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Nikki Haley exits Trump administration with her reputation significantly enhanced

The clearest expression of her independence came in April over the question of whether the administration would impose new sanctions on Russia in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is effectively a client state of Moscow.

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Trump and Nikki Haley

Chicago, Oct 10 : Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN and the highest-ranking woman official in the Trump administration, is leaving with her reputation not only intact but even significantly enhanced.

As she prepares to leave at the end of 2018 after two years at the UN, the 46-year-old daughter of Indian American Sikh parents named Namrata, Haley is being widely seen as greatly skillful in negotiating the often incendiary and capricious administration under President Donald Trump.

With six years as the governor of South Carolina before her UN assignment, Haley is the first administration official who successfully carved out a reputation for independence even while not stepping on Trump’s toes.

If anything, she exits with Trump expressing sanguine fondness for her, calling her “very special to me”.

Even though Haley charted her own course as a UN diplomat in an administration run on presidential whims, she managed rather well in not attracting unvarnished attention of her boss.

The clearest expression of her independence came in April over the question of whether the administration would impose new sanctions on Russia in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is effectively a client state of Moscow.

In an interview with CBS News on April 15, Haley had said: “Russia sanctions will be coming down. (Treasury) Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he has not already, and they will be going directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to (Syrian leader Bashar al-) Assad and chemical weapons use.”

“So I think everyone is going to be feeling it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to us,” she had said.

The comments apparently put the White House and openly Russia-friendly Trump in a bind, prompting top White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow to say that Haley had “got ahead of the curve”, adding, “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Stung by the “momentary confusion” comment, Haley swatted right back in a memorable counter — “With all due respect, I don’t get confused” — in an interview with Fox News.

That strong but succinct rejoinder from Haley was her way of saying that while she may broadly support the President’s agenda she was not going to be a pushover.

Throughout her two years as the top US diplomat at the UN, Haley managed to strike a delicate balance between executing the Trump doctrine, such as it is, and maintaining her personal credibility with world diplomats.

She may not have intended it that way originally, but once in the job, she assiduously built up her foreign policy credentials for a future presidential run.

Of course, during a West Wing announcement of her departure in the presence of Trump on Tuesday, she pre-emptively said: “I don’t have anything set where I am going to go… And I will say this to all of you that are going to ask about 2020: No, I am not running for 2020.

“I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one.” While saying “this one” she pointed to Trump sitting to her left.

That was as definitive as it can get in politics and, as of now, there are no expectations that she might still run for president in 2020. Even if she chooses to run in 2024, Haley would be only 52. It is unlikely that she would fade out for the next five years.

She was expected to take a break after an intensive eight years of public service during which she has emerged as a star of the Republican Party at a time when Trump snuffs all the oxygen out.

She made it a point to praise Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner during the brief West Wing media interaction for their various engagements behind-the-scenes, perhaps making sure that she can ride some of the president’s base if she does indeed run in 2024.

(Mayank Chhaya can be contacted at [email protected])

America

Trump advises Fed not to consider interest rate hike

Trump has repeatedly blasted the gradual increase in interest rates pursued by the Fed, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, as a threat to US economic growth.

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Donald Trump

Washington, Dec 18 : US President Donald Trump advised the Federal Reserve (Fed) not to raise interest rates at its meeting this week, given the strength of the dollar and an almost absence of inflation.

“It is incredible that with a very strong dollar and virtually no inflation, the outside world blowing up around us, Paris is burning and China way down, the Fed is even considering yet another interest rate hike,” EFE news quoted Trump as saying in a tweet.

“Take the Victory!” he added.

The US President was attacking the US central bank the day before its last meeting on monetary policy of the year, after which it is expected to raise interest rates a quarter of a percent from its current range of between 2 and 2.25 percent.

Trump has repeatedly blasted the gradual increase in interest rates pursued by the Fed, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, as a threat to US economic growth.

The President’s criticism of the central bank goes against the traditional respect for the independence of monetary policy from the White House.

For his part, Powell, who was appointed by Trump, has avoided answering the President and has held that the good economic times the country is enjoying, with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, the lowest in almost half a century, and inflation close to the annual goal of 2 percent, recommend a progressive hike in interest rates.

The Fed will issue a monetary policy statement following its two-day meeting this Wednesday, Dec 19, and soon afterwards Powell will comment on the decision to a press conference.

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Bomb Threats Across United States – reports

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Law enforcement authorities around the United States were reponding to a wave of bomb threats, many of them sent by email NBC reported.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma City police told NBC News that individuals in and around that city have gotten 10 to 13 specific email bomb threats, with specific addresses.

Bronx Science said it evacuated its building at 11 a.m. after it received a bomb threat by phone. The school said students were “currently well supervised at neighboring schools.”

The New York police department confirmed it received a call about the threat and responded to the school. The department later tweeteed it was monitoring “multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city.”

Nearly a dozen threats were received at businesses throughout South Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. At least three others were reported in Orlando.

Massachusetts State Police are investigating after multiple bombs threats were allegedly mailed to “numerous businesses in the state.” Authorities said the MSP Fusion Center is tracking the activity.

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America

Trump accuses Comey of lying in testimony to Congress

Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets.

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James Comey

Washington, Dec 10 : US President Donald Trump has accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying during his testimony before a congressional committee last week, when the ex-official revealed that the investigation into presumed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was initially focused on four US citizens.

In two tweets, Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets, Efe reported on Sunday.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president added that during Comey’s appearance before the House Judiciary and Government Reform committees on Friday, the former FBI chief told lawmakers “on 245 occasions” that “he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) … All lies!”

Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump in May 2017, was ordered to appear before Congress behind closed doors on Friday to respond to questions from lawmakers investigating the actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice during the scandal involving former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

In July 2016, Comey closed the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of her private server to send a number of e-mails while she was serving in the Barack Obama administration, but a few days before the election he reopened the probe to review new messages, something that Democrats say could have influenced the result of the election, which Clinton lost to Trump in what most regarded as a stunning upset.

In his appearance before the House committees, Comey defended the decisions he made in 2016 and revealed that the FBI investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign initially was focused on four Americans, according to the transcript.

Comey did not identify those four people, but he said that Trump was not one of them.

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