Trump Pledges To Designate Antifa A ‘Terrorist Organization’ In A Distraction From His Failures

As overlapping crises convulse an anxious nation, President Trump on Sunday sought to cast blame for widespread protests gripping cities on “radical-left anarchists,” while adding that the media “is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy.”

The president has said that members of the loosely defined far-left group Antifa — short for “anti-fascists” — have led clashes with police and looting in cities across the U.S. since the killing of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.

It’s unclear if any group or groups are primarily responsible for escalating protests that began following George Floyd’s death on May 25 as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.

In one tweet on Sunday, Trump said the U.S. “will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” It’s something he has previously floated, and last year two Republican senators introduced a resolution that sought to designate the group as a domestic terrorist organization.

Following Trump’s tweet, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that “[f]ederal law enforcement actions will be directed at apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest.”

Barr added: “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

The clashes, spreading to dozens of cities across the U.S., follow a series of racist incidents and deaths of black people, including Floyd’s on Monday.

Chauvin, now a former Minneapolis police officer, was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck while holding him in custody as Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers present at the scene have been fired but not arrested or charged.Article continues after sponsor message

Protests and clashes that have since followed come at a time of unprecedented crisis for the country, with confirmed deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topping 100,000 and millions of people out of work as a result of broad business shutdowns. Minorities, including African Americans, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 deaths and pandemic-induced economic peril.

Trump addressed the demonstrations Saturday,striking a milder tone than he has on Twitter during prepared remarks following a space launch in Florida. He said Floyd’s death “has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger and grief.” He added that he “understands the pain that people are feeling” and supports peaceful protest, but that “the memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists.”

“He should just sometimes stop talking”

Apart from Saturday’s remarks, though, Trump has not often played a unifying role in recent days. His tweets about radical-left anarchists have also included criticism of Democratic leadership in Minnesota. In another tweet on Sunday, he blamed the mainstream media for fomenting “hatred and anarchy.”

On Friday, Trump tweeted provocatively that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase with a racist history that Trump said he was not aware of. Later on, he said his intent was not to make a threat but to register a statement of concern that armed violence can accompany looting.

Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said on Fox News Sunday that the president’s tweets about demonstrations turning violent are “not constructive.”

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Sunday morning that she’s not paying attention to Trump’s inflammatory tweets. Instead, she said he “should be a unifying force in our country. We have seen that with Democratic and Republican presidents all along. They have seen their responsibility to be the president of the United States, to unify our country and not to fuel the flame.”

Also Sunday, Keisha Lance Bottoms — mayor of Atlanta, one city that has seen protests and clashes with police — told CBS’ Face the Nation that Trump’s tweets are “making it worse” and “he should just sometimes stop talking.”

In his own statement on Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, wrote that “Protesting [Floyd’s killing] is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not.” He added that as president, he’d lead the conversation about turning the nation’s “anguish to purpose.”

Biden made an unannounced visit on Sunday to the site in Wilmington, Del., where protests had taken place the night before.

[NPR]

Trump says the U.S. will cut ties with World Health Organization

President Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States will cut ties with the World Health Organization.

“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,” Trump said during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

“The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China?” he added. “It didn’t go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States.”

Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO’s response to the coronavirus, which has hit the U.S. worse than any other country, amid scrutiny of his own administration’s response to the pandemic. He has claimed the WHO is “China-centric” and blames the agency for advising against China travel bans early in the outbreak. 

“Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China saving untold numbers of lives,” Trump said April 14. 

The agency has defended its initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying it gave world leaders enough time to intervene early in the outbreak.

The agency declared Covid-19 a global health emergency on Jan. 30 when there were only 82 cases outside of China and zero deaths, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference on May 1. “Meaning, the world had enough time to intervene.”

The WHO has also defended China, saying as far back as February that the country’s response to the virus was an improvement from past outbreaks such as SARS.

Earlier this month, Trump threatened to permanently cut off U.S. funding of the WHO. In a letter, he said that if the WHO “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”

On Friday, Trump said the WHO “failed to make the requested greatly needed reform” and the U.S. “will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

The WHO’s funding runs in two-year budget cycles. For the 2018 and 2019 funding cycle, the U.S. paid a $237 million required assessment as well as $656 million in voluntary contributions, averaging $446 million a year and representing about 14.67% of its total budget, according to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. 

It’s unclear exactly what mechanism Trump intends to use to terminate WHO funding, much of which is appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor and faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, said in a tweet Friday that Trump’s move is “unlawful” because pulling funding requires Congress, which has already authorized funding.

It’s also “dangerous” because “we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.

On May 20, WHO officials said they worried the agency’s emergency programs would suffer if the president permanently pulled U.S. funding from the international agency.

Most funding from the United States goes directly out to the program that helps countries in “all sorts of fragile and difficult settings,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said at the time. 

“We’ll obviously have to work with other partners to ensure those funds can still flow,” Ryan said. “This is going to be a major implication for delivering essential health services to some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we trust developed donors will, if necessary, step in to fill that gap.”

The WHO started sounding the alarm on the outbreak in China in mid-January. On March 11, WHO officials declared the outbreak a pandemic, when there were just 121,000 global cases. The virus has now infected more than 5.8 million people worldwide, including more than 1.73 million in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

[NBC News]

Trump halts US funding for World Health Organization as it conducts coronavirus review

The U.S. will suspend funding to the World Health Organization while it reviews the agency’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday, saying the international health agency made mistakes that “caused so much death” as the coronavirus spread across the globe.

“Today I’m instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” Trump said at a White House press conference.

Trump criticized the international agency’s response to the outbreak, saying “one of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations” that Trump imposed early on in the outbreak.

“Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from China saving untold numbers of lives,” he said.

It’s unclear exactly what mechanism Trump intends to use to withhold WHO funding, much of which is appropriated by Congress. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

One option might be for Trump to use powers granted to the president under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Under this statute, the president may propose to withhold congressional funds, but it requires congressional approval within 45 days. Absent this approval, the funds must be returned to their original, congressionally mandated purpose after 45 days.

When asked by reporters why the administration is choosing now to withhold funds, Trump said the U.S. has had problems with WHO “for years” and the nation should have done this “a long time ago.”

He said the administration will conduct a “thorough” investigation that should last 60 to 90 days.

Trump said it wasn’t about the money, “but it’s not right. So we’ll see,” he said. “This is an evaluation period, but in the meantime, we’re putting a hold on all funds going to World Health. We’ll be able to take that money and channel it to the areas that most need it.” 

The WHO didn’t immediately return CNBC’s request for comment. But in a statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that now is not the time to reduce resources in the fight against Covid-19.

He said there will come a time after the epidemic is over, to look back and understand how the disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly, “but now is not that time.”

“It is also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus,” Guterres said.

The coronavirus, which emerged in Wuhan, China over three months ago, has infected more than 1.9 million people worldwide and killed at least 125,678 as of Tuesday night, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Trump had first threatened last week to withhold funds from WHO, saying it pushed back on his travel ban from China early in the Covid-19 outbreak. He claimed Tuesday that WHO “pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it wasn’t communicable and there was no need for travel bans.”

“The WHO willingly took China’s assurances at face value, and they willingly took it at face value and defended the actions of the Chinese government even while praising China for its so-called transparency,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

WHO started sounding the alarm on the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, in mid-January, designating the now Covid-19 pandemic as a global health emergency on Jan. 30 when there were just 8,200 cases in 18 countries across the world.

The WHO’s global emergency declaration on Jan. 30 was nearly a month before Trump tweeted that “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA” and six weeks before he declared a national emergency on March 13.

Two days earlier, on March 11, WHO officials declared the outbreak a pandemic, when there were just 121,000 global cases. 

In response to Trump’s attacks last week, WHO’s top official urged leaders against politicizing the outbreak “if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”

“At the end of the day, the people belong to all political parties. The focus of all political parties should be to save their people, please do not politicize this virus,”  Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a fiery address on April 8. He called for unity across the globe, saying the virus will exploit cracks in political parties, religious groups or between different nations to spread even more widely. “If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” he said.

[CNBC]


Trump accuses governors of ‘mutiny’ as tensions mount over reopening

President Donald Trump compared strain between himself and a group of governors to the film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” as tensions mounted over when and how to reopen economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch,” Trump said in a tweet. “Especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain,” he added.

Trump addressed his comments to the “Democrat Governors,” after a group of six eastern states on Monday said they would jointly develop a plan to reopen the region’s economies and schools. After the announcement, Massachusetts, which is led by a Republican, joined the effort.

The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced similar plans. Those states are led by Democrats.

Monday, Trump asserted he had authority to open states, a claim that drew fire from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, among others.

[MarketWatch]

Trump declares himself the ‘chief law-enforcement officer of the United States’

President Donald Trump falsely designated himself the “chief law-enforcement officer of the United States” while speaking with reporters on Tuesday.

Attorney General William Barr is the chief law-enforcement officer of the US.

The president also acknowledged that he makes Barr’s job more difficult, referring to Barr’s remark last week that Trump’s tweets make it “impossible” for him to do his job.

“I do make his job harder,” Trump told reporters. “I do agree with that.” He added that he has “total confidence” in the attorney general.

Barr made waves last week when he told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the president’s tweeting put him in a tough spot.

“I’m going to do what I think is right,” Barr said. “And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr said, adding that they “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

Most recently, Barr and senior leadership overrode the sentencing recommendation that career prosecutors handling the federal case against Trump’s associate Roger Stone made to a court last week. The announcement came after Trump tweeted that the initial sentencing recommendation was “horrible” and “unfair” to Stone.

The next day, Trump congratulated Barr for deciding to overrule the prosecutors, all of whom withdrew from the case or resigned altogether after senior DOJ leadership rebuked their recommendation.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” the president tweeted.

But Barr told ABC News that he had already decided to ask for a lesser sentence in Stone’s case before Trump tweeted.

The attorney general also said his main responsibility was to make sure the DOJ is free from political interference.

“And I have done that, and I will continue to do that,” Barr said.

Barr’s comments raised questions and prompted immediate skepticism, especially given that he has repeatedly capitulated to the president’s public demands since taking over as attorney general.

In addition to Stone, senior DOJ officials also intervened in the government’s case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn at Barr’s direction. And the attorney general recently appointed an outside prosecutor to review the charges against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI after his lawyer repeatedly pressured Barr to overturn the case, claiming it was a “miscarriage of justice.”

Barr also announced that the DOJ was setting up an “intake process” to vet the information that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani collects from Ukraine against former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s 2020 Democratic rivals.

The announcement was perplexing, given that Giuliani is under investigation by the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York over his efforts to get foreign dirt on Biden.

The DOJ said in a letter to Congress the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York was coordinating “several open matters” related to the Ukraine controversy and that the US attorney in Pittsburgh would vet new information from Ukraine that comes from the public, including Giuliani.

[Business Insider]

Trump Openly Claims Authority to Direct Attorney General To Investigate Anyone He Wants

President Donald Trump addressed the latest kerfuffle-cum-constitutional crisis in a Friday morning tweet following Attorney General Bill Barr’s apparent intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone.

Stone was found guilty of seven felony counts last November, including lying to Congress and witness tampering during the investigation into Russian intelligence and interference in the general election. As such, prosecutors recommended a seven to nine-year prison sentence, which Trump criticized vocally. Barr eventually intervened to recommend a lighter sentence, to which Trump tweeted his thanks.

In an interview with ABC News, Barr claimed that he would never be bullied by anyone (including the president) and criticized Trump’s tweets for creating a distraction. It is worth noting that, despite his claims otherwise, Barr appeared to do exactly what Trump had asked, eventually earning Trump’s praise. So that’s the context… still with me?

Ever one to jump on a news cycle, and get ahead of a story, Trump addressed this story obliquely, saying that he has the “legal right” to ask his attorney general to do anything in a criminal case.

“Trump just openly and explicitly stated that it’s perfectly within his authority to direct his Attorney General to open criminal investigations into anyone he wants,” offered Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent, in as a pure expression of what many will see as an open flouting of checks and balances in the U.S. government.

This is the very point made Thursday night on CNN by Jeffrey Toobin following a Washington Post report about this very concept. “The idea [James Comey] committed a crime is absurd. The person in a really perilous condition right now is the CNN contributor Andrew McCabe, who is under investigation from the U.S. Attorney’s office right now. And, you know, has had his case dangling out there. The president obviously wants Andy McCabe prosecuted and it’s just grotesque that you have the President of the United States behaving this way with the power of prosecution exercised in this way.”

The attorney general IS appointed by the president, then confirmed by Congress. And it’s not unusual for the top law enforcement official to work hand in glove with the sitting president. Many might read Trump’s tweet, however, as a rather foreboding omen of what may come to Trump’s political foes.

If he feels that someone has done him wrong, and he can direct the AG to serve as his own personal henchman (of which there is an abundance of evidence) then what is to keep him from seeking investigations into those he feels might threaten his reelection? Oh wait, he’s already done that.

[Mediaite]

Trump claims Pelosi ripping speech was ‘illegal’

President Trump claimed Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) committed a crime by ripping up a copy of his speech at the State of the Union on Tuesday evening, a claim that was immediately disputed as false by legal experts. “I thought it was a terrible thing,” Trump told reporters at the White House before departing for a speech in North Carolina. “It’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.” Trump asserted that Pelosi was barred from ripping up the speech because it is an official document, later calling it “very illegal.”

Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, disputed Trump’s claim, telling The Hill that a photocopy of a speech is not an official record.

“The federal law prohibiting the destruction of public records or government documents does not apply,” Kirschner said in a text message.

“No prosecutor with half an ounce of common sense would ever charge this case,” said Elie Honig, another legal analyst. “The law isn’t meant to criminalize destruction of copies of ceremonial documents.”

Trump on Friday also described Pelosi’s action as “very disrespectful to the chamber, to the country.”

Pelosi has said she tore up the speech in order to protest the “falsehoods” contained in the president’s State of the Union address and that she felt “very vindicated” by doing so.

The president’s remarks on Friday were his first public reaction to Pelosi’s ripping of his speech at the conclusion of his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

The president told reporters Friday that he didn’t know Pelosi ripped the copy of his speech until members of Congress remarked about it as he left the chamber.

White House aides have repeatedly criticized Pelosi for the move in recent days, though none have suggested her actions were illegal. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Wednesday that she believed Pelosi should be censured.

“I think it shows you how petty and peevish and partisan the Democratic Party has come,” Conway said on Fox News. “And for all the people out there who fancy themselves the armchair psychiatrist trying to analyze certain people, they ought to shift their craft over to Nancy Pelosi.”

Trump has regularly attacked Pelosi over his impeachment by House, but their relationship plummeted to a new low this week following the State of the Union and the president’s acquittal in the impeachment trial by the GOP-controlled Senate.

When Trump entered the House chamber before his remarks, Trump also appeared to snub Pelosi, not taking her hand as she reached out to shake his as is customary at the beginning of the president’s joint address to Congress.

During two separate appearances on Thursday — including one at the National Prayer Breakfast when the House Speaker was sitting just feet away — Trump took a shot at Pelosi for invoking religion during his impeachment.

“Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. And she wanted to impeach a long time ago,” Trump said during remarks from the East Room Thursday afternoon, disputing Pelosi’s claim that she prays for him. “She may pray, but she prays for the opposite. But I doubt she prays at all.”

[The Hill]

Reality

The assertion is rich given Trump’s well-documented penchant for ripping papers into tiny pieces after he’s done reading them. Politico reported in 2018 that White House aides could not convince the President to break his paper-ripping habit, so it became the job of career staffers in the records management office to tape official documents he’s torn into bits back together.

This all came from a tweet from conservative bullshit artist Charlie Kirk.

According to a fact check from the Tampa Bay Times:

The statute in question deals with the “concealment, removal, or mutilation generally” of records and reports. It sets a penalty for anyone who “conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys” any government record “filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States.”

The statute also says that any person with “custody” of a government record cannot “willfully and unlawfully” conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate, falsify or destroy it.

“The point of the statute is to prevent people from destroying records in official repositories like the National Archives or in courts,” said Georgetown Law professor Victoria Nourse.

Pelosi is in the clear, experts said, because her copy of Trump’s speech wasn’t a government record.

Media

Trump demands Justice Roberts dismiss ‘phony’ impeachment that ‘should not even be allowed to proceed’

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that Justice John Roberts should declare that impeachment charges against him are unconstitutional.

In an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani first made the suggestion that Roberts could kick off the president’s impeachment trial by dismissing it.

“Great idea,” Trump wrote Sunday morning as he tweeted out video of Giuliani’s appearance. “This phony Impeachment Hoax should not even be allowed to proceed. Did NOTHING wrong. Just a partisan vote. Zero Republicans. Never happened before!”

[Raw Story]


Trump hits Senate for giving impeachment ‘credibility’ by holding trial

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that Republicans risked lending credibility to the impeachment inquiry brought by the House by holding a trial in the Senate.

The president said any proceedings in the Senate would be based on “no evidence,” and appeared to urge Senate Republicans to reject the idea of holding a trial at all.

“Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, “no pressure” Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!” Trump tweeted.

Trump spent much of Sunday tweeting about the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, which, he wrote in one message, “should not even be allowed to proceed.”

“Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?” he added in another tweet. “Read the Transcripts! A totally partisan Hoax, never happened before. House Republicans voted 195-0, with three Dems voting with the Republicans. Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have battled for weeks over the scope of the Senate impeachment trial, with Pelosi holding firm in her demands for McConnell to guarantee that witnesses will be called before she presents the Senate with the House-passed articles of impeachment.

Last week it was reported that McConnell had signed on to a measure that would allow the Senate to dismiss the House articles of impeachment without a trial.

[The Hill]

‘Maybe we will, maybe we won’t’: Trump doubles down on threat to take oil from Syria

Donald Trump has renewed his threats to forcibly steal oil from Syria, a move which experts say would amount to a war crime.

The president defended his decision to leave a small number of American troops in the war-torn nation after a general withdrawal in October by claiming they were only there to secure Syria’s oilfields.

“They say he left troops in Syria… do you know what I did? I took the oil,” he said during a Fox News interview.

“The only troops I have are taking the oil, they are protecting the oil.”

When the interviewer, Laura Ingraham, attempted to correct Mr Trump by insisting the soldiers were not there to take the oil but to guard the facilities, the president cut her off.

“I don’t know, maybe we should take it, but we have the oil. Right now, the United States has the oil. We have the oil.”

This is not the first time the erratic former business tycoon has publicly mused about stealing Syria’s oil reserves.

In October, shortly after his abrupt withdrawal of US forces and abandoning of their Kurdish allies in the region, Mr Trump said he wanted an American oil firm to fly in to tap Syria’s oil on behalf of the government.

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” he said.

However, such a move would likely constitute pillage and looting, actions which have long been designated as illegal under international law and the rules of war.

The Geneva Convention, which the US is a signatory to, explicitly prohibits the looting of property during conflict, defining it as a war crime.

“The president appears to believe that the US can sell the oil, based on his statements in the past about Iraqi oil and Libyan oil … thinking that we can loot countries,” Benjamin Friedman, policy director at think tank Defence Priorities and adjunct professor at the George Washington University, told The Independent last year.

“I am sure people in the White House have tried to explain to him that is not how it works.

“Taking the profits from the sale of Syrian oil for the US treasury would be illegal. That would probably qualify as pillaging under the law.”

Ironically, experts say Syria’s oil fields are not much of a prize anyway. Even before the country descended in a chaotic civil war, it only produced about 380,000 barrels of poor-quality oil a day.

In 2018, after its production was several hampered by the conflict, it produced about the same amount of oil as the state of Illinois.

Before he entered the White House, Mr Trump had said several times that the US should have “taken the oil” from the other Middle Eastern nations its armed forces had intervened in, including Iraq and Libya.

Some commentators have speculated that defence officials desperate to persuade the president to permit some US forces to remain in Syria as a counter-balance to Isis and the Assad regime were forced to appeal to his oil obsession to gain his approval.

[The Independent]

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