“Now I am an island of one again.”
— Trump statement on Syria.
“…..The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!
— Trump tweet (10/13/19)
“Keep telling yourself it can’t happen here. Keep telling yourself the sun’s shinning, garbage trucks show up as scheduled, the school crossing guard gets your kids safely across the street, and that sitcom you like didn’t get canceled. Keep telling yourself that while you can.”
— Former Director Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tweet (10/13/19)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/13/19)
While Rome is burning, Trump is golfing.
Trump impeachment – two stories fueling his impeachment. Both are of his own doing.
It’s hard to imagine Trump’s Syria chaos can be much worse. While his boss throws gas on the fire and heads to the door with his golf clubs, Defense Sec. Mark Esper is sent out to the Sunday political talk shows to convince the world that the U.S. is “not “abandoning” its partners in the campaign against the Islamic State”. This is offered while we are abandoning the Kurds, our partner in the campaign against the Islamic State.
I want to dispel a few notions put forward by Trump before anyone is tempted to buy into these Dovish statements.
One: There are many examples of Trump claiming a high-ground, wanting to end unending wars. Here’s one, “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change” and accused “those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars”.
But at the same time Trump is sending thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia. We’ll learn much more about this deployment but it’s Trump justification that also deserves attention. Watch Trump announce that he’s reduced U.S. military to just another group of mercenaries.
On deployment of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, Trump says, “Are you ready: Saudi Arabia, at my request, has agreed to pay us for everything we’re doing. That’s a first!”
None of us want endless wars, or any wars – but for Trump, if you’re going to pay us…
Two: Trump doesn’t want you to know that he’s put U.S. troops in harms way. U.S. Special Forces have manned an observation post for months and as part of the rules of engagement between Syria, Turkey, U.S. and Russia – locations are well documented and there are open lines of communication to avoid ‘mistakes’.
One Army officer who has deployed to northeastern Syria and has knowledge of the situation said multiple rounds of 155mm fire were launched from Turkey’s side of the border and that they had a “bracketing effect”...
… “We had been there for months, and it is the most clearly defined position in that entire area,” the officer said.
…“This was not a mistake,”
Three: Never forget Trump’s fealty to Putin. This from ABC News at the Pentagon: “Defense Secretary Esper on Fox News Sunday says that last night President Trump “directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of US forces from the northern part of Syria.” Says US is “trapped” between a Syrian-Russian army moving north and the Turks moving south.” This has been predicted for days – but the explanation is also patently untrue.
As above – all force locations in Syria are known through open deconfliction lines. This is simply Trump ordering U.S. troops to cede Syria to Turkey and Russia.
Four: Trump has claimed HE defeated ISIS. But AP News now reports “hundreds of Islamic State supporters escaped from a holding camp in northern Syria”; “Islamic State supporters escape in Syria as US pulls back”.
Five: Is anyone happy about this? “The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces told a senior US diplomat, “You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” demanding to know whether the …” While Esper wants to assure all, “the”, the Kurds are reaching out to Russia and even Syria to partner.
Turkey is happy, but who else benefits? The Daily Beast reminds us, “Trump’s Syria Fiasco Is Part of Putin’s To-Do List; sub-head: Trump tried to keep his talks with Putin at Helsinki last year secret from his staff and the world, but Russia’s president held up the checklist for the cameras. Syria was on it. Yep, you can see Putin’s handwritten notes in Helsinki strategically held so that cameras can see.
Trump on bended knee to Putin.
I am not an expert on Trump pathologies, nor do I care. What I care about is a president that is completely self-serving, savvy enough to stoke the anger of a dangerous cult and an active threat to all of us.
Even while focused on further destabilizing the Middle East, Trump still has the energy and creativity to make sure we don’t forget Impeachment. He so highly regards his own capabilities (Donald Trump Is The Dunning — Kruger Effect Personified) he even wrote his own White House legal defense – “Legal experts have already that the White House gets to declare the House’s impeachment inquiry illegitimate”. But the defense that says he “did nothing wrong” was “crafted, in large part” – by Trump.
Speaking of Trump inanity, he may even have breathed new life into former VP Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. “Giuliani bungling gives Biden a new punchline.” The sub-head: “America’s mayor” has become a useful foil in Biden’s effort to fight back against Donald Trump’s attacks.
Never–Trumper and former Giuliani adviser Rick Wilson earns the quote of the article with, “Rudy’s out there running off of cliffs, smacking into road signs and watching his own schemes just blow up on him to defend Trump.” Even Republicans only give Rudy a 29 percent ‘favorable’ rating (Democrats -58).
Tip of Trump’s iceberg
But the BIG event is this:
Esquire columnist Charles Pierce gets the nod to explain – and he quotes the breaking WSJ article that is behind a pay wall.
“Two Soviet-born donors to a pro-Trump fundraising committee who helped Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Democrat Joe Biden were arrested late Wednesday on criminal charges of violating campaign finance rules and are expected to appear in court on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.”
In past columns I had mentioned investigation of Rudy’s partners for violation of federal election law but now all of this has sprung onto the front page. The arrests, in a nutshell, started with Rudy and his two Russian-born Florida businessman pals lunching at the Trump International Hotel in DC. Hours later Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles airport with one-way tickets to Vienna by way of Frankfurt.
Vienna? Yep, from an earlier column, U.S. sanctioned Ukraine billionaire battling extradition to the U.S. for bribery charges Dmytro Firtash is in Vienna. But of course, that is not all:
“Giuliani told Reuters the two men had been to Vienna – where Firtash lives – three to six times in the last two months.”
Firtash was reported to be financing Parnas and Fruman though this was not mentioned by their lawyer, former Trump lawyer John Dowd.
Lastly, also going to Vienna was – Rudy Giuliani. Though Parnas, Fruman, Firtash and Giuliani were all to be in Vienna at the same time, Giuliani said he “can’t comment on it at this time” about the purpose of his trip to Vienna.
Pictures of Parnas with Donald Trump having dinner at the White House have now been removed from Parnas’s social media. Fruman posted pictures of himself with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and both were pictured at breakfast with Donnie Jr. last month.
Such a small group of Trump Crooks and Liars with so many secrets, even “[Sec. of State Mike] Pompeo refuses to say if he met with Giuliani on February Warsaw trip”.
Here’s the other Trump-damning news stories of the last few days:
Giuliani’s antics have now earned him this: Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work. Sub-head: Prosecutors are investigating whether the president’s lawyer broke laws meant to prevent covert foreign influence on the government.
More hot water for Giuliani, this time from former Trump Sec. of State Rex Tillerson: Trump asked Tillerson to help broker deal to end U.S. prosecution of Turkish trader represented by Giuliani.
Add to the list that Tillerson felt this was “inappropriate” and told former Trump Chief-of-Staff John Kelly as much.
Trump’s Energy Sec. Rick Perry waited a bit too long to leave the administration, one of Trump’s Ukraine “three amigos” is now subpoenaed: House Impeachment Investigators Subpoena Rick Perry on Ukraine.
Trump’s recalled Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch honored a House subpoena on Friday and offered a damning nine hour testimony stating she was removed over false claims while also denouncing Giuliani.
She also issued a blistering 10-page opening statement that can be read here.
Trump did not replace Yovanovitch but instead expanded the responsibilities of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. Sondland is saying he will honor a subpoena and appear before Congress to offer this explanation of Trump’s denial of a quid pro quo for Ukraine: “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth.”
I’d say Sondland did not get a good return on his $1 million contribution to Trump’s inauguration fund.
Final point; full circle back to the opening quote by Shaub. Shaub was one of the first to leave the Trump administration over concern with the conduct of this administration. At the time his statement of resignation was alarming, now it would hardly register:
Charles Pierce’s article (above) ends more pointedly with a reminder of the anti-democratic Supreme Court Citizens United decision that threw our elections onto the corporate auction bock:
“The breadth and depth of the corruption remains breathtaking. There was not a single element of the 2016 Trump campaign that wasn’t an open sewer, and the involvement of Russian money with the Republican Party as a whole never has been fully investigated. Congratulations again to the Supreme Court—and to former Justice Anthony Kennedy, in particular—for leaving American elections open to being run like a disreputable frontier casino.”