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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 185)

For Boris Johnson, Another Day, Another Defeat in Parliament

LONDON — For Britain’s bare-knuckled new prime minister, Monday marked the end of what is surely one of the most abysmal starts any British leader has ever endured.

As a new law went into effect blocking a “no deal” Brexit, lawmakers also handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson yet another defeat — rebuffing his bid for a snap election.

By Monday’s end, it had become clear that if Mr. Johnson had thought he could outfox Parliament by suspending it, sidelining lawmakers at a critical moment in the Brexit debate, he was the one who had been outmaneuvered.

Now, the man who promised to deliver Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union “do or die,” formal withdrawal agreement or not, is suddenly flailing for a new strategy, more than three years after Britain voted to leave the European Union in a referendum.

Even the day’s only silver lining for Mr. Johnson came with a poison pill.

John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons — and a thorn in the side of the government throughout the Brexit debate — announced his plans to step down. But he timed it so that the current Parliament, which is packed with opponents of the prime minister, would choose his successor.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160492431_bd797b61-82d4-4469-b036-b9a18c801064-articleLarge For Boris Johnson, Another Day, Another Defeat in Parliament Politics and Government Johnson, Boris House of Commons (Great Britain) Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) elections Conservative Party (Great Britain) Bercow, John

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Dublin, on Monday.CreditPhil Noble/Reuters

“Johnson is a toothless prime minister who desperately needs a snap election to give some credibility to his Brexit strategy,” wrote Kallum Pickering, a senior economist with Berenberg Bank. But, he said: “For the opposition parties, it makes little sense to give Johnson the election on his terms. That would return the initiative to him.”

Mr. Johnson needed more than 430 votes for an election to proceed. He got 293.

The motion to suspend Parliament on Monday, or “prorogue” it, and send lawmakers away for five weeks came after eight days of head-snapping moves and countermoves in Parliament.

The suspension, announced in principle less than two weeks ago, was denounced by critics as a transparent, anti-democratic effort to sideline Parliament while the government forced through a no-deal Brexit.

But the government’s move to suspend Parliament backfired, serving to unite the disparate opposition, incite a revolt within Mr. Johnson’s own party and produce the bill that now blocks a no-deal Brexit. On Monday, that bill became law when it completed the final stage of passage, a formality known as royal assent.

The turbulent week has left Mr. Johnson in a tight corner. He has promised to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 — without an agreement if necessary — and said last week that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than request another delay to a process that has already been put off twice.

Digging his way out of that promise could be tough because a majority of lawmakers think that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous. The new law is intended to force Mr. Johnson to request another extension if he cannot secure a withdrawal agreement with European Union officials before the Oct. 31 deadline.

John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, was applauded by opposition lawmakers on Monday after he announced that he was stepping down.CreditJessica Taylor/UK Parliament

As recently as a few weeks ago, Mr. Johnson said the chances of leaving the European Union without a deal were a million to one against; he now puts the prospects as “touch and go.”

But many of his critics believe the prime minister’s real agenda is political. They believe he plans to fight for re-election as the candidate for Brexit at any cost, rallying right-wing voters behind him and crushing the threat from the hard-line Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage.

From Mr. Johnson’s perspective, the suspension of Parliament at least provides some relief by removing the possibility of further embarrassments and defeats at the hands of lawmakers after a week of tumultuous setbacks.

But it also means that prospects of a general election before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline have slipped away.

Mr. Jonson had hoped to use a big win in an election before that date to empower his government to push through withdrawal from the European Union, with or without a deal. Lawmakers, however, need to approve an early election, and with the suspension of Parliament lawmakers cannot do so for at least five weeks. It would then take several weeks to organize an election.

With so much riding on an election that most expect toward the end of the year, the rival parties are trying to ensure that the timing best suits them.

Tensions were high in a week of tumultuous developments. Outside Parliament on Monday, a fight broke up between a Leave supporter and a Remain supporter.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

Mr. Johnson’s opponents rejected his call for a vote in October because they believe that their interests would be better served by a vote that comes after the deadline for withdrawal, at least if Mr. Johnson fails in his categorical pledge to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31.

They also know that there is a mood of discontent inside the ruling Conservative Party because Mr. Johnson last week expelled 21 lawmakers from his party — including some of its best-known figures — when they rebelled and supported legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Since then, Mr. Johnson has suffered the resignation from the government both of his brother, Jo Johnson, and of Amber Rudd, the high-profile former work and pensions secretary who quit over the weekend partly in protest of the party cull, and of Mr. Johnson’s broader Brexit strategy.

As the last hours of the parliamentary session ticked down on Monday night, Mr. Johnson had still yet to win a vote as prime minister.

Lawmakers voted against the government to demand the release of private messages sent by close advisers to Mr. Johnson about the decision to suspend Parliament, and of documents about the possible impact of a leaving the European Union without a deal.

Then Mr. Johnson was defeated on a motion brought by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, reaffirming the obligation of government ministers to uphold the rule of law. Mr. Johnson allowed the motion to pass without opposition.

The Houses of Parliament on Monday.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

Mr. Corbyn introduced the motion in light of reports in recent days that Mr. Johnson was planning to flout the law blocking a no-deal Brexit by refusing to ask Brussels to delay the current deadline of Oct. 31. Mr. Corbyn called that an “assault on the rule of law.”

Ministers insist the prime minister will not break the law, but still suggest the government is looking for loopholes to avoid Mr. Johnson having to ask Brussels for an extension. They did not explain how that circle can be squared.

One possibility is that Mr. Johnson may strike a new deal with the European Union, but the odds against that are long.

A meeting Monday with the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin, yielded nothing new on the biggest sticking point, the so-called Irish backstop plan to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Johnson could try to circumvent the new law, perhaps by sabotaging the prospects of a Brexit extension from the European Union by making it clear that he will be an obstructive force in Brussels.

But anything too blatant might land him in court, so another course of action might be to call a vote of confidence in his own government, or simply to resign and leave another politician to request the delay, gambling that an election would follow soon.

Relinquishing power might, however, be a tough call for a politician who has spent so much time and energy, and provoked such much turmoil, in his successful bid to reach the top job in British politics.

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C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades

WASHINGTON — Decades ago, the C.I.A. recruited and carefully cultivated a midlevel Russian official who began rapidly advancing through the governmental ranks. Eventually, American spies struck gold: The longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.

As American officials began to realize that Russia was trying to sabotage the 2016 presidential election, the informant became one of the C.I.A.’s most important — and highly protected — assets. But when intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia’s election interference with unusual detail later that year, the news media picked up on details about the C.I.A.’s Kremlin sources.

C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns — prompting consternation at C.I.A. headquarters and sowing doubts among some American counterintelligence officials about the informant’s trustworthiness. But the C.I.A. pressed again months later after more media inquiries. This time, the informant agreed.

The move brought to an end the career of one of the C.I.A.’s most important sources. It also effectively blinded American intelligence officials to the view from inside Russia as they sought clues about Kremlin interference in the 2018 midterm elections and next year’s presidential contest.

CNN first reported the 2017 extraction on Monday. Other details — including the source’s history with the agency, the initial 2016 exfiltration offer and the cascade of doubts set off by the informant’s subsequent refusal — have not been previously reported. This article is based on interviews in recent months with current and former officials who spoke on the condition that their names not be used discussing classified information.

Officials did not disclose the informant’s identity or new location, both closely held secrets. The person’s life remains in danger, current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange in 2010.

The Moscow informant was instrumental to the C.I.A.’s most explosive conclusion about Russia’s interference campaign: that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders from Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the C.I.A.’s assessment that he affirmatively favored Donald J. Trump’s election and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The informant, according to people familiar with the matter, was outside of Mr. Putin’s inner circle, but saw him regularly and had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making — easily making the source one of the agency’s most valuable assets.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158391375_76303c50-b51e-4492-b7d5-13cea86097d4-articleLarge C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Informers Espionage and Intelligence Services Cyberwarfare and Defense Classified Information and State Secrets central intelligence agency

The C.I.A. has long sought to get an informant close to Mr. Putin.CreditPool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev

Handling and running a Moscow-based informant is extremely difficult because of Mr. Putin’s counterintelligence defenses. The Russians are known to make life miserable for foreign spies, following them constantly and at times even roughing them up. Former C.I.A. employees describe the entanglements as “Moscow rules.”

The informant’s information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source’s identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President Barack Obama’s daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source’s information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.

The information itself was so important and potentially controversial in 2016 that top C.I.A. officials ordered a full review of the informant’s record, according to people briefed on the matter. Officials reviewed information the source had provided years earlier to ensure that it had proved accurate.

Even though the review passed muster, the source’s rejection of the C.I.A.’s initial offer of exfiltration prompted doubts among some counterintelligence officials. They wondered whether the informant had been turned and had become a double agent, secretly betraying his American handlers. That would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.

Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further.

Other current and former officials who acknowledged the doubts said they were put to rest when the source agreed to be extracted after the C.I.A. asked a second time.

Leaving behind one’s native country is a weighty decision, said Joseph Augustyn, a former senior C.I.A. officer who once ran the agency’s defector resettlement center. Often, informants have kept their spy work secret from their families.

“It’s a very difficult decision to make, but it is their decision to make,” Mr. Augustyn said. “There have been times when people have not come out when we strongly suggested that they should.”

The decision to extract the informant was driven “in part” because of concerns that Mr. Trump and his administration had mishandled delicate intelligence, CNN reported. But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.

The source’s information was integral to the report from American intelligence agencies on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.CreditChet Strange for The New York Times

Mr. Trump was first briefed on the intelligence about Russian interference, including material from the prized informant, two weeks before his inauguration. A C.I.A. spokeswoman responding to the CNN report called the assertion that Mr. Trump’s handling of intelligence drove the reported extraction “misguided speculation.”

Some former intelligence officials said the president’s closed-door meetings with Mr. Putin and other Russian officials, along with Twitter posts about delicate intelligence matters, have sown concern among overseas sources.

“We have a president who, unlike any other president in modern history, is willing to use sensitive, classified intelligence however he sees fit,” said Steven L. Hall, a former C.I.A. official who led the agency’s Russia operations. “He does it in front of our adversaries. He does it by tweet. We are in uncharted waters.”

But the government had indicated that the source existed long before Mr. Trump took office, first in formally accusing Russia of interference in October 2016 and then when intelligence officials declassified parts of their assessment about the interference campaign for public release in January 2017. News agencies, including NBC, began reporting around that time that Mr. Putin’s involvement in the election sabotage and on the C.I.A.’s possible sources for the assessment.

The following month, The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A.’s conclusions relied on “sourcing deep inside the Russian government.” And The New York Times later published articles disclosing details about the source.

The news reporting in the spring and summer of 2017 convinced United States government officials that they had to update and revive their extraction plan, according to people familiar the matter.

The extraction ensured the informant was in a safer position and rewarded for a long career in service to the United States. But it came at a great cost: It left the C.I.A. struggling to understand what was going on inside the highest ranks of the Kremlin.

The agency has long struggled to recruit sources close to Mr. Putin, a former intelligence officer himself wary of C.I.A. operations. He confides in only a small group of people and has rigorous operational security, eschewing electronic communications.

James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence who left office at the end of the Obama administration, said he had no knowledge of the decision to conduct an extraction. But, he said, there was little doubt that revelations about the extraction “is going to make recruiting assets in Russia even more difficult than it already is.”

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New York Times apologizes for sharing previous obituary referring to China’s Mao as ‘one of history’s great revolutionary figures’

Westlake Legal Group NYT-Mao_iStock-Getty New York Times apologizes for sharing previous obituary referring to China's Mao as 'one of history's great revolutionary figures' Liam Quinn fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 113999b8-1877-5c82-ad39-d6b414cda5ae

The New York Times has apologized after referring to former Chinese leader Mao Zedong as “one of history’s great revolutionary figures.”

The Times’ shared its obituary to Mao — who died on Sept. 9, 1976 — to mark the anniversary of the People’s Republic of China founder’s death.

“Mao Zedong died on this day in 1976. The Times said he ‘began as an obscure peasant’ and ‘died one of history’s great revolutionary figures,’ a tweet sent with the obituary read.

The 1976 obituary stated: “After establishing the Chinese People’s republic, Mao launched a series of sweeping, sometimes convulsive campaigns to transform a semi-feudal, largely illiterate and predominantly agricultural country encompassing almost four million square miles into a modern, industrialized socialist state.”

PROFESSOR COMPARES ‘DESTRUCTIVE’ TRUMP TO ‘HITLER, STALIN, AND MAO’ DURING CNN INTERVIEW

A short time later, the outlet posted another tweet apologizing for the remark, which read: “We’ve deleted a previous tweet about Mao Zedong that lacked critical historical context.”

Mao founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and ran it virtually uncontested until his death on Sept. 9, 1976.

His reputation was deeply tarnished by the chaos and destruction of the ultra-radical 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. Some estimates state Mao is responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people.

Author Frank Dikötter wrote for History Today in 2016 that Mao is “one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962.”

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“It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction,” the piece read.

Westlake Legal Group NYT-Mao_iStock-Getty New York Times apologizes for sharing previous obituary referring to China's Mao as 'one of history's great revolutionary figures' Liam Quinn fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 113999b8-1877-5c82-ad39-d6b414cda5ae   Westlake Legal Group NYT-Mao_iStock-Getty New York Times apologizes for sharing previous obituary referring to China's Mao as 'one of history's great revolutionary figures' Liam Quinn fox-news/world/world-regions/china fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 113999b8-1877-5c82-ad39-d6b414cda5ae

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Trump calls GOP challengers ‘laughingstock’ publicity seekers

President Trump on Monday brushed off attempts by a trio of longshot primary challengers vying for the Republican Party presidential nomination as a “laughingstock” and a “publicity stunt.”

Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford became the third Republican to announce his intention to unseat Trump. Other challengers include former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and William Meld, the former governor of Massachusetts.

“The three people are a total joke,”  Trump told reporters outside the White House. “They’re a joke. They’re a laughingstock.”

FLASHBACK: SANFORD, MULLING GOP PRIMARY BID IN 2020, CONFESSES: ‘I DON’T THINK ANYBODY’S GOING TO BEAT DONALD TRUMP’

Westlake Legal Group AP19251491403498 Trump calls GOP challengers 'laughingstock' publicity seekers Louis Casiano fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3ef1633f-12c8-501c-aa6a-2063861b2325

In this July 21, 2018, file photo, Republican politician Mark Sanford speaks at OZY Fest in Central Park in New York. Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman, has decided to launch a longshot Republican challenge to President Donald Trump. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

He went on to mock their polling numbers before saying they had no credibility, Politico reported.

“I guess it’s a publicity stunt,” Trump said. “To be honest, I’m not looking to give them any credibility. They have no credibility.”

The three challengers already face an uphill battle. Over the weekend, Republicans in at least four states — Nevada, South Carolina, Kansas and Arizona — decided to abandon their presidential nomination contests.

“With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a news release.

In a tweet last week, Weld blasted Trump amid reports the states were going to scrap its primaries and caucuses, saying Trump would rather be “crowned president than elected.”

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Trump denied playing a part in the decision by GOP officials.

“The four states that canceled it don’t want to waste their money. If there was a race, they would certainly want to do that, but they are considered to be a laughingstock,” Trump said on Monday, according to Politico.

Westlake Legal Group AP19252812373145 Trump calls GOP challengers 'laughingstock' publicity seekers Louis Casiano fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3ef1633f-12c8-501c-aa6a-2063861b2325   Westlake Legal Group AP19252812373145 Trump calls GOP challengers 'laughingstock' publicity seekers Louis Casiano fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 3ef1633f-12c8-501c-aa6a-2063861b2325

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Trump asserted without evidence that drug dealers and gangs could be trying to enter the U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 5d743713240000082477c6a8 Trump asserted without evidence that drug dealers and gangs could be trying to enter the U.S.

President Donald Trump on Monday urged caution in admitting people into the U.S. from the Bahamas, claiming ― with no apparent basis in fact ― that “very bad people” could be hidden among the hordes of Hurricane Dorian survivors attempting to flee the devastated archipelago.

“We have to be very careful,” he told reporters outside the White House before heading to a North Carolina campaign rally. “Everyone needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas who weren’t supposed to be there.”

The president went on to assert, without evidence, that the people leaving the islands could include criminals.

“I don’t want to allow people who weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very very bad drug dealers,” he said.

Dozens of people were killed in the Bahamas as a result of the Category 5 storm, and some 70,000 people there have reportedly been left homeless.

Trump spoke just hours after Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, announced that the U.S. is fast-tracking its immigration procedures to help process new arrivals from the Bahamas.

However, he also advocated for attention to security matters.

“That doesn’t mean we do this with a blind eye,” Morgan said, according to Reuters. “We still have to balance the humanitarian need and assistance of those that need it versus the safety of this country. So we still go through that process but we’re expediting this process.”

On Sunday, more than 100 Bahamians without visas were reportedly told to leave a ferry from Freeport, Bahamas, to Florida. 

Brian Entin, a journalist for Miami’s Fox-affiliated WSVN-TV, shared footage of the scene on Twitter.

“This is not normal,” he wrote, adding that people from the Bahamas can usually enter the U.S. with a passport and a copy of their police record.

According to the CBP website, that rule is true for those traveling to the U.S. by air ― but for people traveling by ship, a visa is required.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan later explained that the incident was the result of confusion in the aftermath of Dorian, WSVN reported.

In a statement released Monday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also attributed the episode to “confusion,” urging CBP officials to “work with the Bahamian government to clarify the current visa rules & set up a temporary site at ports of entry.”

In a statement of his own, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) disputed that people without visas were ordered off the ship.

“Claim that hurricane survivors were kicked off ship due to U.S. ‘visa demands’ appears false,” he wrote. “Bahamians with a valid passport & clean record can enter U.S. without a visa. This shipping company apparently didn’t coordinate this in advance & then they didn’t want to wait.”

According to WSVN, the Bahamians who were removed from the ship, including “mothers with young children,” are still on their home island.

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Scott Walker: Trump’s presence in North Carolina is ‘critical’ to GOP’s hopes

Westlake Legal Group Cavuto-Walker_FOX Scott Walker: Trump's presence in North Carolina is 'critical' to GOP's hopes fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/shows/your-world fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article a783c38e-429a-53d6-97ef-9188054bda28

President Trump’s Monday rally in North Carolina is critical to Republicans hopes ahead of both a special U.S. House election and the GOP’s hopes in 2020, according to former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Republican contender Dan Bishop, a state senator, has a good chance of winning Tuesday, Walker told host Neil Cavuto Monday on “Your World.”

“President Trump did well there in the past. The left was more motivated going into the 2018 election, which is not uncharacteristic any time you’ve got an incumbent,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be critical in North Carolina as it will be going into 2020 that Republican right-of-center voters wake up and realize the left is motivated and we’ve got to be just as motivated. I think the president being there will remind people just how critically important this election is.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR END TO GOP COMMITTEE TERM LIMITS

On “Your World,” Walker also pointed to the district’s unique structure as another factor in the race.

“It’s all about turnout if you look at the district,” he said.

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Later Monday, Trump will hold a rally in Fayetteville in support of Bishop — who is facing Democrat Dan McCready after the 2018 U.S. House election was voided.

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The special primary and general elections were required after the state elections board in February determined last year’s contest tainted when Republican Mark Harris used a political operative who collected mail-in ballots. Harris, who narrowly led after November’s votes were counted, opted not to run again.

Former Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., who last held the seat, lost to Harris in the 2018 primary. He declined to run in the special election, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Cavuto-Walker_FOX Scott Walker: Trump's presence in North Carolina is 'critical' to GOP's hopes fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/shows/your-world fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article a783c38e-429a-53d6-97ef-9188054bda28   Westlake Legal Group Cavuto-Walker_FOX Scott Walker: Trump's presence in North Carolina is 'critical' to GOP's hopes fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/north-carolina fox-news/shows/your-world fox-news/politics/elections/house-of-representatives fox-news/politics/elections fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article a783c38e-429a-53d6-97ef-9188054bda28

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Why Donald Trump's plan to host Taliban at prestigious Camp David stirred bipartisan outrage

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Why Donald Trump's plan to host Taliban at prestigious Camp David stirred bipartisan outrage

President Donald Trump insisted he had “no involvement” in Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to stay for two nights at Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland. Trump said people use his hotels “because they’re the best.” (Sept. 4) AP, AP

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump faced blowback from fellow Republicans this week for a plan – later scuttled – to use Camp David for negotiations with the Taliban.

The meeting, had it occurred, would have delivered the kind of drama that appeals to Trump, a former TV star. But it wouldn’t have been the first time the sprawling retreat, tucked into a mountainous national park in Maryland, has been used for high-stakes diplomacy.

Built by Depression-era Works Progress Administration workers in the 1930s, the secluded camp has been used by past presidents to meet with world leaders attempting to sort out thorny issues from Middle East tensions to the Cold War.

Trump drew fire from lawmakers, including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, who expressed outrage over the idea of granting the Taliban the prestige of a meeting at the presidential retreat, especially so close to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Cheney noted that Camp David was where President George W. Bush assembled his senior advisers and Cabinet officials to deliberate the response to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Bush administration blamed the Taliban for harboring al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, and went to war to oust it from power in Afghanistan. 

“Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3000 Americans on 9/11,” Cheney posted on Twitter. “No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever.”

Trump defended the move this week.

“Camp David’s held meetings with a lot of people that would have been perceived as being pretty tough customers,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. “There have been plenty of so-called bad people brought up to Camp David for meetings.” 

Here’s a look at past high-stakes meetings that have taken place at Camp David:

Roosevelt’s Shangri-La

It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who converted the facility into a presidential retreat, renaming it Shangri-La. Roosevelt hosted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill there in 1943 as Germany was pushing across Europe during World War II.

Nearly a year later, the U.S. would play a central role in the D-Day invasion that changed the course of the war.

The Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum holds a photograph of the two leaders fishing at the retreat, with Roosevelt holding a fly rod and Churchill his trademark cigar.

Cold War tensions 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who named the retreat Camp David after his father and grandson, met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev there in 1959. At a point of high Cold War tension, the two leaders made some progress, such as agreeing to open talks on the administration of war-torn Berlin. But much of the good will was scuttled when an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union months later.

Middle East talks 

Perhaps the most famous international gathering to take place at Camp David happened under President Jimmy Carter. The president brought Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the site in 1978, forcing two leaders who had little trust for each other to sit down to broker a peace accord named for the retreat.

The touch-and-go negotiations took place over 12 days – all of it in secret.

President Bill Clinton attempted to recreate the sense of momentum in the Middle East with his own summit in 2000 but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat failed to reach an agreement. 

G-8 meeting

Eisenhower wasn’t the only president to host Russians at Camp David. President George W. Bush hosted Vladimir Putin in 2003. President Barack Obama held a G8 summit at Camp David in 2012, when the Russians were still part of the group of the world’s most industrialized economies. Obama hosted the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/09/what-is-camp-david-presidential-retreat-maryland-donald-trump/2266203001/

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Controversial Trump Court Pick Gets Expedited Senate Confirmation Hearing

Westlake Legal Group 5d76cd2a3b0000a09bd0c3f1 Controversial Trump Court Pick Gets Expedited Senate Confirmation Hearing

WASHINGTON ― The White House and Senate Republicans on Monday quietly advanced one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees to date, Steven Menashi, a legal aide to the president with a long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women and LGBTQ people.

Within minutes of the White House formally submitting Menashi’s nomination to the Senate late Monday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee added his name to its agenda for a Wednesday hearing. The agenda had been blank prior to the White House sending over Menashi’s nomination.

That’s an incredibly fast turn-around for a judicial nominee, and it’s no mistake that the Republican-led committee kept its agenda empty until the last minute. It helped to stave off prolonged protests by progressive groups that have already signaled strong opposition to Menashi, who, if confirmed, will have a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Menashi, a 40-year-old lawyer who previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and served as acting general counsel for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, wrote dozens of incendiary editorials and blog posts in the late 1990s and early 2000s decrying “leftist multiculturalism” and “PC orthodoxy.”

As CNN first reported, Menashi complained about “gynocentrists” participating in Take Back the Night marches; accused the Human Rights Campaign of having “incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard” for political benefit; and claimed that a Dartmouth fraternity wasn’t being racist when it held a “ghetto party” attended by white partygoers wearing Afros and carrying toy guns.

Menashi’s past writings include him comparing race data collection in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler; denouncing women’s marches as sexual assault; opposing the ”radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade”; arguing that diverse communities “exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective government institutions, and fewer public goods”; and writing that it is “ridiculous” to say that students chanting the Dartmouth football cheer, “Wah-hoo-wah! Scalp ’em!,” are propagating “a racist belief in the inferiority of American Indians.”

In a 1998 opinion article, Menashi opposed need-based financial aid because, he argued, it hurt wealthy people. He also spread the Islamophobic myth that Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in 1913 with bullets dipped in pig fat.

At least one left-leaning judicial advocacy group is planning protests this week to try to tank Menashi’s nomination.

“Menashi is a perfect storm of awful,” tweeted Brian Fallon of Demand Justice. “Expect protest activity this week regarding his nomination hearing.”

Fallon told HuffPost that protesters plan to attend Menashi’s hearing. Demand Justice and another progressive group, Credo, also expect to deliver a petition with 100,000 signatures to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, in protest of Menashi.

Other groups are calling on the White House to rescind his nomination.

“Steven Menashi’s litany of racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks should be absolutely disqualifying for anyone seeking a lifetime seat on the federal bench,” Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, said in a statement. “There is nothing in his record that gives any indication that Menashi could be trusted to administer even-handed justice. His nomination must be withdrawn immediately.”

Alliance for Justice previously released a detailed report on all of its concerns over Menashi’s record.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin Menashi’s confirmation hearing at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday. You can watch the live feed here.

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Trump tweets dramatic photo of lightning strike behind Air Force One: ‘Amazing!’

Westlake Legal Group PLANE Trump tweets dramatic photo of lightning strike behind Air Force One: ‘Amazing!’ fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 2d3f271f-f1a0-5f8f-9df7-3c8adf19c262

President Trump on Monday tweeted a dramatic photo of a lightning strike behind Air Force One shortly before arriving for a campaign rally in North Carolina.

“Departing MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina for Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is amazing!” the president tweeted.

The photo was first tweeted by CNN politics supervising producer Steve Brusk, who noted that Trump “had to cancel his planned tour of Hurricane Dorian damage because of thunderstorms in Fayetteville, NC.”

“This was a lightning strike behind Air Force One shortly after he arrived.” Brusk wrote.

TRUMP HOSTS RALLY IN NORTH CAROLINA AHEAD OF PIVOTAL HOUSE SPECIAL ELECTION

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The president’s visit to North Carolina comes three days after Hurricane Dorian made landfall there, with maximum sustained winds around 90 mph. Days earlier it lashed the Bahamas as a Category 5 monster hurricane.

Westlake Legal Group PLANE Trump tweets dramatic photo of lightning strike behind Air Force One: ‘Amazing!’ fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 2d3f271f-f1a0-5f8f-9df7-3c8adf19c262   Westlake Legal Group PLANE Trump tweets dramatic photo of lightning strike behind Air Force One: ‘Amazing!’ fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 2d3f271f-f1a0-5f8f-9df7-3c8adf19c262

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Records raise new questions about FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6022675804001_6022671914001-vs Records raise new questions about FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article 2e4980b3-5f76-54b7-9a86-8e168d916385

Then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the White House in early February 2017 that the bureau was not considering the national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, for a potential Logan Act prosecution over conversations with the Russian ambassador before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, government records reviewed by Fox News indicate.

McCabe was referring to the rarely prosecuted 200-year-old statute that bars American citizens from engaging with a foreign government without authorization from the current U.S. government.

FLYNN LAWYER AT WAR WITH MUELLER TEAM, ACCUSING PROSECUTORS OF ‘MALEVOLENT CONDUCT’

The records also indicate that Flynn reported, on two separate occasions, in the days leading up to his White House firing that FBI agents told him the bureau investigation was over or being closed out.

Both incidents raise questions over the underlying offense that formed the basis for the initial FBI and DOJ investigation into Flynn.

The retired general was later fired by the White House for misleading the vice president about communications with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, during the transition before Trump was sworn in.

Flynn was never charged with improperly communicating with Kislyak, but in December 2017 pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Flynn and his legal team are back in court after alleging that special counsel prosecutors withheld evidence. Fox News has reached out to McCabe’s legal team for comment.

Earlier this year, Flynn fired the legal team that negotiated his guilty plea.

In an Aug. 30 court filing, Flynn’s new lawyer, Sidney Powell, wrote, “The prosecutors in this case have repeatedly failed to produce Brady evidence despite…the clarity of this Court’s Order… their ethical and constitutional obligations…specific requests for documents the prosecutors know are exculpatory, and… those requests being made multiple times.”

Brady evidence refers to all exculpatory evidence prosecutors are obligated to turn over, as established in the Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland.

Powell has alleged that members of the special counsel team prosecuting the case under the direction of prosecutor Andrew Weissmann “affirmatively suppressed evidence (hiding Brady material) that destroyed the credibility of their primary witness, impugned their entire case against M. Flynn, while at the same time at the same time putting excruciating pressure on him to enter his guilty plea and manipulating or controlling the press to their advance to extort that plea.”

The filing also highlights contact, reported by Fox News, between Weissmann and other senior Justice Department officials in the fall of 2016 before the presidential election, and nearly a year before Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel.

Powell, Flynn’s attorney, highlighted to the court that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr was a back channel to the FBI and shared the anti-Trump dossier with Justice Department officials who later joined the special counsel team.

Ohr gave a closed-door transcribed interview last August sharing details of his 2016 meetings with British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who authored the dossier later used to secure a surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign aide. The interview was part of the Republican-led House Oversight and Judiciary Committee probes.

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In a series of questions about his meetings with Steele, including one on July 30, 2016, and who he shared the information with, Ohr referenced both McCabe and Weissmann.

A separate motion from Flynn’s legal team accused the prosecution of withholding the original FBI summary of Flynn’s interview known as a 302.

The publicly released version of the 302 shows it was dated mid-February 2017 — almost three weeks after the interview took place.

The prosecutors have taken the position that they gave Flynn’s original legal team the relevant records, and in December 2017, Flynn accepted responsibility for his actions under oath.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6022675804001_6022671914001-vs Records raise new questions about FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article 2e4980b3-5f76-54b7-9a86-8e168d916385   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6022675804001_6022671914001-vs Records raise new questions about FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc Catherine Herridge article 2e4980b3-5f76-54b7-9a86-8e168d916385

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