TBR News September 21, 2018

Sep 21 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. September 21, 2018 : “Israel maintains surveillance facilities and SIGINT sites run by the highly secretive Unit-8200 in northern Iraq and therefore are able to fund and assist in arming the Iranian Kurds. Earlier, it became known that Kurdish rebels attacking Turkish targets had also been trained and armed by the Mossad.

The attacks on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure by sabotage and the targeted use of a CIA- developed computer worm (Stuxnet)in a clandestine Canadian station has caused significant disruption, while the Israeli fomented assassinations of leading Iranian nuclear scientists is considered to have “significantly delayed the Iranian nuclear research and development program.” This quote from a highly classified report to the Israeli Embassy in Washington under date of 9. December, 2010. All such claims are routinely denied by the authorities in Tehran.

Intercepted Israeli diplomatic cables show clearly that Israel has also faced considerable US opposition to Mossad-instigated assassinations, not only in Iran but in Lebanon and elsewhere. Specifically noted is the Mossad “removal” of Lebanon’s Harari by a heavy car bomb. Despite Washington’s reservations, Israel remains determined to continue its attempts to further delay Iran’s nuclear program by killing key Iranian scientists and religious leaders.

The covert operations also extend to disrupting and sabotaging Iran’s nuclear technology purchasing network abroad and its vital research and development infrastructure within Iran, US Intelligence sources have confirmed.

It is undeniable that anything short of a massive and prolonged air and missile attack would not be sufficient to seriously degrade, let alone destroy, a significant part of the Iranian nuclear facilities’ infrastructure.

Despite occasional bouts of saber-rattling by Washington, designed solely to placate the American Jewish community, there appears to be little chance of and real effective military action against Iran being taken by the Trump administration.”

The Table of Contents


  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 27
  • Has Russia Given Up on the West?
  • U.S. sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles
  • Washington’s Endless Sanctions Are Finally Backfiring
  • What Did Brett Kavanaugh Know About His Mentor Alex Kozinski’s Sexual Harassment? A Timeline Suggests an Awful Lot.
  • ‘No accident’ Brett Kavanaugh’s female law clerks ‘looked like models’, Yale professor told students


Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 27

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Sep 23, 2017

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump inaccurately described the stance taken by Curry, a star of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Curry was not hesitating about whether the team should visit the White House. Rather, he was adamantly opposed. “I don’t want to go,” he told reporters the day prior, saying it would be a “short conversation” if he got to make the team’s decision by himself.

  • Sep 24, 2017

“Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Kentucky are big winners in the Healthcare proposal.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Alaska, Arizona and Kentucky would all lose funding under the Graham-Cassidy proposal Trump was touting. Even under a revised version that was leaked soon after Trump’s tweet, Alaska would still have a $100 million funding cut, the website Vox reported, and that’s under the unverified estimates of the bill’s authors; Kentucky would also have a cut. (Using math that can most charitably be described as creative, the authors argued that Alaska and Kentucky would gain because the bill would allow it to save some of its own money on health costs.)

  • Sep 25, 2017

“I got to meet Bubba the other night. We had I guess a record-setting rally. There couldn’t have been one that was more crowded than that.”

Source: Radio interview with The Rick and Bubba Show

in fact: Trump’s Alabama rally, in support of Senate candidate Luther Strange, was far from record-setting. The rally was held in an Alabama arena with a normal capacity of 9,000 people. Trump drew more than twice that number for an Alabama campaign rally during his own campaign.

“They have him (Luther Strange) as best friends with Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t even know Mitch. He met him a few months ago.”

Source: Radio interview with The Rick and Bubba Show

in fact: This is an exaggeration of the distance between Strange and McConnell. As a Republican senator, Strange certainly knows McConnell; “They’ve been regularly chatting on the Senate floor together,” Politico reporter Burgess Everett said on Twitter. Further, McConnell backed Strange in the race; a Super PAC aligned with McConnell spent hundreds of thousands on pro-Strange ads, $630,000 in a late-September closing blitz alone. Finally, Strange took his seat in the Senate seven months prior, so “a few months” is a stretch.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“They spent $32 million on that race (the special congressional election in Georgia’s 6th District) because they thought they were going to win. It ended up that we won by five points.”

Source: Radio interview with The Rick and Bubba Show

in fact: Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff by 3.6 points, 51.8 per cent to 48.2 per cent. We’d let Trump round to four points, but not five.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“The good news: I’m 5 and 0 in these races over the last little while. And I want to keep it. I want to make this one 6 and 0.”

Source: Radio interview with The Rick and Bubba Show

in fact: Trump and Republicans were not 5 and 0 in congressional special elections in 2017: Trump was once again omitting Democrat Jimmy Gomez’s victory in a little-noticed California race. So his actual record at the time he spoke was 5 and 1.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

“Don’t forget when we have 52 senators — so you lose two, you’re out.”

Source: Radio interview with The Rick and Bubba Show

in fact: Trump’s math is off. Republican legislation is defeated if they lose three senators from their 52-member caucus, not two. (Because Vice-President Mike Pence gets to cast a tie-breaking vote, Republicans can fall to 50 yes votes and still get their bills through.)

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

  • Sep 26, 2017

“So everybody has said it’s amazing the job that we’ve done in Puerto Rico.”

Source: Joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

in fact: As he has done before, Trump falsely suggests a consensus in support of his actions. While some Puerto Ricans and some Republicans praised the job Trump’s administration had done, many others, including the mayor of San Juan, were calling the federal response grossly inadequate.

“I mean, the second one hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5. I don’t believe anybody has ever seen that happen before — hit land with that kind of velocity.”

Source: Joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

in fact: Hurricane Maria was not a Category 5 storm when it touched down in Puerto Rico — but even if it was, that would not be a first: Category 5 storms have hit the U.S. three times to date.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“I mean, the second one hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5.”

Source: Joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

in fact: Hurricane Maria had been downgraded to a Category 4 storm at the time it made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Ratings were up 3 per cent the weekend prior to this tweet. “Viewership did decline during three Sunday games, but increased in the 1 p.m. slot on CBS as well as during Thursday Night Football. Monday night’s game, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, spiked 63 per cent in viewership from last year when the game shared the same time slot as the first presidential debate,” the New York Times reported. Even aside from the Monday Night Football spike, “way down” would be an exaggeration.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“So we’ve never seen it. It actually touched down as a Category 5. People have never seen anything like that.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with House Ways and Means Committee

in fact: Hurricane Maria was not a Category 5 storm when it touched down in Puerto Rico — but even if it was, that would not be a first: Category 5 storms have hit the U.S. three times to date.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“It actually touched down as a Category 5.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with House Ways and Means Committee

in fact: Hurricane Maria had been downgraded to a Category 4 storm at the time it made landfall in Puerto Rico.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“But that island was hit as hard as you could hit. When you see 200-mile-an-hour winds — even Texas didn’t have 200-mile-an-hour winds, right? But when you see 200 miles and even more than that — 200-mile-an-hour winds hitting a place and literally houses are just demolished.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with House Ways and Means Committee

in fact: Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. (Hurricanes at or above 157 miles per hour are considered Category 5. Maria was a Category 4 when it hit Puerto Rico.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

  • Sep 27, 2017

“We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy. But with the rules of reconciliation, we’re up against a deadline of Friday — two days. That’s just two days. And yes-vote senator — we have a wonderful senator, great, great senator — who is a yes vote, but he’s home recovering from a pretty tough situation. ”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: This time, Trump did not falsely claim that Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran was “in the hospital,” but he was still incorrect. He did not “have the votes on Graham-Cassidy” at the time: three senators had come out in opposition to the health-care bill — which meant that it could not have passed even if Cochran had been present to vote yes.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“GDP growth last quarter reached 3 per cent way ahead of schedule; nobody thought that was going to happen for a long time.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Some experts thought GDP growth would hit 3 per cent in that very quarter, the second quarter of 2017. The Atlanta Fed had forecast 4.2 per cent growth, then revised it to 3.6 per cent in May. At the time of the revision, financial publication Barron’s wrote, “It’s still a high forecast. Most economists see second quarter growth between 2.1 per cent and 3.2 per cent.” In addition, 3 per cent growth for an individual quarter is far from shocking. CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman wrote on Twitter: “GDP grew 3% or higher during 8 of 33 quarters under Pres Obama, or 24% of the time, most recently in 2015.”

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“Our framework includes our explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want. It’s not going to help. I’m doing the right thing, and it’s not good for me. Believe me.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Trump’s tax framework would help the wealthy in general and help him personally. Among other changes, his preliminary plan would cut the top individual rate from 39.6 per cent to 35 per cent, cut the rate for “pass-through” businesses used by many wealthy people to 25 per cent, and get rid of the estate tax that applies only to estates worth at least $5 million. As for Trump in particular, a New York Times analysis found he could save $1.1 billion if his plan was made law. As for wealthy people in general, a preliminary Tax Policy Center analysis found that the top 1 per cent of earners would reap 50 per cent of the gains.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: “Millions” is a titanic exaggeration. According to the Tax Policy Center, a mere 80 farms and small businesses are among the 5,460 estates likely to pay the estate tax in 2017. The Center writes on its website: “The Tax Policy Center estimates that small farms and businesses will pay $30 million in estate tax in 2017, fifteen hundredths of 1 percent of the total estate tax revenue.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“The farmers in particular are affected. They have wonderful farms, but they can’t pay the tax, so they have to sell the farm.”

Source: Speech on tax reform

in fact: Farmers are not particularly affected by the estate tax, which applies only to estates worth at least $5 million. According to the Tax Policy Center, a mere 80 farms and small businesses are among the 5,460 estates likely to pay the estate tax in 2017. The Center writes on its website: “The Tax Policy Center estimates that small farms and businesses will pay $30 million in estate tax in 2017, fifteen hundredths of 1 percent of the total estate tax revenue.”

Trump has repeated this claim 13 times

“Facebook was always anti-Trump. The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump has the right to opine on whether media outlets and corporations are favourable to him or not. (Though it is unclear how Facebook, which is under fire for its role in the spread of pro-Trump election misinformation from Russia and elsewhere, displayed “anti-Trump” bias.) But he is factually wrong about at least one thing: the New York Times never apologized to him or about him. He appeared to have been referring, again, to a post-election letter, a kind of sales pitch, in which Times leaders thanked readers and said they planned to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.”

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

“With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is wrong in two ways. First, nobody was in the hospital. The senator to whom Trump was referring, Mississippi’s Thad Cochran, was at home recovering from a urological issue. “I’m not hospitalized, but am recuperating at home in Mississippi and look forward to returning to work soon,” Cochran wrote on Twitter. Second, Cochran’s absence was not the reason Republicans could not get their health-care bill through the Senate. Three Republicans had publicly declared their opposition, which meant the bill would have fallen short of the needed 50 votes even if Cochran was in attendance.

Trump has repeated this claim 8 times


Has Russia Given Up on the West?

September 20, 2018

by Patrick J. Buchanan


By the end of his second term, President Ronald Reagan, who had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” was strolling through Red Square with Russians slapping him on the back.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.

And how have we husbanded the fruits of our Cold War triumph?

This month, China’s leader-for-life Xi Jinping stood beside Vladimir Putin as 3,000 Chinese troops maneuvered with 300,000 Russians, 1,000 planes and 900 tanks in Moscow’s largest military exercise in 40 years.

An uncoded message to the West from the East.

Richard Nixon’s great achievement in bringing Peking in from the cold, and Reagan’s great achievement of ending the Cold War, are history.

Bolshevism may be dead, but Russian nationalism, awakened by NATO’s quick march to Russia’s ancient frontiers, is alive and well.

Russia appears to have given up on the West and accepted that its hopes for better times with President Donald Trump are not to be.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is berating Russia for secretly trading with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions, saying, “Lying, cheating, and rogue behavior have become the new norm of the Russian culture.”

Cold wars don’t get much colder than defaming another country’s culture as morally debased.

The U.S. has also signaled that it may start supplying naval and anti-aircraft weaponry to Ukraine, as Russia is being warned to cease its inspections of ships passing from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov.

The three-mile-wide strait lies between Crimea and Kerch Peninsula. In Russia’s eyes, both banks of the strait are Russian national territory.

With U.S. backing, Ukraine has decided to build a naval base on the Sea of Azov to “create conditions for rebuffing the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation in this region.”

Kiev has several patrol boats in the Sea of Azov, with a few more to be transferred there in coming months. Russia’s navy could sink those boats and wipe out that base in minutes.

Are we going to send our Navy across the Black Sea to protect Ukraine’s naval rights inside a sea that has been as historically Russian as the Chesapeake Bay is historically American?

Poland this week invited the U.S. to establish a major base on its soil, for which Poland would pay two billion dollars, to be called “Fort Trump.”

Trump seemed to like the idea, and the name.

Yet, the Bush II decision to install a missile defense system in Poland brought a Kremlin counter-move: the installation of nuclear-capable Iskander cruise missiles in Kaliningrad, the former German territory on Poland’s northern border annexed by Stalin at the end of World War II.

In the Balkans, over Russian protests, the U.S. is moving to bring Macedonia into NATO. But before Macedonia can join, half its voters have to come out on Sept. 30 to approve a change in the nation’s name to North Macedonia. This is to mollify Greece, which claims the birthplace of Alexander the Great as it own.

Where are we going with all this?

With U.S. warships making regular visits into the Eastern Baltic and Black Sea, the possibility of a new base in Poland, and growing lethal aid to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass and the Russian navy on the Sea of Azov, are we not crowding the Russians a bit?

Are we confident the Russians will always back down?

When Georgia, believing it could kick Russian peacekeepers out and re-annex its seceded province of South Ossetia, attacked in August 2008, the Russian Army came crashing in and ran the Georgians out in 48 hours.

George W. Bush wisely decided not to issue an ultimatum or send troops. He ignored the hawks in his own party who had helped goad him into the great debacle of his presidency: Iraq.

So, what exactly is the U.S. grand strategy with regard to Russia?

What might be called the McCain wing of the Republican Party has sought to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, which would make the containment of Russia America’s policy in perpetuity.

Are the American people aware of the costs and risks inherent in such a policy? What are the prospects of Russia yielding always to U.S. demands? And are we not today stretched awfully thin?

Our share of the global economy is much shrunken from Reagan’s time. Our deficit is approaching $1 trillion. Our debt is surging toward 100 percent of GDP. Entitlements are consuming our national wealth.

We are committed to containing the two other greatest powers, Russia and China. We are tied down militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, with the War Party beating the drums for another and larger war – with Iran. And we are sanctioning adversaries and allies for not following our leadership of the West and the world.

In looking at America’s global commitments, greatly expanded since our Cold War victory, one word come to mind: unsustainable.


U.S. sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles

September 20, 2018

by Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the branch of the Chinese military responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.

They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licenses and participating in the U.S. financial system.

It also adds them to the Treasury Department’s list of specially designated individuals with whom Americans are barred from doing business.

The administration also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a list under the 2017 law, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

CAATSA also seeks to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Doing significant business with anyone on that list can trigger sanctions like those imposed on China.

Some of those added to the list, which now contains 72 names, were indicted in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the official said.

Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to facilitate implementation of the sanctions.

A federal special counsel is leading a criminal investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election, and any possible cooperation with Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has insisted there was no collusion with Russia. Moscow denies any effort to meddle in U.S. politics.


One U.S. administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the sanctions imposed on the Chinese agency were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing or its military, despite an escalating trade war between the United States and China.

“The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defense capabilities of any particular country,” the official told reporters on a conference call.

“They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities,” the official said.

In Moscow, Russian member of parliament Franz Klintsevich said the sanctions would not affect the S-400 and SU-35 contracts.

“I am sure that these contracts will be executed in line with the schedule,” Klintsevich was quoted as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency. “The possession of this military equipment is very important for China.”

Security analysts in Asia said the move appeared to be largely symbolic and would serve only to push Moscow and Beijing closer together.

“The imposition of U.S. sanctions will have zero impact on Russian arms sales to China,” said Ian Storey, of Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

“Both countries are opposed to what they see as U.S. bullying and these kind of actions will just push Beijing and Moscow even closer together,” he said, adding that Moscow needed Chinese money and Beijing wanted advanced military technology.

Collin Koh, a security analyst at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the sanctions would do little to counter the evolving research and development relationship between China and Russia.

China relied less on large big-ticket purchases from Russia as in previous years, but Chinese defense industries were seeking expertise from Russia and former-Soviet states to plug knowledge gaps, he said.

The measures come as the Trump administration pursues a variety of strategies to clamp down on China and faces growing pressure to respond strongly to U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. politics.

Members of Congress, including many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who passed the sanctions bill nearly unanimously, have repeatedly called on the administration to take a harder line against Moscow.

Administration officials said they hoped the action against EDD would send a message to others considering buying the S-400.

U.S. officials have been discussing the issue particularly with NATO ally Turkey, which wants to buy the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries.

Washington has expressed concern that Turkey’s planned deployment of the S-400s could pose a risk to the security of some U.S.-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 fighter jet.

U.S. officials have warned that Turkey’s purchase of the system could contravene CAATSA.

“We hope that at least this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defense and intelligence sectors,” another U.S. official said.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow and Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Darren Schuettler


Washington’s Endless Sanctions Are Finally Backfiring

They’ve always been ineffective. What’s different now is that they’re threatening to undermine American strength.

September 20, 2018

by Doug Bandow

The American Conservative

Washington is filled with talk of American exceptionalism. Policymakers insist that the U.S. has a unique mission in the world: to represent the aspirations of all mankind. This hubris has become the foundation of American foreign policy, especially when it comes to economic sanctions.

Sanctions proponents routinely extol the supposed benefits of their policies, without ever providing much evidence. Studies have found that sanctions are most likely to work when restrictions are international, applied to a limited number of products, and intended to achieve modest goals. Even then, governments rarely sacrifice fundamental interests in response to economic pressure. Rather, they respond like Washington would in a similar situation, resisting concessions even more fiercely.

Frustration with failure has encouraged U.S. officials to double down. So now Washington routinely punishes other nations’ individuals and companies. Last year, the Treasury Department added roughly 1,000 people and organizations to the Specially Designated Nationals List. American policymakers currently use the dominant U.S. role in the global financial system as a weapon even against friendly states, denying them access to the American market. Third parties face multi-billion dollar fines for dealing with those on Washington’s naughty list.

Even large, prosperous nations are vulnerable to American pressure. Thus, U.S. threats are typically enough to isolate any small country. For instance, for years the Sudanese government was forced to operate on a cash basis overseas, flying currency into the U.S. for its embassies. The Trump administration’s reimposition of sanctions on Iran opened the door for a rush of companies fleeing Tehran.

Yet even such enhanced penalties rarely change the governments they target. Communism continues to reign in Cuba. Sudan’s government remains authoritarian and Islamist. Few Korea specialists believe that Pyongyang will ever surrender its nuclear weapons. Russia’s Putin has not buckled under economic pressure. Instead, foreign states look for non-economic ways to retaliate against U.S. interests.

International economic pressure played a role in moving Burma, Iran, Libya, and North Korea towards negotiation with the West. However, sanctions were combined with positive inducements. And even then, success still was limited. Naypyidaw remains repressive, brutalizing an entire people, the Rohingya. Tehran agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has since been repudiated by the Trump administration, making further progress unlikely. The ouster of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi will discourage any government from making serious concessions in the future. North Korea is likely to maintain its nuclear arsenal for years, even decades to come.

Sanctions are worse than ineffective: they have potentially far-reaching economic impacts. Limiting Iran’s oil sales pushes up energy prices globally. Penalizing technology sales to Moscow disproportionately affects European firms. Even smaller markets matter. Warned Peter Harrell, an attorney specializing in sanctions: “Trump’s August 9 tariffs on Turkey spurred a dramatic market selloff that not only affected Ankara but also caused the stocks of major European banks with business in Turkey to plunge and raised concerns about contagion to other emerging markets.” Washington’s promiscuous use of economic sanctions has moved the global economy away from the liberal marketplace.

Moreover, economic penalties almost always hurt those with the least power, influence, and money. Indeed, regime elites often manipulate sanctions to their own benefit. Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and a variety of other despots all did fine even while their governments were under sanction. A quarter century ago, I visited Belgrade and talked with opposition leader Zoran Djindzic—later to become prime minister and an assassination victim of ultra-nationalists. He complained that sanctions enriched Milosevic, while his own middle-class supporters lacked money to purchase gasoline to attend his rallies.

Most famously, U.S. sanctions were blamed for the deaths of a half million Iraqi babies. That number likely is an exaggeration, but when questioned about the issue, then-UN ambassador Madeleine Albright did not dispute it. Instead, she responded that “we think the price is worth it”—an extraordinarily callous sentiment that was transmitted throughout the Arab world.

In recent years the U.S. has relied on “smart sanctions,” typically applied to regime leaders and supporters. But preventing Kim from vacationing and banking in the West is unlikely to cause him to disarm. Washington and Brussels have targeted economic “oligarchs” linked to Putin, and while they no doubt they are inconvenienced, their ability to influence events is limited and their willingness to risk their freedom and lives unlikely. Smart sanctions may offer moral satisfaction by punishing the guilty, but they aren’t effective in bringing recalcitrant regimes to heel.

Like so many other government programs, economic penalties create interest groups that make future relaxation almost impossible. The Cuban embargo has lasted a half century, despite dramatically changed circumstances. The U.S. continued penalties against Sudan even after Khartoum met Washington’s demands and accepted the secession of what became South Sudan. Sanctions on Moscow have damaged Russia’s economy without changing its policies.

Economic sanctions are too easy to apply, encouraging the many wannabe secretaries of state who fill Congress. With few responsibilities and no need to balance competing interests or develop effective remedies, legislators look for easy, high-profile actions that win popular attention. Every failure allows them to demand tougher action; at hearings they browbeat executive branch officials who counsel caution and nuance. Sanctions facilitate showmanship, not statesmanship.

Perhaps the biggest problem with economic penalties is that they inflate Washington’s natural hubris because they look like an easy tool for imposing America’s will on the rest of the world. Escalation is simple, seemingly painless—to Washington, at least. When sanctions are justified in moral terms, which is almost always, policymakers can rationalize coercion of even friendly governments.

This arrogance has driven the Trump administration’s misguided policy toward Iran. After his visit to Riyadh last year—the first trip of his presidency—Trump appeared to be taking orders from the Saudis. He abandoned the nuclear deal, which created the most intrusive nuclear inspection regime ever, and demanded that Tehran drop its independent foreign policy, handing Riyadh regional dominance. Washington insisted that it would deploy America’s full power against any nation, friend or foe, that continued to trade with Iran. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” tweeted the president. After seeking to prevent the Europeans from following an independent foreign policy, Washington sought to coerce them to back its irresponsible course. Now it blames their refusal to do so on former Obama officials like John Kerry rather than the administration’s own irresponsible arrogance.

Washington has encountered unusual resistance. American economic strength gives unique advantages vis-à-vis other governments, but their acquiescence to the U.S. is also critical. And resistance may be growing. For instance, China and India appear likely to continue at least some commercial dealings with Iran, challenging the U.S.

More significantly, the Europeans are considering a number of strategies, including using the European Investment Bank and/or their central banks to handle financial transactions with Iran. That would dare Washington to initiate economic war against them—barring their firms from complying with American sanctions, establishing an alternative to the SWIFT global financial messaging network, and creating a “special purpose” financial company to process payments for deals with Iran. The latter would establish a de facto accounting firm to handle money both ways, keeping the cash within the EU and avoiding reliance on banks vulnerable to U.S. sanctions. Germany’s finance ministry reported ongoing negotiations: “The German government is working together with [European agencies and countries] on maintaining financial payment channels with Iran.” France is even considering using state-owned firms to trade with Iran.

Just as misguided U.S. policy toward Moscow pushed Russia and China together, reversing Richard Nixon’s famous strategy, pervasive American sanctions now are pushing the Europeans towards China and Russia.

And while European governments were not willing to greatly bestir themselves over Washington’s attempts to isolate, say, Cuba and Sudan, Iran is different. America abandoned an international agreement, dismissed European interests, disrupted burgeoning commerce, further destabilized the Middle East, and demanded humiliating obedience. Europeans, used to giving in, now are angrier and less willing to accept the Trump administration’s fait accompli. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire opined: “I want Europe to be a sovereign continent, not a vassal, and that means having totally independent financing instruments that do not today exist.”

Barack Obama’s treasury secretary, Jack Lew, warned that “sanctions overreach” could weaken the dollar and encourage foreign businesses to seek alternatives to the U.S. financial system. Indeed, Washington’s expanding hubris might eventually end its ability to impose its will on other states, with significant economic and political consequences for America.

Uncle Sam’s failure is unsurprising. As Lord Acton famously intoned: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It doesn’t matter whether the intentions of Washington policymakers are good. The consequences of American policies have been bad, often disastrous.

Candidate Trump promised a change in policy. President Trump should turn that change into a reality. He can begin by introducing a touch of humility and prudence into America’s foreign policy.


What Did Brett Kavanaugh Know About His Mentor Alex Kozinski’s Sexual Harassment? A Timeline Suggests an Awful Lot.

September 20, 2018

by Akela Lacy

The Intercept

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s credibility and truthfulness has become central in the final stretch of his confirmation process. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a crucial swing vote, has said that if she believes the sexual assault allegations of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, over the denials of Kavanaugh, she will vote against him.

Both Kavanaugh and Ford will — if Ford accepts the Senate Judiciary Committee’s invitation — testify under oath next week, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation may come down to who is more believable.

Kavanaugh, however, has a record of issuing categorical denials in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, such as his claim never to have exploited documents stolen from Senate Democrats. He has issued an equally categorical denial when it comes to having any knowledge about the behavior of his longtime friend and mentor, former 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

Kozinski resigned in December 2017 after articles in the Washington Post exposed years of sexual harassment. Though Kavanaugh claims to have been “gut-punched” by the revelations of Kozinski’s behavior, the outlines of it have been public in various forms for decades.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on September 5 gave Kavanaugh the opportunity to respond to claims that he must have known about the allegations against Kozinski. Hatch asked Kavanaugh if he was on the “Easy Rider gag list,” a listserv of friends, colleagues, and journalists to whom Kozinski frequently distributed crude material. Kavanaugh told Hatch, “I don’t remember anything like that, Senator.”

Hatch pressed him: “Did you know anything about these allegations?” “Nothing.” “OK. Before they became public last year?” “No. … It was a gut punch for me.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked Kavanaugh the same questions later that day, describing the allegations against Kozinski as an “open secret.”

Hirono: “Are you telling us that you may have received a steady diet of what people on the list have described as ‘a lot of vulgar jokes, very dirty jokes,’ but you don’t remember it?”

Kavanaugh: “No, I don’t remember anything like that.”

Hirono: “Have you otherwise ever received sexually suggestive or explicit emails from Judge Kozinski even if you don’t remember whether you were on this gag list or not?”

Kavanaugh: “So Senator, let me start with, no woman should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, and —”

Hirono: “Judge Kavanaugh, you already went through all of that. And I will get to your perspective about making sure that women in the judiciary do not get sexually harassed. I just want to ask you, during and after your clerkship with Judge Kozinski, did you ever witness or hear of allegations of any inappropriate behavior or conduct that could be described as sexual harassment by Judge Kozinski?”

Kavanaugh: “No, Senator. And I worked in Washington, D.C. There were 10 judges in the courthouse with him in Pasadena. Prominent federal judges in the courthouse with him. Worked side by side with him day after day while he was chief judge in the 9th Circuit.”

Hirono: “To be clear, while this kind of behavior on the part of Judge Kozinski was going on for 30 years — it was an open secret — you saw nothing, you heard nothing, and you obviously said nothing. Judge Kavanaugh, do you believe the women who recently came forward to accuse Judge Kozinski of this kind of behavior?”

Kavanaugh: “I have no reason not to believe them, Senator.”

Hirono: “This is why the Me Too movement is so important. Because often in these kinds of situations where there are power issues involved, as certainly there are between judges and clerks, that, often, you know, it’s an environment where people see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. And that’s what we have to change.”

Kavanaugh: “I agree with you, Senator. I agree completely.”

Kozinski, according to the Washington Post, for years would sexually harass colleagues, force them to view pornography in his chambers, send it to them using federal servers, and lobby the court to stop monitoring internet activity in the judiciary. According to L. Ralph Mecham, former director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Kozinski disabled the software put in place by the United Judicial Conference and moved the porn-sharing to his personal website. He left the bench in disgrace — but with his pension still intact.

Attorney Cyrus Sanai, who first blew the whistle on Kozinski and has long tangled publicly with the judge, said earlier this week that federal court employees had information to share with the Judiciary Committee about what Kavanaugh knew about Kozinski, and would share under the right conditions.

Kavanaugh’s efforts to distance himself from Kozinski appear increasingly strained when lined up against a timeline of the pair’s professional lives.

A few years ago, in a light moment, Kozinski quipped that he was surprised he lasted as long as he did. “I made it by dint of age, years of service, and having deftly avoided impeachment,” he explained.

Kavanaugh and Kozinski: A History


Alex Kozinski clerks for 9th Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kennedy.


Kozinski is deputy legal counsel to President-elect Ronald Reagan. Kozinski also serves in the Office of the Special Counsel, where he faces scrutiny for allegedly helping to facilitate the firing of Jack Spadaro, a Department of Interior whistleblower.

January-June 1981

Kozinski is assistant White House counsel.

Early 1980s

Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaults Christine Blasey Ford in the Maryland suburbs. Ford told the Washington Post she believed it took place in 1982.

August 20, 1982

Senate confirms Kozinski as chief judge of U.S. Claims Court.

October 1, 1982

Kozinski’s term begins.


Kavanaugh graduates from Georgetown Prep.


Kozinski ends his tenure as chief judge of U.S. Claims Court.


Reagan nominates Kozinski to the 9th Circuit. After approving his nomination, the Judiciary Committee takes the unusual step of re-opening the hearing, after former Kozinski employees charge Kozinski with “sadistic” and “abusive” behavior. Nevertheless, the Senate confirms Kozinski to the 9th Circuit.


Kavanaugh graduates from Yale College.


Kavanaugh graduates from Yale Law School.


Kavanaugh clerks for 3rd Circuit Judge Walter Stapleton.


Kavanaugh clerks for Kozinski in the 9th Circuit.


Kavanaugh is an attorney in the Office of the Solicitor General.

October 1993

Kavanaugh, on the recommendation of Kozinski, clerks for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.


Kavanaugh serves as associate counsel for Ken Starr.


Kavanaugh becomes partner at Kirkland & Ellis, where he remains until 2001. He works again with Starr in 1998.

September 1997

Judicial Council adopts a policy streamlining judiciary internet access via computers connected to the judiciary’s internal data communications network through three national gateway connections maintained at the 9th and 5th Circuits and the Administrative Office, respectively.


Judiciary obtains knowledge of employees using federal computers and servers to access pornography, per a memo, “Internet Access to Pornographic Material,” authored by Gregory Walters to the Judicial Council on April 23.

September 4, 2001

Kozinski writes an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing against the proposed monitoring of internet use by judiciary employees.


Kavanaugh is associate counsel and then senior associate counsel to President George W. Bush.

July 2003-May 2006

Kavanaugh is assistant, and then staff secretary to the president.


Heidi Bond clerks for Kozinski.


Bush nominates Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

May 6, 2006

Kozinski introduces Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing: “I give Brett Kavanaugh my highest recommendation. I gave him my highest recommendation when he applied to Justice Kennedy, my own mentor. And I continue to give him the highest recommendations.”

May 26, 2006

After a drawn-out, three-year battle, Senate confirms Kavanaugh to D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

June 11, 2008

Scott Glover reports in the Los Angeles Times the existence of Kozinski’s website, that it hosts porn, and that he sends sexually oriented material on his listserv.

June 12, 2008

Kozinski calls for the 9th Circuit Judicial Council to initiate proceedings to investigate allegations raised by Glover’s article.

June 16, 2008

Kozinski’s misconduct case transferred to the 3rd Circuit.

December 8, 2008

Glover reports in the LA Times on the “Easy Rider gag list.”

June 5, 2009

The Judicial Council of the 3rd Circuit delivers an opinion on Kozinski’s judicial misconduct proceedings without further sanctions, stating that Kozinski’s “acknowledgement of responsibility together with other corrective action, his apology, our admonishment, combined with public dissemination of this opinion, properly conclude this proceeding.”

December 5, 2014

Kozinski steps down as chief judge of the 9th Circuit, succeeded by Judge Sidney R. Thomas. Kozinski remains on the 9th Circuit bench. He jokes, “I have been very fortunate and privileged to be Chief Judge of this great institution. Not everybody gets to serve, as Judge [Michael Daly] Hawkins explained. I made it by dint of age, years of service, and having deftly avoided impeachment” at the “Passing of the Gavel” ceremony at the 9th Circuit courthouse in San Francisco.

March 30, 2015

Kavanaugh, in an address titled “The Judge as Umpire” at Catholic University of America’s Columbus Law School, says: “Fortunately we had a good saying that we’ve held firm to to this day, as the dean was reminding me before the talk, which is ‘What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.’ That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.”

November 14, 2015

Kozinski and Kavanaugh sit side by side at a Federalist Society panel. Kavanaugh praises a 1991 article, “Confessions of a Bad Apple,” authored by Kozinski. In response to an audience question asking panelists to complete the sentence “being a judge means blank,” Kozinski replies, “Never having to say you’re sorry.”

November 17, 2017

Trump White House issues initial list of potential Supreme Court nominees, which includes Kavanaugh.

December 8, 2017

Matt Zapotosky publishes in the Washington Post allegations by Heidi Bond, Emily Murphy, and four other former clerks and externs of Kozinski’s inappropriate sexual conduct and misconduct, including — but not limited to — asking them to view porn in his chambers.

December 14, 2017

Thomas, the 9th Circuit chief judge, launches an investigation into Kozinski.

December 15, 2017

Zapotosky publishes in the Washington Post allegations by nine more women of Kozinski’s sexual comments and inappropriate conduct. Four of the women allege inappropriate touching. Maura Dolan reports in the LA Times that at least two of Kozinski’s clerks have resigned.

December 18, 2017

Following his resignation, Kozinski steps down from the 9th Circuit.

June 27, 2018

Anthony Kennedy announces retirement from the Supreme Court, recommending Kavanaugh as his replacement.

July 3-5, 2018

The media reports that President Donald Trump has narrowed his short list of potential Supreme Court nominees to three, including Kavanaugh

July 6, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford, yet to go public, writes a letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. Ford also anonymously contacts the Washington Post and tells friends that she plans to come forward.

July 9, 2018

Trump nominates Kavanaugh.

July 30, 2018

Ford writes to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

August 2, 2018

Leah Litman, Emily Murphy, and Katherine H. Ku, all of whom have publicly accused Kozinski of misconduct, publish a column in the New York Times outlining the gutting of Kozinski’s judicial misconduct proceedings following his retirement.

September 4-6, 2018

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee begins, during which he is asked about Kozinski.

September 12, 2018

Ryan Grim reports in The Intercept that Feinstein is withholding a letter from fellow Democrats that describes an incident in high school between Kavanaugh and an unidentified woman.

September 14, 2018

Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer publish Ford’s allegations of Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct in the New Yorker, though Ford declined to comment or be named in the story. Former Kozinski clerk Heidi Bond writes an op-ed in Slate challenging Kavanaugh’s assertions that he was unaware of Kozinski’s behavior.

September 16, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford comes forward.

September 17, 2018

Cyrus Sanai makes public a letter claiming that federal court employees with information on Kozinski and Kavanaugh are willing to speak to the committee.


‘No accident’ Brett Kavanaugh’s female law clerks ‘looked like models’, Yale professor told students

  • Guardian learns Amy Chua said she would advise students on their physical looks to help win post in Kavanaugh’s chambers
  • Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle locked in stalemate as accuser goes silent

September 20, 2018

by Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington and Jessica Glenza in New York

The Guardian

A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.

Amy Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a bestselling book on parenting called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was known for instructing female law students who were preparing for interviews with Kavanaugh on ways they could dress to exude a “model-like” femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers, according to sources.

Kavanaugh is facing intense scrutiny in Washington following an allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford that he forcibly held her down and groped her while they were in high school. He has denied the allegation. The accusation has mired Kavanaugh’s confirmation in controversy, drawing parallels to allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill in the 1990s.

Yale provided Kavanaugh with many of the judge’s clerks over the years, and Chua played an outsized role in vetting the clerks who worked for him. But the process made some students deeply uncomfortable.

One source said that in at least one case, a law student was so put off by Chua’s advice about how she needed to look, and its implications, that she decided not to pursue a clerkship with Kavanaugh, a powerful member of the judiciary who had a formal role in vetting clerks who served in the US supreme court.

In one case, Jed Rubenfeld, also an influential professor at Yale and who is married to Chua, told a prospective clerk that Kavanaugh liked a certain “look”.

“He told me, ‘You should know that Judge Kavanaugh hires women with a certain look,’” one woman told the Guardian. “He did not say what the look was and I did not ask.”

Sources who spoke to the Guardian about their experiences with Chua and Rubenfeld would only speak under the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution and damage to their future careers. Some elements of this story were first published by the Huffington Post.

Chua advised the same student Rubenfeld spoke to that she ought to dress in an “outgoing” way for her interview with Kavanaugh, and that the student should send Chua pictures of herself in different outfits before going to interview. The student did not send the photos.

There is no allegation that the female students who worked for Kavanaugh were chosen because of their physical appearance or that they were not qualified.

However, the remarks from Chua and Rubenfeld raise questions about why the couple believed it was important to emphasize the students’ physical appearance when discussing jobs with Kavanaugh. The couple were not known to do that in connection with other judges, sources said.

“It is possible that they were making observations but not following edicts from him,” said one student who received such instructions. “I have no reason to believe he was saying, ‘Send me the pretty ones’, but rather that he was reporting back and saying, ‘I really like so and so,’ and the way he described them led them to form certain conclusions.”

Kavanaugh is close to Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement from the Supreme Court left an opening, and Kavanaugh was one of three judges who vetted clerks to serve in Kennedy’s chambers. His role as a so-called “feeder” judge made his clerkships among the most coveted posts for law students across the country, but especially at his alma mater, Yale.

According to one source, Chua invited a group of students that she mentored to a bar last year to catch up and discuss their plans for clerkships. The conversation turned to a high-profile #MeToo case that was emerging in the news at the time involving a well-known public figure.

The group began to talk about whether the federal judiciary would ever face similar scrutiny, and, according to a source, Chua said she did not believe it would. She told the students she had known about allegedly abusive and harassing behavior by another judge, Alex Kozinski, who was head of the ninth circuit and was forced to retire from the bench last year after more than a dozen women accused him of harassment.

The conversation then turned to Kozinski’s protege and good friend Kavanaugh, who one source said was a familiar name even though he had not yet been nominated to the high court. Chua allegedly told the students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models”. Student reacted with surprise, and quickly pointed out that Chua’s own daughter was due to clerk for Kavanaugh.

A source said that Chua quickly responded, saying that her own daughter would not put up with any inappropriate behaviour.

Chua has cancelled her classes at Yale this semester and, according to her office, has been hospitalised and is not taking calls. Rubenfeld sent an email to the Yale Law School community that said his wife had been ill and in hospital and had a long period of recuperation ahead of her.

The Guardian has learned that Rubenfeld is currently the subject of an internal investigation at Yale. The investigation is focused on Rubenfeld’s conduct, particularly with female law students. Students have also raised related concerns to Yale authorities about Chua’s powerful influence in the clerkships process. The investigation was initiated before Kavanaugh was nominated by Donald Trump to serve on the high court.

Rubenfeld said in a statement to the Guardian: “In June, Yale University informed me that it would conduct what it terms an ‘informal review’ of certain allegations, but that to preserve anonymity, I was not entitled to know any specifics. As a result, I do not know what I am alleged to have said or done. I was further advised that the allegations were not of the kind that would jeopardize my position as a long-tenured member of the faculty.

“For some years, I have contended with personal attacks and false allegations in reaction to my writing on difficult and controversial but important topics in the law. I have reason to suspect I am now facing more of the same. While I believe strongly that universities must conduct appropriate reviews of any allegations of misconduct, I am also deeply concerned about the intensifying challenges to the most basic values of due process and free, respectful academic expression and exchange at Yale and around the country.

“Nevertheless, I stand ready to engage with this process in the hope that it can be expeditiously concluded.”

In a statement, Yale Law School said it could not confirm or deny the existence of an internal investigation.

A Yale Law School official said in an emailed statement: “This is the first we have heard claims that Professor Chua coached students to look ‘like models’. We will look into these claims promptly, taking into account the fact that Professor Chua is currently unreachable due to serious illness. If true, this advice is clearly unacceptable.”

The official added: “I can assure you that we take allegations of faculty misconduct very seriously.”

Chua and her husband are towering figures at Yale and were described by one student as being the centre of gravity at the elite law school, connecting students to jobs and clerkships, and rewarding loyalty.

The couple wrote a controversial book together in 2014 called The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. It said that a mix of feeling superior with some insecurity were two traits that led to success. It also emphasised the need for “impulse control”.

The couple have hired a well-known crisis communications expert but he did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian about Chua’s remarks or the internal investigation.

In an emailed statement, Chua told the Guardian: “For the more than 10 years I’ve known him, Judge Kavanaugh’s first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence. He hires only the most qualified clerks, and they have been diverse as well as exceptionally talented and capable.

“There is good reason so many of them have gone on to Supreme Court clerkships; he only hires those who are extraordinarily qualified. As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, he has also been an exceptional mentor to his female clerks and a champion of their careers. Among my proudest moments as a parent was the day I learned our daughter would join those ranks.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Guardian was assisted in its reporting by Elie Mystal, the executive editor of the Above the Law blog. If you have tips on this story please contact the reporter Stephanie.Kirchgaessner@theguardian.com


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