On Jan. 13, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the president should "accept his share of responsibility," but did not support his impeachment.
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Suspect William McCall Calhoun Jr. faces a host of charges stemming from the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration is "a long way" from executing its plan to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and plans to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before doing so.Why it matters: America's partners in the Middle East have been publicly raising their concerns about a possible return to the 2015 agreement and calling on the Biden administration to consult with them first.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The state of play: President-elect Biden's plan is to return to the deal, by lifting sanctions, if Iran returns to compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program. In the next stage, Biden wants to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting agreement. * Blinken said those negotiations would include Iran’s missile program and regional activity.What they're saying: Blinken said Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal left Iran closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon because Tehran began to breach its terms. “Iran’s breakout time, which was a year under the nuclear deal, is only 3-4 months today," Blinken said in the hearing. * Yes, but: While Blinken stressed that the U.S. would live up to its commitments if Iran did, he said the new administration wouldn't rush back into the deal before assessing whether Iran was prepared to return to full compliance.Worth noting: Blinken said he “didn’t shed tears” about the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani by the U.S. one year ago, but added that he believes it made America less safe.Go deeper: * Netanyahu aides fret that "Obama people" will shape Biden's Iran policy * Netanyahu may appoint envoy to Biden administration on Iran * Israel to push Biden to take it easy on Saudi Arabia, UAE and EgyptBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
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Decision would mean US could assign blame for death on to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the recent documentary The Dissident. Photograph: AP The Biden administration will declassify an intelligence report into the murder by the Saudi government of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Avril Haines, who has been nominated to serve as director of national intelligence. The decision means that the US is likely to officially assign blame for Khashoggi’s brutal murder to the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and US resident who wrote critical columns about the Saudi crown prince, was murdered by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018. While media reports have said that the US intelligence community determined with a medium to high degree of confidence that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, that assessment has never officially been stated. The crown prince has denied he ordered the murder. Since then, Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and other human rights activists have called on Biden to release the classified report into the murder, saying that doing so was the first step towards seeking accountability. During Haines’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the Oregon senator Ron Wyden said that, if confirmed as the new DNI, she would have the opportunity to “immediately” turn the page on the “excessive secrecy” and “lawlessness” of the Trump administration, and submit an unclassified report on “who was responsible” for Khashoggi’s murder, as required under a February 2020 law that the Trump administration in effect blocked. Asked whether she would release the report, Haines replied: “Yes, senator, absolutely. We will follow the law.” In a statement, Wyden praised the move, saying it was “refreshing to hear a straightforward commitment to follow the law” from Haines. Biden's Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines says, if confirmed, she will provide Congress with an unclassified report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/ocPUsJUeti— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 19, 2021 Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and director at the Brookings Institution, said: “It is a useful way to put the question of accountability for Khashoggi’s murder in the public domain early in the new administration.” One of the most outspoken advocates for justice for the murder, Agnès Callamard, also praised the move, saying the information would provide the “one essential missing piece of the puzzle of the execution of Jamal Khashoggi”. Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, said she hoped other information would also come to light, such as any new details about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains, and whether a risk assessment had ever been done by the US about whether Khashoggi was in danger before his trip to Turkey. Callamard, who will be named the new head of Amnesty International later this year, also pointed to other threats that have reportedly been lodged against human rights defenders and former Saudi officials in Canada and Norway by Prince Mohammed’s agents, who have been called a “death squad” in media reports. “At some point, if the US intelligence has information about those operatives, then I think they should really make that information publicly available,” Callamard said. The release of the Khashoggi report will also raise a host of new questions for both the US and Saudi Arabia. “If the document fingers MBS as responsible for the murder it will raise the question what is Biden going to do to hold him accountable?” said Riedel. During the 2020 election campaign, Biden issued scathing attacks against the crown prince, saying Saudi Arabia needed to be treated as “a pariah”. It is expected that the Biden administration would seek to curb weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, but it could also take more targeted actions against Prince Mohammed, including financial sanctions.
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President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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A woman identified as having taken part in the storming of the US Capitol is accused of stealing a laptop belonging to top Democrat Nancy Pelosi which she hoped to sell to a Russian spy agency, according to the FBI. There is no indication Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old careworker from Pennsylvania, took a laptop from Ms Pelosi's office. The FBI, which is working off a tip, said in the court record the "matter remains under investigation." The complaint, filed late Sunday in US District Court in Washington, sought the arrest of Williams on grounds including "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds." Relying on several photos and videos of the chaotic January 6 riot, an FBI agent said Williams was seen near the office of Ms Pelosi, US House Speaker. A witness, identified in the court document only as W1 but who claimed to be "the former romantic partner of Riley June Williams," alleged that Williams planned to send the laptop to a friend in Russia to sell it to the SVR foreign intelligence agency. That sale "fell through for unknown reasons, and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it," the affidavit says.
A prominent Iranian-born scholar arrested Monday was secretly paid to write columns favorable to Tehran and lobby at least one U.S. lawmaker on its behalf, federal prosecutors say.Why it matters: Kaveh Afrasiabi’s writings showed up in prominent publications such as the New York Times and the Guardian as, the Justice Department says, he drew regular payments from the Iranian government and communicated frequently with the country’s diplomatic staff. None of these professional or financial conflicts was disclosed.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What’s new: Federal officers charged Afrasiabi with acting as an unregistered foreign agent. * Prosecutors say Iran’s mission to the United Nations paid him more than $265,000 from July 2007 through November 2020. Many of the checks described payments to Afrasiabi as a “salary.” * Prosecutors say Afrasiabi also received health insurance benefits from the Iranian U.N. mission since 2011.During that time, Afrasiabi made media appearances and published writings in major publications that described him as an independent scholar and expert on Iranian affairs. * Afrasiabi’s columns have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and HuffPost. He’s also appeared on Chinese and Russian state media in the U.S. * His writings uniformly aligned with Tehran’s position on world affairs, and, according to the indictment, were often written in consultation with Iranian diplomatic staff. * Prosecutors say Afrasiabi also helped craft an April 2015 column in the New York Times written by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.Afrasiabi’s work also included direct communications with an unidentified member of Congress and his staff, prosecutors say. * According to the indictment, Afrasiabi helped write a December 2009 letter from the unnamed congressman to then-President Barack Obama regarding Iranian nuclear negotiations.Be smart: DOJ’s indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, as the Trump administration unveils last-minute measures going after foreign powers it considers top U.S. adversaries.Go deeper: "U.S. declares China's actions against Uighurs 'genocide'"Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday it had issued drilling leases on more than 400,000 acres (160,000 hectares) of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), delivering on a promise to fossil-fuel proponents on President Donald Trump's last full day in office. Formal issuance of the leases by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management came a day before the inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to protect the 19.6-million-acre (7.9-million-hectare) habitat for polar bears and caribou and to ban new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Lease holders would still need to seek permits from the new administration before any wells could be drilled, among other challenges.
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Ivanka praises her own work in farewell message as bitter Don Jr compares Biden to Disney’s Uncle Scar
First daughter may now eye own run for elected office
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Election experts have uniformly declared that the 2020 election was conducted fairly.
President Trump could be an "accessory" to murder after over the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC Tuesday night.Why it matters: Trump faced intense criticism after a crowd of his supporters breached the Capitol and broke into chambers, including Pelosi’s office. Five people died as a result of the insurrection.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here. * Trump had spread false claims of election fraud online and urged supporters to march to the Capitol in a speech at a "Save America" rally shortly before rioters broke into the building.What she’s saying: "Presidents' words are important. They weigh a ton," Pelosi said. "And they used his words to come here." * Any Congress member proven to have colluded with rioters could be accessories to crimes committed during the events — like Trump, she added. * "And the crime, in some cases, was murder," Pelosi said. "And this president is an accessory to that crime because he instigated that insurrection that caused those deaths and this destruction."The big picture: Trump said a week after the riots that he "unequivocally" condemned the violence. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, once a Trump loyalist, said on Tuesday the mob was "provoked by the president and other powerful people." * The House voted to impeach Trump last week on one charge: incitement of insurrection. It now goes to the Senate for trial. * The White House did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on Pelosi's remarks.Go deeper: In photos: Protesters storm U.S. CapitolSupport safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.