By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former United Nations General Assembly president accused of being part of a bribery scheme would likely face additional charges, a U.S. prosecutor said on Monday, hours before the diplomat was released from jail. John Ashe, who served in the U.N. post from 2013 to 2014, already faces two counts of tax fraud in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court. But prosecutors have not charged Ashe with bribery, despite allegations he took $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, citing his possible diplomatic immunity. Prosecutors say that immunity does not apply to the tax charges. At a court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Janis Echenberg said prosecutors were "looking carefully" at the immunity issue, and would decide as quickly as possible about charging him for bribery. "It is likely if not quite likely there will be additional charges here," Echenberg said. The prosecutor made the disclosure as U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick adjusted the conditions for Ashe to be released from jail on a $1 million bond. While prosecutors argued Ashe could flee, Herve Gouraige, his lawyer, said he posed "little if any risk of flight." The adjustment allowed Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda, to be released later on Monday, following his Oct. 6 arrest. Francis Lorenzo, a suspended deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic, was likewise released along with Ng Lap Seng, a Macau billionaire accused of bribing Ashe. All three will be under house arrest, including Ng, who was released on a $50 million bond and will reside under the watch of private security guards at a $3.6 million apartment. Prosecutors said Ng, a real estate developer, used intermediaries to pay Ashe more than $500,000 to seek U.N. support of a conference center in the Chinese territory. The intermediaries included Lorenzo, who prosecutors said also received bribes, and Jeff Yin, Ng's assistant, according to charging documents. Ashe also received more than $800,000 in payments arranged through Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the U.N. and Antigua, prosecutors said. They said those payments were arranged through Sheri Yan, who had been chief executive of Global Sustainability Foundation, and Heidi Park, who was its finance director. Five defendants pleaded not guilty on Thursday after being indicted by a federal grand jury. Park remains in custody, and the deadline to indict her has not expired. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's first calls to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbors. Mexico's president said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.
- The Independent
Rioters who entered Capitol building may not be charged if they didn’t engage in violence, report says
Federal officials do not want to crush court system with hundreds of cases
- Associated Press
Libya’s coast guard intercepted on Friday more than 80 Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants were returned to Libyan soil, said the International Organization for Migration. “So far this year, some 300 people, including women and children, were returned to the country and ended up in detention,” said the IOM.
- NBC News
Biden's acting attorney general signed off on reassigning prosecutor who objected to family separations
The incident would have made Wilkinson aware families were being separated long before the Texas pilot program for zero tolerance was known to the public.
The United States plans to reverse the Trump administration's "draconian" immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, the White House said on Saturday. In a Friday call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, according to an account of the call released by the White House.
- The Telegraph
Exclusive: Notorious Albanian gangster smuggles mobile phone into British prison cell to post birthday wishes to family
An Albanian gangster jailed for 27-years for smuggling huge quantities of heroin and cocaine into Britain has been making a mockery of justice by running a social media account from his prison cell. Posing with fellow gang members, Valjet Pepaj, has even used Instagram to flirt with women on the outside, boasting that he expects to be free in four years. The 31-year-old was given a lengthy sentence in April 2018 after admitting three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He was jailed alongside two other men following a six month undercover police operation which resulted in the seizure of 50 kilograms of heroin and cocaine, worth in excess of £2 million.
- The Independent
Priest who attended pro-Trump rally ahead of Capitol insurrection is suspended from post and may be defrocked
Reverend Mark Hodges described event as ‘joyful, positive and orderly’
- Associated Press
Iran's capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran's power grid.
- National Review
Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic representative from Hawaii, on Friday expressed concern that a proposed measure to combat domestic terrorism could be used to undermine civil liberties. Gabbard’s comments came during an appearance on Fox News Primetime when host Brian Kilmeade asked her if she was “surprised they’re pushing forward with this extra surveillance on would-be domestic terror.” “It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,” Gabbard said. She continued: “When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.” She said her concern lies in how officials will define the characteristics they are searching for in potential threats. “What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this?” Gabbard said. She said the proposed legislation could create “a very dangerous undermining of our civil liberties, our freedoms in our Constitution, and a targeting of almost half of the country.” “You start looking at obviously, have to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally,” Gabbard said. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 was introduced in the House earlier this week in the aftermath of rioting at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that left five dead. “Unlike after 9/11, the threat that reared its ugly head on January 6th is from domestic terror groups and extremists, often racially-motivated violent individuals,” Representative Brad Schneider (D., Ill.) said in a statement announcing the bipartisan legislation. “America must be vigilant to combat those radicalized to violence, and the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act gives our government the tools to identify, monitor and thwart their illegal activities. Combatting the threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacy is not a Democratic or Republican issue, not left versus right or urban versus rural. Domestic Terrorism is an American issue, a serious threat the we can and must address together,” he said.
- Associated Press
New first lady Jill Biden took an unannounced detour to the U.S. Capitol on Friday to deliver baskets of chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members, thanking them “for keeping me and my family safe” during President Joe Biden's inauguration. “I just want to say thank you from President Biden and the whole, the entire Biden family,” she told a group of Guard members at the Capitol. “The White House baked you some chocolate chip cookies," she said, before joking that she couldn't say she had baked them herself.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Pfizer had reassured him it would meet Canada's vaccine order in full by end-March as, with a second COVID wave spreading across the country, he hinted at a clampdown on citizens leaving home. Pfizer, which is retooling a European manufacturing plant, told Canada on Tuesday it would receive no vaccine next week, promising more pain for provinces already complaining about a shortage of supplies. Pfizer also said it would cut supplies to the European Union.
- The Week
Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has been critical of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the years, but he recently told The New Yorker's Jane Meyer that he was pleasantly surprised by how the senator has responded to former President Donald Trump in the wake of the deadly riot at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6. McConnell's comments have been "more forthright than I expected," Ornstein said. "Good for him!"Still, he doesn't consider the split with Trump a "genuine moral reckoning," Meyer writes. "There is no way that McConnell has had an epiphany and will now change his fundamental approach," Ornstein said. "He will always act ruthlessly when it serves his own interest."Other sources agreed, telling Meyer that McConnell's partnership with Trump was always self-serving. "Three years ago, I said he'd wait until Trump was an existential threat to the" GOP and "then cut him loose," Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who has known McConnell for decades, said. "He's been furious with Trump for a long time. Many who know him have talked about how much he hates Trump." It was the promise of Republican judicial appointments that kept McConnell on board, Yarmuth said.McConnell also kept quiet for weeks while Trump pushed unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election because the Georgia Senate runoffs were still at stake, a former Trump administration official told Meyer.Chistopher Browning, a historian, suggested that McConnell was mostly freed up by Trump's defeat, which "opened an escape hatch" for him. "If Trump had won the election, Mitch would not be jumping ship," he said. Read more at The New Yorker.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency Biden reeled in a record-breaking $145 million in 'dark money'
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden is considering turning to Hollywood for his next British ambassador, according to UK officials who are working the phones to closely monitor his selection. Two top businessmen with a TV background are thought to be in contention for the London job, one of the plum assignments in the US diplomatic circuit. One is Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios who is considered one of the most powerful men in the Los Angeles film scene. At Disney, Mr Katzenberg helped make hits like Aladdin and The Lion King. He later co-founded DreamWorks Animation, which produced Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Mr Katzenberg hosted an event for Mr Biden during the presidential election campaign and gave $617,800 to the Biden Victory Fund. The second is David Cohen, who stepped down as senior executive vice-president of the telecoms giant Comcast this month, when the switch in US president took place.
- Associated Press
Someone in Michigan bought the winning ticket for the $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which is the third-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers for Friday night’s drawing were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball of 24. The winning ticket was purchased at a Kroger store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the Michigan Lottery said.
- Architectural Digest
“The materials and colors took center stage,” said David Lucas when it came to the design of the home.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- NBC News
Attorneys for Rittenhouse did not object to the changes. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two amid protests last year.
- The Independent
Several senators also offered space for guardsmen to use during their breaks
A slim majority of Americans say former President Donald Trump should be convicted by the Senate of inciting an insurrection and barred from holding public office, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which showed a sharp partisan divide over the issue. The national public opinion poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, found that 51% of Americans think Trump should be found guilty for inciting the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Another 37% said Trump should not be convicted and the remaining 12% said they were unsure.
- Business Insider
The Bidens were reportedly left waiting outside the White House on Inauguration Day because Trump sent the staff home
The Trumps sent the butlers home "so there would be no-one to help the Bidens when they arrived," a source told The National Journal.