next steps
February 26, 2021

After blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Biden administration is announcing new sanctions against Saudi operatives, but not against the crown prince himself.

The U.S. on Friday declassified an intelligence report concluding that Mohammed bin Salman "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi." Shortly after the report's release, Politico's Natasha Bertrand reported the U.S. Treasury Department is announcing new sanctions against General Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of the Saudi intelligence services, as well as the crown prince's personal protective detail, over their alleged roles in the Washington Post journalist's killing.

However, according to Bertrand, "Crown Prince MBS will NOT be sanctioned," and Politico quotes a senior administration official as saying that the "aim is recalibration, not a rupture, because of the important interests that we do share" with Saudi Arabia. Similarly, The New York Times reports that President Biden "has decided that the price of directly penalizing" the crown prince "is too high" and that he's "simply too important to American interests to punish."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday did, however, also announce a new "Khashoggi Ban" policy, under which the State Department will impose visa restrictions on individuals "believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities" while "acting on behalf of a foreign government." Blinken also said the U.S. is now imposing visa restrictions against 76 Saudi individuals under this policy.

But a lack of direct punishment for the crown prince is likely to draw criticism, Politico's Nahal Toosi noted. "For activists, the WHOLE POINT was to punish MBS," Toosi said. "Will Biden's other new sanctions/policies appease them? Doubt it." And the Times writes that "in the end, Mr. Biden came to essentially the same place on punishing the young and impetuous crown prince as did Mr. Trump." Brendan Morrow

July 17, 2020

Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, says he welcomes an outside investigation into claims of harassment within the organization.

Fifteen women who formerly worked for the Redskins detailed sexual harassment and verbal abuse to The Washington Post in a story published Thursday. The NFL later said in a statement Washington hired an outside counsel "to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations," and Snyder confirmed that Friday.

The behavior in the Post story "has no place in our franchise or society," Snyder said, and it "has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team." "Beth Wilkinson and her firm are empowered to do a full, unbiased investigation and make any and all requisite recommendations,” Snyder said in his Friday statement.

Most of the women who spoke to the Post did so anonymously, as several had signed nondisclosure agreements. They describe being propositioned at training camps and receiving unwanted touches, and relied mostly on other woman employees to warn them which people and situations to avoid. One former marketing coordinator, Emily Applegate, told the Post would cry several times a week after being berated by her boss, who would also compliment her body.

Two employees flagged by the Post during its investigations were fired: Alex Santos, the director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann II, the assistant director of pro personnel.

The story comes as the Redskins mull changing their racist name, something Snyder previously said he wouldn't let happen. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 1, 2020

Former President Barack Obama on Monday laid out the next steps he believes protesters should take in their fight against police brutality in the United States.

In a Medium post, Obama praised the demonstrations that took place across the United States over the last several days. He said the "overwhelming majority" were "peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring," with some exceptions. But he also said, eventually, the movement will have to take other avenues to enact change. "I've heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time," he wrote. "I couldn't disagree more."

He said "aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and practices," adding that the only way to really make that happen in the U.S. is to elect government officials, especially at the state and local levels, who are "responsive to our demands." Relatedly, he argues "the more specific we can make our demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone the way."

"The choice isn't between protest and politics" from Obama's perspective. Rather, he said, change requires both. Read the full post here. Tim O'Donnell

October 28, 2019

The House of Representatives is set to take a vote on the impeachment inquiry's next steps.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Monday a resolution will be brought to the floor this week that "affirms the ongoing, existing investigation." It establishes the procedure for open hearings in the inquiry, "authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for" President Trump, Pelosi said.

The White House has criticized Democrats for not taking a formal floor vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, and Pelosi says in her letter that this resolution is intended to "eliminate any doubt as to whether" Trump can refuse to comply, though she still asserts that no full floor vote need be taken to authorize the inquiry. This will be the House's first floor vote having to do with impeachment, CNN reports.

Politico's Jake Sherman notes that although Democrats "sidestepped" a formal impeachment vote, this is "basically a proxy" for it. The vote is set for Thursday, with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) telling The Washington Post it will "ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward," adding that it's the "right thing to do for the institution and the American people." Brendan Morrow

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