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.
US claims cyber strike on Iran after attack on Saudi oil facility
- Reuters reports that the United States launched a "secret cyber operation" against Iran in September, following the alleged drone and missile attack by Iran on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
- Unnamed officials told Reuters that the late-September cyberattack targeted Iran's "propaganda" infrastructure.
- Further ReadingIranian state hackers reload their domains, release off-the-shelf RAT malwareUS, Saudi, German, French and British officials have all concluded that Iran was responsible for the attack on the Aramco Abqaiq oil refinery, based on forensic evidence collected from the missiles and drones involved in the strike and other data related to the direction from which the attack was launched.
- On June 20, according to a New York Times report, the US Cyber Command attacked computing infrastructure Iran allegedly used to plan attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
- Officials told the Times that the damage done to Iran's data and communications infrastructure lasted longer than expected.
Trump administration intensifies Syria damage-control efforts
- And a senior defense official, briefing reporters Tuesday, said the Department of Defense would receive a waiver that would prevent the sanctions on the Turkish Defense Ministry from impacting US arms sales to Turkey.
- In a meeting with a top US diplomat last week, Syrian Democratic Forces Commander Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi accused the US of "leaving us to be slaughtered." Days later, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that Trump was ordering the remaining American forces out of northern Syria.
- On Tuesday, a US official told CNN that Turkish-backed forces had come very close to a combined Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition base, putting American forces on the ground directly at risk and violating a standing agreement with the US to not get close enough to threaten its troops.
US troops express anger at Trump's Syria policy: 'We betrayed' the Kurds
- Another senior American defense official told CNN that Trump's failure to more forcefully oppose the invasion or do anything to stop the attacks on the Kurds meant Trump had given Turkey a green light, despite the administration's public stance that it had consistently opposed the operation.
- Another US military official involved in operations in Syria said he was "ashamed" of his country's actions with regards to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, saying the US had failed to defend its one-time ally in the fight against ISIS.
- While Trump administration officials have argued that Turkey would have attacked the Kurds even if US troops had remained, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and a large bipartisan group of US lawmakers have slammed Trump for not opposing the Turkish operation more forcefully and for taking no concrete action to stop it.
Here's why Democrats aren't holding an impeachment inquiry vote -- yet
- CNN's Jeremy Herb reports State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent told lawmakers Tuesday that he was told by a supervisor to lay low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine undermining US foreign policy.
- That report came from Rep. Gerry Connolly, a senior member of the House Oversight Committee, who listened to Kent's testimony after he complied with a subpoena and appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
- Kent testified that at a May meeting at the White House organized by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, officials were told that three people would be in charge of Ukraine policy: Volker, Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
- On Tuesday, George Kent, the State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, was the latest witness to be questioned.
Mounting frustration inside White House over Hill depositions
- Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed the escalating impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill during a jovial Rose Garden appearance, but sources say there is mounting frustration over the cavalcade of administration witnesses providing testimony.
- Inside the West Wing, sources say, there is escalating concern about administration witnesses who are giving depositions on Capitol Hill.
- The frustration comes as the Office of the Vice President said it will not comply with House requests for documents related to the impeachment inquiry, according to a Tuesday letter from Matthew Morgan, counsel for Vice President Mike Pence.
- The White House sent an eight-page letter declaring war on the inquiry by deeming it unconstitutional -- but officials have been unable so far to prevent officials from complying with requests and subpoenas.
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.
White House scrambles to slow impeachment push as new revelations deepen scandal
- Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it.
- A senior State Department official, George Kent, testified Tuesday that he'd been told by a supervisor to lie low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's meddling in Ukraine, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the House Oversight Committee.
- One source told CNN that Hill, a Trump appointee, saw "wrongdoing" in the White House approach to Ukraine and tried to report it to officials.
- Hill was concerned that Giuliani was circumventing the State Department to run what some Democrats have labeled a "shadow foreign policy" by seeking the removal of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and pushing for Ukraine to open an investigation into the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden.
Long before the US pulled out, Kurds in Syria were keeping back channels to Russia and Assad wide open
- Fearing US abandonment, the Kurds opened a back channel to the Syrian government and the Russians in 2018, and those talks ramped up significantly in recent weeks, American, Kurdish and Russian officials told The Associated Press.
- When Trump announced October 6 that he was pulling American troops back from northeastern Syria, paving the way for an assault by Turkey, the Kurds knew exactly where to turn.
- Discussions between the Kurds, the Syrian government and Moscow began early last year as the Kurds grew nervous that the Americans would leave them in the lurch, Kurdish officials said.
- It's one of the first Kurdish areas to rise up against Syrian President Bashar Assad and back self-rule, a base for senior fighters who pioneered the alliance with the Americans and a key link in their efforts to form a contiguous entity along Turkey's border.
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.