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Heinrich to push for Puerto Rico statehood » Albuquerque Journal

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from Comments on: Heinrich to push for Puerto Rico statehood.

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U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

New Mexico’s quest for statehood was slowed for years, in part, because of concerns about different languages and cultures here.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said he knows about his state’s history, and it’s one of the reasons he’ll be leading the push to make Puerto Rico the country’s 51st state.

“One of the things that shocked me was how similar the struggle really is, that the arguments haven’t really changed,” Heinrich said at a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.



Heinrich said he would introduce a bill on the Senate floor that would start the process for the group of islands that make up Puerto Rico for statehood. He’s working alongside Rep. Darren Soto, D-Florida, and Jennifer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress, on the Puerto Rico Admission Act.

“It is long past due for the millions of American citizens living in Puerto Rico to get the representation that they deserve,” said Heinrich, who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that holds legislative jurisdiction over U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico.

Heinrich cited a November referendum when a majority of Puerto Ricans voted to become a state in the Union.

“Americans in Puerto Rico reached a clear consensus: their destiny lies with statehood,” said Soto, who is of Puerto Rican descent.

There was bipartisan support for Puerto Rican statehood at the news conference where Heinrich announced his intended legislation.

But Puerto Rico’s bid to become a state also has opposition.

In a letter to President Joe Biden last month, three former governors of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and Sila Maria Calderon, raised concerns about statehood. Their concerns included how it would affect Puerto Rico’s tax structure.

They pointed out that Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents are divided on the issue, saying only about 52% of Puerto Rico voters said “yes” to statehood during the vote.

“Liberals must view the issue of Puerto Rico status not as a civil rights issue … but as a self-determination issue where all stakeholders are entitled to a fair hearing,” the former governors wrote.

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EU, US impose sanctions on Russia over Alexei Navalny poisoning | News | DW

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The US on Tuesday slapped sanctions on Russian individuals and entities over the near-fatal poisoning of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent, Biden administration officials said.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, the senior White House officials said the sanctions were being imposed in coordination with the European Union, and urged the release of Navalny from prison.

Who was targeted in the sanctions?

  • The EU imposed bans on travel and froze the assets in Europe of Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Igor Krasnov, the prosecutor general, Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard, and Alexander Kalashnikov, head of the Federal Prison Service
  • The US sanctioned seven mid-and senior-level officials, including Krasnov and Kalashnikov
  • Washington also sanctioned the director of Russia’s federal security service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, as well as deputy defense ministers Alexei Krivoruchko and Pavel Popov
  • The US also targeted 13 companies and entities, most of which it said were involved in the production of biological and chemical agents

What did EU and US officials say?

In issuing the sanctions, the US said its intelligence community concluded that Russia’s FSB was behind the attack on Navalny.

Tuesday’s sanctions mark the first of several steps by the Biden administration to “respond to a number of destabilizing actions,” said one of the White House officials. 

The sanctions are the first against Russia by the Biden administration.

The sanctions issued by the EU primarily concerned Navalny’s arrest upon his return to Russia. 

Brussels said Bastrykin, Krasnov, Zolotov and Kalashnikov were listed “over their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.”

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UN says Russia responsible in Navalny poisoning

How did Russia respond?

Earlier on Tuesday, the Kremlin condemned moves to impose sanctions.

“Those who continue to depend on these measures should probably give it some thought: are they achieving some goal by continuing such a policy?” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“The answer will be obvious: such a policy does not achieve its goals,” he added.

Vladimir Chizov, Russia’s envoy to the EU, said Moscow would respond to the latest round of EU sanctions imposed, the state-owned RIA news agency reported.

International reactions

The UK welcomed the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU.

“We will continue to work closely with international partners to hold Russia to account for failing to uphold their Chemical Weapons and Human rights obligations,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

What about ‘Putin’s billionaire cronies’ ?

In an interview with DW, Bill Browder, an expert on corruption in Russia and head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, says the sanctions are “a good first step” but that “a lot more still needs to be done.”

“I’m very glad to see that Biden has veered away from the policies of Trump and gotten tough on Russia,” Browder told DW.

“But I should point out that this is a very short list and it’s a list that doesn’t include Putin’s billionaire cronies. And those were the people who would affect Putin’s actions going forward,” he said, adding that those are also the people who Navalny had called to be sanctioned before he was arrested.

According to Browder, the “only way to touch Putin is by going after the oligarchs.” 

Browder said one reason why Biden has not taken such measures is because he was seeking a multilateral strategy by combining forces with the EU. He warned, however, that “the EU gets watered down by its own dysfunction of having to have unanimity.”

What happened to Navalny?

Navalny fell ill on August 20 during a domestic flight in Russia. Two days later, he was flown to Berlin for treatment while still in a coma.

Tests carried out by the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that he was exposed to a Novichok nerve agent. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden have also confirmed the Soviet-era agent.

The US and several other countries have linked the attack to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security services. Navalny is Putin’s most prominent opponent.

After spending months recovering in Germany, Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon returning to Russia for an alleged parole violation.

His detention prompted street protests across Russia, where police arrested thousands of demonstrators. 

Navalny has been transferred to a Russian penal colony to begin serving a sentence.

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Borrell: ‘We have to sanction the people who are directly related with his arrest’

What happens next?

The EU, which already had imposed sanctions against a small number of Russian officials, is expected to announce more sanctions.

The US has also said it plans to respond soon to the Russian hack of federal government agencies and US corporations which exposed potentially sensitive information to the Kremlin.

The Biden administration has vowed to confront Putin for the alleged hacking abroad, as well as for alleged attacks on Russian opposition figures.

mvb/rs (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)

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Treasury Sanctions Russian Officials in Response to the Novichok Poisoning of Aleksey Navalny

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) joined the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce in imposing sanctions in response to Russia’s poisoning and subsequent imprisonment of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny.  Specifically, OFAC designated seven Russian government officials:  Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov (Bortnikov), Chief of the Presidential Policy Directorate Andrei Yarin (Yarin), First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko (Kiriyenko), Deputy Minister of Defense Aleksey Krivoruchko (Krivoruchko), Deputy Minister of Defense Pavel Popov (Popov), Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) director Alexander Kalashnikov (Kalashnikov), and Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov (Krasnov) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13661 for serving as officials of the Russian government.  OFAC also designated Bortnikov pursuant to E.O. 13382 for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Federal Security Service (FSB).  

“The Kremlin’s use of chemical weapons to silence a political opponent and intimidate others demonstrates its flagrant disregard for international norms,” stated Secretary Janet L. Yellen. “We join the EU in condemning Alexei Navalny’s poisoning as well as his arrest and imprisonment by the Russian government.”

FSB Officers Poisoned Navalny with a Novichok Nerve Agent

On August 24, 2020, German doctors announced that Navalny had been poisoned with a substance that analysis by German, French, Swedish, and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-designated laboratories later identified as a Novichok nerve agent.  Novichok nerve agents were created by the former Soviet Union, and Russia is the only known country to have used these chemical weapons.  Russia previously used a Novichok nerve agent in the March 2018 attempted assassination of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom.  In response, OFAC sanctioned several Russian persons associated with the Skripal attack, under multiple authorities, and also implemented prohibitions pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

The United States believes that the FSB used a nerve agent to poison Navalny, who fell gravely ill on August 20, 2020 while traveling after campaigning against pro-Kremlin candidates in regional elections held in September 2020.  Navalny has for many years been the target of FSB surveillance, including wiretapping and covert video surveillance.

The European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) have similarly stated that Navalny has been the target of systematic harassment and repression by state and judicial actors due to his prominent role in the political opposition, and was under surveillance at the time of his poisoning.  Given that the toxic agent with which Navalny was poisoned is only accessible to Russian state authorities, the EU and UK concluded that the poisoning was only possible with the involvement of the FSB.

Treasury Actions

Today’s Treasury action complements today’s EU actions as well as those taken in October 2020 by the EU and the United Kingdom, which imposed sanctions on senior Russian government officials and a Russian state research institute for their involvement in the poisoning of Navalny. 

Andrei Yarin is the chief of the Kremlin’s domestic policy directorate.  In this function, he is in charge of designing and implementing internal political orientations.  Yarin was appointed to a task force inside the Presidential Executive Office whose role was to counter Navalny’s influence in Russian society, including through operations meant to discredit him.

Sergei Kiriyenko is the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.  Kiriyenko is reported to be President Putin’s “domestic policy curator.”

Aleksei Krivoruchko is a Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation.  Krivoruchko was previously the chief executive officer of U.S.-designated Kalashnikov Concern.  In his role as Deputy Defense Minister, Krivoruchko has overall responsibility for armaments, including oversight of the Ministry’s stocks of weapons and military equipment.

Pavel Popov is a Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation.  In his capacity as Defense Minister, Popov is responsible for research activities that include oversight and development of the Defense Ministry’s scientific and technical capabilities.

Alexander Bortnikov is the Director of the FSB.  As Russia’s internal intelligence service, the FSB is involved in the political prosecutions of opponents of President Vladimir Putin’s regime, and operates as a key political enforcer.  OFAC has previously sanctioned the FSB pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, as well as Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), for malicious cyber activities.

Alexander Kalashnikov is the director of the FSIN.  The FSIN accused Navalny of violating the terms of his parole while he was recovering in Germany following his poisoning, sought his arrest, and requested that Navalny’s suspended sentence be converted into an actual prison term.

Igor Krasnov is Russia’s Prosecutor General.  The Prosecutor General’s office has prosecuted Navalny and has pushed for his incarceration.

All seven of these officials were designated pursuant to E.O. 13661 for serving as officials of the Russian government.  In addition, Bortnikov was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the FSB.  

President Putin’s envoy to the Siberian Federal District, Sergei Menyailo, was also designated by the EU and the UK in October 2020 for his involvement in the Navlany poisoning.  Menyailo was previously designated by OFAC on June 20, 2014 pursuant to E.O. 13361 for being responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty and, or territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

State Actions

Today, the Department of State designated the FSB, GosNIIOKhT, the 33rd TsNIII, the 27th Scientific Center, the GRU, and GRU officers Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin and Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga pursuant to Section 1(a)(ii) of E.O. 13382 for having engaged, or attempted to engage, in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery (including missiles capable of delivering such weapons), including any efforts to manufacture, acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer or use such items, by Russia.  GosNIIOKhT was previously sanctioned by the EU and the UK in October 2020.  The Department of State also added six entities to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act Section 231 List of Specified Persons, as persons that are part of, or operate for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.  Finally, the Department of State implemented financial prohibitions pursuant to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

View the Department of State’s fact sheet and statement on today’s actions.

Sanctions Implications

As a result of Treasury’s actions, all property and interests in property of these persons that come within the possession of U.S. persons are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally

prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.  Additionally, any entities 50 percent or

more owned by one or more designated persons are also blocked.  Moreover, any foreign person who knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or transactions for or on behalf of one of these persons risks being sanctioned.

View identifying information on the individuals designated today.


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The Lawfare Podcast: Chris Wray vs. the Committee with No Bull

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from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray faced the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to talk about the January 6 riot and insurrection. The hearing covered whether the FBI had intelligence that the riot was planned for January 6 and how it communicated what it knew to the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police, as well as topics from SolarWinds to diversity at the FBI. We cut out all of the nonsense and all of the repetitive questions to bring you only what you need to hear.

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Biden Administration Announces Sanctions on Russia in Navalny Case – Shared Links – Audio Posts Review

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from The News And Times.

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Biden Administration Announces Sanctions on Russia in Navalny Case

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While the Navalny case was a vivid example of Russian brutality — his F.S.B. attackers stalked him as he traveled across Europe and apparently applied the nerve agent to his underwear — the Biden administration sees SolarWinds as a more direct attack on the United States. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said the response “will not simply be sanctions” and hinted at some kind of covert response as well.

But in the Navalny case, only sanctions were announced — and they might have little effect. History suggests that sanctions work better, if at all, on smaller, less powerful nations, and then only over time. They are often used to signal disapproval without much expectation of changed behavior.

As Carl Bildt, the former prime minister and foreign minister of Sweden, said: “Sanctions have become very popular in Congress, and they’re becoming popular with the E.U., too. If you don’t have any other instruments, sanctions are very popular.”

In 2018, the Trump administration announced sanctions against Russia for the use of a nerve agent against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent living in Britain, and his daughter, Yulia, and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats. But that proved little deterrent to the F.S.B. using the same technique against Mr. Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian dissident who was poisoned, in 2015 and 2017, and nearly died both times.

A senior American official said that the action announced on Tuesday was in many ways catching up to designations that the Europeans had already made. The official said the main effort was to assure that the United States and Europe were “on the same page” after several months in which European sanctions went beyond any imposed by Washington.

The European Union on Monday approved sanctions on four senior Russian officials considered responsible for the prosecution and imprisonment of Mr. Navalny.

The decision, approved by the member states, went into effect on Tuesday and represents the first time the European Union has used new powers under its version of the Magnitsky Act, which allows Brussels to impose sanctions on human rights violators worldwide.

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Trump is facing probes from 5 independently elected investigators

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Trump is now facing inquiries run by elected officials from Georgia to New York to Washington with only their constituents to answer to. Most are Democrats, but one key investigation was launched by a Georgia Republican who has faced heavy criticism from Trump since the election.

“It’s never happened in our history but every single one of these prosecutors and attorneys general has more than sufficient predication to investigate what they’re investigating,” said Daniel R. Alonso, who was a top deputy to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from 2010 to 2014.

“The world has changed for Donald Trump, legally, now that he’s no longer president,” said Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst. “Donald Trump tried to delay civil suits against him, he tried to delay subpoenas against him while he was president. All of that is gone now, so now we’re seeing multiple investigators — federal and state — digging in and taking a hard look at Donald Trump.”

All eyes on the Empire State

In Manhattan, all eyes are on Vance, who has been investigating Trump’s finances for two years and is not expected to run for reelection.

The Democrat has 10 months left in his term — setting the clock, some said, for him to wrap up his investigation.

“It’s likely that the case, if it is charged, would be charged before Vance leaves office,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey and former federal prosecutor.

“That’s because that’s 10 months away — which is a long time in a criminal investigation — and because the DA’s office had previously noted that there were statutes of limitations timing issues,” she said.

Prosecutors have already interviewed witnesses, subpoenaed documents from lenders, an insurance broker and others, and last month recruited a former federal prosecutor with a background in complex financial investigations to bolster their team.

Last week investigators also received a trove of records, including tax returns, financial statements, and communications between the Trump Organization and Mazars, Trump’s long-time accountant, after the Supreme Court denied Trump’s latest bid to block Vance from accessing those records.

“I think the goal will be to move quickly and, if they believe a crime has been committed, they will move to present the case to the grand jury within months, not years,” Milgram said.

Vance, the son of a former US secretary of state and Washington insider, spent the better part of his legal career as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. He ran for district attorney and was sworn into office in 2010 after a more than 30-year run by his predecessor Robert Morgenthau.

But some of his victories have been tinged by controversy.

When Vance

brought criminal charges

against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault following the rise of the #metoo movement, Weinstein’s conviction was


as a “new era of justice” by Time’s Up, a women’s advocacy group. But it came only after an earlier decision in 2015 to decline to prosecute Weinstein after an Italian model accused him of groping her and recorded Weinstein on tape saying, “I won’t do it again.”

Vance was also criticized for not prosecuting Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, who were investigated in 2012 for allegedly misleading potential buyers for units in the Trump SoHo, a New York hotel property. In both instances, lawyers for the individuals had donated to Vance’s campaign.



himself, telling reporters in 2017 that the donations had no impact on his thinking. His office said the allegations against Weinstein were “horrifying” but there was not sufficient evidence to charge him.

“At the end of the day, we operate in the courtroom of the law, not the courtroom of public opinion,” Vance said.

Alonso, the former Vance deputy, has


said sometimes a district attorney is successful by deciding not to file charges.

On the Trump investigation, he said, Vance will not be political.

“He knows that the job is not to lick your finger and hold it up to the wind and decide which way the wind is blowing before you make a decision,” Alonso said. “He will look at the evidence and decide who he believes is guilty and whether he can prove it.”

Another New York investigation

One of the biggest thorns in Trump’s side has been New York Attorney General Letitia James.

When James was running for office in 2018, she campaigned on a pledge to investigate everything from Trump’s policies to his finances.

“I’m running for attorney general because I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president when our fundamental rights are at stake,” James said at the time.

Her record since has shown that she meant it: She challenged the Trump administration’s addition of a citizen question to the US census, pushed for the New York legislature to pass a law to close a presidential pardon loophole, and wrapped up a lawsuit brought by her predecessor that led to the dissolution of the Trump Foundation.

Now her office is digging into Trump’s business and personal finances, exploring whether assets were improperly valued and if banks or tax authorities were defrauded. James has won court victories with a judge compelling Eric Trump, who co-runs the day-to-day operations of Trump Organization, to sit for a deposition and ordering Trump’s tax lawyer to turn over reams of documents.

James has been a trailblazer, becoming the first African American woman to hold city-wide office when she was elected New York City’s public advocate in 2013 and then the first woman elected to serve as New York’s attorney general and first African American woman to hold statewide office. Her political ambitions are not limited to the AG’s office. She has mused about running for mayor and some have speculated she could make a bid for governor if Andrew Cuomo does not run again for office.

Cuomo backed James in her bid for attorney general but their ties have recently been tested. James


a scathing report in January finding the New York Department of Health undercounted Covid-19 deaths among nursing home residents by about 50%, setting off a political crisis for Cuomo.

Over the weekend, she publicly pushed back on Cuomo’s plans to investigate sexual harassment claims brought against him. Cuomo initially said he would appoint a retired federal judge to investigate the claims by two women. When that move was met with harsh criticism, he then said he would ask James and the chief judge in New York to appoint an independent investigator. Ultimately, he ceded ground to James who alone will select an independent law firm to investigate the allegations against the governor.

Cuomo says he never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone, but did apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted his comments in the workplace as unwanted flirtation.

“She’s been a strong independent voice throughout her career,” said Robert Abrams, New York attorney general from 1978-1994 and a member of James’ transition team. “All of this demonstrates that she has shown courage and tenacity for what she believes is right, what is her duty and responsibility.”

Trump has seized on James’ past comments, saying her actions against him are politically motivated. In a court filing challenging Vance’s subpoena for his tax returns, Trump’s lawyers quoted James nine times, including when she said, “I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.”

James said Trump is wrong about her.

“I’m not biased. I represent the state—all individuals, all citizens in the state of New York, whether you’re Republican and or Democrat,” James told Marie Claire in January. “That is my duty and that is the mission.”

Georgia’s GOP investigator

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office is also investigating Trump, for his attempts to overturn the state’s election results.

When Trump lost the presidential election, no state official was in his crosshairs more than Raffensperger, a lifelong Republican. Even as tension and pressure from Trump were on public display, Georgia’s top election official said he had supported Trump and publicly stated multiple times that he wished Trump had won.

But while saying he was personally disappointed in the results as a conservative Republican, Raffensperger steadfastly refused to give credence to a litany of conspiracy theories bolstered by the then-President alleging election fraud in Georgia.

Since the rioting at the US Capitol on January 6, Raffensperger has offered a more critical take on Trump’s actions.

“Many of the actions that he’s taken since then are not what you would expect from a president,” Raffensperger told CNN in January. “I’ve said from day one that we have to be really mindful of our speech because we can’t spin people up and play people and get them into an emotional frenzy.”

Raffensperger’s is the rare Republican-led investigation, made more awkward by the fact that Raffensperger was a direct witness to Trump’s attempts to influence the outcome of the election.

A source familiar with the Georgia secretary of state’s investigation confirmed officials are looking at two calls. One is the January phone call,

of which CNN obtained the audio

. In it,Trump pushed Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn the election results after his loss to Biden. The other involves a call Trump made on December 23, to a

Georgia election investigator

in the secretary of state’s office who was leading a probe into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County. Trump is heard asking the chief investigator with Raffensperger’s office to “find the fraud,” saying the official would be a “national hero,” according to a source with knowledge of the call.

Trump’s senior adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement last month that there was nothing “improper or untoward” about the call between Trump and Raffensperger.

“And the only reason the call became public was because Mr. Raffensperger leaked it in an attempt to score political points,” Miller’s statement said.

Raffensperger’s office declined to comment, saying they don’t comment on active investigations.

Twenty investigators work in Raffensperger’s office statewide, and the team has a lot on its plate. They’re currently working on 252 cases from 2020 that are open or pending presentation to the state election board, a source familiar with the Georgia secretary of state’s investigations confirmed to CNN.

The office investigates every complaint it receives and described the investigations as “fact-finding and administrative in nature,” according to a statement on February 8, the day it opened an inquiry into the infamous calls.

Once Raffensperger’s office completes its investigation, the findings will be reported to the state election board, which may decide that probable cause merits there was a violation, and that the case should be referred to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis or additionally, Georgia’s attorney general for further investigation, according to two people familiar with the process.

Georgia digs in on election meddling

In addition to the investigation by Raffensperger’s office, Willis is looking into Trump’s call to the Georgia secretary of state, looking to sway Georgia’s election results in his favor.

When that call took place on January 2, Willis had only been in office one day. By early February, her office began firing off letters to Georgia officials asking them to preserve documents related to attempts to influence the state’s election as she investigates potential crimes including the solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy and racketeering. According to the letters, none of the Georgia officials are targets of the investigation.

The probe instantly elevated the newly elected prosecutor’s national profile. But it also irked some Georgia residents who believe the focus on Trump will drain attention and resources from local issues in Fulton County, which includes much of the city of Atlanta.

Those who know Willis, though, were unsurprised to see her forge ahead.

“There’s some evidence saying a law might’ve been broken. It might’ve been done in her jurisdiction, she’s going to investigate it,” said Charlie Bailey, who previously worked closely with Willis in the district attorney’s office and is running for state attorney general in 2022. “I know it is different because it’s a former president. I do realize that, and I know she realizes that too, but she takes that very seriously.”

Willis, a Democrat and a longtime prosecutor, ousted her former boss to become the county’s first female district attorney in January. She and her staff have been juggling an avalanche of interest in the Trump investigation with an office that was already buckling under its caseload, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

One of her first moves was asking the state attorney general to reassign two high-profile cases against Atlanta police officers for alleged use of excessive force, including in the

shooting death of Rayshard Brooks

. Her critics believe it’s a sign her priorities are elsewhere.

“If the DA’s office has time and the resources and all the time and manpower to do that — go after Trump for this election stuff or whatever — just make sure that the civil rights cases that are in her county are treated equally and take the same kind of priority,” said Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Brooks family.

“What do we do now?” Stewart asked. “Families are stuck in the middle.”

Meantime, Willis has said her Trump investigation will stretch beyond Trump’s call with Raffensperger to include any efforts to influence the election in Georgia.

She has said in interviews she may begin requesting subpoenas from a grand jury as early as March. And that grand jury will draw from a pool of constituents in Fulton County unlikely to be sympathetic to Trump: President Joe Biden won the county with nearly 73% of the vote in November.

“I have no idea what I’m going to find,” Willis told CNN affiliate WSB last month. “A good law enforcement officer, a good prosecutor, you walk in with an open mind.”

Willis is perhaps best known in Georgia for her role in the 2014 prosecution of a dozen educators accused of being involved in a cheating scandal. Eleven were convicted on racketeering charges.

Her former colleagues said she’s unlikely to be intimidated by taking on the former President. But she has acknowledged doubling her security amid threats.

“Interestingly enough, the comments are always racist. And it’s really just a waste of time and foolishness,” Willis told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last month. “It’s not going to stop me from doing my job, and I don’t think that it’s an insult to remind me that I am a Black woman.”

Another crack at Trump in DC

For Karl Racine, there’s perhaps little downside in pursuing yet another case against Trump.

Racine, who became Washington, DC’s first elected attorney general when he took office in 2015, serves a constituency that overwhelmingly favors Democrats. In 2020, 92% of the District voted for Biden.

Racine previously took on Trump in a lawsuit alleging conflicts between the then-President’s business interests and his oath of office. The lawsuit was rendered moot when Trump left office.

For Racine’s latest pursuit, it appears to be a waiting game as prosecutors investigate whether the former President’s alleged role in the insurrection violated the city’s incitement of violence law, and determine whether it’s best to partner with the US attorney’s office.

“They don’t want to bring charges without the cooperation of the federal government,” former DC Attorney General Bob Spagnoletti said. “They’re not going to step out on a limb here.”

Racine’s office only enforces local codes for the city, while the prosecution of both major and federal crimes falls under the purview of the Justice Department.

Racine has said he is focused on the incitement of violence charge available to him under the DC code, but the charge only carries a maximum of six months in prison, and legal experts note Racine wouldn’t have the authority to force Trump back to Washington to appear in court.

Spagnoletti points out it would be most advantageous for Racine to work in connection with the US attorney in DC, especially since only that office has the power to convene a grand jury.

“Because Karl Racine doesn’t have one, he needs to be able to work with the US attorney to gather evidence expeditiously, and not grind it to a halt which is what will happen without a coordinated strategy,” Spagnoletti said.

Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin has said his office will weigh potentially charging all actors involved in the insurrection but has declined to elaborate on whether that also means Trump. It’s unclear if Sherwin will remain in his post if Merrick Garland is confirmed as US attorney general.

Racine did reveal in January that his office was “collaborating at a high level with federal prosecutors.”

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Anatomy of a lie: How the myth that Antifa stormed the Capitol became a widespread belief among Republicans – CNN
Anatomy of a lie: How the myth that Antifa stormed the Capitol became a widespread belief among Republicans  CNN
Wray: Domestic Terrorism, Racially Motivated Extremism, Anarchist Violence All On the Rise – NBC 7 San Diego
Wray: Domestic Terrorism, Racially Motivated Extremism, Anarchist Violence All On the Rise  NBC 7 San Diego
Lebanon County police chief resigns after FBI investigates officer in connection to Capitol riot – LNP | LancasterOnline
Lebanon County police chief resigns after FBI investigates officer in connection to Capitol riot  LNP | LancasterOnline

South Carolina man charged in Capitol riot bragged he dressed as antifa and fought police – NBC News
South Carolina man charged in Capitol riot bragged he dressed as antifa and fought police  NBC News

Springfield Man Facing Possible Life Sentence Following FBI Child Sex Sting – Smokey Barn News
Springfield Man Facing Possible Life Sentence Following FBI Child Sex Sting  Smokey Barn News

FBI Head Says Domestic Extremists Are Top Threat To US : The NPR Politics Podcast – NPR
FBI Head Says Domestic Extremists Are Top Threat To US : The NPR Politics Podcast  NPR

FBI Director Defends Agency In Testimony, Calls Jan. 6 Attack ‘Domestic Terrorism’ – NPR
FBI Director Defends Agency In Testimony, Calls Jan. 6 Attack ‘Domestic Terrorism’  NPR

Former Memphis FBI head named to Washington leadership post – The Daily Memphian
Former Memphis FBI head named to Washington leadership post  The Daily Memphian

FBI director grilled on Capitol attack – WXIX
FBI director grilled on Capitol attack  WXIX
FBI offers reward for information in shooting deaths of Austin-East students – WATE 6 On Your Side
FBI offers reward for information in shooting deaths of Austin-East students  WATE 6 On Your Side

Family tips off FBI that Cherryville man was at Capitol riots – Gaston Gazette
Family tips off FBI that Cherryville man was at Capitol riots  Gaston Gazette
Loser Republican wants voter suppression to correct ‘Democratic-leaning imbalance’ in the electorate – Raw Story
Loser Republican wants voter suppression to correct ‘Democratic-leaning imbalance’ in the electorate  Raw Story

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Domestic Terrorism Threat Is ‘Metastasizing’ in US, FBI Director Says | Chuck Rosenberg: FBI ‘Needed To Go A Step Further’ In Communicating Report Of Violence At Capitol

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U.S. sanctions several Russians in 1st official response to Navalny case

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U.S. sanctions several Russians in 1st official response to Navalny case

posted at 17:07:17 UTC

Chinese vaccines sweep world, despite concerns

In what some are calling “vaccine diplomacy,” China is offering its vaccines to dozens of poorer nations around the world. But concerns over safety and efficacy, as well as a dearth of publicly available data also means many are suspicious. (March 2)

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SpaceX once left its rocket engineers on an island without food, leading them to mutiny, according to a new book

Elon Musk Elon Musk.

Susan Walsh/AP

  • SpaceX’s first engineers lived on a remote Pacific island to prepare the company’s earliest rocket for launch.
  • In the first year that SpaceX was on the island, food shipments sometimes failed.
  • So one day, hungry engineers refused to work until a helicopter brought chicken and cigarettes.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In SpaceX’s earliest days, its rocket engineers lived on a remote Pacific island, where they occasionally ran out of food.

On that island, called Omelek, the team was racing to build a launchpad and set up the company’s Falcon 1 rocket.

Journalist Eric Berger, who works as the space editor at Ars Technica, describes those early days of Elon Musk’s rocket company in his new book, Liftoff, which will be published Tuesday. Berger’s telling of SpaceX’s beginnings is packed with anecdotes that have never been previously reported – such as Elon Musk’s first encounter with a Pop-Tart, a rocket launch attempt thwarted by salty ocean spray, and an island mutiny staged by hungry workers in 2005.

LIFTOFF cover eric berger book

HarperCollins Publishers

SpaceX engineers were living and working on Omelek, part of the Marshall Islands’ Kwajalein Atoll, because that’s the spot the company chose to escape the US Air Force. The Air Force had indefinitely delayed the company’s efforts to launch from California. But the US Army, which oversaw the atoll, was friendlier to SpaceX’s plans. Being close to the equator also made it easier to reach orbit.

However, during that first year on the island, Berger writes, “logistics were poor.” Supply deliveries were often delayed, and the workers sometimes went without food.

So one day in the fall of 2005, tensions boiled over into mutiny. The employees went on strike to force an emergency supply drop, and were eventually quelled with chicken wings and cigarettes.

‘We were just wild animals on the island, waiting for food’

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