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U.S. Response to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

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  • #31
    U.S. Officials Repeatedly Urged China to Help Avert War in Ukraine
    WASHINGTON — Over three months, senior Biden administration officials held half a dozen urgent meetings with top Chinese officials in which the Americans presented intelligence showing Russia’s troop buildup around Ukraine and beseeched the Chinese to tell Russia not to invade, according to U.S. officials.

    Each time, the Chinese officials, including the foreign minister and the ambassador to the United States, rebuffed the Americans, saying they did not think an invasion was in the works. After one diplomatic exchange in December, U.S. officials got intelligence showing Beijing had shared the information with Moscow, telling the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord — and that China would not try to impede Russian plans and actions, the officials said.

    The previously unreported talks between U.S. and Chinese officials show how the Biden administration tried to use intelligence findings and diplomacy to persuade a superpower it views as a growing adversary to stop the invasion of Ukraine, and how that nation, led by President Xi Jinping, persistently sided with Russia even as the evidence of Moscow’s plans for a military offensive grew over the winter.

    This account is based on interviews with senior administration officials with knowledge of the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the diplomacy. The Chinese Embassy did not return requests for comment.

    China is Russia’s most powerful partner, and the two nations have been strengthening their bond for many years across diplomatic, economic and military realms. Xi and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, two autocrats with some shared ideas about global power, had met 37 times as national leaders before this year. If any world leader could make Putin think twice about invading Ukraine, it was Xi, went the thinking of some U.S. officials.

    But the diplomatic efforts failed, and Putin began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday morning after recognizing two Russia-backed insurgent enclaves in the country’s east as independent states.

    Some U.S. officials say the ties between China and Russia appear stronger than at any time since the Cold War. The two now present themselves as an ideological front against the United States and its European and Asian allies, even as Putin carries out the invasion of Ukraine, whose sovereignty China has recognized for decades.

    The growing alarm among U.S. and European officials at the alignment between China and Russia has reached a new peak with the Ukraine crisis, exactly 50 years to the week after President Richard Nixon made a historic trip to China to restart diplomatic relations to make common cause in counterbalancing the Soviet Union. For 40 years after that, the relationship between the United States and China grew stronger, especially as lucrative trade ties developed, but then frayed due to mutual suspicions, intensifying strategic competition and antithetical ideas about power and governance.

    In the recent private talks on Ukraine, U.S. officials heard language from their Chinese counterparts that was consistent with harder lines the Chinese had been voicing in public, which showed that a more hostile attitude had become entrenched, according to the American accounts.

    On Wednesday, after Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine but before its full invasion, Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a news conference in Beijing that the United States was “the culprit of current tensions surrounding Ukraine.”

    “On the Ukraine issue, lately the U.S. has been sending weapons to Ukraine, heightening tensions, creating panic and even hyping up the possibility of warfare,” she said. “If someone keeps pouring oil on the flame while accusing others of not doing their best to put out the fire, such kind of behavior is clearly irresponsible and immoral.”

    She added: “When the U.S. drove five waves of NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia’s doorstep and deployed advanced offensive strategic weapons in breach of its assurances to Russia, did it ever think about the consequences of pushing a big country to the wall?” She has refused to call Russia’s assault an “invasion” when pressed by foreign journalists.

    Hua’s fiery anti-American remarks as Russia was moving to attack its neighbor stunned some current and former U.S. officials and China analysts in the United States. But the verbal grenades echo major points in the 5,000-word joint statement that China and Russia issued on Feb. 4 when Xi and Putin met at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. In that document, the two countries declared their partnership had “no limits” and that they intended to stand together against U.S.-led democratic nations. China also explicitly sided with Russia in the text to denounce enlargement of the NATO alliance.

    Last Saturday, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, criticized NATO in a video talk at the Munich Security Conference. European leaders in turn accused China of working with Russia to overturn what they and the Americans say is a “rules-based international order.” Wang did say that Ukraine’s sovereignty should be “respected and safeguarded” — a reference to a foreign policy principle that Beijing often cites — but no Chinese officials have mentioned Ukraine in those terms since Russia’s full invasion began.

    “They claim neutrality, they claim they stand on principle, but everything they say about the causes is anti-U.S., blaming NATO and adopting the Russian line,” said Evan Medeiros, a Georgetown University professor who was senior Asia director at the White House National Security Council in the Obama administration. “The question is: How sustainable is that as a posture? How much damage does it do to their ties with the U.S. and their ties with Europe?”

    The Biden administration’s diplomatic outreach to China to try to avert war began after President Joe Biden and Xi held a video summit on Nov. 15. In the talk, the two leaders acknowledged challenges in the relationship between their nations, which is at its lowest point in decades, but agreed to try to cooperate on issues of common interest, including health security, climate change and nuclear weapons proliferation, White House officials said at the time.

    After the meeting, U.S. officials decided that the Russian troop buildup around Ukraine presented the most immediate problem that China and the United States could try to defuse together. Some officials thought the outcome of the video summit indicated there was potential for an improvement in U.S.-China relations. Others were more skeptical, but thought it was important to leave no stone unturned in efforts to prevent Russia from attacking, one official said.

    Days later, White House officials met with the ambassador, Qin Gang, at the Chinese Embassy. They told the ambassador what U.S. intelligence agencies had detected: a gradual encirclement of Ukraine by Russian forces, including armored units. William J. Burns, the CIA director, had flown to Moscow on Nov. 2 to confront the Russians with the same information, and on Nov. 17, U.S. intelligence officials shared their findings with NATO.

    At the Chinese Embassy, Russia’s aggression was the first topic in a discussion that ran more than 1 1/2 hours. In addition to laying out the intelligence, the White House officials told the ambassador that the United States would impose tough sanctions on Russian companies, officials and businesspeople in the event of an invasion, going far beyond those announced by the Obama administration after Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

    The U.S. officials said the sanctions would also hurt China over time because of its commercial ties.

    They also pointed out they knew how China had helped Russia evade some of the 2014 sanctions, and warned Beijing against any such future aid. And they argued that because China was widely seen as a partner of Russia, its global image could suffer if Putin invaded.

    The message was clear: It would be in China’s interests to persuade Putin to stand down. But their entreaties went nowhere. Qin was skeptical and suspicious, a U.S. official said.

    U.S. officials spoke with the ambassador about Russia at least three more times, both in the embassy and on the phone. Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, had a call with him. Qin continued to express skepticism and said Russia had legitimate security concerns in Europe.

    The Americans also went higher on the diplomatic ladder: Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Wang about the problem in late January and again on Monday, the same day Putin ordered the new troops into Russia-backed enclaves of Ukraine.

    “The secretary underscored the need to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said a State Department summary of the call that used the phrase that Chinese diplomats like to employ in signaling to other nations not to get involved in matters involving Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, all considered separatist problems by Beijing.

    U.S. officials met with Qin in Washington again on Wednesday and heard the same rebuttals. Hours later, Putin declared war on Ukraine on television, and his military began pummeling the country with ballistic missiles as tanks rolled across the border.

    Well of course it's the United States fault that Russia sent in 70% of their maneuver units into Ukraine, duh!
    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


    • #32
      Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
      This is what my point has been all along, provided by the last two Republicans with any sort of moral awareness:

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      Just a reminder: The puppet sitting on Putin's knee is the undisputed Leader of the opposition party.

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      Liz Cheney may be 6-8 years slow on the uptake, but she did finally get there.
      Trust me?
      I'm an economist!


      • #33
        Laura Ingraham Calls Ukrainian President's Plea For Peace 'Pathetic'

        During a broadcast minutes after Russia began invading Ukraine, Fox News host Laura Ingraham derided Ukraine’s leader for trying earlier to broker peace with the Russian president.

        “We had kind of a really pathetic display from the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, earlier today ... where he in Russian ― he didn’t like to speak Russian ― but in Russian, he was essentially imploring Vladimir Putin not to invade his country,” Ingraham said during a call with former President Donald Trump.

        “And now, we basically have the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations looking like a defeated man,” she added.

        Zelenskyy hours earlier warned that a Russian invasion would cost tens of thousands of lives.

        “The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” he said in an emotional address to his nation in Russian. “But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.”

        Zelenskyy said he tried to arrange a call with his Russian counterpart late Wednesday, but the Kremlin didn’t respond.

        In the early hours of Thursday, Putin announced that he was launching a military operation in Ukraine. Reporters in Ukrainian cities began reporting explosions shortly afterward.

        Ingraham and Trump both also absurdly sought to blame President Joe Biden for Russia’s incursion, with Trump declaring that it “all happened because of a rigged election.”

        Ingraham’s spin of the situation rivaled that of her colleague, Pete Hegseth, who announced earlier this week that Trump was just trying to “troll” the media when he praised Putin’s invasion strategy as a work of “genius.”


        The Guardians Of Putin and their propaganda arm continue to give aid and comfort to the enemy.
        "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


        • #34
          Trump seeks to rewrite his role in bolstering Ukraine, NATO

          Former President Donald Trump on Monday sought to recast his administration's role in bolstering Europe's security, claiming credit for strengthening NATO and arming Ukraine's military with advanced weaponry.

          But critics were quick to point out that Trump, whose "America First" foreign policy slogan often reflected efforts to pull back from allies, frequently undermined NATO and once threatened to withhold military aide from Ukraine — a move that was deemed illegal by a government watchdog and became central to Trump's first impeachment trial in Congress.

          "It was Trump that undermined U.S. national security and froze military assistance to Ukraine," retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former National Security Council official during the Trump administration who testified at the impeachment inquiry, told ABC News on Monday. "It was Trump's attacks on NATO and support from the far-right that encouraged Putin to believe that NATO was fragile. Trump has blood on his hands."

          Nonetheless, as Russian troops continued to clash with Ukrainian forces Monday, Trump boasted of fortifying Ukraine's defense capabilities and declared that "there would be no NATO" if not for his efforts.

          "I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars," Trump said in a statement.

          "Also, it was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets," he said. "Let History so note!"

          Despite his claims of saving NATO, an alliance of 29 countries on both sides of the Atlantic, the Trump administration oversaw a period of immense strain with allies in Europe. As president, Trump wavered on his commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter, which stipulates that an attack on one member state amounts to attack on them all.

          Mick Mulroy, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Trump administration and now an ABC News contributor, characterized Article 5 as "what makes NATO the most effective military alliance in history."

          Ties with Europe became so strained during Trump's presidency that Trump reportedly discussed removing the U.S. from NATO entirely. Two of Trump's former national security advisers, John Bolton and Gen. John Kelly, have said publicly that Trump expressed an interest in exiting the alliance.

          "To the extent President Trump's rhetoric around NATO helped increase defense spending, it was likely more out of a fear that the U.S. commitment to European security was faltering rather than a positive reinforcement of mutual commitments to the Alliance and Euro-Atlantic security," said Steven Keil, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

          Critics also took note of Trump's invocation of the Javelin, a shoulder-fired precision missile system designed to destroy tanks and other armored vehicles, in his infamous July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

          Trump, in 2018, had approved the $47 million sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 37 launchers to Ukraine — the first lethal military assistance provided to Ukraine by the U.S. in its fight against Russian-supported separatists since fighting began in 2014. Zelenskyy told Trump in the 2019 phone call that his government was "almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes," according to a readout of the call.

          Trump responded: "I would like you to do us a favor though," and then pressured Zelenskyy to work with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to publicly announce an investigation into then-candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had previously served on the board of a Ukrainian oil firm. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump over the incident, but he was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

          The U.S. Government Accountability Office later found that the Trump administration broke the law in withholding nearly $400 million in congressional appropriations earmarked for Ukraine. The funds were eventually released, and the Trump administration denied any wrongdoing.

          Fucking shocking that this man, who lives in a world of alternative facts, and has lavished praise on Vladimir Putin from Day One would try to rewrite documented history....

          Oh and let's not forget this:

          "In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, Trump described NATO as “obsolete” and “unfair, economically, to … the United States.” As president, Trump berated other NATO nations for not meeting certain fundraising benchmarks and toyed with the idea of leaving the alliance. According to the Times, Trump in 2018 “told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.”

          Fuck you very much Donald Trump.
          "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


          • #35
            Anti-Trump Republicans struggle to plot path forward

            WASHINGTON — A marquee gathering of conservatives in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend ended with former President Donald Trump cementing his status as the de facto leader of the GOP.

            A smaller forum in Washington concluded with a still-unanswered question: For Republicans who despair of his dominance, what should be done?

            Many participants at the Principles First summit, which took place Saturday and Sunday, were in one way or another casualties of the MAGA movement. Either they’ve faced Trump’s ire or they’ve lost races for daring to challenge him. As the weekend unfolded, the panels had the feel of a support group for political outcasts.

            When Marina Zimmerman stood in the audience and said she was running for Congress in Colorado against Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has positioned herself far to the right of most other conservative politicians in Washington, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois left his panel and went into the crowd to hug her.

            “I know this audience,” Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump political strategist who moderated a panel, told NBC News. “This is a tribe for the tribeless and a home for the politically homeless.”

            A panel called “Should We Stay or Should We Go?” ended without consensus around either option — staying in the GOP and trying to reform it from within seemed fruitless to many in attendance, while creating a third party risks splitting the anti-Trump vote and helping him win if he runs for president again in 2024.

            “I’m wrestling with this myself,” the panel’s moderator, Michael Wood, a Texas Republican and Trump critic who lost a congressional race last year, said in an interview. “If you ask me at different points in the day what I think we should do, you’ll get different answers.”

            Adding to the sense of futility was that many of the nearly 500 people in attendance saw no hope for the party so long as it yokes itself to Trump.

            “Donald Trump is not going to be president again,” said Barbara Comstock, a panelist and former Republican member of Congress from Virginia. “If he’s the nominee, then we’re going to lose. ... Coalitions and relationships are what winning majorities are about. Trump doesn’t understand that.”

            As they talked and networked, the audience members celebrated their heroes, particularly House Republicans Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both of whom were censured by the Republican National Committee this month for their work on the select committee investigating the assault on the Capitol.

            Neither has ruled out running for president — and they would not have an easy time of it if they were to proceed. A straw poll taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando suggested that Trump would win a GOP nominating contest, with 59 percent. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished second, with 28 percent, and “other” tied with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for third, with 2 percent. The poll is nonscientific, but it is considered an early measure of popularity of Republican presidential hopefuls.

            “I know my fight is to save the soul of the Republican Party,” Kinzinger, who delivered the keynote address at the Washington conference, said in an interview. “But there may be a day when you realize that it can’t be saved. Or there are too many people who feel unrepresented. I don’t know if and when that comes.”

            A unifying theme at the conference was how much better off the nation is without Trump in power. One of the speakers was Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council official who testified in Trump’s first impeachment trial about the phone call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate Joe Biden, then a Democratic rival for president.

            In an interview after his speech, Vindman said that if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had happened on Trump’s watch, “it would be catastrophic.”

            Trump, he said, would have been “denouncing NATO, pandering to Russia, pandering to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. It would be catastrophic, because we would be so out of step with the rest of the world.”

            (Trump, in a statement Monday, repeated his false claims of a “rigged” election and suggested that if he were still president, Russia’s invasion would not have happened.)

            Contrasting Trump and Zelenskyy, who was a comedian before he won the country’s presidency in 2019, Vindman brought up reports of Trump’s taking shelter in a White House bunker during racial justice protests in 2020.

            Although he is a ripe target for the Russian military, Zelenskyy has refused to leave Ukraine.

            “What’s fascinating is they kind of come from similar roots,” Vindman said. “Both were entertainers. But look at the leadership that Zelenskyy has shown, whereas Trump ran to the bunker when there were some protests outside.”

            Participants said they’re at a loss for what Republicans stand for, apart from fealty to Trump.

            Heath Mayo, the founder of Principles First, the group that organized the conference, said that as a Republican, “I know what hat I need to wear; I know the memes I need to tweet. But I don’t know what I should believe. I don’t know what I should support. All I know is I’m voting for this guy or this team. That’s a problem for any kind of party that wants to win national elections.”

            A few speakers tried to lay out ideas that might garner broad-based support. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who came out with a book last year called “GOP 2.0,” said in a speech that Republicans need to focus on reducing the national debt, cutting inflation and speaking to voters with more civility.

            “Think about how many more conservatives would be elected if we just used a better tone,” he said.

            As both conferences wrapped up, Trump sent out a statement demonstrating that it may get even tougher to wrest the party from his grasp. He urged his supporters to fill vacant Republican precinct-level positions, potentially strengthening his hold over the party machinery ahead of the 2024 presidential nomination fight.

            In his keynote speech, Kinzinger said he is retiring from Congress but that “I’m not going anywhere.”

            Neither, of course, is Trump.
            "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


            • #36
              GOP senators push back hard on Trump's praise of Putin

              Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has revealed tensions within the Republican Party over how hard to push back on the aggression and how to respond to former President Trump's glowing praise of Putin.

              The national security crisis has shown Trump to be seriously out of step with GOP leaders on characterizing Putin's motives and moves, even though Trump looks increasingly likely to run again for president in 2024.

              Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday contradicted Trump's recent praise of Putin as "smart" and "savvy" by declaring that he views the Russian president as a "ruthless thug."

              Asked about Trump's comments, McConnell said: "What President Putin did as a ruthless thug is just invade - invaded another sovereign country and killed thousands of innocent people."

              "That's what President Putin did," he emphasized.

              It's not the first time that McConnell has indirectly admonished Trump for speaking glowingly of Putin.

              McConnell pushed back against the then-president in 2017 when Trump, shortly after taking office, equated the U.S. government with the Kremlin.

              "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Trump told then-Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.

              McConnell told CNN in response: "I don't think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does."

              The GOP leader noted that "Putin's a former KGB agent, he's a thug, he was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election."

              Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) on Tuesday unleashed another salvo at Putin when asked to comment on Trump's characterization of Putin's plan to seize parts of Ukraine piece by piece as "genius."

              Asked about Trump's praise of the Russian president, Thune, who is up for reelection this year, said "Putin is a murderous thug and I think the world is now seeing that."

              "That's my view of it and I think that's going to be most Americans' view of it. That was before and will be for sure after what we're seeing on display," he said.

              Thune predicted that the invasion of Ukraine will bolster support for NATO, which Trump discussed pulling the United States out of when he was president.

              "Obviously people are realizing more than ever now the value of NATO and seeing on full display, again, the true character of Putin," he said. "A lot of people for a long time have maintained this is what he's about, but I think now the whole world is seeing it in a way that they never have before and coming to the realization that this guy is after one thing, and that's power."

              Trump broke from the Republican Party's longtime distrust of Russia when he was elected to office. He held a two-hour one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, sending senior officials out of the room. After that meeting, Trump said he believed Putin's claim that Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 presidential election, even though U.S. intelligence agencies found substantial evidence of meddling by Moscow.

              The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), then the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, lambasted Trump's joint press conference with Putin as "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."

              Years later, Trump still seems to hold a favorable opinion of Putin, telling an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend: "I like to tell the truth. Yes, he's smart."

              "The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he's smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb," he added.

              He doubled down on comments made in a radio interview with "The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show" in which he praised Putin's strategy as "genius" and "pretty savvy."

              Those statements surprised Republican senators who publicly condemned Putin.

              Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted twice to convict Trump on articles of impeachment, said statements defending Putin are "almost treasonous."

              "It just makes me ill to see some of these people do that. But of course they do it because it's shock value and it's going to get them maybe more eyeballs and make a little more money for them or their network," he told CNN's "State of the Union."

              Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), a mainstream Republican senator who usually avoids controversy, took to the Senate floor on Monday to declare that Putin alone is responsible for the crisis in Ukraine.

              "Vladimir Putin is a thug and is solely responsible for the invasion of Ukraine. Putin, I condemn him, and he's even being condemned by his own people in Russia and by a growing alliance around the world," he said. "There is nothing that justifies Russia invading Ukraine. This is the most significant intrusion from one country to another since the beginning in the 1930s of what resulted in World War II."

              Moran later told The Hill that he felt compelled to speak out.

              "Reading history, Churchill in that era is important to me. My dad was a World War II veteran. It stands out. It's easy to look the other way, but that's a mistake," he said.

              Asked whether he was trying to clear up questions of whether President Biden deserves some blame for the invasion, as Trump has suggested, Moran only said: "Vladimir Putin is responsible for what's transpiring in Ukraine."

              "I think these are points in time in which these circumstances require us to be united in making sure the blame rests with Putin," he said.

              Not all Republicans are responding to Trump's comments with forceful denunciations of Putin.

              Sen. Ted Cruz
              (R-Texas), who is eyeing a run for president in 2024, said the "corporate media" is distracting from what he views as the Biden administration's reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia sooner by focusing on Trump.

              "I think the corporate media is desperate to drive a narrative. By any measure, Trump's policies were much, much tougher on Russia than Biden's policies," he said, noting sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Trump signed into law. "Putin did not invade Ukraine throughout that time until Joe Biden became president."

              Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton told Newsmax in an interview that he disagrees with claims that Trump's policies deterred Putin.

              "It's just not accurate to say that Trump's behavior somehow deterred the Russians," Bolton told host Rob Schmitt.

              Bolton also disputed the claim that Trump stopped or slowed construction on Nord Stream 2, a pipeline that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.

              "We didn't sanction Nord Stream 2. We should have. We should have brought the project to an end. We did impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs and several others because of their sales of S-400 anti-aircraft systems to other countries. But in almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it, saying we were being too hard," he said.

              "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


              • #37
                Trump's power worship of Putin is repugnant — and predictable
                “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine, of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," Trump explained on a radio show the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

                "So Putin is now saying, 'It's independent,' a large section of Ukraine. I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That's the strongest peace force," Trump added. "We could use that on our southern border. That's the strongest peace force I've ever seen.... Here's a guy who's very savvy.... I know him very well. Very, very well."

                In the days that followed, Trump’s comments generated a lot of justified condemnation. But it bothered me that most of the criticism seemed to center on Trump’s use of the terms “savvy” and “genius,” and not “wonderful.” The former are descriptive terms while the latter is normative. After all, one can believe that Putin is brilliant while also being evil. But saying that the initiation of lawless slaughter is “wonderful” is morally grotesque. It’s all the more repugnant when you realize that Trump was celebrating Putin’s propaganda that he was merely sending in “peacekeepers” while suggesting there’s nothing wrong with Russia falsely declaring conquered territory is “independent.”

                Eventually it dawned on Trump that he misread the moment. At the Conservative Political Action Conference he offered a real condemnation. “The Russian attack on the Ukraine is appalling. It's an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur.” Reasonable people can debate the depth of his sincerity. Though it seems to me that if your first reaction to lawless slaughter is to marvel at the wonderful brilliance of it, you’ve told us who you are.

                But we already knew who Trump is. From his respect for the Chinese government’s slaughter of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square to the invasion of Ukraine, Trump has long demonstrated his instinctual attraction to brutality and “strength.” Just last Saturday, he praised the authority shown by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and “joked” that he wished his generals were as terrified of him as they were of Kim.

                Overlooked in the bloody days since his initial celebration is how utterly wrong Trump was about the man he claims to know “very, very well.” Trump’s problem is the problem with all power worship. It clouds the mind and corrupts the soul, rewriting not just objectivity but moral calculus too. As Orwell observed, power worship leads us to believe that “whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible” so any moral objections are seen as not just folly, but the whining of suckers and losers.

                Trump and his die-hard defenders insist Putin wouldn’t have invaded Ukraine if he were president. Given that Putin continued his conquest of eastern Ukraine throughout Trump’s presidency and that Putin had a reasonable hope that Trump would try to pull out of NATO if reelected, not to mention his reluctance to impose sanctions and his abiding strongman-sycophancy, it doesn’t seem Putin was intimidated by Trump’s strength.

                The more interesting question is, why would Trump object to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine if he were president? He didn’t seem to see anything particularly wrong with Putin’s initial attack. He claims he would have stopped Putin, and yet once the invasion happened on President Biden’s watch, he deemed it “wonderful.”

                Normal former presidents tend to think our national interests extend beyond their time in office. But not Trump.

                Indeed, a few days ago, Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that China will invade Taiwan “because they're seeing how stupid the United States is run." He added, “They're seeing that our leaders are incompetent. And of course they're going to do it. This is their time.”

                Earlier on, as Russia massed more than100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border, Biden was castigated for seeming to suggest that a “minor incursion” into Ukraine by Putin might not invite as forceful a response from the U.S. and the international community as a full invasion might. Many on the right correctly condemned Biden for sending a provocative message of weakness. It’s hard to fathom how Trump — the putative 2024 GOP nominee — peddling idiocy about Putin and China wouldn’t invite similar or greater outrage.

                But that’s what power worship does. And, like Trump himself, his worshipers can see the world around them only through a prism of us-against-them, in which principles simply don’t count.

                A reminder: This man is still the undisputed leader of the Republican Party and commands the admiration, to one degree or another, of most of the right-wing of the political spectrum, both here in the United States and abroad.
                "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                • #38
                  Grisham: Trump 'admired' Putin's willingness to 'kill whoever'
                  Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that after working under former president Trump, it was clear to her he "admired" Russian President Vladimir Putin and his willingness to stifle dissent.

                  "I think he feared him. I think the man intimidated him," Grisham said of Trump and Putin during a Tuesday appearance on "The View." "I also think he admired him greatly. I think he wanted to be able to kill whoever spoke out against him."

                  Grisham added that Trump "loved the dictators" he met with on international trips during his four years in office, repeating comments she's made in the past.

                  Putin has faced accusations of violence against journalists and opposition leaders for a number of years.

                  "He loved the people who could kill anyone, including the press," Grisham said. "Donald Trump would be 54 feet below ground hiding [if his country was invaded]. And [Ukrainian president] Volodymyr Zelensky is out there fighting for his country."

                  Since leaving the White House, Grisham has published a tell-all book filled with behind-the-scenes stories of personal interactions with the former president and allegations of a toxic environment in his White House.

                  She has appeared extensively on television and other media in the weeks since, often making sharp, critical comments about Trump and the people in his inner circle.

                  "The president frequently said insane things to foreign leaders," Grisham wrote in her book. "Sometimes they were just silly or offensive, sometimes they were offhand remarks that would inadvertently upend the carefully crafted policies of our diplomatic and national security professionals, sometimes they were sheer bluster."

                  Trump has been criticized for his comments about Putin's invasion of Ukraine, during which he called the Russian leader "genius" and "savvy."

                  He later appeared to reverse course, calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine a "holocaust" and urged Russia to stop fighting.

                  In a statement after Grisham's book published, Trump called his former press aide "very angry and bitter."

                  "She had big problems and we felt that she should work out those problems for herself," Trump said at the time. "Now, like everyone else, she gets paid by a radical left-leaning publisher to say bad and untrue things."
                  "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                  • #39
                    Americans donate body armor, ammunition for Ukraine

                    (Reuters) - When Texas marketing executive Bret Starr asked colleagues in Ukraine what they needed after Russia's invasion, he got a surprise.

                    "You know, it was guns, bullets and body armor," said Starr, for whom Respect.Studio in western Ukraine provides social marketing services.

                    The young digital marketers at Respect.Studio, part of Ukraine's huge technology services-outsourcing sector, said they were organizing a territorial defense squad.

                    The Fort Worth businessman knew he could not send guns, but he discovered he could legally ship body armor and helmets.

                    Starr expects to send the first 20 sets of helmets and bullet-proof vests to Respect.Studio this week, followed by up to 2,000 more through donations of cash and gear.

                    "We're worried about the people that we've been on video calls with for two years," said Starr, who owns The Starr Conspiracy marketing agency.

                    He is among Americans collecting thousands of sets of body armor, pledging millions of rounds of ammunition and even trying to donate guns in response to Ukraine's pleas for military aid.

                    "Volunteers here raise funds to buy the needed (body) armor, but there's a lack of supply," said Oleksii Sysak, a LinkedIn specialist and marketer at Respect.Studio in Lviv, Ukraine.

                    "I NEED AMMUNITION"

                    American donors are running into U.S. and foreign export licenses requirements for equipment like modern bullet proof vests, firearms and ammunition.

                    Some are partnering with Ukrainian relief groups to get past export hurdles.

                    Starr is shipping his vests through the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, a non-profit group that is licensed to do so, he said.In New York state, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office on Monday gave around 450 pieces of body armor to the Long Island-Ukraine Emergency Response Drive.

                    Remington Ammunition, and other units of U.S. company Vista Outdoor, on Friday said they would donate one million rounds of ammunition to the Ukraine Armed Forces.

                    Ammo Inc CEO Fred Wagenhals on Tuesday said Ukraine had approved his company's donation of one million rounds, which were in Poland.

                    The Arizona munitions company made the offer after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy famously quipped, "I need ammunition, not a ride," in response to a U.S. evacuation offer.

                    "So we sent him ammo," said Wagenhals.And in what may be the United States' only gun drive for Ukraine, New York's Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has launched a bid to collect semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

                    The Republican politician said he had gathered over 50 donated firearms and was working with federal authorities to overcome export barriers.

                    "We want to make sure they have the weapons they need to defend their homes," said Blakeman.
                    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                    • #40
                      Thank God Trump Isn’t President Right Now
                      Joe Biden is not a very good president. His communication skills are subpar, e.g. when he found himself praising the “Iranian” instead of the Ukrainian people in his State of the Union speech. His political judgments are sometimes poor, e.g. devoting most of his first year to assuaging the demands of the progressive wing of his party. His stubbornness can be destructive, e.g. his decision to withdraw precipitously from Afghanistan. And his priorities are often wrong, e.g. focusing on voting rights legislation that addressed small problems like the number of days of early voting and dropboxes at the expense of the urgent need to reform the Electoral Count Act.

                      And yet, I thank God every day that Biden is president. The Russian offensive against Ukraine is the first crisis of his presidency (other than COVID, which was ongoing when he assumed office) and in this emergency he has redeemed the hopes of those who voted for competence. The administration’s warnings to Moscow were unambiguous without being hysterical. Our revelations of intelligence unmasking Russian disinformation and false flag narratives were on the nose. Biden’s coordination with European allies was neither bullying nor “leading from behind,” but a skillful presentation of unity (special kudos to Secretary of State Antony Blinken). Biden’s muscular reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to NATO was crucial not just for Europe but for the world. China is taking notes on how the globe is responding to Putin and perhaps thinking twice about trying to conquer Taiwan.

                      By proclaiming American solidarity with Ukraine and our democratic allies around the world, Biden has restored our equilibrium. If Ronald Reagan were still alive, he’d find little to criticize in the administration’s approach.

                      There were some missed opportunities. The president should have placed the invasion of Ukraine in a broader historical context and outlined how the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism is the defining issue of our time, whether abroad or at home. And he ought not to suggest or pretend that Americans can be spared any hardship, even higher gas prices, during this fight. On the contrary, he should be preparing the nation for sacrifice. Seventy-nine percent of Americans already favor banning Russian oil imports even if it means higher gas prices, and it’s a mistake to discount people’s unselfish impulses. Besides, if he promises that all of the pain will be inflicted on Russia, he will be blamed for breaking his word when Americans feel the sting of price hikes, instead of being honored for standing on principle.

                      Biden is a normal man with normal flaws. He made some errors, but he sees clearly what sort of menace Vladimir Putin is. Only the most obtuse or twisted soul could fail to see it. . . which brings us to the president’s predecessor.

                      The Ukraine crisis reminds us that Trump is no run-of-the-mill fool, but a unique combination of stupidity and venality. A quick refresher on his relations with Putin and Ukraine leaves little doubt that far from deterring Putin, he was Putin’s most reliable “useful idiot.” Trump’s most durable legacy is the Putinesque level of deceit he introduced into the American bloodstream, but he was also a mark.

                      Trump wasn’t the first president to go soft on Putin, of course. Barack “Tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” Obama plowed that ground very well. Failing to enforce his red line in Syria and inviting Russia to assert dominance there; failing to impose harsh sanctions after the annexation of Crimea; and mocking Mitt Romney for taking the Russian threat seriously, Obama was hardly a model of fortitude.

                      But at least Obama knew what he was doing. He chose diffidence and called it wisdom. Trump was a dupe and a dope, a walking refutation of the adage “you can’t kid a kidder.” An inveterate liar himself, he could never discern when he was being played, at least by the strongmen he admired like Putin, Kim, and Xi.

                      Having spent the entire 2016 campaign suggesting that it would be great if we “got along with Russia,” encouraging Moscow to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, and accepting dirt on his opponent from Russian figures, Trump was under strong suspicion and a federal investigation for his Russia ties. All 17 American intelligence agencies agreed that Russia had interfered with the election to damage Clinton. Yet upon Trump’s first meeting with Putin, he accepted the Russian’s denials and announced the creation of “an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe.” The plan to let the fox guard the henhouse was dropped after GOP senators exploded.

                      We’ll never know how many times Trump spoke to Putin because those records were expunged and Trump often demanded that the translators take no notes, but it is clear from the public record that Trump often repeated Putin’s talking points.

                      At the Helsinki summit, Trump infamously endorsed Putin’s version of the election interference story over that of America’s own intelligence agencies. “President Putin says it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Later, speaking to Tucker Carlson, Trump revealed the other ways Putin had been poisoning his mind, planting ideas about NATO countries. “Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” Carlson asked. Trump responded: “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. . . . They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III.” Who believes that Trump had ever heard of Montenegro, far less formed views about their supposed aggressiveness, before that meeting?

                      Trump got other ideas from his conversations with Putin and dutifully lobbied our major trading partners in the G7 to invite Russia back into the fold. They declined.

                      In 2019, defending his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump offered this little potted history about Russia’s engagement with that country: “Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia. . . the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.”

                      As with the other Putin nuggets he regurgitated, Trump said this with perfect ingenuousness.

                      Throughout his presidency, Trump hinted and blustered about withdrawing from NATO, which would fulfill Putin’s dearest wish. When his aides objected that this might be harmful politically, Trump conceded the point, as Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker report, saying “Yeah, the second term. We’ll do it in the second term.”

                      As for Ukraine, Putin, like the KGB officer he had once been, had filled Trump’s mind with calumnies playing upon his particular obsessions. Trump got the idea that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had interfered in the 2016 election, and that the meddling was against Trump, not for him. As New York Magazine reported, “Trump repeatedly told one senior official that the Russian president said Ukraine sought to undermine him.” Trump further believed in a mysterious “missing server” that was hidden in Ukraine containing the missing emails. In his infamous 2019 shake-down call with Volodomyr Zelensky, Trump alluded to it: “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike. . . I guess you have one of your wealthy people. . . The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

                      And because Trump swallowed Putin’s lies, congressional Republicans echoed them. In her testimony before the House intelligence committee, Fiona Hill attempted to debunk it:
                      Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

                      Yes, and by their willing mouthpiece, the then-president of the United States.

                      In 2016, Trump suggested that Russian ownership of Crimea be recognized, and again repeated a factoid that seems likely to have come directly from Putin. “The people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were,” he told ABC News. The GOP platform was changed to omit endorsing arms for Ukraine. Asked about his view of Putin’s intentions, he huffed, “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.”

                      It was more than ignorance, it was hero worship. Trump is a disturbed human being who is constantly revealing his attraction to violence and “strength.” Even as Putin was smashing his tanks into Ukraine, Trump fawned over his “genius” and then boasted that “I know him very, very well.” He said it was “wonderful.” He backtracked after a day or two, but doubtless only after being advised that it was politically unwise.

                      But if, God forbid, there were ever a second term, political considerations wouldn’t be dispositive and the most sinister and credulous man ever to disgrace the Oval Office would be unconstrained.

                      Biden hasn’t been perfect—but he’s a godsend given the alternative.
                      "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                      • #41
                        Former U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says Americans must unite in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine
                        Gen. James Mattis, a former U.S. secretary of defense, Tuesday urged Americans to put aside their political differences and present a united front to the world as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its 14th day.

                        “We gather this afternoon here in Florida at a grim time, a time of peril even as the innocent Ukrainian people find their very existence in doubt,” Mattis told more than 470 people at The Society of the Four Arts as part of its Esther B. O’Keeffe speaker series.

                        “We are encouraging our adversaries to exploit our division and threaten us abroad,” said Mattis, who received a standing ovation at the close of his talk. “We are hurting ourselves and scaring our allies with some of the political antics that shame us in front of our children. We need to recognize the peril if we do not come back together.”

                        Mattis served as the 26th secretary of defense from 2017 to 2019 and was the first member of Donald Trump’s cabinet cleared to take office. Prior to that, he spent 44 years in the Marines, rising from an 18-year-old reservist to the highest rank of four-star general.

                        Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, who served as U.S. ambassador to Finland from 2001 to 2003 introduced Mattis. She invited him to speak at the Four Arts.

                        “He is a a committed and devout Catholic,” McElveen Hunter said. “During the Iraqi invasion he also prayed with Gen. John Kelly. The warrior monk nickname was earned because of his bachelorhood and his scholarship and lifelong devotion to the study of war. He is also known for his blunt, sometimes provocative speech including his Mattisisms.”

                        One of those is, “If in order to kill the enemy, you have to kill an innocent, don’t take the shot. Don’t create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act.”

                        Jim Mattis talks about Ukraine in Palm Beach
                        Mattis, who returned from a security conference in Munich last week and flew to Palm Beach from his home state of Washington, said he discarded his previously prepared remarks about leadership in crisis, and instead decided to focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

                        “Courage and wisdom are needed when we are forced to confront the greatest possible issues,” Mattis said. “We are living in a moment when we must not disguise the ugliness imposed by Putin’s attack and the brutality, he is bringing to us all.

                        “This earthquake unleashed by Putin’s recently manufactured crisis is one of those weeks when it seems like a decade of change happens in hours,” he said.

                        Calling Putin “an isolated angry old man menacing the world with his talk of nuclear weapons,” Mattis said the threats cannot be dismissed and are real, but the chances of nuclear weapons being deployed can be reduced and, hopefully, prevented.

                        Mattis said that so long as western diplomats come together from a position of strength, eventually economics and diplomacy will prevail, but the approach must be firm, measured and strategic.

                        “We need to put Russia in a box and assure they cannot go further," Mattis said.

                        “Eventually what I call the bleeding ulcer will bleed some more, and he will turn to the diplomats. We may have to wait until we have a new president in Russia,” Mattis said. “We are going to have to pull together here and try not to let this spread.”

                        Mattis: Zelenskyy cut from the same cloth as Founding Fathers
                        Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy is a courageous leader who is cut from the same cloth and displays the same righteous fury as America's nations’ founding fathers, Mattis said.

                        “What an inspiration Zelenskyy has been. It is such a clear choice between good and evil,” Mattis said. “This exhausted defiant leader reminded the world of our shared human values, the values his valiant people are defending, and noting as he did, that a Russian speaker in Kyiv has more freedom of speech that a Russian speaker in Moscow.”

                        In Putin’s world view, countries fall into two categories, either a vassal state that will do whatever he tells them, or enemies who live by the United Nation’s charter, Mattis said.

                        “Putin’s contempt for democracy and his unprovoked assault on a country that was no threat has pressed Russia into a debacle,” Mattis said.

                        Putin is being proven wrong on every account ─ economically, military and diplomatically, he added.

                        “He embarked on a costly adventure that has already become a bleeding ulcer on his country’s future,” Mattis said.

                        Putin wanted a weaker European Union and a fractured North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but instead his actions have strengthened NATO and the EU has implemented economic sanctions against Russia.

                        The world’s democracies must work together, and no nation alone can secure its borders no matter how many aircraft its navy has, Mattis said.

                        The words of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who said that peace freedom and security cannot be taken for granted, should be heeded, he added.

                        Mattis commended U.S. and U.K. intelligence and the CIA’s work in sharing what its spies discovered about Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine, setting the foundation for NATO’s unity of purpose.

                        Putin's control of media has Russians 'hostages to an unacceptable tyrant'
                        The Russian people, although many of them are brainwashed due to Putin’s hold over the media, must not be forgotten, Mattis said.

                        “We must keep talking to the Russian people and telling them that we assume they are hostages to an unacceptable tyrant and his coterie of oligarchs and henchmen even as Putin tries to brainwash his people,” he said.

                        “We have strength no dictator can have if we keep the faith,” Mattis said.

                        Mattis capped off his military career as head of the U.S. Central Command, where he was in charge of all American forces serving in the Middle East and oversaw operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Syria, Iran and Yemen.

                        He is the author of “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead and co-editor of Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.”
                        "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                        • #42
                          It is pretty sad that it takes a war for the GOP to de-Trumpify itself.
                          Trust me?
                          I'm an economist!


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by DOR View Post
                            It is pretty sad that it takes a war for the GOP to de-Trumpify itself.
                            What's even worse is...they haven't actually de-Trumpified.
                            "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                            • #44
                              Trump Ignores Sean Hannity's Prompt To Call Putin 'Evil'
                              Fox News’ Sean Hannity gave Donald Trump multiple opportunities to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, and the former president repeatedly declined to do so.

                              Trump has faced widespread backlash for calling Putin’s tactics a work of “genius” last month as the authoritarian leader prepared to invade Ukraine. His rhetoric met resistance from some high-ranking Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said on Wednesday that Putin was not a genius but an evil dictator.

                              Hannity gave Trump an opportunity on Thursday to walk his comments back, two weeks after Putin launched a brutal war that has killed hundreds of civilians.

                              “You came under some fire when you said that Vladimir Putin is very smart,” Hannity said during an interview with Trump. “I think I know you a little bit better than most people in the media, and I think you also recognize he’s evil, do you not?”

                              Trump declined to say and instead tried to argue about the semantics of his praise for the dictator.

                              “Well, I was referring to the fact that he said this is an independent nation, talking about Ukraine, and I said that ... this was before there was any attack. He’s calling it an independent nation,” Trump said, adding that “this doesn’t seem to be the same Putin that I was dealing with.”

                              “But I will tell you, he wouldn’t have changed if I were dealing with him. He wouldn’t have changed,” he added.

                              Trump then criticized President Joe Biden’s nuclear posture during the crisis in Eastern Europe and described how he would have handled it if he were in charge.

                              Biden has declined to match Putin’s heightened nuclear alert status, avoiding an escalation of warnings between the two superpowers.

                              “Look, Biden, every time he gets up he says they are a nuclear nation. He should say we are a nuclear nation,” Trump said.

                              “And, you know, I rebuilt our whole nuclear arsenal, stronger, bigger, better than ever before,” he added. “He should say, ‘We are a nuclear nation and we don’t want war ... and we don’t want to wipe out Russia.’”

                              He condemned the violence as “a crime against humanity” and said it “has to end” now, though he also noted that if it comes to an end as things stand, it’s “going to look like a big loss” for Putin.

                              Hannity later circled back to the backlash against Trump for his praise of Putin, giving him another chance to retract those comments.

                              ″You’ve often quoted to me Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War.’ Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Is that how you viewed Vladimir?” the Fox News host said. “Did you view Vladimir Putin and people like President Xi and Kim Jong Un and the Iranian mullahs as enemies that you needed to keep close?”

                              Again, Trump offered no condemnation for the authoritarian leader.

                              “I got along with these people. I got along with them well. That doesn’t mean they are good people. It doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that I understood them and perhaps they understood me,” Trump said. “Because they knew there’d be a big penalty.”

                              Hannity had already tried to explain away Trump’s praise for Putin on Ukraine, arguing on Feb. 24 that it was “taken out of context.” Donald Trump Jr. also chimed in on the subject this week, suggesting his dad’s cozying up to dictators was a ploy to “play these guys.”

                              As president, Trump routinely alienated U.S. allies, including Canada and Germany, while praising autocratic leaders like Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


                              The presumptive candidate for the 2024 Republican Party ticket. He just can't bring himself to clearly and unequivocally denounce his good friend.

                              Also, when and how, exactly, did Trump "[rebuild] our whole nuclear arsenal, stronger, bigger, better than ever before"?
                              "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                              • #45
                                GOP Rep. Cawthorn calls Zelensky a 'thug,' says Ukraine is pushing 'woke ideologies'

                                Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky a "thug" at a campaign event over the weekend.

                                "Remember that Zelensky is a thug," Cawthorn said in a video obtained by WRAL. "Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies."

                                The 26-year-old Cawthorn’s statement is a deviation from mainstream Republican support of Zelensky and the Ukrainian people as they defend themselves against the Russian invasion, but it echoes comments made at the first impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump.

                                “We’re talking Ukraine … one of the three most corrupt countries on the planet,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said at the first hearing. “Corruption is not just prevalent in Ukraine — it’s the system!”

                                Trump was impeached for attempting to blackmail Zelensky shortly after the Ukrainian president took office, in a call to him in 2019. Democrats argued that Trump had threatened to condition U.S. military aid to Ukraine on a commitment from Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, then a top candidate in the Democratic primary race.

                                An hour after WRAL published the video, Cawthorn tweeted that Putin’s actions were “disgusting” and that he was praying for Ukrainians but that “leaders, including Zelensky, should NOT push misinformation on America.”

                                A spokesperson for Cawthorn did not immediately reply to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

                                The comments from the freshman congressman were first noted by the Republican strategist Karl Rove in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Wednesday. In a piece describing Republican support for Ukraine, despite Trump’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rove cited Cawthorn's comments, as well as those made by Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, as exceptions.

                                Cawthorn has raised controversy on many occasions since taking office last year, after comments he made about Adolf Hitler and the Black Lives Matter movement. He has also compared the issue of COVID-19 vaccine passports to Nazi policies, misleadingly implied that he was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, and launched a website accusing a journalist of leaving a job at Boston College “to work for non-white males, like [Democratic New Jersey Sen.] Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.”

                                Additionally, a number of women who attended college with Cawthorn have accused him of sexual misconduct, charges he denies.

                                He also spoke at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the violence at the U.S. Capitol and subsequently voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He recently made headlines for driving with a revoked license, his third reported traffic violation in the last six months.

                                Cawthorn won the 11th District in the western portion of North Carolina with 55 percent of the vote in 2020. After initially saying he would run for reelection in a newly drawn 13th District, he reversed course and said he would remain in the 11th.

                                Some North Carolinians sued to keep Cawthorn off the ballot due to his role on Jan. 6, citing a Reconstruction-era law that bans those who have engaged in insurrection, but a judge blocked the effort last week.

                                A number of North Carolina Republicans, including several of Cawthorn’s GOP primary opponents, quickly condemned his remarks on Ukraine. And on Wednesday, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared to distance himself from Trump, who praised Putin as “savvy” in the lead-up to the invasion.

                                "I do not think anything savvy or genius about Putin. I think Putin is evil. I think he’s a dictator. I think he’s murdering people right now,” McCarthy said.

                                When asked if he agreed that there was no room in the Republican Party for Putin apologists, a statement made by former Vice President Mike Pence, McCarthy answered in the affirmative.

                                “Yeah,” McCarthy told reporters.


                                Oh Kevin you spineless little wuss, there's PLENTY of room in the Republican Party for Putin apologists....starting with the leader of the Republican Party.

                                It's interesting (and by "interesting I mean "entirely predictable") how Trump's Cult45/Putin Apologists all parrot the same line: "UKRAINE IS HIDEOUSLY CORRUPT" when discussing Russia's invasion. Um, yup, plenty of corruption in Ukraine. No argument here. So what's your fucking point? What does this have to do with Putin's invasion? Oh right, "Hunter Biden's laptop" or some irrelevant shit like that...
                                "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig