Ukrainian government officials helped boost Hillary Clinton and worked to sabotage Donald Trump's political campaign during the 2016 election, a Politico investigation has found. In one instance, a Ukrainian-American operative consulting with the Democratic National Committee even had a hand in exposing Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's ties to Russia, which eventually resulted in his ousting from the Trump campaign.
Unlike the recently exposed sophisticated, centrally-organized Russian hacks that were intended to give Trump a leg-up, any of Ukraine's efforts to help Clinton were greatly limited. Nevertheless, "it seems that a U.S. election may have been seen as a surrogate battle by those in Kiev and Moscow," said David A. Merkel, who works as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and helped oversee U.S. relations with Ukraine and Russia under George W. Bush.
And although Ukraine has maintained that they were nonpolitical during the election, their pro-Clinton slant could come back to bite them back now that Trump is in the White House:
Many Ukrainian officials and operatives and their American allies see Trump's inauguration this month as an existential threat to the country, made worse, they admit, by the dissemination of the secret ledger, the antagonistic social media posts and the perception that the embassy meddled against — or at least shut out — Trump.
"It's really bad. The [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] administration right now is trying to re-coordinate communications," said [former political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy, Andrii] Telizhenko, adding, "The Trump organization doesn't want to talk to our administration at all."
During [former Ukrainian diplomat Valentyn] Nalyvaichenko's trip to Washington last month, he detected lingering ill will toward Ukraine from some, and lack of interest from others, he recalled. "Ukraine is not on the top of the list, not even the middle," he said.
Poroshenko’s allies are scrambling to figure out how to build a relationship with Trump, who is known for harboring and prosecuting grudges for years. [Politico]
The U.K.'s Houses of Parliament were hit with a cyberattack Friday evening consisting of "unauthorized attempts to access parliamentary user accounts," a representative of Parliament said Saturday. Members of Parliament were informed of the situation Friday night when they had difficulty accessing their email accounts remotely.
"We are continuing to investigate this incident and take further measures to secure the computer network," the representative said. "We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and are taking the necessary steps to protect our systems."
It is unclear how many MPs were affected or who is responsible for the attack. Bonnie Kristian
Monday begins the Supreme Court's final week before its current term ends and summer break begins. SCOTUS is expected to hand down several major decisions in the next few days — among them its ruling on President Trump's stalled travel ban — but rumors are swirling that this Monday could see a retirement announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy, too.
"Sources close to Kennedy say that he is seriously considering retirement," CNN reported Saturday, though "they are unclear if it could occur as early as this term." Kennedy's departure would give President Trump his second SCOTUS nomination after the successful appointment of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
Kennedy has long served as a swing vote on the court, sometimes siding with the progressive wing — as in the landmark gay marriage case, 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges — but often joining the conservatives on issues like gun control and campaign finance. Kennedy will turn 81 in July and has served on the court since 1988 after being nominated by President Reagan. Bonnie Kristian
The tiny Gulf nation of Qatar has rejected a list of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Arab states Thursday as a condition for restoring diplomatic ties. The Saudi-led group of countries isolating Qatar claims the country is supporting terrorism, an allegation Qatar denies.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in a statement the demands should have been "reasonable and actionable" as well as "measured and realistic," quoting comments from top U.S. and U.K. diplomats. "This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria," he added.
It was never very plausible Qatar would answer other than it did. The "extent and scale of the demands appear designed to induce a rejection by Qatar," notes The Atlantic, "and a possible justification for a continuation, if not escalation, of the crisis. The list, if accurate, represents an intrusion into the internal affairs of Qatar that would threaten its very sovereignty." Bonnie Kristian
Former governor of California (and Terminator star) Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with new French President Emmanuel Macron to take a swipe at President Trump on environmental issues Friday.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) June 23, 2017
"I'm here with President Macron. We are talking about the environmental issues and a green future," says Schwarzenegger in the clip posted to Facebook and Twitter. "And now we will deliberate together to make the planet great again," adds a grinning Macron with a transparent reference to Trump's "Make America great again" slogan.
The United States and China have reaffirmed their mutual commitment to "strive for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported Saturday.
The statement comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis hosted Chinese diplomats in Washington in an attempt to reach consensus on how to deal with increasing provocation from Pyongyang. Tillerson indicated earlier this week he is asking China, which is North Korea's primary trading partner, to increase its political and economic pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime. Bonnie Kristian
Russian interference in the 2016 election "is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious," said former Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who served in the Obama administration, in an NBC News interview Saturday. "The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had," he added. "I don't see much evidence of a response."
Vickers' comments come one day after The Washington Post's comprehensive report detailing former President Obama's inaction in response to Russian election interference in 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have also criticized the Obama administration's "inadequate" response.
Builders misused a combustible cladding to cover the sides of London's Grenfell Tower, the apartment building where 79 people were killed in a massive fire last week, Reuters reported Saturday. The material was intended for buildings a maximum of 10 meters tall, about the height of firefighters' ladders; Grenfell was more than six times that height.
Email correspondence reveals the cladding manufacturer, Arconic, sold the siding knowing it would be used inappropriately. "While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts," Arconic said in a statement to Reuters pledging to "fully support the authorities as they investigate this tragedy."
British authorities are now reviewing other high-rises for combustible cladding, and at least four buildings have been evacuated. "I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risk with our residents' safety," said Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council, which evacuated the four high-rises Friday. "I have to put them first." Bonnie Kristian