Mara Liasson: Trump NATO summit comments were “a public scolding”

Mara Liasson of National Public Radio told viewers Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that comments made by President Trump earlier at the NATO summit in Brussels were “a public scolding.”

While NATO members are supposed to contribute two percent of their country’s GDP to fund the group’s cooperative defense, only 5 of the 28 countries in the alliance – the United States being one of them – actually does so.

President Trump told the leaders today that, “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.”

“They didn’t like it. I think that’s fair to say. He scolded them,” Liasson said.

Liasson added that past leaders such as President Obama have also made similar criticisms in the past. 

Krauthammer: POTUS trip will “have reverberations for many years. That’s the story.”

Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer told viewers on Wednesday’s "Special Report with Bret Baier" that President Trump's first foreign trip represents " a new day in the Middle East."

While the trip’s theme was to bring the three great religions together in a nonpolitical way, Krauthammer says the real story is not the visit to the Vatican or Israel, but instead “it’s the realignment of American policy over Iran.” 

The syndicated columnist said it’s important to get the fifty Sunni nations lined up with Saudi Arabia behind the U.S.

Krauthammer added that the trip will “have reverberations for many years. That’s the story.”  He said that “America’s back, that’s the story and the consequences are going to be immense.”

 

York: Appointment of Special Counsel Could Drag Investigation to 2020 Presidential Election

Byron York told viewers on Wednesday's Special Report with Bret Baier that the appointment of a special counsel for the Russian investigation means the probe could drag on for years and years, even into the next presidential election.

The Deputy Attorney General named former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

York says that while the choice is a good one, it will still bother Capitol Hill Republican members.   "'He's a very respected man but they [Republicans] are worried about a wild goose chase," the Chief Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner stated. 

York even shared with viewers what one current lawmaker told him.  "A U.S. Senator just said to me, 'it matters what the word matters means and what the word directly means.'" 

York explained the senator was referencing the 2003 case in which a special counsel was appointed to find out who leaked the name of a CIA operative to the press.  The Washington Examiner correspondent pointed out that that case was "followed by years and years of investigation.”  And as a result, York said, “we will be talking about this investigation in 2020."  

Krauthammer: “Who is going to step out now and defend the president in these denials?”

Charles Krauthammer told viewers Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that when it comes to breaking allegations about President Trump by the New York Times, “I think what is really stunning is that nobody, not even from the White House, has come out under their own name in defense of the president here.”

“Who is going to step out now and defend the president in these denials?” Krauthammer continued.

Late Tuesday the New York Times published a story which stated that Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to end a federal investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn in a February Oval Office meeting. Comey reportedly detailed the meeting in a memo, writing that Trump told him “I hope you can let this go.” The White House has denied the report.

Russian jet 'buzzed' US Navy recon plan in Black Sea

By Lucas Tomlinson

The day before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Washington, a Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in the Black Sea on Tuesday. 

The Russian jet came as close as 20 feet to its American plane and remained that close for five minutes, according to a US defense official to Fox News. 

"While this one was considered by the flight crew to be safe and professional, this sort of close encounter certainly has the possibility to become dangerous in a hurry," added the US defense official.  

The Russian jet was armed with six air-to-air missiles under its wings. 

Unlike Russian intercepts in the past, this Russian jet approached the US Navy recon plan "slowly," according to the official.   The entire encounter lasted about an hour.  

"It goes on almost every day of the week," said the official. 

The latest Russian incident in the Black Sea comes a month before the US military kicks off a series of military exercises in the region.  

In February, Russian fighter jets buzzed a US Navy destroyer in the Black Sea on the same day the US Army unloaded dozens of tanks and hundreds of soldiers in a nearby Romanian port along the Black Sea.  

When asked about the timing of the incident coming a day before Lavrov's visit to Washington to meet President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the official asked, "what were we doing flying that day?"

The latest Russian provocation comes a week after a pair of Russian Bear Bombers and fighter jets flew near Alaska prompting the US Air forces to dispatch F-22 stealth figter jets to intercept the Russian formation. 

 

Pentagon: Mattis meets Turkish PM in London, days after US says it will arm Syrian Kurds

Reporting by Lucas Tomlinson

Two days after the Pentagon said it would supply arms to Syrian Kurds, whom NATO-ally Turkey considers terrorists, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met the Turkish Prime Minister on the sidelines of a conference in London Thursday, a defense department spokesperson said in a statement.

Both leaders “affirmed their support for peace and stability” in Iraq and Syria, said Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between top US and Turkish officials since the Pentagon announcement.

Just a few weeks ago, Turkish jets carried out airstrikes against the US-backed Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan is scheduled to visit the White House next week and says he will raise the issue of US support to the Syrian Kurds.

Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White provided the following readout:

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım today in London to discuss a range of bilateral security issues. The secretary reiterated U.S. commitment to protecting our NATO ally.  Both leaders affirmed their support for peace and stability in both Iraq and Syria.

 

 

Krauthammer: Timing of Comey firing “inexplicable”

Charles Krauthammer told viewers Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the timing of President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey is “inexplicable.”

“This is about – according to the letter by the deputy attorney general – this is about something that occurred on July the 5th. This, it, so we start out with something that is highly implausible,” Krauthammer said.

Krauthammer noted that if Trump had wanted to remove Comey from his position, he could have done it earlier.

“If that was so offensive to the Trump administration, what you would have done is in the transition you would have spoken with Comey and said we’re going to let you know. That’s when a president could very easily make a decision to have a change. That’s not unprecedented,” Krauthammer commented. 

Russia sends more weapons to Syria ahead of Lavrov visit to Washington

By Lucas Tomlinson

A day before the Russian foreign minister arrives in Washington, US officials tell Fox News Moscow has sent dozens of new artillery howitzers to Syria to be used by the Assad regime in a future ground campaign against rebel forces.  The additional military weaponry comes days after a new ceasefire effort began in Syria.

21 M-30 Russian artillery pieces arrived via cargo ship in the southern port city of Tartus in the past few days, according to two U.S. defense officials.

“This is not done by people who want to turn down the volume,” said one official describing the arrival of the new Russian armaments into Syria.

There are also Russian missiles heading to Syria and are expected to arrive later this week.

The shipment of Russian SA-21 missiles for the advanced S-400 air defense system will “double” the number of surface-to-air missiles Russia has in Syria, according to officials.  The increased air defense capability comes one month after President Donald Trump ordered a massive cruise missile strike into Syria destroying parts of a Syrian airbase, including nearly two dozen Syrian jets.   

After the strike, Russia vowed to protect Syrian airbases with more air defense systems like the S-400.  Dozens of Syrian jets were moved onto a large Russian airbase in Latakia along the Mediterranean coast recently, according to officials.

Over the weekend, in a deal signed by Russia, Iran and NATO-ally Turkey, various “de-escalation” zones were established inside Syria.  The United States was not a party to the agreement.  Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to his Russian counterpart on Saturday and said the United States and Russia will continue to de-conflict their military operations with one another in Syria without mentioning anything about the new ceasefire plan.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Moscow’s plans to scale down its military presence in Syria, but dozens of Russia’s jets and helicopter gunships remain at an airbase along the Syrian coast.

Two months later, Russia sent Syria the largest shipment of missiles to date—50 SS-21 short-range ballistic missiles -- with a  range of roughly 100 miles.

Russia later fired two of these missiles and longer range SS-26 Iskander missiles into Idlib Province, the same area where in April, the Pentagon says Syrian military forces launched a chemical attack killing dozens of civilians including women and children prompting the American military response.

 

 

Krauthammer: On Sally Yates Testimony "We learned nothing today"

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Monday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” we learned nothing from the former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testimony before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.  "There was nothing that was said today that we didn't already know.”  He added that the hearings only helped make Sally Yates a house hold name.

Krauthammer said "The only result of these hours of hearings is that Sally Yates is now a democratic star and she needs to pick a state and run for the senate.  She is a rising candidate for the future."  

Ivanka Trump & EPA admin Pruitt to meet and discuss Paris climate change agreement

By Serafin Gomez

A Senior Administration official confirms to me that senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt  will meet privately for coffee at the White House on Tuesday morning.  Later in the day, principals involved in reviewing the climate change policy, including Ms. Trump, will convene at the White House at 130pm-- this group of advisers also includes Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and others, who will primarily discuss and weigh whether the US should leave the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Ms. Trump, who has made climate change one of her signature issues, has been tapped by POTUS to head the review the 2015 agreement that was signed by former President Obama. The crux of the accord is for countries in the pact to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions on a country by country basis. The US, under Obama,  was slated to lower carbon emissions by over 25 % by 2025. Pruitt, however,has been an outspoken proponent of the U.S. leaving the accord.

“It’s something we need to exit, in my opinion. It’s a bad deal for America. It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach,’ Pruitt said on Fox and Friends in April.

Representatives of the United States and other nations in the accord are congregating this week in Bonn, Germany for the United Nations climate change meetings.  The inclusion of an American representative at this meeting has been seen by some climate policy experts as an indicator that President Trump is leaning towards staying in the accord, in large part bc of Ivanka Trump’s influence on the topic.

The timing of the meeting between Ms. Trump and EPA head Pruitt, comes at a crucial period when President Trump is deciding on whether the U.S. will leave or stay the Paris Climate Change Agreement.  

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