FBI in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­volve­ment in Hunter Bi­den story

The Morning Call - - Nation & World - From news ser­vices

WASH­ING­TON — The FBI is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether emails that were pub­lished by the New York Post re­lated to Joe Bi­den’s son, Hunter, are con­nected to a pos­si­ble Rus­sian in­flu­ence op­er­a­tion to spread dis­in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

The news­pa­per said in its story Wed­nes­day that it had ob­tained a hard drive from Rudy Gi­u­liani — a lawyer for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and a for­mer mayor of NewYork — con­tain­ing the emails, and that the mes­sages were found on a lap­top that had been left last year at a Delaware com­puter re­pair shop for ser­vice but never re­trieved.

The un­likely ac­count of how the emails sur­faced raised im­me­di­ate ques­tions about Rus­sian in­volve­ment, par­tic­u­larly be­cause U.S. of­fi­cials have warned that Rus­sia — which backed Trump’s 2016 cam­paign through hack­ing and a covert so­cial me­dia cam­paign — is in­ter­fer­ing again this year.

The episode is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated as part of a pos­si­ble Rus­sian in­flu­ence op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to The As­so­ci­ated Press to dis­cuss an on­go­ing mat­ter.

The au­then­tic­ity of the emails re­mained un­clear as of Fri­day, in­clud­ing whether they were hacked or pos­si­bly forged or both. Gi­u­liani did not re­spond to an As­so­ci­ated Press re­quest for com­ment, but he said in a Fox News in­ter­view Fri­day that the ma­te­rial was “au­then­tic as hell.”

An FBI spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment Fri­day, cit­ing the bu­reau’s prac­tice of nei­ther con­firm­ing nor deny­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions

Arms con­trol: The U.S. and Rus­sia on Fri­day re­jected each other’s pro­pos­als for po­ten­tially sal­vaging the last re­main­ing le­gal con­straint on their strate­gic nu­clear forces.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin called for an un­con­di­tional ex­ten­sion of the soon-to-ex­pire New START treaty, and the White House called that a “non­starter.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Robert O’Brien, sug­gested the Rus­sians re­think their stance “be­fore a costly arms race en­sues.” Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have pre­vi­ously al­luded to build­ing up nu­clear forces if the treaty is aban­doned, al­though the Pen­tagon has its hands full pay­ing for a one-for-one re­place­ment of older nu­clear weapons.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently pro­posed a one-year ex­ten­sion of the 2010 treaty, which is set to ex­pire in Fe­bru­ary 2021, but it said this must be cou­pled with the im­po­si­tion of a broader cap on U.S. and Rus­sian nu­clear war­heads. The cap would cover war­heads not lim­ited by the New START treaty. Putin said Fri­day a one-year ex­ten­sion was okay but should not be con­di­tioned on a wider cap on war­heads.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion abruptly re­versed course and ap­proved Cal­i­for­nia’s ap­pli­ca­tion for dis­as­ter re­lief funds to clean up dam­age from six re­cent

Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires:

deadly and de­struc­tive blazes that have scorched the state, Gov. Gavin New­som said Fri­day.

Nei­ther New­som nor the White House gave de­tails on why the ad­min­is­tra­tion shifted po­si­tions only hours af­ter it ini­tially de­nied the state’s re­quest for a dec­la­ra­tion that of­fi­cials said could pro­vide the state with hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

White House spokesman Judd Deere pre­vi­ously said Cal­i­for­nia’s re­quest “was not sup­ported by the rel­e­vant data” needed for ap­proval and that Trump agreed with a rec­om­men­da­tion from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency ad­min­is­tra­tor to reject the dec­la­ra­tion.

“The Gov­er­nor and (GOP) Leader (Kevin) Mc­Carthy spoke and pre­sented a con­vinc­ing case and ad­di­tional on-the-ground per­spec­tive for re­con­sid­er­a­tion lead­ing the Pres­i­dent to ap­prove the dec­la­ra­tion,” Deere said in a state­ment af­ter Trump’s change of heart.

Mc­Carthy thanked Trump in a tweet for pro­vid­ing “the as­sis­tance needed to re­build and re­pair,” though his of­fice did not re­spond to re­quests for more de­tails on what changed.

Christie back­tracks: For­mer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was wrong not to wear a mask at the White House, af­ter he and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump both came down with the coro­n­avirus.

Christie, in a state­ment is­sued Thurs­day, said he has re­cov­ered from COVID-19 af­ter a week­long stay in a hospi­tal’s in­ten­sive care unit. He called on all po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to ad­vo­cate for face cov­er­ings, with the prac­tice be­com­ing in­creas­ingly politi­cized even as the pan­demic has killed more than 218,000 Americans.

“I be­lieved that when I en­tered the White House grounds, that I had en­tered a safe zone, due to the test­ing that and I and many oth­ers un­der­went ev­ery day,” Christie said. “I was wrong.”

Christie was at the White House for the an­nounce­ment of Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett as the pres­i­dent’s nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court and to a par­tic­i­pate in sev­eral rounds of Trump’s de­bate prepa­ra­tion.

Teacher be­headed: French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron de­nounced what he called an “Is­lamist ter­ror­ist at­tack” against a his­tory teacher de­cap­i­tated in a Paris sub­urb Fri­day.

The teacher had dis­cussed car­i­ca­tures of Is­lam’s Prophet Muham­mad with his class, au­thor­i­ties said. The sus­pected at­tacker was shot to death by po­lice af­ter Fri­day’s be­head­ing.

The French anti-ter­ror­ism pros­e­cu­tor opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cern­ing mur­der with a sus­pected ter­ror­ist mo­tive, the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said.

A po­lice of­fi­cial said the sus­pect, armed with a knife and an air­soft gun — which fires plas­tic pel­lets — was shot dead about 600 yards from where the male teacher was killed af­ter he failed to re­spond to or­ders to put down his arms and acted in a threat­en­ing man­ner.

The ar­rest of Mex­ico’s for­mer de­fense min­is­ter in the United States on charges that he pro­tected a drug car­tel in ex­change for bribes is a blow to Mex­ico’s mil­i­tary, one of the few in­sti­tu­tions that had main­tained the con­fi­dence of the peo­ple.

Un­til Thurs­day’s ar­rest of re­tired Gen. Sal­vador Cien­fue­gos at Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the mil­i­tary was still re­spected by virtue of ap­pear­ing to be largely above the cor­rup­tion com­monly seen in other pieces of Mex­ico’s se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus, de­spite doc­u­mented hu­man rights abuses.

Cien­fue­gos was ar­rested at the re­quest of the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion. He was sched­uled to make an ini­tial ap­pear­ance in court via video call Fri­day af­ter­noon and to even­tu­ally be trans­ferred to New York where the case orig­i­nated.

Cien­fue­gos had been Mex­ico’s top mil­i­tary of­fi­cial dur­ing the pres­i­dency of En­rique Pena Nieto from 2012 to 2018.

Mex­ico cor­rup­tion:

JACK TAY­LOR/GETTY-AFP

Thai­land protests: Thou­sands of stu­dent-led pro­test­ers, in de­fi­ance of a state of emer­gency, con­verged for a sec­ond straight day Fri­day in Bangkok. Us­ing wa­ter can­nons, riot po­lice also cracked down on pro­test­ers by charg­ing into the crowd. Mean­while, Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha re­jected de­mands from pro­test­ers that he re­sign.

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