Mr. Mueller shows his cards—and reveals a pack of jokers

On Friday the Justice Department dropped some huge shoes in the Russia investigation. First a pair of memos from special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York involving the criminal sentencing of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer. Then a filing on Paul Manafort’s failed cooperation with the Mueller probe … Continue reading “Mr. Mueller shows his cards—and reveals a pack of jokers”

On Friday the Justice Department dropped some huge shoes in the Russia investigation. First a pair of memos from special prosecutor Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York involving the criminal sentencing of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer. Then a filing on Paul Manafort’s failed cooperation with the Mueller probe (it said he lied).

The memos were terse and in spots heavily redacted, but it was clear enough to former federal prosecutor Elie Honig that the evidence of federal crimes-in-plain-sight was pointing to Trump. “We still do not know everything Mueller knows,” Honig wrote, but we do know it’s a lot. “The contours of a broad scheme by the administration to conspire with Russia — to the personal benefit of Trump and the detriment of the United States — are now coming into sharper focus.” “It is increasingly clear that Trump had deep financial and political incentives to curry favor from Russia as the 2016 election approached,” Honig wrote. “Mueller’s recent filings have begun to answer the ‘why?’ question.”

    Earlier in the week, Mueller issued another heavily redacted sentencing memo recommending zero prison time for admitted felon and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, primarily because of Flynn’s “substantial assistance to the government”—including 19 meetings with the special prosecutors team. “The investigations in which he has provided assistance are ongoing,” the memo said. “Translation,” says Honig: “people are going to get charged based on Flynn’ s information, but not just yet.” CNN’s Peter Bergen unpacked what he called Flynn’s precipitous “fall from grace” — how an admired Army Special Operations officer came to be a failed White House aide who peddled conspiracy theories, led chants of “lock her up” and lied to federal investigators. Officers who served with Flynn were dismayed by his rancorous performance at the GOP convention in 2016, Bergen wrote. “The angry man on stage didn’t seem like the Mike Flynn they knew.” Read More

    Kevin Hart just doesn’t get it

    The comedian and actor Internet-ed himself out of his Oscar hosting job this week. First, Twitter posters pointed out his anti-gay and racially offensive tweets from a few years ago, then Hart posted a complaining non-apology on Instagram (“stop looking for reasons to be so negative”) … before finally withdrawing from the Oscars and tweeting a proper apology. Clay Cane said it was a shame Hart bowed out instead of stepping up to a teachable moment — particularly since some on the right are using his case to justify their own intolerance. The comedian owes his success to his black fans, many of them LGBTQ, says Cane. “A message for Hart and for all of us: What you find funny and what you believe people are ‘too sensitive’ about speaks volumes about your character.” The Oscars are “much better off without him,” wrote the Verge’s Casey Newton, noting Hart’s defensiveness. “Apparently, in Hart’s world, it’s OK for a man to love a man — as long as that man is yourself.” Cut him a break, wrote Susan Fowler in the New York Times: “We cannot expect to make progress if we do not allow people the chance to grow with us…Can you name a person who has not lied, said something inappropriate or hurt another? I can’t.”

    America is paying an awful price for Trump

    The President tweeted about his “wonderful and very warm dinner” with Chinese President Xi at the G20, touting major concessions on tariffs. And the stock market turned up. Then China’s state-controlled media chimed in: there’s “no confirmation from Beijing” on car import tariffs — and the Dow dropped like a rock. “The rest of the world is not a MAGA rally,” warned Frida Ghitis. “The President’s chronic practice of saying and doing what he thinks is good for him is making the country itself less trusted by its allies, less fiscally sound and less respected around the world. America and its people are already paying, and the costs will continue to mount.” Meanwhile, David Andelman was astonished at the “stunningly ill-timed” arrest, in Canada, of a prominent Chinese tech executive, Meng Wanzhou — even as Trump was meeting with Xi in Argentina. The US Justice Department was reportedly investigating the company over possible violation of sanctions against trading with Iran. “What exactly is more important for President Trump?” Andelman asked. Is it ending a debilitating trade war with China that is “threatening the livelihood of millions of American farmers, factory workers and imperiling just about anyone owning a 401(k) retirement plan”? Or just scoring points in the administration’s battle with Iran?

    Soaring national debt? Who cares?

    According to a Daily Beast report, Trump’s reaction to the news from senior officials early last year that the national debt would skyrocket by the end of his possible second term in office was: “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” “The Simpsons called it,” tweeted Republican pollster Frank Luntz, posting a YouTube clip in which President Lisa Simpson realizes her predecessor, President Trump, has left the country penniless. None of this should surprise us, wrote Matt Welch in Reason, noting that “voters prefer candidates who never charge current taxpayers anything close to the cost of government.” “If George W. Bush could double the national debt, Barack Obama could double it again, and Trump could win on a platform that was estimated to double it once more, you can see the thought bubble forming over his head: Fiscal responsibility is for losers.”

    Mariska Hargitay: Rape kit destruction is an outrage

    Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVUA CNN investigation revealed that in some 400 cases across the country, police had thrown away rape kits before the statute of limitations on the crimes had expired—an “outrageous, careless, wrongheaded, uneducated, ill-informed, dangerous, willful” expression of the country’s attitude toward sexual-assault survivors, wrote the actor Mariska Hargitay, who founded the Joyful Heart Foundation to help heal and empower survivors. She said the destroyed backlog sends “a devastating and inexcusable message to survivors: You don’t matter.”

    Eric Trump parachutes into the Conway war

    On Monday, the President’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted a scathing slap-down at George Conway, the Washington lawyer, ferocious critic of Donald Trump — and husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. Conway was showing “utter disrespect” for his wife’s career, Eric Trump wrote. Then George Conway trash-retweeted back. Enough, wrote Kara Alaimo: “Eric Trump is in the right. It is inappropriate to publicly attack your spouse’s employer…both Kellyanne Conway and the Trump administration have a right to expect better behavior.” Not really, argued Michael D’Antonio. It’s reasonable to assume that the Conways, who have four children, try to uphold certain basic moral values, like honesty, respect, doing right, not wrong — all tricky to do when a spouse’s employer tells thousands of lies and hires people who commit crimes, he wrote. “George Conway is speaking up because he wants his wife to leave the ‘sh– show’ [George Conway’s term] and escape the dumpster fire. He has her interest, and the country’s stability, at heart and he’s doing the right thing.”

    With election moves, GOP shows what it thinks of democracy

    “What a pathetic moment,” lamented Jill Filipovic. North Carolina is facing a growing scandal over reports that absentee ballots in a House race were fraudulently handled. The Republican candidate has claimed victory but elections officials have refused to certify the results. The veil is lifted, says Filipovic: Republicans have long used claims of voter fraud as a rallying cry, but what they really want is to make it “harder for black people to vote, while happily ignoring credible accusations of electoral fraud when the alleged fraud works to their benefit,” she says.Meanwhile in Michigan and Wisconsin, Republicans worked to pass measures to limit the power of the newly elected, incoming Democratic governors, attorneys general and (in Michigan) secretary of state. They are not fighting for freedom, or for voters, they are fighting for themselves — and undermining democracy, wrote LZ Granderson. To paraphrase Walter White, the protagonist in “Breaking Bad,” “Republicans are not in danger, they are the danger,” he says.

    “Timberwolf” is laid to rest

    America’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, was buried in College Station,Texas, this week, beside his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Robin. And his passing got former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow to reminiscing about the president whose protective call sign was “Timberwolf” and who was for many reasons “arguably the agency’s most beloved protectee.” Example? Bush’s renunciation of his National Rifle Association membership when the NRA circulated a fundraising letter after the Oklahoma City bombing portraying federal agents as armed terrorists killing law-abiding citizens. “To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people…is a vicious slander on good people,” Bush wrote then. He was part of the Secret Service family, noted Wackrow: “Each day, he led by example, teaching us how to live with dignity and respect.”

    Facebook better worry

    Documents released in the UK’s Parliament paint a dark picture of the way Facebook operates, and the giant social media platform had better take the resulting uproar very seriously, warned Alexander Urbelis. Among other things, the files appear to “reveal Facebook routinely rewarded friendly companies with access to users’ data while withholding it from other organizations that were seen as potential threats.” (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the documents were misleading.) More scrutiny over mounting reports of the company’s questionable practices is coming, Urbelis wrote. MP’s were put out when Zuckerberg blew off an international hearing in British Parliament last month. “When a Parliamentary committee acts so aggressively, you know they have it out for Facebook and will stop at nothing to unearth the truth.”

      The fantastic audacity of Priyanka Chopra

      Actress Priyanka Chopra’s marriage to Nick Jonas reveals the kind of ambitious feminist she is, wrote Rafia Zakaria. “Hers is a feminism of not giving a damn, grabbing all the power you can, marrying the younger man, wearing the crazy veil and broadcasting for the world to see. In our global moment of reckoning on women’s rights, such fantastic audacity is welcome.” Some have slammed Chopra for a “get-ahead-how-you-can feminism,” but that critique is misplaced and limiting. “Chopra is not perfect,” Zakaria observed, “but she is a representative of what is possible for women if they set about using everything they have to get everything they want.”

Kevin Hart is still pretty clueless

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks in the press for comedian Kevin Hart. Last week, he and his wife were slammed and accused of racism on social media for a cowboys and Indians-themed birthday party for his son, which he refused to apologize for.

Clay CaneNow he is in another media firestorm after his homophobic tweets resurfaced when it was announced he was hosting the Academy Awards. According to Hart, in an Instagram video he posted, the Academy asked him to apologize after the backlash (no word on why there wasn’t a demand for him to apologize for the offensive “cowboys and Indians” party or his unfunny 2010 joke about darker skinned black women).

    Hart refused to apologize because he claimed he already “addressed” the tweets years ago (although he appears to believe saying people are “too sensitive” is an apology). Hart also complained that people were being negative by holding him accountable. Hart stepped down from the Oscar hosting gig — then bizarrely apologized after he said he wouldn’t. Here is what comedians who get in trouble need to understand: You can’t “punch down.” Skinny people cannot crack jokes about overweight people. Rich people cannot mock poor people. White comedians cannot make black people the butt of their jokes. Straight men cannot joke about assaulting gay men. And if anyone dares go down this lane, the joke must be so hilarious that even the community who is being insulted will laugh out loud. There are very few comedians who have that gift.Kevin Hart and the art of the celebrity apology Hart has been trending on social media for several hours and now he has been defended by conservatives who shout things like, “People are too sensitive!” Sadly, Hart is being used as political fodder, because certain folks want to whine that asking someone to be held accountable for offensive language is an attack from a “leftist mob” or the PC police.Read MoreThey want an excuse to defend, for example, a sitting senator who “jokes” about a “public hanging” and is still elected a senator of Mississippi. A man running for governor can caution voters not to vote for his black opponent, lest they “monkey this up” — and still be elected governor of Florida. Our sitting President can insult countless people, even deceased war heroes, and still have a high approval rating among his own party. Therefore, their outrage is selective and partisan.

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      Don Lemon to Kevin Hart: Call me, let’s talk 00:38In reality, we aren’t more “sensitive.” People — including celebrities and politicians — constantly get away with verbal murder, winning elections or even evading accusations of sexual assault, and their careers are unscathed. Hart has more class than Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Florida Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis and our current President. Personally, I wish he hadn’t resigned and that GLAAD, a major LGBTQ advocacy organization, did not want him to bow out. Hart could have engaged in a teachable moment and probably cracked some good jokes about the incident in his opening monologue. Furthermore, the Academy Awards should have done its research before giving Hart the gig; these jokes were well known.That said, no one should shed a tear for the comedian. Kevin Hart is unaffected and safe. He is a rich celebrity who has several sources of income; he will not suffer. Not hosting the Academy Awards will not affect his life. He will thrive. Social media is a minefield for celebs As for his actual comments, among the many tweets that resurfaced is one from 2011 that read, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters (sic) doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.'” As someone who grew up with an extremely abusive homophobic father, I know firsthand this isn’t funny, it’s triggering. But maybe I am too sensitive…In another tweet, Hart wrote that an actor had an avatar that looked like “a gay billboard for AIDS.” I’m not sure when HIV/AIDS jokes became funny, but it’s hard for me to chuckle when I have been at the bedside of someone dying of HIV-related diseases. But maybe I am too sensitive…

        For most of his career, Hart has framed himself as a non-political, safe comedian who actively avoided race and politics in his comedy (until he recently told Trump to “suck it,” which people on the right who are advocating for him now should consider before praising him). I like my comedy political and edgy, and these tweets weren’t edgy or funny. That said, it’s interesting Hart has avoided race in his work, but had no issue talking about LGBTQ folks, even though that is a community he apparently knows nothing about. For more opinion…

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        Kevin Hart owes his success to black audiences, and considering how many LGBTQ people are black, the Philadelphia native should certainly do better. A message for Hart and for all of us: What you find funny and what you believe people are “too sensitive” about speaks volumes about your character.

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis worsens each day. Here’s how to stop it

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen grows worse by the day. The conflict has been marked by violations of the laws of war on all sides, including targeting of civilians, torture, the use of child soldiers, and other abuses.

The Trump administration recently called for a ceasefire and announced its decision to stop refueling Saudi aircraft involved in the conflict, but if President Donald Trump and his foreign policy team really want to end the war, they need to use all the tools at their disposal — military, diplomatic and economic. William HartungTrump seems unlikely to do so. In fact, it’s more likely that the US will remain complicit in the civilian deaths that have resulted from Saudi attacks. It is therefore imperative that Congress hold Trump’s feet to the fire by passing legislation that invokes the War Powers Resolution, which bars the United States from playing a substantial role in any conflict that has not been authorized by Congress. Bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate to do just that, but with mixed results.

    In the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mike Lee of Utah and Chris Murphy of Connecticut have introduced a bill that would end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen unless US involvement is authorized by Congress. That measure should come up for a vote in the next few weeks. In the House, a similar bill sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna of California and dozens of his colleagues was blocked from coming to a vote by Republican leadership, backed up by all but 15 Republican members of the House. The Saudi Arabian government is more lethal than any rogue killer Read MoreBut with the Democrats taking control of the House in January, the prospects of passing a War Powers Resolution on Yemen will increase dramatically. Incoming House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-Washington) was an original co-sponsor of Khanna’s bill, and in recent days House Democratic leaders from Nancy Pelosi on down have spoken forcefully about the need to end the US role in the Saudi/UAE intervention in Yemen. This action can’t come soon enough. There have been more than 17,640 civilian casualties thus far, many the result of air strikes carried out the by US-backed, Saudi-led coalition, according to the United Nations. Bombing raids have hit hospitals, marketplaces, civilian infrastructure, weddings, a funeral and even a school bus carrying dozens of children. The Saudi government has claimed that the strike on the school bus was an error. But the sheer number of bombings that have impacted civilians raises serious questions about whether the US should continue to provide the equipment used to carry out the Saudi air campaign.Untold numbers of additional deaths in Yemen have been caused by a naval blockade and fighting on the ground, which have hindered the distribution of food, clean water and essential medicines. More than 8 million Yemenis are at risk of famine, and the bombing of civilian infrastructure, including water treatment plants, has sparked a cholera outbreak that has affected more than 1 million people

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      Houthis ready for Yemen ceasefire, leader says 03:04To make matters worse, an ongoing assault on the port of Hodeida, spearheaded by the Saudi and United Arab Emirates-led coalition, is shutting the main route through which commercial goods and humanitarian aid get into Yemen. UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock has said that Yemen could now face the worst famine in living memory. Up to half the nation’s 28 million people could be at risk of needing food assistance to survive. But Trump has not pressed the coalition forcefully enough to end the assault on the port, which had intensified in recent weeks before a brief lull late last week.In the face of this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe, the Trump administration’s steps to ameliorate the crisis are woefully inadequate. The Pentagon’s announcement on the end of refueling for Saudi aircrafts involved in the war is a case in point. It describes the decision as taken jointly with Saudi officials and suggests that the kingdom is largely able to do its own refueling at this point. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other administration officials continue to perpetrate the fiction that the Saudi regime is taking good faith steps to limit civilian casualties in its air campaign. That claim is refuted by the fact that almost 60% of its October air strikes hit civilian targets, according to the Yemen Data Project, an independent monitoring group. Framed in these terms, the end of refueling of Saudi aircraft reads less like an effort to stop deadly air strikes and more like a maneuver to sidestep pressure from the public, the press and Capitol Hill to end US complicity in the civilian casualties. For more opinion…

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        If it wants to make an earnest effort to protect innocent lives, the Trump administration should end all support for the Saudi/UAE war effort. That includes targeting assistance, arms sales and the provision of spare parts and maintenance for the existing Saudi and UAE arsenals. Given that the bulk of the Saudi arsenal — including more than half its combat-capable aircraft, tens of thousands of bombs, and 2,000 armored vehicles — is of US-origin, an end to US support could quickly degrade the fighting capability of the Saudi armed forces. Unless Congress acts, it is unlikely the Trump administration finally will say enough is enough and apply maximum pressure on the Saudis and the UAE to end the war. The sooner that happens, the better it will be, for the people of Yemen and the security of the United States and the region.

UN humanitarian chief: It’s not too late to save Yemen from apocalypse

Traveling last week in Yemen, even a 30-year veteran of humanitarian crises like me could not fail to be shocked. Millions of people’s lives are at risk. But it’s not too late to save Yemen. Missing the opportunity to do so would be a huge moral failure.

Mark LowcockFour years ago, Yemen was a fragile country where millions of people struggled to make ends meet. Many were reliant on external help. But there was a functioning economy, infrastructure stretched across the country and people received basic services from their government. All of this has been destroyed and brought Yemen to the brink.

    The war has decimated the economy. National income is half of what it was at the start of the war. Attacks on fishing vessels, destruction of farm land and the bombing of factories have destroyed production. The United Nations and its partners in Yemen have estimated that more than 600,000 jobs have been lost. The main source of government income, oil revenues, are down 85%. More than a million teachers, health workers and pensioners have barely been paid for years. Millions of families do not have the money they need to buy enough food to survive.Air strikes and ground fighting, including artillery fire, have killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians and displaced well over 3 million more. Before the war, Yemen imported almost all its food, fuel and medicines. There are more than 30 active front lines across the country. Restrictions imposed by belligerents are choking ports, roads and the essential infrastructure through which aid reaches people. The UN World Food Programme, whose head, David Beasley, visited Yemen a few days before me, now estimates that almost 12 million people are on the verge of starvation.Read More

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      Houthi FM: Only the US can end war in Yemen 18:06Famines are rare in the modern world. The recent cases, like Somalia in 2011, were all exacerbated by drought, and the return of rains provided respite. Yemen’s crisis is entirely man-made. It will not be solved by Mother Nature. But we can stave off the looming apocalypse if we take action now. Here is the UN’s five-point plan.First, we need an immediate ceasefire to protect people but also the essential infrastructure without which a great famine is guaranteed. Ground the war planes and silence the guns. The UN and others have been calling for this for years. Those calls must now be heeded. For some of the most contested areas, like the port of Hodeidah — the lifeline for millions of people — the UN has offered to play a stronger role to help ensure that key facilities will be used solely for legitimate civilian activities. Second, the UN’s humanitarian response plan for 2019 has to be fully funded. Right now, UN agencies and the NGOs we work with, staffed by thousands of professional and dedicated people, most of them Yemenis helping other Yemenis, are supporting 8 million people every month with assistance such as food, access to clean water and medical care. Next year, we aim to reach 15 million people — half the total population — including all those who have no other means of support and who cannot survive without our help. We need $4 billion during 2019. That might sound like a lot. But it amounts to sustaining the life of a starving person for about 50 cents a day. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, will convene a high-level conference in Geneva on February 26, seeking confirmation of financial pledges from donors.

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        Pompeo defends US ties to Saudis over Yemen 01:29Third, urgent and ongoing measures are needed to stabilize the economy. The most immediate way to do that is to provide foreign funds through the Central Bank of Yemen to allow the payment of salaries for teachers, health workers and other public servants and to pay pensions. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken important steps over the last two months to facilitate this. But what is needed is a predictable, consistent and continuing monthly injection of resources — and the cooperation of all the parties in Yemen to allow the money to reach those who need it.Fourth, work needs to start now on recovery and rebuilding, including for the key state institutions. Rebuild roads and bridges and the water systems. Replace the damaged cranes at Hodeidah. Patch up classrooms. Get the fishermen back to sea. Help farmers to plant. Invest to provide electricity to more people.For more opinion…

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          And fifth, the parties attending the talks set to begin in Sweden — convened by Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen — need to stay until they have agreed to the first meaningful actions towards peace.Rebuilding the battered economy and creating jobs and livelihoods to a point where Yemen can sustain itself will be the work of decades. But piecing back together Yemen’s fractured society and overcoming the anger and grievances the war has amplified will take generations. None of this is going to get better until it stops getting worse. Better get on with it before it is too late.

Trump surrounding himself with yes-men and yes-women

In the olden days of presidential appointments and nominations, the focus was justifiably on the nominees — their background, what their policy positions said about the role they would play in an administration and whether or not they would get confirmed.

Jen PsakiBut the recent round of nominations in this administration also says a lot about Donald Trump. For one thing, all the nominees look the part — a vapid and meaningless qualification that has, according to early transition team officials and Trump associates, proven to be a central driver in Donald Trump’s decision-making on key appointments.

    His newest selections? Friday, Trump announced that he has picked William Barr — who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush — to replace ousted AG Jeff Sessions. He also announced the selection of Heather Nauert — the chief State Department spokeswoman — to replace the outgoing Nikki Haley as US ambassador to the United Nations. At the same time, chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly headed out the door soon, with Trump eyeing Nick Ayers, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, to replace him.Here is my bet on what’s behind Trump’s picks.

    Donald Trump believes that the job of the attorney general is to protect him.

    Read MoreIt is a smart political move to nominate anyone who served under George H.W. Bush in a week where the late President’s life of civility, collegiality and public service has been justifiably celebrated.

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      AG pick Barr on presidential investigations (1992) 01:09But Barr should not be mistaken for a mainstream or moderate pick. He is a strong defender of sweeping presidential power. Long before the Russia investigation and the national obsession with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in 1992 Barr helped President George H.W. Bush pardon key witnesses in the Iran-Contra scandal, cutting the legs from under the independent prosecutor.In more recent months he has defended Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and advocated for investigating President Trump’s political enemies, even defending the bizarre Uranium One conspiracy theory that targeted Hillary Clinton and has been debunked.This nomination is about one thing: Donald Trump’s survival.He is betting on Barr’s defense of the power of the President to fire anyone he wants at any time he wants; betting on his history of bucking independent prosecutors and his shared animosity for Trump’s enemies. Trump is betting that as the person who will be overseeing the Russia investigation, and who is likely skeptical of the need for a subpoena Trump, Barr will protect him.

      Donald Trump doesn’t care about or understand the role of UN ambassador, but he does care about Secretary Pompeo and national security adviser Bolton.

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        From TV host to UN Ambassador Pick 01:41Who the UN ambassador is (or what the United Nations does) is not of particular concern to President Trump. It is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton who know from experience that the role can be a powerful one. The ambassador can publicly buck the administration, as Nikki Haley did, or serve as the unofficial leader of the diplomatic corps in New York — driving the agenda and leading on key diplomatic relationships.They don’t want an ambassador who does that. They want to consolidate power between them and maintain control over the military-first, protectionist approach to foreign policy that they have driven in their roles. Nominating someone like Heather Nauert, without the relevant experience for this job, downgrading the role below cabinet level (as Pompeo has advocated for) will ensure that foreign policy-making and the center of power on international engagement remains in Washington between Foggy Bottom and Pennsylvania Avenue.Heather Nauert has, for the most part, been an effective public speaker on behalf of the administration, and before that she was a visible and vocal Trump defender as an anchor on Fox News. They know they have a loyalist.At the end of the day, President Trump relies on both Pompeo and Bolton, and after rocky relationships with their predecessors, he finally has two men in place who entertain his bombastic and arguably reckless approach to foreign policy. He is fine with Nauert serving in the UN role. He likes her; she is an effective public communicator. The rest doesn’t matter to Trump. But Pompeo and Bolton do.

        Donald Trump wants to see himself in Nick Ayers.

        Chief of Staff John Kelly is rumored to be on the way out, and this time for real. All bets are pointing to Nick Ayers, Georgia native and current chief of staff to Mike Pence. While Kelly has been a loyalist, even when he shouldn’t be, their relationship soured months ago and there has long been a rumor of change in the works.So why Ayers?

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          Sources: Ayers may be Kelly’s replacement 02:08To start, he is young, successful and seen as legitimate by the establishment Republicans and conservatives who are not die-hard fans of Trump.And regardless of how shady his political consulting fees appear to be, he is an ambitious businessman.(Ayers became wealthy in part from fees generated by his own political consulting firm and his former role as a principal in an ad-buying firm called Target Enterprises, which has served as the media buyer on nearly every race Ayers has worked on since he joined in 2011.This allowed him to earn a consultant’s salary while also influencing campaign spending in a way that benefited him financially — not illegal, just not quite kosher.) Trump likely sees himself in Ayers and he wants his appointment to serve as an auspicious reflection.For more opinion…

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            With this new shakeup, Trump defenders and opponents can agree on one thing: With every departure, Donald Trump is getting more of the team he wants at his side.But the risk for the country is that they are becoming more and more of a team of yes-men and -women unwilling to stand up to an increasingly threatened and off-the-rails President.

Mueller is putting the puzzle pieces together on Trump

President Trump and his allies have long rallied around the defiant battle cry that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a “witch hunt” that has uncovered “no collusion” with Russia. But public filings by Mueller and the Southern District of New York over the past two weeks have changed the game. We still do not know everything Mueller knows, but the contours of a broad scheme by the administration to conspire with Russia — to the personal benefit of Trump and the detriment of the United States — are now coming into sharper focus.

Elie HonigOver the past two weeks, we have been reminded that Mueller knows more than anybody else, and he does not go out on limbs. If Mueller says it, then he knows it and can prove it. Friday’s public filing on Paul Manafort’s failed cooperation is a case in point. Manafort lied during the cooperation process, Mueller caught him, and (even based solely on the non-redacted portions of the memo) Mueller laid out the proof in methodical fashion before the court. Mueller doesn’t bluff. If he raises, he’s got the cards.

    Even before the recent spate of court filings, Mueller had generated impressive results. He has indicted over 30 people, including teams of Russian social media manipulators and intelligence agency hackers, and he has convicted Trump’s former campaign chair (Manafort), national security adviser (Michael Flynn), personal attorney (Michael Cohen) and other campaign advisers (Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos) of federal crimes. Even if Mueller’s investigation had ended two weeks ago, it would have uncovered historically significant corruption at the highest levels of politics and government. Trump allies nonetheless maintain that, while Mueller may have notched a string of convictions of inner-circle Trump officials and associates, there was no bigger picture. Sure, a little bank fraud here, false statements there, tax fraud that way, witness tampering this way. But Trump supporters, including Senator Lindsey Graham and Rush Limbaugh, still dismissed Mueller’s charges as “process crimes” (casually ignoring that lying to the feds undermines the core function of law enforcement). Mueller opened the floodgates on Cohen and ManafortNow, with Mueller’s recent court filings, the battleground ahead is coming into sharper focus. It now seems that Mueller is operating on two fronts, both of which pose deadly serious threats to Trump and his administration. Read MoreFirst, the evidence mounts that Trump has committed federal crimes unrelated to Russia. When Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations based on hush money payments to Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, he testified under oath that he had acted “in coordination and at the direction of” Trump. In his sentencing memo filed last week, Cohen reiterated that he committed the campaign finance crimes “in accordance with [Trump’s] directives.” When Cohen pleaded guilty, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “the President in this matter has done nothing wrong, and there are no charges against him.” In Friday’s filing, the SDNY writes that “with respect to both payments, [Cohen] acted in accordance with and at the direction of” Trump. That is a very big deal. It is one thing for Cohen unilaterally to claim Trump participated in a federal crime; it is another for the United States Department of Justice to confirm it. (Shortly after the public filing of the SDNY memo, Trump — entirely inexplicably — tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”)The evidence also builds that Trump has attempted to obstruct justice by impeding the investigation of Russian election interference: the firing of FBI Director James Comey; the browbeating of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing from the Russia investigation; the replacement of Sessions with Matthew Whitaker, who had repeatedly and publicly attacked Mueller’s investigation; and Trump’s inflammatory statements attacking cooperating witnesses and praising those who refuse to testify.Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this yearFederal crimes of any variety are a big deal, and federal crimes committed by the President are monumental. An ordinary person in Trump’s position would face potential criminal charges (though it is unlikely Mueller will indict a sitting president given current DOJ policy). And the President’s conduct raises serious questions about abuse of power that will play into any consideration of impeachment by the incoming Democratic House majority. Second, it is increasingly clear that Trump had deep financial and political incentives to curry favor from Russia as the 2016 election approached. Mueller’s recent filings have begun to answer the “why?” question: why did Trump want so badly to please Russia and why did Russia want to help him win the presidency?Cohen’s guilty plea last week, and the sentencing memos that followed, provide the clearest answer we have seen thus far. We now know that, as late as June 2016 — well into the presidential campaign and after Trump had become the presumptive nominee — the Trump Organization sought to build a tower in Moscow and needed approvals from the Russian government to make it happen. Trump repeatedly has denied having financial or other ties to Russia, during and since the 2016 campaign. Cohen’s guilty plea last week, and the documents that Mueller cited in the court filings, conclusively prove that Trump’s denials were false. The name of Trump's game is still corruption Based on these revelations, we now know that Trump was compromised deep into his run for the White House. Trump needed to curry favor with the Russian government to obtain approvals for the Moscow project. Further complicating matters, while Trump lied to the public about his business dealings with Russia, the Russian government had proof to the contrary — in the form of written communications with Cohen — which Russia could have used for leverage over Trump. Because of his own financial dealings and lies to the public, Trump gave Russia the ability to influence and potentially manipulate him. Given that, it’s no wonder Russia tried to help Trump win the election, as Mueller has alleged in the indictment of Russian intelligence agency hackers. Trump and his more cutthroat advisers apparently were eager to accept the help, whatever form it took. Longtime political hatchet man Roger Stone communicated directly with Wikileaks and the Trump campaign about e-mails that Russian intelligence agents had hacked from the servers of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and others. Donald Trump Jr. eagerly accepted a meeting when Russian nationals offered dirt on Hillary Clinton: “if it’s what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. famously replied. Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort then attended a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a team of Russian nationals, including a lawyer with reported ties to the Kremlin. And there plainly is even more lurking beneath the surface of what Mueller has revealed to the public thus far. Most ominously, in Friday’s sentencing submission for Cohen, Mueller writes that Cohen — who, in Mueller’s assessment was “credible and consistent with other evidence” — provided Mueller with “useful information concerning discrete Russia-related matters core to [Mueller’s] investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with [Trump Organization] executives during the campaign.” For more opinion…

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      The puzzle pieces fit together. Trump needed Russia for his business dealings. Russia wanted Trump to win because they could influence or control him. And the Trump team wanted Russian help simply because they thought the Russians could help Trump win the election. Everyone profits, everyone gets what they want.All of that depended, of course, on the truth remaining hidden. Mueller already has exposed plenty of truth — much of it in court filings these past two weeks — and he has made clear that much more is to come. Soon even the staunchest Trump defender will not be able to argue credibly that Mueller has come up empty on his core mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. It won’t be long until “no collusion” is no more.

Will the Republican Party turn on Trump?

Court filings on Friday regarding Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen reveal the ways in which the special counsel’s investigation can endanger President Trump’s future. Special Counsel Robert Mueller also revealed on Tuesday that former national security adviser Michael Flynn offered “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation — the same day Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas in their emoluments case against President Trump.

Julian ZelizerTrump, concerned that the other shoe will finally drop when Mueller delivers his final report, unleashed a blitz of tweets early Friday attacking the investigation. Trump tried to discredit Mueller and tweeted, “We will be doing a major Counter Report to the Mueller Report. This should never again be allowed to happen to a future President of the United States!” While the tweets are the words of an angry man, they also appear to be the words of a worried man.

    Amid the turmoil, Trump announced major personnel changes in his administration. The President said he will nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as UN ambassador and William Barr as attorney general. Meanwhile, Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to step down soon.The cynic rightly responds to all of this week’s news by asking — who cares? We have seen this kind of chaos before. Prosecutors: Michael Cohen acted at Trump's direction when he broke the lawThe theory is that partisanship will save this President. After all, Republicans will still control the Senate in 2019 with an even larger majority, so the likelihood of their support in any impeachment proceedings is slim. Republicans have stood by silently as the President ignores norms, threatens institutions, and conducts his erratic term in office. When it comes to taking a stand, congressional Republicans have done nothing to demonstrate that they privilege governance over partisanship. Read MoreBut do the past two years suggest President Trump is immune to the fallout that could result from the emoluments case or a damning Mueller report?In short, the answer is no. The same intense partisanship within the Republican Party that has protected President Trump until this point could just as easily turn against him. That is the essence of intense partisanship. Decisions are not about loyalty to an individual or principle but about power. When a person stands in the way of power, then they become disposable.Until the midterm elections, Republicans were feeling pretty good. They controlled the White House and the Congress, and with Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the Supreme Court now leans considerably to the right as well. Republicans also amassed control of a huge number of state legislatures and governorships under President Obama. Combined with the political propaganda machine called Fox News, the party was feeling pretty good about themselves. Mueller is putting the puzzle pieces together on TrumpEven if President Trump made members of the GOP cringe and went against certain political principles like free trade, it was still unclear how things would play out at the polls. While Republicans could not ignore the dismal approval ratings of the President, factors like redistricting, along with favorable Senate election prospects and voting restrictions, could have mitigated a blue wave.But that’s not what happened. The midterm elections served a devastating blow to the GOP. Republicans lost the House and a significant number of state-level elections in the process. While Republicans in states like Wisconsin and Michigan are trying to limit the powers of incoming governors and other officials, Democrats will still have power. Democrats even showed that they are gaining strength in places like Arizona and Texas. Meanwhile, the stock market has plunged this week, undercutting the GOP’s confidence in the policies of “Tariff Man,” who until now had been enjoying the kind of economic rewards that kept skeptics quiet. What happens when Republicans learn what Robert Mueller has uncovered? What if the report produces clear and compelling evidence that the President and his associates committed high crimes and misdemeanors? What if the emoluments case shows that the President, through his hotel, has exchanged political decisions for bulk hotel reservations? What if the Congress learns that everything people suspected is just the tip of the iceberg?America may be too polarized to deal with impeachment The thing about scandals is that they can take on a life of their own. While Republicans have tried to stifle the investigation thus far, that can change once the facts are out there. The details will matter. If the findings are damaging enough, the report can leave a lasting impact by forcing Republicans to think twice about standing by the President through 2020. In many scandals — even Watergate — the party of the accused remained loyal to the alleged wrongdoer for a long time until the political costs become very clear.If the House moved forward and voted for articles of impeachment, the biggest question has to do with the Senate, where two-thirds of the chamber would have to vote in favor of removing a president. Will there be enough evidence to persuade 20 Republicans to join Democrats in favor of a conviction?

      Ironically, the other insurance policy that President Trump has been counting on — the very conservative Vice President Mike Pence — can turn into a liability. After all, if Republicans reach a tipping point in 2019 and determine that a scandal-ridden President can drag down the rest of the party, they might rally behind Pence for president, assured that he would stay loyal to the party agenda.For more opinion…

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      These are unsettling days for the Trump administration. The President is hoping that he can simply ignore what the investigators have to say or else just tweet them out of existence. But that’s not how Washington works. It is a tough town and there are breaking points for any party when the costs of supporting a politician become unbearable. That’s when the partisanship that the President has counted on could turn into his biggest problem.

Facebook faces major repercussions if it continues to resist government scrutiny

The UK Parliament published more than 200 pages of internal Facebook documents and communications on Wednesday after employing a series of bold and unprecedented moves against the social media company. The revelations in the documents only add to mounting reports of Facebook’s questionable practices, which will no doubt lead to additional government inquiries.

Alexander UrbelisThe documents reveal Facebook routinely rewarded friendly companies with access to users’ data while withholding it from other organizations that were seen as potential threats, according to Damian Collins, a member of Parliament who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

    What follows are a few of the juiciest revelations that could have significant repercussions for Facebook.When Facebook was planning to change its Android mobile app to collect highly sensitive user data — i.e., records of telephone calls and text messages — a product manager acknowledged the move “was a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective.” But the product manager went on to write that “the growth team will charge ahead and do it.” To avoid public scrutiny, Facebook considered rolling out an update that would not include an explicit notification of data collection.The documents also reveal that Facebook gave certain companies, such as Netflix, Badoo, Bumble, HotorNot, Lyft and AirBnb access to users’ friend data. In one February 2015 email, Netflix wrote to Facebook to confirm it would be “whitelisted for getting all friends, not just connected friends.”Read MoreFacebook internal emails show Zuckerberg targeting competitor VineWhile Facebook “whitelisted” some companies, it also limited its competitors’ access to data. The documents reveal Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally agreed to do this to Vine, a video sharing app that Twitter acquired in 2012. Facebook responded to the release on Wednesday with a statement that read, “The documents were selectively leaked to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.” Regardless, the bizarre series of events and the aggressive tactics Collins used to obtain the documents have serious implications for Facebook’s future. British authorities obtained the documents — which were sealed in California — after serving several orders on Ted Kramer, founder of the company Six4Three, while he was on a business trip in London. Kramer eventually turned the documents over to Collins after the Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms personally delivered an order at his hotel.Sheryl Sandberg wanted to know if George Soros was betting against FacebookSix4Three filed a lawsuit against Facebook in California after its bikini photo-finder app shut down. The app relied on users’ friend data, but the social media company restricted this information to third-party apps in 2015. While Facebook cited privacy concerns for this change, Six4Three claims Facebook wanted to use the data to bring in advertising money. Given these highly unusual circumstances, one has to ask the obvious question of cui bono — who benefits — because the release of these documents only strengthens Six4Three’s litigation position by dragging Facebook through the mud. The relationship between Collins and Kramer is a perfect example of the aphorism that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”Clearly, Parliament does not trust Facebook. The DCMS committee could have sought the same documents from Facebook’s UK offices. But instead of trusting Facebook to provide full and accurate responses, the DCMS resorted to high-pressure tactics directed at Kramer. The DCMS won the bet when it wagered Kramer would eventually fold.In doing so, the DCMS prioritized the acquisition and publication of the Facebook documents over international norms of comity. The DCMS committee was well aware the documents were subject to a protective order of a California court. The crazy tale of how the UK parliament ended up with secret Facebook documentsIn choosing to publish what it did, the DCMS committee must believe that the revelations contained in these documents outweigh any fallout with the US legal system as well as attendant diplomatic consequences with the United States. When a Parliamentary committee acts so aggressively, you know they have it out for Facebook and will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. Last week, Canadian lawmaker Charles Angus blasted Facebook during a hearing in London attended by politicians from nine countries as part of an international inquiry into disinformation and fake news. Angus, who said Facebook had “lost the trust of the international community to self-police,” also called for regulation. “Perhaps the best regulation is antitrust. Perhaps the simplest form of regulation would be to break Facebook up or treat it as a utility,” he said.The die, however, is not yet cast, and antitrust action would be a slow-moving process. It’s more likely that Facebook will continue to try evading governmental regulation and break itself into subsidiary components before any sovereign power orders them to do so. In the meantime, each company that appears to have received favorable data access from Facebook can expect to receive subpoenas and equivalent legal process from Congress, Parliament and perhaps other foreign legislative bodies. Most of these legislative bodies are comprised of former lawyers, and a good lawyer knows how to ask probing questions.Facebook to send VP instead of Mark Zuckerberg to international committee on disinformationCompelling executives from companies like Lyft or Airbnb to testify about Facebook’s data access program may be the most effective way to uncover what Facebook knew about the data it shared with developers, and how that led to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. If there’s anything these hearings have shown, it’s that Facebook can no longer resist government scrutiny without suffering major repercussions. Lawmakers at last week’s hearing in the UK made it clear that they were extremely disappointed with Zuckerberg’s refusal to attend and answer their questions directly. If Facebook continues to thumb its nose at government inquiries, it is highly likely that Congress and other foreign bodies will take a page from the DCMS committee playbook and start targeting third parties.

      If this is the path of least resistance to the truth, it is a path of Facebook’s own making. Facebook is likely to learn that its internal information will be made available to the public — it is simply a matter of how and when. For more opinion…

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      Parliament’s decision to publish Facebook’s emails and other sensitive information will no doubt lead to further inquiries in the UK and abroad, embroiling Facebook’s partners along the way. As stewards of our personal data, the public and elected officials are right to demand direct answers to hard questions that Facebook has thus far evaded. If Zuckerberg intends to do right by the public — and Facebook’s shareholders — it would behoove him to show up at the next hearing.

How to reverse the shrinking number of GOP women in Congress

Election Day 2018 was kind to women running for Congress — for those who lean left. We Republican women were largely left out in the cold.

Carrie SheffieldAs Vox reported on Tuesday, “Come January, the number of women Republicans serving in the House will drop from 23 to just 13, the result of a Democratic wave election, some retirements, and several women who left to seek higher office (to varying degrees of success). The number of House Republican women is in shocking contrast to Democrats, who elected a record-breaking 35 new women to Congress, bringing up their total to 89.”

    The hard question remains: When will Republicans, who struggle at the ballot box with female voters, get serious about nominating, supporting and electing more female leaders?”While we did not see parity in numbers across party lines [on Election Day], we do see women interested in getting politically involved every single day,” said Rebecca Schuller, executive director of Winning For Women, which supports Republican women and is funded by wealthy GOP donors. “Many of them are interested in making a run one day. But in full frankness, we believe the Republican Party needs to commit to real change.”Republican women wonder when they'll get a female speaker of the HouseThis is not for a lack of effort. Winning For Women is part of a constellation of GOP players, including RightNOW Women PAC, Susan B. Anthony List, Maggie’s List, Women’s Public Leadership Network and Maverick PAC’s Maverick Women, looking to build conservative alternatives to the massively influential EMILY’s List, which was instrumental in getting many Democratic women elected. We don’t have anything nearly as powerful on the right.Read MoreTiffany Waddell, chairwoman of RightNOW Women PAC, which helps support Republican women, told me she thinks the GOP needs to be more aggressive about recruiting strong female candidates. Women are far less likely to voluntarily run for office than men; they typically wait to be asked. But by elevating smart GOP female candidates through tangible support and money, the party can attract more female voters. What’s more, this will foster the creation of more policies that empower women, unlike those that encourage greater dependence on government and weaken women’s abilities to get jobs, start businesses and live in peace and safety.Republican victory sets record for female senatorsThis is not the only change the GOP needs to make if it wants to start connecting with more women, however. It also needs to change its messaging.Part of the strategy gap I see among many in the GOP is a goal of not pandering to anyone based on gender or race. While this is laudable — our country was built on lofty ideals that spoke to universal, inherent human dignity (even if they weren’t perfectly executed at first for non-property owning men, women and people of color) — the party keeps losing the female vote.Conservatives believe in a competitive marketplace of ideas, but if the GOP were a private-sector soft drink company targeting female consumers, its marketing team would rightly be fired by now.So, how can the GOP both adopt universal, color and gender-blind campaigning while still being smart and effective in its branding and tone? In my view, Republicans, including President Trump, should follow the President’s own advice: “I would like to have a much softer tone,” President Trump told Sinclair Broadcasting Group just one day before Republicans lost the House. “I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do and maybe I could have been softer from that standpoint.”It's not the 'Year of the Woman.' It's the 'Year of the Women'Republicans do have a choice in what we say. Even though President Trump is fighting unprecedented levels of acrimonious, liberal media bias, he and his party can and should stick to a positive, uplifting vision for the country — one that is perfectly aligned with conservative ideals of free enterprise, strong defense and robust private civil society that unleash human prosperity; one that doesn’t push away female voters.

      Still, there were some silver linings for Republican women in the 2018 midterms. We saw the first Latina lieutenant governor of Florida (Republican Jeanette Nuñez), the first female US senator from Tennessee (Republican Marsha Blackburn), the first female elected governor of Iowa (Republican Kim Reynolds) and the first woman elected governor of South Dakota (Republican Kristi Noem). And with the continued efforts of GOP leaders who have made elevating women within the party a priority, like Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who understands the challenge Republican women face running for office and has vowed to help support female primary candidates, we will hopefully see more of these firsts in the next election cycle.For more opinion…

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      While these wins are a solid foundation for conservative women heading into 2020, there is much room for improvement. And it starts with a change in messengers and tone.

A Magnitsky Act for Europe would punish human rights abusers and despots

Sometimes a name means everything. In this case, the name Sergei Magnitsky has been globally synonymous with how to fight human rights abuse in the 21st century. His sacrifice has resonated with victims of human rights abuse in every corner of the globe. Legislative acts have been passed bearing his name, creating serious consequences for human rights abusers around the world.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who sacrificed his life at the age of 37, standing up to the corruption of the Putin regime. The way in which the Russian government tried to cover up his murder and exonerate the people involved became a symbol of impunity and kleptocracy worldwide. That is why Magnitsky’s bold sacrifice crossed national borders and spoke to people everywhere.Bill Browder, from red diaper baby to Putin's nemesisThe Magnitsky Acts, which are imposed visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights violators, have become emblematic of fighting impunity and kleptocracy around the world. In the 21st century, many human rights abuses are committed for financial gain. Targeting those abusers’ money abroad and their travel is one of the most effective ways of creating consequences. There can be no impunity for generals in Myanmar who hunt down Rohingyas, for arms dealers who breach the weapons embargo against South Sudan, the rapists in the Central African Republic or the killers of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    That is why the idea of a Magnitsky Act started with a Russian atrocity, but is now global in its scope. Human rights violators in Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, South Sudan, Burma and many other countries are already being targeted with Magnitsky sanctions legislation in six countries: the United States, Canada, UK, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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      Browder: WH entertaining Putin proposal ‘absurd’ 01:42We now need to take the next bold step. We need to establish an EU-wide Magnitsky Act. The European Parliament has already called for this many times and in 2014 even proposed visa bans and asset freezes against people responsible for the Magnitsky murder. Only a few Member States took up this proposal.Read MoreThe EU Council failed to act, but now this initiative is finally gaining momentum. Over the summer, the Dutch government formulated a concrete proposal, which is now in consultation with all EU member states. This draft is exactly what is needed, the ability to apply global sanctions — with one glaring omission. Magnitsky lawyer: Will 'fight for justice' despite risk to lifeThe Dutch government has not yet named it a Magnitsky Act. Some would argue that Magnitsky’s name would somehow make it harder for a unanimous approval of the legislation. We don’t believe that our member states would veto a human rights bill simply because of its name, but will adopt it because of their support to human rights worldwide. Whatever the negotiations will lead to, we will always call it the Magnitsky Act.On Monday 10th December, European ministers of Foreign Affairs will meet to discuss the Dutch proposal. Just one vote against would mean the end of this legislation. That is why parliamentarians and lawmakers from 18 EU member states urge our governments to strengthen the EU’s position as a beacon for human rights and international law worldwide. We urge our governments to vote for this European Magnitsky Act that is global in scope. We urge them to honor Magnitsky in name and fight impunity worldwide. We cannot think of any better way to celebrate Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this Monday.Sjoerd Sjoerdsma MP (Netherlands)Michael Aastrup-Jensen MP (Denmark)Boriana Aberg MP (Sweden)Ian Austin MP (United Kingdom)Petras Auštrevičius MEP (Lithuania)Fernando Maura Barandiarán MP (Spain)Jānis Bordāns MP (Latvia)Tom Brake MP (United Kingdom)Chris Bryant MP (United Kingdom)Mireille Clapot MP (France)Cristian Dan Preda MEP (Romania)Esther de Lange MEP (Netherlands)Mark Demesmaeker MEP (Belgium)Anna Fotyga MEP (Poland)Cristian Ghinea MP (Romania)Ana Gomes MEP (Portugal)Helen Goodman MP (United Kingdom)Rebecca Harms MEP (Germany)Margaret Hodge MP (United Kingdom)Gunnar Hokmark MEP (Sweden)Eva Joly MEP (France)Sandra Kalniete MEP (Latvia)Tunne Kelam MEP (Estonia)Stephen Kinnock MP (United Kingdom)Dr. Stephanie Krisper MP (Austria)Eerik-Niiles Kross MP (Estonia)Catherine Murphy MP (Ireland)Delphine O MP (France)Pieter Omtzigt MP (Netherlands)Lilianne Ploumen MP (Netherlands)Adrian Prisnel MP (Romania)Senator Roberto Rampi (Italy)Dr. Norbert Röttgen MP (Germany)Bob Seely MP (United Kingdom)Manuel Sarrazin MP (Germany)Petri Sarvamaa MEP (Finland)Marietje Schaake MEP (Netherlands)Charles Tannock MEP (United Kingdom)Indrek Tarand MEP (Estonia)Bram van Ojik MP (Netherlands)Guy Verhofstadt MEP (Belgium)Joël Voordewind MP (Netherlands)

        Manfred Weber MEP (Germany)Emanuelis Zingeris MP (Lithuania)