|1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)|
|WSJ.com: World News: Qatar’s Critics Scale Back Demands in Diplomatic Bid|
Four Arab nations locked in a dispute with Qatar said they have revised and curtailed their list of demands for Doha, in an overture aimed at moving toward a solution to the standoff.
WSJ.com: World News
|Saved Stories – None|
|Trump cannot make America govern itself again|
Washington gridlock has become a Republican habit
|Trump Slaps New Sanctions On Iran After Certifying Its Compliance With Nuclear Deal|
The U.S. said Iran’s ballistic missile program and Tehrans malign activities in the Middle East undercut any positive contributions from the 2015 deal.
|20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance – ThinkProgress|
|Reluctant Trump recertifies Iran deal – The Hindu|
|Lebanon preparing for military operation near Syria border|
Lebanon is preparing a military operation to secure a lawless section of the border with Syria, Prime Minister Saad Hariri told parliament on Tuesday.
|Russia demands US return properties as talks reach no deal|
Russia stepped up pressure on the U.S. to return seized diplomatic compounds after talks ended without a deal, in a dispute that’s become a test of whether Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin can convert the personal rapport of their initial meeting into improved relations.
|Dem Rep: We Are Far Past Collusion With Respect to Trump and Russia|
Rep. Denny Heck (D., Wash.) told CNN host Kate Bolduan on Tuesday that the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia has now gone “far past collusion,” and called on the Trump administration to come clean.
The House Intelligence Committee member brought up the Watergate scandal that sunk former President Richard Nixon’s administration and said President Donald Trump has found himself in a similar position. Heck stopped short of calling for impeachment, however, and said administration officials should tell the whole truth.
“My advice to him is that it is far past time to come clean,” he said. “If there’s anything we have learned in the last six months, it’s that the truth will be out.”
Donald Trump Jr.
“Frankly, Kate, we are far past collusion,” he told Bolduan. “That’s one of the charges of the Intel Committee, to seek out whether or not there was collusion with the Russian government with respect to the efforts to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. We are far past that, at this stage.”
Bolduan then asked what they are at, if they are past collusion.
“We are at the point where, as I said earlier, it’s far past time for this administration to come clean,” Heck answered. “This is getting very serious, Kate. Look, I do not believe that articles of impeachment should come before an investigation is complete, and we are at the beginning or near the middle of ours.”
“I think it is ominous and should be ominous to the president of the United States that the percentage of Americans calling for impeachment is almost double what it was at this stage of the Watergate era,” Heck added.
He likened the administration’s situation regarding the Russia investigation to a cancerous tumor. He took that image from Nixon’s counselor during Watergate.
“In particular this week I thought what resonated with me was a quote by Nixon’s counselor, his chief attorney, who at one point said, Mr. President, there is a cancer growing on your presidency,'” Heck said. “That’s the case here.”
“It’s far past time to come clean. It would be the political equivalent of chemotherapy if they did,” he added, continuing the cancer analogy.
He also criticized White House senior advisor Jared Kushner’s actions while getting in a dig at the GOP’s recently dropped health care bill.
“Jared Kushner’s story has changed more often than the Republican health care bill, and we know that every time it changes it gets worse,” Heck said.
The post Dem Rep: We Are Far Past Collusion With Respect to Trump and Russia appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
|Terrorism threat posed by ISIS isnt going away|
The fall of Mosul and Raqqa wont solve the problem that led to ISIS rise: the misrule of Sunni Muslim areas by governments in Baghdad and Damascus.
|US Court Rules FBI Can Continue to Surveil Your Data in Secret – iDrop News|
|Meeting with a Russian isnt smart, but its not a crime|
Criminalizing all dumb moves in political campaigns would effectively eviscerate the First Amendment.
|Trump seeking new ideas on Afghanistan from servicemembers|
President Donald Trump is having lunch with servicemembers to come up with new ideas for fighting the war in Afghanistan.
|Chechnya becoming major player in rebuilding war-torn Syria|
Russia’s mostly Muslim republic of Chechnya is becoming a major player in rebuilding war-ravaged Syria. And ordinary Chechens are likely to foot the bill, with many of them being forced to make contributions or face the possibility of exile or death, human rights activists say.
|Questions surround nuclear plants’ cybersecurity amid hacks|
Computer hackers, not content with mucking around with U.S. commerce and elections, have trained their sights on nuclear power plants, prompting questions about cyber security at Oyster Creek.
|D.C. Begins Implementing Assisted Suicide, GOP Congress Likely to Oppose|
The District of Columbia has begun implementing its physician-assisted suicide law in spite of a looming clash with the Republican-controlled Congress.
City officials announced that the rules and regulations required to implement the D.C. Council’s “right-to-die” bill took effect on Monday, the Washington Post reports. The Council passed its bill 11-2 in November.
The bill permits doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. In order to be eligible, one must be over 18, and with less than six months to live. Patients must also make two requests 15 days apart, and ingest the drugs themselves. Two witnesses must attest that the patient is not acting under duress.
The D.C. Health Department launched a website providing information about D.C. assisted suicide as part of the law’s rollout. Physicians can register online to enroll in the program; a health department FAQ makes clear that physician participation is voluntary, not mandatory.
Although D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D.) office is proceeding with implementation of the “death with dignity” program, it could run into road blocks in Congress, which has substantial oversight over D.C. city law.
House Republicans narrowly failed to pass a bill in February that would have blocked assisted suicide in Washington. But Rep. Andy Harris (R., Md.), who called the D.C. bill “poorly written” and “misguided,” is intending to fight the matter in the House budget process.
Harris introduced an amendment to the House Appropriations Committee that would repeal the “death with dignity” law wholesale. The amendment passed along party lines, with the exception of two defecting Republicans who sided with the minority. A Harris spokeswoman said that the passage of the amendment, which will still need to be approved by the full Congress, signals an end for D.C.’s law.
“The congressmans amendment repeals the law, so while D.C. could implement the Death With Dignity Act, it would be repealed once the appropriations process is complete and the bills are passed,” she said.
Non-voting representative for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.) has promised to try to stop all D.C.-related measures in the budget when the bill goes before the full House.
For the time being, however, the District is joining six states – California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and Washington – that permit physician-assisted suicide.
The post D.C. Begins Implementing Assisted Suicide, GOP Congress Likely to Oppose appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
|US restoring asset seizures with safeguards|
Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to ease restrictions, but also impose new requirements on when federal law can be used, a senior Justice Department official briefed on the policy said Tuesday.
|Lawyer: Russian developer’s staffer also at Trump Tower meet|
A representative of the Russian developer who partnered with President Donald Trump to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow was the eighth person at a Trump Tower meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign, a lawyer for the developer said Tuesday.
|Spying or Cyber War? How to Tell the Difference – Fortune|
|Ex-CIA Texas Republican calls for Trump to come clean on Russia – Shareblue Media|
|House to vote on Trump’s $1.6B border wall request next week|
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans are moving next week to fund President Donald Trump’s $1.6 billion request to begin construction of his oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Aides said GOP leaders have decided to attach the money
|House to vote on Trump’s $1.6B border wall request next week|
Aides said GOP leaders have decided to attach the money to a spending bill for the Defense Department and a handful of other agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs.
|Iraqis hold suspected militants in cramped, stifling prison|
Hundreds of suspected Islamic State members swept up by Iraqi forces in Mosul are being held in a cramped and stifling prison just outside the city.
|US Announces New Sanctions On Iran Over Ballistic Missiles, Terrorism Support|
The US on Tuesday imposed a new set of economic sanctions on Iran due to Tehrans continuing destabilizing regional policies and activities related to its ballistic missile program.
The US Treasury Department designated 16 entities and individuals for supporting illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.
These designations include seven entities and five individuals for engaging in activities in support of Irans military or Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three associated persons, the department said in a statement.
The transnational criminal organization designated today, along with two Iranian businessmen and an associated entity, orchestrated the theft of US and Western software programs which, at times, were sold to the government of Iran, the statement added.
The measures come a day after the administration of US President Donald Trump certified that Iran was in compliance with the agreement struck with the US and five other nations that puts restrictions on its nuclear energy program. But the administration made its continued concerns about various other issues very clear.
In a statement to reporters Monday night, a White House official suggested that the Trump administration was departing from the approach of former US President Barack Obamas administration by addressing the totality of Irans malign behavior and not narrowly focus(ing) solely on its nuclear energy-related activities.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based nonpartisan policy institute, where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, countering threat finance, and non-proliferation, said the new sanctions suggest the US is getting tougher on Tehran.
The new sanctions are part of an escalation strategy that will see the Trump administration using all instruments of American power to roll back and subvert Iranian regime aggression, Dubowitz told Arab News.
In comments to Arab News about the implications of the sanctions for US-Iranian relations, Alex Vatanka, an Iran scholar with the Middle East Institute said that going forward, the ball is as much in the Iranian court, if not more so, than it is in the American court.
He added that mixed signals from Iranian officials suggest that there is no agreement between Iranians themselves on the need for improved relations with the US.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq, James F. Jeffrey, a distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute, said: The more important message from Washington is that it believes strongly that Iran is violating the spirit of the JCPOA with its destabilizing activities throughout the region, and that the US will live up to its May Riyadh Summit commitment to counter and contain Iran.
|Will OPEC Deal Work? OpEd|
By Wael Mahdi*
Major oil producers members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC are meeting in Russia on July 24 to monitor their compliance to a deal aimed at curtailing production and rebalancing the oil market.
So far the agreement has not given enough assurance to the market that it will bring down global oil stocks by the end of the year, despite assurance from ministers that the deal is working.
The market has been hearing for too long from officials that oil stocks will fall down back to the five- year average in theory over the coming six months, whereas in reality stocks have been falling slowly and the amount of drawdowns may not lead to a balanced market by the end of the year.
In fact, this coming six months has been a moving target since November 2014 when OPEC first started to protect its market share in the face of rising output from non-OPEC producers, by letting oil prices fall and the market correct itself.
Now, will the coming next six months be any different than the first six months of 2017? Everyone is still hoping and all the calculations point to a rebalancing but this was always the case since January.
Before understanding what happens over the next six months, it is important to examine what went wrong in the first six months.
So what really happened? There are many scenarios and explanations.
First, there is still lower conformity by OPEC and non-OPEC countries to their pledged cuts. Countries like Iraq, the UAE and Algeria are still not reaching 100 percent conformity levels since the beginning of the deal, according to estimates from OPECs secondary sources.
The data from the countries themselves under direct communications, present the same picture and the conformity levels are not evenly distributed among participants.
Second, some argue that high oil prices in the first quarter of this year encouraged more drilling and investments by oil companies and the effect of that was more rigs in the US and production rises here and there.
Third, there is too much light oil in the market and this is because of the increase in output from shale basins in the US and more recently the increased production from Libya and Nigeria. OPEC made the most of its cuts in medium and heavy grades while light crude is still advancing. The result is that the price of medium grades like Dubai is on the rise while the price of lighter crude like Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is falling.
Fourth, another explanation is that exports from OPEC countries and others are still high even if oil output is curtailed, and at the end of the day exports are what really counts and they are what go into stocks and not production.
Looking at the tanker tracking data from a very reputable source, it is clear that exports in June are no different than when the countries started the agreement in January.
OPECs crude exports in June averaged 25.19 million barrels per day (bpd), down by 200,000 bpd from 25.39 million in January. Examining the data further, exports in February and March were 25.82 million and 25.53 million bpd, respectively. These two months were higher than what OPEC exported in October last year when there was no agreement. The agreement does not put a cap on exports so there is nothing wrong if countries shipped more crude. Also, many OPEC countries sell to refiners under term contracts and so are not traded in the spot market.
So some argue that such production goes to final users and not storage. However, high exports mean that consumers do not need to resort to stored oil to meet local demand, therefore, stocks do not reduce quickly.
In fact, the OPEC deal was under pressure in the first quarter of this year because OPEC countries shipped or produced a record amount of crude in last quarter of last year.
It takes around 45-55 days for any crude shipments from the Middle East to reach refiners in Asia or North America, so what was shipped in the final quarter of 2016 must have led to high stocks in the first quarter of 2017.
So in the light of all of this, what would OPEC and non-OPEC allies suggest to fix the situation when they meet in Russia? The best thing to do is to find a way to monitor exports instead of production, and the second best thing to do is for everyone to be honest about fixing the situation in the market and not leaving it to others.
Otherwise, the next six months will be little different to the first.
Wael Mahdi is an energy reporter specializing on OPEC and a co-author of OPEC in a Shale Oil World: Where to Next? He can be reached on Twitter @waelmahdi
|Reporter’s notebook: China’s shedding its copycat image with innovation after innovation – CNBC|
|The Dangerous Rush To Prosecute Donald Trump And His Associates OpEd|
No, no, no, no, and no, responds George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley to the calls, arising out of the Russiagate fixation, to prosecute President Donald Trump and his campaign and presidential administration associates for a list of crimes treason, espionage, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstruction of justice, and election fraud.
Considering each crime in turn in a Tuesday The Hill editorial, Turley finds the basis for the accusation lacking in each case. Further, Turley warns that broadening the scope of the criminal code and handing the government wider discretion in criminalizing speech and associations in order to take down Trump and his associates carries great danger.
The danger arises in part from creating expanded power for future presidents to use. Turley explains:
Read Turleys insightful editorial here.
Turley describes in his editorial a discussion in the 1966 movie A Man for All Seasons that culminates with Thomas More declaring: Yes, Id give the Devil benefit of law for my own safetys sake. You can watch here that excellently performed discussion.
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|US plans to beef up Cyber Command, separate cyberwar operations from NSA|
For many decades, the National Security Agency has been in charge of protecting Americas cyber network and combating online threats. That, however, is about to change, according to reports.
|The Seven Circles of Donald Trumps Russia Inferno|
Back in May, Lawfare’s Jane Chong began compiling an annotated set of links to the known facts in the Donald Trump-Russia affair. At the same time, one of us co-authored a piece detailing seven possible theories that could explain the available evidence, ordered from least to most sinister. The first three theories included:
With last week’s revelations regarding the meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and multiple individuals they believed were connected to the Russian government, these theories seem less plausible. Those emails, after all, demonstrate that at least some central figures in the Trump campaign were, in fact, specifically informed — with almost comical explicitness — of the Russian government’s effort to interfere in the election. They were also informed that the Russian motivation was to assist Trump. And the Trump campaign welcomed and, at a minimum, attempted to participate in that effort.
John Sullivan may have already won over Foggy Bottom, but Congress is another matter.
So what’s left? Well, back in May, the remaining possibilities included:
Note that merely six months into Trump’s presidency, the likely explanations for his conduct now reside on the decidedly more sinister end of the spectrum. Or, at least, if you’re inclined to favor the less sinister side of the spectrum, you now have to account for the known actions of individuals at the center of the campaign that seem more consistent with the theories at the more sinister end of it.
To be sure, there is no more evidence today than there was before to support the very worst possibilities: the theory that the Russians have kompromat on Trump or that he is a true Manchurian candidate. There is, however, substantially more information to support the theory that Russian intelligence endeavored to, and in fact managed to, infiltrate the Trump campaign and that Trump knew or should have known it was happening. And there’s at least some evidence that the purpose of that infiltration was to help the campaign by giving it dirt on Trump’s opponent.
Remember that this is actually not the first story in which people associated with Team Trump got — or sought — help from Moscow. Before the New York Times broke the news on Don Jr., the Wall Street Journal reported that now deceased Republican operative Peter W. Smith sought to obtain emailspurportedly hacked from Clinton’s private server, including from groups he suspected were linked to Russian intelligence. Smith claimed to have support from high-level Trump campaign staffers, including then future and now former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The story leaves ambiguous the extent of actual involvement or knowledge on the part of the Trump campaign of Smith’s activities, as well as whether Smith was in contact with real Russian intelligence operatives or merely imposters looking to take him for a ride.
But the Trump Jr. meeting leaves no such ambiguities. The participants were the tightest of Trump’s inner circle — his campaign manager, son, and son-in-law — and the disclosed emails spell out in black and white an account of the Russian government’s intent and its ambitions to assist the Trump campaign. If the younger Trump was surprised to learn of this, he did not demonstrate it with his response: “If it’s what you say I love it.” And if he had anxieties about guiding that involvement, he suppressed them when he suggested a specific time frame — later in the summer — for the disclosure of material.
The White House insists that Donald Trump was unaware of this meeting — held by his close family one floor beneath his office in Trump Tower while he was on the premises — though it appears the president himself has wavered on this particular talking point. He told the press pool on Air Force One that “in fact, maybe it was mentioned at some point,” though he said he was unaware that it was about possible derogatory information about Clinton.
Those looking to the behavior of the Trump campaign to tie together Smith’s efforts and Trump Jr.’s meetings in some sort of broader conspiracy may be looking in the wrong place. These revelations may well be further indication of “systemic, sustained, furtive” coordination not by the Trump team itself but by the Russians. As Moscow’s intelligence operatives sought to make inroads, they may have found receptivity in probing in different places at different times — from the inner circle to more tangential figures.
Think of the coordination then not as some grand conspiracy on the part of the Trump camp but as a pervasive rot among those tied to Trump that created opportunities for the Russians to exploit. The unifying characteristic may not be some grand plan to “collude” but rather a lack of commitment to resisting intervention from hostile foreign adversaries in free and fair elections — a lack of resistance that gave a foreign adversary multiple opportunities to take advantage over time.These newer revelations also raise more possible scenarios and theories that were not part of the original seven. One that has gotten a lot of attention is the speech Trump gave the same day his son first received the email, in which he promised to give a future speech revealing damaging information on Clinton. This suggests that the fundamental relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia may have been the opposite of espionage; typically, espionage is about exfiltrating information from a campaign, but this sought to inject information into it.
The public record actually has some other suggestive indications of a relationship along these lines. The very public elements of Trump’s tacit cooperation with the Russians have been widely noted. He welcomed the Russian release of Clinton’s emails; he proclaimed to love WikiLeaks; he denied Russian involvement in the whole affair; he enthusiastically used the fruits of Russia’s illicit efforts to attack his opponent; and he had a monthslong bromance with the Russian dictator, after all. There is, however, another part of the Russian operation that Trump publicly supported that has gotten far less attention — and now looks at least somewhat more sinister.
The U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of 2016 election interference noted that the Russian operation comprised two distinct elements. One part was helping Trump, but there was another part, too:
When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start, including by impugning the fairness of the election.
Before the election, Russian diplomats had publicly denounced the US electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results. Pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory, judging from their social media activity.
The identifiable efforts to discredit a possible Clinton victory were twofold: promoting the idea that the Democratic primary was “rigged” against Clinton’s opponent, Bernie Sanders, and creating uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of the election outcome. Trump heavily abetted both of these goals.
NPR notes that on March 4, 2016, a Russian political analyst with deep ties to the Kremlin posted a YouTube video that, among other charges, impugned the legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system. Alexander Dugin called American vote counting “stupid and fake” and claimed (falsely) that while “the majority votes for Sanders,” Clinton won by “bribing the electors.” Between the time of the Dugin video and the inauguration, Donald Trump tweeted about a “rigged” election at least 29 times. At least eight of these tweets (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) specifically alleged that the Democratic primary was rigged against Sanders — which is to say that it closely hewed to the Kremlin’s talking point.
Trump had similar critiques of the Republican primary and of the U.S. election in general. At a campaign rally in August 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, he said, “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.” In a Fox News interview a day later, he claimed, “People are going to walk in. They’re going to vote 10 times, maybe.” That same month, his campaign website encouraged people to become “Trump Election Observer[s]” to “Help … Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”
Furthermore, when it appeared overwhelmingly likely that Clinton would win the presidency,
Trump openly and repeatedly floated the possibility that he would refuse to concede the election. When asked about doing so, he told the New York Times, “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.” He refused to offer a direct answer when asked at the third debate, saying, “I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense.” Later, he pledged to accept the election results only “if I win.”The relationship between Trump’s talking points over time and those pushed by the Kremlin does not mean that Trump was receiving secret, covert messaging help from Russian spies. The Russians were, after all, running RT and Sputnik and had a giant influence operation as part of their active measures campaign — an influence campaign that may have influenced the election, as well as some voters. Trump’s claims of a rigged outcome may have been preemptive attempts to balm his legendarily fragile ego in the event of defeat, attempts that may have dovetailed nicely with what Russia was putting out for reasons of its own. And the fact that Trump was, once again, directly mirroring the Kremlin’s talking points could well be just a coincidence — or it could be that the Kremlin was mirroring his talking points, though the Russian government does appear to have gotten there first.
But the degree of message compatibility here is worth noting if for no other reason than that the pattern thus far is that, as one bombshell revelation follows another, the more innocent explanations do seem to slip out of the realm of the plausible.
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
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|The Early Edition: July 19, 2017|
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.
SECRET TRUMP-PUTIN MEETING
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a second time on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month,a meeting that was previously undisclosed and which took place on the same day that the two leaders met for two hours, Rebecca Ballhaus reporting at the Wall Street Journal that the White House only disclosed the subsequent meeting after it was reported by the president of political risk advisory group Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer who discussed it in the companys newsletter and discussed it in a television interview yesterday.
President Trump left his seat at a dinner with world leaders on July 7 to engage in an hour-long conversation with Putin with the aid of a single translator, a White House official insisting yesterday that there was nothing unusual about the meeting, while Trump himself focused on news reports of the meeting he said were Fake News and sick via Twitter last night, Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports at the New York Times.
There was no second meeting between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation, The White House statement said yesterday, adding that the insinuation that it has tried to hide a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd, Karen De Young and Philip Rucker report at the Washington Post.
The meeting was very animated and very friendly, with Putins translator translating, Bremmer revealed during his interview yesterday, David Smith at the Guardian pointing out that the absence of Trumps own translator during the conversation may be a breach of national security protocol, an oversight the White House said was down to the fact that the translator the president took with him to the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnikskaya is prepared to testify to Congress to dispel what she calls the mass hysteria in response to reports of her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last June, she said today, Reuters reports.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been cleared to publicly interview Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort over their recently-disclosed meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June by special counsel Robert Mueller, the panels top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) confirmed yesterday, though it comes down to whether the two men will accept the invitation, the Hills Katie Bo Williams reports.
The eighth person present at the Donald Trump Jr.-Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting last June was Ike Kaveladze, a senior vice president at the company founded by Azerbaijani-Russian businessperson Aras Agalarov who initiated the meeting, Pamela Brown reports at CNN.
Kaveladze started at Crocus Aras Agalrovs Russian-based development company as its U.S. associate,moving to the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1991 where Federal investigators say he immediately began laundering money for Russians. Kelly Weill and Katie Zavadski examine Kaveladzes known history at The Daily Beast.
An interview with Kaveladze was requested by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller last weekend as part of Muellers probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion, Kaveladzes presence at the meeting last year adding to concerns about Trump campaign officials apparent failure to vet participants backgrounds. Sharon LaFraniere and Adam Goldman discuss the meeting at the New York Times.
Additional sanctions against Iran were announced by the Trump administration shortly after it certified Irans compliance with the nuclear deal yesterday targeting Irans Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) and its ballistic missile program as part of the administrations objective of clamping down on Irans malign activity, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained. Felicia Schwartz reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
These sanctions target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, Mnuchin said yesterday, Demetri Sevastopulo reporting at the FT.
[We] will stand up to the United States for any new sanctions against Iran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said today, adding that the Iranian parliament would also act, the AP reports.
Irans parliament responded to the U.S. sanctions by approving extra funding for its missile program and its military foreign operations wing, the Quds force, Al Jazeera reports.
It is not clear what the administration is trying to do, Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said yesterday, hours after the U.S. Treasury Secretary announced the additional sanctions, Zarif adding that Iran has no intention of renegotiating the nuclear deal. David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone report at the New York Times.
The Trump administrations additional sanctions were an attempt to poison the international atmosphere, Zarif also said yesterday, calling the new sanctions illegal, the AP reports.
The U.S. and Iran are on a collision course, Trumps seeming desire to see the nuclear deal unravel, and his administrations rhetoric, antagonizing the regime in Tehran and exposing differences with European allies, Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.
The arrest of Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang for spying reveals broader issues within Irans internal politics involving a power struggle between the branches of the state controlled by President Hassan Rouhani and those controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the U.S. must convince the Iranian regime that hostage-taking carries an unbearable price, Reuel Marc Gerecht writes at the New York Times.
The detention of Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang and the arrest of the Iranian Presidents brother were seemingly timed to embarrass Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for criticizing the hard-line judiciary and the security forces, Eric Cunningham writes at the Washington Post.
The locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria were leaked by Turkeys state Anadolu news agency, which disclosed the number of U.S. troops in several locations, Roy Gutman at The Daily Beast suggesting that the leaks demonstrate Turkeys anger towards the U.S. policy of supporting Kurdish militia to combat Islamic State militants.
More than a dozen Syrian rebels were killed yesterday in hit-and-run attacks in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Al Jazeera reports.
Fighting has broken out between rival Islamist groups in Syrias northwestern Idlib province today, according to U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Reuters reporting.
Unclassified portions of Trumps strategy to defeat the Islamic State reveal few changes from Obamas approach with a continued emphasis on working with local allies, while the Trump strategy is also primarily concerned with militants in Syria, neglecting the broader conditions in Syria, and excluding combating other Islamic State affiliates in North Africa and the Middle East. Spencer Ackerman writes at The Daily Beast.
Bilateral ceasefire agreements in Syria between U.S. and Russia have sidelined Iran and have the potential to backfire as they do not guarantee Irans compliance and throw doubt on the effectiveness of the Astana peace talks. Alexey Khlebnikov writes at Al Jazeera.
Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain have revised their list of 13 demands for Qatar before diplomatic ties can be restored, releasing six generalized principles that dropped requests to shut down the Doha-based Al Jazeera network and to expel individuals, instead focusing on broader calls on Qatar to refrain from regional interference and to increase efforts to tackle terrorism, Farnaz Fassihi reports at the Wall Street Journal.
[Of] course we can compromise but no compromise on the six principles, Saudi Arabias U.N. ambassador Abdullah bin Yahya Almouallimi said yesterday, commenting that the aim of the four Arab nations is to reach a diplomatic solution. Rick Gladstone reports at the New York Times.
Monitoring and implementation of the six principles must be essential components and talk about the tactics and tools for implementation are open to discussion, Almouallimi said yesterday, the U.A.E.s Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy adding that the U.S. has a very constructive and very important role to play in the resolution of the crisis. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.
Qatar was the target of another fake news story a week after the May hack and was part of a campaign to undermine Qatars reputation, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News, Robert Windrem and William M. Arkin reporting.
Qatar has contracted a specialized legal team to consider compensation claims against four Arab nations for losses incurred due to the blockade, Al Jazeera reports.
Human rights violations committed by Iraqi forces were individual acts for which the perpetrators would be punished, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said yesterday, responding to video footage of Iraqi soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings and abusing suspected Islamic State militants. Sinan Salaheddin reports at the AP.
Members of Iraqi forces have openly admitted to extrajudicial killings of Islamic State militants in Mosul out of a desire for vengeance, arguing that the ordinary rules of law should not apply due to the particularly brutal nature of fighting in the city, causing concerns among rights groups that such actions would only perpetuate violence and be used as a recruitment tactic by extremists. Susannah George reports at the AP.
Hundreds of suspected Islamic State militants are being detained in a prison outside the city of Mosulin cramped conditions, an Iraqi officer stating that infection is rife among the prisoners, Bram Jannsen and Salar Salim report at the AP.
Representatives of Iraqi Kurdistans Regional Government have lobbied the U.S. government to support their independence bid and have attempted to encourage the U.S. to be a broker in a separation with Baghdad. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes at Foreign Policy.
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 25 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 17. Separately, partner forces conducted four strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
Russias Foreign Ministry again reserved the right to retaliate against the U.S. if it fails to return two diplomatic compounds seized from Russia by the former administration yesterday after a second round of talks failed to resolve the issue, Andrew E. Kramer reports at the New York Times.
Doubts that Russia sanctions legislation will be done before lawmakers leave Washington for Augustwere expressed by the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y) yesterday, the Hills Cristina Marcos reports.
Is Russia a resurgent superpower? Mansur Mirovalev examines the evidence at Al Jazeera.
A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a village in southern Yemen killed at least 20 civilians yesterday,Yemeni government and Houthi officials said today, the U.N. confirming that the victims were internally displaced people. Reuters reports.
New crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman plotted the ouster of his predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef, emerging details suggest, and the transition billed as seamless by his supporters was rockier than suggested, according to former U.S. officials and associates of the House of Saud, Ben Hubbard, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt report at the New York Times.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY
President Tumps call to Venezuela to halt plans to rewrite its constitution to consolidate the power of its government was rejected by Venezuela yesterday, which said it was reviewing its relations with the U.S. in response to the threat of sanctions, Michael Weissenstein and Fabiola Sanchez report at the AP.
Trump will visit the Pentagon to receive a briefing from his national security team tomorrow, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed yesterday, adding that the meeting will touch on the fight against the Islamic State among other topics. Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.
The TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman will be nominated as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said yesterday, after months of delay in formalizing the appointment, Abby Phillip and Lisa Rein report at the Washington Post.
President Trumps pick for deputy Defense secretary former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan was easily confirmed by the Senate yesterday, Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.
President Trumps nominees for Defense Department deputy chief management officer, John Gibson, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, Ellen Lord, Air Force undersecretary Matthew Donavan and assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment Lucian Niemeyer, all appeared to receive the backing of the Senate Armed Services committee during their confirmation hearings yesterday, the Hills Ellen Mitchell reports.
CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY
Defending Digital Democracy (D.D.D.). A new bipartisan project to develop strategies and find concrete solutions to address the threat of a foreign entity hacking election infrastructure of political organizations is being spearheaded by Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades, top officials from the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, respectively, Harvard Kennedy Schoolannounced yesterday.
Nation-state hackers likely targeted and probably compromised the U.K. energy sector, a memo from Britains National Cybersecurity Centre a subsidiary of G.C.H.Q. confirms, Alex Hern reports at the Guardian.
North Korea has developed missiles capable of reaching the U.S, its most recent test demonstrates, though it has yet to achieve the guidance technology needed to ensure any attempted strike would be accurate, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Courtney Kube and Adam Edelman reporting at NBC News.
Lawmakers were warned against equipping the U.S. military with autonomous weapons systems that humans could lose control of by Gen. Selva yesterday, arguing that it was unreasonable to put robots in charge of whether or not we take a human life, John Bowden reports at the Hill.
Hundreds in southern Jordan protested the conviction of a local solder for the deaths of three U.S. military trainers yesterday, saying that he had been scapegoated and that the deaths had occurred during a clash between U.S. troops and the Syrian rebels they were training, the AP reports.
The new country Ukrainian separatists claimed to have founded yesterday is called Malorossiya,meaning Little Russia, and is intended to replace Ukraine, the leader of the self-styled Donetsk Peoples Republic Alexander Zakharchenko declaring that they were offering Ukrainian citizens a peaceful way out of a difficult situation, without the war as a last offer that appears to undermine the Minsk peace agreement between Russian-backed rebels and the Kiev government, Adam Taylor explains at the Washington Post.
Islamic State-linked militants in the Philippine city of Marawi asked the leader of the countrys largest Muslim rebel group Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to broker their possible withdrawal from the city during the recent military offensive against them but he refused to intervene, telling the APs Jim Gomez that it would have been hard for him to do so because President Duterte had declared that his government would not negotiate with terrorists.
Improved relations particularly in relation to security and technology between Israel and the E.U. were called for by the leaders of Israel and Hungary today, supported by the prime ministers of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, all of whom were present at a news conference in Budapest today, Reuters reports.
The Taliban-linked Haqqani Network is center stage in the now-16-year Afghan war and its elusive whereabouts the main basis for calls for the Trump administration to punish long-time ally Pakistan, yet by rights the Haqqanis should be barely standing after years of being a high-priority target for U.S. and Afghan forces that has left most of leader Jalaluddin Haqqanis himself believed dead sons and senior commanders either dead or imprisoned. Haq Nawaz Khan and Pamela Constable write at the Washington Post.
|Trump Investigations: 7:21 PM 7/18/2017 Trump News Daily|
Trump News Daily 7.18.17 If Bannon and Trump are honey badgers, what is honey: the American people? Wake up, Honey! Michael Novakhov In My Opinion 6:57 PM 7/18/2017 Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator Reuters Trump Investigations How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the … Continue reading“7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily”
|Afghan soldiers are using boys as sex slaves, and the U.S. is looking the other way|
By Anuj Chopra By Anuj Chopra July 18 at 4:05 PM
Anuj Chopra is the outgoing Kabul bureau chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP). His next posting for AFP will be Riyadh. He tweets at @AnujChopra.
KABUL – Last summer, an Afghan police commander invited me to his post for tea — and to view his “beautiful” boy sex slave.
I stumbled through a farm of chest-high opium poppy stocks to reach his mud-and-wattle outpost on the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the capital of southern Uruzgan province that is teetering in the face of a Taliban upsurge. On its open roof, a slight teenager sat next to his hulking captor, stealing sad glances at me as he quietly filled our tea glasses. A shock of auburn curls jutted out of his embroidered pillbox hat and his milky eyes were lined with kohl. The commander flaunted him the way a ringmaster exhibits an exotic animal. “See my beautiful bacha (boy slave),” he said, blithe and casual, a gun dangling at his side.
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The commander, an ally of the United States in the war against the Taliban, is not an anomaly. Hundreds of such outposts of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a front-line force armed and funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, and other pro-government militias are believed to have enslaved young boys for dancing and sexual companionship, many of them kidnapped.
Freedom from the Taliban’s puritanical regime in 2001 also brought freedom to do “bacha bazi,” the cultural practice of sexual slavery and abuse of boys who are often dressed effeminately and whose possession is seen by Afghan strongmen as a marker of power and masculinity.
As the United States sinks deeper into the Afghan quagmire, preparing to send additional troops into a seemingly endless war, it is glossing over this hidden but pervasive abuse of children by its local allies. U.S. tolerance of this egregious inhumanity sends out the message that it is acceptable for U.S.-backed forces to keep child sex slaves.
It also has strong security implications. I reported last year how the Taliban are exploiting entrenched bacha bazi to infiltrate Afghan security ranks, effectively using child sex slaves — many of them brutally abused and hungry for revenge — as Trojan Horses to mount deadly insider attacks.
Institutionalized bacha bazi, described as culturally sanctioned male rape, is likely to continue unabated in the absence of any real deterrent. The United Nations has called on Afghanistan to urgently adopt legislation to criminalize bacha bazi and swiftly prosecute state officials guilty of the practice.
One senior official in Uruzgan described bacha bazi as an addiction worse than opium, saying commanders compete — and sometimes battle — one another to snatch pretty boys. Many prowl neighborhoods for boys “who have not seen the sun for years,” a cultural euphemism for unblemished beauty.
Last year when I unearthed a kidnapping epidemic of boys, it was disturbing to see local authorities pussyfooting around the issue and using security to rationalize their inaction. On the surface, President Ashraf Ghani has vowed zero tolerance for bacha bazi in security forces. But multiple officials in southern Afghanistan told me that any action against guilty commanders — a bulwark against insurgents — would anger them and cause them to abandon their posts with their loyalists, paving the way for the Taliban. There is therefore no desire to recover or rescue the innocent victimswhose lives have been upended by this practice.
To completely understand this perverse logic, imagine an American sheriff with pedophilic proclivities openly snatching children — and instead of rescuing the victims and bringing the sheriff to justice, the administration pandered to his criminal behavior and justified letting him keep his job.
This heartless apathy explains why the commander I met was so shockingly blasé about keeping a sex slave. No senior official has ever been prosecuted for bacha bazi; the commander probably knows that he, too, will escape punishment.
Afghanistan has also become a living tapestry of institutionalized abuse on Washington’s watch. As the conflict unspooled over 16 years, abusive strongmen were propped up to fight insurgents — from unruly militiamen sowing tyranny in their fiefdoms to torturers in military uniforms.
Buttressing abusive allies is a strategy best described as fighting fire with fire, which is pushing Afghanistan deeper into instability and chaos.
Security is a legitimate concern, but turning a blind eye to crimes such as bacha bazi amounts to a serious contravention of America’s Leahy amendment, which bans U.S. assistance or training to foreign military units that fail to honor basic human rights.
The United States needs to deploy the leverages at its disposal in a country heavily dependent on it for aid to end this overriding culture of impunity. Additional troops and financial assistance must be contingent upon urgent reform and prosecution of abusers.
To win in Afghanistan, America cannot afford to lose its humanity.
|Andrew McCabe – Google News: White House taps Loudoun resident, a former Navy SEAL, for top security post – Loudoun Times-Mirror|
Andrew McCabe – Google News
|Putin Is Helping Trump Because He Wants to Protect His Secret Stash of Money, Businessman Claims|
An investor who claims his life has been threatened by the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has a clear motive for backing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Moscow lawyer. And that motive is millions of dollars of Putin’s personal cash.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya urged the U.S. president’s eldest son to help drop U.S. sanctions during the meeting. Putin’s money, said investor Bill Browder during an interview Tuesday on CBS This Morning, is vulnerable to those sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 American anti-corruption law that has frozen the assets of 44 Russians.
During the interview, Browder said that he fears “for my life.” He said he has been threatened personally “by agents of the Russian government” and current Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a display during the MAKS 2017 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, July 18. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters
Browder will testify Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian foreign agents working in the U.S. His testimony is connected to Trump Jr.’s meeting and is part of the Senate’s Russia investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked to help Russia interfere in the U.S. election.
Browder’s testimony follows Trump Jr.’s publication last week of several emails organizing a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya June 2016, during the election campaign. In those emails, Trump Jr. is told Veselnitskaya has dirt on his father’s election opponent Hillary Clinton and that this information is part of a Kremlin plot to support his father’s run for president.
In return, Veselnitskaya asked Trump Jr. for his father’s help to lift the sanctions of the Magnitsky Act.
An unnamed representative of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov and former Russian military officer turned anti-Magnitsky Act lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were also in the meeting, alongside the Trump campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, and President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The Magnitsky Act is named after Browder’s former employee, a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky who uncovered a $232 million fraud by Russian officials to siphon from the state treasury.
At the time of the fraud, Browder’s investment firm Hermitage Capital Management was one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. Browder soon learned through Magnitsky that people conducting the fraud were siphoning from the taxes paid by his companies in Russia. Magnitsky was arrested and died in a Russian jail in 2009.
“We’ve been able to trace from the crime that Sergei Magnitsky exposed—a $232 million tax rebate fraud—and we’ve been able to trace some of that money from the fraud to a man named Sergei Roldugin who was exposed in the Panama Papers as Putin’s trustee or nominee—this is the famous $2 billion cellist,” Browder said.
Roldugin, a cellist, is a close friend of Putin’s. Despite his work as a musician, he has gathered a fortune of hundreds of millions and is a representative of offshore companies with cash flows of up to $2 billion. Putin said that all the money his friend has earned is through “acquiring musical instruments from abroad and bringing them to Russia.” The billions have been traced to Putin.
Through his friend Roldugin, “Putin has gotten some of the money” that was taken in the fraud, said Browder. “And because Putin has gotten some of the money, that means that all of Putin’s money in the West is potentially exposed and could be frozen” under the Magnitsky Act, he added.
Lifting the sanctions on Russians imposed by the anti-corruption law, Browder said, “is just a very venal, personal thing for Vladimir Putin that he doesn’t want his money frozen.”
|Watch ‘The Resistance’ with Keith Olbermann|
Donald Trump is our next president, which means Keith’s not going anywhere. Catch every episode of his new GQ show, The Resistance, and then come join the fight.
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|Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation The New York Times Web World Times wwtimes.com|
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|Trump to nominate Huntsman as Russia ambassador: White House|
July 18, 2017 / 5:30 PM / 38 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate Jon Huntsman, an envoy to China under former Democratic President Barack Obama, as U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.
The job, all the more high-profile because of allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
If confirmed, Huntsman, who has long been expected to be Trump’s pick for the job, will head to Moscow as the U.S. Congress and a special counsel investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump’s campaign had ties to Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the interference, and Trump has said there was no collusion with Moscow.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor, was U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. He has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia.
The Republican president met with Putin in Germany at the gathering of G20 leaders there earlier this month and officials said he raised the issue of Russian meddling in the election before moving on to other issues such as the war in Syria.
Reports in March that Huntsman would get the Moscow envoy post were greeted with mixed reviews in Moscow, with one politician saying he was “not a dove” and the Kremlin saying it would welcome anyone who was a “convinced proponent” of establishing a dialogue with Russia.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney and Sandra Maler
July 18, 2017 / 1:34 PM / 7 hours ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s eldest son and former campaign chairman can testify publicly before U.S. Senate committees, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told CNN on Tuesday.
Feinstein said Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, has said Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort were free to testify.
Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is among the congressional panels pursuing Russia investigations.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis
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|Trumps Selling A Russia Story, But Most Americans Arent Buying It|
Elton John – I’m Still Standing https://t.co/QrJ2Ha0fDa via @YouTube Mike Nova (@mikenov) July 18, 2017 Trumps Selling A Russia Story, But Most Americans Arent Buying It Six months of near daily falsehoods are making it tough for the White House to get people to believe what it says.
|6:57 PM 7/18/2017 Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator Reuters|
Saved Stories – None Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters After Low-Key Lobbying Effort, Trump Says He Was ‘Let Down’ By Senators – NPR Eighth Participant In Meeting With Trump Jr. Once Linked to Russian Money Laundering – Mother Jones In Michigan: Who wins, who loses if GOP … Continue reading“6:57 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters”
|» Trump set out to uproot Obamas legacy; so far, thats failed Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obamas legacy; so far, thats failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessors works as Donald Trump . Six months in, he has little to show. M|
» Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed – Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories – None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessor’s works as Donald Trump . … Continue reading“» Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed – Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories – None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessor’s works as Donald Trump . Six months in, he has little to show. M…”
|TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman|
TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman Tuesday July 18th, 2017 at 7:05 PM An unnamed eight person was at the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June, according to Trump Jr.s attorney Alan Futerfas, who told CNNs Pamela Brown that the individual, an American citizen who was not employed by … Continue reading“TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman”
|Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarovs representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. Lawfare Hard National Security Choices|
Today’s Headlines and Commentary by Alex Potcovaru Tuesday July 18th, 2017 at 7:12 PM Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices 1 Share Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarovs representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. That revelation brings the known number … Continue reading“Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarovs representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. – Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices”
|7:21 PM 7/18/2017 Trump News Daily|
Trump News Daily 7.18.17 If Bannon and Trump are honey badgers, what is honey: the American people? Wake up, Honey! Michael Novakhov In My Opinion 6:57 PM 7/18/2017 Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator Reuters Trump Investigations How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the … Continue reading“7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily”
|Today’s Headlines and Commentary|
Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarovs representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. That revelation brings the known number of individuals at the meeting to eight. Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs, said that Kaveladze is a U.S. citizen and a vice president with the Agalarovs Crocus Group. Balber said Kaveladze thought he would serve as a translator, but it was unnecessary when Veselnitskaya brought her own. Kaveladze agreed to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Muellers team in the first public indication that Muellers is looking into the meeting as a part of its inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says that Mueller has no problem with Trump Jr. or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also attended the June 2016 meeting, being called to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The growing cast of high-profile, high-price private lawyers representing clients in Russia-investigation matters misalign their goals and interests, the AP reports. Given the interconnected nature of the investigation and attorneys goal to protect their client, jostling and conflict are expected that may leave lower-level aides exposed and struggling to afford growing legal fees.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared the creation of a new state called Malorossiya that they say will eventually encompass all Ukrainian territory, the AP reports. The announcement, just a day before another round of peace talks was scheduled to begin, risks scuttling the negotiations. Separatists took control of territory in the eastern region of the country that borders Russia in April 2014 following Russias annexation of Crimea. A 2015 ceasefire agreement helped reduce violence but has yet to resolve to the broader conflict.
U.S. officials report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will close the Office of Global Criminal Justice, the division responsible for coordinating the U.S. response to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, Foreign Policy reports. The Offices special coordinator allegedly received word that he would be reassigned to a different office. Critics have said the move would send the wrong signals to the world and would damage the U.S.s ability to hold war criminals accountable. Beth Van Shaack at Just Security broke the story, writing that it is part of a reorganization of the Under-Secretariat for Civilian Security, Democracy & Human Rights. This development is not the first time the status of the office has been in limbothe Obama administration also considered downgrading the office and folding it into a different division. The State Department has not confirmed the closure, and one official said that it was pure speculation.
Tillerson has hired consultants at Deloitte and Insigniam to help restructure the State Department, The New York Times reports. Five committees will evaluate the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development and provide recommendations for improvement. A survey of employees conducted by Insigniam found frustration with the structure of the State Department, a lack of accountability, and poor employee treatment. Improvements in the departments information technology is also under consideration.
A leaked memo attributed to Britains National Cybersecurity Centre says that nation-state hackers targeted and likely compromised the U.K. energy sector, The Guardian reports. The memo implied direct connections originating at the hackers control centers to computers related to the energy sector. Concerns over infrastructure vulnerabilities continue to grow: Russia-backed hackers attackedIrelands power grid just several days ago.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FBI can secretly issue surveillance orders to communications companies for customer data, Reuters reports. The three-judge panel said that the gag orders that accompany the FBI national security letters (NSLs) do not violate the First Amendment rights of the companies that receive the request. Two companies sued the government to be able to notify their customers of five NSLs they received between 2011 and 2013. The Ninth Circuit ruling upheld the lower courts decision.
The Trump administration is entrenching anti-Muslim immigration policies through bureaucratic means that have largely gone under the radar, Farhana Khera and Jonathan J. Smith argue in a Timesop-ed. The authors detail increasing administrative hurdles and the strengthening of restrictions that are not subject to court review. They say these barriers will firmly establish a bias against Muslims in the immigration process.
Trump threatened Venezuela with strong and swift economic actions if controversial president Nicolas Maduro installs his new Constituent Assembly that will have the power to rewrite the constitution, CNN reports. The National Assembly is the current legislative body and is controlled by Maduros opponents. About 7.2 million people cast their votes in a nonbinding referendum on Sunday, with 98% voting against the new Constituent Assembly, calling for new elections before Maduros term expires in early 2019, and voting for the armed forces to defend the current constitution. Venezuela finds itself in the midst of an economic crisis and popular protests against the Maduro administration.
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
Jimmy Chalk and Sarah Grant reviewed the Arbitral Tribunal ruling one year later in this weeks Water Wars.
Robert Litt argued against an expansion of the FBI Directors independence.
John Villasenor discussed the mathematical impossibility of the Australian Parliaments planned legislation that will require companies to break into end-to-end encrypted messages.
Rosenzweig urged members of the Intelligence Community to stop leaking.
Bob Bauer questioned which ethical standard Donald Trump was defending when he argued that most politicians would have taken the Russian attorney meeting at Trump Tower.
Matthew Kahn posted The Week That Will Be.
Wyatt Hoffman and Ariel E. Levite examined the benefits and drawbacks to corporate active cyber defense.
Benjamin Wittes predicted that a civil suit filed against the Trump campaign and Roger Stone will produce a trove of information if it reaches the discovery phase.
Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, in which the group discusses federal IT procurement, NotPetya, the Chinese cyber crackdown, and much more.
Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck published the National Security Law Podcast, in which they did a deep dive on the 2001 AUMF.
Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.
|The Early Edition: July 18, 2017|
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.
Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, the Trump administration certified to Congress last night, following reports from international monitors and other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J.C.P.O.A.) that Iran is meeting the terms of the agreement. Karen De Young reports at the Washington Post.
Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the J.C.P.O.A., a senior administration official stated yesterday after the re-certification, which was grudgingly given, Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying before the certification that the Trump administrations contradictory messages were difficult for Iran to interpret. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump administration plans additional sanctions to combat Irans other malign activities, a senior administration official stated yesterday, adding that the administration would take measures against Tehran for its support for terrorism, abuse of human rights, backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its anti-Israel stance. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.
Trump administration officials also cited Irans development of intercontinental ballistic missiles as a reason for further sanctions, Al Jazeera reports.
European allies want to work with the U.S. to interpret the J.C.P.O.A. more strictly, three senior U.S. administration officials said in a call with reporters yesterday, Jeremy Diamond reporting at CNN.
Putting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) on the U.S. terrorist list can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region. The Chief of Staff of Irans Armed Services Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri threatened to target American bases and forces in the region if the U.S. went ahead with classifying the I.R.G.C. as terrorists yesterday, Saleh Hamid reporting at Al Arabiya.
Two Iranian nationals have been charged by U.S. authorities in an alleged scheme to steal and re-sell software to Iran, which included hacking into a Vermont technology firm, Joe Uchill at the Hillreporting that a third member of the criminal enterprise has already pleaded guilty to the charges.
The third member of the alleged scheme to re-sell computer software will not be punished, despite admitting guilt, due to a pardon granted by President Obama last year as part of the nuclear deal, Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.
Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang detained in Iran is innocent of all charges against him, his professor at Princeton has said, the student having been charged for infiltrating Iran and passing confidential information about Iran to the U.S. State Department. Adam Schreck reports at the AP.
An unnamed eight person was at the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June, according to Trump Jr.s attorney Alan Futerfas, who told CNNs Pamela Brown that the individual, an American citizen who was not employed by the Russian government, was there on behalf of the Agalarovs who had requested the meeting be set up.
Thats politics! President Trump described the Trump Jr.-Veselnitskaya meeting last year as routine via Twitter yesterday, an assertion subsequently repeated by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Maggie Haberman reports at the New York Times.
There was nothing that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act during the meeting last year, Spicer insisted yesterday, Matthew Nussbaum reports at POLITICO.
The lawyer hired by the White House to handle the Russia probe did not sign off on Trumps tweetdefending the meeting his son held during his campaign, Spicer confirmed yesterday, Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.
Dont you get it, guys? The Trumps need to realize that anything potentially damaging to them will come out in the Trump-Russia investigations being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees and denouncing leaks as fake news will not succeed as a counter-strategy. The Wall Street Journal editorial board urges the president to change tactics to a strategy of radical transparency.
The master of kompromat the Russian tactic of spreading damaging information to discredit a rival or an enemy Yuri Y. Chaika is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was offered at the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last year, which makes it strange that by the accounts of those present at that meeting the information fell flat, writes Andrew E. Kramer at the New York Times.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has filed three updates to his national security questionnaire since he submitted it in mid-January significant because submitting false information is a federal crime and, through the lens of special counsel Robert Muellers investigation of potential Trump-Russia collusion, could be viewed as attempts to cover up meetings with Russian officials, explains Matt Zapotosky at the Washington Post.
Russia reserves the right to retaliate against the U.S. for its illegal seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds last year, Russias Foreign Ministry said in a statement today after a meeting in Washington yesterday ended without resolution on the issue, NBC News reports.
We think that the diplomatic property must be returned without any conditions and talks, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNNs Mary Ilyushina and Hilary Clarke yesterday, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred reporters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who he claimed had been having discussions when asked to comment on yesterdays meeting.
President Putin seems never to miss an opportunity to expand Russias presence in the Middle East,and President Trump is handing him opportunity after opportunity, from taking to Twitter to help Saudi Arabia split a Sunni Muslim alliance that was supposed to fight the Islamic State, prompting Qatar and Turkey to move closer together and become open to cooperation with Russia and Iran, to agreeing to a cease-fire in Syria that assumed the lasting presence of Russian influence in the Syrian war during his meeting with Putin in Germany two weeks back, writes Vali R. Nasr at the New York Times.
The U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes on western Raqqa yesterday, supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) advancing on the Islamic States de facto capital in Syria where approximately 50,000 civilians remain trapped, Al Jazeera reports.
The battle for Raqqa has intensified as the S.D.F. combat militants in the center of the city, the S.D.F. claiming that they have taken positions near Raqqas Old Mosque, the AP reports.
A suicide bomb killed four people at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint in northeastern Syria today, approximately 19 miles from the Syria-Turkish border, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Reuters reports.
There is no information one way or the other about Baghdadis whereabouts or his status, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis told reporters yesterday, responding to comments from a top Kurdish counterterrorism official that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not dead. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 22 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 16. Separately, partner forces conducted nine strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
The U.A.E.s hacking of Qatars government news site was unfortunate and represented a clear violation and breach of international law, the head of Qatars government communications office Sheikh Saif bin Ahmad Al Thani said yesterday, responding to Sundays Washington Post story that the U.A.E. orchestrated the hack, the AP reports.
The Saudi and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar is failing, forcing Qatar closer to Turkey and Iran rather than succeeding in bringing Qatar to heel, and the four Arab nations neglected to consider what would happen if Qatar refused to acquiesce to their demands, Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.
Egypt insisted that it would maintain measures against Qatar until the demands made by four Arab nations have been met, Egypts Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said yesterday in a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, Al Jazeera reports.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar next week to discuss the ongoing crisis, according to Erdoğans office. Al Jazeera reports in rolling coverage.
Egypt announced the end of visa-free entry for Qatari citizens yesterday, Egypts foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stating that [it] does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions, Al Jazeera reports.
The Trump administrations forthcoming Afghanistan strategy will include a Pakistan angle, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters yesterday, adding that the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a key role to play in formulating the strategy, Anwar Iqbal reporting at DAWN.
Civilian casualties in Afghanistans capital Kabul are almost twice as high as in the war-torn Helmand province due to a rise in large-scale militant attacks, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (U.N.A.M.A.), Jessica Donati reporting at the Wall Street Journal.
The KOREAN PENINSULA
Now is the time for increased pressure on North Korea, not dialogue with it, in response to the new level of threat it presents following its launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, Japan said yesterday, Edith M. Lederer reporting at the AP.
Russia is not very worried about North Korean missiles despite U.S. efforts to involve Russia in the search for a solution to the North Korea crisis, one reason for this being self-interest – there are a surprising number of economic ties between Russian and North Korea another being that Moscows view of North Korea is far more sanguine than the U.S., and another being the fact that the Kremlin like Beijing – has no interest in seeing the North Korean government replaced by a unified Korea allied with America, writes Chris Miller at Foreign Policy.
There is no deal to strike with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Daniel Blumenthal and Derek Scissors writing at the Wall Street Journal argue that the only solution to the North Korea crisis is to remove Kim, the only question being how: war would be costly, and the best approach would be to put serious pressure on China to cut off its trade with North Korea.
The STATE DEPARTMENT
The U.S. campaign against mass atrocities is being downgraded by Secretary of State Rex Tillersonwho is shuttering the Foggy Bottom office that has worked for the past two decades to hold war criminals accountable, several former U.S. officials have disclosed, a State Department spokesperson neither confirming nor denying the office was being shuttered, but a senior State Department official claiming that it was pure speculation that the war crimes office was closing, reports Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy.
Tillersons plans to restructure his department involve five committees that will analyze different aspects of the department, including one committee dedicated to ensuring that foreign assistance programs are aligned with national priorities, with Tillerson enlisting the help of two consulting groups, according to a cable issued to embassies around the world, Gardiner Harris reports at the New York Times.
A letter urging Tillerson not to eliminate the State Department office that deals with refugees,arguing that a decision to transfer responsibility to other agencies would undercut U.S. diplomatic leverage in dealing with foreign crises was sent to the secretary of state by former U.S. diplomats and national security officials yesterday, Reuters reports.
The MUSLIM BAN
Grandparents of U.S. citizens are now eligible to receive U.S. visas under the Trump administrations revised travel ban restricting entry to the U.S. by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, according to a State Department memo reflecting the latest court ruling on the executive order seen by ReutersArshad Mohammed and Yeganeh Torbati.
The Trump administration has already begun imposing its travel ban through deceptively boring alternative means that have been obscured amid the furore over the ban and the impending showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or expanding existing travel restrictions that are not currently being reviewed by the courts, the collective impact of which will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy, write Farhana Khera and Johnathan J. Smith, president and executive director and legal director respectively of civil rights legal organization Muslim Advocates writing at the New York Times.
President Trump joined other world leaders in calling for Venezuelas President Nicolás Maduro to discard plans for a constituent assembly that could dissolve parliament, rewrite the countrys constitution and cement Maduros grip on power yesterday, Trump issuing his strongest statement yet on the issue in which he said that if Mauro pressed ahead the U.S. would take strong and swift economic sanctions, Gideon Long reports at the Financial Times.
Turkeys relationship with the U.S. requires U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen to be immediately arrested, Turkeys Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said yesterday, stating that Güllen, who is accused of being behind last years failed coup in Turkey, continues to pose a threat. Hürriyet Daily News reports.
Jordanian soldier First Sgt. Ma-arik al-Tawayha was convicted of the murder of three U.S. soldiers,whom he shot at an air base in November, and sentenced to live in prison yesterday following a trial which lasted over a month and which failed to establish a motive for the killings. Rana F. Sweis reports at the New York Times.
Gag order issues with warrant-like national security letters do not violate the First Amendment, the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday, Joe Uchill reports at the Hill.
A new state was announced by separatists in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine today, casting further doubt on the 2015 cease-fire deal that was intended to stop fighting and bring the areas concerns back into Kievs fold, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports at the AP.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Philippine Congress to extend martial law on the southern island of Mindanao until the end of next year to give him time to subdue an Islamic State-inspired rebel movement today, Reuters Martin Perry reports.
The U.N. expressed concerns that people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army (L.N.A.) after recent fighting in Benghazi may be at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution and called for the L.N.A., which is fighting for control of central and southern Libya with forces linked to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and others, to investigate. Reuters reports.
|Guest List at Trump Jr.’s Meeting With Russian Expands Again – New York Times|
|Trump, Putin Had Second, Previously Undisclosed Meeting At G-20 Summit – NBCNews.com|
|Donald Trump Had A Second Meeting With Vladimir Putin At G-20 Summit|
The meeting was previously undisclosed.
|Robert Mueller Confirmed to Be Investigating Donald Jr.’s Russia Meeting: Report – Newsweek|
|Putin Trump – Google News: Putin Is Helping Trump Because He Wants to Protect His Secret Stash of Money, Businessman Claims – Newsweek|
Putin Trump – Google News