June 19, 2018

The U.S. is officially withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jointly announced Tuesday.

Haley first threatened to leave the council in a U.N. speech last June, slamming its inclusion of human rights abusers such as Venezuela as council members and condemning what she said was anti-Israel bias. Haley cited that warning in her announcement Tuesday, saying the human rights group was "not worthy of its name," per NBC News.

"Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council," Haley said. She also criticized the council's five resolutions against Israel this year, "more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined."

The move comes just a day after the council's high commissioner bashed the U.S. for "forcibly" separating children and parents at the border, calling on the U.S. to end this "abuse." Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy last month.

Former President George W. Bush refused to join the council when it was created in 2006, per The Washington Post, but the Obama administration opted for seat at the table in 2009. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 15, 2018
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President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, will be sent to jail, his bail having been revoked by a judge after Manafort was accused of witness tampering, The Washington Post reports. Manafort has been charged with, among other things, conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money, and he was formerly under house arrest while awaiting trial.

In court documents, an FBI agent wrote that at least one witness has said Manafort reached out and seemed to be trying to coach them on what to say about his lobbying practices, The New York Times reports. Earlier Friday, Trump told the press that "Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign ... Manafort worked with me for a very short period of time." Jeva Lange

June 15, 2018
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A U.S.-Afghan drone strike early Thursday morning killed Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, the Afghan Defense Ministry told The Associated Press on Friday.

Fazlullah, who was killed in eastern Afghanistan on the Pakistani border, is believed to be behind the 2012 assassination attempt of Malala Yousafzai, who was 15 at the time and would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize after her recovery. Fazlullah is also responsible for a 2014 school massacre in Peshawar that left 132 children dead.

Earlier this year, the United States offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah, HuffPost reports. Jeva Lange

June 14, 2018
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The Justice Department inspector general concluded Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey "deviated" from bureau protocol in his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails in 2016, but that his decisions were not ultimately the "result" of political bias. The 500-page report, a copy of which was obtained early by The Washington Post, also reveals that some bureau staff expressed a "willingness to take official action" to stop President Trump from reaching the White House.

Comey has faced condemnation over his decision to criticize Clinton's use of a private email server when announcing that the FBI found no wrongdoing, and again for publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. "While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice," writes DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Perhaps even more startling, the report found that Comey himself on "numerous instances" used a personal Gmail account to conduct his official FBI business. In July 2016, Comey famously summarized Clinton's use of a private email server as being "extremely careless," even as he said she was not guilty of any crime.

The Washington Post observes that the inspector general's report "aim[s] to define once and for all what the FBI and Justice Department did right and what was wrong in the Clinton probe, but partisans are likely to seize on different findings to buttress their long-held views about that investigation." Significantly, it says that the conclusions "fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton." Read the full report here. Jeva Lange

June 14, 2018

One of the primary investigators in the probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server and into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign apparently texted a colleague in August 2016 to reassure her that "we'll stop" then-candidate Donald Trump from becoming president, The Washington Post reports. The text message from investigator Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved at the time, is reportedly included as part of the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI and DOJ's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which will be released in full Thursday afternoon.

"[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page texted.

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok replied.

The revelation, as well as the inspector general's likely condemnation of former FBI Director James Comey, are expected to be ammunition for President Trump, who was briefed on the report Thursday. Still, the Post writes that the inspector general's findings "fell significantly short of supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton," based on a conversation with someone familiar with the report's content.

The president has repeatedly tweeted about Strzok and Page, calling them "incompetent and corrupt FBI lovers" and citing them as proof that "SPYGATE is in full force!" Jeva Lange

June 14, 2018
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The New York attorney general has filed a lawsuit against President Trump and three of his children over what she says was "persistently illegal conduct" at the nonprofit Donald J. Trump Foundation, The Washington Post reports. The state's investigation, which stemmed from the Post's 2016 reporting on the charity, found that the Trump family allegedly violated a law that requires tax-exempt foundations to benefit the public good rather than the founders privately. Trump allegedly used the Donald J. Trump Foundation to pay off creditors, settle legal disputes for his businesses, and, in one case, buy a $10,000 portrait of himself.

"As our investigation reveals, the Trump foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality," said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who replaced the disgraced Eric Schneiderman last month.

Underwood further asked that the state judge dissolve Trump's foundation, which he founded in 1987, and ordered Trump to pay a minimum of $2.8 million in penalties. She also asked that Trump be banned from heading any other nonprofits in New York for the next decade. Trump's oldest children — Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump — are also named in the lawsuit because as board members, they were legally required to make sure funds weren't being misused. The board, though, had not met since 1999, and Underwood asked that the Trump children be banned from serving as director of any New York nonprofits for a year.

Underwood also noted that Trump has to date repaid more than $330,000 in reimbursements and penalties. Jeva Lange

June 13, 2018
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President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is expected to "flip" and begin cooperating with federal prosecutors as the law firm that is representing him is not expected to do so going forward, ABC News reports, based on conversations with people familiar with the internal decisions. "Cohen, now with no legal representation, is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York," ABC News writes, calling the development "imminent."

Federal prosecutors seized millions of Cohen's documents in an April raid of his home and office, prompting outrage from Trump. "The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don't speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will 'flip,'" Trump tweeted in the aftermath.

Cohen has previously claimed he would "take a bullet" for Trump. Jeva Lange

June 13, 2018
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The United States, Mexico, and Canada have won a joint bid to host the 2026 men's World Cup, beating the only other candidate, Morocco, The New York Times reports. The vote was 134 to 65. The World Cup final will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, with 60 of the tournament's games scheduled for the U.S., 10 for Mexico, and 10 for Canada.

U.S. soccer president Carlos Cordeiro has boasted that the bid will earn $14 billion in revenue and turn an $11 billion profit for FIFA, a record, Al Jazeera reports. "We can focus on the game. We are ready made. Our cities are ready to host today," said the executive director of the United Bid Committee, John Kristick.

It will be the first time the world's biggest sporting event has been held in North America since 1994, when the United States hosted. The 2018 World Cup begins in Russia on Thursday. The U.S. men's team did not qualify. The 2022 World Cup will controversially be held in Qatar. Jeva Lange

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