Russia Monitor: Another Week In The Oval Office — Upheaval, Chaos, Resignation & Betrayal


“I alone can fix it.”

— Trump from Republican National Convention, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” June 2016.

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (12/24/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Did anyone imagine that in 2018 this would mean that in one year we’d be experiencing Trump’s third shutdown of the government?

Did anyone imagine Trump would head a government managed by an acting Secretary of Defense, an acting Chief of Staff and an acting Attorney General? It’s not only the chaos he’s brought to government, he’s also “sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises, according to Philip Rucker for Washington Post ‘A tailspin’: Under Siege, Trump Propels The Government & Markets Into Crisis: .

:Don’t take our word for it. Here’s the view from outgoing republican Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), “this is a made-up fight, so the President can look like he’s fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure. Just to make sure we understood, he added, “it’s a spectacle, and candidly, it’s juvenile”.

Trump operates with no strategy, no vision. Again, don’t take our word for it. Former Trump transition adviser and republican Ne Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered no-there-there observation:“One of the things I’ve often said to the president is when you’re executing on executive power in government there has to be a strategy that has an endgame … I don’t know what the endgame is here. It hasn’t been articulated.


White House Advisers: Limbaugh and Coulter Embarrass Trump Into Government Shut-Down

Let’s consider two big events that framed Trump’s government in tailspin. After a Trump threat to shut down the government if he didn’t get $5 billion in funding to build Wall, on Friday evening we saw a partial shut down. You know who Trump’s advisers were? Right-wind radio personality Rush Limbaugh and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter badgered Trump into letting the government shut down. Again from Sen. Corker, “This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right? And so, how do you deal with that? You have two talk radio hosts who completely flipped the president. And so, do we succumb to tyranny of talk radio hosts?”

All of this followed a Limbaugh accusation that Trump was “getting ready to cave”.

Coulter was even more brutal with a column titled “Gutless President in Wall-less Country.” 


Trump Risks Leaving 50,000 Syrian Civilians To Die

For his second big act of chaos of the week, Trump made a surprise announcement to rapidly withdraw U.S. Troops from Syria. Many would be happy to get U.S. troops out of Syria, but there are important questions – like why was everyone in the U.S. government as well as U.S. allies taken by surprise? Who benefits? More importantly, who is put at risk through a rapid withdrawal? Beyond a debate about strategy, and remember, Trump has none, there are many examples of people subjected to torture and death by Syrian president Bashar Assad: Trump Is Leaving 50,000 Syrian Civilians To Die.

“…But inside Syria, the consequences are even more serious. For one example, 50,000 Syrian civilian refugees living under the direct protection of the U.S. military are suddenly fearing for their lives.

“For three years, civilians living in the Rukban refugee campin the southeastern Syrian desert have survived because of the protection of U.S. forces encamped 10 miles away on a base called Tanf. The refugee camp falls within Tanf’s 55-kilometer-radius security zone. The residents rely on the United States to protect them from the Syrian regime and Iranian forces and to ensure vital flows of humanitarian aid.

“They are near starvation, effectively under siege and living in squalor. But despite their situation, they will tell anyone who will listen that they are grateful to be free from the grasp of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that they are depending on the United States to keep them safe and alive. On Wednesday, Trump put their lives at grave risk with a single tweet.

““Our reaction is extreme worry and fear by all those living in the camp,” Abu Hussein Al Homsie, a resident of the refugee camp, told me. “We used to think that the American soldiers were here for us, in order to save us from Iran and Assad and to provide us security. . . . Unfortunately, we were mistaken.””

To make sure this is clear: “We are sending them to their slaughter,” said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a U.S. nongovernmental organization that works with the Syrian opposition. “We are handing over our partner forces alongside these civilians to a regime that has no mercy.” This is one of many such instances: Who Is Most Happy With Trump’s Withdrawal? Turkey, Russia, ISIS & Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Edrogan is dictating Trump ‘strategy’ in Syria. Erdogan poked Trump and Trump responded“You know what? It’s yours,” Trump said of Syria. “I’m leaving.”

Erdogan was happy. Erdogan announced a delay, but clarified he “would eventually follow through on plans for an assault on Kurdish and Islamic State forces there. That’s right, a delay in attacking ISIS but also a plan to attack U.S. ally, our boots on the ground, the Kurds.

Trump’s America First drawbridge is raised and more bodies are left outside the castle walls. Shame. That’s right, our ally will be left behind to be attacked by Turkey. ISIS? ISIS gets a reprieveTrump’s Abrupt Syria Withdrawal Thwarted ‘Major’ Operation Targeting ISIS, Sen. Bob Corker Says.

“The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed on Friday that the U.S. military was planning a “major clearing operation” targeting ISIS before President Donald Trump decided abruptly this week to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

““One thing that hasn’t been reported is, we were six weeks away from a major clearing operation that has been planned for a long time. I got briefed on this a year ago—with ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said Friday on Capitol Hill, referring to the area where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be hiding.”

Fifty-thousand refugees’ lives are put at risk. Our Kurd allies are put at risk. ISIS – with an estimated strength of 20,000 fighters — is given a reprieve.

Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in disagreement with Trump’s announcement, resigns. Mattis offers a rebuke of Trump:

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issuesBecause you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”


Beholden to Putin

Erdogan is happy.

ISIS is happy.

And this headline has Putin happy: Russia Gloats: ‘Trump Is Ours Again’.

Trump’s move and the resignation of his Secretary of Defense in protest means “the Kremlin is awash in Christmas gives from Washington, D.C.” The view on Russian state TV was, ““Secretary of Defense Mattis didn’t want to leave Syria, so Trump fired him. They are leaving Syria.” Pulling no punches, “state TV host Olga Skabeeva pondered why Trump suddenly decided to leave at this point in time: “Americans say, it’s because he is beholden to Putin. Is that logical? Yes, it is.”

The New York Times offered, Glee in Russia Over Trump’s Foreign Policy Largess. Putin benefits from Trump’s impulsive give on Syria and Mattis and there are more Trump gifts for the Kremlin. The linked article is flying below the radar given Trump’s chaos, but this is important. Here’s an explanation from Lawfare: Lifting Of Treasury Sanctions On Deripaska Highlights Role For Congress In Foreign Affairs Decisions.

Deripaska’s is a Putin oligarch well known through the history of Trump-Russia because of his long-standing relationship with convicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. One of many connections, but one that put the Deripaska-Manafort relationship on the map was this:

“Oleg Deripaska is the billionaire member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle whose business relationship with former Trump campaign chairman and convicted felon Paul Manafort went sour, with Manafort allegedly owing millions to Deripaska. The Washington Post reported that, as campaign chairman, Paul Manafort allegedly offered by email to provide Deripaska with “private briefings” about the 2016 presidential election—possibly in an attempt by Manafort to repay his debt to the Russian oligarch.”

The “Trump administration notified Congress that in 30 days it would lift sanctions on several companies connected with sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska: aluminum giant Rusal and two related entities named EN+ and EuroSibEnergo (ESE).

This in spite of how Democracy Now! summarizes the basis of the sanctions against Putin oligarch and his companies for “threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering.”

Kremlin Awash In Trump Gifts, Putin Puts Weight Behind Russian Foreign Policy

Trump gave Putin many gifts, but none bigger than his America First stance that creates a world leadership void that Putin is happy to fill. Putin, Assad and Erdogan will decide on the future of Syria. Putin takes advantage and “said on Thursday that the United States’ military presence in Japan was complicating the search for a formal peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo. Putin wants U.S. troops out of Syria, Afghanistan and Japan. And he’s still not done with his demands: Putin Tells May To ‘fulfil will of people’ On Brexit

“Vladimir Putin has said the UK should not hold a second referendum on Brexit, insisting Theresa May must “fulfil the will of the people””.

You know who else sounds like Putin and supports Brexit? You guessed it: 

Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has told Breitbart News that Donald Trump is a believer in Brexit the veteran campaigner explained why the U.S. leader has gotten behind Brexit Britain.

““President Trump is a believer in Brexit because President Trump believes in nation-states, he believes in democracy, not in global bureaucracy, so he’s always wanted Brexit to happen,” he said.”

Putin and Trump. And Erdogan and Assad.

Speaking of other election efforts backed by Putin: Russians Launched Pro-Jill Stein Social Media Blitz To Help Trump Win Election, Reports Say.

The sub-head here is: Building support for Stein was one of a “roster of themes” the Moscow-sanctioned internet trolls “turned to repeatedly,” report says.

Trump lost the popular vote but won by virtue of the Electoral College; Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were key to this outcome. Trump won PA by 46,765 votes; Stein received 49,678 votes. Trump won WI by 22,177 votes; Stein received 31,006 votes. Trump won MI by 10,704 votes; Stein received 51,463 votes. This is not to say that Stein is responsible for Trump’s victory, only to highlight the context of the Russian initiative to sow disruption.

Here’s an example of the fake messages, part of the Russian campaign, put forward by Putin’s Internet Research Agency:

“The excuse that a lost Black vote for Hillary is a Trump win is bs,” it read. “It could be late, but y’all might want to support Jill Stein instead.”

There was also this:

“As a frequent guest on the Russian state-owned English language broadcast and online outlets RT and Sputnik, Stein has also benefited from Moscow’s help during her presidential runs in 2012 and 2016.

“An NBC News review of the archives of RT and Sputnik, which the CIA has described as part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine,” from early 2015 to the 2016 election shows more than 100 stories, on-air and online, friendly to Stein and the Green Party.”

Stein attended an RT (Russia Today)10th anniversary dinner in Dec. 2015:

“Most famously, Stein was one of two Americans invited to sit with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the head table of the RT 10th anniversary dinner in Dec. 2015. The other was General Michael Flynn, who was advising then candidate Donald J. Trump and is now awaiting sentencing in the special counsel’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Stein at the time said “she had hoped to speak with the Russian president about his policy in Syria, climate change and other issues”. The Green Party did not respond to the NBC article.


Trump gave Putin many gifts. But it’s been a two-way street. David Corn, writing for Mother Jones. reminds us, “Trump Betrayed America”:

  • Trump while campaigning had a secret deal in Russia and lied about it.
  • Trump’s campaign was told Moscow intervened to help Trump but said nothing, denied Russian involvement and essentially encouraged the Kremlin.
  • Trump after being told the Kremlin was helping his campaign, covered for Putin by claiming no such thing was happening.

That’s just what friends do for each other. Which brings us to our final point.

Author of ‘House of Trump House of Putin’ Craig Unger offers his view through an 8-minute video: There’s a Russian asset in the White House, starting with Trump money laundering and ties to Russian mafia: Craig Unger: There Is A Russian Asset In The White House.

Trump is addicted to chaos and we’re all ‘tired of winning’.