Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at China on Wednesday, accusing the Chinese Communist Party of adopting hostile policies that run counter to U.S. interests.
He also criticized previous American administrations going back to Richard Nixon for accommodating Beijing by ignoring fundamental differences in the U.S. and Chinese systems and wishing for reform despite evidence of China's authoritarianism.
Pompeo's remarks were the second harshly critical speech about China from a senior Trump administration official in a week. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a similar critique of China last Thursday. The speeches come as China and the U.S. try to finalize a partial trade deal.
"It is no longer realistic to ignore the fundamental differences between our two systems, and the impact that these differences may have on the United States," Pompeo said in a speech to the conservative Hudson Institute in New York. He said China must be confronted rather than coddled on numerous fronts, including its trade practices, its human rights record and its aggression in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan.
"We did everything we could to accommodate China's rise, in the hope that Communist China would become more free, market-driven and, ultimately, democratic," he said. "We did this for a long time."
Pompeo blamed not just China for what he said was a failure by multiple presidents, their advisers, analysts, scholars and historians to understand the risks posed to America by Beijing. That is changing under the Trump administration, he said.
"We've been slow to see the risk China poses to American national security because we wanted friendship with the People's Republic from the very start. We still hope for it," he said. "But in our efforts to achieve this goal, we accommodated and encouraged China's rise for decades — even at the expense of American values, and security, and good sense."
Pompeo said the Trump administration would aggressively call out China for its actions, particularly on economic issues but also on the security front.
Pompeo repeated previous criticism of predatory Chinese lending and infrastructure investment in developing nations, theft of intellectual property, its restrictions on religious freedom and its buildup of military assets in the South and East China seas, which threaten its smaller neighbors.
The Trump administration, Pompeo said, will not shy away from confronting the Chinese.
"We didn't want this," he said. "China has forced it upon us."
Democratic presidential candidates largely praised Twitter's decision Wednesday to ban all political advertising, while President Donald Trump's reelection campaign decried the move as attempting to muzzle conservatives on social media.
"We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," announced Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. That followed Facebook taking fire since reaffirming that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns — which could allow them to lie freely. That company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, told Congress last week that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.
The issue came to the forefront in September when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from Trump's campaign that targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, who along with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren leads the 2020 Democratic Party field. In response, Warren ran an ad on Facebook claiming that Zuckerberg endorsed Trump for reelection, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.
"We appreciate that Twitter recognizes that they should not permit disproven smears, like those from the Trump campaign, to appear in advertisements on their platform," Biden campaign spokesman Bill Russo said in a statement. "It would be unfortunate to suggest that the only option available to social media companies to do so is the full withdrawal of political advertising, but when faced with a choice between ad dollars and the integrity of our democracy, it is encouraging that, for once, revenue did not win out."
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock suggested Facebook should follow Twitter's lead, tweeting simply: "Good. Your turn, Facebook."
Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, called Twitter's move "a bold step" that reflects a "sense of responsibility." Buttigieg, speaking to reporters in Peterborough, New Hampshire, added, "I think other online platforms would do well to either accept their responsibility for truth or question whether they should be in the business at all."
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another Democratic presidential candidate, said it was unacceptable for different social media platforms to have different rules on political advertising.
"Under their current policies, Facebook is allowing blatant lies in political ads and now Twitter isn't allowing political ads at all, creating a patchwork of solutions across various platforms that isn't going to work," she said in a statement. She said it was "time for Congress to take action" to create consistent standards for all political advertising.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale panned Twitter for walking "away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders."
"This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known," Parscale said in a statement. Other Republicans, though, suggested it was the other party that could be hurt. "HUGE hit to Democrats who do significantly more advertising on Twitter than we do," tweeted Matt Whitlock, a senior adviser to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Political ad archives on both platforms show that the 2020 candidates spent far more money on Facebook spots than Twitter, meanwhile.
Trump's reelection campaign spent $21.2-plus million on Facebook ads between May 2018 and this past weekend, compared to $269,000 on Twitter spots. Over the same period, 10 top Democrats trying to unseat the president combined to spend more than $34.3 million on Facebook ads and $4.5-plus million on ones on Twitter — though both totals include spending during the Senate campaigns some ran last year.
Warren spent nearly $4.7 million on Facebook ads and about $900,000 on Twitter ads, some of which came as she sought reelection to the Senate last year. Her campaign offered no immediate comment to Twitter's announcement.
Her spending outpaced that of Biden, who paid nearly $2.8 million for Facebook ads, compared to around $617,000 on Twitter spots.
Leading the Democratic field on social media spots between last May and earlier this month was former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who shelled out more than $9 million for Facebook ads and $1 million for ads on Twitter — though he spent heavily online during his unsuccessful 2018 run against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Dorsey said the ban takes effect Nov. 22, meaning the company could still accept Biden's and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaigns purchasing ads to run on Twitter hours before his announcement.
House investigators are asking former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in their impeachment inquiry, deepening their reach into the White House as the probe accelerates toward a potential vote to remove the president.
Democratic lawmakers want to hear next week from Bolton, the hawkish former adviser who openly sparred over the administration's approach to Ukraine — in particular, President Donald Trump's reliance on his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for a back-channel operation. Bolton once derided Giuliani's work as a "drug deal" and said he wanted no part of it, according to previous testimony.
Bolton's attorney, Charles Cooper, said Wednesday evening that his client would not appear without a subpoena.
The Democrats are also calling John Eisenberg, the lawyer for the NSC who fielded an Army officer's concerns over Trump's phone call with the Ukraine president, and Michael Ellis, another security council official, according to a person familiar with the invitation and granted anonymity to discuss it.
The rush of possible new witnesses comes as the House prepares to take its first official vote Thursday on the process ahead. That includes public hearings in a matter of weeks and the possibility of drafting articles of impeachment against the president.
The White House has urged officials not to testify in the impeachment proceedings, and it's not guaranteed that those called will appear for depositions, even if they receive subpoenas as previous witnesses have.
Bolton's former deputy, Charles Kupperman, has filed a lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to resolve the question of whether he can be forced to testify since he was a close and frequent adviser to the president. Any ruling in that case could presumably have an impact on whether Bolton will testify. A status conference in that case was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill say the entire impeachment inquiry is illegitimate and are unpersuaded by the House resolution formally setting out next steps.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the format for the impeachment probe denies Trump the "most basic rights of due process."
Now in its second month, the investigation is focused on Trump's July phone call with Ukraine when he asked President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democrats and a potential 2020 political rival, Joe Biden, as the White House was withholding military aid Ukraine relies on for its defenses. Democrats contend Trump was proposing a quid-pro-quo arrangement.
On Thursday, the investigators are to hear from Tim Morrison, a former top GOP aide on Capitol Hill, who served at Trump's National Security Council and was among those likely monitoring the president's call with Ukraine.
Late Wednesday, it was disclosed that Morrison was resigning his White House position. He has been a central figure in other testimony about Trump's dealing with Ukraine.
Earlier in the day, the Democratic and Republican House lawmakers heard fresh testimony about the Trump administration's unusual back channels to Ukraine.
Two State Department Ukraine experts offered new accounts of Trump's reliance on Giuliani rather than career diplomats to engage with the East European ally, a struggling democracy facing aggression from Russia.
Foreign Service officer Christopher Anderson testified that Bolton cautioned him that Giuliani "was a key voice with the president on Ukraine" and could complicate U.S. goals for the country.
Another Foreign Service officer, Catherine Croft, said that during her time at Trump's National Security Council, she received "multiple" phone calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston -- a former top Republican lawmaker once in line to become House speaker -- telling her the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, should be fired.
"It was not clear to me at the time -- or now -- at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch," she said in prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
Livingston characterized Yovanovitch as an "'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros," she said, referring to the American financier who is often the subject of conservative criticism in the U.S. and Europe.
Most Democrats are expected to support the formal impeachment investigation resolution Thursday, even if they don't back impeachment itself, saying they are in favor of opening the process with more formal procedures.
Public hearings are expected to begin in mid-November, a matter of weeks. Democrats are eager to hear from some top witnesses who have already provided compelling testimony behind closed doors, including diplomat William Taylor, a top ambassador in Ukraine, and Alexander Vindman, the Army officer who testified Tuesday that he twice reported to superiors, including Eisenberg, his concerns about Trump's actions toward Ukraine.
Vindman is willing to testify publicly, according to a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity Wednesday to discuss it.
At Trump's hotel in Washington, during a fundraiser for House Republicans and lengthy dinner afterward with GOP leaders, the president indicated he was prepared for the fight ahead, said those familiar with the private gatherings Tuesday night.
"He's a tough guy," said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP whip.
Both career diplomats testifying Wednesday had served as top aides to the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who was the first to testify in the impeachment inquiry and whose cache of text messages provided key insight into Trump's demands on the new Ukraine president.
Croft, who testified for nearly five hours, described being told at an administration meeting that security funds for Ukraine were being put on hold "at the direction of the president," corroborating other accounts that have been provided to investigators.
In his opening statement, Anderson traced his unease with developments that he felt threatened to set back relations between the U.S. and Ukraine.
He told investigators that senior White House officials blocked an effort by the State Department to release a November 2018 statement condemning Russia's attack on Ukrainian military vessels.
Both witnesses were instructed by the administration to not testify but appeared in response to subpoenas from the House, according to a statement from their attorney Mark MacDougall.
The lawyer told lawmakers that neither of his clients is the whistleblower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry and that he would object to any questions aimed at identifying that person.
The general who oversaw the U.S. raid on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi provided the most detailed account yet of the operation Wednesday and said the U.S. is on alert for possible "retribution attacks" by extremists.
Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said al-Baghdadi's remains were buried at sea within 24 hours of his death inside an underground tunnel where he fled as special operations soldiers closed in on him.
The Pentagon released the first government photos and video clips of the nighttime operation, including one showing Delta Force commandos approaching the walls of the compound in which al-Baghdadi and others were found.
Another video showed American airstrikes on other militants who fired at helicopters carrying soldiers to the compound. The U.S. also bombed the compound after the soldiers completed the mission so that it would not stand as a shrine to al-Baghdadi.
"It looks pretty much like a parking lot with large potholes right now," McKenzie said.
The attacking American force launched from an undisclosed location inside Syria for the one-hour helicopter ride to the compound, McKenzie said.
Two children died with al-Baghdadi when he detonated a bomb vest, McKenzie said, adding that this was one fewer than originally reported. He said the children appeared to be under the age of 12. Eleven other children were escorted from the site unharmed. Four women and two men who were wearing suicide vests and refused to surrender inside the compound were killed, McKenzie said.
The general said the military dog that was injured during the raid is a four-year veteran with U.S. Special Operations Command and had been on approximately 50 combat missions.
The dog, a male whose name has not been released because the mission was classified, was injured when he came in contact with exposed live electrical cables in the tunnel after al-Baghdadi detonated his vest, McKenzie said. He said the dog has returned to duty.
Baghdadi was identified by comparing his DNA to a sample collected in 2004 by U.S. forces in Iraq, where he had been detained.
The U.S. managed to collect "substantial" amounts of documentation and electronics during the raid, McKenzie said, but he would not elaborate. Such efforts are a standard feature of raids against high-level extremist targets and can be useful in learning more about the group's plans.
Although the raid was successful, McKenzie said it would be a mistake to conclude that the Islamic State has been defeated.
"It will take them some time to re-establish someone to lead the organization, and during that period of time their actions may be a little bit disjointed," the general said. "They will be dangerous. We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack, and we are postured and prepared for that."
In outlining the operation, McKenzie said al-Baghdadi had been at the compound in Syria's northwest Idlib province for "a considerable period," but he was not specific.
He said the raid was briefed to President Donald Trump on Friday, and McKenzie made the decision to go ahead on Saturday morning.
McKenzie offered no new details about al-Baghdadi's final moments.
"He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the grounds," he said when asked by a reporter about al-Baghdadi's last moments and Trump's description of the Islamic State leader as "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way" to his death.
Other senior Pentagon officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said they could not confirm Trump's description.
Several times this month, President Donald Trump has said he is withdrawing from Syria and that the troops are "coming home." But, in fact, the U.S. military remains in the country, shifting positions and gearing up to execute Trump's order to secure Syria's oil fields — not for the Syrian government but for the Kurds. Trump also has said he wants to "keep" the oil, although it's unclear what he means.
Earlier Wednesday, the acting homeland security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, told a congressional hearing that U.S. security agencies have been reminded of the potential for al-Baghdadi's death to inspire his followers to launch an attack "in the immediate aftermath."
Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the same hearing that he does not believe al-Baghdadi's death will have "much impact" on the organization.
"If there were significant attacks that were in the planning, that planning will continue. It won't have that much effect," Travers aid.
Within Syria and Iraq, he added, IS has at least 14,000 fighters.
"That's an important number," he said. "Because five, six years ago, when ISIS was at its low point, they were down under a thousand. To us, this tells us the insurgency has a lot of options."
FBI Director Chris Wray said the biggest concern in the United States was the "virtual caliphate" that inspires Americans to pledge allegiance to IS and commit acts of violence in the group's name even without traveling to Syria.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he worries that despite al-Baghdadi's death, the conditions in Syria "are ripe for ISIS to reconstitute."
Seattle, 30 Oct (AP/UNB) — A federal judge on Tuesday criticized the Justice Department for seeking legal fees from a Mexican immigrant who was the victim of a forgery by a government lawyer.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein on Tuesday denied the department's effort to make Ignacio Lanuza and his attorneys pay legal fees for his unsuccessful attempt to hold the government liable for the forgery. The fees could have topped $100,000.
Rothstein noted the wide discrepancy between Lanuza's resources and those of the government. She said the Justice Department's effort appeared to be motivated by "personal animus" on the part of a DOJ lawyer and the government's motion for legal fees chronicled "irrelevant matters that serve no purpose other than to disparage and embarrass Lanuza."
"It is not lost on the Court that Lanuza was a victim of a crime committed by an attorney for the United States, and that another attorney for the United States then took up the defense of Lanuza's civil case in a manner that bordered on the overzealous," Rothstein wrote.
Lanuza had been arrested on a gun charge and was in deportation proceedings in 2009 when Jonathan M. Love, then the assistant chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, forged a document purporting to show that Lanuza had agreed to return to Mexico in 2000.
An immigration judge ordered Lanuza deported based on the form.
But in 2011, Lanuza's new attorney realized the form's letterhead said "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" — a federal agency that didn't exist in 2000, when the document was dated. Following the forgery's discovery, Lanuza was awarded permanent resident status, allowing him to remain in the U.S. with his wife and two children, who are all American citizens.
Lanuza sued Love and the federal government in 2014, accusing the lawyer of violating his constitutional right to due process. He made several claims against the government, including malicious prosecution and infliction of emotional distress.
The case resulted in a precedent-setting ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which made clear that immigrants can obtain damages from individual federal officials for constitutional violations during immigration proceedings. Love paid the immigrant $6,250 to settle his part of the civil rights lawsuit. Love also pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge, spent a month in jail, gave up his law license for at least a decade and agreed to pay $12,000 in restitution to Lanuza.
But Lanuza's effort to hold the federal government financially responsible for its lawyer's conduct did not fare as well.
Rothstein dismissed the last remaining claim in August, and Timothy Durkin, an assistant U.S. attorney based in Spokane, then sought to recoup legal fees for having to respond to what he deemed a frivolous malicious prosecution claim. Durkin argued that there was no way Lanuza or his attorneys with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project could have won that claim.
In his motion for legal fees, Durkin discussed Lanuza's background at length, including Lanuza's previous efforts to enter the U.S. illegally and a drunken driving arrest, even though those facts bore no apparent relevance to the legal issue at hand. Durkin himself was arrested on a drunken driving charge early last year.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane did not immediately return an email seeking comment from the office or from Durkin about Tuesday's ruling.
The judge said that during years of hard-fought litigation, both sides sometimes "lost perspective." But, she said, while Lanuza ultimately lost his malicious prosecution claim, it was brought in good faith and in no way frivolous.