US politics in the news ticker: Three months before the US election, the Trump administration is presenting plans to withdraw troops in Germany. Trump makes no secret of the fact that it is a punitive action. Meanwhile, diplomatic disputes with Hong Kong threaten. Everything important to US politics in the ticker of FOCUS Online.
Fraud allegations: Trump’s ex-advisor Steve Bannon arrested
Thursday, August 20, 4 p.m .: Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was arrested in New York on Thursday following a fraud charge. New York prosecutors accused him and three other people of illegally using money from an online fundraiser to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The campaign called “We Build the Wall” has received more than 25 million dollars from “hundreds of thousands” donors.
Bannon is one of the most influential voices in the ultra-conservative camp of US politics. For a time he was the chief strategist and campaign chief of US President Donald Trump. According to the news channel CNN, there was initially no response from Bannon’s lawyer to the charges.
Trump wants to trigger a sanction mechanism against Iran – UN threatens crisis
6:20 am: In the struggle over the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran, the US wants to force the reinstatement of all UN sanctions from times before the deal. He had instructed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to trigger the so-called snapback mechanism in the UN Security Council, said US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) in Washington. The “catastrophic” nuclear deal is a product of the foreign policy failure of the Obama administration. “My administration will not allow this nuclear situation in Iran to continue. You will never have an atomic bomb,” Trump said.
It is highly controversial whether the US is entitled to initiate the sanctions because the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018. The most powerful UN body is now facing an acid test. A reinstatement of all UN sanctions against Iran would mean the de facto end of the rules, which the other members of the agreement – including Germany, France and Great Britain – want to prevent. The Europeans were attached to “this crazy nuclear deal,” Pompeo told Fox TV. He will travel to New York on Thursday to formally trigger the snapback mechanism, the foreign secretary said.
The snapback mechanism (German: to snap back) is a possibility for the states of the 2015 nuclear agreement to denounce Iranian rule violations before the Security Council. This means that all UN sanctions from the time before the agreement can be reinstated within 30 days – without other members being able to prevent this with a veto.
Years before his election, Trump wrote a letter to Putin full of admiration
6.40 a.m .: Donald Trump expressed his admiration for the Russian President in a personal letter to Vladimir Putin in 2007. “As you have probably heard, I am a big fan of yours,” the future US president wrote to the Kremlin chief. The occasion was to congratulate Putin on being elected “Person of the Year” by Time magazine. “You definitely deserve it,” wrote Trump – and at the end of the short letter admonished Putin to take good care of himself.
The letter can be found in a report published on Tuesday by the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016. It also states that it was not possible to find out why this letter was sent – and whether there was an answer thereupon gave. Before Trump was elected president in 2016, he was a real estate entrepreneur in talks for years about building a Trump hotel in Moscow.
Also, in 2013 Trump brought the Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow. To this end, he personally invited Putin “as a guest of honor”, as a further letter on stationery from his company Trump Organization shows. Trump was convinced that it would be the “biggest and best” edition of “Miss Universe”. “I know you will have a great time.” Below the printed text is written with a felt pen: “The most beautiful women in the world!” In a tweet published eight days earlier, Trump asked if Putin would come to the event – “and if so, will he be my new best friend?”
Trouble with Trump before the election: Pelosi calls MPs back from the summer break
Monday, August 17th, 6:40 a.m .: In the dispute over the US postal service over the delivery of postal voting documents, the Democratic spokeswoman for the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called the MPs back from the summer recess. You are due to vote on a law this week to “save the mail,” Pelosi said on Sunday. Ex-President Barack Obama accused his successor, Donald Trump, of deliberately weakening the post office in order to make postal votes more difficult and to suppress votes.
In addition, Post boss Louis DeJoy is supposed to appear for an “urgent hearing” before the supervisory committee of the congress, according to Pelosi. Critics see him as a henchman of the president who is supposed to weaken the mail, which has been financially troubled for some time, and to slow down the delivery of letters.
According to a newspaper report, the US Post fears that millions of postal ballot papers will not be able to be delivered in time for the November 3rd election. In response to calls from the Democrats to send billions of dollars in support to the Post as part of a new Corona aid package, Trump recently said, “You need this money to make the Post work, so that it can handle all the millions of ballot papers. But if they don’t get it, there cannot be a universal postal vote because they are not equipped for it. “
Trump had repeatedly criticized the postal vote as particularly prone to fraud, although experts disagree. According to estimates, more than twice as many people in the US could cast their votes by mail this year due to the corona pandemic in order to avoid going to the polling station.
Trump is considering Snowden’s pardon
Sunday, August 16, 2:15 p.m .: US President Donald Trump wants to examine a pardon for the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who seven years ago revealed the sprawling surveillance system of American secret services. Although he is not particularly familiar with the matter, “but I will look at it,” said Trump on Saturday (local time) in response to a question from reporters at a press conference. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia, where he was stranded while fleeing.
The question for Trump came after the president told the New York Post that a lot of people believed that Snowden had not been treated fairly. Even now, Trump said there were different opinions about Snowden: “Some people think he should be treated differently, others think he did very bad things.”
In 2013, Snowden gave several journalists a large number of confidential documents from the American wiretapping service NSA and its British partner GCHQ. The material revealed an in-depth system of Internet and telecommunications surveillance by US intelligence agencies and their British allies.
In the US, Snowden has been accused of espionage and theft of state property. He first fled to Hong Kong. On the onward flight to Ecuador, he was stranded at a Moscow airport because the US government had canceled his passport. Snowden got asylum in Russia, after an extension currently until 2020. He tried unsuccessfully to get asylum in an EU country like Germany or France. Because of the publication of his memoirs, the US government initiated another case against him in 2019 for breach of his duty of confidentiality as a former secret service employee.
Snowden has received numerous international awards and honors for his revelations. In 2014 he received the Alternative Nobel Prize “Right Livelihood Award”. In the US, too, many believe that Snowden did society a service by exposing the surveillance. The topic of data protection was increasingly on the international agenda.
The consequences of Snowden’s revelations continue to have an impact today: just a few weeks ago, the European Court of Justice conceded an agreement for the second time to transfer data from Europeans to the USA because the information was not sufficiently protected there.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama pardoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning at the end of his term in 2017. Manning had passed on diplomatic correspondence and military documents to the Wikileaks disclosure platform. A video of US troops shooting at civilians and reporters in Iraq became particularly popular.
“Knows where his corpses are buried”: Ex-lawyer unpacks about “predator” Trump
USA submits draft Iran arms embargo to UN Security Council
Thursday, August 13, 2:28 p.m .: The US has introduced a draft resolution to the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo against Iran. The text, which diplomats say is unlikely to fail, could mark the start of a violent struggle over the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal. When the 24-hour voting phase on the draft begins, the council member Indonesia, which chairs the most powerful UN body, will decide in August.
The background to this is the expiry of the UN arms embargo in October. In addition to the USA, Germany, France and Great Britain also support its extension in principle. The draft that has now been introduced, however, which is available to the German Press Agency, appears to be problematic for a number of members of the UN Security Council. One of the reasons for this is that it is supposed to apply without a time limit, which would run counter to the intent of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
However, some diplomats in New York see the American efforts only as a preliminary skirmish by the Trump administration in order to completely turn the nuclear deal off its hinges. The then US-Iran representative Brian Hook left little doubt in the event of the failure of the draft on Washington’s plan in a comment in the “Wall Street Journal” in May: “However, if American diplomacy has been exhausted by a veto, the US will keep the right to renew the arms embargo in other ways. “
Then Hook mentioned the so-called snapback mechanism: A possibility for the states of the nuclear deal to denounce Iran’s violations of its obligations and thus ultimately to achieve the reinstatement of all international sanctions from the time before the agreement – without this through a veto of other members could be prevented. It is controversial whether the US would be entitled to trigger the snapback because the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018.
The UN veto powers USA, China, Russia, France and Great Britain as well as Germany and Iran reached an agreement in 2015 in Vienna that allows Tehran the peaceful use of nuclear power but denies the development of nuclear weapons. It put the Iranian nuclear industry under control and promised to dismantle Western economic sanctions. The deal was also reinforced by a UN Security Council resolution. The US is calling for a tougher agreement with further conditions for the leadership in Tehran.
The now looming dispute, it is feared, could in the worst case lead to a diplomatic battle that would not only deepen the rifts between Europe and the US, but also inflict the fatal blow to the 2015 nuclear deal and damage the UN Security Council.
White House cordoned off due to firearms incident – Trump briefing canceled
Tuesday, August 11th, 6:28 am: Because of shots in front of the White House, US President Donald Trump had to briefly interrupt a press conference in his official residence. It quickly became known that the shots were fired by a security officer. The Secret Service then announced on Tuesday night that a 51-year-old man had claimed to have a gun, then ran up to the officer and, with an object in hand, had taken a position usual for shooting.
The statement left open whether the man actually had a gun. A CNN reporter reported shortly before, citing investigators, that he was unarmed.
The man hit in the upper body by the bullets and the security officer were taken to hospitals. The man did not break into the complex around the White House and none of the protected people were in danger, stressed the Secret Service.
At the press conference on Monday, the president was ushered out of the room just a few minutes after an employee approached him and, according to Trump, whispered in his ear that he should come with them. The US President made a sound of amazement, looked again into the press room and then calmly walked out of the room.
Trump continued the meeting with journalists a short time later. “They were surprised, I was surprised, and I also think that was pretty unusual,” Trump said. Journalists wanted to know if he was being taken to the bunker under the White House. Trump said security guards only took him back to his office in the Oval Office until the situation was resolved after just under ten minutes.
Trump wants to postpone the G7 summit behind the US election
04.42 a.m .: US President Donald Trump has raised the issue of postponing a G7 meeting in the US until after the US presidential election in November. “I think it would be a better, quieter atmosphere,” that’s why he was in favor, said Trump on Monday (local time) in Washington. Most recently, September had been considered after the Corona crisis had messed up the original plans for a meeting in June.
The US is chairing the group of seven leading economic powers this year, including Germany, the UK, France, Japan, Italy and Canada. Trump confirmed his intention to invite other countries to the meeting. He left open whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would also be invited. He himself would be in favor of the fact that Putin was “an important factor”. Before that, Trump’s idea of also inviting Russia to the G7 meeting had met with restrained international reactions.
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