US man arrested for killing his 5 babies few months after birth

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An American man has been arrested and charged with the cold-case slayings of five babies, all his own and none of them older than 6 months.

Paul Perez, 57, is accused of killing the babies from 1992 to 2001, and he was charged with five counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances that could make him eligible for capital punishment, officials said.

He was arrested on Monday after new DNA technology helped investigators reopen a cold case from 2007, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Thanks to new DNA technology, authorities were able to identify a deceased infant found by a fisherman in March 2007 in a sealed container weighed down with “heavy objects” as Nikko Lee Perez, authorities said.

The identification of Nikko finally came in October 2019, and led investigators to discover that Nikko had four siblings, who were all also killed when they were less than six months old, the sheriff’s office said.

The siblings, all born in California, were identified as Kato Allen Perez, born in 1992 and known to be deceased; Mika Alena Perez, born in 1995; Nikko Lee Perez, born in 1997; and Kato Krow Perez, born in 2001. The remains of the last three infants are still unknown, People reports.

Perez has been identified as the father of all five children, but it is still unclear whether they have the same mother, authorities said.

“While I am proud of the efforts of my investigators and coroner’s office, this is not a day that will bring joy to any one of us,” Sheriff Tom Lopez said in a statement.

“In my 40 years in law enforcement, I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one,” Lopez added. “There can be no victim more vulnerable and innocent than an infant, and unfortunately this case involves five.”

“The allegations announced today are heartbreaking. There is absolutely no place in our society for horrendous crimes against children,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Follow us on Facebook – @Lailasnews; Twitter – @LailaIjeoma for updates

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Apostle Who Predicted Pastor Adeboye’s Death Reveals Fresh Prophecy On Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Apostle Paul Okikijesu of the Christ Apostolic Miracle Ministry has revealed what God told him about President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a series of 2020 prophecy he released to DAILY POST on Saturday, he said God has asked Buhari not to rely solely on his wisdom.

He said Buhari must have a meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers in order for his government to be meaningful.

He said, “Thus says the Lord: Tell the President of this country to seek advice from those that I established as my ambassador and representatives that are telling the truth, and not the gluttons.

“The gluttons did not allow Buhari to listen to the truth and he did not count Christianity as something valuable, because the acts/behaviors of Christian leaders are different from what he thought.

“He should think deeply concerning his administration because the messages which I sent to him, he carried out some of my instructions and left the rest, that was the reason that his tenure was in this precarious state.

“Send these messages to him the third time that I want the fear of I the Lord in the heart of this man, and he should not see himself as the president. He should realize that God alone is the President of the world.

“Thus says the Lord: I have sent these messages to him in the past to give these three arms of the government the power to work effectively.

“These arms of the government are the executive, the judiciary and the law enforcement.

“This judicial arm includes the human rights advocates and I instructed him to give them free hand to operate; these are the things which I requested from him, and this is what can make his regime to be meaningful.

“I send this message to him the second time that he should invite the ex-presidents, and he must not commonize anyone if he wants his government to be peaceful.

“According to My previous messages, he complied partly but not fully. I instructed him to invite and have meeting with the banking sector, stock exchange sector, the oil and gas sector and the foreign exchange sector for the growth of the nation.

“He should then present the outcome of the meetings to the spiritual people for advice.

Thus says the Lord; remember that those I installed as rulers during the ancient period did not use only their wisdom, but they asked for direction from I the Lord.

“It is when he calls these people that his regime will be meaningful and he will have a successful tenure. If he uses power to do things, some people will be sabotaging his government.

“The executive that I said are the ex-presidents, he should call them and have meeting with them; then get the opinions/advice of the people in his administration separately.

“It is the wisdom derived from these meetings that will cause growth/development in Nigeria. He must have meeting with the business community including the expatriates, these are the steps that will make the economy of Nigeria to rise and grow.

“He should have meeting with ex-ministers, ex-senators, ex-presidents, and ex-governors, the outcome of the meeting will have positive effect on the economy and restore the economy to a buoyant position.

“He should have a meeting with judicial personnel, including the attorney general to find way that will make the law of the country to be effective.

“If Buhari can take these steps and have meeting with religious leaders, including his religious advisers, his government will be meaningful for good.

“Thus says the Lord; Buhari should have meeting with ex-party leaders and the current party leaders concerning the issues of Nigeria and how she can progress.

“These steps are the things that can make him to be successful and prolong his life, so that I will halt the judgment hand that I intend to use in year 2020.”

In his last prophecy, Okikijesu had declared that God told him that Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG; Pastor W.F Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church and Bishop Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, will die soon and would not make heaven. 

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Sanwo-Olu frees inmates, commuted 3 on death row | P.M. News

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Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Christmas Day signed two Executive Orders, with one setting free six inmates at different prisons.

Sanwo-Olu’s Media Aide, Gboyega Akosile, said in a statement that the governor also commuted death sentences of three convicted inmates to life imprisonment.

The two Orders – Executive Commutation of Death Sentence Order and Executive Grant of Clemency Order – signed by the governor were both expected to take immediate effect.

Speaking on the two orders at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said Nigerians should return to God with hearts of gratitude for His protection over the country and Lagos State.

He said that in spite of the numerous challenges facing the nation, it kept growing stronger.

Sanwo-Olu said that the Christmas period was a season of reflection, blessings and gifts.

”As a nation and as a state, it is only appropriate for us to count our blessings and reflect on those things that have happened to us in the course of the year and how we can improve them and be better citizens.

”For us as a state, it is also a season of giving back, so I have also signed a small release of some convicts that we have in the various prisons.

”People who have been given death sentences have been reduced to life sentences and some who have been jailed for minor offences have also been given warning and have asked for them to be pardoned,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu urged Lagos residents to continue to be law-abiding and do things in moderation.

”I want to send out a message to Lagosians that this is a season of peace. Let us live peacefully and do things in moderation.

”Let us understand that even while we are celebrating, we must do it with modesty and with a lot of decorum. Let us all remain peaceful, law-abiding and humble,” he said.

The Lagos State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy in the performance of its statutory functions, under the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy Law 2015, considered applications from convicted inmates.

Upon due consideration of the applications, the Advisory Council recommended the commutation of death sentences to life imprisonment in respect of three convicted inmates.

The affected inmates are Muhammed Abdulkadri, Moses Akpan and Sunday Okondo.

The Order for Clemency affected six other inmates who had been set free from different correctional centres around the country.

They are Bestman Dennar, Wasiu Jimoh, Augustine Opara, Folakemi Osin (Female), Rebecca Danladi (Female) and Nkechi Ogechi (Female).

The Executive Orders have been delivered to the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), who would deliver them to the Prisons Service for immediate action.

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Sanwo-Olu gives Christmas gift, frees 6 inmates, commuted 3 on death row to life

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Sanwo-Olu presents N480m life insurance premium to 258 families of deceased workers
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Christmas Day signed two Executive Orders, with one setting free six inmates at different prisons.

Sanwo-Olu’s Media Aide, Gboyega Akosile, said in a statement that the governor also commuted death sentences of three convicted inmates to life imprisonment.

The two Orders – Executive Commutation of Death Sentence Order and Executive Grant of Clemency Order –  signed by the governor were both expected to take immediate effect.

READ ALSO: Sanwo-Olu declares free bus ride on Christmas for commuters

Speaking on the two orders at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said Nigerians should return to God with hearts of gratitude for His protection over the country and Lagos State.

He said that in spite the numerous challenges facing the nation, it kept growing stronger.

Sanwo-Olu said that the Christmas period was a season of reflection, blessings and gift.

”As a nation and as a state, it is only appropriate for us to count our blessings and reflect on those things that have happened to us in the course of the year and how we can improve them and be better citizens.

”For us as a state, it is also a season of giving back, so I have also signed a small release of some convicts that we have in the various prisons.

”People who have been given death sentences have been reduced to life sentences and some who have been jailed for minor offences have also been given warning and have asked for them to be pardoned,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu urged Lagos residents to continue to be law abiding and do things in moderation.

”I want to send out a message to Lagosians that this is a season of peace. Let us live peacefully and do things in moderation.

”Let us understand that even while we are celebrating, we must do it with modesty and with a lot of decorum. Let us all remain peaceful, law abiding and humble,” he said.

The Lagos State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy in the performance of its statutory functions, under the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy Law 2015, considered applications from convicted inmates.

Upon due consideration of the applications, the Advisory Council recommended the commutation of death sentences to life imprisonment in respect of three convicted inmates.

The affected inmates are Muhammed Abdulkadri, Moses Akpan and Sunday Okondo.

READ ALSO: LASU: Sanwo-Olu, investors, sign deal to deliver 8,272 units of hostel in 18 months

The Order for Clemency affected six other inmates who had been set free from different correctional centres around the country.

They are Bestman Dennar, Wasiu Jimoh, Augustine Opara, Folakemi Osin (Female), Rebecca Danladi (Female) and Nkechi Ogechi (Female).

The Executive Orders have been delivered to the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), who would deliver them to the Prisons Service for immediate action.

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The post Sanwo-Olu gives Christmas gift, frees 6 inmates, commuted 3 on death row to life appeared first on Vanguard News.

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US discussing Goldman Sachs 1MDB settlement of below US$2 billion

GOLDMAN Sachs Group Inc could end up paying less than US$2 billion (RM8.32 billion) to resolve US criminal and regulatory probes over its role in raising money for scandal-ridden Malaysian investment fund 1MDB, said three people familiar with the negotiations.

The Justice Department and other federal agencies, in internal discussions held in recent weeks, have weighed seeking penalties of between US$1.5 billion and US$2 billion, the people said. That’s less than what some analysts have signalled Goldman might have to pay. While a settlement could be announced as soon as next month, the terms could change before a deal is finalised, said the people who asked not to be named in discussing private negotiations.

The bulk of the penalties would be paid to the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr has directly immersed himself in the case, according to another person familiar with the matter. Earlier this year, Barr obtained a waiver to let him oversee the investigation, even though his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, is representing Goldman. It’s unclear whether the Justice Department is seeking a guilty plea from the bank.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, as did spokesmen for the Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission, which have been pursuing civil investigations into Goldman. The bank reiterated its previous statements that it continues to cooperate with authorities.

Goldman Sachs shares climbed as much as 3.1 per cent on the discussions, the biggest intraday gain in almost two months. The bank’s stock is up 33 per cent this year.

Reputation blow

Goldman’s involvement with 1MDB has triggered one of the biggest blows to its reputation in recent years, leading to a litany of investigations and embarrassing revelations of a former banker bribing government officials. The Wall Street firm has been eager to move past the scandal, and a US settlement of below US$2 billion would put it on track to avoid the worst-case scenario that some analysts pegged at as much as US$9 billion in global fines.

Goldman is separately negotiating a settlement with Malaysian authorities, who have in recent discussions floated much lower figures than their public stance of wanting to recover US$7.5 billion. Goldman is still privately seeking to reduce its sanctions, arguing that the crimes were committed by a rogue employee and that the bank wasn’t aware of the misconduct.

If it pays anywhere close to US$2 billion, Goldman would join other banks that have been subjected to massive US penalties this decade. In 2012, HSBC Holdings Plc set a new bar when it agreed to pay more than US$1.9 billion to settle allegations that it violated sanctions and enabled money laundering. BNP Paribas SA was then hit with the largest financial penalty ever in a US criminal case when it paid US$9 billion over sanctions violations.

In previous international corruption cases, the US has sometimes credited penalties paid to other countries for the same conduct. For example, a US$1.3 billion US settlement last year with Societe Generale SA included a credit of almost US$300 million that was paid to French authorities.

1MDB became the hub of a global corruption and embezzlement scandal in which a massive amount of cash was allegedly diverted to corrupt officials and financiers. Goldman helped the state investment fund raise cash, with the Wall Street bank making about US$600 million from US$6.5 billion in bond sales in 2012 and 2013.

Yacht, movies

Tim Leissner, a former senior Goldman banker in Southeast Asia, admitted last year to bribery and pleaded guilty to US charges that he conspired to launder money.

Money diverted from 1MDB was allegedly spent around the world, including on a super yacht, the Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” and high-end real estate. Authorities in several countries have been working to recoup some of the missing billions and punish those involved.

There are signs that Goldman has made progress in its negotiations with US agencies and may also have a sense of how much it might pay to settle the investigations.

For instance, Goldman stopped buying back its stock in the third quarter as it began discussions with US authorities on 1MDB. Goldman later restarted its buybacks as talks with the government progressed and the firm added US$300 million to its estimate of possible legal losses, chief financial officer Stephen Scherr said on an October conference call with analysts and investors.

Compliance failures

Goldman has previously blamed Leissner for concealing his wrongdoing from the firm’s compliance efforts. Leissner has countered that the bank’s culture of secrecy led him to bypass compliance. US authorities allege that in addition to Leissner, two other bankers were aware of the scheme, including one who went on to become the bank’s top dealmaker in the region.

Earlier this year, the Fed banned Leissner and his former deputy, Roger Ng, from the banking industry. Ng faces US accusations of money laundering and bribery, and also Malaysian charges of aiding the bank’s efforts to mislead investors. – Bloomberg

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Court Summons Christian Film Makers For Refusing To Film Gay Couple’s Wedding

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The Minnesota Attorney General has summoned Christian filmmakers Carl and Angel Larsen back to court over their refusal to create a wedding video for a gay couple.

For three years, the Larsen’s have fought in court to defend their freedom of speech, finally achieving victory by the 8th Circuit Court, which reversed Minnesota’s chief federal judge’s dismissal of their claims. The Circuit Court ruled that “the First Amendment allows the Larsens to choose when to speak and what to say,” according to CBN.

But Attorney General Keith Ellison and Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero announced last week that they will take the couple back to court instead of appeal the decision.

In an op-ed in the Star Tribune, the pair stated that they believe the ruling “amounts to a license to discriminate against LGBTQ folks.”

They continued: “People have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. What they don’t have is the right to deny you the same service they’re offering to everyone else. No Minnesotan should be afraid that might happen to them. The Human Rights Act protects all of us from that.”

Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom, however, believes that the couple “won a great free speech victory.” In a statement, he also said, “This principle protects everyone. It means the state can’t threaten the Larsen’s with jail time for declining to create a film promoting a view of marriage that violates their religious beliefs. It also prevents the government from forcing an atheist musician to perform at an evangelical church service or a Democratic speechwriter to write speeches for a Republican.”

Carl and Angel Larsen, the couple who owns the Minnesota-based Telescope Media Group
Carl and Angel Larsen, the couple who owns the Minnesota-based Telescope Media Group

Commentary writer Kaylee McGhee of the Washington Examiner agrees. In an op-ed piece, she wrote, “… Ellison declared war on not just religious freedom but on free speech. If creating a wedding video is a creative act of expression, as the 8th Circuit argued, then the right to create is wholly discretionary and protected by the First Amendment. How the Larsen’s choose to use their talents and who they offer their services to is their choice, not Ellison’s, not Minnesota’s.”

“But because that choice could offend LGBT individuals,” she continued. “Ellison believes he has the right and the responsibility to get involved. Ellison’s argument is entirely unconvincing, which is why he lost in court the first time and why he will lose again.”

She also stated: “Religious freedom has no place in a politically correct society,” Christian Headlines reports.

As the litigation continues, Ellison will not force the couple to create videos for weddings that violate their views.

The post Court Summons Christian Film Makers For Refusing To Film Gay Couple’s Wedding appeared first on Believers Portal.

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Ukraines Top Independent Corruption Fighters Shocked by Trumps Phone Calland His Ignorance

KYIV, UkraineOne of this countrys leading independent anti-corruption fighters says she was shocked at the partial transcript of Donald Trumps July 25 phone call to the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

It was mind-blowing to read Trumps requests to do him a favor and say hed have the U.S. attorney general call Zelensky to push the investigation that Trump would benefit from politically, said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraines Anti-Corruption Action Center, the major watchdog monitoring officials who abuse their authority and steal from the state.

Trump spoke like a mafia don, and Zelenskly probably knew what was coming. Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani already had been in touch with Zelenkys people.

The memo of the conversation released Wednesday by the White House, makes it apparent Zelensky was doing all he could to humor the president of the United States. The former star of a TV comedy show in which he played a common man who became an uncommon president, which he then proceeded to become in real life, Zelensky said hed learned a lot from Trumps political techniques. He tried out a couple of ironic jokes. And paraphrasing Trumps campaign pledge he volunteered, We wanted to drain the swamp here in our country.

That wasnt enough to get a clear commitment from Trump to supply the kinds of arms Ukraine needs to fight Russian backed insurgents and covert Russian military units. Trumps idea of the swamp in Ukraine was very different from the way Zelensky sees it. Indeed, Trumps only interest was in digging dirt he believed might be found about his future opponent Joe Biden and Bidens son, Hunter, or even about his past opponent Hillary Clintons emails.

Zelensky said he was ready to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles for Ukraines defense. Trump immediately pivoted: I would like you to do us a favor. Speaking distractedly, as if someone was pushing notes under his nose, Trump said, I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.

As The Daily Beast reported, Trump is referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russias 2016 breach of the DNC network. No doubt Zelensky was confused.

Daria Kaleniuk, one of Ukraines most respected independent corruption fighters, says she was deeply upset when she saw the partial transcript. She studied financial law in the United States and has looked up to the country as a paradigm of democratic rule. She said she had not thought the situation there was so degraded.

A spokesperson for Attorney General William Barrs Department of Justice said Wednesday that in fact Barr never followed up. But Trump also plugged for his personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who appears to be acting as a consigliere at the center of the effort to shift attention to Ukraine and the Democrats, and away from Russias well-established efforts to help Trump get elected in 2016. Zelensky said hed welcome Giuliani in Ukraine, and Giuliani has said publicly many times in recent days that his aim was to uncover incriminating information about the Bidens.

This scandal is harmful for Ukraine, said Kaleniuk. Dont forget, we are at war with Russia, she said, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be enjoying the current storm of news over Ukraine.

Among the many cases Kaleniuk has watched over the last five years is that of Burisma, a natural gas company that named then-Vice President Joe Bidens son Hunter Biden, well known as something of a black sheep, to its board in 2014.

But the transcript made it clear to Kyivs anti-corruption experts that Trump really had very little idea what he was talking about.

Zelensky tried in general terms to assure Trump the new administration in Kyiv would be serious about fighting corruption. Good, said Trump, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that

Prosecutors in Ukraine have been infamous for using the states power to investigate crimes, then demanding a payoff from the target, and closing the case.

Kaleniuk notes that three Ukraine prosecutor generalsVitaly Yerema, Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenkohave dumped the Burisma case, each in his turn, one after another. I dont think Mr. Trump knows the name of the very good prosecutor he was talking about.

When Kyivs corruption fighters see that the Burisma case and what Trump called Ukraines horrible law enforcement system have become an obsession of the president of the United States, they feel lost, said Kaleniuk: This is like a movie, I would never predict anything like it!

One of Ukraines recent prosecutor generals, Yuriy Lutsenko, closed the Burisma investigation himself when there was still a chance to define the truth and then gave an interview to the Washington website The Hill complaining it was the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who gave him a do not prosecute list.

That is the exact opposite of what happened in the case, which Kaleniuk has followed closely.

She is convinced that Trump and his helpers had been preparing the Biden scandal for a long time. They started plotting it in October last year, possibly even earlier, she said. One of the messages Lutsenko conveyed, Kaleniuk told The Daily Beast, was that President Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani had consulted with Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraines then-Prosecutor General, for months.

Trump and Giuliani needed him to convey a message that Ukraine had intervened in American elections, she said. Lutsenko and prosecutor Konstantin Kulik have been giving Giuliani information on this case purely with an agenda to save their careers, inventing the story about the Biden investigation.

In 2016 Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Ukraine fire Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, who Trump might have meant as very good prosecutor, but he was seen by reformers in Kiev as a disaster. A year earlier Kalemniuks watchdog organization had pushed to dismiss Shokin for neglecting multiple corruption cases.

Here is why I do not say anything about Hunter Biden, Kaleniuk explained. Vice President Biden called for Ukraine to fire Shokin not because of the Burisma investigation, absolutely not, but because Ukraines prosecutor general did not investigate Burisma. U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt insisted [in early 2016] that Shokin should be investigating Burisma. The U.S. government had a clear position: the Burisma probe was killed by Shokin. And the U.S. thought it and other cases should not have been closed.

Under the circumstances, and hopeful that Zelensky is as serious about reforms as he has said, Kaleniuk said she understood his reaction to Trump: The leader of the most powerful state, our biggest partner, called with a request, so Zelensky tried not to contradict any of Trumps words, agreed with everything.

Many in Ukraine were upset by revelations of Zelenskys painful answers to Trump, especially when Zelensky said: The next prosecutor will be 100 percent my person, my candidate, who will be approved by parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. Prosecutors are supposed to be independent.

Journalists at the Hramadske television network were arguing emotionally in the newsroom Wednesday night.

Andrey Saychuk, one Hramadske correspondent, told The Daily Beast he wondered how the newly appointed prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka must feel about the way Zelensky talked about the question of his independence.

During the Trump-Zelensky press opportunity at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Zelensky said he was not pushed by Trump in the July phone call, but the pressure on him was obvious. I am sorry, but I dont want to be involved in the elections in USA, he said.

We should keep our distance from this highly political Burisma case used in the political massacre in United States, any move on it can be used for political purposes, Kaleniuk said. Let American citizens and institutions judge whether their president was pushing Zelensky or not.

As for Hunter Biden, his affiliation with Burisma seems at a minimum to have been ill considered. The oligarch behind the company, Mykola Zlochevsky, was the minister of ecology and natural resources from July 2010 until April 2012 under the hugely corrupt pro-Putin President Viktor Yanukovych, overthrown by the Maidan revolution in 2014. (One of his close advisors was Trump campaign chairman and international political operative Paul Manafort, now serving a seven and a half year prison term in the United States.)

Zlochevsky used his authority to give his own company licenses basically the minister gave himself a permit for producing natural resources, and the licenses are at Burisma Holding, said Kaleniuk.

When Hunter Biden started working with the company in May of 2014, it had just had its assets frozen in the United Kingdom, where it was investigated for money laundering.

I realize that it is very strange that Hunter Biden was working for Burisma, says Kaleniuk. I might be the first one to say bad things about Joe Bidens movements in regard to this case, but I dont.

Why? Because far from trying to protect his son from the broader investigation that might establish Hunter received money gained illegally by Burismas founder, Joe Biden wanted to prove it, that Burisma was crooked. He tried to make Shokin investigate that, Kaleniuk said.

One thing should be clear for everybody today: Joe Biden wanted to fire the prosecutor who did not want to investigate Burisma, where his son was working. That is very important. Kaleniuk added that everybody wanted Shokin fired.

In May 2014, when Kaleniuks watchdog group of progressive lawyers discovered Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma Holding, they also found he was in interesting company. Polands former President Aleksander Kwasniewsky was on that board, along with a few retired CIA agents, Kaleniuk said. So many names. But, still, It was strange for us to discover that Bidens son appeared to be working at Burisma, most probably as a faade to defend Zlochevskys reputation.

At a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the spring of 2014, Ukrainian corruption fighters told him about their many issues. We did not talk about Zlochevskys corruption specifically, he was just one of the bastards who had robbed our country, said Kaleniuk. It is unclear if the father Biden knew about [the investigation of] Burisma, she said.

At that time all foreign partners who tried to help Ukraine investigate corruption knew that both Shokin and his predecessor Vitaly Yarema had dumped the Burisma case. The British embassy, the American embassy knew exactly what was going on. I think that Zlochevsky had to pay a lot for closing the case against him, Kaleniuk said.

But, heres the thing about the vast breadth and depth of corruption in UkrainePresident Zelensky himself is hardly immune. His great patron has been the oligarch who owned the television station where he became a star.

If somebody asked us about the priority for the investigation today, I would say billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, and not Biden, should be the priority, said Kilaniuk. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations has looked into Kolomoiskys investments in the United States. Formerly exiled in Israel, Kolomoisky now feels perfectly comfortable in Zelenskys Ukraine.

Kilaniuk insisted that none of Trumps agents, including Rudolph Giuliani really understood how Ukraine functions. I dont think that Giuliani was the one who plotted the scandal, I think he just was just promoting this story; obviously, Donald Trump has no idea how things really work in Ukraine. I believe that Zelensky understands what has happened, I hope the President can distance himself from billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky.

The risk is always that before the swamp can be drained, Zelensky will drown in it.

Christopher Dickey also contributed to this story.

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Democrats Home In On Rudy Giuliani’s Meddling In Ukraine

Democrats are demanding more information about Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine following the release of a controversial call summary between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to review Giuliani’s consulting work abroad following repeated mentions of Trump’s personal attorney in the summary. Earlier this week, three congressional House committees also jointly sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatening a subpoena if he refuses to produce documents related to Trump’s and Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian officials.

“Rudy Giuliani seems to be working on behalf of the United States as an emissary from the president while at the same time benefiting the president’s personal political agenda,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the senators who made the request, said Wednesday.

Giuliani’s name comes up repeatedly in summary of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky that was released Wednesday. Zelensky first brings up Giuliani on the call and invites him to visit Ukraine. Later in the conversation, Trump urges Zelensky to work with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Giuliani in pursuit of dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

“Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening, and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great,” Trump said, according to the call summary.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an article about Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy in Ukraine and how it had alarmed State Department officials who were in the dark about his work there. Giuliani seemed to acknowledge his mission to help Trump politically in an interview in May.

Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. President Trump to Ukraine’s president, according to a summary of their call

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani said in the May 9 New York Times article. “I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

In an interview on Fox News this week, Giuliani held up a cellphone, waved it around and told host Laura Ingraham that he was working on behalf of the State Department and said his phone records would confirm his contacts.

“You know who I did it at the request of?” he asked. “The State Department. I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called and asked me to do it. And then I reported every conversation back to them.”

But the State Department later pushed back on those claims, saying Giuliani did not speak for the U.S. government and calling him a “private citizen” who is acting in a “personal capacity as a lawyer for President Trump.”

Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine also puzzled some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“I honestly have no idea. None,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Wednesday when asked why the president’s personal attorney got involved with U.S. policy in a foreign country. In an earlier interview on MSNBC this week, Kennedy called Giuliani “wilder than a March hare.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an ally of Trump who argued the president did nothing wrong in asking Zelensky to get involved in a U.S. election, also took issue with Giuliani’s wild series of television appearances this week.

“I don’t know what [role] he played,” Graham said. “Rudy’s saying a lot of things, and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes.”

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Lewandowskis House Testimony Was Basically His Senate Campaign Launch

In calling in Corey Lewandowski to testify, House Judiciary Committee Democrats hoped theyd get a spectacle that might boost their impeachment efforts.

Its unclear whether that will happen. What they clearly did get, however, was a spectacle that cemented Lewandowskis brand as an unapologetic fighter for Donald Trumpfor better or for worse.

Tuesdays high-profile hearing was essentially a coming-out party for Lewandowskis long-teased, but still unannounced campaign for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire: he talked up his blue collar roots and service to President Trump while effusively praising his former boss and gleefully trolling his Democratic questioners. During a bathroom break, he tweeted out a link to a website supporting his possible Senate run; at another point, while answering a question from a friendly lawmaker, he fantasized about what hed do if he were in the upper chamber.

That performance didnt come as a shock to Democrats on Capitol Hill or back in New Hampshire, who said they expected that Lewandowski would seize on the hearing to boost his own profile.

Democratic lawmakers and aides did not admit to any second thoughts about Lewandowskis appearance in light of his explicit politicking and eagerness to gum up the hearing. And they predicted his testimony would damage whatever political hopes he does harbor.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) noted that in his testimony, Lewandowski admitted that Special Counsel Robert Muellers report found that Trump summoned him to the Oval Office in 2017 and directed him to send a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the president wanted Mueller reined in. Lewandowski had previously said he couldnt recall talking about Sessions with Trump.

Thats obstruction of justice, plain and simple, said Cicilline. Admitting that in this hearing, under oath, I think is not a way to begin a U.S. Senate campaign.

New Hampshire Democrats, meanwhile, have been salivating for weeks at the prospect of Lewandowski creating a televised spectacle, believing it to be a golden opportunity to define him to voters ahead of a possible bid. Party officials and activists in the state have been widely speculating that the former Trump campaign official would use his face time in front of the Judiciary Committee to leave little doubt in Granite Staters minds that he is preparing to launch a Republican challenge to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank pointed to Lewandowskis promotion on Tuesday of the website paid for by a new outside group backing him, called Stand With Corey. By ducking questions and promoting that dark money group during a Congressional hearing to which he was subpoenaed to testify, Lewandowski is demonstrating once again that he works for those shady clients and Trump, not the people of New Hampshire, said Marcus-Blank.

Thats perfectly in keeping with his character, one member of the New Hampshire Democratic state committee said on Tuesday afternoon. Everyone whos been following him in New Hampshire knows hes all about empty, shameless performances.

Lewandowskis stunts in New Hampshire have historically been well telegraphed. In 2010, he debated a cardboard cutout of former Gov. John Lynch on national tax day at the height of the Tea Party movement.

Its all performance, the New Hampshire Democratic state committee member added.

The 46-year-old Windham resident had been on a media tour in his home state in recent weeks, saying hes taking a very long look at a possible candidacy. After steering the early part of Trumps first presidential campaignbefore being ousted by the president in a dramatic fashionthe bombastic operative has since worked as a Washington consultant and television commentator, engaging in politics from the outside.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Lewandowski recently huddled with Trump after several administration officials encouraged him to enter the race. While some Republicans in the state explicitly said his entrance would help Shaheens chancesa sentiment that was bolstered by an editorial in the conservative newspaper the Union Leader advocating for a write-in over Lewandowskihis allies are convinced hes entering as the frontrunner.

Over the course of over five hours on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Lewandowski took every opportunity he could get to talk up his biography and his work in helping to elect Trump in 2016. In fact, he seemed to revel in injecting explicit politics into his testimony. I appreciate your comments about my ability to win in New Hampshire, he said, in response to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who mentioned Lewandowskis political ambitions.

It was just one more thing to enrage Democrats during an already infuriating afternoon during which Lewandowski refused to answer questions and generally stymied Democrats limited time questioning him. This is not a Republican primary campaign, admonished Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to Lewandowski. This is the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the panel seemed eager to serve softballs to Lewandowski that allowed him to expound on his patriotism, values, and character. "Do you think the Democrats will go to any length to undermine the president of the United States and influence the 2020 election?" asked Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

"I believe in this democracy of the United States and I love this country," responded Lewandowski, adding that his primary concern is that his children and grandchildren look back at the Mueller inquiry and say, "that never should have been allowed, never to a Republican and never to a Democrat."

Despite the muddled questioning and political maneuvering, Democrats said it was worth bringing in Lewandowski.

Besides, said one Democratic aide, Its not like he has a shot at winning.

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Russia and 2020 Elections

One week after Robert Mueller’s testimony shined a spotlight, once again, on election interference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is feeling the heat. The leader turned heads on the Senate floor Monday as he rose to decry critics who have dubbed him “a Russian asset” and “Moscow Mitch” for stonewalling congressional measures to improve election security. And with momentum building in the House to formally start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, the pressure is unlikely to let up anytime soon.

Focusing on election interference from 2016 is backwards thinking, though, at least according to Virginia Senator Mark Warner. With 2020 just around the corner, he tells WIRED—in an exclusive interview—that the upcoming election is where both parties need to direct their attention right now.

As the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has long been a vocal proponent of new legislation to strengthen election protections, such as the Honest Ad Act, which would compel Silicon Valley firms to disclose when political ads are paid for by a foreign nation. He’s also behind a bill that would require campaigns to alert federal officials if they’re approached by a foreign operative offering information or other assistance. Both bills have bipartisan support—Senator Susan Collins became the first Republican to cosponsor the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act earlier this week.

Even as GOP leaders try to position election security as a partisan issue, Warner—a former governor of Virginia and a cofounder of the firm that eventually became Nextel—has maintained the respect of his colleagues across the aisle. But his frustration seems to be growing, especially now that Trump has tapped Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be his next director of national intelligence. Unlike Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has already come out opposed to Ratcliffe, Warner tells WIRED he’s still got some patience left. Even if it’s wearing thin.

This transcript is slightly edited for length and clarity.

WIRED: After Mueller testified, the president and Republicans say case closed. What do you make of that?

Mark Warner: I’m not here to relitigate 2016, or the Mueller testimony, specifically. I would point out, out of the Mueller investigation: 37 indictments, the president’s national security adviser pled guilty. The president’s campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s deputy campaign manager pled guilty. The president’s chief political adviser is coming to trial in the fall, Roger Stone. The attorney general had to resign. There were literally hundreds of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

That’s not normal. And I think the biggest takeaway from the Mueller testimony was that the Russians who attacked us in 2016 are still attacking us and, in Bob Mueller’s words, on a daily basis. You combine that with the warnings from Trump’s own FBI director [Christopher Wray] and Trump’s own director of national intelligence [Dan Coats]. And one of the things that concerns me the greatest is that we’ve not done more to protect the integrity of our election system in 2020.

I was just talking to your [Intelligence Committee] cochair, Senator [Richard] Burr, and he was saying the states in 2018 weathered these attacks, the national infrastructure is good on election security. Basically, case closed, again, not much more is needed.

I think everyone picked up their game in 2018, including the Department of Homeland Security, and our intelligence community was more active as well. But the intelligence community’s own reporting was that Russia didn’t throw its full force of efforts in 2018. Chances are they’ll reserve those for the presidential election. So I think there is some low-hanging fruit that would get 75 votes on the floor of the Senate—if we could get these bills to the floor of the Senate.

I think there ought to be an affirmative obligation that if a foreign government, the Kremlin, offers you campaign help, your obligation ought to be not to say thank you, but to report to the FBI. I think we ought to make sure that every polling station in America has a paper ballot backup, so that if a machine was hacked, you’ve still got ability to protect the integrity of the voting system. And I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t think we need some basic guard rails around the manipulation of Facebook, Twitter, and Google by foreign entities and others. So at least there ought to be the requirement that if somebody advertises on a political basis on Facebook, but in truth it’s a foreign government, they ought to have the same disclosure requirements as somebody who advertises on radio or television.

Isn’t it a little bit ironic that in this highly digital era, we’re going back to paper ballots?

I think we need to make sure that we use the best technology, but if technology, as we see from banks this week, can continue to be hacked into, if voting machines are not as protected as needed, if the private companies who control the voter files could have their information moved around … You don’t need to change votes to cause chaos. I think people’s overall confidence in the system goes up if there is that back check of having a paper ballot backup. Again, this is not saying we wouldn’t still use voting machines, but across the election community everyone believes it’s safer if you have that paper ballot backup that goes along with the voting counting machines.

And now we know we’re getting attacked, cybersecurity is on the top of many minds. And then the president this week announced he’s nominating Representative John Ratcliffe to be DNI, who seems like more of a politician and a Trump supporter than someone from the intel community. Does that worry you?

It worries me greatly. The irony is that Donald Trump’s appointees in the intel world—his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; his director of the FBI, Chris Wray, his director of the CIA, Gina Haspel—have been pretty good about speaking truth to power, even when Trump did not want to hear the truth. They’ve been very good at not allowing America’s intelligence to get politicized—while I’m going to give Mr. Ratcliffe the courtesy of a meeting, I fear that he is being appointed in the mold of a Bill Barr, the attorney general, who basically is simply a loyalist first to Donald Trump and doesn’t maintain that kind of independence.

If there’s ever been a time when everyone says that Russians and others will be back, when we’ve got as many potential conflict spots around the world, we need to make sure that the head of our national intelligence is not going to politicize the intelligence. That intelligence product goes to our military, it goes to the executive, it goes to us in the Congress. It cannot be a political product. And we’ve got to make sure that the intelligence community is going to be willing to speak truth to power, and that means telling Donald Trump the truth, even if he doesn’t want to hear it. And so far it appears to me that Mr. Ratcliffe, who doesn’t have much experience and who seems—based upon press reports—that his audition was based on questioning Mueller and questioning the legitimacy of the Russian’s intervention in our electoral system, is pretty chilling.

What do you see as the biggest threats—or are there any new threats—facing America in 2020?

So I think there are a couple of new threats. One, Russia in 2016 was surprised at how vulnerable our systems were, our electoral systems. And how easy Facebook and Twitter and YouTube were to be manipulated. So I think that playbook is now out there, they’ve used the same tactics in the Brexit vote [and] the French presidential elections. So my fear is we may not only see Russia, we can see Iran, we could potentially see China, who has a great deal of control over a number of their Chinese tech companies, start to use these tools because they’re cheap and effective. I like to point out that if you add up all Russia spent in the Brexit vote, the French presidential elections, and the 2016 American elections, it’s less than the cost of one new F-35 airplane. So Russia and our adversaries, I think, have decided the way to engage with us in conflict is not through straight up old-school military but through cyber activities, misinformation and disinformation, increasingly trying to weaken and interfere, for example with our space communications, and I think Russia will up their game … and others … [It] means there will be more adversaries in 2020.

Second is, I think in 2016 we saw Russia try to misrepresent—the Russian agents misrepresent themselves as Americans on Facebook and Twitter by simply posting fake messages. The next iteration, the next generation of that will be the so-called “deepfake” technology, where an American may not be able to view what his eyes are telling him, because you’ll see an image of you or me or a political figure that may sound like that person but isn’t that person at all.

Now, if McConnell doesn’t allow some of these bills, like the Honest Ads Act or just broader election security bills, to come up, what do you think the Silicon Valley tech firms can do on their own?

Look, we’ve seen progress made by Facebook, Twitter, some progress made by Google. But I don’t think self-regulation, particularly when a regulation may mean they may not be collecting as much information as they like, or self-regulation may mean they have to go against or limit some of the fake content. It goes against their very business model. So I think Facebook has made progress in particular, but some of the tools they have—for example, the ability to access on an easy basis the campaign ads that they promised, that tool is not effective at all.

So at the end of the day, when we’re talking about something as critical as protecting the integrity of our democracy, when Americans lack faith in so many of our institutions to start with, if we don’t go the extra mile and put in place a set of rules and regulations—and god forbid should Russia or Iran or another foreign enterprise massively interfere again—and we didn’t do our duty, then shame on all of us.

This week, two fairly senior Senate Democrats called for impeachment proceedings to begin. Where are you on that? We started this conversation with you saying you don’t want to relitigate 2016, but it seems like there’s this growing chorus amongst Democrats to impeach.

I actually think Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has navigated that challenge very well. I understand the frustrations with President Trump—his activities and tweets and antics. I think, though, the best way we can show that that’s not who we are as Americans is to defeat him at the ballot box in a free and fair election. And what I worry about is if we don’t guarantee that free and fair election, then we haven’t done our job.


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