Trump’s secret deals (or no deals)

No one seems to know what sort of deals Donald trump may have made with North Korea or Russia.

Fox News: Lawmakers struggle to decode Trump’s ‘secret’ to deal with Russia, North Korea

It’s unclear if the Trump Administration has a “secret plan” to deal with Russia or North Korea. But whatever the circumstances, it’s still secret after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about President Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the status of North Korean denuclearization. Try as they may, senators weren’t able to exhume much information from Pompeo about what went down in Helsinki or the state of play with Pyongyang.

“I’m afraid that at this point, the United States, the Trump Administration is being taken for a ride,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

“Fear not, senator. Fear not,” advised Pompeo.

But there was “fear.” Senators wondered if the President agreed to something in secret with foreign leaders and if even Pompeo was cut out of the loop.

“It’s not for me to disclose the contents of those conversations,” said Pompeo when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., about what was said in Finland regarding Russia’s role in Syria.

“I’d prefer not to answer questions about the nature of our negotiations,” said Pompeo when Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., asked about North Korea.

Lawmakers of both parties struggle to make sense of what policies the Trump administration holds by the hour.

Trump created more confusion than normal after his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, changing a ‘would’ to ‘wouldn’t’ after widespread concern was expressed.

Pompeo create his own confusion:

“We focus on words from the President because our allies and our adversaries listen to those words and they calibrate their actions based upon those words,” observed Murphy.

Murphy asked whether the President’s statements constituted U.S. policy, specifically when Mr. Trump suggested the U.S. might not assist Montenegro, despite a NATO treaty which states otherwise.

“I think the President’s been unambiguously clear,” said Pompeo.

Yeah, all the time. He makes a thing of being clearly unclear. Or is that unclearly clear?

A moment later, Murphy suggested that “policies are statements and statements are policies.”

“No, that’s not true,” responded Pompeo. “I make lots of statements. They’re not U.S. policy. The President says things.”

“How do I know the difference between a presidential statement that is not a policy and statement that is?” asked Murphy.

But later in the hearing, Pompeo asked if he could “clean that up.”

“I misspoke there,” said Pompeo. “The President runs this government. His statements are in fact U.S. policy.”

It is becoming a secretive, misspoken presidency.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., waited until midway through the hearing to press Pompeo on this point. Corker told the Secretary that “much of what you are hearing today has nothing whatsoever to do with you.”

“It’s the President that causes people to have concerns,” said Corker.

“Why does he do those things? I mean, is there some strategy behind creating doubt in U.S. senator’s minds on both sides of the aisle? Doubt in the American people as to what his motivations are?” asked Corker.

That’s from a senior Republican politician.

Senators of both parties failed to pierce Pompeo’s armor and learn anything at all about Singapore or Helsinki.

That could be because Trump also keeps his deals secret from his Secretary of State. I hope he knows what his deals are.

25 Comments

  1. David

     /  July 29, 2018

    Heads of governments have meetings everyday, phone calls everyday without a transcript being released and have done for 100s of years. The excitement is because its another way to portray Trump as out of his depth, in bed or or out played by the Russians.
    Anyway lets not mention the return of the remains from North Korea, the start of the dismantling of their nuclear facilities, the 4.1% quaterly growth, getting the EU to start towards lowering trade barriers.
    Been a good week for Trump but lets focus on what might or might not have been said in a private meeting which matters to absolutely no one.

    • Grimm

       /  July 29, 2018

      If Obama had secured the return of the remains of all those men from North Korea, he would have been Saint Barry. The networks would have had it wall-to-wall for weeks. There would have been parades in the streets.

      • Gezza

         /  July 29, 2018

        They would have known what else was in the deal.

        • David

           /  July 29, 2018

          There is no deal as of yet with North Korea but its being worked on with Pompeo and his counterpart as is usual in these situations.
          The return of the US hostages and now the remains of US soldiers seems to be a sign of goodwill and a willingness to work with Trump from Kim. I know its Trump and some people hate him but surely when something good is achieved it behooves us to tamp down our hatred and acknowledge these pleasing events if for nothing more than the families involved.

        • Nobody expects everything a government does to be put out for all to see, but there is a difference between national security and secretiveness that leads to the suspicion of despotism.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 29, 2018

    This is an important critique of the abuse of law by US prosecutors specifically Mueller re Trump but also more generally:
    http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/399205-an-obstruction-case-against-trump-would-be-civil-libertarian-nightmare

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  July 29, 2018

      No that isn’t. It’s a polemic by washed-up has-been trumpist Alan Dershowitz, spinning his lines for celebrity and attention

      • Grimm

         /  July 29, 2018

        Attacking the messenger is a sure way to win the argument.

        “Washed up has been”. Be interesting to have your credentials out there wouldn’t it?

      • David

         /  July 29, 2018

        He is a Hilary supporting Harvard law professor and a lifelong Democrat, what his issue is and he is not alone is democracy is being turned into a legal/criminal matter in America. Trump won and if you think he is no good then vote him out, win the electorate with policy ideas not with Mueller going on a witch hunt.

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  July 29, 2018

          You say that Dershowitz is a Hillary supporter and a lifelong Dem as if that should give him gravitas and credibility.

          I shouldn’t need to point out that Mueller is a lifelong Republican appointed to offices by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

          So what.

          As for Dershowitz’s credibility, Toobin’s comments about Dershowitz are the norm these days, in Washington and Martha’s Vineyard.

          https://www.mediaite.com/online/jeffrey-toobin-accuses-alan-dershowitz-of-carrying-water-for-trump-in-tense-cnn-battle-this-is-not-who-you-used-to-be/

          Dershowitz is a serious civil libertarian and so he’ll always criticise the exercise of prosecutorial power. You’re probably too young to remember Dershowitz criticising Clinton’s impeachment as sexual McCarthyism, pretty much the same playbook as he’s mobilising here.

          He’s got nothing new to offer.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 29, 2018

            Dershowitz is right and you are wrong, Joe. As usual.

      • David

         /  July 29, 2018

        Did you actually read the article Joe Bloggs.

  3. Zedd

     /  July 29, 2018

    Im guessing the main ‘deals’ that MrT made with MrK & MrP were ‘business deals’ & perhaps ‘real estate deals’..

    “Make America great again..” by ‘making MrT & his cronies even richer/more powerful’

    “WAKE UP folks” the stench is becoming overpowering ! 😦

    • Zedd

       /  July 29, 2018

      NWO agenda ? :/

    • David

       /  July 29, 2018

      Well please explain why the most punitive sanctions ever remain on Russia and North Korea, perhaps tell us why Trump just pressured the EU to buy more US LNG instead of the Russian stuff if he is Putins puppet. How about informing us on why Trump is supplying heavy weaponry to Ukraine, why he is piling on the pressure to properly fund NATO.
      Aside from one press conference that was a bit of a disaster where exactly can you point to something specific that either Russia or North Korea have got anything out of Trump.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  July 29, 2018

        NK has wanted a sit-down with a US president for decades and trump handed them international recognition on a platter by meeting with them

        Russia has benefited from a trump presidency in at least 20 significant ways:

        1. A president they can more easily manipulate
        2. No further response to the attack on the US
        3. No presidential condemnation of their more recent attacks
        4. Appointment of an inexperienced friend of Putin’s as SecState
        5. A ruthless purge of the State Depts most experienced people on Russia
        6. Slashing of theUS State Dept budgets
        7. Not one word of criticism from trump
        8. Not one word of criticism from the US SecState
        9. Pro-Russian position on the invasion of Ukraine
        9. Support for Russian propaganda messages calling America’s election system rigged
        10. Destabilisation of NATO alliances on Russia’s western borders
        11. Support for Russia’s propaganda messages that America is just as bad as Putin when it comes to under
        12. Reduced American credibility
        13. Increased likelihood of removal of sanctions
        14. Increased likelihood of withdrawal of US forces from the Korean Peninsula on Russia’s eastern borders
        15. Free rein for Putin’s to do what he wants in Syria – destabilise it to the point where he can install a puppet leader
        16. Weaken the EU
        17. Weaken the credibility of America’s intelligence community
        18. Active support for anti-EU Kremlin- backed parties
        19. Disrupted American leadership of the global economic order
        20. Build global resentment and distrust towards the US and stoke anti-US sentiment
        21. Legitimise Putin’s regime

        There’s plenty more

        • Pink David

           /  July 29, 2018

          “10. Destabilisation of NATO alliances on Russia’s western borders”

          Just to pick on one of these at random. Given countries like Germany have almost no effective military capacity, and their former Chancellor being completely and indisputably in Putin’s pocket, blaming Trump for destabilisation is rich. He is simply pointing out it’s only the US, along with the UK, who provides the value. The rest of Europe is freeloading.

          • Griff

             /  July 29, 2018

            How much of that spend is wasted on the idiotic unwinnable and incredibly destabilizing “war on terror” just because the USA has been lead by GOP halfwits in the past?
            Remove that wasted money from the USA’s military budget and they dont look so impressive.

            • Pink David

               /  July 29, 2018

              I imagine a significant amount is wasted. That does not change the reality that the US has a huge military capacity, and Germany has almost none. Given that Germany is the second largest economy and country in NATO, how seriously do you think they are about carrying some load?

            • Griff

               /  July 29, 2018

              Germany has almost none. ……
              yip
              Imaginary facts again.
              Germany spends 1.3% of its GDP.
              The UK 1.8%
              In real dollar terms Germany spends as much as the UK on its armed forces .
              Germany does not have nuclear capability ,much of a navy or offshore territory to protect so its actual effective NATO theater fighting force is probably larger than the UK’s.
              The USA spends more on its forces however that is spread globally. Its contribution directly to NATO theater defense is far smaller than its overall budget suggests even without the money wasted on dumb wars .

            • Pink David

               /  July 29, 2018

              “Imaginary facts again.
              Germany spends 1.3% of its GDP.
              The UK 1.8%
              In real dollar terms Germany spends as much as the UK on its armed forces .”

              Germany gets very little for what it spends.

              Of 6 submarines, none are serviceable.
              Of 128 Eurofighters, only 10 are fit for combat
              5 of 16 A400m operational.
              21,000 officer posts are currently vacant
              etc
              It has almost no military capacity. The lack of spare parts, ammunition and training is chronic.

              “so its actual effective NATO theater fighting force is probably larger than the UK’s.”

              No it not. It’s laughable. They use boomsticks in training because they are so short of firearms, and Mercedes Vito vans to pretend to be armored vehicles. German forces pulled out of a NATO exercise in 2014 because they didn’t have a single operational helicopter. Not one.

  4. David

     /  July 29, 2018

    1. A president they can more easily manipulate
    Obama was caught on hot mic telling Russia he could be more flexible after the election, his secretary of state made a “reset” button, clearly not easier to manipulate and 18 months in sanctions have got tougher.
    2. No further response to the attack on the US
    Mueller has indicted Russian companies and individuals, Mueller is a presidential appointment.
    3. No presidential condemnation of their more recent attacks
    What attacks ? making it up again.
    4. Appointment of an inexperienced friend of Putin’s as SecState
    Opinion no factual basis.
    5. A ruthless purge of the State Depts most experienced people on Russia
    Supposition, the state department like most in the US riddled with political appointments that get purged after every election. Trump is no different than any other.
    6. Slashing of theUS State Dept budgets
    Bloated department, not Russian related.
    7. Not one word of criticism from trump
    But nothing was done to prevent so called Russian interference which happened under Brennan, Clapper and Obama…because there has been absolutely no proof so far.
    8. Not one word of criticism from the US SecState
    How do you know, have you been privy to behind the scenes contacts.
    9. Pro-Russian position on the invasion of Ukraine
    Trump supplying heavy weaponry to Ukraine unlike Obama.
    9. Support for Russian propaganda messages calling America’s election system rigged
    Made up
    10. Destabilisation of NATO alliances on Russia’s western borders
    Trump has stregnthened NATO by forcing allies to properly fund it.
    11. Support for Russia’s propaganda messages that America is just as bad as Putin when it comes to under
    Made up again
    12. Reduced American credibility
    Supposition
    13. Increased likelihood of removal of sanctions
    Made up again
    14. Increased likelihood of withdrawal of US forces from the Korean Peninsula on Russia’s eastern borders
    Made up again
    15. Free rein for Putin’s to do what he wants in Syria – destabilise it to the point where he can install a puppet leader
    Trump bombed Assaad twice Obama did what ?
    16. Weaken the EU
    They do that by themselves and the EU is a trading protectionist competitor who are viruntley ant american
    17. Weaken the credibility of America’s intelligence community
    They have done that to themselves at the leadership
    18. Active support for anti-EU Kremlin- backed parties
    Rubbish
    19. Disrupted American leadership of the global economic order
    He campaigned on withdrawing America to confine themselves to American interests only, no bad thing.
    20. Build global resentment and distrust towards the US and stoke anti-US sentiment
    Media driven and the elite,s heads exploding when Hilary didnt win.
    21. Legitimise Putin’s regime
    Putin wins election he has his own legitimacy regardless.

  5. Gezza

     /  July 29, 2018

    Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, I have to admit (to me anyway) was the most useless tit to ever hold the job.

    His singular greatest achievement was to fall off his bike & break his leg in Geneva – or wherever it was, that whoever it was – probably Lavrov, Assad & Putin again – were walking all over him & dancing on his bicycle helmet.

    The Iran deal I think was actually clinched by Frederika Mogherini.

  6. Zedd

     /  July 30, 2018

    I watched the Oxford union talk (AJz) with a few ‘experts’ including two ex-Mr T advisors, who were so enamoured by him, that they just could not say a bad word, even after the host & others pointed out all his ‘faubles’.. constant tweets & changes of view, constantly calling things ‘fake news’ etc. & all the changes of opinion on the issues; yes I said that, no i didnt, etc.

    the guys a psycho

    • Blazer

       /  July 30, 2018

      ‘faubles’ is that baubles crossed with foibles!