Posted tagged ‘U.S. Congress’

How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists

November 23, 2017

How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, November 23, 2017

Now ten members of the “progressive caucus” of the Democratic Party are trying to give these terrorist leaders another reason for using even younger terrorists to kill even more innocent civilians.

The bill fails to acknowledge that some of the most barbaric terrorist attacks against Jewish Israelis have been committed by Palestinian teens who have been recruited by terrorist leaders.

Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.

Palestinian terrorist leaders often use teenagers to commit acts of terror because they know that the Israeli legal system treats child terrorists more leniently than adult terrorists. Now ten members of the “progressive caucus” of the Democratic Party are trying to give these terrorist leaders another reason for using even younger terrorists to kill even more innocent civilians.

On November 14, Representative Betty McCollum introduced legislation c co-sponsored by nine other “progressive” members of Congress — calling on the State Department to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” In a statement about the proposed legislation McCollum said:

“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations…Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

It is well established that recruiting and using young Palestinians to wage terror on Israeli civilians is part of the modus operandi of Palestinian terrorist leaders. For decades, members of the radical Palestinian political and religious leadership have been stirring up young people to wage war against the Jews and their nation state. This was seen in the gruesome Intifada that began in 2000, in which Palestinian teenagers committed dozens of attacks against Jewish Israelis on buses, in cafes and at nightclubs. More recently—in what has become known as the ‘lone-wolf’ intifada — children as young as 13 have stabbed Israelis with scissors, screwdrivers and knives with the aim of inflicting maximum harm.

Legislation proposed by members of the “progressive caucus” — entitled “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” — does not explicitly state what constitutes a child within the context of its proposed cut in U.S. to Israel. While noting that children between the ages of 12-17 are held and prosecuted by Israeli military courts, the bill fails to acknowledge that some of the most barbaric terrorist attacks against Jewish Israelis have been committed by Palestinian teens who have been recruited by terrorist leaders. Consider the terrorists attack that took place over this past summer in Halamish (an hour outside Jerusalem) where a Palestinian in his late teens — from a nearby PA-controlled village — chose a Jewish house at random;, and fatally stabbed three members of a family as they ate Shabbat dinner. The Palestinian “child” murderer also wounded several other family members, while one mother hid her young children in an upstairs room until the terrorist left. This scene of carnage is reminiscent of a similar attack that occurred only six years earlier when two Palestinian teens armed with knives broke into the Fogel family home in Itamar as they slept on Friday night; the teens butchered the mother, father and three of their children — including a three-month-old baby as she slept in her crib.

As a result of such terrorist attacks by Palestinian teenagers, Israel has had to introduce legislation to deal with minors who commit grave attacks. In August 2016, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed a bill allowing imprisonment of terrorists as young as 12. The bill also allows for leniency. The courts can not only postpone the convicted minor’s transfer date from a closed holding facility to prison, but can also shorten or cancel the prison sentence altogether, if warranted by the circumstances.

When introducing the law in the Knesset, MK Anat Berko said:

“This law was born of necessity. We have been experiencing a wave of terror for quite some time. A society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15. We’ve witnessed numerous cases where 11-year-old children were suicide bombers. Perhaps this law will also do something to protect these children from being used to slaughter people.”

In a desperate effort to justify her proposed legislation Congresswoman McCollum argued that, “peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children.” McCollum’s hypocrisy in this context is palpable. She claims to be an advocate for “the rights of children.” Yet the Congresswoman refuses to acknowledge or condemn the Palestinian leadership for perpetrating acts of child abuse by recruiting children to commit terror attacks on Jewish women and children. She expressed no outrage when members of the Palestinian leadership have been caught posting material on social media inciting and encouraging young Palestinians to go out onto the streets and stab Israelis. McCollum failed to protest when Hamas set up training camps — under the mantra “Vanguards of Liberation” — aimed at training children as young as 15 to use weapons against Israel, or when children in Gaza were crushed to death when the terror tunnels they were recruited to build by the Hamas leadership, collapsed on their bodies.

So I ask: what do these members of Congress think Israel should do? If children as young as 13 or 14 were roaming the streets of New York, Los Angeles or Boston stabbing elderly women as they shopped at the supermarket or waited at a bus stop, would they protest the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators? Of course not. No country in the world would tolerate terror in its cities, regardless of the age of the terrorists. Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.

If Israel were to be punished for trying to protect its citizens from teenage terrorists, it would further incentivize terrorist leaders to keep using children in pursuit of their key objective: wiping the Israel off the map. Meanwhile, rather than condemning the abhorrent and unlawful use of children as pawns in this deadly process, this group chose to single out only the nation-state of the Jewish people for punishment, as it tries to protect its own citizens from indiscriminate terror attacks. People of good faith on both sides of the aisle should call out this double standard for what it really is: an attack on Jewish victims of teenage terrorism and their state. For shame on this group of biased anti-Israel “progressive” Democrats, which include the following members of Congress: Mark Pocan (WI), Earl Blumenauer (OR), André Carson (IN), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Danny K. Davis (IL), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez (AZ), and Chellie Pingree (ME). They give a bad name to the Democratic Party, to the Progressive Caucus and to Congress.

(Image source: Fox News video screenshot)Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of, “Trumped Up! How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy,” which is now available.

Congress, Trump Admin Push Cutting Off U.S. Aid to Palestinians, Iranian-Tied Terrorists

November 15, 2017

Congress, Trump Admin Push Cutting Off U.S. Aid to Palestinians, Iranian-Tied Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, November 15, 2017

(How, if at all, does the legislation mesh with Hamas – Palestinian Authority reconciliation? — DM

Palestinian members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement / Getty Images

In addition to the Taylor Force Act, House lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee approved a new bill that would require the U.S. government to expose the identities of foreign states, individuals, and other actors who have provided material support to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

The proposed legislation—which would pave the way for the United States to suspend aid and seize the assets of any foreign entity found to be financially helping these terror groups—is said to be part of an effort to combat Iran’s efforts to forge closer ties with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel terrorist actors.

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Congressional leaders advanced several key pieces of legislation on Wednesday that would cut off U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinians and crackdown on Iran’s financial support for the terror group Hamas, legislative efforts that are being helped along by the Trump administration, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

 The House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a bipartisan vote, approved three pieces of legislation that will cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian government and help prevent American businesses from doing business with Hamas and other Iranian-tied terror groups.

One of the bills, the Taylor Force Act, which would slash U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they stop using the money to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, received support from the White House, which is said to have played a central role in ensuring the proposed legislation garnered bipartisan support.

The new bills are said to be part of a larger effort by congressional leaders to shutdown longstanding U.S. aid programs that have supported terrorist fighters and organizations across the Middle East. The advancement of the Taylor Force Act and these other bills is meant to send a message that the United States will no longer keep its coffers open to those who enable terrorism against Israel and U.S. allies in the region.

The Taylor Force Act, which has been working its way through Congress for some time, has become the centerpiece of the joint effort by Congress and the Trump administration to rein in Palestinian intransigence, U.S. officials told the Free Beacon.

“The Trump administration strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, and the White House has communicated that support to Congress and in public statements,” Victoria Coates, a senior White House National Security Council member who played a central role in pushing the legislation, told the Free Beacon.

Coates said that recent reports alleging the Trump administration sought to water down the bill in order to avoid upsetting the Palestinian government and negatively impacting diplomatic efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are false.

“Reports to the contrary, including that anyone at the White House tried to water this legislation down, are false,” Coates maintained. “Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families that incentivize violence are unacceptable, and must stop.”

Cutting off U.S. aid that helps support Palestinian terrorists is just one part of an effort by the Trump administration to help reform the Palestinian government and legitimize its leaders.

“We also believe that economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can play an important role in preparing the region for a lasting peace agreement,” Coates aid.  “To this end, we have invested and encouraged other partners to invest in critical infrastructure that will underpin economic growth, including through partnerships with local governments, the private sector, and a wide range of other partners.”

The Trump administration reprogrammed $13 million last month to help support a waste-water treatment facility in the Palestinian-controlled city of Jericho, according to Coates, who said this money will help Palestinian farmers support their crops.

“At the president’s direction we want to continue this important work,” Coates said. “But all of our partners must be engaged in building a foundation for peace, not for continued incitement and violence.”

In addition to the Taylor Force Act, House lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee approved a new bill that would require the U.S. government to expose the identities of foreign states, individuals, and other actors who have provided material support to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

The proposed legislation—which would pave the way for the United States to suspend aid and seize the assets of any foreign entity found to be financially helping these terror groups—is said to be part of an effort to combat Iran’s efforts to forge closer ties with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel terrorist actors.

A third bill that made its way out of the committee seeks to crackdown on Hamas’ use of human shields in battle. The legislation would, “hold Hamas and its sponsor, Iran, accountable for this monstrous practice,” according to Rep. Ed Royce (R, Calif.), the committee’s chairman.

Rep. Brian Mast (R., Fla.), a U.S. combat veteran and architect of the bill to expose Hamas’ financial backers, told the Free Beacon that Congress is pursuing every avenue to strangle Iran’s financial lifelines.

“A lot of the impetus is Iran,” Mast told the Free Beacon.

“The term often used is Iranian proxies. But that’s the wrong term to use. It really needs to be classified as Iranian colonization of the Middle East,” Mast said, explaining that Iran’s presence can be seen among every bad actor in the region. “This is colonization. They have a very long-term view. Hezbollah has been at this for 30 plus years. They have a long term goal and its colonization.”

Mast also expressed support for the Taylor Force Act, which he said does not go far enough in cutting off U.S. aid to the Palestinians.

If Mast had his way, “there wouldn’t be resources going towards Palestinians labeled aid or anything else.”

“To think we’re going to take a dollar out of somebody’s pocket here and send it over there to somebody’s family because they went out there and bombed a boss of shot somebody, or ran somebody over with a car, that goes way beyond the realm of common sense,” Mast said.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), another backer of cutting U.S. aid that helps Palestinian terrorists, expressed optimism about the prospect of the full Congress passing the legislation.

“I am very pleased that the House Foreign Affairs Committee was able to pass the Taylor Force Act with bipartisan support,” Lamborn said. “This is an important first step in stopping U.S. tax dollars from funding Palestinian terrorism.”

“The next step is to bring it to the House floor and ultimately send it to the president’s desk,” Lamborn said. “Passing the Taylor Force Act is the moral and right thing to do in a world that is riddled with terrorism, it sends an important message to the world: America will not tolerate foreign entities that receive U.S. aid to finance terrorism.”

Nothing Burger With Wheeze

October 31, 2017

Nothing Burger With Wheeze, Amerian Greatness, October 31, 2017

 

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

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Given the ocean of blaring red type with which the Drudge Report greeted the news of the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates on Monday morning, you might have thought that here, at last, was the smoking gun in the Trump-colludes-with-Ruskies-to-snatch-the-election-from-Hillary narrative. I have no doubt the collective hearts of Max Boot, Gabe Schoenfeld, and Bill Kristol skipped a joyous beat when they heard tell of the indictments this weekend. “At last!” I could almost hear them exclaim, “It’s make-way-for-ducklings time! Trump will soon be gone and the power brokers will once again pay attention to us. Order in the universe will be restored.”

No such luck, friends. As Ted Cruz observed many months ago, the whole Russian collusion delusion is a “nothing burger.” Robert Mueller’s heavy-handed “let’s-squeeze-’em” pursuit of these two former players in Donald Trump’s campaign may make for dramatic headlines. And doubtless, it is a nuisance (and potentially more) for Messrs. Manafort and Gates, who, if they have incompetent lawyers, may face jail time and extensive fines. But really, at the end of the day, their alleged malfeasance, despite the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading in the indictment, amounts to concealing from Uncle Sam some $75 million they hoovered up as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine and sending the proceeds through the rinse, suds, spin, and dry cycle back home in the United States. Naughty, yes; prosecutable, to be sure; but it has nothing to do with the assigned subject of Robert Mueller’s terrier-like activities as special counsel.

As my friend Andrew C. McCarthy put it in a characteristically incisive summary of the episode, Mueller’s case “seems shaky and overcharged” and will likely be a “boon to Trump,” who is not mentioned in the indictment, which focuses on activities that took place five and even 10 years ago, long before Donald Trump began disturbing the sleep of the NeverTrumpers.

“Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective,” McCarthy notes,

there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign.

Moreover, McCarthy continues, “From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case.”

It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

A few days ago, the world was stunned by the news that 1) the original funder of the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research was the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, edited by Matthew Continetti, the son-in-law of energetic NeverTrumper Bill Kristol, and 2) when the Beacon ended its contract with Fusion GPS, its services were picked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. It was at that point, in May-June 2016, that Fusion GPS employed the former British Spy Christopher Steele to look for dirt on Trump in Russia. That was the origin of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” with its (in the words of former FBI director James Comey) “salacious and unverified” claims about Donald Trump’s behavior in Russia.

This whole story has been exhaustively and exhaustingly picked over. Who knew that Tony Podesta, older brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was in bed (and in today’s climate, we must stipulate, not literally) with Paul Manafort? Yep, it’s true. And this just in—the elder Podesta has just announced that he is stepping down from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, after, nota bene, it was announced that Mueller was turning his jaundiced eye on him.

Who knew that the FBI, too, engaged the services of Spook Steele to continue gathering dirt on Trump? Did that work provide the rationale for the Obama Administration’s going to the FISA Court to get authorization to bug Trump’s associates? What about Robert Mueller? He was head of the FBI when that storied agency was prevailed upon not to announce it was investigating the Russian company that acquired Uranium One, and thereby some 20 percent of U.S. Uranium assets, back when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was still pursuing his “reset” with Russia. What’s going on there? And the $140 million (give or take) that found its way into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation around the time of that transfer? Or the $500,000 speaking fee for a short speech by Bill Clinton, paid by a Russian bank working for the Russian company acquiring Uranium One? What about that?

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress

October 27, 2017

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress, Iran News Update, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow. — DM)

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

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INU – US escalation toward the Iranian government and the Lebanese Hizbollah moved forward when on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted through measures designed to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and Hizbollah’s funding. Three resolutions were approved, after nearly six months of deliberations and amendments, that tighten the economic screws on Tehran and the Shiite militant party.

Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted orally in unison, and passed the following resolutions: 1- H.R 359 – Urging the European Union to designate Hizbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization; 2-H.R. 3342 – Sanctioning Hizbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act; 3-H.R. 3329 – Hizbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 (HIFPA).

On Thursday, Members will vote on Resolution H.R. 1698 – Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. These Ballistic missile sanctions put a stop to any outside support for Iran’s missile program, and are significant in terms of timing and efforts by the Trump administration to push for concessions from Tehran on the issue.

In terms of scope and reach of the proposed sanctions, the HIFPA bill represents the largest escalation against Hizbollah. It authorizes new sanctions against the group and its financial networks, and it requires the US president to release an annual estimate of the net worth of Hizbollah leaders and backers, including its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

Also targeted by the bill are Hizbollah affiliates, including Bayt Al Mal, Jihad Al Bina, the Islamic Resistance Support Association, the Foreign Relations Department of Hizbollah, the External Security Organization of Hizbollah, and its media outlets — Al Manar TV and Al Nour Radio.

An expert on Hizbollah at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hanin Ghaddar, said that “official Lebanese visits to Washington in 2017 have somehow succeeded in protecting the Lebanese banks from these sanctions.” She added, “But that doesn’t mean that Lebanon’s economy won’t be affected.”

Joseph Bahout of The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees with Ghaddar. He said “Hizbollah itself has mastered new financial engineering to navigate through sanctions but the real impact will be felt on banking system in Lebanon.” Mr Bahout continued, “If the Lebanese banks were to fully implement all the measures [requested under HIFPA] lots of foreign capital would flee the system.”

Hassan Nasrallah, an Hizbollah leader, previously boasted that “all the banks of the world cannot stand as an obstacle to Hizbollah.” He said, “As long as there is money in Iran, we will have money.”

Ms. Ghaddar said, “Hizbollah will not be directly affected as we all know how money comes from Iran — in bags — and sanctions won’t stop this flow.” However, she also said that this may hurt Hizbollah, as “its backers’ financial assets will have to be revealed, and its institutions will be sanctioned, this will create a serious gap and mistrust between Hizbollah and its community.” Ms. Ghaddar added that as a result, many in business community “will try to distance themselves from Hizbollah for fears of sanctions.”

Mr. Bahout said HIFPA may complicate Hizbollah’s activities locally, “like paying employees of their agencies [that are targeted] or doing business with organizations, commerce tied to them, and a whole range of minute day-to-day annoyances that could follow.”

There are concerns over possible Hizbollah retaliation. Ms. Ghaddar pointed out that the last time a lighter version of HIFPA passed in 2015, “Blom bank in Verdun was blown up few months after.”

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow

October 27, 2017

Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow, Israel Hayom, October 27, 2017

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah | Photo: Reuters

Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has previously imposed sanctions on the group and its top commanders. The expected new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is increasing pressure on Iran, Hezbollah’s main backer that has been supplying the group with weapons and money for more than three decades.

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Hezbollah on Thursday denounced new U.S. measures designed to thwart the militant group’s cash flow, calling a bill targeting its finances an “aggression” against Lebanon.

In a statement, the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group said the new measures are a “blatant intervention in Lebanese internal affairs, a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and an unacceptable targeting of the Lebanese people.”

The statement was issued following a weekly meeting of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. It came a day after the U.S. House approved legislation to block the flow of illicit money to the group and to sanction it, with lawmakers calling it Iran’s leading terrorist proxy.

The bill targeting Hezbollah’s finances, sponsored by Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, directs the Trump administration to sanction people and businesses engaged in fundraising and recruitment activities for the group.

Hezbollah is a member of Lebanon’s coalition government, and the House measure touched off alarms in Beirut, where officials feared major damage to the country’s banking sector if the bill is signed into law.

Joseph Torbey, head of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, told reporters earlier this week that U.S. officials reassured a Lebanese banking delegation who visited Washington recently that the sanctions will not target Lebanese banks as long as they abide by American regulations.

Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has previously imposed sanctions on the group and its top commanders. The expected new sanctions come at a time when the Trump administration is increasing pressure on Iran, Hezbollah’s main backer that has been supplying the group with weapons and money for more than three decades.

A Hezbollah official earlier this month said that U.S. sanctions will not affect the operational activities of the group, calling it part of ongoing efforts to “demonize” Hezbollah.

In its statement Thursday, Hezbollah said the new measures “camouflaged” in legislation aims at subjugating Lebanon and warned against subservience or fear of such policies.

DOJ lifts gag order; former FBI informant can tell Congress about 2010 uranium deal

October 26, 2017

DOJ lifts gag order; former FBI informant can tell Congress about 2010 uranium deal, Washington Times,  October 26, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The congressional investigations could also have implications for Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state at the time the deal was made.

The New York Times reported in 2015 that at least one individual involved in the transaction donated some $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Those donations weren’t publicly disclosed by the Clintons despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had with the Obama White House to identify all donors to the foundation.

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The Justice Department has lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant who had been blocked from speaking to congressional investigators about a 2010 deal that allowed a Kremlin-backed company to gain control of a substantial amount of America’s uranium supply.

Two House committees opened investigations into the controversial deal this week, but said a key informant was unable to discuss the matter because he was bound by a confidentiality agreement with the Justice Department.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said the informant was authorized to disclose to the congressional leaders of three committees “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market, including but not limited to anything related to Vadim Mikerin, Rosatom, Tenex, Uranium One, or the Clinton Foundation.”

The Republican chairmen and ranking Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and limited staff members were all cleared to speak with the informant.

Lawmakers have sought to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the U.S. approval of the partial sale of Canadian mining companyUranium One, which had some U.S. mining assets, to Russia’s atomic energy giant Rosatom.

The State Department and eight other U.S. agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the deal, but lawmakers have questioned to what end officials were informed at the time of the FBI’s investigation into bribery, kickbacks and money laundering within the Russian nuclear industry.

Four years after the deal was approved, the Justice Department criminally charged Mikerin, an executive for the Russian nuclear firm Tenex, a subsidiary of Rosatom. Mikerin pleaded guilty in money laundering in which U.S. authorities said he arranged for more than $2 million in bribes to be paid in exchange for lucrative no-bid uranium trucking contracts.

The Hill reported that the informant’s work helped secure Mikerin’s conviction.

The congressional investigations could also have implications for Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state at the time the deal was made.

The New York Times reported in 2015 that at least one individual involved in the transaction donated some $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Those donations weren’t publicly disclosed by the Clintons despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had with the Obama White House to identify all donors to the foundation.

Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly

October 18, 2017

Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly, Washington Free Beacon , October 18, 2017

Church of Mart Shmoni in Erbil / Getty Images

Four House members are pressing the top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development to bypass the United Nations and channel funds intended to help Christians and Yazidis in Iraq directly to Catholic charities and others helping them on the ground.

The urgent push comes amid dire warnings from lawmakers and human rights activists that Christians and Yazidis, already victims of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, are on the verge of extinction in Northern Iraq, their home for thousands of years.

The lawmakers also point to new evidence of corruption in the United Nations’ process for stabilization projects in Iraq.

Republican Reps. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, and Chris Smith of New Jersey, along with Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, sent a letter to USAID Administrator Mark Green last week arguing that these communities now face “dire conditions where they desperately need assistance if they are to survive.”

“Returning Christians, Yazidis, and others to their rightful place will reknit the once rich tapestry of pluralism and diversity that existed in the region—an effort that is essential to any hope of durable stability in Iraq and the region,” they wrote in a letter dated Oct. 12.

USAID did not immediately return an inquiry about the letter.

Fortenberry, Aderholt, and Smith are longtime human rights champions. Eshoo has a personal interest in the mission. She is a Chaldean Catholic and first-generation American. Her mother is Armenian and her father is an Assyrian Christian from Iraq.

The letter is the latest effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate, along with human rights activists and Catholic groups, to persuade the State Department and USAID to change the Obama-era policy of directing most of its money to Iraq through the United Nations.

The lawmakers argue that Catholic charities most connected to the communities on the ground are the only groups that have a track record of helping persecuted minorities survive for the last several years and are best positioned to help them return and rebuild. The United Nations, they argue, has little to show for its assistance to these communities.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month, photos of the few United Nations Development Program projects in Ninevah show the work being done is mostly cosmetic in nature. This contradicts claims for the United Nations, which has suggested far more substantial work has been done.

Steve Rasche, an attorney for the Catholic archdiocese of Northern Iraq testified before a House hearing that so-called “completed” school-rehabilitation projects in the towns of Teleskov and Batnaya “take the form of one think coat of painting of the exterior surface walls, with freshly stenciled UNICEF logos every 30 feet.”

Inside, he said, the rooms remain untouched and unusable.

U.S. agencies have a responsibility to intervene more directly and effectively, the lawmakers argue, especially after both the Obama and Trump administrations have declared that Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Iraq are the victims of ISIS genocide.

“USAID has an immediate opportunity to partner with entities committee to the appropriate reconstruction of damaged homes and public buildings in several key towns in the Ninevah Plan of Iraq,” they wrote.

“Timely action would address provisions outlined in the genocide declarations and mirror the current administration’s desire to help the survivors,” they argued.

As ISIS is driven from Iraq, it is also critical to U.S. national security that that these indigenous communities are supported to prevent Iran from gaining influence in the region.

“Repatriation has a strategic advantage of heading off potential conflict between the KRG and Baghdad while barring an Iranian land bridge to the Mediterranean, which presently threats to fill the vacuum in the Ninevah Plain created by the removal of ISIS,” the lawmakers wrote. “This land bridge will be occupied by forces loyal to Tehran if security and rebuilding fails to come from other quarters.”

Congress has taken a number of steps to try to provide direct assistance to the minority populations in Iraq. Earlier this year, Congress allocated more than $1.4 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to ensure that part of the money would be used to assist Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in Iraq.

The House passed legislation, cosponsored by Smith and Eshoo, that would explicitly authorize the State Department and USAID to direct aid to faith-based entities, such as the Archdiocese of Erbil following congressional delegations to the region.

More recently, the House and Senate have held hearings about the need for the Trump administration to act quickly to get the funds where they are needed.

“We implore you to review proposals from credible organizations on the ground in the region who are committed to these goals, and if deemed worthy, to move swiftly to empower the through available resources to rebuild the region,” they lawmakers wrote.