Menendez gains a primary opponent as calls for his resignation grow after indictment
Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey has announced that he will run against Sen. Robert Menendez in the state’s Democratic primary for Senate next year, saying he feels compelled to run against the three-term senator after he and his wife were indicted on sweeping corruption charges.
Bribery case against Sen. Menendez shines light on powerful NJ developer accused of corruption
The sweeping bribery case brought against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez includes allegations that he took cash and gold in exchange for interfering in a criminal case against a New Jersey real estate developer.
Takeaways from investigation that turned up gold bars, a luxury car and cash at a US senator's home
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife are accused of taking bribes of gold bars, a luxury car and cash in exchange for using his outsized sway in foreign affairs to help the authoritarian government of Egypt as well as others.
Lawmakers press for more scrutiny over China's 'malign influence' at development bank
Lawmakers intent on reducing China’s influence on the U.S. economy are seeking to push the Treasury Department to reduce the scale of Beijing’s influence at the Inter-American Development Bank, which supports economic and social development in Latin America and Caribbean.
Trump's Ukraine impeachment shadows war, risks GOP response
Even the staunchest defense hawks in the Republican Party stood virtually united by Donald Trump’s side when the then-president was impeached in late 2019 after pressuring Ukraine’s leader for “a favor” and withholding $400 million in military aid.
China stages military exercises as US lawmakers visit Taiwan
China says its military has staged exercises to reinforce its threat to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, as U.S. lawmakers visiting Taiwan made a pointed and public declaration of support for the self-governing island democracy while issuing a warning to China.
Democrats blast Mexico's president for assailing judiciary
Democrats in Congress are sounding the alarm over what they claim is mounting evidence that Mexico’s chief prosecutor is assailing the nation’s independent judiciary and selectively targeting for prosecution opponents of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
American freed from Venezuela says his ‘nightmare’ has ended
An American oil executive freed from custody in Venezuela says that even as he celebrates with his family the end of a long “nightmare,” he’s praying for the release of five colleagues who are still imprisoned and “deserve the same blessings.”.
Senate confirms big slate of Biden ambassadors to end 2021
The Senate has confirmed more than 30 ambassadors and other Biden administration nominees after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to schedule a vote on sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany.
Senate Democrats urge Biden to condition aid to Brazil
More than a dozen Senate Democrats have sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden complaining of a woeful environmental track record by his Brazilian counterpart and urging him to condition any support for Amazon preservation on significant progress reducing deforestation.
Cyber attack tied to China boosts development bank's chief
Claver-Carone was elected as the new president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the fall of 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, File)MIAMI – The cyberattack crested just as finance officials from across Latin America were descending on Washington to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Inter-American Development Bank. On Sept. 24, 2019, requests from more than 15,000 internet addresses throughout China flooded the bank’s website, knocking part of it intermittently offline. Details of the attack, which has not been previously reported, are contained in an IDB internal document reviewed by The Associated Press. But membership has been a cheap way for China to expand its reach in Latin America.
Leading Senate Dem says outlook bleak on immigration bills
WASHINGTON – A leader of Senate Democrats' drive to help millions of immigrants become citizens cast severe doubt on its prospects Monday, as one of President Joe Biden's early priorities seemed in danger of running aground in a Congress his own party controls. A top Republican senator who's been pivotal in past efforts to find bipartisan compromise on the issue also expressed pessimism. Ad“I don't see a means of reaching that,” Durbin, a veteran of past efforts to strike an immigration deal, said of a comprehensive bill in this two-year Congress. Durbin spoke three days before the House plans to approve a pair of bills that would advance pieces of Democrats’ immigration agenda. Both face uphill fights in the Senate, where Democrats would likely need at least 10 GOP votes in the 50-50 chamber.
In early foreign policy tests, Biden takes on world as it is
Biden in his early days in office has vowed a dramatic reordering of U.S. foreign policy from his predecessor. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden in his early days in office has vowed a dramatic reordering of U.S. foreign policy from his predecessor. The early preference for caution and incrementalism comes as Biden has repeatedly declared that “America is back.” But in early foreign policy tests, Biden has demonstrated, as many of his predecessors have experienced, that a push away from the previous commander-in-chief's policies is easier said than done. AdSullivan pushes back against the notion that Biden's foreign policy approach has been modulated from his candidacy. On China, Biden has been clear-eyed in seeing Beijing as the United States' most significant competitor.
Democrats consider piecemeal approach to immigration reform
(AP Photo/Christian Chavez)WASHINGTON – After decades of failed attempts to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden are signaling openness to a piece-by-piece approach. They unveiled a broad bill Thursday that would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country without legal status. “Even though I support full, comprehensive immigration reform, I’m ready to move on piecemeal, because I don’t want to end up with good intentions on my hands and not have anything,” said Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin has said that any final Senate bill likely “will not reach the same levels” as Biden’s proposal. AdIndeed, comprehensive bills negotiated by bipartisan teams of lawmakers failed multiple times during Republican George W. Bush’s administration and again in 2013 during Democrat Barack Obama's.
Epstein warden now running new prison despite ongoing probe
FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. The Epstein Victims Compensation Program said Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, it has temporarily run out of funds. AdThe Justice Department’s inspector general has not completed an investigation into lapses that allowed Epstein to end his life. AdHis suicide cast a spotlight on the federal prison agency, which has been plagued for years by a staffing shortage and violence, and on safety lapses inside one of the most secure jails in America. N’Diaye is being placed at a prison where more than 61% of the inmates have tested positive for the virus.
EXPLAINER: Why is the military taking control in Myanmar?
Myanmar military television said Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 that the military was taking control of the country for one year, while reports said many of the countrys senior politicians including Suu Kyi had been detained. “There’s internal military politics around that, which is very opaque,” said Kim Jolliffe, a researcher on Myanmar civilian and military relations. AdMyanmar's military leaders “must immediately free the democratic leaders of Myanmar and remove themselves from government,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “If not, the United States and other countries should impose strict economic sanctions, as well as other measures” against the military and military leaders, he said. He also questioned Suu Kyi's ability to lead given her defense of the military's actions against ethnic Rohingya Muslims.
Why Biden's immigration plan may be risky for Democrats
The 2020 election provided several warning signs that, despite Democratic efforts to build a multiracial coalition, Latino support could be at risk. “It means so much to us to have a new president propose bold, visionary immigration reform on Day 1. Menendez was part of a bipartisan immigration plan championed by the “Gang of Eight” senators that collapsed in 2013. President George W. Bush also pushed an immigration package — with an eye toward boosting Latino support for Republicans before the 2008 election — only to see it fail in Congress. Still, Latinos haven't forgotten past immigration failures and have often blamed Democrats more than Republicans.
Democrats start reining in expectations for immigration bill
The citizenship process in Biden's plan would take as little as three years for some people, eight years for others. Durbin, who called Biden's plan “aspirational,” said he'll push for as many other elements as possible, including more visas for agricultural workers and others. That means 10 Republicans must join all 50 Democrats to enact an immigration measure, a tall order. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who's worked with Democrats on past immigration efforts, said “comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sale” this year. Sharry said immigration groups prefer Democrats push for the strongest possible bill without concessions to Republicans' demands like boosting border security spending.
Florida eye doctor gets clemency from Trump in health fraud
He was convicted in April 2017 on 67 counts, including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying patient records. A White House statement credited Menendez with supporting clemency for Melgen, who was a donor to Democratic politicians and a longtime friend of the Cuban-American New Jersey senator. In a statement of his own, Menendez said he did very little on Melgen’s behalf and did not expect the clemency decision from Trump. “I don’t pretend to know what motivates President Trump to act, but I am pretty sure it’s not me,” Menendez said. A federal jury in New Jersey failed to reach a verdict on charges that Melgen used his relationship to bribe Menendez.
Trump global broadcasting chief quits amid VOA staff revolt
Former President Donald Trumps hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday. That reassignment prompted a new round of criticism and demands for VOA chief Robert Reilly to resign.
Biden bets big on immigration changes in opening move
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)SAN DIEGO – For the opening salvo of his presidency, few expected Joe Biden to be so far-reaching on immigration. He also extended temporary legal status to Liberians who fled civil war and the Ebola outbreak to June 2022. Former President Donald Trump's administration also took hundreds of other steps to enhance enforcement, limit eligibility for asylum and cut legal immigration. The survey of more than 110,000 voters in November showed 9 in 10 Biden voters but just about half of Trump voters were in favor of a path to legal status. Biden's bill calls for more technology at land crossings, airports and seaports and authorizes the Homeland Security secretary to consider other steps.
4 Florida cases on Trump clemency list as he ends presidency
The “Tunnel Vision” rapper is serving a three-year prison sentence for falsifying documents used to purchase weapons at a Miami gun store. Eye doctor Salomon Melgen, convicted in 2017 of bilking Medicare out of $73 million, was granted a commutation. The 66-year-old Melgen, formerly a prominent Democratic donor and friend of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, was serving a 17-year prison sentence in a Miami prison. Eye doctor Salomon Melgen, convicted in 2017 of bilking Medicare out of $73 million, was granted a commutation. The 66-year-old Melgen, formerly a prominent Democratic donor and friend of New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, was serving a 17-year prison sentence in a Miami prison.
Gov. Newsom challenged to address Senate's lack of diversity
Gavin Newsom speaks at a COVID-19 testing facility in Valencia, Calif. As California Gov. Gavin Newsom's shoulders as he considers his pick to serve out the rest of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate term through 2022. The South saw its highest number of Black Senate candidates ever this year, but none won races outright. Labor icon Dolores Huerta and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice want Newsom to appoint a Black woman. De Leon won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and prominent labor unions, in part because of his support for immigrant rights and aggressive policies to curb climate change.
Utah senator blocks national museums for Latinos, women
WASHINGTON – A lone senator from Utah has singlehandedly blocked the bipartisan approval of two new national museums to honor American Latinos and women, arguing that “last thing we need is to further divide an already divided nation.”Republican Sen. Mike Lee objected Thursday to the creation of the two proposed Smithsonian museums, stalling two projects that have been in the making for decades and enjoy broad bipartisan support. Senate approval would have sent the legislation approving the Latino museum to President Donald Trump for his signature. The Senate was attempting to pass the measures by voice vote, which requires every senator's consent. Lee said he sees an exception for museums dedicated to American Indians and African Americans that already sit on the National Mall. “We have been systematically excluded, not because this senator said so but because the Smithsonian itself said so,” Menendez said.
Senate falls short of halting Trump's $23B arms sales to UAE
But on Wednesday the effort to turn back the arms sales failed to reach the 51-vote majority needed for passage. The Senate will take up the broader defense bill soon. Israeli officials have previously expressed some concern about an F-35 sale. On Wednesday, senators narrowly rejected one resolution to disapprove of the F-35 sales, 47-49, and the other over the sale of armed drones, 46-50, in procedural votes largely along party lines. Even after Wednesday's setback, Congress is poised to approve the sweeping annual defense bill despite Trump's objections.
With Ethiopia on brink of escalation, diplomacy in doubt
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's 72-hour ultimatum for the region's leaders to surrender ends on Wednesday. The diplomatic vacuum has brought Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most powerful and populous countries, to what Amnesty International calls “the brink of a deadly escalation” at the heart of the strategic Horn of Africa. I mean, our goal is a quick end to the conflict," Nagy told reporters late last week. In a rare intervention on an African issue, Trump told the State Department to suspend millions of dollars of aid to Ethiopia and asserted that Egypt would “blow up” the dam. But where Ethiopia will be by the time Biden takes office two months from now is unknown.
Irksome in Iceland, brusque in Britain? US envoys draw ire
He's also enraged lawmakers by casually and groundlessly hitching Iceland to President Donald Trump's controversial "China virus label for the coronavirus. (AP Photo/rni Torfason)REYKJAVIK In Iceland, a nation so safe that its president runs errands on a bicycle, U.S. Gunter has also enraged lawmakers by casually and groundlessly hitching Iceland to President Donald Trump's controversial "China virus label for the novel coronavirus. We are still weighing the request and assessing the level of potential threat for foreign embassies in Iceland, she said. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, last week released a report criticizing the administration's decimation of the career diplomatic corps.
Pompeo says threats to US in Afghanistan raised with Russia
WASHINGTON Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that he and his team have warned Russian officials about all threats that Russia poses to Americans and U.S. interests in various parts of the world. Pompeo would not say whether he had specifically raised allegations that Russia is paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill American troops in Afghanistan, but he said the discussions with the Russians involved all manner of threats. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that threats from Russia against Americans in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere had been covered. Among the Russian officials, Pompeo said he has discussed threats generally with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as has the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan. Menendez, a vocal critic of Pompeo, challenged him about the Russian threats and Wednesday's announcement by the Trump administration about the redeployment of several thousand U.S. troop s from Germany.
Pompeo says US should limit which human rights it defends
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Constitution Center about the Commission on Unalienable Rights, Thursday, July 16, 2020, in Philadelphia. Pompeo, speaking in Philadelphia, singled out property rights and religious freedom as foremost principals in a speech that elsewhere complained about the proliferation of protections in international agreements related to human rights. Americans have not only unalienable rights, but also positive rights granted by governments, courts and multilateral bodies. Pompeo noted that the report emphasizes property rights and religious liberty. As feared, Secretary Pompeo used his speech to insinuate a hierarchy of rights where property rights and religious liberty are foremost rights and some rights are not worth defending, said the New Jersey Democrat.
Trump global media chief faces GOP backlash over firings
The criticism of Michael Pack is unusual because its coming from supporters of President Donald Trump who had backed his controversial nomination to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media over staunch Democratic objections. Those moves have alarmed Democrats who fear Pack intends to turn the agency into a Trump administration propaganda machine. There was no public explanation of why Pack would dismiss any of the officials, let alone those favored by conservatives. Ambassador Fernandez was the greatest asset America had in foreign broadcasting, Gorka wrote on Twitter shortly after the dismissals became public. In addition to Fernandez and Fly, Pack also removed the head of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, and the acting chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting on Wednesday.
Democrats to interview ousted State Department watchdog
WASHINGTON Members of three House and Senate committees will interview former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday as part of an investigation by House Democrats into his abrupt firing by President Donald Trump. Democrats announced Friday that they are expanding their probe into Linick's firing earlier this month with a series of interviews. The Democrats plan to interview multiple officials in the administration who may have more information about Linicks dismissal on May 15, including whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recommended the firing for retaliatory reasons. Linick is one of several inspectors general whom Trump has removed from office, sparking outrage among Democrats who say the administration is undermining government accountability. Democrats were probing Trumps pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Democrats expand probe into firing of State Dept. watchdog
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2019, file photo State Department Inspector General Steve Linick leaves a meeting in a secure area at the Capitol in Washington. A senior department official said President Donald Trump removed Linick from his job as State Departments inspector general on Friday, May 15, 2020, but gave no reason for his ouster. Linick is one of several inspectors general whom Trump has removed from office, sparking outrage among Democrats who say the administration is undermining government accountability. Linick is the second inspector general to be fired who was involved with the impeachment process. In addition, Trump demoted acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, effectively removing him as head of a special board to oversee auditing of the coronavirus economic relief package.
Senate panel advances Trump pick to head Voice of America
WASHINGTON A bitterly divided Senate panel voted along party lines Thursday to advance President Donald Trumps choice to head the Voice of America and other U.S. government-funded international broadcasters that have been the subject of harsh criticism from the White House. After rejecting eight Democratic requests to postpone the move, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent Michael Packs nomination to the full Senate on a 12-10 vote. Democrats oppose the nomination of Pack, a former associate of Trump political adviser Steve Bannon, in part because of questions about his past business dealings. Recent criticism of VOA from Trump and the White House has intensified their concerns about his nomination. Yet, the uproar over Voice of America and its recent coverage of Chinas handling of the pandemic overshadowed the possible legal issues.
Pompeo denies retaliation but won't explain watchdog ouster
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool Photo via AP)WASHINGTON Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday adamantly denied that he recommended firing the State Departments independent watchdog in retaliation for investigations into Pompeo's conduct as Americas top diplomat. Pompeo accused the senator's office of being behind allegations that Linick's ouster was motivated by revenge. In October, Linick turned over documents to House investigators that he had received from a State Department counselor, T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a close Pompeo associate. Pompeo did not respond to a question about whether the State Department would comply with the demand, an omission that Engel lamented in a statement.
Democrats: Fired watchdog was looking into Saudi arms sale
(Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP)WASHINGTON Congressional Democrats say the State Department watchdog fired by President Donald Trump last week was investigating possible impropriety in a massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year, adding new questions to the watchdogs abrupt dismissal. Democrats said Monday that ousted Inspector General Steve Linick was probing how the State Department pushed through a $7 billion Saudi arms sale over congressional objections. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was alarming to see reports that the firing may have been in response to Linicks investigation into the Saudi arms deal. A finding of impropriety in the Saudi arms sales could be more serious. The law requires Congress to be notified of potential arms sales, giving the body the opportunity to block the sale.