Tag: Donald Trump

President Slams Democratic Party For Casting Stones In Glass House

President Trump turned the tables on Democrat credibility amid the Supreme Court showdown.

At last week’s fiery hearing probing sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal lectured the Supreme Court nominee on the implications of telling even a single lie.

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Kavanaugh, reciting a Latin phrase. “It means ‘False in one thing, false in everything.’”

But Blumenthal’s own difficult history with the truth is coming back to haunt him amid the Kavanaugh fight, with President Trump and Republican senators slamming him for inflating his military service during the Vietnam War.

In the 2000s, when Blumenthal served as Connecticut’s attorney general, he began to claim that he served in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal, repeatedly, has touted his experience during the war.

“When we returned [from Vietnam], we saw nothing like this,” Blumenthal reportedly said in 2003.

“We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam,” The New York Times quoted Blumenthal as saying in 2008.

“I served during the Vietnam era,” Blumenthal reportedly said at a Vietnam War memorial in 2008. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even the physical abuse.”

But Blumenthal didn’t serve in Vietnam. He reportedly obtained at least five military deferments between 1965 and 1970. He eventually served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, but did not deploy to Vietnam.

In the wake of Blumenthal questioning Kavanaugh — who faces multiple sexual assault or misconduct allegations, which he denies — Trump and fellow Republicans have not let him forget his own past statements.

“You have the great Vietnam War hero—who didn’t go to Vietnam—[Sen. Richard] Blumenthal,” Trump said at a rally Monday evening. “How about Blumenthal? We call him ‘Da Nang Blumenthal.”

Blumenthal, last week, said Trump’s initial reluctance to demand a FBI supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh was “tantamount to a cover-up.” Blumenthal hit Kavanaugh during the hearing on questions related to his high school yearbook entries, calendar entries and drinking habits.

“For 15 years as the attorney general of Connecticut, he went around telling war stories,” Trump said. “’People dying left and right—but my platoon marched forward!’ He was never in Vietnam. It was a lie. And then he’s up there saying, ‘We want the truth from Judge Kavanaugh.’ And you’re getting the truth from Judge Kavanaugh.”

During the Kavanaugh hearing, Blumenthal said “the core of why we are here today really is credibility.”

Kavanaugh is accused of sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford while at a high school party 36 years ago. Ford, who also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, alleged Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes. Her attorney says Ford believes this to have been an “attempted rape.”

Kavanaugh also faces allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who claims that while freshmen at Yale University, the Supreme Court nominee exposed himself to her at a dorm party in the 1980s; and Julie Swetnick, who is represented by Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti and claims that Kavanaugh  was involved in or present at “gang” and “train” rapes in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Amid the hearing, though, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, hit Blumenthal for his credibility.

“.@SenBlumenthal lied for years about serving in Vietnam, which is all you need to know about his courage & honesty. Maybe he should reconsider before questioning Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility,” Cotton tweeted.

Blumenthal’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

In 2010, Blumenthal admitted to giving misleading statements about his service.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service,” Blumenthal, as quoted by The New York Times, said, adding that he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “And I regret that and I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

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Trump Attacks US ‘foolishness’ Heading Into Putin Powwow

President Donald Trump headed into his first summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday determined to forge a personal bond with the Kremlin chief and adamant that only “stupidity” by prior administrations had brought US-Russian ties to their present low.

Hours before the Helsinki summit, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over Russia’s alleged manipulation of the 2016 election that brought the mercurial property tycoon to power. He said only: “We’ll do just fine.”

Democrats had called for the summit’s cancellation after new revelations surrounding the election meddling. But Trump has insisted it is “a good thing to meet”, as he attempts to replicate with Putin the sort of personal rapport he proclaims with the autocratic leaders of China and North Korea.

If his instinct proves right and the pair find common ground, then the summit may take the heat out of some of the world’s most dangerous conflicts including Syria.

But the Washington-Moscow rivalry has rarely been more bitter, and there are many points of friction that could yet spoil Trump’s hoped-for friendship.

Trump began the day’s talks by meeting Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, who has loaned his harbour-front palace for the occasion. But first he took a moment to fire a Twitter broadside at his domestic opponents, blaming the diplomatic chill on the investigation into Russian election meddling.

“Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” Trump tweeted.

After a stormy NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump was accused by critics of cosying up to Putin while undermining the alliance.

But, over breakfast with Niinisto, he insisted NATO “has never been stronger” and “never been more together” thanks to his insistence on all allies paying their fair share.

With Washington and Moscow at loggerheads over Ukraine, Iran and trade tariffs as well as Syria, even Trump has cautioned that he is not approaching the Putin summit “with high expectations”.

The 72-year-old brash billionaire has been president for 18 months, while the former KGB officer, 65, has run Russia for the past 18 years.

In an interview with CBS News that aired before he touched down in Helsinki, Trump admitted that Russia remains a foe, but he put Moscow on a par with China and the European Union as economic and diplomatic rivals.

The Kremlin has also played down hopes that the odd couple will emerge from their first formal one-on-one summit with a breakthrough.

Putin, who played host at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday and was due to arrive in Finland later Monday, has remained terse in the run-up to the summit.

On Friday his adviser Yuri Ushakov also played down expectations, saying: “The state of bilateral relations is very bad…. We have to start to set them right.”

– Giving up ground? –

Indeed, after the bad-tempered NATO summit and a contentious trip by Trump to Britain, anxious European leaders may be relieved if not much comes out of the Helsinki meeting.

Those leaders are already fuming over Trump’s imposition of trade tariffs on various countries, including Russia.

European Union President Donald Tusk called on the United States, China and Russia to work together to cool the global trade tensions, warning that they could spiral into violent “conflict and chaos”.

For their part, protesters have been on the streets of Helsinki to denounce the policies of both Trump and Putin. Greenpeace draped a giant banner down a church tower urging: “Warm our hearts not our planet.”

Trump is also under pressure from Britain to press Putin over the nerve agent poisoning of four people in the city of Salisbury.

One of the victims, Dawn Sturgess, has died and her 19-year-old son Ewan Hope told the Sunday Mirror newspaper: “We need to get justice for my mum.”

– Extradition demand? –

Many fear that Trump — in his eagerness to prove that he was right to seek the summit with Putin despite US political opposition — may give up too much ground.

Ahead of the talks, Trump has refused to personally commit to the US refusal to recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea, leaving open the possibility of a climb-down linked to a promise by Putin to somehow rein in Iranian influence in Syria.

If Washington were to de facto accept Russia’s 2014 land-grab, this would break with decades of US policy and send tremors through NATO’s exposed eastern flank.

And there will be outrage at home if Trump does not confront Putin over the election scandal.

But the US leader would not say whether he would demand the extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted last week by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller, for allegedly hacking Trump rival Hillary Clinton’s computer server.

Pentagon Weighs Military Response After Syrian ‘Chemical Attack’ On Its Own People

Global outrage is mounting over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town in Syria, as the Pentagon weighs America’s options for a retaliatory strike.

Military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad seemed likely, after President Donald Trump warned of a “big price to pay” and spoke of imminent “major decisions” within the next 48 hours.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he won’t rule anything out militarily.

But thanks to the Trump administration’s whipsawing messaging over whether America will even stay in Syria, and the dangerous complexities of the multi-national conflict, the Pentagon’s options appeared limited.

The attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Douma killed at least 48 people Saturday after a “poisonous chlorine gas attack” in Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics said.

By Monday, the United States and France had promised a “strong, joint response” and Britain, too, joined a growing chorus demanding action.

Syria and its ally Russia have dismissed allegations that the attack was carried out by Syrian forces as “fabrications” and have warned against using them to justify military action.

– Russia risks –

Perhaps the biggest risk for Pentagon planners is Russia, and its large presence which since late 2015 has been deeply enmeshed with Assad’s military.

 

Trump made a rare personal criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin following Saturday’s attack, a break from his reluctance to single out the strongman by name as he has sought better coordination with Moscow in the Syria crisis.

“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

– Past as prelude? –

After a deadly sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun that killed scores of people in April last year, Trump quickly ordered a retaliatory strike.

The US military blasted 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base, which the Pentagon said Assad’s jets had used to launch the deadly chemical attack.

The action won Trump bipartisan praise because it was seen as limited in scope and designed to respond to a specific incident, rather than pulling America deeper into Syria’s civil war.

“The president responded decisively when Assad used chemical weapons last year,” Republican Senator John McCain, a frequent Trump critic said.

“He should do so again, and demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes.”

– What is the goal? –

Jennifer Cafarella, a Syria analyst for the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said Trump’s administration needs to figure out what its long-term goal is in Syria as it weighs its military options.

She described a few potential military responses, including a tactical strike such as the one last year, or a broader attack on Assad’s air forces including taking out his radar and air-defense systems, and hitting multiple air bases.

“I expect the question from the Pentagon to the civilian leadership is what is the goal,” Cafarella said.

She also said another option likely under consideration is to tackle Iranian-backed militias in Syria.

Such a move would not be in direct response to the latest alleged chemical attack, but would signal a willingness to curtail Iranian influence in Syria.

“We want to ask whether the president is going to broaden his response in order to also punish Assad’s backers Russia and Iran,” she explained.

Another possibility is Trump asking an ally to conduct military action against the regime.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and Trump had shared information “confirming” toxic weapons were used in Douma, without elaborating.

– Hawk at Trump’s side –

Trump on Monday began working with his new national security advisor, John Bolton, a staunch hawk on Iran and American military intervention in general, so the president’s outlook on Syria — and whether he still wants to withdraw the roughly 2,000 US forces — may soon morph again.

The US personnel in Syria belong to a coalition providing weapons, training and other support to forces fighting Islamic State jihadists in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Daniel Davis, a retired army lieutenant colonel and fellow at the Defense Priorities military think tank, cautioned against US military action.

“The absolute worst policy option for the United States is to get deeper involved in Syria’s civil war, which however brutal, has no bearing on our security or prosperity — especially when further intervention risks a clash with nuclear-armed Russia,” he said.