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About fishweewee

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  1. Discuss.
  2. look at that rack
  3. Lieberman slams Ocasio-Cortez, urges voters to pick Joe Crowley By Lukas Mikelionis | Fox News July 17, 2018 Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic senator, appealed to voters in New York's 14th Congressional District on Tuesday to vote in November for top Democrat Joe Crowley and not the Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In a scorching article for the Wall Street Journal, Lieberman, who’s now an Independent, criticized Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda as “more Socialist than Democratic” and said her presence in Congress will “make it harder for Congress to stop fighting and start fixing problems.” “Thanks to a small percentage of primary votes, all of the people of New York’s 14th Congressional District stand to lose a very effective representative in Washington,” he wrote. Ocasio-Cortez won last month in the Democratic primary against Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who was thought by some to be a future Speaker of the House. She ran on the platform of abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Democratic Socialist agenda, earning endorsements from several left-wing groups, including MoveOn and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). But now she faces pushback from moderate voices who fear her firebrand Democratic Socialist brand may actually hurt the party’s future prospects. “[House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi] knows that if Democrats are to regain a majority, it will be by winning swing districts with sensible, mainstream candidates. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is making that task harder across America,” Lieberman wrote. “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose platform, like hers, is more Socialist than Democratic. Her dreams of new federal spending would bankrupt the country or require very large tax increases, including on the working class,” he continued. “Her approach foresees government ownership of many private companies, which would decimate the economy and put millions out of work.” Lieberman also took a shot at Ocasio-Cortez views on international politics. “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t speak much about foreign policy during the primary, but when she did, it was from the DSA policy book—meaning support for socialist governments, even if they are dictatorial and corrupt (Venezuela), opposition to American leadership in the world, even to alleviate humanitarian disasters (Syria), and reflexive criticism of one of America’s great democratic allies (Israel),” he wrote. Ocasio-Cortez recently flip-flopped in the span of a few days on the issue of Israel and Palestine. On Friday, she asserted the Jewish state’s right to exist but raised eyebrows after incoherent statements about Israel’s “occupation of Palestine.” She insisted she’s “not the expert at geopolitics on this issue.” But during a town hall style sit-down with Democracy Now on Monday, she balked at repeating her support for the two-state solution and thus Israel’s right to exist. “This is a conversation I’m sitting down with lots of activists in this movement on and I’m looking forward to engaging in this conversation,” she said. There are increasing calls for Crowley to step up and run in the general election against Ocasio-Cortez, giving an actual choice to voters in the district where opposition has been non-existent for decades. Crowley will appear on the ballot of the Working Families Party. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez accused Crowley of still running against her in the general election. “.@repjoecrowley stated on live TV that he would absolutely support my candidacy,” she tweeted. “Instead, he’s stood me up for all 3 scheduled concession calls.” Crowley responded to the accusations, saying he’s not actively running in the general election. “Lots questions about WFP line. Was honored to have their support. I’m not running. For record you can only be removed from the ballot if 1) you move out of NY; 2) die; 3) be convicted of a crime; 4) accept a nomination for another office (in a place I don’t live),” he tweeted. Lieberman ends the article with a ringing endorsement of Crowley, saying his re-election would show that “that Democrats are capable of governing again,” noting that Crowley is a progressive “bridge builder and problem solver, which is exactly what Congress needs more of in both parties.” “For the sake of Congress and our country, I hope Joe Crowley will give all the voters of his district the opportunity to re-elect him in November—and I hope they find his name on their ballots,” he added.
  4. GRU's B-team of hackers targeted Hilldawg's private server. Who then targeted the DNC? I don't know what to believe nowadays.
  5. 2 separate issues 1) Meddling. Evidence that Russia did that. 2) Trump and Russians colluded to influence election outcome. No evidence that either Trump or Russia did that.
  6. Same $hit, different deep state. Archives | 1988 The Right Against Reagan By HEDRICK SMITH ONE MORNING just before Congress took its Christmas recess, President Reagan and eight key Senate Republicans gathered around the polished table in the Cabinet Room. The President's goal was to recruit them for his campaign to win quick approval of the arms-control treaty he had just signed with the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Although it was a clubby group, and Reagan's litany was familiar, he still glanced at his note cards from time to time. The treaty, he said, eliminates an entire class of nuclear missiles, provides the most intrusive arms-control inspection ever, and forces Moscow to dismantle more missiles than Washington does. For these and other reasons, Reagan argued, the Senators should pass ''a clean treaty'' - they should ratify it without tacking on crippling amendments. ''Well, Mr. President, I look around this table and I don't see a yes man,'' began Jesse Helms, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in his low-key North Carolina drawl. ''I'm certainly not a yes man, and you've never been a yes man,'' continued Helms, eyeing the President through his glasses. ''I have no intention of being frivolous about it. But if a treaty needs a reservation or an amendment, it's going to be offered in the Senate.'' The President stiffened. ''I haven't made up my mind what to do about the treaty except to find out what's in it and try to correct the defects,'' Helms went on. ''I don't think you're going to see this treaty rushed through, 'cause a lot of folks in the Senate are going to take their time about it, including me.'' Bob Dole, the minority leader, moved the talk around the table, to Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming. ''The Soviets have broken most every treaty they have ever signed,'' Wallop asserted intensely. ''How do we assure compliance with the new treaty? And if they don't comply, what do we do about it?'' ''For one thing, we'd just start building Pershings [ missiles ] again,'' the President answered. ''Is Europe on board on that?'' Wallop shot back. ''Has anyone at Defense studied this or is that just a throwaway line?'' A long silence. Finally, the White House chief of staff, Howard H. Baker Jr., changed the subject, observing this was ''a very popular treaty.'' These were warning shots across the President's bow, early salvos from the anti-Communist right, now mobilizing forces in the Senate and around the country for a battle against the new treaty on intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) - a treaty signed and promoted by their old champion, Ronald Reagan. The impending battle over the treaty is crucial, and not only for arms control. In many ways, the debate will mark a transition to the post-Reagan era - while Reagan is still in office. In suddenly casting himself as a detentenik, Reagan has radically changed American relations with Moscow. The sharp resistance of the right to that change dramatizes the crumbling of the coalition of ideological conservatives and mainstream Republicans that brought him to power. ''Ronald Reagan and I have been friends for a long time, before either of us ran for public office,'' Senator Helms mused ruefully late one afternoon, tilting his chair back on two legs. ''The President doesn't need to discard the people who brought him to the dance.'' After Reagan's signing the INF treaty, and after what conservatives view as his public embrace of the Soviet leader, the disenchantment of right-wingers is at a peak. They feel jilted by their prince and compelled to fight him to try to stem the tide of history. Some conservatives worry that Reagan has been beguiled by Gorbachev, to the detriment of American interests. As Senator James A. McClure of Idaho warns, ''We've had leaders who got into a personal relationship and have gotten soft - I'm thinking of Roosevelt and Stalin.'' The treaty is the immediate target, but the larger object is to frustrate Reagan's push for broader accommodation with Gorbachev - specifically, the President's drive to sign a strategic arms reduction treaty (Start) at a Moscow summit next summer. ''We're going beyond this treaty to have a battle on the whole East-West relationship,'' asserts Richard Viguerie, a right-wing publicity man and fund-raiser. ''Fighting this battle will have the effect of fighting the next treaty, the loans and credits that Gorbachev wants, the whole detente apparatus that Reagan has signed on to.'' Already, right-wing groups - using sophisticated techniques deployed so successfully by the left-liberal coalition in its battle against the confirmation of Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court - have mounted a strong campaign against the INF treaty. They have mailed out close to 300,000 letters opposing it. They have circulated 5,000 cassette recordings of Gen. Bernard Rogers, former Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, attacking it. And finally, they are preparing to run newspaper ads this month savaging Reagan as a new Neville Chamberlain, signing an accord with Hitler and gullibly predicting ''peace for our time.'' Initially, the right-wingers are working to chill public enthusiasm for the treaty by arguing that it does not actually destroy any nuclear warheads; that it will not save money, but will bring pressures to increase defense spending; that even its intrusive inspection provisions leave gaping holes in verification, and that it will lead to a denuclearized and neutral Europe. To gain credibility, they are shrewdly forging a tactical alliance with geo-strategic critics of the treaty from the more pragmatic Richard Nixon wing of the Republican Party. Helms is lining up testimony from prestigious figures, such as Henry A. Kissinger, Alexander M. Haig Jr. and General Rogers. Most conservatives see little chance of defeating the treaty head-on. Foreign Relations Committee hearings will begin Jan. 25, and many hard-liners are coy about declaring outright opposition to the treaty at this point. They sense the danger of being seen as part of a spoilsport minority trying to kill the popular treaty of a popular President. Also, many Republicans would like to have a trophy to show the voters in November, supporting their argument that the Reagan-Republican military surge produced visible results. So right-wing senators will try to filibuster by procedural delay and then pepper the treaty with amendments and provisos, probing for weak points. Some hard-liners would like to add conditions to undermine the treaty or force Moscow to swallow stiffer terms; others want to venture to the brink, just short of ''killer amendments.'' ''It's a tightrope,'' suggested Senator Dan Quayle, a Republican of Indiana, a youthful Robert Redford look-alike. ''There's going to be a lot of parliamentary intrigue and a lot of parliamentary connivances.'' Despite strong odds in President Reagan's favor, Sam Nunn of Georgia, the Democrats' leading defense expert in the Senate, does ''not rule out a reservation that would require renegotiation'' with Moscow. AS HOWARD BAKER OB-served, this is a popular treaty. How can right-wing strategists influence the Senate when the public mood is clearly running against them? First, the right-wingers plan to work the grass roots and to play on the dynamics of the Presidential campaign. Four of the Republican hopefuls - Haig, Representative Jack F. Kemp of Buffalo, the Rev. Marion G. (Pat) Robertson, and Pierre S. duPont 4th - have come out against the treaty; and although Senator Bob Dole of Kansas has declared his support, some sense he is still hedging. Even before Reagan signed the treaty with Gorbachev on Dec. 8, right-wing strategists were organizing. One week before the signing, the core of ''the outside network'' -some two dozen conservative leaders heading mass organizations that claim a total of 1 million to 2 million members - held a strategy dinner at the Ramada Inn in suburban Tysons Corner, Va. The table talk, recalled one participant, was full of frustration, and focused on the question of ''what to do about summit fever, what to do about Reagan's relationship with Gorbachev - the idea being that Reagan was appeasing liberals in Congress, appeasing the Communists, caving in on taxes, putting moderates like Frank Carlucci at Defense, and cutting deals with the evil empire.'' A sharp split developed over strategy. Howard Phillips, chairman of the Conservative Caucus, and Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail specialist, wanted the conservative movement to break openly with Reagan. Others agreed to fight his policies but argued that it was bad politics to attack the President personally, urging their colleagues to ''Remember N.C.P.A.C.,'' the National Conservative Political Action Committee. After the Soviet Union shot down a Korean airliner in 1983, the committee's chairman at the time, John T. (Terry) Dolan, had attacked President Reagan for not being tougher with Moscow. ''It boomeranged,'' said one conservative leader. ''Some people wrote that they'd never give N.C.P.A.C. another dime'' because of Dolan's criticisms. At the Ramada Inn dinner, the leaders decided to set up a new coalition, the Anti-Appeasement Alliance, which would fight the trend exemplified by the INF treaty but would not attack the President personally. However, in a television interview two days later, Reagan infuriated old allies by declaring that foes of the INF treaty believed war with Moscow was inevitable; and he seemed to excuse Gorbachev's occupation of Afghanistan by saying that the Soviet leader had inherited the policy. The next day, Phillips charged that Reagan was ''fronting as a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.'' In the Senate, several longtime Reagan supporters voiced outrage at Reagan. Boomed Malcolm Wallop: ''Almost as offensive as his calling us warmongers was his apology for the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.'' The right-wing alarm grew during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, which many hard-liners condemned as ''a love-in.'' Some right-wing leaders moved quickly to exert grass-roots pressure on the Senate, tapping various networks: the Christian right; the ethnic, anti-Communist right, made up mainly of refugees from places such as Estonia, the Ukraine, Cuba, Korea, and Vietnam; as well as traditional pro-defense groups, such as the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, which fought earlier arms treaties. In a letter mailed to 110,000 people, John M. Fisher, the 65-year-old chairman of the American Security Council, urged members to barrage the Senate with letters opposing the treaty. Fisher persuaded retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and more than 2,000 other retired admirals and generals to sign a petition opposing any arms agreements that ''would lock'' the United States ''into strategic or military inferiority'' or ''make our allies more vulnerable, like the proposed INF treaty.'' Sixty organizations endorsed the petition, Fisher said, including Citizens for Reagan, the Naval Reserve Association, the Assembly of Captive European Nations, the American Federation of Small Business and the National Confederation of Ethnic Groups. A parallel drive to galvanize right-wing protest was mounted by Howard Phillips, the stout, tart-tongued, 46-year-old former political campaign organizer and founder of the Conservative Caucus. Phillips showered 175,000 letters on his caucus members, and mailed audio cassettes of General Rogers's 30-minute attack on the INF treaty to 5,000 delegates and alternates to the 1984 Republican National Convention. But Phillips's knock-out punch will be a full-page ad scheduled to run this month in such conservative-minded newspapers as The Washington Times and New Hampshire's Manchester Union-Leader. Under the headline, ''Appeasement is as unwise in 1988 as in 1938,'' photos of Reagan and Gorbachev are paired with photos of Neville Chamberlain and Hitler, followed by the appeal: ''Help Us Defeat the Reagan-Gorbachev INF Treaty.'' Other leaders, such as Daniel L. Casey of the American Conservative Union and Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, are quietly lobbying Senators. They hope to tie the treaty's passage to tough conditions on arms control, conventional forces, Afghanistan, or human rights. These conservatives are poised to launch mass campaigns as soon as right-wing leaders inside the Senate decide what conditions to fight for. ''The only way these campaigns work,'' said Weyrich, ''is when the inside and outside work together.'' EVEN IF THE treaty passes, as expected, the right can still achieve important tactical victories in its effort to prevent a new detente. The Senate has flatly rejected only 17 of the 1,500 or so treaties United States Presidents have signed since 1789. But another 160 have died for other reasons - 43 crippled by some Senate amendment or other attachment and the rest simply left in limbo. Most Senate critics of Reagan's INF treaty take as their model the tactics of the late Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, who opposed the first strategic arms agreement in 1972 (SALT I). SALT I was an executive agreement, not a treaty, and thus could not be blocked by the Senate. So Jackson pushed through a resolution that set stiff terms for any future treaties, demanding, among other things, that they produce rough numerical equality. ''Everyone will be trying to put their 'Jackson amendment' on this treaty,'' observed Senator Dan Quayle. ''From a parliamentary point of view, it is more difficult this time. You start to get into the area where you affect the negotiations and what understanding the Soviets have of this treaty.'' Hard-liners look to another model - the amendment to the 1978 Panama Canal Treaty by Senator Dennis DeConcini, a Democrat of Arizona. By stipulating that the Americans had the right to use military force to guarantee access to the canal, DeConcini's amendment nearly derailed the treaty in Panama. It was rescued by a statement, carefully drafted by Senate leaders, that specifically said the amendment did not give Washington the right to intervene in internal Panamanian affairs. Senator Helms, who fought the Panama Canal Treaty, believes Reagan's INF treaty is more dangerous. Helms argues that by agreeing to dismantle nuclear-tipped Pershing-2 missiles - which are able to reach Moscow from West Germany in 13 minutes - Reagan has left NATO an alliance ''in name only,'' exposed to superior Soviet conventional forces. ''We're talking about, perhaps, the survival of Europe,'' Helms declares. The White House answers that NATO has many other nuclear weapons at its disposal. But Helms is working politically fertile ground, for there is wide concern in Washington about the future defense of Western Europe. In the Senate, a conservative ''inside network,'' known as the Steering Committee -an unofficial group of 20 or more Republicans who lunch together on Wednesdays - is set to whittle away at the treaty. Over the years, the members of this group -which includes Helms, McClure, Wallop, Quayle, Pete Wilson of California, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Phil Gramm of Texas, and others - have become masters at blocking measures they oppose. Although Helms is a dominant figure on the committee, its 20 or so other Senators are far from unanimous on the INF treaty. Some lean in favor, others are opposed, but all are concerned about the treaty's impact - and their concerns are widely shared in the Senate, especially by conservative Democrats. Backing up the Steering Committee senators and often prodding them into action is another conservative group - a network of ingenious and assertive staff aides known as the Madison Group because they meet at the Madison Hotel. In fact, on the Friday before Gorbachev arrived in Washington, the Madison Group's members met for three hours at the hotel, discussing ways to delay or water down the INF treaty - even as Soviet officials who would attend the summit were checking into the same hotel. ''We got chased out of our room by the Soviets,'' one participant laughed. ''Smirnov, the Soviet Ambassador's aide, demanded, 'What are you guys doing here?' '' THE RIGHT-wing strategy is to puncture the glowing White House portrayal of the treaty and to play for time while it draws the battle lines, pressing Senator Nunn's demand that the entire treaty record be placed in evidence, which would be a gold mine for those interested in raising difficult questions. During the hearings, right-wing Senators intend to challenge Reagan's boast that an entire class of weapons is being eliminated, by pointing out that no nuclear warheads or guidance systems will be destroyed. While conceding that the on-site inspection provisions are unprecedented, the Senators will argue that the treaty's verification is still far from airtight. On a scale of 1 to 10, says Senator Wallop, ''the confidence level [ for verification ] may be only 3 or 4,'' because the United States cannot inspect ''suspect sites'' beyond those specified in the treaty. Wallop contends the United States will need to spend $7 billion to $15 billion on new spy satellites to be sure the Soviets don't ''squirrel away several dozen [ missiles ] in Siberia.'' White House officials and the Senate leadership are braced for a shower of amendments and reservations: efforts to link the INF treaty to Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, for example, or Soviet observance of human rights. ''Let them get out of Afghanistan, let them tear down the Berlin Wall,'' Senator McClure declared. But the most serious challenges are likely to involve true arms-control issues, such as verification, compliance, and the conventional-arms imbalance in Europe. By arguing for years that Soviet compliance with past treaties should be a precondition for any new treaty, President Reagan has left himself vulnerable to attempts by his right-wing critics to tie ratification of INF to compliance with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and other past agreements. For example, many senators support a provision that would condition implementation of the INF treaty on the Russians' dismantling their Krasnoyarsk radar, which the Administration argues is a violation of the ABM treaty. Senator Wallop is likely to advance some measure that would provide means to penalize Moscow if it does not abide by the INF treaty, or to force any future President to send the issue of enforcement to the Senate if a Soviet violation is discovered. Finally, many senators in both parties are increasingly concerned about the conventional-force imbalance in Europe, where Warsaw Pact forces outnumber NATO in tanks and artillery by ratios nearing 3-to-1. American nuclear missiles have helped offset those Soviet advantages. ''This is a watershed treaty, a very high-risk, high-stakes treaty,'' asserts Quayle, a rising Republican figure on defense issues. ''We can do one of two things: either we have a recommitment to NATO, restrengthening the Alliance - and that will actually cost us more on defense - or you will see the gradual neutralization of Europe through denuclearization.'' Already, Senator Larry Pressler, Republican of South Dakota, has proposed that the INF treaty not be fully implemented until the ratio of the Soviet conventional advantage is lowered to 3-to-2. Others argue for flat equality. IF ALL THE RIGHT'S AMENDMENTS and provisos go down to overwhelming defeats, and foes of the treaty (duPont, Haig, Kemp and Robertson) lose badly in the early Republican primaries, the right would suffer a bitter setback - one that would underscore its political impotence long before the fall elections. ''If George Bush delivers a knockout blow to everyone else in the Republican race, then there's not going to be an extended debate on the INF treaty or on neo-detente with the Soviets,'' conceded Daniel Casey of the American Conservative Union. ''If that happens, protests on the Senate floor will look like sniping by far-right malcontents. ''But if the debate is correctly orchestrated, even George Bush and Bob Dole will sign on to some very conservative understandings on this treaty, which will not require renegotiating the treaty but will change the dynamics for the Start talks and the next summit.'' Here, Bob Dole is the man to watch, for in his approach to the treaty he has been the man in the middle, trying to appeal both to those on the right and to Republican mainstream supporters of the treaty. In mid-December, while Dole's pledge to support the treaty made headlines, the fine print revealed the Senator from Kansas inviting the right and others to offer ''amendments, declarations, understandings and reservations,'' so long as they did not require renegotiation with Moscow. To continue walking that tightrope, Dole's aides suggest, the Senator must prevent hardline senators from attaching harsh conditions to the actual treaty (which would affect its substance and offend Moscow). Instead, he will try to deflect any such measures to the implementing legislation - the laws Congress passes to implement the treaty's provisions -which is not binding on Moscow. In fact, Dole himself could emerge as chief sponsor of the main Senate qualification eventually attached to the INF treaty. ''Dole has to have the Dole Declaration,'' one conservative leader suggested, ''something that he can go wave in New Hampshire - not a killer amendment, but a very strong statement that would convey 'We don't trust these guys.' '' That is the kind of two-way game many senators love - approving a treaty reducing arms while sending warnings and setting tough terms for the next round. That is what Senator Jackson did in 1972, putting a damper on an earlier era of detente. If right-wingers can achieve that much in the INF debate, their rear-guard battle against Reagan will have succeeded. They will have bolstered their power to check the next treaty and protect the Strategic Defense Initiative, no matter who wins the White House. If they fail in that battle, the right will have begun a slide toward eclipse - even before Reagan's successor is chosen.
  7. It's a left-wing rag, the but LA Times continues to surprise me with some quality reporting. Remember who we're dealing with here... Putin weaves KGB tradecraft and attention to detail in a remarkable meeting with Trump By LAURA KING and SABRA AYRES JUL 16, 2018 | 5:05 PM | HELSINKI, FINLAND At a rally before cheering supporters this month in Montana, President Trump declared nonchalantly of his then-upcoming summit with Russia’s leader: “I have been preparing for this stuff my whole life.” But on Monday, with a world audience looking on, the summit looked far more like a culminating moment in the political life of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The 65-year-old Russian president was by turns commanding and confident as he stood side-by-side with Trump at a news conference, artfully mixing in occasional expressions of boredom or bemusement as he spoke. Virtually unchallenged by Trump, he asserted that Moscow has “never interfered” in an American political contest, and would not do so in the future. That, of course, flies in the face of U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow mounted a comprehensive campaign against the U.S. electoral system in 2016, and is pressing ahead with that effort, with midterm elections just four months away. For Putin, a former spymaster who once lamented the breakup of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century and has long sought at least symbolically equal footing with the world’s only other nuclear superpower, Helsinki was a moment of triumph. But while the joint news conference was perhaps the apex of Putin’s nearly two decades on the global stage, it was also in some ways a return to his roots. The Russian leader made explicit reference to his long career as a KGB operative, alluding almost teasingly to his intimate knowledge of tradecraft even as he listened to the U.S. president cast doubt on the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies. “I was an intelligence officer myself,” he said dryly at one point. Asked directly by a U.S. reporter whether he had compromising material on Trump, Putin dodged the query by pointing out that hundreds of American business figures had visited Moscow, as the U.S. president did years before his candidacy. “Do you think we try to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them?” the Russian leader asked scornfully. Later, in an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, Putin categorically denied that Russia had anything compromising on Trump. “Unlike you, unlike the United States, we don't do this. We don't have enough resources,” he said. It was in 1999, in a chaotic and floundering post-Soviet Russia, that Putin was plucked from relative obscurity as a KGB functionary to assume first the post of prime minister and then the presidency. He has never since been out of power. To survive in the cutthroat world of Russian politics, Putin drew upon the ruthless persona he cultivated during his intelligence career. Few serious challenges to his power have emerged, but when they have, critics and human rights groups say he has repeatedly shown himself willing to sideline foes by deadly means if necessary. Over the years, Putin learned ways large and small to keep adversaries off balance, once bringing a dog to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was known to fear them. In Helsinki, he employed a longtime strategem, keeping Trump waiting for nearly an hour as he arrived late for the summit’s start. And he carried over a long-held habit from his intelligence days: strict attention to detail, with the ability to regurgitate arcane information at will. Putin crisply demonstrated his comprehensive grasp of policy questions, including provisions contained in decades-old arms treaties; Trump, by contrast, seemed confused during a pre-summit meeting with Finland’s president as to whether the host country is a member of NATO. (It is not.) At the news conference, Putin was studiedly bland in characterizing the closed-door talks with the U.S. side, discussions that included more than two hours spent one-on-one with Trump. “Businesslike” was his description of the summit talks. But his veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was freer to telegraph the Kremlin’s sentiments, wearing a broad smile as he entered the room where the news conference was held. Russian media afterward quoted him as summing up the summit as “fabulous … better than super.” In Helsinki, Putin reverted to a classic Kremlin playbook when U.S. reporters asked him about election interference, protesting that he had not been provided with the details of accusations against his government, and offering Russian investigative assistance to get to the bottom of the affair. That echoed Moscow’s response to the poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent this year of Russian turncoat spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil. A British woman died and her companion was seriously sickened after apparently coming in accidental contact with a remnant. Like any good KGB case officer, Putin managed Monday to weave subtle and not-so-subtle threats into seemingly conciliatory statements.One was directed at the American-born British financier Bill Browder, who made billions in Russia before running afoul of the Kremlin. Browder has lobbied governments around the world to adopt a sanctions-imposing mechanism named for his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died under suspicious circumstances in Russian custody. In offering to “assist” in the U.S. probe of Russians accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election, Putin suggested that Russian authorities should be allowed to question U.S. intelligence officers who, he suggested, were complicit in supposed tax violations by Browder. At the news conference, Putin did not even have to offer up defenses for Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula or the downing that year of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine that killed some 300 people. Trump in essence did that for him, saying he held “both countries responsible” for the fraught state of U.S.-Russia relations. In Putin’s early years in power, his heavy hand with the country’s oligarchs and mafia impressed the West, and domestically, Russians embraced his policies even as he stifled independent media and muzzled critics. There was no indication that Trump brought up Putin’s pitiless style in confronting perceived enemies, but in the Fox interview, aired hours after the summit, Wallace pressed the Russian leader on opponents who “wound up dead.” Putin retorted: “Haven’t presidents been killed in the United States?” Putin’s course toward a more authoritarian government became most apparent four years into his presidency, when two former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, sought to turn toward the West. The Kremlin perceived this as a threat, and Putin tightened his grip on dissent at home. Then came massive street protests in Ukraine over the decision by Ukraine’s then-president, a Putin ally, to not sign an association agreement with the European Union. Putin sent in troops to Ukrainian Crimea, organized what was derided as a sham referendum and annexed the peninsula. The United States and the European Union placed harsh economic sanctions on Russia for the Crimean annexation, and Putin’s position on the world stage deteriorated. Meanwhile, he was praised at home for defying the West, but economic malaise and dissatisfaction over corruption have dragged down his approval ratings. Heading into the summit, Trump insisted that personal chemistry with Putin would be key to resolving U.S.-Russia tensions. At the news conference, the U.S. leader suggested that the initial one-on-one meeting, with only interpreters present, had eased prior antagonisms. “That changed as of about four hours ago,” Trump said, referring to the time frame of the start of the private session. “I really believe that.” Putin, though, swiftly pivoted to a far more realpolitik-style description of the relationship between the two, declaring that both leaders pursued the interests of their own countries. “Where did you get the idea that the president trusts me?” he asked. “Or I trust him?” Special correspondent Ayres reported from Helsinki and Times staff writer King from Washington.
  8. The intelligence community hasn't exactly welcomed DJT with open arms. 8 years of infiltration by Obama will do that to an organization.
  9. Yeesh. Libs are screeching, as if Trump sold the Russians 20% of our uranium supply.