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Bipartisan Group of Supporters Defend Trump’s Nominee for Key U.N. Refugee Post

A bipartisan group of leading human-rights activists, including a Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times columnist, has jumped to the defense of President Trump's choice to lead the United Nation's International Organization for Migration (IOM), which uses its $1 billion annual budget to promote worldwide cooperation on refugee and trafficking issues. Trump nominated Ken Isaacs, vice president of the Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, in January to head the 169-member organization, which holds elections to name a leader but typically defers to United States' choice to run the organization. Isaacs, who served in the Bush administration as the director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, has spent 30 years organizing large-scale emergency relief programs in some of the most dangerous and desperate places in the world, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Darfur, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Eritrea, and Rwanda. The day the White House announced his nomination, Isaacs was in Bangladesh administering diphtheria treatment to Muslim-majority Rohingya refugees. Now, two weeks later, lifetime colleagues and allies in the humanitarian community are furiously trying to save his nomination after an Obama State Department official and a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations accused Isaacs of tweeting anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant statements. In a Washington Post article, the pair of critics took issue with a number of Isaacs' views, including the belief that the Koran instructs its followers to engage in violent jihad, that Middle East Christians should be given first priority when applying to the U.S. government for refugee status, and that President Obama's policy of accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees was "foolish and delusional" because some of them could become "security risks" if allowed in the United States. After the article, Isaacs apologized for his "careless" social media posts and vowed to lead the IOM with "the highest standards of humanity, human dignity, and equality," if chosen. The paper later editorialized against the nomination, arguing Isaacs's views were "venomous," demonstrated "bigotry," and that his leadership in the post would be "an embarrassment to the United States." Nick Kristof, a self-described "progressive" and two-time Pulitzer-Prize winner and seven-time finalist for international reporting on human rights issues, does not share the Washington Post‘s deep concern about how Isaacs would perform in the role. Although Kristof acknowledged that he and Isaacs hold vastly different political views, he argued that Isaacs's work on the ground demonstrates his commitment to helping desperate communities regardless of faith or skin color. "I've known Ken for more than 15 years, and in that period, I've utterly disagreed with him on politics and utterly admired his humanitarianism," Kristof said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "He has been tireless in fighting for oppressed and desperate people of every faith and complexion, from Sudan to Iraq, Liberia to Bangladesh." "Far from being an ideologue in his humanitarian work, Ken is a supreme pragmatist in his work to save lives, willing to work with anyone—even liberal New York Times columnists—to get the job done." Kristof went on to praise Isaacs's "nonstop travel and networks around the world," which give Isaacs a "good sixth sense about crises just beginning to emerge." The columnist also gave Isaacs credit for being "way ahead of government" in understanding the desperate need for resources during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and said he was one of the whistleblowers who helped "galvanize" necessary attention even as the World Health Organization was "asleep at the wheel." Isaacs pressed the United States and Europe in 2014 to recognize the severity of the Ebola outbreak and provide more emergency aid to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In South Sudan, one of the most difficult and risky places for aid work, Isaacs has overseen a "huge presence there in areas where government has pretty much collapsed," Kristof said. Supporters point to Isaacs's most recent project as evidence that his work shows no anti-Muslim biases. From last fall through January, Isaacs spearheaded a medical response to provide care to the displaced Rohingya Muslims, victims of ethnic cleansing wounded by gunfire and landmines as they were pushed out of Burma into Bangladesh. Other advocates argue that State Department critics' attacks boil down to political differences that will have no bearing on how Isaacs will carry out the IOM's mission. Former representatives Frank Wolf (R., Va.) and Tony Hall (D., Ohio), two human rights champions who have spent decades working on international humanitarian causes, also praised Isaacs's decades of work providing much-needed relief and aid to Muslim-majority populations and war-torn regions throughout the Middle East and Africa. "I can speak from personal experience that Ken Isaacs is a dedicated humanitarian leader, serving the most vulnerable throughout the world regardless of their religious or ethnic identity," said Wolf, who now serves as a senior fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, which advocates for religious freedom and human rights around the world. "When others are fleeing, he is running to the frontlines to aid those who are suffering, and he deserves our support as the nominee for IOM," Wolf said. Wolf highlighted Issacs's work on the Ebola epidemic and his efforts to work with the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization in 2016 to establish a hospital east of Mosul that has provided trauma and surgical care to more than 4,000 victims of violence. Even though Samaritan's Purse is a Christian organization, all those treated at that hospital are from a Muslim faith background, even fighters for the Islamic State, said Wolf, who visited the hospital last year. "Although much of Mosul had technically been liberated from ISIS a month earlier, when I was there in August the staff was still treating victims, including children, who had been wounded by IEDs," Wolf recalled. "I cannot imagine the countless number of lives that would have been lost had it not been for Ken, the Samaritan's Purse personnel, and the doctors and nurses who came to the aid of those in need," Frank said. Hall, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times for his work to reduce worldwide hunger and protect human rights, said Isaacs has a "tremendous record" and that he strongly supports his nomination. "Nothing changes your life like witnessing a child die of starvation," Hall said in a statement. "Serving as a member of Congress and then as ambassador to the World Food Program in Rome, I have seen the devastating impacts of famine, war, and natural disasters. I have also seen humanitarians rush to the frontlines to make a difference. Ken Isaacs is one of those humanitarians." "I strongly support Ken Isaacs nomination to lead the International Office of Migration, and I look forward to seeing the good he will bring to the world," Hall said. Isaacs's backers also worry attacks from the left could begin a process of sidelining other Christian relief groups from international forums. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.), who has traveled with Samaritan Purse President Franklin Graham and Isaacs on numerous humanitarian and outreach missions since the 1980s, called Isaacs the "perfect choice" to the lead the IOM and blamed "political correctness" and "Washington parlor games" for the attacks on his reputation. Isaacs has dedicated his life to serving "the least, the forgotten and the unwanted," he said. "He has served survivors of the Rwandan genocide, assisted Syrian refugees, and led efforts in dozens of countries, including Liberia, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq," Pittenger said. "In the 20 years I’ve known Kenny, he has always prioritized the needs of refugees and disaster victims. This is his mission in life. President Trump made a great choice," Pittenger said. Other humanitarian relief organizations also heaped praise on Isaacs for what they described as faith-blind relief efforts. Dr. Tom Catena, the medical director of Mother of Mercy Hospital, a Catholic relief organization in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, argued that Isaacs "will do anything or go anywhere to help people in distress." "I live in a very remote part of the world inhabited exclusively by Africans and a Muslim majority," Catena said. "Ken and his team have been the only ones to provide any degree of humanitarian food aid to this beleaguered population—and he's not doing it solely from a perch in New York or Geneva—but comes here on the ground to see for himself." Caroline Cox, a member of the British House of Lords and the CEO of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, testified to Isaacs commitment to provide humanitarian aid "to all in need." "I have frequently written to commend the professionalism of Samaritan Purse's staff in their commitment to provide unconditional help regardless of religion, race, tribe, color or any other potential criteria for discrimination," she said. "I have the highest regard for Ken and the work of Samaritan's Purse." The post Bipartisan Group of Supporters Defend Trump’s Nominee for Key U.N. Refugee Post appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Marines Didn’t Reach Out to Innocent Special Operators Until Story Went Public

The Marine Corps failed to reach out to seven special operations Marines exonerated from false accusations of war crimes, despite the assurances of top leaders to Congress. On Dec. 19, Major General Frederick M. Padilla sent a letter to Rep. Walter Jones (R., N.C.) confirming that seven members of the elite Marine Special Operations Company Foxtrot (MARSOC) had been wrongfully accused of drunkenly murdering Afghan civilians in the wake of a suicide bomb attack. Padilla said the Marines "reflected sound military judgment" in returning fire against the enemy, citing a 2008 Court of Inquiry, which cleared the unit of wrongdoing, despite public condemnation from top military leaders—including the current leader of Afghan operations, Gen. John Nicholson. Padilla assured Jones that the Marine Corps was working to assist the men, several of whom are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments. "We are concerned to hear of the challenges many members of Fox Company are facing," Padilla said. "I have asked the Commanding Officer of our Wounded Warrior Regiment to follow-up with these Marines to ensure they are receiving appropriate and all necessary care and support." Retired Major Fred Galvin, who led the MARSOC 7 in combat and has campaigned for the past decade to publicly clear their names, said those follow-ups never occurred until the story went public on Feb. 8. The Wounded Warrior Regiment provides Marines and their family members with resources to ease the transition into civilian life and provides counseling information to veterans. Galvin told the Washington Free Beacon that he got in touch with the Wounded Warrior Regiment after seeing a press release from Rep. Jones. "I was surprised that the Regiment had found out about [getting in touch with us] in the media," Galvin said. "When a two-star general says something is supposed to get done, it gets done." A spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Regiment said nobody in the organization had heard from Padilla before media picked up on Jones's release. Commanding Officer Col. Larry Miller spoke to Galvin on Thursday to assure him that "regardless of what has happened in the past, [Miller's] focus is to take care of these Marines and lend assistance if possible." The spokesman added that the regiment immediately made contact with multiple members of the MARSOC 7, only one of whom remains on active duty, though he did not elaborate, citing "privacy concerns." Several of the Marines told Regiment representatives they no longer wanted to be contacted, though they "appreciated the support." "The Wounded Warrior Regiment was not aware of the directive to contact the MSOC F Marines prior to Thursday [Feb. 8] morning," the regiment spokesman said. A Marine Corps spokesman blamed a "breakdown in communication" for the failure to make contact with the MARSOC 7 in the weeks between the Jan. 19 letter and its February publication. He said there was "no intent to deceive" in Padilla's assertion that the regiment was already aware of the MARSOC 7. The Marine Corps' staff director delivered the order to the regiment on Feb. 8. "There was just a breakdown in communication in that process … it was a simple oversight," the spokesman said. Galvin said he was satisfied with the regiment's response following the publication of Padilla's letter, but he remains upset with how Marine Corps Headquarters has responded to the issue. He is petitioning the military to publicly apologize for "throwing their own under the bus" in the wake of the ambush and also asking the Marine Corps to provide him and his men with the Marine Corps Raider Badge, the insignia that is awarded to current MARSOC servicemen, though it did not exist during Fox Company's 2007 deployment. A spokeswoman for Rep. Jones did not return request for comment. The post Marines Didn’t Reach Out to Innocent Special Operators Until Story Went Public appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Are Campaign Volunteers Scabs? And 7 Other Questions About the World’s First Unionized Campaign

Mustachioed steelworker Randy Bryce has electrified liberals eager to dethrone Speaker of the House Paul Ryan with his tell-it-like-it-is blue collar style and, well, his mustache. He bolstered his credentials on both fronts Monday when he became the first political candidate with a unionized staff, a move made all the more groundbreaking because he did it while sporting a mustache. When Bryce announced that eight campaign staffers would join the ranks of the fledgling Campaign Workers Guild (CWG), liberal blogs could not hold back their excitement that a former union organizer would allow his employees to join a union. "Randy Bryce's Campaign Is Not Just Pro-Union—It's Unionized," declared The Nation. "Why The First Unionized Political Campaign Is A Game-Changer For The Left," cooed the newly unionized Huffington Post. Bryce's open embrace of unionization helped him avoid the hypocrisy charges that dogged the likes of Salon, David Brock's Media Matters, and the Huffington Post, which were accused of resisting workers' demands for unions as well as bargaining in bad faith. The guild's success with the Democratic Party's most viral midterm candidate earned a shout out from fellow rising star DNC deputy chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), which bodes well for its quest to organize all Democratic campaigns. The progressive movement needs to live up to its values. We have to treat our organizers with respect and dignity.https://t.co/Fld2Rh9Xqb — Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 12, 2018 Bryce's historic decision, however, raises a number of questions about how a unionized campaign staff will function in a labor environment designed to protect steelworkers and skilled tradesman, rather than people whose job hazards begin at knocking-induced hand cramping and end at "fundraising at Harvey Weinstein's apartment" or "posing for a photo with Al Franken." Neither the CWG nor Bryce returned requests for comment, so the Washington Free Beacon consulted with numerous labor lawyers and experts to help break down the potential bumps Bryce may encounter. 1. Are campaign volunteers just enthusiastic scabs? Political campaigns rely on the enthusiasms and dedication of tens of thousands of unpaid volunteers and college students whose degrees left them with zero marketable skills to get out the vote and work the phone bank. Would such practices violate the collective bargaining agreement by undermining the roles of union members on the campaign? If another union sends activists to volunteer, does that make them union scabs? As of Tuesday evening, Bryce's website still solicits unpaid workers to secure "fair pay and good jobs" for Wisconsinites. 2. Would Bryce's bargaining unit include all of his robot followers? Bryce granted his staffers union recognition rather than call for a secret-ballot election, sparing himself the thorny issue of unit determination. If he opted for a secret ballot election, Bryce and CWG would have gone back and forth about whether his living human followers would vote alongside all of his pretend followers on social media, who have helped turn "@IronStache" into a household name in Berkley and Beverly Hills. Bryce's reliance on automation and unpaid labor could move him into Jeff Bezos territory if he does not navigate this correctly. 3. What are the FEC implications regarding contributions from union members? Political runs famously make for late nights between debate preparations, election nights, and Kiwanis Club meet-and-greets. Will a unionized staffer have to classify overtime or any tasks outside of his specialty as an in-kind contribution to the campaign? Would contract concessions fall into the same category? 4. Can the CWG prevent Bryce from dropping out if terminating the campaign is viewed as a retaliatory gesture? Energy Secretary Rick Perry dropped his 2016 bid for the Oval Office after running out of money. Could a unionized staff have prevented this from happening by filing unfair labor practice complaints to the National Labor Relations Board, arguing, say, retaliation? Will Bryce be forced to maintain his campaign past election day just to avoid retaliation charges from his staffers? 5. If he endorses another nominee with a non-union staff has he effectively outsourced the campaign? No union worth its salt would stand by and let its members get taken advantage of by getting folded into a non-union shop. Bryce has raised $2.6 million for his campaign—with merely $57,000 coming from organized labor—and has $1.3 million cash on hand to pay his eight employees. His primary opponent, Janesville school board member Cathy Myers, has $106,626 to her name. Would she be able to afford merging CWG's bargaining unit into her campaign if she wins the Democratic nomination? 6. If Bryce runs for election again in 2020, would workers from 2018 be entitled to preferential hiring based on their seniority? And for that matter, if money does run dry, will firing be merit-based, need-based, or by seniority? Job security is hard to come by on the campaign trail. Just ask Corey Lewandowski. 7. If Bryce is successful, will he become the first congressman to hire unionized staffers? Congress allows workers on Capitol Hill to unionize, but no organizing effort has ever succeeded. If Bryce brings the Guild to Washington, he will have to navigate between taxpayer-funded Washington Business and donor-supported campaign work. Will the CWG have to open up a new chapter to help Bryce avoid potential ethics violations? 8. What are dues and initiation fees for the new members? The public terms of the contract show that the eight employees will receive 1 percent raises, a minimum monthly salary of $3,000, $275 monthly health care reimbursements, and a third-party grievance process if any staffer has to attend a Harvey Weinstein fundraiser or pose for a photo with Al Franken. The campaign did not say how much those workers would pay in dues and initiation fees to the CWG. The post Are Campaign Volunteers Scabs? And 7 Other Questions About the World’s First Unionized Campaign appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Clint Eastwood, North Korea, Fifty Shades (New Substandard!)

In this latest episode of the Substandard (subscribe, leave a review, tell your friends), Sonny Bunch admits to being strangely drawn to The 15:17 to Paris despite all indications it's a dud (such are the perils of using non-actors portraying themselves). We then delve into the Clint Eastwood oeuvre—is he at his best as an actor, director, or both? ​ Sonny is a big fan of High Plains Drifter. JVL and I still love In the Line of Fire (directed by Wolfgang Peterson and with a stellar cast that includes Eastwood, Rene Russo, John Malkovich at his most Malkovich, Fred Thompson being Fred Thompson, Gary Cole, and the recently departed John Mahoney). It's a terrific thriller with a tight script—and, at times, funny. If for some unimaginable reason you have not seen In the Line of Fire, put it at the top of your list. "I know things about pigeons, Lilly." But wait, there's more! JVL circles back to our Olympics episode and the fawning over North Korea. "Gene" was supposed to review The 15:17 to Paris but took a wrong turn. I pester Sonny to yet again recount the time he met Clint Eastwood and received the Clint glare. As JVL reminds us, January and February are the dead months at the box office, so it's a slightly shorter episode than usual. But next week is Black Panther. Plus I will most likely discuss my recent trip to True Food Kitchen and what it felt like to consume quinoa, tofu, kale, and Kombucha in one sitting. Needless to say I was on the edge of my seat! The post Clint Eastwood, North Korea, Fifty Shades (New Substandard!) appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Clarence Thomas: I Am ‘Worn Down’ From Victimhood Culture

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participated in a rare onstage interview at the Library of Congress on Thursday, where he talked about being "worn down" from the victimhood culture in today's society. The moderator said that Thomas, the second African-American Supreme Court Justice, grew up without water or electricity and that his house burned down when he was seven years old, forcing him and his younger brother to go live with their maternal grandparents in Savannah, Ga. "At some point, we’re going to be fatigued with everybody being the victim," Thomas said before talking about his grandfather. Thomas called his grandfather the "single greatest human being" and role model that he has ever met. "With nine months of education, but he never saw himself as a victim. He used to say that he was a motherless child. He never knew his father. His mother died when he was seven or eight years old," Thomas said. "Of course they didn't have birth certificates then, so he never knew quite how old he was." He went on to talk about how his grandfather never complained about his hardships growing up and that he would always have a saying for his grandkids when they tried to complain. "You always have to play the hand you're dealt. If you're dealt a bad hand, you still have to play it," Thomas said. "When we would whine about things, if you look at the bust in my office that my wonderful wife had made for me when I went on the court. His favorite quote was ‘Old man can't is dead. I helped bury him.'" Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The post Clarence Thomas: I Am ‘Worn Down’ From Victimhood Culture appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Visits Florida Hospital to Pay Respects After School Shooting

By: Reuters Staff POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Friday visited a hospital where victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, were treated to "pay their respects," a White House spokeswoman said. The Trumps planned to thank people who work at the hospital for their response to the shooting on Wednesday, and later planned to visit the Broward County Sheriff’s office to meet law enforcement officials who responded to the shooting. The post Trump Visits Florida Hospital to Pay Respects After School Shooting appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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ACLU Plans to Challenge Ohio’s Abortion Ban on Fetuses With Down Syndrome

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday announced plans to legally challenge a recently passed Ohio law that bans abortions after a prenatal test shows the fetus has or might have Down syndrome. The ACLU said it will argue the law, which Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R.) signed in December, is unconstitutional, infringes upon a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions, and does nothing to "address discrimination against people with disabilities." "This ban is just another thinly veiled attempt to push abortion out of reach and interfere in a woman's personal decision," said Freda Levenson, legal director of the ACLU of Ohio. "What this law does is to deny women's constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions, and it also interferes with women's relationships with their doctors, by making it harder to have honest and informed conversations." Yesterday we filed a lawsuit with @ACLU on behalf of @PretermMAML & a number of other abortion care providers to challenge Ohio’s unconstitutional abortion ban. #StopTheBans https://t.co/3VZRbbcVnR pic.twitter.com/GPRQ8G7DKx — ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) February 16, 2018 This law pretends to protect people with disabilities, but it’s really an attack on reproductive rights.https://t.co/GVmsSE9lkp — ACLU (@ACLU) February 15, 2018 The ban, which goes into effect next month, penalizes doctors who know of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis and perform an abortion, not the women who knowingly receive them. Physicians who violate the new law will be liable to lose their medical license and could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and a $5,000 fine. In October, Frank Stephens, a man with Down syndrome and an advocate for those with the genetic disorder, garnered media attention after delivering an emotional plea to members of Congress that his life is "worth living." He criticized those who argue that a diagnosis of Down syndrome prior to birth is cause for an abortion. Stephens, who was testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, called the practice of aborting children with Down syndrome, common in countries like Denmark and Iceland, an attempted "final solution" for them. "I completely understand that the people pushing this particular ‘final solution' are saying that people like me should not exist," Stephens told lawmakers. "That view is deeply prejudiced by an outdated idea of life with Down syndrome." "Whatever you learn today, please remember this: I am a man with Down syndrome and my life is worth living," Stephens added. The post ACLU Plans to Challenge Ohio’s Abortion Ban on Fetuses With Down Syndrome appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Responds to FBI Indictment of Russian Nationalists in Election Meddling Probe

President Donald Trump Tweeted Friday in response to a grand jury indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three companies accused of interfering in the U.S. election campaign from 2014 through 2016, a move resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted," Trump tweeted. "The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!" Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018 The 37-page indictment indicates 12 of the 13 Russian nationals indicted on allegations of conspiracy to defraud the United States had worked for the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company based in St. Petersburg with on an annual budget of millions of dollars. One individual, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, is alleged to have funded the conspiracy through Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates, the New York Times reported. The indictment includes allegations against the IRA and two additional Russian entities, which have been accused of perpetrating a "scheme to interfere in the United States political system" during the 2016 elections. The indictment charges that the IRA operated through Russian shell companies, employing hundreds of persons for its online tactics. It further indicates Russian nationals hid their activities by purchasing space on computer servers located in the United States. Through those servers, they created hundreds of "accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that the accounts were controlled by persons within the United States," according to the Department of Justice. The charges include allegations the Russian nationals falsely posed as American citizens and stole American citizens' identities for the betterment of their operations. They are alleged to have established social media pages and groups to influence political and cultural views, and armed with American identities, they purchased political advertisements on social media. The White House released a statement shortly after the indictment was announced, drawing sharp attention to the administration's continued stance that there was "NO COLLUSION" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump also called for Americans to come together. "It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful," Trump said. "It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections." White House statement on Russia indictments: "there was NO COLLUSION" pic.twitter.com/X6aUVzcAgG — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) February 16, 2018 In a press briefing Thursday, DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said the indictment of the Russian nationals does not include allegations that any American knowingly participated in unlawful activity. "This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet," Rosenstein said. "The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed. The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and with the Congress, to defend our nation against similar current and future schemes. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors working on this case for their exceptional service." The DOJ also clarified there are no allegations in the indictment that those charged altered the outcome of the 2016 election. The post Trump Responds to FBI Indictment of Russian Nationalists in Election Meddling Probe appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Cotton: ‘Disappointing’ That American Social Media Companies Succumbed to Kremlin’s Pressure

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said Friday it is "disappointing" that social media companies would assist in the Russian government's censorship of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "It’s disappointing that these social-media companies, supposedly dedicated to freedom of expression, would shut down one of the few voices of opposition to Vladimir Putin just a month before Russia’s elections," Cotton said in a statement. "Putin’s henchmen don’t need any help rigging the results, and it’s not asking too much to expect American companies to defend American values in all corners of the globe." Instagram reportedly bowed to a court order to block access to a post that embarrassed an oligarch and top government official, according to the Washington Post. Navalny's team discovered Instagram posts of metals magnate Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko on a yacht in Norway: Navalny had posted a YouTube video showing the Instagram posts and presenting evidence that women aboard Deripaska’s yacht worked for an escort service, and it went viral in Russia last week. Deripaska successfully sued for the removal of the posts and Navalny’s video, claiming they violated his right to privacy, and this week the government started implementing the court order. On Thursday, telecom regulator Roskomnadzor said that it had ordered Navalny’s website blocked and that it was satisfied that the Instagram posts that Deripaska sought to remove were no longer available. Google, however, had not yet complied with the demand to take down Navalny’s video on its YouTube platform, the agency said. Facebook, which owns Instagram, released a statement that governments may ask it to restrict content that violates their sovereign laws. "We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory," a Facebook spokeswoman said. Navalny slammed Instagram in a Twitter post. "Instagram decided to comply with Russian illegal censorship requests and deleted some content about oligarch Deripaska," Navalny wrote. "Shame on you, Instagram!" Cotton is a consistent critic of Putin's autocratic regime. Last month, he slammed Putin for his jailing of Navalny, saying it showed he feared his own people and revealed what an "oppressive" government he runs. The post Cotton: ‘Disappointing’ That American Social Media Companies Succumbed to Kremlin’s Pressure appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Rick Scott: ‘The FBI Director Needs to Resign’

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R.) on Friday demanded that FBI Director Christopher Wray resign after the bureau admitted that it failed to act after receiving a tip last month about the suspected Florida shooter being armed and wanting to kill people. The FBI released a statement on Friday admitting that the agency received a tip on Jan. 5 regarding Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged with murdering 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday. The tip, from someone close to the suspected shooter, "provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting." Normally that information would have been fast-tracked to the Miami field office, but the FBI statement said that "protocols were not followed" and that nobody followed up on the information that was relayed. "We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy," Wray said in the statement. "All of the men and women of the FBI are dedicated to keeping the American people safe, and are relentlessly committed to improving all that we do and how we do it." In response to the FBI's admission, Scott released his own statement calling on Wray to resign. "The FBI's failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," Scott said. "The FBI has admitted that they were contacted last month by a person who called to inform them of Cruz's ‘desire to kill people,' and ‘the potential of him conducting a school shooting.'" "Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it," Scott continued. "An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need." Scott then demanded that Wray resign, saying that his bureau "failed to act." "We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,' and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act," Scott said. "‘See something, say something' is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement. The FBI Director needs to resign." The post Rick Scott: ‘The FBI Director Needs to Resign’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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