The Trump administration has a spotty record when it comes to imposing mandatory sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for election interference in the 2016 campaign. After legislation was passed with nearly unanimous support in the House and Senate, various executive branch departments refused to implement some of the sanctions against Moscow.
On Aug. 7, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina publicly detailed the Russian threat for the first time after top Democrats urged intelligence officials to disclose additional information about the Kremlin’s intentions. Evanina said the intelligence community assesses that “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’”
Evanina also revealed that China does not want President Donald Trump to be reelected — an assessment Trump and his allies have sought to highlight. But officials who have seen the underlying intelligence said the president is misrepresenting Beijing’s actions, asserting that there is no evidence of a concerted campaign aimed at interfering in the election.
A Wyden aide said Senate Intelligence Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was not asked to sign on to the letter. Rubio is the co-author of the DETER Act, a bill that mandates the imposition of sanctions against foreign countries deemed to be interfering in American elections.
Other Democratic senators who signed the letter included Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Gary Peters of Michigan, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Dianne Feinstein of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. With the exception of Durbin, the Senate minority whip, all serve as the top Democrat on a committee that handles election-security matters.
Thursday’s letter was the latest in a series of demands from top congressional Democrats to the Trump administration to try to ward off Russian interference in the November election. On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) escalated their pressure campaign on Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who recently said he would end in-person congressional briefings on election-security matters — implicitly threatening to issue subpoenas or cut off funding for the intelligence community if Ratcliffe does not reverse course.
Rubio indicated this week that the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee will still receive in-person briefings on the topic, even as the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee remains cut off from those sessions.
Tony Chung: Hong Kong activist detained near US embassy charged
Hong Kong teen activist Tony Chung has been charged under a new national security law, just days after he was detained outside the US consulate.
Mr Chung, 19, had reportedly planned to enter the consulate and claim asylum.
The activist faces the possibility of life in prison if found guilty of secession, conspiracy to publish seditious content and money laundering.
Mr Chung, the second person to be charged under the law, was denied bail by the court.
The controversial law was imposed by China on Hong Kong in June, making it easier to punish protesters and reducing the city’s autonomy.
What do we know about his detention?
According to the South China Morning Post, Mr Chung was detained on Tuesday morning at a coffee shop opposite the US consulate.
UK-based activist group Friends of Hong Kong said he had planned to enter and claim asylum. Instead, footage taken from near the consulate showed him being carried away by plain-clothes police.
Mr Chung, who was a former member of pro-independence group Studentlocalism, said activists had not given up fighting.
“At the right moment, we will come out to protest again,” he told BBC Chinese in a recent interview.
“Yes we lose at this moment. But the road to democracy is always long.”
He will remain in custody until his next court appearance on 7 January next year.
What is Hong Kong’s new security law?
Hong Kong’s national security law was imposed by Beijing in June after months of huge pro-democracy protests last year against an extradition bill.
The new law makes secession, subversion of the central government, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison.
In July, several were arrested under the new powers, including a man carrying a “Hong Kong Independence” flag.
The law gives Beijing extensive powers it has never had before to shape life in the territory.
Critics say it effectively puts an end to the freedoms guaranteed by Beijing for 50 years after British rule ended in Hong Kong in 1997, but China says it will return stability to the city.
After the passing of the security law, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would offer up to three million Hong Kong residents a chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.
China has condemned this, saying it would take countermeasures against the UK should it grant residency to Hong Kong residents.
AOC: ‘I don’t know if I’m really going to be staying in the House forever’
President Donald Trump has taken particular pleasure in warning that Ocasio-Cortez poses a threat to Schumer, while describing prominent Democratic leaders including presidential nominee Joe Biden as beholden to her more liberal agenda.
Ocasio-Cortez is also viewed as one of the likeliest inheritors of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ progressive coalition if she were to run for president. The congresswoman, who endorsed Sanders in the 2020 White House race, turned 31 earlier this month and would meet the constitutional presidential age requirement of 35 by November 2024.
Another possibility is Ocasio-Cortez joining a potential Biden administration in some capacity. She was tapped in May to serve as a co-chair of the Biden-Sanders joint task force on climate change — one of six working groups meant to advise the Biden campaign on policy.
But Ocasio-Cortez told Vanity Fair she did not “want to aspire to a quote-unquote higher position just for the sake of that title or just for the sake of having a different or higher position.”
“I truly make an assessment to see if I can be more effective,” she said. “And so, you know, I don’t know if I could necessarily be more effective in an administration, but, for me that’s always what the question comes down to.”
Covid: Macron promises solidarity for new French lockdown
Schools and universities will remain open and officer workers will stay home as President Emmanuel Macron places France into lockdown for the whole of November.
There will also be mandatory rapid Covid-19 testing for all international arrivals at the country’s ports and airports to ensure the virus is not brought in from other territories.
The president announced the new measures in a national address, pledging solidarity with French citizens adding “we will all get there together”.
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