What Jared Kushner Will Tell Congress

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son in law and senior adviser, will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday that he took part in four meetings with Russian officials and insisted he “did not collude” with any foreign government.

Kushner’s remarks were released early Monday ahead of his appearance before congressional investigators on the Senate panel and they provide an important insight into the workings of the Trump campaign in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, as well as the kinds of contacts Trump’s aides had during the period.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” Kushner said in his prepared remarks. “I had no improper contacts.”

The comments come amid increased scrutiny of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. The Justice Department and Congress are looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump—though they say there’s no evidence to suggest they succeeded. In any event, the issue has gained prominence since Trump’s election, possibly because of the president’s own reluctance to accept the analysis of his intelligence agencies—despite evidence to the contrary. Add to this the drip-drip of leaks about the administration’s contacts with Russia, and the president has been unable to move past the allegations that could imperil his legislative priorities.

Kushner, who is set to talk to the panel in a closed-door setting, detailed four meetings with Russian representatives “out of thousands during the campaign and transition, none of which were impactful in any way to the election or particularly memorable.” The president’s son in law provided details about his presence at the …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

The Danger of Turning the U.S. Military Into a Political Actor

Last week, the head of the French armed forces angrily resigned after disagreements with his new president, Emmanuel Macron, over the defense budget.

This was the first resignation of its kind in France in six decades, but it was enough to remind me how much Americans take healthy civil-military relations for granted. Unlike the French, for example, who have had some terrible episodes between their civilian and military leaders over the years, Americans have never had to disband a parachute infantry regiment because it literally threatened to drop onto the nation’s capital and depose the elected government.

That’s not to say we haven’t had our issues, but aside from Douglas MacArthur’s repeated (and successful) attempts to embarrass himself and his profession, Americans have rarely had to worry about the U.S. military and its leadership as a threat to the Republic.

Current and former U.S. military officers take great pride, in fact, in the way in which the active-duty officer corps is seen as being above politics.

It has to be.

Given the enormous responsibility Americans grant to young men and women in uniform, citizens have to trust that military officers will never use their arms to achieve a political end here in the United States in the same way they do abroad.

Contemporary military officers, as Samuel Huntington famously observed, belong to a profession. They are professional managers of violence. We arm, train, and equip uniformed military officers to do frankly horrific things—killing, maiming, and intimidating people with force—in order to achieve favorable political outcomes.

For that reason, former U.S. military officers were particularly appalled when the current president of the United States, in a speech commissioning the U.S. military’s latest and most powerful war machine, encouraged his uniformed audience to call their representatives to lobby for the president’s policies—including his budget increasing …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

Democrats Bet on a Populist Message to Win Back Congress

Six months after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Democrats in Congress are ready to adopt a populist economic agenda that blends ideas long entrenched in the liberal mainstream, like infrastructure investment, with promises that have not been a focus of the Democratic Party in recent years such as a pledge to rein in the power of corporate monopolies.

Locked out of power in Washington, Democrats lack the ability to implement the agenda, which will be sold to voters under the tagline “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” But party leaders plan to pitch it as a preview of what they would do if Democrats win back Congress. The economic platform is aimed at bridging ideological and demographic divides in the party, and Democrats hope it will have widespread appeal, in rural and urban areas, and with centrist, moderate and progressive voters alike.

The agenda nevertheless showcases the influence of the Democratic Party’s populist-progressive wing. It diagnoses the problems facing America in terms that sound far more like Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton, arguing that prosperity and influence have become too concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few to the detriment of working-class Americans. One policy plank promises that Democrats will start “cracking down on corporate monopolies”—an ambition that prior to the 2016 presidential election would be far more likely to be championed by a progressive firebrand like Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has long warned of the dangers of market concentration, than most rank-and-file Democrats in Congress.

In the past, Democrats made confronting corporate monopolies central to their agenda. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned Congress in 1938 that “a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.” In 1947, his Democratic successor President Harry Truman called for “restriction of monopoly and unfair business practices,” along …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics