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]
President Trump announced last weekend he would "be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania" to mark his first 100 days in office, an event scheduled for Saturday that also gives the president alternative plans to the White House Correspondents' Dinner he has declined to attend.
The host of this year's dinner is The Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj, whom Reuters' Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, asked to focus on "the importance of a free press" instead of simply taking the opportunity to "roast the president in absentia." Mason added, "That doesn't mean there can't be some jokes about the president, but just that there should be some jokes on the press."
The dinner in Washington, D.C., and the rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, both begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be streamed live online. Watch the dinner via C-SPAN and the rally via CBS News. Bonnie Kristian
Leaders of the 27 nations remaining in the European Union after the United Kingdom's forthcoming Brexit on Saturday agreed unanimously to the terms of the exit process. "We are ready," said Michel Barnier, the EU27's chief negotiator. "We are together."
Formal negotiations will begin this summer, and the guidelines approved Saturday set March 29, 2019 as an end date. Among other requirements, the terms specify negotiations must address the U.K.'s financial obligations — Brussels seeks tens of billions of euros from London on its way out — as well as creation of an EU-U.K. border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Pope Francis on Saturday celebrated Mass with a crowd of about 15,000 in Cairo, Egypt, a visit made at the invitation of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading moderate cleric and academic of Sunni Islam. The trip follows the Palm Sunday bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt that claimed at least 45 lives.
"God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!" Francis said in his homily. "Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."
Francis will visit the Egyptian Catholic community later Saturday. His has used his visit to Egypt to urge peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Bonnie Kristian
The Turkish government has blocked access to Wikipedia, watchdog organizations said Saturday.
"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website," said a statement from the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority, which did not provide an official reason for the block. The law the statement cited permits the government to ban websites deemed obscene or threatening to national security.
Turkish media reported authorities took issue with Wikipedia content "supporting terror" (or perhaps suggesting ties between Turkey and terrorist groups). When Wikipedia refused to remove the content in question, local stories said, the ban was Ankara's retaliation.
President Trump hit the 100-day mark of his presidency Saturday, a milestone he enthusiastically hailed in his weekly address the afternoon before.
"I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history," Trump said in the brief video. "Our country is going up, and it's going up fast. Our companies are doing better. They just announced fantastic profits all because of what's happened in this rather short period of time, and that's just the beginning."
While other assessments of Trump's first 100 days have been rather more mixed, Trump is indisputably leading by one metric: He has signed more executive orders so far than any president since Harry Truman. Trump will spend his 100th day signing yet another order, this one ordering a study of the effects of current U.S. trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization. Bonnie Kristian
"I'm disappointed that it doesn't go quicker," Trump said of working with Congress earlier Friday. "It is a very tough system." The stopgap measure had been put in jeopardy by a White House push to pass health-care reform before the administration's 100th day Saturday, but House leadership chose to delay a health-care vote until at least next week, paving the way for the bipartisan spending bill.
Thousands are expected to gather Saturday in Washington, D.C., on President Trump's 100th day in office for the 2017 People's Climate March. Activists are hailing the event as an opportunity to fight for climate protections the Trump administration has threatened to roll back and to push the promise of clean energy. "The climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn't cancel physics," said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, who helped organize the first iteration of the People's Climate March, which took place in New York in 2014.
The march — which happens to fall on what could be a record-breakingly hot day in D.C. — will begin in front of the Capitol at 12:30 p.m. ET. Protesters are expected to make their way to the White House by 2 p.m. ET.
This will be the second science-related march in two weeks in D.C., following last weekend's March for Science, which coincided with Earth Day. Becca Stanek