BREAKING NEWS: President Trump orders expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats & spies, orders Russian consulate closed. Good move — but here are 5 more things President Trump must do, and soon.

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UPDATED: (Denver, Colorado) — To his credit, President Trump took further steps today to toughen his approach towards Vladimir Putin in light of a growing series of reckless and dangerous actions taken by the Russian dictator, specifically using chemical weapons against civilian individuals on NATO soil.

Mr. Trump is expelling 60 Russian diplomats and spies — 48 from the embassy in Washington and 12 from the Russian mission to the U.N. He’s also closing the Russian consulate in Seattle. 

It’s not enough to truly get Putin’s attention and affect his behavior. Indeed, according to an exclusive new poll conducted by John McLaughlin — one of President Trump’s pollsters — 52% of Americans believe the Trump administration must do “much more” to confront the Putin threat. And conservatives and Evangelical leaders should press Mr. Trump towards this end.

That said, in combination with other actions President Trump and his administration have taken in recent weeks, it’s movement in the right direction, and that’s encouraging.

UPDATES:

  • As of Monday morning, 17 countries have ordered the expulsion of Russian diplomats and intelligence agents: U.S. (60), U.K. (23), Ukraine (13), Canada (4), Germany (4), France (4), Poland (4), Czech Republic (3), Lithuania (3), Netherlands (2), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Estonia (1), Romania (1), Croatia (1), Latvia (1), and Finland (1) — this is an impressive act of a coordinated response by NATO.
  • Russia Will Expel U.S. Diplomats in Response to Washington (The Moscow Times)

“President Donald Trump is ordering the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, Washington, in the wake of the UK nerve agent attack,” reports CNN this morning. 

“The President is taking the action in response to the poisonings of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the administration announced,” the CNN report added. “Forty-eight of the diplomats work at the Russian embassy and a dozen at the United Nations in New York. They and their families will have seven days to leave the country.”

“With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, according to a Fox News report. “The United States stands ready to cooperate to build a better relationship with Russia, but this can only happen with a change in the Russian government’s behavior.”

“Today, the United States began the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission to the United Nations who have abused their privilege of residence in the United States,” UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday. “After a review, we have determined that the 12 intelligence operatives engaged in espionage activities that are adverse to‎ our national security.” 

The Associated Press noted that “Britain has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats, accusing them of being undeclared intelligence agents, which led Russia to expel the same number of British diplomats. The European Union has already recalled its ambassador to Russia.”

Let’s be clear, President Trump has been significantly tougher on Russia than President Obama was — and he’s taken additional measures in recent weeks against Russia that have been positive, as I’ve previously noted

But much more is needed. Here are five steps the President and his team should take, and soon:

  1. IMPOSE MORE SANCTIONS: President Trump needs to impose far more — and far tougher — sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs to punish them for their crimes and prevent new crimes. Follow their money. Freeze their assets. Make it difficult or even impossible for them to use or move their money from U.S. and European banks. Prevent these gangsters from having the freedom to travel into the U.S. and NATO countries. In short: hit the Russians where it really hurts, in their wallets. 
  2. MAKE MUCH TOUGHER STATEMENTS: President Trump personally needs to speak out more clearly and more firmly against Putin’s aggressions in comments, speeches, interviews and Tweets. Don’t just leave this to surrogates. Right now, Mr. Trump seems unwilling or unable to directly criticize Putin and this is being perceived by many as weakness. He needs to show leadership.
  3. DELIVER A MAJOR SPEECH: The President needs to deliver a major address to the American people defining just how serious a threat Vladimir Putin and his regime pose to the U.S. and our allies, and laying out a comprehensive series of strategies to contain and counter the threat, including cyber attacks against our economy, energy and electoral system. 
  4. DEPLOY MORE DETERRENT FORCES: The President needs to order the build up of many more U.S. and NATO deterrent forces in the three lightly-defended Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO allies each — to prevent Putin from being tempted to grab them.
  5. HOLD A SUMMIT WITH NATO LEADERS: The President also ought to host a summit meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and other NATO leaders to discuss and implement additional unified strategies.

As I portray in my new thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, tremendous damage to the U.S. and our entire Western alliance could be done by a Russian dictator who feels he can continue to kill his opponents and invade neighboring countries without consequence. To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. True evil is rising in Moscow. It must be understood, confronted and contained with great urgency and great courage, before it’s too late.

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A Czar is born. Now that Putin has consolidated all Russian power in his hands, what must President Trump & his team do to counter the rising Kremlin threat? (My new column for Fox News.)

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(Ft. Myers, Florida) — The following are excerpts from my new column for Fox News:

  • Vladimir Putin didn’t simply secure re-election on Sunday, winning 77 percent of the vote in a rigged election. He has consolidated all power in his hands and emerged as a modern-day Czar. He has also set his country on a collision course with the West, one that could prove catastrophic.
  • A close look at Putin’s record and rhetoric reveals a man consumed with re-creating a totalitarian state, expanding the country’s borders and rebuilding the glory of Mother Russia….
  • In the face of such a grave and growing threat, however, President Trump has been essentially radio silent about the most dangerous dictator on the planet. He only mentioned Russia once in his State of the Union address. He rarely if ever Tweets criticism of the Russian leader. Indeed, Mr. Trump is more critical of his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, than he is of Putin.
  • Now that Putin has finished with his re-election charade, we must be prepared for the possibility that he will become even more aggressive — kill more critics, possibly invade another country.
  • Now is the time, therefore, for President Trump to impose far more — and far tougher — sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs to punish them for their crimes and prevent new crimes. The moves he made last week were steps in the right direction, but not nearly enough.
  • Follow the money of Putin’s inner circle. Freeze their assets. Make it difficult or even impossible for them to use or move their money from U.S. and European banks. Prevent these gangsters from having the freedom to travel into the U.S. and NATO countries. In short: hit the Russians where it really hurts, in their wallets.
  • Mr. Trump must also speak out clearly and more firmly against Putin’s aggressions in interviews and tweets. He should deliver a major speech declaring that Putin poses a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our allies….
  • Meanwhile, the president ought to host a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and other NATO leaders to discuss and implement additional unified strategies…..
  • Darkness is falling in Russia. A virulently anti-American Czar is sitting in the Kremlin, plotting his next moves. Only decisive American leadership, in concert with our allies, can stop him. And stop him we must.

[To read the entire column in full, please click here.]

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“The Kremlin Conspiracy” hits New York Times list of best-selling fiction — and reaches #6 on Publishers Weekly list — on the day of rigged elections in Russia.

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(Pensacola, Florida) — We just got the news that The Kremlin Conspiracy has hit the three major national best-seller lists in the United States this week.

Let me just say thank you so much to all of my readers who have been so enthusiastic and supportive of this new novel. I am enormously grateful for your support. And on behalf of our entire team, we are also grateful for all the word of mouth — to everyone who has been writing about and reviewing The Kremlin Conspiracy on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media. Please keep it up!

Today, of course, are the presidential elections in Russia. As I’ve noted, “Don’t expect a Pennsylvania-18 race, where the results aren’t known until late in the night. It’s all rigged. The X factor is simple how many people will actually turn out to pledge their loyalty to Czar Putin, and how big Putin’s rigged margin of victory will be.”

I’ll post analysis tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter for updates on the official results and spin out of Moscow. In the meantime, please keep praying for the people of Russia. Darkness is falling in that historic country, and even darker days lie ahead.

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As Putin’s aggression mounts, Trump & team begin to get tougher. Much more is needed, but it’s movement in the right direction. (Analysis & Washington Examiner story on our Russia poll and “The Kremlin Conspiracy.”)

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(Dallas, Texas) — On Sunday, Russians go to the polls to reaffirm their loyalty to their Czar in the Kremlin. Don’t expect a Pennsylvania-18 race, where results aren’t known until late in the night. It’s all rigged. The only question is how many people will actually turn out to vote, and how big Putin’s rigged margin of victory will be.

Yesterday morning, the Washington Examiner published a story citing our exclusive poll on Russia, “Poll: 72% say Putin a ‘clear and present danger’ to US, 60% fear attack.” This was the first mainstream coverage of the survey and The Kremlin Conspiracy.

Here are excerpts from the story by “Washington Secrets” columnist Paul Bedard:

  • Rosenberg, who provided the survey to Secrets, pointed to the finding that over 50 percent of Americans are concerned that Trump isn’t taking the treat seriously and that the White House has gone “radio silent” instead of criticizing the Kremlin.
  • “He has been tougher on [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions than Putin,” said the author whose books are popular with official Washington, including Vice President Mike Pence.
  • He added that the concerns about the Putin-Trump relationship could become an issue in the 2018 midterms if the president doesn’t get behind the public’s demand for tougher action.

As Thursday unfolded, we began to see signs that President Trump and his team are beginning to get tougher with Putin. Consider:

  • PRESIDENT TRUMP CAUTIOUSLY POINTED AT MOSCOW FOR NERVE-AGENT ATTACKS IN THE U.K. — “President Trump said on Thursday that it ‘certainly looks’ as if Moscow is behind the poisonings of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom,” reported The Hill. “‘I spoke with the prime minister and we are in deep discussions — a very sad situation. It certainly looks like the Russians were behind it,’ Trump told reporters, referring to British Prime Minister Theresa May. ‘Something that should never, ever happen, and we’re taking it very seriously.'”
  • THE PRESIDENT IMPOSED NEW SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN INDIVIDUALS & COMPANIES: “The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned 19 Russian individuals and five Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election and engaging in cyber-attacks,” reported Fox News. “The announcement was made by the Department of the Treasury and includes the 13 Russians who were recently indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.”
  • THE PRESIDENT ISSUED A JOINT STATEMENT WITH NATO ALLIES AGAINST RUSSIAN NERVE-AGENT ATTACKS IN THE U.K. — “The UK confirmed the use of a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia and briefed Allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible. The UK also confirmed that this was an indiscriminate and reckless attack against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk,” noted the statement.NATO has repeatedly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called on those responsible to be held to account. NATO regards any use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security.
  • THE PRESIDENT DIRECTED U.N. AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY TO MAKE A TOUGH STATEMENT AGAINST RUSSIA — “U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday the United States believes Russia is responsible for the attempted assassination of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Britain — and the U.N. Security Council should hold the Kremlin ‘accountable,'” reported NBC News. “‘The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent,’ Haley said at a Security Council meeting in New York. Haley said the United States stood in ‘absolute solidarity’ with Britain after the country expelled 23 Russian diplomats in response to the chemical attack last week on the ex-spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia.”
  • BLAMED RUSSIA FOR CYBER ATTACKS AGAINST U.S. ELECTRICAL GRID — “The Trump administration on Thursday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid, marking the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure,” reported Reuters. “Beginning in March 2016, or possibly earlier, Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing, according to a U.S. security alert published Thursday….The decision by the United States to publicly attribute hacking attempts of American critical infrastructure was ‘unprecedented and extraordinary,’ said Amit Yoran, a former U.S. official who founded DHS’s Computer Emergency Response Team.” 

And earlier in the week, the President made another positive move, tapping CIA Director Mike Pompeo to serve as the new Secretary of State. As I wrote on this page, Pompeo is a fantastic choice. No one gets the Putin threat better than he does. He’s experienced, clear-eyed, tough, and he has the ear and confidence of the President, unlike the honorable but unsuccessful Rex Tillerson.

The GOP also issued a fact sheet yesterday explaining how President Trump has done much more than President Obama to get tough with Russia. Worth reading (click here.)

This is all movement in the right direction, and it’s encouraging. But it’s not enough. Much more must be done, including: 

  • The President needs to impose far more — and far tougher — sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs to punish them for their crimes and prevent new crimes. Follow their money. Freeze their assets. Make it difficult or even impossible for them to use or move their money from U.S. and European banks. Prevent these gangsters from having the freedom to travel into the U.S. and NATO countries. In short: hit the Russians where it really hurts, in their wallets. 
  • The President needs to speak out more clearly and more firmly against Putin’s aggressions in comments, speeches, interviews and Tweets.
  • The President needs to deliver a major address to the American people defining just how serious a threat Vladimir Putin and his regime pose to the U.S. and our allies, and laying out a comprehensive series of strategies to contain and counter the threat, including cyber attacks against our economy, energy and electoral system. 
  • The President needs to build up more U.S. and NATO deterrent forces in the three lightly-defended Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO allies each — to prevent Putin from being tempted to grab them.
  • The President also ought to host a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and other NATO leaders to discuss and implement additional unified strategies.

Evidence of Vladimir Putin’s brazen aggression against the U.S. and our NATO allies is mounting by the day. Consider just a few of the headlines this week:

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Two critical questions: First, did Putin order nerve agent attacks in the U.K.? Second, are NATO allies like the Baltic States at risk of a Russian attack? (My new column for The Jerusalem Post.)

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(Dallas, Texas) — First, a few thoughts on the situation unfolding in the U.K.

  • The poisoning of a Russian father and daughter — opponents of Vladimir Putin — on British soil by a military-grade nerve agent was reprehensible. It must be condemned by every world leader. The number of Putin critics murdered or severely injured in Great Britain is in the double digits and continues to rise. This is absolutely unacceptable and must not go unpunished.
  • I applaud British Prime Minister Theresa May for announcing an immediate series of punitive measures against the Russian government, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies, the largest number of such expulsions in thirty years. 
  • NATO HQ also just issued a statement on these attacks on British soil, which reads in part: “The UK confirmed the use of a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia and briefed Allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible. The UK also confirmed that this was an indiscriminate and reckless attack against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk….NATO has repeatedly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called on those responsible to be held to account. NATO regards any use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security.
  • This is a start, but it’s not nearly enough. NATO leaders need to develop and urgently implement a far more comprehensive, robust and unified set of strategies to confront and counter rising Russian military, intelligence and cyber aggression under Putin. This should include but not be limited to tough sanctions on Moscow.
  • Most importantly, President Trump needs to speak out forcefully against Putin and take the lead on imposing sanctions on Russia for a growing list of Kremlin aggressions, including efforts to subvert U.S. elections in 2016, invasions of multiple countries, murder of dissidents, etc. Congress overwhelmingly passed a new Russia sanctions law last year. It’s time for the President to put it to use.

Second, allow me to address the growing danger to the Baltic States.

Sixty-one percent of our Americans in our exclusive new survey say they are concerned Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade another country — possibly a small NATO country in Europe, or a Middle Eastern state — given that in recent years he has already invaded the Republic of Georgia, southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine and sent Russian military forces into Syria.

Are the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and/or Lithuania — specifically vulnerable to attack? I believe the answer is yes. I discussed this last week over breakfast with Lithuania’s Ambassador to the U.S..

Let me explain why in more detail in this new fact sheet, “Does Vladimir Putin Pose a Threat to the Baltic States and the Rest of NATO?”

Also, I address this sensitive subject in a new column in The Jerusalem Post. Here are excerpts. Please click here to read the column in full.

  • Last week, the foreign ministers of all three Baltic nations were in Washington, laying the groundwork for an April 3 summit between US President Donald Trump and the presidents of their countries to discuss the Russian threat.
  • Now, an exclusive new survey reveals a majority of Americans are increasingly concerned by the threat Putin poses and worried that President Trump is not doing enough to keep the nation and her allies safe…..
  • In my new political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, the fictional president of the Russian Federation is plotting a lightning-fast military attack to re-conquer the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – once enslaved by Moscow during the Soviet era. Given that all three countries have been NATO members since 2004, the move risks triggering a nuclear war with the US and NATO alliance.
  • The gamble at the heart of the Kremlin leader’s plot is that using upwards of 100,000 Russian troops, Moscow could grab one or more of the Baltic States in less than 96 hours but that in the end neither the US nor the rest of NATO would actually come to their allies’ defense. If that were truly the case – if the West really abandoned the heroic Baltic peoples – this would mean the collapse of the NATO alliance overnight.
  • There can be no alliance, after all, if no one is willing to enforce Article Five, the heart of the mutual defense pact which says that if one country is attacked, all other countries in NATO will consider themselves under attack and rush to their defense.
  • In the novel, of course, I portray a worst-case scenario. But with each passing day, I’m becoming concerned fiction could become fact.
  • Putin, after all, has directly threatened the Baltic States, among other European nations.
  • “If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” the Russian leader said to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in September 2014….
  • 51.9% [of Americans surveyed] said they were not convinced that the president fully understands the Putin threat and they want Trump to do “much more” to counter it….
  • Three examples come to mind of actions President Trump should be taking but is not:
  1. Imposing sanctions on Russia – Congress overwhelmingly passed bill last year to impose sanctions on Russian officials, but thus far President Trump still hasn’t taken action. It is time to impose sanctions on Russia for their increasingly aggressive behavior, including unsuccessful efforts to subvert US elections and invasion of multiple countries.
  2. Increasing troop levels in the Baltic states – At the moment, there are fewer than 5,000 NATO troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the three NATO allies that lie right on the Russian border and feeling increasingly at risk of Russian subversion or outright invasion. President Trump could and should be sending more U.S. forces, tanks and other heavy equipment and ammunition to the Baltics to create a speed bump big enough Putin wouldn’t feel tempted to cross. So far, he has not, nor has he pressed other NATO countries to do enough.
  3. Speaking out against Putin – the president does not hesitate to tweet criticism of everyone from the leaders of North Korea to Alec Baldwin to his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Why then is he so quiet about Putin? I see no convincing evidence at this point that his silence has a criminal or corrupt motive. But it is odd and unsettling to many Americans, given what a grave and growing threat Putin is.
  • Given Russia’s history of invasions, aggression and interference, the poll found that 72.5% agreed that Putin and the government of Russia pose a “clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe and our Mideast allies, such as Israel”….

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BREAKING: Pompeo tapped as new Secretary of State. Fantastic choice. No one gets Putin threat better than he does. Experienced. Clear-eyed. Tough. Pro-Israel. And he has the ear & confidence of President Trump. Tillerson never did.

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(Dallas, Texas) — Major breaking news this morning: CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been tapped as the new Secretary of State, replacing Rex Tillerson.

Pompeo is a fantastic choice — I absolutely could not be more pleased, especially because Pompeo is so clear-eyed and tough on Russia. He gets the grave and growing threat posed by Vladimir Putin, and he’s serious about the need to dramatically and urgently strengthen the U.S.-NATO alliance.

Indeed, at a time when President Trump has been nearly radio silent on the Putin threat, Pompeo is the perfect choice to run the State Department. He could help the President develop a comprehensive new policy to counter rising Russian aggression. He could help the President craft a major speech to the nation to explain the Putin threat and how we’re going to deal with Putin after he wins re-election next Sunday.

Pompeo will be a key player in crafting the strategy to deal with Iran, North Korea and China, among the most serious foreign policy challenges we face. He also is extremely knowledgeable on the Arab-Israel conflict and can play an increasingly important role in a range of U.S. policies in the Mideast, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. 

Here’s quick glance at his strengths and experience:

  • Pompeo understands the intersection between intelligence, national security and global diplomacy as well or better than anyone who has served as Secretary of State going back to George Schultz and James Baker in the Reagan administration.
  • Graduated first in his class at West Point.
  • Served as an officer in the U.S. Army.
  • Earned a JD from Harvard.
  • Served as a Member of Congress, and thus knows how to operate on Capitol Hill.
  • Served on the House Intelligence Committee (where we got to know each other).
  • Strongly pro-Israel.
  • Solid relationships with our Sunni Arab allies, understands their enormous value to U.S. national security, and sees the historic convergence between American, Israeli and Sunni Arab interests.
  • Serious about wanting to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Strongly opposed to the regime in Tehran, and opposed to President Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal, and determined to undo the damage the deal has caused — in sharp contrast with Tillerson who did not see the deal as a major problem.
  • Excellent on North Korea and China.
  • And no one is more clear eyed about the Putin threat than Mike Pompeo — he truly understands the threat posed by Vladimir Putin in a way I was never convinced Tillerson did, and I’m personally relieved that President Trump has chosen someone so strong on Russia.
  • Most importantly, Pompeo truly has the ear and the confidence of President Trump in a way that Tillerson never had. As CIA Director, Pompeo has been briefing the President almost every day since he took office. They talk about the most sensitive issues on the global stage. Pompeo knows his stuff, and knows how to communicate with the President. They like each other. They know how to work well together. He is, therefore, excellently suited to serve as Secretary of State — this is a position, after all, that requires truly knowing the President’s mind, and being perceived as being close to him, so as to be able to communicate effectively with leaders all over the world.
  • Pompeo is also a fan of my political thrillers — what’s not to love?

Please pray for Mike and his wife, Susan, and family. This is a huge promotion but also a very tough job at a very dangerous moment on the world stage.

UPDATE: some of my previous comments on Tillerson (see here, here, and here):

  • Tillerson seems like an honorable man & had enormous business experience as CEO of . But his skills have not transferred effectively to DC. He’s not proving an effective diplomat. He’s terribly slow to appoint key staff & ambassadors. Morale is low. A change is needed.

  • Tillerson has no experience in government or global diplomacy, to be the Secretary of State, and has not replaced Tillerson despite continuing controversy and strains in the relationship. The President has publicly contradicted his Secretary of State numerous times (see also here), and privately weighed replacing him. I’m sure that Mr. Tillerson is a fine and honorable man and he has an impressive record in the private sector. However, the American people need world-class diplomat and one that the President has full confidence in, and one that world leaders know has the President’s full confidence and ear. In such a tumultuous global environment, it was a mistake for the President to appoint him, and a mistake not to make a change immediately.

To understand more about Pompeo — who he is and what he believes — here’s a range of articles worth reading, please a conversation Pompeo had with folks at the American Enterprise Institute last year.


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Why is the President “radio silent” on Putin’s aggression? Trump is tougher on Jeff Sessions than on the Russian dictator. Obama was weak on Moscow. Trump must show steel. [My interview with Fox News.]

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(Washington, D.C.) — In just seven days, Russians go to the polls. Barring something unforeseen, Vladimir Putin will be re-elected once again. He’s acting more aggressively than ever. Is President Trump and his team fully prepared to counter Putin in the months and years ahead?

On Friday night, I was interviewed on the Fox News Network about the churning controversies in the Russia investigation, our exclusive new poll on how Americans see Vladimir Putin, and my new novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy

To watch the interview (which last 5:02 minutes), please click here.

Here is the transcript:

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR OF FOX NEWS @ NIGHT: President Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, reportedly told officials who were developing options to respond to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to quote, “stand down” and “knock it off.” And that is according to a new book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn called, “Russian Roulette.” Let’s discuss it with Joel Rosenberg, New York Times best-selling author of the brand-new book, The Kremlin Conspiracy. Great to have you with us, Joel.

ROSENBERG: Thank you. Great to be with you.

BREAM: Okay, so what do you make of this? I want to read a little bit more of this. Apparently there were folks who — the President [Obama] well knew what was going on, intrusions into state election systems, stealing emails; they knew all kinds of things that were going on, and there were teams of officials that were trying to get a response together. Then they were told by Susan Rice, according to this book, “‘Don’t get ahead of us,’ she warned him. ‘The White House is not prepared to endorse any of the ideas.’ Daniel and his team’ — one of the actors — ‘in the cyber-response group were given strict orders, ‘Stand down.’ She told him to, “knock it off,’ he recalled.” 

ROSENBERG: It is incomprehensible that in the midst of a presidential campaign — a general election — that a national security advisor would tell a team of people dealing with Russian attacks — aggressive attacks — [to stand down.] I mean, according to the book, and I’ve read the excerpts that are available now, the Russians were relentlessly hitting us from every possible direction. And this team of government officials were trying to figure out how to stop it, then how to counter it, then possibly how to punish the Russians to make sure they would stop it for good. But the national security advisor for President Obama tells them to “stand down” — back off — and essentially in the end they did practically nothing. It’s as indefensible as it is incomprehensible.    

BREAM: Well, and you know from reading the excerpts, there were so many conversations going on that they were worried it would blow things out of proportion, that it would further unsettle the elections, which is what they thought the Russians were all about doing, creating chaos, disrupting things, especially on Election Day. And there was a real conversation within the Obama administration about whether doing something really aggressive with Russia really would actually make those things happen.

ROSENBERG: Right, but that’s different from what Isikoff and Corn are saying. As far as I understood it from their article, or their book, was they were saying that the national security advisor, Susan Rice, told them, “Stop developing options” — not, “Which ones are the right ones to use? Let’s go use this one instead of that one.” That’s what leaders do, make choice between options. You tell a team, “stop developing options,” and therefore we’re not going to do anything to stop Russia?

Look, we did this new poll. We released a new poll that was done by John McLaughlin, one of the President’s pollsters, and we released it this week as we released my new novel. Because I’m writing fiction about a Russian dictator trying to mess with us, and with NATO. Well, I wanted to understand what Americans really think about Vladimir Putin in real life. Seventy-two percent of say Vladimir Putin is a “clear and present danger” to the national security of the United States and our allies because of all of his invasions, his cyber attacks. I mean, he’s invaded Georgia. He’s invaded southern Ukraine. He’s invaded eastern Ukraine. He’s slaughtering people in Syria. They see him as a problem. They don’t see — yet — President Trump convincing them that he fully understands the threat and is willing to deal with it effectively. Fifty-two percent say, “The President is not convincing me yet.” 

BREAM: Yeah, because they’ve heard him [Trump] talk tough about Iran and other places, with North Korea. They don’t see it on the same level with Russia. Although, the administration a few weeks ago laid out everything we have done with response to Russia, and there have been some really tough actions. But as you say, a lot of average Americans don’t see that he’s taking the same tough tack as he does with these other adversaries.

ROSENBERG: Well that’s right. Look, I’m not saying that the President’s policies [towards Russia] so far are bad. Like, he’s increasing defense spending dramatically in the United States. He’s pushing NATO to spend more on their own defense, and they’re doing it. He’s got a great national security team around him. But he’s radio silent when it comes to Vladimir Putin, the worst dictator on the planet. He’s tougher on Jeff Sessions, than he is on Vladimir Putin.

You know, my fictional dictator [in the novel] takes this as weakness. There was a quote by Vladimir Lenin years ago, and he said, “Probe with bayonets. If you find mush, push. If you find steel, stop.” Putin is probing us for weaknesses — in cyber, in invading countries, in taking out dissidents, and under Obama, “mush.” Will he find steel in President Trump? That’s what we need.

BREAM: Well, I’ve got to tell you — you know how I feel about your books. I’m taking The Kremlin Conspiracy with me on vacation tomorrow. My husband, when I told him, he said, “Great, I’ll see you three days from now.” Once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. Joel, great to have you with us.

ROSENBERG: Thanks. Good to see you. 

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Rush Limbaugh praises “The Kremlin Conspiracy” on-air as “a superb novel.”

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(Washington, D.C.) — On his Friday radio program, Rush Limbaugh gave an nincredible plug for my new political thriller, and I’m very grateful.

Here’s the transcript and a link to the audio:

“By the way, a new book recommendation if you’re looking for something great to read, spy thriller novel stuff — it’s Joel Rosenberg’s The Kremlin Conspiracy, and it’s about real-world events, real live people, Vladimir Putin, a major figure in this. And the way to think about Putin is as Michael Corleone in The Godfather: not rash. Not hotheaded. Not a street thug, but a cold-blooded, calculated killer.  It’s a superb novel.  It’s an edge-of-the-chair, arms-tensed-up-as-you-read-this-thing, and it just came out, and it’s awesome.  It’s called The Kremlin Conspiracy.  Joel Rosenberg, our old buddy here.”

Thanks, Rush! You’re a good friend and I’m so glad you’re enjoying my new novel!

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Exclusive poll: Americans see Putin as “clear & present danger” to U.S. security, but say President Trump must do “much more” to keep U.S. and allies safe. Here’s the inside story.

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(Washington, D.C.) — An exclusive new survey reveals a majority of Americans are increasingly concerned by the threat Russian President Vladimir Putin poses and worried that President Donald Trump is not doing enough to keep the nation and our allies safe.

My publisher and I commissioned the survey, which was conducted by John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates, who has done polling on behalf of a number of U.S. and foreign clients, including President Trump. McLaughlin polled 1,000 likely U.S. voters regarding three specific questions related to Russia, Putin and President Trump.

The answers are particularly interesting in light of recent developments. For example, Putin’s recent State of the Union address was his most belligerent in 18 years. He bragged about Russia’s nuclear arsenal and complained that no one was listening to his claims of achieving nuclear superiority. He even showed a video of animated, simulated Russian nuclear missiles headed toward Florida. This made national and global headlines and raised fresh questions of just how dangerous the Russian leader is.

What concerns me is that only 34.5 percent of Americans said they were convinced the president truly understands the magnitude of the threat Russia poses and is doing enough to counter the threat. On the other hand, 51.9 percent said they were not convinced that the President fully understands the threat and they want Trump to do “much more.” Thirteen percent weren’t sure.

When broken down by political affiliation, the survey showed 77.5 percent of liberals, 26 percent of conservatives and 61 percent of moderates said they were not convinced Trump understands the Russia threat and is taking appropriate action.

Three examples come to mind of things President Trump should be doing but isn’t:

  • IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA — Congress overwhelmingly passed bill last year to impose sanctions on Russian officials, but thus far President Trump still hasn’t taken action. It is time to impose sanctions on Russia for their increasingly aggressive behavior, including unsuccessful efforts to subvert U.S. elections and invasion of multiple countries.
  • INCREASE NATO TROOP LEVELS IN THE BALTIC STATES — At the moment, there are fewer than 5,000 NATO troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the three NATO allies that lie right on the Russian border and feeling increasingly at risk of Russian subversion or outright invasion. President Trump could and should be sending more U.S. forces, tanks and other heavy equipment and ammunition to the Baltics to create a speed bump big enough Putin wouldn’t feel tempted to cross. So far, he has not, nor has he pressed other NATO countries to do enough.
  • SPEAK OUT AGAINST PUTIN — The President has no hesitancy to Tweet criticism of everyone from the leaders of  North Korea to Alec Baldwin to his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Why then is he so quiet about Putin? I see no convincing evidence at this point that his silence has a criminal or corrupt motive. But it is odd and unsettling to many Americans, give what a grave and growing threat Putin is.

Given Russia’s history of invasions, aggression and interferences, the poll found that 72.5 percent agreed that Putin and the government of Russia pose a “clear and present danger to the national security of the United States, our NATO allies in Europe and our Mideast allies, such as Israel.”

Most officials in Washington are focused on the threats posed by North Korea, Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda, but as serious as those threats are, leaders must not ignore how grave a threat Putin poses to the U.S. and our NATO and Middle Eastern allies.

Indeed, found that fully 60.5 percent worry Putin could be planning other military attacks – perhaps the invasion of a small NATO country, or a Middle Eastern country – because he thinks the international community is not really willing to stop him. 

Look, the national security team President Trump has put into place – from Vice President Mike Pence to Defense Secretary James Mattis to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, among others – are first-rate professionals. They clearly understand the threat and the stakes. But President Trump and Congressional leaders in both parties must urgently work together to develop and lay out for the American people a comprehensive and bipartisan strategy to counter the Russian threat and dramatically strengthen the NATO alliance.

The poll results reinforce the theme of my newest political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, specifically that the threat of evil should not be underestimated. The book tells the story of a fictional leader in Moscow who fashions himself a 21st century Czar, all while the American President and his team are distracted by domestic political troubles and rising tensions in North Korea and Iran.

Kremlin ConspiracyThe plot of The Kremlin Conspiracy could be described as “ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.” In the novel, the fictional President of the Russian Federation is plotting a lightning-fast military attack to re-conquer the three Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — once enslaved by Moscow during the Soviet era. Given that all three countries have been NATO members since 2004, the move risks triggering a nuclear war with the U.S. and NATO alliance.

This week, foreign ministers of all three Baltic nations are in Washington, laying the groundwork for an April 3 summit between President Trump and the presidents of the Baltic States to discuss the Russian threat and urge the U.S. to pre-position more troops and equipment in the region to create a credible deterrence to Putin.

As I’ve often said, “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” What if our leaders in Washington are so focused on the threats emanating from North Korea, Iran, ISIS, and China—true threats, all—that they are blindsided by a Russian tyrant plotting the collapse of NATO? I pray this is only the stuff of a high-octane political thriller. But with every day that passes, I fear it may be more fact than fiction.

We need to be praying for President Trump and his national security team that they would have the wisdom and courage to do all that’s necessary to counter the Putin threat and keep the U.S. and our NATO and other allies safe.

For full results of the poll and more information about The Kremlin Conspiracy, please visit JoelRosenberg.com.

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As “The Kremlin Conspiracy” releases today, new headline out of Washington seems ripped from the novel: “Baltic leaders warn U.S. not to underestimate Russia threat.” Here’s the latest.

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(Virginia Beach, Virginia) — I’m excited to announce that my new political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, releases today in hardcover in North America. It also releases worldwide today in e-book and audio formats. 

In the novel, the fictional President of the Russian Federation is plotting a lightning-fast military attack to reconquer the three Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — once enslaved by Moscow during the Soviet era. Given that all three countries have been NATO members since 2004, the move risks triggering not only a war, but a nuclear war, with the U.S. and NATO alliance. But the Kremlin is gambling that Western leaders will flinch and be unwilling to really go to war to save our heroic and faithful Baltic allies. 

In the novel, Marcus Ryker — a former U.S. Marine and now retired U.S. Secret Service agent — is visiting Moscow as all Hell prepares to break loose. Working closely with a mole positioned at the highest levels of the Russian government, he finds himself at the vortex of the conspiracy, with one chance, and a slim one at that, to protect his country from imminent war.

In the days ahead, I’ll be doing a range of interviews about the plot, the characters, and why I wrote the book. But I couldn’t help notice a major headline in today’s papers that feels ripped from the novel itself: “BALTIC NATIONS WARN U.S. NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE RUSSIA THREAT.”

As it happens, the foreign ministers of all three Baltic nations are in Washington, laying the groundwork for an April 3rd summit between President Trump and the presidents of the Baltic States to discuss the Russian threat and urge the U.S. to pre-position more troops and equipment in the region to create a credible deterrence to Putin.

Interesting timing, to say the least.

I’m in Virginia Beach to launch the novel on the Christian Broadcasting Network. Later today, I head to Washington for more interviews and meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the Russia threat. For the latest, please follow my updates on Twitter.

I do hope you’ll pick up and read a copy of my novel. I also encourage you to read excerpts from this important article published by Agence France Presse:

  • Sven Mikser of Estonia, Edgars Rinkevics of Latvia and Linas Linkevicius of Lithuania were careful to thank President Donald Trump’s administration for its support for NATO. But, in an interview with AFP after their joint meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the foreign ministers shared their concerns about Russia’s “hybrid” threat to the West.
  • “I think what we have seen in the past four or three years is the community of democratic nations is under the attack,” Rinkevics said of Russian interference and interventions. The very basis of our democratic institutions are under attack through social media by fake news, and also through the influence of money, and it is very important that we stick together.”
  • The Baltic republics will be able to reinforce this message once more on April 3, when their presidents come to Washington for a White House summit with Trump they hope will send a message to Moscow.
  • Rinkevics dubbed the threat “unprecedented since the 1930s and 40s” — the period during which the young Baltic republics fell under the control first of Nazi Germany then the Soviet Union.
  • Since the fall of the Soviets, the three have thrown their lot in with the West, turning away from Moscow’s orbit by joining NATO’s mutual defense pact and the European Union.
  • Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin, has never made any secret that he resents this and regards former Soviet republics as belonging in Moscow’s zone of influence. As recently as last week, when asked which single historical event he would most like to reverse, Putin replied: “The collapse of the Soviet Union.”
  • To many, such a statement might seem like electoral bravado designed to play on Russian nationalism three weeks before an election that is expected to confirm Putin in office until 2024. But the Baltic states cannot afford to be complacent….
  • The visiting trio urged Washington to look the threat to their own and to European institutions in the face. “We’re always suggesting to our colleagues in the United States and Europe to be more realistic, not to be naive. Dialogue is important as long as it doesn’t serve as a smokescreen to do nothing,” Linkevicius said.
  • The Lithuanian envoy noted Putin’s recent belligerent speech in which he boasted that Russia had developed a new generation of nuclear arms to bypass missile defenses.
  • “That type of dialogue is not acceptable. And that’s military power, it’s not dialogue, it’s something else,” Linkevicius argued.
  • All three ministers agreed that they would like to see US troops based more permanently in the Baltics, alongside their British, Canadian and German allies.
  • “We really should act, and do this visibly with tangible means,” the Lithuanian said.
  • “NATO will never escalate. NATO will never be aggressive, but nobody should be in any doubt that we will do whatever necessary to protect our territories.”

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