Category: Opinion

191021164737-02-pelosi-schiff-file-1015-super-tease.jpg

DEMS WANT IMPEACHMENT BY CHRISTMAS…


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WHO PLAYED WHO?


Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told a federal court Friday that he considered Roger Stone the Trump Campaign’s ‘access point’ to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

However, the ex-Breitbart News chief said he had no direct knowledge of Stone’s links to Assange and assumed there was a relationship because Stone had been ‘boasting’ about it and mentioning it in the media.

He was also at pains to say that to the ‘best of his knowledge’ nobody on the Trump Campaign ever asked Stone to secure info from WikiLeaks, nor did anyone ask him to relay messages to its founder.

Nonetheless he told Stone’s lying-to-Congress trial that the Trump Campaign did indeed have an interest in anything that could ‘help Donald Trump and possibly hurt Hillary Clinton.’

The evidence is likely to be highly damaging to Stone’s case, painting him as being in direct touch with WikiLeaks when his defense against charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering is that he was making false brags of access to improve his own image.

But it also paints the Trump campaign as willing to use – if not solicit – foreign assistance from an alleged criminal to win the election.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told a federal court Friday that Roger Stone was considered the Trump Campaign's 'access point' to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. He's pictured leaving federal court wearing three shirts, a blazer and a wax coat to testify in the trial of Roger Stone in Washington, D.C. where the temperature was 42 degrees F

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon told a federal court Friday that Roger Stone was considered the Trump Campaign’s ‘access point’ to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. He’s pictured leaving federal court wearing three shirts, a blazer and a wax coat to testify in the trial of Roger Stone in Washington, D.C. where the temperature was 42 degrees F

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, pictured leaving to court with his wife in a gray three-button suit jack and blue striped shirt with a cutaway collar and spotted tie, previously told Congress that Randy Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, pictured leaving court with his wife (left) and daughter (right) wearing a gray three-button suit jack and blue striped shirt with a cutaway collar and spotted tie, previously told Congress that Randy Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Bannon said he had no direct knowledge Stone's link to Julian Assange (pictured) but assumed there was a relationship because Stone boasted about one

Bannon said he had no direct knowledge Stone’s link to Julian Assange (pictured) but assumed there was a relationship because Stone boasted about one 

WikiLeaks’ Assange is an Australia citizen who at the time was hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after skipping bail on rape charges; he is now in a UK prison fighting extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges.

THE CHARGES AGAINST ROGER STONE

Roger Stone is charged with:

1. Obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering by trying to get Randy Credico to lie to Congress 

2. Lying to Congress that he did not have emails or texts about Julian Assange

3. Lying when he claimed his references to being in touch with Assange were actually about a ‘go-between’ – Randy Credico

4. Lying that he didn’t ask his ‘go-between’ to communicate with Assange

5. Lying that he didn’t text or email the ‘go-between’ about WikiLeaks

6. Lying that he had never discussed conversation with his ‘go-between’ with anyone in the Trump campaign

‘The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks to Julian Assange but Roger would have been considered an access point if we needed an access point because he implied and he told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange,’ he told jurors this afternoon.

Bannon told the court he was subpoenaed to appear in Washington, D.C. Federal Court and otherwise would not have testified against Stone.

He was dressed head to toe in black pants, a black blazer, two black button up shirts, plus an under shirt in keeping with his reputation as a Machiavellian right-wing figure who once boasted ‘darkness is good’ in politics.

Bannon said he had known Stone since his Breitbart days and they were regularly in contact even before he became chief executive of the Trump campaign on August 12 2016.

‘I talked to Roger every couple of weeks, by email I guess at first, maybe a phone call, but principally by email,’ he told jurors. ‘I know he had a long standing relationship with the candidate.’

By the time he was appointed to the campaign’s top position they were talking more regularly, he said. He confirmed WikiLeaks came up on occasion in private chats.

As to whether Stone had specifically claimed to have direct contact with them, Bannon said: ‘Never directly but I think he implied he had a relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.’

He added: ‘I wouldn’t call it bragging, maybe boasting. There’s a difference. He would mention it.’

Bannon insisted the pair never discussed WikiLeaks at length, however, and he considered the hacked DNC materials disseminated by WikiLeaks as only ‘marginally’ helpful to Trump’s electoral prospects.

Prosecutor Michael Marando asked him read over an email Stone sent him on August 18 2016, one day after he was announced as the Trump Campaign CEO.

‘Trump can still win – but time is running out. Early voting begins in six weeks. I do know how to win this but it ain’t pretty,’ Stone wrote.

Bannon wrote back ‘Let’s talk asap’ but he told jurors he didn’t consider that a reference to WikiLeaks.

‘Roger is an agent provocateur and expert in opposition research, the tougher side of politics,’ he said. ‘And when you are that far behind you need to use every tool in the tool box.’

He sent Stone a further email on October 4 stating: ‘What was that this morning?’

Bannon explained that was a reference to a press conference held by WikiLeaks that morning in London that was supposed to herald a big ‘dump’ of hacked Democratic Party emails.

‘It didn’t turn out to be what people were hyping it up to be,’ he said.

The aim of Bannon’s email was twofold: ‘One to find out why there was no announcement and also a bit of a heckle that nothing came out,’ he said.

Stone replied to say Assange had held the material back because he was living in fear of assassination, to which Bannon replied: ‘He didn’t cut deal w / Clintons?’ 

He told the court he was merely being ‘cynical’ after his many years in politics.

‘I always believe that he [Stone] had the relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks but it never came up that there was anybody else,’ he said.

Bannon testified that the Trump Campaign did have an interest in anything that could 'help Donald Trump and possibly hurt Hillary Clinton'

Bannon testified that the Trump Campaign did have an interest in anything that could ‘help Donald Trump and possibly hurt Hillary Clinton’

Bannon said he had no direct knowledge of Stone's link to Assange but assumed there was a relationship because Stone boasted about it

Bannon said he had no direct knowledge of Stone’s link to Assange but assumed there was a relationship because Stone boasted about it 

Asked if he or the Trump Campaign ever instructed Stone or anyone else to see Assange or trade information, Bannon replied: Not to my knowledge, no.’

Bannon was chief executive of the Trump campaign and went on to work at the White House until he dropped out of the President’s administration only seven months later.

He was widely seen as Trump’s ideological link to America’s right-wing voters but the pair fell put when Trump fired him and blasted him on Twitter as a press-leaking ‘Sloppy Steve’.

However the populist nationalist has continued speaking publicly and rubbing shoulders with wealthy power brokers while boasting he was largely responsible for Trumps 2016 win.

Outside court Friday he complained to reporters that he had been forced to give evidence against Stone as well as at a previous grand jury hearing.

I was compelled to testify,’ he said. ‘I was under subpoena by Mueller. I was under subpoena by the House. I was forced to go to the grand jury and I’m forced and compelled to come here today.’

When asked by DailyMail.com if he thought Stone was innocent or guilty, he smiled and replied. ‘I can’t.’

Billed as the star witness, Bannon’s testimony lasted a mere 35 minutes Friday, with a further ten minutes of cross examination.

The trial had heard previously that he was one of several Trump aids who had communications with Stone after Democratic Party emails were hacked by Russia and disseminated by WikiLeaks in 2016.

‘Stone regularly updated people on the Trump campaign at the senior levels about whatever information he thought he had about WikiLeaks. He was going to the very top of the Trump campaign, the CEO of the Trump campaign – a man named Steve Bannon,’ said prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky.

Stone ‘straight up lied’ to Congress about back-channel efforts to obtain Democratic Party emails hacked by Russia and disseminated by WikiLeaks on the eve of the 2016 election, it’s alleged.

The self-proclaimed political dirty trickster wanted to cover his tracks because ‘the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,’ his trial has heard this week.

Bannon's testimony paints the Trump campaign as willing to use – if not solicit - foreign assistance from an alleged criminal to win the election

Bannon’s testimony paints the Trump campaign as willing to use – if not solicit – foreign assistance from an alleged criminal to win the election

Stone not only mislead lawmakers about his attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he also concealed conversations with high-ranking Trump Campaign officials who were eager to learn what dirt Assange had on their opponent, Hillary Clinton, it’s alleged.

Those conversations included email exchanges with jailed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as well as former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is due to testify in Stone’s trial along with a another disgraced former Trump aide, Rick Gates.

Stone also made several mysterious phone calls to Trump himself, one just hours after the DNC announced to the world it had been hacked, his Washington, D.C. District Court trial heard.

The silver-haired defendant, accompanied to proceedings this week by his wife Nydia and ‘spiritual advisor’ pastor Randy Short, denies obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to the committee.

Jurors heard how the wily Republican operative and long-time confidante of Trump, seized upon the now-notorious hacking of Democratic National Committee emails as an opportunity to curry favor and help his friend get into the White House at Clinton’s expense.

He used two different associates to try to tease information from WikiLeaks about their plans to publish stolen emails embarrassing to the former Secretary of State, then contacted both Bannon and Manafort indicating that he could help swing the vote their way and ‘save Trump’s ass’.

But when asked to testify to the House Intelligence Committee one year later about Russian involvement in the DNC hack and attempts to interfere with the election, Stone mislead lawmakers and about his sources and hid a trove of emails, texts and documents, said prosecutor Aaron Zelinksy.

‘In a critical investigation of national importance, the defendant, Roger Stone, repeatedly lied under oath to a congressional committee and lied under oath to cover his tracks,’ he told the jury comprising nine women and three men.

The long-time GOP schemer was indicted by a grand jury as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia.

It’s alleged he told the author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi in August 2016 to have a friend ‘go see Julian Assange’ and ‘get a hold of emails’ that the WikiLeaks boss had up had up his sleeve.

Stone would later try and hide Corsi’s involvement from lawmakers, however, telling them his sole conduit was a comedian and radio host named Randy Credico who interviewed Assange in September 2016.

When Credico threatened to contradict the testimony by denying he was the principal go-between Stone had been publicly bragging about, Stone repeatedly told him to plead the Fifth or do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’, it’s claimed.

Randy Credico carried his dog Bianca as he left court after giving two days of testimony in the Roger Stone trial. He told the court Friday he feared being labeled as the 'guy who helped Trump win the election' due to his connections with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Randy Credico carried his dog Bianca as he left court after giving two days of testimony in the Roger Stone trial. He told the court Friday he feared being labeled as the ‘guy who helped Trump win the election’ due to his connections with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Stone sent a stream of texts to Randy Credico which prosecutors say threatened the DJ and his 13-year-old therapy dog, Bianca the Coton de Tulear

Stone sent a stream of texts to Randy Credico which prosecutors say threatened the DJ and his 13-year-old therapy dog, Bianca the Coton de Tulear

Prosecutors say that Frank Pantangeli is a  reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to a congressional committee to help the Corleone family before committing suicide (pictured is a photo from the filme)

Prosecutors say that Frank Pantangeli is a  reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to a congressional committee to help the Corleone family before committing suicide (pictured is a photo from the filme) 

Prosecutors say that is a reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to a congressional committee to help the Corleone family before committing suicide.

The rattled comic eventually did plead the Fifth but only after Stone peppered him with threats and insults, including ‘Prepare to die cocksucker. You are a rat,’ the court was told.

Credico said he was fearful Stone would try to implicate a close lawyer friend named Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who was part of Assange's legal team

Credico said he was fearful Stone would try to implicate a close lawyer friend named Margaret Ratner Kunstler, who was part of Assange’s legal team

He even threatened Credico’s therapy dog Bianca, a 13-year-old Coton de Tulear, writing in an text message read out to the trial: ‘I’m going to take that dog away from you.’

‘I have no wife, no kids, just a sister who is still alive,’ Credico, testified Friday in court.

The satirist insisted he was a ‘spectator’ not a back channel, as Stone had told lawmakers.

He told jurors he became increasingly worried Stone would make him his ‘patsy’.

Credico was also fearful Stone would try to implicate a close lawyer friend named Margaret Ratner Kunstler who was part of Assange’s legal team and had helped get the WikiLeaks boss on Credico’s radio show.

‘I didn’t know what to do. Do I protect myself being associated with Donald Trump? If I do that I sacrifice Mrs Kunstler’s reputation, that’s the line I was walking,’ said Credico, an avowed left-winger and Bernie Sanders supporter.

‘I certainly didn’t want to be stuck as the guy who helped Trump win the election.’

In cross examination Credico was asked if he had tried to ‘play’ Stone by giving him the false impression he had a ‘special relationship’ with Assange.

‘There were exaggerations, there were lies, there were rebuffs, yes,’ he admitted.

Robert Buschel, defending, asked Credico whether he had introduced himself at a 2018 White House press function as ‘Roger Stone’s back channel’.

‘It was with a wink and a nod,’ the comic responded.

‘He plays hard ball. He throws a lot of junk. I did not want to get hit,’ he said of his erstwhile friend Stone, whom he had known for nearly two decades but fallen out with on numerous occasions.

Kunstler also took the stand Friday afternoon to deny passing any information from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange to Credico.

The NY-based attorney told jurors she never worked directly for Assange but represented his close adviser Sarah Harrison.

When Credico asked her to help get Assange on his radio show in August 2016 she agreed because she and her late husband had been friends with him for years.

‘I wrote a note to Mr Assange’s assistant saying a friend of mine had a radio program and would love to have Julian Assange on as a guest and I included Randy’s contact details on that message,’ she said.

Kunstler said she never asked Assange, whom she had met just a handful of times, for anything for Credico and never passed on any information about the DNC hack which she only learnt about from the media.

‘I’m a lawyer I don’t do things like that,’ she said.

Randy Credico told the court Friday that Stone told him to plead the Fifth or do a 'Frank Pentangeli' - in reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to congress (pictured leaving court Friday )

Randy Credico told the court Friday that Stone told him to plead the Fifth or do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’ – in reference to a character in Godfather Part II who lies to congress (pictured leaving court Friday ) 

According to the government’s indictment, Stone – who briefly served on Trump’s campaign but was pushed out amid infighting with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski – is accused of telling five lies during his September 26 2017 testimony.

They say he lied that he did not have emails or texts about WikiLeaks and lied that he didn’t ask his ‘go-between’ to communicate with Assange.

WHO TO LOOK OUT FOR AT THE ROGER STONE TRIAL 

Rick Gates:

Former deputy Trump campaign chief who turned Mueller witness. Forced to reveal secret Russian mistress when he testified against Paul Manafort, his former boss

Jerome Corsi:

Conspiracy theorist associate of Stone; fought off attempts by Mueller to force him into a plea deal. Previously pushed false claim Barack Obama was born in Kenya

Theodore ‘Ted’ Malloch:

Trump campaign figure whose role in contact with Assange will be explored by prosecutors; previously falsely claimed he was an Oxford professor and a Scottish laird 

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:

Will not be appearing as witnesses but prospective jurors were warned they will be mentioned during the trial 

It’s alleged he further lied that he only had one associate acting as a back channel when he allegedly had two, and both lied and tampered with a witness when he later tried to get Credico to mislead Congress.

Finally, Stone is accused of lying that he had never discussed conversations with his ‘go-between’ with anyone in the Trump campaign.

‘Now you’ll ask why didn’t Roger Stone just tell the truth?’ Zelinsky told jurors. ‘The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad.

‘The truth looked bad to the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.’

Bruce Rogow, Stone’s lead defense attorney, claims his client never meant to lie and was merely guilty of boasting and overstating the extent of his contacts.

‘He did brag about his ability to find out what was going on,’ Rogow said. ‘But he had no intermediary.’

That was because, in reality, Credico and Corse were merely ‘playing’ Stone by claiming to have inside knowledge they didn’t have, Rogow said.

And the former Nixon campaign adviser – who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back – was ‘playing others’ by pretending to have direct contact with WikiLeaks.

‘We think the evidence will show that there was no corrupt intent in whatever was said or done by Mr Stone,’ Rogow said.

At several points during the trial Judge Amy Berman Jackson has criticized ‘irresponsible’ media speculation about the identity of jurors, an apparent reference to alt-right publications claiming an Obama administration official had made it onto the panel.

‘It’s inaccurate and untrue and it puts the safety of everyone involved in this trial, including the jury, at risk,’ she warned Friday.

She also gave jurors a direction they could not refuse: Not to download the Godfather movies on Netflix.



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Ventura Jolted By Series Of Quakes Second Day In Row…




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Iran Detains Nuke Inspector, Bans From Key Atomic Site…


U.S. State Department officials described Iran’s blocking of an international nuclear inspector from accessing key nuclear sites last week as an “outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation” amid growing concerns Iran is hiding undeclared nuclear materials.

Iran confirmed earlier this week it had blocked an international nuclear inspector from accessing key sites for mandated oversight.

U.S. officials and nuclear experts described Iran’s behavior as highly unusual and dangerous. As the country continues to bolster its enrichment of uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon—it is becoming increasingly clear that Tehran has no interest in living up to international commitments to provide transparency about its nuclear program, particularly regarding work on the weapons front.

Iran said that it had blocked at least one inspector from physically entering its Natanz uranium enrichment site because she was carrying “suspicious” materials that could have been explosive. However, nuclear inspectors commonly carry signs of explosive residue due to the nature of their work, and safety procedures for such situations exist, experts told the Washington Free Beacon.

A State Department spokesman confirmed to the Free Beacon that Iran had detained the IAEA inspector, adding that the incident bolsters concerns the Trump administration has about Iran being in possession of undeclared nuclear materials.

“Iran’s detention of an IAEA inspector was without question an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation,” the State Department official said on background. “Iran’s justifications strain credibility—IAEA inspectors must be permitted to conduct their work unimpeded. Although the inspector is now safe, such acts by Iran will not be tolerated.”

The administration suspects that Iran is trying to prevent international inspectors from confirming its work with prohibited nuclear materials.

“The United States is deeply concerned about the two issues the IAEA acting director general described in today’s special session of the IAEA Board of Directors,” the official said. “First, that the IAEA has detected evidence of potential undeclared nuclear material in Iran, and second, the detention of an IAEA inspector. Along with Iran’s expansion of proliferation-sensitive nuclear activity, this pattern of deception and intimidation is unacceptable. All nations should be concerned that Iran is not fully cooperating with the IAEA and should demand Iran immediately redress these serious problems.”

The diplomatic escalation comes as Iran breaches limits on the amount of enriched uranium it produces and the enrichment methods it uses. It escalated installations of advanced centrifuges in the past week and has vowed to continue doing so.

Nuclear experts told the Free Beacon that Iran’s behavior raises multiple questions and concerns about the nature of its ongoing work.

“Assuming the IAEA version of events is correct and she did not have explosive contamination on her person, then Iran may be testing what the reaction is to denying inspectors access to safeguarded sites,” David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Free Beacon.

“How long does it take for this episode to be reported to the board and media?” he asked. “Does the IAEA send a replacement quickly? How many countries and which ones believe the Iranian rationale? Is there outrage or are there divisions that delay a coordinated response?”

These questions must be addressed by the international community, Albright said.

“If Iran wants to break out and needs to do certain banned things at a safeguarded site to accomplish that breakout, it will need to deny inspectors access to that site for some period of time,” he said. “Although the following is just speculation at this point, Iran may be testing the waters and scoping out the best way to deny access in the future when it really needs to do it.”

Andrea Stricker, a nonproliferation analyst and research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described Iran’s actions as “highly provocative.”

It “gives the impression that Iran could be considering curtailing inspection authorities as a future step to draw down its JCPOA commitments,” Stricker said. “It’s a hostile sign for sure.”

While Iranian officials claimed they barred the IAEA inspector due to “suspicious” materials being detected on her person, experts say traces of explosive materials should not have necessarily raised alarms following an investigation.

Stricker said IAEA inspectors can carry traces of explosive materials, but procedures are typically in place to address concerns like those Iran expressed.

“It is not uncommon for inspectors to pick up explosive residue if they have been at a high explosives site,” she said. “They can be detained at airports, for example. However, they have procedures in place to remedy such situations. I think that given the seriousness with which countries have taken this, there is more to it and it is worth looking into.”

Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.



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Billionaire wealth falls first time since '15…


ZURICH (Reuters) – The world’s richest people became a little less well off last year, according to a report by UBS (UBSG.S) and PwC, as geopolitical turmoil and volatile equity markets reduced the wealth of billionaires for the first time since 2015.

Billionaires’ wealth fell by 4.3% globally to $8.5 trillion last year, the UBS/PwC report found, with a sharp decline in Greater China, including Hong Kong, and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly.

Private wealth in Hong Kong fell 4% in 2018 to $319.8 billion, the report showed, with months of anti-government protests in the Chinese-ruled city and an economic recession clouding the outlook this year.

Some Hong Kong tycoons have begun moving personal wealth offshore, Reuters reported in June, as concerns deepen over the protests.

“We haven’t seen any significant outflows, we have been tracking some of these numbers on a regular basis,” said Amy Lo, UBS co-head of Asia Pacific wealth management. “Our clients have been diversifying all along, it’s not in the last one year.”

Private banks including the world’s largest wealth manager UBS have felt the effects of U.S.-China trade tensions and global political uncertainties, as clients last year shied away from trading and taking on debt in favor of hoarding cash.

The net worth of China’s richest dropped 12.8% in dollar terms on the back of tumbling stock markets, a weaker local currency and a slowdown in growth, the report found, knocking dozens off the billionaires list.

Despite the drop, China still produces a new billionaire every 2-2.5 days, UBS’s head of ultra-high net worth clients, Josef Stadler, said in the report released on Friday.

Worldwide, the number of billionaires fell everywhere except in the Americas, where tech entrepreneurs continued to buoy the ranks of the United States’ wealthiest.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at an office building in Zurich, Switzerland January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“This report shows the resilience of the U.S. economy,” where there were 749 billionaires at the end of 2018, said John Matthews, head of private wealth management and ultra-high net worth business for UBS in the United States.

While a stock market recovery from a steep drop in late 2018 has helped wealth managers increase their assets, the world’s richest families remain concerned about global affairs from trade tensions and Brexit to populism and climate change and are keeping more of their money in cash.

“It is likely that billionaire wealth will go up again this year,” said Simon Smiles, UBS’s chief investment officer for ultra-wealthy clients, adding it would likely be a more muted increase than the wider financial market rally might suggest.

Reporting by Angelika Gruber and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Mark Potter and Giles Elgood

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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IVANKA ON IMPEACHMENT…


RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Ivanka Trump brushed off criticism that her family has profited off the presidency and said Friday a big difference between her family and Democrat Joe Biden’s is that President Donald Trump amassed his fortune before he entered politics while Biden’s wealth is “derivative” of his time in office.

In an interview with The Associated Press, she said the two situations were “completely inverse.”

In New Hampshire, Biden responded that the president’s daughter should look at his tax returns for evidence he didn’t cash in as vice president or a legislator.

Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser, pushed back against nearly three years of ethics complaints and lawsuits accusing the Trumps of trying to turn the presidency to their financial advantage. The president and his allies have tried to tarnish Biden by making similar but unfounded claims about Biden’s tenure as vice president and his son Hunter’s activities in Ukraine during that time.

Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company as his father led the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Although anti-corruption advocates expressed concern about the timing, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.

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AP video

Biden spent more than 30 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate before serving eight years as vice president and Ivanka Trump said he “created wealth as a derivative of that.”

Her father entered politics after making a fortune in real estate.

“His wealth, and our wealth, collectively and independently, was created prior to government service and prior to anyone in our lives having run for elected office,” Ivanka Trump said.

“Most people do create their wealth post service. We created ours prior,” she added.

Members of Congress must follow strict rules while in office to avoid financial and other conflicts of interest. Many pursue higher-paying opportunities after they leave office.

Biden was consistently among the poorest members of Congress, relying largely on his lawmaker’s salary, according to his annual financial disclosure forms.

But he has seen his income grow since leaving the White House in 2017. A financial disclosure form Biden released this year shows he and his wife, Jill, took in more than $15 million since leaving the Obama White House, including a lucrative book deal.

“Tell her to look at my tax returns,” Biden responded from New Hampshire, where he filed paperwork to appear on the ballot next year. “I’ve laid it all out — everything,” he added before calling on Trump to release his own income tax returns.

Government watchdogs have criticized Trump for unethically mixing official business with promotion of his own interests.

Trump is the first president in modern history who has not walled himself off from his business holdings. He makes frequent trips to his for-profit golf clubs, collects dues at his members-only properties and hosts fundraisers and foreign delegations at hotels that bear his family’s name.

Ivanka Trump spoke in a wide-ranging AP interview as she wrapped up a three-day visit to Morocco, where she promoted U.S. efforts to help empower women in developing countries.

Speaking about the House impeachment inquiry from half a world away, she echoed her father’s view that the investigation is aimed at overturning the 2016 election that put him in the White House.

But she parted ways with him by saying the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint helped spark the investigation is “not particularly relevant.”

President Trump and some of his allies lately have been pressing mainstream journalists to publicize the whistleblower’s name. The president has also sent tweets calling on the individual to come forward.

But Ivanka Trump said the person’s motives were more important than knowing their identity. She declined to speculate about what led the individual to lodge a formal complaint.

“The whistleblower shouldn’t be a substantive part of the conversation,” she told AP, saying the person “did not have firsthand information.”

She said the individual’s identity is not “particularly relevant” to her, “aside from what the motivation behind all of this was.”

She noted that the whistleblower was not among administration officials who heard the president ask Ukraine’s leader during a July 25 telephone conversation to investigate Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to challenge Trump.

Ivanka Trump said her family has faced constant criticism since her father became president and that impeachment is part of that pattern. House Democrats counter that the inquiry is about whether Trump abused his office by putting his political interests first.

“Rather than wait, under a year, until the people can decide for themselves based on his record and based on his accomplishments, this new effort has, has commenced,” she said. “But to us, it’s really been like this from the beginning.”

She said she has not been reading transcripts of the depositions that current and former administration officials have given impeachment investigators.

As for the future, Ivanka Trump said she had yet to decide on what role she will play in her father’s re-election campaign.

And on the question of whether she also wants four more years at the White House, the mother of three said the answer would largely depend on the needs of her children.

____

Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap



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All-Female Village Evacuated as Turkish Forces Advance…


The village of Jinwar in northeastern Syria, an unusual community consisting entirely of women and children, was reportedly evacuated on Monday as Turkish forces continued to advance despite a cease-fire agreement.

Kurdistan24 News described Jinwar as a village “set up by local women’s groups and international volunteers a few years ago to create a peaceful space for women who want to live out of family-orientated roles and patriarchal society.” 

Some of the residents are women whose husbands died fighting the Islamic State, while others say they relocated to escape from rigid social structures, or to keep custody of children their extended families wanted to take from them.

The name of the village literally translates to “women’s land” in Kurdish. Its population was never meant to be entirely Kurdish, however. 

“We built a village not only for Kurdish women, but we have Arab, we have Yazidi and some of our foreign friends are also living with us,” one of the founders told CNN in May.

At that time, the full-time population of the tiny settlement included 16 women and 32 children, living in houses they built themselves from mud bricks. More recent reports suggest the population has roughly doubled since then.

“It was a very hard moment and made us all very sad angry. Jinwar is part of the achievement of women in this region and part of the women’s revolution that has been realized by so many women here in the last years,” a female foreign volunteer from Jinwar told Kurdistan24.

The volunteer said the women of Jinwar took temporary refuge in other villages. “As soon as possible, all of us are returning to the village. We are supporting each other, we will continue to resist!” a Jinwar resident vowed.

Reports from other cities and villages in the region say the Turkish invaders and allied Syrian militia have continued pushing deeper into Kurdish territory in defiance of the cease-fire agreement, moving closer to a conflict with Syrian army forces dispatched to the region. 

The Turkish advances have been accompanied by artillery fire considered threatening to civilians in the area. The Turks, in turn, say their units and allied forces have come under artillery fire from Kurdish positions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Thursday that promises to clear Kurdish militia units regarded as terrorists by Turkey from the border region have not been fulfilled.



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Texas Gov to Establish Camp for Homeless in Austin…


Escalating his feud with Austin city leaders over how to address the Texas capital’s problem of homelessness, Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to begin housing homeless people on state land.

The announcement comes just days after state officials began clearing people out from underpasses Monday, a move taken in opposition to the policy the city council adopted this summer allowing camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city’s homeless population.

Mr. Abbott’s office said Thursday that it will begin allowing people to camp on a 5-acre plot of state-owned land in southeastern Austin. The property will have portable restrooms, hand-washing stations and an agreement from local charities to service meals there, said John Wittman, a spokesman for the Republican.

“This is the governor following through on his commitment,” Mr. Wittman said. “He said he would clean up downtown.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he appreciated any assistance in responding to homelessness in Austin, but said the city’s efforts will remain on finding permanent housing for people. City staff members over the summer recommended against putting resources toward designated camps, saying they often end up becoming permanent and taking effort away from permanent solutions.

“Ultimately, we don’t want people camping anywhere,” Mr. Adler said.

Before Monday’s clearing out of the state-controlled underpasses, Mr. Abbott had for months threatened state intervention and encouraged constituents to tweet videos of homeless people behaving badly in Austin, signaling his displeasure with the city’s policies. Austin council members and advocates for the homeless criticized him for pushing people with nowhere else to go into hiding.

The plan announced Thursday provides a new option, Mr. Wittman said, though he emphasized it is a short-term solution.

Austin Chamber of Commerce representatives, meanwhile, announced a longer-term effort Thursday to address homelessness. The chamber said it is forming a coalition with faith-based partners to try to raise $14 million to build and operate one or more shelters that can hold about 150 bunk beds.

The Austin city council adopted a policy this summer to allow camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city’s homeless population.


Photo:

Bob Daemmrich/Zuma Press

Both new efforts could have political implications on an issue where Mr. Abbott and other Republican leaders have accused the liberal city government of failing in leadership. Conservative state leaders have in recent years railed against Texas’ left-leaning major cities, focusing legislative efforts on overturning local ordinances.

On homelessness, Mr. Abbott has found increasing support from some city residents who say they are frustrated with the growing impact of homeless people.

Austin’s debate mirrors others around the country. President Donald Trump has threatened federal action against California cities for their high homelessness numbers. In Las Vegas, an ordinance passed Wednesday evening to outlaw public camping—the opposite of what Austin did—drew opposition this week from Democratic presidential contenders including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

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BLOOMBERG journalists 'unnerved'…


In conversations with POLITICO, current and former Bloomberg employees recalled the company’s struggles in 2016 as Bloomberg flirted with running for president, a situation made even more complicated by the company’s restrictions on covering Bloomberg the man and the organization.

Then, last year, Bloomberg mused in a Radio Iowa interview that he might sell his company or even cease political coverage if he decided to run for president in 2020. He initially declined to enter the race, before reportedly preparing to file papers for the Alabama primary, which has an early filing deadline.

“As long as he keeps doing this Hamlet-on-the-Hudson routine — he might get in, he might not get in — it really tortures the journalists working there,” Missouri journalism professor Kathy Kiely told POLITICO. “This is the time you want to be getting your feet under you, developing sources, setting up plans for coverage of the campaign.”

But Bloomberg “becomes an X factor and you don’t know what the landscape is going to look like for you and what you can cover,” said Kiely, who believes the company’s reporters should “cover Michael Bloomberg just like any other candidate.”

Kiely, a former Bloomberg politics editor, quit that position in early 2016 out of frustration with not being able to aggressively cover Bloomberg’s political ambitions. She sees the newsroom constrained again heading into 2020.

“He’s hired terrific reporters, he has great editors, and then he goes and handcuffs them,” said Kiely, who suggests building a firewall between the potential candidate and the newsroom.

“Decide you want to be a publisher or a presidential candidate,” she added, “but you can’t do both and have a credible organization.”

As a matter of policy, Bloomberg News — which is part of financial and data juggernaut Bloomberg LP — does not cover Bloomberg’s “wealth or personal life” and “doesn’t originate stories about the company.” For instance, the company didn’t report on Bloomberg returning as CEO in 2014 after serving three four-year terms as mayor of New York City, news which broke in The New York Times.

Bloomberg News City Hall reporter Henry Goldman covered Bloomberg’s time in office, but the newsroom did not deeply investigate the mayor and local city news has never been a major part of the global organization.

The race for the presidency, and the presidency itself, is a more consequential story for Bloomberg News, which employs many journalists focused on national politics and policy issues like taxes, health care, and the environment. It’s hard to see how cutting out “politics” wouldn’t impact a wide range of beats domestically and internationally, as well as the financial markets, which are a core Bloomberg News coverage area.

Bloomberg continues to serve subscribers of its high-priced terminals with up-to-the-second financial information, while also expanding its media footprint in recent years with magazines, like Bloomberg Businessweek, and through commentary and analysis at Bloomberg Opinion.

For now, journalists are reading Bloomberg’s comments in Iowa last year like tea leaves. In the radio interview, Bloomberg suggested putting the company in a blind trust or selling it. He reiterated that the company has “always had a policy that we don’t cover ourselves” and joked about how he didn’t want “reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me.”

“One of the things you could do,” if running, he said, “is you could say we’re not going to cover politics at all.”

Nonetheless, Bloomberg’s latest political move didn’t go unmentioned on Bloomberg News.

Washington bureau chief Craig Gordon wrote a short piece Thursday evening on Bloomberg’s political ambitions, though after news first broke in The New York Times.



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