本帖由 ccc 于 2017-07-24 发布。版面名称：渥太华华人论坛
In a change, Trump now says meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer was over Clinton dirt
Son's meeting was 'totally legal and done all the time in politics,' tweets U.S. president
The Associated Press · Posted: Aug 05, 2018 10:57 PM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives in Morristown, N.J., on Saturday. Trump sent a series of searing tweets from his New Jersey golf club, in which he tore into two of his favourite targets: the news media and Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible links between the president's campaign and Russia. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday appeared to change his story about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that is pivotal to the special counsel's investigation, tweeting that his son met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer to collect information about his political opponent.
"Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower," Trump wrote. "This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!"
That is a far different explanation than Trump gave 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr., read: "We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago."
The misdirection came amid a series of searing tweets sent from his New Jersey golf club, in which he tore into two of his favourite targets, the news media and Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible links between the president's campaign and Russia. Trump unleashed particular fury at reports that he was anxious about the Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr. and other senior campaign officials.
Trump's critics pounce
Trump's critics immediately pounced on the new story, the latest of several versions of events about a meeting for which emails were discovered between the president's eldest son and an intermediary from the Russian government offering damaging information about Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Betraying no surprise or misgivings about the offer from a hostile foreign power, Trump Jr. replied: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."
Sunday's tweet was Trump's clearest statement yet on the purpose of the meeting, which has become a focal point of Mueller's investigation even as the president and his lawyers try to downplay its significance and pummel the Mueller probe with attacks. On Sunday, Trump again suggested without evidence that Mueller was biased against him, declaring, "This is the most one sided Witch Hunt in the history of our country."
And as Trump and his allies have tried to discredit the probe, a new talking point has emerged: that even if that meeting was held to collect damaging information, none was provided and "collusion" — Trump's go-to description of what Mueller is investigating — never occurred.
"The question is what law, statute or rule or regulation has been violated, and nobody has pointed to one," said Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's attorneys, on ABC's This Week.
Several possible criminal charges
But legal experts have pointed out several possible criminal charges, including conspiracy against the United States and aiding and abetting a conspiracy. And despite Trump's public Twitter denial, the president has expressed worry that his son may face legal exposure even as he believes he did nothing wrong, according to three people close to the White House familiar with the president's thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
Sekulow acknowledged that the public explanation for the meeting has changed but insisted that the White House has been very clear with the special counsel's office. He said he was not aware of Trump Jr. facing any legal exposure.
Donald Trump Jr. released an email chain that shows him discussing plans to hear damaging information on Hillary Clinton. In one exchange, he wrote: 'If it's what you say I love it.' (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
"I don't represent Don Jr.," Sekulow said, "but I will tell you I have no knowledge at all of Don Jr. being told that he's a target of any investigation, and I have no knowledge of him being interviewed by the special counsel."
Democrats hammered away at the president's admission.
"The Russians offered damaging info on your opponent. Your campaign accepted. And the Russians delivered," tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. "You then misled the country about the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting when it became public. Now you say you didn't know in advance. None of this is normal or credible."
Trump ramps up attack on media, probe
Trump's days of private anger spilled out into public with the Twitter outburst, which comes at a perilous time for the president.
A decision about whether he sits for an interview with Mueller may also occur in the coming weeks, according to another one of his attorneys, Rudy Giuliani. Trump has seethed against what he feels are trumped-up charges against his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose trial began last week and provided a visible reminder of Mueller's work.
And he raged against the media's obsession with his links to Russia and the status of Michael Cohen, his former fixer, who is under federal investigation in New York. Cohen has indicated that he would tell prosecutors that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting ahead of time:
What did Donald Trump know, and when? One of his former lawyers, Michael Cohen, is reportedly dishing details about a meeting at Trump tower -- between a Russian surrogate and his son. Our U.S. political panel weighs in on that and Paul Manafort’s trial which starts Tuesday.
Despite a show of force from his national security team this week as a warning against future Russian election meddling, Trump again deemed the matter a "hoax" this week. And at a trio of rallies, he escalated his already vitriolic rhetoric toward the media, savaging the press for unflattering coverage and, he feels, bias.
'The Fake News hates me'
"The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it's TRUE," Trump tweeted Sunday. "I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!"
The fusillade of tweets came from Bedminster, Trump's golf course, where he is ensconced in a property that bears his name at every turn and is less checked in by staffers. It was at the New Jersey golf club where a brooding Trump has unleashed other inflammatory attacks and where, in spring 2017, he made the final decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the move that triggered the Russia probe.
Trump was joined for his Saturday rally in Ohio by former White House communications director Hope Hicks, who departed the administration earlier this year. Her unannounced presence raised some eyebrows as Hicks has been interviewed by Mueller and was part of the team of staffers that helped draft the original statement on the Trump Tower meeting.
2018-08-07 07:26:45 来源： 环球时报
(CNN) As a candidate, Donald Trump would famously boast that if elected, he'd "surround myself only with the best and most serious people" -- adding: "We want top-of-the-line professionals."
The first 18 months of his presidency have repeatedly revealed the fallacy of that pledge, as myriad members of Trump's Cabinet and senior staff have departed -- often under suspicious circumstances -- even as the President himself has railed against the ineptitude of people who still work for him.
Just this weekend, Trump dealt with two major staff problems -- both of which, in different ways -- he created.
The first was a series of interviews by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide to the President, in which she alleged -- among other things -- that she had been offered money to stay silent after leaving the White House. Manigault Newman also claimed that she secretly taped White House chief of staff John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room. And on Monday morning, she released an audio recording to NBC's "Today" of an apparent phone conversation with Trump that suggested he was unaware of her firing before it happened.
(Omarosa's tell-all memoir of her time in the White House comes out this week.)
The second came when Trump -- amid a now-regular Twitter tirade regarding the special counsel probe -- derided Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "scared stiff and Missing in Action." (And, yes, that capitalization is in the original tweet.)
The twin episodes highlight the "why" behind the massive staff volatility in Trump's White House: He relies almost totally on his gut in the hiring process, he plays aides against each other for sport, he runs incredibly hot and cold on staff, and he is more than willing to publicly embarrass or shame those who work for him.
The Trump of "The Apprentice" -- which, by the way, is where the billionaire's path first crossed with Omarosa -- is the Trump that now sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
The difference is that Trump was solely playing for ratings on "The Apprentice," whereas now he is trying desperately to effectively run a government. Turnover -- or the threat of firings -- was the name of the game in Trump's reality TV world. In the White House, all of the turmoil adds to the already palpable sense of chaos that surrounds 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Already, 57% of Trump's "A Team" staffers have left the White House in just its first year and a half, according to statistics maintained by Brookings Institute's Kathryn Dunn Tenpas. That nearly equals the turnover among top staffers for the entire first terms of Barack Obama (71% turnover), George W. Bush (63%), Bill Clinton (74%) and George H.W. Bush (66%).
(Tenpas' data may actually undersell the changes in Trump's administration, given that she only counts one departure for each office. So, while Trump has had five communications directors since being elected President, they only count as one departure in Tenpas' calculations.)
Focusing just on Cabinet secretaries, the numbers are equally stunning for Trump. He's already seen seven Cabinet officials -- three in his first year, four in his second -- leave in his first 18 months in office. Obama had zero Cabinet departures in his first year and four in his second. George W. Bush lost only four Cabinet members in the entirety of his first four years.
Again, those numbers may underestimate the chaos of Trump's Cabinet. His second pick to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs -- White House physician Ronny Jackson -- was forced to withdraw after a series of negative stories about his conduct on the job emerged. Trump has clashed with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over border security. He has reportedly derided Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as "past his prime" in meetings.
And then there is Sessions. No Cabinet member -- past or present -- has been bullied by Trump more than the nation's top law enforcement professional. Trump has repeatedly said publicly that he wishes he would have picked someone other than Sessions to be his attorney general -- due in large part to the fact that Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions did so because he was a prominent surrogate for Trump during that campaign. The President has never forgiven him.
Trump has referred to the former Alabama senator in tweets as "beleaguered," very weak" and "disgraceful." He has teased Sessions by referring to him as "Mr. Magoo." And on and on.
What Trump has not done, inexplicably, is fire Sessions. And neither has Sessions quit. Instead the two men remain locked in a what, to all the world, looks like a game of chicken between two willful teenagers. Sessions continues showing up to the Justice Department day in and day out. Trump takes to Twitter to attack his AG almost as often. Neither man blinks.
The result, like so much of Trump's wildly unpredictable management style, is disorder, disarray and disorganization. Turnover and uncertainty rarely create a well-functioning work environment. And because of Trump's tendency to openly discuss and deride both those who have left his side and those who continue to work within his administration, he launches a series of storylines that not only highlight the pandemonium within his ranks but also crowd out other, more positive stories for his White House. (The latest tweet on Sessions and the ongoing Omarosa mishigas are prime example of this latter reality; both of those narratives will drive this week's news cycles.)
Trump, at least outwardly, seems entirely unbothered by the constant churn within his senior staff.
"The one that matters is me," he told Fox News' Laura Ingraham last November. "I'm the only one that matters. Because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be."
What that view overlooks is that running the federal government is not the same thing as running a business. Trump the businessman made a career out of relying only on himself and a very tight knit group of family and hangers-on. While he has tried to do the same in Washington -- his daughter and son-in-law both work for him in the White House -- he has met with far less success.
Whether Trump is playing the long game -- and that his consolidation of power will, in the end, create major wins for the country -- remains a topic of some debate. What is beyond argument is this: The first 18 months of Trump's administration make clear that his plan to bring together "the best and most serious people" has failed miserably.
Paul Manafort, the campaign manager for Donald Trump when the reality TV star and businessman accepted the Republican nomination for president, has been found guilty of eight out of 18 charges in his financial fraud trial.
The judge declared a mistrial on the 10 other counts after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous consensus.
Manafort stood accused of hiding about $16 million US in income from the Internal Revenue Service between 2010 and 2014 by allegedly disguising the money he earned advising pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks.
He was charged with a total of 18 counts of bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failing to file foreign bank account reports and subscribing to false income tax returns.
Jurors were in their fourth day of deliberations in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday before advising U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III they had reached a partial verdict.
The trial was the first related to the special counsel investigation led by former FBI director Robert Mueller, although his probe has also secured guilty pleas from a number of individuals, including former longtime Manafort aide Rick Gates, who co-operated with prosecutors.
One of Manafort's lawyers, Kevin Downing, told reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday that his client is disappointed in the conviction and is evaluating all his options.
Tales of wealth and deceit
The jury of six men and six women heard tales of ostentatious displays of wealth and deceit at the trial in Virginia. That included the testimony of Gates, who admitted to an extramarital affair and stealing money, unbeknownst to Manafort.
The defence tried to attack the credibility of Gates, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. It also argued that Manafort couldn't have committed bank fraud, as Federal Savings Bank officials who signed off on his loans were well aware of the shaky state of his financing.
Longtime Manafort colleague Rick Gates, seen leaving federal court in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 23, was the star witness for the prosecution. (Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)
Trump defended Manafort as recently as Aug. 17, when the jury was already deliberating. The president's public statements have raised the spectre he might try to issue a pardon for the longtime Republican operative.
The president said the prosecution was a "sad day for our country."
Asked if he would consider a pardon if Manafort is convicted, Trump said: "I don't talk about that."
As Trump arrived in West Virginia for a rally Tuesday evening, he appeared to distance himself from Manafort's conviction. "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. It has nothing to do with me. Nothing to do with Russia collusion," the U.S. president said.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was elevated to chair in May.
He left the campaign in August that year — days after the New York Times reported a Ukraine investigation had uncovered $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments involving Manafort from 2007 to 2012. The money, the newspaper reported, came from the pro-Russian party of Viktor Yanukovych, the one-time Ukraine president.
But the court was given an indication that Manafort was not necessarily shut out from the Trump team when he was let go.
Evidence at the trial included a November 2016 email sent by Manafort to Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, after Trump won the presidential election. In the email, Manafort recommended three candidates for administration posts, including Stephen Calk, chairman of the Federal Savings Bank, where Manafort was able to arrange millions in loans.
Kushner enthusiastically responded to Manafort's recommendations by email: "On it!"
Manafort's prominence in D.C. lobbying circles extends back nearly four decades, when he helped found a firm along with individuals including Roger Stone, another former Trump campaign adviser who has testified to congressional committees examining Russian interference in the 2016 election.
U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to reporters from the White House on Aug. 17, when he called the prosecution of Manafort 'a very sad day for our country.' (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The Manafort trial came about as Mueller was given the authority as of May 2017 to investigate any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Trump, as well as any potentially criminal matters that arose directly from the investigation.
Present at controversial Trump Tower meeting
Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russia, although there is no such federal crime of collusion. The president could be damaged politically should there be findings of conspiracy or obstruction of justice in a report Mueller is expected to deliver at the conclusion of the investigation.
Manafort succeeded Corey Lewandowski in directing Trump's campaign, and was essentially replaced in that role by Steve Bannon. Manafort was present, along with Kushner and Donald Trump Jr., at a controversial Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Russian figures that has been a subject of inquiry in the congressional intelligence, judiciary and oversight committees.
Mueller's indictments have included some two dozen Russians for alleged cyber-intrusions designed to disrupt the 2016 election and roil the U.S. political debate.
Russia has denied the allegations, although at a joint news conference with Trump in July in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted he wanted the Republican to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
And Trump feels sad! "Nothing to do with me..."