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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: vladimir putin

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Tucker Carlson’s NSA Tall Tale Just Gets…Dumber

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Spinning his way through an incoherent, headline-grabbing allegation that the U.S. intelligence community has been "spying" on him and releasing his emails to journalists in an effort to get his show cancelled, Tucker Carlson detailed this week how "the Biden administration" had big plans to take him down.

Conceding that he's been in contact with US-based Kremlin intermediaries while trying to secure an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Carlson on Wednesday claimed the National Security Agency found out about that, captured his emails, and planned to leak them to journalists, "which they did." But why would anybody care that Carlson was trying to secure a Putin interview? In Carlson's telling, the government was going to try, "to paint me as a disloyal American," a Russian operative, "a stooge of the Kremlin, a traitor," for seeking the interview.

Carlson presented this as the central plank of the Biden administration's evil plan to undercut this career — to show the world that he was trying to land a Putin interview, which would be portrayed as being incredibly damaging.

Right, except in 2018 Carlson's colleague Chris Wallace landed a Putin interview and nobody thought it was scandalous. In fact, the network earned a rare Emmy nomination for the Q&A. That same year, Carlson's former colleague Megyn Kelly also scored a Putin interview, and again it was no big deal. Nobody accused her of a being a "disloyal American."

Ever since he made his entirely unsupported claim that the NSA targeted him specifically and has directly leaked his emails to reporters, Carlson has been trying to prop up the rickety tale, while soaking up the news attention. I doubt Carlson has any idea where he's taking this illogical story that still lacks any evidentiary support. He's just happy with the public notice, even if most staffers at his own network refuse to touch the soggy story.

Nothing about this caper makes sense, which is fitting since Carlson is a congenital liar. He refuses to provide any evidence that the emails were leaked, or name the so-called "journalists" who received the communications directly from the NSA. He claims to know which journalists have his emails (one of them called him to discuss it!), but he won't come forward with that information. And neither will the journalists themselves. Carlson suggests reporters across the Beltway were given his emails directly from the NSA, yet as this controversy spreads, every single one of those reporters is remaining silent for no apparent reason.

What are the odds?

Meanwhile, Carlson plays the martyrdom card to the hilt, portraying himself as a crusading journalist: "I think more ominously they are using information they gather to put leverage, to threaten opposition journalists, people who criticize the Biden administration. It's happening to me right now, and I think it's shocking. I don't think we should put up with it in a free country."

People who criticize the Biden administration are being threatened. Except none of them are. Carlson works for a network that frantically condemns every sentence President Joe Biden utters, which means the administration must be monitoring hundreds of Fox employees, right? But for some reason, the only person on the Fox News payroll being spied on is Tucker?

And if Biden had declared war on conservative journalists, why isn't Fox News championing Carlson's claims? To date, the network has been extraordinarily quiet regarding the dopey saga, choosing largely to ignore it. "Fox is right to tread carefully because its biggest star is a huge liar and has historically proven particularly dishonest in describing his own supposed persecution," noted Media Matters.

Here's the Keystone Kops chronology of events. In the spring, the Fox host turned to intermediaries to open lines of communication with the Kremlin regarding an interview request, which is a very strange thing to do. I guarantee you when Wallace and Kelly scored their Putin Q&A's they didn't do it by emailing shady figures in Putin's orbit. We can assume they did it by following traditional channels of communication via the State Department. Not surprisingly, Carlson likely ended up communicating with foreign agents close to Putin whom the NSA was monitoring. They probably knew they were being monitored, but never told Carlson his communications were being incidentally collected.

As for the dastardly leak? There's still no proof it happened, other than Carlson's untrustworthy word. He could easily provide evidence but he won't. And specifically, he won't provide proof that the emails were leaked to journalists directly by the NSA. That's key because it's possible Carlson's email pals — Putin's cronies — decided to share the contents of the emails with others inside the Beltway.

Note that when Carlson's producer this week filed a Freedom of Information request, he demanded "any call records, texts, or emails the NSA has obtained from journalist Tucker Carlson's cell phone or email," going back to January of 2019. But if Carlson only reached out to Kremlin intermediaries "this spring," and only for the purposes of trying to set up a Putin interview as the host claims, why is he looking for communications that may have been collected two years ago?

Or is there more to Carlson's Kremlin conversations than he's telling?

McCarthy Calls Biden ‘Soft On Russia,’ Then Deletes Tweet

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blamed President Joe Biden for recent ransomware attacks originating in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union against businesses and organizations around the world, accusing the Biden administration of being "soft on Russia."

McCarthy's comment, in a tweet that was then deleted but was captured by ProPublica's Politwoops site, comes after years of accepting former President Donald Trump's cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The Biden admin has been soft on Russia since Day 1," McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted. "The President never should have signaled to Putin that hacking against America is acceptable under ANY circumstance." He deleted the tweet 20 minutes later, without explanation.

Following the June 17 summit meeting between Biden and Putin, McCarthy said in a statement, "President Biden should have used today's summit to stand up for our national interests and send a message to the world that the United States will hold Russia accountable for its long list of transgressions. Unfortunately, President Biden gave Vladimir Putin a pass."

By contrast, McCarthy never publicly criticized Trump's support and open admiration for Putin. While the Washington Post reported in 2017 that the GOP leader had told colleagues privately the previous year, "There's two people I think Putin pays: [then-Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump," he later claimed, "It's a bad attempt at a joke; that's all there is to it. No one believes it to be true from any stretch of fact."

In response to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian, McCarthy dismissed the allegations with the repeated phrase "nothing there."

Two other members of his caucus also defended Trump's handling of Putin but are now criticizing Biden's.

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona cheered Trump's 2018 summit with Putin as "a good first step toward normal, diplomatic relations" in a USA Today op-ed.

"Joe Biden talks a tough game on Russia only to sit back as they hurl cyber-attacks at us," he tweeted on Tuesday. "Putin is eating our lunch."

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin excused Trump's public defense of Putin at the 2018 summit, instead scolding journalists for being "extremely unprofessional" by asking Trump if he believed Putin's denials of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. "The intent of it wasn't fact-finding, it was a 'gotcha' question — and not one that should ever have been asked in that setting," Mullin tweeted.

On Wednesday, he tweeted that a ransomware attack against the software company Kaseya was "a direct result of President Biden failing to hold Russia accountable."

This is not the first time pro-Trump lawmakers have tried to frame Biden as weak on Russia.

In May, after Biden approved a request from the German government to waive sanctions against a business building an oil pipeline between Russia and Germany, House Republicans suggested he must be "a Russian asset" or that Putin must "have" something on him.

The recent Republican criticisms come after a growing number of cyberattacks have been launched, seemingly by Russians hackers, against businesses across the globe. A similar attack on an oil and gas pipeline in May slowed fossil fuel deliveries along the East Coast for several days.

In June, Biden expressly told Putin to stop the hacking.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned, "If the Russian government cannot or will not take action against criminal actors residing in Russia, we will take action or reserve the right to take action on our own."

Biden's public criticism of the Russian regime has been a sharp shift from his predecessor's approach.

Trump repeatedly said that getting along with Russia would be a "good" thing.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump openly sought help from Putin with opposition research against Hillary Clinton. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," he said at a July press conference.

Weeks earlier, high-ranking Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., had met with Russia officials who offered dirt on Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

After Russia's efforts to help Trump win came to light, he repeatedly defended Putin, falsely saying that Putin did not meddle on his behalf and dismissing the unanimous findings of his own intelligence agencies.

In a February 2017 Fox News appearance, Trump was asked why he respected a known "killer" like Putin. Trump responded, "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Far Right Republicans Wrote Putin’s Talking Points

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Far-right apologists for the January 6 insurrectionists, from Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to Fox News' Tucker Carlson, have seriously downplayed the violence that occurred that day at the U.S. Capitol. Johnson has defended the rioters as "people that love this country" and said there was "no violence" during that attack; Clyde has compared the January 6 attack to a "normal tourist visit," while Carlson has defended the insurrectionists as "sad, disenfranchised people." But conservative columnist Charlie Sykes sees nothing innocent or harmless about the January 6 insurrection, and he emphasizes that Republican apologists for the rioters have given Russian President Vladimir Putin an anti-U.S. talking point.

In his latest column for The Bulwark, the Never Trump conservative writes, "Our current sludge of disinformation, bilge and crackpottery is thoroughly domestic, amplified by a million voices on social media, national networks, and until recently, the White House itself. And now, it has come full circle as Russian President Vladimir Putin feeds back our homegrown disinformation. [The Washington Post's] Dana Milbank notes the symmetry: 'For the past few years, Republicans in Congress have echoed Russian propaganda. On Wednesday, in Geneva, Vladimir Putin returned the favor: He echoed Republican propaganda.'"

Putin's allies in the Kremlin, Sykes laments, "have adopted the talking points of" American "right-wing media about January 6." On June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, Sykes notes, Putin pointed out that the January 6 rioters are facing "very harsh sentences."

"Putin took the opportunity to emphasize the point," Sykes writes. "Asked about his repression of political dissent, Putin put on a bravura performance of whataboutism."

In Geneva, Putin brought up Ashli Babbitt, a Capitol rioter fatally shot on January 6 — and Sykes writes that comparing the shooting of Babbitt to human rights abuses in Russia is ludicrous.

"Afterward, President Biden called the comparison 'ridiculous,' as indeed it was," Sykes observes. "But the whole episode showed how our political world has devolved in just a few years."

In Geneva, Biden Smacks Down Two US Reporters Making False Claims About Him

President Joe Biden sternly corrected two reporters who mischaracterized his words and relationships during his Geneva press conference recapping his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, continuing to push his China coronavirus "lab leak" theory, even in Geneva Wednesday afternoon, echoed far-right-wing talking points that Biden is somehow owned by or financially controlled by China, calling President Xi Biden's "old friend."

Biden refused to allow him to get away with it, snapping back, "Let's get something straight: We've known each other a long time, but we're not old friends."

Moments later, CNN's Kaitlan Collins, a former reporter for Tucker Carlson's far right wing propaganda outlet The Daily Caller, asked Biden, "Why are you so confident" that Putin "will change his behavior?"

Biden, who never said that, let it rip.

"I'm not confident he'll change his behavior. Where in the hell? What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident?"

"Let's get it straight," he urged.

True to form, Biden minutes later came out and apologized for being "such a wiseguy."

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.