Johnny Depp’s assassination comments

In a time of growing concerns about talk of violence and actual violence against politicians in the US Johnny Depp has added fuel to a fomenting fire with outlandish comments about president assassination.

Fox News:  Johnny Depp talks about assassinating Trump

At an appearance in England on Thursday, actor Johnny Depp joked about assassinating President Trump.

“I think he needs help and there are a lot of wonderful dark, dark places he could go,” Depp said.

Depp, noting his comments would “be in the press,” began discussing prior assassinations of presidents.

“When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” he asked, referencing John Wilkes Booth assassinating President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

“I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living,” Depp said. “However, it has been a while and maybe it is time.”

Depp’s comments come a week after the politically-motivated shooting of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise.

Very unwise and irresponsible comments from Depp.

A White House official told Fox News, “President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead. I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a democrat elected official.”

Fair call – comments like those Depp made should be condemned regardless of the politics involved.

People: Johnny Depp Apologizes for Joking About Trump Assassination: ‘I Intended No Malice’

“I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump,” he said. “It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”

This is a very poor apology.

“Intended no malice” is a poor excuse for making a comment that is inflammatory and provocative. “I was only trying to amuse” is a lame excuse – actually it isn’t an excuse at all.

“It did not come out as intended” doesn’t stack up – he talked about assassination and presidents, so it’s hard to see what he intended that was different.

What Depp should have done was give an unqualified apology, and he should also have  condemned all political violence and talk that could be seen by anyone as promotion of political violence.

Clinton still unpopular

One of the reasons Hillary Clinton failed in last year’s presidential election was her relatively high unpopularity. While it doesn’t matter now she is political history, she is just as unpopular (her excuses for losing won’t have helped).

People tend to not like losers, especially sore losers.

The Democrats aren’t doing much better.

Fox News:  Is the Democrats’ brand ‘worse than Trump’? Some party officials admit it is

Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, made some candid comments that caught my eye yesterday.

“The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Bingo. Running mainly against Donald Trump didn’t work for the Dems in 2016, and it’s not working now.

Ohio Democratic congressman Tim Ryan told the New York Times that his party is “toxic” in large swaths of the country: “Our brand is worse than Trump. We can’t just run against Trump.”

They are diverting from their own substantial problems by trying to blame everything on Trump.

One of the stupid things about this approach is that they don’t need to show how bad Trump can be, he keeps doing that himself. His stupidity over the Comey non-tapes is evidence of that – seeTrump “did not make…any such recordings”.

Trump’s unpopularity is similar to Clinton’s. From FiveThirtyEight:

538TrumpPolls2017June22

That is historically low approval for a president in their first six months in office. Trump has managed to get there through his own efforts, he doesn’t need the Democrats to discredit him.

That both Clinton and Trump are so disliked is an indictment on the state of US politics.

 

Trump “did not make…any such recordings”

On May 13 Donald Trump appeared to threaten James Comey by implying their conversations had been recorded:

This prompted a lot of discussion. Trump eventually said he would reveal whether there were any recordings.

Yesterday: Schiff: Subpoenas possible if Trump tapes, Comey memos aren’t turned over

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that subpoenas could be the next step if the White House doesn’t comply with a Friday deadline to hand over information on any tapes of President Donald Trump’s meetings with former FBI Director James Comey.

Half an hour ago:

A bizarre response, six weeks after implying/threatening there were tapes.

Why did Trump make the claim in the first place? It looks like he was threatening Comey.

Why did he take so long to now claim he didn’t make any recordings?

He could have easily clarified as soon as his initial tweet raised questions, but chose to delay a denial that contradicted his initial tweet.

He seems to have deliberately fed a sideshow of his own making.  Whether he is playing trivial or serious games it is unbecoming of a President.

Why should anyone believe the initial tweet, today’s tweet, or any tweet from Trump?

Whether he is bullshitting or bluffing or whatever Trump’s tweets should be seen as flaky as he is.

Morgan and the Macron miracle

The UK vote for Brexit surprised, the election of Donald trump in the US shocked, and then Emmanuel Macron came from virtually nowhere to win the French presidency.

Then Theresa May destroyed a significant advantage to end a disastrous campaign still ahead of the rapidly improving left wing maverick Jeremy Corbyn but severely weakened, both in government and as Prime Minister.

Now France is voting for their Parliament, and exit polls suggest that Macron’s party En Marche will win a majority. Not bad for a party that didn’t exist at the start of last year.

So around the world voters are make decisions that seem to stick it to traditional politics and the status quo.

Could it happen in New Zealand?

Winston Peters and NZ First are often promoted as the king maker, with the baubles of power virtually a formality. But Peters is very old hat and has been there, done that before.

Will voters look for something different?

Barry Soper writes:  In politics anything is possible

Think about it, Prime Minister Gareth Morgan, leading a majority government with half of his MPs never having been elected to office before.

Sounds absurd? Yes well it’s highly unlikely to happen but these days in politics anything is possible as we’re seeing in France at the moment which has to be the political story to beat them all.

The 47 million French voters are again today going to the polls and are expected to give their new 39-year-old President Emmanuel Macron a healthy majority. It’s spectacular because Macron’s party was only founded by him in April last year.

After he won the Presidency last month he was on his own, he didn’t have one MP in the French Assembly. Since then he’s had to cobble together 577 candidates to stand for his party and after the first round of voting they led in 400 constituencies, more than half of them women.

And it looks like En Marche has succeeded.

Let Macron’s success be a warning to those established political parties who think elections are a walk in the park. The Socialists who ran the last French Government failed to scrape together even ten percent of the vote.

Here in New Zealand National obviously have the most to lose, but voters here have shown a reluctance to take big risks. They have preferred a stable government but without absolute power.

NZ First are in the box seat to hold the balance of power, but it’s possible a real alternative is considered.

The 5% threshold is a long shot for a new party, something that hasn’t been achieved before here.

The newly formed Conservative Party got a 2.65% in 2011, and increased to 3.97% in 2014, creditable but not enough. They are out of contention now after the political collapse of Colin Craig.

The only option looks to be TOP. Morgan doesn’t look like getting his party close at this stage, but there is three months to go.

Recent overseas elections have shown that anything is possible, even the unexpected, but a major surprise looks unlikely here.

 

 

CEOs rate Trump an “F”

From the annual Yale CEO Summit survey on Donald Trump’s performance”

  • 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed give Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office
  • 21% rated Trump a ‘D’
  • 1% rated Trump an ‘A’

The Yale findings are the latest evidence that some pockets of the business community are growing disenchanted with Trump as his administration struggles to implement its economic agenda amid scandal and missteps.

Trump is way out of step with many in business on climate change.

Earlier this month, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord sparked an unprecedented revolt by CEOs. Business leaders led by Tesla founder Elon Musk, Disney CEO Bob Iger and JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon publicly bashed the decision.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein even sent his first-ever tweet to slam the move as a “setback” for U.S. leadership in the world.

CEOs surveyed by Yale agree with that sentiment. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord diminished America’s global standing.

Which could mean it’s not good for business.

Business leaders are not impressed with Trump’s budget either. Three-fourths of survey respondents said the administration’s budget proposal is not sound.

Politicians also – just one example: Trump’s EPA budget cuts hit strong opposition at House panel – “Members of both parties identified major problems they had with the proposed 30 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and pressed Administrator Scott Pruitt to defend them.”

The overarching message from CEOs is: “Stop the random 3 a.m. tweets and stop the needless brushfires diverting from the agenda,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the Yale School of Management professor who led the summit.

A no-brainer, still ignored by Trump. Recently:

Both Trump and Clinton could do with leaving her failed bid for the presidency in the past.

But as has become common  Trump Contradicts His Own Account of Comey Firing

Trump terminated Comey on May 9. Two days later, the president revealed he was going to fire him no matter what senior Justice Department officials recommended.

“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News in an interview taped May 11. “Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

All these distractions and a lack of consistency are not good for the US business or democracy.

Trump has plenty of time to turn things around, focus, and achieve worthwhile things but he seems too easily distracted.

Scalise shooting – unity and recriminations

It is no surprise to see condemnation of the shooting of the republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise from across the political divide.

CNN: GOP House Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition

But there have already been political swipes.

Dan Balz: After the shootings, calls for unity amid recriminations and finger-pointing

In the charged environment of 2017, it took only a few hours for a baseball diamond to be transformed from a peaceful practice field to a horrific crime scene and then to a vivid symbol of the tensions between the angry politics of our time and the better angels of the American people.

From President Trump to congressional leaders of both parties to ordinary citizens came calls for prayers for the victims of the shootings in Alexandria, Va., praise for the Capitol Police officers who prevented an even worse tragedy and, above all, words of reconciliation and unity.

But barely on the edges of those remarks was another round of recriminations and a renewed debate about what has brought the country to a point of such division, what is to blame for what happened on that baseball field shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday and what, if anything, can be done to lower temperatures for more than a few minutes.

Large taps of anger can’t be just turned off, even after wake up calls as serious as the shooting of a politician.

The country has been in this place before, perhaps too many times after violence that has left Americans feeling shaken and insecure. At those times, elected officials have reached across the aisle, embracing one another in friendship and unity. Ordinary citizens have rallied behind those leaders as one nation, vowing to put aside partisanship and recalling what it means to be an American.

The 911 attacks united and galvanised the country, for a while.

Trump spoke as other presidents have done in times of tragedy or terrorism, saying, “We are strongest when we are unified and when we work for the common good.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called on his colleagues to set an example. “Show the world we are one House, the people’s House, united in our humanity,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored her colleagues to make the Congressional Baseball Game an occasion “that will bring us together and not separate us further.”

But their are too many people in the US with their own entrenched agendas.

But with past as prologue, other voices and other emotions threatened to drown out the words of the nation’s leaders. Six years ago, after the shootings that left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) badly wounded and six others dead, it was the political right that was on the defensive.

Those on the left charged that the incendiary rhetoric aimed at then-President Barack Obama and his supporters during his early years in office gave rise to a climate that made violence possible.

But the sides have changed.

On Wednesday, it was the political left that became a target from some on the right. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson III, who was pronounced dead at a hospital after the shootout, was a longtime critic of the Republicans and a particularly harsh critic of the president. His Facebook page included angry and vulgar words aimed at Trump.

Some Republicans viewed the shootings as evidence that the president’s critics have crossed the line of decency in their opposition and fostered a climate that could produce what happened on Wednesday morning.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a strong supporter of Trump:

Speaking at midday on Fox News Channel, decried what he called “an increasing hostility on the left,” whether from comedians, from artists, from politicians or from ordinary citizens posting their views on social media.

“You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it?”

Some major irony there as he justifiably condemns hostility from the left against Trump, but ignores Trump’s own record of hostility against opponents and critics, notably but not only directed against Hillary Clinton – and also Trump’s deliberate efforts to stir up hatred against Clinton and promoting some fairly extreme consequences.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose many past statements have inflamed the debate about illegal immigration, was near the Capitol when the shootings took place.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

“America has been divided, and the center of America is disappearing and the violence is appearing in the streets and it’s coming from the left,” he said.

Some of it is certainly coming from the left, but division and intolerance has also come from the right as well.

Just last week: Fearing for her life, Iowa Democrat abandons race to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King

The Democratic candidate running against anti-immigrant Republican Congressman Steve King (IA) announced Saturday that she is dropping out of the race for her own safety.

In a Facebook post published Saturday night, Kim Weaver wrote, “Over the last several weeks, I have been evaluating personal circumstances along with the political climate regarding this campaign. After much deliberation, I have determined that the best decision for me is to withdraw my candidacy for the US House race in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.”

She explained that beginning during her 2016 campaign, she has been receiving threats of physical violence and murder, and said that “recent events at my home” were forcing her to re-evaluate her decision to run against King.

“While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern,” Weaver said.

King didn’t mention this when criticising hostility from the left.

Back to the Balz article:

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), whose district cuts across central Illinois to the Mississippi River just above Hodgkinson’s home town of Belleville, was on the baseball field when the shootings took place.

Davis condemned what he called “political, rhetorical terrorism” practiced by both sides. He appealed passionately for everyone to step back and find a better way to hash out and then resolve their differences.

“Is this America’s breaking point?” he asked on CNN. “It’s my breaking point. We’ve got to end this.”

But when it again becomes a blame game between left and right the end looks nowhere in sight.

Wednesday’s shootings can act as a temporary circuit breaker to some of the hostilities, and Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game can become an emotional and poignant coming together.

But will that be enough to prevent a swift return to the kind of debilitating political conflict that has become so accepted as the norm? History shows how difficult that could be.

Some of the reactions to yesterday’s shooting also show how difficult it could be.

 

Trump praises himself, attacks media and Court

President Donald Trump continues to attack the media and US courts via Twitter, and conducts a session of praise of himself with hos Cabinet.

Washington Times:  Trump’s tweets slam the media, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!”

Sad for the President to resort to this type of attack on the media. As flawed as they are the media still has a duty to hold the President and his administration to account.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.”

And it’s dangerous for a President to become publicly involved in matters before the courts.

But Trump managed to get some praise published in media – praise from himself and his Cabinet.

NBC News:  At First Full Meeting, Trump Claims Historic Success — and Cabinet Rushes to Pay Him Tribute

President Donald Trump blamed “obstructionist” Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.

Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they’d held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.

(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump’s picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)

Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.

“Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump said. “I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.”

Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises “at a much faster pace than anyone thought,” citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.

So Trump is claiming unprecedented success, but also a lack of success due to obstruction.

Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.

Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues.

As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.

Regardless of reality, Trump was joined by his Cabinet in a praisefest.

As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments’ work.

It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a “staff meeting” parodying the White House flattery festival.

I’m not sure that parody is necessary, Trump is an ongoing self parody.

More US sanctions against Russia

The US Senate has voted in favour of strengthening sanctions against Russia “in response to the violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, its brazen cyberattacks and interference in elections, and its continuing aggression in Syria,” said Republicans and Democrats on the committees.

ABC News: Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday the U.S. relationship with Russia is at an all-time low and deteriorating further, yet he cautioned against taking steps that might close off promising avenues of communication between the two former Cold War foes.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson stopped short of registering his opposition to a new package of Russia sanctions the GOP-led Senate is considering in retaliation for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its aggression in other parts of the world, including Syria and Ukraine.

Top lawmakers on two Senate committees — Banking and Foreign Relations — announced the sanctions deal amid the firestorm over Russia’s meddling in the presidential election and investigations into Moscow’s possible collusion with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The plan calls for strengthening current sanctions and imposing new ones on corrupt Russian actors, those involved in human rights abuses and those supplying weapons to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The package also would require a congressional review if a president attempts to ease or end current penalties.

Penalties also would be slapped on those responsible for malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government.

A procedural vote on the Russia sanctions is expected Wednesday, and the measure is expected to get strong bipartisan support.

House and Senate committees are investigating Russia’s meddling and potential links to the Trump campaign, with testimony scheduled Tuesday from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a separate probe.

So both Congress and the Senate are continuing investigations, strengthening sanctions, and making it harder for President Trump to “ease or end current penalties”.

And today (Tuesday US time) Sessions to face tough questions at public Senate hearing, in next round of Russia probe:

The Senate’s Russia probe will hit a new level of intensity Tuesday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions becomes the highest-ranking official to testify – in what Senate Intelligence Committee leaders confirmed will be an open hearing, in the spirit of last week’s dramatic session with James Comey.

The circumstances are different for Sessions’ appearance. While Comey was a witness scorned by President Trump and ready to dish on the leader who fired him, Sessions remains the top law enforcement official in the country, working for Trump’s administration.

But lawmakers – particularly Democrats – are preparing tough questions for Sessions both about Russia’s contact with Trump campaign associates and the circumstances of Comey’s firing.

Also from Fox News:  Mueller’s lawyer build-up raises flags for Trump allies

Special counsel Robert Mueller is said to be building out his investigative team with some of the country’s best legal minds, in a development that speaks to the seriousness of the Russia probe but also is raising red flags on the pro-Trump side.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, citing the hires, said “they’re setting up to go after Trump.”

“This is going to be a witch hunt,” Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Not all Republicans feel that way, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told “Fox & Friends” on Monday that Mueller just “wants to get to the truth.”

But recent hires show Mueller is building a formidable team, poised to either root out wrongdoing or prove the Trump team’s claims that there’s no ‘there there.’

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney fired by Trump along with dozens of other holdover prosecutors earlier this year, tweeted that Dreeben is “1 of the top legal & appellate minds at DOJ in modern times.”

However, Bharara said Dreeben’s “loyalty is to the Constitution alone” and Mueller is looking to find the truth, apply the law “and yield a just result. Charge or no charge.”

It is important for the integrity of the US political system that as much of the truth is discovered as possible, charge or no charge.

Trump won’t visit UK if there’s protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he won’t come to the UK on a state visit “until the British public supports him coming”, according to a Guardian report but apparently claimed as ‘false’ by the White House..

This probably ensures protests against him visiting.

It’s not a good time for him to visit the UK anyway, there’s enough turmoil there as it is without him stirring things up more.

The Guardian:  Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

That’s an open invitation for protests and threats of protests if Trump says they will keep him out of the UK.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His remarks came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayor’s message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khan’s office pointed out Trump’s error later but the president responded by accusing London’s mayor of making a “pathetic excuse”. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trump’s invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Guardian’s report was “false” but added that the White House “won’t say when Trump plans to go to the UK”.

Now is not a good time anyway. May and the UK have enough of their own problems to deal with.

Whether the claim that Trump said he won’t visit if there are protests is true or not it probably guarantees protests if any visit is scheduled.

Trump is not popular in the US, with RCP average disapproval currently 16% more than approval. He is probably less popular in the UK.

UK’s YouGov ratings for Trump:

  • Volume: 3rd Public Figure of 2307 tracked
  • Positivity -74:  2,165th Public Figure of 2255 tracked

Qatar tensions still

The Qatar dispute continues to simmer, with a risk of war being suggested.

Reuters:  Gulf leaders trade barbs as Qatar dispute shows no let-up

Gulf states traded public barbs on Saturday, showing little sign of resolving the region’s deepest rift in years, five days after Arab nations severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with the tiny Gulf kingdom of Qatar, .

Foreign leaders expressed growing concern over the dispute, which pits Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt. With backing from U.S. President Donald Trump, they accuse Qatar of supporting their regional arch-rival Iran as well as Islamist militants.

After German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the situation “very unsettling” on Friday, her foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, cautioned on Saturday that it could lead to war.

Kuwait…

…has led a regional effort to mediate, but the four states intensified the pressure on Friday by placing dozens of people with alleged links to Qatar on terrorism blacklists.

A senior UAE official…

…followed on Saturday by calling Qatar “duplicitous”, alleging in a series of tweets that its funding of militants had sown chaos and violence throughout the region.

Qatar’s foreign minister,,,

…fired back that there was “no clarity” in such accusations, speaking in an interview with RT Arabic in Moscow after emerging from talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Qatar is accused of having a hidden relationship with Iran, but its relations with Iran are clear, transparent and time-tested,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, noting that the UAE does more trade with Iran than Qatar does.

He denied that Qatar supported Egypt’s outlawed Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. He dismissed as “fantasy” a Saudi media report that he had met in Baghdad with the head of Iran’s Quds Force, controlled by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov…

…told Sheikh al-Thani of Moscow’s concern and called for talks.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan…

…- who has pledged food and troops to Qatar in the face of a blockade from its neighbours – hosted Bahrain’s foreign minister and urged that the dispute be resolved by the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Niger…

announced it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar in solidarity with Arab countries.

The US and Trump

The US position is still as confused as Trump

However, mixed messages from U.S. officials appeared to complicate the diplomacy, as Gulf media cited selectively from divergent statements to bolster their positions.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain…

…issued statements welcoming U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand the previous day for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, while ignoring a U.S. State Department call for them to ease pressure.

Saudi Arabia…

…said it was committed to “decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism” in a statement carried by the state news agency SPA, while Bahrain hailed U.S. efforts to ensure “international solidarity” on the issue.

The United Arab Emirates…

…praised Trump’s “leadership in challenging Qatar’s troubling support for extremism” in a separate statement released on Friday.

Trump had accused Qatar of being a “high level” funder of terrorism on Friday, even as the Pentagon and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cautioned against the military, commercial and humanitarian effects of a blockade imposed by Arab states and others.

A separate SPA report on Saturday acknowledged Tillerson’s call for Qatar to curtail support for terrorism, without mentioning that he had also said the crisis was hurting ordinary Qataris, impairing business and harming the U.S. fight against the Islamic State militant group.

Saudi Arabia said its action followed the conclusions of last month’s Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, where Trump delivered a speech about Islamist extremism.

Trump said he had helped to plan the move against Qatar, although a senior administration official told Reuters this week that Washington had had no indication from the Saudis or Emiratis during the visit that they would sever ties with Qatar.

Has Trump claimed credit for something he had no involvement in?

Is the Trump administration denying US involvement?

The US has their most important Middle easy military base in Qatar and have a deal to supply over $20 billion worth of military aircraft to Qatar.

On Trump’s trip he announced a deal for the US to supply nearly $110 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia.

Trump trumpeted this deal with “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

If US arms in Qatar are used against US arms in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and vice versa there may well be plenty of jobs in the US making bullets and bombs. There may also be a few vacancies in the US military if their soldiers, sailors and airpeople are caught in the middle of it all in Qatar.

But Trump may just send KUshner in to sort it all out and peace may rain on the parched Middle East deserts.