Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince wants to privatize the U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, but apparently he's also very interested in the country's rare minerals. On Thursday, BuzzFeed News published Prince's 19-page plan to end America's longest war, which involves sending private contractors and U.S. special forces to fight alongside and train Afghan soldiers.
But while Prince's push to privatize the war in Afghanistan has been well-documented, the presentation published by BuzzFeed News is the first instance of Prince explicitly highlighting his interest in the country's potential mineral wealth. In his pitch, Prince claims that there are over $1 trillion worth of rare minerals buried in Afghanistan, which his security forces would extract in order to "restore [the] U.S. high tech manufacturing supply chain." Prince additionally claims that mining would provide employment for Afghans and would break "the negative security economic cycle."
Earlier this year, Prince began his public push to convince President Trump to let his company take over the Afghanistan war, focusing on the conflict's high costs and only mentioning the country's mineral resources in passing. Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly tried to talk Defense Secretary James Mattis into considering the proposal, but Mattis was apparently not interested.
Trump himself reportedly learned of Afghanistan's mineral wealth in May and apparently expressed a desire to "see where the business deal is," but he ultimately backed a Pentagon proposal to increase troop levels instead.
Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, declined to speak to BuzzFeed News about his plan for the Afghan war. See his full plan here. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Conservative author Mona Charen got booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday because of comments she made about the #MeToo movement, the Republican Party, and President Trump.
"I am disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women," Charen said, referencing Trump and the Access Hollywood tape. "This is a party that endorsed Roy Moore for the Senate in the state of Alabama even though he was a credibly accused child molester," she continued. "You cannot claim that you stand for women and put up with that."
Writing in the New York Times Sunday, Charen stood by her critique of the GOP as a lifelong conservative. "There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth," she wrote. "And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds, and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability."
Watch an excerpt of the CPAC panel below, and read the whole New York Times op-ed here. Bonnie Kristian
— Scout (@about_scout) February 24, 2018
Broward sheriff refuses to resign, claims 'amazing leadership' despite shooting response allegations
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union he will not resign despite allegations that multiple deputies under his command did not enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, "when they should have" during the Valentine's Day mass shooting.
Israel previously said one deputy assigned to the school was suspended without pay and then resigned because he never entered the school to protect students or confront the shooter. Now the Coral Springs Police Department has accused other deputies of delaying their entry.
"Deputies make mistakes, police officers make mistakes, we all make mistakes," Israel argued. "But it's not the responsibility of the general or the president if you have a deserter."
Israel also addressed the warnings his department received about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, before the attack. "I can only take responsibility for what I knew about," the sheriff told host Jake Tapper Sunday. "I exercised my due diligence. I provided amazing leadership to this agency." Tapper was unconvinced, countering that "you measure somebody's leadership by the way they protect the community" and suggesting Israel failed to protect Parkland.
Watch the full interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 25, 2018
The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee on Sunday announced a proposal to remove the presidential term limit that would constrain the rule of President Xi Jinping.
Under the present structure of the Chinese Constitution, Xi is limited to two five-year terms, the second of which is due to end in 2023. If the constitutional amendment is approved, Xi could potentially stay in office indefinitely. An editorial in a Chinese state newspaper said the change would not mean "the Chinese president will have a lifelong tenure," but it quoted a Communist Party source saying China needs "consistent leadership" through 2035.
Xi's anti-corruption campaign has been popular among the public, but comments about the proposal on Weibo, China's Twitter analogue, suggested extending the term limit would be preferred over ending it. "If two terms are not enough, then they can write in a third term, but there needs to be a limit," wrote one user. "Getting rid of it is not good!" Bonnie Kristian
He declared the Democratic counter-memo, published earlier that day, "really fraudulent" and its congressional authors worthy of investigation. Trump specifically targeted for critique Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who oversaw the counter-memo's creation and release, labeling him a "bad guy."
On guns, the president again proposed arming teachers as an antidote to school shootings. A mass shooter would be deterred by "some offensive power in there," Trump said, while "a gun-free zone is like target practice" and beloved of "bad guys."
And though he insisted "the generals would love" a military parade, the president seemed to back off from the idea by noting it could be too expensive. "We'll see if we can do it at a reasonable cost," he said. "If we can't, we won't do it." A Military Times poll found nine in 10 readers believed the parade is "a waste of money and troops are too busy."
Watch two excerpts of the interview below. Bonnie Kristian
President @realDonaldTrump on Dem FISA memo: "A lot of bad things happened on the other side, not on this side, but the other side. And somebody should look into it because what they did was really fraudulent." pic.twitter.com/PgEyKLAYEM
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 25, 2018
President @realDonaldTrump on gun legislation: "Perhaps we'll do something on age...it doesn't seem to make sense that you have to wait [until] you're 21 years old to get a pistol but to get a gun like [Nikolas Cruz] used in the school, you get that at 18." pic.twitter.com/hNAni2iIot
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 25, 2018
Mexico's president reportedly changed his mind about visiting the White House after talking to Trump
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto scrapped plans to visit Washington in February or March after an argumentative phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Saturday night, citing officials from both countries.
Trump reportedly "lost his temper" in a discussion of his unrealized pledge to build an extensive wall along the United States' southern border with Mexican funding. "Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall," American officials reportedly told the Post.
Also at issue, the Post story says, is Peña Nieto's dissatisfaction with Trump's refusal to commit to a meeting agenda that will avoid embarrassment. A column in Mexico's El Horizonte newspaper on Friday likewise said the Trump's "volatility" and the "lack of certainty about his commitments and actions" makes the Mexican president wary of a public conversation.
The North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, indicated "North Korea is willing to have talks with the U.S., and the North agrees that inter-Korean relations and North Korea-U. S. relations should advance together," said a statement from South Korea's presidential administration Sunday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in "pointed out the urgency to hold dialogue between North Korea and the U.S. in order to fundamentally the resolve the issues on the Korean Peninsula and to improve inter-Korean relations," the statement reported.
In a public statement earlier Sunday, however, the North Korean regime condemned the United States' latest round of sanctions against North Korea, announced Friday. "The two Koreas have cooperated together and the Olympics was held successfully," Pyongyang said via state-run media, "but the U.S. brought the threat of war to the Korean peninsula with large-scale new sanctions."
President Trump has repeatedly expressed an interest in direct negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, he frequently vacillates toward more aggressive rhetoric. On Friday, he suggested that if these sanctions fail, he will move on to an unspecified "Phase 2" which could be "rough" and "very unfortunate for the world." Bonnie Kristian
Trump declares House Democrats' counter-memo 'a nothing' — while claiming it proves surveillance abuses against his campaign
House Intelligence Committee Democrats on Saturday published their counter to the Nunes memo, a controversial document compiled under Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee chair, and released earlier this year.
The Nunes memo alleges the FBI acquired FISA court permission to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page using the Steele dossier, which was created with funding from a Clinton campaign lawyer, not telling the court the information's source.
The new memo defends the FBI, claiming the agency was conducting its own probe of the Trump campaign for seven weeks before obtaining the Steele dossier. The dossier was only narrowly used in the surveillance application, the counter-memo says, with proper identification of its political provenance.
President Trump promptly denounced the counter-memo, calling it "a nothing" and "really fraudulent" in a Fox News interview Saturday night. On Twitter, he misquoted Fox to attack Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who oversaw the counter-memo's creation and release. He also declared the counter-memo proves his own campaign's persecution. "Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done," Trump wrote. "SO ILLEGAL!"
Read the counter-memo below. Bonnie Kristian