Before he was fired after just 24 days on the job, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn rejected a military plan seven months in the making to retake Raqqa, Syria, from the Islamic State, a plan that went against the wishes of Turkey — a country whose interests Flynn was being paid $530,000 to represent, McClatchy DC reported Wednesday night.
Flynn was told of the Pentagon's plan to use Syrian Kurdish forces to retake Raqqa by Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama's national security adviser, 10 days before President Trump's election, The Washington Post reported in early February. The U.S. sees the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds as strong military partners, but the Turkish government says they have ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which it views as a terrorist organization. A timeline recently passed out to members of Congress said that when Rice asked Trump to sign off on the plan, Flynn said to wait, and Flynn ultimately rejected the campaign, reports McClatchy's Vera Bergengruen. A few days after rejecting the plan, Flynn had a breakfast meeting with the Turkish foreign minister.
Until Flynn registered as a foreign agent in March, soon after he'd been ousted, few people knew that in August, Flynn, then Trump's primary foreign policy adviser, had signed a deal with a firm run by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin for work that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey," as Flynn wrote in his paperwork for the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit. His contract ended in November — the same month the Justice Department notified Flynn he was under federal investigation for his undisclosed lobbying, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
On Aug. 9, Flynn signed on to work with Alptekin's firm, and on Aug. 18, he attended Trump's first classified intelligence briefing, McClatchy DC reports. Alptekin said Flynn was not "taking directions from anyone in the government," but Flynn's paperwork showed he met with Turkey's foreign minister and energy minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law, last September. Trump approved arming the Kurds to attack Raqqa a few weeks after Flynn was fired in February. The White House said in March that Trump did not know Flynn was paid to lobby on Turkey's behalf, but Flynn had notified the transition team on Jan. 4 about his federal investigation, according to the Times report. Read the entire McClatchy DC report here. Catherine Garcia
The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for immigrants to receive visas and green cards if they are deemed likely to use public assistance programs.
"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement arguing the rule would "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers."
The proposal will define a threshold for a total amount of assistance from programs like public housing and food stamps, and using assistance above that line will be "a heavily weighed negative factor" in the consideration of immigration status change applications, DHS said. The new rules could take effect before the end of the year.
Critics say the proposal is less about frugality than restricting immigration, and legal challenge is expected. "Today's announcement by the Trump administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country," Todd Schulte of FWD.us told CNN. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it." Bonnie Kristian
Social media users responded over the weekend to President Trump's tweeted claim that if Christine Ford's alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were "as bad as she says," she'd have reported it immediately.
Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, launched by actress Alyssa Milano, survivors explained why they kept silent after suffering sexual abuse:
#WhyIDidntReport. The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said “Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant.” So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused me of having sex with an adult man.
— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) September 21, 2018
I was 17. Raped by a friend. I was confused. In denial. Afraid. His parents were richer & better connected than my parents. He was a "good" student. Ppl liked him. The only friend I told--responded w: "He wld never do that." I didn't think anyone would help me. #WhyIDidntReport https://t.co/YbCuIMg07M
— Abigail Hauslohner (@ahauslohner) September 21, 2018
I was 9 years old. A man took me away from everyone else at a birthday party and stuck his hand down my pants. He asked me if I liked it. I thought I had done something wrong. #WhyIDidntReport
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) September 22, 2018
I did, it didn’t matter, I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed #WhyIDidntReport
— Daryl Hannah (@dhlovelife) September 21, 2018
It is particularly difficult for sexual assault victims to report misconduct by those in positions of power, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told USA Today. And the assault is "not just something that affects their life in the short-term," Palumbo said. "It also affects their life in the long-term." Bonnie Kristian
"America is acting like a bully toward the rest of the world," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani charged Sunday in the aftermath of Saturday's attack on an Iranian military parade that left 25 people dead.
"But our people will resist, and the government is ready to confront America. We will overcome this situation," Rouhani continued, referring to U.S. sanctions on Iran, "and America will regret choosing the wrong path."
Rouhani linked the attack to the United States, arguing U.S.-allied Gulf states like Saudi Arabia support an Iranian separatist group, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement, and the Islamic State, both of which claimed the attack. "The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities," he said, including "financial, weaponry, and political needs."
Rouhani, who has been called the "diplomat sheikh," managed his country's side of negotiations in the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Trump withdrew the United States earlier this year. Bonnie Kristian
A communications aide working with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process has resigned in connection to a past sexual harassment allegation, a committee representative confirmed Saturday.
The aide, Garrett Ventry, denied all "allegations of misconduct," but a committee statement said despite the denial "he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction." Ventry was in a temporary position on leave of absence from a public relations company; he resigned from that role as well.
Politico reports, citing an unnamed source, that Ventry also resigned in 2017 from a role with North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell for allegedly misrepresenting his work with the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Two former Rubio staffers told Politico Ventry was also accused of harassment while on the campaign. Ventry denied these allegations as well.
This comes as the committee grapples with the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh himself, a development that has stalled the confirmation. Bonnie Kristian
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will sit for a deposition on a question about U.S. citizenship that has been added to 2020 census forms, a federal judge ruled Friday evening.
"Applying well-established principles to the unusual facts of these cases, the court concludes that the question is not a close one," wrote U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in his decision. "Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue in these cases."
The deposition is part of a suit brought by New York, as well as other cities, states, and counties, seeking to exclude the new question. Critics have argued the citizenship question will distort census results because some immigrants may choose not to participate in the survey.
Ross is the first Cabinet-level official in two decades to be deposed in a civil case. The Department of Justice argued that to "demand for a Cabinet secretary's deposition is extraordinary, unnecessary, and unsupported." Bonnie Kristian
Ted Cruz attacked Democrat Beto O'Rourke for demanding transparency and accountability in police shootings
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), wrangled at a contentious debate in Dallas Friday night. And the fatal shooting of Botham Jean — the black man killed in his apartment by a white Dallas police officer who says she mistook it for her own home — was a key issue of division between the candidates.
The evening of the debate, Cruz's Twitter account shared a video of O'Rourke speaking to wild cheers in a majority-black church. The clip shows an impassioned O'Rourke arguing Jean's case has yet to see justice. "How can we continue to lose the lives of unarmed black men in the United States of America at the hands of white police officers?" he asks.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 21, 2018
The tweet's caption suggests the Cruz campaign sees this plea for better police accountability and a transparent public investigation into Jean's killing as self-evidently damning.
At the debate itself, Cruz argued his opponent consistently "sides against the police," claiming O'Rourke has "described law enforcement as modern day Jim Crow." O'Rourke's actual comment, made Wednesday, referenced the book The New Jim Crow to note black Americans are subject to demonstrable discrimination in the U.S. justice system.
"With the tragic shooting death of Botham Jean, you have another unarmed black man killed in this country by law enforcement," O'Rourke said at the debate. "Now, no member of law enforcement wants that; no member of this community wants that; but we've got to do something better than what we've been doing so far."
The latest polls show Cruz and O'Rourke are in a dead heat. Watch their full debate below; the discussion of policing begins around the seven-minute mark and continues through minute 16 with a discussion of NFL players' pre-game protests of police brutality. Bonnie Kristian
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long will not be fired for his inappropriate use of cars owned by the government, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Friday.
Long used federal vehicles and personnel for his weekend commutes from Washington, D.C., to North Carolina. He had a driver take him home, and reportedly brought aides with him, housing them in hotels using taxpayer money. He was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general.
Nielsen said Long, who will repay the government an undisclosed amount, was acting in line with a longstanding but unofficial FEMA practice intended to keep the administrator accessible in case of crisis. That practice has now been discontinued.
"We had a productive conversation where we discussed my expectations regarding the agency's use of government vehicles going forward," Nielsen's statement said. "The administrator acknowledged that mistakes were made, and he took personal responsibility." Bonnie Kristian