Stories We’re Watching
Special Counsel Files Flynn Sentencing Memo
Yesterday special counsel Robert Mueller’s team said that former national security advisor Michael Flynn deserves little prison time–if any–given his cooperation. The memo was expected to shed light on potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Last year Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Of last year’s plea, national security expert David Rothkopf says: “Of course, he did not lie simply to be difficult. He believed he had to cover up what he did with Russia, with Turkey, serving them ahead of his service to the American people, because he knew it was wrong.” Prosecutors said that Flynn’s work for President Erdoğan centered around extraditing Fethullah Gulen, Turkish imam and former Erdogan political ally.
- Lawfare: Special Counsel Files Flynn Sentencing Memo
- NBC: Mueller gives new details on Flynn’s secretive work for Turkey
- US News: Democrats Prepare to Probe Trump’s FBI Headquarters Plan – Rep Connolly
- Washington Post: D.C., Maryland begin seeking Trump financial documents in case related to his D.C. hotel
CIA Director Briefs Senators on Khashoggi, Turkish Prosecutor Seeks Arrest of Saudis
The CIA director briefed select Senators yesterday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Following the briefing, a bipartisan group of Senators affirmed their belief that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) orchestrated Khashoggi’s murder. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accused MBS of being “complicit” in the murder. UN human rights chief has called for an international investigation to determine responsibility for the murder. Earlier today, Turkish prosecutors filed arrest warrants for MBS’s top aide and the deputy head of Saudi foreign intelligence.
- PBS: Why Senate reaction to CIA Khashoggi briefing is ‘unprecedented’
- BBC: Lindsey Graham turns on Pompeo over Khashoggi murder
- NPR: CIA’s Haspel Briefs Senate Leaders On Khashoggi Assessment
- The Independent: Khashoggi murder: Turkey tells Saudi Arabia to extradite all suspects
Russia Calls US Withdrawal From INF ‘Ill-Considered,’ Deploys New Laser Weapon Aimed at US Allies
Earlier today Russia’s General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov warned that “If the INF treaty is destroyed, we won’t leave it without a response”. He added that Russia would retaliate against countries hosting US missiles. Shortly after Gerasimov’s remarks, Russian state media posted a video highlighting a new laser weapons system, the Peresvet, which experts say is capable of intercepting aircraft. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Pompeo delivered to Russia a 60 day ultimatum to stop violating the INF Treaty. The Kremlin maintains that it’s in full compliance. National Security Advisor to V.P. Biden, Jake Sullivan, warns that the US threat to withdraw “doesn’t reflect the considered judgments of national security experts”.
- NATO: Statement on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty official
- RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty: Putin: U.S. Withdrawal From INF ‘Ill-Considered’
- Gizmodo: Russia Shows Off New Laser Weapon After US Threatens to Pull Out
- Haaretz: Russia Deploys New Laser Weapon Aimed at US Allies in Response
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Tariff Man Bombs Global Markets
Yesterday’s market losses touched nearly every sector, as the Dow Jones index, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all dropped more than 3%. Market analysts blamed yesterday’s US stock selloff on President Trump’s tweets, which they say have sowed skepticism over the status of the truce in the US-China trade war. Confusion over the deal and ineffective communication by the Trump administration continues to worry investors despite today’s modest market gains.
- Bloomberg: Stock Rout Eases on Trade Pledge; Pound Advances: Markets Wrap
- BBC: Wall Street shares dive amid growth fears
- Business Insider: Trump calls himself ‘Tariff Man’ during raging tweetstorm on China
- MarketWatch: Here are the worst-performing stocks on ‘Tariff Man’ Tuesday
China Responds to Tariff Man’s Tweets
Earlier today, after welcoming Portugal to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi Jinping said that “China will always adhere to mutual respect and peaceful development, promote peace and stability”. Yesterday a spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Commerce released a statement about the preliminary trade agreement between China and the US as well as a new set of guidelines for intellectual property theft.
- The Australian Financial Review: Market euphoria evaporates as ‘I’m a tariff man’ Trump casts Xi-deal
- Vox: Trump called himself “Tariff Man.” The internet did the rest.
- South China Morning Post: Portugal signs agreement with China on Belt and Road Initiative
- Channel NewsAsia: China to stick to ‘mutual respect’ in dealings with world – Xi
- Markets Insider: The US and China are scrambling to fill in the blanks on Trump and Xi’s trade war truce as the ‘Tariff Man’ threat looms
Release of Brexit legal advice jeopardizes newly struck deal
Earlier today British MP’s were forced to publish Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice on the Brexit deal, which warns that the arrangements of the Irish Backstop could prevent the UK from lawfully exiting the EU. Analysts say that these revelations are likely to toughen PM May’s task of convincing other MP’s to accept this most recent version of Brexit. Experts have long warned that the Irish Backstop, meant to protect the Good Friday agreement and prevent a hard border, would be the ultimate flaw in the Brexit negotiations. If Northern Ireland and Ireland are in different customs zones, border checks could likely dampen trade.
- BBC: Brexit: Release of full legal advice sparks political row
- Reuters: UK minister says government is looking at ways of making Brexit backstop more acceptable
- The Guardian: Brexit legal advice warns of UK being trapped by Irish backstop
- The Independent: Brexit: More voters than ever think leaving EU is a mistake
From Deep State Radio
BLOG: FLYNN’S DISGRACE SHOULD BE A LIFE-SENTENCE WHETHER HE SPENDS A MOMENT IN JAIL OR NOT
Perhaps it is because I have spent so much of my life studying national security advisors, but I can’t minimize my contempt for Mike Flynn nor my outrage at his behavior–regardless of his cooperation with Mueller.
This is a man who had spent his life in military service and was well-indoctrinated in the ideas of loyalty and service to the country…which he cast aside when it suited him, for a buck or out of bitterness at what he perceived as his unfair treatment by Barack Obama. CONTINUE
NATIONAL SECURITY MAGAZINE: U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN THE POST TRUMP ERA: A CONVERSATION WITH JAKE SULLIVAN
Relax. Keep your champagne on ice. Donald Trump is still president of the United States. And his foreign policy–which is a crudely mixed cocktail of racism and greed with a twist of incompetence–is still what America is serving up to the world. But that won’t always be the case. In fact a New Democratic House of Representatives may start changing some of it pretty soon. Which begs the question, where do we go from here? What about the tariffs and the transactionalism and the attacks on international institutions and the distrust of our allies and alliances is going to outlast Trump and what will change the day he leave the White House? We discuss in a great and wide-ranging conversation with one of the Democratic Party’s foremost foreign policy thought-leaders, former National Security Advisor to V.P. Joe Biden and chief advisor to the Hillary Clinton Campaign, Jake Sullivan. You won’t want to miss it.