Comey “so many false statements and lies”

Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!

So sayeth Donald Trump via his Twitter account.

Note the fine print there – “Trump doesn’t answer question on presence of tapes of meetings”.

Trump and his many messengers have been working hard to discredit Comey and his testimony. They are playing to an audience, playing to public opinion, but that may be futile if not counter productive.

The FBI special investigator Robert Mueller should be able to see through the hubris, if he takes any notice at all.

And what about public opinion? A pox on both their houses.

Before the testimony Most say Trump is tampering with Russia investigations

Ahead of former FBI Director James Comey’s eagerly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, an ABC/Washington Post poll has found that both he and President Trump have serious credibility issues with the U.S. public.

When asked how much they trust both men on their views of Russian interference in the 2016 election, 36 percent of the public said they trust Comey” a great deal” or “good amount”compared to 21 percent for the president.

According to the poll, 55 percent trust the former FBI director “just some” or “not at all” on Russia.

Trump is seen as even less trusworthy with 72 percent of Americans having some trust in him or none at all when it comes to the matter of interference in the election.

Notably, the poll also found that  56 percent of people think Trump is trying to interfere with the investigation into Russian influence on the election while 61 percent of respondents believe he fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country.

Rasmussen Reports:  Comey Edges Trump In Voter Trust

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 45% of all Likely U.S. Voters trust Comey more than Trump. Thirty-seven percent (37%) trust the president more, while 18% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But as is generally the case these days, there is a substantial partisan difference of opinion. Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats trust Comey more; 65% of Republicans have more faith in Trump. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 42% trust the ousted FBI director more, while 33% trust the president more.

It’s a closer call among voters when it’s between Trump and Congress. Forty-one percent (41%) trust the president more, while 43% have more confidence in the average member of Congress. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 6-7, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports.

The RCP Trump Approval average is widening to 55.5% disapprove to 39.0% approve.

Bizarre Qatar situation

Turkey has sided with Qatar in the Middle East split:

Bloomberg:  Turkey Lines Up Behind Qatar as Gulf Crisis Fault Lines Deepen

Turkey criticized Saudi-led efforts to isolate ally Qatar, deepening the fault lines in a crisis that has engulfed one of the world’s most strategically important regions.

In defending Qatar, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined a growing list of Middle East nations resisting Saudi Arabia’s push for a united regional front against the gas-rich emirate, whose maverick policies have vexed the kingdom for years. On Wednesday, the head of NATO’s second-largest army offered to try to mend the rift, which has created havoc at airports and seaports, and added new tinder to the already combustible Middle East by challenging the authority of Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“I’d like to say that we don’t find sanctions against Qatar right,” Erdogan said at a gathering in the Turkish capital, Ankara, late Tuesday. “The most appropriate way for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to solve their internal issues is through dialogue.”

“We are ready to do everything to resolve other countries’ problems with Qatar,” he added.

Turkey and Qatar have close ties, and Erdogan has sided with the emirate against Saudi Arabia in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Qatar is a major investor in Turkey’s $857 billion economy, with interests in media, financial and defense companies, and Turkey is building a base in the emirate.

Surprise surprise, money is involved.

Interesting that Turkey is building a base in Qatar. The US already has a large base there.

Saudi Arabia and three other U.S. allies in the region — the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain — escalated tensions that followed President Donald Trump’s Iran-bashing visit to the kingdom last month by severing ties with Qatar on Monday.

Trump gave the Saudis crucial backing on Tuesday, calling the squeeze on Qatar just punishment for the country’s financial support for Islamic extremists.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Trump said on Twitter. “Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” In two additional tweets he said the action proved that his meeting with Persian Gulf Arab leaders last month was “already paying off.”

But the US is supposed to be selling $21.1 billion (US) worth of F-15s to Qatar.

Fox News:  Qatar’s $21B deal to buy F-15s moving forward amid diplomatic battle

A plan to sell $21.1 billion worth of Boeing (BA)-made F-15 fighter jets to Qatar appears to be moving forward, despite several countries cutting diplomatic ties with the Middle Eastern nation this week.

A State Department official said the diplomatic battle and President Donald Trump’s criticism of Qatar, which is under fire for allegedly supporting terrorist groups, has not affected the pending deal to deliver 72 F-15QA multirole fighters, according to Fox News.

In a statement, Boeing said it’s “closely following recent developments.”

“We have been working closely with the U.S. and Qatari governments on this proposed sale. We continue to expect that an agreement will be signed,” Boeing added.

What a convoluted mess it is.

I think it’s likely that Trump has no idea how complex things are there. It seems as long as there’s business in it he will back it, but the military complications are bizarre.

Trump scandal ‘worse than Watergate’

NZ Herald:  Former US intelligence chief ranks watergate less of a scandal than Donald Trump Russia investigation

A former US intelligence chief today ranked Watergate as less of a scandal than the revelations now ripping through the administration of President Donald Trump.

“I think if you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now,” James Clapper told the National Press Club in Canberra.

There even were concerns among US intelligence authorities about forwarding information to the Trump White House, according to Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Barak Obama.

Clapper pointed to the possibility of further damaging revelations when James Comey, the former FBI director sacked by Mr Trump, gives evidence on allegations of Russian interference in US politics before a congressional hearing Thursday, Washington time.

The Comey evidence is yet to come, but in a preliminary to his appearance Top intel officials Coats and Rogers say they’ve never been ‘pressured’ on Russia investigations

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers told a Senate panel Wednesday that they would not answer questions about whether President Trump asked them to downplay possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in last year’s election, but they said they did not feel “pressured” to interfere or intervene in the Russia investigation.

Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to publicly discuss conversations he has had with the president.

“I have never felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” Coats testified in response to a question from Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va.

Rogers also refused to answer Warner’s questions about his conversations with Trump about the Russia investigation.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, unethical, immoral or inappropriate,” Rogers said, adding that he has never felt “pressured” to do so.

This saga is likely to continue for some time yet. Comey’s appearance will be on Friday New Zealand time.

In the meantime there are other potential problems for Trump:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he could resign amid rising tension with President Trump

As the White House braces for former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday, sources tell ABC News the relationship between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become so tense that Sessions at one point recently even suggested he could resign.

The friction between the two men stems from the attorney general’s abrupt decision in March to recuse himself from anything related to the Russia investigation — a decision the president only learned about minutes before Sessions announced it publicly. Multiple sources say the recusal is one of the top disappointments of his presidency so far and one the president has remained fixated on.

Trump’s anger over the recusal has not diminished with time. Two sources close to the president say he has lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general in private meetings, blaming the recusal for the expansion of the Russia investigation, now overseen by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

But sources say the frustration runs both ways, prompting the resignation offer from Sessions.

There seems to be a lot of frustrations and diversions in Trump’s administration, but he and his Fox friends are trying to look positive.

This may or may not be evident here:  Under Trump, regulation slows to a crawl

Before he took office, Donald Trump promised to roll back the reach of the federal government, saying that he would end the “regulation industry” on the first day of his presidency. The effect has been immediate and dramatic: According to data compiled by POLITICO, significant federal regulation since Trump’s inauguration has slowed to an almost total halt.

From Inauguration Day until the end of May, just 15 regulations were approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the White House department that reviews important new federal rules. That’s by far the fewest among comparable periods since recordkeeping began in the 1990s: Ninety-three rules were approved during the same period in Barack Obama’s administration, and 114 under George W. Bush.

The near-total freeze in regulations is likely to keep GOP supporters happy, converting on a long-held conservative dream of a government that stays out of the way. “It’s a reason to celebrate,” said Stephen Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who informally advised Trump during his campaign.

But rulemaking is the key way a White House shapes policy, and for an administration that has struggled to populate federal agencies and get laws passed through Congress, the rulemaking gap denies the administration its biggest chance to make an impact on how America runs. The slowdown has begun to concern some business groups, who worry that key regulations simply aren’t being issued as expected—and liberals warn it could leave the government playing catch-up with major changes.

Trump has said he will live tweet during Comey’s appearance – good grief!

UPDATE: But he has been preempted with the release already of Comey’s prepared statement:

CNBC:  ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty’ — read James Comey’s explosive statement about Donald Trump

  • Former FBI Director James Comey will testify that President Trump told him “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
  • “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey says in his prepared remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 

Little versus Tillerson

Andrew Little seems to have played to his base with comments about his meeting with US secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

From Newshub:  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives for high-level talks

Andrew Little expressed concern about Trump’s “wacky” behaviour 

Labour leader Andrew Little raised concern about President Donald Trump’s behaviour when he met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier on Tuesday.

“If you value the relationship with the US, as I think New Zealanders do, I think it is right to say you know what – right now you’ve got a President that is kind of doing some weird stuff and this is not right,” Mr Little said.

“I don’t know what the Prime Minister is seeing and hearing from New Zealanders, every New Zealander I talk to expresses concern and sometimes alarm about the conduct of the US President.

I think it is right when the Secretary of State is in town to let the Secretary of State know that that’s how New Zealanders see a country that we regard as a good friend and an important friend.”

Mr Little also raised concern about Mr Trump’s tweets.

“When the United States President speaks, no matter what the medium, no matter what the forum, it’s important,” Mr Little said.

“When it’s kind of pretty wacky, and out there, and repeatedly so after several months I think we are entitled to not only take an interest in it but to express concern about it.”

When asked about Mr Trump’s tweets to Sadiq Khan, Mr Little had seen them and was surprised that the Prime Minister had not.

“I think they were clumsy and ham-fisted, he clearly misunderstood what Sadiq Khan had said. But that unfortunately can be said about many of Donald Trump’s tweets, including his one about covfefe,” Mr Little said.

If Little becomes Prime Minister he may have to learn how to interact with officials from major allies, focussing on things that matter, building relationships no matter who is the president, and perhaps being a bit more circumspect than “it’s kind of pretty wacky, and out there”.

If Little does become leader of New Zealand he will learn that the job is quite different to pandering to a partisan crowd on social media.

Complicating Middle East split

Five Middle East countries have severed ties with Qatar, complicating an already very complex situation there, and and making things awkward for the US which has a major military base there.

NY Times: 5 Arab States Break Ties With Qatar, Complicating U.S. Coalition-Building

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed all ties with Qatar

early Monday, in a renewal of a four-year effort to isolate it and in a sign of a new boldness after a visit to the region by President Trump.

In an abrupt and surprising move, the five Arab states not only suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has many thousands of people working there, ordered their citizens to leave the country.

Qatar, like other monarchies in the Persian Gulf, is a close ally of Washington, and it hosts a major American military base that commands the United States-led air campaign against the Islamic State.

As such, the feud among regional allies threatens to stress the operations of the American-led coalition and complicate efforts in the region to confront Iran — but could also be a heavy blow to Tehran’s regional ambitions, if Qatar is forced to sever ties.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson offered to broker the impasse on Monday in the hope of preserving the Trump administration’s efforts to create broad coalitions against Iran and terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” Mr. Tillerson said.

Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand may be little more than some time out from difficult and complex issues elsewhere in the world.

The severing of all connections by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen created an immediate crisis for Qatar. Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave their posts in Bahrain, while Qatari citizens were allotted two weeks to depart Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia said it was taking the action to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” The Foreign Ministry of Qatar released a statement saying the action had “no basis in fact” and was “unjustified.”

The Iranian government criticized the Saudi-led action against Qatar in a diplomatically worded rebuke. “Neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account. “Coercion is never the solution,” Mr. Zarif said. “Dialogue is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan.”

Why make this move, and why now?

It was not immediately clear why the five countries decided to take this action now. Last month, Qatar’s state news media published comments attributed to the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, referring to tension with Washington over Iran policy and saying Mr. Trump might not be in power for long. Qatar denied the comments, saying it had been the victim of a “cybercrime.”

But most analysts pointed to President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

But the move also creates potential complications for the United States — raising questions about whether the Trump administration knew it was happening; if they understood the pitfalls; if they attempted to counter it and could not.

Everything is a complication in the Middle East.

In another indication of how the Trump visit may have emboldened Gulf monarchies, Bahrain has cracked down on opposition from its Shiite majority over the last two weeks.

In international affairs even the best intentions rarely achieve their aims without at least some adverse reactions and effects.

Its actions are a study in contradictions. Qatar has good relations with Iran, but hosts the American air base, is helping to fight the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and supports insurgents against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Tehran. And yet, the Qatari emir once gave Mr. Assad an Airbus plane.

Home to some Israeli officials, Qatar has also given refuge to Khaled Mashal, a leader of Hamas, the hard-line Islamist group in Gaza that advocates the destruction of Israel.

Tensions had been building for years, beginning with Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and through the broadcasts of the Pan-Arab news network Al Jazeera, which Qatar funds.

Qatar’s rivals have also faulted it for condoning fund-raising for militant Islamist groups fighting in Syria, although several of the other Sunni-led monarchies in the region have played similar roles.

So the US has a military base that it uses to fight ISIS in a country that allegedly supports fund raising for ISIS.

Qatar’s opponents have recently added a third allegation to those grievances: that it is conspiring with their regional rival, Iran.

In his visit to the Middle East Trump named Iran as the main enemy of peace in the Middle East.

However the crisis is resolved, if at all, Mr. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who appeared in their first joint news conference, in Sydney, Australia, after talks with their Australian counterparts, insisted that it would not undermine the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Tillerson will visit New Zealand today. I doubt whether political protests against Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord – see Futile protest against US climate stance – will be very high on Tillerson’s list of concerns.

Trump approval largely unmoved

Donald Trump claimed that his trip to the Middle East and Europe, which included a G7 meeting in Italy, was very successful, but it highlighted a divide that seems to be growing between the US and Europe.

Last week Trump also announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. This was a largely symbolic move but it was widely criticised.

Both the overseas trip and the climate change withdrawal indicated that the US under Trump’s leadership was focussing more on it’s own interests and less on world leadership.

However Trump’s poll approval ratings are so far largely unmoved. Rasmussen, which tends to favour Trump more than others has shifted for him a little, but is still on 54% disapproval to 46% approval.

The RCP average has more or less flat lined since dropping in mid May at around 40% approval to 54% disapproval.

RCPApproval2017-06-04

His approval ratings improved a little when Trump launched a missile attack in Syria and talked and acted tough militarily in the US spat with North Korea but he has lost those gains over the last month.

Trump continues to try to communicate to supporters via Twitter but that seems to have little impact on how people judge his performance.

 

 

Trump challenges US courts: “TRAVEL BAN!”

President Donald Trump seems to be trying to get support from his base in his battle with US law over his so far failed executive order that tries to ban travel from six Muslim countries, tweeting “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,”.

The original ‘Travel Ban’ was rejected by US courts.

Trump has tried to leverage support for his bans off the London terrorist attacks.

Business Insider: TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN: I’m calling it what it is ‘a TRAVEL BAN’

President Donald Trump doubled down on a controversial executive order banning travel to the US from six majority-Muslim countries in a series of tweets Monday morning.

“People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!,” Trump tweeted.

“The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.,” the president continued, referring to a new version of the policy that has been referred to the Supreme Court.

“The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!,” Trump tweeted.

The Department of Justice’s petition asks the high court’s nine-justice panel to rule on the legality of Trump’s order. In a May ruling halting the order, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals argued that the travel ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

The Trump administration had vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court since the first of two versions of Trump’s executive order on travel was slapped down by the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in February.

Trump seems frustrated that US law hasn’t allowed him to do what he wants but the president is bound by US law, regardless of whether he tries to play the ‘politically correct’ card or not – what actually matters is what is legally correct.

“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety,” Trump tweeted.

The courts uphold legal rights, something that Trump doesn’t seem to understand. Either his executive orders have to comply with current US laws or Trump has to change the laws so he can do what he wants, but he can’t change laws by executive order.

Tweets might keep some of his base rarked up but they are toothless in law.

Trump in London attack controversy

Donald Trump has become embroiled in disputes and controversies after tweeting about the London terror attacks.

From the Telegraph

A spat has broken out between Donald Trump, the Mayor of London, and other politicians over tweets sent by Donald Trump.

Sadie Khan’s statement this morning said that the Terrorists would not win, and that Londoners would see an increased police presence and not to be alarmed by it.

Trump responded by saying ‘At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”‘.

Trump got the message from Khan wrong – he was saying not to be alarmed at the extra police presence, some of which would be armed.

BBC: Mayor Sadiq Khan dismisses Trump criticism

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has dismissed criticism from US President Donald Trump over his response to Saturday’s terror attack.

The attack in London Bridge and Borough Market killed seven and injured 48.

Mr Trump accused Mr Khan of downplaying the attack by telling Londoners there was “no reason to be alarmed”.

Mr Khan’s team said he had “more important things to do than respond to Mr Trump”, who had “deliberately” taken his remarks “out of context”.

“The Mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to co-ordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city,” Mr Khan’s spokesperson added.

On Saturday night, following the attack, Mr Trump tweeted a message of support to the UK, but also sparked controversy after he called for his travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries to be upheld by US courts.

On Sunday, he criticised Mr Khan, writing: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'”

His tweet angered many in the UK, who pointed out Mr Khan had been referring to increased police numbers on the streets.

During an interview earlier on Sunday, Mr Khan had said: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed.”

This has created controversy in the US:

Fox Insiders: CNN Host: Trump ‘A Piece of S–t’ for His Response to London Attack

The hosts of “Fox & Friends Weekend” blasted a CNN host for posting an expletive-laden tweet directed at President Trump, moments after the London terror attack unfolded.

Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American religious studies expert who hosts a Sunday program on the network, called Trump a “piece of [expletive]” for saying America must get “tough” on terror.”We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety,” Trump tweeted.

Aslan responded by calling Trump the obscenity, as well as an “embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency.”

Previously, Trump retweeted an alert from Matt Drudge’s “Drudge Report” which said there had been a terror attack on the London Bridge.

Fox News: Trump assails ‘political correctness’ in tweet on terror attacks

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump tweeted first.

Trump also posted on Twitter about the attacks: “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!”

It’s ok for Trump to tweet things as he sees them but not others? Aslan was not being very politically correct.

CNN: Trump criticized for tweet about London Mayor after attack

Trump’s tweets have been heavily criticized by a number of British politicians, who are currently preparing for the country’s general election which is scheduled to take place on Thursday.

Conservative politician Penny Mordaunt tweeted the transcript of Khan’s interview and said: “I’m standing with resilient London and him.”

Labour politician David Lammy said Trump’s tweet was “cheap, nasty and unbecoming of a national leader.”

Wes Streeting, another Labour politician, called for Trump’s state visit to Britain to be canceled.

Trump was also fiercely criticized by Brendon Cox, the husband of former British lawmaker Jo Cox, who was murdered by a right-wing fanatic in November 2016.

“You represent the worst of your country, @SadiqKhan represents some of the best of ours,” Cox wrote on Twitter.

Also from the US:

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he had also been troubled by Trump’s tweets.

“I believe in many ways the Muslim-American community is better integrated into our society. I think that’s always been our secret sauce here,” Warner said. “That’s why it troubles me so much to see the type of tweets the President has put out in the last 12 hours or so.”

 

Futile protest against US climate stance

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis are visiting New Zealand briefly on Tuesday following their visit to Australia.

Stuff: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand next week ‘a big deal’

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Wellington next week, in what’s being called a major show of American interest in the Asia-Pacific region and “big deal” for New Zealand.

Tillerson will meet Prime Minister Bill English and Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee in Wellington on Tuesday.

Brownlee said meetings would be held to discuss “some of the world’s most pressing issues and to further promote our economic ties”.

Observers said regional stability, counter-terrorism, and military commitments in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan would be discussed, as would trade issues including the afflicted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

This is the first major visit from the US since Donald Trump became president in January. The meeting will apparently be for about three hours so there isn’t much time to cover a lot of things.

Brownlee was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday and was asked what would be dealt with:

Well, given you’ve got a short window of opportunity, what’s going to be your number one priority for that meeting?

Well, look, a lot of that discussion will be organised over the next couple of days as we head towards that meeting, but we’ll obviously want to canvass trading relations. We’ll reaffirm the various commitments that we have internationally toward the defeat of terrorism. And I’d also expect that, given the current, or most recent, decision from the US, that there will be some discussion about relative positions on climate change. But in the end, it is the trading relationship but also the people-to-people relationship with the United States, including our involvement in the Antarctic, for example, that are pretty important to us.

Okay, well, on that note, the Prime Minister has expressed some concern that Washington might be a little bit distracted by Trump’s unpredictability and that the nature of that president may be distracting them from things like economic stability and trade and economic growth in the region. Are you going to raise that with Rex Tillerson?

I don’t think we’ll be raising the issues of US political stability. That’s something for the US, not for New Zealand, to comment on.

That was a silly question.

Well, Donald Trump said that he was keeping the faith with the people that had elected him when he pulled out of the Paris Accord this week. Was that the right decision – for him to pull the pin on that?

Well, I can’t comment on what was right or wrong for Mr Trump. What I can say is that the door has been left a little bit open about, perhaps, their rejoining. And I think when you consider that the Paris Agreement’s signed up to by 194 countries, 147 countries have ratified that agreement, and then, of course, the G7 most recently reaffirmed their position as far as climate change is concerned.

But the thing is the US pulling out of it—

So I think the door’s not totally closed.

But do you really think he’s going to come back into the fold on this?

Well, I’m not going to comment on that, because I think the situation domestically in the US is something for Mr Trump to deal with.

That’s correct, it is something for the US to deal with, they know we remain in the Paris Accord along with just about all the rest of the world but there’s just about nothing we can say that would impact on Trump’s decisions.

Both Tillerson and Mattis are on record as acknowledging the problems and risks associated with climate change so there’s not much we can say to them about it, and especially there’s unlikely to be anything we can say that would affect anything.

But the Greens want us to do more. James Shaw: PM must confront US with impact of climate decision

The Green Party is calling on the Prime Minister to invite Pacific Island ambassadors to meet with the US Secretary of State next week so they can explain first-hand the consequences of the US decision to withdraw from the Climate Agreement.

The call comes ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand on Tuesday, and following the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Confronting Tillerson will be futile regarding the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord, and it would be likely to be counter productive to building a good relationship with Tillerson, Mattis and the US.

Andrew Little: English must give strong message to US Secretary of State on climate change

Prime Minister Bill English must voice New Zealand’s concerns in the strongest possible terms when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Wellington next week following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“This decision is a huge setback for the international efforts to turn back global warming. After years of negotiation, the Paris Accord marked a more hopeful approach to the whole issue of climate change with 195 nations signing up.

“Bill English must take a strong stand next week and ensure Rex Tillerson knows the damage that’s been caused to the international campaign by the USA’s withdrawal.

“We can’t now let the USA water down the Paris Accord. Mr Tillerson must be reminded that the world can only combat climate change together and that New Zealand stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other nations which have embraced the challenge.

We can’t ‘let’ the US do anything, they make their own decisions and we don’t get a say. We can’t stop the US from choosing to withdraw, that is their decision.

“Bill English must take a strong stand next week and ensure Rex Tillerson knows the damage that’s been caused to the international campaign by the USA’s withdrawal.

I’m sure Tillerson is already well aware of the potential consequences of Trump’s intention to withdraw the US. There’s nothing we can do apart from stress our continued commitment to the Paris Accord. There’s no stand we can take.

Anthony Robins takes Labour’s ‘stand’ thing further in Once upon a time:

Once upon a time this country stood up to America and said no to nuclear weapons. Now we dare not say yes to saving the planet.

There’s hardly anything similar about New Zealand’s popular anti-nuclear stand against the US. The US withdrawal from the Paris Accord is their decision and has virtually nothing to do with New Zealand.

We can disagree with Trump’s climate stance, but there’s little else we can do about their Paris Accord decision.

It is New Zealand’s choice whether to remain in the Paris Accord or not, and there is no indication our position on that will change – and the US doesn’t appear to be doing anything to try to make us change either.

Clash of conspiracy theories

One conspiracy versus another:

If it matters Dan Bongino describes himself as a ‘renegade Republican’. Wikipedia describes him as ‘a former United States Secret Service agent who was a primary candidate for Florida’s 19th congressional district in 2016’. He lost.