Trump working with Chinese president to help China’s ZTE ‘get back into business’

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping are working to give Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp “a way to get back into business, fast.”

“President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The Chinese technology company earlier this month suspended its main operations after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American supplies to its business.

As one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, ZTE relied on U.S. companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Intel Corp for components.

[Reuters]

ZTE is banned from selling devices in the US because they violated our own sanctions and sold equipment to Iran. Remember, just this week Trump thought sanctions on Iran are so important he left the Iran deal to impose new sanctions on the country.

Do you realize how insane this is?

The company reached a settlement in March 2017 with the Commerce Department and Treasury Department for $1.19 billion and the promise to terminate several employees and punish others.

ZTE disclosed earlier this year that while it had gotten rid of several employees, the company hadn’t properly reduced the bonuses of some workers, or issued letters of reprimand. The inaction wasn’t consistent with a progress report ZTE issued in July. It’s because of those false statements that the Commerce Department decided to act.

Trump: We didn’t pay for release of prisoners from North Korea

President Trump on Thursday evening touted the release of three Americans prisoners from North Korea who arrived home this week, noting that the U.S. did not pay for their release.

“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un did a great service to himself and to his country by doing this. But those hostages came out, with respect, we didn’t pay for them,” Trump said during a rally in Elkhart, Ind.

“What he did was the right thing, but they came out for nothing and the others came out for $1.8 billion in cash,” Trump added.

Trump appeared to be referring to a January 2016 deal in which the Obama administration agreed to pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a case related to the sale of military equipment before the Iranian revolution.

The payment coincided with the release of five imprisoned American citizens who were released in exchange for seven Iranians detained in the U.S.

The White House at the time disputed that it was a ransom payment.

Trump early Thursday morning greeted the three Americans who were freed from captivity in North Korea earlier this week. He has touted their release as an act of good will by Kim ahead of a planned summit between the two leaders on June 12 in Singapore.

“The relationship is good, and hopefully, I mean for all of us, for the world, hopefully something very good is going to happen,” Trump said at Thursday’s rally.

[The Hill]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

The $1.7 billion dollars Trump mentioned was a settlement of claims, and was announced by the State Department months before Iranian detainees were transferred back home to America.

Media

White House blames ‘typo’ for major claim on Iran’s nuclear program

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday blamed a “typo” for a controversial statement issued late Monday that initially said Iran currently “has” a secret nuclear program — a conclusion that would have major implications for the Iran nuclear deal.

In the statement issued under Sanders’ name, the Trump administration originally wrote that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” a position that conflicted with international monitors who have found Iran to be in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal it signed with other nations, including the U.S., in 2015.

The statement was later amended online to switch to the past tense, that “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.” On the White House website, the statement is published without a correction or other acknowledgment of the error, and a corrected email was not sent to reporters.

“We think the biggest mistake that was made was under the Obama administration by ever entering the deal that you referenced in the first place,” Sanders told reporters on Tuesday. “The typo that you referenced was noticed, immediately corrected and we are focused on moving forward on the safety and security of our country.”

The White House statement came in response to a Monday presentation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal, lambasting the agreement and accusing the Iranian government of deceiving the international community on the subject of its nuclear program.

Netanyahu’s presentation was met with skepticism by many who argued that it contained little new information, and Sanders, in her Monday statement, said “the United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully.”

Despite having to defend the White House’s edited statement, Sanders still went on the offensive at Tuesday’s briefing, slamming the Iran deal that the president has often threatened to withdraw the U.S. from.

“The problem is that the deal was made on a completely false pretense. Iran lied on the front end. They were dishonest actors and so the deal that was made was made on things that weren’t accurate and we have a big problem with that,” she said.

[Politico]

Trump calls for DOJ to investigate Obama over Iran

President Donald Trump was up early Sunday morning, tweeting that he can’t understand why former President Barack Obama was not investigated for the Iran deal before then launching an attack on House intel member Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Hours after undermining his own National Security Adviser on Twitter, Trump went after Obama.

“Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!” Trump wrote.

You can see the tweets below:

[Raw Story]

Reality

In 1979, Iran’s then-monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid $400 million to the United States government to purchase military parts. But that year’s revolution toppled the shah, and the military parts were never delivered.

To regain its funds, Iran filed a claim against the United States in 1981 in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, which adjudicates disputes between the two nations. The body, located at the Hague, was established amid negotiations to end the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis, in which pro-revolution students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

US Sees ‘No Indication’ Iran Launched a Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet

US intelligence radars and sensors “picked up no indication” of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment.

Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: “As far as we can see, it did not happen.”
State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television.

“Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran,” Press TV said.

But the telemetry, or electronic signals, of a ballistic missile launch would have been picked up by a variety of US assets in the region who keep an around the clock eye on Iran’s weapons activities, the official said.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the apparent launch on Saturday: “Iran just test fired a ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!”

The footage shown on Iranian television appears most likely to be a re-run of a previous test launch, the official said.

The official did not know if Trump received an intelligence briefing about the launch before sending the tweet.

Fox News was the first to report that the US believes the launch did not take place.

[CNN]

The Trump administration just quietly admitted that the Iran deal is working

In February, President Donald Trump said that the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran was “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.” His comments were a direct echo of candidate Trump’s rhetoric: In one 2016 speech, he said, “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

While Trump refused to commit to tearing it up on day one, he repeatedly suggested that the deal was a “disaster” and that his administration would enforce it more harshly or perhaps seek to renegotiate its terms and make it a “totally different deal.”

Tuesday night, the Trump administration quietly took a very different line.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that “certifies” Iran is complying with the terms of the deal, including the terms that place strict limits on its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The deal, Tillerson said, was working.

Tillerson was careful to note that Tehran was “a leading state sponsor of terror,” and announced that Trump was initiating a review that will “evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the [Iran deal] is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

But that kind of high-level review of major policy initiatives is actually quite normal for new administrations. According to experts across the political spectrum, the clear upshot of this letter is that the Iran deal is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

“My sense is the deal will be left largely intact,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow in the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy says. “[Tearing it up] is more trouble than it’s worth.”

That’s not to say that the US and Iran will be on good terms. The Trump administration is likely to take a more confrontational line on Iran when it comes to other issues, like Tehran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian ballistic missile program.

But it does mean that US-Iran relations, which focused on the nuclear standoff for years, won’t be changing as much under Trump as the president’s own words had suggested.

(h/t Vox)

Trump Declares He Would Start a War Over Iranian Ships Bothering American Ships

Donald Trump said Friday night that he would shoot Iranian vessels “out of the water” if they bother American ships.

“Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” the GOP presidential candidate said at a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida.

is comments follow the fifth time in about a month that Iranian boats have harassed US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.

The US Navy has fired defensive warning shots, but not “shot [them] out of the water,” as Trump would like.

Military analysts suspect the Iranian fast-attack craft have been conducting such maneuvers mainly because they are unhappy with the US nuclear deal — an agreement Trump also opposes.

Earlier this week, the real-estate mogul also released his plan for the military if elected president.

It calls for 540,000 active-duty Army soldiers, 350 Navy ships, 1,200 combat-ready Air Force jets, and 36 Marine Corps battalions — numbers he reiterated at the rally Friday night. On the technology side, Trump calls for a modernization of the missile-defense system.

This buildup will likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, according to Military Times.

The US military, Trump said, will be “so strong that nobody’s going to mess with us.”

(h/t Business Insider)

Reality

Get ready for yet another Republican-led war in the Middle East should we elect a President Donald Trump.

It is scary to have a presidential candidate hold a policy of American military aggression, reinstating torture techniques that are proven not to work, while calling for a military buildup, ignoring international laws, and replacing career generals who he disagrees with puts our country on a highly volatile and dangerous path.

Media

Trump’s Dishonest Attack on Clinton After Iran Executes Nuclear Scientist

The execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist accused of spying for the US is reverberating from Tehran to the presidential campaign trail.

Critics, including opponent Donald Trump, are slamming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having received emails mentioning him on her controversial personal email server.

Trump took to Twitter on Monday to link Clinton to Shahram Amiri’s death, writing, “Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails.”

The emails mentioning Amiri were were part of a tranche released by the State Department last year pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request in the wake of the revelation that Clinton used a personal server to conduct official business. The FBI has said there is no direct evidence the server was hacked, noting such evidence would be hard to come by.

The Clinton campaign fired back at GOP attacks on Monday, releasing a statement even before Trump’s tweet accusing the GOP presidential nominee of using “increasingly desperate rhetoric to attack Hillary Clinton and make absurd accusations because they have no ideas for the American people.”

The State Department Monday denied any connection between the emails mentioning the delicate case and Amiri’s execution.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters “there was public reporting on this topic back in 2010,” referencing a news conference in which Clinton mentioned the scientist.

“This is not something that became public when the State Department released those emails,” she added, noting that none of the emails mentioning Amiri were classified or retroactively classified as such upon their release — as some emails sent to Clinton were — a sign the Amiri material was not considered too sensitive to be made public.

“We’re not going to comment on what may have led to this event,” Trudeau added, referring to Amiri’s prosecution and execution.

Amiri was initially greeted as a hero upon returning to Iran six years ago. At the time, he had claimed he was kidnapped by American spies while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, saying that he had been offered millions of dollars to spy on the US’s behalf but had opted to turn it down. While in the US, he seemed to appear in one video saying he was kidnapped but later in another video said he was there by choice.

On Sunday, however, Iran’s Judiciary Ministry announced Amiri had been hanged for sharing Iran’s nuclear secrets with the enemy.

“He was put on trial and was convicted and sentenced to death,” Iran judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told reporters Monday.

“(He) not only did not make up for his crime and did not repent, he also tried to send information from prison. Anyway, after due process, he received his punishment,” he added.

US officials have said that Amiri willingly defected but then changed his mind, choosing to return to Iran to be with his family. Officials suspect he feared for the safety of his family living in Iran.

“Mr. Amiri has been in the United States of his own free will and he is free to go,” Clinton said at a July 2010 press conference.

But the appearance of veiled references to the Amiri case in Clinton’s emails has fueled another round of recriminations over her private email account.

One message, written by Richard Morningstar, acting special envoy of the US secretary of state for Eurasian energy at the time, was sent to Clinton on July 5, 2010, just days after the videos purportedly of Amiri were posted online and less than two weeks before he left the US.

The email appears to reference Amiri’s hesitation at continuing on as a defector and his wish to leave the US.

“Per the subject we discussed, we have a diplomatic, ‘psychological’ issue, not a legal issue,” Morningstar wrote. “Our friend has to be given a way out. We should recognize his concerns and frame it in terms of a misunderstanding with no malevolent intent and that we will make sure there is no recurrence. Our person won’t be able to do anything anyway. If he has to leave, so be it.”

After arriving in Tehran, Amiri repeated his allegation that he was kidnapped by American intelligence agents.

Other Clinton critics accused her of being careless with sensitive information.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas drew a link between the emails and Amiri’s execution Sunday, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “In the emails that were on Hillary Clinton’s private server, there were conversations among her senior advisors about this gentleman.”

He continued, “That goes to show just how reckless and careless her decisions were to put that kind of highly classified information on a private server, but I think her judgment is not suited to keep this country safe.”

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Trump has been intentionally and deceitfully conflating two separate incidents of the Russian hack of the DNC emails with Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

All of the information in the emails was public knowledge back in 2010, for example in this article from CBS News:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/missing-iranian-scientist-turns-up-in-dc/

Trump is simply being dishonest in a cheap attempt to link the execution of a possible spy with an email hack that never happened, using nothing but hearsay.

A technique perfected by Fox News.

Trump Tweets ISIS and Bad Economic Numbers are Obama’s Fault, Both Not True

Twitter

In his Twitter account, Donald Trump fired off a tweet blasting President Obama’s decision-making for causing ISIS and a horrible economy, claims that are as far from reality as one can get.

Reality

What was crazy about Trump’s claims, that we are seeing worst economic numbers since the Great Depression, is that there is no reading of any data that puts our economy at the same level of the Great Depression or even the Great Recession.

Also there was this little thing of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs and economic report released just a day after Trump’s tweet which shows a bright economic outlook. Whoops!

The Labor Department report said employers added 255,000 jobs in July continuing the longest streak of private-sector job growth, the unemployment rate remains below the natural rate at 4.9%, and the labor participation rate went up, all beating economic expectations. In response to the report the NASDAQ surged so high stocks are into record territory.

The jobs report was so good that usual critic Jeff Cox of NBC said “It’s hard to find anything bad, even for a skeptic.

The even crazier claim in Trump’s tweet was how “Obama gave us ISIS.” A quick history lesson, ISIS was formed in 1999 and greatly expanded in 2003 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party who were out of a job after the George W. Bush-lead invasion of Iraq, which was based on faulty evidence. Donald Trump (as well as Fox News) can’t rewrite history here, Barack Obama was not a United States Senator until 2005, two years after the start of the invasion.

Fact is, over the past 2 years ISIS has been, losing ground, pushed out of key cities, and cut off from revenue producing oil fields. While ISIS still has the ability to inspire attacks in other countries, the multi-nation military response is working.

Finally, the “rise of Iran” may sound scary to some on first read, but as experts at think-tanks and NATO have argued, their rise is unsustainable, short lived, and a good thing as it will help towards stabilizing the Middle-East.

Donald Trump Claims He Watched a Nonexistent Recording of Iranian Money Transfer

As Fox News reported on the controversial transfer of $400 million in cash to Iran in January, it repeatedly played dark, grainy footage of shadowy figures walking off a small private plane with bags in hand. The video is often labeled as being from Jan. 17 in Geneva where three Americans first landed after being released from prison in Tehran.

Republican nominee Donald Trump watched this sort of footage, according to his spokeswoman, and concluded that it showed the controversial money transfer that was described in detail for the first time this week by the Wall Street Journal. At a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon, Trump announced that the months-old video had been recorded by the Iranian government and released to embarrass the United States.

“Remember this: Iran — I don’t think you heard this anywhere but here — Iran provided all of that footage, the tape of taking that money off the airplane,” Trump said at the rally. “Right?”

Trump provided no source for this exclusive information but described in detail what he saw in the video.

“Now, here’s the amazing thing: Over there, where that plane landed, top secret, you don’t have a lot of paparazzi. You know, the paparazzi doesn’t do so well over there, right?” Trump said, seeming to refer to Iran and not Switzerland, where the footage was recorded. “And they have a perfect tape, done by obviously a government camera, and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane. Right? That means that in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tapes. Right? It’s a military tape; it’s a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady, nobody getting nervous because they’re gonna be shot because they’re shooting a picture of money pouring off a plane.”

Twitter quickly filled with confusion and this central question: What is Trump talking about?

Several senior U.S. officials involved in the Iran negotiations told the Associated Press on Wednesday they weren’t aware of any such footage. There was speculation that perhaps Trump saw the footage during one of the classified security briefings provided to presidential nominees, but Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort said in an interview on Fox News earlier in the day that those briefings have not yet begun.

The Washington Post asked Trump’s staff to explain what Trump was talking about and emailed a link to a Fox News clip that showed the January footage from Geneva, asking if that was the video the nominee saw.

“Yes,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded in an email. “Merely the b-roll footage included in every broadcast.”

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

Donald Trump later repeated this false claim at another rally in Portland, Maine. Then after being corrected by about every news agency Trump admitted his error in an early-morning tweet Friday, without actually saying he was wrong.

There was nothing secret or clandestine about the $400 transfer of cash to Iran as it was made public early this year.

The $400 million payment — part of an overall $1.7 billion settlement of claims — was announced by the State Department on Jan. 17, the same day that President Obama announced the release of the detainees.

The U.S. had no way to directly deliver cold hard currency to Iran. Rather, the pallets traveled to Switzerland and the money was eventually transferred to Iran.

Media

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