- Jay Bookman The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Trump administration announced Monday that it would not impose additional sanctions on Russian leaders and oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin, despite legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress demanding punishment of Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.
According to a State Department statement, any further sanctions are unnecessary because simply having the new law on the books “is serving as a deterrent” to Russian misbehavior.
In an interview with the BBC, however, CIA Director Mike Pompeo had a very different take. According to Pompeo, his agency has seen no reduction in Russian efforts to interfere in the internal affairs and elections of other countries, including our European allies.
“Are you concerned that they might try to interfere in the U.S. midterms?” he was asked.
“Of course. I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” Pompeo responded.
In an interview last week with British TV personality Piers Morgan, President Trump was asked whether he accepts the reality of climate change. It appears that he does not.
“There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,” Trump said. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level.”
Scientists at NASA offer us an opposite version of reality. In its annual report last spring, it told us:
“Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent … . And on the opposite side of the planet, on March 3, sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Meanwhile, at the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders emphatically denied Monday that President Trump had pressured the FBI to remove Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose sudden retirement was announced Monday.
“The only thing that the president has applied pressure to is to make sure we get (the Russia investigation) resolved so that you guys and everyone else can focus on the things that Americans actually care about. And that is making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all; that you’re all reminded once again there was no collusion,” Sanders said.
Apparently, we are not supposed to remember the long string of presidential tweets going back to July that directly target McCabe and question his continued employment at the FBI.
In the wake of McCabe’s ouster, multiple news outlets reported Monday on a telephone conversation between McCabe and Trump immediately after Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Trump was irate that Comey had been allowed to fly back to Washington on an FBI plane from Los Angeles, where he had been on FBI business. He had wanted to leave Comey stranded there, apparently to compound his humiliation.
McCabe, at that point acting FBI director, told Trump that he had not been asked to approve Comey’s return flight, but would have done so if asked. Trump went silent, then told McCabe to ask his wife what it felt like to be a loser, a reference to her failed campaign for the Virginia State Senate.
“This simply never happened,” an anonymous White House official said in response. “Any suggestion otherwise is pure fiction.”
Gee, I wonder who is telling the truth?