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October 19, 2021

Trump sues to block release of sealed documents

Former President Donald Trump sued Congress and the National Archives to block the release of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Trump argued that the documents should remain sealed for reasons of executive privilege. According to Trump, the Constitution gives former presidents the right to confidentiality — even though President Joe Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over the documents.

“In a political ploy to accommodate his partisan allies, President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over numerous clearly privileged documents requested by the committee,” Trump’s lawyer Jesse R. Binnall wrote in his complaint.

The lawsuit kicks off what is likely to be a major legal battle between Trump and the House committee investigating the riot. Its outcome will carry consequences for how much the panel can uncover about Trump’s role in the incident, pose thorny questions for the Biden administration, and potentially forge new precedents about presidential privileges and the separation of powers.

Biden’s top White House lawyer, Dana Remus, made it clear Biden doesn’t find executive privilege legitimate under these circumstances.

“The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,” Ms. Remus wrote.

Do you think the lawsuit will be successful? Sound off in the comments!

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Trump Sues to Block Release of White House Papers to Jan. 6 Inquiry

October 15, 2021

Bill Clinton hospitalized

Former President Clinton was hospitalized this week due to sepsis, sources confirm.

One person familiar with the matter said that Clinton, 75, is doing well and is in the ICU for privacy reasons.

Clinton’s spokesperson Angel Ureña said Clinton is “on the mend” and “in good spirits” at the University of California Irvine Medical Center.

Ureña also shared a statement from Clinton’s doctors, Alpesh Amin and Lisa Bardack.

“President Clinton was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center and diagnosed with an infection. He was admitted to the hospital for close monitoring and administered IV antibiotics and fluids. He remains at the hospital for continuous monitoring,” the physicians said.

“After two days of treatment, his white blood cell count is trending down and he is responding to antibiotics well,” they said. “The California-based medical team has been in constant communication with the President’s New York-based medical team, including his cardiologist. We hope to have him go home soon.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 270,000 people in the US die from sepsis every year.

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Bill Clinton hospitalized with sepsis

October 2, 2021

Data leak links NYPD officers to far-right militia group, mayor vows ‘full investigation’

A data leak revealed an apparent link between two New York Police Department officers to a far-right militia group, prompting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to promise a “full investigation.”

“There will be a full investigation to find out exactly if any officer was involved? How were they involved? What did they do? What did they say? If it’s the kind of thing that would disqualify them from serving,” de Blasio said.

The mayor added that the investigation would be “right away.”

The data, published by the group Distributed Denial of Secrets, consists of records claiming to be emails and membership data from the Oath Keepers.

The names of an NYPD sergeant and a Staten Island officer were among the records. 

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De Blasio vows ‘full investigation’ after data leak appears to link two NYPD officers to the Oath Keepers

September 29, 2021

Biden administration infighting: officials point fingers over Afghanistan botch

Top Pentagon officials pointed fingers at the State Department for not starting civilian evacuations from Afghanistan sooner while referring to the withdrawal as “chaotic” during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan concluded on Aug. 31. Though over 124,000 individuals made it out of Kabul, at least 100 US citizens and thousands of Afghan allies remain in the country.

The House Armed Services Committee pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on why evacuations didn’t begin sooner, and he said it was a “State Department call.”

“We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.” 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley later described the evacuation efforts as “chaotic.” Milley emphasized that the “noncombatant evacuation” was not handled by his department.

“That’s a different operation,” Milley said. “And I think, that, in the first two days as we saw, were not only chaotic, but violent and high-risk.”

Milley referred to the 20-year war as a “strategic failure” for the US and warned that the Taliban still poses a threat.

“The Taliban was and remain a terrorist organization and they still have not broken ties with al Qaeda,” Milley testified. “I have no illusions who we are dealing with.” 

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Pentagon leaders blame State Department for chaotic Afghanistan evacuation of civilians

September 28, 2021

Yellen: US government will run out of money in less than three weeks

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned bipartisan members of Congress that the federal government will likely run out of money by October 18 unless lawmakers raise or suspend the debt ceiling.

If the US were to default on the national debt, it would lead to potentially catastrophic economic consequences.

“It is uncertain whether we could continue to meet all the nation’s commitments after that date,” Yellen wrote.

Yellen’s warning comes hours after Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have suspended the debt ceiling.

“We know from previous debt limit impasses that waiting until the last minute can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States for years to come,” the Treasury Secretary wrote.

“Failure to act promptly could also result in substantial disruptions to financial markets, as heightened uncertainty can exacerbate volatility and erode investor confidence,” Yellen added.

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Yellen warns Congress has just three weeks before US expected to default

September 27, 2021

Report: Trump administration considered kidnapping, assassinating Julian Assange

A report from Yahoo News claims that the Trump administration considered kidnapping and even possibly assassinating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2017.

Some senior officials “at the highest levels” requested “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him, according to a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.”

Though US intelligence officials had been monitoring Assange for years, the plans to take extreme measures against him came amid the “embarrassment” of WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7,” in what the organization called “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

“There was an inappropriate level of attention to Assange given the embarrassment, not the threat he posed in context,” one former official said. “We should never act out of a desire for revenge.”

Former President Donald Trump denied the plans.

“It’s totally false, it never happened,” Trump told Yahoo News. “In fact, I think he’s been treated very badly.”

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Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks

Photo by Wikileaks Mobile Information Collection Unit, licensed under CC BY 2.0

September 26, 2021

Wuhan scientists wanted to genetically engineer coronaviruses, infect bats

Scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology wanted to genetically engineer coronaviruses that were more infectious to humans and then experiment on live bats about 18 months before the first COVID-19 cases emerged — but leaked documents reveal that a US Department of Defence agency rejected the funding proposal.

According to a 2018 proposal submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Wuhan researchers planned to enhance airborne coronaviruses genetically and release aerosols containing “novel chimeric spike proteins” among cave bats in Yunnan, China.

The proposal said the research’s purpose was to assess the risk of coronaviruses, ways to prevent outbreaks, and vaccinate bats against the virus.

EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit led by British scientist Peter Daszak, spearheaded the $14 million proposal. DARPA rejected the effort, citing fears of gain-of-function research.

“It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk,” DARPA said in its rejection.

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Wuhan scientists wanted to release coronaviruses into bats

September 25, 2021

Police reform talks are over, lawmakers say

The bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with police reform negotiations say their talks are over, citing irreconcilable differences.

“After months of exhausting every possible pathway to a bipartisan deal, it remains out of reach right now,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, even with this law enforcement support and further compromises we offered, there was still too wide a gulf with our negotiating partners and we faced significant obstacles to securing a bipartisan deal,” he added.

Booker has been negotiating with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) for months. They could not agree on several issues; among them was reforming qualified immunity, which protects officers from civil liability.

“After months of making progress, I am deeply disappointed that Democrats have once again squandered a crucial opportunity to implement meaningful reform to make our neighborhoods safer and mend the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and communities of color,” Scott said.

“Despite having plenty of agreement, Democrats said no because they could not let go of their push to defund our law enforcement,” he added.

Bass called on the White House to step in.

“Whether that’s an executive order, whether that’s issuing instructions, whatever they can do, we need the administration to act now because we don’t have any particular faith or hope that we will be able to get reforms passed,” she said.

Last week, the Justice Department enacted reforms for federal law enforcement under the department’s supervision, banning the use of chokeholds and no-knock entries — unless the use of force is authorized.

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Bipartisan police reform talks crumble

September 23, 2021

US special envoy to Haiti resigns over White House’s “inhumane” policies

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned after only two months over the Biden administration’s “inhumane treatment of migrants.” The move marks the sharpest instance of internal criticism over the White House’s handling of the ongoing migrant crisis. Daniel Foote wrote a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” Foote wrote.

“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”

Foote was appointed special envoy for Haiti in July following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In his letter, Foote outlined the country’s poverty and gang violence problems.

“The collapsed state is unable to provide security or basic services, and more refugees will fuel further desperation and crime,” he wrote.

Foote criticized the US for its involvement in the political fallout following Moïse’s assassination, backing the de facto prime minister, and warned that such interventions have “consistently produced catastrophic results.”

“The hubris that makes us believe that we should pick the winner — again — is impressive,” Foote wrote.

Foote’s scathing resignation letter comes after 14,000 Haitian migrants gathered in an impromptu camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flew hundreds out every day without the opportunity to seek asylum.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded to Foote’s letter in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterized the circumstances of his resignation,” Price said.

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US envoy to Haiti resigns over ‘inhumane’ decision to deport migrants

September 22, 2021

White House admits fault in diplomatic dispute with France

President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone on Wednesday amid a diplomatic dispute over the agreement between Australia, the US, and the UK. The AUKUS agreement, announced last week, is set to aid Australia in developing nuclear-powered submarines. The White House released a statement on the matter.

“The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners,” the White House statement read. “President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard.”

The pair of presidents “decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives.” 

“They will meet in Europe at the end of October in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process,” the statement read. 

France recalled its ambassadors from the US and Australia last week after the announcement of AUKUS. The French government was angry over the exclusion from the three-country security pact, calling it a “stab in the back.”

Macron “decided that the French Ambassador will return to Washington next week,” and will “start intensive work with senior US officials.” 

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Biden, Macron speak by phone, plan October meeting after diplomatic blow-up

Photo credit: “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. “Emmanuel Macron” by EU2017EE is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Both images are cropped and combined into the main image.

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