutorial discretion.

So then why did he pass the buck to Congress in the first place?

Trump: ‘Everyone’ at G-20 talking about Podesta not giving server to authorities

At this week’s G-20 summit in Germany, one subject the world’s most powerful leaders are discussing is why Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman did not cooperate with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials as they investigated cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

“Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. He did not explain why Podesta, who did not work for the DNC, would have been responsible for its email server.

Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the DNC, noted that discrepancy in a post to Twitter, linking to Trump’s post and writing that “1) Podesta never ran the DNC. 2) DNC worked with FBI to kick out Russians. Worked with DHS. 3) Putin make you tweet this before mtg?”

Amid the months-long swirl of reporting surrounding Russia’s efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election, as well as allegations that Trump associates may have colluded with Russia in those efforts, the president has sought to cast blame on the DNC, former President Barack Obama and others for not doing enough to stop the hacking.

And while he has eagerly accused Obama, the DNC and Podesta of negligence or worse, the president has stopped short of outright blaming Russia for launching the campaign of cyberattacks. Instead, he has said only that he thinks Russia was involved, but that other nations and individuals could have been involved as well.

Trump said Thursday at a press conference that “nobody really knows for sure” if Russia was behind the campaign of cyberattacks, even though the intelligence community he leads as president has expressed certainty that the Kremlin is to blame.

The president is scheduled to meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the pair’s first face-to-face meeting since Trump’s election. The White House has not said whether or not Trump plans to bring up Russia’s campaign of election-year cyberattacks.

[Politico]

Reality

At this week’s G-20 summit, Donald Trump again attacked an American while on foreign soil.

Two issues here:

  • Podesta worked for the Clinton campaign and did not work for the DNC, so he would not have been responsible for its email server.
  • Reporting about the DNC hack shows the FBI never asked for the servers. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html)

Trump Draws a His Own Red Line in Syria

Defense officials were “caught off guard” Monday by a White House statement warning against “potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime,” Buzzfeed reports.

“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reads. “The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.”

“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

Buzzfeed spoke to five US defense officials who told the publications “they did not know where the potential chemical attack would come from” and were not informed that the White House was going to release such a statement. As Buzzfeed notes, statements like this are usually coordinated across national security agencies prior to their release.

Likewise, the New York Times reports that “several” military officials were caught of guard by the White House statement.

[Raw Story]

Trump: Senate Republicans Should Use the ‘Nuclear Option’ to Pass Healthcare and Tax Cuts

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the Senate should get rid of the legislative filibuster so that it could pass healthcare and tax-cut bills.

“The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy,” Trump tweeted. “Dems would do it, no doubt!”

The filibuster allows senators to hold up legislation without a 60-vote threshold.

Changing the floor rules to end the filibuster has been considered a “nuclear option” for lawmakers, as it could come back to bite the GOP if the Democrats were to retake the Senate.

In recent years, however, the party in control of the Senate has done away with other filibusters in an attempt to circumvent the opposition. Democrats eliminated the filibuster for executive and judicial nominees in 2013. And in April, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scrapped the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees to confirm Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

The GOP is circumventing a possible filibuster for its healthcare bill by introducing it using a process known as budget reconciliation. As long as the bill cuts the federal deficit, it is not subject to a 60-vote threshold.

Both the GOP healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act, and Trump’s tax proposals have faced unanimous opposition from Democrats.

Trump’s suggestions followed a series of tweets Tuesday in which he criticized Germany and attacked reports on ties between his campaign and Russian officials.

[Business Insider]

Trump Shoved the Montenegro Prime Minister at NATO

During his first joint meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders, President Trump on Thursday appeared to push aside the prime minister of Montenegro.

In a video of the interaction, the president comes up from behind and then shoves Montenegro’s Dusko Markovic to get to the front of the group of world leaders. Trump then adjusts his jacket.

Markovic appears to be taken aback at first, but after seeing that it was Trump, he smiles and pats Trump on the back.

[USA Today]

Of Course The CIA Gave Trump Standing Ovations. He Never Let Them Sit.

While President Donald Trump brags about how hundreds of CIA employees gave him standing ovations during his Saturday visit, it should not have come as a surprise.

He never told them to sit.

The 400 agency staffers were standing when Trump entered the room, were still standing when he came to the lectern, and then remained standing through his 15 minutes of remarks.

“You know that the CIA will not sit down until the president tells them to,” said Yael Eisenstat, who spent more than half of her 13-year career in counterterrorism and intelligence work at the agency.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted: “Had a great meeting at CIA Headquarters yesterday, packed house, paid great respect to Wall, long standing ovations, amazing people. WIN!”

It’s unclear whether the new president understood that federal employees, regardless of the agency ― but particularly in national security fields ― will likely remain standing until he tells them otherwise. Military audiences, in the presence of their commander in chief, will absolutely remaining standing until instructed to sit.

The White House did not respond to a Huffington Post query on the matter, but press secretary Sean Spicer, during his first press briefing Monday, again referred to the “standing ovation” at the CIA as proof of the employees’ support for the president.

“I’m amazed by the fact that he doesn’t understand basic protocol,” said Rick Wilson, a former Pentagon staffer with a background in military intelligence. “There’s no Miss Manners in this group. There’s no one telling him, ‘Here’s what you need to do.’”

Even more offensive to many in the intelligence world than Trump’s lack of understanding about protocol, though, was the content of his remarks ― a rambling, campaign-style speech that attacked the news media for their coverage of the inauguration, a boast about his own intellect, and a claim that almost everyone in the room had voted for him ― all of it while standing in front of a memorial wall honoring the 117 CIA agents who have died in the line of duty over the decades.

“Unbelievable,” Wilson said. “It’s like going to do standup in Arlington Cemetery. I know how much that wall means to the people in the agency. I know how sacred that space is. It was a graceless display.”

Eisenstat, who also served in the White House as former Vice President Joe Biden’s counterterrorism adviser, is one of those people. “One of those stars behind him was a friend of mine,” she said.

Greg Wenzell, who joined the CIA immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks from a career as a defense lawyer in Florida, was killed in 2003 in Ethiopia. He is star No. 81 on the wall.

“People are outraged,” Eisenstat said. “I have yet to hear anyone not disgusted.”
She pointed to speeches by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the CIA early in their tenures. They talked about the agency, its employees and the challenges they faced ― and avoided speaking about themselves.

“Both did exactly what a president does when they speak to the CIA,” she said. “Obama did all throughout his speech. And George W. Bush did it too.”

Trump came to the agency ostensibly to show his support for its work after weeks of disparaging the CIA and the other U.S. intelligence agencies for their analyses that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had directed his spy agencies to help Trump’s campaign by stealing private emails embarrassing to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump for months had claimed it was impossible to determine who had done the hacking ― all the while praising WikiLeaks for releasing the stolen emails. Many in the U.S. intelligence world consider WikiLeaks a mouthpiece for Russian spy agencies.

Trump also used his visit to praise his pick for CIA director, Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, describing how Pompeo had finished first in his class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and then near the top of his class at Harvard Law School.

“And then he decided to go into the military,” Trump said, not seeming to understand that accepting a commission at West Point comes with the commitment of serving at least five years in the Army and three years in the Reserve.

Trump, who described himself as “the most militaristic” person ever to run for president during his campaign, had other instances where he displayed a lack of knowledge about military issues.

Standing on the deck of the World War II-era battleship USS Iowa in Los Angeles harbor in 2015, Trump wondered why the Navy was not recommissioning that vessel now ― seeming not to know that navies have been shying away from large surface ships since the 1982 sinking of Britain’s 400-foot HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. The ship was taken down by a single cruise missile fired by an Argentine plane from two dozen miles away.

Trump in November became the first president to be elected with no experience in the government or the military. Trump said he avoided the draft during the Vietnam War because of bone spurs in one of his heels. In 1997, he joked on Howard Stern’s radio show that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases in the 1970s was “my personal Vietnam,” and that he felt like “a great and very brave soldier.”

(h/t Huffington Post)

Trump Ditches Press Again, This Time For Golf Outing

President-elect Donald Trump played golf at his course about 13 miles north of his Palm Beach resort Saturday.

What time he left Mar-a-Lago, what time he arrived at Trump National in Jupiter, who he met or played with once there, what time he was finished and whether there were any incidents along the way were not immediately clear, as he ditched the reporters assigned to cover him for the day.

“It was a last-minute decision to play golf, nothing more,” Trump travel aide Stephanie Grisham said.

Presidents, presidents-elect and major party presidential nominees in recent decades have been accompanied everywhere by a group of print, online, wire service and broadcast reporters, a rotating “pool” that shares that information for use by all their colleagues. That tradition, though, was broken during the campaign by Trump, who largely refused to allow members of the press to travel on his personal jetliner, forcing the use of a second plane.

The resulting logistical complications sometimes meant pool reporters ― who often paid thousands of dollars per day for air travel ― were unable to arrive at his campaign events until after he had taken the stage. Trump also refused to take reporters to fundraiser locations. Candidate in both parties had made a practice of this, including releasing information about the hosts, the number of attendees and the amount collected.

Not long after the election, Trump went to a New York City restaurant ― with a full Secret Service motorcade ― without notifying his press pool. Reporters on call that evening learned of his visit because of a restaurant patron’s tweet that he was there, and then the reporters scrambled to get there too.

Trump was scheduled to attend a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, which, according to a Politico report, has sold 800 tickets at more than $500 each. Unlike political fundraisers for political parties, the profits from the New Year’s Eve party were expected to flow directly to Trump, who owns the hotel.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Politico that he was not concerned that ticket buyers might be trying to purchase access to the soon-to-be-president. “This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict,” Hicks told Politico.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Trump: ‘I Would Have Far Less Reason to Tweet’ If the Media Covered Me ‘Honorably’

Twitter

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he’d have “far less” of a reason to use Twitter if he received what he believed to be more fair coverage.

“If the press would cover me accurately & honorably, I would have far less reason to ‘tweet,'” Trump tweeted. “Sadly, I don’t know if that will ever happen!”

Trump used the social-media platform to bash NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” as “unwatchable” and “totally biased” for a skit in which Alec Baldwin impersonated the Manhattan billionaire and his tweeting habits.

“The Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad!” Trump tweeted.

He also used Twitter recently to defend himself for what he described as a congratulatory from the president of Taiwan. The call, which broke decades of US foreign-policy orthodoxy, was the first communication between the leaders of the two countries since 1979 and risked angering the Chinese government.

As is typically the case when Trump criticizes the media, he did not point out anything that was inaccurately reported but merely sowed doubt about whether the media was being forthcoming regarding its coverage of him.

(h/t Business Insider)

Reality

If only the press would stop reporting on the lies he makes

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