Temple Chima UbochiSunday, May 21, 2017
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Bonn, Germany


Continued from Part 7

For a President who complains so much about leaks, this is stunning (SenatoTammy Duckworth)

Protecting our national security is one of the most important tasks a president has, and Trump is failing at it (Senator Bernie Sanders)

These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern. It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts (Sen. Ron Wyden)

Just being out of town for two weeks is probably great. The great thing about a trip, they control the environment, you control the interaction, you control the agenda and you control the press access. If you fumble on one of these trips, it's nobody's fault but your own (James Carafano, a foreign policy expert at the Heritage Foundation)

The president's learning curve on national security has been bumpy at best, opening the door for those among his detractors to assume the worst, and leaving supporters grasping for logical explanations,. Unfortunately, any progress Trump is making on foreign policy is threatened by yawning gaps in staffing at the State Department and elsewhere (William E. Brock, former Tennessee Republican senator)

Trump's trip has many potential pitfalls. My biggest concern is the level of distraction in the administration at a moment when all attention should be on ensuring the trip goes well. Second is this president in particular. We've seen he has a desire to please and end meetings on a positive note with the people he's in front of. I worry that translates into making promises that seem like a good idea at the time, that are expedient, leave everyone smiling, but are difficult to reconcile (Richard Nephew, a Columbia University scholar who was the State Department's lead sanctions expert during the Iran nuclear negotiations)

Scandalous president embarks on a foreign voyage, leaving his problems behind. Definitely, he will come back to meet more of them!

rump and his aides should be in despair right now after a series of scandals rocking the White House. I remember Damon Linker, of The Week, describing the Trump administration as far and away the leakiest White House in modern American history, and Trump as hapless, bumbling, state-secret-divulging commander in chief with stupefying incompetence.

To emphasize how bad things are: A GOP congressman from Kentucky has just asked if 'this Trump thing' is sustainable? According to WP, Rep. James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, is worried that, for Republicans, the "wheels were falling off." Washington had been feeling like a city on fire. Every day brought a new crisis. Russia. The FBI. The vote to replace the Affordable Care Act. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) summed it up thus: "So much doom and gloom. It can play games with your mind."

The Hill, on May 21, reports that a growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety. In the last few weeks alone, the FBI arrested a man threatening Rep. Martha McSally's (Ariz.) life; a woman pursued Rep. David Kustoff (Tenn.) with her car, and Rep. Thomas Garrett (Va.) heightened security at a recent town hall in response to death threats. Lately, though, Republicans have observed some furious constituents who appear to be going too far.

What an American president, who has blundered, in only about four months in office, more than any of his predecessors in 8years? I still can't understand how a president can destroy himself in such a way. For any president, according to The Fix, one of these headlines would be very bad news. For President Trump, they all came in a span of 12 hours:

  • "Justice Department appointed special counsel to oversee probe of Russian meddling in 2016 election"

  • "House majority leader told colleagues last year: 'I think Putin pays' Trump"

  • "Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed - after being paid as its agent (a foreign agents appointed a national security adviser)"

  • "Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House"

  • "Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat"

  • "Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians"

What a man? On Monday, May 15, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials in a meeting, on May 10. The Post meant that Trump "jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State" with disclosures to Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in the Oval Office.

The problem was that by the time Trump was sharing the secret with the Russians, he didn't even know the source of the Intel. It was later that it was revealed to him that the Intel came from Israel; and there was no permission from Israel for Trump to share its Intel with Russia; and that might put the Israeli mole, within the ISIS, in grave danger. Other allies will now be wary about sharing future top secret details with this president with loose lips. The AP quoted Danny Yatom, the former director of Israel's spy agency, as having told The Jerusalem Post that if the allegations were proven to be true, the incident "could lead to harm to the source." If true, Yatom described Trump's conversation with the Russian officials as a "grave violation" of intelligence sharing protocol. Yatom told the Jerusalem Post "If someone gives the U.S. very sensitive information it is prohibited to give the information to a third party -- for sure not to Russia, who has ties with Iran and Syria".

As a damage control, Trump later called the Israeli Prime minister, may be to apologize. And, he will try to smooth things out when he arrives in Israel, on official visit, this week.

Despite Trump's call of the appointment of the special counsel a "witch hunt", the investigation into possible collusion between his associates and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, will go on. And the WP wrote, this is the day the White House - and apparently congressional Republicans - hoped would never come.

The past's catching up with Trump. He can no longer control the events now. That has compounded his case! Just as The Fix puts it, Republicans just got what they didn't want:

  • A special counsel; and a tough guy for that matter. The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, as special counsel to oversee a probe of Russian meddling in 2016 election. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) says Mueller is "a special guy" whose "career is unimpeachable."

  • Trump might be resigning himself to fate, as The Guardian reports that although Trump denies collusion with Russia, but said he can only 'speaks for himself', meaning that he will now concentrate on "saving" his own head, even if any of his surrogates must pay a price here.

  • Congress is being told that investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now also probing whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to msn.com

  • The fired FBI director will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee after Memorial Day, according to cbsnews.com

  • At a White House in crisis, Trump looks increasingly isolated. It's getting lonely at the top, according to Reuters. Friends and associates are deserting the scandal-prone Trump. Even, many of those shortlisted for the FBI Director's job, have declined, and informed the administration not to consider them again. The job might finally go to Joe Liebermann, an all weather man, because those who are better have refused to serving in the Trump's stinking and sinking government.

Now, President Trump leaves the problems he created, for himself, behind in America, and heads to foreign lands, on official visits. Donald Trump's inaugural overseas trip will take him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels and a Group of Seven (G-7) (rich countries) gathering in Sicily. A point worth noting here is a fact that few months ago, Trump's White House announced about his meeting the pope, even before making any appointment with the pontiff, who was embarrassed, but later agreed to meet Trump for courtesy sake only.

Besieged at home, according to CNN; with turmoil enveloping his administration at home, according to Reuters; President Donald Trump heads abroad on Friday, May 19, for a trip the White House hopes will shift focus away from domestic controversies and on to his foreign policy agenda. The White House hopes that this trip abroad will shift attention away from the political firestorm triggered by the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. His firing and the news reports that Mr. Trump had previously asked Mr. Comey to stop investigating Mr. Flynn led critics to charge that Mr. Trump may have improperly sought to hamper the FBI probe.

Trump travelled with his wife, Melania Trump, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as aides including Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Gary Cohn, the national economic adviser.

As a comparison here, while Trump hopes to get a reprieve (temporary relief), from his political woes at home; president Buhari is away in England seeking medical relief. I almost laughed my head off when Nigeria's minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, was quoted as having said: "Buhari may be in UK but patronizes Made in Nigeria drugs and herbs". I can't find the right words to describe this minister (please do that for me).

While Trump travelled with his wife, daughter, and son in-law; Buhari once travelled to New York, for a United Nations' event, with his wife and children, even when they had no business being there. The WP wrote that Trump's first foreign trip as president, which begins in Saudi Arabia this weekend, is a test of the lessons he has learned about geopolitics, as well as whether he can reset his chaotic administration. Many presidents have tried to use statesmanship abroad to distract from problems at home, but the Trump brand of diplomacy has some analysts worried that the nine-day tour of allies in the Mideast and Europe might only make his troubles worse.

Paradoxically, Melania and Ivanka Trump both arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, May 20, without their heads covered - two years after Donald Trump criticised Michelle Obama for doing the same thing. Mr. Trump said in 2015 that Mrs. Obama had "insulted" Saudi Arabia by not covering her head when she and President Barack Obama visited the Muslim country. Also, Trump campaigned against Muslims, and wanted to ban some Muslims from entering the United States, but will preach tolerance in Saudi speech.

But, despite "running" away, temporarily, from the scandals at home, Trump will still go home to meet more of them. Reuters wrote that The US president was given a warm welcome in the oil-rich kingdom -- a mood in sharp contrast to Washington where pressure is building after fresh claims over his team's alleged links to Moscow. Air Force One had barely taken off when it was announced, late on Friday, May 19, that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, had agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections.

Reports also emerged that Trump had called Comey "a nut job"; and that the FBI had identified a senior White House official as a "significant person of interest" in its probe of Russian meddling. A New York magazine reporter then revealed that the "person of interest" in question was Mr. Kushner, 36, who is married to Mr. Trump's eldest daughter, and who flew out of Washington, on Friday night, to accompany the President on his first official foreign trip. Separately, the New York Times reported, on Friday, that Mr. Trump told Russian officials, at a White House meeting, that firing Mr. Comey relieved "great pressure" that he was facing from the ongoing probe into Russia and the election. Mr. Trump said, according to the Times, which cited a document summarizing the meeting "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." Mr. Trump met Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Russia's Ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office the day after he fired Mr. Comey.

Can Trump ever achieve anything tangible again? He has ruined his presidency as such that it will not be an overstatement to say that, one way or the other, he may not serve out this tenure. Approval of President Trump has dropped to its lowest level since his inauguration, according to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, released on Friday, May 19, due to Trump's mishandling of classified information, and meddling with an FBI investigation. The May 14-18 opinion poll found that 38 percent of adults approved of Trump, while 56 percent disapproved. The remaining 6 percent had "mixed feelings."

Any of President Trump's achievements abroad will be drowned by the scandals at home. The WP reports that on Saturday, Saudi Arabia signed tentative agreements, with the United States, that the Trump administration said could be worth $110 billion, including fighter jets, ships and missiles, as well as energy technology, health-care expertise, job training and a $40 billion joint infrastructure investment fund. But a huge portion of the dollar figure reflects money invested in and goods made in the KSA, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not in the USA.

To be continued!






Continued from Part 7