Trump Putin

Day two of Trump’s second foreign trip.

Day one of the G20.

President Trump met with Vladimir Putin in a meeting scheduled for forty minutes. It lasted over two hours.

The reaction is as expected. Criticism from the Left. Praise from the Right.

What are the facts?

According to Secretary of State Tillerson, President Trump raised the issue of election meddling. This is important. He didn’t back away from a controversial issue.

Also reported is that the two negotiated a partial cease fire in Syria.

North Korea was also reportedly discussed with no details released.

As far as the Left’s criticisms of the day, Putin is a bad guy. I get it. But what we saw today is our President engaging with world leaders to solve problems.

This is leadership.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Poland

President Trump began his second foreign trip with a stop in Poland. His speech to the Polish People was broadcast live early this morning, immediately after which Joe Scarborough on MSNBC called it the worst speech ever given by a President on foreign soil.

I didn’t get the same impression. A few key points from the speech.

On terrorism:

“We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have. While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.”

On Russian aggression:

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.”

On capitalism:

“Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.”

And on NATO:

“To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.”

He’s sending the right message.

Tomorrow is a big day. G20 Summit and a meeting with Putin. Look for discussion about North Korea.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Jeff Sessions

The big story to come out of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon is that it increasingly appears there is not a big story there.

Once again, anyone looking for facts to confirm the existence of Trump Administration election collusion with Russia or Trump obstruction of justice in the Russia election interference investigation came away disappointed.

What we did see was an emotional Sessions emphatically deny the accusations above. 

We also learned the following from various news organizations’ Twitter feeds:

Sessions testifies he told Comey that FBI, DOJ “needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with WH.”

Sessions: I was confident Comey understood “rules limiting communications with the White House” on investigations

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he did not have third meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Sessions says “it’s conceivable” that he had a third conversation with Russian ambassador

Sessions says running into ambassadors could happen at the grocery store

Sessions: “I have never met with or had any conversation with” Russian officials regarding election interference

I didn’t have any private mtg nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian official at Mayflower Hotel

Sessions: I recused myself from Russia probe due to a DOJ regulation, “not because of any asserted wrongdoing”

AG Sessions says the scope of his recusal “does not & cannot interfere” w his ability to oversee DOJ, including the FBI

“I did not recuse myself from defending my honor from false and scurrilous accusations,” Sessions says.

AG Sessions: “The people of this country expect an honest and transparent government, and that’s what we’re giving them.”

Attorney General Sessions: “I have confidence” in special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sessions says he does not know whether President Trump records conversations in the White House

Warner: Did you every talk with Comey about his job performance?

Sessions: “I did not.”

Jeff Sessions says there was a “lack of discipline” at the FBI.

So…

Anything there newsworthy?

Meanwhile, the real news of the dayis being overshadowed.

Secretary Mattis: We are NOT winning the war against ISIS in Afghanistan. Changes are necessary.

And

Secretary Tillerson: The Palestinian Authority has changed its policy and will stop paying the families of terrorists who attack Israeli’s.

Both of these are a big deal and deserve discussion in the public arena.  Alas, another time maybe. Today was about Russia…

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

The Russia Connection

This is a fact based political commentary blog, where the goal is to cut through the rhetoric and analyze the news cycle purely from factual knowledge. 

The last 52 hours have seen a plethora of rhetoric from both the media and our politicians concerning Mr. Comey’s dismissal and potential Trump ties to the Russia investigation.

As noted yesterday, as accusations are made without evidence, our national discourse is causing us to get ahead of ourselves, put the cart before the horse, wag the dog, choose your cliche.

Let’s take a moment to stop, regroup, and look at the facts about what exactly Russia is accused of doing:

In June 2016, news broke that servers owned by the Democratic National Committee had been compromised by what analysts believed to be Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries. Private emails were stolen along with campaign correspondence and opposition research.

In July 2016, during the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks made 20,000 of these emails public.

On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing stolen emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta.  Suspicion is raised because the release of the first batch of emails occurred one hour after the Access Hollywood tape was released containing Trump’s lewd comments about women.

Is the authenticity of the emails that were released in dispute? 

Not to my knowledge.  

The DNC emails revealed an unfair treatment of Bernie Sanders and a favoritism toward Hillary Clinton that led to the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The Podesta emails revealed Clinton was receiving debate questions in advance from Donna Brazile at CNN.

Where did accusations of Russian involvement come from?

See this.  Seems legit.

Where did accusations of Trump campaign collusion originate?

A dossier from a former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, was reportedly given to the FBI by Senator John McCain in January that alleges collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.  The document reportedly details a concerted effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to cultivate a relationship with Trump campaign officials.

There are accusations, reportedly in the same dossier, that allege Russia downloaded the voter rolls and pushed micro-targeted advertisements to individual voters via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

There has been no evidence released at this point in time of this.

The FBI has also reportedly investigated relationships and trips to Russia taken by Trump associates, but at this time, no indication of wrongdoing has been released.

So when we hear politicians say, “What we know for sure is Russia hacked our election,” or, “attacked our democracy,” what the known evidence actually supports is that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers and Secretary Clinton’s campaign manager’s emails, and through WikiLeaks, released authentic emails to the voters.

Was it wrong?

Yes. 

Was it illegal?

Yes.

Should the perpetrators be held accountable?

Yes.

Did the voters have more information because of this upon which to base their vote?

Yes.

So when Secretary Clinton says, as she did last week, that voters who were inclined to vote for her were “scared off” at the last minute, were they scared off by accurate information?

Yes.

Did the opposition research and campaign correspondence that was stolen end up in the hands of the Trump campaign? 

No evidence of this has been revealed, but that is why there are three ongoing investigations.

Is there evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to hack Mr. Podesta’s emails, the DNC’s emails, or coordinate the release of either? None has been revealed at this time.

These are the facts. 

More facts.

Less rhetoric.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

blog@johnanchor.com