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JPMorgan CEO torches Trump in email Trump’s fairly sure we’ll either have peace or war with North Korea staff

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Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. We’re keeping track of all the ways his presidency veers from the norm in terms of policy and rhetoric.

Day 204 Aug 11

Trump’s fairly sure we’ll either have peace or war with North Korea

President Trump presented a slew of discordant statements Friday, suggesting he wanted a peaceful solution to the North Korea tensions but also hinting that something more disastrous could be on the horizon.

Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at his company’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said, “Hopefully it will all work out,” adding that “nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump, that I can tell you.”

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Moments later, Trump said, “We could also have a bad solution” to the rising tensions with North Korea, and when asked whether that meant war, Trump responded, “I think you know the answer to that.”

Trump’s comments are just the latest in the now weeklong rhetorical saga between Washington and Pyongyang. Ratcheting it up yet another notch, Trump tweeted Friday that military solutions were now “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”

Follow the VICE News Guide to North Korea here.

Kushner slapped with $200 fine for reporting $10M in assets late

We heard last month about Jared Kushner forgetting to tell the federal government about over $10 million in assets. Well, that’s going to cost him.

The Office of Government Ethics on Friday slapped the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser with a fine for a late filing of his financial disclosure form.

The fine, reported by McClatchy, is just the latest bad headline in a long-running series of them about Kushner’s botched disclosure forms — he had to go back and amend them with additional assets and foreign contacts. For the financial form, Kushner had “inadvertently”omitted over $10 million in assets and amended it in a form he submitted in July. The White House released the original disclosures in late March.

Those assets included an art collection valued at over $5 million and a real estate investment platform called Quadro Partners. Many of the assets had been revealed by media outlets in recent months.

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Such fines are small — $200 — but rare. In 2016, the OGE fined only 3.6 percent of federal employees with periodic transaction reports, which are filed when someone buys or sells stocks or other assets.

And Kushner isn’t the only tardy one in the West Wing. Seventeen White House staffers including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders filed their financial disclosures late, per the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century.

Kushner is unique from most government employees, however, in that he comes from a billionaire real estate family with a sprawling array of assets and investments. Untangling himself from that business empire has been difficult as he also confronts one of the most daunting policy portfolios of anyone in government (Israel-Palestine, the opioid epidemic, Mexico-American relations, modernizing government, etc.).

Still, Kushner has been dogged by a series of mistakes he made on his financial and security clearance forms. On both, he has omitted several large details that have made him look deceitful or in over his head.

Most controversially, Kushner failed to note several meetings with Russians during last year’s presidential campaign and the presidential transition. Those meetings have come under increased scrutiny in the midst of the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

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Trump’s North Korea threats now come in 140 characters or less

After spending the past couple days trading threats with North Korea, President Donald Trump changed course Friday and attempted measured, statesman-like diplomacy.

Just kidding! He threatened North Korea again, this time in fewer than 140 characters. “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he tweeted. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

Trump’s tweet caps off a week of rising tensions between the United States and North Korea. After Trump promised in a speech to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea on Tuesday, the Hermit Kingdom soon retaliated by saying its military was “carefully examining” the possibility of a missile strike on Guam.

Then, Trump told reporters on Thursday that maybe his rhetoric wasn’t “tough enough.” (Though it’s unclear how his threats could be tougher — even Wall Street is already quaking about the possibility of nuclear war.) “North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble,” Trump added.

By the way, experts agree that Trump’s threats will not make North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un back down. If anything, they’ll just escalate the verbal war between Pyongyang and Washington.

Day 203 Aug 10

Donald Trump thanks Putin for taking away American jobs

President Trump finally reacted to the expulsion of American diplomats from Moscow Thursday — one of the harsher political moves in recent history between the two countries — by thanking Putin.

“I want to thank him,” Trump told assembled reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is taking a 17-day vacation. “Because we’re trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll.”

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“We’ll save a lot of money,” he said.

Putin ousted 755 U.S. diplomats and government employees — including Russians and Americans — from the American embassy in Moscow last month in retaliation to a new set of American sanctions, which the Kremlin called an “unprovoked step towards worsening bilateral relations.”

The State Department had called the cut a “a regrettable and uncalled for act,” contradicting Trump’s gratitude expressed Thursday.

Trump is losing four of his top cybersecurity officials

Four of the U.S. government’s top cybersecurity officials are resigning, Buzzfeed reported Thursday, two of them after having only been in their positions for a few months.

The resignations impact the highest ranks of the the Navy, the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency — agencies that have been struggling with a dearth in personnel since President Trump took office.

The resignations add to the growing fears surrounding the U.S. government’s vulnerability to cyberattacks, the most notable example of which was the hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A 2017 Pew Research poll found that roughly half of Americans don’t trust the government or social media sites to protect their information.

The fears haven’t been helped by Trump’s lack of expertise when it comes to cybersecurity, or as he calls it, “the cyber.”

“As far as the cyber,”Trump said in the first presidential debate, “I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said. We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not.”

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Trump also said in that same debate: “We came in with the Internet. We came up with the Internet. And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the Internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS.”

In July, Trump proposed an “impenetrable” joint cybersecurity plan with Russia so that “election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded…” That same day, while some of his top officials were still praising the framework. Trump cancelled that plan, and perhaps much of his credibility on “the cyber” too.

Trump tries to solve North Korea situation by threatening them again

Perhaps you were hoping Washington and Pyongyang had come to their collective senses in the last 24 hours, and that the tit-for-tat threats would stop. Perhaps you took Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s advice seriously when he suggested all Americans should “sleep well at night.”

If so, this will be bad for your nerves:

Speaking to reporters from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday, President Trump issued yet another threat to North Korea, adding that his previous comments about “fire and fury” may have been too soft. Rather than take cues from experts that insist tough talk won’t work on Kim Jong Un, Trump took the opposite tack. “Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” the president said before releasing his latest impromptu salvo.

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“North Korea better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble,” Trump added.

Asked by a reporter what could be tougher than “fire and fury,” Trump responded ominously, “Well, you’ll see. You’ll see.”

The war of words between the two powers has escalated sharply this week. North Korea called Trump’s “fire and fury” comments a “load of nonsense” yesterday and said its military’s plan to strike the waters near Guam would be complete by mid-August.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Thursday Trump told him he’d be “willing to abandon strategic patience and use pre-emption” if negotiations were to fail.

“I think here’s there. I think he’s there mentally,” Graham said.

While top U.S. officials like Tillerson have tried to assuage fears and quell rising diplomatic tensions, other politicians have spoken out about ensuring that all options, including war, remain on the table.

“North Korea poses a serious threat to the U.S. and all options should be on the table to protect the American people,” Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said in a statement. “We either do nothing, go to war, or negotiate a stand-down. And so far we’ve seen no sign that they’re willing to negotiate.”

Day 202 Aug 9

North Korea mocks “fire and fury” comments with promise to attack Guam 

North Korea mocked President Trump’s “fire and fury” warning Thursday, calling the president “bereft of reason” and his comments “a load of nonsense.” And instead of dialing down the heated rhetoric, as U.S. officials had hoped, Pyongyang retaliated with a promise to have a plan to strike the waters near Guam finalized by mid-August.

North Korea is “seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.,” General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said in a statement released through North Korea’s state-run news agency.

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Guam, a U.S. territory, is home to several major U.S. military facilities. Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, told Reuters he doesn’t see the announcement as a heightened threat: “They’re now telegraphing their punch, which means they don’t want to have any misunderstandings. I think that’s a position of fear.”

The comments by North Korea constitute the latest shot in the ongoing verbal war between Pyongyang and Washington, which has sharply escalated over the past few days. On August 8, Trump told reporters in New Jersey that any threat by North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” after it was revealed Pyongyang had successfully built a nuclear warhead small enough to fit onto a missile.

In response, North Korea announced its intention to strike Guam, and followed up this evening with the news that the plan would be finalized this month. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to sooth nuclear fears earlier on Tuesday, saying that the situation between the two countries hadn’t changed dramatically and that “Americans should sleep well at night.”

Special counsel ordered a raid on Manafort’s house weeks ago

Just a few hours before President Trump abruptly announced on Twitter that transgender individuals would no longer be permitted to serve in the military (a bizarre July 26 tweet that took even the Pentagon by surprise), FBI agents under special counsel Robert Mueller executed a predawn raid at the Virginia home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The raid signals that although Manafort had turned over documents related to the various congressional committees’ probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, investigators didn’t trust him to follow through on handing over everything. The raid also required a warrant, meaning investigators needed to show that they had probable cause to suspect Manafort.

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Manafort’s spokesperson confirmed the raid to the Washington Post, which first reported the story Wednesday, saying, “Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well.”

Between this news and last week’s revelation that Mueller started issuing subpoenas from a Washington, D.C. grand jury weeks ago, it’s clear that the special counsel’s probe is further along than previously thought. According to the Washington Post’s sources, Manafort’s friends fear that Mueller’s raid is part of an effort to gradually tighten the noose around Manafort and potentially flip him as a witness against the other members of Trump’s inner circle.
If Mueller does bring Manafort up on charges, it may not be related to his role in the 2016 campaign. Manafort also lobbied for foreign governments without disclosing that they’d hired him — which is illegal — and allegedly kept off-the-books payments from Ukraine in offshore accounts.

Trump adviser thinks Minnesota mosque bombing may have been faked

The president still hasn’t said anything about the bombing at a Minnesota mosque on August 5. Now, one of his advisers is suggesting that the blast may have been a false flag faked by the left.

White House national security analyst Sebastian Gorka, who’s already under scrutiny for his alleged links to far-right groups in Hungary, was asked during an interview on MSNBC Tuesday why the president had not yet addressed the attack.

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“There’s a great rule: All initial reports are false,” Gorka responded. “We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes, by right-wing individuals in the last six months, that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left.”

“Let’s allow the local authorities to provide their assessment, and then the White House will make its comments,” Gorka continued. “People fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity.” He did not offer an example.

The FBI has already concluded that a homemade explosive device triggered the blast, and agents are actively looking for a suspect. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, anti-Muslim hate crimes have undergone a 91 percent spike since January.

Gorka was also asked how the administration should handle “lone-wolf lunatics.” Gorka, however, asserted “there’s no such thing.”

“That was a phrase invented by the last administration to make Americans stupid,” Gorka said. “There has never been a serious attack or a serious plot that was unconnected from ISIS or Al Qaeda.”

In 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center published a study on the lone wolf threat which concluded that 74 percent of the more than 60 incidents assessed were plotted or carried out by a one person without ties to larger terror groups.

Day 201 Aug 8

Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”

Donald Trump declared Tuesday that North Korea will be “met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to make threats against the United States.

Speaking from the clubhouse of his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the next two weeks on vacation, Trump told assembled reporters: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen. [Kim Jong Un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”

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Trump’s statement follows Tuesday’s news that North Korea has successfully created a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of fitting inside a missile. The Washington Post report, citing a confidential assessment seen by U.S. intelligence officials, broke just hours after North Korea declared the U.S. would “pay dearly” for implementing punitive sanctions.

The analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency, dated July 28, states that “The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.”

It’s a major development in Pyongyang’s pursuit of becoming a full-fledged nuclear power and striking the “heart” of the U.S. It also confirms what Pentagon officials have feared — that North Korea is moving at a much faster rate to acquire a nuclear weapon than once thought.

North Korea has conducted over 10 missile tests in 2017. The latest intercontinental ballistic missile test occurred at the end of July, during which a missile flew for roughly 45 minutes — the longest time yet — before crashing into the Sea of Japan. Experts who analyzed the initial data from the latest launch estimated the ICBM could “easily reach” the West Coast of the U.S. and several other major U.S. cities.

Trump described that launch as a “reckless and dangerous action.”

Neither the Pentagon nor the Defense Intelligence Agency immediately returned VICE News’ request for comment.

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Bill Clinton’s North Korea negotiator has some advice for Trump

Trump is vacay-tweeting about everything except the mosque bombing

Trump kicked off a 17-day “working vacation” at his golf club in New Jersey last week by doing what he does best: tweeting about whatever crosses his mind.

So far, he’s posted about everything from jobs numbers to North Korea to ISIS. One thing he hasn’t mentioned: the August 5 bombing of a mosque in a Minneapolis suburb, which Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called a “hate crime” and “an act of terrorism” in a press conference Sunday.

The Department of Homeland Security put out a statement the day of the attack condemning it and expressing solidarity with the victims, none of whom were injured. But Trump — who’s monitoring the situation, the White House told New York Times correspondent Glenn Thrush — has still yet to publicly denounce the explosion.

In the past, however, Trump hasn’t hesitated to tweet about attacks just hours after they happen. For example, Trump condemned the Pulse nightclub shooting as an act of “radical Islamic terrorism.” While the suspect was later linked to ISIS, Trump has a history of quickly addressing attacks when the suspects are of Muslim or Middle Eastern descent.

As a candidate, he even labeled the missing EgyptAir flight last year an act of terrorism before the relevant authorities reached a conclusion.

Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim Congressman, who represents a district near the targeted mosque, decried Trump’s silence on Monday and said the president hasn’t reached out to local authorities or survivors.

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Mohamed Omar, the executive director of the mosque, expressed a similar sentiment.

“We invite the president to come and see — to come and see what happened,” he told BuzzFeed News on Monday. “He is the president of this country, and this happened to us. He has to come here and at least express his feelings and say this is bad.”

Day 200 Aug 7

Former 21 Club owners say Trump is a liar

The former owners of one of Trump’s favorite New York restaurants say he’s a liar, after reports emerged that Trump heavily embellished a story about the renovations of Manhattan’s 21 Club to teach his senior military advisers a lesson on reviewing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

In an effort to show that those on the ground know more, Trump told his advisers that the 21 Club had to close for a year and hire an expensive consultant, according to NBC News, only for that consultant to suggest a bigger kitchen.

But Ken Artesky, the former CEO of 21 Club, told Page Six in an interview that nothing like that ever happened and that the restaurant had closed for just two months.

“Once again, Trump exaggerated another story,” Artesky said.

Marshall Cogan, the owner of the restaurant from 1985 to 1995, said, “I have no idea what was in his head. I never have.”

Cogan later added: “I think [Trump] has a psychological problem that only a therapist can define for you. I can’t.”

Trump, who sat out Vietnam because his foot hurt, mocks senator for his military record

President Trump once again attacked Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Twitter Monday, calling him a “phony Vietnam con artist” just minutes after Blumenthal appeared on CNN’s “New Day” to discuss the Russia investigation.

Trump’s accusations refer to a 2008 controversy over Blumenthal’s claims that he had served in Vietnam when in fact he had served in the United States. Trump himself dodged the draft entirely, citing minor bone spurs, and once called avoiding sexually transmitted diseases his own “personal Vietnam.”

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Speaking about Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Blumenthal told CNN, “It was purposeful and relentless, and it involved propaganda and hacking into our voting machines or at least an attempt to do it and potential collusion by the Trump campaign and then obstruction of justice. That investigation must be pursued.”

Moments later, Trump fired off three tweets intended to humiliate Blumenthal.

Blumenthal briefly responded to call Trump a bully.

The White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. also parroted the president with what appears to be a self-made meme saying “LYIN’ RICHARD BLUMENTHAL!”

LYIN' RICHARD BLUMENTHAL! pic.twitter.com/2oFa1FzeNX

Hours after his initial tweets, Trump sent out yet another related missive, suggesting Blumenthal take a “nice long vacation in Vietnam.”

The president is currently on a 17-day “working vacation” at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where it has been raining all day.