The Pronk Pops Show 1341, October 15, 2019, Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos — Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos — Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos — Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos

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Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos —

Senator Mitch McConnell: Democrats Are ‘Throwing Fairness And Precedent To The Wind’ | NBC News

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

Trump was ‘absolutely right’ to take troops out of Syria: Rand Paul

Democrats, Republicans unite on Trump’s decision on Syria

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

McConnell splits with Trump on Syria pullout

 

Mitch McConnell rebukes Donald Trump over Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held Syria, saying troop pullout gives Iran a chance to reach Israel’s doorstep and contending worthwhile intervention does NOT make the U.S. world’s policeman

  • McConnell once again expressed his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria  
  • Said the door is ‘wide open’ for resurgence of ISIS
  • Said policy could put Iran on Israel’s ‘door-step’
  • Said standing up for U.S. interests does not make nation the ‘evil empire’
  • Trump has repeatedly complained the nation should not be world’s policeman 
  • At the same time, he blasted House Democrats on impeachment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directly confronted President Trump‘s complaint that U.S. troop deployment’s make it the ‘world’s policeman’ and expressed his ‘grave concern’ about Trump’s policy moves in Syria.

McConnell issued the rebuke without directly blaming President Trump for the latest calamity in the region – although he said Trump’s policy threatens to put Iran on Israel’s door-step and fuel a ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’

Following Turkey’s incursion into Syria in territory that had been controlled by U.S.-allied members of the Kurdish minority, McConnell warned that the ‘door is wide open for resurgence of the Islamic State.’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump's contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the 'world's policeman'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump’s contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the ‘world’s policeman’

In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said the situation created a power vacuum that could fuel the meddling influence of Russia, and ‘leaving northeastern Syria wide open Iran to extend reach unimpeded all the way from tehran to the door step of our friends in Israel.

He also confronted the view, espoused directly by President Trump, that the U.S. should pull out of the region rather serving as the ‘world’s policeman.’

I want to make something clear, the United States has taken the fight to Syria and Afghanistan because that is where our enemies are, that’s why we’re there. Fighting terrorists, exercising leadership and troubled regions and advancing U.S. interests around the world does not make us an evil empire or the world’s policeman,’ McConnell said.

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces

McConnell shared his 'grave concern' about the situation in Syria

McConnell shared his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted in his floor speech

McConnell had also warned of his ‘grave concern’ in a written statement Monday that did not mention Trump by name. But in his floor speech Tuesday, he included such a reference.

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted.

But even as he challenged the president on a policy that has resulted in the release of ISIS prisoners, led to attacks against key regional allies, and even led to shelling by Turkish forces toward a U.S. troop-held position, he defended the president on impeachment by attacking Democrats.

‘House Democrats are finally indulging in their impeachment obsession. Full steam ahead,’ McConnell warned. ‘I don’t think many of us were expecting to witness a clinic in terms of fairness or due process. But even by their own partisan standards, House Democrats have already found new ways to lower the bar,’ he complained.

McConnell has said he was required by Senate rules to hold a trial should the House impeach Trump.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577029/Mitch-McConnell-rebukes-Donald-Trump-Turkish-invasion-Kurdish-held-Syria.html

Trump’s Syria Mess

He resorts to sanctions as the harm from withdrawal builds.

Syrians fleeing Turskih advance arrive to the town of Tal Tamr in north Syria, Oct. 14. PHOTO: BADERKHAN AHMAD/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What a fiasco. Foreign-policy blunders often take months or years to reveal their damaging consequences, but the harm from President Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria is playing out almost in real time.

Critics said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would invade northern Syria despite Mr. Trump’s public warnings, and the Turkish strongman did. Critics said our Kurdish allies would strike a deal with Syria’s Bashar Assad to defend themselves, and the Kurds have. Critics said Islamic State prisoners held by the Kurds would be released and scatter to wage jihad again, and they are.

The mess compounded Monday when Mr. Trump authorized sanctions against several Turkish officials and agencies who are “contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” The sanctions include financial measures and barring entry to the U.S. Mr. Trump also said he’s ending trade talks with Turkey and raising steel tariffs to 50%.

Mr. Trump now finds himself back in an economic and diplomatic brawl with Turkey that he said he wanted to avoid. Wouldn’t it have been easier simply to tell Mr. Erdogan, on that famous phone call two Sundays ago, that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate a Turkish invasion against the Kurds and would use air power to stop it? Mr. Erdogan would have had to back down and continue negotiating a Syrian safe zone with the Kurds and the U.S.

Mr. Trump is also making matters worse with his unserious justifications. “After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” he tweeted Monday. “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

We suppose the Napoleon line was a joke, but the world is laughing at an American President. Mr. Trump was able to project an image of strength in his early days as he prosecuted the war against ISIS and used force to impose a cost on Mr. Assad for using chemical weapons. But that image has faded as he has indulged his inner Rand Paul and claims at every opportunity that the main goal of his foreign policy is to put an end to “endless wars.”

This is simple-minded isolationism, and it’s a message to the world’s rogues that a U.S. President has little interest in engaging on behalf of American allies or interests. Friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia are quietly dismayed, while Iran, Russia and Hezbollah can’t believe Mr. Trump has so glibly abandoned U.S. commitments and military partners.

By now it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy can be distilled into two tactics—sanctions and tariffs. Mr. Trump wields them willy-nilly against friend and foe alike as substitutes for diplomacy and the credible threat of military force.

Mr. Trump won’t like to hear it, but the Syrian mess is hurting him at home too. Republicans who have stood by him through the Russia fight and more are questioning his judgment as Commander in Chief in an increasingly dangerous world. With impeachment looming, he can’t afford to alienate more friends.

Opinion: Trump's Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course

Opinion: Trump’s Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course
As Turkey advances into Syria, foreign powers will increasingly act on the belief that the American executive is both politically weak and intellectually unfocused. Image: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Imageshttps://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-syria-mess-11571095091

TRUMP’S CHAOTIC SYRIA EXIT PUTS ANTI-WAR 2020 DEMOCRATS IN A DELICATE SPOT

THE PENTAGON announced on Monday that the U.S. was pulling all of its troops out of northeastern Syria at President Donald Trump’s direction, completing a withdrawal he had started by Twitter declaration a week earlier. The move further clears the way for a full-on invasion by Turkey, whose soldiers have already been accused of executing noncombatants. In the chaos, hundreds of Islamic State detainees have reportedly escaped.

Trump defended his decision in a series of early-morning tweets on Monday. “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!” he wrote. “Never ending wars will end!”

Trump’s abandonment of eastern Syria and the U.S. military’s Kurdish allies has put progressive Democrats — many of whom also favor withdrawing from overseas military operations — in a delicate spot. Over the past week, they have been trying to thread the needle between condemning Trump for recklessly abandoning an ally and emphasizing that withdrawing U.S. troops should be an eventual policy goal.

Trump’s decision has showcased what a worst-case scenario for expedited military withdrawal could look like, making it harder for progressive Democratic presidential candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to press their cases against “endless wars” on the campaign trail. The question of how progressives can go about drawing down U.S. military commitments without repeating Trump’s calamitous actions would be an obvious pick for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

So far, the Democratic candidates have been critical of Trump but light on specifics about what they would do differently. Last week, Sanders condemned Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, telling reporters that “as somebody who does not want to see American troops bogged down in countries all over the world — you don’t turn your back on allies who have fought and died alongside American troops. You just don’t do that.” But when George Stephanopoulos asked Sunday morning on ABC for Sanders to explain the difference between his and Trump’s approaches, Sanders responded simply that Trump “lies. I don’t.”

Warren’s response was similarly vague. She tweeted that “Trump recklessly betrayed our Kurdish partners” and that “we should bring our troops home, but we need to do so in a way that respects our security.”

Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California and co-chair of Sanders’s 2020 campaign, told The Intercept that progressives urgently need to make the case for a “doctrine of responsible withdrawal.”

“I don’t believe that withdrawal from a progressive perspective means a moral indifference to the lives of the places that we leave,” Khanna said in a phone interview. “It’s not an ‘America First’ approach that says our interests and our American lives are the only things that have moral worth. Rather, our withdrawal is based on an understanding of the limitations of American power to shape and restructure societies. It emphasizes the need for effective diplomacy and understands our moral obligations in these places.”

The U.S. should not have withdrawn troops without negotiating a deal that would have kept Turkey from invading Syria, backed by a threat to withhold future arms sales and economic assistance, Khanna told The Intercept. “We could have used all those points of leverage to get their commitment that they wouldn’t slaughter the Kurds.”

Another key difference between Trump’s approach and that of progressives is their level of trust for civil service expertise, Khanna said. “What this shows is that it’s not enough to have a president with certain instincts. Foreign policy requires great expertise. You need a progressive president who understands the importance of military restraint, but who also has the ability to put together an extraordinary foreign policy team to implement the goals that they may have.”

Far from admiring Trump’s approach to Syria, many anti-interventionists and foreign policy experts in D.C. view it as a blueprint for how not to withdraw from a conflict, according to Adam Wunische, a researcher with the Quincy Institute, a new pro-diplomacy, noninterventionist, and nonpartisan think tank.

“What we should have been doing from the very beginning is once we achieved the limited objective of destroying ISIS territory, they should have immediately begun contemplating what kind of peace or settlement could come afterwards,” Wunische told The Intercept. “To my knowledge, the U.S. is one of the only actors that can effectively talk to both the Turks and the Kurds. So they should have been trying to find an acceptable political arrangement for all the parties involved that doesn’t involve an endless, ill-defined military presence for the U.S.”

The Quincy Institute is working on a report outlining a possible plan for U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that would avoid the type of disorder on display in northeastern Syria, Wunische said, though the timing of the report remains unclear.

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primary campaign, a number of candidates have railed against “endless wars.” But in a conversation that has been defined by intricate domestic policy proposals and detailed outlines of how to structure a wealth tax, candidates have said little about the rest of the world and even less about how they would wind down overseas conflicts.

Sanders, for example, has called for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “as expeditiously as possible.” Warren has said “it’s long past time to bring our troops home, and I would begin to do so immediately.” Joe Biden has said he would bring “American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” but left the door open for a “residual U.S. military presence” that would be “focused on counterterrorism operations.” When asked during a July debate whether he would withdraw from Afghanistan during the first year of his presidency, Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor and Navy Reserve veteran who spent seven months in Afghanistan, answered emphatically in the affirmative.

But aside from seeking a diplomatic solution, candidates have said very little about their policies for ending the war. And as in Syria, stakes for U.S. allies in Afghanistan are high.

A January study by the Rand Corporation found that a “precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan” would have far-reaching consequences. The legitimacy for the U.S.-backed Kabul government would plummet, the report argued, and the Taliban would extend its control and influence. People all across the country would turn to regional militias and rival warlords for basic security.

“I don’t think that anyone, whether they promise it or not, is going to get out of Afghanistan in a week,” said Wuinsche. “What we need to focus on is, what is the political solution that we think is possible, and how do we get there? That requires marshaling all of these different tools of foreign policy, not just the military.”

Kate Kizer, policy director for the D.C.-based advocacy group Win Without War, stressed that one of the most revealing differences between progressives and Trump is how they would treat a conflict’s refugees. Under Trump, the U.S. has accepted historically low numbers of refugees and closed the door on future Syrian immigrants applying for Temporary Protected Status.

“One of the cruelest parts of Trump’s policy is the fact that, in addition to fueling more bloodshed with this decision, he’s also banning any types of civilians who would be fleeing from the conflict,” Kizer said. “In a situation like Syria and even Afghanistan, there’s a way to responsibly withdraw and then there’s a way to cut and run, which is what Trump has shown he has a predilection for. But I’m not sitting here saying that any type of military withdraw will necessarily be bloodless.”

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/15/syria-troop-withdrawal-trump-democrats/

Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos

RUST NO ONE

Trump Suspects a Spiteful John Bolton Is Behind Some of the Ukraine Leaks

Trump fears the leaks are now coming from the people he chose to serve him—and that only increases the paranoia currently infecting the West Wing.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty

At a critical juncture in his presidency, facing a rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, Donald Trump is feeling besieged by snitches.

In recent weeks, numerous leaks have appeared in the pages of The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and other major papers and news outlets detailing the president’s attempts to enlist foreign leaders to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and also aid Trump’s quest to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s concluded investigation. And as is his MO, the media-obsessed president has been fixated on not just the identity of the whistleblower behind the internal complaint that brought this scandal to the fore, but also on who, exactly, has been namelessly feeding intel to the press.

In the course of casual conversations with advisers and friends, President Trump has privately raised suspicions that a spiteful John Bolton, his notoriously hawkish former national security adviser, could be one of the sources behind the flood of leaks against him, three people familiar with the comments said. At one point, one of those sources recalled, Trump guessed that Bolton was behind one of the anonymous accounts that listed the former national security adviser as one of the top officials most disturbed by the Ukraine-related efforts of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who remains at the center of activities that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

“[Trump] was clearly implying [it, saying] something to the effect of, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder who the source on that could be,’” this source said, referring to the president’s speculation. Bolton, for his part, told The Daily Beast last month that allegations that he was a leaker in Trump’s midst are “flatly incorrect.”

The former national security adviser—who departed the administration last month on awfulmutually bitter terms—is working on a book about his time serving Trump, and has “a lot to dish,” one knowledgeable source noted.

Neither Bolton nor White House spokespeople provided comment for this story. Matt Schlapp, an influential conservative activist with close ties to the White House, said his assumption was that the leaks were coming from “career folks inside who hate Trump” and that the president and his campaign had “14 months of this” to come. As for Bolton, Schlapp said, “He’s smarter than that, although he does aggressively defend himself.”

Indeed, Bolton’s name surfaced Monday before House impeachment inquiry committees, when Hill reportedly testified that he told her to alert the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on an operation with legal implications, the Times reported late Monday. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to sources familiar with the testimony.

“I have not spoken to John about [his comments, as conveyed by Hill],” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning. “John is a longtime friend. I have no idea why John is doing this. My best guess is that he’s confused and bought into a false media narrative without bothering to call me about it.”

Regarding Bolton’s reported comment about Mulvaney being involved in this figurative Ukraine “drug deal,” the former New York City mayor insisted that “Mick wasn’t involved in this. I don’t recall having any lengthy conversation with him about this subject… I don’t recall ever having a lengthy conversation [about Ukraine] with John, either.”

Trump has felt under siege from within before, including at various flashpoints of his presidency. For instance, near the end of the Mueller probe, the president became so distrustful and resentful toward Don McGahn, his own White House counsel at the time, he started asking those close to him, “Is [Don] wearing a wire?”

But the current sense that he has been undermined by people whom he brought into his orbit has come at a critical juncture and colored some of the decisions he has made since the whistleblower complaint became public.  The president has openly declared that the whistleblower committed an act of treason. He has attempted to stop prominent advisers—including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a man who donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration—from testifying to Congress, only to apparently fail. On Monday, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, was on Capitol Hill, where she reportedly told lawmakers that Sondland and Giuliani circumventedthe standard national-security process on high-profile Ukraine matters. The president has struggled to add to his current legal team, and appeared to begin putting some distance between himself and Giuliani last week.

And when outside allies began to talk about constructing a war room to help with impeachment, Trump shot down the concept, in part out of a sense that he couldn’t rely on them to get the message out right. One top White House aide subsequently labeled the idea an exercise by “outside peeps trying to self-aggrandize.”

The impression left on Republicans is one of a president increasingly driven by paranoia and a desire for insularity—and not, necessarily, to his own benefit.

“There is a certain level of frustration that all the sudden the president says something, then Rudy does, and it is not always consistent. There is a frustration that not everybody knows what they should be doing. It is not that they can’t defend the president it is a frustration that they don’t know exactly how they are supposed to defend the president,” said John Brabender, a longtime GOP consultant. “From the president’s perspective, this whole thing is a witch hunt and is outrageous and, therefore, it shouldn’t even need explanation…But with that said, you can’t just be angry. You need a unified communications team.”

According to those who’ve known the president, the sense that a good chunk of the government has never fully accepted his presidency and has actively worked to undermine it has animated much of his activity over the past few weeks. And though they believe he has a point, they also wonder if it is making him functionally incapable of taking the advice of some advisers: to simply ignore impeachment and apply his attention to other facets of governance.

Trump, they add, is preternaturally incapable of ignoring press about him and lingers particularly on leaks that depict atmospherics of his inner sanctum, the West Wing, and his internal well-being.

“In my experience, what he despises is somebody writing that Donald Trump feels under siege and his emotions are this and his thinking is this,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide. “He hates people saying what he is thinking… And one of his most frequent tricks in terms of talking about himself on background [as an anonymous source] is him having the reporter say [he is] someone ‘familiar with the president’s thinking.’”

Nunberg said he had yet to see a blind quote in any recent report that would lead him to believe that Trump is cold-calling reporters. But the president is certainly working the fourth estate. Democratic aides were left shaking their heads last week when they received an email from the White House with the subject line, “Article from President Trump” and a PDF attachment of a Kimberly Strassel Wall Street Journal column.

“He’s apparently so anxious about GOP support in the Senate, he’s taken to sending WSJ columns against the House inquiry,” said a Senate source.

Still, for all of Trump’s grousing and preoccupation with who is and isn’t stabbing him in the back, loyalty has always been a one-way street for this president. Last week, after the news broke that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born businessmen tied to Giuliani, were arrested on charges of violating campaign-finance law, a reporter at the White House asked Trump if the former New York mayor was still his personal attorney. The president responded that he didn’t know.

Though the president would later tweet out his support for Giuliani over the weekend, Trump has a long track record for being loyal to and supportive of a longtime associate, friend, or staffer—up until the moment he’s not. Perhaps the quintessential example of this is that of one of the president’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen, who famously turned on Trump after becoming convinced that the president had abandoned him while he was in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.

Asked by The Daily Beast last week if the president told him that he still had his lawyer’s back—an attorney who further earned the president’s trust by defending Trump during the Mueller investigation—Giuliani let out a big belly-laugh and responded, “There’s nothing, [no knife], in my back.”

“My back feels very comfortable right now,” he added.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-suspects-a-spiteful-john-bolton-is-behind-ukraine-leaks

Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos —

 

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Medicare For All: What Does it Actually Mean?

DEBUNKED: Medicare for All MYTHS! | Louder With Crowder

Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos —

Trump welcomes the St. Louis Blues to the White House

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1340, October 14, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Retaliates Against Turkey’s Invasion of Syria by Imposing Economic Tariffs on Steel — Videos — Story 2: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos — Videos — Story 2: Amazing Grace of Attorney General’s Defense of Religious Freedom — Videos — Story 3: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos

Posted on October 18, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, American History, Bernie Sanders, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Central Intelligence Agency, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Economics, Economics, Education, Elections, Elizabeth Warren, Employment, European History, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, Government, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Impeachment, Independence, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Mental Illness, Middle East, Networking, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Psychology, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Social Sciences, Spying on American People, Surveillance/Spying, Syria, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, Unemployment, United States Constitution, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019See the source imageOpinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists

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Story 1: President Trump Retaliates Against Turkey’s Invasion of Syria by Imposing Economic Tariffs on Steel — Videos —

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The Kurds: The Most Famous Unknown People in the World | Stephen Mansfield | TEDxNashville

The Kurds are an ancient and noble people who are now the primary “boots on the ground” against ISIS in the Middle East. They are 35 million strong worldwide, the largest people group on earth without their own homeland. In this stirring talk, Stephen Mansfield tells the story of the Kurds and does so, surprisingly, through the lives of three women. Stephen Mansfield is a New York Times bestselling author who first rose to global attention with his groundbreaking book, The Faith of George W. Bush, a bestseller that Time magazine credited with helping to shape the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He has written celebrated biographies of Barak Obama, Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, Pope Benedict XVI, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Mansfield’s latest book, The Miracle of the Kurds, is a timely introduction to the Kurdish people that reached bookstores just as Kurdish troops began standing heroically against the evils of ISIS in the Middle East. The book has been named “Book of the Year” by Rudaw, the leading Kurdish news service. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Donald Trump vows to ‘obliterate’ Turkey’s economy if there’s ‘inhumane’ treatment of Kurds in Syria

President Trump answers questions about Syria, Turkey

Erdogan asks Arab League: ‘How many Syrians did you accept?’

Turkish forces clash with Kurdish fighters in Syria – BBC News

Graham rips ex-Obama officials’ criticism of Trump’s Syria pullout

Defense Secretary Esper defends Trump’s removal of troops from Northern Syria

Rand Paul slams GOP ‘war caucus’ criticizing Trump for Syria

Why are Americans surprised Trump withdrew troops from Syria?: Gaetz

After Trump Abandoned Kurds, Turkish Invasion Raises Fear of Kurdish Genocide & ISIS Resurgence

What is the Armenian Genocide?

An Armenian Genocide Survivor’s Story | Lucine Z. Kinoian | TEDxBergenCommunityCollege

Armenian genocide: survivors recall events 100 years on

Donald Trump says he is poised to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Erdogan continues military onslaught in Syria – as unrest helps nearly 800 ISIS brides and their children escape from a camp

  • President Trump said Sunday morning that he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey 
  • On Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area 
  • This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria
  • On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia
  • Syrian troops have been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive
  • Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing on Twitter that it’s ‘very smart not to be involved’ in the fighting on the Turkish border
  • More than 130,000 people have been displaced from northeast Syrian border towns as a result of fighting between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish militia 

President Trump says he is in talks with members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Turkish President Erdogan continues his attacks on Kurdish militia just one week after Trump pulled U.S. troops from the area.

‘Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey,’ Trump said in a tweet Sunday morning. ‘Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!’

This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria after a shelling by Turkish forces, the region’s Kurdish-led administration said Sunday. Syrian troops have now been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive.

Trump said Saturday that in response to the Turkish invasion, the U.S. will send $50million in emergency financial aid to Syria.

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose 'powerful sanctions' on Turkey

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for 'WORLD PEACE!'

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for ‘WORLD PEACE!’

The Kurdish-led administration said 785 foreigners affiliated with ISIS escaped Ain Issa (pictured), north of Raqqa, where they were being held following Turkish shelling today

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

The money will be sent to assist human rights groups and other organizations to ‘protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and advance human rights,’ according to a statement released Saturday night by the Office of the Press Secretary.

Trump spoke of the $50million in aid while at the Values Voters Summit’s Faith, family and Freedom gala dinner Saturday night.

‘Other presidents would not be doing that, they’d be spending a lot more money but on things that wouldn’t make you happy,’ he said. ‘The U.S. condemns the persecution of Christians and we pledge our support to Christians all over.’

The statement by the Office of the Press Secretary says the aid money ‘will also go toward increased accountability, removal of explosive remnants of war, community security for stabilization assistance, documenting human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations, and support for survivors of gender-based violence and torture.

‘We hope regional and international partners will continue their contributions as well. ‘Ensuring the freedom and safety of ethnic and religious minorities remains a top priority for this Administration.’

On Sunday, President Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Northern Syria, leaving the America’s Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion, calling it ‘very smart’ for the U.S. to ‘not be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change.’

‘Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?’ he added.

‘Do you remember two years ago when Iraq was going to fight the Kurds in a different part of Syria. Many people wanted us to fight with the Kurds against Iraq, who we just fought for. I said no, and the Kurds left the fight, twice. Now the same thing is happening with Turkey….’ he wrote.

‘The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!’

On Sunday, Syrian Kurdish officials said they will work with Assad forces to repel Turkish offensive and to liberate areas held by Turkey.

Also on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Turkey ‘appears to be ‘ committing war crimes in northern Syria.

‘It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks. Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,’ Esper said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Turkey-backed rebels capture city from Kurdish control

On Sunday Trump continued to defend his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing: 'Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change'

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Mortar shells land on Turkish side of border with Syria

The Kurdish-led administration said in a statement Sunday that 785 ISIS-affiliated foreigners had fled a camp at Ain Issa.

In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed rebels, the Kurdish-led administration said ‘mercenaries’ attacked the camp where ‘Daesh elements’ – a reference to Islamic State – in turn attacked camp guards and opened the gates.

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to show people running away from the camp.

Turkey’s cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara’s Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is now facing threats of possible sanctions from the U.S. unless it calls off the incursion.

Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

France also said today it was ‘worried’ to hear of the report that hundreds of relatives of foreign jihadists had escaped.

‘Of course we are worried about what could happen and that is why we want Turkey… to end as quickly as possible the intervention it has begun,’ government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told France 3 television.

Turkey-backed Syrian forces continue Syrian Kurdish fighters assault

On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia

On Saturday, Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that ISIS will ‘absolutely come back’ with the removal of U.S. troops from Syria.

‘ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover,’ Mattis told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press when asked if President Trump made the right decision by pulling troops from Northern Syria last week.

‘It’s in a situation of disarray right now,’ Mattis, who resigned as Secretary of Defense in January, said of the situation between Turkey and Syria. ‘Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. We’ll have to see if they can maintain the fight against ISIS. It’s going to have an impact. The question is how much.

‘We may want a war over; we may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ”enemy gets the vote”, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7568101/Trump-sends-50million-emergency-financial-assistance-Syria.html

David E. Sanger
Syrian army returns to northeast, as Turkey widens invasion
President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.The drama is nowhere near over. Out of necessity, the Kurds switched sides on Sunday, turning their backs on Washington and signing up with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a man the United States has called a war criminal for gassing his own people. At the Pentagon, officials struggled with the right response if Turkish forces — NATO allies — again opened fire on any of the 1,000 or so Americans now preparing to retreat from their positions inside Syria. Those troops are trapped for now, since Turkey has cut off the roads; removing them may require an airlift.

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)

“This president keeps blindsiding our military and diplomatic leaders and partners with impulsive moves like this that benefit Russia and authoritarian regimes,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat and longtime member of the Armed Services Committee.

“If this president were serious about ending wars and winning peace, he’d actually articulate a strategy that would protect against a re-emergence of ISIS and provide for the safety of our Syrian partners,” Mr. Reed added. “But he has repeatedly failed to do that. Instead, this is another example of Donald Trump creating chaos, undermining U.S. interests, and benefitting Russia and the Assad regime.”

The other major beneficiary is Iran, perhaps Mr. Trump’s most talked-about geo-political foe, which has long supported the Syrian regime and sought freer rein across the country.

But none of that appeared to have been anticipated by Mr. Trump, who has no fondness for briefing books and meetings in the Situation Room intended to game out events two or three moves ahead. Instead, he often talks about the trusting his instincts.

“My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” he said late last year. He was discussing the Federal Reserve, but could just as easily been talking foreign policy; in 2017 he told a reporter, right after his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, that it was his “gut feel” for how to deal with foreign leaders, honed over years in the real estate world, that guided him. “Foreign policy is what I’ll be remembered for,” he said.

But in this case the failure to look around corners has blown up on him at a speed that is rare in foreign policy and national security. The closest analogue may date back to 1950, during Harry Truman’s administration, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson described America’s new “defense perimeter” in a speech, saying it ran from southern Japan through the Philippines. That left out the Korean Peninsula, and two weeks later Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, appeared to have given Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current North Korean leader, permission to launch his invasion of the South. The bloody stalemate that followed lives with the United States today.

At the time, the United States kept a token force in South Korea, akin to the one parked along the Turkish-Syrian border. And it is impossible to know whether the North Korean attack would have been launched even without Mr. Acheson’s failure to warn about American action if a vulnerable ally was attacked — just as it is impossible to know if Mr. Erdogan would have sent his troops over the border if that phone call, and Mr. Trump’s failure to object, had never happened.

It was Mr. Trump himself who, during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, blamed President Barack Obama for a similar error. “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq,” he said, referring to the 2011 withdrawal. “They shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.”

Even his allies see the parallel. “If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet I thought it would be Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most vociferous defenders in recent years, but among his harshest Republican critics for the Syria decision, said last week.

As James F. Jeffrey, who worked for Mr. Obama as ambassador to Turkey, then to Iraq, and now serves as Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Syria, noted several years ago, it’s debatable whether events would have played out differently if the United States had stayed in Iraq.

Could a residual force have prevented ISIS’s victories?” he asked in a Wall Street Journal essay five years ago. “With troops we would have had better intelligence on al Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS, a more attentive Washington, and no doubt a better-trained Iraqi army. But the common argument that U.S. troops could have produced different Iraqi political outcomes is hogwash. The Iraqi sectarian divides, which ISIS exploited, run deep and were not susceptible to permanent remedy by our troops at their height, let alone by 5,000 trainers under Iraqi restraints.”

Mr. Trump may now be left to make the same argument about Syria: That nothing could have stopped Mr. Erdogan, that the Russians would benefit in any case, that there are other ways to push back at Iran. Perhaps history will side with him.

For now, however, he has given up most of what little leverage he had.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/trump-followed-his-gut-on-syria-calamity-came-fast/ar-AAILbg6#image=AAIqEBq|9

Story 3: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz kicked out of impeachment inquiry hearing

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., an ardent supporter of President Trump, got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.

Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment to reporters after being told he was not allowed to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony. Gaetz added that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was involved in the impeachment inquiry.

“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?”

Gaetz followed up his comments with a tweet calling the impeachment inquiry a kangaroo court and using one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for the intelligence committee chairman, “Shifty Schiff.”

“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”

Other Republicans closely aligned with Trump continued on Monday to complain about Schiff and his handling of the impeachment inquiry – with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also lambasting the California Democrat for excluding some congressional Republicans from the testimonies and for leaking “cherry-picked” information from the closed-door hearings to the press.

“She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people,” Jordan said of Schiff before Hill’s testimony.

TRUMP SAYS OBAMA ‘HIDING’ FROM QUESTIONS ABOUT BIDENS AND UKRAINE: ‘I THINK HE KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT’

Lee Wolosky, Hill’s attorney, tweeted on Monday that the former deputy assistant to the president had received a congressional subpoena.

“The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these up in these sessions,” Jordan said.

Hill’s testimony comes ahead of a planned Thursday appearance by Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, and follows the revelation of a cache of text messages from top envoys that provide a vivid account of their work acting as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Ukraine’s new president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to start investigations into a company linked to the family of a chief Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.

Sondland is set to tell lawmakers that he did understand the administration was offering Zelenskiy a White House visit in exchange for a public statement committing to investigations Trump wanted, according to the person, who demanded anonymity to discuss remarks not yet given.

But Sondland will say he did not know the company being talked about for an investigation, Burisma, was tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, the person said. Sondland understood the discussions about combating corruption to be part of a much broader and publicized Trump administration push that was widely shared, the person said.

 

One witness who may not be called before Congress is the still anonymous government whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats say testimony and evidence coming in from other witnesses, and even the president himself, are backing up the whistleblower’s account of what transpired during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy.

Lawmakers have also grown deeply concerned about protecting the person from Trump’s threats over the matter and may not wish to risk exposing the whistleblower’s identity.

Schiff said Sunday, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.” He added it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.

“Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/republican-rep-matt-gaetz-kicked-out-of-impeachment-inquiry-hearing

Story 2: Amazing Grace of Attorney General’s Defense of Religious Liberty — Videos

AG William Barr Nails The Destruction OF America’s Morality by “Militant Secularism”

US Attorney General William Barr – Notre Dame Speech

Why Has the West Been So Successful?

1. I Am the Lord Your God

2. No Other Gods

Religious Tolerance: Made in America

Were the Founders Religious?

Was America Founded to Be Secular?

Why We’re Losing Liberty

The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

Where Are the Moderate Muslims?

Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?

Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology

America’s Biggest Issues: Religious Freedom

The Left Ruins Everything

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Who Does the Media Most Want to Silence?

Why No One Trusts the Mainstream Media

Jordan Peterson on the Belief in God

Who Dares Say He Believes in God?

On Claiming Belief In God: Discussion with Dennis Prager

“Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom” with Donald Trump & Others (Opening)

Donald Trump makes speech to the UN general assembly

The Blaine Amendments: State Constitutions & School Choice

Blaine Amendments and “Sectarian” explained

Will the Supreme Court Strike Down the Blaine Amendment?

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame

South Bend, IN

~

Friday, October 11, 2019

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Tom, for your kind introduction. Bill and Roger, it’s great to be with you.

Thank you to the Notre Dame Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for graciously extending an invitation to address you today. I’d also like to express gratitude to Tony de Nicola, whose generous support has shaped – and continues to shape – countless minds through examination of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition.

Today, I would like to share some thoughts with you about religious liberty in America. It’s an important priority in this Administration and for this Department of Justice.

We have set up a task force within the Department with different components that have equities in this area, including the Solicitor General’s Office, the Civil Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, and other offices. We have regular meetings. We keep an eye out for cases or events around the country where states are misapplying the Establishment Clause in a way that discriminates against people of faith, or cases where states adopt laws that impinge upon the free exercise of religion.

From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.

The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as “a right towards men” but “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty….precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It has been over 230 years since that small group of colonial lawyers led a revolution and launched what they viewed as a great experiment, establishing a society fundamentally different than those that had gone before.

They crafted a magnificent charter of freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.

This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

In the 20th century, our form of free society faced a severe test.

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

As Father John Courtney Murray observed, the American tenet was notthat:

“Free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.”

How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

But they also include the guidance of natural law – a real, transcendent moral order which flows from God’s eternal law – the divine wisdom by which the whole of creation is ordered. The eternal law is impressed upon, and reflected in, all created things.

From the nature of things we can, through reason, experience, discern standards of right and wrong that exist independent of human will.

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We may not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualities in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of Homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

What we call “values” today are really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

Now, there have been times and places where the traditional moral order has been shaken.

In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

The consequences of moral chaos become too pressing. The opinion of decent people rebels. They coalesce and rally against obvious excess. Periods of moral entrenchment follow periods of excess.

This is the idea of the pendulum. We have all thought that after a while the “pendulum will swing back.”

But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.

Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.

The pervasiveness and power of our high-tech popular culture fuels apostasy in another way. It provides an unprecedented degree of distraction.

Part of the human condition is that there are big questions that should stare us in the face. Are we created or are we purely material accidents? Does our life have any meaning or purpose? But, as Blaise Pascal observed, instead of grappling with these questions, humans can be easily distracted from thinking about the “final things.”

Indeed, we now live in the age of distraction where we can envelop ourselves in a world of digital stimulation and universal connectivity. And we have almost limitless ways of indulging all our physical appetites.

There is another modern phenomenon that suppresses society’s self-corrective mechanisms – that makes it harder for society to restore itself.

In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path that it is on.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad fconsequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on which we depend.

Interestingly, this idea of the State as the alleviator of bad consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society.  It can be called the system of “macro-morality.”  It is in some ways an inversion of Christian morality.

Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.

The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.

This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at a parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C.  At the end of Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

A third phenomenon which makes it difficult for the pendulum to swing back is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.

Law is being used as weapon in a couple of ways.

First, either through legislation but more frequently through judicial interpretation, secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.

At first, this involved rolling back laws that prohibited certain kinds of conduct. Thus, the watershed decision legalizing abortion. And since then, the legalization of euthanasia. The list goes on.

More recently, we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith.

The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.

This reminds me of how some Roman emperors could not leave their loyal Christian subjects in peace but would mandate that they violate their conscience by offering religious sacrifice to the emperor as a god.

Similarly, militant secularists today do not have a live and let live spirit – they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.

For example, the last Administration sought to force religious employers, including Catholic religious orders, to violate their sincerely held religious views by funding contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health plans. Similarly, California has sought to require pro-life pregnancy centers to provide notices of abortion rights.

This refusal to accommodate the free exercise of religion is relatively recent. Just 25 years ago, there was broad consensus in our society that our laws should accommodate religious belief.

In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – RFRA. The purpose of the statute was to promote maximum accommodation to religion when the government adopted broad policies that could impinge on religious practice.

At the time, RFRA was not controversial. It was introduced by Chuck Schumer with 170 cosponsors in the House, and was introduced by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch with 59 additional cosponsors in the Senate. It passed by voice vote in the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate.

Recently, as the process of secularization has accelerated, RFRA has come under assault, and the idea of religious accommodation has fallen out of favor.

Because this Administration firmly supports accommodation of religion, the battleground has shifted to the states. Some state governments are now attempting to compel religious individuals and entities to subscribe to practices, or to espouse viewpoints, that are incompatible with their religion.

Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty.

For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.

For the government to interfere in that process is a monstrous invasion of religious liberty.

Yet here is where the battle is being joined, and I see the secularists are attacking on three fronts.

The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families.

Thus, for example, New Jersey recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Indeed, in some cases, the schools may not even warn parents about lessons they plan to teach on controversial subjects relating to sexual behavior and relationships.

This puts parents who dissent from the secular orthodoxy to a difficult choice: Try to scrape together the money for private school or home schooling, or allow their children to be inculcated with messages that they fundamentally reject.

A second axis of attack in the realm of education are state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally-available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.  Montana, for example, created a program that provided tax credits to those who donated to a scholarship program that underprivileged students could use to attend private school.  The point of the program was to provide greater parental and student choice in education and to provide better educations to needy youth.

But Montana expressly excluded religiously-affiliated private schools from the program.  And when that exclusion was challenged in court by parents who wanted to use the scholarships to attend a nondenominational Christian school, the Montana Supreme Court required the state to eliminate the program rather than allow parents to use scholarships for religious schools.

It justified this action by pointing to a provision in Montana’s State Constitution commonly referred to as a “Blaine Amendment.”  Blaine Amendments were passed at a time of rampant anti-Catholic animus in this country, and typically disqualify religious institutions from receiving any direct or indirect payments from a state’s funds.

The case is now in the Supreme Court, and we filed a brief explaining why Montana’s Blaine Amendment violates the First Amendment.

A third kind of assault on religious freedom in education have been recent efforts to use state laws to force religious schools to adhere to secular orthodoxy. For example, right here in Indiana, a teacher sued the Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis for directing the Catholic schools within his diocese that they could not employ teachers in same-sex marriages because the example of those same-sex marriages would undermine the schools’ teaching on the Catholic view of marriage and complementarity between the sexes.

This lawsuit clearly infringes the First Amendment rights of the Archdiocese by interfering both with its expressive association and with its church autonomy. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the state court making these points, and we hope that the state court will soon dismiss the case.

Taken together, these cases paint a disturbing picture. We see the State requiring local public schools to insert themselves into contentious social debates, without regard for the religious views of their students or parents. In effect, these states are requiring local communities to make their public schools inhospitable to families with traditional religious values; those families are implicitly told that they should conform or leave.

At the same time, pressure is placed on religious schools to abandon their religious convictions. Simply because of their religious character, they are starved of funds – students who would otherwise choose to attend them are told they may only receive scholarships if they turn their sights elsewhere.

Simultaneously, they are threatened in tort and, eventually, will undoubtedly be threatened with denial of accreditation if they adhere to their religious character.  If these measures are successful, those with religious convictions will become still more marginalized.

I do not mean to suggest that there is no hope for moral renewal in our country.

But we cannot sit back and just hope the pendulum is going to swing back toward sanity.

As Catholics, we are committed to the Judeo-Christian values that have made this country great.

And we know that the first thing we have to do to promote renewal is to ensure that we are putting our principles into practice in our own personal private lives.

We understand that only by transforming ourselves can we transform the world beyond ourselves.

This is tough work. It is hard to resist the constant seductions of our contemporary society. This is where we need grace, prayer, and the help of our church.

Beyond this, we must place greater emphasis on the moral education of our children.

Education is not vocational training. It is leading our children to the recognition that there is truth and helping them develop the faculties to discern and love the truth and the discipline to live by it.

We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing to the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.

The times are hostile to this. Public agencies, including public schools, are becoming secularized and increasingly are actively promoting moral relativism.

If ever there was a need for a resurgence of Catholic education – and more generally religiously-affiliated schools – it is today.

I think we should do all we can to promote and support authentic Catholic education at all levels.

Finally, as lawyers, we should be particularly active in the struggle that is being waged against religion on the legal plane.

We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. And God bless you and Notre Dame.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics

 

William Barr’s right about left’s designs on religious freedom

– The Washington Times – Thursday, October 17, 2019

As the Caribbean saying goes, “I chucked a rock in the pen and a pig squealed.”

This explains all the frenzied squealing and indignant grunting we heard in response to the speech Attorney General William Barr gave last week to law students at the University of Notre Dame about the increasing hostility toward religious liberty in America.

Mr. Barr raised alarm over “the force, fervor and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today.”

For anyone thinking this is some random force or natural course of history, he jolted a harsh warning.

“This is not decay. It is organized destruction,” he said.

“Secularists and their allies among the ‘progressives’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Anyone who missed the speech should find it and watch it. Anyone with a child in school should print out the speech and send it to him or her — or any of the other 16 genders schools are offering for students these days.

The smorgasbord of gender options inspires snorts of laughter among serious people, vexes anyone who believes in actual science and causes others to scoff and walk away.

But the infidels and infantiles who are running higher education today must be confronted with more than just laughter and dismissal. They are, after all, the ones destroying America by poisoning the minds of children. That is why the attorney general’s speech at Notre Dame is so important.

It is also why so many boars in the media took such offense to the speech and began squealing like a herd of mad swine racing for the lake.

One magazine cried that Mr. Barr is “neck deep in extremist Catholic institutions.”

For defending religious liberty?

Oh my. They make precisely William Barr’s point for him.

A major newspaper opined: “God is now Trump’s co-conspirator.” It was not meant as a compliment, again proving Mr. Barr’s point.

“Is this Barr’s cry for help?” pondered another major newspaper.

All the squealing proved not only Mr. Barr’s point about the rabid intolerance of religious liberty, but also that so many of the “intellectuals” in charge of American magazines and newspapers have already been poisoned by the nonsense and dishonesty dispensed by higher education these days.

These people are not only anti-religion, but they also are anti-science, anti-history and anti-liberty. Alexander Hamilton would weep if he knew the power these people now hold in his beloved republic.

Mr. Hamilton also would have applauded Mr. Barr’s speech. He and all the Founders would have recognized the speech as a flawless continuation of the endless debates they had about the nature of man, liberty and religion.

Picking up on the Founders’ discussion of man’s capacity for both “great good” and “great evil,” Mr. Barr said the “coercive power of government” cannot alone maintain a civil society. There must be other — more free and voluntary — guides of citizens’ behavior.

The notion of self-governance, he said, has dual meaning.

“It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.”

Particularly alarming to Mr. Barr is the lust with which secular zealots go after personal, private religion.

“Militant secularists today do not have a ‘live and let live’ spirit,” he said. “They are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.”

It is that very lust that leads political monsters to create untamable leviathans like Obamacare, which forces the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their most precious religious convictions.

Is it any surprise, then, to see citizens turn on one another with the same evil lust?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/oct/17/william-barrs-religious-hostility-speech-hits-sque/

 

 

Bill Barr ‘Gets’ Religion

The attorney general gives a speech on secularism, and the left goes bananas.

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists
Main Street: During a speech at Notre Dame law school on October 11, 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr explained how secularists are assaulting religious freedom in an effort to break down traditional moral values and instead impose their own orthodoxy. Image: Robert Franklin/Associated Press

For Notre Dame fans, this football weekend was a twofer. Not only did the Irish beat a longtime rival, the University of Southern California, on Saturday, the campus was treated to a sight it had never before seen: the attorney general of the United States, at a pregame tailgater, serenading faculty, students and fans with his bagpipes.

Turns out that was William Barr’s second performance on campus. The first came at the law school Friday, when he delivered a bracing speech on the role of religion in the American story of freedom.

The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.

“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”

Political ethicist and professional attention seeker Richard Painter tapped out a series of even more furious tweets, here calling the speech the latest episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” there suggesting Mr. Barr isn’t much of a Christian, here again saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” Over at MSNBC, meanwhile, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Joy Reid the attorney general is “Torquemada in a business suit,” a reference to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.

This is what we have come to expect when someone in public life mentions religion in a positive light. Many didn’t like Mr. Barr’s blaming secularism for social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males. Yet few engaged his more arresting contention, which is that all these problems have spiritual roots. Whereas religion addresses such challenges by stressing personal responsibility, Mr. Barr argued, the state’s answer is merely to try to alleviate “bad consequences.”

“So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion,” he said. “The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”

Vincent Phillip Muñoz, a Notre Dame professor, notes there was nothing particularly Catholic about this speech. Like Washington in his Farewell Address, he says, Mr. Barr focused on the irreplaceable role of religion in cultivating the morality citizens need to be capable of self-government.

“The speech wasn’t first and foremost about religious freedom,” says Mr. Muñoz. “It was about the human and social consequences of the new secular morality, and what happens when the state views its citizens not only in purely material terms, but as subjects who can’t really govern themselves.”

Even those who strongly disagree with Mr. Barr ought to have found this an invitation for thoughtful and vigorous debate. But rather than engage, some imply there is something unseemly about an attorney general’s even speaking at a Catholic university. Given the hostility that holding such a conversation engenders on campuses today, perhaps America can count itself fortunate it still has a university where this can happen.

Carter Snead, the law professor who invited Mr. Barr, puts it this way: “At Notre Dame, we are not afraid to explore the hard questions about God, religion and America together in friendship, especially on those matters about which people strongly disagree.”

Freedom of religion

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People praying to Lord Brahma, a Hindu deity, at the Erawan shrineBangkok

Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs.[1]

Freedom of religion is considered by many people and most of the nations to be a fundamental human right.[2][3] In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. Freedom of belief is different. It allows the right to believe what a person, group or religion wishes, but it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner.

History

Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wisdom protects the believers of all religions (Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791)

Historically, freedom of religion has been used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship has been defined as freedom of individual action. Each of these have existed to varying degrees. While many countries have accepted some form of religious freedom, this has also often been limited in practice through punitive taxation, repressive social legislation, and political disenfranchisement. Compare examples of individual freedom in Italy or the Muslim tradition of dhimmis, literally “protected individuals” professing an officially tolerated non-Muslim religion.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society.

In Antiquity, a syncretic point of view often allowed communities of traders to operate under their own customs. When street mobs of separate quarters clashed in a Hellenistic or Romancity, the issue was generally perceived to be an infringement of community rights.

Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire ca. 550 BC, and initiated a general policy of permitting religious freedom throughout the empire, documenting this on the Cyrus Cylinder.[4][5]

Some of the historical exceptions have been in regions where one of the revealed religions has been in a position of power: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. Others have been where the established order has felt threatened, as shown in the trial of Socrates in 399 BC or where the ruler has been deified, as in Rome, and refusal to offer token sacrifice was similar to refusing to take an oath of allegiance. This was the core for resentment and the persecution of early Christian communities.

Freedom of religious worship was established in the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India by Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC, which was encapsulated in the Edicts of Ashoka.

Greek-Jewish clashes at Cyrene in 73 AD and 117 AD and in Alexandria in 115 AD provide examples of cosmopolitan cities as scenes of tumult.

The Romans tolerated most religions, including Judaism and encouraged local subjects to continue worshipping their own gods. They did not however, tolerate Christianity until it was legalised by the Roman emperor Galerius in 311. The Edict of Milan guaranteed freedom of religion in the Roman Empire until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, which outlawed all religions except Christianity.

Muslim world

Following a period of fighting lasting around a hundred years before 620 AD which mainly involved Arab and Jewish inhabitants of Medina (then known as Yathrib), religious freedom for Muslims, Jews and pagans was declared by Muhammad in the Constitution of Medina. The Islamic Caliphate later guaranteed religious freedom under the conditions that non-Muslim communities accept dhimmi status and their adult males pay the punitive jizya tax instead of the zakat paid by Muslim citizens.[6] Though Dhimmis were not given the same political rights as Muslims, they nevertheless did enjoy equality under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.[7][8][9]

Religious pluralism existed in classical Islamic ethics and Sharia, as the religious laws and courts of other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism, were usually accommodated within the Islamic legal framework, as seen in the early CaliphateAl-AndalusIndian subcontinent, and the Ottoman Millet system.[10][11] In medieval Islamic societies, the qadi (Islamic judges) usually could not interfere in the matters of non-Muslims unless the parties voluntarily choose to be judged according to Islamic law, thus the dhimmi communities living in Islamic states usually had their own laws independent from the Sharia law, such as the Jews who would have their own Halakha courts.[12]

Dhimmis were allowed to operate their own courts following their own legal systems in cases that did not involve other religious groups, or capital offences or threats to public order.[13] Non-Muslims were allowed to engage in religious practices that were usually forbidden by Islamic law, such as the consumption of alcohol and pork, as well as religious practices which Muslims found repugnant, such as the Zoroastrian practice of incestuous “self-marriage” where a man could marry his mother, sister or daughter. According to the famous Islamic legal scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292–1350), non-Muslims had the right to engage in such religious practices even if it offended Muslims, under the conditions that such cases not be presented to Islamic Sharia courts and that these religious minorities believed that the practice in question is permissible according to their religion.[14]

Despite Dhimmis enjoying special statuses under the Caliphates, they were not considered equals, and sporadic persecutions of non-Muslim groups did occur in the history of the Caliphates.[15][16][17]

India

Ancient Jews fleeing from persecution in their homeland 2,500 years ago settled in India and never faced anti-Semitism.[18] Freedom of religion edicts have been found written during Ashoka the Great‘s reign in the 3rd century BC. Freedom to practise, preach and propagate any religion is a constitutional right in Modern India. Most major religious festivals of the main communities are included in the list of national holidays.

Although India is an 80% Hindu country, India is a secular state without any state religions.

Many scholars and intellectuals believe that India’s predominant religion, Hinduism, has long been a most tolerant religion.[19] Rajni Kothari, founder of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies has written, “[India] is a country built on the foundations of a civilisation that is fundamentally non-religious.”[20]

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader in exile, said that religious tolerance of ‘Aryabhoomi,’ a reference to India found in the Mahabharata, has been in existence in this country from thousands of years. “Not only Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism which are the native religions but also Christianity and Islam have flourished here. Religious tolerance is inherent in Indian tradition,” the Dalai Lama said.[21]

Freedom of religion in the Indian subcontinent is exemplified by the reign of King Piyadasi (304–232 BC) (Ashoka). One of King Ashoka’s main concerns was to reform governmental institutes and exercise moral principles in his attempt to create a just and humane society. Later he promoted the principles of Buddhism, and the creation of a just, understanding and fair society was held as an important principle for many ancient rulers of this time in the East.

The importance of freedom of worship in India was encapsulated in an inscription of Ashoka:

King Piyadasi (Ashok) dear to the Gods, honours all sects, the ascetics (hermits) or those who dwell at home, he honours them with charity and in other ways. But the King, dear to the Gods, attributes less importance to this charity and these honours than to the vow of seeing the reign of virtues, which constitutes the essential part of them. For all these virtues there is a common source, modesty of speech. That is to say, one must not exalt one’s creed discrediting all others, nor must one degrade these others without legitimate reasons. One must, on the contrary, render to other creeds the honour befitting them.

On the main Asian continent, the Mongols were tolerant of religions. People could worship as they wished freely and openly.

After the arrival of Europeans, Christians in their zeal to convert local as per belief in conversion as service of God, have also been seen to fall into frivolous methods since their arrival, though by and large there are hardly any reports of law and order disturbance from mobs with Christian beliefs, except perhaps in the north eastern region of India.[22]

Freedom of religion in contemporary India is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the nation’s constitution. Accordingly, every citizen of India has a right to profess, practice and propagate their religions peacefully.[23] Vishwa Hindu Parishad counters this argument by saying that evangelical Christians are forcefully (or through money) converting rural, illiterate populations and they are only trying to stop this.

In September 2010, the Indian state of Kerala‘s State Election Commissioner announced that “Religious heads cannot issue calls to vote for members of a particular community or to defeat the nonbelievers”.[24] The Catholic Church comprising Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites used to give clear directions to the faithful on exercising their franchise during elections through pastoral letters issued by bishops or council of bishops. The pastoral letter issued by Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) on the eve of the poll urged the faithful to shun atheists.[24]

Even today, most Indians celebrate all religious festivals with equal enthusiasm and respect. Hindu festivals like Deepavali and Holi, Muslim festivals like Eid al-FitrEid-Ul-AdhaMuharram, Christian festivals like Christmas and other festivals like Buddha PurnimaMahavir Jayanti, Gur Purab etc. are celebrated and enjoyed by all Indians.

Europe

Religious intolerance

Nineteenth century allegorical statue on the Congress Column in Belgium depicting religious freedom

Most Roman Catholic kingdoms kept a tight rein on religious expression throughout the Middle Ages. Jews were alternately tolerated and persecuted, the most notable examples of the latter being the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492. Some of those who remained and converted were tried as heretics in the Inquisition for allegedly practicing Judaism in secret. Despite the persecution of Jews, they were the most tolerated non-Catholic faith in Europe.

However, the latter was in part a reaction to the growing movement that became the Reformation. As early as 1380, John Wycliffe in England denied transubstantiation and began his translation of the Bible into English. He was condemned in a Papal Bull in 1410, and all his books were burned.

In 1414, Jan Hus, a Bohemian preacher of reformation, was given a safe conduct by the Holy Roman Emperor to attend the Council of Constance. Not entirely trusting in his safety, he made his will before he left. His forebodings proved accurate, and he was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415. The Council also decreed that Wycliffe’s remains be disinterred and cast out. This decree was not carried out until 1429.

After the fall of the city of Granada, Spain, in 1492, the Muslim population was promised religious freedom by the Treaty of Granada, but that promise was short-lived. In 1501, Granada’s Muslims were given an ultimatum to either convert to Christianity or to emigrate. The majority converted, but only superficially, continuing to dress and speak as they had before and to secretly practice Islam. The Moriscos (converts to Christianity) were ultimately expelled from Spain between 1609 (Castile) and 1614 (rest of Spain), by Philip III.

Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517. His major aim was theological, summed up in the three basic dogmas of Protestantism:

  • The Bible only is infallible.
  • Every Christian can interpret it.
  • Human sins are so wrongful that no deed or merit, only God’s grace, can lead to salvation.

In consequence, Luther hoped to stop the sale of indulgences and to reform the Church from within. In 1521, he was given the chance to recant at the Diet of Worms before Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After he refused to recant, he was declared heretic. Partly for his own protection, he was sequestered on the Wartburg in the possessions of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, where he translated the New Testament into German. He was excommunicated by Papal Bull in 1521.

However, the movement continued to gain ground in his absence and spread to Switzerland. Huldrych Zwingli preached reform in Zürich from 1520 to 1523. He opposed the sale of indulgences, celibacy, pilgrimages, pictures, statues, relics, altars, and organs. This culminated in outright war between the Swiss cantons that accepted Protestantism and the Catholics. The Catholics were victorious, and Zwingli was killed in battle in 1531. The Catholic cantons were magnanimous in victory.[citation needed]

The defiance of Papal authority proved contagious, and in 1533, when Henry VIII of England was excommunicated for his divorce and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, he promptly established a state church with bishops appointed by the crown. This was not without internal opposition, and Thomas More, who had been his Lord Chancellor, was executed in 1535 for opposition to Henry.

In 1535, the Swiss canton of Geneva became Protestant. In 1536, the Bernese imposed the reformation on the canton of Vaud by conquest. They sacked the cathedral in Lausanne and destroyed all its art and statuary. John Calvin, who had been active in Geneva was expelled in 1538 in a power struggle, but he was invited back in 1540.

A U.S. postage stamp commemorating religious freedom and the Flushing Remonstrance

The same kind of seesaw back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism was evident in England when Mary I of England returned that country briefly to the Catholic fold in 1553 and persecuted Protestants. However, her half-sister, Elizabeth I of England was to restore the Church of England in 1558, this time permanently, and began to persecute Catholics again. The King James Bible commissioned by King James I of England and published in 1611 proved a landmark for Protestant worship, with official Catholic forms of worship being banned.

In France, although peace was made between Protestants and Catholics at the Treaty of Saint Germain in 1570, persecution continued, most notably in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day on 24 August 1572, in which thousands of Protestants throughout France were killed. A few years before, at the “Michelade” of Nîmes in 1567, Protestants had massacred the local Catholic clergy.

Early steps and attempts in the way of tolerance

The cross of the war memorial and a menorah coexist in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

The Norman Kingdom of Sicily under Roger II was characterized by its multi-ethnic nature and religious tolerance. Normans, Jews, Muslim Arabs, Byzantine Greeks, Lombards, and native Sicilians lived in harmony.[25][26][failed verification] Rather than exterminate the Muslims of Sicily, Roger II’s grandson Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1215–1250) allowed them to settle on the mainland and build mosques. Not least, he enlisted them in his – Christian – army and even into his personal bodyguards.[27][need quotation to verify][28][need quotation to verify]

Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic) enjoyed religious freedom between 1436 and 1520, and became one of the most liberal countries of the Christian world during that period of time. The so-called Basel Compacts of 1436 declared the freedom of religion and peace between Catholics and Utraquists. In 1609 Emperor Rudolf II granted Bohemia greater religious liberty with his Letter of Majesty. The privileged position of the Catholic Church in the Czech kingdom was firmly established after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Gradually freedom of religion in Bohemian lands came to an end and Protestants fled or were expelled from the country. A devout Catholic, Emperor Ferdinand II forcibly converted Austrian and Bohemian Protestants.[citation needed]

In the meantime, in Germany Philip Melanchthon drafted the Augsburg Confession as a common confession for the Lutherans and the free territories. It was presented to Charles V in 1530.

In the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V agreed to tolerate Lutheranism in 1555 at the Peace of Augsburg. Each state was to take the religion of its prince, but within those states, there was not necessarily religious tolerance. Citizens of other faiths could relocate to a more hospitable environment.

In France, from the 1550s, many attempts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants and to establish tolerance failed because the State was too weak to enforce them. It took the victory of prince Henry IV of France, who had converted into Protestantism, and his accession to the throne, to impose religious tolerance formalized in the Edict of Nantes in 1598. It would remain in force for over 80 years until its revocation in 1685 by Louis XIV of France. Intolerance remained the norm until Louis XVI, who signed the Edict of Versailles (1787), then the constitutional text of 24 December 1789, granting civilian rights to Protestants. The French Revolution then abolished state religion and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society.

Early laws and legal guarantees for religious freedom

Principality of Transylvania

In 1558, the Transylvanian Diet’s Edict of Torda declared free practice of both Catholicism and Lutheranism. Calvinism, however, was prohibited. Calvinism was included among the accepted religions in 1564. Ten years after the first law, in 1568, the same Diet, under the chairmanship of King of Hungary, and Prince of Transylvania John Sigismund Zápolya (John II.),[29] following the teaching of Ferenc Dávid,[30] the founder of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania,[31] extended the freedom to all religions, declaring that “It is not allowed to anybody to intimidate anybody with captivity or expelling for his religion“. However, it was more than a religious tolerance; it declared the equality of the religions, prohibiting all kinds of acts from authorities or from simple people, which could harm other groups or people because of their religious beliefs. The emergence in social hierarchy wasn’t dependent on the religion of the person thus Transylvania had also Catholic and Protestant monarchs, who all respected the Edict of Torda. The lack of state religion was unique for centuries in Europe. Therefore, the Edict of Torda is considered as the first legal guarantee of religious freedom in Christian Europe.[32]

Declaration, by Ferenc Dávid of Religious and Conscience Freedom in the Diet of Torda in 1568, painting by Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch

Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience: His majesty, our Lord, in what manner he – together with his realm – legislated in the matter of religion at the previous Diets, in the same matter now, in this Diet, reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve. Therefore none of the superintendents or others shall abuse the preachers, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, according to the previous statutes, and it is not permitted that anyone should threaten anyone else by imprisonment or by removal from his post for his teaching. For faith is the gift of God and this comes from hearing, which hearings is by the word of God.

— Diet at Torda, 1568 : King John Sigismund[33]

Four religions (CatholicismLutheranismCalvinismUnitarianism) were named as accepted religions (religo recepta), having their representatives in the Transylvanian Diet, while the other religions, like the OrthodoxsSabbatariansand Anabaptists were tolerated churches (religio tolerata), which meant that they had no power in the law making and no veto rights in the Diet, but they were not persecuted in any way. Thanks to the Edict of Torda, from the last decades of the 16th Century Transylvania was the only place in Europe, where so many religions could live together in harmony and without persecution.[34]

This religious freedom ended however for some of the religions of Transylvania in 1638. After this year the Sabbatarians begun to be persecuted, and forced to convert to one of the accepted Christian religions of Transylvania.[35]

Habsburg rule in Transylvania

Also the Unitarians (despite of being one of the “accepted religions”) started to be put under an ever-growing pressure, which culminated after the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania (1691),[36] Also after the Habsburg occupation, the new Austrian masters forced in the middle of the 18th century the Hutterite Anabaptists (who found a safe heaven in 1621 in Transylvania, after the persecution to which they were subjected in the Austrian provinces and Moravia) to convert to Catholicism or to migrate in another country, which finally the Anabaptists did, leaving Transylvania and Hungary for Wallachia, than from there to Russia, and finally in the United States.[37]

Netherlands

In the Union of Utrecht (20 January 1579), personal freedom of religion was declared in the struggle between the Northern Netherlands and Spain. The Union of Utrecht was an important step in the establishment of the Dutch Republic (from 1581 to 1795). Under Calvinist leadership, the Netherlands became the most tolerant country in Europe. It granted asylum to persecuted religious minorities, such as the Huguenots, the Dissenters, and the Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal.[38] The establishment of a Jewish community in the Netherlands and New Amsterdam (present-day New York) during the Dutch Republic is an example of religious freedom. When New Amsterdam surrendered to the English in 1664, freedom of religion was guaranteed in the Articles of Capitulation. It benefitted also the Jews who had landed on Manhattan Island in 1654, fleeing Portuguese persecution in Brazil. During the 18th century, other Jewish communities were established at Newport, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Charleston, Savannah, and Richmond.[39]

Intolerance of dissident forms of Protestantism also continued, as evidenced by the exodus of the Pilgrims, who sought refuge, first in the Netherlands, and ultimately in America, founding Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1620. William Penn, the founder of Philadelphia, was involved in a case which had a profound effect upon future American laws and those of England. In a classic case of jury nullification, the jury refused to convict William Penn of preaching a Quaker sermon, which was illegal. Even though the jury was imprisoned for their acquittal, they stood by their decision and helped establish the freedom of religion.[citation needed]

Poland

Original act of the Warsaw Confederation1573. The beginning of religious freedom in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The General Charter of Jewish Liberties known as the Statute of Kalisz was issued by the Duke of Greater Poland Boleslaus the Pious on 8 September 1264 in Kalisz. The statute served as the basis for the legal position of Jews in Poland and led to the creation of the Yiddish-speaking autonomous Jewish nation until 1795. The statute granted exclusive jurisdiction of Jewish courts over Jewish matters and established a separate tribunal for matters involving Christians and Jews. Additionally, it guaranteed personal liberties and safety for Jews including freedom of religion, travel, and trade. The statute was ratified by subsequent Polish Kings: Casimir III of Polandin 1334, Casimir IV of Poland in 1453 and Sigismund I of Poland in 1539. Poland freed Jews from direct royal authority, opening up enormous administrative and economic opportunities to them.[40]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The right to worship freely was a basic right given to all inhabitants of the future Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth throughout the 15th and early 16th century, however, complete freedom of religion was officially recognized in 1573 during the Warsaw Confederation. Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth kept religious freedom laws during an era when religious persecution was an everyday occurrence in the rest of Europe.[41]

United States

Most of the early colonies were generally not tolerant of dissident forms of worship, with Maryland being one of the exceptions. For example, Roger Williams found it necessary to found a new colony in Rhode Island to escape persecution in the theocratically dominated colony of Massachusetts. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers, and the persecuting spirit was shared by Plymouth Colony and the colonies along the Connecticut river.[42] In 1660, one of the most notable victims of the religious intolerance was English Quaker Mary Dyer, who was hanged in Boston, Massachusetts for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony.[42] As one of the four executed Quakers known as the Boston martyrs, the hanging of Dyer on the Boston gallows marked the beginning of the end of the Puritan theocracy and New England independence from English rule, and in 1661 King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism.[43] Anti-Catholic sentiment appeared in New England with the first Pilgrim and Puritan settlers.[44] In 1647, Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting any Jesuit Roman Catholic priests from entering territory under Puritan jurisdiction.[45] Any suspected person who could not clear himself was to be banished from the colony; a second offense carried a death penalty.[46] The Pilgrims of New England held radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas.[47] Christmas observance was outlawed in Boston in 1659.[48] The ban by the Puritans was revoked in 1681 by an English appointed governor, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became common in the Boston region.[49]

Freedom of religion was first applied as a principle of government in the founding of the colony of Maryland, founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore, in 1634.[50] Fifteen years later (1649), the Maryland Toleration Act, drafted by Lord Baltimore, provided: “No person or persons…shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof.” The Act allowed freedom of worship for all Trinitarian Christians in Maryland, but sentenced to death anyone who denied the divinity of Jesus. The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed during the Cromwellian Era with the assistance of Protestant assemblymen and a new law barring Catholics from openly practicing their religion was passed.[51] In 1657, the Catholic Lord Baltimore regained control after making a deal with the colony’s Protestants, and in 1658 the Act was again passed by the colonial assembly. This time, it would last more than thirty years, until 1692[52] when, after Maryland’s Protestant Revolution of 1689, freedom of religion was again rescinded.[50][53] In addition, in 1704, an Act was passed “to prevent the growth of Popery in this Province”, preventing Catholics from holding political office.[53] Full religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until the American Revolution, when Maryland’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the American Declaration of Independence.

Rhode Island (1636), Connecticut (1636), New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (1682) – founded by Protestants Roger Williams, Thomas Hooker, and William Penn, respectively – combined the democratic form of government which had been developed by the Puritans and the Separatist Congregationalists in Massachusetts with religious freedom.[54][55][56][57] These colonies became sanctuaries for persecuted religious minorities. Catholics and later on Jews also had full citizenship and free exercise of their religions.[58][59][60] Williams, Hooker, Penn, and their friends were firmly convinced that freedom of conscience was the will of God. Williams gave the most profound argument: As faith is the free work of the Holy Spirit, it cannot be forced on a person. Therefore, strict separation of church and state has to be kept.[61] Pennsylvania was the only colony that retained unlimited religious freedom until the foundation of the United States in 1776. It was the inseparable connection between democracy, religious freedom, and the other forms of freedom which became the political and legal basis of the new nation. In particular, Baptists and Presbyterians demanded the disestablishment of state churches – Anglican and Congregationalist – and the protection of religious freedom.[62]

Reiterating Maryland’s and the other colonies’ earlier colonial legislation, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed:

[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Those sentiments also found expression in the First Amendment of the national constitution, part of the United States’ Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The United States formally considers religious freedom in its foreign relations. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 established the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom which investigates the records of over 200 other nations with respect to religious freedom, and makes recommendations to submit nations with egregious records to ongoing scrutiny and possible economic sanctions. Many human rights organizations have urged the United States to be still more vigorous in imposing sanctions on countries that do not permit or tolerate religious freedom.

Canada

Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference. Canadian law goes further, requiring that private citizens and companies provide reasonable accommodation to those, for example, with strong religious beliefs. The Canadian Human Rights Act allows an exception to reasonable accommodation with respect to religious dress, such as a Sikh turban, when there is a bona fide occupational requirement, such as a workplace requiring a hard hat.[63] In 2017 the Santo Daime Church Céu do Montréal received religious exemption to use Ayahuasca as a sacrament in their rituals.[64]

International

On 25 November 1981, the United Nations General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. This declaration recognizes freedom of religion as a fundamental human right in accordance with several other instruments of international law.[65]

However, the most substantial binding legal instruments that guarantee the right to freedom of religion that was passed by the international community is the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states in its Article 14: “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. – States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child. – Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”[66]

Contemporary debates

Theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs

In 1993, the UN’s human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.”[67] The committee further stated that “the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one’s current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views.” Signatories to the convention are barred from “the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers” to recant their beliefs or convert. Despite this, minority religions still are persecuted in many parts of the world.[68][69]

Secular liberalism

A man posing for a print

Adam Smith argued in favour of freedom of religion.

The French philosopher Voltaire noted in his book on English society, Letters on the English, that freedom of religion in a diverse society was deeply important to maintaining peace in that country. That it was also important in understanding why England at that time was more prosperous in comparison to the country’s less religiously tolerant European neighbours.

If one religion only were allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace.[70]

Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations (using an argument first put forward by his friend and contemporary David Hume), states that in the long run it is in the best interests of society as a whole and the civil magistrate(government) in particular to allow people to freely choose their own religion, as it helps prevent civil unrest and reduces intolerance. So long as there are enough different religions and/or religious sects operating freely in a society then they are all compelled to moderate their more controversial and violent teachings, so as to be more appealing to more people and so have an easier time attracting new converts. It is this free competition amongst religious sects for converts that ensures stability and tranquillity in the long run.

Smith also points out that laws that prevent religious freedom and seek to preserve the power and belief in a particular religion will, in the long run, only serve to weaken and corrupt that religion, as its leaders and preachers become complacent, disconnected and unpractised in their ability to seek and win over new converts:[71]

The interested and active zeal of religious teachers can be dangerous and troublesome only where there is either but one sect tolerated in the society, or where the whole of a large society is divided into two or three great sects; the teachers of each acting by concert, and under a regular discipline and subordination. But that zeal must be altogether innocent, where the society is divided into two or three hundred, or, perhaps, into as many thousand small sects, of which no one could be considerable enough to disturb the public tranquillity. The teachers of each sect, seeing themselves surrounded on all sides with more adversaries than friends, would be obliged to learn that candour and moderation which are so seldom to be found among the teachers of those great sects.[72]

Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the more broad-minded religions when it comes to religious freedom.[73] It respects the right of everyone to reach God in their own way. Hindus believe in different ways to preach attainment of God and religion as a philosophy and hence respect all religions as equal. One of the famous Hindu sayings about religion is: “Truth is one; sages call it by different names.”[73]

Judaism

Women detained at Western Wall for wearing prayer shawls; photo from Women of the Wall

Judaism includes multiple streams, such as Orthodox, Reform JudaismConservative JudaismReconstructionist JudaismJewish Renewal and Humanistic Judaism. However, Judaism also exists in many forms as a civilization, possessing characteristics known as peoplehood, rather than strictly as a religion.[74] In the Torah, Jews are forbidden to practice idolatry and are commanded to root out pagan and idolatrous practices within their midst, including killing idolaters who sacrifice children to their gods, or engage in immoral activities. However, these laws are not adhered to anymore as Jews have usually lived among a multi-religious community.

After the conquest of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea by the Roman Empire, a Jewish state did not exist until 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel. For over 1500 years Jewish people lived under pagan, Christian, Muslim, etc. rule. As such Jewish people in some of these states faced persecution. From the pogroms in Europe during the Middle Ages to the establishment of segregated Jewish ghettos during World War II. In the Middle East, Jews were categorised as dhimmi, non- Muslims permitted to live within a Muslim state. Even though given rights within a Muslim state, a dhimmi is still not equal to a Muslim within Muslim society, the same way non-Jewish Israeli citizens are not equal with Jewish citizens in modern-day Israel.

Possibly because of this history of long term persecution, Jews in modernity have been among the most active proponents of religious freedom in the US and abroad and have founded and supported anti-hate institutions, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. Jews are very active in supporting Muslim and other religious groups in the US against discrimination and hate crimes and most Jewish congregations throughout the US and many individual Jews participate in interfaith community projects and programs.

The State of Israel was established for the Jewish diaspora after World War II. While the Israel Declaration of Independence stresses religious freedom as a fundamental principle, in practice the current[timeframe?] government, dominated by the ultra-Orthodox segment of the population has instituted legal barriers for those who do not practice Orthodox Judaism as Jews. However, as a nation state, Israel is very open towards other religions and religious practices, including public Muslim call to prayer chants and Christian prayer bells ringing in Jerusalem. Israel has been evaluated in research by the Pew organization as having “high” government restrictions on religion. The government recognizes only Orthodox Judaism in certain matters of personal status, and marriages can only be performed by religious authorities. The government provides the greatest funding to Orthodox Judaism, even though adherents represent a minority of citizens.[75] Jewish women, including Anat Hoffman, have been arrested at the Western Wall for praying and singing while wearing religious garments the Orthodox feel should be reserved for men. Women of the Wall have organized to promote religious freedom at the Wall.[76] In November 2014, a group of 60 non-Orthodox rabbinical students were told they would not be allowed to pray in the Knesset synagogue because it is reserved for Orthodox. Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, said that he had submitted the request on behalf of the students and saw their shock when the request was denied. He noted: “paradoxically, this decision served as an appropriate end to our conversation about religion and state in Israel.” MK Dov Lipman expressed the concern that many Knesset workers are unfamiliar with non-Orthodox and American practices and would view “an egalitarian service in the synagogue as an affront.”[77] The non-Orthodox forms of Jewish practice function independently in Israel, except for these issues of praying at the Western Wall.

Christianity

Part of the Oscar Straus Memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring the right to worship

According to the Catholic Church in the Vatican II document on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, “the human person has a right to religious freedom”, which is described as “immunity from coercion in civil society”.[78] This principle of religious freedom “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion.”[78] In addition, this right “is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.”[78]

Prior to this, Pope Pius IX had written a document called the Syllabus of ErrorsThe Syllabus was made up of phrases and paraphrases from earlier papal documents, along with index references to them, and presented as a list of “condemned propositions”. It does not explain why each particular proposition is wrong, but it cites earlier documents to which the reader can refer for the Pope’s reasons for saying each proposition is false. Among the statements included in the Syllabus are: “[It is an error to say that] Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true” (15); “[It is an error to say that] In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship”; “[It is an error to say that] Hence it has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship”.[79]

Some Orthodox Christians, especially those living in democratic countries, support religious freedom for all, as evidenced by the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Many Protestant Christian churches, including some BaptistsChurches of ChristSeventh-day Adventist Church and main line churches have a commitment to religious freedoms. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also affirms religious freedom.[80]

However others, such as African scholar Makau Mutua, have argued that Christian insistence on the propagation of their faith to native cultures as an element of religious freedom has resulted in a corresponding denial of religious freedom to native traditions and led to their destruction. As he states in the book produced by the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, “Imperial religions have necessarily violated individual conscience and the communal expressions of Africans and their communities by subverting African religions.”[81][82]

In their book Breaking IndiaRajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan discussed the “US Church” funding activities in India, such as the popularly advertised campaigns to “save” poor children by feeding, clothing, and educating them, with the book arguing that the funds collected were being used not so much for the purposes indicated to sponsors, but for indoctrination and conversion activities. They suggest that India is the prime target of a huge enterprise – a “network” of organizations, individuals, and churches – that, they argue, seem intensely devoted to the task of creating a separatist identity, history, and even religion for the vulnerable sections of India. They suggest that this nexus of players includes not only church groups, government bodies, and related organizations, but also private think tanks and academics.[83]

Joel Spring has written about the Christianization of the Roman Empire:

Christianity added new impetus to the expansion of empire. Increasing the arrogance of the imperial project, Christians insisted that the Gospels and the Church were the only valid sources of religious beliefs. Imperialists could claim that they were both civilizing the world and spreading the true religion. By the 5th century, Christianity was thought of as co-extensive with the Imperium romanum. This meant that to be human, as opposed to being a natural slave, was to be “civilized” and Christian. Historian Anthony Pagden argues, “just as the civitas; had now become coterminous with Christianity, so to be human – to be, that is, one who was ‘civil’, and who was able to interpret correctly the law of nature – one had now also to be Christian.” After the fifteenth century, most Western colonialists rationalized the spread of empire with the belief that they were saving a barbaric and pagan world by spreading Christian civilization.[84]

Islam

Conversion to Islam is simple, but Muslims are forbidden to convert from Islam to another religion. Certain Muslim-majority countries are known for their restrictions on religious freedom, highly favoring Muslim citizens over non-Muslim citizens. Other countries[who?] having the same restrictive laws tend to be more liberal when imposing them. Even other Muslim-majority countries are secular and thus do not regulate religious belief.[85][failed verification]

Islamic theologians[who?] quote the Qur’an (“There is no compulsion in religion”[2:256] and “Say: O you who reject faith, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship…To you be your religion, and to me be mine”[109:1–6], i.e., Sura Al-Kafirun) to show scriptural support for religious freedom.

Quran 2:190–194, referring to the war against Pagans during the Battle of Badr in Medina, indicates that Muslims are only allowed to fight against those who intend to harm them (right of self-defense) and that if their enemies surrender, they must also stop because God does not like those who transgress limits.

In Bukhari:V9 N316, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah narrated that a Bedouin accepted Islam and then when he got a fever he demanded that Muhammad to cancel his pledge (allow him to renounce Islam). Muhammad refused to do so. The Bedouin man repeated his demand once, but Muhammad once again refused. Then, he (the Bedouin) left Medina. Muhammad said, “Madinah is like a pair of bellows (furnace): it expels its impurities and brightens and clear its good.” In this narration, there was no evidence demonstrating that Muhammad ordered the execution of the Bedouin for wanting to renounce Islam.

In addition, Quran 5:3, which is believed to be God’s final revelation to Muhammad, states that Muslims are to fear God and not those who reject Islam, and Quran 53:38–39 states that one is accountable only for one’s own actions. Therefore, it postulates that in Islam, in the matters of practising a religion, it does not relate to a worldly punishment, but rather these actions are accountable to God in the afterlife. Thus, this supports the argument against the execution of apostates in Islam.[86]

However, on the other hand, some Muslims support the practice of executing apostates who leave Islam, as in Bukhari:V4 B52 N260; “The Prophet said, ‘If a Muslim discards his religion and separates from the main body of Muslims, kill him.”[87] However, many Muslims believe that this hadith was written in the context of war and therefore Prophet Muhammad stipulated that whichever Muslim rejects his religion, leaves from the main body of Muslims and betrays the Muslims in war should be executed as a punishment for his treachery towards the community of Muslims. So many Muslims believe that this hadith talks about the punishment of Treason.[citation needed]

In Iran, the constitution recognizes four religions whose status is formally protected: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.[88] The constitution, however, also set the groundwork for the institutionalized persecution of Bahá’ís,[89] who have been subjected to arrests, beatings, executions, confiscation and destruction of property, and the denial of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education.[88] There is no freedom of conscience in Iran, as converting from Islam to any other religion is forbidden.

In Egypt, a 16 December 2006 judgment of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt created a clear demarcation between recognized religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – and all other religious beliefs;[90][91] no other religious affiliation is officially admissible.[92]The ruling leaves members of other religious communities, including Bahá’ís, without the ability to obtain the necessary government documents to have rights in their country, essentially denying them of all rights of citizenship.[92] They cannot obtain ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, and passports; they also cannot be employed, educated, treated in public hospitals or vote, among other things.[92] See Egyptian identification card controversy.

Changing religion

Among the most contentious areas of religious freedom is the right of an individual to change or abandon his or her own religion (apostasy), and the right to evangelize individuals seeking to convince others to make such a change.

Other debates have centered around restricting certain kinds of missionary activity by religions. Many Islamic states, and others such as China, severely restrict missionary activities of other religions. Greece, among European countries, has generally looked unfavorably on missionary activities of denominations others than the majority church and proselytizing is constitutionally prohibited.[93]

A different kind of critique of the freedom to propagate religion has come from non-Abrahamic traditions such as the African and Indian. African scholar Makau Mutua criticizes religious evangelism on the ground of cultural annihilation by what he calls “proselytizing universalist faiths” (Chapter 28: Proselytism and Cultural Integrity, p. 652):

…the (human) rights regime incorrectly assumes a level playing field by requiring that African religions compete in the marketplace of ideas. The rights corpus not only forcibly imposes on African religions the obligation to compete – a task for which as nonproselytizing, noncompetitive creeds they are not historically fashioned – but also protects the evangelizing religions in their march towards universalization … it seems inconceivable that the human rights regime would have intended to protect the right of certain religions to destroy others.[94]

Some Indian scholars[95] have similarly argued that the right to propagate religion is not culturally or religiously neutral.

In Sri Lanka, there have been debates regarding a bill on religious freedom that seeks to protect indigenous religious traditions from certain kinds of missionary activities. Debates have also occurred in various states of India regarding similar laws, particularly those that restrict conversions using force, fraud or allurement.

In 2008, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a Christian human rights non-governmental organisation which specializes in religious freedom, launched an in-depth report on the human rights abuses faced by individuals who leave Islam for another religion. The report is the product of a year long research project in six different countries. It calls on Muslim nations, the international community, the UN and the international media to resolutely address the serious violations of human rights suffered by apostates.[96]

Apostasy in Islam

Legal opinion on apostasy by the Fatwacommittee at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the highest Islamic institution in the world, concerning the case of a man who converted to Christianity: “Since he left Islam, he will be invited to express his regret. If he does not regret, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law.”

In Islam, apostasy is called “ridda” (“turning back”) and is considered to be a profound insult to God. A person born of Muslim parents that rejects Islam is called a “murtad fitri” (natural apostate), and a person that converted to Islam and later rejects the religion is called a “murtad milli” (apostate from the community).[97]

In Islamic law (Sharia), the consensus view is that a male apostate must be put to death unless he suffers from a mental disorder or converted under duress, for example, due to an imminent danger of being killed. A female apostate must be either executed, according to Shafi’iMaliki, and Hanbali schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), or imprisoned until she reverts to Islam as advocated by the Sunni Hanafi school and by Shi’ascholars.[98]

Ideally, the one performing the execution of an apostate must be an imam.[98] At the same time, all schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that any Muslim can kill an apostate without punishment.[99]

However, while almost all scholars agree about the punishment, many disagree on the allowable time to retract the apostasy. Many scholars push this as far as allowing the apostate until he/she dies, making the death penalty more of a theoretical statement/exercise.[citation needed] S. A. Rahman, a former Chief Justice of Pakistan, argues that there is no indication of the death penalty for apostasy in the Qur’an.[100]

Secular law

Religious practice may also conflict with secular law, creating debates on religious freedom. For instance, even though polygamy is permitted in Islam, it is prohibited in secular law in many countries. This raises the question of whether prohibiting the practice infringes on the beliefs of certain Muslims. The US and India, both constitutionally secular nations, have taken two different views of this. In India, polygamy is permitted, but only for Muslims, under Muslim Personal Law. In the US, polygamy is prohibited for all. This was a major source of conflict between the early LDS Church and the United States until the Church amended its position on practicing polygamy.

Similar issues have also arisen in the context of the religious use of psychedelic substances by Native American tribes in the United States as well as other Native practices.

In 1955, Chief Justice of California Roger J. Traynor neatly summarized the American position on how freedom of religion cannot imply freedom from law: “Although freedom of conscience and the freedom to believe are absolute, the freedom to act is not.”[101] But with respect to the religious use of animals within secular law and those acts, the US Supreme Court decision in the case of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah in 1993 upheld the right of Santeria adherents to practice ritual animal sacrifice, with Justice Anthony Kennedy stating in the decision: “religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection” (quoted by Justice Kennedy from the opinion by Justice Burger in Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division 450 U.S. 707 (1981)).[102]

In 2015, Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, refused to abide by the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing Same-sex marriage in the United States. When she refused to issue marriage licenses, she became embroiled in the Miller v. Davis lawsuit. Her actions caused attorney and author Roberta Kaplan to state that “Kim Davis is the clearest example of someone who wants to use a religious liberty argument to discriminate.”[103]

In 1962, the case of Engele v. Vitale went to court over the violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment resulting from a mandatory nondenominational prayer in New York public schools. The Supreme Court ruled in opposition to the state.[104]

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Abington School District v. Schempp. Edward Schempp sued the school district in Abington over the Pennsylvania law which required students to hear and sometimes read portions of the bible for their daily education. The court ruled in favor of Schempp and the Pennsylvania law was overturned.[105]

In 1968, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Epperson v. Arkansas. Susan Epperson, a high school teacher in Arkansas sued over a violation of religious freedom. The state had a law banning the teaching of evolution and the school Epperson worked for had provided curriculum which contained evolutionary theory. Epperson had to choose between violating the law or losing her job. The Supreme Court ruled to overturn the Arkansas law because it was unconstitutional.[106]

Children’s rights

The law in Germany provides the term of “religious majority” (Religiöse Mündigkeit) with a minimum age for minors to follow their own religious beliefs even if their parents don’t share those or don’t approve. Children 14 and older have the unrestricted right to enter or exit any religious community. Children 12 and older cannot be compelled to change to a different belief. Children 10 and older have to be heard before their parents change their religious upbringing to a different belief.[107] There are similar laws in Austria[108] and in Switzerland.[109]

International Religious Freedom Day

27 October is International Religious Freedom Day, in commemoration of the execution of the Boston martyrs, a group of Quakers executed by the Puritans on Boston Common for their religious beliefs under the legislature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1659–1661.[110] The US proclaimed 16 January Religious Freedom Day.[111]

Modern concerns

In its 2011 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom designated fourteen nations as “countries of particular concern”. The commission chairman commented that these are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers. The fourteen nations designated were Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Other nations on the commission’s watchlist include Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.[112]

There are concerns about the restrictions on public religious dress in some European countries (including the HijabKippah, and Christian cross).[113][114] Article 18 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights limits restrictions on freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs to those necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.[115] Freedom of religion as a legal concept is related to, but not identical with, religious toleration, separation of church and state, or secular state (laïcité).

Social hostilities and government restrictions

Freedom of religion by country (Pew Research Center study, 2009). Light yellow: low restriction; red: very high restriction on freedom of religion.

The Pew Research Center has performed studies on international religious freedom between 2009 and 2015, compiling global data from 16 governmental and non-governmental organizations–including the United Nations, the United States State Department, and Human Rights Watch–and representing over 99.5 percent of the world’s population.[116][117] In 2009, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population lived in countries classified as having heavy restrictions on freedom of religion.[116][117] This concerns restrictions on religion originating from government prohibitions on free speech and religious expression as well as social hostilities undertaken by private individuals, organisations and social groups. Social hostilities were classified by the level of communal violence and religion-related terrorism.

While most countries provided for the protection of religious freedom in their constitutions or laws, only a quarter of those countries were found to fully respect these legal rights in practice. In 75 countries governments limit the efforts of religious groups to proselytise and in 178 countries religious groups must register with the government. In 2013, Pew classified 30% of countries as having restrictions that tend to target religious minorities, and 61% of countries have social hostilities that tend to target religious minorities.[118]

The countries in North and South America reportedly had some of the lowest levels of government and social restrictions on religion, while The Middle East and North Africa were the regions with the highest. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran were the countries that top the list of countries with the overall highest levels of restriction on religion. Topping the Pew government restrictions index were Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Egypt, Burma, Maldives, Eritrea, Malaysia and Brunei.

Of the world’s 25 most populous countries, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan had the most restrictions, while Brazil, Japan, Italy, South Africa, the UK, and the US had some of the lowest levels, as measured by Pew.

Vietnam and China were classified as having high government restrictions on religion but were in the moderate or low range when it came to social hostilities. Nigeria, Bangladesh and India were high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions.

Restrictions on religion across the world increased between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. Restrictions in each of the five major regions of the world increased—including in the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, the two regions where overall restrictions previously had been declining. In 2010, Egypt, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories, Russia, and Yemen were added to the “very high” category of social hostilities.[119] The five highest social hostility scores were for Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Bangladesh.[120] In 2015, Pew published that social hostilities declined in 2013, but the harassment of Jews increased.[118]

In the Palestinian territories, Palestinians face tight restrictions on practicing the freedom of religion due to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In a report published by the Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, eyewitnesses reported systematic practices aiming at preventing young men and women from performing their prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. These practices include military orders issued by the Israeli Defense Army commander against specific Palestinians who have an effective role in Jerusalem, interrogating young men, and creating a secret blacklist of people who are prevented from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.[121]

See also

References…

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion

Blaine Amendment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Blaine Amendment was first a failed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-eight of the fifty states adopted provisions of Blaine in their state constitutions. These provisions forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. They were designed to prohibit aid to parochial schools, especially those operated by the Catholic Church in locations with large immigrant populations.[1] The Blaine Amendment emerged from a growing consensus among 19th-century American Protestants that public education must be free from sectarian or denominational control, while it also reflected nativist tendencies hostile to immigrants.[2]

Contents

Proposed federal amendment

President Ulysses S. Grant (1869–77) in a speech in 1875 to a veteran’s meeting, called for a Constitutional amendment that would mandate free public schools and prohibit the use of public money for sectarian schools. He was echoing nativist sentiments that were strong in his Republican Party.[3][4]

Grant laid out his agenda for “good common school education.” He attacked government support for “sectarian schools” run by religious organizations, and called for the defense of public education “unmixed with sectarian, pagan or atheistical dogmas.” Grant declared that “Church and State” should be “forever separate.” Religion, he said, should be left to families, churches, and private schools devoid of public funds.[5]

After Grant’s speech Republican Congressman James G. Blaine (1830–1893) proposed the amendment to the federal Constitution. Blaine, who actively sought Catholic votes when he ran for president in 1884, believed that possibility of hurtful agitation on the school question should be ended.[6] In 1875, the proposed amendment passed by a vote of 180 to 7 in the House of Representatives, but failed by four votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote in the United States Senate. It never became federal law.

The proposed text was:

No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations.

Amendments to state constitutions

Supporters of the proposal then turned their attention to state legislatures, where their efforts met with far greater success. Eventually, all but 10 states (ArkansasConnecticutMaineMarylandNew JerseyNorth CarolinaRhode IslandTennesseeVermont, and West Virginia) passed laws that meet the general criteria for designation as “Blaine amendments,” in that they ban the use of public funds to support sectarian private schools.[7] In some states the provisions in question were included in newly drafted constitutions, rather than adopted as amendments to an existing constitution.

The state Blaine amendments remain in effect in many states.[8][9] In 2012, 46% of voters endorsed a measure repealing Florida’s Blaine amendment. A 60% margin was required for adoption.[10] Voters have also rejected proposals to repeal their state-level Blaine amendments in New York (1967), Michigan (1970), Oregon (1972), Washington state (1975), Alaska (1976), Massachusetts (1986), and Oklahoma (2016).[11][12]

On April 1, 1974, voters in Louisiana approved a new constitution by a margin of 58 to 42 percent,[13] which repealed the Blaine amendment that was part of that state’s 1921 constitution.[14] Louisiana’s current 1974 constitution replaced it with a copy of the federal First Amendment’s no-establishment and free exercise clauses, in Article 1, Sec. 8 of its Declaration of Rights; in Article 8, Sec. 13(a), it also guarantees the provision of free textbooks and “materials of instruction” to all children attending elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana.[15]

Two other states, South Carolina and Utah, have also watered down their “no-aid to religion” constitutional clauses by removing from them the word “indirect,” leaving only a prohibition of direct aid or assistance to religious schools in these states.[16]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz et al eds. (1999). Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics. Greenwood. p. 29.
  3. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz et al eds. (1999). Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics. Greenwood. p. 29.
  4. ^ Tyler Anbinder says, “Grant was not an obsessive nativist. He expressed his resentment of immigrants and animus toward Catholicism only rarely. But these sentiments reveal themselves frequently enough in his writings and major actions as general….In the 1850s he joined a Know Nothing lodge and irrationally blamed immigrants for setbacks in his career.” Anbinder, “Ulysses S. Grant, Nativist,” Civil War History 43 (June 1997): 119–41. online
  5. ^ Deforrest (2003)
  6. ^ Steven Green (2010). The Second Disestablishment : Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford University Press. p. 296.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ Olorunnipa, Toluse (November 6, 2012). “Florida voters reject most constitutional amendments, including ‘religious freedom’ proposal”Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  11. ^ “The 27 Statewide Referenda on School Vouchers or Their Variants, 1966-2007”. Americans for Religious Liberty. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  12. ^ “Oklahoma Public Money for Religious Purposes, State Question 790 (2016)”. Ballotpedia.
  13. ^ “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2017-05-28. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  14. ^ Art.4, Sec. 8, Constitution of Louisiana, 1921: “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such, and no preference shall ever be given, nor any discrimination made against, any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.”
  15. ^ https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Louisiana_State__Constitution_(1974).
  16. ^ Article 11, Sec. 4 of the South Carolina Constitution states, “No money shall be paid from public funds nor shall the credit of the State or any of its political subdivisions be used for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.” And Utah’s constitution says, according to Article 10, Sec. 8, “Neither the state of Utah nor its political subdivisions may make any appropriation for the direct support of any school or educational institution controlled by any religious organization.” Regina Reaves Hayden, annotated by Steven K. Green, Esq. Stars in the Constitutional Constellation: Federal and State Constitutional Provisions on Church and State. Silver Spring, MD: Americans United Research Foundation, 1993, p. 109, 122.

Further reading

  • Deforrest, Mark Edward. “An Overview and Evaluation of State Blaine Amendments: Origins, Scope, and First Amendment Concerns,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 26, 2003 in Questia
  • Green, Steven K. “The Blaine Amendment Reconsidered,” 36 Am. J. Legal Hist. 38 (1992)

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaine_Amendment

Mr. Barr’s argument has been echoed throughout American history: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people” (John Adams). “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith” (Tocqueville). “In teaching this democratic faith to American children, we need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization. For ‘not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God’ shall our democracy be founded” (FDR). And so on.

That so many would become unhinged by Mr. Barr’s relatively modest contribution to the genre is highly revealing of the absolutism of secularist opponents determined to marginalize and destroy anyone who dares dissent from their own uncompromising orthodoxy.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1339, October 11, 2019, Story 1: Subpoenaed Former U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch  Testifies Behind Close Doors of House Intelligence Committee — Videos — Story 2: American People Not Interested In Single Party Impeachment Behind Closed Doors of Star Chamber Inquiry — Those Who Voted For Trump in 2016 Will Again Vote For Trump Again in 2020 — Elections and Ideas Have Consequences — Big Fail of Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers — Videos

Posted on October 17, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Human, Human Behavior, Impeachment, Labor Economics, Law, Life, Media, Monetary Policy, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Progressives, Public Corruption, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Spying, Subornation of perjury, Subversion, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Ukraine, United States of America, Videos, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Subpoenaed Former U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch  Testifies Behind Close Doors of House Intelligence Committee — Videos

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The ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine’s appearance is a breakthrough for Democrats seeking details in their ongoing impeachment inquiry of Trump.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

In her opening statement, obtained by POLITICO, Yovanovitch said Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told her that there was “a concerted campaign” against her — one based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.” Yovanovitch attended her deposition in defiance of the State Department’s orders.

“He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause,” Yovanovitch said of her conversation with Sullivan. Trump announced earlier Friday his intention to nominate Sullivan to be his new ambassador to Russia.

Yovanovich’s statement represented a top-to-bottom rebuke of the president, his associates, and his foreign policy — a rare takedown from a career diplomat who has sought to avoid the spotlight ever since her ouster. Yovanovitch expressed her “deep disappointment and dismay” at efforts to undermine trust in American institutions, and warned that “this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants” are running for the exits. She also said other countries would likely exploit the same dynamic that led to her ouster to undermine U.S. foreign policy.

Yovanovitch, who remains a State Department employee, was the latest firsthand witness to testify about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, as he ramped up efforts to pressure the country’s new president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 contender.

The chairs of the three House committees leading the investigation said the State Department and the White House had ordered Yovanovitch not to attend, prompting them to issue a subpoena. Yovanovitch, they said, agreed to comply with the subpoena over her agency’s objections, sitting for more than nine hours behind closed doors on Friday.

“Any efforts by Trump administration officials to prevent witness cooperation with the committees will be deemed obstruction of a co-equal branch of government and an adverse inference may be drawn against the president on the underlying allegations of corruption and cover-up,” said Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Unlike the most recent witness in the Ukraine matter to testify — Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations — Yovanovitch is still employed by the State Department, which raises questions about whether she will face punishment for defying orders. Legal experts and State Department officials have been trying to resolve the question of whether a congressional subpoena trumps a State Department direction to a Foreign Service officer.

“Her willingness when served with compulsory process to follow the law and testify — I think she is a courageous example for others,” Schiff told reporters.

According to her statement, Yovanovitch was told “abruptly” in late April to return to Washington “on the next plane.” Her removal came amid a campaign by Trump’s allies to accuse her of disloyalty, a charge she said was “fictitious.” Trump himself attacked Yovanovitch during a phone call with Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, which is at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Trump referred to her as “bad news,” according to a summary of the conversation released by the White House. He also said, without elaboration, that she was “going to go through some things.”

Yovanovitch’s appearance on Capitol Hill Friday was a breakthrough for House Democrats seeking firsthand details about Trump’s efforts — both directly and through his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani — to pressure Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden.

Yovanovitch said she had “minimal contacts” with Giuliani, adding: “I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me.” She speculated that Giuliani’s associates “believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

She also said U.S. interests are “harmed” when “private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good.” It appeared to be a reference to Giuliani’s efforts to leverage government officials to dig up dirt on Biden.

“The harm will come when bad actors in countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system,” she said in her opening statement. “In such circumstances, the only interests that will be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.”

According to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), an Intelligence Committee member, Yovanovitch at times “became overcome with emotion and had to stop and leave the room before recounting how she was thrown to the wolves.” He said Yovanovitch’s testimony “detailed a shocking abuse of presidential power.”

“It is clear to me that she was fired because she was a thorn in the side of those who sought to use the Ukrainian government for their own political and financial gain — and that includes President Trump,” Maloney added.

Some of the president’s closest Republican allies who sit on the committees spearheading the inquiry attended Yovanovitch’s deposition, including Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows. After the deposition concluded, they defended Trump from Yovanovitch’s charges and harangued Democrats for crafting a process whereby lawmakers are prohibited from discussing the substance of the testimony in public.

“The president of the United States is entitled to have the ambassador … he wants in that position,” Jordan said.

The State Department’s inspector general last Wednesday briefed congressional aides about an apparent attempt to smear the veteran civil servant. Two foreign-born associates of Giuliani — both indicted Thursday on campaign finance charges — have also been accused of seeking her removal at the behest of an unnamed Ukrainian government official.

Yovanovitch is a highly regarded diplomat within the U.S. foreign policy establishment. At the State Department, her treatment has unnerved many staffers, especially in the division that handles Europe. It also has damaged the standing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been unwilling to publicly defend Yovanovitch.

Morale in the department was rattled even further this week after it was announced that Mike McKinley, a veteran career diplomat who serves as a top adviser to Pompeo, was resigning. The reasons for his departure, confirmed to POLITICO by a senior Trump administration official, were not clear, but the timing is not helping the morale, people in the department say.

Just as Yovanovitch agreed to testify, Trump’s representative to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, announced Friday morning that he would sit for a deposition next week, after similarly receiving a congressional subpoena.

“Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” his attorneys said in a statement.

But Sondland’s lawyers also said he would not be able to comply with House Democrats’ subpoena for documents, saying that “federal law and State Department regulations prohibit him from producing documents concerning his official responsibilities.” Some Republicans have been eager to let Sondland, a firm Trump ally, testify in a bid to buttress Trump’s position.

Harold Koh, a former State Department legal adviser, said his interpretation is that a congressional subpoena would outweigh a State Department directive. He noted that it’s also possible that, facing such a situation, State could order a staffer to limit his or her testimony, for example, by not discussing classified information.

It’s not clear if State will or even would be allowed to punish Yovanovitch. But sometimes such punishments are veiled. Yovanovitch could find herself given low-ranking assignments in the future, with no official reason as to why. There already are at least two ongoing federal investigations into whether, under Trump, State Department career employees have been victims of political retaliation, including being given low-level roles.

The State Department did not respond to a query Friday as to whether Yovanovitch or Sondland would face punishments.

Sondland’s name emerged in a series of text messages provided to House investigators by Volker, the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations who resigned days before testifying last week. In the text chain, Sondland, Volker and Bill Taylor — currently the top U.S. envoy in Ukraine — discussed apparent efforts by Trump and Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, perhaps by withholding a planned White House visit or military aid.

Yovanovitch said she was not involved in discussions about Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, or about the military aid, which was temporarily withheld earlier this year. House Democrats are examining whether the critical funds were frozen as a way to convince Zelensky to target Trump’s political rovals.

Volker, Sondland and Yovanovitch were among several senior State Department officials listed in a schedule of depositions that accompanied a subpoena for documents delivered late last month to Pompeo by the three House Democratic chairmen leading the impeachment probe.

Pompeo rebuffed the committee leaders in a letter last Tuesday, signaling that he would not comply with their requests and writing that he would “use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.”

Quint Forgey contributed to this story.

https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016d-bbc2-d25f-af7f-ffcab0070001

Fired diplomat unloads on Trump and Giuliani: Former ambassador to Ukraine defies bid to gag her and tells Congress she was ordered home after ‘concerted campaign based on false claims by people with clearly questionable motives’

  • U.S. envoy to the EU Gordon Sondland says he will testify to Congress about President Trump’s Ukraine scandal next week 
  • The State Department had ordered him not to participate in hearings
  • Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave closed-door testimony to Democrat-run House Intelligence Committee today
  • President has said he had ‘heard’ that Yovanovitch was ‘bad news’
  • Democrats want to know if she was recalled to Washington because she refused to push a corruption investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the ambassador appeared under subpoena 

The deputy secretary of state, Marie Yovanovitch said in written testimony, told her that the State Department ‘had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018 

And in the latest development in the fierce back-and-worth between the White House and Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appeared under subpoena after the State Department directed her not to appear. 

‘This is the latest example of the Administration’s efforts to conceal the facts from the American people and obstruct our lawful and constitutionally-authorized impeachment inquiry,’ three House committee chairs said in a statement. They issued a subpoena to compel the testimony, prompting Yovanovitch to cooperate.

Yovanovitch defended herself against what she called ‘unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,’ including a rumor that she had handed Ukraine’s top prosecutor a list of people who were not to be charged with crimes. 

She also dismissed public allegations that she had ‘supposedly told the Embassy team to ignore the President’s orders “since he was going to be impeached”.’ 

She rejected the contention that she was running interference for Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has claimed in what he has cast as an effort to protect the Bidens and Hillary Clinton while undermining Trump.

‘Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,’ the career diplomat who served presidents from both parties said.

Yovanovich said she was ‘incredulous’ that the administration chose remove her from her post in May.

President Donald Trump recalled Marie Yovanovitch (center), the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; she talked to lawmakers behind closed doors on Friday

President Donald Trump recalled Marie Yovanovitch (center), the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; she talked to lawmakers behind closed doors on Friday

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, arrived Friday for Yovanovitch's deposition

Trump’s lawyers had promised to stonewall a congressional impeachment inquiry. Yovanovitch’s appearance behind closed doors was an early test of that defiance.

Yovanovich categorically denied the connection, put forth my a group of allies who pushed for her ouster, that she had stood in the way of the former prosecutor Viktor Lutsenko’s way when it came to investigations.

‘As for events during my tenure in Ukraine, I want to categorically state that I have never myself or through others, directly or indirectly, ever directed, suggested, or in any other way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine (or elsewhere) to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption,’ she said.

‘As Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General has recently acknowledged, the notion that I created or disseminated a “do not prosecute” list is completely false—a story that Mr.Lutsenko, himself, has since retracted.’

She also disputed having ever run down President Trump. Trump in a transcript of his July call with the president of Ukraine called the ambassador ‘bad news.’

‘Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump. I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the Embassy team to ignore the President’s orders “since he was going to be impeached.” That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my Embassy colleagues or to anyone else,’ she writes.

After daily revelations about efforts by President Trump and his allies to use U.S. government officials to push Ukraine to conduct politically sensitive probes, Yovanovich wrote: ‘Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within.’

She expressed her shock at her own sudden removal.

‘Although I understand that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,’ she writes.

‘To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian president. This was precisely the time when continuity in the Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.’

According to Yovanovich’s account, she was instructed to return to Washington ‘on the next plane’ in April of this year – just a month after being asked to stay on until 2020.

She said she tried to find out why she was forced out, and contacted the deputy secretary of state – John Sullivan.

‘He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador,’ according to Yovanovich.

‘He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.’  

The Trump administration announced Friday the president had nominated Sullivan to serve as the next ambassador to Russia. As such, he will face a confirmation hearing where senators will get the chance to ask him about State’s Ukraine dealings.

‘Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within. State Department leadership, with Congress, needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees,’ Yovanovich wrote. ‘We need to rebuild diplomacy as the first resort to advance America’s interests and the front line of America’s defense,’ she wrote.

Although Rudy Giuliani has publicly connected her to Ukrainian ‘collusion’ in 2016, Yovanovich said she has never spoken to him about the subjects at hand.

‘With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. ‘I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,’ she said.

Campaign for Yovanovich’s ouster 

Yovanovich was the subject of a high-powered pressure campaign pushing for her removal.

In one key development, Lutsenko put forward the claim in an article by The Hill’s John Solomon that Yovanovich ‘gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute. Lutsenko later walked back the claim, but it gained currency with a group of Trump loyalists.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted March 24: ‘”We need more ⁦@RichardGrenell’s and less of these jokers as ambassadors,’ referencing the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

Trump ally Joseph DiGenova said on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s program that same month: ‘The current United States ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has bad- mouthed the President of the United States to Ukrainian officials and has told them not to listen or worry about Trump policy because he’s going to be impeached’ – the claim she explicitly denied Friday.

By July 25, Trump would tell Ukrainian president Zelenksy in an infamous call: ‘The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.’

Zelensky agreed with Trump ‘100 per cent.’

Then the president added cryptically of Yovanovich: ‘She’s going to go through some things.’

Also knocking Yovanovich was Texas Rep. Pete Sessions – who has a connection to two Rudy Giuiliani associates who were indicted Thursday on campaign finance charges.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman aided Giuliani’s unproven theory about Ukrainian electoral collusion. They also gave $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC (the feds allege it wasn’t actually their money) that spent $3 million to benefit Sessions.

Soon after Parnas and indicted co-conspirator David Correia met with Sessions at the Capitol in 2018, Parnas wrote a letter to Sec. State Mike Pompeo pushing the removal of Yovanovich.

Administration talking points obtained by CNN said House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff was putting Yovanovich in a ‘precarious position’ by questioning her in private without an administration lawyer who would advise her on what information may be classified.

Congressional lawmakers weren’t sure Yovanovich would show up Friday, after the White House said earlier this week it would refuse to cooperate with what Trump has termed ‘a kangaroo court.’

The inquiry was launched after a whistleblower complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic contender for the right to face Trump in the November 2020 election.

Donald Trump recalled Yovanovitch to Washington, and Democrats want to know if he made the move because she was suspicious of his desire to see Joe Biden investigated for corruption

Donald Trump recalled Yovanovitch to Washington, and Democrats want to know if he made the move because she was suspicious of his desire to see Joe Biden investigated for corruption

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable foreign ally to dig up dirt on a domestic political opponent for his own political benefit. Trump has denied he did anything wrong on the call.

On Thursday, Parnas a Fruman, two foreign-born Florida businessmen who had helped Giuliani investigate the Bidens were arrested in what prosecutors said was a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates.

The pair, Ukraine-born Parnas and Belarus-born Fruman, were arrested at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna. Prosecutors said they conspired to contribute foreign money, including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman, to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence.

The two had donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee called America First Action in May 2018, and the money was falsely reported as coming from a purported natural gas company set up to conceal its true source, according to the indictment.

Trump remains defiant in face of impeachment during Minneapolis rally

The testimony from Yovanovitch is the first of several depositions of key figures planned by the House committees spearheading the probe, and whether she makes her appearance will offer an early gauge of White House cooperation.

Yovanovitch, described by colleagues as a consummate professional, became the target in March of allegations – vehemently denied by the State Department – that she gave a Ukrainian prosecutor a list of people not to prosecute.

According to a White House summary, Trump described her as ‘bad news’ to Zelensky in the July call in which he sought Zelinsky’s help to investigate Biden and his son. ‘She’s going to go through some things,’ Trump added.

One of the foreign-born businessman arrested on Thursday, Parnas, sought the help of a U.S. congressman – identified by a person familiar with the matter as Republican Pete Sessions – to get Trump to remove Yovanovitch, according to the indictment.

Giuliani told Reuters last week he had provided information to both Trump and the State Department about Yovanovitch, who he suggested was biased against Trump.

Sessions lost his House seat from Texas last year to a Democrat. In a statement quoted by Politico, he said his motivation in urging the removal of Yovanovitch was his belief that ‘political appointees should not be disparaging the president, especially while serving overseas.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7561585/Former-Ukraine-envoy-scheduled-testify-Trump-impeachment-probe.html

 

Former ambassador testifies that Trump pushed for her ouster

For only the fourth time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives has started a presidential impeachment inquiry. House committees are trying to determine if President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent.

Here’s a quick summary of the latest news:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

– Testifying in defiance of Trump’s ban, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators Friday that Trump himself had pressured the State Department to oust her from her post and get her out of the country.

– A simple yes-or-no question keeps tripping up Senate Republicans: Should the president ask foreign countries to investigate political rivals?

– As the threat of impeachment looms, Trump is digging in and taking solace in the base that helped him get elected: conservative evangelical Christians who laud his commitment to enacting their agenda.

President Donald Trump adjusts his jacket as he walks toward reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, before departing for a campaign rally in Lake Charles, La. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nearly all House Democrats – 229 out of 235 – say they support the inquiry that could lead to an impeachment vote against Trump, according to an AP survey of members. Add Republican-turned-independent Justin Amash of Michigan, who also backs the inquiry, and the total rises to 230. Democrats need 218 votes to pass articles of impeachment.

Only four Democrats have said they oppose the probe: Reps. Anthony Brindisi of New York, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jefferson Van Drew of New Jersey.

Rep. Jared Golden of Maine is undecided about the probe and Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia has not stated her position to the AP.

All these Democrats have one thing in common: Donald Trump won their districts in 2016.

__

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified to congressional investigators behind closed doors Friday, but her prepared opening remarks were obtained by the AP. In them, she expresses dismay at being recalled from Kyiv after learning that Trump had “lost confidence” in her and had pressed the State Department to remove her.

http://apne.ws/3feeyLS

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, left, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, as she is scheduled to testify before congressional lawmakers on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, left, arrives on Capitol Hill, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington, as she is scheduled to testify before congressional lawmakers on Friday as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

A controversial right-leaning reporter at the center of the Trump-Ukraine scandal emailed a copy of one of his stories—before it was published—to a top ally of Rudy Giuliani, as well as two pro-Trump investigators attempting to dig up negative information on the Biden family.

In March, The Hill’s investigative reporter John Solomon published a story claiming that the U.S. government had pressured Ukrainian prosecutors to drop a probe of a group funded by the Obama administration and liberal billionaire George Soros. The story was published at 6 p.m., according to a timestamp on the paper’s website. Solomon himself didn’t share it on his Twitter account until 6:56 p.m. that night. The earliest cache of the story in the Internet Archive is from 7:42 p.m. Eastern time.

But hours before that, at 12:52 p.m. Eastern time, Solomon appears to have sent a version of the article to Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and the Trumpworld lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. The email was titled “Outline of Soros reporting, including embedded documents” and included the headline and the text of his piece.

Natasha Bertrand

@NatashaBertrand

Here’s the page from the packet that @ErinBanco shared yesterday (with emails blacked out by me) https://twitter.com/lachlan/status/1179564577845104640 

View image on Twitter

Lachlan Markay

@lachlan

So @ErinBanco and @maxwelltani got a page from the State Department oppo dossier that Rudy fed to Pompeo. It appears to show John Solomon sending an advance copy of one of his Ukraine stories to Joe diGenova, Victoria Toensing, and Lev Parnas https://www.thedailybeast.com/biden-ukraine-dirt-file-has-private-email-between-john-solomon-and-rudy-allies 

274 people are talking about this

Two congressional sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Solomon’s email was part of a roughly 50-page package of material that was turned over to lawmakers on Wednesday by the State Department’s Inspector General’s office. Reuters was the first to report the email’s inclusion in the packet.

That material, according to congressional sources, appeared to be a “misinformation” effort meant to smear the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and the Bidens. CNN reported on Wednesday that Giuliani had conceded that the information in the package originated, at least in part, with him.

“They told me they were going to investigate it,” Giuliani said to CNN, referring to a call he got from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Neither Solomon nor The Hill responded to request for comment from The Daily Beast. But in a series of tweets Wednesday night, Solomon said he sent the email “as a reporter fact-checking my work”—although the email contained the text of a fully drafted story, not isolated items that needed vetting.

“The email released to the public appears to omit the opening line of my originally sent email,” Solomon claimed in the tweets. “Here is the passage that preceded the summary of my reporting. ‘Appreciate eyeballing for accuracy. Want to be fair and accurate.’ That’s not scandalous. It’s good journalism.”

John Solomon@jsolomonReports

Today I understand the State Department IG released a private email I sent as a reporter fact-checking my work before I published a story back in March. I typically spend a long period of time before any column or news story fact-checking information with numerous people.

6,715 people are talking about this

Emails sent to the addresses Solomon used for Parnas, diGenova and Toensing did not bounce back but were not returned.

Solomon’s email to Parnas, diGenova, and Toensing suggests even stronger ties between the Hill columnist and the Trump team tasked with digging up dirt on Biden abroad. And it raises questions about the degree to which pro-Trump figures were working directly with sympathetic journalists to try and dig up and spread dirt on Biden and like-minded Democrats.

Solomon’s March 29 story about the U.S. embassy in Ukraine makes no direct mention of Parnas, diGenova, or Toensing—instead, the piece cites a letter about the probe from U.S. embassy official George Kent, and claims by former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko that the U.S. pressured him to halt an investigation into the Soros- and U.S.-backed group. But the three individuals have emerged as key players in the lead-up to Trump’s request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to investigate the Bidens.

Parnas, a Giuliani friend and golf buddy, was a key player in connecting the former New York City mayor to former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, whom Biden and other top Western government entities and officials had hoped to push out because of his perceived inaction tackling corruption.

DiGenova and Toensing have been some of the president’s most trusted outside allies for years. During  Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation last year, the duo was briefly mentioned as possibilities to join the president’s legal defense team. On Sunday, Fox News reported that diGenova and Toensing had been working alongside Giuliani to dig up dirt on Biden—a revelation that the New York Times had noted months prior.

Solomon’s work has come under intense scrutiny following the revelation that a series of his stories about Ukraine may have helped spark events leading to Trump’s request that President Zelensky team up with Giuliani to investigate the Bidens.

On March 20, Solomon published an interview with Lutsenko in which the ex-prosecutor accused the former vice president of having pressured the then-Ukrainian president in 2016 to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor, Shokin. The insinuation, according to Lutsenko, was that Biden hoped to quash an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company connected to his son Hunter Biden. Despite Lutsenko’s retraction of some of the claims, and conclusion that Hunter Biden “did not violate any Ukrainian laws,” the incident was cited in a U.S. government whistleblower’s complaint as one of the circumstances that eventually led to Trump’s call with Zelensky.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported new details Wednesday night about Giuliani’s dirt-digging on another front: He’s been consulting via a lawyer with Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort to inquire about the so-called black ledger that reportedly revealed a Ukrainian political party had funneled millions to Manafort. Giuliani believes the ledger was part of a conspiracy by Ukrainians to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton

https://www.thedailybeast.com/biden-ukraine-dirt-file-has-private-email-between-john-solomon-and-rudy-allies

Devin Nunes: Lawmakers investigating rumors of ‘strange requests’ to monitor journalists

Rep. Devin Nunes said lawmakers have been told about “strange requests” to use government resources to monitor journalists.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee stressed Wednesday evening that he has not confirmed the allegations but is seeking answers from the State Department.

During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Nunes talked about a letter by former GOP congressman Pete Sessions to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he said raised concerns that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was “not serving the Trump administration well” and was removed from her post earlier this year.

“We also have concerns that possibly they were monitoring press from different journalists and others,” Nunes said. “That we don’t know, but we have people who are giving us this information and we’re going to ask these questions to the State Department and hopefully they’re going to get the answers before she comes in on Friday.”

With Yovanovitch set to testify before the House this week as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry spurred by Trump’s communications with Ukraine, Nunes said Republicans “will give her an opportunity to answer these questions.”

Hannity said he has heard from multiple sources who “believe there is evidence that government resources were used to monitor communications” of American journalists, including new Fox News contributor John Solomon, related to Ukraine and posited that Yovanovitch may have been involved.

But Nunes would not get into specifics and noted that if there was some sort of surveillance, it may have been done properly.

“What I’ve heard — and I want to be clear — there’s a difference. What I’ve heard is that there were strange requests, irregular requests to monitor not just one journalist, but multiple journalists. Now perhaps that was OK. Perhaps there was some reason for that — that it can be explained away. But that’s what we know and that’s what we’re going to be looking into,” the California Republican said.

Solomon appeared on the show after Nunes and also preached caution. He said he “received multiple contacts from the intelligence community suggesting that there may have been inappropriate monitoring of my communications” but added that it’s not yet clear what exactly transpired and that what may have happened was just monitoring of his social media.

“I think we need to dig in more. Ambassador Yovanovitch should be given an opportunity and Secretary of State Pompeo should tell us what happened,” Solomon said.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/devin-nunes-lawmakers-investigating-rumors-of-strange-requests-to-monitor-journalists

Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.

The timing of Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s appointment to Burisma’s board has been highlighted in the past, by The New York Times in December 2015 and in a 2016 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor’s probe of Burisma and his son’s role. They noted that:

  • Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
  • Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
  • Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.

President Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

According to Schweizer’s book, Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.

But the Ukrainian investigation and Joe Biden’s effort to fire the prosecutor overseeing it has escaped without much public debate.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases, and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clintonwas running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin — began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.”

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said.

Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office, confirmed to me in an interview that part of the Burisma investigation was reopened in 2018, after Joe Biden made his remarks. “We were able to start this case again,” Kholodnytskyi said.

But he said the separate Ukrainian police agency that investigates corruption has dragged its feet in gathering evidence. “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Ukraine is in the middle of a hard-fought presidential election, is a frequent target of intelligence operations by neighboring Russia and suffers from rampant political corruption nationwide. Thus, many Americans might take the restart of the Burisma case with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.

The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.

As for Joe Biden’s intervention in getting Lutsenko’s predecessor fired in the midst of the Burisma investigation, Lutsenko suggested that was a matter to discuss with Attorney General Barr: “Of course, I would be happy to have a conversation with him about this issue.”

As the now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case.

Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/436816-joe-bidens-2020-ukrainian-nightmare-a-closed-probe-is-revived

Marie Yovanovitch

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Marie Yovanovitch
Marie L. Yovanovitch.jpg
9th United States Ambassador to Ukraine
In office
August 29, 2016 – May 20, 2019
President Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded by Geoffrey Pyatt
Succeeded by Kristina Kvien (Acting)
United States Ambassador to Armenia
In office
September 22, 2008 – June 9, 2011
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by John Evans
Succeeded by John Heffern
United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan
In office
February 4, 2005 – February 4, 2008
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Stephen Young
Succeeded by Tatiana Gfoeller
Personal details
Born 1958 (age 60–61)
MontrealCanada
Education Princeton University (BA)
National Defense University (MS)

Marie Louise Yovanovitch (born 1958)[1] is a member of the senior ranks of the United States Foreign Service who served as the 9th United States Ambassador to Ukraine. She was nominated to the post on May 18, 2016, to replace Geoff Pyatt,[2][3] was sworn in on August 18, 2016,[4] and was recalled as of May 20, 2019.[5] She is a diplomat in residence at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University.[6][7]

Yovanovitch was the United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from November 20, 2004, to February 4, 2008, and the United States Ambassador to Armenia from August 1, 2008, to June 3, 2011.[1]

Contents

Early life

Marie Yovanovitch is the daughter of Mikhail Yovanovitch and Nadia (Theokritoff) Yovanovitch.[8] Her paternal grandparents were of Russian Serbian origin. She was born in Canada, moved to Connecticut when she was three, and became a naturalized American citizen at age eighteen. She grew up speaking Russian.[6]

Yovanovitch is a graduate of Kent School, a private boarding school in Connecticut, and Princeton University, where she earned a B.A. in History and Russian Studies in 1980. She studied at the Pushkin Institute (1980) and was awarded an M.S. from the National Defense University‘s National War College in 2001.[9]

Career

Yovanovitch joined the U.S. foreign service in 1986. Her first foreign assignment, in Ottawa, was followed by overseas assignments including MoscowLondon, and Mogadishu.[9] From May 1998 to May 2000 she served as the Deputy Director of the Russian Desk in the U.S. Department of State.

From August 2001 to June 2004, as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in KievUkraine.[10] From August 2004 to May 2005 she was the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Yovanovitch was nominated on June 3, 2005 to serve as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kyrgyz Republic, and confirmed by the United States Senate on June 30, 2005. She was the United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from November 20, 2004, to February 4, 2008, and the United States Ambassador to Armenia from August 1, 2008, to June 3, 2011.

Yovanovitch was nominated to be the ambassador to Ukraine on May 18, 2016, to replace Geoff Pyatt, and was sworn in on August 18, 2016.[2][3][4]

Trump–Ukraine controversy

In May 2019, the Trump administration recalled Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine.[11] Although Yovanovitch was respected within the national security community for her efforts to encourage Ukraine to tackle corruption, she had been accused, without firm evidence, by some conservative media outlets and by President Trump‘s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, of being part of a conspiracy involving anti-corruption probes in Ukraine and efforts by the Trump administration to investigate ties between Ukrainian officials and the Hillary Clinton campaign.[6][12] [13] However, the U.S. State Department declared some of the allegations by Yuriy Lutsenko to be “an outright fabrication.”[12]

Relying upon unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported that Yovanovitch was recalled for undermining and obstructing Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 U.S. presidential election candidate Joe Biden.[14]

On October 11, 2019, Yovanovitch gave a closed-door testimony before the House Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence. She released a ten-page opening statement in which she wrote:

Understanding Ukraine’s recent history, including the significant tension between those who seek to transform the country and those who wish to continue profiting from the old ways, is of critical importance to understanding the events you asked me here today to describe. Many of those events—and the false narratives that emerged from them—resulted from an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system, and Americans who either did not understand that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.[15]

See also

References …

Sources

External links

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Stephen Young
United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Tatiana Gfoeller
Preceded by
John Evans
United States Ambassador to Armenia
2008–2011
Succeeded by
John Heffern
Preceded by
Geoffrey Pyatt
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
2016–2019
Succeeded by
Kristina Kvien
Acting

Hunter Biden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Hunter Biden
R. Hunter Biden at Center for Strategic & International Studies.jpg

Vice Chairman of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation
In office
July 26, 2006 – January 29, 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Succeeded by Jeffrey Moreland
Personal details
Born
Robert Hunter Biden

February 4, 1970 (age 49)
WilmingtonDelaware, U.S.

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
Kathleen Buhle
(m. 1993; div. 2017)
Melissa Cohen (m. 2019)
Domestic partner Hallie Olivere (2016–2019)
Children 3
Relatives Joe Biden (father)
See Biden family
Education Georgetown University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service 2013–2014
Rank US Navy O1 infobox.svg Ensign
Unit United States Navy Reserve

Robert Hunter Biden (born February 4, 1970) is an American lawyer and lobbyist who is the second son of former U.S. Vice PresidentJoe Biden. He co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners, an international consulting firm.

In 2019, Biden resigned from the Board of Directors of a Chinese company.[1][2]

Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian natural gas producer, from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that Joe Biden had sought the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to protect Hunter Biden from investigation.[3][4][5] However, Hunter Biden was not under investigation,[6] and there is no evidence of wrongdoing done by him in Ukraine.[7] Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens by withholding foreign aid[8][9][10] triggered an impeachment inquiry in September 2019.

Contents

Early life

Biden was born on February 4, 1970,[11] in Wilmington, Delaware. He is the second son of Neilia Biden (née Hunter) and Joe Biden, the latter of whom represented Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973 to 2009 and served as Vice President of the United States from 2009 to 2017.[4] Hunter Biden’s mother and younger sister, Naomi, were killed in an automobile crash on December 18, 1972.[12][13] Biden and his older brother, Beau, were also seriously injured in that crash.[4] Hunter and Beau Biden later encouraged their father to marry again,[14] and Jill Jacobs became Hunter and Beau’s stepmother in 1977.[4] Biden’s half-sister, Ashley, was born in 1981.[15]

Like his father and brother, Biden attended Archmere Academy, a Catholic high school in Claymont, Delaware. In 1992, he graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in history. During the year after he graduated from college, he served as a Jesuit volunteer at a church in Portland, Oregon, where he met and eventually married Kathleen Buhle. After attending Georgetown University Law Center for one year, he transferred to Yale Law School, graduating in 1996.[4]

Career

Early positions, 1996–2009

After graduating from law school, Biden took a position at MBNA America, a major bank holding company which was also a major contributor to his father’s political campaigns. By 1998, he had risen to the rank of executive vice president.[4] From 1998 to 2001, he served in the United States Department of Commerce, focusing on ecommerce policy.[16] Biden became a lobbyist in 2001, co-founding the firm of Oldaker, Biden & Belair.[17] According to Adam Entous of The New Yorker, Biden and his father established a relationship in which “Biden wouldn’t ask Hunter about his lobbying clients, and Hunter wouldn’t tell his father about them.”[4] In 2006, Biden and his uncle, James Biden, attempted to buy Paradigm, a hedge-fund group, but the deal fell apart before completion.[4] That same year, Biden was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak; he was on the board of Amtrak from 2006 to 2009.[16]

Later career, 2009–present

After his father was elected as vice president in 2008, Biden resigned from his position on the Amtrak board of directors and left his career as a lobbyist.[4] Along with Christopher Heinz, stepson of John Kerry, and Devon Archer, Biden founded the investment firm Rosemont Seneca.[17]

He also became an attorney with the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP,[4] and founded Eudora Global, a venture capital firm.[15]

U.S. Navy Reserve

In May 2013, Biden was selected as a direct commission officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, receiving an age-related waiver and a second waiver due to a past drug-related incident.[18] Joe Biden administered the commissioning oath to Hunter Biden in a White House ceremony.[4]

The following month, Biden tested positive for cocaine during a urinalysis test and was subsequently discharged.[19] According to Biden, he had unwittingly consumed the cocaine after being given cigarettes he believed were surreptitiously laced with the drug.[4] He chose not to appeal the matter as it was unlikely that the panel would believe his explanation given his history with drugs, and also due to the likelihood of news leaking to the press, though it was ultimately revealed to The Wall Street Journal by a Navy official who provided information to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.[4][18]

BHR Partners

In 2013, Biden, Devon Archer, and Chinese businessman Jonathan Li founded BHR Partners, a business focused on investing Chinese capital in companies based outside of China.[4] In September 2019, President Trump falsely claimed that Biden “walk[ed] out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund” and earned “millions” of dollars from the BHR deal, while Trump was also accusing Biden of malfeasance in Ukraine.[20][21] Trump publicly called on China to investigate Hunter Biden’s business activities there while his father was vice president.[22][23] On October 13, 2019, citing “the barrage of false charges” by the President, Hunter Biden announced his resignation from the Board of Directors for BHR Partners effective at the end of the month.[24][25] According to his lawyer, Biden had “not received any compensation for being on BHR’s board of directors,” nor had he received any return on his equity share in BHR.[26] Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, told The Washington Post that BHR Partners had been “capitalized from various sources with a total of 30 million RMB [Chinese Renminbi], or about $4.2 million, not $1.5 billion.”[20]

Burisma Holdings

In the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolutionMykola Zlochevsky faced a money laundering investigation,[27][28] and his company Burisma Holdings, the largest natural gas producer in Ukraine,[4] assembled a “high-profile international board” in response.[29][28] Chris Heinz, John Kerry‘s stepson, opposed his partners Devon Archer and Hunter Biden joining the board in 2014 due to the reputational risk.[28] Among those who joined the board of directors in April 2014 were Biden, Archer and former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski.[30] Biden served on the board of Burisma until his term expired in April 2019,[31] receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month in some months.[17][32][33] Because Vice President Biden played a major role in U.S. policy towards Ukraine, some Ukrainian anti-corruption advocates[5][34] and Obama administration officials expressed concern that Hunter Biden’s having joined the board could create the appearance of a conflict of interest and undermine Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption work in Ukraine.[4][28] While serving as vice president, Joe Biden joined other Western leaders in encouraging the government of Ukraine to fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin,[3][35] who was widely criticized for blocking corruption investigations.[36][37] The Ukrainian parliament voted to remove Shokin in March 2016.[38][39]

In 2019, President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Vice President Biden had actually sought the dismissal of Shokin in order to protect his son and Burisma Holdings,[40][5] however, there is no evidence that this was what happened.[3]There has also been no evidence produced of wrongdoing done by Hunter Biden in Ukraine.[7] The Ukrainian anti-corruption investigation agency stated in September 2019 that the investigation of Burisma was restricted solely to investigating the period of 2010 to 2012, before Hunter Biden joined Burisma in 2014.[6] Shokin in May 2019 claimed that he was fired because he was actively investigating Burisma,[41] but U.S. and Ukrainian officials have stated that the investigation into Burisma was dormant at the time of Shokin’s dismissal.[28][41][42] Ukrainian sources have maintained that Shokin was fired for failing to address corruption, including within his office.[34][43]

In July 2019, Trump ordered the freezing of $391 million in military aid[44] shortly before a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked Zelensky to initiate an investigation of the Bidens.[45][46] Trump falsely told Zelensky that “[Joe] Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution” of his son; Joe Biden did not stop any prosecution, did not brag about doing so, and there is no evidence his son was ever under investigation.[47] On September 24, 2019, the United States House of Representatives initiated a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump on the grounds that he may have sought to use U.S. foreign aid and the Ukrainian government to damage Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.[48][49]

Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko said in May 2019 that Hunter Biden had not violated Ukrainian law. After Lutsenko was replaced by Ruslan Ryaboshapka as prosecutor general, Lutsenko and Ryaboshapka said in September and October 2019 respectively that they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.[3][50][51]

CEFC China Energy

Biden helped Chinese businessman Ye Jianming negotiate a deal for Ye’s company CEFC China Energy to make a $40 million investment in a liquefied natural gas project at Monkey Island, Louisiana. Ye gifted Biden a 2.8 carat diamond, which Biden said he gave away. Biden agreed to legally represent Ye’s deputy, Patrick Ho, for investigations in the United States. Ho was eventually arrested and jailed in the U.S. for bribery. In 2018, the CEFC deal collapsed after Ye was detained in China, reportedly for corruption.[4][17]

Personal life

Biden married Kathleen Buhle in 1993,[4] and they have three children, Naomi, Finnegan, and Maisy.[15] Biden and Kathleen separated in 2015 and divorced in 2017.[52] In 2016, he began dating Hallie Biden, the widow of his brother, Beau;[53] they ended their relationship by early 2019.[54] In May 2019, Biden married Melissa Cohen, a South-African filmmaker.[55][56]

Biden spent decades struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. He has described his experiences as so: “There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel. You don’t get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.”[57][58]

See also

References …

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Biden

Alexandra Chalupa

Alexandra Chalupa, Melanne Verveer, and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s Ukraine linkages. Chalupa held multiple intelligence briefing and debriefing sessions regarding president Trump with Okana Shulyar and other Ukrainian embassy staff.[1]

Alexandra Chalupa it a Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee. Chalupa met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC in an effort to expose ties between Paul Manafort and Russia. The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records.

In 1998, Alexandra Chalupa gained employment at the Office of Public Liaison as an intern in the Clinton White House. Chalupa worked as executive director for Democrats Abroad in the 2000s. In 2004, Alexandra was hired as a staffer / consultant at the Democratic National Committee. She also became headed the Democratic Heritage Council much later.

In 2014, the U.S. United With Ukraine Coalition was founded by Alexandra Chalupa.

In 2016 led the DNC’s opposition research into any Trump ties to Russia.[2] Chalupa organized social media campaigns against Trump. One of those efforts encouraged activists to share the Twitter hashtag, #TreasonousTrump.

Ukrainian collusion

See also: Biden-Ukraine collusion scandal

According to the Kyiv Post,

“Chalupa said she first came across Manafort after she organized a meeting with then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Security Council and leaders of Ukrainian-American organizations in January 2014, to brief the White House about the Euromaidan Revolution that drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power on Feb. 22, 2014.”

In late 2015, Alexandra Chalupa expanded her research into Paul Manafort to include the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russia.

In January 2016, Chalupa informed an unknown senior DNC official that she believed there was a Russian connection with the Trump campaign. Notably, this theme would be picked up by the Clinton campaign in the summer of 2016. Chalupa also told the official to expect Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign.

Chalupa’s forecast proved prescient, as Manafort reached out to the Trump campaign shortly after, on Feb. 29, 2016, through a mutual acquaintance, Thomas J. Barrack Jr. According to Manafort, he and Trump hadn’t been in communication for years until the Trump campaign responded to Manafort’s offer. On March 28, 2016, Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign. He was reportedly initially hired to lead the Trump campaign’s delegate effort, but was soon promoted, and on May 19, 2016, Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist.

Just days prior to Manafort’s hiring, on March 24, 2016, Chalupa spoke with the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, and told him of concerns she had regarding Manafort. Reportedly, her concerns were initially rebuffed as Chaly didn’t think Trump had a real chance of winning the presidency.

According to Politico, the day after Manafort’s hiring, Chalupa provided a briefing on “Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia” to the DNC’s communications staff. Notably, “with the DNC’s encouragement,” Chalupa asked the Ukrainian Embassy staff to attempt to arrange an interview with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and have him discuss Manafort’s ties to former Ukrainian President Yanukovych. The Ukrainian Embassy reportedly declined the request but, according to Chalupa, did begin working with reporters who were researching Trump.

Andrii Telizhenko, who worked in the Ukrainian Embassy under one of Chaly’s top aides, Oksana Shulyar, has repeatedly stated that Chalupa was working closely with the Ukrainian Embassy to obtain information on Trump. In an interview with the Gateway Pundit, Telizhenko said he met Chalupa in the spring of 2016 at the Ukrainian Embassy, where Chalupa told him she was “a DNC operative working for the DNC” and the “Clinton campaign.” Telizhenko continued, noting that Chalupa said she was “collecting any dirt or background information on Manafort, presidential candidate Trump or any other campaign official from the Trump campaign” and was looking for “connections to Russia or the FSB or Russian mob, or Ukrainian mob, etc.” According to Telizhenko, Chalupa said the information would “be used for committee hearings in Congress under a congresswoman.”[3] Telizhenko didn’t disclose the identity of the congresswoman, noting, “I don’t want to mention her name on record.”

In January 2017, Telizhenko told Politico that Chalupa said, “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.”

In a recent tweet, Telizhenko summed the situation succinctly, noting

“The Clinton campaign had a Democratic operative working with Ukraine’s embassy in Washington to research Trump’s Russia ties, as well as a Ukrainian lawmaker feeding information to Fusion GPS.”

The “Democratic operative” refers to Chalupa, while the “Ukrainian lawmaker” refers to Leshchenko.

Andrea Chalupa

According to journalist and DNC activist Andrea Chalupa on her Facebook page “After Chalupa sent the email to Miranda (which mentions that she had invited this reporter to a meeting with Ukrainian journalists in Washington), it triggered high-level concerns within the DNC, given the sensitive nature of her work. “That’s when we knew it was the Russians,” said a Democratic Party source who has been directly involved in the internal probe into the hacked emails. In order to stem the damage, the source said, “we told her to stop her research.”” July 25, 2016

If she was that close to the investigation Crowdstrike did how credible is she? Her sister Alexandra was named one of 16 people that shaped the election by Yahoo news. The DNC hacking investigation done by Crowdstrike concluded hacking was done by Russian actors based on the work done by Alexandra Chalupa? That is the conclusion of her sister Andrea Chalupa and obviously enough for Crowdstrike to make the Russian government connection.

Alexandra Chalupa- According to the Ukrainian Weekly,[4]

… “The effort, known as Digital Miadan, gained momentum following the initial Twitter storms. Leading the effort were: Lara Chelak, Andrea Chalupa, Alexandra Chalupa, Constatin Kostenko and others.” The Digital Maidan was also how they raised money for the coup. This was how the Ukrainian emigres bought the bullets that were used on Euromaidan. Ukraine’s chubby nazi, Dima Yarosh stated openly he was taking money from the Ukrainian emigres during Euromaidan and Pravy Sektor still fundraises openly in North America. The “Sniper Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine by Dr. Ivan Katchanovski, University of Ottowa shows clearly detailed evidence how the massacre happened. It has Pravy Sektor confessions that show who created the “heavenly hundred. Their admitted involvement as leaders of Digital Maidan by both Chalupas is a clear violation of the Neutrality Act and has up to a 25 year prison sentence attached to it because it ended in a coup.

Andrea Chalupa-2014, in a Huff Post article Sept. 1 2016, Andrea Chalupa described Sviatoslav Yurash as one of Ukraine’s important “dreamers.” He is a young activist that founded Euromaidan Press. Beyond the gushing glow what she doesn’t say is who he actually is. Sviatoslav Yurash was Dmitri Yarosh’s spokesman just after Maidan. He is a hardcore Ukrainian nationalist and was rewarded with the Deputy Director position for the UWC (Ukrainian World Congress) in Kiev . In January, 2014 when he showed up at the Maidan protests he was 17 years old. He became the foreign language media representative for Vitali Klitschko, Arseni Yatsenyuk, and Oleh Tyahnybok. All press enquiries went through Yurash. To meet Dimitri Yurash you had to go through Sviatoslav Yurash as a Macleans reporter found out.

At 18 years old, Sviatoslav Yurash became the spokesman for Ministry of Defense of Ukraine under Andrei Paruby. He was Dimitri Yarosh’s spokesman and can be seen either behind Yarosh on videos at press conferences or speaking ahead of him to reporters. From January 2014 onward, to speak to Dimitri Yarosh, you set up an appointment with Yurash.

Andrea Chalupa has worked with Yurash’s Euromaidan Press which is associated with Informnapalm.org and supplies the state level hackers for Ukraine.

Alperovitch’s relationship with Andrea Chalupa’s efforts and Ukrainian intelligence groups is where things really heat up. Noted above she works with Euromaidanpress.com and Informnapalm.org which is the outlet for Ukrainian state-sponsored hackers.

Alperovitch and Fancy Bear tweet each other.

When you look at Dimitri Alperovitch’s twitter relationships, you have to ask why the CEO of a $150 million company like Crowdstrike follows Ukrainian InformNapalm and its hackers individually. There is a mutual relationship. When you add up his work for the OUNb, Ukraine, support for Ukraine’s Intelligence, and to the hackers it needs to be investigated to see if Ukraine is conspiring against the US government. Crowdstrike is also following their hack of a Russian government official after the DNC hack. It closely resembles the same method used with the DNC because it was an email hack.

Crowdstrike’s product line includes Falcon Host, Falcon Intelligence, Falcon Overwatch and Falcon DNS. Is it possible the hackers in Falcons Flame are another service Crowdstrike offers?

In an interview with Euromaidanpress these hackers say they have no need for the CIA.[5] They consider the CIA amateurish. They also say they are not part of the Ukrainian military Cyberalliance is a quasi-organization with the participation of several groups – RUH8, Trinity, Falcon Flames, Cyberhunta. There are structures affiliated to the hackers – the Myrotvorets site, Informnapalm analytical agency.”

Although this profile says Virginia, tweets are from the Sofia, Bulgaria time zone and he writes in Russian. Another curiosity considering the Fancy Bear source code is in Russian. This image shows Crowdstrike in their network. Crowdstrike is part of Ukrainian nationalist hacker network. In the image it shows a network diagram of Crowdstrike following the Surkov leaks. The network communication goes through a secondary source.

Although OSINT Academy sounds fairly innocuous, it’s the official twitter account for Ukraine’s Ministry of Information head Dimitri Zolotukin. It is also Ukrainian Intelligence. The Ministry of Information started the Peacekeeper or Myrotvorets website that geolocates journalists and other people for assassination. If you disagree with OUNb politics, you could be on the list.

Should someone tell Dimitri Alperovitch that Gerashchenko, who is now in charge of Peacekeeper recently threatened president-elect Donald Trump that he would put him on his “Peacemaker” site as a target? The same has been done with Silvio Berscaloni in the past.

Trying not to be obvious, the Head of Ukraine’s Information Ministry (UA Intelligence) tweeted something interesting that ties Alperovitch and Crowdstrike to the Ukrainian Intelligence hackers and the Information Ministry even tighter. This single tweet on a network chart shows that out of all the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Minister’s following, he only wanted the 3 hacking groups associated with both him and Alperovitch to get the tweet. Alperovitch’s story was received and not retweeted or shared. If this was just Alperovitch’s victory, it was a victory for Ukraine. It would be shared heavily. If it was a victory for the hacking squad, it would be smart to keep it to themselves and not draw unwanted attention.

These same hackers are associated with Alexandra, Andrea, and Irene Chalupa through the portals and organizations they work with through their OUNb. The hackers are funded and directed by or through the same OUNb channels that Alperovitch is working for and with to promote the story of Russian hacking.

When you look at the image for the hacking group in the euromaidanpress article, one of the hackers identifies themselves as one of Dimitri Yarosh’s Pravy Sektor members by the Pravy Sektor sweatshirt they have on. Noted above, Pravy Sektor admitted to killing the people at the Maidan protest and sparked the coup.

Going further with the linked Euromaidanpress article the hackers say “Let’s understand that Ukrainian hackers and Russian hackers once constituted a single very powerful group. Ukrainian hackers have a rather high level of work. So the help of the USA… I don’t know, why would we need it? We have all the talent and special means for this. And I don’t think that the USA or any NATO country would make such sharp movements in international politics.”

From the Observer.com,

“Andrea Chalupa—the sister of DNC research staffer Alexandra Chalupa—claimed on social media, without any evidence, that despite Clinton conceding the election to Trump, the voting results need to be audited to because Clinton couldn’t have lost—it must have been Russia. Chalupa hysterically tweeted to every politician on Twitter to audit the vote because of Russia and claimed the TV show The Americans, about two KGB spies living in America, is real.”

Irene Chalupa

Irene Chalupa- Another involved Chalupa we need to cover to do the story justice is Irene Chalupa. From her bio– Irena Chalupa is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. She is also a senior correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), where she has worked for more than twenty years. Irene Chalupa previously served as an editor for the Atlantic Council, where she covered Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Irena Chalupa is also the news anchor for Ukraine’s propaganda channel org. She is also a Ukrainian emigre leader.

Alexandra Chalupa timeline

Special Counsel Robert Mueller colluding with Manafort’s boss, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych is considered a Putin stooge. The Podesta Brothers and Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig worked for Yanukovych as well. Manafort was investigated by Mueller for work he did while managing Sen. John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign.

See also: Ukrainian collusion timeline and Obamagate timeline

2016

  • 25 March. Ukrainian-American employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Alexandra Chalupa meets with top Ukrainian officials at Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. to “expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia,” according to Politico. Chalupa previously worked for the Clinton administration. Ukrainian embassy proceeds to work “directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions,” according to an embassy official (though other officials later deny meddling in election-related activities.)
  • 28 March. Manafort joins Trump Campaign as campaign convention manager.
  • 31 March. Alexandra Chalupa briefs DNC staff on alleged Russia ties to Paul Manafort and Trump. With “DNC’s encouragement,” Chalupa asks Ukrainian embassy to arrange meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss Manafort’s lobbying for Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych. The embassy declines to arrange meeting but becomes “helpful” in trading info and leads. Ukrainian embassy officials and Democratic operative Chalupa “coordinat[e] an investigation with the Hillary team” into Paul Manafort, according to a source in Politico. This effort reportedly includes working with U.S. media.
  • Spring. Christopher Steele was already on the FBI payroll. Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Paul Manafort’s business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Chalupa met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, Manafort, and Russia.
  • 6-10 April. Alexandra Chalupa and office of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, discuss possible congressional investigation or hearing on Paul Manafort-Russia “by September.” Chalupa begins working with investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, according to WikiLeaks and her later account.[8]
  • 28 April. Alexandra Chalupa is invited to discuss her research about Paul Manafort with 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine at Library of Congress for Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. congressional agency. Chalupa invites investigative reporter Michael Isikoff to “connect(s) him to the Ukrainians.” After the event, reporter Isikoff accompanies Chalupa to Ukrainian embassy reception.
  • 3 May. Alexandra Chalupa informed DNC communications director Luis Miranda that she had “been working with” Michael Isikoff on stories involving Paul Manafort. Chalupa hinted of “a big Trump component…that will hit in next few weeks.”[11]
  • Late June. Justice Dept. seeks FISA warrant to eavesdrop on Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos (earlier reports listed Donald Trump, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Boris Epshteyn). FISA court denies request.[12] Ordinary procedures call for the Justice Department to ask a FISA Court for a warrant. It is improbable that Attorney General Loretta Lynch acted on her own against a presidential nominee of another party without consulting President Obama.[13]
  • FBI agent Peter Strzok has direct contact with Christopher Steele and receives preliminary draft of the Steele dossier.[14] According to Robby Mook, the partial dossier information was also given to the DNC and Clinton campaign.
  • DCLeaks website begins publishing Democratic National Committee emails.
  • The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) signs evidence-sharing agreement with FBI and will later publicly release the Black Ledger File implicating Paul Manafort in allegedly improper payments.
  • July. Ukraine minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov attacks Trump and Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort on Twitter and Facebook, calling Trump “an even bigger danger to the US than terrorism.” Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk writes on Facebook that Trump has “challenged the very values of the free world.”
  • 4 July. Franklin Foer writes in Slate, an article enitled Putin’s Puppet, which appears to come from Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier. Foer’s piece argues the Trump campaign was overly Russia-friendly. Foer discusses Trump’s team, including campaign convention manager Paul Manafort, who worked with former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich, and Carter Page.[15]
  • Late July. Alexandra Chalupa leaves the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to work full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump and Russia; and provides off-the-record guidance to “a lot of journalists.”
  • 18 July. RNC Convention platform completed. It reads,

Repressive at home and reckless abroad, their policies imperil the nations which regained their self-determination upon the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will meet the return of Russian belligerence with the same resolve that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will not accept any territorial change in Eastern Europe imposed by force, in Ukraine or elsewhere, and will use all appropriate measures to bring to justice the practitioners of aggression and assassination.
We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.

  • Mainstream media reports fake news, based on Clinton’s Steele dossier, that Donald Trump “gutted” the RNC platform on support for an independent Ukraine.
  • Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News interviews Mike Flynn live:

Isikoff: You flew over to Moscow to participate in the 10th anniversary—a celebration of RT—Russian television, a propaganda arm of the Russian government. And you sat next to Vladimir Putin at a celebratory dinner. Why did you attend that event?
Flynn: Because I wanted to tell Russia to get Iran the hell out of the four proxy wars that they’re involved in in the Middle East in order for us to settle the situation down … my intent for speaking at that event—and they allowed me to do it—was to talk about Russia’s influence over Iran and to essentially tell Russia that they have got to get Iran out of the situations they are involved in in the region … Iran has got to back out of many of the things they’re doing.[16]

Isikoff ignored Flynn’s entire response and continued his line of questioning:

Isikoff: Were you paid for that event?

Following the Isikoff interview, the matter was pursued further by Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who published a combined an-person and telephone interview with Flynn in an August 15, 2016.
  • 21 July. Anne Applebaum of The Washington Post writes a “Trump presidency could destabilize Europe.” The issue, she explained, was Trump’s positive attitude toward Putin. “The extent of the Trump-Russia business connection has already been laid out, by Franklin Foer at Slate,” wrote Applebaum. She named Carter Page and his “long-standing connections to Russian companies.” Applebaum repeats the kenard that the “Trump’s campaign team helped alter the Republican party platform to remove support for Ukraine” from the Republican National Committee’s platform. Maybe, she hints, that was because of Trump aide Manafort’s ties to Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich. The Manafort-Yanukovich relationship is an important part of the Steele dossier. So is the claim that in exchange for Russia releasing the DNC emails, “the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue.” For Applebaum, it was hard to understand why Trump would express skepticism about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, except to appease Putin. She referred to a recent interview in which Trump “cast doubt on the fundamental basis of transatlantic stability, NATO’s Article 5 guarantee: If Russia invades, he said, he’d have to think first before defending U.S. allies.”[17] The talking points come directly from Hillary Clinton opposition research, FusionGPS and the Steele dossier.
  • Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic publishes an article entitled, It’s Official: Hillary Clinton is Running Against Vladimir Putin using the same opposition research material from the Steele dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton: “The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Trump’s admiration for Putin and other “equivocating, mercenary statements are unprecedented in the history of Republican foreign policymaking.” However, insofar as Trump’s fundamental aim was to find some common ground with Putin, it’s a goal that has been a 25-year U.S. policy constant across party lines. Starting with George W.H. Bush, every American commander-in-chief since the end of the Cold War sought to “reset” relations with Russia. But Trump, according to Goldberg, was different. “Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests.” Goldberg alleged “watered down” the RNC’s platform on Ukraine and “questioned whether the U.S., under his leadership, would keep its [NATO] commitments,” including Article 5. Thus, Goldberg concluded: “Donald Trump, should he be elected president, would bring an end to the postwar international order.”[18]
  • 30 July. Bruce OhrNellie Ohr, Christopher Steele have breakfast at the Washington Mayflower Hotel. Also present at the breakfast meeting was a fourth individual, described by Ohr as “an associate of Mr. Steele’s, another gentleman, younger fellow. I didn’t catch his name.”
  • Steele relayed information from his dossier and claimed that “a former head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, had stated to someone … that they had Donald Trump over barrel.”[19]
  • Steele also referenced Oleg Deripaska’s business dealings with Paul Manafort, and foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s meetings in Moscow.
  • “Paul Hauser, who was an attorney working for Oleg Deripaska, had information about Paul Manafort, that Paul Manafort had entered into some kind of business deal with Oleg Deripaska, had stolen a large amount of money from Oleg Deripaska, and that Paul Hauser was trying to gather information that would show that, you know, or give more detail about what Paul Manafort had done with respect to Deripaska.” The money relates to a failed Ukrainian cable TV project Deripaska invested money with Manafort in.
  • 31 July. Peter Strzok formally begins Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence investigation into Trump.
  • First week of August. The Crossfire Hurricane investigation team, in conjunction with a number of agents at the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) under US Attorney Dana Boente, reported to Brennan’s Working Group,[20] including the CIA. During this time, they investigated the four main targets of Crossfire Hurricane, Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and they also investigated Roger Stone as part of their expanded WikiLeaks investigation.
  • As part of the secrecy surrounding the Working Group and Crossfire Hurricane, the Crossfire Hurricane team was provided their own source of funding, and they worked in a secure area, titled the “war room”, within FBI Headquarters, which required special clearance to enter.[21]
  • The same week, Susan Rice, Avril Haines and Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the White House Situation Room, which would later be referred to as “Deputies Meetings”. These meetings were initially attended by Brennan, Clapper, Comey and Lynch. As time passed Vice President Joe Biden joined the Deputies Meetings.[22]
  • As an aspect, or an offshoot, of one of these meetings, Susan Rice informed both Michael Daniel and Celeste Wallander (who would later gain access to the Steele dossier) to cease their planning of retaliation against Russia for their cyber attacks on companies and political campaigns and to stand down.
  • Comey also met with Obama in the Oval Office for a one-on-one meeting.[23]
  • 14 August. Deripaska’s revenge: New York Times publishes Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief” two weeks after Bruce Ohr’s meeting with Steele. The article states: “Mr. Deripaska would later say he invested $18.9 million in Pericles [Manafort’s company] in 2008 to complete the acquisition of Black Sea Cable. But the planned purchase—including the question of who ended up with the Black Sea assets—has since become the subject of a dispute between Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Manafort.”[24]
  • 15 August. John Brennan briefs Harry Reid on Christopher Steele and Spygate material. Reid asked Brennan if he could include the information they discussed on Russia in a letter to Comey to ask for investigation of Trump.[25]
  • Bruce Ohr talks directly with Strzok. Within a month of Bruce Ohr passing along Steele’s dirt, the FBI scheduled a follow-up meeting with Steele. The path was laid for the Steele dossier to support a FISA warrant to surveil the Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
  • Peter Strzok texts Lisa Page:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy [McCabe]’s office that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40…”[26]

  • Dana Priest of WaPo publishes follow up on Isikoff’s July 18 interview with Flynn:

Priest: Tell me about the RT [state-run Russian Television] relationship?
Flynn: I was asked by my speaker’s bureau, LAI [Leading Authorities, Inc.]. I do public speaking. It was in Russia. It was a paid speaking opportunity. I get paid so much, the speaker’s bureau got paid so much, based on our contract. The gig was to do an interview with [RT correspondent] Sophie Shevardnadze. It was an interview in front of the forum, probably 200 people in the audience. My purpose there was I was asked to talk about radical Islam in the Middle East. They asked me to talk about what was going on in the situation unfolding in the Middle East.
Priest: Have you appeared on RT regularly?
Flynn: I appear on Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabia, RT. I don’t get paid a dime. I have no media contracts. … [I am interviewed] on CNN, Fox …
Priest: Why would you go on RT, they’re state-run?
Flynn: Well, what’s CNN?

  • 19 August. Ukrainian parliament member Sergii Leshchenko holds news conference to draw attention to Paul Manafort and Trump’s “pro-Russia” ties.
  • Manafort resigns.
  • 22 August. Christopher Steele finishes another installment of the dossier. The memo details payments to Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
  • Bruce Ohr meets with Glenn Simpson. “I don’t know exactly what Chris Steele was thinking, of course, but I knew that Chris Steele was working for Glenn Simpson, and that Glenn might have additional information that Chris either didn’t have or was not authorized to present, give me, or whatever.”
  • Ohr also testified that Simpson mentioned Sergei MillianMichael Cohen, Carter Page, and Paul Manafort during their meeting. Carter Page and Manafort had been previously mentioned by Steele during the July 30, 2016, breakfast meeting.
  • Bruce Ohr admits he knew Simpson and his wife were working for Hillary Clinton and the DNC at this point.[27]
  • Simpson later lied under oath to Congress claiming he did not collude with the DOJ until after the election.[28]
  • 28 August. Serhiy Leshchenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, tells the Financial Times of London that “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” Leshchenko gave the Black Ledger file of the Ukrainian Party of Regions to Alexandra Chalupa and Glenn Simpson; Chalupa gave it to Mike Isiskoff and Simpson gave it to Nellie Ohr. When Isikoff published allegations about Paul Manafort from the files, Manafort resigned the next day. Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele used some of the Black Ledger file in the Steele dossier.[29]
  • Late August. White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice orders U.S. cyber-security team warning of Russian election meddling to stand down and “knock it off.”[30][31]
  • September. The Obama DOJ’s illegal FISA warrant on Carter Page was built on an echo chamber of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research among journalists, law enforcement and the intelligence community – all reinforcing each other with the manufactured allegations of the Steele dossier. Michael Isikoff’s September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article, provided by Christopher Steele, was used to corroborate the Obama DOJ’s evidence to the FISA court, which likewise was provided by Christopher Steele.
  • Isikoff met with Steele and Simpson at a DC hotel in a meeting arranged by Simpson.

Vladimir Putin with Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska helped frame Manafort over a personal grievance; Andrew McCabe was Deripaska’s longtime FBI handler.

  • According to Adam Waldman‘s account, Oleg Deripaska was approached by three FBI agents in New York; at least one agent (McCabe) had worked with Deripaska on the aborted effort to rescue Robert Levinson. According to David Ignatius of WaPo:

“We think Russia is colluding with the Trump campaign, and we think Manafort is the key guy,” one of the agents told Deripaska, according to the knowledgeable source. The oligarch responded, “I hate Manafort, and I’m suing him.”[32]

John Solomon of The Hill reported

“Deripaska laughed but realized, despite the joviality, that they were serious,” said his agent Adam Waldman. “So he told them in his informed opinion the idea they were proposing was false. ‘You are trying to create something out of nothing,’ he told them.”[33]

  • 2 September. Lisa Page wrote about preparing talking points for Dir. James Comey:

    Lisa Page – “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.[34]

    The text raises questions about Obama’s involvement in an ongoing FBI investigation.[35]

  • 23 September. Yahoo News and Michael Isikoff.[36] Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News publishes an article based on the information Steele personally leaked to Isikoff and several other media outlets at the direction of FusionGPS. The information focuses on Carter Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. Perkins Coie hosted the journalists’ meeting with Steele where the matter was discussed.
  • Isikoff’s article would later be used by the FBI in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy warrant application to spy on Carter Page, as if it were corroborating information despite the FBI knowing Steele was the source.
  • Steele is later fired from the FBI as an unreliable for leaking to media and violating agency rules.
  • According to the Isikoff article, Congress was briefed on the contents of the Steele dossier by the FBI.[37]
  • Following the publication of Isikoff’s article, Hillary for America released a statement on the same day touting Isikoff’s “bombshell report” with the full article attached.
  • Steele testified that he “briefed” The New York TimesThe Washington PostYahoo NewsThe New Yorker, and CNN at the end of September 2016.
  • Steele would engage in a second round of media contact in mid-October 2016, meeting again with The New York TimesWashington Post, and Yahoo News. Steele testified that all these meetings were “conducted verbally in person.”[38]
  • Politico publishes a lengthy article, “Who Is Carter Page? The Mystery of Trump’s Man in Moscow,” by Julia Ioffe. This article appears to highlight FusionGPS’s media campaign:

    Yahoo News was used by the Obama DOJ to hoax the FISA court with supposedly independent corroboration; the same paid FBI source was the Yahoo News source. Additionally, the source was paid by the DNC and Clinton campaign. The information was false and invented. The FISA warrant granted authority to spy on the entire Trump campaign in 50 states, the Trump Transition, and the first 10 months of the Trump Administration, violating the civil rights and intruding into the lives all Trump appointees.

“As I started looking into Page, I began getting calls from two separate ‘corporate investigators’ digging into what they claim are all kinds of shady connections Page has to all kinds of shady Russians. One is working on behalf of various unnamed Democratic donors; the other won’t say who turned him on to Page’s scent. Both claimed to me that the FBI was investigating Page for allegedly meeting with Igor Sechin and Sergei Ivanov, who was until recently Putin’s chief of staff—both of whom are on the sanctions list—when Page was in Moscow in July for that speech.”[39]

Ioffe noted that “seemingly everyone I talked to had also talked to the Washington Post, and then there were these corporate investigators who drew a dark and complex web of Page’s connections.” Her article also mentioned rumors regarding Alfa Bank:

“In the interest of due diligence, I also tried to run down the rumors being handed me by the corporate investigators: that Russia’s Alfa Bank paid for the trip as a favor to the Kremlin; that Page met with Sechin and Ivanov in Moscow; that he is now being investigated by the FBI for those meetings because Sechin and Ivanov were both sanctioned for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

  • 26 September. Carter Page resigns from Trump campaign.
  • End of September. Simpson and Steele meet with reporters, including New York TimesWashington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN or ABC. One meeting is at Perkins Coie office of Democratic National Committee general counsel Marc Elias.[40] Elias is secretly the front man paying FusionGPS on behalf of Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
  • Mid October. Steele again briefs reporters about Trump political opposition research. The reporters are from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News. Steele also visits the State Department.[41]
  • 21 October. Carter Page FISA warrant. DOJ and FBI sought and receive a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance of Carter Page from the FISA court. The warrant application was signed by Sally Yates and James Comey. The FISA order was ultimately used by Brennan’s Working Group, as the information gathered gave them multiple investigative leads into the Trump campaign.[42]
  • The bulk of the application consists of allegations against Carter Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Christopher Steele and outlined in the Steele dossier. The application contains no additional corroboration other than a Sept 23, 2016 Yahoo News article the Obama DOJ/FBI represents to the court as supposed “independent corroboration” which was peddled to Yahoo News by Christopher Steele’s himself.
  • 30 October. Steele fired by the FBI for unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI to David Corn of a Mother Jones magazine.[43][44] The FBI was well aware of Steele’s previous contacts with media – the FBI used Steele’s leaks to Isikoff’s Yahoo News article to hoax the FISA court nine days earlier.
  • Steele could have been terminated earlier for his previous undisclosed contacts with Isikoff of Yahoo News and other media outlets in September 2016 – before the Carter Page application was submitted to the FISA court in October 2016 – but Steele improperly concealed and lied to the FBI about earlier contacts. DOJ official Bruce Ohr continued to pass along allegations from Steele to the FBI after the FBI suspended its formal relationship with Steele, and demonstrates that Bruce Ohr funneled allegations from FusionGPS and Steele to the FBI.
  • 8 Election Day.
  • 9 November. Alexandra Chalupa posted a message to Facebook about work done in conjunction between the United States Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and an Anonymous-based organisation known as “The Protectors” based in Washington, DC.

“Homeland Security/DOJ teamed up with a group that is part of Anonymous based in Washington, D.C. called ‘The Protectors’. This group saw a lot of activity during Election Day from the Russians and believe that the voting results projected don’t match the internal and public polls because the voting results were manufactured in favor of Trump in heavily Republican counties in key states, and voting results may have been described for Clinton in key Democratic countries via malware that was placed by the Russians when they hacked the election systems of more than half our states.” [45]

  • 10 November. Andrea Chalupa, sister of Alexandra Chalupa, then tweeted: “All election day Anonymous hackers working w/DOJ updated my sister: they were at war w/RU hackers in our systems”.[46]
  • 21 November. Bruce Ohr recruited as conduit from Steele to Strzok – in violation of FBI rules. Bruce Ohr notes state that Ohr met with Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The notes read, “no prosecution yet, pushing ahead on M case,” in reference to Paul Manafort.” Ohr’s notes indicate that the FBI “may go back to Chris [Steele]” just 20 days after firing Steele for violating bureau rules.[47] Ohr is introduced to Joe Pientka, who became Ohr’s FBI handler. Pientka was also present with Strzok during the Jan. 24, 2017, interview of then national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
  • December. Alexandera Chalupa met with convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin and Israeli Yoni Ariel in Washington in December 2016. Kimberlin earned the nickname “Speedway Bomber” by setting a string of bombs in Speedway, Indiana in 1978. Kimberlin served 17 years in prison for the bombing spree. He gained more notoriety in prison after he concocted a story about having once sold marijuana to then-Vice President Dan Quayle. The story was propagated by Cody Shearer, a Clinton operative. Kimberlin now works on various voters’ rights initiatives, including in Ukraine.[48]

2017

  • 3 January. George Eliason, Washingtonsblog: Why Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Story Fell Apart- Say Hello to Fancy Bear.[49]
  • How close is Dimitri Alperovitch to DNC officials? Close enough professionally he should have stepped down from an investigation that had the chance of throwing a presidential election in a new direction. According to Esquire.com, Alperovitch has vetted speeches for Hillary Clinton about cyber security issues in the past. Because of his work on the Sony hack, President Barrack Obama personally called and said the measures taken were directly because of his work.
  • Alperovitch’s relationships with the Chalupas, radical groups, think tanks, Ukrainian propagandists, and Ukrainian state supported hackers [show a conflict of interest]. When it all adds up and you see it together, we have found a Russian that tried hard to influence the outcome of the US presidential election in 2016.
  • The Chalupas are not Democrat or Republican. They are OUNb. The OUNb worked hard to start a war between the USA and Russia for the last 50 years. According to the Ukrainian Weekly in a rare open statement of their existence in 2011, “Other statements were issued in the Ukrainian language by the leadership of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (B) and the International Conference in Support of Ukraine. The OUN (Bandera wing) called for”… What is OUNb Bandera? They follow the same political policy and platform that was developed in the 1930’s by Stepan Bandera. When these people go to a Holocaust memorial they are celebrating both the dead and the OUNb SS that killed.[50] There is no getting around this fact. The OUNb have no concept of democratic values and want an authoritarian fascism.
  • According to Robert Parry’s article[51] At the forefront of people that would have taken senior positions in a Clinton administration and especially in foreign policy are the Atlantic Council. Their main goal is still a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.
  • The Atlantic Council is the think tank associated and supported by the CEEC (Central and Eastern European Coalition). The CEEC has only one goal which is war with Russia. Their question to candidates looking for their support in the election was “Are you willing to go to war with Russia?” Hillary Clinton has received their unqualified support throughout the campaign.
  • What does any of this have to do with Dimitri Alperovitch and Crowdstrike? Since the Atlantic Council would have taken senior cabinet and policy positions, his own fellowship status at the Atlantic Council and relationship with Irene Chalupa creates a definite conflict of interest for Crowdstrike’s investigation. Trump’s campaign was gaining ground and Clinton needed a boost. Had she won, would he have been in charge of the CIA, NSA, or Homeland Security?
  • When you put someone that has so much to gain in charge of an investigation that could change an election, that is a conflict of interest. If the think tank is linked heavily to groups that want war with Russia like the Atlantic Council and the CEEC, it opens up criminal conspiracy.
  • If the person in charge of the investigation is a fellow at the think tank that wants a major conflict with Russia it is a definite conflict of interest. Both the Atlantic Council and clients stood to gain Cabinet and Policy positions based on how the result of his work affects the election. It clouds the results of the investigation. In Dmitri Alperovitch’s case, he found the perpetrator before he was positive there was a crime.
  • What sharp movements in international politics have been made lately? Let me spell it out for the 17 US Intelligence Agencies so there is no confusion. These state sponsored, Russian language hackers in Eastern European time zones have shown with the Surkov hack they have the tools and experience to hack states that are looking out for it. They are also laughing at US intel efforts.
  • The hackers also made it clear that they will do anything to serve Ukraine. Starting a war between Russia and the USA is the one way they could serve Ukraine best, and hurt Russia worst. Given those facts, if the DNC hack was according to the criteria given by Alperovitch, both he and these hackers need to be investigated.
  • According to the Esquire interview “Alperovitch was deeply frustrated: He thought the government should tell the world what it knew. There is, of course, an element of the personal in his battle cry. “A lot of people who are born here don’t appreciate the freedoms we have, the opportunities we have, because they’ve never had it any other way,” he told me. “I have.”
  • While I agree patriotism is a great thing, confusing it with this kind of nationalism is not. Alperovitch seems to think by serving OUNb Ukraine’s interests and delivering a conflict with Russia that is against American interests, he’s a patriot. He isn’t serving US interests. He’s definitely a Ukrainian patriot. Maybe he should move to Ukraine.
  • The evidence presented deserves investigation because it looks like the case for conflict of interest is the least Dimitri Alperovitch should look forward to. If these hackers are the real Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, they really did make sharp movements in international politics. By pawning it off on Russia, they made a worldwide embarrassment of an outgoing President of the United States and made the President Elect the suspect of rumor.
  • Quite possibly now the former UK Ambassador Craig Murry’s admission of being the involved party to “leaks” should be looked at.

“Now both Julian Assange and I have stated definitively the leak does not come from Russia. Do we credibly have access? Yes, very obviously. Very, very few people can be said to definitely have access to the source of the leak. The people saying it is not Russia are those who do have access. After access, you consider truthfulness. Do Julian Assange and I have a reputation for truthfulness? Well in 10 years not one of the tens of thousands of documents WikiLeaks has released has had its authenticity successfully challenged. As for me, I have a reputation for inconvenient truth telling.”

Further reading

References…

https://www.conservapedia.com/Alexandra_Chalupa

Story 2: American People Not Interested In Single Party Impeachment Behind Closed Doors of Star Chamber Inquiry — Those Who Voted For Trump in 2016 Will Again Vote For Trump Again in 2020 — Elections and Ideas Have Consequences — Big Fail of Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers — Videos

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Nunes compares Trump impeachment inquiry to ‘chaotic circus’

Volker interview on whistleblower weakens impeachment push

Over 100 House Republicans back bill to censure Adam Schiff

MAJORITY OF AMERICAN PUBLIC STANDS WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP OVER IMPEACHMENT

Dems Rely on Phony Impeachment Polling

A Commentary By Brian C. Joondeph

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Despite the embarrassing spectacle of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony where he finally learned about the report he supposedly created and wrote, Democrats are doubling down on stupid.

They are ignoring the first law of holes, that when you are deep in one, the smart play is to stop digging. The hole they continue to dig is the one denying the reality of the 2016 presidential election, that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton fair and square.

It was not the result Democrats and their media comrades wanted or expected and now they seek to overturn the will of the American people in selecting a president. So what if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote? Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 with only 43 percent of the popular vote, far from a majority, but no one considered him an illegitimate president for that reason.

Democrats have been trying for close to three years to overturn the 2016 election. From Stormy and Avenatti, to Rapinoe and Omarosa, all have tried and failed. Mueller was supposed to deliver the smoking gun to congressional Democrats but instead brought only Mueller’s bewilderment and confusion, with seemingly everything relevant to the Trump Russia collusion hoax being “out of his purview”.

All the Dems have left is the I-word. No, not idiocy or incompetence, but impeachment. Mueller couldn’t find any real crimes, such as conspiracy or obstruction, despite two years of one of the most exhaustive investigations in history, conducted by partisan Democrats who wanted nothing better than to see Trump frog-marched out of the White House.

Democrats are left only with the political remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” which they so far have been unable to articulate. As impeachment is a political remedy, Democrats had better hope that politics is on their side.

Nothing says minority status better than governing against the will of the people, which the Democrats are doing. Do Americans want impeachment? If the polls say yes, that’s all the Democrats and media need to plow ahead. Congress will happily ignore its real job, including fixing immigration, healthcare, infrastructure, a crushing national debt and so on, if it means more political grandstanding, fundraising and the possibility of a Democrat president in 2020.

Democrats are spurred on by a new Fox News poll with this Breitbart headline, “47 percent of Americans back Trump impeachment.” Not quite a majority, but enough for the media to begin breathlessly panting in anticipation. Beyond the misleading headline, one can read the first sentence in the Breitbart article for a reality check, “Support for impeaching President Donald Trump has fallen slightly.”

Ironically Politico provides a more sobering view with their headline, “No impeachment bump after Mueller’s testimony.” They note, “A plurality of voters are still opposed to beginning proceedings that could result in Trump’s removal from office.”

So where is the truth? With any poll, one needs to dig far beyond the headline. The Fox News poll wasn’t conducted by Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson. Instead Fox commissioned the poll to two polling companies, in this case Beacon Research and Shaw and Company.

Polls are as good as their samples. Take a survey about Trump impeachment in Boulder or Berkeley, and the result will be nearly unanimous that Trump belongs at Supermax prison next door to its newest guest, El Chapo.

This Fox News poll surveyed registered, not likely, voters, already skewing the sample. Given a 58 percent turnout in the last presidential election, almost half of those surveyed in this poll may be watching Netflix on Election Day rather than voting.

A more reliable sample is likely voters, a group that Rasmussen Reports samples in its polls. This explains why Rasmussen was the most accurate pollster in the 2016 presidential election.

Political affiliation of those polled also skews the results. In the Fox News poll, those surveyed were 46 percent Democrat and only 40 percent Republican, a six-point Democrat oversampling.

Looking specifically at impeachment and removal from office, 42% said yes, while 50% said no, an eight-point difference in favor of no. Add in the sampling bias of six percent, and this difference regarding impeachment and removal may be 14 points against, far different than the Breitbart headline implied.

Interestingly, when asked if Trump should be impeached but not removed from office, only nine percent favor this approach, while 77% believe he should not be impeached at all. This is quite a disconnect suggesting that those surveyed may not understand the constitutional process for impeachment and conviction.

How many low information voters believe that if Trump is impeached, Hillary Clinton automatically becomes president?

Other tidbits from the survey are that Democrat primary voters favor Joe Biden at 33%, compared to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at 15 and 12 percent respectively.

Those polled were against decriminalizing persons entering the United States illegally by a 57-34 margin and were against providing health insurance to illegals by a 60-32 margin. Don’t tell the Democrat/Marxist primary candidates that they are on the wrong side of these issues in a big way.

Let House Judiciary Committee Chairman Gerald Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff run with impeachment. They believe they have the wind at their backs. After all, The Atlantic has declared, “Impeach Donald Trump.”

Lunatics on Twitter like Bette Midler and Meathead Rob Reiner are all in for impeachment. But saner voices speak of caution. NBC writes, “Support for impeachment falls as 2020 heats up.” Even in the House, when push came to shove and there was an actual vote for impeachment, as recently proposed by perpetually angry Texas Rep. Al Green, the proposal failed miserably 332 to 95.

Schiff and Nadler can yack all they want on CNN or MSNBC about impeachment, but that’s as far as it will likely go. If they push forward based on nonsensical polls, it will end in the same way as the 2016 presidential election where most of the polls were dead wrong. As they keep chasing and failing to catch Trump, in the style of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, Trump’s popularity and support grows.

As Democrat dig ever deeper into the impeachment hole, they may soon be unable to climb out.

Brian C. Joondeph, MD, is a Denver based physician and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, and other publications. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedInTwitter, and QuodVerum

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_brian_joondeph/dems_rely_on_phony_impeachment_polling

Star Chamber

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Engraving of the Star Chamber, published in “Old and new London” in 1873, taken from a drawing made in 1836

A document of 1504 showing King Henry VII sitting in the Star Chamber and receiving William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester, and clerics associated with Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as the Mayor of London.

The Star Chamber (LatinCamera stellata) was an English court which sat at the royal Palace of Westminster, from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century (c. 1641), and was composed of Privy Counsellors and common-law judges, to supplement the judicial activities of the common-law and equity courts in civil and criminal matters. The Star Chamber was originally established to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against socially and politically prominent people so powerful that ordinary courts would probably hesitate to convict them of their crimes. However, it became synonymous with social and political oppression through the arbitrary use and abuse of the power it wielded.

In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, “star chambers”. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. “Star Chamber” can also, rarely, be used in its original meaning, for instance when a politician uses parliamentary privilege to examine and then exculpate or condemn a powerful organisation or person. Due to the constitutional separation of powers and the ceasing of the Star Chamber, the main powers of select committees are to enhance the public debate—politicians are deemed to no longer wield powers in the criminal law, which belongs to the courts.[a]

Origin of the name

Starry vault of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy, frescoed by Giotto

The first reference to the “star chamber”[b] is in 1398, as the Sterred chambre; the more common form of the name appears in 1422 as le Sterne-chamere. Both forms recur throughout the fifteenth century, with Sterred Chambre last attested as appearing in the Supremacy of the Crown Act 1534 (establishing the English monarch as head of the Church of England). The origin of the name has usually been explained as first recorded by John Stow, writing in his Survey of London (1598), who noted “this place is called the Star Chamber, at the first all the roofe thereof was decked with images of starres gilted“.[2][3] Gold stars on a blue background were a common medieval decoration for ceilings in richly decorated rooms: the Star Chamber ceiling itself is still to be seen at Leasowe CastleWirral, and a similar examples are in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and elsewhere.

Alternatively, William Blackstone, a notable English jurist writing in 1769, speculated that the name may have derived from the legal word “starr” meaning the contract or obligation to a Jew (from the Hebrew שטר (shtar) meaning ‘document’). This term was in use until 1290, when Edward I had all Jews expelled from England. Blackstone thought the “Starr Chamber” might originally have been used for the deposition and storage of such contracts.[4] However, the Oxford English Dictionary gives this etymology “no claim to consideration”.[3]

Other etymological speculations mentioned by Blackstone on the use of star include the derivation from Old English steoran (steer) meaning “to govern”; as a court used to punish cozenage (in Latincrimen stellionatus); or that the chamber was full of windows.[4]

History

Under the Plantagenets and Tudors

The Court evolved from meetings of the King’s Council, with its roots going back to the medieval period. Contrary to popular belief, the so-called “Star Chamber Act” of King Henry VII‘s second Parliament (1487) did not actually empower the Star Chamber, but rather created a separate tribunal distinct from the King’s general Council.[5]

Initially well regarded because of its speed and flexibility, Star Chamber was regarded as one of the most just and efficient courts of the Tudor era. Sir Edward Coke once described Star Chamber as “The most honourable court (Our Parliament excepted) that is in the Christian world. Both in respect of the judges in the court and its honourable proceeding.”[6]

The Star Chamber was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges, and it supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters. In a sense, the court was a court of appeal, a supervisory body, overseeing the operation of the lower courts, although it could hear cases by direct appeal as well. The court was set up to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against the English upper class, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes.

Another function of the Court of Star Chamber was to act like a court of equity, which could impose punishment for actions which were deemed to be morally reprehensible but were not in violation of the letter of the law. This gave the Star Chamber great flexibility, as it could punish defendants for any action which the court felt should be unlawful, even when in fact it was technically lawful.

However, this meant that the justice meted out by the Star Chamber could be very arbitrary and subjective, and it enabled the court to be used later on in its history as an instrument of oppression rather than for the purpose of justice for which it was intended. Many crimes which are now commonly prosecuted, such as attemptconspiracycriminal libel, and perjury, were originally developed by the Court of Star Chamber, along with its more common role of dealing with riots and sedition.

The cases decided in those sessions enabled both the very powerful and those without power to seek redress. Thus King Henry VII used the power of Star Chamber to break the power of the landed gentry which had been such a cause of problems in the Wars of the Roses. Yet, when local courts were often clogged or mismanaged, the Court of Star Chamber also became a site of remittance for the common people against the excesses of the nobility.

In the reign of King Henry VIII, the court was under the leadership of Cardinal Wolsey (the Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor) and Thomas Cranmer (the Archbishop of Canterbury) (1515–1529). From this time forward, the Court of Star Chamber became a political weapon for bringing actions against opponents to the policies of King Henry VIII, his Ministers and his Parliament.

Although it was initially a court of appeal, King Henry, Wolsey and Cranmer encouraged plaintiffs to bring their cases directly to the Star Chamber, bypassing the lower courts entirely.

The Court was used extensively to control Wales, after the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 (sometimes referred to as the “Acts of Union”). The Tudor-era gentry in Wales turned to the Chamber to evict Welsh landowners and protect themselves, and in general protect the English advantages of the Laws in Wales Acts.

One of the weapons of the Star Chamber was the ex officio oath where, because of their positions, individuals were forced to swear to answer truthfully all questions that might be asked. Faced by hostile questioning, this then gave them the “cruel trilemma” of having to incriminate themselves, face charges of perjury if they gave unsatisfactory answers to their accusers, or be held in contempt of court if they gave no answer.

Under the Stuarts

The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of King Charles I, it had become synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by the King and his circle. King James I and his son Charles used the court to examine cases of sedition, which meant that the court could be used to suppress opposition to royal policies. It came to be used to try nobles too powerful to be brought to trial in the lower court.

King Charles I used the Court of Star Chamber as Parliamentary substitute during the eleven years of Personal Rule, when he ruled without a Parliament. King Charles made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans who fled to New England. This was also one of the causes of the English Civil War.

On 17 October 1632, the Court of Star Chamber banned all “news books” because of complaints from Spanish and Austrian diplomats that coverage of the Thirty Years’ War in England was unfair.[7] As a result, newsbooks pertaining to this matter were often printed in Amsterdam and then smuggled into the country, until control of the press collapsed with the developing ideological conflict of 1640–41.[8]

The Star Chamber became notorious for judgments favourable to the king. Archbishop Laud had William Prynne branded on both cheeks through its agency in 1637 for seditious libel.[9]

In 1571 Elizabeth I had set up an equivalent Court in Ireland, the Court of Castle Chamber, to deal with cases of riot and offences against public order. Although it was initially popular with private litigants, under the Stuarts it developed the same reputation for harsh and arbitrary proceedings as its parent Court, and during the political confusion of the 1640s it simply disappeared.[10]

In the early 1900s, Edgar Lee Masters commented:

In the Star Chamber the council could inflict any punishment short of death, and frequently sentenced objects of its wrath to the pillory, to whipping and to the cutting off of ears. … With each embarrassment to arbitrary power the Star Chamber became emboldened to undertake further usurpation. … The Star Chamber finally summoned juries before it for verdicts disagreeable to the government, and fined and imprisoned them. It spread terrorism among those who were called to do constitutional acts. It imposed ruinous fines. It became the chief defence of Charles against assaults upon those usurpations which cost him his life.

Abolition and aftermath

In 1641, the Long Parliament, led by John Pym and inflamed by the severe treatment of John Lilburne, as well as that of other religious dissenters such as William PrynneAlexander LeightonJohn Bastwick and Henry Burton, abolished the Star Chamber with an Act of Parliament: the Habeas Corpus Act 1640.

The Chamber itself stood until demolished in 1806, when its materials were salvaged. The door now hangs in the nearby Westminster School and the historic Star Chamber ceiling, with its bright gold stars, was brought to Leasowe Castle on the Wirral Peninsula in Merseyside from the Court of Westminster, along with four tapestries depicting the four seasons.

Recent history

In the late 20th century, the expression was revived in reference to ways of resolving internal high-level questions within the government, usually relating to budget appropriations. The press and some civil servants under the premiership of Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) revived the term for private ministerial meetings at which disputes between the Treasury and high-spending departments were resolved.[11]

The term was again revived by the popular press to describe a panel set up by the Labour party’s National Executive Committee to review expenses claims by Labour MPs in May 2009.[12] In 2010, the press employed the term for a committee established by the Cameron ministry to plan spending cuts to reduce public debt.[13]

Influence on the U.S. Constitution

The historical abuses of the Star Chamber are considered a primary motivating force behind the protections against compelled self-incrimination embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[14] The meaning of “compelled testimony” under the Fifth Amendment – i.e., the conditions under which a defendant is allowed to “plead the Fifth” to avoid self-incrimination – is thus often interpreted via reference to the inquisitorial methods of the Star Chamber.[14]

As the U.S. Supreme Court described it, “the Star Chamber has, for centuries, symbolized disregard of basic individual rights. The Star Chamber not merely allowed, but required, defendants to have counsel. The defendant’s answer to an indictment was not accepted unless it was signed by counsel. When counsel refused to sign the answer, for whatever reason, the defendant was considered to have confessed.”[15]

Notes

  1. ^ “The Ceann Comhairle intervened and said the Dáil could not be used as a “star chamber” warning that people’s reputations were involved and if the deputy had information he should go to the gardaí.”[1]
  2. ^ Or, rather, the first reference in the OED. Blackstone mentions a reference in a document of 41 Edw. III – 1367 – but does not quote it

References…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Chamber

Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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When Donald Trump became president in 2017, a SCIF was set up at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he refers to as his Winter White House. Trump (at the head of the table with various cabinet members, advisers, and staffers) is seen here monitoring the Syrian cruise missile attack from the Mar-a-Lago SCIF.

Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced “skiff”), in British and United States military, national security/national defense and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information.

SCIFs can be either permanent or temporary and can be set up in official government buildings (such as the Situation Room in the White House), onboard ships, in private residences of officials, or in hotel rooms and other places of necessity for officials when traveling.[1] Portable SCIFs can also be quickly set up when needed during emergency situations.[2]

Access

Access to SCIFs is normally limited to those individuals with appropriate security clearances.[3] Non-cleared personnel in SCIFs must be under the constant oversight of cleared personnel and all classified information and material removed from view in order to prevent unauthorized access.[4] As part of this process, non-cleared personnel are also typically required to surrender all recording, photographic and other electronic media devices. All of the activity and conversation inside is presumed restricted from public disclosure.[1][5]

Construction

Some entire buildings are SCIFs where all but the front foyer is secure. A SCIF can also be located in an air, ground or maritime vehicle, or can be established on a temporary basis at a specific site.[1] The physical construction, access control, and alarming of the facility has been defined by various directives, including Director of Central Intelligence Directives (DCIDs) 1/21 and 6/9, and most recently (2011) by Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 705, signed by the Director of National Intelligence. ICD 705 is a three-page capstone document that implements Intelligence Community Standard (ICS) 705-1, ICS 705-2 and the Technical Specifications for Construction and Management of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or “Tech Specs.” The latest version of the Tech Specs was published in 2017 (Version 1.4). https://www.dni.gov/files/NCSC/documents/Regulations/Technical-Specifications-SCIF-Construction.pdf

Computers operating within such a facility must conform to rules established by ICD 503. Computers and telecommunication equipment within must conform to TEMPEST emanations specification as directed by a Certified TEMPEST Technical Authority (CTTA).

Officials documented to have had a SCIF set up in their private residences include:

See also

References

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitive_Compartmented_Information_Facility

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qqq The Pronk Pops Show 1338, October 10, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Rally In Minneapolis, Minnesota — Story 2: Search For The Partisan Democrat CIA Leaker Phony Whistleblower That Worked For Joe Biden? — Videos — Story 3: Two Trump Supporters Arrested On Campaign Finance Charges — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Rally In Minneapolis, Minnesota — Videos

FULL RALLY: President Trump rally in Minneapolis, MN

Story 2: Search For The Partisan Democrat CIA Leaker Phony Whistleblower Worked For Joe Biden — Videos —

Bidens Lied About Hunter’s Burisma Pay, Dems Colluded With Ukraine, Reports John Solomon

Second Whistleblower Emerges On President Donald Trump And Ukraine | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

CIA whistleblower: This is an insult to real whistleblowers

US intelligence chief testifies on whistleblower complaint – as it happened

Joe Biden ‘worked with whistleblower when he was vice president’ say White House and intelligence sources – despite CIA analyst’s denial that he had ‘ties’ to any 2020 Dem candidate

  • New report says that CIA whistleblower worked with Biden when he was VP
  • Whistleblower’s attorneys previously denied ties in carefully worded statement
  • Questions are mounting about whistleblower’s possible political bias
  • Person has already been identified as having a Democratic affiliation 
  • IG said person ‘had some type of professional relationship’ with Dem candidate
  • But attorneys for the CIA agent said he had only ever worked as a professional civil servant and had not worked for any political campaign 

The whistleblower accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power worked with Joe Biden when he was vice president, according to a new report.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the CIA whistleblower issued a carefully-worded statement denying that the had a ‘professional’ link to a 2020 Democratic candidate, saying he is an apolitical civil servant.

Now an intelligence source says that it is likely that the unnamed CIA analyst, who is clearly an expert on Ukraine issues, briefed Biden and probably even accompanied him on Air Force Two on one or more of Biden’s six visits to the country.

‘From everything we know about the whistleblower and his work in the executive branch then, there is absolutely no doubt he would have been working with Biden when he was vice president,’ a retired CIA officer told the Washington Examiner.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Thursday evening.

Biden is seen with then-President Barack Obama signing executive orders to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2009. Source say that Biden worked closely with the CIA whistleblower while serving as vice president

Biden is seen with then-President Barack Obama signing executive orders to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Cuba in 2009. Source say that Biden worked closely with the CIA whistleblower while serving as vice president

Trump has accused the whistleblower of having ties to one of his political opponents

Trump has accused the whistleblower of having ties to one of his political opponents

President Trump claims Schiff helped write whistleblower complaint
Separately, a former Trump administration official told the Examiner that Biden’s work on foreign affairs as vice president brought him into close proximity with the whistleblower.

“This person, after working with Biden, may feel defensive towards him because he feels [Biden] is being falsely attacked. Maybe he is even talking to Biden’s staff,” the former official said. “Maybe it is innocent, maybe not.”

The whistleblower’s alleged political bias has become the subject of various accusations following a report that the Intelligence Community Inspector General said that the person ‘worked or had some type of professional relationship with one of the Democratic candidates.’

The claim of a ‘professional link’ between the CIA agent and a candidate was first made in an article by Washington Examiner columnist and conservative commentator Byron York.

The whistleblower, who alleges misconduct on Trump’s part, had already been identified as having a Democratic party affiliation.

A person with knowledge of the Inspector General (IG) for the Intelligence Community’s recent testimony to the House, was reported by York to have indicated there was an additional ‘professional relationship.’

‘The IG said [the whistleblower] worked or had some type of professional relationship with one of the Democratic candidates,’ a source told the Examiner.

Another source told the paper: ‘The IG said the whistleblower had a professional relationship with one of the 2020 candidates.’

After Trump tweeted a link to the Examiner report, the unnamed CIA agent’s attorneys issued a rare public statement claiming that there was a ‘professional relationship’ between the whistleblower and a candidate.

Trump tweeted: ‘This is just the beginning.’ Later on Tuesday he tweeted: ‘The Whistleblower has ties to one of my DEMOCRAT OPPONENTS.’

But late Wednesday, the lawyers said they wanted to ‘clarify some facts,’ and said in the statement: ‘Our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party.

‘Second, our client has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch.

‘Third, in these positions our client has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials – not as candidates.’

Rare statement: How the whistleblower's attorneys slapped back at the president

The whisteblower’s attorneys – who did not confirm that the official is a male CIA agent, although that aspect of his identity is already known – went on to slam suggestions that his complaint was not credible and said he had told the inspector general about his career to help establish its credibility.

‘Fourth, the whistleblower voluntarily provided relevant career information to the ICIG in order to facilitate an assessment of the credibility of the complaint,’ the attorneys said.

‘Fifth, as a result, the ICIG concluded – as is well known – that the complaint was both urgent and credible.

Finally, the whistleblower is not the story. To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant.’

The combination of a clapback at the president by the attorneys, and a hint of more information about the official’s resume, will only add to the drama surrounding the complaint.

Pointedly, the lawyers called their client ‘whisteblower #1,’ a reference to a report that they have another or possibly even multiple other whistleblowers who are in the process of making complaints.

The IG, Michael Atkinson, had provided vague information in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee in August, writing the whistle-blower had ‘some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.’

The whistle-blower in a complaint alleges that Trump asked the President of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens to help his own 2020 reelection. An unsealed call shows Trump bringing up the Bidens with the Ukrainian president.

Who could it be? Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Beto O'Rourke and Julian Castro Third 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Houston, USA. A report connected the whistle-blower to one of the 2020 candidates

Who could it be? Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro Third 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Debate, Houston, USA. A report connected the whistle-blower to one of the 2020 candidates

The president has previously gone after the whistle-blower, identified by the New York Times as a CIA officer who has been detailed to the White House at some point, and demanded the right to face his accuser.

The Washington Post reported that House Democrats may interview the whistle-blower at an off-site location to protect their identity, amid concerns it could leak.

In remarks caught on video, Trump said: ‘I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy.’ He continued: ‘You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now,’ he said, referencing execution.

A group of 90 national security professionals has applauded an unidentified whistle-blower.

‘While the identity of the whistleblower is not publicly known, we do know that he or she is an employee of the U.S. Government. As such, he or she has by law the right—and indeed the responsibility—to make known, through appropriate channels, indications of serious wrongdoing,’ the officials wrote.

‘That is precisely what this whistleblower did; and we applaud the whistleblower not only for living up to that responsibility but also for using precisely the channels made available by federal law for raising such concerns,’ said the security officials, who served Democratic and Republican presidents.

Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

“Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe — shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials — shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.

The timing of Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s appointment to Burisma’s board has been highlighted in the past, by The New York Times in December 2015 and in a 2016 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor’s probe of Burisma and his son’s role. They noted that:

  • Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
  • Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
  • Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.

President Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

According to Schweizer’s book, Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.

But the Ukrainian investigation and Joe Biden’s effort to fire the prosecutor overseeing it has escaped without much public debate.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases, and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clinton was running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin — began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said.

Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office, confirmed to me in an interview that part of the Burisma investigation was reopened in 2018, after Joe Biden made his remarks. “We were able to start this case again,” Kholodnytskyi said.

But he said the separate Ukrainian police agency that investigates corruption has dragged its feet in gathering evidence. “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Ukraine is in the middle of a hard-fought presidential election, is a frequent target of intelligence operations by neighboring Russia and suffers from rampant political corruption nationwide. Thus, many Americans might take the restart of the Burisma case with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.

The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca–connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca–linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.

As for Joe Biden’s intervention in getting Lutsenko’s predecessor fired in the midst of the Burisma investigation, Lutsenko suggested that was a matter to discuss with Attorney General Barr: “Of course, I would be happy to have a conversation with him about this issue.”

As the now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case.

Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/436816-joe-bidens-2020-ukrainian-nightmare-a-closed-probe-is-revived

Whistleblower had ‘professional’ tie to 2020 Democratic candidate

In an Aug. 26 letter, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, wrote that the anonymous whistleblower who set off the Trump-Ukraine impeachment fight showed “some indicia of an arguable political bias … in favor of a rival political candidate.”

A few weeks later, news reports said the whistleblower’s possible bias was that he is a registered Democrat. That was all. Incredulous commentary suggested that Republicans who were pushing the bias talking point were so blinded by their own partisanship that they saw simple registration with the Democratic Party as evidence of wrongdoing.

“Give me a break!” tweeted whistleblower lawyer Mark Zaid. “Bias? Seriously?”

Now, however, there is word of more evidence of possible bias on the whistleblower’s part. Under questioning from Republicans during last Friday’s impeachment inquiry interview with Atkinson, the inspector general revealed that the whistleblower’s possible bias was not that he was simply a registered Democrat. It was that he had a significant tie to one of the Democratic presidential candidates currently vying to challenge President Trump in next year’s election.

“The IG said [the whistleblower] worked or had some type of professional relationship with one of the Democratic candidates,” said one person with knowledge of what was said.

“The IG said the whistleblower had a professional relationship with one of the 2020 candidates,” said another person with knowledge of what was said.

“What [Atkinson] said was that the whistleblower self-disclosed that he was a registered Democrat and that he had a prior working relationship with a current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate,” said a third person with knowledge of what was said.

All three sources said Atkinson did not identify the Democratic candidate with whom the whistleblower had a connection. It is unclear what the working or professional relationship between the two was.

In the Aug. 26 letter, Atkinson said that even though there was evidence of possible bias on the whistleblower’s part, “such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible,’ particularly given the other information the ICIG obtained during its preliminary review.”

Democrats are certain to take that position when Republicans allege that the whistleblower acted out of bias. Indeed, the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a public document, for all to see. One can read it regardless of the whistleblower’s purported bias.

Nevertheless, Republicans will want to know more about the origins of the whistleblower complaint, especially given the unorthodox use of whistleblower law involved. There is more to learn — like who the Democratic candidate is — before Republicans will say they know enough about what happened.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/whistleblower-had-professional-tie-to-2020-democratic-candidate

 

 Story 3: Two Trump Supporters Arrested On Campaign Finance Charges — Videos —

PBS NewsHour full episode October 10, 2019

Nightly News Broadcast (Full) – October 10th, 2019 | NBC Nightly News

Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine fixers are arrested trying to flee the U.S. hours after lunching with him and are charged with funneling $350k from mystery Russian businessman to Trump PAC – then pushing to have ambassador to Kiev fired

  • Lev Parnas Igor Fruman assisted Giuliani’s effort to get Ukraine to investigate his theory about the 2016 elections 
  • They are both foreign-born and expected to appear in federal court in Virginia
  • Donated $325,000 to pro-Trump super PAC through an LLC
  • Accused of breaking campaign finance laws and concealing foreign donations 
  • House Intelligence committee called both men to testify about their work with Giuliani in Ukraine but lawyer declined
  • They were subpoenaed on Thursday 
  • The two men had dinner with President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in 2018
  • Giuliani has said both are clients of his 
  • They introduced Giuliani to Ukrainian figures as part of his effort to pursue his theory of foreign election interference
  • The men took steps to hide foreign donor as source behind contributions due to his ‘Russian roots and current political paranoia about it’

A pair of Florida businessmen who worked with Donald Trump‘s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to promote politically-charged investigations in Ukraine were arrested on federal campaign finance charges as they tried to flee the country, it was revealed Thursday.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were each born in former Soviet republics, assisted Giuliani’s effort to get Ukraine to investigate his theory about the 2016 elections, and also help Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on a company tied to the Bidens in Ukraine.

They were arrested at Dulles Airport on a plane to Vienna, Austria, a few hours after they were seen lunching with Giuliani at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C.

At a federal court hearing in Alexandria, VA, Thursday afternoon federal prosecutors said the pair were a flight risk.

U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Parnas and Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail.

The two men cultivated ties with a series of top Republican officials. They had dinner with President Trump at the White House and dined with Donald Trump Jr. in 2018.

Parnas bragged about dining with the president at the White House that year.

Giuliani has said both are clients of his.  While they were sitting in Alexandria Sheriff’s Office cells, the Soviet-born duo were also hit with subpoenas by the House Intelligence Committee.

Parnas and Fruman had lunch with Giuliani Wednesday at Trump’s DC hotel hours before trying to leave the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an indictment unsealed Thursday in the Southern District of New York, the men are accused of funneling $325,000 from a mystery Russian businessman into America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in violation of U.S. campaign laws banning foreign donations and efforts to conceal campaign funds.

Flight risk: U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail

Flight risk: U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail

Lev Parnas
Igor Fruman

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested and charged with campaign finance crimes in an indictment unsealed Thursday

Mike Pence, Igor fruman, Lev Parnas, President Trump, and Rudy Giuliani are pictured in an image captured by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Mike Pence, Igor fruman, Lev Parnas, President Trump, and Rudy Giuliani are pictured in an image captured by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Dining at the White House: Lev Parnas bragged that he was a guest of Donald Trump in spring 2018 -

Dining at the White House: Lev Parnas bragged that he was a guest of Donald Trump in spring 2018 –

In addition to helping Trump, the same super PAC spent millions to boost former Texas GOP Rep Pete Sessions, who wrote a letter calling for the firing of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, who Trump trashed on his infamous July call with the Ukrainian president and who House Democrats want to interview Friday as part of their impeachment probe.

The House Intelligence committee wants both men to testify about their work with Giuliani in Ukraine as part of its impeachment probe into Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.

Their lawyer John Dowd – Trump’s former attorney – has said they won’t provide the information. Amid the standoff, three House committees issued subpoenas for interviews and information.

Dowd hung up on an Associated Press reporter seeking comment. He had previously replied to the Democrat-controlled committee rejecting the subpoenas and writing in comic sans font. He had also accused the Democrats of harassing his clients.

The men were arrested late Wednesday at Dulles airport in Virginia as they were about to fly abroad with one-way tickets to Vienna, according to prosecutors.

U.S. President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S. September 20, 2019. Giuliani said both Parnas and Fruman were his clients. They assisted his Ukraine investigation

U.S. President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S. September 20, 2019. Giuliani said both Parnas and Fruman were his clients. They assisted his Ukraine investigation

This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center, shows from left, Donald Trump, Jr., Tommy Hicks, Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, posted on May 21, 2018

This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center, shows from left, Donald Trump, Jr., Tommy Hicks, Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, posted on May 21, 2018

Men associated with Giuliani arrested for violating campaign laws
The pair donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through an LLC, prosecutors say.

Although the indictment mentions only an alleged scheme to violate campaign finance laws, the two men are also connected to a the sprawling Ukraine matter that has President Trump now facing a ramped-up House Democratic impeachment effort.

The Associated Press reported that the two men sought to use their connections to Giuliani to get the Ukrainian state gas company, Naftogaz, to replace members of their board of directors.

The indictment doesn’t mention Giuliani, whose association with Parnas and Fruman was part of his effort to amass potential dirt on Trump political rival Joe Biden.

The pair dined with Donald Trump Jr. in May 2018, along with Tommy Hicks Jr., according to a Facebook post that captured the event. Hicks was leading the pro-Trump super PAC at the time and now has a position as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

They also had dinner with President Trump, and images Parnas posted on Twitter in May thanks the president for an ‘incredible dinner and even better conversation’ at the White House.

He also wrote: ‘!!!! Making America Great!!!!!!!’ and tagged ‘#TRUMP2020.’

An image posted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project shows them pictured with Vice President Mike Pence, Trump, and Giuliani.

They also donated to Florida Sen. Rick Scott and hosted fundraisers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis headlined by Donald Trump Jr., the Miami Herald reported.

The men are being represented John Dowd, who served as Donald Trump’s lawyer during part of the Mueller probe.

Their company, Global Energy Producers LLC, has been accused of violating campaign finance laws for its six-figure donations to the super PAC.

Chief rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azman with former Arkansas governor Mike Hackabee - father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders - and 'American friends of Anatevka' Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were pictured in Jerusalem

Chief rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azman with former Arkansas governor Mike Hackabee – father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders – and ‘American friends of Anatevka’ Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were pictured in Jerusalem

Correia, President Trump, and Igor Fruman on July 4, 2018+11

Correia, President Trump, and Igor Fruman on July 4, 2018

 

Florida men tied to Giuliani arrested on campaign charges

By MICHAEL BIESECKER, MICHAEL BALSAMO, DESMOND BUTLER and ERIC TUCKERan hour ago

This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center shows, from left, Donald Trump Jr., Tommy Hicks Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, posted on May 21, 2018. Parnas and Fruman were arrested on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, on campaign finance violations resulting from a donation to a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection. (The Campaign Legal Center via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Florida businessmen tied to President Donald Trump’s lawyer and the Ukraine investigation were charged Thursday with federal campaign finance violations. The charges relate to a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s reelection.

Related Coverage: Trump impeachment inquiry

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, according to Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. No destination was disclosed.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. The men had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The indictments mark the first criminal charges related to the Ukraine controversy. While they do not suggest wrongdoing by the president, they are likely to add fuel to the House impeachment inquiry, raising additional questions about whether those close to Trump and Giuliani sought to use their influence to affect U.S. foreign policy decisions.

Youtube video thumbnail

Trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as baseless and politically motivated.

Records show that Parnas and Fruman used wire transfers from a corporate entity to make the $325,000 donation to the America First Action committee in 2018. But wire transfer records that became public through a lawsuit show that the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the source of the money.

Prosecutors also allege that Parnas urged a congressman to seek the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, at the behest of Ukrainian government officials. That happened about the same time that Parnas and Fruman committed to raising more than $20,000 for the politician.

The congressman wasn’t identified in court papers, but the donations match campaign finance reports for former Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who lost his re-election bid in November. In May 2018, Parnas posted a photo of himself and his business partner David Correia with Sessions in his Capitol Hill office, with the caption “Hard at work !!”

John Dowd, an attorney for Parnas and Fruman, hung up on an Associated Press reporter seeking comment. Giuliani said he couldn’t comment and that he didn’t represent the men in campaign finance matters.

The men were arrested around 6 p.m. Wednesday and booked at a local jail in Alexandria, Virginia. A court appearance Thursday was delayed as lawyers tried to work out a bail package. Kevin Downing, the lawyer who represented former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on charges that he hid millions of dollars that he earned in Ukraine advising politicians there, was representing the men for their initial appearance and declined to comment.

Correia and Andrew Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, were also charged in the case.

Attorney General William Barr had been briefed on the investigation soon after he was confirmed in February, was updated in recent weeks and was made aware Wednesday night that the men were being arrested, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The indictment says Parnas and Fruman “sought to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working” and took steps to conceal it from third parties, including creditors. They created a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers, and “intentionally caused certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of in their own names.”

Prosecutors charge that the two men falsely claimed the contributions came from GEP, which was described as a liquefied natural gas business. At that point, the company had no income or significant assets, the indictment said.

Prosecutors allege that Parnas and Fruman conspired to make illegal contributions to try to skirt the limit on federal campaign contributions. The men are also accused of making contributions to candidates for state and federal office, joint fundraising committees and independent expenditure committees in the names of other people.

The commitment to raise more than $20,000 for the congressman was made in May and June 2018. The lawmaker had also received about $3 million in independent expenditures from a super political action committee that Parnas and Fruman had been funding. A super PAC can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of a candidate but isn’t allowed to directly coordinate with the official campaign.

As a result of the donations, Parnas and Fruman had meetings with the congressman and Parnas lobbied him to advocate for removing the ambassador to Ukraine, Berman said. Trump referred to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was indeed recalled to the U.S., as “bad news” in his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Berman said his office “will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.” His office had brought unrelated charges against the president’s former legal “fixer” Michael Cohen last year.

The indictment also charges that Kukushkin conspired with the three other defendants to make political contributions, funded by a foreign national, to politicians seeking state and federal office “to gain influence with candidates as to policies that would benefit a future business venture.”

An unnamed foreigner wired $500,000 from a bank account overseas through New York to the defendants for contributions to two candidates for state office in Nevada, the indictment alleges. Foreigners are not permitted to contribute to U.S. elections.

The indictment accuses the four men of also participating in a scheme to acquire retail marijuana licenses through donations to local and federal politicians in New York, Nevada and other states.

The big donation to the Trump-allied PAC in May 2018 was part of a flurry of political spending tied to Parnas and Fruman, with at least $478,000 in donations flowing to GOP campaigns and PACs in little more than two months.

The money enabled the relatively unknown entrepreneurs to quickly gain access to the highest levels of the Republican Party, including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

America First Action said the $325,000 contribution would remain in a separate account while the court cases play out. A spokeswoman, Kelly Sadler, said the committee will “scrupulously comply with the law.”

The AP reported last week that Parnas and Fruman helped arrange a January meeting in New York between Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, and Giuliani, as well as other meetings with top government officials.

Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation were echoed by Trump in the July 25 call with Zelenskiy. That conversation is now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry .

House Democrats subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman on Thursday for documents they have refused to produce to three House committees. The panels have also subpoenaed Giuliani.

A whistleblower complaint by an unnamed intelligence official makes reference to “associates” of Giuliani in Ukraine who were attempting to make contact with Zelenskiy’s team, though it’s not clear that refers to Parnas and Fruman. That could put the two men squarely in the middle of the investigation into Giuliani’s activities.

___

Neumeister reported from New York City. Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Brian Slodysko in Washington, Larry Neumeister and Jonathan Lemire in New York and Matthew Barakat in Alexandria, Virginia contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/c9125e9ccd894965bbf2860100366779

 

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