Розділ: Політика

Amid Protests and Pandemic, Evangelical Support Slipping for Trump

While liberal Christians were outraged by the photographing of President Donald Trump with a Bible in front of a church near the White House following his fiery Rose Garden law-and-order speech, many conservative evangelical Christians — Trump’s core religious constituency — hailed it as a victory against lawlessness. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara looks at whether the president can still depend on their votes in November.

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By Polityk | 06/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Lauding ‘Force’ Against Protests, Sen. Cotton Raises Profile

Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton has risen to the ranks of potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders by making all the right enemies. By lining up behind President Donald Trump’s law-and-order recipe for controlling civic unrest, he’s making even more.”One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” the 43-year-old Arkansan wrote this week in a New York Times opinion column.That infuriated Democrats and liberals, whom his column thumped by calling protests rocking cities “carnivals for the thrill-seeking rich as well as other criminal elements.”  For good measure, Cotton lambasted the Times — a favorite conservative target — after it released a subsequent statement saying Cotton’s essay did not meet its standards. Times employees had rebelled, expressing shame and anger about the piece.  Protestors march Thursday, June 4, 2020, in San Diego. Protests continue to be held in U.S. cities, sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.With some protests over police killings of black men veering into violence in New York and elsewhere, Cotton took to Fox on Thursday to reprise his frequent role as one of Trump’s chief defenders.He disputed Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comment that this week’s urban turbulence didn’t justify deploying troops in cities, saying that was Trump’s call. And to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ stunning assertion that Trump was dividing the country and violating the Constitution, Cotton said, “He’s wrong on this one.”None of that went over well with Democrats.”I’m appalled that anyone, let alone a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, would advocate for the use of military force to silence dissent,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a fellow member of that panel.Representing a state that has turned increasingly Republican, Cotton faces reelection in November with no Democratic opponent. He plans to use some time helping GOP Senate candidates including Bill Haggerty in Tennessee and Joni Ernst in Iowa, which holds each presidential cycle’s first caucuses.In an ad that aired earlier this year in Ohio — a swing state in presidential contests — Cotton tied together two foes: China and Trump’s all-but-certain Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.”China is the greatest threat to America’s security and our values,” the announcer says, accusing China of running concentration camps and stealing millions of American jobs. “Career politician Joe Biden is weak on China.”As the spot ends, it shows a split screen of Cotton wearing his combat fatigues and Trump in a Make America Great Again hat. “Senator Cotton is standing with President Trump to take on China and keep America great,” the announcer says.”Sen. Cotton has taken the Trump approach of playing to the fears and darkest, most negative things that appeal to Trump supporters,” said Michael John Gray, chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party. “His ambition’s been bigger than Arkansas from the moment he sought a seat in the House.”Cotton served six years in the Army in the early 2000s, leading a combat platoon in Iraq and being deployed to Afghanistan. He also spent time in the Old Guard, whose ramrod-straight members keep ceremonial watch over the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington.Cotton grew up on his family’s Arkansas farm and attended Harvard University and its law school.As a student in 1996, he wrote an article in the school’s paper, The Harvard Crimson, lauding the political skills of a fellow Arkansan: then-President Bill Clinton, whom he called “the most sincere campaigner of our time.” He also praised the intelligence of Hillary Clinton, later to become Trump’s vanquished Democratic presidential rival, saying Bill Clinton “would have never made it past county commissioner” without her.But what Cotton hailed as Bill Clinton’s “easy-going, affable” style has not seemed to rub off on Cotton’s manner in Washington.”He’s definitely accumulated the right national security and foreign policy experience to put him on track to run in 2024,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP political consultant and former top congressional aide. He added: “He’s not a backslapper. He’s a really serious guy.”Cotton served one House term before being elected to the Senate in 2014. Within weeks of taking office, he incensed Democrats.He drafted an open letter to Iranian leaders, signed by 46 GOP colleagues, warning that a nuclear deal that President Barack Obama was seeking would not be binding and could be dismantled by the next president.Trump pulled the U.S. out of that agreement in 2018.

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By Polityk | 06/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

New Mexico Governor to Appoint Racial Justice Czar

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is looking for policy fixes to prevent police violence in the wake of anti-racism and police reform protests that have swept across the nation and dotted her state.In a conversation with members of a yet-to-be-finalized council on racial justice, Lujan Grisham suggested deescalation training for state police. She also heard a proposal to bar officers from shooting at moving vehicles or choking citizens in their custody.As the leader of a multicultural state — New Mexico is half Hispanic and has a significant Native American population — she said it is difficult but essential to acknowledge structural racism.”We have a tendency to wrap ourselves in that particular cloak and pretend sometimes that we don’t have the kind of inequalities in institutional racism and hatred that in fact exists, and it is in the very fabric of our lives,” Lujan Grisham said.The governor pledged to name a racial justice czar and to let the council set an agenda for legislative reform in the 2021 legislative session. An emergency session starting in mid-June will focus squarely on the state’s budget fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.The New Mexico governor’s live video conference took place a few hours after a funeral service for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death in police custody sparked the latest protests over longstanding grievances with police accountability.”There is another health crisis which has existed for far too long, which is the racism in our society,” said Alexandria Taylor, of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.Some of the answers, Taylor said, are already clear.”What has happened in the last six years since the Ferguson uprising, is we have a significant body of research that supports those policy changes,” Taylor told Lujan Grisham, referring to protest following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by white police officers.As in hundreds of other cities in the country, unrest in that St. Louis suburb broke out again this this week. Nationwide, 10,000 demonstrators have been arrested and dozens of deaths have been reported. 

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By Polityk | 06/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Republican Murkowski Says She’s Struggling With Supporting Trump

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s “struggling” over whether she can support President Donald Trump given his handling of the virus and race crises roiling the U.S.Murkowski said Thursday that she was “thankful” for retired Gen. James Mattis’ extraordinary rebuke of Trump for politicizing the military. Asked about her support of president, Murkowski replied, “I have struggled with it for a long time.” Murkowski retracted her endorsement of Trump in 2016 after the “Access Hollywood” tape revealed he had bragged about sexually assaulting women. She voted to acquit Trump of House impeachment charges earlier this year. She spoke Thursday to reporters at the Capitol. 
 
“Perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally, and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up,” Murkowski said. Asked whether she can still support Trump, she replied, “I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time.” But she said she’d continue to try to work with his administration. 
 
Murkowski’s remarks were an acknowledgment of the ongoing choice Republicans are forced to make about whether, and for how long, to support Trump when his words and actions so often conflict with their values and goals. Trump has responded to the police killing of George Floyd by calling for more “law and order,” rather than addressing at any length the racial injustice that lies at the heart of the unrest.  
 
The nation is on edge, and Election Day looms, with the presidency and control of the House and Senate at stake. Trump has made clear that consequences for what he considers disloyalty can be steep.  President Donald Trump stands outside St. John’s Church, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Standing with Trump are Mark Esper, from left, William Barr, Robert O’Brien, Kayleigh McEnany and Mark Meadows.For Republicans, the challenge peaked this week when federal forces abruptly cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park near the White House so that Trump could stage a photo op in front of St. John’s, the “church of presidents,” holding up a Bible. 
 
Saying little or nothing, a phenomenon that began before Trump was president, remained a popular choice for Republican members of Congress — even when asked one after the other whether it had been right for the administration to use the military to suppress peaceful protests.  
 
“I’m late for lunch,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told reporters Tuesday when asked whether Trump’s use of force against peaceful protesters was the right thing to do. “Didn’t really see it,” said staunch Trump ally Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. 
 
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who is retiring, said, “I don’t have any comment on that.”  
 
Even now, most Republicans aren’t breaking with Trump. Murkowski, who has her own complicated relationship with Trump, suggested that’s because those in the president’s mostly-white party are looking for the right words and tone. Statements by former President George W. Bush and now Mattis, she said, help point the way. 
 
“I think right now … questions about who I’m going to vote for, who I’m not going to vote for, I think, are distracting to the moment,” said Murkowski, who said she’d continue to try to work with the Trump administration. “I know people might think that’s a dodge,” she added, “but I think there are important conversations that we need to have as an American people amongst ourselves about where we are right now.” 
 
Murkowski retracted her endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election when he could be heard on the “Access Hollywood” tape bragging about assaulting women. She also voted to acquit him of House abuse and obstruction charges earlier this year after Trump’s impeachment trial. 
 
Other Republicans this week needed no help finding the words.  
 
“There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property, and no right to throw rocks at police,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic who is up for reelection. “But there is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the word of God as a political prop.”Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection, said it was “painful to watch peaceful protesters to be subjected to tear gas in order for the president to go across the street to a church that I believe he’s attended only once.” 
 
“President Trump’s walk to St. John’s was confrontational, at the wrong time of day, and it distracted from his important message in the Rose Garden about our national grief, racism, peaceful protests, and lawful assembly,” added Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is not on the ballot this year. “The President’s important message was drowned out by an awkward photo op.” 
 
The president noticed, and name-checked the trio.“You got it wrong! If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the Church on fire the night before? People liked my walk to this historic place of worship!” he tweeted Wednesday, suggesting that “Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. James Lankford, Sen. Ben Sasse” read a specific article. 
 
He took no such aim at Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican in the Senate. 
 
“If your question is, should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op, the answer is no,” Scott told Politico.  

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By Polityk | 05/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Google: Chinese, Iranian Hackers Targeted Biden, Trump Campaigns

State-backed hackers from China have targeted staffers working on the U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Joe Biden, a senior Google security official said Thursday. The same official said Iranian hackers had recently targeted email accounts belonging to Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign staff. The announcement, made on Twitter by the head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, is the latest indication of the digital spying routinely aimed at top politicians. Huntley said there was “no sign of compromise” of either campaign. Iranian attempts to break into Trump campaign officials’ emails have been documented before. Last year, Microsoft Corp announced that a group often nicknamed Charming Kitten had tried to break into email accounts belonging to an unnamed U.S. presidential campaign, which sources identified as Trump’s. Earlier this year, the threat intelligence company Area 1 Security said Russian hackers had targeted companies tied to a Ukrainian gas firm where Biden’s son once served on the board. No detailsGoogle declined to offer details beyond Huntley’s tweets, but the unusually public attribution is a sign of how sensitive Americans have become to digital espionage efforts aimed at political campaigns. “We sent the targeted users our standard government-backed attack warning and we referred this information to federal law enforcement,” a Google representative said. Hacking to interfere in elections has become a concern for governments, especially since U.S intelligence agencies concluded that Russia ran a hacking and propaganda operation to disrupt the American democratic process in 2016 to help then-candidate Trump become president. Among the targets was digital infrastructure used by 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Moscow has denied any meddling. Commonplace attacksAttempts by foreign adversaries to break into presidential campaigns are commonplace. “We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,” a Biden campaign spokesman said. “We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.” The Trump campaign, the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Charming Kitten, the group identified by Google as being responsible for the targeting of the Trump campaign, has also recently been in the headlines over other exploits, including the targeting of the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc . Earlier this year, Reuters tied the group to attempts to impersonate high-profile media figures and journalists. John Hultquist, senior director of intelligence analysis with U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc, described the two hacking groups as “espionage actors” and said they were likely attempting to collect intelligence rather than steal material to leak online. The FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence both declined to comment.

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By Polityk | 05/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Snapchat to Stop ‘Promoting’ Trump Amid Uproar Over Tweets

Snapchat will stop “promoting” President Donald Trump on its video messaging service, the latest example of a social media platform adjusting how it treats this U.S. president.  Last week, Twitter placed fact-check warnings on two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted problems with the November elections. It demoted and placed a stronger warning on a third tweet about Minneapolis protests that read, in part, that “when the looting starts the shooting starts.”Snapchat’s action is more limited. It means only that the president’s posts will no longer show up in the app’s “Discover” section, which showcases news and posts by celebrities and public figures. Trump’s account will remain active on Snapchat and visible to anyone who searches for or follows it.Twitter Adds ‘Glorifying Violence’ Warning to Trump Tweet Trump, a prolific Twitter user, has been at war with the company since earlier this week, when it applied fact checks to two of his tweets about mail-in ballotsThe decision, which Snap — the owner of Snapchat — says was made over the weekend, puts the Santa Monica, California-based company in Twitter’s camp after that company escalated its actions against Trump.  Facebook, meanwhile, has let identical posts stand, although the company and CEO Mark Zuckerberg face growing criticism over the decision.  “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” Snap said in a statement Wednesday. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”Snapchat has 229 million daily active users. Twitter, by comparison, has 166 million. Unlike Twitter and even Facebook, Snapchat is generally used as a private communications tool, with friends sending each other short videos and images and, to a lesser extent, following celebrities and other accounts.In a tweet, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel “would rather promote extreme left riot videos & encourage users to destroy America than share positive words of unity, justice, and law & order from our President.” 

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By Polityk | 05/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Ousted State Department Watchdog Confirms Investigations Into Pompeo

Ousted State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday told members of three congressional committees that before he was abruptly fired, he was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s use of government resources as well as the secretary’s decision to approve a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia.  Democrats are investigating President Donald Trump’s firing of Linick — one of several inspector generals he has recently ousted — and whether it was a retaliatory move. Pompeo has said he recommended that the inspector general be terminated, but insisted it wasn’t retribution. Linick was an Obama administration appointee whose office had been critical of what it saw as political bias in the State Department’s current management, but had also taken issue with Democratic appointees.  House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a joint statement with other lawmakers that they still have many unanswered questions about the firing.  “Mr. Linick confirmed that at the time he was removed as IG, his office was looking into two matters that directly touched on Secretary Pompeo’s conduct and that senior State Department officials were aware of his investigations,” the Democrats said. They said that Linick testified that he was “shocked” when he was fired.  Their statement said Linick confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into “allegations of misuse of government resources by Secretary Pompeo and his wife.” Linick said he had informed officials close to Pompeo of the investigation, including by requesting documents from his executive secretary, the Democrats said.  Pompeo, though, told reporters after Linick was fired last month that he was unaware of any investigation into allegations that he may have mistreated staffers by instructing them to run personal errands for him and his wife — such as walking his dog and picking up dry cleaning and takeout food. Thus, Pompeo said, the move could not have been retaliatory.  Pompeo did acknowledge then that he was aware of the probe into his decision last year to bypass congressional objections to approve a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia because he had answered written questions about it posed by Linick’s office. But he maintained he did not know the scope or scale of the investigation.Linick confirmed that probe as well, and told the investigators his office had requested an interview with Pompeo but that the secretary had refused. The Democrats said Linick testified he had been pressured by Brian Bulatao, an undersecretary of State who is an old friend of Pompeo.  “Mr. Linick testified that Mr. Bulatao pressured him to act in ways that Mr. Linick felt were inappropriate — including Bulatao telling Linick that the investigation into weapons sales to Saudi Arabia was not a matter for the IG to investigate,” the committees said.  Republicans questioned Linick on whether he had leaked information about sensitive investigations, which the administration has suggested played a part in his dismissal. In a letter to Engel this week, Bulato wrote that “concern over Linick had grown” concerning the handling of an investigation that was leaked in the media and later reviewed.  The Democrats said Linick rejected that explanation, saying it was “either misplaced or unfounded.”  In his opening statement, released before the interview and obtained by The Associated Press, Linick said he has “served without regard to politics” in his nearly three-decade career in public service and has always been committed to independent oversight.The investigation is part of a larger congressional efforts to find out more about Trump’s recent moves to sideline several independent government watchdogs. Engel and Menendez have been demanding answers and documents from the State Department on other matters for months, to little avail, and are now teaming up to try to force a complete explanation from Pompeo and the White House as to why Trump fired Linick.  The committee has asked several other State Department officials to sit for interviews in the probe, including Bulatao, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper, Pompeo’s executive secretary Lisa Kenna and acting State Department legal adviser Marik String. The committees said they will release transcripts shortly after each interview.Democrats and some Republicans have pushed the administration for more answers about the inspector general firings, but the White House has provided few, simply stating the dismissals were well within Trump’s authority.  Linick played a small role in Trump’s impeachment last year, an involvement that has added fuel to Democratic suspicions of retaliation. In October, Linick turned over documents to House investigators that he had received from a close Pompeo associate that contained information from debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election. Democrats were probing Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.  He is the second inspector general to be fired who was involved with the impeachment process. Michael Atkinson, the former inspector general for the intelligence community, triggered the impeachment probe when he alerted Congress about a whistleblower complaint that described a call between Trump and Ukraine’s president last summer. Trump fired Atkinson in April, saying he had lost confidence in him.  The president also moved to replace the chief watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services, Christi Grimm, who testified that her office was moving ahead with new reports and audits on the department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic despite Trump’s public criticism of her.In addition, Trump demoted acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, effectively removing him as head of a special board to oversee auditing of the coronavirus economic relief package. Fine later resigned. 

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By Polityk | 05/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика

Former Trump Defense Secretary Mattis Accuses President of Wanting to ‘Divide’ US

Jim Mattis, Donald Trump’s former secretary of defense who had resigned to protest the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, accused the U.S. president of trying to “divide” America.”In my lifetime, Donald Trump is the first president who doesn’t try to bring the Americans together, who doesn’t even pretend to try,” he wrote in a statement posted online by The Atlantic on Wednesday.”Instead, he is trying to divide us,” said the former general of the Marines, who had so far displayed his reservations without ever commenting directly on Trump.”I observed the events of this week, angry and dismayed,” he continued.Since the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, a wave of historic anger has risen in American cities, denouncing racism, police violence and social inequalities. Tens of thousands of protesters protested peacefully across the country, but looting and riots also marred the movement.Trump has used a martial tone and threatened to resort to the military to subdue the streets.”We must not be distracted by a handful of outlaws,” Mattis wrote. “The demonstrations are tens of thousands of principled people who insist that we live up to our values.””We must reject and hold accountable those in power who mock our Constitution,” he added.  

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By Polityk | 04/06/2020 | Повідомлення, Політика
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