Tag: mark milley
Classified Iran Document Trump Discussed On Tape Is Missing

Classified Iran Document Trump Discussed On Tape Is Missing

Earlier this week, Hunter reported on the discovery that there was an audio recording of Donald Trump in a 2021 meeting in which he talked about holding on to a national security document containing details of a potential military attack on Iran. That recording made it clear that Trump knew he had retained information classified at the highest level, and that he had not declassified this material before leaving the White House.

This recording, which was reportedly played for the grand jury hearing evidence on the case being investigated by special counsel Jack Smith, seems more than adequate to justify an indictment. However, it turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

CNN is reporting that this document was not among those recovered by the FBI when they searched a storage room and Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago. In fact, Trump’s attorney’s can’t find the document anywhere.

The missing document reportedly contains handwritten pages from Gen. Mark Milley describing one approach to a possible attack on Iran. Earlier reports indicated that Trump also had documents related to Iran’s nuclear program and defenses, but it’s not clear if this is all part of the same document. The same missing document.

Smith’s team has reportedly notified Trump’s attorneys that they want the document. They want any notes related to the document. They want any other material referencing the document. They want any copies made of the document. But mostly, they need the original document that Trump talked about on the recording.

Since that 2021 meeting took place at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, that would seem to be one logical place to look for the document. So far, the FBI has not conducted any search at this location, or at hundreds of other properties owned by Trump.

Shortly before the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, members of Trump’s staff, along with workers at that location, moved some boxes out of the storage facility. It’s not known if those boxes were recovered by the FBI or if they were moved to other locations.

There are reports that Trump has admitted showing classified information to visitors at Mar-a-Lago. Visitors to that location include representatives of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s biggest adversary in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia also funded a LIV Golf event held at the Bedminster course.

In recent weeks, the special counsel’s office has complained to a federal judge that they couldn’t be sure Trump had returned all the classified information. Now they’re sure he didn’t.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

The 'Catastrophic' Order That Proves Trump Knew He Lost In 2020

The 'Catastrophic' Order That Proves Trump Knew He Lost In 2020

Details, details, details and even more details. That’s what we got from the House Select Committee’s final hearing yesterday. Members of the committee were called on, one by one, to give opening statements essentially summing up what we have learned so far. Each member explored a different aspect of the committee’s long investigation, at times adding new information developed since its last hearing.

All the stuff committee members reminded us about today was based on testimony by witnesses and other evidence the committee had been able to gather. They really drilled down on testimony given by White House and campaign aides who had told Trump repeatedly that he lost the election way back in November of 2020; some aides even testified that Trump appeared to acknowledge that fact, although none were able to present documentary evidence because of Trump’s life-long allergy to saying anything in texts, emails, or in writing that could later get him in trouble.

This was part of the committee’s effort to show that throughout the months of November and December of 2020, right up until January 6 itself, Trump had known he was lying about the election having been stolen from him -- thus all his attempts to overturn the results of the election were nothing but a naked grab at power. He knew he lost, but he wanted to remain as president anyway. But as before, the committee lacked a so-called smoking gun proving it.

They’ve got one now, however. It turns out there is a document proving that Trump knew he lost the election.

It is in the form of a memo Trump signed on November 11, just eight days after the election, ordering the withdrawal of all American forces from Afghanistan and Somalia by January 15, six days before Joe Biden would take the oath as the next president of the United States.

Axios reported last year that two Trump loyalists who had nothing to do with the Department of Defense and were nowhere near being in the military chain of command drafted the memo: John McEntee, Trump’s so-called “body man;” and Douglas Macgregor, a retired lieutenant colonel once described by Washington Post columnist Max Boot as "a racist crackpot who is pro-Russia, anti-Merkel, anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican." Macgregor was nominated by Trump to be ambassador to Germany in July, 2020, but the outrage was so loud, the nomination was quickly withdrawn.

Back to the memo: Trump had promised as long ago as the primary campaign in 2016 that he would end the war in Afghanistan and withdraw all our troops engaged in conflicts overseas. He had been steadily dissuaded from doing so throughout his presidency, but not this time. Trump had been claiming he was the winner since the night of the election on November 3 and would continue his utterly unsupported claim that he had won by a landslide for the next two months.

But on November 11, 2020, exactly four days after the networks called the election for Joe Biden, obviously realizing that he had lost, Trump threw a temper tantrum and called on two untested aides to draw up his order ending our military engagements in Somalia and Afghanistan. McEntee and Macgregor were so unfamiliar with such orders, they had to consult the National Security Council to get the wording right. “Memorandum for the Acting Secretary of Defense: Withdrawal from Somalia and Afghanistan,” the memo began. “I hereby direct you to withdraw all US forces from the Federal Republic of Somalia no later than 31 December 2020 and from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan no later than 15 January 2021. Inform all allied and partner forces of the directives. Please confirm receipt of this order.”

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who uncovered the existence of the memo while researching their book Peril, reported that when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and the newly appointed acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller saw the memo, Milley blew a gasket. “This is really fucked up and I’m going to see the President. I’m heading over. You guys can come or not,” Peril quotes Milley as telling Miller and Kash Patel, who had just been appointed chief of staff to the defense secretary. The two joined Milley at the White House, where they confronted National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and showed him the president’s order. “How did this happen?” Milley asked O’Brien, according to Peril. “Was there any process here at all? How does a president do this?”

“I have no idea,” O’Brien replied.

After Milley and Miller expressed more outrage and even discussed whether the order could be a forgery, O’Brien took the memo to the Oval Office and told Trump he had to involve “the principals” and speak to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense, at which point, Trump withdrew the order.

The committee today played testimony by Milley calling the order “odd…it is nonstandard. It is potentially dangerous. I personally thought it was militarily not feasible nor wise.” The former national security adviser to Vice President Pence, General Keith Kellogg, told the committee the memo was “catastrophic…a debacle,” referring to the consequences of Trump’s order if it had been carried out.

About 8,000 U.S. troops were still serving in a combat capacity in Afghanistan, and about 1,000 were engaged in sporadic contact with rebel forces in Somalia at the time Trump “wrote” his memo ordering all U.S. forces out of both countries. We shouldn’t be surprised that Trump would risk the lives of American soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women by ordering them to abruptly quit their stations overseas in service of his own dreams of glory, and it may be true as many military experts have observed that there is no good way to end a war you have failed to win, but still…

Woodward and Costa reproduced the memo in their book, Peril, so we know Trump’s order to pull completely out of Afghanistan and Somalia exists on paper. It’s real. It happened. At the hearing today, they even showed a witness they asked if Trump had really signed it, or had it been signed by an auto-pen. The witness had been in the Oval Office and watched Trump sign it himself.

Trump had told aides he wanted to go down in history as the president who ended the war in Afghanistan and got us out of overseas conflicts. On November 11, 2020, he knew he had a little over two months left as president, so he stomped his feet and he waved his hands and he called into the Oval Office a couple of nincompoop amateurs who had never seen a memo to the secretary of defense in their lives, and he did it. He ordered the withdrawal from Afghanistan Joe Biden would later accomplish – and for which he would be excoriated by Trump and the entire Republican Party to this day.

Although the 1/6 Committee didn’t show the memo today at its final hearing, it’s right there in black and white, all the evidence we need that Trump knew he had lost the election as early as November 11, 2020, when he threw his tantrum and signed his order.

Then he proceeded with his lies about the election, the most recent of which he bellowed at an adoring crowd of MAGA loons in Nevada four days ago. Now we can wait to see if Trump will agree to testify before the committee, where he would be under oath and doubtlessly be asked about his legion of lies, that an election was stolen from him he knew he had lost almost two years ago.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

Russian War Crimes 'Cannot Be Hidden,' Says Milley At NATO Meeting

Russian War Crimes 'Cannot Be Hidden,' Says Milley At NATO Meeting

By Phil Stewart

TALLINN (Reuters) -The top U.S. general on Friday said war crimes in Ukraine cannot be hidden, as Kyiv leveled fresh accusations against Russia following the discovery of a mass burial site in northeastern territory recaptured from Russian forces.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he would reserve judgment as media reports emerged indicating that at the site in Izium, some bodies were found with hands tied behind their backs.

"In terms of the totality of the scale (of potential war crimes), I don't know. But I would tell you that the world will discover that. War crimes cannot be hidden, especially things like mass graves," Milley told reporters traveling with him after arriving in Estonia for a NATO gathering.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Reuters in an interview that the mass burial site in Izium was proof of Russian war crimes and evidence was being collected.

"There is some evidence, and assessments are being conducted, Ukrainian and international, and this is very important for us, for the world to recognize this," he said.

Moscow has not commented on the mass burial site in Izium, which was a Russian frontline stronghold before Ukraine's counter-offensive forced its forces to flee.

The head of the pro-Russian administration which abandoned the area last week dismissed the accounts and accused Ukrainians of stage-managing atrocities.

Milley's visit to Estonia followed a trip to Israel, where, earlier in the day he visited Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial to the six million European Jews murdered in World War Two.

Milley said he was not comparing the Holocaust, in all of its enormity, to events unfolding in Ukraine.

"But having said that, war crimes, if the evidence is there, then that's necessary to discover. And it's just a poignant reminder to us, because all of us were on a trip to Israel that I don't forget -- and no one should," he said.

Kyiv's biggest European supporters, such as Baltic states like Estonia which have long called for more military aid for Ukraine, say Ukraine's battlefield successes in its counter-offensive have demonstrated the case for more support.

But the mass burial site has also raised questioned about what other discoveries may await Ukrainian troops, who hope to seize more Russian-held Ukrainian territory.

Milley lauded Ukraine's military for seizing the "strategic initiative" from Russia -- terminology suggesting that Ukraine had momentum in a war now well into its seventh month.

But Milley was cautious about making predictions. Asked whether Ukraine would be able to retake all its territory, Milley said: "The offensives are in the early stages. We're only looking at probably about two weeks so far."

"And it remains to be seen how far the Ukrainians can press this fight. So I think we'll have to wait and see how the fighting develops," he said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Mark Porter and David Gregorio)

When Melodrama Drives News Coverage, The Truth Is Obscured

When Melodrama Drives News Coverage, The Truth Is Obscured

This just in: Breaking News!

If you haven't noticed, the news business thrives on melodrama: It's hardly original to observe that cable TV programming in particular runs on Showbiz values.

Two cases in point:

Some on the left have been complaining about outsized attention given the Gabby Petito murder. Why all the hubbub over a missing blonde? Media moralists demand to know. What about the many Native American women gone missing in Wyoming?

As it happens, a Governor's Taskforce on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons determined that such cases do get disproportionately less coverage in Wyoming media. But it's nothing to do with poor Gabby, whose body was found there in a National Forest campground, as virtually every media outlet in the USA has reported.

But why? Simple: Petito and the fugitive creep who seemingly killed her were already minor celebrities. They'd been posting videos of their cross-country camping trip on YouTube and Instagram. So there was plenty of video footage. Utah police who interviewed the couple after a roadside altercation provided even more.

The footage was riveting. Sad to say, the cameras loved her. Gabby Petito exuded a winsome vulnerability that people responded to. The boyfriend projected a kind of TV movie-of-the-week menace: weak and controlling, the kind of guy who hits women.

Second, her anguished family lives in New York, his in Florida, both major media markets. After he returned home without her and then vanished, a sorrowful drama was set in motion. Viewers responded emotionally, and the story acquired a momentum of its own. It's still not over.

But it's when the conventions of melodrama drive national political stories that the real trouble starts. Often enough, they too turn upon dramatic video. Consider the vexing question of "Who lost Afghanistan?" evoked by deadly chaos at the airport in Kabul—a responsibility shared by four U.S. presidents and every general who testified before Congress last week.

Footage of desperate Afghans hiding in the wheel wells of what they feared would be the last plane out, and then plunging to their deaths has dominated coverage for weeks. Millions of Americans incapable of finding Afghanistan on a world map were shocked.

As the debacle took place on Joe Biden's watch, there's no denying his responsibility. But his responsibility for what? A tougher question, all but impossible to reduce to a 15-second news clip.

Too often, creative editing comes to the rescue. Everywhere you looked last week, troubled anchors were nattering about whether Biden lied about his conversations with Pentagon advisers regarding leaving Afghanistan.

One CNN panel led by Ana Cabrera concluded that he'd denied that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised him to keep 2500 U.S. troops there, and that was a lie.

The alleged falsehood was documented by a brief video clip from an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos:

"So no one told—your military advisers did not tell you, 'No, we should just keep 2500 troops. It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that'?"

"No" Biden said. "No one said that to me that I can recall."

The same truncated quote appeared many times on CNN and was employed by the New Yorker's Robin Wright to make the same point. Biden's words were in "stark contrast" to Pentagon officials' sworn testimony.

So would it shock you that the interview transcript shows that moments earlier, Biden said his advisers had been "split" about keeping solders in Kabul? In context, the president was clearly responding to the second part of the question, about keeping the country stable with 2500 troops.

Indeed, he continued directly to say "Look, George, the reason why it's been stable for a year is because the last president said, 'We're leaving.'"

And that's just a fact. In the 2020 Doha agreement, Trump promised to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan on May 1, 2021 if the Taliban would quit attacking Americans, which they did.

It also appears that none of Biden's Pentagon advisors thought Afghanistan could be pacified with so small a force. If the U.S. failed to withdraw, Gen. Milley testified, the Taliban would have restarted the fighting, "we would have needed 30,000 troops" and would have suffered "many casualties."

And that's precisely the outcome Biden told Stephanopoulos he was determined to avoid: endless war. Something Pentagon brass, in his experience, are all too fond of.

"I was present when that discussion occurred and I am confident that the President heard all the recommendations and listened to them very thoughtfully," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of Central Command, testified. "That's all any commander can ask."

"The idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing," Biden also told Stephanopoulos, "I don't know how that happens."

Judging by their testimony, neither did anybody else.