By Robert A. Vella

President Trump just met with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, ostensibly to negotiate a federal budget compromise to be taken up by the incoming Congress on January 3rd.  Such negotiations have been typically conducted in private to allow for honest discussion.  But, today the meeting was broadcast live across the major news networks.  What the public saw was a bitter exchange between a ranting and irrational president and the two Democratic leaders who tried unsuccessfully to talk some sense into him.

Trump kept demanding new funding (“about five billion”) for his border wall obsession, spewed proven falsehoods about its current status and effectiveness, and denigrated immigrants as dangerous criminals and drug dealers.  Pelosi suggested that if the border wall was so important to him, why not pass a bill now while the GOP still controls both houses of Congress.  Trump replied there wasn’t enough support in the current Congress to pass it while ignoring the fact that there will be even less support in the new Congress.  When Schumer cited fact-checkers which contradicted Trump’s false claims, the president became enraged.  He then angrily admitted that he will shutdown the federal government if Democrats don’t agree to fund his border wall.

From:  Jared Kushner advised Saudi prince on how to ‘weather’ Khashoggi slaying, report says

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been a promoter of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman since the early days of the administration and recently offered the prince advice on how to handle the outrage over the slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Kushner, 37, who serves as Trump’s adviser on the Middle East, has kept up informal conversations with the prince, 33, since early 2017, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources. Three former senior officials told the paper that the politically inexperienced Kushner’s private chats with Mohammed could have made him “susceptible to Saudi manipulation.”

Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 by Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Although the administration has played down reported evidence linking the slaying to the prince and cautioned lawmakers not to take action against Saudi Arabia in response to the killing, senators say U.S. intelligence reports clearly implicate the crown prince.

From:  44 ex-senators warn U.S. is ‘entering a dangerous period’

A bipartisan group of nearly four dozen former senators warned current and future members of the Senate on Monday that the United States was “entering a dangerous period,” and urged them to defend America’s democracy by serving national interests rather than political ideologies.

“We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration,” the 44 ex-lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. “The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability.”

The senators continued: “It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate. We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.”

From:  Maria Butina, accused Russian spy cooperating with federal prosecutors as part of plea deal

Maria Butina, an accused Russian spy who nuzzled up to the National Rifle Association before the 2016 election, has begun cooperating with federal prosecutors after agreeing to a plea deal in recent days, according to a source familiar with the matter.

News that Butina had seemed to reach a deal with federal prosecutors first broke earlier Monday when her attorneys and prosecutors filed a two-page request on Monday for a “change of plea” hearing before a federal judge. “The parties have resolved this matter,” the filing in DC federal court said Monday morning. Butina’s case was brought by federal prosecutors in DC and not by Robert Mueller’s team in the special counsel’s office.

Her cooperation will mainly focus on telling investigators about the role of her boyfriend Paul Erickson and her interactions with her Russian handlers. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s office in DC declined to comment. Butina’s lawyer declined to comment for the story. A lawyer for Erickson also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the agreement, revealed to CNN, Butina “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (‘Russian Official’) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

Some legal experts are speculating that Butina’s cooperation with investigators could implicate the National Rifle Association and some Republican politicians in an illegal money laundering scheme which funneled Russian funds through the opaque NRA organization to various conservative candidates.  If this is true, then the normal procedure of deportation for criminally convicted foreign nationals would have to be altered since Butina’s safety would be in jeopardy if she was returned to Russia.

In other news, a Virginia jury has recommended a life sentence for James Alex Fields, the white supremacist convicted of first-degree murder for ramming his car into counter-protesters during the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year.

24 thoughts on “Trump rants about border wall, Kushner advises Saudis, ex-Senators issue warning, Maria Butina plea deal

  1. Good stuff. He wants to use the wall as a way to help him vilify Nancy Pelosi and the Dems. Thing is, yesterday, she whipped his ass and made him look awful to everyone except his cult followers. I think Donny’s unraveling.

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