News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: RUSSIA Kicks Out Diplomats, THAAD Missiles and Much, Much More

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) greets people during a campaign rally at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on Feb. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Good Monday Morning.

Here is what’s on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will participate in the swearing-in of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
  • The President will then lead a Cabinet meeting.
  • Later in the morning, the President will meet with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
  • In the afternoon, the President will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
  • The President will then present the Medal of Honor.

Putin boots 755 U.S. diplomats from RUSSIA

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has decided to kick out hundreds of American diplomats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that the U.S. diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere in the country will have to reduce their staffs by 755 people, signaling a significant escalation in the Russian response to American sanctions over the Kremlin’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

The exile is “the single largest forced reduction in embassy staff, comparable only to the closing of the American diplomatic presence in the months following the Communist revolution in 1917.”

The number of American diplomats will be capped at 455, which is the same number of RUSSIAN diplomats working here in the states. Previously, the U.S. had almost 1,200 people working as diplomats in RUSSIA.

“More than a thousand employees — diplomats and technical employees — have worked and are still working in RUSSIA these days,” Putin told journalist Vladimir Solovyov on a nationally televised news show Sunday evening. “Some 755 of them will have to terminate their activity.”

V.P. Pence is currently in Eastern Europe, traveling in countries that have resisted RUSSIAN meddling in their business.

“The president has made it very clear that Russia’s destabilizing activities, its support for rogue regimes, its activities in Ukraine are unacceptable,” Pence said when asked by reporters in Tallinn, Estonia, whether he expects Trump to sign the sanctions. “The president made very clear that very soon he will sign the sanctions from the Congress of the United States to reinforce that.”

“As we make our intentions clear, we expect Russian behavior to change.”

How this latest development fits into the TRUMP-COZY-WITH-RUSSIA-ELECTION-HACK narrative, I can’t say.

RUSSIA promises to retaliate against sanctions

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov threatened retaliation against the U.S. over legislation the RED SCARED Congress passed to sanction his country.

“If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind,” Ryabkov said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We will mirror this. We will retaliate. … But my whole point is, don’t do this, it is to the detriment of the interests of the U.S.”

On Friday, President Trump reviewed the legislation and the word was he was going to sign it.

My colleague (and friend) Michael Walsh puts it nicely:

In short, the “Russia!” meme has worked like a charm. If the Democrats/Compromised Media/Never Trumpers had wanted to set out to help Putin in his global chess match vs. the United States, they could not have done a better job. And perhaps that was their goal all along.

U.S. successfully launches THAAD missile over Pacific Ocean

On Sunday morning, the U.S. successfully tested its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system from Alaska say military officials.

The weapon was fired by a U.S. Air Force plane and intercepted by the system, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said, describing the test as “successful.”

The exercise will help the U.S. “to stay ahead of the evolving threat,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in a statement, without elaborating.

“The U.S. Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Army soldiers of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted a successful missile defense test today using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system,” the MDA statement said.

“A medium-range target ballistic missile (MRBM) was air-launched by a U.S. Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean. The THAAD weapon system located at Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target.”

The THAAD has also been deployed to South Korea to defend against the missile-happy dictator running North Korea. China and Russia were not pleased about the deployment.

WATCH: Bernie Sanders gets schooled on the failure of single-payer health care system

https://youtu.be/NUxuDb1Yl-I

“How do you make it national if you can’t even get it in Vermont and California?” the CNN host asked.

The world according to John Bolton

Tablet’s Lee Smith has a great interview with former Ambassador John Bolton. Here’s my favorite part:

Why is a Republican president running Barack Obama’s foreign policy with the same guys who brought billion of dollars in cash to Teheran on an airplane?

I have a long list of people who I think should have been fired the minute the Trump administration started Jan. 20, like James Comey. These are not just implementers of Obama’s policy, but the architects of his policy. They’re not going to change their minds. They might trim their sails, but if you don’t get new people in, you won’t get new thinking.

Photo of the day:

Photographers take photos of the Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-05 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasting off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Friday, July 28, 2017. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Randy Bresnik, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Other Morsels:

Haley: I am done discussing North Korea

Man deported 20 times before sexually assaulting elderly woman, police say

Twitter protest over HBO controversial slavery show “Confederate”

Professor claims Obama’s eco-friendly light bulbs are causing health problems

Discussing gang violence is apparently worse than gang violence

Van slams into LA restaurant, injures 9

Venezuela officials claim more than 8 million votes to grant government more power

Car bombing targets Iraq Embassy in Kabul: Police

Pelosi: ‘Unimportant’ to win midterm elections

California voted to go easy on criminals — this is how crime is doing 3 years later

Florida man finds black bear sleeping at his doorstep

Airport worker punches passenger holding a baby

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!