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What we know about what Trump and Putin agreed to

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For two hours on Monday, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in private, with only interpreters there to hear their conversation. No aides, no media — just the two leaders and their translators, discussing who knows what.

This tete-a-tete was viewed as problematic well before it took place. When it was announced the two leaders would meet alone, it immediately struck many observers as unusual, particularly given the outstanding questions about the relationship between the two during the 2016 election. The White House told CNN there were a few reasons Trump wanted it this way: to assess Putin better, to avoid interjections from more hard-line staffers and because “he didn’t want details of their conversation to leak.”

So far, they have not. We have only hints of what the two leaders discussed in private, gleaned from their news conference and from interviews with each that followed. Tweets like this from the Russian Embassy in Washington are particularly cryptic:

The Russian Defense Ministry @MoD_Russiais ready for the practical implementation of agreements in the area of global security reached in Helsinki between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump

➡  https://t.co/uTtyHgLJ9K pic.twitter.com/PvBwF4KqJD

— Russia in USA (@RusEmbUSA) July 17, 2018

What agreements?

We looked at three transcripts to suss out what has been made public. They are:

The Bloomberg Government transcript of the post-meeting news conference The transcript of Fox News’s Chris Wallace’s interview with Putin The transcript of Fox News’s Sean Hannity’s interview with Trump.

They are identified below as [CONF], [WALLACE] and [HANNITY]. (Trump’s interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that aired Tuesday did not address the conversations between the two leaders to a large extent.) We are taking at face value the presentations each leader made: If Putin said something at the news conference that was not challenged by Trump, in other words, we are assuming it was discussed and agreed upon.

What we know Trump and Putin discussed Interference in the 2016 election. [CONF] “[S]trategic stability and global security and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” according to Putin, who said he gave the United States “a note with a number of specific suggestions.” [CONF] Extension of the “Strategic Offensive Arms Limitation Treaty,” meaning New START, which expires in 2021. [CONF] The two didn’t finalize terms on an extension. [WALLACE, HANNITY] Non-placement of weapons in space, per Putin — probably a response to Trump’s push for a “space force.” [CONF] Reestablishment of a joint working group on terrorism. [CONF] Establishment of a “joint working group on cybersecurity,” first discussed last year in Europe. [CONF] “A plethora of regional crises,” including Syria, North Korea and Ukraine. Putin suggested that the United States should push Ukrainian leaders to implement the Minsk Agreements of 2016. [CONF] The Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. Trump said he emphasized the importance of putting pressure on Iran. [CONF] Creation of “an expert council that would include political scientists, prominent diplomats and former military experts from both countries who would look for points of contact between the two countries and would look for ways on putting the relationship on the trajectory of growth,” per Putin. [CONF] Sales of natural gas from Russia to Europe, including the transit of gas through Ukrainian pipelines. [CONF] The humanitarian crisis in Syria and the two countries’ joint efforts there. [CONF] The annexation of Crimea, which Trump asserted was illegal (according, oddly, to Putin). [CONF]

The broader and more important question, of course, is what the two leaders agreed to. Take Iran, for example. We know the two leaders discussed Iran, but to what end?

That list is shorter.

What we know Trump and Putin agreed to Protection of the border between Syria and Israel and a return to the 1974 agreement on disengagement. [CONF] Creation of “a high-level working group” of business leaders from each country. [CONF] Maintenance of lines of communication aimed at combating terrorism. [CONF] This included the eradication of the Islamic State. [HANNITY] A commitment by Putin to work with the United States on North Korea. [CONF] A follow-up meeting including members of each country’s security councils. [CONF] Putin will “look into” the allegations against 12 intelligence officers, indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s grand jury. [CONF] Trump embraced Putin’s suggestion that Mueller be allowed to come interview those individuals — though Putin said, in exchange, Russia should be allowed to interview Americans it accuses of crimes. [CONF] Trump did not commit to that but said he was “fascinated by it.” [HANNITY]

In the days since that summit, Russia has moved forward on this contentious idea, including announcing plans to charge several Americans, including former ambassador Michael McFaul, with financial crimes. During the news conference after the summit, Putin made reference to his longtime nemesis Bill Browder — a reminder that those the Russian government most wants to charge with crimes are often those who are the sharpest critics.

Speaking of the treatment of critics of Russia, it is also worth noting what was not discussed during the two-hour private conversation, according to those later reports.

What was not discussed or was not mentioned The two did not discuss NATO’s upcoming military exercises. [WALLACE] No mention was made of any discussion about the poisoning of former Russian intelligence official Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The attack, which took place on British soil, is seen by the U.S. allies as an egregious event. It spurred the expulsion of Russian officers from the United States and other Western countries earlier this year. No mention was made of any discussion about the sanctions imposed by the United States after the annexation of Crimea.

That Trump reiterated the U.S. position on Crimea suggests the subject was unnecessary. But this is a critically important question: Discussion of lifting those sanctions has been an undercurrent to the question of whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia’s interference efforts in 2016.

With no one else in the room for those two hours, we may never know whether and how the subject was broached.

 

This article was written by Philip Bump from The Washington Post_

Terrorism

Accused Domestic Terrorist Lt. Christopher Hasson Indicted On Charges, Plotted To Kill Top Democrats, Media Figures

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A Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Wednesday in Maryland and accused of plotting to kill top Democrats and members of the media was denied bail by a judge.

Lt. Christopher Hasson was denied bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day after a federal prosecutor told the court that drug and gun charges brought against Hasson were “just the tip of the iceberg,” while characterizing the lieutenant as a “domestic terrorist,” according to The Associated Press.

The case was first uncovered by Seamus Hughes, a former Senate counterterrorism advisor who now works with the George Washington University Program on Extremism, which provides “analysis and policy solutions on radicalization, terrorism and extremism.” You can learn more about the GWUPoE and Hughes’ work here. Hughes, the program’s deputy director, has revealed details on several cases involving American extremism and terrorism, often finding the information in federal court documents before the media. Federal authoroties did not release a press release or statement on the case prior to Hughes’ tweets on February 20 about the arrest.

Day reportedly told prosecutors at the bail hearing Thursday that he would revisit his decision in 134 days if federal prosecutors do not bring more serious charges against Hasson by the deadline.

Prosecutors argued Thursday that Hasson “identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland” in emails to a neo-Nazi leader, according to the AP. Hasson’s public defender insisted that his gun collection represented a “modest, at best” gun collection.

christopher hasson list

The public defender also argued that Hasson’s use of a government work computer to research terrorists such as Anders Breivik and compile a spreadsheet of Democrats including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not amount to threats or intent to harm anyone.

Others on the spreadsheet included CNN’s Chris Cuomo and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. Hasson had also searched for revealing phrases on his computer, according to prosecutors, such as “do senators have [Secret Service] protection.”

“It is not a crime to think negative thoughts about people,” Julie Stelzig told the court, according to the AP.

Federal prosecutors said in court documents that Christopher Hasson was inspired in building his list by the writings of Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who wrote in his manifesto about the traitors he was targeting. According to prosecutors, the list is “consistent with the directions in the Breivik manifesto,” which divided targets into categories A, B or C:

This classification system is used to identify various individual cultural Marxist/multiculturalist traitors. The intention of the system is to easier identify priority targets and will also serve as the foundation for the future ‘Nuremberg trials’ once the European cultural conservatives reassert political and military control of any given country. Any category A, B or C traitor is an individual who has deliberately used his or her influence in a way which makes him or her indirectly or directly guilty of the charges specified in this document: 1-8. Many of these individuals will attempt to claim ‘ignorance’ of the crimes they are accused of

According to Breivik’s system, category A was the “most influential and high profile traitors,” including political leaders, media leaders and cultural leaders.

Hasson had searched for “most liberal senators,” “do senators have [secret service] protection,” and searched for Scarborough after seeing a headline in which the MSNBC host claimed Trump to be “the worst ever” president. He also looked up where the host’s show, “Morning Joe,” is filmed, along with his home, prosecutors said.

Previously an aircraft mechanic for the Marines, Hasson was arrested Wednesday with 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition at his Silver Spring apartment.

“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” prosecutors said Wednesday upon his arrest. “He must be detained pending trial.” [The Hill / Heavy]

Read the detention memeorandum released earlier Thursday, after Hasson’s court hearing.

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Teachers' Strike

Oakland Teachers Go On Strike Over Classroom Conditions, Pay, and Other Issues

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Teachers in Oakland, California, went on strike Thursday, part of a national wave of discontent by educators over classroom conditions, pay and other issues. Recent walkouts have taken place in West Virginia, Los Angeles and Denver.

The city’s 3,000 teachers want a 12-percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they say are the among the lowest salaries for public school teachers in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area. They also want the district to hire more counselors to support students and more full-time nurses.

Kindergarten teacher Kaki Blackburn, 30, was among dozens picketing outside Manzanita Community School with signs saying “On strike For a Living Wage.”

Blackburn, who has 29 kids in her class, said her main concerns were class size and wages. She said her salary makes it impossible to afford an apartment on her own.

“There’s no way I’d be able to live here without a roommate,” she said. “This is not what I went to Brown University to get a master’s for.”

The union leader said the educators were forced to strike because administrators did not listen to their demands for two years.

“For two years we have been negotiating with the Oakland Unified School District to make our students a priority over outside consultants and central office administrators,” said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

The district initially offered a 5 percent raise covering 2017 to 2020, saying it is squeezed by rising costs and a budget crisis.

In negotiations Wednesday aimed at averting a strike, the district increased its proposal to a 7 percent raise over four years and a one-time 1.5 percent bonus. The offer went higher than the recommendation of an independent fact-finding report that suggested a compromise 6 percent retroactive raise.

But union officials rejected the offer.

Oakland Unified School District spokesman John Sasaki said school administrators hope to get a counter proposal from the union when negotiations resume Friday.

“We haven’t heard any proposal since last May so we’re hoping they have something for us when we meet tomorrow,” Sasaki said.

Teachers have been working without a contract since 2017 and have said their salaries have not kept up with the cost of living.

A starting salary in the district is $46,500 a year and the average salary is $63,000, according to the union. In neighboring Berkeley, a starting teacher makes $51,000 a year and the average salary is $75,000, the union said.

The walkout affects 36,000 students at 86 schools.

The district said schools would remain open, staffed by non-union employees and substitute teachers. However, parents should not expect teaching as usual, it said.

Manzanita Principal Eyana Spencer said 14 of the school’s 450 students turned up for school Thursday and were placed in one classroom to play games.

Nearly 600 teachers left their jobs at Oakland public schools last year, according to the union, which has said the district cannot retain teachers or attract experienced new teachers.

The union has also called for the district to scrap plans to close as many as 24 schools that serve primarily African-American and Latino students. The union fears further students will be lost to charter schools that drain more than $57 million a year from the district.

Recent strikes across the nation have built on a wave of teacher activism that began last spring. Unions for West Virginia teachers, who staged a nine-day walkout last year, ended another two-day strike Wednesday. Last week, teachers in Denver ended a three-day walkout after reaching a tentative deal raising their wages.

Teachers in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district, staged a six-day strike last month that ended when they settled on a 6-percent raise with promises of smaller class sizes and the addition of nurses and counselors.

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News

Trump Administration Wants California To Pay Back Billions For Bullet Train

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration plans to cancel $929 million in U.S. money for California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion it’s already spent.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announcement Tuesday came after threats from President Donald Trump to make California pay back the money awarded to build the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The project has faced cost overruns and years of delays.

The Trump administration argues California hasn’t provided required matching dollars and can’t complete work by a 2022 deadline.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and California rail officials didn’t immediately comment.

Last week, Newsom said the rail project “as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He wants to refocus on building a line in central California.

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