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The Revd Billy Graham departed this mortal coil on February 21, 2018, aged 99.

Only the good Lord knows how many people he converted or awakened to Christianity. If he spoke in person to 250 million people around the world during his ministry, imagine the hundreds of millions of people watching his televised Crusades and specials or listening to him on radio. What he accomplished over his 80 years as a preacher was so extraordinary that it might not be repeated for generations to come.

CBS News reported that Graham was (emphases mine):

the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history

Spokesman Mark DeMoss said Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning.

Tributes from American presidents

President Donald Trump tweeted and followed up with a formal statement later that day:

President Trump’s statement reads as follows:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

George H W Bush also issued a statement:

Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world,” Bush said. “I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He would come to Maine to visit with Barbara and me, and he was a great sport. He loved going really fast in my boat. I guess you could say we had that in common. Then we would come home and talk about life. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States. We will miss our good friend forever.

It’s true. There was never a whiff of scandal around Billy Graham. God blessed him abundantly, and the Holy Spirit worked through him until the end.

CBS News discussed the long line of past presidents Graham met with:

from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, but always denied any role in setting policy saying, “I don’t advise them, I pray with them,” CBS News reported. Lyndon Johnson looked up to his close friend, the pastor. Richard Nixon asked for his counsel during Watergate. The elder Bush called Graham to the White House the night before he launched the first Gulf War. Younger President Bush has credited Graham with turning him away from drinking and towards embracing God.

These are the names of those 12 past presidents from at least the early 1950s through to the present day: Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard M Nixon, Gerald R Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama. That’s a mighty long list.

And he met with President Trump.

That’s 13 presidents in all.

Obama was the first sitting president to visit Graham at his home in North Carolina. That was in 2010, three years after Graham’s wife Ruth went to her heavenly rest.

CBS reported that Graham also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr about a decade before the civil rights movement took root:

In 1952 he stopped segregating his crusades and began a friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All the problems of America tonight and of the world stem from the fact that we as the human race have sinned against Almighty God,” he said in May 1997.

Such was the impact of Billy Graham’s life that flags flew at half mast in Washington DC from February 21 to March 2, the day of his funeral and burial:

Tributes from clergy

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, remembered his family’s respect for Graham’s ministry:

As anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s can tell you, it was hard not to notice and be impressed by the Reverend Billy Graham,” Dolan said in a statement. “There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God. Whether it was one of his famous Crusades, radio programs, television specials, or meeting and counseling the presidents, Billy Graham seemed to be everywhere, always with the same message: Jesus is your Savior, and wants you to be happy with Him forever. As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement. May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest.

One of Graham’s grandsons, the Revd Tullian Tchividjian, noted his grandfather’s universal appeal:

My granddad wasn’t just Christian-famous, he was famous-famous, he was crossover famous.

Unfortunately, Tchividjian succumbed to temptation in his own ministry. He resigned his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale after admitting to an extramarital affair. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed him from their South Florida Presbytery as being ‘unfit for Christian ministry‘. A subsequent pastorate and outreach ministry also failed because of more sexual impropriety. In 2015, Tchividjian divorced his first wife Kim after 21 years of marriage. He married his second wife Stacie the following year. Hmm. What a contrast to his grandfather.

Honour of lying in state in Capitol Rotunda

Billy Graham was honoured greatly prior to his funeral:

This is a good photo of the exterior of the Capitol Building from Billy’s son’s — Franklin Graham’s — Samaritan’s Purse ministry:

A memorial service took place. Pictured is one of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird. I remember when she and her husband married in 1967:

President Trump spoke at the service:

What follows is the text of President Trump’s address. It’s very moving — probably written by the incomparable Stephen Miller — and really expresses not only who Billy Graham was but how much he appealed to his audiences. I remember watching his Crusades when I was a child. During the first one I watched at the age of seven, I approached the television set when he made his call for people to come forward!

11:21 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. And, most importantly, thank you to the entire Graham family for honoring us with your presence here today. Thank you.

In the spring of 1934, Billy Graham’s father allowed a group of Charlotte businessmen to use a portion of the family’s dairy farm to gather for a day of prayer.

On that day, the men prayed for the city. They prayed that, “Out of Charlotte, the Lord would raise up someone to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.”

We are here today, more than 80 years later, because that prayer was truly answered.

Billy Graham was 15 years old at the time. Just a few months later, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

That choice didn’t just change Billy’s life — it changed our lives. It changed our country, and it changed, in fact, the entire world.

The North Carolina farm boy walked out of those fields, into a great and beautiful history.

And I remember that, because my father said to me, “Come on, son” — and, by the way, he said, “Come on, mom. Let’s go see Billy Graham at Yankee Stadium.” And it was something very special.

But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father.

In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogota, Moscow, New Delhi, Saigon, Johannesburg, and scores of other places all over the world, Reverend Graham shared the power of God’s word with more than 200 million people, in person, and countless others through television and radio where people loved to watch and listen.

In 1978, with the support of the Catholic Bishop who would soon become Pope John Paul II, Reverend Graham went to Poland and spoke of the meaning of the cross to a people suffering under the soulless oppression of communism.

Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, as Franklin will tell you, was always in America.

He took his message to the poorest places, to the downtrodden and to the brokenhearted, to inmates in prison, and to the overlooked and the neglected. He felt a great passion for those that were neglected.

Everywhere he went, Reverend Graham delivered the same beautiful message: God loves you. That was his message. God loves you.

We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham –- the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless.

Today, we give thanks for this extraordinary life. And it’s very fitting that we do so right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined.

Here in this room, we are reminded that America is a nation sustained by prayer. The painting to my left is of the pilgrims as they embarked for America, holding fast to the Bible and bowing their heads in prayer.

Along these walls, we see the faces of Americans who prayed as they stood on the Lexington Green, who prayed as they headed west, prayed as they headed into battle, and prayed as they marched for justice, and always marched for victory.

Around us stand the statues of heroes who led the nation in prayer during the great and difficult times, from Washington to Lincoln to Eisenhower to King.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much.


11:28 A.M. EST

That evening, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump hosted a dinner for the Grahams. Franklin Graham is sitting to the left of Mrs Trump (her right):

The funeral

Billy Graham’s funeral took place in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, March 2.

His grandson Roy provided the story behind the evangelist’s simple wooden casket. Recommended video:

This was the scene under a tent at the Billy Graham Library before the funeral:

The Trumps and the Pences walked together:

The Charlotte Observer reported:

His funeral service under a massive tent at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte drew more than 2,000 guests, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, governors, senators, religious leaders, celebrities and longtime Graham family friends. It was the kind of star-studded turnout that would have made Graham blush, suggested some of the speakers, who lauded this pastor to presidents and everyday people for always trying to steer the attention away from himself and toward Jesus Christ.

Family members escorted Graham’s plain wooden casket into the 28,000-square-foot tent, which was meant to harken back to Graham’s 1949 crusade in a “canvas cathedral” in downtown Los Angeles that shot him to national attention.

The service lasted the planned 90 minutes. Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — BGEA — as well as his own Samaritan’s Purse, gave the address:

My father’s greatest longing has been granted,” the younger Graham said. “He’s in the presence of God” …

Franklin Graham recalled his father’s love of his late wife, Ruth, his sense of humor and joy in his grandchildren. “The Billy Graham that the world saw on TV, and in the big stadiums, is the same Billy Graham we saw at home,” he said. “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

But Graham said the late evangelist also believed in heaven and hell, and in the Bible as the infallible word of God: “He didn’t understand it all, but he sure believed it all.”

In an era of political correctness, he added, some “want you to believe there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.

“Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again,” he ended, gazing at the casket before him, “but I will see you again, and maybe soon.”

The article concludes by stating that the Graham family and the BGEA consider the funeral to be the Last Crusade. They hope it will stimulate new interest in the Gospel.

The videos of the funeral service follow:

More on Billy Graham to follow.


President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

Last year, he gave a presidential address to both houses of Congress on February 28. The format was very similar to the State of the Union address.

Here is his address in full:

The White House site has a transcript. Stephen Miller, his speechwriter, did a formidable job once again. Miller is highly inspirational.

Most of President Trump’s speech follows. I have interspersed it with tweets of text and reactions, especially from Democrats.

Special guests

Beforehand, Trump welcomed his special guests privately in the Oval Office. He mentioned all of them in his address. They were ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Supervisory Special Agent Celestino Martinez, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert for her work during Hurricane Harvey, Staff Sergeant Justin Peck who rushed to save an officer stricken by an IED blast in the Middle East, police officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca for adopting a baby born to a drug addict, three employees from Staub Manufacturing to highlight the new tax plan, two sets of parents who lost children to gang violence, Otto Warmbier’s parents who suffered deeply after their son needlessly died shortly after returning from North Korea, Ji Seong-ho who also suffered at the hands of the North Koreans, firefighter David Dahlberg who rescued 60 children from a California wildfire and 12-year-old Preston Sharp who has organised the decoration of 40,000 veterans’ graves with American flags and red carnations.

The guests sat with First Lady Melania Trump:

The address

Early in his address, President Trump set the tone for his review of 2017:

He said (emphases mine below):

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee.

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He is here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House — a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.

So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.

And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit.

A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 — slashing their tax bill in half.

This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system — and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year — forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.

We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing — a small business in Ohio. They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonusesmany of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.”

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes.

Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why …

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve — and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.

I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey.

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

In Detroit, I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

Trump then spoke about healthcare:

He then spoke about the importance of getting trade deals that are fair to the United States, ending with:

He outlined his plan for infrastructure:

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

The next topic was safety, security and gangs:

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors ‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is grieving for you. And 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again

He spoke of America being compassionate:

Then came the sentence everyone will remember:

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez — he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ: Great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

The next topic was immigration. Trump explained that his plan has four pillars: 1) an amnesty for 1.8 illegals whose parents took them to the US at a young age, 2) the wall and more border agents, 3) an end to the visa lottery and 4) an end to chain migration.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: “You will do it — because you can.” He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Then it was on to defence:

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor.” Staff Sergeant Peck: All of America salutes you.


So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.


I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

Then, Trump discussed North Korea:

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.

Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all.

Here is a photo of Otto Warmbier before he left North Korea. (Background: Warmbier’s parents had contacted the Obama administration, which claimed to have been trying to do something to get him released. Mr Warmbier rightly thought that much more could have been done.)

Trump had one more North Korean story. This, too, is incredible:

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth. Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had — and he resolved to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth.

Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea: that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own destiny. And that, together, they could light up the world.

That is what our country has always been about. That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her …

And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.

But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them

It is hard to see what people object to in that speech. I will have reactions from both sides of the aisle and the media on Friday. Here’s an interesting fact:

For now, it is easy to see why Trump won the 2016 election.

He really does care about Americans and America.

It makes no sense other than to people who are sick in the head. More on the Democrats on Friday.

President Donald Trump attended his first Davos meeting, arriving in the Swiss resort on Thursday, January 25.

Only a few media outlets have reported that his attendance is thanks to President Emmanuel Macron of France. On Thursday, the London Evening Standard reported:

It emerged that Mr Macron was instrumental in Mr Trump’s decision to attend a gathering to which he was never invited when a businessman.

Mr Macron told RTS that he had “strongly recommended” that Mr Trump attend during a recent phone conversation “because I think it’s a good thing for president Trump to explain his strategy for the US and the world here in Davos. And that he encounters some form of confrontation and dialogue.”

Recall that Macron couldn’t let go of his new buddy — daddy? — when the Trumps were ready to leave Paris on Bastille Day 2017.

I heard soundbites of Macron’s address to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and he said pretty much the same thing about France as Trump did about the US. Essentially, France is open for business.

By the way, there was a lot of snow in Davos, which begs the question about global warming. Oh, silly me, it’s climate change. Hmm. Snow during winter. Who would have expected that?

Trump arrives

Here is a video of Trump’s arrival:

Everywhere in the media — including the Evening Standard — journalists and pundits predicted a huge flop for the ‘America First’ president. Although protests took place about a variety of issues, including Trump, the reality inside was very different:

(I wonder if Macron saw that tweet. 😉 )

The evil Soros was his usual antagonistic self in his address to the WEF, accusing Trump of setting the United States on the course for nuclear war:

Anyone who thinks Soros is a good guy should read more about the man. He has meddled in US politics for ages and is now targeting at state level with huge donations to pro-Democrat groups and causes:

But I digress.

That evening, the American delegation had dinner with the heads of 15 European companies.

The head of SAP paid President Trump great compliments on what he accomplished in his first year:

The White House has a transcript of President Trump’s conversation with his guests.

Trump’s ideas catching on in Western Europe

Earlier that day, Ireland’s finance minister said Trump was making an excellent case for lower taxes:

The CNBC article says (emphases mine):

Asked if he believed Trump was setting an example on tax policy, Donohoe was positive.

Do I believe the mood is changing on corporate tax globally? The answer is yes,” he said.

You have to look at what President Trump has done, you have to look at the state of the U.K., you have to look at what President Macron said earlier in the week,” he said, referencing the French president’s Davos speech in which he proposed cutting some of France’s infamously high taxes.

In late December, a Republican-led U.S. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs act, overhauling the U.S. tax system and slashing corporate taxes from 35 to 21 percent. The move, Donohoe said, was making European leaders think again about their own corporate tax propositions.

Bilateral meetings

Trump held a number of bi-lateral meetings.

On Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May:

I know a lot of Trump supporters are angry with Theresa May. Similarly, a lot of Britons loathe Donald Trump. Both groups should read the following.

To my fellow Britons, Trump did not know about the Britain First group. He gave an interview to Piers Morgan, co-host (and friend from Celebrity Apprentice) on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday:

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Trump said he had known nothing about the organisation when he made the social media postings.

He told interviewer Piers Morgan that he believed the videos showed “radical Islamic terror”, but if it was the case that they had been produced by “horrible racist people”, then he “would certainly apologise” …

Pressed by Morgan about the Britain First tweets during his first international TV interview since becoming president, Mr Trump said: “I knew nothing about them and I know nothing about them today other than I read a little bit.

“Perhaps it was a big story in Britain , perhaps it was a big story in the UK, but in the United States it wasn’t a big story.

“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”

He said he had made the retweets because he was concerned about the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists.

“They had a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror. It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror,” he said.

Now, for my American readers, Trump told Morgan that he and May get on very well:

On his relations with Mrs May, he told Good Morning Britain: “We actually have a very good relationship, although a lot of people think we don’t.

“I support her, I support a lot of what she does and a lot of what she says.”

The White House has a transcript of their meeting with the media following their discussion.

My message to both sides: stop the hate! Now!

Good things came out of the meeting (same link):

During their 40-minute meeting in Davos, Mrs May also raised the issue of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, which has a major plant in Northern Ireland and is at the centre of a US trade dispute.

The trade dispute with Bombardier was resolved during that meeting. The Press Association reported early Friday morning:

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier has won its case against United States proposals to impose massive tariffs on the import of its jets in a ruling which should safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said rival manufacturer Boeing did not suffer injury from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines’ order of Bombardier’s C Series passenger jets.

The ruling means tariffs of 292% duties will not be imposed on the jets’ import to America.

The move could safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast, where the C Series wings are produced, and unions said workers would be “breathing a huge sigh of relief” at the news.

The decision comes after Theresa May raised the issue with US president Donald Trump during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

He met with his friend Bibi Netanyahu afterwards:

The White House’s statement says, in part:

The two leaders reviewed their ongoing cooperation across a range of issues and stressed their goal of countering Iran’s malign influence and threatening behavior in the region. They also discussed prospects for achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

On Friday morning, Trump held a short press briefing:

His first meeting that day was with President Alain Berset of the Swiss Federation (i.e. Switzerland):

Excerpts from the White House transcript of their public remarks made beforehand:

PRESIDENT BERSET: So I want to welcome President Trump and his delegation here to Davos. It’s the first time that President Trump visits Davos and Switzerland. And it has been 18 years since the last visit from a U.S. President here.

And we appreciate the significance of the gesture, Mr. President. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being here

Switzerland and the U.S. — that’s a longstanding, excellent relationship. We share a deep, historic commitment to freedom, to democracy, to human rights, to free markets. And there is one more point I want to highlight to you, one aspect: our mutual economic footprints.

We have very strong economic relations. They are very strong, and they are growing very fastly. This is really interesting: More than 500 Swiss firms in United States and more than 3,500 business locations with a (inaudible) — creation of a half a million jobs.

And I think, I believe, we can even deepen these relations to strengthen our economies, and to build up, together, solutions to global issues

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mr. President, it is a great honor to be with you. Davos has been exciting. And in addition to that, I think we’re bringing a lot of things back to our country, including tremendous goodwill.

I yesterday and last night — dinner with some of the great business leaders of the world, as you know. And it was very interesting to see and hear. They’re very happy with what’s happening in the United States …

But I just want to thank you for honoring us. We have tremendous respect for you — and congratulations on the election — and tremendous respect for your country. And it’s an honor to be here. Thank you.

He then met with President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda:

The White House has a transcript of their remarks afterwards. President Kagame said, in part:

Rwanda has benefitted tremendously from the support of the United States. In many areas where there is (inaudible) support operations we have carried out in different parts of the world, we had the United States, on our side, supporting us.

You have supported our economy, with trade, investment. We see a lot of tourists from United States to visit us — coming to Rwanda.

And, President, I wanted to thank you for the support we have received from you, personal, and your administration. And we’re looking forward to also working with the United States at the level of the African Union, where we are tightening out reforms of the African Union, so that we get our act together to do the right things. That helps — in cooperating with the United States, it would be more beneficial when we are organized, to know what we want from the United States —

Trump’s Davos address

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for, Trump’s address to the WEF:

The day before, CNBC’s Joe Kernen interviewed Trump.

The two men have known each other for several years. The transcript gives a flavour of what Trump wanted to communicate in his address. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So when I decided to come to Davos I didn’t think in terms of elitists or globalists. I think I thought in terms of lots of people that want to invest lots of money, and they’re all coming back to the United States, they’re coming back to America. And I thought of it much more in those terms. After I said that I was going there were massive stories about the elite, and the globalists, and the planes flying in, and everything else. It’s not about that. It’s about coming to America, investing your money, creating jobs, companies coming in. We’re setting records every week, every day we’re setting records …

KERNEN: Yes. You’ve moved a little towards the center. But so Macron’s saying that globalism doesn’t solve problems. Suddenly other countries are saying, you know, “We need to take care of, you know, our own country to some extent.” So it’s almost like the differences between America First and Davos. I think there’s plenty of room for you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s a lot of room. And we love global, but we love home. We have to take care of our home.

KERNEN: Right. It’s not usually exclusive.

Now back to Friday, before his address:

This was Trump’s message in a nutshell — please note the teal blue box:

The president spoke for around 17 minutes:

The White House has a transcript, excerpts of which follow:

America is the place to do business. So come to America, where you can innovate, create, and build. I believe in America. As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also.

But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs all around the globe, and the drive for excellence, creativity, and innovation in the U.S. has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and far healthier lives.

As the United States pursues domestic reforms to unleash jobs and growth, we are also working to reform the international trading system so that it promotes broadly shared prosperity and rewards to those who play by the rules.

We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all

Represented in this room are some of the remarkable citizens from all over the world. You are national leaders, business titans, industry giants, and many of the brightest minds in many fields.

Each of you has the power to change hearts, transform lives, and shape your countries’ destinies. With this power comes an obligation, however — a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, and customers who have made you who you are.

So together, let us resolve to use our power, our resources, and our voices, not just for ourselves, but for our people — to lift their burdens, to raise their hopes, and to empower their dreams; to protect their families, their communities, their histories, and their futures.

That’s what we’re doing in America, and the results are totally unmistakable. It’s why new businesses and investment are flooding in. It’s why our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in so many decades. It’s why America’s future has never been brighter.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Even CNN had to acknowledge it as a win:

CNN’s Chris Cilizza had to admit he was wrong. He expected Trump to go in all guns blazing (sigh):

More broadly — aside from any specific piece of rhetoric — Trump’s framing and tone in the speech was more kumbaya than confrontational.

No kidding. As if a successful businessman is going to berate other successful businessmen.

These media people are all the same — terrible, disingenuous and dim.

Trump’s cabinet

Members of Trump’s cabinet arrived a day ahead to participate in meetings regarding the economy and trade. They included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Secretary for Transport Elaine Chao.

The Conservative Treehouse noted that, on Wednesday, January 24:

… we saw U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commanding around 80% of panelist discussion, and factually 100% of all questions and attention from the Davos audienceTeam U.S.A. is the epicenter of the economic universe and Secretary Ross was well prepared for the severity of attention.

On Thursday, Steven Mnuchin participated in a panel discussion, The Remaking of Global Finance. The Conservative Treehouse (same link) says:

If the dollar is strategically lowered by policy, the U.S. can suck money directly out of China (or any large economic multinational) because their vaults hold dollars as an outcome of trade surpluses with the U.S.  The globalists are scared shitless that POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin will start crushing their global goals by utilizing this inherent trade leverage.

There is a potential for POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin to weaponize the U.S. reserve currency if they don’t get the deals they want.  That looming threat exists and is an existential threat to the entire construct and worldview of ideological globalists.

The globalists, multinational corporations and banks, and those who gain by exporting U.S. economic wealth, always want a high dollar valuation.  They spend billions on lobbying efforts because they are used to controlling U.S. policy by influencing DC politicians; and using Wall Street finance constructs to purchase influence on U.S. monetary policy.

Probably why Soros was talking about Trump and nuclear war. Anything to obfuscate the reality.

Prior to Trump’s arrival, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave an eloquent answer to someone objecting to Trump’s and his cabinet’s presence at Davos. The video clip does not include the question, and the answer was not aggressive as the tweet below suggests. Essentially, Chao said — politely and calmly — that those who do not wish to hear what they have to say can leave. She said that Davos is a forum where different ideas and perspectives are discussed. Worth watching to hear her words:

Melania Trump

Meanwhile, amidst salacious accusations, which have been debunked

… First Lady Melania Trump visited the Holocaust Museum on Thursday, January 25, just before Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Saturday, January 27:

January 25 was also the Trumps’ wedding anniversary.

Mrs Trump is garnering empathy from the American public. Here is a reply to her communications director, Stephanie Grisham:

I couldn’t agree more.

Back home on schedule

The president planned to be back mid-evening on Friday, January 26:

And duly was (if you cannot get the video from the tweet, click on the Periscope link — in the tweet — to see the landing):

I hope that the Trumps were able to finally enjoy a belated presidential anniversary and wedding anniversary celebration at the weekend!


President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left the White House for Mar a Lago on Friday, December 22, 2017.

Earlier that day:

Crowds welcomed him upon his arrival in Florida:

On December 24, the Trumps fielded telephone calls from American children eager for the arrival of Father Christmas. The Daily Mail has a report with spectacular photos:

… the first couple surprised kids who had called in to NORAD to find out where Santa Claus is.

The president and first lady were patched in to a handful of NORAD’s expected 150,000 Christmas Eve calls from the living room at Mar-a-Lago where the Trumps are celebrating their first Christmas in office.

‘What would you like more than anything?’ Trump was overheard asking a child named Casper from Virginia as members of the media briefly listened in.

Reporters were unable to hear Casper’s response, but the president gave the request away in his answer.

‘Building blocks. That’s what I’ve always liked too,’ said the president, who was a successful real estate developer before jumping into politics. ‘I always loved building blocks,’ Trump continued.

‘Well, I predict Santa will bring you building blocks. So many you won’t be able to use them all,’ said the president, using his trademark bombastic language.

Speaking to another child, Trump was impressed by the boy’s Santa request.

‘So you want your grandma to get out of the hospital?’ Trump said. ‘That’s what your wish is?’

‘That’s great,’ the president continued. ‘That’s better than asking for some toy or something, that’s better right?’

He then assured the young boy that grandma would be alright.

‘So your grandma’s gonna be good, OK? She’s gonna be good,’ the president said.

At another moment he told a child, ‘When you’re in Washington, you’ll come and see me.’

In total, the president chatted with 11 kids, while the first lady talked to ten.

This video — trending at No. 27 on YouTube on December 28 — has the conversations:

Trump held a teleconference with various branches of the military to send Christmas greetings:

The US Navy and the crew of the USS Sampson tweeted their appreciation.

The military sent some exceptional tweets this year. I especially liked the Navy’s video. Open in new tab, if necessary:

Trump tweeted another seasonal message later on Christmas Eve:

His friend in Israel sent customary Christmas greetings to the American people. This year, however, is a special one for Benjamin Netanyahu:

The president and Mrs Trump attended the 10:30 p.m. service at the Episcopal church they go to, Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

The Palm Beach Post reported:

Bethesda-by-the-Sea is just under a five-minute drive up the Atlantic Ocean from the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club. The historic sanctuary — it is the oldest Protestant church in the region — has played a major role in the first family’s lives: The president and first lady married there in 2005. Their son, Barron, was christened there the following year. And the couple, occasionally joined by other family members, have attended Christmas Eve and Easter services there.

When Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April, first lady Melania Trump took Mrs. Abe to Bethesda-by-the-Sea. “Proud to share part of my family history with Mrs. Abe at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea where @POTUS & I were married, where we celebrate and we pray,” the first lady said in a post on her @FLOTUS Instagram account accompanied by a photo of the church’s garden.

Security was tight:

Since his election, the president and first lady enter Bethesda-by-the-Sea from the south side of the building, a side entrance that allows more direct access to the seats set aside for them toward the front of the church.

The service was not on Trump’s schedule released to the media, and church officials have declined in the past to confirm whether Trump would attend.

But regular attendees are becoming familiar with the security practices put in place ahead of Trump’s arrival: Worshippers are ushered through metal detectors. Women’s purses are searched. Men in dark suits with earpieces walk the line of parishioners waiting to enter the 500-person capacity sanctuary.

Once inside:

The church was standing room only, but the Palm Beach Post article stated that a few people in the congregation managed to make contact with Trump:

During the greeting, several people gathered around the president to shake his hand. As Communion was offered, people who lined up next to Trump — who was seated on the center aisle — paused to say, “Merry Christmas,” offer words of encouragement or, as one woman did, mouth, “Thank you.”

The Gateway Pundit had a great write up with videos and tweets that I’ve used here, including one of the service. The article says that the choir’s version of Silent Night is ‘hauntingly beautiful’:

I won’t include any of the sermon, as it was the usual Social Justice Warrior material we have come to expect from a once-great denomination.

On December 25, Mrs Trump released a selfie:

Trump tweeted a brief video of the White House — along with a special greeting:

The Palm Beach Post reported:

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the entire world a very Merry Christmas,” Trump says in the video. 

Trump also quotes a verse from the bible in the book of Isaiah, noting what the celebration of Christmas is about.

Melania speaks about celebrating our blessings as Americans and “prays for peace all over the world.”

Fox News had more:

… the president and first lady Melania Trump released a video message, with Mrs. Trump saying “at this time of year, we see the best of American and the soul of the American people.” President Trump added his own remarks, calling on Americans to “renew the bonds of love and good will between our citizens —and most importantly we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.”

“For Christians we remember the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph that began more than 2,000 years ago. As the book of Isaiah tells us, for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This good news is the greatest Christmas gift of all, the reason for our joy and the true source of our hope.”

Here is the YouTube version, which, even on December 28, is No. 8 in YouTube trends:

The same Fox News article also reported that Trump laid on a grand Christmas dinner for people often taken for granted:

… administration sources confirmed to Fox News that the president also provided and paid for hundreds of Christmas dinners served up to the U.S Secret Service agents and officers, military service members and Palm Beach County sheriff deputies who were working Christmas Day at Mar-a-Lago.

Described as a “Christmas feast,” served in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, the buffet meal included a menu of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and dessert. The buffet was offered from the early afternoon into the evening, in an effort to cover two of the shifts for security personnel working the holiday.

Christmas is a one-day celebration for President Trump:

The Trumps are still at Mar a Lago. On December 27, the president visited firefighters and first responders in West Palm Beach:

Meanwhile, although the president has to be the most people-oriented and transparent for generations, Trump Derangement Syndrome continues unabated.

And I’m still getting Christmas card messages from across the pond denigrating a man who truly loves his country!

What on earth is wrong with people?


The week of December 11, 2017 has been chock-a-block with news.

It’s unlikely Big Media have reported the bulk of it. What follows are a few stories people might have missed.

The anti-Trump FBI ‘insurance policy’

A series of text messages between FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page were released on Tuesday, December 12. The Daily Caller reports (emphases mine):

Two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation exchanged text messages last year in which they appear to have discussed ways to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president.

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and his mistress.

It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text, dated Aug. 15, 2016.

Andy is likely Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Several congressional panels have been after these text messages since the beginning of December, when news emerged of their existence. However, Strzok was dismissed from the Mueller investigation four months ago.

The text messages, some of which The Daily Caller quotes, are anti-Trump. Some have four letter words. Most are cryptic:

“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote.

“I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps,” Strzok replied.

Like many of the exchanges, the full context of the message is not entirely clear.

Strzok also offered praise for Clinton while suggesting that he planned to vote for her.

In a March 2, 2016 text Strzok said he would likely vote for Clinton. In another exchange he wrote that if Trump won the Republican primary, Clinton would likely win the presidency.

On Wednesday, December 13, the Department of Justice inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released more information about the texts. The Daily Caller has more on the story. Horowitz received the text messages on July 20:

A week later, he met with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to inform them of the politically-charged texts.

Strzok was “immediately” removed from the investigation after Mueller was told of the texts.

Strzok, who then served as the FBI’s No. 2 counterintelligence official, conducted many of the biggest interviews in the investigation, including with Clinton and her top aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills

The FBI handed over those messages on July 20, 2017. After reviewing those exchanges, Horowitz expanded the investigation to include all of the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page from Nov. 30, 2016 to July 28, 2017.

Horowitz’s office received those messages on Aug. 10.

Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s team was reported by ABC News on Aug. 16. The network reported that Strzok had been placed in a job in the FBI’s HR department.

The reason for Strzok’s demotion remained a secret for nearly four months as the Justice Department and Mueller’s office declined media and congressional requests for an explanation. The levy finally broke on Dec. 2, when The Washington Post and New York Times simultaneously reported the existence of the text messages.

A sample of the texts were released Tuesday night ahead of Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee …

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Rosenstein on that text message, suggesting that Strzok was indicating that he planned to prevent Trump from being elected.

[Senator Charles] Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Rosenstein on Wednesday inquiring about the text message.

Rosenstein said Wednesday that the Justice Department and FBI plan to soon make Strzok available for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

Strzok’s cryptic Aug. 2016 text [re the insurance policy] was sent just after he was handpicked to supervise the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Horowitz’s letter leaves a few questions unanswered. For one, it is not clear whether Strzok sent politically-charged texts with anyone else. It is also not clear whether the messages contained in the second requested batch of Strzok texts contain any controversial remarks.

The Wall Street Journal has more (note final paragraph):

This is a developing story which has the potential for unveiling criminality — but ultimately:

Alabama special election

In a surprise upset, the Democrat candidate Doug Jones was elected to the Senate, defeating Roy Moore.

The background to the story is that Jeff Sessions vacated his Senate seat in Alabama to serve as Attorney General earlier this year. Sessions appointed Luther Strange to replace him. Alabama governor Kay Ivey directed that a special election take place. However, I read anecdotally that she did not need to hold a special election. Strange could have served until his term ran out.

In any event, Luther Strange ran against Judge Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Strange lost to Moore. Accusations of molesting a teenage girl in the 1970s — unproven — led by an attorney who tried to smear then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 — dogged Moore. Even so, Moore did not have any get-out-the-vote programme, whereas Jones and the Democrats did. Moore then lost to Jones — but only by 1.5%.

Could this have been a case of voter fraud in a state that votes overwhelmingly Republican?

Rumours are circulating that out-of-state voters were brought into Alabama and driven around from polling station to polling station — a classic Democrat strategy that works.

The Republican Party — specifically Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader — also refused to help Moore. McConnell’s detractors refer to him as Turtle.

Imperator_Rex has a good analysis, excerpted below:

He concludes that Trump surely has a game plan in mind.

The 2018 mid-terms require Republicans like McConnell to shape up or ship out.

However, as Imperator_Rex says, McConnell and his ilk don’t really care. They are all part of the Uniparty, so life continues for them much as before. Democrat dominance, especially when it comes to opposing Trump, is preferable to a Republican majority that might be persuaded to turn Trump policies into law.

Jones’s election nearly puts the number of Democrat senators on a par with Republicans. Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

Message to the black electorate

On December 13, the Revd Leon Benjamin and his family were guests at the White House.

They are an example of the middle class families helped by Trump’s proposed tax reform. Trump spoke about the tax plan, then invited the pastor to speak.

Pastor Benjamin had an important message, which began with:

To God be the glory!

Former Milwaukee sheriff David A Clarke expressed similar sentiments the day before:

Happy news

On Wednesday, December 13, First Lady Melania Trump participated in a charity drive for toddlers, the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders received a verbal kicking after Thanksgiving from CNN’s April Ryan, an annoying journo at the White House press briefings. Ryan criticised Sanders’s pecan pies, accusing the press secretary of not having made them herself.

So (although the crusts look store-bought) …

Here’s what happened on the day. Food really does bring people together:

Never mind that. Sarah’s dad had a message for her:

This will be my last news-related item until after Christmas.


On Monday, November 27, 2017, First Lady Melania Trump welcomed a group of schoolchildren to the White House which she has transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland.

Ballet dancers performed selections from The Nutcracker Suite. The US Marine Corps band provided musical accompaniment. (Ignore the sarcasm from the CNN reporter’s caption.)

AP has a good video here of the dancers and Mrs Trump’s warm hugs for each child. She also sat down to talk and listen to their Christmas letters to the US military and helped them decorate Christmas wreaths:

This video shows more of Mrs Trump’s dress (see the back at 40 seconds in). There were two tables set up for the pupils, but the children at the second table quickly left to stand behind Mrs Trump at her table. One girl sat on her lap:

One child compared America’s first lady to an angel:

Indeed. Mrs Trump’s dress was perfect for the occasion:

The Gateway Pundit reported that the children are from Joint Base Andrews:

NBC News tweeted heartwarming footage of Melania Trump welcoming students from Joint Base Andrews at a White House Christmas event. The children were stunned as the angelic First Lady entered the room.

“Are you the first lady?!” a boy asked as he hugged Melania Trump.

“She seriously looks like an angel,” added another child.

Look at the kids run to her:

They clearly enjoyed being with her:

The White House issued a press release on this year’s Christmas decorations, excerpted below (emphases mine):

The First Family will celebrate their first Christmas in the White House with a nod to tradition. This year’s theme, “Time-Honored Traditions” was designed by First Lady Melania Trump to pay respect to 200 years of holiday traditions at the White House.

In the East Wing, visitors find a tribute to our service members and their families with the Gold Star Family Tree, which has been decorated with gold stars and patriotic ribbon. Visitors are encouraged to write a message to their loved ones who are on duty or abroad on the digital tablets provided.

After passing through the East colonnade, visitors will see the China Room, which honors the holiday traditions of dining and hospitality. The room is set up for a family Christmas dinner, with the table displaying the china from President Ronald Reagan. Then, visitors will see the Library, which features President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1866 edition of “A Christmas Carol,” as they recall the time-honored custom of reading Christmas stories to loved ones.

On the State Floor of the White House, the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall celebrate the first themed White House Christmas, which was the “Nutcracker Suite” in 1961. The Green Room honors the festivities of crafts, paper, and classic design. The Blue Room holds the official White House Christmas tree, which is decorated with glass ornaments depicting the seal of each State and territory. The Red Room hosts delightful holiday treats, and has been decorated with peppermints, candy, and cookies. The State Dining Room holds a traditional gingerbread house, which depicts the South facade of the White House and features Mrs. Trump’s signature Christmas wreaths.

I mentioned the gingerbread house last week. It is something to behold.

The White House will be receiving many visitors in the run up to Christmas:

the White House will host more than 100 open houses and many receptions. More than 25,000 visitors will walk the halls taking part in public tours.

Unlike presidential palaces, it is considered the People’s House, and the Trumps have opened the doors to tens of thousands of Americans, many for special recognition, in addition to those attending tours.

After many years in storage, the Nativity scene has reappeared:

You can see it from a distance in this video, at the end of a corridor full of brilliantly decorated Christmas trees:

This video shows the Nativity scene close up at the beginning of the following video (detail photo here). How beautiful:

In addition to views of the other rooms — including the Blue Room with the main Christmas tree (also see) — that video also has an excellent extended close-up of the gingerbread house, complete with portico and columns. How did they make that? Wow!

Mrs Trump also has Christmas booklets printed which explain a bit about the history of the White House rooms. The boy in the illustration is the First Son, aged 11:

Along with millions of Americans, I am so grateful for such a wonderful First Family.

No more Mao ornaments, as favoured by the Obamas. Thank goodness for that.

Compare and contrast the 2016 White House decorations with this year’s. (No Mao ornaments, but the difference is startling.)

Even worse were the Clintons’ White House displays. Please read the story at that link (content too indecent to summarise here).

In closing, here is another video.

I am also grateful that the Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft gave special emphasis to the Nativity scene:

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are bringing Christ back to Christmas.

Melania released video of the beautiful White House decorations.

And this year a Nativity scene was included.

Yes! Christmas makes a comeback!

And the White House has never looked as beautiful as it does now.


UPDATE: CNN announced they will be boycotting the Trumps’ White House Christmas party for the media. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is delighted, and Trump says we should turn off CNN.


The 2017 White House Christmas tree arrived from Wisconsin on Monday, November 20.

First Lady Melania Trump and 11-year-old Barron Trump received the tree, which was placed in the Blue Room.

The Chapman family, owners of Silent Night Evergreens in Endeavor, Wisconsin, won this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest and, by virtue of that, supplied the White House tree.

The Daily Mail has more.

A military band played O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum, my late father’s favourite carol) before the arrival of the horse-drawn carriage:

The building to the right in that video is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the vice president and cabinet officials have their offices.

Barron is taller than his mother, who was wearing high-heeled knee-high leather boots:

Mrs Trump spoke with the Chapmans before she and Barron posed for a photograph:

This video shows how many men it took to unload and take the tree indoors:

It looks as if there is also — in another room — a huge gingerbread representation of the White House, baked and assembled by the pastry chefs (click on each of the top two photos):

It is interesting that this year’s White House ornament (below) honours a Democrat. That said, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the longest serving US president. He died in office, but many Americans thought his four-term tenure was turning him into a dictator. In 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment,  restricting a president to two terms. The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified in 1951.

Tree, sugar sculpture, wreaths and ornaments aside, for the first time in several years, a nativity scene will be on display in the White House.

The Trumps are making Christmas great again.


Best wishes to my American readers for a very happy Thanksgiving! May you have an abundance of food and fun.

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, President Donald Trump pardoned his first Thanksgiving turkeys, Drumstick, which weighs 47 pounds, and Wishbone, a 36-pounder:

Drumstick and understudy Wishbone spent Monday night at the luxurious Willard Hotel in Washington, as per turkey pardon tradition, before visiting the White House:

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders enjoyed the experience with one of her children:

The First Family also enjoyed the event. The Daily Mail has great photos of Trump children and grandchildren.

The video of the pardon is worth watching for history, jokes and, on a serious note, thanks to the American people. First Lady Melania Trump and First Son Barron, 11, joined the US president:

Although Trump read off a teleprompter, his delivery was spot on. Excerpts from his remarks follow (emphases mine):

… I’m especially pleased that we’re joined for this great occasion by Carl Wittenburg, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, along with his wife, Sharlene, and sons, Nate and Wyatt.

It was 70 years ago that the National Turkey Federation first presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman — who, I might add, did not grant the pardon. He refused. He was a tough cookie. (Laughter.) Today, I’m going to be a much nicer President.

Over the past 10 months, Melania and I have had the pleasure of welcoming many, many special visitors to the great White House. We’ve hosted dozens of incredible world leaders, members of Congress, and, along the way, a few very strange birds. But we have yet to receive any visitors quite like our magnificent guest of honor today — Drumstick. Hi, Drumstick. Oh, Drumstick, I think, is going to be very happy …

Drumstick was raised on Carl and Sharlene’s turkey farm in Douglas County, Minnesota, with the help of five young women from the Douglas County 4-H chapter who are here with us today. And I want to say, great work. Where are they? Please stand. Great job you’ve done. (Applause.) 4-H. That’s great. Thank you.

Upon being pardoned, Drumstick and his friend, Wishbone, will live out their days at “Gobbler’s Rest” — beautiful place. It’s custom-built; it’s an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech. Tremendous school. There, they’ll join Tater and Tot, the two turkeys pardoned last year by President Obama.

As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked. So we’re not going to revoke them. So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.

I’d also like to thank the National Turkey Federation for bringing along two other turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania — the great state of Pennsylvania. We’re donating these turkeys to Martha’s Table, a truly fantastic charity right here in Washington D.C., which provides warm meals to people in need. They do a fantastic job.

Before we get to the pardon, I would like to take a moment to extend our very heartfelt special message: Thanks. Thanks, folks — to the finest and bravest people in the entire world, our great men and women in uniform: the military, law enforcement, first responders. These are incredible people. So, thank you.

Many of you are always — and you know your loved ones — and you’re far away, and you spend so much time away. This Thanksgiving, I want each of you to know that we’re forever grateful for the incredible job and for the incredible sacrifices that you and your families make in defense of our nation, our freedom, and our truly great American flag.

I’d also like to express my thanks to the wonderful citizens of our country — the people who care for our communities, raise America’s children, uphold our laws and our values, and make this amazing land into our national home …

And now I think Drumstick and Wishbone would be very thankful if we would just get around to the pardon. They say,

“Enough talk, please pardon us.”

So I want to thank everybody for being here today and wish everybody a very, very happy Thanksgiving — very special people[,] a very special country.

Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

Given the political climate in the United States, the pardons gave rise to humour:

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin for over an hour, discussing a variety of topics.

Before departing the White House to spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, he spoke with the press, who, for the most part, badgered him with their usual stupid questions. However, someone did ask about his conversation with Putin:

We had a great call with President Putin. We’re talking about peace in Syria — very important. We’re talking about North Korea. We had a call that lasted almost an hour and a half. We’ve just put out a release on the call. But we’re talking very strongly about bringing peace for Syria. We’re talking about very strongly about North Korea and Ukraine.

Another reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Great things are happening in the United States — and the world.


On Friday, November 10, 2017, President Trump left China for Vietnam. First Lady Melania Trump remained in China for another day:

Mrs Trump visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage for the Month of the Military Family Celebration. She then returned to Washington DC.

The US president spent two days in Vietnam before flying to the Philippines:

At the zoo, a group of schoolchildren greeted Mrs Trump. She had a gift for every child:

For anyone wondering:

Lucky children. They were able to tour the zoo with her:

Mrs Trump expressed her thanks for being able to see GuGu the panda:

Then it was time for her final destination:

The Conservative Treehouse gives us background on the tour:

First Lady Melania Trump visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in China as the sun was starting to settle low on the horizon. It was windy and slightly cold as our First Lady signed a guest registry and was presented with a scroll from atop one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A state official said that Yukun Zhang, chairman, Mutianyu Great Wall Travel Service Co., Ltd, received the first lady after the ride up on the cable car. After signing the guest registry Mrs. Trump made her way up a short flight of stairs to the Great Wall.

Mrs Trump wore flats:

Meanwhile, the US president landed at Da Nang International Airport:

Trump met US veterans who chose to live in Vietnam after the war. They met at the Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort and Spa. This transcript has his address and exchange with the retired soldiers. An excerpt follows:

Our accountability efforts in Vietnam are very, very important to all of us. We will not rest until all of the 1,253 missing veterans are returned home. I want to thank the government of Vietnam for their assistance in our efforts.

Today, I’m signing a proclamation to honor the veterans of the Vietnam War. This is part of the ongoing 13-year commemoration of their sacrifice for freedom. And I just want to thank these seven very brave people for being here. I got to know them for a few minutes upfront, and they are definitely tough, smart cookies. We like them. I think they like me too. I’m not sure, but I think — (applause) — no, I think they do. I think they do. I think they see what we’re doing for our military.

Would you like to say a few words, any of you guys? Would you like to say something? Huh?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Come on. Come on up here. Here’s your chance. You can be a big star now.

MR. HOPPER: Well, I’m not sure about that. But just on behalf of many of us standing up in the front of the room today, I just want to say what an honor and privilege it is to be with our President. I so admire what you’re doing for our country.

Thank you for your dedication to our military, our country. And we’re all behind you in making America great again.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. That’s so nice. Thank you very much.

MR. HOPPER: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. REYNOLDS: It’s an honor to be here. My family is so proud. My wife loves you. (Laughter.) She does. We all love you.

All of the veterans that I represent in my community asked me to say to you: Keep doing what you’re doing. We need to win. We need to make America great again. And we definitely think you are on the right track. So, thank you. It’s honor to meet you, sir.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will keep it going, and we will get it done.

MR. REYNOLDS: Absolutely.


MR. REYNOLDS: I believe it. Thank you very much.


MR. MORGAN: Mr. President, from my heart, thank you for your support of the military, and it’s an honor to be here as one of seven Vietnam veterans representing the 58,000 heroes who never made it home.

Thank you so much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you so much. (Applause.)

MR. MORGAN: Thank you, sir. Thank you.


MR. GOODE: I am nervous.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.

MR. GOODE: I am nervous.

You know, it’s an honor for me to be here today to meet the President of the United States that’s doing such a fine job for America. I’m so proud of him and what he’s doing, and I’m also really proud to represent all those veterans that are back home to be one of seven of these veterans that are here today. It’s such an honor to represent the rest of those veterans in the United States of America.

Thank you.

This is the text of the aforementioned proclamation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Nearly every president since then has made a statement about finding the 1,253 missing veterans. Perhaps Trump will be the one to make that happen.

He also tweeted a 242nd happy birthday greeting to the United States Marine Corps.

Trump then went to the APEC CEO Summit 2017 at the Ariyana Da Nang Exhibition Center.

Trump addressed the summit. Note ‘H.E.’ before his name — His Excellency — in the video below:

The full transcript is here. This is is some of what he said:

This next one is really important:

This is also very important (emphases mine):

Earlier this week, I addressed the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea and urged every responsible nation to stand united in declaring that every single step the North Korean regime takes toward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater danger. The future of this region and its beautiful people must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail

We must also deal decisively with other threats to our security and the future of our children, such as criminal cartels, human smuggling, drugs, corruption, cybercrime, and territorial expansion. As I have said many times before: All civilized people must come together to drive out terrorists and extremists from our societies, stripping them of funding, territory, and ideological support. We must stop radical Islamic terrorism.

So let us work together for a peaceful, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific. I am confident that, together, every problem we have spoken about today can be solved and every challenge we face can be overcome.

If we succeed in this effort, if we seize the opportunities before us and ground our partnerships firmly in the interests of our own people, then together we will achieve everything we dream for our nations and for our children.

We will be blessed with a world of strong, sovereign, and independent nations, thriving in peace and commerce with others. They will be places where we can build our homes and where families, businesses, and people can flourish and grow.

If we do this, will we look at the globe half a century from now, and we will marvel at the beautiful constellation of nations — each different, each unique, and each shining brightly and proudly throughout this region of the world. And just as when we look at the stars in the night sky, the distance of time will make most of the challenges we have and that we spoke of today seem very, very small.

What will not seem small — what is not small — will be the big choices that all of our nations will have to make to keep their stars glowing very, very brightly.

Another fabulous speech by Stephen Miller. What a man he is, blessed by God with a talent for prose.

He also met Vladimir Putin ahead of their meeting on November 11. Men were given silk Vietnamese shirts to wear for the evening’s events (the more formal photo is here):

The two did not meet formally at APEC, although they found time to converse. Reuters reported that they discussed defeating ISIS and confirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty. The Daily Mail has more. Both media outlets say that the Kremlin issued a joint statement, however, the White House offered no confirmation.

The APEC gala dinner followed. Before dinner:

A cultural performance concluded a busy day.

Meanwhile, Mrs Trump was in Alaska and spent time talking with the children attending school at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. The children were decorating paper fish and sculpting Play Doh:

She also spoke with military personnel:

Mrs Trump arrived at the White House late that night.

More on Trump’s second day in Vietnam tomorrow.


As part of their tour of Asia …

… President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed in China on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, as guests of President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan.

The caption refers to the contrast with Obama’s arrival on September 4, 2016 in Beijing for the G20 summit, as the Telegraph reported:

All the other world leaders appeared to have been welcomed to the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in traditional diplomatic style, treading onto a red carpet laid on a rolling airport staircase positioned outside the main exit of the aircraft.

Mr Obama, however, instead used Air Force One’s smaller exit as he arrived on his final tour of Asia, sparking suggestions that he had been snubbed by his Chinese hosts.

The Chinese gave the Trumps a warm welcome, complete with a military honour guard, a marching band and cheering children (start at 12:00):

AP reported that this is highly unusual:

The ceremony accompanying Trump’s arrival Wednesday afternoon was elaborate even by China’s lavish standards. Heads of state are usually given a low-key reception at the airport, with the real pomp and circumstance reserved for his or her arrival at the Great Hall of the People in the center of Beijing.

This was the schedule for the day:

3:30pm / 2:30am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY will have tea with President Xi Jinping of the Peoples Republic of China and Madame Peng Liyuan, Forbidden City, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China

3:55pm / 2:55am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY tour the Forbidden City and view an opera performance with President Xi and Madame Peng Liyan, Forbidden City, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.

6:00pm / 5:00am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY have dinner with President Xi and Madame Peng, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China

7:05pm / 6:05am THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart the Forbidden City en route their overnight accommodations, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.

The Forbidden City provided beautiful photo ops. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is in the background:

Someone tweeted:

Nothing says MAGA like tea and opera!


On the MAGA front, AFP reported:

US and Chinese companies signed nearly 20 deals worth a total $9 billion on Wednesday at the start of President Donald Trump’s state visit to Beijing.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang oversaw a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People but they did not immediately give details about the 19 deals.

Wang said the agreements were merely a “warmup” before Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping oversee their own ceremony on Thursday involving bigger deals, including in exports of natural gas and soybeans.

Trump plans to use the three-day trip to press Xi on China’s massive trade surplus with the United States, which slightly fell in October to $26.6 billion, according to official Chinese data released on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail has photos of the Trumps touring other parts of the Forbidden City, including the Conservation Scientific Laboratory, where the elaborate automata clocks intrigued the president.

Then it was time for pleasant entertainment, albeit outdoors. There is no glass on the window where the Xis and the Trumps sat:

Afterwards, the Xis and the Trumps had dinner in the Forbidden City. Several media outlets have reported that no foreign leader has been given this honour since the People’s Republic of China was founded 68 years ago. This is YUGE!

That evening, Trump tweeted:

That tweet is a big deal, because China blocks access to Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media. Reuters reported that not only did Trump manage to evade what is known as the Great Firewall, he also changed his Twitter banner to a photo taken at the opera that evening:

The Twitter banner upload did not go unnoticed by Chinese state media, with state broadcaster CCTV flashing screenshots of the photograph on Thursday.

Trump’s visit was also the third-most talked-about topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo over the last 24 hours, trailing only the birthday of a singer in a Chinese boy band and a weekly Asian pop song chart.

Many people wondered how Trump managed to evade China’s tough internet controls …

Many foreigners log on to virtual private networks (VPNs) to access content hosted outside of China. Another option is to sign up for a data-roaming service before leaving one’s home country.

On the morning of Thursday, November 9, an impressive welcome ceremony took place, which shows what honoured guests the American president and first lady were.

The main American news channels did not broadcast this.

Yet, in China, this was the first time such an event was broadcast on live television.

Everything was more than perfect, from the soldiers’ standing to attention, their formations, to the military band music — which included The Star-Spangled Banner and Hail to the Chief — to the cheering Chinese and American schoolchildren. I’ve never seen such precision:


Afterwards, Xi, Trump and their respective delegations met in Peking’s Great Hall for a series of meetings. The two men met first in a closed door session, then invited their delegations to join them for discussions on trade, finance and security.

Reuters reported that a soybean deal was made. The US has a record crop:

The United States soybean industry has signed two letters of intent with Chinese importers covering a $5 billion purchase of an additional 12 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2017/18 marketing year.

The non-binding agreements, disclosed by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in a statement, are among a series of trade deals announced during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to Beijing. China is the world’s top soybean buyer, and the United States is its second supplier after Brazil.

In the first agreement, signed on Nov. 8, the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce said it intended to purchase 8 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans worth $3.4 billion.

A second agreement will be signed on Thursday between grains trader ADM and China’s COFCO for intent to purchase 4 million tonnes of soybeans worth $1.6 billion, said the USSEC.

LNG — liquid natural gas — was also on the agenda, as CNBC reported:

Despite the recent gains and the agreement with Trump, Chinese buyers are still only purchasing U.S. LNG from third parties in short-term spot trades. And there is currently only one company, Cheniere Energy, capable of exporting large shipments of LNG from the United States.

Cheniere CEO Jack Fusco and Texas LNG Chief Operating Officer Langtry Meyer are joining the Trump delegation. The companies did not respond to questions about their agenda in China, but energy research firm Wood Mackenzie said securing commitments is likely at the top of Trump’s list.

“The fact that Trump will arrive in Beijing with a large business delegation in tow, including a sizeable contingent from the energy sector, indicates that the White House is looking to secure concrete commercial agreements from the upcoming trip,” Kerry-Anne Shanks, head of Asia gas and LNG at Wood Mackenzie, said in an email briefing on Tuesday.

While meetings took place, Madame Pen Liyaun took Mrs Trump on a tour of China’s Art and Design School in Beijing:

That afternoon, the two leaders held a joint press conference in the Great Hall.

The Conservative Treehouse summarised Trump’s remarks (emphasis in the original):

President Trump followed President Xi’s remarks with a speech as deliberate and unambiguous as the internal audience would ever fathom hearing.  President Trump respectfully pulled no punches in his direct and emphatic style; stating that China needed to engage in, well, to use China’s familiar wording, “correct thinking” on a variety of issues – including trade and their necessary responsibility toward North Korea.

No-one else could pull this off, except Trump. Not that way. The best part is always the emphatic part at the end.  President Trump gives the look saying: well, that’s that then; that’s all I’ve got to say about that... smiles bigly, and the diplomatic opponent tries not to look smaller than they were ten minutes earlier. [key word, ‘tries‘] …

Also note Trump’s alpha male handshake:

That evening, President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan hosted a state dinner in the Trumps’ honour. Like the welcome ceremony, films of the two men from prior meetings were shown beforehand. The optics were clear — Xi clearly respects Trump. As the original video posted was withdrawn, I had to swap to a less detailed one:

After the film clips, Xi gave a speech, followed by Trump.

Xi recalled President Richard Nixon’s trip to China 45 years ago during the Cold War. He spoke of the two countries’ continuing partnership and co-operation to better mankind. He then offered a toast. Trump smiled broadly, raising his glass (soft drink).

Then, it was Trump’s turn to speak. A flourish of trumpets preceded his speech. He thanked Xi for his ‘generous words’ and warm hospitality ‘from the moment we arrived’. He spoke of their tour of the Forbidden City. He said their meetings presented an ‘incredible opportunity’ to spread ‘peace and prosperity’ around the world. He spoke of the historic characteristics that the US and China share, including venturing into the unknown. He spoke of achieving a ‘more just, fair and peaceful world for our children’. He looked forward to ‘a friendship that will grow stronger and stronger’. He then offered a toast.

President Xi — and the rest of the room — gave Trump a standing ovation.

After a film of Trump’s granddaughter Arabella Kushner (Ivanka’s daughter) sang all the verses of a folk song — My Good Mother — in Mandarin, which the Xis clearly loved. Peng Liyuan, a former folk singer, sang along softly. Arabella began by addressing Xi and Peng as ‘grandpa’ and ‘grandma’ — a child diplomat!

Then, dinner was served. Afterwards, entertainment was provided in the form of a cultural performance.

On the subject of fair trade and how China has taken advantage of the United States for so many years, Trump said:

Trump had a tremendous visit:

CNBC reported that 37 major trade deals have been signed:

The dollar value of those deals is in excess of $250 billion. Caterpillar, Boeing, and Goldman Sachs are just some of the notable names on the list of companies that made deals with China, the full list of which is below.

See the article for more details.

More to follow tomorrow. Mrs Trump stayed in China for another day while President Trump flew to Vietnam.


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