March

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters Friday the Pentagon stands ready to dispatch more troops to the border region if President Trump follows through with his pledge to increase the military presence along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

Trump said after touring a section of recently upgraded border fencing in Calexico, Calif., last week, “We’re going to bring up some more military” to deal with what he said were more than 70,000 illegal migrants rushing the border.

Shanahan said the Pentagon has had conversations with the Department of Homeland Security but has yet to receive a formal request.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ll provide more support to the border,” he said in response to a reporter’s question as he prepared to meet with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “Our support is very elastic, and given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support.” Shanahan said he anticipates the support will be similar to what the military has already provided with several thousand troops, barrier construction, transport, and surveillance.

Shanahan will meet with a planning team at the Pentagon over the weekend to prepare for the potential request, he said.

“It will follow up with where are we on barrier construction, where do we stand on troops deployed, and then in the areas we anticipate, what type of preliminary plans should we be doing prior to receiving a request for assistance,” he said.

Democrats have been highly critical of the deployment of active-duty troops to the border, and many have cited a leaked internal memo the Marine Corps commandant sent to the Navy secretary warning that unexpected expenses, such as hurricane damage and border operations, could force him to cancel routine training and degrade combat readiness.

But in Senate testimony this week, Gen. Robert Neller insisted his memo was being misconstrued. “To say that going to the border was degrading our readiness is not an accurate statement,” Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Neller’s March 18 memo listed eight categories of unfunded and unexpected expenses. Hurricane recovery was at the top of the list, but a number of expenses were included, such as the raise for civilian employees, which was not in the budget.

“We have a shortfall of just under $300 million, of which the border mission is less than 2 percent,” Neller said. “So my intent was to just simply lay out for my boss what these were and ask for support in trying to figure out how we might fund them.”

Pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Neller conceded some Marines, who are not doing the jobs they would normally do, could see a small degradation in their unit readiness, but he said it depended on the unit.

“Some of the units have gone down there and they’ve done tasks that are more in line with their core mission. Like engineer units or MP units. Aviation units that were assigned to that early on have actually improved their readiness because they are able to fly certain profiles and things,” he testified.

Neller reports to his civilian boss, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, who requested the memo and jumped to Neller’s defense at the hearing.

“The main stress that we were dealing with at the time, senator, was the hurricane, which was imposing the greatest cost on the Marine Corps,” Spencer told Warren. “Five hundred men for a month at the southern border is $1.25 million. In my mind, is that affecting my readiness stress? No, it’s not.”

Neller said so far border operations have cost the Marine Corps $6.2 million.

FILE PHOTO: Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams
FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LIII. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

April 12, 2019

(Reuters) – A lawyer for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Friday asked a Florida judge not to make public a video that led to the billionaire being charged in a prostitution sting at a massage parlor, calling the evidence “basically pornography.”

Media companies including ABC and ESPN clashed with Kraft’s defenders, saying the judge would violate Florida’s public records laws by suppressing the video of Kraft receiving sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

The owner of one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises and winner of this year’s Super Bowl was one of hundreds of people charged in February after an investigation unveiled widespread trafficking of young women at Florida day spas and massage parlors.

The 77-year-old billionaire businessman has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges of soliciting sex and requested a jury trial in March.

William Burck, Kraft’s attorney, argued in Palm Beach County Court that surveillance footage from the spa should not be released to the media because it would violate Kraft’s privacy rights, compromise his right to a fair trial, and interfere in an active criminal investigation.

“It’s basically pornography,” Burck told Judge Leonard Hanser. “There’s no interest in actually seeing the video unless you have a prurient interest in seeing the video.”

Kraft’s attorneys filed a motion to suppress the video in March, further suggesting that police did not have a valid search warrant to collect the video as evidence.

Dana McElroy, an attorney representing the media outlets, argued that sealing the video would violate the state’s public records law.

Kraft apologized for his actions in a written statement issued last month.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot)

Source: OANN

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

April 12, 2019

By Susan Mathew

(Reuters) – European shares finished higher for a third straight day on Friday, with investor sentiment getting a boost from JP Morgan setting a strong start to U.S. earnings and amid signs of stabilization in China’s economy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed up 0.16 percent, but ended the week lower after two weeks of gains. Banks and the auto sector were the biggest boosts to the benchmark on the day.

Italy’s MIB led gains in the region with its 0.8 percent rise, having hit an eight-month high earlier the session, while German shares closed up 0.5 percent.

Data showed that China’s exports rebounded to a five-month high in March, but imports shrank for a fourth straight month and at a faster pace, painting a mixed picture of the economy.

“The markets seems to have shaken off the negative aspects of the Chinese trade data, but it’s a minor rise at the end of a fairly limp week,” said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

Banks got a boost after shares of the largest U.S. bank by assets rose after the company beat quarterly profit estimates, easing fears that slowing economic growth could weigh on its results.

Regional lenders, such as StanChart, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse rallied, taking the European bank index up 1.9 percent to a five-month high.

HSBC was among the biggest driver of gains on the pan-region benchmark. The firm said it so far moved only a “tiny” number of jobs to Paris in order to deal with Brexit..

Italy’s biggest bank, UniCredit rose more than 4 percent even after it said is one of the banks accused of running a cartel in trading euro zone government bonds between 2007 and 2012, when financial crises dragged down banks and several European economies.

The auto sector followed suit with car-makers such BMW, Daimler and Fiat Chrysler gaining more than 2.2 percent each.

Amid warnings that proposed U.S. automotive tariffs could do more damage to global growth than the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, BAML analysts point to a lack of action out of the U.S. on threatened auto tariffs.

“In our view, the reluctance to move forward is because actually imposing auto tariffs would be both deeply unpopular and a major shock to the equity markets.”

Basic resources stocks also gained with iron ore and copper prices on the rise. Rio Tinto and Glencore were among top boosts to Britain’s blue-chip index higher.

Airbus gained as its new chief executive, Guillaume Faury, imposed a simplified management structure and a manifesto for factory modernization.

GN Store Nord rose 7.8 percent after the Danish audio-maker raised financial guidance. Medical technology supplier Carl Zeiss climbed 6.6 percent on strong full-year guidance.

Swiss train and carriage manufacturer Stadler Rail jumped 13.4 percent after its debut on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

On the other hand, London-based online trading platform Plus500 tumbled 31.2 percent as revenue for the first quarter dropped to around a fifth of last year’s, hurt by a fall in trading volumes.

(This story has been refilled to correct country of index in paragraph 3 to say Italy’s MIB, not Spain’s MIB)

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Agamoni Ghosh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King)

Source: OANN

U.S. and EU flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

April 12, 2019

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has drawn up a list of U.S. imports worth around 20 billion euros ($22.6 billion) that it could hit with tariffs over a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute, EU diplomats said.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European Union products over what Washington sees as unfair subsidies given to European planemaker Airbus.

The EU measures would relate to the EU’s World Trade Organization complaint over subsidies to Boeing.

WTO arbitrators have yet to set final amounts of potential countermeasures in each case.

The Commission said earlier this week that it had begun preparatory work on countermeasures in the Boeing case.

It added then that it was open for discussions with the U.S., provided these were without preconditions and aimed at achieving a fair outcome.

EU diplomats said the Commission was expected to publish a list of products on April 17 and begin a process of public consultation, after which the list could then be adjusted.

The final amount decided by the WTO arbitrator could also be lower. The EU had also initially requested that the WTO authorize countermeasures of $12 billion. The arbitrator’s decision may not come before March 2020.

The U.S. and Europe have been locked in dispute over mutual claims of illegal aid to their respective plane giants. The case has been grinding through the WTO for almost 15 years, yielding partial victories for both sides.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robin Emmott and Mike Harrison)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has climbed to 45%, a new Gallup poll reveals.

It is up from the 39% approval rating he received in March.

It marks the third time Trump has achieved a 45% job approval rating in the Gallup trends poll. His other 45 percent ratings were recorded in his first week in office and again after his first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Fifty-one percent of those polled disapprove of his job performance.

Here is how the poll breaks down:

  • 89% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing.
  • 8% of Democrats approve.
  • 39% of independents approve.

Gallup noted it is the pollster’s first measure of Trump’s approval since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his probe.

The poll, conducted April 1-9, surveyed 1,012 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Source: NewsMax

After nearly seven years holed up inside the cramped Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is dreading the prospect of violent attacks on him in an American prison, one of his regular visitors told ABC News’ The Investigation podcast on Thursday.

In an interview for ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast conducted one day after Assange’s long-anticipated arrest by London police and court appearance on a 2012 bail jumping warrant and U.S. extradition request, one of his most frequent visitors described Assange’s fears of being sent to a US prison and subjected to violence inside.

“He did say he was worried that, if he was in a normal American prison, being beaten up,” war documentary filmmaker and former Taliban hostage Sean Langan, who has spent more than 50 hours with Assange in the past year, told ABC News. Langan’s last visit to Assange at the embassy was on March 22, he said.

Film maker and former hostage Sean Langan sits in the audience during a WikiLeaks discussion at The Front Line Club in London, Dec. 1, 2010.(REX/Shutterstock, FILE) Film maker and former hostage Sean Langan sits in the audience during a WikiLeaks discussion at The Front Line Club in London, Dec. 1, 2010.

“And then I said, ‘Well, the chances are you’re most likely’ — slightly gallows humor, it didn’t make him feel better – ‘you’re most likely going to be put into one of those federal Supermax prisons where you won’t see a soul,” said Langan, an ABC News contributor.

Perhaps most surprising to many who saw his leaks of embarrassing Democratic party emails during the 2016 campaign — which Special Counsel Robert Mueller has alleged were hacked by Russian spies in an effort to hurt rival Hillary Clinton’s chances — Assange was often sharply critical of Trump in casual conversation with a handful of visitors.

Langan says Assange described longtime Trump friend and political adviser Roger Stone and Donald Trump Jr. as intellectually incapable of a conspiracy, much less one that included WikiLeaks or him, and he rejoiced when Special Counsel Robert Mueller recently closed his investigation without indicting him for conspiring with Russian military intelligence to tilt the U.S. election.

“‘Those bunch of clowns’ — that was the exact quote — ‘those bunch of clowns couldn’t conspire and organize this kind of thing’,” Langan recalled Assange telling him. “He certainly did not hold [President Trump] in high regard. He was quite dismissive.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he leaves the Westminster Magistrates Court in the police van, after he was arrested in London, April 11, 2019.(Henry Nicholls/Reuters) WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures as he leaves the Westminster Magistrates Court in the police van, after he was arrested in London, April 11, 2019.

Langan and Vaughan Smith, an Assange confidant and owner of London’s Frontline Club, began making “social visits” — as the Ecuadorian Embassy called them — with Assange in early November. The pair was among the first people summoned by the controversial publisher of sensitive secrets after Ecuador lifted a ban on his visitors and most of his communications, a loosening of restrictions on Assange that lasted six months in 2018.

Inside, they didn’t find an apartment littered with cat dropping or feces on the wall — as alleged by his Ecuadorian hosts who over time turned against their notorious asylee — but instead the “claustrophobic” quarters of a man in poor health toughing out intense surveillance of the tiny rooms he has occupied since entering the embassy in August, 2012.

That year, fearing he would extradited to the United States, Assange skipped out on his bail during a rape inquiry in Sweden. The rape inquiry was dropped two years ago but reopened today in the wake of Assange’s removal from the embassy in London, Swedish prosecutors said. Assange has denied the rape allegation.

Assange shared his recollections with Langan in five-hour rolling conversations at a table between two speakers meant to deter electronic surveillance by Ecuador or other countries. One speaker blared symphony music and the other David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Langan told ABC News.

Asked about a controversial November, 2018 report in the Guardian newspaper that Assange had met with Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort — since convicted on financial crimes related to lobbying in Virginia and in Washington — he was adamant it never happened. “He said, ‘That’s [bull]. Never met him.’ So he strongly denied that,” Langan said.

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks speaks to the press during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, April 11, 2019.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images) President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks speaks to the press during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, April 11, 2019.

The Guardian report has not been matched by any other major news organization or corroborated since it was published.

Langan said that Assange seemed to acknowledge that he had communicated with Guccifer2.0, an online persona Mueller has said in a U.S. indictment was really an amalgam of Russian spies who stole the Democratic party emails and coordinated with WikiLeaks to leak them, but said that he believes Assange was unaware of Guccifer 2.0’s true identity.

Langan said that Assange complained to him that other news outlets were communicating with Guccifer2.0 too but the U.S. government was unfairly picking on him.

“I took it to be a non-denial denial,” Langan said.

With his arrest and the prospect of a trial in the U.S. for computer intrusion relating to WikiLeaks document dumps of military and intelligence secrets almost a decade ago, Langan said Assange now realizes “that he could face the rest of his life in isolation.”

The idea of further confinement weighs on Assange, he said.

“You can see the toll it is taking on him,” Langan added. “It’s an unpleasant thing to see in any man.”

He is no doubt glad to be out of the embassy, however, Langan added.

“It’s like a gilded cage. But a cage is a cage is a cage,” said Langan.

Smith always brought lunch from the club and Assange would fetch plates to serve the food on, then step back into his tidy galley to wash each plate after they dined.

Langan said Assange expressed frustration with what he described as false news reports that claimed Assange wore smelly socks and did not care for the cat his kids gave to him as a gift.

“That really hurt him,” Langan recounted.

assange arrestA video still of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean embassy in London.Ruptly

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was dramatically arrested and carried out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Thursday.
  • British and Ecuadorean authorities engineered the timing and nature of the raid so that Assange to stop him accessing a panic button he mentioned in the past, Ecuador’s foreign minister said.
  • Specifics on the button — or what it might do — are sparse, butt he foreign minister said Assange had said it could bring dire consequences for Ecuador.
  • This included accessing the government’s security files, playing music loudly, and having no regard for personal hygiene.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Julian Assange’s arrest at the Ecuadorean embassy in London was carried out in a specific way, to make sure he could not press a mysterious panic button that he said could bring dire consequences for Ecuador, its foreign minister said.

The WikiLeaks founder was carried out of Ecuadorean embassy in Kensington, London, on Thursday morning by a group of British police officers. It came after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, alleging repeated bad behavior during his almost-seven-year stay.

During this stay, Assange allegedly threatened Jaime Merchan, the country’s ambassador to the UK, with activating some kind of panic button that would bring down the embassy if he were arrested or felt in danger.

The claim was made by Ecuadorean foreign minister Jose Valencia in a speech on Thursday to the country’s National Assembly, according to The Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.

Julian AssangeAssange leaving a London police station after his Thursday arrest.Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Assange had said that the button would bring “devastating consequences,” the AP reported, in a summary of Valencia’s remarks.

It is not clear exactly what form the “panic button” took: whether it was a physical device or a metaphor for some other easily-activated insurance measure.

It is also unclear exactly what leverage Assange thought he had over Ecuador. But, according to Valencia, it was serious enough for Ecuador to warn British authorities and carry out the raid in such a way that Assange was not able to get back into his room after learning of his impending arrest.

Ecuador granted Assange asylum in June 2012, when he was trying to evade warrants for his arrest in Sweden and the UK.

He had failed to appear in court to face charges of sexual assault in Sweden, which he denies. He was also wanted in the UK for breaching prior bail conditions.

julian assange arrest ecuador embassy londonA police van outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London after Assange’s arrest on Thursday.Peter Nicholls/Reuters

‘We’ve ended the asylum of this spoiled brat’

Ecuador’s president announced the removal of Assange’s asylum in a Thursday video statement, saying: “The patience of Ecuador has reached its limit on the behavior of Mr Assange.”

Hours after Assange’s arrest he said in a separate speech: “We’ve ended the asylum of this spoiled brat,” according to the AP.

Lenín Moreno said that Assange breached the conditions of his stay by installing prohibited electronic equipment in the embassy. Moreno said Assange also mistreated security guards, and accessed the embassy’s security files during his stay.

The Ecuadorean government also told Assange in a memo that he deliberately pointed a studio lamp at a security camera in a room where he received guests, according to government memos released by the WikiLeaks founders’ supporters in February.

FILE- In this Friday May 19, 2017 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno said on Tuesday, March 2, 2019, that he wants to reach an agreement for Assange to leave the Embassy in London as soon as possible, as long as his life is not in danger. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)Assange greeting supporters at the Ecuadorean embassy in May 2017.Associated Press

Ecuador’s troubles with Assange went beyond security concerns.

Officials have alleged that Assange was unhygienic, and that his skateboarding ruined their floors. Last year it issued a nine-page memo telling him to clean up after his cat.

Maria Paula Romo, Ecuador’s interior minister, said Thursday that Assange had been “allowed to do things like put feces on the walls of the embassy and other behaviors of that nature,” according to Reuters.

Ecuadorean authorities deemed this behavior, which happened at least once, an act of defiance and disrespect to his hosts, the AP reported. Assange’s lawyer attributed it to “stomach problems,” Reuters reported.

Read more: The weirdest-ever anecdote about Julian Assange claims that he doesn’t like cutlery, and eats hot food like jam pudding with his hands

asdfassange houseA graphic showing Assange’s living area at the embassy.GraphicNews

In a separate memo, Ambassador Merchan also sent Assange complaints that he was playing the radio loudly while meeting visitors — which “disturbed the work being carried out by the embassy.”

The government said it spent a total of $6.2 million on his upkeep and security between 2012 and 2018.

Ecuador’s expulsion of Assange also comes amid a protracted political dispute within the Latin American country.

His ouster comes after years of international and domestic political wrangling between Moreno and his predecessor, Rafael Correa, who granted Assange asylum in 2012.

Moreno has also accused WikiLeaks of being behind an anonymous website that said Moreno’s brother created offshore companies to fund his family’s luxurious lifestyles in Europe while Moreno was working there for the UN, Reuters reported.

Read more: This simmering political clash may have led to Julian Assange’s ouster from Ecuador’s embassy

The US on Thursday requested Assange’s extradition and charged him with conspiracy to hack classified US government computers, in a document naming US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

He was also convicted of breaching bail conditions in the UK.

In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole. The only camera crew to record this pivotal event belonged to Ruptly, a Berlin-based streaming-online-video service, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RT, the Russian government’s English-language news channel and the former distributor of Julian Assange’s short-lived chat show.

RT’s tagline is “Question more,” and indeed, one might inquire how it came to pass that the spin-off of a Kremlin propaganda organ and now registered foreign agent in the United States first arrived on the scene. Its camera recorded a team of London’s Metropolitan Police dragging Assange from his Knightsbridge cupboard as he burbled about resistance and toted a worn copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State.

Vidal had the American national-security establishment in mind when he wrote that polemic, although I doubt even he would have contrived to portray the CIA as being in league with a Latin American socialist named for the founder of the Bolshevik Party. Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno announced Thursday that he had taken the singular decision to expel his country’s long-term foreign guest and revoke his asylum owing to Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behavior.”

According to Interior Minister María Paula Romo, this evidently exceeded redecorating the embassy with excrement—alas, we still don’t know whether it was Assange’s or someone else’s—refusing to bathe, and welcoming all manner of international riffraff to visit him. It also involved interfering in the “internal political matters in Ecuador,” as Romo told reporters in Quito. Assange and his organization, WikiLeaks, Romo said, have maintained ties to two Russian hackers living in Ecuador who worked with one of the country’s former foreign ministers, Ricardo Patiño, to destabilize the Moreno administration.

We don’t yet know whether Romo’s allegation is true (Patiño denied it) or simply a pretext for booting a nuisance from state property. But Assange’s ties to Russian hackers and Russian intelligence organs are now beyond dispute.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 cyberoperatives for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate for the General Staff (GRU) suggests that Assange was, at best, an unwitting accomplice to the GRU’s campaign to sway the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and allegedly even solicited the stolen Democratic correspondence from Russia’s military intelligence agency, which was masquerading as Guccifer 2.0. Assange repeatedly and viciously trafficked, on Twitter and on Fox News, in the thoroughly debunked claim that the correspondence might have been passed to him by the DNC staffer Seth Rich, who, Assange darkly suggested, was subsequently murdered by the Clintonistas as revenge for the presumed betrayal.

Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and, as an official in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, an indirect beneficiary of Assange’s meddling in American democracy, went so far as to describe WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” For those likening the outfit to legitimate news organizations, I’d submit that this is a shade more severe a description, especially coming from America’s former spymaster, than anything Trump has ever grumbled about The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Russian diplomats had concocted a plot, as recently as late 2017, to exfiltrate Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, according to The Guardian. “Four separate sources said the Kremlin was willing to offer support for the plan—including the possibility of allowing Assange to travel to Russia and live there. One of them said that an unidentified Russian businessman served as an intermediary in these discussions.” The plan was scuttled only because it was deemed too dangerous.

In 2015, Focus Ecuador reported that Assange had aroused suspicion among Ecuador’s own intelligence service, SENAIN, which spied on him in the embassy in a years-long operation. “In some instances, [Assange] requested that he be able to choose his own Security Service inside the embassy, even proposing the use of operators of Russian nationality,” the Ecuadorian journal noted, adding that SENAIN looked on such a proposal with something less than unmixed delight.

All of which is to say that Ecuador had ample reasons of its own to show Assange the door and was well within its sovereign rights to do so. He first sought refuge in the embassy after he jumped bail more than seven years ago to evade extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges brought by two women. Swedish prosecutors suspended their investigation in 2017 because they’d spent five years trying but failing to gain access to their suspect to question him. (That might now change, and so the lawyers for the claimants have just filed to reopen the cases.) But the British charges remained on the books throughout.

The Times of London leader writer Oliver Kamm has noted that quite apart from being a “victim of a suspension of due process,” Assange is “is a fugitive from it.” Yet to hear many febrile commentators tell it, his extradition was simply a matter of one sinister prime minister cackling down the phone to another, with the CIA nodding approvingly in the background, as an international plot unfurled to silence a courageous speaker of truth to power. Worse than that, Assange and his ever-dwindling claque of apologists spent years in the pre-#MeToo era suggesting, without evidence, that the women who accused him of being a sex pest were actually American agents in disguise, and that Britain was simply doing its duty as a hireling of the American empire in staking out his diplomatic digs with a net.

As it happens, a rather lengthy series of U.K. court cases and Assange appeals, leading all the way up to the Supreme Court, determined Assange’s status in Britain.

The New Statesman’s legal correspondent, David Allen Green, expended quite a lot of energy back in 2012 swatting down every unfounded assertion and conspiracy theory for why Assange could not stand before his accusers in Scandinavia without being instantly rendered to Guantanamo Bay. Ironically, as Green noted, going to Stockholm would make it harder for Assange to be sent on to Washington because “any extradition from Sweden … would require the consent of both Sweden and the United Kingdom” instead of just the latter country. Nevertheless, Assange ran and hid and self-pityingly professed himself a “political prisoner.”

Everything about this Bakunin of bullshit and his self-constructed plight has belonged to the theater of the absurd. I suppose it’s only fair that absurdity dominates the discussion now about a newly unsealed U.S. indictment of Assange. According to Britain’s Home Office, the Metropolitan Police arrested Assange for skipping bail, and then, when he arrived at the police station, he was further arrested “in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States.”

The operative word here is provisional, because that request has yet to be wrung through the same domestic legal protocols as Sweden’s. Assange will have all the same rights he was accorded when he tried to beat his first extradition rap in 2010. At Assange’s hearing, the judge dismissed his claims of persecution by calling him “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.” Neither can his supporters.

A “dark moment for press freedom,” tweeted the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden from his security in press-friendly Moscow. “It’s the criminalization of journalism by the Trump Justice Department and the gravest threat to press freedom, by far, under the Trump presidency,” intoned The Intercept’s founding editor Glenn Greenwald who, like Assange, has had that rare historical distinction of having once corresponded with the GRU for an exclusive.

These people make it seem as if Assange is being sought by the Eastern District of Virginia for publishing American state secrets rather than for allegedly conniving to steal them.

The indictment makes intelligible why a grand jury has charged him. Beginning in January 2010, Chelsea Manning began passing to WikiLeaks (and Assange personally) classified documents obtained from U.S. government servers. These included files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. State Department cables. But Manning ran into difficulties getting more documents, owing to the limitations of her modest security clearance.

At this point, Assange allegedly morphed from being a recipient and publisher of classified documents into an agent of their illicit retrieval. “On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist [Chelsea] Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Networks, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications,” according to the indictment.

Assange allegedly attempted to help Manning do this using a username that was not hers in an effort to cover her virtual tracks. In other words, the U.S. accuses him of instructing her to hack the Pentagon, and offering to help. This is not an undertaking any working journalist should attempt without knowing that the immediate consequence will be the loss of his job, his reputation, and his freedom at the hands of the FBI.

I might further direct you to Assange’s own unique brand of journalism, when he could still be said to be practicing it. Releasing U.S. diplomatic communiqués that named foreigners living in conflict zones or authoritarian states and liaising with American officials was always going to require thorough vetting and redaction, lest those foreigners be put in harm’s way. Assange did not care—he wanted their names published, according to Luke Harding and David Leigh in WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. As they recount the story, when Guardian journalists working with WikiLeaks to disseminate its tranche of U.S. secrets tried to explain to Assange why it was morally reprehensible to publish the names of Afghans working with American troops, Assange replied: “Well, they’re informants. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.” (Assange denied the account; the names, in the end, were not published.)

James Ball, a former staffer at WikiLeaks—who argues against Assange’s indictment in these pages—has also remarked on Assange’s curious relationship with a notorious Holocaust denier named Israel Shamir:

Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers—myself included—when he asked for access to all cable material concerning ‘the Jews,’ a request which was refused.

Shamir soon turned up in Moscow where, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, he was offering to write articles based on these cables for $10,000 a pop. Then he traveled to Minsk, where he reportedly handed over a cache of unredacted cables on Belarus to functionaries for Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship, whose dissident-torturing secret police is still conveniently known as the KGB.

Fish and guests might begin to stink after three days, but Assange has reeked from long before he stepped foot in his hideaway cubby across from Harrods. He has put innocent people’s lives in danger; he has defamed and tormented a poor family whose son was murdered; he has seemingly colluded with foreign regimes not simply to out American crimes but to help them carry off their own; and he otherwise made that honorable word transparency in as much of a need of delousing as he is.

Yet none of these vices has landed him in the dock. If he is innocent of hacking U.S. government systems—or can offer a valid public-interest defense for the hacking—then let him have his day in court, first in Britain and then in America. But don’t continue to fall for his phony pleas for sympathy, his megalomania, and his promiscuity with the facts. Julian Assange got what he deserved.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner, said Julian Assange could expose a “plot” involving Ukraine to falsely accuse Trump of colluding with Russia.

The WikiLeaks publisher was arrested Thursday in London and urged resistance to the “Trump administration” as he was dragged out of Ecuador’s embassy to face extradition.

Assange helped elect Trump with 2016 dumps of damaging Democratic emails allegedly hacked by Russia. He was charged with a single count of computer-hacking conspiracy relating to Chelsea Manning’s 2010 leaks of military and diplomatic secrets.

Trump distanced himself from the case, but Giuliani said Assange’s apprehension — after nearly seven years in the embassy — could benefit the president, who was recently exonerated of criminal collusion with Russia by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Maybe it will shed light on the plot to create an investigation of President Trump based on a false charge of conspiracy with the Russians to affect the 2016 elections. Keep your eye on Ukraine,” Giuliani said. “It’s possible with all his sources he might know or have information of how it all started.”

Giuliani specified that he was talking about Assange exposing the origins of the federal investigation of possible Trump collusion with Russia and was not raising the possibility of Assange disproving that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Giuliani said he believed Assange may be able to “show who invented [the] false story that [Trump] colluded with Russians.”

Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, said he was “not sure yet” if Assange helping exonerate Trump would lighten his possible criminal penalties.

In a report submitted March 22, Mueller found no evidence of Trump criminally colluding with Russia, according to Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings. Barr said Tuesday that he expected to release a redacted version of Mueller’s report within a week.

Assange is accused of conspiring to hack a U.S. government computer system. He allegedly communicated with Manning about cracking a password, though charging documents did not make clear if any records were accessed as a result. The charge carries up to five years in prison.

Following Assange’s arrest, experts raised the possibility that Assange would seek to “graymail” the Trump administration into dropping charges, meaning threaten to expose secrets — whether true or not — in an effort to nix the prosecution.

There are some unresolved Russia-related claims that could damage Trump, including former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s claim he overheard a July 2016 phone call in which adviser Roger Stone told Trump that he spoke with Assange, who intended to release hacked emails. Mueller’s team also focused on author Jerome Corsi, finding it implausible that he “predicted” in July 2016 that Assange had Podesta’s emails and would release them in October.

Giuliani answered with a firm “no” when asked if Assange’s arrest could put Trump in new legal jeopardy in relation to the 2016 email releases.

Although candidate Trump routinely reveled in WikiLeaks’s disclosures about Hillary Clinton, Trump as president has consistently professed ignorance about Assange and efforts to broker a pardon on his behalf. Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., tried in vain to speak with Trump about a pardon for Assange, and on Thursday Trump claimed he knew “nothing” about either Assange or the WikiLeaks organization.

The last time a Democrat won an open Senate seat in Arizona, he was helped along by a GOP candidate who never recovered from a campaign misstep in which he “shot a burro in the ass,” as the winning candidate’s campaign manager memorably put it recently. That candidate, Dennis DeConcini, was last elected in 1988. He retired after that term.

So how will liberal activists reward Kyrsten Sinema for becoming the first Democratic senator from Arizona since DeConcini? If Fight for the Future, a net neutrality pressure group, has its way, thanks will come in the form of a giant billboard “at one of the busiest intersections in Phoenix” calling Sinema “corrupt” and in the pocket of “corporate donors.” Her infraction is to be the only Democrat not to sign on to a net neutrality bill and instead to work with Republicans to craft a bipartisan bill that stands a chance of passing.

In this political climate, bipartisan cooperation is an unforgivable sin, and Sinema is repeatedly guilty of it.

Arizona has a new maverick.

Sinema, 42, has a compelling personal story that’s unique in one way: It informs her centrism, rather than serving as a platform for radicalism. By the time Sinema was 5, her middle-class Tuscon family was fracturing, her father mired in debt. He and her mother divorced, and Sinema was put into poverty. For a time, her Florida home was an old, remodeled gas station. “She’s a survivor,” former Democratic caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., said in 2015. “I think she’s smart about how she does it. I think a lot of people underestimate her.” The comment rings prophetic; in 2018, Crowley lost his own reelection bid against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the phenom freshman. In the same year, Sinema turned one of Arizona’s Senate seats blue for the first time in three decades.

[ Related: Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally have one thing they agree on: They hate each other]

During that winning campaign, she emphasized her credibility as a independent Democrat rather than a party hack. Asked by an Arizona radio station if she considered herself a “proud Democrat,” she responded: “Gosh, it’s hard to say proud. I don’t know that — I’m not sure that people are even proud of parties anymore, because I feel like the parties are not doing a good job. So I would say that I’m a proud Arizonan. That’s something I’m very proud of. And I’m proud of the work that I have done in Washington, D.C., and the work I’ve done in the state Senate and the statehouse before going to Congress. But I’m not particularly proud of the parties.”

Sinema was, according to the Arizona Republic, one of two members of the state’s Democratic House delegation who “sided with President Donald Trump’s agenda more in the past three months than most Republicans in the state’s House delegation.” But those three months weren’t much of an outlier for Sinema. In 2015, she opposed President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. She didn’t buy into the aggressive selling point that the only alternative to it was war. “I think it’s hyperbole and I think it’s not necessarily true,” Sinema told the Huffington Post. “It’s possible that if the deal didn’t go through, war could be one option and it could become more likely. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have options in front of us. I’m frustrated by these false dichotomies.”

Sinema also is a dissenter from left-wing orthodoxy on big banks. When, as senator-elect, she was given a spot on the Senate Banking Committee, the Washington Examiner wrote, “Sinema was long a friend of big banks in the House, and the committee appointment represents the return on a well-made investment. … During her Senate race against Republican Rep. Martha McSally, Sinema was in the top 20 of recipients of campaign contributions from both the banking and the finance sectors.Washington Examiner Commentary Editor Timothy P. Carney explained: “Sinema fought for the realtors and against Arizona’s taxpayers (disdain for whom she has repeatedly shown). Those efforts may explain why the realtors have spent $34,000 on ads supporting her Senate bid — the most they’ve spent on any Senate race this fall. In the House, one of Sinema’s core crusades was saving and expanding the Export-Import Bank. … Ex-Im is a corporate welfare agency that extends taxpayer-backed financing to foreign buyers of U.S. goods.”

[ Also read: Sinema forging paid leave plan deal with GOP]

And then there’s the issue that’s always a touchstone for Arizonans, immigration. In the House, Sinema had voted for legislation that would impose stiffer penalties on undocumented immigrants who reenter after being deported, as well as forcing immigrants who seek a healthcare tax credit to verify their status with the government first. Sinema took a harder line on asylum-seekers and, in October, backed Trump’s call to station more military personnel on the border with Mexico.

One advantage, according to Democratic campaign strategist Brad Todd, is that “she has been everything from a socialist anti-war protester to a vote against Nancy Pelosi, depending on what advanced her most in the moment.” Todd told the Washington Examiner that this worked especially well in 2018 because “Arizona’s Democratic talent bench was short and its base desperate for victory.”

Her Senate victory over McSally, who was later appointed to fill the seat of the original “maverick,” the late Republican Sen. John McCain, seemed only to reinforce her independent streak. In addition to her net neutrality sacrilege, Sinema is joining Republican colleagues to address paid family leave. According to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who is leading the effort, Sinema was the first to cross the aisle on it, making it “the first bill that is bipartisan” on the issue. The plan, Cassidy told the Washington Examiner in early April, is likely to involve Social Security, perhaps allowing people to take benefits earlier to pay for family leave in return for delaying retirement.

Sinema signed on to an effort led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to get the Commerce Department to release a classified report on auto tariffs and national security. She took heat from pro-abortion groups for supporting one of Trump’s judges, Arizona District Court nominee Michael Liburdi, in February. She was also one of only three Democrats to back the confirmation of Attorney General William Barr. She defended her vote in a statement: “As Arizona’s senior Senator, I will evaluate every presidential nominee based on whether he or she is professionally qualified, believes in the mission of his or her agency, and can be trusted to faithfully execute and uphold the law as it exists. After meeting with Mr. Barr and thoughtfully considering his nomination, I believe Mr. Barr meets this criteria.”

Perhaps most significant, however, was Sinema’s reaction to the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Omar is one of the members of the “Squad,” most notably the freshman trio of Omar, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ocasio-Cortez, who has turned her social media fame and grassroots devotion into an ability to set congressional Democrats’ priorities. An example is her climate boondoggle, the Green New Deal. It’s opposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but that didn’t stop Democratic presidential hopefuls from signing on to it. This tension really came to a head over Israel, however.

Omar has repeatedly accused American Jews of dual loyalty. On one occasion, she claimed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, was paying off politicians to put Israel’s welfare before America’s. Tlaib had made similar dual-loyalty insinuations. Ocasio-Cortez stood by her colleagues, and when Pelosi tried to pass a resolution criticizing Omar’s anti-Semitism, Ocasio-Cortez and the grassroots led a revolt and won. The resolution was broadened far beyond anti-Semitism, and the final version was aimed at white nationalists more than anyone else. In March, the pro-Israel lobbying group held its annual conference, and Omar pushed Democrats to avoid it.

What was Sinema’s reaction to all this? The day of Omar’s tweet about the group, Sinema was at its regional dinner. The next morning, she tweeted: “Our support for a secure Israel as a beacon of democracy must remain unwavering. Proud to speak at @AIPAC‘s Phoenix dinner last night about strengthening and deepening this alliance.” She also spoke at the group’s national conference on March 25.

With Democrats increasingly souring on the alliance with Israel, Sinema is determined to stand athwart history shouting “Stop.”

Is her maverick status sustainable, or will pressure to conform amid increasing polarization be too strong? “My guess is if she’s going to have a primary challenge,” Brad Bannon, president of the D.C.-based Bannon Communications Research, told the Washington Examiner, “it’ll be more likely she gets a primary challenge from a Latino, because of the demography of the state, more than an ideological challenge.” Bannon says, “Politics is very much a function of the state you represent.” And Sinema “represents a state that is about as closely divided, in partisan terms, as you can get.”

Perhaps being a maverick in the McCain mold is the way to survive in Arizona statewide politics. For Sinema, that required transcending her reputation for radical anti-war politicking in the early 2000s. She was up to the task. “Few blue state politicians have the range to pull off that transformation, or the electoral room to pull it off,” says Todd. More Democrats, Todd told the Washington Examiner, should be taking notes: “I have been surprised [Alabama Sen.] Doug Jones has not tried it. Or that [former Missouri Sen.] Claire McCaskill didn’t try it.”

Despite the heat Sinema is taking from her left flank, Bannon thinks Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other party floor leaders will happily shrug off left-wing complaints: “My guess is Chuck Schumer doesn’t care. He’s trying to assemble a Democratic Senate majority, and in order to do that, he’s going to accommodate Kyrsten Sinema and other Democrats like her who may be running for either open seats or GOP seats in 2020.” Party leaders understand reality, Bannon told the Washington Examiner, and “the reality is, you can have a caucus that is monolithically liberal or monolithically conservative, but you can’t have a monolithic caucus if you’re in the majority.”

For that reason, Bannon says, “they’re willing to accommodate mavericks like Kyrsten Sinema.”

Seth Mandel is executive editor of the Washington Examiner magazine.


[There are no radio stations in the database]