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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "nuclear"

Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump

Westlake Legal Group nk Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump Yongbyon Trump The Blog nuclear North Korea missiles Kim Jong-un icbm enrichment

The “denuclearization” effort seems to be having rather the opposite effect.

Analysts who pore over satellite images of the isolated country paint a different picture: North Korea’s scientists have ramped up production of long-range missiles and the fissile material used in nuclear weapons…

Analysts at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency say North Korea’s scientists may have produced 12 nuclear weapons since the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore last year. In total, Pyongyang could currently possess between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs, according to estimates by various security analysts.

The evidence is circumstantial, as satellite surveillance always is, but watch below as the WSJ makes its case. North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility does appear to be humming along with activity. Which isn’t surprising, is it? The NorKs have suspended missile testing while the U.S. has scaled back military exercises with South Korea, but America continues to wield its big club, sanctions. Go figure that the NorKs are keeping their big club in hand too.

Plus, cranking out new nuclear bombs is North Korea’s way of buying more chips for its eventual negotiations with the U.S. A year ago they might have been expected to surrender, say, 30 bombs in exchange for major U.S. concessions. What can they get a year later in return for 40 bombs instead?

Having the NorKs arm up while Kim gladhands Trump at the DMZ is embarrassing for the White House, but in Trump’s defense, what’s the alternative? If he’s not willing to see the Korean peninsula laid waste, persisting with halting top-level diplomacy while the regime quietly increases its nuclear advantage over its neighbors is the only option. I doubt anyone in the administration believes at this point that the U.S. can intimidate North Korea into denuclearizing; Trump’s two summits with Kim are the best evidence yet that we’ve committed to a containment strategy with the North, with the White House possibly focused now on limiting Kim’s intercontinental reach than on limiting his nuclear supply. The NorKs have already tested missiles capable of reaching the U.S. but it’s unclear what sort of nuclear warhead they might carry and even whether the missiles could survive reentry into the atmosphere from orbit. If Trump could convince Kim to destroy his long-range missiles while retaining his weapons in return for sanctions relief, which would leave Japan and South Korea but not the United States under threat, would he go for that? America First!

If he did, would anything be left of America’s Far East alliances?

North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea just yesterday to show Trump that they’re impatient with negotiations. Three days ago they threatened to end the moratorium on missile tests, upping the ante; if Kim resumed long-range tests, lord only knows how Trump would respond. You can understand, though, why Iran would be reluctant to sit down with Trump as it watches this all play out. What has the North gained from diplomacy besides a shot of prestige for Kim in having the president of the United States’s undivided attention? Sanctions on North Korea have remained in effect throughout, and Iran doesn’t have the same thirst for legitimacy via a summit photo op as North Korea does since it enjoys relations already with most other countries in the world. What Trump could do to try to entice Iran to the table is lift some sanctions on North Korea preemptively as a reward for their willingness to talk, signaling to Iran that the path to relief from their own sanctions depends on them chatting with him first. But then he’ll be attacked by hawks here for weakness, and he’ll need a concession from Kim in return in order to save face. It’s unthinkable that he’d phase out some sanctions purely as a goodwill gesture, without reciprocation. I think that’s what he’ll end up doing — limited sanctions relief in return for some NorK concession packaged with arrangements for a third summit. Then it’ll be up to Iran to reach out.

Exit question: Based on everything that’s happened, if Iran wants a heart-to-heart with Trump, they should probably start building their own nuclear weapons, right? That’s the incentive scheme here.

The post Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

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Report: Trump taps Rand Paul as envoy to Iran to negotiate detente

Westlake Legal Group r-1 Report: Trump taps Rand Paul as envoy to Iran to negotiate detente Trump The Blog sellout republican Rand Paul nuclear Lindsey Graham Iran hawk envoy deal cheney Bolton

I love it so much, purely for petty political reasons. Imagine the sting of the tears rolling down Lindsey Graham’s cheeks when he heard this news. Imagine the torrents of profanity emanating from John Bolton. Day in and day out, hawks doggedly kiss the president’s ass in hopes of keeping him open-minded about their interventionist ideas. He’s an isolationist by instinct — but he’s also consumed with projecting “strength,” a great asset to hawks in convincing him to abandon Obama’s nuclear deal. There’s no country on earth whom Washington interventionists are more eager to have a showdown with than Iran; at a minimum, they expect their endless sycophancy towards Trump to pay off in presidential resolve to keep up a maximum pressure campaign towards the mullahs.

So now here he is deputizing the most prominent isolationist in Congress, the son and heir to Ron farking Paul, to reach out to Iran’s foreign minister. Not Lindsey Graham. Not Tom Cotton. Not Liz Cheney. Not his own NSA, for cripes sake. Rand Paul. Everyone who tries to toady to Trump for their own reasons eventually gets stabbed in the gut, it seems. (Except Rand?) Which makes it that much more amazing that so many Republicans continue to be eager to toady to him.

Anyway, too bad POTUS doesn’t have a bureau of professional diplomats for something like this. Silver lining, though: At least he didn’t tap Tucker Carlson for the job.

Over a round of golf this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul asked President Donald Trump’s blessing for a sensitive diplomatic mission.

Paul proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf, according to four U.S. officials. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea.

With Zarif in New York City this week for U.N. meetings and private sitdowns with journalists and think-tank experts, the prospect of the dovish Kentucky senator serving as the administration’s chief diplomatic emissary has rankled many administration officials, who are expressing concern that Paul’s intervention threatens to scuttle the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran

The move smacks of desperation, said Mark Dubowitz, head of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has pushed for a hard line on Iran.

It does seem a little desperate. Trump’s strategy towards Iran, such as it is, is straightforward: Tear up the nuke deal, slap crushing sanctions on them, and then … cross your fingers and wait. Hopefully the economic toll is so great that they come crawling to the bargaining table, ready and willing to fully denuclearize. If we’re really, really, really lucky, the economy will turn so bad that Iranians will turn restive and an insurrection will start to gather momentum.

And if none of that happens and they decide to wait the United States out, with high tensions liable to cause an incident that leads to war? The White House will get back to you.

That’s why we’re getting Rand Paul, international diplomat. The only way out of this as far as Trump is concerned is talks, and he’s willing to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks towards that end. He won’t go to war unless Iran forces him by launching the first attack, and he won’t — yet — relax sanctions as a goodwill gesture to entice them to talk with him. But he will name one of the most conspicuously dovish politicians in the United States to reach out, in case they’re still unclear that Trump is willing to make concessions in the name of resolving this standoff. This marks the second time in less than three weeks, in fact, that Trump has excluded his hawkish NSA, John Bolton, from diplomacy with an enemy of the United States in favor of a more dovish presence: Remember that it was Tucker Carlson, not Bolton, who was with Trump for the grip-and-grin with Kim Jong Un at the DMZ. Now Bolton and Mike Pompeo are being shoved aside in favor of Rand Paul because Trump needs a new way to signal to Iran that he’s prepared to make nice in the name of peace.

Most leaders would insist that their own White House staff carry out negotiations with an enemy regime, not just as a matter of basic loyalty but to communicate that the administration stands united and that the enemy had better be prepared to make real concessions to persuade reluctant U.S. officials to reach a compromise. Sending Paul instead feels like a concession in and of itself, right out of the box, before anything serious had been discussed. “The one thing that these guys don’t understand is the more desperate they look for a deal the more the Iranian regime will play hard to get,” said Dubowitz of Paul being deputized. If it wasn’t clear enough to Iran before that Trump is truly desperate for a way out of this standoff, knowing that he runs the risk of Iran lashing out and plunging him into a war he doesn’t want if it doesn’t get solved, sending an American who’s more to their liking in lieu of his own guys is it.

By the way, note this tweet from Iran’s foreign minister a few weeks ago:

The “B team” is Zarif’s term for top anti-Iran hawks in the U.S. and beyond: Bolton, Netanyahu, and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the Times of Israel. In other words, Zarif is already pursuing a strategy of trying to divide Trump from his own advisors and international allies by suggesting to him that he’s being manipulated into war by a nefarious cabal that doesn’t have his best interests — a message which the conspiratorial Trump might be receptive to, especially on this subject. “I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn’t mind,” said Zarif in an interview a few days ago, again trying to turn Trump against his advisors. And now here’s POTUS sending Rand Paul to talk to him instead of Pompeo. Weird but true: America picks Great Britain’s diplomats nowadays, it seems, and Iran picks America’s.

Liz Cheney and several dozen other hawks sent POTUS a letter today begging him to maintain his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, realizing now how much that’s in doubt. It’s gonna be so amazing when Rand Paul negotiates an Obama-level sellout to Iran for Trump and all the Republican hawks in Congress who are terrified of losing Trump’s favor have to stand there and applaud the deal through their tears.

The post Report: Trump taps Rand Paul as envoy to Iran to negotiate detente appeared first on Hot Air.

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Advisor to Rouhani warns Trump: We’ve ended U.S. presidencies before — so listen to Tucker Carlson

Westlake Legal Group tc Advisor to Rouhani warns Trump: We’ve ended U.S. presidencies before — so listen to Tucker Carlson Tucker Carlson Trump The Blog rouhani Obama nuclear keane Iran hesameddin ashena Bolton

Just a normal day in geopolitics in 2019, with an apparatchik in a fundamentalist Muslim regime publicly trolling the president of the United States by warning him to listen to Fox News’s peacenik 8 p.m. host instead of to his cabinet.

Coming tomorrow: The North Koreans call for urgent trilateral high-level denuclearization talks between Kim Jong Un, Trump, and Judge Jeanine.

God, Hannity must have seen this and been so jealous. And John Bolton must have seen it and felt vindicated in believing that Tucker is a useful idiot.

The president they allegedly “unseated” was Carter by refusing to release American hostages until Reagan had already been safely elected. Trump has been trolling them today too in response to the news this morning that Iran might begin enriching uranium beyond the low levels needed to merely power a reactor.

If Iran were to go from 3.67 percent enrichment to 20 percent, the risk of an Iranian “breakout” to weapons-grade uranium would rise dramatically, probably forcing the U.S. and/or Israel to act. They’re threatening him now to try to get him to lift some of the sanctions that are choking off their economy as a prelude to talks, but he’s refused thus far. If he won’t budge, what do they do next to pressure him? Attacking American assets would ignite a war. Ratcheting up enrichment might be their only “peaceful” way of getting his attention and showing they mean business.

By the way, if they’re looking to influence Trump by encouraging him to listen to certain advisors, Tucker’s probably not the person they should be touting. The man they should be looking to is Gen. Jack Keane. Per Politico, a segment he did on Fox on the day Trump was mulling whether to attack Iran for downing a U.S. drone hugely influenced Trump’s thinking:

“Our viewers may have forgotten, but during the tanker war in the late ‘80s when Reagan did take some action, we actually made a mistake,” Keane said, referring to President Ronald Reagan. “We had a USS warship shoot down an Iranian airliner in Iranian airspace. Two-hundred ninety people killed. Sixty-six of them were children. And we took that for a Tomahawk F-14. That was clearly a mistake by the ship’s crew in doing that. And we acknowledged that we made a horrific mistake.”

Keane’s reference to the United States’ accidental downing of an Iranian commercial airliner in 1988 made a profound impact on the president, who was “spooked” when he learned of the incident, according to two sources briefed on his reaction. The president made repeated comments about the tragedy on the evening of the 20th, leading aides to believe that Keane’s brief history lesson exacerbated Trump’s pre-existing doubts about carrying out the strike.

The good news: Trump ended up making a good call, one which a huge majority of voters support. The bad news: Whether we end up starting a major Middle East war with Iran may depend on whoever Fox News happens to have on during a given day and whether Trump happens to be watching at a particular moment.

Nothing to worry about.

Exit question: Has Tucker explained his view on the air yet of what the U.S. should do about Iran’s nuclear program? He’s been clear on the “no war” part. Would he drop sanctions as well and revert to the terms of the Obama nuclear deal? If he supports Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign in hopes of squeezing Iran until they agree to denuclearize, what should we do if they make good on their threat to start escalating enrichment instead?

The post Advisor to Rouhani warns Trump: We’ve ended U.S. presidencies before — so listen to Tucker Carlson appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House “afflicted by mental retardation”

Westlake Legal Group r-5 Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House “afflicted by mental retardation” Trump The Blog Sanctions rouhani obliteration nuclear khamenei Iran deal

Listen, I don’t know how they do it in Iran, buddy, but in America we don’t use ugly, archaic terms like “mental retardation.”

The proper term for our White House is “developmentally disabled.”

In the post-Trump world, high-stakes international diplomacy is basically indistinguishable from a Twitter flame war.

“The useless sanctioning of Islamic Revolution Supreme Leader (Khamenei) and the commander of Iranian diplomacy means closing the doors of diplomacy by the U.S.′ desperate administration,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted. “Trump’s government is annihilating all the established international mechanisms for keeping peace and security in the world.”…

“You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks,” an exasperated Rouhani said, calling the sanctions “outrageous and idiotic.”

“The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do,” he added.

No one’s going to call POTUS a retard on the playground and get away with it:

He thought his show of magnanimity in declining to hit back after Iran downed our drone might produce a diplomatic breakthrough. He spared dozens of Iranian lives and took care to emphasize that those lives were on his mind when he gave the order to stand down. That was an olive branch. When Iran didn’t accept it, he tightened the screws with a few new sanctions. Now here’s Iran warning that those sanctions have closed the doors on diplomacy.

In other words, this has turned into a game of chicken to see which side wants talks more badly. Trump’s gambling that the economic pain from sanctions will cause Iran to capitulate and beg him for negotiations. Iran’s betting that Trump will agree to relax sanctions as a precondition — a new olive branch — to talks. The regime doesn’t want to lose face by transparently succumbing to America’s pressure campaign; they need Trump to give them a way to agree to talks that doesn’t look like a surrender. That means America needs to move first in suspending sanctions.

Is he willing to do that? If not, if he insists on an Iranian surrender under pressure, then the threat of an Iranian provocation that results in war will grow. Either they’ll attack Americans in the region or they’ll try to resume their nuclear program and Trump will feel compelled to act militarily. Which is a bad outcome for him: Because he’s not a hawk, because he got elected in 2016 on a platform of reducing America’s entanglements in the Middle East, he’s at least as wary of war as Iran is. He’s risking his presidency potentially by refusing to back off from sanctions if that’s Iran price for a summit. Bolton and Pompeo will urge him to stand firm and keep the pressure on, but Trump will want to be conciliatory. What does he do?

Here’s Bolton earlier today at a press conference in his surreal new role as America’s olive-branch-extender, urging Iran to walk through the open door of diplomacy that Trump has provided for them. Every media account of last week’s White House deliberations that I’ve read had Bolton in favor of attacking Iran over the downed U.S. drone. Now this. Speaking of which, according to Morning Consult, the public strongly approves of Trump’s decision to hold off on bombing Iran. Fully 65 percent agreed that calling off the strikes was the right thing to do, a level of bipartisan support rarely seen during Trump’s presidency.

The post Trump threatens Iran with obliteration over further attacks after Rouhani calls White House “afflicted by mental retardation” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Iran: You have 10 days until we pass the limit of uranium we’re allowed to stockpile under the nuclear agreement

Westlake Legal Group r-1 Iran: You have 10 days until we pass the limit of uranium we’re allowed to stockpile under the nuclear agreement uranium enrichment Trump The Blog stockpile Obama nuclear Iran instex highly enriched Europe Bolton

This threat is aimed at Europe more so than at the U.S., although their problem will become our problem if they can’t reach some economic accommodation with Iran quickly. If not, what does Trump propose to do? Both he and Khamenei have ruled out talks, and I suspect Khamenei’s less willing to budge on that than Trump is. (Even John Bolton is willing to entertain diplomacy with Iran now, for cripes sake.) Meanwhile, Trump has reportedly all but ruled out war, recognizing that it would betray his pledge in 2016 to put America first by reducing foreign entanglements.

So if Iran starts to increase enrichment again, what’s the plan to make them stop? More sanctions? Hand the baton to the IAF and wish them luck? Look the other way and hope that a diplomatic breakthrough will arrive before Iran has a stash of weapons-grade uranium?

Remember, although Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from Obama’s nuclear deal and ramped up sanctions, the deal remains in effect momentarily between Iran and the European signatories. America’s sanctions were aimed at bringing “maximum pressure” on Iran, and they’re succeeding; the economic pain has driven Iran to demand that Europe provide some relief ASAP or else it’ll quit the deal too. That helps explain the spate of mysterious tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman lately, as well as the news last week that Iran has increased production of low-enriched uranium. They’re saber-rattling, warning the Europeans that they might go rogue — including on nuclear development — if the money doesn’t start flowing soon. Today’s news is the latest rattle:

Iran is ramping up enrichment of low-grade uranium and will pass the limit it is allowed to stockpile under the nuclear deal in 10 days, a spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency announced Monday…

After exceeding the limit, Iran will accelerate uranium enrichment to 3.7%, Kamalvandi said — above the 3.67% mandated by the nuclear deal. Enrichment at this percentage is enough to continue powering parts of the country’s energy needs, but not enough to ever build a nuclear bomb…

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is perhaps the most outspoken critic of the nuclear deal, called on the international community to immediately impose sanctions on Iran if it violates the 2015 agreement.

Netanyahu wants “snapback sanctions” applied under the terms of the deal if Iran violates it, but of course Iran will claim that America violated the deal first by withdrawing, before Iran began to increase enrichment. Europe will be sympathetic to that argument since it fears Iran going rogue and wants to keep the deal intact to discourage that. In fact, the European signatories have already created a financial mechanism called Instex that aims to enable trade with Iran while evading U.S. sanctions — although, per the Atlantic, the U.S. has threatened to sanction Instex too. (Iran’s counterpart to Instex is also under threat of sanction, of course.) That’s a threshold gut-check question for Trump and Congress: Are they inclined to look the other way at Instex if it begins trading with Iran? If they’re serious about “maximum pressure,” they should sanction it and try to choke Iran off completely from trade with the west — although in that case, a desperate Iran might seek a nuclear “breakout,” enriching uranium to high levels and maybe trying to build a bomb.

If instead the U.S. allows Instex to trade with Iran without sanction, then the “maximum pressure” campaign has a giant loophole. Iran’s economy will be bolstered, not crushed. But that’ll also likely convince Tehran to dial back enrichment and maybe calm down in the Gulf, averting a giant foreign-policy headache before the election. Which way does Trump want to go on this?

Note that Iran’s not just threatening to produce more low-enriched uranium beyond the 300 kg they’re allowed under the terms of the nuclear deal. They’re threatening to refine the uranium they’ve already stockpiled to higher levels, a prerequisite to building a bomb:

He also raised the specter of increasing its enrichment levels, saying Iran needs 5% enriched uranium for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and 20% enriched fuel for its Tehran research reactor…

The danger, nuclear nonproliferation experts warn, is that at 20% enrichment, only a fraction of atoms need to be removed to enrich up to weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Assume Instex is sanctioned, Europe decides that it would rather trade with the U.S. than Iran, and Iran ends up without an economic lifeline. In Bolton’s dream scenario, the Iranian people revolt over their sudden economic hardship, the mullahs are deposed, the new liberal interim Iranian government agrees to give up nukes forever, and Trump hosts the interim president for a grip-and-grin and KFC at the White House. In the nightmare scenario, the economic hardship begins to tilt more Iranians towards the hardliners within the regime, the hardliners insist on more provocations in the Gulf and higher levels of enrichment, and Iran sets out to amass enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb. The good news is that, even in the nightmare scenario, this can’t happen overnight: Last year the Times spoke to experts and estimated that it would take Iran at least a year, perhaps considerably longer, to first stockpile enough low-enriched uranium and then to refine it to bomb-grade levels. The bad news is that U.S. intelligence about Middle Eastern countries’ nuclear capabilities has traditionally been, well, problematic.

But maybe that’s the plan. Isolate Iran economically, let ’em attempt a nuclear breakout, and trust that the economic pain will lead them to beg for mercy and negotiations before they have the HEU they need in hand. (Or before Israel acts.) How lucky do you feel?

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Pompeo: We’re ready to talk to Iran — without preconditions

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Lots of agita about this yesterday on social media. Didn’t America’s right wing have a collective aneurysm in 2007 when Obama said at a Democratic primary debate that he’d talk to Iran without preconditions? We sure did!

Our Republican Secretary of State has embraced the Obama position. Important footnote, though: The Obama position also happens to be the Trump position. Don’t the people freaking out about Pompeo remember that POTUS said the same thing last year?

You can play the “What if Obama did it?” game to gauge righty hypocrisy with virtually every outre thing Trump does, but I do think it’s possible to have opposed talks with Iran in 2008 and to support them in 2019 for reasons other than rank partisanship. Time does matter in a situation like this. I can remember feeling incensed at reports circa 2008 that the U.S. wanted to talk to the Taliban to see if the two sides could feel their way towards some diplomatic resolution in Afghanistan. We were less than a decade removed from 9/11 and already we were looking to accommodate the jihadi enemy? Unthinkable. Outrageous.

Eleven weary years of stalemate later, the choice has narrowed to talks with the Taliban or unilateral withdrawal and outright forfeiture of the country to the bad guys. What do we have to lose by hearing them out?

Same goes for North Korea, although in that case the options have narrowed not to “talks or defeat” but to “talks or nuclear war.” A decade ago, it was possible to believe that sanctions might grind down the regime before it managed to build a nuclear ICBM. In 2019 it’s no longer possible. As gross as it was to see the president of the United States reward Kim Jong Un for his brinksmanship with a face-to-face summit, I grudgingly supported Trump on it just because the alternative is unthinkable. He tried something bold diplomatically to avert cataclysm. It’s hard to fault him for it.

Although it’s easy to fault him for all the vomit-generating warm words he’s wasted on Kim since then.

Talking to Iran without preconditions is reluctantly defensible along the same lines. We’ve been waiting a long time for the Great Pumpkin of regime change to arrive there. We expected that the Iraq war would frighten them into a more modest regional role. We hoped that jettisoning the nuclear deal would force them to the table for fear of new sanctions by the United States. It may be worth following that last strategy for awhile longer but eventually, and maybe sooner than we think, Iran will reach the point that North Korea has in developing a nuclear weapon with intercontinental reach. What then?

I’ll repeat what I said last year too after Trump’s comments, that “talks without preconditions” is more digestible when you’ve worked to improve your bargaining strength. One of the things that alarmed righties about Obama calling for talks as a candidate was that it played into the fear that he’d be a pushover as a commander-in-chief. He hadn’t even taken the job yet and was already seemingly inviting Iran to the Oval Office. In Trump’s case, though, he’s torn up the nuclear deal, bombed Iran’s client in Syria twice, hugged Saudi Arabia’s crown prince as tightly as he can, and most recently ordered a naval build-up in the Gulf to deter possible attacks by Iran on U.S. interests there. He’s not pitching “talks without preconditions” so much as he’s pitching “talks without preconditions or else.” If U.S. muscle-flexing ends up frightening Iran into conciliation, talks may be worth holding.

In lieu of an exit question, a trip down memory lane.

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Rod Rosenstein Goes Nuclear on James Comey and It’s Beautiful

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I don’t think he’ll be getting plaudits from CNN anymore after this.

He had been rehabbed for a while after revelations about him wanting to record the President came out. His handling of Robert Mueller, or better yet his complete lack of oversight of the situation, also pleased resistance members everywhere.

Well, kiss that good will goodbye because Rosenstein lit up James Comey tonight in remarks before the Greater Baltimore Committee. This report is via Fox News.

Rod Rosenstein unloaded on former FBI Director James Comey in remarks to the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) on Monday evening, slamming Comey’s turn as a “partisan pundit,” reiterating that he deserved to be fired, and faulting him for trampling “bright lines that should never be crossed.”

Here’s the some of the criticism.

“Now, the former director is a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul,” Rosenstein said. “That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Generally, we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony.”

Holy crap, that’s brutal. It’s also completely true.

Comey’s biggest flaw, aside from being a corrupt partisan, is that he sees himself as some kind of virtuous savior. Instead of following protocol, Comey spent his time staring into the abyss and making moral judgements on legal matters that should only be based on evidentiary standards.

Rod Rosenstein sees through Comey’s facade and pulls no punches. The shots at him about being a media pundit are also well deserved. Comey is not a serious person. He’s out to make a buck and keep his spot on the D.C. cocktail circuit.

The Hillary email investigation was also brought up in Rosenstein’s speech.

“The clearest mistake was the director’s decision to hold a press conference about an open case, reveal his recommendation and discuss details about the investigation, without the consent of the prosecutors and the attorney general,” Rosenstein said. “Then, he chose to send a letter to the Congress on the eve of the election stating that one of the candidates was under criminal investigation, expecting it to be released immediately to the public.”

Rosenstein added: “Those actions were not within the range of reasonable decisions. They were inconsistent with our goal of communicating to all FBI employees that they should respect the attorney general’s role, refrain from disclosing information about criminal investigations, avoid disparaging uncharged persons, and above all, not take unnecessary steps that could influence an election.”

This is basically the same thing that Robert Mueller did with his report. Instead of doing his job and simply making a recommendation on obstruction, he included thousands of footnotes in his report. The purpose of that was smear people who he didn’t have the guts to charge while not even doing the one thing he was appointed to do, which was to decide on the obstruction question.

Comey’s press conference may have actually been beneficial to Republicans at the time but that doesn’t change the fact that it was completely inappropriate. His appropriation of Loretta Lynch’s role (with her blessing via the scheme she cooked up) showed that Comey had no care for legal norms or standards. He essentially appointed himself as a fourth branch of government and to this day thinks he was righteous for doing so.

People like that are dangerous to have in governmental positions. Someone with no boundaries can justify doing anything and swear they are virtuous while doing it. Comey’s current mindset, complete with introspective tweets staring at trees, borders on delusion.

Firing Comey was long overdue and it’s nice to see Rosenstein not back down from his recommendation to do so. He should probably lay low a few days because the backlash from the media and liberals is going to be swift.

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