Thursday, November 21
WH/NSC: Fiona Hill, Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia
State/FSO David Holmes, Political Counselor, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 21, 2019
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 21, 2019
Posted: Nov 12, 2019
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
Updated, November 18, 2019
Trump’s ‘West Point Mafia’ Faces a Loyalty Test
A close cohort from the military academy’s Class of ’86 has risen to astonishing power in the U.S. government. Are they using it for the president, or the nation?https://t.co/muMYZvQa07 pic.twitter.com/Dtym37P8ZU
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) November 17, 2019
— Jeff Stein (@SpyTalker) November 17, 2019
As a West Point graduate I tweet this with sadness and disappointment. Trump’s ‘West Point Mafia’ Faces a Loyalty Test – POLITICO https://t.co/A2KXSVTvis
— Douglas Wise (@DHWise007) November 17, 2019
According to his opening statement, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert at the NSC has been in the U.S. Army for more than two decades. As an infantry officer, he served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and a deployment to Iraq for combat operations. He was wounded in an IED attack in Iraq, and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Since 2008, he has been a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Eurasia. He previously served at the United States’ embassies in Kiev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia. He also served as a politico-military affairs officer for Russia for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs . In July 2018, he joined the National Security Council.
"I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine," Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman said in his opening statement. https://t.co/Pl9R9koTc1
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) October 29, 2019
In opening statement for tomorrow, NSC member Alexander Vidman to testify that Sondland pushed Ukraine leaders to make specific promises on Biden/Burisma before Bolton cut mtg short then went further in debrief before Vindman called him out. Later reported to NSC lawyers. pic.twitter.com/Mz73QMfoHw
— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) October 29, 2019
Sondland is in deep, deep legal trouble.
On the left: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's opening statement (corroborated by Fiona Hill's and Bill Taylor's testimony).
On the right: Sondland's opening statement.
18 USC 1001 pic.twitter.com/rLgqx8hXiW
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) October 29, 2019
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25 telephone call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.https://t.co/fbZc3Dwbzr
— VoteVets (@votevets) October 29, 2019
Bonjour please find the unroll here: Thread by @sam_vinograd: "1. I imagine the National Security Council (NSC) structure and purpose is not well known to many, nor is the role of a " […]" #LEGAL https://t.co/eljimZjDra
Talk to you soon. 🤖
— Thread Reader App (@threadreaderapp) October 29, 2019
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) October 7, 2019
As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2019
Basically the US persuaded the SDF Kurds to dismantle defensive positions that deterred Turkey, promising security guarantees in exchange. Then once the SDF Kurds became defenseless, Trump gave Erdogan the green light to invade. Hard to imagine a more sinister sequence of events. https://t.co/Of9wloQKv1
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) October 7, 2019
Based on our confidence in the #US efforts in the Security Mechanism agreement, we implemented all our commitments to remove military fortifications between Tal Abyad & SereKaniye, withdraw combat forces with heavy weapons, risking a security vacum as a result of the agreement.
— Coordination & Military Ops Center – SDF (@cmoc_sdf) October 7, 2019
— Defense One (@DefenseOne) October 7, 2019
Indeed, US officials signed the SDF up to a “security mechanism” plan by which it removed all defensive barriers on the Syrian side of the border to forestall a Turkish incursion. EUCOM issued this just yesterday. Was Trump ever even briefed on this plan? https://t.co/0SGOfRDvek
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 7, 2019
The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground. The “United States” is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey. pic.twitter.com/vYr7j0q6mR
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 7, 2019
USS Ramage Docks in Lebanon Amid Regional Tensions https://t.co/7WOexHLAjZ
— Military.com (@Militarydotcom) September 15, 2019
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) September 15, 2019
The #USSRamage, a destroyer class vessel, entered #Beirut port on September 14 as a symbol of the enduring partnership between the U.S. 🇺🇸 and #Lebanon 🇱🇧 to ensure security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.@USNavy pic.twitter.com/2l3Y5LT9S5
— U.S. Embassy Beirut (@usembassybeirut) September 15, 2019
Lebanese press tour the #USSRamage, which docked in #Beirut on September 14 on a goodwill visit to showcase the strong U.S.-#Lebanon relationship 🇺🇸🇱🇧 and a commitment to freedom of navigation.@USNavy pic.twitter.com/PZ0Gvgi1AD
— U.S. Embassy Beirut (@usembassybeirut) September 15, 2019
A US warship docked in Beirut Port today for the first time in nearly 40 years. The presence of guided missile destroyer USS Ramage sends a “political message”, said US ambassador Elizabeth Richard. There was a drinks reception on board tonight. https://t.co/1CxXmjoTfc
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) September 14, 2019
This is a follow-up to our post on August 31, US Embassy Bahamas on ‘Ordered Departure’ For Non-Emergency Staff/Family Members #HurricaneDorian. The NOAA Hurricane Update of 1100 PM EDT Mon Sep 02 2019 notes that devastating hurricane conditions continue on Grand Bahama Island and that a life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds on Grand Bahama Island.
USAID/OFDA announced on Twitter that a team of Caribbean-based
@USAID disaster experts is in the Bahamas to work w/ national authorities & humanitarian partners to help assess impacts & humanitarian needs.
The US Coast Guard Southeast said that its Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, forward deployed to Andros Island, medevaced 19 people from the Marsh Harbour Clinic to Nassau International Airport on Monday, September 2.
.@USEmbassyNassau and @statedept are coordinating with the Bahamian government to provide any support required in the aftermath of Hurricane #Dorian. @theOFDA will soon be on the ground to assess the situation and @USCG is deploying search and rescue operations.
— WHA Bureau (@WHAAsstSecty) September 2, 2019
@USEmbassyNassau has begun helping victims of Hurricane #Dorian in #TheBahamas. @USCGSoutheast sent helicopters to evacuate injured from Abaco, flying back to Nassau for urgent care. Please stay informed from reliable sources, and keep safe. pic.twitter.com/GOK0pqiY7x
— U.S. Embassy Nassau (@USEmbassyNassau) September 3, 2019
UPDATE: A @USAID disaster team has deployed to the #Bahamas, where #HurricaneDorian 🌀 began making landfall as a #Category5 storm over the northwestern islands on Sunday. Follow us here for regular updates. #HurricaneSeason
— USAID/OFDA (@theOFDA) September 2, 2019
#Breaking – 4 #USCG #Jayhawk helicopter crews medevaced 19 people from the #MarshHarbour Clinic to Nassau International Airport to EMS. Read more details here: https://t.co/Jg3bOXbdYy #USCGDorian #Dorian #HurricaneDorian pic.twitter.com/psuOsokeeC
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 3, 2019
High storm surge with floating vehicles speaks volumes to the conditions on Grand Bahama island. Hurricane Dorian is stationary and is a strong 140mph killer storm.#dorian #Grandbahama #Hurricane pic.twitter.com/qgz2yJuT38
— Bahamas Press (@Bahamaspress) September 3, 2019
Hurricane Dorian has already severely damaged or destroyed as many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas. Here are some of the local and international organizations seeking help. https://t.co/lVMhaKCn47
— Refinery29 (@Refinery29) September 2, 2019
The Trump budget proposal for the FY2020 State Department funding is now out. HFAC already called the proposal which includes a 23% cut ‘dead on arrival” on Capitol Hill. Even if this request doesn’t pass, it clearly reflects the administration’s views on diplomacy and development. If a Foggy Bottom joker starts calling prior State Department funding levels unsustainable, we may fall off our chair and scream out loud. The Administration’s budget request for DOD was $686.1 billion in FY2019 and $750 billion in FY2020. And $750 billion is sustainable? Anyway, brief run-down of the budget requests in the last few years:
FY2017: The FY2017 budget request under the Obama Administration amounted in $52.78 billion in new budget authority for the State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations (SFOPS). When Congress passed the appropriations bill, the total enacted SFOPS funding for FY2017 was $57.53 billion, an 8.8% increase over the FY2016 SFOPS funding level. According to the CRS, the increase is entirely due to a 40% total increase in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.
FY2018: President Trump submitted his FY2018 budget request to Congress on May 23, 2017. The request sought $40.25 billion (-30% compared with FY2017 enacted) for SFOPS, including Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds. The 115th Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which provided FY2018 funding for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). Division K of the act―State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS)― provided a total of $54.18 billion, including Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds and rescissions. This represented a decrease of 6.1% from the FY2017 actual funding level according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
FY2019: The Trump Administration submitted to Congress its FY2019 budget request on February 12, 2018. The State Department budget proposal under Rex Tillerson included $41.86 billion for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS). CRS notes: Comparing the request with the FY2018-enacted funding levels, the FY2019 request represents a 22.7% decrease in SFOPS funding. The proposed State and related agency funding would be 18.2% below FY2018 enacted and the foreign operations funding would be reduced by 24.7%. Both the House and Senate appropriations committees have approved FY2019 SFOPS bills that include funding at higher levels than the Administration requested and equal to or greater than FY2018 enacted funding. Congress eventually appropriated $56.1 billion, ensuring that the agency has the resources it needs.
FY2020: Trump’s FY2020 budget request for the State Department, the first under Pompeo, proposes $40 billion for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). State’s Bureau of Budget and Planning guy Doug Pitkin said, “the last two budgets, for example, included reductions to State and AID personnel. This budget does not propose that.” He also argued that despite the almost 25% cut, this budget request apparently “does support diplomacy and development”.
All that to highlight what Secretary Pompeo said in an interview recently. Secretary Pompeo (who we imagine is known …er fondly in Foggy Bottom as Swagger Mike) gave an interview to McClatchy’s Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle on March 11. We must admit that since this was an interview, we certainly could not blame his speechwriters for the gems here. Neither the video nor the transcript of this interview appears on state.gov, as of this writing but the reporters have a short video clip which we embedded below, and you can read the report with the quotes here.
On December 14, 2018, the State Department issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) urging American travelers to reconsider travel there due to “crime and civil unrest.” The advisory also announced that the Embassy’s non-emergency personnel and their family members were on mandatory evacuation order. See US Embassy Kinshasa on Ordered Departure For Non-Emergency Staff/Family Members #DRC
On January 4, the president notified Congress of the deployment of approximately 80 Armed Forces personnel to Gabon in support of the security of the US Embassy in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Excerpt below:
United States Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Libreville, Gabon, to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This deployment of approximately 80 personnel is in response to the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in reaction to the December 30, 2018, elections there. The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft. Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes. These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.
This action was taken consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.WH: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/letter-president-speaker-house-representatives-president-pro-tempore-senate-2/