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Italy is on a Collision Course with the EU

After 11 weeks of negotiations, the populist parties that triumphed in March’s Italian elections have agreed on who should be Italy’s new prime minister. Before they could settle on Giuseppe Conte, a 53-year-old law professor with no previous political experience and little political conviction, they had to agree that Silvio …

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Trump Mocks Dems: ‘Pelosi Came Out in Favor of MS-13’

President Donald Trump mocked Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) in a speech Tuesday for her comments about MS-13 gang members. Pelosi said Trump was wrong to call MS-13 members "animals," even though they commit horrific crimes, because of the dignity that all humans have. Trump ridiculed her comments during his speech at the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization. "Just the other day, Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13. That's the first time I've heard that," he said. "She wants them to be treated with respect, as do other Democrats. That's not going to be happening. We're not going to release violent criminals into our country." Pelosi characterized Trump’s words as "tough talk" on Twitter Tuesday night and criticized him for the DHS’s policy to detain parents who come over the border illegally, separating them from their children. Tough talk from a man separating innocent children from their parents https://t.co/vregqsTtVn — Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) May 23, 2018 Numerous media outlets had reported Trump calling "immigrants" animals, although he was talking about MS-13 members, but Pelosi's point was that no human beings should be called "animals." "Calling people animals is not a good thing," Pelosi said. "We all have to recognize that as we respect the dignity and worth of every person," she added. Trump decried Democrats' position on immigration, likening it to open borders, and also expressing his support for fighting crime and strengthening national defense. "We will be appealing to voters all across America who previously sent a Democrat to Washington only to discover they elected a proxy vote for [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi," Trump said. "These are people that don't believe in borders, don't believe in fighting crime, don't believe in a strong military." The post Trump Mocks Dems: ‘Pelosi Came Out in Favor of MS-13’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Rubio, Diaz-Balart Call for U.S. Authorities to Indict Raul Castro

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) are urging President Trump to direct the Justice Department to review whether to indict former Cuban President Raul Castro for the illegal shoot down in 1996 of two American civilian aircraft that killed three Americans and a U.S. legal resident. Rubio and Diaz-Balart on Tuesday sent a letter to Trump commending him on his "expressions of solidarity with courageous pro-democracy activists" in Cuba and asking him "within all applicable rules and regulations" to direct the DOJ to look into the Cuban government’s alleged downing of the two U.S. aircraft in 1996 and determine whether to indict Castro. "In the spirit of Cuban Independence Day, we urge to consider new additional actions to hold the Castro regime accountable for its crimes," Rubio and Diaz-Balart said in the letter, referring to the independence Cuba won from Spain on May 20, 1902. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The civilian aircraft were flown by the Miami-based nonprofit, Brothers to the Rescue, a group formed by Cuban exiles opposed to the Castro regime who aimed to help Cuban people trying to flee the communist island nation by raft and make it the United States. The group’s planes at least once dropped leaflets on Cuba advocating for dissident resistance against the Castro dictatorship. The Cuban Air Force shot down the planes in international airspace on February 24, 1996, as they were returning to Florida, killing the three Americans and one U.S. legal resident. The U.N. Security Council and other international powers condemned the incident while the Castro regime argued it was justified because the planes were trying to destabilize the Cuban government. Rubio and Diaz-Balart recalled in their letter to Trump how after the incident the U.S. federal court indicted the head of the Cuban Air Force and the two MiG pilots responsible for the planes’ downing on charges of murder. U.S. courts ultimately convicted a member of a Cuban spy ring operating in the United States for conspiracy to commit murder for his role in planning the shootdown; he was sentenced to life in federal prison. Rubio and Diaz-Balart then slammed the Obama administration for "shamefully" commuting the spy’s sentence and allowing him to return to Cuba for a "hero’s welcome" as part of its "appeasement policy" with the Castros. "However, the Cuban operative ultimately responsible, then-Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Raul Castro, was never indicted," the lawmakers wrote. In addition, the lawmakers pressed Trump to direct "the appropriate agencies to assess whether INTERPOL ‘red notices’ should be issued for the arrest and extradition to the United States of all Cuban operatives responsible for the deaths" of the four members of the Brothers to the Rescue. "Taking these bold actions would demonstrate to our adversaries that they cannot act with impunity against Americans, and that human rights abusers and criminals will be held accountable for their crimes," Rubio and Diaz-Balart wrote in their letter. "Most importantly, it would send a signal to the Cuban people that the United States will not permit their oppressors to operate without consequences." The post Rubio, Diaz-Balart Call for U.S. Authorities to Indict Raul Castro appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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State Department Calls Out Continued Russian Aggression in Ukraine

The U.S. State Department called out continued Russian aggression in Ukraine on Tuesday, mentioning how civilians have been killed due to Russia's invasion. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert mentioned the continuing fighting in Ukraine during a press briefing on Tuesday. "I'd like to draw your attention to Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine," Nauert told reporters. "This has been one of the most violent weeks of the year: Five Ukrainian soldiers are now dead and 23 have been wounded." "The fighting has not spared civilians either. A 13-year-old boy and his father were killed in a Ukrainian government-controlled territory when artillery shells struck their home," Nauert said. "A pipe carrying chlorine gas at the Donetsk Water Filtration Station was struck by artillery shells. The Kremlin controls the violence in Eastern Ukraine and could bring this violence to an end tomorrow if the Kremlin wanted to do that." Nauert also said that Russia justifies its presence in Ukraine as trying to protect Russian-speaking people, but now Eastern Ukraine is now the most dangerous place for Russian-speaking people to be. "Russian and Ukrainian soldiers and civilians continue to die in a conflict manufactured by the Russian government with forces it arms, equips, leads, and trains and while Russia perpetuates the violence in Eastern Ukraine by pouring money, soldiers and resources into the region, the Russian economy continues to stagnate," Nauert said. "We call on Russia to end its aggression in Ukraine and live up to its commitments when it signed the Minsk Agreements." The post State Department Calls Out Continued Russian Aggression in Ukraine appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Pompeo ‘Confident’ U.S. Can Work With European Allies to Pressure Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said he is confident the United States can develop a common approach with European leaders to deal with Iran. A reporter at a State Department press briefing referenced Pompeo's speech on Monday about the unprecedented financial pressure that he wanted the United States to put on Iran. He then mentioned Pompeo's critics and said that they believe that the Europeans won't go along with him on the sanctions. "What do you say to those critics? How do you get the Europeans to go along, and then others like China or Russia, who continue to abide by the agreement?" the reporter asked. "It's really straightforward. This is a global challenge I mentioned in my remarks yesterday," Pompeo said. "This is a shared threat across the world and I am confident that we can collectively develop a diplomatic response that achieves the simple outcomes that we put forward. We wouldn't tolerate Iceland doing what the Iranians are doing. We wouldn't tolerate Chad doing what the Iranians — I could just pick a number. I'm sort of tripping through the alphabet." Pompeo went on to say that if somebody created an equivalent of Hezbollah, the United States and European allies wouldn't sit by and let them carry on operations. "Russia and China don't see that as a positive impact around the world either, so I'm confident that there's a set of overlapping values and interests here that will drive us to the same conclusion about the need to respond to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s threats to the world," Pompeo said. The post Pompeo ‘Confident’ U.S. Can Work With European Allies to Pressure Iran appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Pompeo: ‘I’m Not a Betting Man’ But We’ll Be Prepared for June 12 Meeting With North Korea

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was still working toward having a June 12 summit with North Korea over its nuclear program, on the same day the White House signaled the meeting may not take place. President Donald Trump said in the Oval Office Tuesday there was a "very substantial chance" the meeting between him and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un may not take place on its scheduled date and place of June 12 in Singapore. The Trump administration is pursuing full denuclearization by the country's rogue regime and has signaled it will provide and security and prosperity in exchange. "We will do what it takes to make sure that this is a successful meeting," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. He added he was not a "betting man" and would only predict the U.S. would be ready if the summit did occur. Pompeo, who has met with Kim and helped secure the release of three American prisoners earlier this month, said he had gotten the sense that North Korea would benefit from American investments. "I do have a real sense that [Kim] would find American investment, American technology, American know-how of real value to his people, and it's something that he and I had a chance to speak about generally, and I do think it's something that if we get this right and we get denuclearization right, that America would be quite capable of delivering them with lots of things that would make life better for the North Korean people," he said. Like Trump, Pompeo cautioned the meeting may not take place. "We are working to make sure that there's a common understanding about the contents of what will be discussed, but I'm optimistic, but again, this could be something that comes right to the end, and it doesn't happen," Pompeo said. "As the president, said, we'll see." He demurred when asked about potentially delaying the meeting and what issues, logistical or otherwise, might cause it to be delayed. "We're still working towards June 12," he said. The post Pompeo: ‘I’m Not a Betting Man’ But We’ll Be Prepared for June 12 Meeting With North Korea appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer Attacks Reporter After Judge Orders His Firm to Pay $10 Million

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge on Tuesday ordered the law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, to pay $10 million after failing to pay a former colleague $2 million that he was owed. Judge Catherine Bauer ruled against the Eagan Avenatti law firm after Avenatti broke a promise to pay lawyer Jason Frank $2 million, the Los Angeles Times reports. Avenatti, whose public profile has risen since taking Stormy Daniels' case against President Donald Trump, had pledged to pay Frank $2 million, but the deadline passed without him or his firm giving Frank the money. "At this point, that's what's appropriate," Bauer said at a hearing. In addition, Avenatti's firm has defaulted on back taxes that it must pay from another bankruptcy hearing, something the Justice Department revealed at Tuesday's hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Najah Shariff said the federal government will file a motion demanding the back taxes be paid. Avenatti attacked the Times reporter who wrote the article, Michael Finnegan, saying his story is "Irrelevant. Over blown. Sensational reporting at its finest." Nonsense. Completely different law firm – no ties to Daniels case. Irrelevant. Over blown. Sensational reporting at its finest. Check the facts next time please and report accurately. — Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 22, 2018 Finnegan had not said the bankruptcy or back taxes had anything to do with Daniels, who is suing Trump. This is far from the first time Avenatti has attacked reporters for unfavorable coverage, as he has targeted writers at the Daily Caller and the Hollywood Reporter over unfavorable coverage. Eagan Avenatti's financial problems are extensive, according to the Times. Under the Jan. 30 bankruptcy settlement, Avenatti personally agreed to pay the IRS $2.4 million in back taxes, penalties and interest, court records show. Nearly $1.3 million of that was for payroll taxes that his law firm withheld from employees but did not turn over to the government. Avenatti has paid $1.5 million of what was due, but missed the deadline last week for paying the next installment of $440,291, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. Avenatti, who has blamed the unpaid taxes on an unnamed payroll company, accused the Times of "purposely confusing me with a separate legal entity that has no role in the Daniels case." Avenatti said the judgment against the law firm does not amount to a judgment "against me." "No judgment against me was issued nor do I owe any taxes," he told the Times. Court records show that Avenatti is the lead equity partner in Eagan Avenatti. Avenatti has spent a great deal of his time recently on the Stormy Daniels case, which, as he pointed out, is unrelated. A Washington Free Beacon analysis found that, as of May 11, he had earned nearly $175 million in free media during his appearances on MSNBC and CNN over the previous two months. The firm is also not disputing Frank's right to the $10 million that the judge ordered, according to one of its attorneys, Mark S. Horoupian. He did not comment further after the hearing. The post Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer Attacks Reporter After Judge Orders His Firm to Pay $10 Million appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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California Seeks to Resurrect Assisted Suicide

California is hoping that a state appeals court will preserve its assisted-suicide regimen after a judge struck down the law on technical grounds. Attorney General Xavier Becerra asked the Fourth District Court of Appeals to save the End of Life Options Act, the 2015 law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal medications to patients diagnosed as terminally ill. Riverside Superior Court judge Daniel A. Ottolia overturned the law on May 15, saying that lawmakers rushed its passage through a special session dedicated to funding the state's MediCal program. Assisted suicide, the judge ruled, fell outside of the scope of that legislative period, though he did not address the substance of the practice itself. Becerra argues that lawmakers had every right to address physician-assisted suicide in the session, which was intended to close a $1 billion budget gap. The brief filed by the state said Judge Ottolia took too narrow a view of the special session and asked the appeals court to "take a holistic view of patient care." "The special session was convened to broadly address health care issues, which includes end-of-life health care options. The Act falls squarely within this mandate," the state said in its brief. Opponents of assisted suicide were critical of the brief and called on the Appeals Court to preserve the lower court order. Matthew Valliere, executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, said lawmakers embraced shadowy tactics to avoid prolonged, public debate, and denied Californians the opportunity to properly weigh in on the decision. He called Becerra's appeal "troubling," given his role as a constitutional check on legislative abuses and violations of the state constitution. "In order to enact a dangerous public policy that put the lives of countless vulnerable Californians at risk, advocates felt they needed to circumvent the legislative process," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "For the sake of people with terminal illness, disabilities, advanced age, and economic challenges, who are the first to suffer from these laws, we hope that this effort to appeal the ruling of Judge Ottolia fails." Advocates for assisted suicide praised Becerra for appealing the ruling. Compassion & Choices, one of the nation's largest proponents of what it calls "medical aid in dying," filed an amicus brief arguing that the law was properly enacted and reflected the will of state residents. The group's attorney, John C. Kappos, said in a statement that the lower court order "seeks to take away the peaceful option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill Californians." "Ultimately, the End of Life Option Act is constitutional because Gov. Brown would not have signed the law if it fell outside the scope of his proclamation for the special session," Kappos said. Becerra's office petitioned the appeals court on Monday evening as the five-day window to file an emergency appeal neared its conclusion. Patients will continue to have access to assisted suicide as the case makes its way through the courts, according to Compassion & Choices' Kevin Díaz. If higher courts reject the appeal, California lawmakers could be forced to pass a new bill during one of its regular sessions or convene a special session that expressly permits debating assisted suicide. The post California Seeks to Resurrect Assisted Suicide appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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