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US: House Democrats subpoena Pompeo for documents on Hunter Biden | News

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The Democratic chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding documents he provided to Senate Republicans investigating the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

A Republican-led Senate committee has been gathering information related to Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president who is set to be Republican President Donald Trump’s opponent in the November election.

Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said Friday he had issued the subpoena as part an investigation into Pompeo’s “apparent use of Department of State resources to advance a political smear of former Vice President Joe Biden”.

The subpoena also asks for internal department emails about responding to Congress.

The committee says Pompeo had delivered more than 16,000 pages of records to the Senate but refused to send the same materials to the Democrat-led House.

“I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too,” the House committee’s chairman, Representative Eliot Engel, said in a statement. 

The younger Biden is a former board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which was thrust into the global spotlight last year in a House impeachment inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s leader into opening an investigation into the Bidens.

Trump made the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a July 2019 phone call that was later revealed by a whistle-blower’s complaint. 

The House impeached Trump in December for pressuring the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation while withholding military aid to the country. The Senate acquitted him in February.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, and Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma.

Democrats have criticised Senate Republicans for continuing to probe the allegations against Biden, saying it amplifies Russian propaganda. 

Foreign interference

House and Senate Democratic leaders sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray last month saying they are concerned that Congress appears to be the target of a “concerted foreign interference campaign to influence the 2020 presidential election, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November”. 

The letter, which did not specifically mention the probe into Hunter Biden, but included a classified addendum that reportedly did, asked Wray for an all-members, classified briefing on the possible targeting of Congress before the August recess. 

Wray has not yet offered the requested briefing, but legislators did receive a classified briefing early Friday on general election security. Leaving that meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is concerned “the American people should be better informed”.

The new efforts by Democrats come as the nation’s intelligence agencies, congressional intelligence committees and Joe Biden have all warned of renewed election interference by Russia this year. Trump himself has been loath to discuss the subject or acknowledge that Russia tried to sow discord in the 2016 contest by hacking Democratic accounts and pushing out inflammatory content on social media.

Still, his administration has warned that Russia and other countries will likely try again.

In a statement last week, William Evanina, the government’s chief counterintelligence official, said adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran are seeking to compromise US private communications and infrastructure in campaigns. It also warned of disinformation campaigns on social media.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Attorney General William Byaruhanga Beats Up Journalists Over Protests

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There was drama in Kololo Sunday 4th August afternoon when Attorney General William Byaruhanga abruptly stopped his Land cruiser along KololoTerrace descended and rained blows on two photo journalists from unidentified media houses.
The jouralists took off in awe. The Attorney was neither expected in the area nor were his furious actions.

Byaruhanga proceeded in rage to pluck off posters in every spot they had been pinned along Kololo Terrace.

The journalists had been taking pictures of posters of Byaruhanga , Masembe and Karim Hirji which had been pinned in many spots in Kololo, lugogo bypass and Naguru.
The posters portray the trio as evil and heartless greedy men suppressing orphans of the late Hirji wife Ziba Charm.
The brawl in Karim family seems to have taken on a new twist with the public starting to sympathise with the late Charm orphans.
Civil society groups and individuals have joined the campaign to seek justice for Karim’s step children.

Social media has been dominated in the past weeks with stories to the effect that city tycoon Hirji was helped by William Byaruhanga and Timothy Masembe to forge his late wife’s will and subsequently converted all her properties and Bank accounts in Uganda and London

Some have called for a peaceful demonstration while others have printed posters denouncing Karim and his lawyers Masembe Timothy of MMAKS and William Byaruhanga.
The public awaits direction from President Museveni and the Speaker of Parliament following a petition to both high offices by Karims srep children led by a one Linda Birungi.

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Appeals court delays release of Ghislaine Maxwell deposition | News

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An appeals court in the United States on Friday temporarily delayed the release of a 2016 deposition about Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex life, after she argued it could destroy her ability to get a fair trial against criminal charges she aided the late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order after last-ditch scrambles by Maxwell to keep potentially embarrassing information, which her lawyer said could make it “difficult if not impossible” to find an impartial jury, out of the public eye.

Maxwell’s appeal will be heard on an expedited basis, with oral argument scheduled for September 22.

Her deposition had been taken in April 2016 for a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against the British socialite by Virginia Giuffre, who had accused Epstein of having kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell’s assistance.

Dozens of other documents from that case were released late on Thursday, after the presiding judge concluded that the public had a right to see them.

The release of Maxwell’s deposition had been scheduled for Monday, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and eventually abuse three girls from 1994 to 1997, and committing perjury by denying her involvement under oath.

She was arrested on July 2 and has been held in a Brooklyn jail after a judge denied bail, calling her a flight risk. Maxwell’s trial is scheduled for next July.

Epstein was found hanged at age 66 last August in a Manhattan jail, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges for abusing women and girls in Manhattan and Florida from 2002 to 2005. He had also pleaded not guilty.

In seeking to keep Maxwell’s deposition sealed, her lawyers said in court papers on Thursday she had been promised confidentiality by Giuffre’s lawyers and the presiding judge at the time, through an agreed-upon protective order, before answering many personal, sensitive and “allegedly incriminatory” questions about her dealings with Epstein.

They said further that Maxwell was blindsided when prosecutors quoted from the deposition in her indictment, and accusing Giuffre of leaking the deposition to the government.

In a court filing on Friday, Giuffre’s lawyers called Maxwell’s appeal “frivolous, and a transparent attempt to further delay the release of documents to which the public has a clear and unequivocal right to access”.

The lawyers also called the allegation Giuffre leaked the deposition “completely and utterly false”.

Friday’s order also covers a second deposition by an unnamed Epstein accuser that Maxwell also wanted to be kept under seal. Other documents from Giuffre’s lawsuit that quote or disclose information from the depositions also remain sealed.

Among the documents released on Thursday were a few emails between Epstein and Maxwell dated January 2015, including one where Epstein told Maxwell that she had done “nothing wrong”.

Lawyers for Maxwell said on July 10 in a court filing requesting bail in her criminal case that she had not been in contact with Epstein for “more than a decade”.

Maxwell is now battling prosecutors in her criminal case about the scope of a protective order intended to protect her right to a fair trial while ensuring the privacy of her accusers.

SOURCE:
Reuters news agency





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Kremlin demands release of Russians held in Belarus | Russia News

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The Kremlin has asked ex-Soviet ally Belarus to release 33 Russian men detained in Minsk over an alleged plot to organise riots before next month’s presidential elections.

Belarusian security services on Wednesday arrested the group of Russians, saying they were mercenaries on a mission to destabilise the country in the run-up to the August 9 polls.

Belarus’s KGB security service said the men were members of the Wagner group, a notorious private military firm reportedly controlled by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“We hope that in the very near future this incident will be explained by our Belarusian allies and that the citizens will be released,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

He added that the “groundless detention of Russian citizens does not quite fit the parameters of allied relations”.

Belarus investigators said the men were working with prominent opposition critics Sergei Tikhanovsky and Mikola Statkevich who have both been jailed and barred from contesting the ballot.

Peskov confirmed the Russian men were “employees of a private security company” who were staying temporarily in Belarus before travelling onwards to Istanbul.

“They missed their plane,” he said. “They had tickets to Istanbul.”

A senior Belarusian investigator said in televised comments that the men’s plans for onward travel were just “an alibi,” Tut.by news site reported.

“As the investigation has found out, they did not plan to fly there (to Istanbul),” the head of the investigative team, Alexander Agafonov, was reported as saying in an interview with national television.  

The men gave “contradictory” answers, he added.

Eleven of them said they intended to fly to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. One “did not know where he was flying to” and the rest refused to testify, Agafonov said.

During a massive campaign rally in the capital Minsk on Thursday, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – the leading rival to Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko – denied claims the opposition was working with Russian mercenaries to incite mass unrest.

Tikhanovskaya, who is married to the jailed blogger Tikhanovsky, said people only wanted a fair election.

She said Russian private contractors might have been using Belarus as a transit point for a long time and questioned the timing of this week’s arrests.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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