Thursday, August 29, 2019

1600 Daily The White House • August 29, 2019 President Trump's Message on Hurricane Dorian

1600 Daily
The White House • August 29, 2019

President Trump's Message on Hurricane Dorian

Establishing the U.S. Space Command

This afternoon, at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the Secretary of Defense established the United States Space Command to ensure America’s continued dominance in space. President Trump announced the news from the Rose Garden.

“The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we,” the President said. “Now, those who wish to harm the United States, who seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space—it's going to be a whole different ballgame.”

The United States is reliant on space for everything from the vital military systems that protect us to widely used consumer systems that fuel our economy. While America has the strongest military in the world, failure to act now could allow our adversaries to overcome that competitive advantage and deny us access to the space domain.

🎬 Watch: President Trump establishes the U.S. Space Command

Last week, at the sixth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at length about America’s next great mission to lead the world once again in human space exploration. “As we lead in American innovation and entrepreneurship in space, we also must lead in security,” the Vice President said.

To that end, President Trump installed four-star General John “Jay” Raymond today as the first leader of the revived U.S. Space Command. The newest of 11 unified commands within the Department of Defense, USSPACECOM will employ assigned forces from every branch of the military to achieve vital victories in space.

There’s no better person to lead this charge than Gen. Raymond. As the current commander of the Air Force Space Command, Gen. Raymond leads an incredible team of about 26,000 space professionals worldwide. His deep experience in the field includes serving in the United States Air Force for more than 34 years, and in June, the Senate unanimously confirmed him as our first Commander of the U.S. Space Command.

President Trump revives the United States Space Command.

Statement from Press Secretary Grisham

Today, the Inspector General’s Office released its report on former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of sensitive information on the job. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham released the following statement:

 James Comey is a proven liar and leaker. The Inspector General’s report shows Comey violated the most basic obligations of confidentiality that he owed to the United States Government and to the American people, “in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.” Because Comey shamefully leaked information to the press—in blatant violation of FBI policies—the Nation was forced to endure the baseless politically motivated, two-year witch hunt. Comey disgraced himself and his office to further a personal political agenda, and this report further confirms that fact. 

Photo of the Day

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
The flag of the U.S. Space Command is unfurled in the Rose Garden of the White House | August 29, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary


Rose Garden

4:22 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  It's a great honor.  What a beautiful day in the Rose Garden.  Please sit.  Thank you.

To ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm, I have decided to send our Vice President, Mike Pence, to Poland this weekend, in my place.  It's something very important for me to be here.  The storm looks like it could be a very, very big one indeed.  And Mike will be going.

I've just spoken to President Duda of Poland, and expressed to him my warmest wishes and the wishes of the American people.  Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane.  And I will be rescheduling my trip to Poland in the near future.

     We're gathered here in the Rose Garden to establish the United States Space Command.  It's a big deal.  As the newest combatant command, SPACECOM will defend America’s vital interests in space -- the next warfighting domain.  And I think that's pretty obvious to everybody.  It's all about space.

We're joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joe Maguire, Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matt Donovan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, and Congressman Mike Turner.

We're especially grateful to welcome the new leader of SPACECOM, General Jay Raymond, a highly respected man within the military, joined this afternoon by his wife Mollie -- thank you.  Thank you, Mollie.  Congratulations, Mollie.  It's great.  Their wonderful family and several of their friends.  General Raymond, congratulations.  So important.  I know he's going to do a fantastic job.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

The United States combatant commands were developed to join branches of our armed forces in common cause across diverse fields of battle.

Each of the United States military’s combatant commands has an area of responsibility, from CENTCOM, which oversees our mission in the Middle East, to our most recent, CYBERCOM, which we established just last year to protect Americans from the most advanced cyber threats and also to create very, very severe and powerful offensive threats, should we need them.  The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we.

Now, those who wish to harm the United States to -- seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space.  It's going to be a whole different ballgame.

Our adversaries are weaponizing Earth’s orbits with new technology targeting American satellites that are critical to both battlefield operations and our way of life at home.  Our freedom to operate in space is also essential to detecting and destroying any missile launched against the United States.

So, just as we have recognized land, air, sea, and cyber as vital warfighting domains, we will now treat space as an independent region overseen by a new unified geographic combatant command.  The establishment of the 11th Combatant Command is a landmark moment.  This is a landmark day -- one that recognizes the centrality of space to America’s national security and defense.

Under General Raymond’s leadership, SPACECOM will boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals, by far.

For 35 years, General Raymond has led and commanded space operations at every level in the U.S. Air Force.  Mollie, I hope you're very proud of him.  I'll bet you are.  I am, too.  He's a warrior who has integrated space capabilities to make our military even stronger and to pave the way for a new era of national defense.  He's respected by everybody sitting in front of us -- everybody in the military and everybody that knows him.

SPACECOM will soon be followed, very importantly, by the establishment of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces.  And that's really something, when you think about it.  The Space Force will organize, train, and equip warriors to support SPACECOM’s mission.

With today’s action, we open another great chapter in the extraordinary history of the United States military.  SPACECOM will ensure that America’s dominance in space is never questioned and never threatened, because we know the best way to prevent conflict is to prepare for victory.

From our nation’s first days, America’s military blazed the trails and crossed the frontiers that secured our nation’s future.  No adversary on Earth will ever match the awesome courage, skill, and might of American Armed Forces.  Today, we salute the heroic men and women who will serve in SPACECOM and keep America’s horizons forever bright and forever free.

We have budgets, since we came into the administration, since the election of 2016 -- since January 20th, of 2017, we have done things with the military that few people would have thought possible.  Budgets of $700 billion, $716 billion, and now $738 billion.  Nobody would have thought that that was possible, but we had them approved by Republicans and Democrats.  And that money is now building the most advanced equipment anywhere one Earth -- equipment that nobody even could have conceived of, even two years ago.  It's very necessary.  And hopefully we'll never have to use it.

I would now like to ask Secretary Esper to sign documents formally establishing the United States Space Command.  Thank you.  Mr. Secretary?  (Applause.)

(The documents are signed.)

LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAYMOND:  Good afternoon.  Mr. President, thank you for hosting us today.  In doing so, you honor the airmen, sailors, soldiers, and Marines that secure our high ground for our nation.
On behalf of those men and women, we'd like to present you with a small memento that reads, "United States Space Command Establishment: 29 August 2019."  On behalf of the space warfighters, thank you for your leadership.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That's a big one.  Thank you very much.  

I'd now like to like to now invite Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman to the stage to unfurl the flag of the United States Space Command.  Thank you very much.

(The flag is unfurled.)

                                             END                4:32 P.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference

2:16 P.M. EDT

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Excellent.  Thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for joining today's background briefing on the designations of Jammal Trust Bank and of Lebanon- and Gaza-based financial facilitators of Hamas.

     This call will be embargoed until 3:00 p.m. and is attributable, on background, to senior administration officials.

     Each of the senior officials will give brief remarks, and then we'll go into Q&A.  I will go ahead and turn it over to our first senior administration official.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  And welcome to you, as well.  A new addition to our family over here.

     It is always a pleasure to collaborate with my indefatigable and most excellent colleagues from Treasury and State on these actions to target the network that facilitates the Islamic Republic of Iran in illicit financing of terrorism across the region.

     By targeting the individuals and an institution that enable the flow of funding to Hamas, in Gaza, and Hizballah, in Lebanon, these designations will make it increasingly difficult for Tehran to dispense the increasingly limited funds at its disposal.

     Given the escalating economic crisis in which Iran finds itself, and the evermore-grim hardships the regime is inflicting on the Iranian people, it is indeed unconscionable that Tehran is squandering its resources, fueling violence and instability in the Middle East.  But it should come as no surprise.

For the last 40 years, the regime has prioritized developing proxy militias that have their own long and bloody legacies to violence against civilians.  Hamas has utterly ruined Gaza, isolating and impoverishing the Palestinian people living there, while Hamas uses the funds from Iran to support an endless cycle of violence against Israel.

     Hizballah has systematically infiltrated Lebanese institutions.  And the designation of the Jammal Trust Bank illustrates how they are trying to exploit the Lebanese financial system, historically a proud strength of that country.

     It is important to note that Jammal is a relatively minor institution, and the United States continues to have a robust and positive relationship with the Central Bank of Lebanon.

     The designation of Jammal should therefore be seen as a warning shot that Hizballah and its Iranian puppet masters should keep their hands off the Lebanese financial system, or be prepared to face the consequences, and that all legitimate institutions should be extremely wary of any interactions with Hizballah or its affiliates.

     It is outrageous that Hamas and Hizballah are allowing a malign foreign actor to prey on the Lebanese and Palestinian people.  The NSC will continue to strongly support the efforts of our interagency partners to choke off every last avenue of funding for Iran and its proxies, unless or until they stop prioritizing violent terrorism as a means to project power.

     The good news is that our concerted efforts over the last 30 months are bearing fruit.  In March, the New York Times quoted a member of an Iranian militia in Syria lamenting, "The golden days are gone and will never return.  Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us."

     In May, the Washington Post reported that, quote, "Since President Trump introduced sweeping new restrictions on trade with Iran last year…Iran's ability to finance allies, such as Hezbollah, has been curtailed.  Hezbollah, the best funded and most senior of Tehran’s proxies, has seen a sharp fall in its revenue and is being forced to make draconian cuts to its spending, according to Hezbollah officials, members and supporters."

     And as we move into the fall, the situation will grow even worse for Tehran, and today's actions will only increase the pressure.

     Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon to all of you.  So I'm going to go into some specific details about these two separate counterterrorism actions that we're taking today.

First, as was already mentioned, OFAC took action today against what we call "Hizballah’s bank of choice" in Lebanon -- this bank, Jammal Trust Bank -- for knowingly enabling Hizballah’s financial activities.

We are also targeting its subsidiaries: Trust Insurance S.A.L., Trust Insurance Services S.A.L., and Trust Life Insurance Company S.A.L.

Corrupt financial institutions, like Jammal Trust, that facilitate the funding of terrorist organizations threaten the very integrity of the international financial system, and we will, make no mistake, continue to take action to disrupt them.

The United States remains committed to working closely, as my colleague already mentioned, with the Central Bank of Lebanon to deny Hizballah access to the Lebanese and international financial system.

     Also today, separately, but in partnership with Oman, we took action against Lebanon and Gaza-based financial facilitators that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah, in Lebanon, to Hamas for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip.

With today’s designations, this administration will have designated over 50 Hizballah-related individuals and entities since 2017.  The message here is loud and clear: The U.S. will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda.

I'm now going to go into some of the specifics of these two actions.  First, I'll begin with our action against Jammal Trust.  Again, this is a Lebanon-based financial institution being designated for knowingly facilitating banking activities for Hizballah.  Jammal Trust is a medium-sized bank with 22 branches in Lebanon and three representative offices worldwide.

According to Bankers' Almanac, it is the 26th largest bank in Lebanon.  Its role, I want to be clear, in Lebanon’s economy and financial system is, in fact, limited, but its role as Hizballah’s bank of choice is prominent.

Jammal Trust has had a longstanding relationship with Hizballah, which dates back to at least the mid-2000s.  Since that time, Jammal Trust has knowingly provided financial services to Hizballah’s Executive Council and to U.S.-designated entities openly affiliated with Hizballah.

Jammal Trust facilitates the banking activities of terrorist groups such as the Martyrs Foundation, which funnels money to the families of suicide bombers, subsidizing those who commit acts of terror against innocent victims.  They also promote funding to Al-Qard al-Hassan, which Hizballah uses as a cover to manage its financial activity.

In fact, after senior officials from Al-Qard al-Hassan identified themselves as such to Jammal Trust, they were able to open personal accounts through which they conducted business on Al-Qard al-Hassan’s behalf -- all to tell you there was no AML/ CFT standards whatsoever in this bank.

We want to note that this action does not implicate any other Lebanese bank or financial institution, but it should send a clear signal to banks that providing financial services to Hizballah will put their entire business at risk, not to mention that it betrays their responsibilities to their innocent customers.

As a result of this action, it is our expectation that Jammal Trust will no longer be able to support Hizballah’s financial activities or masquerade as a legitimate Lebanese financial institution.

For far too long, Jammal Trust Bank and Hizballah have prioritized the terrorist agenda of its sponsor, Iran, at the expense of the Lebanese Shia community.

Second, I'm going to talk about the other action that we took today.  As I mentioned, we took action against four Lebanon- and Gaza-based financial facilitators that are responsible for funneling tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and Hamas’s operational arm, the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.

In the past four years alone, the Qods Force has transferred over $200 million to Hamas's Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza.  And our action today seeks to cut off these four critical financial channels between the Iranian regime and the Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas's prisoner and so-called martyrs infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.

Specifically today, we designated Lebanon-based Muhammad Sarur, Gaza-based financial intermediaries Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal al-Ayy for providing financial material or technological support to Hamas.

At the center of the scheme, it was Lebanon-based Hamas and Hizballah-linked operative, Muhammad Sarur, who has been identified as in charge of all money transfers between the Qods Force and the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  Sarur has close ties to Hizballah and has been employed by Hizballah's internal bank, Bayt al-Mal. 

It's worth noting that Hizballah operators -- operatives have assisted Sarur with money transfers to the Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.  Hamas, as we all know, has continued a violent campaign against innocent civilians and the State of Israel, to the great detriment of the people in Gaza.  And this administration will not falter to hold Hamas and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence.

We will continue to disrupt terrorist networks, whether that be Hizballah, Hamas, or other terrorist organizations.  They will continue to be denied access to the international financial system, with severe consequences.

These actions, again, are part of our continued campaign to eradicate terrorism and those who sponsor it, and to cut off these horrific actors and organizations from the international financial system.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much.  That’s a tough act to follow.  You didn’t leave me very much left to say.  I'll just say a couple of words about the Jammal Trust Bank sanctioning.

Today's action on the bank is keeping with the administration's determination to counter Hizballah's terrorist activities in Lebanon.  That is consistent with our gloves-off approach of pressuring the organization.

     This Iranian proxy, Hizballah, who is already under severe pressure due to the campaign of sanctions against Iran -- limiting salaries, et cetera -- this is another effective and clear statement about how we are going to approach Hizballah and how we are approaching Hizballah.

We've made clear our big concerns about Hizballah's activities, which run the gamut from terrorism to criminal enterprise, drug running, political assassinations, and intervention as a shock troop militia deploying in other states throughout the region, including Syria and Yemen.

Hizballah's activities are also designed to enable the Iranian regime, to project this destabilizing power throughout the Arab world.  And I expect that they will continue to do so, notwithstanding.  Simply put, though: Hizballah's behavior threatens security, stability, and sovereignty in the region.

We will not hesitate to continue designating individuals and entities involved in financing and providing support to Hizballah, including Hizballah's local allies.

     We, along with partners in Lebanon, are committed to ensuring that the Lebanese financial system is not exploited by terrorists, money launderers, and other criminals.  Jammal Trust misconduct undermines the integrity of the Lebanese financial system.  We will continue to work closely with the Central Bank of Lebanon and other Lebanese institutions to prevent illicit actors from threatening the integrity of Lebanon's banking system.  As my colleague said, it's a critical, important, and historic thriving institution in the country.

     And I will leave it at that.  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you.  I believe we're ready for our first question, please.

     Q    Hi, this is Steve Herman, Voice of America.  This Jammal Trust Bank, I think it was one of 11 banks that was sued by U.S. citizens in New York.  I believe it was back in January.  So why just this one particular bank?  And do you believe that there are a number of other banks that are engaged in similar activities?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So we can really only comment on the activities of the bank that we designated today.  I don’t have anything else to say about any other bank.  Of course, you know, it's notable, as I already mentioned, we consider this to be Hizballah's bank of choice.  And today we believe that kind of relationship should be coming to an end.  But, again, we don’t comment on -- we can only comment on the actions that we've taken.

     Q    Hi, it's Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post.  I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about just what the mechanism is in stopping transfers between Iran and Lebanon -- you know, where the United States has its point of insertion in that process in order to stop it from happening.

And separately, on the larger question of Hizballah and Iran, I wonder if you could -- any of you -- talk a bit about the recent Israeli strikes in Syria and Lebanon, and whether the United States is playing any role in encouraging or discouraging those attacks, and just what you think of them in general.  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'll let somebody else take the second question.

On the first one, look, what happens when we designate these banks, of course, is that there's, A, secondary sanctions, consequences, which is really very significant.  So it sends the message to any bank, anywhere, that's involved in funding, helping to finance Hizballah -- and, of course, the same goes for many different banks in connection with Iran -- that they're going to be cut off -- severely cut off from the international financial system.

The other thing I wanted to point out, which we've said a couple of times, and I think it's really important to emphasize here, is that we do have a very good relationship with the Central Bank of Lebanon.  We have confidence that they'll take -- that we'll work with them, as we have many times in the past; that they'll take the right action here.  I mean, our objective in many of our actions, of course, if to ferret out Hizballah, IRGC, IRGC-Qods Force, other terrorist organizations, from the international financial system.

We do that in a number of different ways.  One, we do that through actions, like the action that we're taking today that's really going to, I think, have a huge disruptive impact on this particular bank.  And then we also do that in the many strong relationships that we have across -- around the world with central banks and other governments, where we work very closely together, sometimes behind the scenes, but very closely together to make sure that their banks are not being used to finance or facilitate Hizballah.  And I'll turn it over to others for the second question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I can take the second one, if it's all right, because I've got to leave in a minute.

I'll leave it for the Israelis to comment on what they did or they didn’t do.  But the United States neither encourages nor discourages the Israeli attacks.  The United States believes that the government of Israel has a right to defend itself from threatening activities throughout the region, wherever they may be.

And I would say, though -- because if it was mentioned in the context of the Jammal Trust Bank -- you all most certainly know that these designations take months to prepare.  They're the product of extensive research, intelligence, vetting, lawyers, et cetera, and an interagency process.  So these were in the works for a long time before this weekend's events occurred.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  I'll just add to that that it's our position that Israel is only acting because of Iran's actions.  If Iran was not pouring heavy weapons and fighters into Israel's neighbors with the express purpose of threatening Israel, I don't think Israel would be needing to take any of these actions.  And we fully support Israel's right to self-defense, and denounce Iran's regional campaign to violence.

     Q    Hi.  This is Jeff Schogol with Task & Purpose.  I just wanted to follow up on my colleague's question.  The U.S. supports Israel's right to self-defense and Iraqi sovereignty.  But if Israel attacks targets in Iraq, what does the United States do when Israel's right to defend tramples over Iraq's sovereignty?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think that's actually an excellent question for the Iranians.  Where is their respect for Iraqi sovereignty when they are putting this material into Iraq?  That seems, to me, a pretty gross violation of sovereignty if that's the topic under discussion.

     Q    Yes.  This is (inaudible) with Argus Media.  Do you have a current estimate of foreign exchange earnings for Iran post-sanctions and how much oil it's still able to export?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We don't have August numbers on that.  And I'd need to get back to you on what the specific July number was.  My recollection was in the half-million barrel range.  But I think we can confirm that.

     Q    Yes.  Hi.  Joyce Karam with the National.  I'm just wondering, since the Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri was here, were these actions discussed with him?  And I know you said you have confidence in the Central Bank, but given how vulnerable and volatile the economic situation of Lebanon is, how confident are you that these sanctions won't tip it over?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  So we're not going to get into any diplomatic conversations that we have.  But you know, again, what I mentioned before is that this is -- according at least to the Bankers' Almanac, this is the 26th largest bank in Lebanon.  We believe its role in the Lebanese economy and the financial system is limited.

You know, we do expect the Central Bank of Lebanon will take appropriate action here.  And it's not our expectation that this will have a spillover effect.  What I think it will do is send the message, loud and clear, to that community that the United States is very, very serious about disrupting Hizballah's financing and we're going to continue to take action where we believe it's warranted.

     But this is -- but this action is limited to Jammal Trust.  It's not any other bank.

     Q    Hi.  I wondered if you could -- this is Joel Gehrke from the Washington Examiner.  I wondered if you could just elaborate a little bit, bearing in mind that these sanctions decisions were through the pipeline for a long time, but the timing is notable.

You know, you this (inaudible) and the forthcoming announcement about -- we just (inaudible) information on the Hamas-related designations.  Is there any kind of signal here -- is it either a diplomatic signal about U.S. efforts to support Israel at a tense moment here with Iranian proxies?  Or do you think there's any really practical effect in the short-term that might undercut some of the proxy networks that are putting pressure on Israel enough to alleviate the potential (inaudible) conflict?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think if you take a look at what we've done in the last two years -- two and a half years -- you will see that it's very often the case, on any given week, that we have a strong action against counterterrorism -- you know, against terrorist organization.  Obviously, we've continued to take very strong action against Iran -- the Qods Force.

This is really -- these are two independent actions that follow a long stream of sanctions that we have done systematically.  We roll these out as they're ready, and we're going to just -- we're just going to continue to do so.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would just reiterate what my colleague just said in terms of -- the Iranians, pretty much on a weekly basis, give us a reason to take an action like this.  It would be nice if we could claim that we were timing them so precisely.  But what is thoroughly reliable is Iranian provocation and violence, and just general malign behavior in the region.  And so that (inaudible) seems to be the one constant that is driving all of this activity.

     Q    Hi, this is Mona Austin with The Slice Report.  I'm really curious about why this particular bank is being singled out as significant in light of the number of banks that are already -- that have been in the past.  I know, in January of this year, I saw an article that talked about the Lebanese people here in the U.S. who sued banks for funding Hizballah.  So there are other banks that somehow have already been singled out.

And I just wonder if you can elaborate on why this particular bank -- you already said that it was prominent in one sense but not necessarily one of the larger banks, per se, if I understand that correctly.  Can you just elaborate for us?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Again, as I already said at the beginning -- and thank you for the question -- we view this as a go-to bank for Hizballah, as I said.  You know, people show up and they proclaim themselves as part of Hizballah and they automatically, or it seems, that they get very quickly accounts they can use, though, for their own personal purposes, and also for the organization itself.

     So, again, I won't repeat myself, but this is an action that we thought was extremely important to take.  We've done -- we've taken a number of actions in the last two years against a number of different Hizballah-related identities and persons.  We've taken very considered action, for example, against some of the biggest financial facilitators for Hizballah -- their companies, their front companies, their shell companies.

And, of course, we would note that we designated a Hizballah member of parliament, Amin Sherri , who coordinates Hizballah's financial activity at JTB with the bank's management.  I mean, there are numerous, numerous reasons for us to target this particular bank where we see this kind of activity.

     The message is also clear that we will not hesitate to take action.  This is a very important -- the Hizballah file for us is a very important part of our counterterrorism efforts, for all of the significant reasons that have been discussed on the call.

     Q    Yes, hi.  This is Tony (inaudible).  I just have two quick questions.  First, you keep talking about the helpfulness and the partnership with the Central Bank, but, at the same time, the Jammal Trust Bank, you said, have had the relationship with Hizballah since the mid-2000s.  And, presumably, the Central Bank has been dealing with it up until this point.  So the question is, can you elaborate maybe on how the Central Bank has been helpful in this regard?

     And the second question pertaining to the incidents with the drones in Beirut, we've seen that the Lebanese government has taken a stand in support of Hizballah's right to retaliate against Israel.  And even the Lebanese armed forces, presumably with U.S.-supplied weapons and ammunition, was firing against Israeli reconnaissance drones.  So do you see this in any way impacting current U.S. policies in Lebanon?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I just want to note -- sure, on the first point -- you know, we put this -- this is in the press release: Jammal Trust Bank itself had obscured its relationships and activities on behalf of Hizballah.

And, you know, as I mentioned, we work with the Central Bank of Lebanon on a number of different -- and other Lebanese institutions, frankly, in a number of different ways.  I can’t tell you specifically what actions they're going to take here, but we have every -- we have every expectation that they will take significant actions to ensure that this activity doesn’t continue.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  And, Tony, I would just add that it's our position that if neighbors of Israel allow a malign third country that does not share a border with Israel to use their sovereign territory as holding ground for increasingly sophisticated dangerous weapons, the only purpose of which is to attack Israel, I think those governments, if they cannot curb or control those elements, are going to have to be prepared to be responsible for them.

     So, be it Lebanon, be it Syria, be it Iraq, I think that has to be our very clear message to those governments.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you, everyone, for joining today's call.  If you have any follow-up questions, please reach out to the NSC press distro.

                                            END                2:49 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary


“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.” – President Donald J. Trump

ESTABLISHING SPACE COMMAND: Today, at the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the Secretary of Defense established the United States Space Command to ensure space superiority.
  • The United States Space Command strengthens our ability to deter conflict and ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space.
  • United States Space Command will be established as the newest unified combatant command under the Department of Defense and will include forces from all Military Services.
    • United States Space Command will consist of military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors.
  • The new unified combatant command will accomplish strategic objectives and enhance the capability of our military to protect America’s dominance in space by:
    • Employing assigned forces from every branch of the military to achieve vital victories in space.
    • Delivering combat power by operating superior space capabilities such as communications, intelligence, navigation, and early missile detection and warning.
  • The establishment of United States Space Command represents a crucial step to improving the Nation’s space warfighting structure in our ever evolving world.

PROTECTING AMERICAN INTERESTS: United States space capabilities are critical to the advancement of American interests and the safety of the Nation.
  • The United States is reliant on space for everything from vital military systems that protect us to widely used consumer systems that benefit our economy.
  • We have the strongest military in the world, but failure to act now may allow our adversaries to overcome our competitive advantage by denying us access to the space domain.
  • America’s private industry is developing technologies that are rapidly changing the vast economic potential of space.
  • Going forward, the United States must have the freedom to take advantage of the untapped opportunities that space presents to our Nation.

PUSHING AMERICA FARTHER: The Trump Administration has prioritized advancement in space capabilities and exploration to protect the Nation and push America farther into the future.
  • President Trump signed a directive calling for the United States Space Force – a sixth branch of the Armed Forces – to protect America’s national security interests in space.
    • The United States Space Force will organize, train, equip, and present forces to United States Space Command and other combatant commands for joint warfighting.
  • In 2017, President Trump directed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to go back to the Moon and pursue human exploration of Mars.
  • Last year, the President released his National Space Strategy, which recognized our adversaries’ goals that put the United States at risk and charted a path forward to maintain America’s dominance in space.
  • President Trump revived the National Space Council to develop modern national space policy.

Statement from the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary
Statement from the Press Secretary
James Comey is a proven liar and leaker.  The Inspector General’s report shows Comey violated the most basic obligations of confidentiality that he owed to the United States Government and to the American people, “in order to achieve a personally desired outcome.” Because Comey shamefully leaked information to the press—in blatant violation of FBI policies—the Nation was forced to endure the baseless politically motivated, two-year witch hunt.  Comey disgraced himself and his office to further a personal political agenda, and this report further confirms that fact.

West Wing Reads President Trump's New Immigration Rules Work for the American People

West Wing Reads

President Trump's New Immigration Rules Work for the American People 

“While liberals will cry foul,” most Americans are demanding smart, targeted steps toward solving our nation’s immigration crisis, Tim Chapman writes in The Hill.

“Congress has tried and failed for decades to create a comprehensive immigration reform plan,” Chapman says. So “the administration has steadily been chipping away at the system’s problems to make immigration work for our country again.”

Recently, “the White House issued a ‘public charge’ rule change, restricting the ability of non-citizens to apply for a green card if they rely significantly on welfare benefits or are likely to do so. This week, they issued a new regulation to replace the Flores settlement and end family separation” while still enforcing the law at our southern border.

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“Ivanka Trump will travel to Argentina in September to focus on issues that make it difficult for women in developing countries to prosper financially, including lack of access to credit and limits on employment,” the Buenos Aires Times reports. Ms. Trump “plans to also visit Paraguay to promote the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a program started six months ago” by Ms. Trump and the White House.
“I asked Wednesday morning how long it would be before the [MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell] retracted or, at the very least, corrected his bogus Russia ‘scoop’ . . . As it turns out, the answer to that question was about 18 hours,” Becket Adams writes in the Washington Examiner. O’Donnell admitted an “error in judgment” in promoting a false story about the President’s finances after NBC received a legal demand for a retraction. 
America can’t control everything that happens in the global economy, but under President Trump, the United States is once again resilient enough to weather pockets of weakness abroad. “The Trump economy is strong. It will be even stronger if Congress, the Fed, the [European Central Bank], Britain, and Germany all implement commonsense policies,” White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro writes for Fox News.


Office of the Press Secretary

“Overall, the share of workers satisfied with their paychecks rose to 46.4% in 2018, from 43% in 2017, an increase that mirrors federal data showing that wage growth accelerated in 2018.”

Younger workers report biggest gains in happiness with pay
By Lauren Weber
The Wall Street Journal
August 29, 2019

American workers under 35 report being happier with their paychecks than people over 55 for the first time since at least 2011, according to a new report from the Conference Board, a business-research organization that polls U.S. employees about workplace satisfaction.

Overall, the share of workers satisfied with their paychecks rose to 46.4% in 2018, from 43% in 2017, an increase that mirrors federal data showing that wage growth accelerated in 2018. The biggest leap came from millennials and Generation Z, whose enthusiasm for their compensation shot from 36% in 2017 to nearly 46% a year later.

[In] all, nearly 54% of U.S. workers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2018, the highest share reported in more than two decades, said the Conference Board, which has been polling about workplace satisfaction since 1987.

With unemployment at historic lows and many managers worried about holding on to the employees they have, Americans reported feeling far more secure at work. The share of people who said they were satisfied with their job security jumped to 59.2% in 2018, from 53.8% the prior year.

“The components that improved the most are directly related to labor-market conditions,” said Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America at the Conference Board. The group surveyed approximately 2,000 workers about 23 separate topics, from promotion policies to whether they like their co-workers.

Young workers may report greater happiness with pay because people tend to change jobs more in the early years of their careers, data show, and switching to a new position or employer often comes with a raise. With the demand for labor prompting many companies to lure workers with higher salaries, younger people are reaping the benefits.

Overall, median weekly earnings rose 5% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the same quarter in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For workers between the ages of 25 and 34, that increase was 7.6%.

Read the full article here.


President Donald J. Trump Approves U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Declaration

Office of the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump Approves U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Declaration
Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the response efforts of the Territory due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Dorian beginning on August 26, 2019, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Pete Gaynor, Acting Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Seamus K. Leary as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.