US orders Chinese diplomats to report meetings with state and local officials
- The restrictions come amid growing concern about Chinese influence in the US and elsewhere, and were introduced in response to similar rules on how Western diplomats operate in China.
- The officials said the goal of the new requirements is to get the Chinese government to reciprocally allow American diplomats to engage with provincial and local officials as well as universities and other research institutes the way that Chinese diplomats can in the US.
- The new rules are the latest restriction on how Chinese entities operate in the US, amid concern over Beijing's influence in multiple spheres, and intense pressure on foreign diplomats, journalists and NGOs operating in China.
- Earlier this year, US intelligence officials said Beijing is leaning on expatriate Chinese scientists, businesspeople and students to gain access to anything and everything at American universities and companies that's of interest to China.
Ret. general: Syria pullback looks like an open door to disaster
- Just days later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the military would launch an offensive into northeastern Syria, aimed at Kurdish forces, which were left vulnerable with US troops withdrawn.
- These troops were deployed to protect a vulnerable and largely displaced civilian population, maintain US equities in the region, block Iranian encroachment, assure the containment of ISIS and prevent a long-threatened Turkish military operation that would unravel more than four years of US strategy in the region, according to various statements over time from US sources, as reported in the media.
- In South Korea, our allies are probably asking themselves what will come of the American troop presence and security guarantees when North Korean President Kim Jong Un follows through with his threats to renew nuclear weapons testing and development.
The FBI's investigation of Rudy Giuliani includes a counterintelligence aspect that suggests he may be a national security threat
- CNN reported on Wednesday that investigators from the Manhattan US attorney's office approached Kevin McCallion, an attorney in New York, earlier this year to ask about Giuliani's link to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born men who were arrested and charged last week with violating campaign finance laws and trying to funnel foreign money into US political campaigns.
- The investigation is said to be looking in part at who financed Giuliani's work in Ukraine, which included collaborating with Parnas and Fruman and lobbying the Ukrainian government on behalf of Kharkiv, a small town located in eastern Ukraine.
- In addition to his work in Ukraine, Giuliani also raised red flags among White House aides by repeatedly pushing Trump to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a controversial Muslim cleric, to the Turkish government, the Washington Post reported this week.
Joe Biden offers forceful defense of his son's Ukraine work at Democratic debate
- Washington (CNN) - Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a forceful defense of his son during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, saying voters should focus on President Donald Trump's "corruption" instead of Hunter Biden's previous work in Ukraine.
- Biden's comments came in response to a question from CNN's Anderson Cooper about whether it was appropriate for his son to have served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, while he was in charge of Ukraine policy in the Obama administration.
- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker -- who previously vowed that "if you come after Joe Biden, you're going to have to deal with me in this case -- came to the former vice president's defense during the Democratic debate.
Donald Trump's presidency is disintegrating as he faces his worst 30 days since taking office
- All this comes as the president is besieged on the domestic front by an escalating congressional impeachment inquiry, which is examining whether Trump used his public office for private gain.
- At the heart of the investigation is an unprecedented whistleblower complaint that a US intelligence official filed, accusing the president of using his public office for private gain.
- Beyond asking a foreign power for dirt against a political rival ahead of an election, Trump is also battling allegations that he held up a nearly $400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call to maintain leverage over Zelensky.
- And the House Ways and Means Committee is trying to learn further information about a third whistleblower, who works in the IRS and whose complaint alleges "inappropriate efforts to influence" the agency's audit of Trump's tax returns, according to a court filing from the committee.
The floodgates are opening as Trump officials publicly defy his orders and more whistleblowers come out of the shadows
- The messages — exchanged between Volker, the US's ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, the US's chief diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor, and the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — revealed how intricately senior US officials were involved in Giuliani's efforts to get dirt on the Bidens.
- Sondland additionally plans to tell lawmakers that his efforts to get Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating Burisma Holdings — the Ukrainian oil and gas company whose board Biden's son served on — were undertaken at Giuliani's direction.
- She testified this week that John Bolton, the former national security adviser, was so alarmed by efforts to pressure Ukraine for dirt that he instructed Hill to inform White House lawyers he was not part of the plan, according to The New York Times.
Mohammed bin Salman billed himself as the young strongman who could transform Saudi Arabia. Two years later, he has little to show for it.
- Pressured into an apparent acceptance of responsibility for the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and humiliated by an alleged Iranian strike that temporarily knocked out 50% of the country's oil production capacity, Prince Mohammed — MBS as he is widely known — struggles to command respect internationally and is regarded as weak by his principal regional rival, Iran.
- Having alienated many foreign investors over his thinly-disguised shakedown of the country's rich and powerful, and alleged involvement in the Khashoggi affair, the heir apparent's sense of isolation would be close to complete if it were not for the continuing support of much of the Saudi population, particularly the young, who have embraced his social reforms.
- Heavy government spending will insulate people for a while longer, but with little FDI, ineffectual economic reforms and the continuing decline in oil revenues, MBS financial comfort blanket will surely start to fray.
American troops are not supposed to be mercenaries
- That deployment comes in the wake of Iranian attacks against two Saudi oil facilities and lands squarely amid Trump's acquiescence to Turkey's invasion of northern Syria, a move being roundly criticized on both sides of the aisle as a betrayal of the Kurdish forces with whom we have partnered to fight ISIS.
- But Trump's sheepishness in Syria and his swagger over Saudi reimbursement also raise questions about the degree to which he understands and appreciates the fundamental nature of military service and the mutual benefits American citizens accrue from having troops forward deployed.
- Whether it's in Saudi Arabia or Syria or Ukraine or South Korea, Trump continues to ignore -- or at least fails to acknowledge -- the mutual benefits America enjoys from having committed friends overseas who lighten our load, provide logistics and basing support, and contribute in meaningful ways to keeping far-flung the "endless wars" he's always railing against.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 to consult for indicted associate's firm Fraud Guarantee
- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was paid $500,000 for work he did for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges, Giuliani told Reuters on Monday.
- Federal prosecutors are "examining Giuliani's interactions" with Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, a law enforcement source told Reuters on Sunday.
- Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport outside Washington last week on charges they funneled foreign money to unnamed US politicians in a bid to influence US-Ukraine relations in violation of US campaign finance laws.
- John Dowd, a lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, also would not discuss the source of the funding that Giuliani said he received for his work for Fraud Guarantee.
Prosecutors are scouring Rudy Giuliani's bank records and business dealings in Ukraine as part of a widening criminal investigation
- Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are sifting through the bank records and foreign business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- In addition to examining Giuliani's finances, The Journal reported that federal prosecutors have interviewed witnesses about the former New York mayor since at least August about his potential role in the alleged conspiracy involving Parnas and Fruman.
- Prosecutors are also looking into Giuliani's own involvement in pushing for Yovanovitch's abrupt removal from her role, as well as his previous consulting work in Ukraine, The Journal reported.
- The New York Times first reported last week that prosecutors are looking at whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws connected to his push for Yovanovitch's ouster.