United States: New Russia Meddling Claims Put Trump On Spot Over Putin

bY CRIMSON TAZVINZWA//President Donald Trump is facing fresh political heat over his relationship with Vladimir Putin over details of a new Russian hacking strike against US democracy that emerged hours after he again cast doubt on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential race.

Acting on a court order, last week Microsoft seized control of six fake websites involved in such efforts, which also involved a site that mimicked the US Senate, Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post on Monday.

The hackers were linked to the Russian military unit formerly known as the GRU, Smith wrote.

The idea was to have people think they were accessing links managed by these US political groups but redirect them to fake ones run by the hackers so passwords and other information could be stolen.

Russia immediately denied the allegations and responded with a cryptic comment that it had heard from the US “that there was not any meddling in the elections.” The Kremlin’s choice of words will renew intrigue about what exactly the President told the Russian President during their private meeting in Helsinki, Finland, last month, the full contents of which are still not known to some top intelligence officials.

RELATED: Russians targeted Senate and conservative think tanks, Microsoft says

The claims that Russian hackers targeted conservative think tanks critical of Trump and the Moscow government and the US Senate may also again expose the odd divide between the President and his own national security and intelligence establishment on the issue.
Earlier this month, the White House put on an impressive show of force by top national security and intelligence officials who warned of a “pervasive” campaign against US democracy by Russia and attempts to sow discord in November’s elections.
Yet on Monday, extending an ongoing pattern, Trump again appeared to cast doubt on the assessments by intelligence agencies that Russia intervened in 2016 to damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and later developed a preference for his candidacy.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump hit out at special counsel Robert Mueller, arguing that instead of unraveling the election-meddling riddle, his probe was exacerbating the damage.
“I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump told the news agency. “And they had played right into the Russians — if it was Russia — they played right into the Russians’ hands.”
The President also said he was not currently considering lifting sanctions against Russia but would consider doing so “if they do something that would be good for us.”
After being heavily criticized for his cozy treatment of Putin during their news conference in Helsinki, during which he said he didn’t know why the Russians would have attacked a US election, Trump changed course back in the United States.

Russia played up Putin’s success after summit

Reading from a script at the White House, he said that he had actually meant to say that he didn’t know why the Russians “wouldn’t” interfere in US elections and said he had made unequivocal statements on Moscow’s culpability on multiple occasions.
But even then, he seemed to qualify his remarks saying in an apparent off-the-cuff remark that the meddling could be down to “other people also.”
Trump has made clear that he views any claims of election meddling as tantamount to an attack on the legitimacy of his election victory and does not distinguish between claims of Russian interference and allegations that he has denied that members of his campaign colluded with Moscow.
New allegations of Russian election interference come at another perilous moment for US-Moscow relations and an uncomfortable one for the administration since national security adviser John Bolton is due to meet this week in Geneva with top Russian counterparts. He said on Sunday, before the latest allegations of Russian interference emerged, that he would raise the issue of election meddling.
“I’m sure we’ll have a discussion about it Thursday. I had a discussion about it myself with President Putin when I went to Moscow originally to prepare the groundwork for his meeting with President Trump. President Trump raised it with President Putin,” Bolton said on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday.
“You keep raising it and we’ll see what their response is,” Bolton said, but added that the administration was conducting extensive defensive and offensive cyber operations to protect the midterm election. He also warned that the administration was concerned about election meddling by China, Iran and North Korea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Microsoft allegations were not “grounded in fact.”
“Our reaction has already become traditional, we don’t know which hackers they are talking about, we don’t know what is meant about the impact on elections,” he said. “From the US we hear that there was not any meddling in the elections. Whom exactly they are talking about, what is the proof, and on what grounds are they reaching such conclusions?”

White House Corrects Putin, Trump Helsinki Summit transcript

Thursday morning, the White House updated their transcriptof the Trump/Putin press conference to include the first part of Jeff Mason’s question. As for the omission in the video, the White House said this was due to the audio mixer not raising the levels on the reporter’s microphone in time. They said the transcript error was “not malicious,” as the stenographer went according to the audio feed. This is supported by a Washington Post report that gave a similar reason for the incomplete coverage of the question.

putin summit
President Vladmir Putin at Helsinki Summit

One of the most damning moments in President Donald Trump‘s joint press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin no longer happened. At least, that’s how it would appear if you go by the official White House records of the event.

At one point in the presser, Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked Putin, “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” Putin responded.

The White House’s transcript of the event leaves out the first part of Mason’s question, about wanting Trump to win the election. By omitting this, it makes it seem that Mason was asking about what Putin had discussed prior to the question, which was Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation.

There’s a simple explanation for this omission, which is that people were talking at the same time. Indeed, other transcripts of the event, like Bloomberg‘s, left out the first part of Mason’s question.

What cannot be quite as easily explained is why the beginning of Mason’s question was edited out of the video of the event posted on the White House’s YouTube channel. Around the 2:18:23 mark of the video, Putin finishes his previous response, and the next question from Mason does not include that part where he asked about whether Putin wanted Trump to win.


Compare this to the following video of the event from NBC (relevant part at the 4:36:50 mark).

In the latter video, Mason can be clearly heard asking Putin if he wanted Trump to win the election, and Putin can then be heard responding to that question.

Eliminating those portions from the video and transcript poses a legal problem, as there are laws surrounding how official records are handled. The Presidential Records Act governs the management of :

[D]ocumentary materials, or any reasonably seg­regable portion thereof, created or received by the President, the President’s immediate staff, or a unit or individual of the Executive Office of the President whose function is to advise or assist the President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.

The Act includes very specific instructions for how such records should be maintained, or–when necessary–disposed. Disposal is deemed appropriate if the records “no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value.” It would be hard to argue that an official transcript and video of a press conference featuring the president and Vladimir Putin would fit that bill, especially so soon after it took place.

Now, if the records of the press conference are not deemed to fall under the category of “presidential records,” there’s still the Federal Records Act. That law applies to:

[A]ll recorded information, regardless of form or characteristics, made or received by a Federal agency under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the United States Government or because of the informational value of data in them;

There is also a law against  “concealment, removal, or mutilation” of government records.

It would be difficult to prove cases under any of these statutes, however, given the defense that the changes were not made with the intent to hide anything, rather for some other editorial purpose. Again, the transcript issue was not the White House’s alone, and it’s arguable that the video was edited to match, and to skip past the moment where multiple people were talking.

Whether you buy that defense, or course, is a different story. The edit clearly changes the meaning and nature of what is presented as being said. In the White House’s version, Putin sounds like he’s expressing support for cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The full version indicates that he specifically wanted Trump to win the 2016 election, providing a motive for alleged offenses and possible collusion with the Trump campaign meant to achieve that goal.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: US will never recognize Crimea annexation

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s testimony to Congress

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and will continue to insist that Ukraine’s territorial integrity be restored.

Mike-Pompeo_13
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

In a statement released Wednesday by the State Department, Pompeo said the U.S. will hold to its long-standing principle of refusing to recognize Kremlin claims of sovereignty over territory seized by force, in violation of international law. He called for Russia to respect principles and “end its occupation of Crimea.”

The statement was released shortly before Pompeo was to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he is expected to face tough questioning about President Donald Trump’s summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Trump has previously suggested that U.S. opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be reconsidered.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is taking a tough line on Russia and its actions in Ukraine as skeptical lawmakers are set to demand specifics from him on President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

wray_pompeo_coats (1)
Pompeo said what the Russians did was “deeply immoral.”

 

On the first couple’s recent trip overseas, Melania Trump’s television aboard Air Force One was tuned to CNN. President Donald Trump went ballistic,The New York Times

On the first couple’s recent trip overseas, Melania Trump’s television aboard Air Force One was tuned to CNN. President Donald Trump was not pleasedtrum

On the first couple’s recent trip overseas, Melania Trump’s television aboard Air Force One was tuned to CNN. President Donald Trump was not pleased.

He raged at his staff for violating a rule that the White House entourage should begin each trip tuned to Fox – his preferred network over what he considers the “fake news” CNN – and caused “a bit of a stir” aboard Air Force One, according to an email obtained by The New York Times.

The email, an internal exchange between officials in the White House Military Office and the White House Communications Agency last Thursday, also called for the ordering of two additional televisions to support Beam, a TiVo-like streaming device, to make sure the president and first lady could both watch TV in their separate hotel rooms when they travel.

At the end of the email chain, officials confirmed that tuning the TVs to Fox would be standard operating procedure going forward.

The channel-flipping flap was the latest example of how Donald Trump, at a pivotal moment in his presidency, is increasingly living in a world of selected information and bending the truth to his own narrative. As his aides work to keep him insulated from the outside world, Mr Trump is doubling down in his efforts to tell supporters to trust him over the words of critics and news reports.

For now, his approach is working: His standing with Republicans continues to rise, according to a series of new polls.

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Mr Trump said on Thursday at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri.

And then: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Similarly, as the negative headlines continue after Mr Trump’s meeting in Finland last week with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Mr Trump has shifted from blaming US institutions for a bad relationship with Russia to telling people not to believe the facts of what they have seen or heard.

On Tuesday, the president effectively said black was white when he claimed without evidence that Russians would be helping Democrats – but not him – in the coming midterm elections. In January 2017, US intelligence agencies assessed that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Mr Trump.

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

In his tweet, Mr Trump made no mention of the fact that he has been told repeatedly that Russia ordered a series of attacks to sway the 2016 election. Nor did he say that he has struck a conciliatory view towards Mr Putin even as his administration and Congress have moved to impose harsher relations.

Over the weekend, Mr Trump claimed with no evidence in a series of tweets that his administration’s release of top-secret documents related to the surveillance of a former campaign aide had confirmed that the Justice Department and the FBI “misled the courts” in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

But the documents appeared to do the opposite. They presented in stark detail why the FBI was interested in the former campaign adviser, Carter Page: “The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.” The documents also said Mr Page had “established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers,” and had been “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

Analysts, including Stephen Vladeck, a professor who specialises in national security law at the University of Texas School of Law, said the president was “cherry picking” bits of the warrant that would be most useful to him.

In the White House, little of the outside criticism breaks through. People who have worked for Mr Trump say he tends to view everything through the lens of a battle. His goal is bring everyone over to his view.

He raged at his staff for violating a rule that the White House entourage should begin each trip tuned to Fox – his preferred network over what he considers the “fake news” CNN – and caused “a bit of a stir” aboard Air Force One, according to an email obtained by The New York Times.

The email, an internal exchange between officials in the White House Military Office and the White House Communications Agency last Thursday, also called for the ordering of two additional televisions to support Beam, a TiVo-like streaming device, to make sure the president and first lady could both watch TV in their separate hotel rooms when they travel.

At the end of the email chain, officials confirmed that tuning the TVs to Fox would be standard operating procedure going forward.

The channel-flipping flap was the latest example of how Donald Trump, at a pivotal moment in his presidency, is increasingly living in a world of selected information and bending the truth to his own narrative. As his aides work to keep him insulated from the outside world, Mr Trump is doubling down in his efforts to tell supporters to trust him over the words of critics and news reports.

For now, his approach is working: His standing with Republicans continues to rise, according to a series of new polls.

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Mr Trump said on Thursday at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri.

And then: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Similarly, as the negative headlines continue after Mr Trump’s meeting in Finland last week with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Mr Trump has shifted from blaming US institutions for a bad relationship with Russia to telling people not to believe the facts of what they have seen or heard.

On Tuesday, the president effectively said black was white when he claimed without evidence that Russians would be helping Democrats – but not him – in the coming midterm elections. In January 2017, US intelligence agencies assessed that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to help Mr Trump.

“I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

In his tweet, Mr Trump made no mention of the fact that he has been told repeatedly that Russia ordered a series of attacks to sway the 2016 election. Nor did he say that he has struck a conciliatory view towards Mr Putin even as his administration and Congress have moved to impose harsher relations.

Over the weekend, Mr Trump claimed with no evidence in a series of tweets that his administration’s release of top-secret documents related to the surveillance of a former campaign aide had confirmed that the Justice Department and the FBI “misled the courts” in the early stages of the Russia investigation.

But the documents appeared to do the opposite. They presented in stark detail why the FBI was interested in the former campaign adviser, Carter Page: “The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.” The documents also said Mr Page had “established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers,” and had been “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

Analysts, including Stephen Vladeck, a professor who specialises in national security law at the University of Texas School of Law, said the president was “cherry picking” bits of the warrant that would be most useful to him.

In the White House, little of the outside criticism breaks through. People who have worked for Mr Trump say he tends to view everything through the lens of a battle. His goal is bring everyone over to his view.

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump’s fear of EU and China reveals a new global re-alignment according to ‘The Book of Putin’

LONDON—Steve Bannon plans to go toe-to-toe with George Soros and spark a right-wing revolution in Europe.

Bannon-War-on-China.jpg
Steve Bannon and Donald Trump’s fear of China, and affinity for Russia, reflect a long-sought civilizational re-alignment.

Trump’s former White House chief advisor told The Daily Beast that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.

putin trump.jpg
Trump gifted Putin with his reputation for toughness, and that’s something he can’t easily take back. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/Mikhail Metzel/TASS

The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.

Bannon’s ambition is for his organization ultimately to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Society, which has given away $32 billion to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984.

Over the past year, Bannon has held talks with right-wing groups across the continent from Nigel Farage and members of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (recently renamed Rassemblement National) in the West, to Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the Polish populists in the East.

He envisions a right-wing “supergroup” within the European Parliament that could attract as many as a third of the lawmakers after next May’s Europe-wide elections. A united populist bloc of that size would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement.

After being forced out of the White House following internal wranglings that would later surface in the book Fire and Fury, Bannon is now reveling in the opportunity to plot his new European empire. “I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heaven,” he said, paraphrasing John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost.

The Movement’s headquarters are expected to be located in Brussels, Belgium, where they will start hiring staff in coming months. It is expected that there will be fewer than 10 full-time staff ahead of the 2019 elections, with a polling expert, a communications person, an office manager and a researcher among the positions. The plan is to ramp that up to more like 25 people post-2019 if the project has been a success.

Steve Bannon
© Getty Steve Bannon

Bannon plans to spend 50 percent of his time in Europe—mostly in the field rather than the Brussels office—once the midterm elections in the U.S. are over in November.

The operation is also supposed to serve as a link between Europe’s right-wing movements and the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus in the U.S. This week Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was its envoy to Bannon’s operation in London.

Bannon and Raheem Kassam, a former Farage staffer and Breitbart editor, set up shop in a five-star Mayfair hotel for a week while Donald Trump was visiting Europe. Between TV appearances as Trump surrogates, they hosted a raft of Europe’s leading right-wingers at the hotel.

“It was so successful that we’re going to start staffing up,” said Bannon. “Everybody agrees that next May is hugely important, that this is the real first continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos. This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”

Having seen the shock right-wing victory with the Brexit referendum and Matteo Salvini’s electoral success in Italy, which were achieved on relatively tight budgets, Bannon sees the opportunity to boost radically disparate nationalist parties by deploying a well-financed centralized operation intended to blow local opponents out of the water.

Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini greets supporters as he arrives for the annual meeting of Lega Nord (North League) in Pontida, northeast Milan, on July 1, 2018.
© MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images) Italy’s Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini greets supporters as he arrives for the annual meeting of Lega Nord (North League) in Pontida, northeast Milan, on July 1, 2018.

Up until now insurgent populist groups across Europe have often suffered from similar problems: lack of expertise and finances. Le Pen’s party was kept afloat by Russian loans back in 2014, when French banks refused to extend lines of credit for the Front National. Le Pen was back in Moscow shaking Putin’s hand before last year’s French elections, which the NSA subsequently revealed had been hacked by the Russians.

The Movement plans to research and write detailed policy proposals that can be used by like-minded parties; commission pan-European or targeted polling; and share expertise in election war room methodology such as message discipline, data-led voter targeting and field operations. Depending on electoral law in individual countries, the foundation may be able to take part in some campaigns directly while bolstering other populist groups indirectly.

“I didn’t get the idea until Marine Le Pen invited me to speak at Lille at the Front National,” recalled Bannon. “I said, ‘What do you want me say?’”

The response came back: “All you have to say is, ‘We’re not alone.’”

Bannon was stunned to discover that the nationalist movements in Europe were not pooling skills and sharing ideas with populist parties in neighboring countries—let alone on a global scale.

Bannon said the Front National recognized that he was “the guy that goes round and understands us as a collective.”

Up on stage he told the crowd: “You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.”

The former Trump campaign manager believes the fuse for the global populist revolt—now led from Washington, D.C. by his former boss—was lit 10 years ago during the financial crisis and President Barack Obama’s bailout of the broken financial sector. With income inequality growing, Bannon first championed Sarah Palin and then Donald Trump as vanquishers of the establishment elite who were capable of turning traditional politics on its head.

His next populist heroes can be found in Europe.

He sees Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, as the perfect foil to help accelerate that dynamic in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 28, 2018 in Berlin.
© JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a speech at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 28, 2018 in Berlin.

Noting Trump’s controversial decision to call out Merkel over her gas pipeline deal with Russia last week, Bannon said: “This is the lie of Angela Merkel. She’s a complete and total phony. The elites say Trump is disruptive but she’s sold out control to Russia for cheaper energy prices.”

He describes Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the French president who crushed Le Pen in a runoff election last year but has since flagged in the polls, as vulnerable figureheads of establishment Europe. With Britain voting to quit the E.U., Merkel and Macron’s vision of a united continent will be put to the test at next year’s elections.

Bannon is convinced that the coming years will see a drastic break from decades of European integration. “Right-wing populist nationalism is what will happen. That’s what will govern,” he told The Daily Beast. “You’re going to have individual nation states with their own identities, their own borders.”

The grassroots movements are already in place waiting for someone to maximize their potential. “It will be instantaneous—as soon as we flip the switch,” he said.

The sight of Brexit virtually upending the entire European Union with a campaign spending cap of £7 million ($9 million) was a great inspiration. “When they told me the spending cap was £7 million, I go, ‘You mean £70 million? What the f***?!’ £7 million doesn’t buy anything. It doesn’t buy you Facebook data, it doesn’t buy you ads, it doesn’t do anything.”

“Dude! You just took the fifth largest economy in the world out of the EU for £7 million!”

This week, British officials ruled that the Brexit campaign had not stuck to the legal limit—overspending by more than $600,000. There were also unofficial campaigns which spent additional millions arguing that Britain should leave the E.U.

Nonetheless, Britain’s GDP is around $2.6 billion and leaked government figures estimate that Brexit could wipe 10 percent off that figure, meaning the impact of the democratic decision vastly dwarfs the scale of the investment by the campaign.

“The first thing they teach you at Harvard Business School is operating leverage,” said Bannon. With his expertise, contacts and financial backing, he is convinced that he can have an outsized impact all across Europe.

Bannon went to Italy to observe the campaign earlier this year as populist parties surged in the polls despite their tiny operations. “Look at Five Star and the Northern League,” he said. “They used their own credit cards. They took control of the seventh largest economy in the world—on their credit cards! It’s insane.”

The two anti-establishment parties reached a coalition agreement that made Matteo Salvini deputy prime minister and put him in charge of the interior ministry two months ago. He has since shut Italy’s ports to NGO ships carrying rescued migrants and called for a census of the Roma community that may lead to mass deportations. Last year, he called for a radical crackdown on immigrants. “We need a mass cleansing, street by street, piazza by piazza, neighborhood by neighborhood,” he said.

Bannon sees Salvini as a model for his future Movement partners to follow. “Italy is the beating heart of modern politics,” he said. “If it works there it can work everywhere.”

He admitted that the scale of his right-wing coalition could be limited by the extreme positions of some of The Movement’s potential partners. “Some people may opt out because they think some of the guys may be too immigrant focused,” he conceded.

“We’re not looking to include any ethno-nationalist parties in this although guys like the Sweden Democrats or the True Finns are perfect casting.”

Kent Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats was one of those who met Bannon in Central London in the last week. The party, which had its roots in the Neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements of the 1980s, has shot up to almost 20 percent in recent polls after adopting a more conventionally populist, anti-immigration message.

Jérôme Rivière of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (Rassemblement National since June) also made the pilgrimage to London’s Mayfair, as did Mischaël Modrikamen of the People’s Party of Belgium, Nigel Farage of UKIP and Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang, a Flemish nationalist party formed in 2004 when its predecessor was found to be in breach of a Belgian law on racism and xenophobia.

Bannon said Farage and Le Pen would take the lead in figuring out the logistics of creating a new European parliamentary grouping that could be home to all of these parties and more.

Gosar, the Republican congressman, also stopped by Bannon’s London hotel. He was in Britain to attend a rally for the street protester and alt-right provocateur Tommy Robinson, who was recently jailed for contempt of court for breaching reporting restrictions on a trial. During his trip, Gosar accused the British government of jailing Robinson as part of a cover up of rapeperpetrated by “disgusting and depraved individuals” from Muslim immigrant communities, which he described as a “scourge.”

Supporters of Tommy Robinson during their protest in Trafalgar Square, London calling for his release from prison.
© PA Supporters of Tommy Robinson during their protest in Trafalgar Square, London calling for his release from prison.

Bannon’s ambition is no less than to take a stranglehold on Europe in the same way that he believes Soros has been able to dominate proceedings in recent decades.

“Soros is brilliant,” he said. “He’s evil but he’s brilliant.”

George Soros in 2013© PA George Soros in 2013

Bannon wants to fulfil that role on the right and he is not ashamed to assert his objectives. “I’m about winning. I’m about power,” he said. “I want to win and then I want to effectuate change.”

He is not afraid of being caricatured in the way that Soros has been vilified by the right. He compared it to the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. “Look at Chris Wylie [the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower]. He is saying ‘Bannon made psychological weapons.’ He’s literally made me the most brilliant evil genius. I’m a Bond villain. I kind of dig it.”

Kassam, who worked closely with Bannon at Breitbart and followed him out the door of the populist news site, said The Movement was shaping up as a force that would subsume national politics.

“Forget your Merkels,” said Kassam. “Soros and Bannon are going to be the two biggest players in European politics for years to come.”

Trump says he holds Putin responsible for election interference

By Crimson Tazvinzwa
The US president has again caused confusion over his stance on Russia after appearing to say he believed Moscow was no longer targeting the US.
Speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Donald Trump answered “no” when asked if the US was still being targeted by Russia, a belief that would put him at odds with his intelligence chiefs.But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said hours later that she had talked with the president and he had instead been saying “no” to taking further questions from reporters.

US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House press conference at the White House
© getty US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House press conference at the White House

When asked if she was reversing what the president had said, she answered: “I’m interpreting it, not reversing it.”

It comes a day after Mr Trump backtracked on comments he madeabout whether he believed Russia had been responsible for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election.

The billionaire had said during Monday’s news conference with Vladimir Putin that he “didn’t see any reason” why Russia would be involved in US election meddling and that, despite his “great confidence” in his intelligence agencies, Mr Putin had given an “extremely strong and powerful” denial.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
© getty U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
By Crimson Tazvinzwa
Almost as soon as the words were spoken, journalists, political commentators and politicians expressed bemusement and anger, with former CIA director John Brennan going as far as to describe the remarks as “treasonous”.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump claimed he had mis-spoke the day before and had meant to say he did not see any reason why Russian wouldn’tbe responsible for interfering in the 2016 vote.He admitted “there’s a need for some clarification”, adding that what he meant “should have been obvious – I thought it would be obvious but would like to clarify in case it wasn’t”.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018
© getty U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hand at the beginning of a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018

He said: “In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t’.”

Hitting back at claims he had taken a soft position on Moscow, Mr Trump said on Wednesday that “no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia”.

Citing US sanctions on Russia and the expulsion of alleged Russian spies from the US, he added that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “understands it, and he’s not happy about it”.

Last week, national intelligence director Dan Coats said that warning lights about overall cyber threats to the US were “blinking red”, much like “blinking red” signals warned before the 9/11 attacks.

Donald Trump: ‘British people like me a lot. The police build barriers to stop me getting mobbed’

I’d like to start by thanking myself bigly for finding the time to talk to you at this press conference. As many of you will know, the president of the United States of America is a very busy man. Possibly the busiest man in the world. And no president has ever been busier than me. I am the busiest. So I’m sure you’d like to join me in thanking me for making time in my schedule for you.

When I said yesterday Nato was a waste of space and I couldn’t wait to leave, that was fake news. I don’t know why the media always choose to report me accurately but they do. I’m telling you now that Nato is a great place. One of the very best places I’ve ever visited. I like it a lot. A lotly a lot. I’ve got a lot of properties in Nato. More properties than any other person in the world. You should come and stay in them some time. You really should. And the Natians are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The very nicest.

But I’m telling you this and I need you to hear me. Some of the Natians haven’t been paying their fair share. And that’s got to stop right now. So that’s what I told them. I said, if you don’t pay your fair share then you aren’t paying your fair share. And yes, we had some tough talks about that. Some of the toughest talks of all time.

But we got there in the end, with the Natians agreeing to pay what they had already agreed to pay. No one bargains tougher than me. No one.

So Nato is now a lot safer and a lot stronger than when I arrived here a couple of days ago. It was amazing to see the spirit in the room. And I guess that’s down to me. Everyone here in Natoland has personally thanked me. That’s a fact. A factly fact. Each Natian has made a point of coming up to me to say thank you. They thanked me a lot for being a very stable genius.

They said: “Thank you, Mr President, you can leave now.” Even Mr Stoltenburger – I’ve never eaten one of those – thanked me as he showed me the door. That was a joke by the way. I like to make jokes. I make a lot of jokes. I really do. You should ask Pierce Morgan. He says I’m the funniest guy he’s ever met.

My next stop is Britain, England. I’m going to a lot of pretty hotspots on this European trip. But that’s what the president does. He goes to hotspots. And I make no bones about it, hotspots don’t get hotter than Blenheim Palace and Windsor Castle. There’s a lot of very bad people in those places. Worse even than Afghanistanistan.

But America makes the best weapons in the world. We really do. The very best. No one makes better weapons than America. You should buy some of them. We’ve got planes that can do incredible things. Things you wouldn’t believe. Just like in the cartoons. Have you watched Fox News? So I can look after myself if the environment gets too hostile. I’m not worried. Nothing worries me. I sleep very well at night. Better than any other president. I take my memory foam mattress everywhere. Helps with my dementia. Not that I have it.

I think the British people like me a lot. They like me so much the police have had to build barriers everywhere I go to stop me being mobbed by my fans. And I’m really looking forward to getting out and seeing a bit of the country and not meeting anyone. I love not meeting people. Hugely.

What’s that about heartbreak? Oh, you said hard Brexit. I thought you said heartbreak. I’ve had heartbreak. Though not so much recently. I guess Brexit means Brexit though I haven’t really given it much thought. Then no one in Britain, Europe, has either. Just make sure you’ve got enough cages for the kids and it’ll be fine.

So yeah, I reckon the first two days of my UK trip are going to be a bit dull. Just lunch and a few castles. But then I get to go up to my golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, England. I’ve got a lot of golf courses. No president has ever had more golf courses.

And mine are the best. The absolute best. It’s going to be great putting my feet up before I go off to see Vladimir Putin. He’s a great guy. A lot of people misunderstand him. He’s a competitor not an enemy. We get on really well and I’m telling you he can’t wait to hear what I’ve got to say about you Natians.

Thanks so much for my time. It was your pleasure.

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