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Inside Trump’s Decision To Leave The World Health Organization

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Right before President Donald Trump unveiled punitive measures against China on May 29, he inserted a surprise into his prepared text.

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization," he announced during a press conference in the Rose Garden.

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Trump Threatens Bolton With 'Criminal Problems’ Over Book

Donald Trump has threatened his former national security adviser, John Bolton, with a vague "criminal problem" if the former national security adviser proceeds to publish a memoir that describes the president's foreign policy as perilous, self-serving, and possibly unlawful.

While Trump pointed to Attorney General William Barr as the source of any potential charges against Bolton, he strongly suggested that his estranged adviser will encounter imminent legal problems. "We'll see what happens. They're in court — or they'll soon be in court," Trump said about the book, set to be released early next week.

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Republicans Silent After Trump Fires Decorated Army Officer For Testifying

Republicans have been mostly silent since Donald Trump unceremoniously fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army officer and National Security Council staffer, and his twin brother on Friday afternoon.

Vindman was escorted from the White House Friday afternoon, a move largely seen as retaliation for Vindman’s congressional testimony during the House impeachment investigation. Vindman testified in November 2019 that he was troubled by Trump asking the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and relayed his concerns to NSC lawyers.

Vindman received the Purple Heart after he was injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in 2004. Until Friday, he served as one of the NSC’s top Ukraine experts.

Not a single Republican member of Congress has defended Vindman publicly since his dismissal.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment claiming Trump had learned his lesson, said Friday that she was opposed “any kind of retribution” against administration officials who provided evidence in the impeachment investigation, but did not defend Vindman by name.

Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded immediately to requests for comment on the matter.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, also did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

At least three GOP members have defended Trump’s retaliatory actions.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted that Trump “has a right to have people he trusts on his staff.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) attacked Vindman as “a leaker, not a whistlblower,” adding that Trump “made the right decision to remove Vindman” from the White House.

There is no evidence Vindman leaked any information.

On Monday morning, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) shared a video on Facebook attacking Vindman as having “poor judgment.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a member 

of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, repeatedly attacked the integrity of Vindman before the White House fired him, falsely accusing Vindman of badmouthing the United States in front of Russian officials.

After Vindman was escorted from the White House last week, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, suggested on social media that Vindman was dismissed in retaliation for testifying. The younger Trump thanked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who led the impeachment investigations, for “unearthing who all needed to be fired.”

When Vindman, who fled the former Soviet Union with his family as a child over religious persecution, testified before Congress in November 2019, he noted that “in Russia, my act of expressing my concerns to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions.”

He thanked his father, reassuring him that he had made the right decision to immigrate to the united States.

“Dad, my sitting here today, in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision forty years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” Vindman said. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Friday.

Sondland, like Vindman, gave testimony to before Congress during the House impeachment investigation, stating absolutely that Trump had a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine, and that Trump had conditioned a coveted White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the leader’s willingness to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said. “… With regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

The New York Times reported last week that several Republican senators privately urged Trump not to fire Sondland, because he was a major Republican donor.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fake Science: White House Will Name Panel To Dispute Climate Consensus

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The White House intends to create a new panel of scientists with the intention of attacking the scientific consensus, both within and outside the federal government, that climate change poses a clear and severe threat to the world, a new report from The Washington Post revealed Sunday.

According to the report, officials in the National Security Council want to arrange the group so that it would be outside the normal scrutiny such advisory panels typically require.  When formal advisory committees are usually set up, they are subject to stringent regulations that require public meetings, accommodation of records requests, and membership standards.

Apparently, the White House doesn’t want the public to have clear insight into a committee designed to spread propaganda and disinformation about clearly established science.

The report said that President Donald Trump was unhappy with the fact that the law requires it to the publication of the National Climate Assessment. This review, compiled and rigorously reviewed by career scientists across the administration, stressed the serious threat posed to the United States and abroad by climate change and CO2 emissions. Since this contradicts GOP orthodoxy and conflicts with its anti-regulation agenda and the interests of corporate donors, Trump and his party are eager to combat these findings.

The Post noted that even within the military — the branch of government that Republicans most revere — the science of climate change has long been accepted as fact, even under GOP administrations.

“In 2003, the Pentagon commissioned a report to examine how an abrupt change in climate would affect America’s defense capabilities: Its authors concluded that it ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern,’” the Post said.

IMAGE: A NASA satellite image showing the Tropical Storm Colin over Florida and the U.S. east coast.