The Jury Talks Back

10/22/2019

Paging Steve Kerr: A Look Inside A Xinjiang ‘Reeducation’ Camp

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Horrifying:

Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 A.M. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread.

Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.

Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.

I hope Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr reads this. Remember, he was asked by reporters during the NBA kerfuffle with China, whether he’s ever been questioned about human rights abuses during his previous trips to China. He said:

“It has not come up in terms of people asking about it, people discussing it,” he said. “Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up, either. Things that our country needs to look at and resolve. That hasn’t come up either. None of us are perfect. We all have different issues we have to get to. Saying that is my right as an American. It doesn’t mean that I hate my country. It means I want to address the issue. But people in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall. I wasn’t asked that question.”

–Dana

10/20/2019

President Trump Undermines His Vow To Bring U.S. Troops Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:02 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The President ran on a campaign pledge to bring bring U.S. troops back home, and to end the “endless wars”. He has consistently maintained that it is still his still his goal. He tweeted this just four days ago:

However, we are learning today that the U.S. troops withdrawing from Syria are most definitely not headed home:

American forces continued their withdrawal from northern Syria Sunday and headed for Iraq, while efforts continued for a Kurdish evacuation from the area under the terms of the cease-fire agreed between the U.S. and Turkey.

Amid growing chaos after Turkey invaded the region earlier this month, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said late Saturday that all of the nearly 1,000 U.S. troops pulling out of northern Syria will now head to western Iraq to continue the campaign against Islamic State militants.

With President Donald Trump facing continued criticism for his approach to the crisis, the news means his vow to bring the troops home will seemingly go unfulfilled.

Also, according to Esper, troops will have two missions in Iraq:

“One is to help defend Iraq and two is to perform a counter-ISIS mission as we sort through the next steps,” he said. “Things could change between now and whenever we complete the withdrawal, but that’s the game plan right now.”

This morning, President Trump tweeted:

I have questions: Where are the Kurds being resettled? In mass graves? Detention camps? Exactly where? What does “we have secured the oil” mean? How has it been secured? How does the withdrawal from Syria and move into Iraq end any wars? And, amidst the chaos in northern Syria, if ISIS is able to reconstitute, will the U.S. in Iraq head back to Syria? Most importantly, who are the real winners here?

–Dana

Trump Reverses Decision On G-7 Location, Blames Crazed Democrats And Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:48 am

[guest post by Dana]

He made the announcement on Twitter:

During the announcement on Thursday that Trump’s Doral Resort in Miami would be the location for the next G-7 meeting, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had dismissed the presidential retreat at Camp David as a possible location for the event:

I mean, who was here for the last time it was at Camp David? Was that the perfect place? In fact, I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G7. It was way too small. It was way too remote. My understanding is this media didn’t like it because you had to drive an hour on a bus to get there either way.

This morning, Mulvaney talked to Chris Wallace about the reversal of the decision:

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney said Trump “was honestly surprised at the level of pushback” against his selection of Doral. “At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”

I’m at a loss to understand how Trump and Mulvaney still don’t grasp how bad the optics were on the decision to host the G-7 at Doral, espeically when considering the ethical and legal implications. Frankly, if Trump still believes he is in the hospitality business, in spite of being the sitting President of the United States, that might actually explain a whole lot…

–Dana

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 157

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:06 am

It is the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Ich lasse dich nicht, du segnest mich denn” (I will not let you go, except you bless me):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 18:1-8:

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words — an ode to the rewards of persistent faith:

I will not let You go, therefore bless me!

I hold my Jesus tightly,
I will not let Him go now or ever.
He alone is my resting-place,
therefore my faith forcefully grasps
His countenance full of blessing;
for this comfort is indeed the best.

. . . .

Yes, yes, I hold Jesus tightly,
therefore I will also enter into heaven,
O lovely place!
Come, gentle death, and lead me away,
where God and the guests of His Lamb
are crowned for the wedding.

. . . .

I will not let go of my Jesus,
I will walk beside Him forever;
Christ shall for ever and ever have me
guided to the springs of life.
Blessed, whoever says with me:
I will not let go of my Jesus.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

10/19/2019

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:56 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: Hillary Clinton claims that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a tool being prepped by Russia as a third-party spoiler to help President Trump win reelection in 2020:

“They are also going to do third party again,” Clinton, 71, said. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, referring to Gabbard, without mentioning the Hawaii representative by name.

“She is a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset.

“They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate, and so I do not know who it’s going to be, but I can guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.”

Gabbard punched back:

Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

Second news item: President Trump is threatening to sue CNN for perceived unfair media coverage:

Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign have threatened in a letter to sue CNN for what they said was the network falsely advertising itself as a news organization, calling on executives to first discuss an “appropriate resolution” to the matter that would include a “substantial” payment to cover damages.

The network’s response to the threat:

This is nothing more than a desperate PR stunt and doesn’t merit a response.

Third news item: ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, not just trying to shut down a woman , but lumping her in with an accused rapist and subject of numerous allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior toward women in the workplace:

He later deleted the tweet with a load of babbling bullshit:

I deleted the original tweet. No matter how right I feel, it is not the loving way I want to be in this world. We have enough meanness and coarseness in the world today, I strive to do better each day. I do wish you well and hope we can heal instead of hurt.

Make sure you read the full exchange at Megyn Kelly’s Twitter feed. With grace and finesse, she neatly puts Dowd in his place at every turn.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

10/18/2019

State Dept. Official Raised Concerns About Beau Biden On Ukraine Energy Board In 2015, Was Rebuffed By Joe Biden Aide

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:15 am

[guest post by Dana]

Per the Washington Post:

A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer, according to three people familiar with the testimony.

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.

Kent said he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with his father, said the people. But when Kent raised the issue with Biden’s office, he was told the then-vice president didn’t have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue involving his son as his other son, Beau, was battling cancer, said the people familiar with his testimony.

–Dana

10/17/2019

Deal Struck: Turkey Agrees to 5-Day Ceasefire, No New U.S. Sanctions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 2:15 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vice-President Mike Pence made the announcement:

After an hours-long meeting, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday afternoon that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria.

The vice president said Turkey would pause its invasion for 120 hours in order to allow Kurdish allies to withdraw from the safe zone of the border region. Pence said the leaders committed to defeating ISIS and renewed an agreement to “coordinate efforts on detention facilities and internally displaced persons in formerly ISIS-controlled areas.”

The U.S. agreed not to put new sanctions in place and to end the current sanctions if the ceasefire holds.

It appears that the Kurds will comply with the agreement:

The commander of Kurdish-led forces in Syria has told Kurdish TV that they will abide by a cease-fire agreement announced in Ankara by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence…“We will do whatever we can for the success of the cease-fire agreement,” Mazloum said Thursday, describing it as a “tentative agreement.”

President Trump was exultant on Twitter:

It depends on one’s definition of “tough love”:

Meanwhile, Turkish prime minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference that, “this is not a cease fire”:

“The US side has accepted the necessity of a safe zone to protect Turkey’s security interests. And we have reached a full agreement for the Turkish army to control this zone,” he told a news conference in Ankara.

“This is not a ceasefire, a ceasefire can only be made only between two legitimate sides,” he said, adding that withdrawing Kurdish fighters will return their heavy weapons and destroy their fortifications.

Winners and losers:

It sounds like Erdogan’s going to get everything he wants here, a territory cleansed of Kurds, and he’ll get it without having to risk the lives of any more Turkish troops. Even better for him, if the Kurds refuse to retreat, Erdogan can then start shooting again and claim that it’s the Kurds who are defying the United States now, not him.

And this:

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory. Serious questions remain about how the decision was reached precipitously to withdraw from Syria and why that decision was reached,” Romney said.

[…]

“Adding insult to dishonor, the administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty,” Romney said. “We once abandoned a red line. Now we abandon an ally.”

“The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history,” Romney continued.

UPDATE: Reports are coming in that Turkey has already violated the ceasefire:

Shelling and artillery fire was reported Friday in the border town of Ras al-Ain, one of the targets of Turkey’s week-old offensive against Kurdish fighters, who have long been backed by the United States.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told CNN that shelling by the Turkish military and the Syrian rebel proxies supporting them has hit a number of civilian areas in Ras al-Ain, including a hospital. The SDF says five fighters were killed in the attack.

“SDF are committed to the ceasefire, but from last night until this morning we are seeing shelling on Ras al-Ain by the Turkish military and its mercenaries on SDF and civilian Kurdish targets, and in particular on the Ras al-Ain hospital in the city this morning,” SDF Press Commander Merivan Qamishlo said.

“The situation inside the Ras al-Ain Hospital is catastrophic. Three ambulance vehicles belonging to the Kurdish Red Crescent were prevented from entering and were shot at. The city is completely surrounded by air and ground from the Turkish military,” he added.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO:

–Dana

Confirmed: President Trump To Host Next Year’s G-7 At His Miami Golf Resort

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 11:38 am

[guest post by Dana]

While President Trump may not directly benefit financially from hosting the event at his property, the Trump Organization will most certainly benefit with a significant shot in the arm to the Trump Brand, likely resulting in an increase of national and international tourism to the resort, and his other properties. It’s disingenuous to believe that such a high-profile meeting involving some of the world’s most prominent leaders wouldn’t benefit the Trump Organization:

[A]cting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced…that next year’s G-7 meeting will be held at President Trump’s resort in Doral, Florida between June 10 and 12.

The decision to hold the G-7 meeting at the Trump National Doral Golf Club had been bandied about for months — since Trump made a pitch to have next year’s summit at the resort during August’s G-7 conference in France – and has created controversy amid concerns over the ethics of the president personally profiting off an official government event.

During a rare and contentious White House press briefing, Mulvaney tried to assuage concerns about any emoluments violations by the president by telling the media that Trump will not make any money off the event. He said the golf club will be providing the location and services at cost.

“The president has made it clear that he doesn’t profit from being here…“The resort is doing it at cost…it’s much cheaper to do it at Doral than at other sites.”

When I originally posted about the possibility of the G-7 being held at Doral, I noted that there were already concerns about the conflict of interest, given that the President had never divested from the Trump Organization:

The Washington Post reports that Trump has long pushed to hold next year’s G7 at the Doral but has seen some internal resistance from people concerned about the ethics of such a decision. The problem is that Trump has never divested from his company, the Trump Organization, meaning he would personally profit from the summit’s coming to the Doral.

He dismissed the concerns speaking to reporters Monday. “In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money,” he said. He added that being president costs him between $3 billion and $5 billion a year, a claim he said he would soon back up with evidence.

Today, Mulvaney defended the decision when asked about bad optics amid Trump’s accusations about Joe Biden pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor looking into a company where Hunter Biden sat on the board:

Mulvaney was also questioned about the optics of how hosting the event at Doral would look – and any possible financial gains the president would get from the summit – in light of Trump’s unfounded claims that former Vice President Joe Biden used his office to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing top prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating a company where his son was on the board.

The former vice president has acknowledged publicly that he pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin but denied it had any relation to his son’s business dealings in the country. Biden said his actions were in line with pressure from other foreign leaders to fire the prosecutor.

Mulvaney argued that the president does not need any help with his brand and that he had made his fortune before entering politics.

“Consider that Donald Trump’s brand is strong enough at it is and doesn’t need any help…The Trump family made their money before they went into politics.”

While it is true that the Trump family went into politics with significant wealth and an established brand, the Doral Resort is not doing well financially and hosting an event of this magnitude could certainly reverse its fortunes:

Trump’s presidency so far seems to have harmed Trump Doral’s bottom line. In a meeting with a magistrate for the Miami-Dade Value Adjustment Board in December 2018, a consultant hired by the Trump Organization said the hotel is “severely under-performing.” The consultant cited lower occupancy and room rates at the Doral hotel compared to its competitors and an 18 percent slump in revenue from 2015 to 2017 as reasons to lower the property’s value.

Trump blew off any concerns about his decision:

I used to make money off giving speeches. Now, I make speeches all the time and you know how much I make? Zero. From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money…I don’t want to make any money.

–Dana

Rep. Elijah Cummings Dead at 68

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:53 am

[guest post by Dana]

From the Baltimore Sun:

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a committee chairman known for his devotion to Baltimore and civil rights and for blunt and passionate speechmaking, died of longstanding health problems early Thursday morning, his office said. He was 68 years old.

The Democrat, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died at Gilchrist Hospice Care at approximately 2:45 A.M., a spokeswoman said.

Cummings, who had been absent from Capitol Hill in recent weeks while under medical attention, had health issues in recent years. In 2017, he underwent an aortic valve replacement. The procedure, which aides described as minimally invasive in Cummings’ case, is used to correct narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. The surgery led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection, but he said this summer that his health was fine.

Cummings had not participated in a roll call vote since Sept. 11. His office said recently that he had undergone a medical procedure but the seriousness of his condition had not been known.

From an early age, Cummings admirably exampled how to overcome life’s difficult obstacles through sheer determination and a willingness to do the necessary hard work:

Cummings was born Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before winning his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become the first black House speaker pro tem.

[…]

Cummings began his long push for civil rights at age 11, when he helped integrate a local swimming pool in Baltimore. This year, during a speech to the American Bar Association in April, Cummings recalled how he and other black children who were barred from the pool organized protests with help from their recreation leader and the NAACP.

Every day for a week, when the children tried to get into the pool, they were spit upon, threatened and called names, Cummings said; he said he was cut by a bottle thrown from an angry crowd.

“The experience transformed my entire life,” he said.

Note: Per House rules, Rep. Carolyn Maloney will become the Acting Chair of the House Oversight committee, which is involved in the impeachment inquiry of Trump. Also, per a senior Democratic leadership aide, “the caucus process to elect a permanent Chair will be announced at a later time.”

I want to leave you with this absolutely lovely tribute to Cummings by Trey Gowdy. At the end of the day, and politics aside, we should all be so fortunate to have someone think so highly of us and the life we’ve lead:

Elijah Cummings was one of the most powerful, beautiful & compelling voices in American politics. The power and the beauty came from his authenticity, his conviction, the sincerity with which he held his beliefs. We rarely agreed on political matters.

We never had a cross word outside of a committee room. He had a unique ability to separate the personal from the work. The story of Elijah’s life would benefit everyone, regardless of political ideation.
The obstacles, barriers, and roadblocks he overcame, the external and sometimes internal doubt that whispered in the ear of a young Elijah Cummings. He beat it all. He beat the odds.

He beat the low expectations of that former school employee who told Elijah to abandon the dream of being a lawyer, that he would never become a lawyer, to settle for a job with his hands and not his mind.

Elijah loved telling that story because that school employee wound up being Elijah’s first client as a lawyer. We live in an age where we see people on television a couple of times and we think we know them and what they are about.

It is true Elijah was a proud progressive with a booming, melodious voice who found himself in the middle of most major political stories over the past decade. It is inescapable that be part of his legacy.

But his legacy also includes the path he took to become one of the most powerful political figures of his time. It is a path filled with pain, prejudice, obstacles and doubt that he refused to let stop him. His legacy is perseverance. His legacy is fighting through the pain.

His legacy is making sure there were fewer obstacles for the next Elijah Cummings. His legacy to me, above all else, was his faith. A faith in God that is being rewarded today with no more fights, no more battles, and no more pain.

Condolences to the family and friends of Elijah Cummings.

–Dana

Don’t Be a Fool: The Fool’s Letter to Erdogan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:42 am

I can’t let this letter from Trump to Erdogan go by without comment:

It comes as no surprise that Erdogan literally threw this nonsense in the trash. The letter is dated eight days ago and it obviously had zero effect other than to further reveal our President to be a clueless jackass — which, if that wasn’t already evident to an observer, the observer is brain dead.

The issue here is not even so much what Trump did. It’s the impulsive way he did it. There was no plan. This is one of the main reasons that it grates to see Russians crawling through a hastily abandoned American military base: it reminds us that Trump did this all on a hasty whim, having thought through nothing, and having informed nobody capable of thinking it through for him.

Then Trump trots out and repeats absurd Turkish talking points, like the one that the PKK is probably worse than ISIS. Here are his idiotic statements as put out by TRT (the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation)

Trump is a fool. Erdogan knows it. Putin knows it. The world knows it. As long as he is the one conducting foreign policy, the United States is going to get played. He has to go.

P.S. I can’t help but come back to the point that Trump doesn’t read. The correct way to handle the phone call with Erdogan was in his briefing papers, but he certainly didn’t read them because he reads nothing. Some have observed that, while Trump is probably not a paid Russian asset, he behaves exactly the same as if he were. Well, it is also true that he is not literally illiterate — but behaves exactly the same as if he were.

As the saying goes: The man who doesn’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t read.

10/16/2019

President Trump: Situation on Turkish Syrian Border “Strategically Brilliant” For US

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 6:56 pm

[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. Just highlighting a few comments the President made earlier today with regard to Syria, the Kurds, ISIS, and the future involvement of the US military therein. Because what is happening on the ground seems to be in as much of a state of flux as what is coming out of President Trump’s mouth, I’ll leave these tidbits here for you to unpack. ]

At the White House today, and with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at his side, President Trump discussed the Syrian situation with reporters:

So I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They’ve got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting. Syria is protecting the Kurds. That’s good.

Totally safe?

And just ten days after the White House announced we would withdraw from Northern Syria and essentially abandon our Kurd allies ahead of a Turkish military offensive, President Trump felt compelled to say this:

Syria and Turkey may fight. Syria is friendly with the Kurds. The Kurds are very well protected; plus, they know how to fight. And, by the way, they’re no angels, but they were with us. They are no angels. But they are fighting.

Also, going a step further than last week’s tweet suggesting that ISIS prisoners had been released as a tactic to reconstitute US involvement, the President today made an actual claim, without providing evidence, that this had indeed, been done:

But you have a lot of countries over there that hate ISIS as much as we do; in some cases, probably more. So they can take care of ISIS. We have them captured. The United States captured them. Some were released just for effect — to make us look a little bit like, “Oh, gee, we’ve got to get right back in there.”

Interestingly, 7,000 miles came up several times today. First, during the Q&A at the White House, and later at a volatile meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders about Syria:

Q: You don’t think the country’s worried about ISIS? You mentioned earlier you think some of the countries might hate ISIS more than the United States.

TRUMP: Absolutely. Russia hates ISIS as much as the United States does. Iran hates ISIS. I mean, we’re fighting a war for Russia, we’re fighting a war for Iran? You look at Syria. Syria hates ISIS. We’re over there killing ISIS. Don’t forget, we’re 7,000 miles — so we’re killing ISIS, we’re 7,000 miles away. Russia is much closer. Iran is right there, Turkey is right there. They all hate ISIS. Turkey a little bit less so, but the others very much. Russia had a plane blown up by ISIS. Russia wants nothing to do with ISIS. Russia’s tough. They can kill ISIS just as well and they happen to be in their neighborhood.

All I’m saying is this, I’m not going to lose potentially thousands and tens of thousands of American soldiers fighting a war between Turkey and Syria. Syria’s not our friend. Assad is not our friend. That’s the way it goes.

About that 7,000 miles and fighting terrorists:

President Trump also attempted to clarify what his plan is with regard to the deployment of US military forces throughout the world. Note that he made these two separate statements minutes apart:

But, really, the plan is to get out of endless wars, to bring our soldiers back home, to not be policing agents all over the world.

You read where we’re sending some troops to Saudi Arabia. That’s true. Because we want to help Saudi Arabia. They have been a very good ally. They’ve agreed to pay for the cost of those troops. They’ve agreed to pay fully for the cost of everything we’re doing over there.

Clearly, not all allies are equal.

You can read the entirety of the President’s remarks made today here.

–Dana

Evidence of Trump Organization Tax Fraud Emerges — What About that IRS Whistleblower Again?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:54 am

Pro Publica:

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

. . . .

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

. . . .

There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”

This is, of course, what Trump provably did in the 1990s, as the New York Times revealed in detail about a year ago. He got away with it for years, as rich people often do.

I’m suspicious of the language in the Pro Publica piece in the second paragraph of the quoted passage above: “Trump told the lender.” I see no other evidence in the article that Trump had direct involvement in the apparent shenanigans. He is President, after all, and in that capacity has his hands pretty full, what with the constant tweeting and promulgating policies that lead to the release of terrorists. One wonders where he would find the time to mislead tax authorities. He probably outsources that to his family now.

One thing Trump might exercise personal control over, however, is interfering with any audits of his tax returns. Recall the letter Richard Neal sent Mnuchin about allegations of efforts to influence the mandatory IRS audit of Trump’s tax returns. In the letter, Neal described “credible allegations” from a whistleblower of “evidence of possible misconduct” regarding “inappropriate efforts to influence” the mandatory IRS audit of the President and Vice President.

Neal to Mnuchin

This was part of the predicate for the House Ways and Means Committee to demand Trump’s tax returns — which Congress may do under a 1924 law that I discussed here in April.

The Pro Publica piece lends weight to the notion that the Trump Organization has something to fear from sunlight, and as prosecutors get closer to getting their mitts on Trump’s financials in New York, more may be coming to light. Indeed, if I were a betting man, I’d bet on it.

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