Trump tears into Mitt Romney who said requests for Ukraine, China to investigate Biden were ‘appalling’•Joe Biden: Donald Trump „unhinged” and „corrupt” President Donald Trump tore into Sen. Mitt Romney on Twitter Saturday, calling the 2012 Republican presidential nominee „pompous” a day after Romney said Trump’s apparent requests of Ukraine and China to investigate a political opponent were „wrong and appalling.” „Mitt Romney never knew how to win,” tweeted Trump, who has often slammed the Utah Republican for his failure to defeat President Barack Obama. He said Romney „has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!” On Friday, Romney derided Trump’s call for China to investigate vague corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump’s suggestion came amid an impeachment inquiry into his attempts to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate allegations that Biden forced a Ukrainian prosecutor to back off an energy company with ties to his son. ‘I won big and he didn’t’: President Trump fires back at Mitt Romney after critical op-edMore: Trump trolls Romney with video that contrasts the successes of their presidential bidsDonald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump
Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous “ass” who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!Trump and his supporters have denied that his requests for foreign governments to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate were politically motivated. They have said Trump was instead focused on battling corruption. „When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney tweeted.”By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” he added. Explainer: Biden, allies pushed out Ukrainian prosecutor because he didn’t pursue corruption casesMitt Romney@MittRomney When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.Mitt Romney@MittRomney
When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics,” Trump tweeted in response on Saturday. „If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!” The president also repeated his claim that his conversation with Zelensky was a „perfect phone call” and that the whistleblower who helped spark the impeachment inquiry was „way off” in his characterization of that was said. Although many experts and commentators have said a rough transcript of the call that was released by Trump helps corroborate the allegations against him, the president also repeated his claim that the transcript exonerated him. Romney has been a fierce critic of Trump since the 2016 Republican primary campaign. Though Romney was not a candidate that year, he was a leading voice among Republicans who hoped to stop Trump from securing the nomination, calling him a „phony” and a „fraud” whose „personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.” Trump responded to that criticism by calling Romney a „failed candidate” who „ran one of the worst races in presidential history” and „choked like a dog.” Their relationship improved after Trump’s 2016 victory and Romney was considered a top contender for secretary of state as Trump assembled his Cabinet. And Trump backed Romney in his 2018 Senate run, tweeting that he would „make a great Senator” and that he „had my full support and endorsement.” Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump.@MittRomney has announced he is running for the Senate from the wonderful State of Utah. He will make a great Senator and worthy successor to @OrrinHatch, and has my full support and endorsement! But ahead of his swearing-in as senator, Romney wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that said, „the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.” „Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast!” Trump responded. „Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!” As to whether Romney „begged” for that endorsement, the former Massachusetts governor did boast about the president’s support in a 2018 tweet.However, Trump had relatively low popularity in Utah where he only received about 14% of the vote in the 2016 Republican caucuses, according to The New York Times. And though Trump won Utah with 45% of the vote in the 2016 general election, 21% of voters went with independent candidate Evan McMullin, who ran as a conservative alternative to Trump. Romney won the state with almost 73% of the vote in 2012. Perilous times for Trump: By 45%-38%, Americans support impeaching him over Ukraine allegations, poll findsThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump rips Mitt Romney as ‘pompous’ after rebuke of Biden probe demand
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson turns on Trump for asking Ukraine to investigate his rival Joe Biden: ‘There’s no way to spin this’•Tucker Carlson turns on Trump for asking Ukraine to investigate Biden: ‘There’s no way to spin this’Tucker Carlson has criticised Donald Trump for encouraging Ukraine to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden in a rare break from his staunch support for the president.Mr Carlson, who is one of Fox News’ leading presenters, fell short of backing impeachment in an op-ed on Friday but admitted that Mr Trump should not have raised the prospect of an investigation into Mr Biden and his son Hunter.“Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden,” he said.“Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea.”Mr Trump is accused of using the call with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, as part of a wider campaign to force Ukraine into investigating the Bidens that may have included withholding a White House visit and financial aid to the country.The Fox News host co-wrote the op-ed for The Daily Caller, the right-wing website he helped set up, with fellow co-founder Neil Patel.Mr Carlson added: “Our leaders’ official actions should not be about politics…“Once those in control of our government use it to advance their political goals, we become just another of the world’s many corrupt countries.” Read moreHowever, Carlson insisted that the president’s actions did not rise to the level of an impeachable offence and claimed it was “hard to argue” that Mr Trump should be removed from office.Some political commentators have suggested Mr Carlson’s criticism of Mr Trump showed a pivot in conservative strategy for defending the president.“This is a pretty transparent effort to provide a roadmap for Republicans looking for a way to publicly condemn Trump’s actions but still oppose impeachment,” Abby D Phillip, a political correspondent for CNN, said.Mr Carlson has previously criticised the president and complained in 2018 that Mr Trump had not fulfilled his campaign promises.“His chief promises were that he would build the wall, defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things,” the right-wing host said.“It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things.”Nevertheless, Mr Carlson’s primetime Fox News show has been consistent in its support for Mr Trump.As a prominent conservative political commentator for more than two decades, Mr Carlson has been accused of racism, climate change denial and spreading conspiracy theories.In August, advertisers deserted his Fox News show after he called white supremacy “a hoax” in the wake of the El Paso mass shooting.Read more Read more White House subpoenaed as Trump impeachment pressure mounts
- Taiwan, which China considers to be a renegade territory, lost two of its few remaining allies in late September.
- China has sought to win over Taiwan’s allies, but those countries have their own reasons to embrace Beijing.
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On December 1, 2016, 22 countries had full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, an island nation seen as a breakaway province by its larger neighbor, China.
On December 2 that year, President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had what was thought to be the first phone call between a Taiwanese leader and a US president or president-elect since the US severed ties with Taiwan and recognized China in 1979.
For China, after that the gloves came off.
On December 21, 2016, São Tome and Principe, an island country in West Africa, recognized China, as did Panama in 2017. El Salvador and the Dominican Republic followed in 2018. And in a four-day period in September this year, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, both Pacific Island countries, left Taiwan behind.
Now just 15 countries, five of them small Pacific islands, have full diplomatic relations with Taipei, compared to 180 that recognize Beijing.
In an email interview, Dr. Anna Powles, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at New Zealand’s Massey University and an expert on security issues in the Pacific, explained why countries are embracing Beijing, how the US and others have responded, and why some in the region aren’t won over by those responses.
Christopher Woody: For the countries in the Pacific that have switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, what factors have influenced their decisions to do so?
Dr. Anna Powles: The factors that drove the Solomon Islands and Kiribati to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in September have less to do with ideology and more to do with development imperatives and domestic politics.
China is seen as having more to offer, and certainly from an infrastructure development perspective, that is true.
It is important to keep in mind too that this was very much a political decision in both countries, and, in the case of the Solomon Islands, the process — which was meant to have included public consultations — was circumvented.
Woody: What efforts have the US, its partners in the region, and other Western countries made to counter China’s influence among Pacific Island countries, and how have those island countries responded to those efforts?
Powles: Since 2018 the US has sought to increase its diplomatic, defense, and security engagement in the Pacific; as has Australia with its own „Pacific Step Up,” New Zealand’s „Pacific Reset,” and the United Kingdom’s „Pacific Uplift,”
This has included big-ticket infrastructure initiatives such as the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership, a joint project between Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States with the goal of connecting 70% of PNG’s population to electricity by 2030. (Currently only 13% have access.)
The US has also created a dedicated director for Oceania position on the National Security Council. We are also seeing an increase in defense and security engagements with Pacific partners and the expansion of diplomatic posts. (Australia opened five new posts; the UK opened three new missions; New Zealand increased its number of diplomatic staff in Pacific posts.)
Australia launched the Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), a US$1.5 billion Pacific Infrastructure Bank package (although there is valid criticism that the Pacific Island countries don’t need more loans).
Although many of these initiatives have been framed in terms of „countering China,” there is a futility in this approach. Pacific Island countries have welcomed increased engagement, but there is a degree of cynicism also.
Pacific countries are very aware that this renewed interest in the Pacific is as a result of strategic anxieties about Chinese influence in the region rather than a genuine desire to engage with Pacific countries and support and amplify their interests and issues such as climate change.
Pacific countries have also been clear that they do not wish to be treated as pawns in a wider geopolitical game because they are acutely adept at navigating decades of geopolitical competition.
Woody: China has been accused of „debt trap diplomacy” in its dealings with smaller countries. To what extent has Beijing been able to use loans and other agreements as leverage over countries in the region, and what’s the risk of it doing so in the future?
Powles: To date China has not been able to leverage its economic diplomacy with the region over issues such as recognition of its position on South China Sea issues (with the exception of Vanuatu).
Where there could be potential opportunities for greater leverage is if Pacific countries or territories are weakened by increasingly severe or frequent climate-related events, where they are potentially trapped in recovery and relief cycles and are dependent on external assistance in the form of loans, for example.
China could potentially seek to use disaster diplomacy in exchange for votes, for instance.
Woody: What do the US and its allies see as the strategic implications of growing Chinese influence among Pacific Island countries? Are China’s relationships with those countries ones that would allow Beijing to access ports, airfields, or other infrastructure for military uses?
Powles: The strategic implications of growing Chinese influence in the Pacific are threefold: First, that growing Chinese influence equates to the diminishing influence of the US, Australia, New Zealand, and other partners. In actual fact, it was the benign neglect of the US and its partners in the Pacific which created the strategic vacuum which China stepped into.
Second, that growing Chinese influence in the region is shaping both governance and development outcomes in a manner which is favorable to Chinese interests and which will lead to a re-shaping of the regional order itself.
And third, that Chinese influence could upset the military balance in the region and lead to direct competition.
While there has been discussion around dual-use facilities in the Pacific, including ports, it is unlikely in the near future that Beijing would be given access to critical infrastructure for military purposes. That could change, however.
It is not unrealistic to consider a scenario where China deploys the PLA or PLAN to extract its citizens following a natural disaster and this leads to mission creep — perhaps an offer to contribute to reconstruction efforts and, down the track, training.
Woody: How has climate change — both addressing its causes and responding to its effects — shaped Pacific Island countries’ attitudes toward China and Western countries?
Powles: The regional security declaration, the Boe Declaration (2018), states that climate change is the existential threat to the Pacific.
There is significant frustration, as we saw at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tuvalu this year, with those countries such as Australia, who is a signatory to the Boe Declaration yet is failing to uphold its obligations, as well as the US having withdrawn from the Paris Treaty.
Pacific countries have demonstrated they have the moral currency when it comes to climate issues and are increasingly disinclined to support the strategic objectives of those countries who do not recognize that climate change is the existential threat.
The joke is while the focus is on China, it’s climate change that is the ultimate strategic threat.