President Donald Trump and top administration officials are offering different — sometimes contradictory — reasons for the US decision to assassinate top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani earlier this month.
When asked in an interview on CNN Sunday about Trump’s claim, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said: “I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware in a Sunday interviewwith Fox News Sunday said that in a classified briefing with the Trump administration on Iran, senators “got less detailed information than President Trump shared with Laura Ingraham.”
A former top national security adviser to President Trump told Republicans in the House impeachment inquiry Thursday morning to stop advancing a “fictional narrative” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections rather than Russia.
“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,” said Fiona Hill, who until July was the deputy assistant to the president and senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council.
“The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016. This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies, confirmed in bipartisan congressional reports. It is beyond dispute, even if some of the underlying details must remain classified,” Hill continued.
Hill, who testified alongside State Department counselor David Holmes, told the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians have succeeded in what they set out to do in 2016, and are going to do it again in the 2020 election.
“Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined,” Hill said. “President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super-PAC. They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives. When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our institutions and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, said on Wednesday he had known earlier this year that the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was involved in a campaign about then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that helped lead to her dismissal.
Sullivan, a deputy secretary of state, said under questioning from Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, that he knew Giuliani was involved before he was asked to remove her because Trump had lost confidence in her.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
The Trump administration just keeps presenting us with twists that, in a political satire, would be deemed far too on-the-nose.
Two associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday and indicted for campaign finance violations, being detained just before they were about to leave the country with one-way tickets. Giuliani reportedly met with the associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, for lunch the day of their arrest.
We’re now learning more about Giuliani’s relationship with the two men, with whom he reportedly worked to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and attempt to undermine former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into 2016 election interference. The New York Timesreports a company Parnas co-founded retained Giuliani’s services last year, paying him, Parnas has told associates, “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The name of that company? Fraud Guarantee.
Fraud Guarantee is, the Times reports, a fraud prevention and mitigation company, although giving it that name when you’re allegedly going around committing campaign finance violations is perhaps not the world’s absolute best idea. In a classic Giuliani move, the Times writes Giuliani “at first seemed to acknowledge having advised Fraud Guarantee in 2018, then backtracked.”
“I can’t acknowledge it’s Fraud Guarantee, I don’t think,” Giuliani said. “I can acknowledge I gave them substantial business advice.” Giuliani also wouldn’t say to the Times he regrets working with Parnas and Fruman despite their indictment, asking, “Who else would I have turned to?” Brendan Morrow
However, the veteran Hollywood star said that the US president does not have the same “honour” that is often exhibited by the characters in traditional gangster films.
De Niro, who is known for starring in a number of mafia and mobster-themed films over the years – including The Godfather Part II and Goodfellas – talked about the genre’s ongoing appeal, telling The Graham Norton Show: “I guess it’s because they defy the law, yet have their own laws, structure and culture.
“There’s more honour. Especially with The Godfather at the time of the Vietnam War.
“The idea of respect and knowing right from wrong (amongst the gangsters) was more than we were seeing from our leaders, we were not being told the truth about what was really going on.”
De Niro, who is a vocal critic of Trump, added: “Today, we have a weird twisted president who thinks he’s a gangster, who’s not even a very good gangster.
“Gangsters have honour, you shake a hand and they have your word and you have theirs and that’s it. But with this guy, it’s not the case.”
The actor has joined forces director Martin Scorsese, his long-time collaborator, for new gangster film The Irishman, which also stars Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, actors he has worked with on numerous occasions.
De Niro plays gangland enforcer Frank Sheeran in the Netflix production, which runs to three-and-a-half hours.
The movie spans several decades and shows De Niro’s character from when he is in his 20s up to his 80s, using cutting-edge technology to alter his appearance over time.
Described as “an epic saga of organised crime in post-war America”, the film is adapted from the book I Heard You Paint Houses.
De Niro told Norton of working with Pacino: “When Marty (Scorsese) and I read the book, we thought Al would be great and then it was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and a matter of waiting for everyone to be able to do it.”
Asked if Pesci had come out of retirement to star alongside him in the film, De Niro said: “I don’t know about that, but he wasn’t doing anything at the time, and I said: ‘Who knows if we’ll ever have the chance to do this again? We won’t, so come on, let’s just do it.’
“There was a lot of talking, but he loves Marty and I think he loves me, so he said: ‘Let me do it.’”