WASHINGTON – In an interview on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she believes that God wanted Donald Trump to be president.
Talking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sanders offered her thoughts on a wide array of topics, including immigration, a border wall, the White House press briefings and how real estate mogul Donald Trump ended up at the White House.
„I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that He wanted Donald Trump to become president,” Sanders said, according to CBN News. „That’s why he’s there and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”
Much of Sanders’ 20-minute interview with the media organization revolved around the intersection of faith and politics, including how Christians in Syria will be affected by pulling troops out of the country, abortion and whether a wall along the southern border, Trump’s key campaign promise that led to a 35-day government shutdown, is moral.
Sanders argued that Trump is the „most conservative president that we’ve ever had,” pointing to how the administration has reshaped the judicial system with a wide assortment of conservative judges.
„I think that will be one of the greatest legacies that the president has after his 8 years in office is how he has completely remade the judiciary and started to stop this activist court that we’ve started to see over the last 8 years,” Sander said. „There’s a reason evangelicals are sticking with the President, and that’s because he’s delivered on all the things he said he would do.”
Sanders questioned whether press briefings were the best way to distribute information and criticized members of the press who used the briefings as a way to „find this gotcha moment.”
Sanders said her faith helps comfort her in her daily duties at the White House and when she faces tough questions from the news media about the administration.
„The goal is to be the best version of who God created us and who he called us to be,” Sanders told CBN. „Some days I do that better than others, but the goal is always to be open about my faith. I think it’s part of the reason it gives me a sense of calm when I’m in that room.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: God ‘wanted Donald Trump to become president,’ Sarah Sanders says
President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at his own intelligence chiefs a day after they gave a Senate committee assessments of foreign threats that radically differed from his own.
“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran,” Trump tweeted. “They are wrong!”
On Tuesday, the directors of the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and national intelligence testified publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committeethat China and Russia currently pose the biggest risks to the United States.
Their views on relations with North Korea, Iran and Syria were conspicuously at odds with what Trump has said about those countries.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told members of the committee that ISIS continues to pose a threat in Syria. (Trump, in announcing plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, said, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.”) Coats said North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons. (Trump has said the country no longer poses a threat, and that he “solved” the crisis with the rogue nuclear nation.) And Coats said Iran was not developing nuclear weapons in violation of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Trump, who pulled out of the deal, insisted Wednesday that Tehran remains “a source of potential danger and conflict.”
“They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge,” the president wrote on Twitter. “There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
It’s not the first time Trump has clashed with his own intelligence officials. Late last year, the president refused to accept the CIA’s assessment that there was strong evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the gruesome murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and declined to sanction the Saudis for the killing.
Trump has repeatedly resisted the conclusion of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of boosting his election chances. The president has instead appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he believed Putin’s denials over the assessment of the American intelligence community.
Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, against the advice of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, led Mattis to resign in protest.
“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter. “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, has been hit with a travel ban after the country’s chief prosecutor announced he would launch a criminal investigation into the congressional leader.
The supreme court – stacked with members loyal to president Nicolas Maduro – blocked Mr Guaido from leaving the counrty and froze his bank accounts, but did not strip him of his legislative immunity.
It came as Mr Guaido called on Venezuelans to stage a two-hour walkout from their homes and workplaces in protest at Mr Maduro’s stewardship of the country.
The incumbent president has said he will not stand down and told Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti he was open to negotiations alongside mediators.
“I’m willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future,” he said.
Russia is a key ally, backing the Maduro government with loans and weapons.
Mr Maduro has accused the US of instigating a coup against him after Donald Trump recognised Mr Guaido as the legitimate interim leader, prompting a string of other countries including Britain to follow suit.
On Tuesday Washington announced fresh sanctions on Venezuela, targeting its state-run oil company PDVSA.
Mr Maduro called the sanctions “criminal” and vowed to challenge the US in court. “With these measures, they intend to rob us,” he said.
Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after Mr Guaido, during a huge opposition rally in Caracas, declared he had assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to hold fresh elections to end Mr Maduro’s “dictatorship”.
Under Venezuela’s constitution, the head of the national assembly can take on the chief executive’s duties in a range of circumstances in which the presidency is vacated. The opposition argues Mr Maduro’s re-election last May was unfair.
The 35-year-old Mr Guaido has re-invigorated the opposition movement by pushing for three immediate goals: to end Maduro’s “usurpation” of power; establish a transitional government; and hold a new presidential election.
The UN human rights office believes security forces detained nearly 700 people in just one day of anti-government protests last week – the highest such tally in a single day in the country in at least 20 years. It says more than 40 people are believed to have been killed.
Mr Maduro’s allies blame the opposition for the violence and deny the high death toll as well as reports that children were among those arrested.
Socialist party leaders have been organising counter-protests by thousands of Maduro supporters in different parts of the country.
On Tuesday, Mr Maduro announced he would expand Venezuela’s civilian armed militia to two million members.
The reserve force was created by the late Hugo Chavez to train civilians to assist the armed forces and defend the socialist revolution from attacks.
Additional reporting by AP
By Stephanie Kelly
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday, as U.S. government data that showed signs of tightening supply and investors remained concerned about supply disruptions following U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry.
U.S. crude futures rose 92 cents to settle at $54.23 a barrel, a 1.73 percent gain. Brent crude futures gained 33 cents, or 0.54 percent, to $61.65 a barrel.
Prices extended gains after government data showed U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose less than expected last week due to a drop in imports, while gasoline inventories fell from record highs as refiners slowed production.
Crude inventories rose by 919,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for an increase of 3.2 million barrels.
After eight straight weeks of builds to a record high, gasoline stocks fell 2.2 million barrels last week, versus forecasts for a 1.9 million-barrel gain.
„The report looked supportive on several fronts with the most obvious being a smaller-than-expected crude build of less than 1 million barrels,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note. „While the slight increase may not appear monumental, we will reiterate that the build compared with 5-year average increases of about 7.5 million barrels.”
The market has been supported since Washington announced export sanctions against Venezuela on Monday, limiting transactions between U.S. companies and Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.
The fight to control Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, has intensified with the new sanctions aimed at driving President Nicolas Maduro from power, the strongest U.S. measures yet against the socialist president who has overseen economic collapse and an exodus of millions of Venezuelans in recent years.
The sanctions aim to freeze sale proceeds from PDVSA’s exports of roughly 500,000 barrels per day of crude to the United States, the OPEC member’s largest crude importer.
Traders who sell Venezuelan crude to the United States are looking for avenues to keep crude flowing during the sanctions, according to people familiar with the discussions, while U.S. companies that buy Venezuelan oil have also been looking for work-arounds, seeking counsel for instance on whether the use of third-party intermediaries, such as commodity merchants, can continue.
„The main risks for supply could come from a violent confrontation within the country, damaging the oil infrastructure,” analyst Carsten Menke at Julius Baer said.
„Yet the risks of such an event seem very low,” he added. „This oil will find its way to the market.”
GRAPHIC: Venezuela vs U.S. crude oil production – https://tmsnrt.rs/2HH4Otd
Market participants remained worried about global economic growth, which has shown signs of slowing amid a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies.
Officials from Washington and Beijing launched a new round of trade talks on Wednesday. The two sides have slapped hefty import tariffs on each other’s goods.
China reported its lowest annual economic growth in nearly 30 years last week, adding to a litany of worrying economic data from Europe and East Asia.
(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Additional reporting by Noah Browning in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Dale Hudson, Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler)
Russia reportedly made a secret offer to North Korea last year to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for a nuclear power plant.
According to the Washington Post, the deal was proposed last autumn as a potential solution to an ongoing diplomatic impasse between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile arsenal.
It has been viewed as a power play by Moscow to elevate its role in the regional peace negotiations about the Korean peninsula, but the chances of success for such a strategy have been met with scepticism by international policy analysts.
The paper reported that under the proposed arrangement the Russian government would operate the power plant and transfer all byproducts back to Russia, with the aim of providing North Korea with a much-needed energy source while denying it the chance to use the plant to make weapons.
Intelligence officials reportedly became aware of the Russian move in 2018, but it is not known how the US administration responded or whether the offer is still on the table.
Russia offering North Korea a reactor if it completely renounces its nuclear weapons and delivery vehicle capability strikes me as the policy equivalent of offering to put out food for the unicorns.https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/russia-secretly-offered-north-korea-a-nuclear-power-plant-officials-20190130-p50ufz.html …
Russia secretly offered North Korea a nuclear power plant: officials
Russian officials made a secret proposal to North Korea last fall aimed at resolving deadlocked negotiations with the Trump administration over its nuclear weapons program.
The US state department, White House, CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Russian Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the report.
“The Russians are very opportunistic when it comes to North Korea, and this is not the first time they’ve pursued an energy stake in Korea,” said Victor Cha, a former White House official who was last year considered as the nominee for US ambassador to South Korea.
“Previous administrations have not welcomed these Russian overtures, but with Trump, you never know because he doesn’t adhere to traditional thinking,” Mr Cha told the Post.
Russia appears keen for Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, to pay a visit to Moscow, but he has so far not committed to doing so.
“Of course, it is on the agenda,” Igor Morgulov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, told the local media on Monday, but he did not lay out any concrete dates, reported TASS.
Kim, who travelled to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, in early January now appears to be focusing his diplomatic efforts on a second summit with Donald Trump, the US president, in late February or early March.
Suh Hoon, the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), told parliamentarians this week that backroom negotiators from North Korea and the US would soon begin to draft a joint statement for the leaders’ meeting.
The director briefed the National Assembly Intelligence Committee that a recent trip by senior North Korean official Kim Yong-chol to the White House had resulted in “a wide range of discussions in a favourable atmosphere,” reported the Korea Times.
However, on Tuesday, America’s most senior intelligence chief contradicted Mr Trump’s optimistic prognosis for achieving a breakthrough in persuading Kim to give up his nuclear weapons programme.
Dan Coats, the US director of national intelligence, said that North Korea was “unlikely” to renounce its nuclear ambitions as keeping its arsenal was crucial to “regime survival.”