Foreign Affairs

One Republican Would Subpoena Trump’s Taxes

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Maine Public Radio that she wants a vigorous investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence last fall’s presidential election.

“Asked whether that could include issuing a subpoena for the tax returns that Trump has refused to release, Collins said it could if that is what is required to find out if the president had undisclosed connections to the Russians.”

Said Collins: “I don’t know whether we will need to do that. If it is necessary to get to the answers, then I suspect that we would.”

Mexico Will ‘Not Accept’ U.S. Immigration Policies

Mexico will not accept new “unilateral” U.S. immigration proposals, and will not hesitate in approaching the United Nations to defend immigrants, Reuters reports.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said “the new U.S. proposals would be the main point of discussion for upcoming meetings, which will take place between Mexican officials, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Russian Diplomat’s Death Needs More Study

“The cause and manner of death of Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations needs to be studied further, the city medical examiner said Tuesday, a day after the diplomat fell ill at his office at Russia’s U.N. mission and died at a hospital,” CBS News reports.

“Further study usually includes toxicology and other screenings, which can take weeks. The case was referred to the medical examiner’s office by the hospital.”

Bannon Delivered Different Message Before Pence Visit

“In the week before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Brussels and pledged America’s ‘steadfast and enduring’ commitment to the European Union, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat and delivered a different message, according to people familiar with the talks,” Reuters reports.

“Bannon, these people said, signaled to Germany’s ambassador to Washington that he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favored conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis.”

Trump Continues Attack on Sweden, With No Evidence

President Trump “escalated his attack on Sweden’s migration policies on Monday, doubling down on his suggestion — based on a Fox News report — that refugees in the Scandinavian country were behind a surge in crime and terrorism,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump set off consternation and ridicule on Saturday when he seemed to falsely imply to a throng of supporters at a rally in Florida that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden, which has admitted tens of thousands of refugees in recent years.”

Putin Briefed on Trump’s Psychological Makeup

A dossier on Donald Trump’s psychological makeup is being prepared for Russian President Vladimir Putin, NBC News reports.

“Among the preliminary conclusions? The new American leader is a risk-taker but can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser.”

“It is normal for any president or leader to be fully briefed before entering negotiations for the first time with a rival leader, but preparing a detailed dossier on the mind and instincts of a U.S. leader is unusual.”

Mattis Says There’s No Plan to Take Iraq’s Oil

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders, Politico reports.

“Mattis arrived on an unannounced visit in Iraq as the battle to oust Islamic State militants from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria. Those efforts could be complicated by Trump’s oil threat and his inclusion of Iraq in the administration’s travel ban — twin blows that have roiled the nation and spurred local lawmakers to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reduce cooperation with Washington.”

British Lawmakers to Debate Trump’s Visit

“British lawmakers on Monday will debate whether to withdraw an invitation to President Trump for a state visit — ­an offer extended with un­precedented speed,” the Washington Post reports.

“The debate, to be held in Parliament’s Westminster Hall, was triggered after a petition calling on the British government to cancel the state visit amassed more than 1.8 million signatures. A counter-petition urging the government to support the visit, signed by 300,000, will also be debated.”

Trump’s Remark Puzzles Swedes

“Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump that suggested that something terrible had occurred in their country. During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Mr. Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists,” the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

“Not the Swedes. Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled.”

Lawmakers Worry Trump’s Rhetoric Hurting U.S.

A growing roster of Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill say they believe President Trump’s pugnacious rhetoric and unpredictable behavior threaten to diminish the United States’ standing around the world, do real damage to fragile diplomatic ­relationships and even weaken global stability,” the Washington Post reports.

“Lawmakers are speaking in increasingly urgent tones about Trump’s unusual foreign policy statements and his tendency to pick fights with domestic and international figures. They say it has taken a toll on the way key allies, foes and other foreign observers view the United States. Even members of Trump’s own party are having difficulties vouching for him.”

Who Gave Flynn the Orders to Talk to Russia?

New Yorker: “Even before Flynn’s rapid fall, his closest military colleagues had been struggling to make sense of what had happened to the talented and grounded general they once knew… Some of Flynn’s former military colleagues, even those from whom he’s drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said.”

Said one intelligence official: “This story is bigger than Mike Flynn. Who told Mike to go do this? I think somebody said, ‘Mike, you’ve got some contacts. Let them know it’s gonna be all right.’ Mike’s a soldier. He did not go rogue.’”

Trump Proposes Checking Chinese Visitors

Politico: “The Trump administration is moving to expand social media checks to cover Chinese citizens traveling to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are proposing to ask Chinese visitors to disclose their social media ‘handles’ or other identifiers on common social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The question would be asked online as part of an electronic system Chinese holders of long-term U.S. business and visitor visas use to advise of upcoming travel.”

“Answering the question would be ‘optional,’ CBP said in a notice set for publication Tuesday in the Federal Register. Those who don’t wish to answer will have their travel requests processed ‘without a negative interpretation or inference,’ the notice said.”

Tillerson Begins State Department Purge

CBS News: “While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday. Much of the seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told that their services were no longer needed.”

“These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.”

“There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.”