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Senate Investigation Finds Obama Admin Knowingly Funded al-Qaeda Affiliate


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Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian Deal

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian DealIn a detailed memo to senators, the Trump administration is fighting a bill that would punish Turkey for buying Russian missiles, arguing it would drive the countries closer together. Of note, Team Trump opposes a provision in the bill that would help Syrian Kurdish refugees immigrate to the United States. The case is laid out in a seven-page document obtained by The Daily Beast. The memo was sent by the State Department to Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate mark-up of a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) titled “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act.” That legislation, which passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite Team Trump’s opposition, would sanction Turkey for buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and would bar the U.S. from selling Turkey F-16 or F-35 fighter jets, including parts, until the country has fully abandoned the S-400 missile defense system it purchased from Russia. Aykan Erdemir of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the administration’s opposition to the bill is useful for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.“This would definitely encourage Erdogan to continue his transgressions,” Erdemir said. Are Impeachment Hearings Focused on the Wrong Country?The bill to punish Turkey comes in the wake of a sanctions package that passed after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) mandated sanctions on countries that make major new purchases of Russian weapons. But despite the fact that Turkey’s deal with Russia fits the bill, the administration hasn’t imposed sanctions—enraging members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said the document sheds new light on the Trump administration’s opposition to the Hill’s sanctions. “It’s in far more detail than we’ve ever gotten,” Stein said. “They are legitimate criticisms of the bill, but the bill is probably going to happen because Donald Trump won’t take the deal. The art of the deal, the master of the deal is an effing moron. The thing to do is impose CAATSA and make this go away. It’s just that simple.” In the seven-page description of the Trump administration’s views—published below—the administration detailed a host of problems with the legislation. The administration argued that the legislation would “effectively terminate U.S.-Turkey defense trade,” which would increase Turkey’s reliance on Russia or “other adversary arms providers” for weapons. The bill would also “treat Turkey as a pariah in NATO, feeding a narrative that the Russian Federation would likely seek to amplify and exploit.” A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government wants to keep the NATO relationship strong.“NATO is stronger with Turkey as a member, and has been for nearly 70 years,” the spokesperson said. “Turkey has been a significant contributor to NATO collective security for decades. One of Russia’s key strategic goals is to drive a wedge between NATO members; we are working to maintain strong cooperation within the Alliance. We remain deeply concerned with Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, and stress the S-400 and F-35 cannot coexist. We will continue to urge Turkey to ensure its defense investments adhere to the commitment all Allies made to pursue NATO interoperability.”The document also said the administration “opposes” a provision of the bill that would help Kurdish allies come to the U.S. as refugees more quickly. “The President has been clear on this Administration’s approach to refugees as reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States,” the document says. The State Department document also raises concerns about a provision of the bill that would give Kurds access to Special Immigrant Visas—normally used to authorize travel to the U.S. for Iraqi and Afghan translators who faced retaliation because they helped American soldiers. According to the letter, the nine-month processing time for those visas is too short “to accommodate vital national security screening.” Kurdish fighters under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces—which Turkey considers a terrorist group—fought side-by-side with U.S. special operations forces against ISIS in Syria and helped retake vast swaths of the country from the jihadist caliphate, including its former capital in Raqqa. But in October, Turkish forces invaded SDF-held territory in northern Syria after Trump pulled U.S. troops away from that part of the country. Human rights groups alleged that Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians, leaving lawmakers furious. The Senate bill also includes sanctions against Halkbank, a Turkish bank accused of participating in a multi-billion-dollar sanctions-evasion operation on behalf of the Iranian government. Though the Trump administration already has the authority to level sanctions against Halkbank, it hasn’t done so—perplexing many observers of Trump’s Iran policy. The Justice Department, however, has charged Halkbank with helping Iran illegally access billions of dollars. And the chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division, John Demers, called it “one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen.” In just about every other instance, the Trump administration has taken an aggressive approach to enforcing Iran sanctions and targeting Tehran. The administration even declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be a terrorist group earlier this year, which fed into acute tensions simmering in the Gulf. So the administration’s reticence on Halkbank is striking. Inside Trump’s Brewing Turkey Scandal, Starring Rudy GiulianiThe president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has done legal work for Reza Zarrab, a gold trader who pleaded guilty to participating in the sanctions-dodging scheme that allegedly involved Halkbank. Giuliani worked hard to keep Zarrab from having to make that plea; he reportedly pushed the Trump administration to send Zarrab back to Turkey as part of a prisoner swap. The bid failed, and Zarrab’s testimony about the sanctions-evasion scheme proved valuable to prosecutors.The Trump administration’s comments to Congress only gave boilerplate language opposing Congressional sanctions on the controversial bank. “[T]he sanctions on Halkbank are unnecessary because the Department of Treasury already possesses the authority to designate Halkbank, if appropriate,” the document said. “Purporting to require the President to impose sanctions on Halkbank, constrains the President’s authority to conduct foreign relations.” Erdemir, who helms the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ program on Turkey, said the administration’s opposition to mandated sanctions on Halkbank sends a message that would please Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “This is not just Erdogan and this one bank,” he said. “Overall, this would undermine U.S. sanctions because other entities and other governments would say, ‘OK, if Erdogan and Turkey and Halkbank can enjoy some level of impunity, maybe we can too.’” Overall, the document reflects the administration’s accommodative attitude toward Turkey. “They bet on Trump,” Stein said of the Erdogan government. “Their bet is paying off in the short term.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian Deal

Trump Admin Fights Bill Punishing Turkey for Its Russian DealIn a detailed memo to senators, the Trump administration is fighting a bill that would punish Turkey for buying Russian missiles, arguing it would drive the countries closer together. Of note, Team Trump opposes a provision in the bill that would help Syrian Kurdish refugees immigrate to the United States. The case is laid out in a seven-page document obtained by The Daily Beast. The memo was sent by the State Department to Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate mark-up of a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) titled “Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act.” That legislation, which passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite Team Trump’s opposition, would sanction Turkey for buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and would bar the U.S. from selling Turkey F-16 or F-35 fighter jets, including parts, until the country has fully abandoned the S-400 missile defense system it purchased from Russia. Aykan Erdemir of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the administration’s opposition to the bill is useful for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.“This would definitely encourage Erdogan to continue his transgressions,” Erdemir said. Are Impeachment Hearings Focused on the Wrong Country?The bill to punish Turkey comes in the wake of a sanctions package that passed after Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) mandated sanctions on countries that make major new purchases of Russian weapons. But despite the fact that Turkey’s deal with Russia fits the bill, the administration hasn’t imposed sanctions—enraging members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said the document sheds new light on the Trump administration’s opposition to the Hill’s sanctions. “It’s in far more detail than we’ve ever gotten,” Stein said. “They are legitimate criticisms of the bill, but the bill is probably going to happen because Donald Trump won’t take the deal. The art of the deal, the master of the deal is an effing moron. The thing to do is impose CAATSA and make this go away. It’s just that simple.” In the seven-page description of the Trump administration’s views—published below—the administration detailed a host of problems with the legislation. The administration argued that the legislation would “effectively terminate U.S.-Turkey defense trade,” which would increase Turkey’s reliance on Russia or “other adversary arms providers” for weapons. The bill would also “treat Turkey as a pariah in NATO, feeding a narrative that the Russian Federation would likely seek to amplify and exploit.” A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government wants to keep the NATO relationship strong.“NATO is stronger with Turkey as a member, and has been for nearly 70 years,” the spokesperson said. “Turkey has been a significant contributor to NATO collective security for decades. One of Russia’s key strategic goals is to drive a wedge between NATO members; we are working to maintain strong cooperation within the Alliance. We remain deeply concerned with Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system, and stress the S-400 and F-35 cannot coexist. We will continue to urge Turkey to ensure its defense investments adhere to the commitment all Allies made to pursue NATO interoperability.”The document also said the administration “opposes” a provision of the bill that would help Kurdish allies come to the U.S. as refugees more quickly. “The President has been clear on this Administration’s approach to refugees as reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States,” the document says. The State Department document also raises concerns about a provision of the bill that would give Kurds access to Special Immigrant Visas—normally used to authorize travel to the U.S. for Iraqi and Afghan translators who faced retaliation because they helped American soldiers. According to the letter, the nine-month processing time for those visas is too short “to accommodate vital national security screening.” Kurdish fighters under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces—which Turkey considers a terrorist group—fought side-by-side with U.S. special operations forces against ISIS in Syria and helped retake vast swaths of the country from the jihadist caliphate, including its former capital in Raqqa. But in October, Turkish forces invaded SDF-held territory in northern Syria after Trump pulled U.S. troops away from that part of the country. Human rights groups alleged that Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias committed war crimes against Kurdish civilians, leaving lawmakers furious. The Senate bill also includes sanctions against Halkbank, a Turkish bank accused of participating in a multi-billion-dollar sanctions-evasion operation on behalf of the Iranian government. Though the Trump administration already has the authority to level sanctions against Halkbank, it hasn’t done so—perplexing many observers of Trump’s Iran policy. The Justice Department, however, has charged Halkbank with helping Iran illegally access billions of dollars. And the chief of the DOJ’s National Security Division, John Demers, called it “one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen.” In just about every other instance, the Trump administration has taken an aggressive approach to enforcing Iran sanctions and targeting Tehran. The administration even declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be a terrorist group earlier this year, which fed into acute tensions simmering in the Gulf. So the administration’s reticence on Halkbank is striking. Inside Trump’s Brewing Turkey Scandal, Starring Rudy GiulianiThe president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has done legal work for Reza Zarrab, a gold trader who pleaded guilty to participating in the sanctions-dodging scheme that allegedly involved Halkbank. Giuliani worked hard to keep Zarrab from having to make that plea; he reportedly pushed the Trump administration to send Zarrab back to Turkey as part of a prisoner swap. The bid failed, and Zarrab’s testimony about the sanctions-evasion scheme proved valuable to prosecutors.The Trump administration’s comments to Congress only gave boilerplate language opposing Congressional sanctions on the controversial bank. “[T]he sanctions on Halkbank are unnecessary because the Department of Treasury already possesses the authority to designate Halkbank, if appropriate,” the document said. “Purporting to require the President to impose sanctions on Halkbank, constrains the President’s authority to conduct foreign relations.” Erdemir, who helms the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ program on Turkey, said the administration’s opposition to mandated sanctions on Halkbank sends a message that would please Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “This is not just Erdogan and this one bank,” he said. “Overall, this would undermine U.S. sanctions because other entities and other governments would say, ‘OK, if Erdogan and Turkey and Halkbank can enjoy some level of impunity, maybe we can too.’” Overall, the document reflects the administration’s accommodative attitude toward Turkey. “They bet on Trump,” Stein said of the Erdogan government. “Their bet is paying off in the short term.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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Ilhan Omar: Trump admin can't be trusted on Iran if it ' lies about weather maps or crowd sizes'

Ilhan Omar: Trump admin can't be trusted on Iran if it ' lies about weather maps or crowd sizes'Omar said that the administration could not be trusted to "give us the full information" on Iran because of past falsehoods about "weather maps."



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Rosenstein Calls Out Obama Admin For Failing to ‘Publicize’ Russian Election Interference

Rosenstein Calls Out Obama Admin For Failing to ‘Publicize’ Russian Election InterferenceDuring a private speech Thursday evening, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein lamented the Obama administration's decision not to “publicize” Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.Rosenstein, who oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller's recently-concluded investigation into Russian election interference, suggested that the Obama administration did the public a disservice by not publicly revealing “the full story” of the Kremlin's attempt to disrupt the election while adequate counter-measures could have been taken.“Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America,” Rosenstein said during an address to the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association.Rosenstein went on to criticize former FBI director James Comey for his decision to reveal the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference at the height of the 2016 campaign.“The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges,” he continued. “Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.”Obama administration officials elected not to publicize the extent of the Kremlin's interference efforts because they believed they would be seen to be tilting the scales toward Hillary Clinton by exposing Russia's preference for Trump, NBC News reported in December 2016. Their confidence in Clinton's victory also bolstered their belief that alarming the public about election interference would prove unnecessary.



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ISIS Bride’s Family Sues Trump Admin. for Refusing Her Entry into U.S.

ISIS Bride’s Family Sues Trump Admin. for Refusing Her Entry into U.S.The father of Hoda Muthana, the Alabama woman who traveled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014, has filed suit against a number of Trump administration officials over their refusal to allow her to return to the U.S.Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America filed suit Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C. against President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr, challenging the officials' determination that Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and, as such, should not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.The question of Muthana's citizenship centers on whether her father was serving as a Yemeni diplomat when she was born in New Jersey in 1994. Her attorneys claim her father was discharged from his diplomatic post nearly two months before she was born, and that she is thus entitled to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment.Muthana has an 18-month-old son fathered by one of the three ISIS fighters she was married to during her time in the caliphate. She was taken recently to a refugee camp in northern Syria by Kurdish fighters, where she has pleaded in a series of interviews to be allowed to return home.The suit filed Friday argues that Muthana's father is “entitled to send his daughter money to ensure the survival of his daughter and grandson, and enable them safe passage home, without subjecting himself to criminal liability.”Muthana's family claims she is aware she will be prosecuted upon returning home and is willing to accept her punishment.“In Ms. Muthana’s words, she recognizes that she has ‘ruined’ her own life, but she does not want to ruin the life of her young child,” Muthana's attorneys told AL.com in a statement. “Citizenship is a core right under the Constitution, and once recognized should not be able to be unilaterally revoked by tweet—no matter how egregious the intervening conduct may be.”



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18 A.G.s sue Trump admin over family separation border policy

18 A.G.s sue Trump admin over family separation border policyMaura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general, talks with Rachel Maddow about an lawsuit filed by 17 states plus Washington, D.C. against the Trump administration to stop the border policy of separating children from parents at the border.



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Trump admin struggles to repair migrant families it shattered

Trump admin struggles to repair migrant families it shatteredEfren Olivares, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project Racial and Economic Justice Program, talks about the effort to reunite families split by Donald Trump's zero tolerance border policy.



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Multiple States Sue Trump Admin to Stop Family Separation Policy

Multiple States Sue Trump Admin to Stop Family Separation PolicyRachel Maddow reports on a lawsuit filed by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and joined by several other states to stop Donald Trump's migrant family separation policy.



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Trump admin facing tough questions on child separation policy

Trump admin facing tough questions on child separation policyRep. Ted Lieu talks with Rachel Maddow about trying to hold the Trump administration accountable for their new policy of taking babies and children from immigrant parents and forcing a change to the policy.



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