Trump’s Wild Talk About America’s NATO Treaty Obligations — Not/Not a Misquote

Posted: 12:19 pm ET

 

SANGER: But I guess the question is, If we can’t, do you think that your presidency, let’s assume for a moment that they contribute what they are contributing today, or what they have contributed historically, your presidency would be one of pulling back and saying, “You know, we’re not going to invest in these alliances with NATO, we are not going to invest as much as we have in Asia since the end of the Korean War because we can’t afford it and it’s really not in our interest to do so.”

TRUMP: If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich. Then if we cannot make a deal, which I believe we will be able to, and which I would prefer being able to, but if we cannot make a deal, I would like you to say, I would prefer being able to, some people, the one thing they took out of your last story, you know, some people, the fools and the haters, they said, “Oh, Trump doesn’t want to protect you.” I would prefer that we be able to continue, but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth — you have the tape going on?

SANGER: We do.

HABERMAN: We both do.

TRUMP: With massive wealth. Massive wealth. We’re talking about countries that are doing very well. Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

[…]

SANGER: I was just in the Baltic States. They are very concerned obviously about this new Russian activism, they are seeing submarines off their coasts, they are seeing airplanes they haven’t seen since the Cold War coming, bombers doing test runs. If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania, places that Americans don’t think about all that often, would you come to their immediate military aid?

TRUMP: I don’t want to tell you what I’d do because I don’t want Putin to know what I’d do. I have a serious chance of becoming president and I’m not like Obama, that every time they send some troops into Iraq or anyplace else, he has a news conference to announce it.

SANGER: They are NATO members, and we are treaty-obligated ——

TRUMP: We have many NATO members that aren’t paying their bills.

[…]

TRUMP: I’m a fan of the Kurds, you understand.

SANGER: But Erdogan is not. Tell us how you would deal with that?

TRUMP: Well, it would be ideal if we could get them all together. And that would be a possibility. But I’m a big fan of the Kurdish forces. At the same time, I think we have a potentially — we could have a potentially very successful relationship with Turkey. And it would be really wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.

SANGER: And what’s your diplomatic plan for doing that?

TRUMP: Meetings. If I ever have the opportunity to do it, meaning if I win, we will have meetings, we will have meetings very early on.

There’s mooooore, oh, dear.

Meanwhile — in Russia, Trump is apparently “inspiring a new generation of optimism.”

Here’s the NATO reaction:

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Watch Out! Hatch Act Snares HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Other Federal Employees

Posted: 3:38 am ET

 

On July 18, 2016, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced its finding that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro violated the Hatch Act during a Yahoo News interview on April 4, 2016. According to OSC’s report, Secretary Castro’s statements during the interview “impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official agency business despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity.”

OSC apparently conducted an investigation after receiving a complaint about the interview. The OSC stresses that “federal employees are permitted to make partisan remarks when speaking in their personal capacity, but not when using their official title or when speaking about agency business.” The investigation concludes:

While the Hatch Act allows federal employees, including cabinet secretaries, to express their personal views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes. In passing this law, Congress intended to promote public confidence in the Executive branch by ensuring that the federal government is working for all Americans without regard to their political views. Despite his efforts to clarify that he was speaking only for himself and not as a HUD official when answering political questions, Secretary Castro’s statements impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official government agency business.

OSC’s report can be found here (PDF) or read it below.  Secretary Castro’s response can be found here (PDF).

Take note of these other cases:

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Quote of the Day: “As an ambassador I am non-partisan.”

 

“As an ambassador I am non-partisan. But the United States is not what you hear from Donald Trump. We are not bigoted, we are not frightened of immigrants. The election rhetoric is out of control and what you hear from Donald trump is not what the President nor I stand for.”

Ambassador Mark Gilbert
U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand
SunLive: Navarone and the ambassador
April 1, 2016

 

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Will ambassadorships become part of the horse trading for delegates this summer?

Posted: 12:32 am EDT

 

According to Fox News, delegates become “unbound” and are free to support other contenders as soon as their candidate withdraws.

Rubio, in suspending his campaign after his home-state Florida loss, leaves 169 delegates behind. Ben Carson accrued eight delegates before he dropped out of the race, while Jeb Bush picked up four. Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul each picked up one in Iowa.

And if either Ted Cruz or John Kasich drop out in the weeks ahead — and Donald Trump still has not clinched the nomination with the necessary 1,237 delegates — additional zombie delegates could be in play in Cleveland.
[…]
They would become essentially free agents, prizes to be wooed by the candidates duking it out in Cleveland.
[…]
In the 1976 Republican convention, it was the unbound delegates moving toward President Gerald Ford instead of Ronald Reagan that handed Ford the nomination that year. Ford held a slight lead going into the convention, but was shy of an outright majority.In part by using the power of the White House, with promises of visits and patronage to woo over delegates, Ford won the nomination on the first ballot, by a slim 60 votes.

In addition to these “zombie” delegates, there are apparently also 112 Republican delegates who are “unbound” because their states and territories – North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, American Samoa and Guam – hold no primaries or caucuses. According to Real Clear Politics, delegates are chosen at state convention without reference to voters’ views on the presidential candidates.

Below is a link to a video clip with Ben Ginsberg, a Republican attorney who has served as counsel to the Republican National Committee and several presidential campaigns talking on MSNBC.  He explains what happens to Marco Rubio’s delegates now that the candidate has suspended his campaign, and the role that unbound delegates play in the Republican primary process. It looks like promises and patronage can play a big part in wooing over delegates. Will ambassadorships become part of the horse trading as candidates duke it out in Cleveland this summer?  Oh boy!  “A lot of ambassadorships out there and some 1500 Schedule C jobs.” See the great legal question and the answer.  Watch at the 1:59 mark.

The video can also be viewed here on MSNBC.

 

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WaPo: Anxious about Trump? Try being a foreign ambassador. Or imagine ….

Posted: 1:44 pm EDT

Via WaPo:

Donald Trump’s unorthodox campaign is causing growing anxiety over how U.S. trade, military and diplomatic policies would change if he were elected president, according to ambassadors from every continent.

Diplomats from many of the United States’ closest allies said there has not been a U.S. election since World War II in which representatives of foreign nations have felt so completely cut off from a leading presidential candidate or so unsure of his view of foreign policy.

“Scary. That’s how we view Trump,” said one ambassador whose country has a close relationship with Washington. “Could we depend on the United States? We don’t know. I can’t tell you how the unpredictability we are seeing scares us.”

Several quotes in the article from unidentified ambassadors. If they’re anxious, we’re wondering how our own diplomats are doing? Our career foreign service employees must not only commit to worldwide availability and flexibility in assignments but must also commit to public support of U.S. government policies regardless of the administration in office.

It’s no longer funny to think about a potential Trump administration. To borrow a pal’s quote, “can you imagine delivering a demarche in Mexico City about the new, beautiful wall?”  

 

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Quote of the Day: Trump Reveals Primary Foreign Policy Advisor He’s Consulting

Posted: 1:55 am EDT

 

Asked on MSNBC, this is Mr. Trump’s response:

 

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Congressional Democrats Complain Inspectors General’s Review of HRC’s Emails as “Too Politicized”

Posted: 1:28 pm EDT

 

In January, we wrote It Took Awhile But Here It Is — Going After @StateDept OIG Steve Linick With Fake Sleeper Cells. In February, there was an allegation of “fishing expeditions.” This month, it got louder (Kerry Stands By Linick as Clinton Campaign Goes the Full Monty on @StateDept Inspector General).  From the beginning, we are of the opinion that the real target of these allegations of bias is Mr. Linick, who came to the State Department in 2013.  If you can smear the messengers badly enough, then, of course, all those reports his office issued and will issue in the future can simply be ignored or dismissed as partisan.  We remain convinced that the State IG and ICIG are doing their jobs as well as they could under awful weather conditions in an election year.

More recently, the NYT reported that senior Democrats in Congress have now accused the inspectors general of the State Department and the nation’s intelligence agencies of politicizing their review of the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The accusation — made in an unusually pointed letter dated Wednesday — underscored the increasingly partisan nature of the controversy over the email practices of Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Those practices are the subject of an F.B.I. investigation, in addition to inquiries by the inspectors general and congressional committees.

“Already, this review has been too politicized,” the Democrats wrote to Steve A. Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, and I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies. “We are relying on you as independent inspectors general to perform your duties dispassionately and comprehensively.”

WaPo notes that Mr. Linick, the State Department’s independent watchdog, has been conducting a review of the use of private email for government business at the request of Secretary of State John Kerry.

The office of I. Charles McCullough III, who plays the same role for the intelligence community, was involved in a review of Clinton’s correspondence as it was released to the public, a process that concluded last month.

The dual complaints from the campaign trail and from Capitol Hill regarding the watchdogs could be an effort to proactively inoculate Clinton should one of the two offices issue a report that is damaging to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton’s campaign has already aggressively worked to undermine the credibility of the two offices.

Doug Welty, a spokesman for the State IG, said:

“Partisan politics play no role in OIG’s work.  At all times, State OIG operates as an independent organization, consistent with the law,” he said in a statement. “Our work will continue to be unbiased, objective, and fact-based. We are now reviewing the email practices of the current and last four secretaries of State, not just Secretary Clinton.  Any suggestion that the office is biased against any particular secretary is completely false.”

We recognize that the IGs walk a very difficult line, having to report not only to their agency heads (in the case of the ICIG, that’s more than a dozen intel agencies) but also to the Congress. Sherman Funk, the former State Department IG described it as straddling the barbed wire fence.  If our elected reps are concerned that the reviews have become “too politicized,” then Congress should stop leaking to the press IG materials before they are officially released.

Of course, if these reviews become so highly partisan that it become impossible for the watchdogs to do their jobs, there is always another solution.  Congress can restore the Independent Counsel law which could be used by Congress or the Attorney General to investigate individuals holding or formerly holding certain high positions in the federal government.

Oh, my goodness, look who will be salivating over that. The last time the IC happened, if we remember right, there was a lot of sludge and the stock price for Clorox actually went up.  So best not go there. Below is the letter sent to both IGs:

 

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“Experienced Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers” Thrown Under the Bus – Internal Screaming at 125 dB

Posted: 2:04 am EDT

 

A couple months ago, we saw HRC’s campaign talked to CNN about the controversies in the handling of classified material, called it “a gray area” and cited foreign service officers as part of its defense:

And the career foreign service officers that were often the originators of this e-mail, they know the difference between what’s classified and what’s not.   A lot of people, I think, are mistaken to suggest that Hillary Clinton originated many of these e-mails. In fact, they are chains that are ultimately forwarded to her after being bandied back and forth by career foreign service officers in the State Department. And these are people, like I said, that know the difference between what’s classified and what’s not.  So by the logic of what today’s announcement suggests, then there would be dozens of officials in the State Department that were completely negligent. Does anyone really think that’s what’s going on here? I don’t. 

On March 5, the AP posted Things we learned from 50000-plus pages of Clinton emails.  The Washington Post also has a report on its analysis of the classified content in over 50,000 publicly released Clinton emails  based on what the State Department has said contained classified information.  Excerpt from the WaPo piece:

“If experienced diplomats and foreign service officers are doing it, the issue is more how the State Department deals with information in the modern world more than something specific about what Hillary Clinton did,” said Philip H. Gordon, who was assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and was the author of 45 of the sensitive emails from his non-classified government account.
[…]
They said they never stripped classified markings from documents to send them through regular email, as Republicans have alleged occurred in Clinton’s correspondence.

Instead, they said, the emails largely reflect real-time information shared with them by foreign government officials using their own insecure email accounts or open phone lines, or in public places such as hotel lobbies where it could have been overheard.

In other emails, they said they purposely wrote in generalities. Numerous emails were labeled “Sensitive But Unclassified,” indicating those writing did not think the note was classified.

Former ambassador Dennis Ross, who has held key diplomatic posts in administrations of both parties, said that one of his exchanges now marked “secret” contained information that government officials last year allowed him to publish in a book.

The emails relate to a back-channel negotiation he opened between Israelis and Palestinians after he left the government in 2011.

“What I was doing was communicating a gist — not being very specific, but a gist. If I felt the need to be more specific, we could arrange a meeting,” Ross said.

Princeton Lyman, a State Department veteran who served under presidents of both parties and was a special envoy to Sudan when Clinton was secretary of state, said he has been surprised and a bit embarrassed to learn that emails he wrote have been classified. He said he had learned through decades of experience how to identify and transmit classified information.

“The day-to-day kind of reporting I did about what happened in negotiations did not include information I considered classified,” he said.

One former senior official who authored some of the now-classified emails referred to a “cringe factor” for officials reviewing their own emails with the benefit of time that was often not available in the middle of unfolding world crises.

The former official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed disagreement with the State Department’s decision to classify the emails. Still, the official said diplomats at the time believed they were sending the material through a “closed system” in which the emails would be reviewed only by other State Department officials. They are becoming public now, the official noted, only because of Clinton’s email habits and her presidential run.

“I resent the fact that we’re in this situation — and we’re in this situation because of Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private server,” the official said.

 

We completely understand if folks are screaming internally (or not) up to the pain threshold of 125 decibel.

 

 

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Kerry Stands By Linick as Clinton Campaign Goes the Full Monty on @StateDept Inspector General

Posted: 1:38 pm EDT

 

Well, thank heavens not the Full Monty like the men of Sheffield but certainly with HRC presidential campaign chairman John Podesta, and with HFAC Dems attacking the watchdog and alleging bias, the Office of Inspector General is getting the works … the whole enchilada… the whole shebang … you get it. And we get to use the full monty in our blog post, teh-heh!!

But this is perplexing, if one wants a “more prestigious appointed position” we know where the kiss-assing is happening. Unless DIG DiSanto is running for national office, this charge doesn’t even make sense.

This started last year, and will only continue to get louder.

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The State Department was asked about this on March 2 and here is the official response:

QUESTION: Does the inspector general’s office have the confidence of the current leadership in the State Department, including the Secretary? And do you think it’s appropriate for the campaign to be complaining?

MR TONER: Well, as you know, the inspector general’s office operates independently from the State Department – rightfully so, given their mandate to look into these kinds of issues. They need to have that kind of freedom. But I believe the Secretary has every confidence in the inspector general’s ability to carry out his mission. I’m just – I haven’t seen those specific allegations, but I doubt we’d really comment on them given that the IG’s role is really to operate independently, look into the – whatever matters they’re looking into.

QUESTION: Well, I guess the question is: Does the building share the – given that it is an independent operation and you do not speak for them, does the Secretary, does the building —

MR TONER: But I did say – I said the Secretary has confidence in the inspector.

QUESTION: Yeah. So you do not share the same concerns as Mr. Podesta?

MR TONER: Again, we have confidence in his abilities to conduct independent investigations.

 

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