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Donald Trump should veto the new sanctions bill

Donald Trump is damned to lose allies in the US and beyond if he does not veto the sanctions bill and he is damned to that which already plagues him if he uses his veto. A simply cost-benefit analysis would indicate he would be better off using his veto.

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On the evening of 25 July, 2017, the US House of Representitives which is dominated by ‘Trump’s Republican party’, passed a bill which will cause POTUS a great deal of headache irrespective of his final decision in respect of signing or vetoing the legislation.

Passed with a majority of 419-3, the new law would tie the hands of not only Trump but future Presidents.  Beyond this, the bill’s content was opposed by America’s most influential companies as well as the European Union. Normally, such an ill-thought out bill which did not account for the views of the business sector, America’s European partners and the US Constitution would be an easy veto for a President trying to build bridges, but due to the atmosphere which the mainstream media as well as Trump’s political opponents have created, Trump now faces a difficult decision that will earn him criticism no matter what he does.

READ MORE: Ron Paul, US businesses and European states all oppose new sanctions on Russia

That being said, it is still in Trump’s long term interests to veto the legislation. Here are the key points.

1. The legislation interferes with Constitutionally derived executive power 

The current legislation seeks not only to impose sanctions that have been proposed by Congress rather than the Executive, but the bill would force Trump and ostensibly any successor in the White House to go through Congress in order to repeal the sanctions.

As The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris wrote,

“Whilst the US constitution does not define the President’s power to conduct foreign policy precisely (a good discussion of the issue can be found here) I personally have no doubt this law crosses the line, and infringes on the President’s constitutional right to conduct foreign policy in the best interests as he judges it of the United States.  Indeed, as I have said, that is the actual intention of the law”.

In this sense, the legislation grants the Legislature powers which are generally a prerogative of the Executive branch. Indeed, Barack Obama’s endless stream of sanctions did not derive from Capitol Hill but from his Oval Office.

One thing that both Trump and Obama have in common is a penchant for using executive orders to accomplish key elements of policy making. In this sense, it would be entirely reasonable to surmise that on this basis, Obama would have vetoed similar legislation on these technical grounds. Trump ought to say this and say it publicly.

Because the bill involves Russian sanctions, of course any veto Trump employs whether a full-veto or a line item veto, will result in the mainstream media and political opponents in Washington criticising Trump as some sort of ‘Russian puppet’, but the msm and his opponents are largely doing this anyway.

By not vetoing the legislation, he will not win new friends but he will make new enemies and important once at that.

2. Losing Europe 

Under Barack Obama, the US lost a great deal of global influence in The Middle East, Eurasia, Latin America and South East Asia. The one place where America still has friends after the Obama years is in Europe. Unlike Obama who always remained popular in major EU states and in Brussels itself, for mainly stylistic reasons, Trump has often had a shaky relationship with key European leaders like Angela Merkel.

But as his recent trip to Poland demonstrated, the Poles who are among the most Russophobic nation in the world, welcomed Trump as one of their own. Clearly, a country that is irrational enough to believe Russia might invade Europe is still sensible enough to realise that Donald Trump isn’t a secret Russian in any case.

Likewise, even though Merkel and Trump didn’t start off on the best foot, it seems that French President Emmanuel Macron has become keen to cultivate a good relationship with Trump. Trump attended Bastille Day celebrations in Paris at Macron’s invitation during which both men agreed that trying to remove the legitimate government of Syria should not be a political or military goal of France or the US and by extrapolation, all of NATO.

Just about every EU nation, including France opposes the new sanctions. Europe hasn’t suddenly become ‘pro-Russia’ but Europe does business with Russia in spite of previous sanctions, this is particularly true in the energy sector.

The current crop of sanctions effectively disallow European companies from doing the business they have done for years with Russian conglomerates. Europe has voiced its opposition to the US moves in the strongest possible manner, ranging from written condemnation deriving from individual nation states, to a strongly worded pledge to retaliate against the US from the European Union should the sanctions become US law.

Furthermore, many companies in Europe and indeed some European states, do not harbour the same paranoia about Iran that the US does. The sanctions which would target Russia as well as Iran and North Korea may prove harmful to EU countries that do not share US zeal when it comes to Iran or North Korea.

The French energy giant Total just signed a $4.9 billion deal with Iran for gas cultivation in the Persian Gulf. Should the anti-Iran sanctions which are in the bill interfere with this, many in France would be deeply angry.

If the US and Europe have this kind of unnecessary schism, America’s close allies might be reduced to Japan, an increasingly anti-militant South Korea, an increasingly dysfunctional Saudi Arabia and an increasingly aggressive Israel. Can America really afford to lose Europe over a domestic crusade against anything Russian? The clear answer is no.

3. Bad for US business

America’s leading companies have come out strongly condemning the new legislation for many of the same reasons European companies have. These companies include, BP, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Boeing and Citigroup, MasterCard, Visa, Ford, Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, International Paper, Caterpillar, and Cummins.

Donald Trump campaigned saying he would be the friend of both the American worker and American businesses. With America’s biggest companies who are also major employers coming out against the sanctions, many people from the factory floor to the boardroom will feel deeply betrayed by a man whose own career was in the private sector for most of his life. In this sense Trump owes more to the wider business community than to the Republican party with whom he hasn’t been long associated with.

If the Republican party which is ostensibly pro-business cannot listen to the interests of major US companies, Donald Trump ought to do so.

4. The decision for Trump 

If Donald Trump vetoes the bill, of course he will be accused of being ‘pro-Russia’, though he will hardly be accused of being pro-Iran or pro-North Korea, even though the legislation targets all three countries.

The fact is that the Trump-Russia narrative is not going to be dropped by the Democrats, neo-cons or MSM in any case. There is little else Trump can do to fight the ‘Russia myth’ apart from surrounding himself with an apt legal team to pick apart the ugly rumours as well as to continue to fight the MSM and his opponents on Twitter in a manner that exposes their pomposity to the general public.

The passage of this kind of bill so early into Trump’s Presidency is proof positive that Trump does not have many allies in the Republican party. The fact that on the same day, a Senate with a slim Republican majority needed to reply on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, on top of the vote of an ailing John McCain (who on foreign policy matters is no friend of Trump in any case) in order to begin the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare, is further proof that Donald Trump is in many respects an independent President who is merely associated with the Republican party out of what was thought to be a relationship of convenience. This is hardly the case any more, the Republicans are publicly ungrateful for their Congressional victories achieved largely because of their association with a popular and charismatic Presidential candidate and Donald Trump is still Donald Trump, the outsider who doesn’t seem to want to ‘join the club’, certainly not in terms of style and in many ways, also in terms of substance.

The Republican party is no more Trump’s than the Democratic party is in many ways. He ought to realise this and use his veto not to please Russia but to please his own supporters. The fact that Russia has condemned the move, at a time when the US and Russia are at long last cooperating in south western Syria. ought to simply add one more layer of motivation for Trump to do the only thing that makes sense in terms of the wider world beyond the D.C. bubble:  Trump should veto the bill with the same tenacity with which he used to say “you’re fired” on The Apprentice.

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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Americans: Are you represented in Congress by a stooge of Saudi Crown Prince Salman?

The Sauds’ plan is to saturation-bomb the narrow access-route that supplies all food into the Houthis’ region of Yemen so as to starve the Houthis to death and thereby enable Prince Salman’s stooge to run Yemen.

Eric Zuesse

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Submitted by Eric Zuesse:


You can find out here by clicking there to see how your Representative and your two Senators voted on the resolution to stop U.S. arming and aid to Prince Salman’s war to starve millions of Houthis to death. In neither house did the resolution pass with enough votes to be able to override Salman’s stooge Trump’s veto of it, and so our Government will continue to support this extermination.

The Sauds’ plan is to saturation-bomb the narrow access-route that supplies all food into the Houthis’ region of Yemen so as to starve the Houthis to death and thereby enable Prince Salman’s stooge to run Yemen.

This plan would have no chance to succeed if the U.S. withdrew its backing of and participation in it.

“If we suspend providing spare parts for their F-15s, their air force would be grounded in two weeks” — Robert Jordan, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

In other words: this slaughter-campaign isn’t only Prince Salman’s, it is Trump’s, too. In fact, you can see the entire Saudi-led coalition that’s backing this extermination-campaign, by clicking here.

So: if your vote means anything at all, and if you voted for a Representative and/or for one or both of the Senators who backs stooge Trump on this extermination-campaign, then you, too, are actually supporting this exterminationist government — today’s U.S. Government — and not only supporting Crown Prince Salman’s effort to take over Yemen.

Back when Barack Obama was the U.S. President, there was bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for Prince Salman’s extermination-campaign in Yemen and therefore no such possibility for stopping it; but, now, as the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign is getting under way, Democrats especially have come out publicly against it, because the Republican President, Trump, is so strongly in favor of it, and so the Yemen-issue can help win the voters who want “Change.” Nonetheless, for example in the Senate, Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Todd Young, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Steve Daines, and Mike Lee, joined all Democratic Senators and both Independent Senators, in supporting this resolution, which the current, Republican, President, Trump, then vetoed, thus continuing the U.S. Government’s decades-long service as a vassal-nation to the Saud family — even if not also to Israel’s Government, as well. (Israel, of course, being far more favored by America’s voters than is Saudi Arabia, presents far more danger for members of Congress to oppose than Saudi Arabia does; and, so, there are no resolutions in Congress that challenge Israel as the current resolutions have been challenging Saudi Arabia. And even the congressional challenges to the Sauds might be basically for political show, rather than serious policy-positions.)

The present news-report, including its links that enable any reader to know where each of his/her supposed representatives (or else Saud-stooges) stand on this extermination-campaign, is being submitted simultaneously to all U.S. national news-media, so that Americans (or at least ones who are receiving honest news that’s linked to all its sources so that you can decide for yourself what the facts are) can become easily informed regarding the true character of the given citizen’s federal representatives. To vote in ignorance is slavery.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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