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Former Trump and White House Officials Criticize Neocon Nikki Haley, Speculate On Presidential Hopes

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UN ambassador Nikki Haley is inarguably the most popular Trump administration official in the mainstream media. Haley’s strong support for the continuation and necessity of Robert Mueller’s investigation angers Trump loyalists who see the political damage that Mueller is allowed to do to the president.

Haley is a neoconservative voice for regime change in Syria, which many rational observers believe would embolden the ISIS-linked Syrian rebels and create another anarchic void in the Middle East that could inevitably be filled by an expensive U.S.-led nation-building experiment similar to the Iraq War.

Now some former Trump White House officials are pointing out the problems with Haley.

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McClatchy reports:

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“There’s only one star in this show and it’s Donald J. Trump,” said one of the two people, a former Trump adviser who remains close to the White House…

Since the start of the administration, White House aides have grumbled that Haley, a rising star in the Republican party who is widely considered to be eying a run for president, has repeatedly either gotten in front of Trump or taken the spotlight away from him.

“That’s always been the friction between her and the White House,” said a former White House official. “It has been that way since day one.”

“Staff would joke about her being a potential 2020 primary opponent because she so often got ahead of the president or went another direction on an issue,” the former White House official said. “It was frustrating even if she was right on the merits.”

A Haley spokesperson said the president and ambassador work well together and that the White House communications office knew about her op-ed before it was published, as is the normal practice.

McClatchy passage ends

Trump loyalists are also skeptical of General James Mattis, another neocon who serves as Defense Secretary, and whom Bill Kristol constantly touts as a 2020 primary rival to President Trump.

Big League Politics reported:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary General James Mattis is putting the wheels in motion for a presidential campaign against President Donald Trump in 2020, according to high-level sources in the nation’s capital.

A source confirms that Travis Snyder, an establishment Republican political operator, is working on Mattis’ behalf to reach out to other political professionals to build a viable Mattis 2020 primary campaign. The group has significant financing at its disposal already according to sources.

“I’m sorry but at this time I’m under a legal obligation not to discuss somethings,” Snyder told Big League Politics when questioned about his current business status. “Officially on the record.”

The group surrounding Mattis has the close confidence of White House chief of staff General John Kelly, who knows about the group’s plans. They are also reaching out to Nikki Haley to get her to be involved, possibly as a candidate.

Snyder made that clear in a barely-cryptic recent tweet:

Andrew Feinberg recently confirmed with Mattis aides that Mattis is looking to run against Trump in 2020. Beltway Breakfast reported:

Mattis, one of his senior aides said, raised the issue of his electoral potential last week during a high-level Pentagon meeting, in which he, along with 10-15 of the country’s top civilian and military defense officials, discussed ways to maintain continuity of Defense Department operations in the event that Mattis abruptly resigns or is fired from the cabinet.

“I’d kick Trump’s ass in 2020, and I just might have to!” Mattis said, according to a source.

Beltway Breakfast passage ends

Mattis’ work as Defense Secretary has always alarmed Trump loyalists who are in the know. They remember how Mattis was Bill Kristol’s original pick to run third-party against Trump in Kristol’s bid to reduce Trump’s vote share to help Hillary Clinton win. When Mattis said no, and even obscure op-ed writer David French turned him down, Kristol threw his reduced weight behind Evan McMullin.

Roger Stone told Big League Politics months ago about how Mattis is consistently trying to get Trump on board with neocon initiatives like placing massive numbers of ground troops in Iraq:

Stone said that he is not concerned for the president because “There’s a real Trumpite in the White House, and his name happens to be Trump. Everybody in the White House told him to go into Syria. McMaster and Mattis put on the full court press. Well, guess what? Trump said he’s not going into Syria. So that’s that.”

“Trump is the only real Trumpite in the White House. Him and Steve Bannon. If Steve is forced out, there’s nobody with a frame of reference for who elected this guy.”

“General McMaster is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s a traditional thinking neocon. He wanted 150,000 ground troops,” Stone said. “They just like war. They’ve been for regime change everywhere. Libya. How did that work out? It’s the same thing.”

Stone said that President Trump is doing an above-average job at sticking to his campaign promises.

“The only shame comes when you don’t try,” he said. “The travel ban, they tried it twice and it didn’t work. So what? They’ll try it again. The base doesn’t hold you responsible if you lose. They hold you responsible if you don’t fight.”

 

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Around The World

Exiled Turkish Journalist Warns: Authoritarian Leaders like Erdogan Use Guise of Populism to Destroy Democracy

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The exiled former Editor-in-Chief of Turkey’s now-defunct daily Zaman newspaper Abdulhamit Bilci explained how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fooled Turkey and the world as he strategically destroyed the secular model that was put in place by his predecessor and implemented an Islamic form of government which is changing the face of the nation.

Now, Bilci devotes his time to warning other people about the early signs of the destruction of democracy. He is currently living in exile in the United States.

In a stunning tell-all with The Investigative Journal, Bilci detailed Erdogan’s path from local-level politics to his rise as one of the world’s most notorious authoritarian rulers.

Bilci started his career as a reporter in the 1990s covering political rallies and events for then-candidate Erdogan who ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of Istanbul. He said he developed a familiarity with Erodgan through years of his political coverage of him as a reporter and leading up to his time as editor-in-chief of Zaman — a role he held until he fled the county in March 2016, four months before the failed coup attempt.

In the 1990s, before Erdogan was imprisoned for being seen as a threat to Turkey’s secularism – a model that was instated by the late Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – Erdogan had stated “Democracy is like a train: when you reach your destination, you get off.” That quote can be sourced to a newspaper, “Milliyet Gazete Arsivi.”

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“He was jailed in the 1990s, for four months, for reciting a poem because the secular establishment did not like his ideas and they were trying to stop him. But he was a successful mayor with his crazy ideology,” Bilci said. Erdogan was imprisoned between March to July of 199. During his conviction, he was forced to forfeit his mayoral position. “When he was mayor of Istanbul he was from the Islamist Party,” Bilci said.

Bilci said it was unfortunate that the secular establishment by jailing him made him more popular because then he became a victim; a tool of manipulation Erodgan used to his political advantage.

“When Erdogan got out of prison, he told the powers that be that he had changed his mind and that he was no longer an Islamist and had become democratic. And when he founded the AK Party he said we are not Islamists. We are conservative democrats; we are like Christian democrats in Europe. He then pushed for Turkey to become a member of the EU.”

However, prior to this, Erdogan had vehemently been opposed to having Turkey join the European Union. According to Bilci, “Erodgan saw the EU as a Christian club and believed Turkey has no place in that according to his Islamist vision.”

With his cosmetic change away from Islamism, Erdogan began receiving the support of democracies throughout the world. He was seen as the rising example and model of a Muslim leader who was trying to democratize his country. In fact, Turkey became a model for the Muslim world for democracy.

“I believed in him and I supported him in those years. But things started to change in his third term in 2011,” he said. “There were some signals of change and he gradually stopped the policy of Turkey becoming a better democracy and part of the EU. Instead, he turned increasingly to the Middle East. These were the Arab spring years.”

For a period of about 8-9 years, Zaman Daily supported Erdogan. The publication had approximately 1 million daily subscribers at its peak.

“The newspaper was supporting him during his first eight years as prime minister,” Bilci said. “And the whole world was supporting him; the international media, the New York Times.” He continued, “but that was during the Obama years. He was trying to make reforms in democracy and improve the economy and make Turkey a member of the European Union. All of these policies were in line with our newspaper’s interior line as well.”

Bilci said Erodgan played a very clever game.

“He was showing himself as being democratic for 8-9 years during the time we were supporting him in an attempt to control all the power because he needed that support since the secular establishment in Turkey hated him. So, to counterbalance the secular establishment, he needed the support of democrats and to show up as a democrat.”

But around 2012-2013, things started to change and Erdogan took on an authoritarian approach which Bilci says the world is seeing to this day.

“Obama and the Europeans continued to legitimize Erdogan in 2013 and beyond. They were not candid in criticizing him and it is a pity they did not stop him,” he said. “We were telling them that Erdogan is destroying democracy and the rule of law and you should be candid to protest that and not appease the guy because it will be bad for the Turkish people and the entire democratic world.” However, despite these warnings, many western, democratic leaders, including Obama continued to appease Erdogan who continued to get closer to Russia and jail journalists even going so far as attacking America’s allies, the Kurds, and procuring negative policies in Libya and Syria that benefited jihadists.

“Once his authoritarianism and corruption were revealed, we exposed it and that made him the enemy,” Bilci said of Erdogan. He said the Turkish government was providing the crux of the publication’s funding and the newspaper fell on hard times between 2015 and 2016 because Erdogan “was calling companies and telling them not to purchase advertisements from our media and there were financial and legal pressures applied.” Similar attempts to crush opposition media were made against conservative publications like Breitbart News by progressives in the United States.

“Our reporters were not able to attend press conferences. He revoked our press cards. In those three years, there were crazy things occurring but we continued our critical editorial line. We did not fall down,” Bilci said. “Finally, he used the nuclear option. He used appointees that he controlled and sent police forces to come to our offices and fired me.” He said in his place, “Erdogan’s thugs” hired a mouthpiece journalist from the pro-government daily paper (Akit), which he described as “a hardline Islamist newspaper,” to be the new editor. “Within 24 hours, Zaman newspaper became a propaganda mouthpiece for the Erdogan regime.”

The move by Erdogan to strangle press freedom had dire consequences for the publication.

“Our readers did not approve of that change,” Bilci said. “At the time of occupation, our circulation was around 700,000 people a day, which had come down from 1 million people per day due to the government takeover of it.” He continued, “our readers did not approve that change and they protested by stopping to buy it. So, within one week the circulation decreased to 5,000 people per day. This was the total and complete and total destruction of a private media company.”

Once the coup took place, Zaman was shut down altogether. In addition to this, Erdogan’s government shut down around 200 critical media outlets. They raided the homes of journalists and columnists from media outlets critical of Erdogan and arrested them. “Luckily, I was not home. But colleagues of mine who were arrested in July 2016 are still in jail. Some of them received life sentences, others 10 years, and others still 6 years.”

Academics, teachers, lawyers, doctors, are among those who have been locked up unjustly.

“I feel lucky that I got out and I am free but I feel so sad that I left my friends behind,” Bilci said. “The only thing I can do is continue speaking out to tell this story.” Despite having over 200,000 followers on Twitter, Bilci’s message does not reach those inside of Turkey. “A court order in Turkey has blocked my Twitter from being visible to the Turkish people. Unfortunately, Twitter cooperated with the Turkish court’s decision.”

“When he grabbed power, he showed his real identity. He used Islamism but I don’t think that he is a sincere Muslim. I think he is using Islam to fool people; specifically –Turkey’s conservative people which are his constituency — to cover up his authoritarianism and corruption.” Bilci added, “Democracies are fragile and anyone living in democracy today should be careful about the ways and methods that are being used to destroy democracy using democratic mechanisms.”

He concluded, “Turkey should be studied more by the democratic world, by the media, and by academics so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Erdogan is one of the prime examples of populism gone wrong. He should become an example of what not to let happen. So, in that regard, Turkey is a prime example for learning lessons in history.”

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