Federal Judge Rules U.S.-Born ‘ISIS Bride’ Not an American Citizen, U.S. Not Required to Repatriate Her
A federal judge ruled Thursday that 25-year-old Hoda Muthana, who lived in Alabama but left the U.S. in 2014 to join ISIS, is not an American citizen and therefore the country is not required to repatriate her.
Muthana is the daughter of Yemen’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Ahmed Ali Muthana. Judge Reggie Walton ruled that because Hoda was born while Ahmed Ali still had diplomatic status, Hoda could not be considered a U.S. citizen. Ahmed Ali has since become a naturalized citizen.
In addition, Walton ruled that Ahmed Ali cannot provide financial aid to his daughter, who escaped from ISIS to a Kurdish refugee camp in 2018. Hoda Muthana has a son, Adam, who was born in ISIS territory.
U.S. law prevents the children of foreign diplomats from receiving American citizenship by birthright. Lawyers for Muthana’s family had claimed Ahmed Ali’s diplomatic status expired two months before Hoda’s birth in New Jersey, a claim apparently rejected by Judge Walton.
Muthana had previously said in an interview that she wished to return to the U.S.
“I want my son to be around my family, I want to go to school, I want to have a job and I want to have my own car,” she said in an interview with NBC.
The woman had previously called on jihadists in the U.S. to “go on drivebys, and spill all of their blood.”
“Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were,” Muthana told NBC.
President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have previously expressed opposition to authorizing Muthana’s return.
“I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Trump wrote on Twitter in February of this year.
WASHINGTON – During a TV interview to react to the Saugus High School shooting in California that left at least two dead and multiple people injured, President Bill Clinton said President Donald Trump needs to work with Congress on gun control legislation, even in the face of the current impeachment inquiry, and „do what’s right for the children.”
“What would your message to President Trump be about when he says, ‘I can’t work with these people, they’re impeaching me?’” CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Clinton.
“You got hired to do a job. You don’t get the days back you blow off,” Clinton said his message to Trump would be. “Every day’s an opportunity to make something good happen. I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling the impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it. Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.'”
The former president was reacting to a clip of Attorney General Bill Barr saying Wednesday, the first day of the public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, that „discussions on the legislative aspects” of gun control „have been sidetracked because of the impeachment process on the Hill.”
“Look at how much we got done in 1998 and 1999,” Clinton said, referring to the years he faced his own impeachment inquiry, and called blaming the inquiry an „excuse.”
Previously, Trump had voiced some support for background checks after back-to-back mass shootings this summer in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas left 31 people dead.
Since then, no gun control legislation has passed, and Trump has backed away from supporting legislation such as enhanced background checks for firearm purchases.
Clinton expressed that he believes Trump was pulled back from such measures by the gun lobby who „got a hold of him.”
„But at some point, denial is no longer an option. The Congress is basically in denial of the consequences of doing nothing, or at least the people who are opposed to it,” he continued.
Clinton was the last president to have signed major gun control legislation, signing off on the assault weapons ban in 1994 that has since expired.
The Democratic-led House has passed stricter gun measures, but so far, the Republican-controlled Senate has not moved to support such laws.
Clinton insisted that the American public is much more supportive of gun control laws from when he passed the 1994 legislation and that politicians are less likely to face electoral consequences as they did in the 1990s when Democrats lost the majority. He stated, „It’s not that way anymore. It’s now a voting issue for the people that agree with us.”
“If you’re just worried about the naked politics, it’s at least a wash,” Clinton said, reiterating his support for reinstating an assault weapons ban, or at least a clean background check law grounded in modern technology. „People should instead do what’s right for the children.”
Contributing: Nicholas Wu
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bill Clinton calls out Trump after school shooting for refusal to work with Congress during impeachment
George Conway, a conservative lawyer and outspoken Trump critic, appeared on MSNBC as a guest analyst during Thursday’s hearings.
While introducing a clip of George Conway, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer told Kellyanne Conway he wanted to ask her a “sensitive” political question.
“I don’t want to talk about your marriage,” Blitzer said. “I know there are issues there.”
Kellyanne Conway was taken aback.
“What did you just say?” she asked. “Did you just say there are issues there?”
Blitzer repeated that he did not want to discuss her marriage, that he just wanted her to respond to the “substance” of her husband’s criticism.
“He’s a legal scholar,” Blitzer said, an assertion that also seemed to catch her off-guard. “He happens to be married to you.”
“He happens to be married to me? That’s bizarre,” Kellyanne Conway said.
Eventually, Blitzer played the clip of George Conway, who strongly criticized the Trump administration’s repeated asks for Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 presidential candidate.
“The problem with Donald Trump is he always sees himself first. Trump is all about Trump. And that’s why it was inevitable he’d get himself into this,” George Conway said in the MSNBC clip. “That’s what this is all about. He was using the power of the presidency in its most unchecked area — foreign affairs — to advance his own personal interests as opposed to the country’s.”
Kellyanne Conway refused to engage with her husband’s analysis, saying only, “That is his opinion.”
But she had plenty to say about Blitzer’s decision to ask her about it.
“Where is the shame?” Kellyanne Conway said. “What you just quoted is said every single day by other voices, but you wanted to put it in my husband’s voice because you think somehow that that will help your ratings or that you’re really sticking it to Kellyanne Conway.
“And let me make very clear. You didn’t stick it to Kellyanne Conway,” she continued. “I think you embarrassed yourself, and I’m embarrassed for you.”
She added: “I looked up to you when I was in college and law school, I would turn on CNN to see what Wolf Blitzer had to say about war, famine, disruption abroad. I really respected you for all those years as somebody who would give us the news, and now the news is what somebody’s husband says on a different network.”
George Conway has emerged as a persistent Trump critic, frequently using his Twitter feed and penning newspaper op-eds to draw attention to what he calls the president’s malignant narcissism.
In March, for instance, he questioned Trump’s mental health, posting sections of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to his Twitter feed.
Trump, in return, called George Conway “a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”
In July, amid the firestorm over Trump’s comments about the self-proclaimed “Squad” of freshman Democratic congresswomen of color, George Conway called Trump a “racist president.”
(Bloomberg) — For the second time in less than a week President Donald Trump said he’ll go to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal court rulings threatening to expose his tax records.
An 11-judge panel of the appeals court in Washington on Wednesday left intact a ruling that lets House Democrats demand records from Trump’s accountants at Mazars USA LLP. Three of the judges said they would have reconsidered the ruling.
“In light of the well-reasoned dissent, we will seek review at the Supreme Court,“ Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement. Sekulow said separately that Trump will file an emergency request on Friday asking the Supreme Court to block the subpoena while the justices consider whether to take up the appeal.
Congress issued the subpoena to Mazars in April as part of an investigation of whether to change ethics-in-government laws. Trump sued to block it, saying the House Oversight and Reform Committee had no legitimate legislative reason to seek his records. Trump’s last recourse now is to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a 2-1 decision in October, the appeals court panel called the House subpoena “a valid exercise of the legislative oversight authority because it seeks information important to determining the fitness of legislation to address potential problems within the Executive Branch and the electoral system.”
Last week Trump’s lawyers told a judge they’ll ask the Supreme Court to block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney seeking his tax filings and other financial records in a grand jury investigation. They’re due to file their request for consideration at the top court Thursday.
The federal appeals court in New York rejected Trump’s claim that he has broad immunity from criminal investigation. The panel ruled 3-0 that Trump can’t block the subpoena.
Read More: Trump Records Must Be Given to the House, Appeals Court Says
(Adds in third paragraph that Trump will seek Supreme Court stay on Friday)
–With assistance from Jordan Fabian and Greg Stohr.
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To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at email@example.com, Laurie Asséo
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A second U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a cellphone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing a need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations,” The Associated Press has learned.
The July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland was first described during testimony Wednesday by William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Taylor said one of his staffers overhead the call while Sondland was in a Kyiv restaurant the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that triggered the House impeachment inquiry.
The second diplomatic staffer also at the table was Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv. A person briefed on what Jayanti overheard spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter currently under investigation.
The accounts of the two embassy staffers could tie Trump closer to alleged efforts to hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings. In defending Trump on Wednesday, Republicans repeatedly highlighted that Taylor never directly heard the president direct anyone to demand that the Ukrainians open the probe.
Trump on Wednesday said he did not recall the July 26 call with Sondland.
“No, not at all, not even a little bit,” Trump said.
The White House did not respond to questions Thursday about the second witness to the call with Sondland.
The staffer Taylor testified about is David Holmes, the political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Holmes is scheduled to testify Friday before House investigators in a closed session.
Taylor was one of the first witnesses called Wednesday during the impeachment inquiry’s initial open hearing. He testified that his staffer could hear Trump on the phone asking Sondland about “the investigations.”
Later that day, a Twitter account that appears to belong to Ukraine’s then-Defense Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk posted a photo of himself at dinner with Sondland, Taylor and Ambassador Kurt Volker, who was then Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine for peace negotiations.
Since 2014, the Ukrainian government has been battling Russian-backed separatists in the country’s eastern region, and the continuation of U.S. military aid is crucial to its defense. Whether Trump directed nearly $400 million in aid to be withheld to force the Ukrainians to open investigations into Democrats is a key question of the impeachment inquiry.
Current and former U.S. officials say Sondland’s use of a cellphone in a public place in Ukraine to speak with anyone in the U.S. government back home about sensitive matters, let alone the president, would be a significant breach of communications security.
Jayanti is an attorney who joined the State Department in 2012 and was previously posted at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. She has been stationed since September 2018 at the embassy in Kyiv where she helps coordinate U.S. business interests with the former Soviet republic’s energy industry.
Jayanti was in Washington last month and scheduled for a closed-door interview with impeachment investigators. But the deposition was canceled because of the funeral for former House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings and has not yet been rescheduled.
Holmes, a career diplomat, joined the Foreign Service in 2002 and has served in Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Kosovo and Russia as well as on the White House National Security Council staff. He won an award for constructive dissent from the American Foreign Service Association in 2014 for complaining about problems that an alternate diplomatic channel had caused in South Asia and recommending organizational changes to the State Department’s bureaucratic structure for the region.
U.S. diplomats and other government employees are instructed not to use cellphones for sensitive official matters while traveling anywhere abroad and notably in countries known to be targeted for surveillance by intelligence agencies such as Russia, China and Israel.
Ukraine has long been among the countries of concern, particularly since a 2014 incident in which the U.S. accused Russian intelligence of eavesdropping on and then leaking a recording of a conversation between two senior U.S. officials in Kyiv that led to great embarrassment and strains between the U.S. and its European allies.
In that recording, then-Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland is heard telling former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoff Pyatt “F-ck the EU,” because of the European Union’s slowness to respond to the political crisis in the country.
“That phone call was also a mistake the way it was conducted and it had huge implications for our foreign policy,” said Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who is now at Stanford University. “Particularly after that, anybody should understand how dangerous it is to make an unsecured call in Kyiv, or anywhere else for that matter.”
“Obviously, making a phone call from Kyiv to the president of the United States means that not just the Russian intelligence services will be on the call, but a whole lot of other people, too,” McFaul said. “If it was that important, he (Sondland) could have easily gotten up from the restaurant, gone to the embassy and made a secure call through the White House operations center.”
Steven Pifer, who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, said he always assumed his cellphone calls were being monitored and would not discuss anything sensitive unless he was on a secure phone at the embassy or his residence.
“Any unsecure call is vulnerable, but there’s a special risk if it’s the president’s number on your phone,” Pifer said. “You have to know everyone is going to be interested in it and not just the Russians.”
In a closed-door hearing last month, former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill said she was concerned that Sondland posed a counterintelligence risk, according to a transcript released by the House. Hill cited a Sondland habit of giving out personal cellphone numbers — hers and national security adviser John Bolton’s as well as his own — and his failure to get appropriately briefed ahead of meetings.
“So he was often meeting with people he had no information about,” said Hill, who served as the senior director for Russia at the National Security Council. “It’s like basically driving along with no guardrails and no GPS on an unfamiliar territory.”
She said Sondland was meeting with foreign officials “that we had derogatory information on that he shouldn’t have been meeting with” or he was giving out his phone number or texting foreign officials. “All of those communications could have been exfiltrated by the Russians very easily,” she said.
Hill said officials from Europe would literally appear at the gates of the White House and call her personal phone, which was kept in a lockbox. She said she’d later find messages from irate officials who’d been told by Sondland that they were supposed to meet with her.
She said she found it deeply concerning and asked for someone from the Intelligence Bureau to “sit down with him and explain that this was a counterintelligence risk.”
Associated Press writers Lynn Berry and Jill Colvin contributed from Washington.
Can Hong Kong protests end peacefully?
“The 360” shows you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.
Protesters in Hong Kong have been clashing with police for several months, but a violent series of events in recent days has brought one of the world’s most important financial centers to the “brink of total collapse,” police said.
On Monday morning, a protester was shot at close range by a traffic officer during a scuffle at a blocked intersection. Later that day, a 57-year-old man was set on fire after getting into an argument with demonstrators. The campus of China University Hong Kong turned into a battleground, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at students who lobbed Molotov cocktails from behind makeshift barricades.
At the core of the conflict is how much control the Chinese government can impose upon residents of Hong Kong. The small territory, home to more than 7 million people, was transferred from British to Chinese control in 1997. As part of the handover, Beijing agreed to allow Hong Kong a certain level of independence for 50 years as part of an arrangement called “one country, two systems.”
The protests started in June in response to a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to the mainland, which was seen by locals as a violation of the two-systems arrangement. That bill was withdrawn in September, but the unrest has continued. Protesters are now demanding more independence for Hong Kong, including the right to elect their own representatives. Beijing currently wields heavy influence in the selection of Hong Kong’s leadership.
Why there’s debate
Conflict in the streets has in some ways become a new normal for residents of Hong Kong, raising questions about how the unrest could possibly come to an end. Protesters appear determined to carry on indefinitely unless their demands are met. The Chinese government recently expressed an intention to ramp up enforcement, rather than de-escalate.
The prolonged friction and increasingly violent clashes have raised fears that Beijing might send mainland troops into Hong Kong in a deadly crackdown reminiscent of the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, when the military killed hundreds — or possibly thousands — of student protesters.
A US citizen and military veteran suffering from a mental health condition will reportedly receive $190,000 (£147,988) from a Michigan city after local officials transferred him to ICE detention following an arrest last year.
Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a decorated Marine veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was arrested while experiencing an episode in which he lost all recollection, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Police found the veteran, who was born and raised in Michigan, on the helipad of a hospital after he started a small fire and pulled an alarm, according to reports.
Mr Ramos-Gomez was set to be released from jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanour trespassing charge, but was instead turned over to ICE by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, which reportedly has a contract with the federal immigration enforcement agency.
“The fact that he has the name that he does, that he’s of the ethnic background that he is, almost certainly played a role,” Miriam Aukerman, a senior attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, told CNN.
Mr Ramos-Gomez was held for at least three days in ICE custody before he was released.
A judge previously said he should be released on his own recognisance from the local jail, however, and there was no seemingly reason for him to have ever interacted with ICE as he is a US citizen.
„I think it’s racial stereotyping,” immigration attorney Richard Kessler told the Washington Post. „And it should have been evident that he had pretty significant mental-health issues.”
ICE attempted to defend the US citizen’s detention in a statement that said Mr Ramos-Gomez “claimed in verbal statements to be a foreign national illegally present in the US”.
The statement continued: “Based on his statements, ICE lodged a detainer with local authorities.”
The ACLU said Mr Ramos-Gomez returned from Afghanistan as a “shell of his former self” and has suffered multiple “episodes where he disappears”.
On Tuesday, the Grand Rapids City Commission voted to approve the settlement for the veteran.
Still, advocates are calling for the city to sever its ties with ICE, as ACLU demands an investigation into the case.
„Research has shown conclusively that local law enforcement’s collaboration with ICE increases instances of racial profiling, and sows distrust between the community and law enforcement,” immigration activists wrote in a letter to local officials, according to CNN. „This voluntary practice can be stopped at any time. The time to do so is now.”
City To Pay American War Veteran $190K After He Was Detained by ICE
A Marine combat veteran who was wrongly held for potential deportation for three days after a Michigan police captain reported him to federal immigration officials will be paid $190,000 by the city over the incident.
The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday approved the settlement with Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, 28, who was held late last year at a detention center after he was suspected of being an undocumented immigrant, despite the fact that he was carrying his U.S. passport at the time and that he was born in Michigan.
Ramos-Gomez, who had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, was released after his personal records were provided to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
The incident came after Ramos-Gomez was booked into the Kent County jail on Nov. 21, accused of trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at the Grand Rapids hospital. He pleaded guilty and was slated for release on Dec. 14 when ICE asked the jail to keep him locked up. He was then transported to a detention center and held for possible deportation.
Grand Rapids Police Capt. Curtis VanderKooi, who the ACLU said flagged Ramos-Gomez to ICE after hearing about his arrest on the news, was found to have violated department policy and served a 20-hour, unpaid suspension, Michigan Live reported.
The ACLU, which has accused VanderKooi of committing racial profiling, filed civil rights complaints against the Grand Rapids Police Department with the Michigan Immigration Rights Center in April.
The Grand Rapids Police Department in August said it would no longer check a person’s immigration status unless it is relevant to the case. Such requests to ICE would also require approval by the police chief’s office, Michigan Radio reported.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.