Venezuela sought to swap Americans for Maduro ally
In retaliation, Venezuela reimprisoned six executives of Houston-based Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil giant, who had been under house arrest. It wasn’t something we were interested in nor was it a point of negotiation — ever,” he said in a brief statement. When he arrived to the Mexican capital, the meeting at The Westin hotel had already blown up over Grenell's insistence that any prisoner swap be accompanied with an exit plan for Maduro, Rivera said. In a subsequent call, Prince told Gorrín “that the Citgo 6 were simply not valuable enough to the Trump administration for a straight prisoner swap for Saab,” Rivera said. Whatever the extent of Trump's closed-door dealings with Maduro, families of nine Americans jailed in Caracas are less hopeful about the prospects for a deal under the Biden administration.wftv.com
EXPLAINER: Why is California Gov. Newsom facing a recall?
Newsom is facing the possibility that he could be removed by voters in a recall election later this year, in the midst of his four-year term. Gavin Newsom is facing the possibility that he could be removed by voters in a recall election in the midst of his four-year term. Here’s how it works:WHAT IS A RECALL ELECTION? Unpopular Democratic Gov. The second question would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if voters recall the governor.
As signature collection ends, California heads toward recall
FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2020, file photo, Trump supporters shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on California Gov. Gavin Newsom will face a recall election that could oust the Democrat before his first term ends. But a series of bureaucratic checkpoints must be cleared before the secretary of state’s office determines that the requirements for scheduling a recall election have been satisfied. An exact signature match is not required — “similar characteristics” in the writing are sufficient when comparing the petition signature with those in election records. The recall proposal must move through time-consuming steps along the way, including giving voters a 30-day window to withdraw their names from the petitions if they choose.
California governor launches campaign against likely recall
Newsom and his Democratic allies launched a political committee Monday, March 15 to stop a proposed recall election that could oust him from office. Orrin Heatlie, a retired county sheriff's sergeant who filed the recall petition, said Newsom is engaging in a “smear campaign" about the recall organizers because he can't defend his record. Defeating the recall “will be one of the most important priorities for Democrats this year,” Booker said in a statement. Newsom for months sidestepped questions about the recall but has more recently started to ramp up his political operation and strategy. AdResponding to Newsom’s campaign, the California Republican Party pointed to a slew of issues beyond the coronavirus.
EXPLAINER: How can California voters recall Gov. Newsom?
It comes about a year after his first coronavirus stay-at-home order and as he faces a potential recall election. Gavin Newsom is facing the possibility that he could be removed by voters in a recall election in the middle of his four-year term. Unpopular Democratic Gov. WHY IS THERE A RECALL DRIVE AGAINST DEMOCRATIC GOV. The second question would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if voters recall the governor.
GOP infighting in post-Trump era threatens California recall
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)LOS ANGELES – California Republicans eager to recall Democratic Gov. The head of the state Republican Party, Jessica Millan Patterson, is being challenged at a GOP convention this weekend by longtime conservative activist Steve Frank, who says the state party is attempting to silence conservative voices. Ad“This is California’s version of the national battle for the soul and the future of the Republican Party,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego. But “just when the Republican Party in California is showing signs of life, it’s deciding to cannibalize itself,” Kousser added. For long-suffering California Republicans, party infighting could divide their ranks and make it more challenging to oust Newsom.
Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – Pete Buttigieg won Senate approval Tuesday as transportation secretary, the first openly gay person to be confirmed to a Cabinet post. Ad“We all know the nominee as Mayor Pete, a man who basically came onto the national stage as a Midwest mayor, who had lots of enthusiasm for making investments in America’s future,” she said. Under President Donald Trump, Richard Grenell served as acting director of national intelligence and is openly gay, but did not have to face Senate confirmation as an acting director. Ad“Congratulations to Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his historic confirmation,” Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said after the vote.
NY Democrat's ties to Maduro may help Biden unlock stalemate
The relationship with Uribe —lionized by Venezuela’s opposition and demonized by Latin America’s left — may come in handy as he seeks to build momentum for politically fraught engagement with Maduro. But he said he is willing to speak to Maduro’s government if allies in Latin America, the European Union and the Biden administration see value in such an approach. Not for nothing, the Trump administration has said the only thing to negotiate with Maduro are the terms of his exit. “The Trump policy was predicated on Florida politics — not getting something done,” Meeks said. In one of those trips, he urged Maduro to release opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez, then in jail for leading anti-government protests.
California Democrats see backlash after recall 'coup' claims
State Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks led a group of Democratic officials who described the effort to remove Newsom as a coup and claimed, without evidence, that those involved were far-right extremists. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)LOS ANGELES – California Republicans on Wednesday seized on a bungled Democratic attempt to link the proposed recall of Gov. The criticism came as the Republican Party of Orange County launched a new round of fundraising appeals for the recall, saying Democrats were attempting to enflame political tensions at a time of national strife. “Linking a legal and constitutionally appropriate (California) recall attempt to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and ongoing coup attempt is worse than a bad PR call. Unlike a coup, typically a violent and illegal attempt to seize power, recall elections are authorized under state law.
Widely shared photo of Biden without mask was taken in 2019
Why wasn't Biden, who has made a point to put on a facial covering throughout the campaign, wearing a mask? Mask wearing has become a political issue on the campaign trail, with Biden frequently putting one on in public and Trump rarely doing so, and even mocking Biden for wearing a mask so often. At that point in the campaign, the new coronavirus had not emerged globally so Biden did not wear a mask anywhere. THE FACTS: A photo of Biden on a plane talking with his traveling national press secretary, Remi Yamamoto, both without masks, was taken in November 2019, not recently. Conservative Twitter users seized on the image Sunday night, claiming it shows a hypocritical Biden not following recommended mask guidelines while traveling on a plane.
AP Explains: Trump slams Russia probe; Dems cry foul
Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, has been working to declassify details about the Russia investigation, which culminated in the 2019 report by former special counsel Robert Mueller. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times via AP, Pool)WASHINGTON – The Russia probe is back in the political spotlight. Moreover, intelligence professionals blasted John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence and a Trump loyalist, for going along with the declassification, saying it was a flagrant example of using intelligence for political purposes. Trump remains irritated by the Russia probe because he thinks it de-legitimizes his presidency. Trump detractors dismissed the intelligence as Russian disinformation, although Ratcliffe insisted it was not.
Kosovo awards Trump with Order of Freedom for peace efforts
A photo of the Order of Freedom awarded to the U.S President Donald Trump, undersigned by Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci in capital Pristina, Kosovo on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Kosovo's president awarded U.S. President Donald Trump with one of the country's highest medals - Kosovo's Order of Freedom - for his government's efforts on peace and reconciliation in the former war-torn region. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)PRISTINA – Kosovo's awarded U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday with one of the country's highest honors for his government's efforts on peace and reconciliation in the former war-torn region. President Hashim Thaci awarded Trump with Kosovo's Order of Freedom “for his exceptional contribution for the freedom of Kosovo and the strengthening of Peace and reconciliation in the region.”The honor is given to local and foreign citizens for their high contribution in defending Kosovo’s freedom. In a letter sent to Trump, Thaci said that the Kosovo-Serbia deal can be achieved “only under the powerful leadership of the United States of America.
US, Kosovo, Serbia Nobel Peace nominees for White House deal
TIRANA – A Swedish lawmaker said Friday that he has nominated the governments of the United States., Kosovo and Serbia for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to secure a peace agreement between the two former Balkan war foes. Swedish parliament member Magnus Jacobsson tweeted that he nominated the three governments “for their joint work for peace and economic development, through the cooperation agreement signed in the White House. Kosovo, a former Serbian province, and Serbia have been negotiating under European Union mediation since 2011 on normalizing their ties. Serbia fought a brutal 1998-1999 war with separatist fighters in Kosovo. ___This story has been corrected to show that Magnus Jacobsson is a Swedish lawmaker, not a member of the Norwegian parliament.
Leaders of Kosovo, Serbia at White House for economic talks
WASHINGTON The U.S. mediated talks Thursday between Serbia and Kosovo in hopes of normalizing economic relations and possibly paving the way toward resolving thorny political disputes. Trumps envoy Richard Grenell denied that the U.S. confronted the Serbian president with a demand to recognize Kosovo. The people of Kosovo and Serbia deserve economic normalization and the chance to create a vibrant economy, Grenell tweeted before the talks got underway. According to the administration officials, business leaders in both nations are frustrated and have been talking among themselves outside of political talks brokered by the European Union. The White House summit was originally scheduled for June, but it was cancelled after Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was to lead the Kosovo delegation, was indicted for war crimes by an international court.
Albania PM calls Kosovo leaders indictment 'shameful stain'
PRISTINA Albania's prime minister on Monday called the indictment of Kosovo's president and other former rebel fighters a shameful stain" on world justice. Ramas unannounced visit to Kosovo, which also has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, was a signal of support from neighboring Albania. He tweeted that the indictment was a shameful stain of 21st century" world justice. Thacis indictment also disrupted a White House meeting between Kosovo and Serbia leaders initiated by U.S presidential envoy Richard Grenell, which would have been the first official talks between Serbia and Kosovo in 19 months. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia refuses to recognize.
A look at Serbia-Kosovo dispute as war crimes charges filed
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and nine other former separatist fighters were indicted Wednesday on a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges, including murder, by an international court investigating their actions against ethnic Serbs and others during and after Kosovo's 1998-99 independence war with Serbia. (AP Photo/Zenel Zhinipotoku)BELGRADE An international prosecutor has indicted Kosovo's president and nine other former rebel fighters with war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after a 1998-99 armed conflict between the ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbia. The nation of 1.8 million is predominantly ethnic Albanian and includes ethnic Serb, Roma and smaller minority groups. Thousands of Serb civilians also fled with the Serbian army and police. HAVE THERE BEEN WAR CRIMES TRIALS BEFORE?
With US summit planned, Russia prefers EU-Kosovo mediation
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic after a joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, June 18, 2020. He said that any agreement between Serbia and Kosovo must be approved by the U.N. Security Council, the body where Russia has veto power. It wasnt clear if the EU and the U.S. were coordinating efforts toward urging Serbia and Kosovo to reach a deal. This White House opportunity opens the door to new economic development and investment,'' Grenell said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Thursday. Despite formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has been establishing close political, economic and military ties with its Slavic ally Russia.
High court decision spotlights GOP divide over LGBT rights
WASHINGTON Democrats flooded Twitter and email inboxes this week with praise for the watershed Supreme Court decision shielding gay, lesbian and transgender people from job discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Constitution ensures a right for same-sex couples to marry. Kavanaugh voted against this weeks court ruling. The Supreme Court is always a hugely important issue to conservatives, Severino said Tuesday. If the courts ruling wasnt painful enough for Republicans, the opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trumps first Supreme Court appointee.
US ambassador to Germany resigns from post, deputy stands in
BERLIN The U.S. ambassador to Germany has resigned from his post and the State Department after two years in the job. Trump named Grenell ambassador to Germany in April 2018. Grenell was tapped in February to become the acting director of national intelligence. Last month, the Senate confirmed John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence, succeeding Grenell, who remains Trump's envoy to Kosovo and Serbia. Grenell said Trump presented him with a leaving gift Monday the Cabinet chair he used while briefly serving as acting national intelligence director.
Transcripts released of Flynn's calls with Russian diplomat
But allies of the president who maintain the FBI had no reason to investigate Flynn in the first place insisted that the transcripts showed he had done nothing wrong. The transcripts are unlikely to significantly reshape public understanding of the contact between Flynn and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central moment in the Russia investigation. But Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the GOP senators who released the transcript, said Flynn had done nothing wrong. The nature of those intelligence reports remains unclear, and they were not among the documents released Friday. The use by U.S. officials of a routine process known as unmasking to learn Flynn's identity from those reports has become a major issue for Trump supporters.
Divided Senate confirms Ratcliffe as intelligence chief
WASHINGTON A sharply divided Senate confirmed John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence on Thursday, with Democrats refusing to support the nomination over fears that he will politicize the intelligence community's work under President Donald Trump. At the same time, Trump has viewed the intelligence agencies with distrust and ousted or fired multiple officials. But senators warmed to him as they grew concerned about the upheaval in the intelligence community and wanted a permanent, confirmed director. Maine Sen. Angus King, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats and a member of the Senate intelligence panel, said he has concerns that Ratciffe has limited experience in the intelligence community yet extensive experience in politics. Still, the position carries unique challenges, given the presidents seeming inclinations to politicize intelligence and bend intelligence agencies to his will.
Senate speeds up confirmation vote for intelligence director
WASHINGTON The Senate is poised to vote Thursday on the nomination of Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe to be Director of National Intelligence, potentially confirming him sooner than expected, as senators are eager to quickly fill the post. Democrats have been opposed to Ratcliffe's nomination, and most are expected to vote against it. Democrats usually force procedural votes that slow the nomination process, but are allowing a quick vote Thursday before the Senate leaves town for the next week. Since then, Trump, who has long been skeptical of the nations intelligence community, has installed acting heads and ousted and fired multiple intelligence officials. He said he would communicate to Trump the intelligence communitys findings even if he knew Trump disagreed with them and might fire him.
Rubio steps in to lead Senate Intelligence Committee
WASHINGTON Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will temporarily become chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican leaders announced, taking charge of the panel at a time of turnover and tension in the nation's intelligence community. Rubio has focused much of his Senate career on foreign policy, particularly Russia and China, and he is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations panel. He is also the chairman of the Senate small-business committee, where he has been negotiating relief measures during the coronavirus pandemic. In announcing Rubio's appointment to head the intelligence panel, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not say whether he would keep the small-business gavel. "I am grateful to Leader McConnell for his confidence in me to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee during Senator Burrs absence from the chairmanship, he said.
Panel approves Ratcliffe for spy chief, sends to full Senate
WASHINGTON The Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe to be director of national intelligence, sending the nomination to the Senate floor for his likely confirmation. Ratcliffe was first picked for the post last summer, shortly after Coats resignation, but then withdrew after some Senate Republicans questioned his experience. GOP senators warmed to Ratcliffe after Trump unexpectedly nominated him again in February. At his hearing, Ratcliffe worked to separate himself from the president, including by saying he believed Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a conclusion Trump has often resisted. Ratcliffes nomination was approved 8-7 in a closed committee hearing, with all Democrats voting against it, according to a committee aide.
Trump's emergency powers worry some senators, legal experts
WASHINGTON The day he declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, President Donald Trump made a cryptic offhand remark. That prompted 10 senators to look into how sweeping Trump believes his emergency powers are. They have asked to see this administration's Presidential Emergency Action Documents, or PEADs. The senators think the documents would provide them a window into how this White House interprets presidential emergency powers. The most publicized example was Trumps decision last year to declare the security situation along the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency.