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November 3, 2016

Ever since FBI Director James Comey sent his letter to Congress about potential new emails related to the Hillary Clinton email server investigation, and got bipartisan blowback from that unusual decision, the FBI and Justice Department have been leaking like a sieve.

Unidentified "federal officials familiar with the investigation" tell The Washington Post that Comey actually showed restraint by waiting until Oct. 28 to deliver his "circumspect" letter to Congress. Comey had been told about the emails before being formally "briefed" on Oct. 27, the officials said, and had ordered FBI investigators to find everything they could about the emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin without reading them, since they did not have a warrant for Abedin's emails. The metadata was enough to seek a warrant, the officials say, and Comey was concerned that applying for a warrant would lead to a leak. "It could not be done in secret," one official said. "It's a volatile subject and a major topic in the presidential campaign."

At The Wall Street Journal, "officials at multiple agencies" who were "familiar with the matter" described a fight between FBI agents who wanted to aggressively pursue an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and public-corruption prosecutors who thought the agents' evidence was weak or worthless. The Clinton Foundation inquiry, as The New York Times reported Tuesday, was based on allegations from an anti-Clinton book, Clinton Cash, by conservative writer Peter Schweizer. Schweizer tells The Wall Street Journal that his book wasn't meant to be a legal document but instead describes "patterns of financial transactions that circled around decisions Hillary Clinton was making as secretary of state."

"Starting in February and continuing today, investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and public-corruption prosecutors became increasingly frustrated with each other, as often happens within and between departments," The Wall Street Journal reports. The FBI agents were frustrated because they had secretly recorded a suspect in another case "talking about alleged deals the Clintons made," and were angry prosecutors wouldn't let them aggressively follow up; the prosecutors viewed the recording as not-credible hearsay and Justice Department officials became frustrated that the FBI agents were disobeying orders to be discreet in such a high-profile investigation. You can read more about the infighting at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

1:02 p.m.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington continue to rise, especially after the latter accused the former of attacking two oil tankers with limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman last week. U.S. Central Command released a video last week claiming it shows Iranians removing a mine from one of the tankers. Iran has vehemently denied the allegations and the owner of the Japanese tanker disputed the account.

But the video is still enough evidence for some people. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Sunday, in an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, told host Margaret Brennan that these "unprovoked attacks" warrant a "retaliatory military strike."

Even if Iran is behind the attacks, though, some have pointed out that a U.S. strike would make for a puzzling response, considering neither of the tankers were U.S. ships, instead hailing from Japan and Norway.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Saturday that the American people have "no appetite" for going to war with Iran. Tim O'Donnell

12:30 p.m.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the subject of a wide-ranging interview published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, touching upon tensions with Iran, Saudi Arabia's economic future, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Here are three key moments.

Blame game — The crown prince joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which Tehran has vehemently denied. He also said that, while Riyadh does not seek war with Iran, he will not hesitate to to "deal with any threat" to Saudi Arabia's sovereignty.

Veiled attack — Prince Mohammed also warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains in what Al Jazeera writes was likely a veiled attack against Turkey, where Khashoggi was killed (those accused of the crime are Saudi government officials.) However, the crown prince added that he wants to maintain strong relations with Ankara.

Aramco is good to go — The prince said that Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national petroleum and gas company, is set to go through with an initial public offering as soon as next year, though it remains unclear where the stock will trade. The prince projected the companies value at about $2 trillion. The decision is reportedly part of Saudi Arabia's plan to diversify its economy and boost employment in new industries. Tim O'Donnell

11:47 a.m.

A massive blackout swept through all of Argentina and Uruguay on Sunday morning after an unexplained electrical failure in the Argentina network knocked out the interconnected system. Parts of Paraguay were also affected, BBC reports, while Al Jazeera writes that the outage also reportedly extends to parts of Brazil and Chile.

Argentine media reports that the country's trains have been halted. "Never has anything like this happened before," Alejandra Martinez, a spokesperson for electricity company Edesur Argentina said.

Edesur said power has been restored to 75,000 clients in parts of Buenos Aires and that two of the capital's airports were operating on generators. Argentina's energy secretary, Gustavo Lopetegui, also said power was being restored in some parts of the country but that the process could take several hours.

The outage occurred as people in several parts of Argentina were making their way to voting polls for local elections.

The combined population of Argentina and Uruguay is about 48 million people. Tim O'Donnell

11:03 a.m.

Boeing is reportedly attempting to cut hours off airborne testing for its new 777X airplane by using computer models to simulate flight conditions before presenting the results to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for certification, two people with direct knowledge of the strategy told Reuters, who was not able to confirm when Boeing decided to move forward with the plan.

The move would reportedly slash high development costs associated with physical safety testing, but it remains to be seen whether the FAA would allow the company to eliminate some of the physical tests. Boeing is currently the subject of probes by regulators and U.S. lawmakers after two of its 737 Max airplanes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia after a stall prevention software failure. The investigations could potentially throw Boeing's reported plans into jeopardy if they result in even more rigorous safety requirements, Reuters reports.

Five people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Boeing believes new technology and decades of testing experience have rendered some physical tests redundant for demonstrating safety. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

8:35 a.m.

President Trump is angry at The New York Times once again.

The newspaper reported on Saturday that the U.S. has enacted a more aggressive approach when it comes to cyber attacks on Russia's electric power grid. The Times conducted interviews over a three month period in which current and former officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia's grid and other targets. The actions are reportedly seen as a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Two administration officials told the Times that they do not believe President Trump has been briefed about the new digital incursion strategy, while Pentagon and intelligence officials told the newspaper that they were concerned about how the president would react to the news. They also reportedly feared he would reverse the operations or discuss the classified information with foreign officials.

Trump has denied the story, even calling it a "virtual act of treason". Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

7:52 a.m.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a proposed extradition bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The rally reportedly looks like it could reach the scale of last Sunday's protests, for which around 1 million people gathered.

The protesters were also calling for Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down, despite their understanding that she had little choice but to carry out orders from Beijing, The Associated Press reports.

Lam, reportedly with the backing of Beijing, announced on Saturday that she was suspending the extradition legislation after the protests turned violent during the week, but those opposed to the bill want it scrapped entirely. They fear the law would subject criminal suspects to possible torture and unfair trials if they are sent to China. Generally speaking, the protesters believe the bill is in conflict with Hong Kong's judicial independence and contributes to the territory's eroding freedoms. Tim O'Donnell

June 15, 2019

Tibor Nagy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, on Friday called for an "independent and credible" investigation into the violence waged by Sudan's paramilitary security forces when they stormed a protest camp in the country's capital, Khartoum, earlier in June, The Associated Press reports.

Sudan's ruling military council, which recently ousted former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir, said it plans to announce the findings of its own investigation on Saturday. Protest organizers say over 100 people were killed by the security forces, while state authorities said the death toll was 61.

Nagy's stance echoes that of the protesters, who are hoping for an internationally-backed probe into the crackdown. The military council, which admitted that it ordered the dispersal of the sit-in, rejected that idea, as did Sudan's chief prosecutor.

Nagy added that he supports the mediation efforts by the African Union and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, but did not say whether Washington would take any measures if the situation worsens. Tim O'Donnell

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