McMaster ‘Not Concerned’ With New Reports About Jared Kushner, Russia

National Security Advisor HR McMaster said he was “not concerned” following reports that Jared Kushner attempted to set up secret backchannels with Russian officials. A Washington Post story out Friday reported that Kushner proposed establishing a “secret and secure” backchannel with the Kremlin to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Speaking to reporters traveling with President Donald Trump to the G7 summit in Italy, McMaster said “the U.S. frequently sets up backchannels to countries for discreet communications.” “We have backchannel communications with a number of countries,” McMaster said. “What that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner so I’m not concerned.” According to Politico, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn declined to answer questions about the Kushner reports. The New York Times reported that the backchannel between Trump officials and Russia would be in service of Michael Flynn — McMaster’s predecessor — who was ousted from Continue reading "McMaster ‘Not Concerned’ With New Reports About Jared Kushner, Russia"

‘This is a Temporary State of Affairs’: Biden Rails Against Populism and Trump in Speech at Cornell

Former Vice President Joe Biden railed against populism, hate speech and — presumably — the Trump administration in a powerful keynote address at Cornell University’s commencement. “I thought we had passed the days where it was acceptable for political leaders at local and national levels to bestow legitimacy on hate speech and fringe ideologies,” Biden said. “But the world is changing so rapidly there are a lot of folks out there who are afraid, and susceptible to this kind of negative appeal.” Biden commented on “the forces of populism not only here, but around the world,” ostensibly a reference to the rising support for populist politicians — from President Donald Trump to France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders. Biden also Continue reading "‘This is a Temporary State of Affairs’: Biden Rails Against Populism and Trump in Speech at Cornell"

Hannity is ‘Bad Business’: Media Matters President Defends Boycott of Fox News Host

A boycott of Sean Hannity‘s program, spearheaded by liberal watchdog group Media Matters, was recently launched in response to the Fox News host’s promotion of a conspiracy theory about slain DNC staffer Seth Rich. The liberal nonprofit published a list of advertisers for Hannity’s show, to pressure them into dropping from his program — a move Hannity called “liberal fascism.” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, joined Michael Smerconish on CNN Saturday to defend his calls to boycott Hannity’s program. “I am trying to provide information about Sean Hannity to people that have to make business decisions about their relationship with Sean Hannity,” Carusone said. Smerconish asked if the campaign amounts to censorship, which Carusone pushed back on: “I don’t think that it is censorship if a company doesn’t want to associate with or give money to a personality,” he said. “I’m not saying Sean Hannity shouldn’t be able to Continue reading "Hannity is ‘Bad Business’: Media Matters President Defends Boycott of Fox News Host"

Russian Banker: Jared Kushner Met With Known to U.S. Officials as ‘Putin Crony’

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 10.29.21 White House senior advisor Jared Kushner reportedly met with a Russian banker known as a “Putin crony” to U.S. intelligence officials. Following reports that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law attempted to set up a secret backchannel with the Kremlin, an NBC News story reports that the Russian banker Kushner met with in December is known to U.S. officials as “a graduate of a ‘finishing school’ for spies who was often tasked with sensitive financial operations by Putin.” According to NBC:
Sergey Gorkov, 48, graduated from the FSB Academy, which was chartered in 1994 to educate Russian Intelligence personnel. He has long served Russian President Vladimir Putin in critical economic roles. Most recently, Putin chose him to head of the state-owned VneshEconomBank (VEB). As the Russian state national development bank, VEB has played a critical role in blunting the impact of U.S. sanctions against Russia by finding Continue reading "Russian Banker: Jared Kushner Met With Known to U.S. Officials as ‘Putin Crony’"

Michael Hayden On Jared Kushner’s Request to Russians: ‘Ignorance, Chaos, Hubris’

CNN’s Michael Smerconish spoke with former head of the NSA and CIA Gen. Michael Hayden Saturday, in the wake of reports that White House senior advisor Jared Kushner tried to establish a backchannel with the Kremlin. Smerconish started by asking Hayden if Kushner’s actions struck him more as the result of “nefarious” intentions, or “naiveté.” “Well Michael right now I’m going with naiveté, and that’s not, particularly, very comforting for me,” Hayden responded. “I mean what manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or an appropriate idea,” he added. “So again, naiveté doesn’t make me feel good about many things.” Hayden pointed out that the talks could have been borne out of President Donald Trump’s distrust for the previous administration, noting that was nonetheless dumbfounding, in the light of accusations that Continue reading "Michael Hayden On Jared Kushner’s Request to Russians: ‘Ignorance, Chaos, Hubris’"

Gary Cohn Says Coal ‘Doesn’t Even Make That Much Sense Anymore’

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 13.57.24 President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn trashed coal in comments to reporters aboard Air Force One Friday, according to the pool report. “Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock,” Cohn said. The comment is remarkably at odds with the rhetoric Trump campaigned on, specifically his promise to revive the coal industry. Trump’s pledge to “put miners back to work” has often been credited with the president’s electoral success in the Rust Belt, once home to a booming coal industry. As many have pointed out, Trump is unlikely to be able to put people back to work in the coal mines, and it looks like Cohn is aware with that reality, pointing to other more viable sources of energy. “Natural gas, which we have become an abundant producer, which we’re going to became a major exporter of, is such a cleaner fuel,” Cohn said. “If Continue reading "Gary Cohn Says Coal ‘Doesn’t Even Make That Much Sense Anymore’"

‘Complete Disaster’: John Boehner Grades Trump’s Presidency

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.05.25 Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner called President Donald Trump’s tenure thus far a “complete disaster” at an energy conference in Houston, according to the Associated Press. Speaking before the conference on Thursday, Boehner “praised Trump for his approach abroad and his aggressiveness in fighting Islamic State militants,” but noted that aside from foreign policy, his administration has been unimpressive: “Everything else he’s done (in office) has been a complete disaster,” Boehner said, according to Rigzone, an energy publication. “He’s still learning how to be president.” The Ohio Republican has grown increasingly outspoken since leaving office, often waxing poetic about the joys of retirement in the midst of a particularly thorny political climate. Per Rigzone, Boehner said “I wake up every day, drink my morning coffee and say, ‘Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.'” He also shut down out the possibility of running for future office: “I drink red wine. I smoke Continue reading "‘Complete Disaster’: John Boehner Grades Trump’s Presidency"