Ignoring warnings from diplomats and even a powerful GOP-controlled Senate committee, the Trump administration went ahead Monday with drastic cuts to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, the two most important arms of American diplomacy.
The budget unveiled by the White House allots $39.3 billion for the department of about 24,000 foreign and civil service employees and USAID — down from about $55 billion last year.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had embraced the cuts when the White House first proposed them, and was met with steep criticism from the foreign policy establishment and numerous members of Congress. The Senate Appropriations Committee last fall said the reductions “serve only to weaken America’s standing in the world.”
Street names, apparently, are not immune to the diplomatic tit-for-tat between Moscow and Washington.
Moscow’s city government announced Monday that it will consider a request from a Russian parliament member to change the postal address of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to 1 North American Dead-end.
The name change request seems to be retaliation for Washington’s announcement last month that it would name part of Wisconsin Avenue in front of the Russian Embassy Nemtsov Plaza after slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson started a Middle East tour Monday in Cairo, where he declined to publicly criticize Egyptian officials who have arrested or disqualified several opposition candidates for elections scheduled in March.
“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections, not just for Egypt but in any country,” Tillerson told reporters after meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.
He ignored a second question about whether the United States would consider withholding military aid if the presidential elections do not meet standards for fairness and transparency.
Donald Trump long thought the phrase “Drain the Swamp” was a little hokey, he has confessed to crowds. Yet it stayed. If Frank Sinatra had to croon “My Way,” even when he tired of it, Trump reasoned aloud, Trump could belt out his crowd-pleasing catchphrase.
Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women. He denies the allegations.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!
The No. 3 official in the Justice Department is resigning to take a job in the private sector, another high-profile departure from a department under relentless pressure from the White House.
Rachel Brand, the associate attorney general, will leave her job after less than nine months to take an unspecified private sector job, the department announced on Friday.
Ordinarily a low-profile position, that job potentially put Brand next in line to oversee the special counsel investigation, after Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein – who has become a target of increasing attacks from right-wing Republicans.
President Trump met with key law enforcement figures Friday and will “respond soon” to a request to declassify a Democratic memo related to the probe and surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate, according to his spokesman.
Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement released Friday afternoon that Trump had met with FBI Director Andrew McCabe, top officials from the Justice Department and White House Counsel’s office “to discuss the memorandum from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and receive their input.”
“The President is weighing his options and will respond soon,” Shah added.
Did Sen. Marco Rubio just call for a military coup in Venezuela?
The Florida Republican, long dismayed over the humanitarian and political crisis engulfing the socialist-ruled nation, on Friday said the “world would support” the Venezuelan military if it rose to “protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.”
In a series of messages on Twitter, Rubio said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his associates “live like kings” while ordinary citizens, including soldiers, starve.
Anyone looking for more proof of the partisan battle raging in the House Intelligence Committee can turn to the transcript of a recent closed-door hearing in which members argued over a Democratic memo about secret surveillance.
Democrats wrote the memo as a rebuttal to a Republican document that was released on Feb. 2. It alleged that the FBI and Justice Department abused the process needed to obtain a special warrant to authorize eavesdropping on a former foreign policy advisor to President Trump’s campaign.
Even minor procedural issues appeared tense during the meeting Monday.