TRUMP BETRAYED? Report: Haley and Pence may team up to run against POTUS in 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) — President Donald Trump was watching television Sunday when he saw Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, announce that he would impose fresh sanctions on Russia. The president grew angry, according to an official informed about the moment. As far as he was concerned, he had decided no such thing.

It was not the first time Trump has yelled at the television over something he saw Haley saying. This time, however, the divergence has spilled into public in a remarkable display of discord that stems not just from competing views of Russia but from larger questions of political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty.

The rift erupted into open conflict Tuesday when a White House official blamed Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” That prompted her to fire back, saying that she did not “get confused.” The public disagreement embarrassed Haley and reinforced questions about Trump’s foreign policy — and who speaks for his administration.

At the least, the episode highlighted the crossed circuits over foreign policy in an administration with no secretary of state, an increasingly marginalized White House chief of staff and a national security adviser who has only been on the job for a week and has pushed out many of the senior national security officials in the White House but has yet to bring in his own team.

Since Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month, Haley has been the administration’s leading foreign policy figure. And yet she was not kept in the loop on a major decision involving perhaps America’s most powerful adversary.

According to several officials, the White House did not inform Haley that it had changed course on sanctions, leaving her to hang out alone.

“It damages her credibility going forward and once again makes everyone, friend and foe alike, wonder that when the United States says something, approves something, calls for something, opposes something, is it for real?” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va. and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Should we wait to see what Trump does the next day?”

The clash was reminiscent of various occasions when Trump has directly undercut subordinates, as when Tillerson broached the idea of negotiations with North Korea and the president scolded him on Twitter not to waste his time. Many in Washington and at the United Nations were riveted by the sharp exchange Tuesday between the White House and its senior international diplomat.

“She got ahead of the curve,” Larry Kudlow, the president’s national economics adviser, told reporters at a briefing in Florida before Trump welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to his Mar-a-Lago estate. “She’s done a great job. She’s a very effective ambassador, but there might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Haley took umbrage. A few hours later, she spoke with Dana Perino of Fox News, who quoted her response on air: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”

Kudlow then called Haley to apologize. “She was certainly not confused,” Kudlow told The New York Times by telephone. “I was wrong to say that — totally wrong.”

He added: “As it turns out, she was basically following what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it, so she was in a box.”

The argument that Haley had merely gotten out ahead of a decision was undercut by the fact that the White House itself had sent out word to surrogates on Saturday — the day before her remarks — letting them know that it had decided to take punitive action against Moscow.

“We also intend to impose specific additional sanctions against Russia to respond to Moscow’s ongoing support for the Assad regime, which has enabled the regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people,” said a document distributed by the Republican National Committee that was titled “White House talking points.”

And yet an administration official said there was a quick recognition on Sunday that Haley had gone too far in her remarks on “Face the Nation” on CBS.

This official said that the State Department called an aide to Haley shortly after she appeared on the show, to suggest she issue a correction. Haley’s aide replied that her office was considering a correction, but none was ever released. Instead, the White House was left to say the next day that no sanctions had been approved.

Such conflicts leave foreign governments in a bind as they try to interpret American moves.

“Coordinated messaging by our government on matters as serious as these is very important, so it is best that an episode such as this one not be repeated,” said John Negroponte, a former ambassador to the United Nations. He added that he was confident that Haley “has absolutely no interest in undercutting, contradicting or getting out in front of the White House.”

Beyond the immediate disconnect, though, is a deeper strain between Trump and Haley, according to administration officials and other insiders. Haley has been perhaps the most hawkish voice on Russia on a team headed by a president who has emphasized his fervent desire for friendship with President Vladimir Putin.

At times, that serves the president’s interests because she can say what he will not. But at other times, he has grown exasperated by her outspokenness.

At one point recently, he saw Haley on television sharply criticizing Russia over its intervention in Ukraine. “Who wrote that for her?” Trump yelled angrily at the screen, according to people briefed on the moment. “Who wrote that for her?”

A former governor of South Carolina, Haley has assumed a more prominent role than most of her predecessors, at times eclipsing the secretary of state. And along the way, Trump has grown suspicious of her ambition, convinced that she had been angling for Tillerson’s position and increasingly wondering whether she wants his own job.

Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020.

Aides to both scoff at such suggestions, but the slightest hint of such a pairing would be likely to enrage Trump, who has made it clear that he plans to run for re-election. The talk was exacerbated in recent days when Pence named Jon Lerner, Haley’s deputy, as his new national security adviser, while allowing him to keep his job at the United Nations.

READ MORE AT: https://www.myajc.com/news/sanctions-flap-erupts-into-open-conflict-between-haley-and-the-white-house/HgIGfT49W4oxLD5UarmTSN/

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GOWDY GONE: ‘Bulldog’ South Carolina congressman says he will not seek re-election

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tough-talking South Carolina Republican lawmaker and House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy announced Wednesday he will resign from Congress at the end of his term.

“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system,” Gowdy said in a statement released to the press.

Gowdy, 53, says he feels driven at this point in his life to turn his attention toward the ongoing search for justice.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” said Gowdy. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”

Known for his no-nonsense approach to Congressional issues and demand for truth, Gowdy has long been courted by his fellow Republicans to run for Speaker of the House, an offer he has often rejected.

A former prosecutor, Gowdy made a name for himself as chairman of a special House panel charged with investigating then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, during which Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and diplomatic security agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.

Gowdy’s announcement sparked overwhelming response from his Congressional colleagues, who said they were sorry to see him go.

“He will be sorely missed in Congress, and I wish him and his family success in their future endeavors,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement.

“I always said the reason @TGowdySC was amazing at his job was bc he disliked politics so much. Trey, thank you for your impatience, sacrifice, and fight to make our country a more just place. SC and our country thank you for your service. I thank you for your friendship,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley tweeted in response to the news.

“There is a time to come and a time to go,” Gowdy tweeted to his followers. “This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system.”

“The NRCC is confident this seat will stay solidly in Republican control in November,” Stivers said of Gowdy’s soon-to-be-empty seat.

Gowdy’s northern South Carolina district is traditionally heavily Republican and includes the city of Greenville, which went solidly for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

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AMERICA VS THE WORLD: UN votes to condemn US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday defied warnings from the United States by overwhelmingly passing a resolution which condemned President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A total of 128 countries voted in favor of condemning Trump’s declaration. Just seven states, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against the resolution.

Speaking before the UN assembly prior to the vote, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, defended the Trump administration’s decision, saying the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital represented “the will of the people”.

“The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that,” Haley said. “The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the president’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy.”

“America will put our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “That’s what the American people want us to do. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Haley then went on to issue a fierce warning to states who chose to support the resolution.

“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” vowed Hailey. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

Thursday’s vote “will make a difference on how Americans look at the U.N. and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the U.N., and this vote will be remembered,” Hailey warned.

In a video statement following the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital — always was, always will be.” However, Netanyahu added, “I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theater of the absurd.”

Referring to the United States as Israel’s strongest ally, Netanyahu thanked President Donald Trump and Haley for their “stalwart defense” of Israel and “the truth”.

In a declaration of victory, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said: “The vote is a victory for Palestine.” The spokesperson went on to pledge that the Palestinians would “continue our efforts in the United Nations and at all international forums to put an end to this occupation and to establish our Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

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TILLERSON SNUBBED: ANGRY VLADIMIR PUTIN REFUSES TO MEET WITH SECRETARY OF STATE FOLLOWING TRUMP ORDERED STRIKE ON SYRIA

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russian president Vladimir Putin has refused to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as tensions over last week’s U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base reach a fever pitch.

The snub is further evidence of growing hostilities between the United States in Russia as Putin has granted several audiences to Tillerson in the past, once even going so far as personally awarding Tillerson a top Russian state award — the Order of Friendship — in 2013.

“We have not announced any such meetings and right now there is no meeting with Tillerson in the president’s diary,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.

Putin has condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s ordered missile strike on a Syrian military base last week in retaliation for what intelligence officials say was a poisonous gas attack in which dozens of civilians, including 27 children, were killed.

In a statement issued shortly after American bombers struck the Syrian base, Putin said there is no proof that the Syria was responsible for the chemical attack, and called the U.S. missile strike an act of aggression and violation of international law.

Russia, a staunch ally of Syria, has said it will do “whatever it takes” to ensure that Syria has the military power necessary to protect itself from further U.S. attacks.

In light of Putin’s refusal to meet with Tillerson, the Secretary of State will instead meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to sources, Tillerson is expected to present an “it’s either them or us” scenario to the Russian dipolmat.

“Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah,” Tillerson said Tuesday. “Is that a long-term alliance that serves the Russians’ interest? Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries, and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis?”

Russia has warned the United States that any further attacks on Syria will result in serious” consequences. Despite the warning, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday the Trump administration was “ready and willing” to take further steps if needed.