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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Trump team keeps coming out with stories that leave everyone puzzled

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Credit: Getty Images/John Lamparski

The lies, exaggerations and false allegations that pepper President Donald Trump's public appearances and Twitter postings are an established reality.

On Tuesday, for instance, the president absurdly told a forum of economic wonks that his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump created 14 million jobs. But all U.S. employment has risen by about six million over three years, in part reflecting normal population growth.

As impeachment proceeds in the House, and fresh eyewitness accounts of the administration's behind-the-scenes actions emerge, people who worked at the highest levels are saying things that, devoid of corroboration, only add to the general confusion.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says in a new book that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to "undermine" the president. They "confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country." 

Haley continued, "Tillerson went on to tell me the reason he resisted the president's decisions was because, if he didn't, people would die."

Did Haley ask how he thought that would be the case? Who did he say might die and how? Which of the president's decisions did he and Kelly "resist"?

Haley said she, at some point, clued Trump into the alleged disloyalty.

Kelly now says he was providing "the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice from across the [government] so he [Trump] could make an informed decision." Tillerson said: "Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings, and is not in a position to know" details of his meetings with the president.

The Haley story becomes another zero-sum, off-message tale of infighting, spun in a way that perhaps could make Trump consider Haley as a possible vice-presidential candidate or successor to him.

More Trumpian fog shrouds recent impeachment-committee testimony.

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told congressional investigators the Office of Management and Budget in late 2017 put a hold on a transfer of Javelin missiles to Ukraine.

She said Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, expressed concerns to her that “Russia would react negatively.”

Well, sure they would. The U.S. for years has been supplying weapons to Ukraine to resist Russian incursions in the eastern part of the country. Was Mulvaney saying the administration would now worry about what the Kremlin wanted? Congress has since prodded weapons supplies to Ukraine. What did this exchange, reported by Cooper under oath, mean?

Energy Secretary Rick Perry's dealings with Ukraine prompt a whole new set of questions.

The Associated Press reports that two political supporters of the ex-Texas governor secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from Kyiv's government soon after Perry proposed that one of them serve as adviser to Ukraine’s president.

If Perry was paving the way for cronies into Ukraine gas business, how does that look less corrupt than Hunter Biden getting a juicy position with the nation's Burisma company, which Trump practically promotes as the crime of the century?

The questions are arriving way more quickly than the answers.

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